Heroes in Recovery 6K Race

This was a last minute registration for me. I'd seen the advertisements for the Heroes in Recovery 6k on Facebook for some time, noted that the race's purpose is to raise awareness and benefit those who struggle with substance abuse and mental health disorders. But I didn't decide to do the race until after my sister died, and I began to receive many messages and texts voicing a myriad of similar stories to mine-- brothers, sisters, cousins, mothers, fathers battling addiction.

Addiction is quiet. It hides. It covers its tracks with lies.

Heroes in Recovery is all about raising awareness and HOPE for those who struggle with addiction.

For me, the 6k was about doing something to remember my sister. Doing something to bring awareness among my friends and family. Doing something for those who I know are still struggling daily to break free from addiction. And maybe a little about sharing in the suffering.

The 6k is an unusual distance, but it does what Heroes in Recovery is seeking to do-- get attention. While June 4 in South Florida isn't ideal weather for a road race, the morning was beautiful. The race was fairly small; the course contained more "hills" (slight inclines-- a bridge over water) than typical and was marked in kilometers, rather than miles. And it all began with the Serenity Prayer.

I went out hard and fast. Because that's what you do when you're carrying your sister's name on your arm and her memories in your broken heart. I remember getting to the 1k course marker and thinking there must be some mistake-- surely I'd gone a mile. My body was feeling the pain of my heart. And instead of backing away from it, I ran headlong into it. Pushing ahead, ignoring the fact that I haven't done speedwork for over a year. This was more of a reckless run-- I was out to go as hard and as fast as I could until my body wouldn't go anymore (which turned out to be about the 4k mark).

When my legs finally began burning for real, my lungs screaming for still more oxygen, my heart pounding from exertion and not grief... I desperately wanted to walk. Thoughts of "what's the point" and "no one cares" filled me, and I wondered how often my sister had felt the same way. Wondered how many days she spent feeling like it was too hard to keep moving forward.

I couldn't stop, and I didn't stop-- not until the finish line because I was also carrying the names of those who are still struggling. Still waking up every day to a fight that feels too hard. I carried them with me to the end, willing them to keep moving ahead, keep pushing through the pain. Because there's rest after the finish line.

My legs carried me to a 1st place in my age group and 4th place masters finish.


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