Sunday Story: Running and Recovery

For too a few years, Kathryn Schmucker says she has been operating away — escaping from the trauma in her life by utilizing medication to deal with life’s hardships. 

But not anymore.

Today, Schmucker, 40, is lacing up her trainers and racing towards a brighter future. On Saturday, April 23, Schmucker will stand on the beginning line of the Monument Avenue 10K with an anticipated 20,000 race individuals. She is coaching for the race together with almost 30 different restoration program individuals, 19 males and 10 ladies, from The Healing Place, a free, long-term, peer-driven residential restoration program of CARITAS. 

“This is a life-changing experience,” Schmucker says. “I did not know how to live life before, but I do now.”

 Like the opposite runners, her purpose is to achieve the end line. But the race means a lot than that to her — it’s a brand new starting. 

Schumucker, who was utilizing medication to numb the challenges in her life, hung out in jail from August by way of November 2021. She says the expertise saved her, as a result of it’s the place she came upon about The Healing Place, which added a ladies’s restoration program in December 2020.

It’s the place operating is seen as one technique to heal an individual’s dependancy and propel them ahead on a extra optimistic path. 

For the previous 10 years, volunteer coach Sara Sitkiewicz has led a coaching group of Healing Place runners for 10 weeks as they put together for the Monument Avenue 10K.

They meet for weekly group runs at 7:30 a.m. on Saturdays, and though it’s early, the group is energetic. Their route varies every week, however largely it takes the group by way of surrounding neighborhoods, together with Manchester, and alongside the James River. Starting with 1 mile for the primary run, the routes get progressively longer every week in order that the individuals can full the 10K distance (6.2 miles) by race day. 

“My passion is helping people,” says Sitkiewicz, a mom of two younger youngsters, whose husband, Greg, has additionally been a volunteer coach with this group.

The Healing Place’s 10K coaching program began in 2012, when a former CARITAS board member, Stevie McFadden, wished to share the enjoyment she present in operating. When a volunteer was wanted to maintain this system going, Sitkiewicz stepped up and has been coming again ever since.

“I couldn’t see this team not happen anymore,” she says. “There were too many good things happening.”

Though Sitkiewicz has no connection to dependancy in her private life, she says she volunteers as a result of she believes we’re right here to assist others.

More than 20 volunteer operating coaches help Sitkiewicz and The Healing Place individuals; Sitkiewicz usually calls her colleagues “cheerleaders” due to their optimistic vitality as they encourage individuals and assist them accomplish their targets.

“They don’t have to give of their time, but they do,” Schmucker says of the coaches, “and that’s an exquisite factor.”

Women are taking part in The Healing Place’s 10K coaching group for the primary time this yr. More than 100 males have gone by way of this system beforehand, and “one of the really cool things is some of the men that ran as a participant have come back, and now they are coaches,” Sitkiewicz says. This yr, about 9 of the volunteer coaches are alumni of The Healing Place.

Schmucker says the coaching group has made a profound affect on her life. “I don’t think I’ve finished anything except high school in a long time,” she says. “It’s not always easy, but you feel good accomplishing the goal.”

Running additionally has impressed her to pursue different goals. “I’ve been saying I want to go back to school,” she says. “This makes that goal more realistic for me. If you put your mind to it, you can achieve anything.”

Schmucker says she will already envision how she’ll really feel on the end line on race day. “It’s going to be exhilarating,” she says. “I’m hopeful for the future because I was able to stick to something and see it through to set a goal, commit and follow through.”

The nonprofit Shood and operating store Fleet Feet present donated trainers for coaching group individuals. Sports Backers sponsors this system individuals’ 10K entry charges.

The transformation of the individuals is inspiring, says Anna Murphy, CARITAS Family Resource Coordinator and a volunteer 10K Training Coach. “Individuals show up tired and unsure, but willing,” she says. “Although the trail will not be with out battle and emotions of doubt, it in the end yields unimaginable accomplishments.

“It’s a space where we see faith at work and can encourage us all towards strength and courage to continue running our race with perseverance.”

As she provides miles to her coaching schedule, Schmucker is full of hope. “I’m super grateful for this experience,” she says. “I’m not a runner, but I’m going to change that by starting to run. I’m going to heal myself inside and out.”

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