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I try not to take myself too seriously despite the fact that I undoubtedly take on serious challenges. I love adventure and I am fueled by testing myself to do things that push the far reaches of my ability, both physically and mentally. My chosen endeavors sometimes seem impossible and are often wrought with pain and even failure. Yet I’ve discovered that if I employ humor and laugh in the face of grim circumstances, I will survive and even enjoy almost anything.
I’ve run across deserts, summited ice-covered volcanoes, swam with crocodiles and served a stint in federal prison. But my greatest challenge is the one I take on every single day—sobriety. I have been clean and sober since July 23rd, 1992. While my daily urge to drink and use drugs has waned over the years, I still struggle with the addict that lives inside of me. It took me a long time to figure out that I can not, and should not, kill my addictive nature. Instead, my challenge has been finding a way to use the addict in me for positive, purpose-driven pursuits.
My list of pursuits is long and diverse. I’ve bounced around the world and continue to bounce around inside of my own ideas, searching for the “next thing”...
But it is fair to say that running, and running far, is at the core of my vitality and enduring sobriety. It lays a foundation for goals that keep me focused and it gives me the freedom of movement that I love. It keeps my body and mind sharp, and it refines and smoothes out my most jagged edges. Each time I run hundreds of miles, I learn something new about myself and even about the world.
Running has allowed me to explore the far-reachinug corners of the globe and meet amazing, diverse people. I have found that even in cultures that generally distrust strangers, people are more likely to welcome me if I am on foot. It somehow makes me less threatening, perhaps more human. Most cultures understand running as a part of their daily lives. It is something that shines a light on how we are the same and briefly dims how we are different. When I run, I always feel connected to others and that is truly what I love about my life.
Last year, I finished writing my first book. It is a memoir titled Running Man. With the disclaimer that I am not giving life advice: I often joke that if you do enough crazy things and too often find yourself in the heart of bizarre, improbable and sometimes dire circumstances, someone might just pay you to write a book! I can say in all seriousness that writing this book was one of the toughest things I have ever done. While hunched over messy piles of paper and my laptop, I’d sometimes say to my wife that running a hundred miler that day would be easier than finishing another chapter. Having said that, I love writing. I enjoy the creative journey of crafting words on a page and I find great satisfaction in putting the final punctuation marks on something I’ve written. I want to write more, and I will. I’ve decided that my line going forward is: I’m an addict who runs and I’m a runner who writes.