My 37th birthday was 2 days ago, but this is the day I really prefer to celebrate. See, this is the day I woke up 5 years ago & said, “I’m going to quit drinking today.”

I was 6 weeks out from my first half marathon, hungover from a Halloween party I barely remembered & too sick to do my long run. I’d spent the last couple of years in this cycle – partying too hard with my derby teammates, then dragging my whiskey-soaked ass around trying to function the next day. It started after I broke my leg & separated from V’s dad within the same week – the wheels kind of fell off my life when I was in the wheelchair. I was a social butterfly turned sad barfly, and it had become prohibitive to the life I wanted to live.

There was no program, no steps & no chips (although I have utmost respect for anyone who does go to AA). I simply decided to quit drinking ’til after I ran the 2009 Dallas Half. Then I ran the half & instead of rewarding myself with a beer like I’d originally planned, I immediately signed up for a 15K…then another half…then a handful of other races. Eventually I realized I didn’t ever want that celebratory beer and accepted that I was sober for good.

Derby afterparties lost their appeal & early morning runs became my new fix. My two “Life of the Party” trophies from derby season-end awards ceremonies came off the shelf & racks full of race medals took their place. I won’t even try to pretend that it was easy to go cold turkey & completely change my lifestyle while still surrounded by teammates who drank – but my newfound ability to remember conversations, my role as permanent Designated Driver & looking/feeling younger, healthier & happier were huge incentives to stay on the wagon. Knowing that I could be a decent parent and better partner if I weren’t a drunk – that was the most compelling reason to quit. There was no slipping or faltering – I have been sober for 5 years and counting.

I don’t fault or begrudge anyone else their ability to enjoy alcohol in moderation (although I do take serious issue with drinking & driving. I lost my cousin Jack to a drunk driver & I consider myself incredibly lucky to be alive, un-incarcerated & to have never hurt anyone, considering the many stupid risks I used to take). I just know that, as an all-or-nothing kind of gal, it’s not a line I can ever step across again. I’m much happier with all the finish lines I get to cross now.

Thanks for reading.

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