July 6 2013
That was the first day of my second life.
My life started out just like many others. I had a fantastic childhood with a loving family. By my teen years I had fallen into the rowdy crowds and eventually made my way to regular drinking and recreational drugs. For 15 years I was slowly drowning without even fully realizing it, stuck in a cycle of drinking 5 or 6 days a week and being constantly hungover. I was a functioning alcoholic. I managed to struggle through the years but never made any ground, it felt like endlessly treading water. Then when I turned 30 my mom made me this amazing book that compiled photos of me throughout my entire life. I was secretly ashamed of it because every picture of me over the age of 18 I was either drinking or already drunk. I sabotaged relationships and lost jobs. I was a mess.
On the fourth of July 2013 my mom had a big pool party. I was supposed to arrive early but had decided to go out the night before. I showed up late from being hungover that morning and had already started drinking again. That was the last day of my first life. A few days earlier on July first I had just started a new job that I really worked hard to get. I woke up the day after the party and was battling a massive hangover. After work my mom called and said she wanted me to come over the next morning to talk. I knew that I was heading for an ass-chewing but I was ready for it.
That was my bottom.
There was no crazy arrest or accident. I didn’t wake up in an alley or end up homeless. I had simply arrived at a place both mentally and emotionally that allowed me to recognize I did not want to live like this anymore and was ready to change. So I did.
Saturday July 6, 2013 was the first day of my second life.
In the beginning I could do nothing more than make it through one day at a time. I didn’t do meetings or 12 steps. I had the support of my amazing family and a few great friends but this was largely an internal battle for me. I was ready to find all that inner promise and potential that everyone was always talking about. I was still a heavy smoker and weighed around 265 lbs. I immediately got back into the gym, if for nothing more than to stay away from the bars.
My sister Amy has always been a secret hero of mine. She’s made a career out of proving people wrong and doing things that no one thought she could. Her and her husband Shawn had done two Tough Mudders already and were signed up to do a third in April 2014. In December of 2013 I decided that I wanted to do it with them. My brother in law Shawn told me that if I could get myself to run two miles at a “conversation pace” that he would make me a plan to get me through the Tough Mudder. That month I was in the gym 4 times a week running on the treadmill. When I started out I couldn’t run more than .75 miles. Slowly but surely I made progress and my last run of 2013 was 2.05 miles! What happened next changed my life.
I got my first training plan.
Shawn had basically adapted a half marathon training plan for me and just changed the paces to my level. It was 14 weeks, three runs a week, and it was all mapped out on one sheet of paper. This was my bible. This was the glue that held my weeks together. Every week I slowly increased my distance and speed. I got fitted for running shoes, learned about cotton shirts and chaffed nipples. It was a whole new world. When the tough mudder finally arrived I had made every single workout and was ready.
April 5, 2014
When we got there I didn’t know what to expect but I had Amy and Shawn with me and was ready for anything. That race changed my life. 12.5 miles with 28 obstacles and we ran the whole thing! Crossing the finish line was my new drug. That brand new feeling of accomplishment after setting a goal and working towards it was incredible to me! I was hooked and went head first with all I had into it.
By the end of 2014 I had done:
2 Tough Mudders
One full marathon (4:21:38)
One half marathon (2:00:26)
A hand full of 5k and 10k runs
A trail run race
And a sprint triathlon!
The triathlon changed the course of my life. I loved it! Shawn has been my coach since day one and we both fell in love with the sport. The following year I decided to go after an Ironman 70.3. I settled on Silverman in Las Vegas in October of 2015 and just thrived in training. It was all so new and so exhilarating. Everyday I felt like I was chiseling away at this beast inside of me. Everyday I came closer to finding that person.
This is how it happened. I had two amazing role models to follow in my sister and her husband and unwavering support from my family and a few close friends. I left behind an entire existence, filled up my life with all the friends, and discovered a whole new way to be. The first year of my sobriety was eye opening for me. It was like finally connecting to my emotions and becoming whole. I uncovered entirely new personality traits within myself that I didn’t know I had. As it turns out I am extremely driven, passionate, organized, and meticulous. My sobriety opened my life to new routines, a love for early morning workouts, and some serious meal prep skills!
The journey has now come to define me. The culmination was November 19, 2017 where I crossed the line as an Ironman! I’ve made a goal to do a different Ironman 70.3 every year and have so far done Silverman 70.3, Arizona 70.3, Santa Cruz 70.3, Hawaii 70.3, 4 olympic distance triathlons and over a dozen sprint distance triathlons. I’ve qualified for USA Triathlon Nationals and recently joined two fantastic race teams in the Wattie Ink Hit Squad and the Field Work Nutrition Swarm Collective. The best part of this sport is the people and I have met some amazing ones on this journey. My coach started KAS performance coaching and is now coaching almost a dozen athletes. My sister has done multiple Ironman 70.3 races but has since tackled the ultra running world and is chasing a 100k run right now. We have all made this a lifestyle and found the space in our lives to make it sustainable. We plan vacations around races and set up training weekend trips to get out of the heat in Arizona where we live. This has become a new reality that I still can’t believe is my own at times.
I just celebrated 5 years sober on July 6 2018. I feel like I have done more in this 5 years than in the last 30. I’ve had a beautiful daughter who has cemented all of these traits in me. She is the light that guides me and all I do is for her. I met the love of my life, Victoria, who supports me 100% in all these “crazy Ironman things.” I have found the life I always wanted and never thought I’d find. As I think of how far I’ve come, I can’t help but wonder how far I’ll go.