Don’t Quit Quitting: Former addicts prepare to run Brooksie Way race
When Janice Armstrong crosses the McLaren Brooksie Way half-marathon finish line on Sunday, it’s her mother and daughter’s faces that she’s most looking forward to seeing.
That’s because Armstrong, 41 of Sault Ste. Marie, will be more than four months sober that day— the same day her daughter will turn 19-years-old.
“To have them see me healthy and fit and off of every drug, every medication, that’s going to be amazing,” Armstrong said.
Armstrong, along with six other women recovering from drug and alcohol abuse at the Grace Centers of Hope year-long life-skills program in Pontiac, has been training since June to run the half-marathon. Four days out of the week her and her running-mates would hit the pavement at 6 a.m., eventually working up to completing their longest run to date at 11 miles.
This is the fifth rehabilitation program that Armstrong has entered. At 19-years-old, she was addicted to crystal meth. The birth of her daughter subsequently got her to kick that habit, but by 28-years-old and after leaving an abusive marriage, she had turned to using alcohol. Armstrong had two other sons before entering her first rehab program at the age of 31.
Armstrong said that for her, training for the Brooksie Way has been a godsend.
“Just to be out there and getting to know your teammates and having that support gives you a real sense of accomplishment. When you’re sitting at home using everyday, you feel like you don’t have a purpose. What’s the point of waking up everyday? Now you look forward to it, the fresh air, and seeing what the day has to offer. It keeps you on a positive note throughout the day,” Armstrong said.
Armstrong’s mother was the one who originally made the call to get her into the Grace Centers of Hope program. Now, she’s looking forward to showing her mother and family just what she can do on race-day.
“Addiction affects the entire family, and getting clan also affects the entire family. My mom and my kids have been my greatest cheerleaders, and they still have my back,” Armstrong said.
“Sometimes (with addiction) you can feel so hopeless, but if you can even believe for one second that there’s a light at the end of this tunnel, then you have to try. Talk to someone who’s been through it, don’t give up on yourself. Don’t quit quitting, don’t stop trying to get yourself back. There’s so much more to life than the darkness you’re in during addiction. It’s so worthwhile to feel that sense of hope again for the first time in so, so long. It’s worth every dark day you’ve gone through to get where I am now. You don’t just find yourself again. You find a better you.”
The McLaren Brooksie Way half-marathon, 10k and 5k races will take place on Sunday, Sept. 24 at the Meadow Brook Music Amphitheater on the grounds of Oakland University.
This story originally appeared on The Oakland Press.