September 21, 2014

Yard Day was a break from the norm, it was a chance for us all to relax and sort of forget about the day to day monotony of life in prison, I’m guessing this is part of why most all prisons in the state of Ohio hold this annual event, and if I’m correct I believe that most prisons across the country do this as well. I think it breaks down some of the tension built up over the year, giving us inmates a release, enabling us to feel slightly human again. All day we were able to walk around parts of the compound that would normally be off limits, we didn’t have to wear our prison issued outfits (blue pants and blue collared shirts) they let us walk around in shorts and t-shirts. For lunch they fixed us hamburgers and hotdogs, with a Pepsi and a slice of watermelon. The watermelon was my favorite part; I haven’t had watermelon in nearly four years, so I traded my Pepsi for another slice from another inmate. They even let us take our food out of the chow hall and eat it on the grass in the yard while listening to inmate bands play music on a stage set up outside the gym area. Kurt and I waked around the compound, watching some of the competitive events like the pull up contest, the quarterback challenge and the volleyball tournament. As for the four mile race, well that was the very first event of the day. Unfortunately I didn’t do as well as I thought I would, but I still gave it my best. I took fifth place, just milla seconds behind third and fourth place. The two men I won against in the qualifying race placed in third and fourth, they were on fire and I guess it just wasn’t my day. In part I believe I might have psyched myself out a bit prior to the race, I also wore myself out by matching the pace of the front runner in the beginning, quickly running out of gas. The front runner finished in just over 20 minutes, that’s five minute miles, a very competitive speed in a four mile race. At the end of the day I can’t get down on myself too bad about placing fifth, heck I even finished a whole 23 seconds faster than in my qualifying race, with a finishing time of 23 minutes flat, that’s 5.75 minute miles, a great pace for a me, a man who has recently recovered from an unhealthy weight of 265 lbs., to a current weight of 165 lbs., from a borderline diabetic on high cholesterol medication and a deadly substance abuse problem to a health conscious individual with a deeper love and respect for myself and others, a higher standard of morals and values and most importantly a successful sobriety of more than three years and counting. Not many people can say they can run four miles after staring death in the eyes for so many years, but I can, thanks to a personal commitment to changing my life around and a loving family that supports me and pushes me to do better.

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