Sober strong: Larson overcomes drinking, prepares for Boston Marathon
The 2019 Boston Marathon is nine years in the making for Lisa Larson.
The Mitchell resident is one of 31 registered runners from South Dakota that will participate in the 26.2-mile Boston Marathon on Monday.
Larson will be running in the prestigious marathon for the first time in her life, and she's had to overcome her own struggles to reach this point. Larson has always been a runner and she also used to be a heavy drinker.
She spent time at Tallgrass Recovery and Sober Living Homes and Avera Behavioral Health Center—both in Sioux Falls. She began drinking at a young age and has relapsed after receiving treatment.
"So I have seen some things," Larson said. "I have been through some things. It's not horrible, but it's definitely something that makes me appreciate the ability to run."
Larson is open about her past drinking problems and is proud of her sobriety. She's now nine years sober and uses running as her mediation.
"It's my mediation on the run, I call it," Larson said. "So I get all my thoughts put together. It's my time. It's Lisa time."
She runs with a sleeve that reads: #soberstrong and has nine medals commemorating each year she has been sober.
"I want to let people know that nothing keeps us down," Larson added about her sobriety. "We are very determined people in recovery and there's always hope for everybody."
Larson's determination has now brought her to run in the world's oldest annual marathon. A visit coordinator at Dakota Wesleyan University in her day job, Larson said running in the event is not on her bucket list. But she has competed in regional running events and said it's tough to top finishing those long distance runs. She qualified for the Boston Marathon last fall in Sioux Falls.
"When you cross that line, there is nothing better," Larson said. "I am serious to God. The satisfaction of crossing that and then seeing all those people that have no idea who you are cheering for you and yelling for you, it's amazing. It absolutely is amazing."
On Monday, she'll experience the satisfaction of crossing the finish line at the Boston Marathon, which draws more than 30,000 runners and 500,000 spectators. Former DWU runner Thomas Madut is again participating in the event and relayed to Larson what the experience will be like.
"He said it is the most fabulous thing and emotional thing you will ever see," Larson said. "There is cheering across the whole 26 miles."
Larson's husband, Jeff, and their children Tate, Koby and Jace also plan to attend. Their cheers too will be nine years in the making.
"I just want to be that role model that anything is possible," Lisa Larson said. "Don't ever think you are not good enough because you are and you don't have to be the fastest. I am not saying win it. I am saying you are winning your own goal."