When Brooke Martin was released from prison to participate in the Women in Recovery (WIR) program, she was at her heaviest – 184 pounds. So when WIR therapist Catherine Claybrook challenged her to make a commitment and stick to it for one week, Brooke chose to run.

On house arrest and shackled to an ankle monitor, Brooke began by running circles in the backyard of her sober living house. “I realized on day five that I was hooked.”

She ran to avoid relapse. To find strength when separated from her children. “I would run so hard and so long that I was utterly exhausted. I learned to put my hurt and anger into the run.”

This fall, Brooke ran 26 miles in five hours and 34 minutes during the William Route 66 Marathon. She’s sober, has her children back and will graduate college in the spring. She’s a long way from prison and the life that led her there.

Brooke was only an addict for a little over three years – but that was long enough. She was using intravenously and didn’t know how to live any other way, despite years of sobriety. Then she sold to an undercover narcotics officer and was sentenced to 10 years in prison for drug trafficking.

After serving 16 months, Brooke was given a second chance with WIR, an alternative to prison for nonviolent, female offenders. “The program showed me that my addiction was not irreversible. It taught me how to change my actions by changing my thoughts.”

She graduated from the program in April 2012. Next up: law school, a request for a pardon and the bar exam. Not to mention two more marathons in 2013.

“I love feeling how my body works altogether. It’s all in sync. It’s hard to relapse when you’re working so hard to keep your body strong and healthy.”

 

*The original version of this story incorrectly identified the race Brooke ran. This version has been corrected.