Four miles and counting. I don’t mean to go quite this far but the lake has flooded the trail: I round a bend and what!—there’s a sudden and startling expanse of murky water, two ducks paddling on its surface. I double back and go the long way around, along a chain link fence, jumping over exposed tree roots, zigzagging past puddles, then in front of a line of storefront windows where I peer surreptitiously to the left to see my reflection flashing by. Running girl, taking confident strides in skintight black Nike pants. I hardly recognize her.

I’m used to gasping, these long steady breaths are new to me. I’m used to stopping, not pushing through.

We were sitting in a darkened movie theater when someone came stumbling down the aisle and collapsed in a chair at the end of our row with a barely controlled crash. An instant later I could smell it: a wave so strong I almost expected to see a visible swirling in the air. I wondered how often I smelled like that, thinking I was being so secretive. You can hide it from some people, I guess. Others know it like a song they could sing in their sleep. It’s exhaled, it surrounds you, it seeps from your pores. I spent years thinking it made brighter, sharper, funnier moments, when all along it was a fog. It clung to me and I hid inside of it. It coated every inch of me inside and out.

Music is thudding in my ears and my feet are hitting the pavement over and over. My nose runs, my fingers are cold, my legs burn, my eyes prick back tears in the chilly air, the world moves past me as I move through it and I can feel it all.

My children’s voices are so loud. They barrage me with requests and complaints and kisses. I make snacks, wipe noses, run baths, put away toys, provide midnight comfort. Oh, it is a joy and it is a grind. I run my palm over their soft heads, I try and take deep breaths. I’m laid bare. There is no stopping. There is no cushion, no fog to hide inside.

I come to a hill and lean into it, telling myself to go harder. Up, up, up, my chest burning. I run into the feeling of wanting to quit and pass it by, leave it in the dirt behind me. I push through. I speed up, because I’m heading back home.

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Claire
12 years ago

I loved this! And all you runners an your stories make me so excited to get back to it once I have this baby. Only 5 months to go.

Amanda Brown
12 years ago

This is awesome.

Kari
Kari
12 years ago

Really exceptional writing. Wow.

kerilyn
kerilyn
12 years ago

Beautifully written and inspiring. I’m going to run my hands over my kids’ heads now. Thank you.

Eric's Mommy
12 years ago

Beautiful. This is why I love your blog so much.

Serenity Now
12 years ago

You are seriously making me want to go running…and I hate running – so that’s saying something.

jessica
jessica
12 years ago

that’s totally how I feel when I run. (well maybe not the part about the fog-lifting, but eh – actually maybe. just a diffrent type of fog) who IS this woman – this RUNNER. how did I become her, and WHY DID I WAIT SO LONG?

excellent post, Linda.

Ginny
12 years ago

Whoa. That was just really, really great.

Barb
Barb
12 years ago

Very nice…I just started running after being off while building a house…treadmill running isn’t as descriptive, but it will get me to the starting line soon :) Thanks for the inspiration!

Jennifer Lynn
12 years ago

This was beautifully written….even the runny nose bit:)

beach
beach
12 years ago

Beautiful.

Bachelor Girl
12 years ago

Linda, I sent this to two of my friends who are recovering alcoholics to further reinforce for them how sweet a sober life can be.

Thank you.

Junni
Junni
12 years ago

Napisz książkę
Bir kitap
책 쓰기
Schreiben Sie ein Buch
escriba un libro
לכתוב ספר
(write a book)

penne
12 years ago

Your words are lovely on my screen, but they so deserve paper.

Sarah
Sarah
12 years ago

Inspiring. I read this after doing a workout that I wasn’t all that exited to do, but did anyway. You made me extra glad that I did. You have really accomplished a lot. Very nice.

Erin @ Fierce Beagle
12 years ago

So compelling. Cheers to your recovery and your new-found athleticism.

Jen B.
12 years ago

Beautifully written. You’ve come a long way–never forget it!

Lisa
Lisa
12 years ago

I am going to echo penne…I want to hold your book in my hands so I can read it, feel it, hold it against my chest and whisper, “yes, that’s it EXACTLY”.

I love your writing, Linda. It’s real and poetic at the same time.

Ris
Ris
12 years ago

Love this. You say it so well.

SJ
SJ
12 years ago

So inspiring. On so many levels.

Thank you.

Kate
12 years ago

Do you think you could put your posts on tape? Kinda like a book on tape? So that I can listen to them while I work out??

K, thx, that’d be great. :)

Shanna
12 years ago

Just inspirational…

Lisa Rae @ smacksy
12 years ago

Kicking ass on a number of different levels here. Bravo.

Niki
Niki
12 years ago

Fabulous.

Kirsten
Kirsten
12 years ago

I loved this post. Thanks.

agb
agb
12 years ago

Adding this to my “favorite Linda posts” folder. Seriously, one of your top ten best. Thanks, as always, for sharing your life with us.

Lesley
Lesley
12 years ago

You’ve come a long way, baby.

That said, you were a kick-ass, lovely and talented person in the period you were drinking; but since you left drink in the dirt you have emerged an Olympian Linda, the Linda living up to her full potential.

Not many people do that, including those who don’t have a drinking problem.

Couldn’t be prouder of you and more inspired.

Snarke
12 years ago

What a great post! I’m very proud of you! :)

Belle
Belle
12 years ago

You surely give hope to so many people.

Wonderfully written, Linda, and I agree with ‘penne’.

Victoria
12 years ago

You are amazing.

Debbie
Debbie
12 years ago

Gorgeous post…”I’m laid bare.” Just those three words alone were so evocative…I felt a twinge, an ache in my heart reading that. Not in any bad way, in the way that anything that truly moves you will make you feel. Linda, you really are awesome.

Melanie
12 years ago

Before I clicked on your blog in Google Reader, I thought, “I’d have to say Linda’s is the blog I always want to read the most.”

Clicking on this entry just reinforced why, yet again.

Mama Ritchie
12 years ago

This made me cry. I’m so happy you’re happy, Linda.

Marie Green
12 years ago

Wonderful. Beautiful. Inspiring. And so true!

mrsgryphon
mrsgryphon
12 years ago

All of the pieces you’ve written and I’ve read, this is definitely one of my favourites. So beautiful, strong and sweet.

Another echo for Penne… your words deserve a spot on America’s (and Canada’s!) bookshelves.

Elizabeth
Elizabeth
12 years ago

I’ve been reading your blog for quite a while now and rarely comment, but want you to know that I think you’re truly inspiring. So much of what you write resonates with my own life, and your courage and candor have encouraged me to look at things in my life in a different way. I too am a working mom with two young kids, and it’s incredibly hard to stay “centered”. I am also a runner and have gotten to the point where the “high” I get from running is far more satisfying than that glass of wine I have for the same purpose. Anyway, thanks for sharing your stories- they are enormously helpful to someone who often feels in the same shoes!

Claudia
12 years ago

You are awesome.

Nell
Nell
12 years ago

You are an inspiration! The writing left me breathless this morning! Thanks!

Amy
Amy
12 years ago

You kick ass.

Rachel
12 years ago

I have lost count of how many times I’ve sat in front of my computer screen, blown away by the sheer spot-on perfection of something you have written. This is amazing. Thank you for sharing it.

Missy
Missy
12 years ago

Lovely. You inspire me in so many ways. Keep going!

Robin
12 years ago

Gorgeous.

Carrie
12 years ago

love this.

Никита
12 years ago

Ну конечно, я с подобным тоже сталкивался :)