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by Molly Childs
In the backwoods culture of Louisiana where I was born almost everyone chewed, dipped, or smoked tobacco. I started smoking at age 14, Camels I stole from my brother. Pall Malls when I could buy my own because they promised a longer cooler smoke.
Kent was my first with a filter until Virginia Slims came on the market. I bought them thinking they were made especially for women rather than named for the location they were manufactured. I smoked on and off for the next 36 years.
At age 49 I had difficulty sleeping, constant headaches, climbing stairs was almost impossible. My doctor suggested I stop smoking by saying “If you really want to kill yourself use a gun, it’s quicker, less messy and cheaper”.
I tried SmokeEnders, hypnosis, aversion therapy, any program that promised success. None worked. I went cold turkey December 18th 1988. It was HELL! Nicotine is as addictive as cocaine or meth amphetamines and more addictive than alcohol.
I could quit easily. Staying “quit” was the hard part. I believe I am still a smoker, just not lighting up today. After 32 years of non-smoking I still crave a cigarette when I am stressed, finished cleaning the house, after a meal, or any opportunity to “reward” myself.
Approximately 45% of drinkers become addicted, the rate for smokers is 65%.
One of the most difficult times for me was after supper. My custom had been to pour myself a glass of ice tea, light a cigarette, and sit in a rocking chair on my back porch until dark. A long held Southern tradition.
Instead, I started walking until I felt a little less like screaming and pulling out my hair. I would walk every day, a few days a week, and some weeks not at all. My only consistencies were over eating and feeling sorry for myself. I missed smoking!
In the Spring of 1991 the local NPR station held a 5k walk to raise funds for Masterpiece Theater. Being a big fan I decided to go. It was my first run! I huffed and puffed until I crossed the finish line!
November 02, 1991 with very little training I ran my first marathon in San Antonio, TX finishing in 5:29.
In 1999 I decided to celebrate my 60th birthday and 10th year of non-smoking by running a marathon every month. At that time, I worked a 50-hour week in a high stress job and could not take Mondays off. I also volunteered 10-15 hours a week to The Buddy Project, an organization that assisted people living with AIDS. From October 31st to March 31st, I worked longer hours on the company’s year-end close and related audits. This made planning when and where to run a real challenge.
Soon I realized a marathon each month might not be possible; another option would be twelve in that year. January thru June I ran seven marathons. I attempted a marathon in Reno NV in July. Not as advertised! The start is in a State Park, (roadside rest stop), two loops around the lake, (dried up hole filled with stinky dead fish), well-marked course, (a rut in sand three inches deep). I dropped out at mile 9.
I had no luck scheduling August – October. I ran San Antonio on Nov 11.th. , Sunmart 50k on the first Saturday in December,1999 and Dallas White Rock on the second Sunday .
I failed to reach my goal of 12n12@60.
I did celebrate running 12n14 because I had ran Seattle in Nov 1998, and Dallas White Rock in December 1998!
I think I may have found a new addiction