If you were an ex-junkie turned triathlete, what would you do with your past: Ignore it? Move away from everything you know and start over? Or literally run through the streets where you bleached needles, got high, slit your wrists and detoxed?
Judi of Miles and Madness picks door number three in 15 Miles Down Memory Lane. It's one gorgeous piece of writing. In spare, unemotional prose, Judi retells her story, from trial to error to hospital stays to suicide attempts and dead friends:
I remember when me and Diane used to meet the dope boys at that Kroger on Vine. I remember riding my bike around down there looking for pills with Aaron (RIP). Signing for Terpin Hydrate at that old man pharmacy and then downing the whole bottle...Then down to MLK to Burnet and past the treatment center, Chaney Allen, where I was court ordered to stay for 4 months while I kicked methadone. To my left was the hospital I detoxed for two weeks, where Styx and Emily came to see me, and the doctors were convinced they were bringing me drugs, but it was all the drugs they had me on that kept me so fucked up.
In one paragraph Judi remembers getting a tattoo removed by a guy who is now dead. In the next, she hurtles downhill, prepping for her longest distance race yet: Ironman Louisville.
This blogger is rock-steady but the reader may find herself a little motion-sick as Judi transitions from life now to her half-life yesterday: "Then I went in the UDF where me and Brendan bought bleach for the needle we had to share and I peed and bought a water and a Cliff bar."
The kicker? Training intensely, Judi initially doesn't recognize her route...until the only thing protecting her from her past is her running shoes:
Last night I mapped out a 15-miler from my house. I didn't realize what I was doing at the time but I was going to be running though my old stomping grounds....
As I was running down Vine I started remembering...
No angry ghosts these. Judi isn't haunted, as becomes clear from the story she tells. Rather, she's grounded in where she has been and who she's becoming: Racing through her old life, Judi pushes off the mean streets of her memory and finds...strength. Needles and bleach are as much fuel for her drive to win as her bottle of water and some quick carbs.
Without the ability to trace her path down the hill to personal hell and then back up again, would she be the athlete she is today? Her answer makes Miles and Madness BlogHer of the Week:
Then I turned right on 9th street and back towards west 8th. Up Glenway hill where I got a second wind and then Joan Jett's Bad Reputation came on and I pushed through the pain to get up the hill.
I am so glad to be in the here and now.
Judi, we are glad you are too. Bravo.
Thanks to everyone for continuing to send in your nominated posts. Keep them coming!
For Elisa, Jory and Lisa
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