Hi! My name is Amber and I’m a recovered alcoholic
I’m also a mother to two amazing boys, a second-grade teacher, a competitive runner, certified fitness coach, sobriety activist and the founder of Recovery Road Runners.
My life has been pretty “normal” by most people’s standards
I wish I could add here how difficult my life has been and list all the traumas and struggles I endured that led me to a path of addiction to alcohol, but I’d be stretching the truth quite a bit. I just happen to be one of millions of women who became addicted to booze. It’s BRUTAL!
The bad stuff started happening after I started drinking. Things spiraled from there.
You don’t need to go through some big traumatic event to become an addict
You can just be a normal kid who grows up in a normal home, with normal friends and a normal life with normal curiosities, and you can still become addicted to bad stuff. I know what that’s like!!
So, if you’re looking for a woe-is-me story about my divorce, or how my family reacted to my getting sober, sorry to disappoint you, but my recovery story is about seeking positivity, finding energy and purpose, and realizing happiness has always been there; it was just covered up by the boozing.
And of course, my story is also about running. :)
From my first sip at age 15, I knew I was addicted
I remember it like yesterday. I was a freshman in high school and had just made the varsity softball team. The girls took me to my first party. I felt so cool to hang with the older kids! They took me into a bedroom with a bottle of peppermint schnapps and a shot glass. They said “drink this, it tastes kinda bad but you’ll love the drunk feeling!”
So I drank it and they were right. I did love it.
That night, I wanted more, more, more. I didn’t get sick because I was treading lightly, and the girls didn’t let me drink too much since it was my first time. But I remember feeling like a superhero. I couldn’t get enough.
I loved the feeling of fearlessness being drunk gave me
I was really shy and awkward back then as a teenager (not uncommon, I know). I could not be myself and would rather blend into the crowd than stand out (at least when I was sober).
Alcohol helped squash my anxiety, made me feel brave and fearless. I could let loose for once! I thought drinking was the missing piece of my personality - the part that made me interesting to other people.
I dreamed of getting a softball scholarship to a Division 1 school, and I made that dream come true, only to totally blow it
I was good at softball. Damn good. In fact, I was a San Francisco Bay-area outfield all-star. I even received a full ride to Baylor University! Before that, though, the warning signs were already in place. Even though the drinking never stopped me from attending practice, I would often show up drunk or hungover.
I thought I was doing OK keeping it all together: school, softball, and partying, but my top priority was partying
I never missed practice or class, I just squeezed it all in, even once I got to college in Texas. It was like a little power I had in my life. I was still really good at managing everything that needed to get done, especially everything that needed to get done before I could DRINK.
I kind of skated by. I wasn’t really into learning, and more into softball, partying, and boys. School was my very last priority, actually, and I still laugh, because it’s funny that I became a teacher when all my life I was a terrible student!
Then I lost my scholarship after the first season in college
My dream back then was to play in the Olympics or become a college softball coach and I thought I was well on my way to achieving it when I got the Baylor scholarship.
I was drinking a TON, gained 20 pounds, drank every day, and I started playing like shit. The others on the team rose up to the Division One level we were at, and I couldn’t keep up. I was in total denial about this.
Coach cut me at the end of the season and said I wasn’t performing. I was SHOCKED and completely devastated. So were my parents. To this day, I wonder how good I could have been had I not been drinking.
I was very good at hiding my drinking
Aside from my softball career, I was very active in cross-country running, too. When I puked while running, everyone thought I was pushing myself to the point of exhaustion, which was partially TRUE, but sometimes I still had alcohol in my system from the night before.
Soon, I was the last one standing at parties
I could drink several shots and beers, several margaritas and beers. Basically, I would drink until 2 a.m. or later. Often, I would black out and throw up.
We drank in the morning. We drank all day. We drank to get rid of our hangovers. I had a group after college of about 3 guys, me and my friend Lacee. The 5 of us. Best friends. We had massive parties, full bar, rocking music, tons of people. Shots of everything, kegs of beer. We partied all night and slept all day. Then worked the dinner shift. We could go to work buzzed and no one knew. Work a few hours, then get drunk again. Every. Single. Day. We loved the karaoke bar next door and the mexican restaurant bar.
My drinking habits matured when I met my now-ex-husband
I switched from shots and beer to wine, for example, which because a big focus point to my relationship with my ex. When we met on a dating app online around New Year’s Day 2014. When we finally got to meeting in person, we met at a bar and fell pretty hot and heavy.
We were always wine tasting, that was our thing. The entire bay area where we lived is “wine country.” We loved to go wine tasting. By that point, the drinking didn’t feel so much like a party all night situation. It felt mature and responsible, because we were doing it as a couple.
When I got pregnant and we couldn’t go wine tasting and drink like we used to, we got bored with each other
And that’s when I started to see the red flags clearly for the first time because I was sober.
I felt trapped because I barely had any money of my own. We tried to make it work, went to counseling and had another baby.
Embarrassingly, I drank a little even when I was pregnant
I was really addicted to my wine, and I didn’t want to let it go. I asked my doctor if I could still drink wine, and he said, “Yes, just don’t drink too much.” What a relief! I measured my wine to 4-5 ounces per day, about 3 times a week.
I couldn’t WAIT to drink as much as I wanted after the baby was born. And I did! Right back to drinking multiple glasses of wine every day. I drank 4-6 glasses of wine on the regular.
I knew alcohol was holding me back
I would drink to drown out the feelings of overwhelm with life: working mom, two toddlers, a house to take care of, and a marriage that had already fallen apart before I was willing to admit it.
Through it all, I never stopped running
It was my one constant. In fact, I ran half marathons when my kids were infants and full marathons before they turned one!
Running gave me an excuse to get out of the house. It also helped me detox my body from drinking the night before. Detox to retox, I liked to say. I thought I was balancing things out: If I drink tonight, but I run 8 miles tomorrow, it all evens out in the end, right?
My marriage continued to crumble. I wanted OUT. And that’s when the starting line towards my new life appeared in front of me.
That starting line said, “Amber, it’s time to quit drinking.”
On May 26, 2020, I quit drinking for good.
I quit drinking for life.
I’ve had success in all areas of my life, but sobriety has helped me reach so many goals I never thought possible
My biggest wins: being a mama to my kids. Getting sober is up there, too. I also love being a teacher, and now getting to be a coach and mentor to other fitness enthusiasts seeking sobriety. None of these things would make me as happy as they do if I was still drinking.
I attribute my sobriety success with doing the hard work, sitting with my feelings, following my intuition and RUNNING
When in doubt, run it out, I say. Running has always been there for me, and as a recovery and fitness coach, I hope to encourage other people seeking recovery or are already in long-term recovery to find a fitness activity they love and can commit to long-term. It’s the ultimate tool for recovery.
Running and sobriety. They’re superpowers. They give me the superhero feeling that alcohol used to give me, but without the guilt, shame or hangovers.
I’ve done some hard things. But the hardest thing I’ve ever done was getting sober
And the second hardest thing was ending my marriage. I did them both simultaneously, with a huge leap of faith, and I came out better and stronger in every way.
Today, I feel unstoppable and I know you have it in you to feel the same way
As a sober person living a happy, healthy life with running, fitness and family at my side, I’ve been able to do so many great things, one of those being starting Recovery Road Runners.
Running is FUN. Anyone can do it (fast or slow does not matter). Running races is FUN. It takes you to new places, new adventures, new people along the way. You feel accomplished, satisfied, energized, like a kid again having an adventure! It’s accessible to anyone. All you need is shoes and a road in front of you. Just run. :)
If you want to feel unstoppable, it starts with quitting drinking and picking up a pair of tennis shoes instead of picking up another bottle
But you do need help getting there. I needed help, too, and I got it.
What I couldn’t find was a group like Recovery Road Runners, which is one reason why I started it! Our group is amazing and I’ve never felt more confident and secure in my sobriety as today with our group.
As a running and sobriety coach, I believe I can help others who want to free themselves from another hangover, another regret, another setback. I can help you feel amazing and unstoppable. We can do it together.
We are Recovery Road Runners.
Start Your Running and Recovery Success Story Today!
Coach Amber is now booking free consultations and taking membership applications for Winter 2021-22!