For nearly two months during Fall 2020, the first words out of Derek's mouth, as we began our weekly training run, were always the same. "I almost left the program this week." Derek was one of the members of the Beacon House Half Marathon Team, and he was working on his fourth step.
The challenge of "made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves" was daunting. It was something he wanted to run away from. I would always ask why he chose to stay, but he seemed to struggle to explain his decision. A year later, he can reflect on those days with much more clarity.
Members of the Beacon House Half Marathon team. Derek is in the white t-shirt, second from the left.
"When I first arrived at Beacon House, I didn't want to be there. I was insecure. I had no motivation. I was a mess." Shortly thereafter, he joined the running team. The men trained together 3 times each week for four months. They encouraged and supported each other as they took on longer and longer distances. Together, they grew physically, mentally, and emotionally stronger. Everything began changing for him.
"I learned that if I could push through the discomfort of running, I could push through the discomfort of recovery. I built relationships with the other guys on the teams, and that helped me become more honest and vulnerable. Running with the team gave me a purpose," he continued. "The team is what kept me in the house."
The first half marathon the team trained for was cancelled due to a COVID outbreak. Derek and the rest of the team trained again for the rescheduled 13.1 mile group run in May 2021. The rest of the team finished this half marathon, but Derek had to drop out just 2 weeks before due to a severely pulled muscle that took over a month to heal. He stood on the sidelines and cheered on his brothers instead. Despite that setback, he persevered and maintained a positive attitude. Derek trained with the team for a half marathon in August 2021. Days before the event, he sustained an injury to his heel that required stitches. He couldn't run for several weeks. But still he didn't quit. As soon as the injury heeled, he resumed his training.
Derek, after an 11 mile training run, a few days before his heel injury
Today, Derek is training for a half marathon in early 2022 and he is mentoring the newest members on the running team. Today he is a man with self-confidence, and a man of purpose. He is still in the Beacon House program, and he now has 16 months of sobriety.