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Recovery with Runwell: Mark's Story

My name is Mark, and I'm a 40-year-old recovering addict who lives with anxiety. At the age of 21, I was busted, disgusted and couldn't be trusted. At my “bottom,” I lived in a rinky-dink trailer with only candles, batteries, an alarm clock, and three couch cushions with the windows bolted shut! At the time I didn't take care of myself. I didn't love myself. I didn't shave, brush my teeth, shower, or anything like that. My social skills were at an animal level. Because I hit rock bottom, it didn’t take long before I got clean and stayed clean for awhile, but my anxiety took a toll on me, and my doctors wanted to institutionalize me. Right around the same time, I was running a couple miles here and there. I posted my running on Facebook, and a friend of mine asked me to train with him for the Rock 'n' Roll Savannah half marathon. Sure, why not? I told the doctors this running thing seems to with help the symptoms. I had hallucinations caused by my anxiety. The doctors gave me a three-month period to see how I'd do. I haven't been in a hospital since (2012).

I met my Runwell teammate, Chad Moye, a year later, and he invited me to meet up with Runwell at Gateway. At the time, I was actually drinking again, but after meeting and talking to Mike Martinez, I surrendered and put down the booze. I’ve been clean and sober ever since (August, 2015). I also met Kim Pawelek, who was a blessing. You see, a couple months after joining Runwell, my head started giving me troubles, and I was wondering what the purpose was for me in life. When I ran the Rock-n-Roll half marathon, I thought that made my life complete. It was a big deal for me at the time. Kim didn't know anything about this, but at the time, my Head was really unclear, and I really didn't know what the purpose was for anything anymore. She said she wanted me to train for another half marathon, the Jacksonville Marine Corps Half. I did. I ran it, and it was probably the most emotional race I’ve ever run. She then mentioned the Jacksonville Bank Marathon was coming up two months later, so she signed me up for that, too. This gave me a reason for running and to train for races. This is what Runwell is about…getting better and helping others. And so I kept on moving forward. The next race was a 50K at Badwater Cape Fear.

But it wasn't just about me. It was about giving back. With Runwell, we take runners out every Tuesday at Gateway (a local treatment center in Jacksonville), and Mike heads it up. You can run, run/walk, or walk. Mike gets a feel for those not running full-time, and if they’d like to take it to the next level, he sends them to run with Chad, Kim and I. Runwell also signs up these runners for races if they commit to their running. I really like to see them grow, progress, and run. The only way we can keep what we have is by giving it away. Runners in Runwell come and go as they enter and finish treatment, but we know one thing...we plant the seed. It's always a blessing to see Runwell teammates at races. I like to watch a runner whose come off the streets and experience what it’s like to finish it up at a race. Last year, at the Gate River Run 15K, another Runwell runner and I experienced this together as we caught up with each other on top of the "green Monster" (the bridge) at mile 8. We sprinted one mile all the way down to the finish line, neck and neck …priceless! No amount of dope can get me higher than a high like that.


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