Crystal Rosales got a big surprise last week. We teamed up with Nike Running to deliver a very special gift to some unsuspecting members of the Chicago running community. We asked for their shoe sizes so they probably new that they were getting shoes but I don't think they expected a massive crate branded with their name & ours with ALL THREE of the fast pack shoes in bright mango: Air Zoom Alphafly Next%, ZoomX Vaporfly Next%, and Air Zoom Tempo Next%! The "Mango Pack" was set to release for the 2020 Chicago Marathon (until the pandemic changed everything) so, it felt good to send these Chicagoans a big surprise to brighten the close of the year. Here's our chat with Crystal:
Dan Fitzgerald: On instagram you share very openly your sobriety journey in a way that is very real. I'm sure it helps people who are going through the same things feel seen. Can you tell us about it?
Crystal Rosales: I’ve struggled with alcohol addiction for most of my adult life. I attempted to get sober three times over the last ten years, but was always so scared of labeling myself an alcoholic and didn’t have the courage to openly discuss what I was feeling inside. I would just convince myself that my drinking was not that bad because I still had a job, partner, friends and a pretty regular life. I may have not been homeless or drinking everyday, but when I was, I was blacking out and losing control and hurting myself and everyone who cared about me. When I finally hit my own rock bottom in December 2018, one of the first things I did was post about how I had a drinking problem and wanted to get sober on all my social media accounts. That was a very bold move, but I needed people to know I was seriously struggling and also needed accountability if I wanted to change my life. I just didn’t want to hide it anymore and also finally let go of that shame I associated with addiction. In these two years of sobriety, I've fought a lot of internal battles and gone through many evolutions. I'm finally at the point where I'm comfortable labeling myself as a recovering alcoholic and currently back in a 12 step program. They truly weren't kidding when they said sobriety is one day at time.
DF: Have you found it harder in the pandemic? Has social media helped connect you with other #soberbabes? (#soberbabes is a hashtag used by some in recovery)
CR: Even though I was a little over a year sober, the beginning of the pandemic was very hard. Everyone was dealing with it the best way they could and for a lot of people that meant drinking. There were shot for shot challenges, memes about being alcoholics when the pandemic was over, etc. Social media was the place I was going for news and even an escape from reality and that was constantly in my face. It made me sad and almost as if I was being left out. However, being open about my sobriety online helped connect me with other sober people, especially women, from all over the country and even world. The more I talked about it on my Instagram, the more others would reach out to me about their own struggles or how they navigated sobriety. We didn't have the same stories, but we were helping each other by just sharing our experiences. Especially when we all needed pandemic support. I may give myself “vulnerability hangovers” (s/o to Brene Brown) after putting myself out there on Instagram and letting everyone know that sobriety isn’t all rainbows and butterflies, but knowing that my words may resonate with someone or make them feel less alone makes it all worth it. I've also made legit sober friends that I hope to meet in real life when it's safe to travel again. Like Flavio who created the Sober Babes Club account and has been a huge inspiration to how I openly share my story online. I'm just so grateful to have the online sober community!
DF: How has running colored your 2020?
CR: 2020 was full of loss, but running, even when it was hard, helped me maintain my faith. I started 2020 by training for the Milwaukee marathon. It was going to be my first ever and was just so excited to be on this journey. Then the pandemic hit and races got cancelled. I was absolutely devastated. I finally put my all into reaching a goal and it was just taken away. However, I realized that running had become a big part of my life. From new daily routines to new friend groups, it was now ingrained in me. Running also became how I coped with any struggles in my life and sobriety during the pandemic. I was sad and stuck at home for weeks, but could always find comfort in running that same stretch of Elston Ave by my house no matter what. Even though I knew that the Chicago Marathon would eventually get cancelled too, I decided to start training for it. Keeping that same training schedule helped give me something big to look forward to. It also strengthened bonds with running friends and helped me discover parts of myself I never knew existed. I’m so happy I made that decision because I ended up running a virtual Chicago Marathon on October 11th, the day the marathon was scheduled to happen. It was absolutely unreal seeing family, friends, crewmates, teammates, dogs and even strangers supporting me while I ran on the streets of Chicago that day. It wasn’t the race I originally signed up for, but it was the greatest day of my life. I still get chills thinking about it.
DF: How did you hear about the Heartbreakers?
CR: I just started running in the beginning of 2019, so I’m still fairly new to the Chicago running scene. After running solo for a few months, I finally started to explore putting myself out there in the community. I also started following more Chicago runners on Instagram and saw posts about the new Heartbreak Hill Run Co store in Chicago. Funny thing is that I play competitive skeeball at a bar that’s like two doors down from the store, so I would pass by it every week! I finally got my opportunity to join the Heartbreak Hill Run Co community when my partner gifted me a membership for Christmas last year. He thought it would be a great thing to supplement my new running journey. I was so intimidated when I showed up to that first Thursday team practice, but I’m glad I went. The Heartbreakers taught me how to do workouts, that you still needed to run long in the winter even when it was snowing, that Morton Arboretum and parking garages are where you practice hills that will make you cry, that you needed more than one pair of running shoes and putting your goal on the wall made it real. Meeting really cool seasoned runners who were still working hard to get stronger turned that feeling of intimidation into motivation. I’m really bummed that the pandemic ruined my full 2020 Heartbreaks team experience, but can’t wait to be back and hear Coach Luc say “gucci” as he leads us off to a workout.
DF: Let's talk about the "crate"? What are you going to do with these?
CR: Well, now that I have finally stopped screaming, I'm just in awe! These are three of the best shoes ever in such a fun colorway. I'm going to throw the Air Zoom Tempo NEXT% into my current rotation right away. It's a very versatile style that works for my chill runs and also when I want to push my speed. I'd like to save the Nike ZoomX Vaporfly NEXT% for some speed workouts and the next 5k - 10k race. As expected, this mango Air Zoom Alphafly NEXT% is my new holy grail. I ran my virtual marathon in the "watermelon" colorway, so I fully understand the power of that shoe now. Your girl really felt like Kipchoge that day! So putting it out in the universe that I will run the 2021 Chicago Marathon in these. I just find it really funny that I only had one pair of Pegasus 35s when I joined Heartbreak in January and now I have 11 pairs of Nikes. You all have created a monster!
DF: What's your big running goal for 2021?
CR: I never thought I'd ever say this, but my big 2021 running goal is to BQ. I took a risk by following a more advanced training plan for my virtual marathon and pushed myself to the limit every single week. I was mentally and physically exhausted, but seeing it all pay off on my marathon day felt so incredible. After years of doubting myself and thinking I could never be a runner, I proved that my mind and body are capable of doing really hard things. There's so still so much I need to learn about when it comes to workouts, nutrition, recovery and even overall running to make this goal happen, but I'm ready to push myself to my limit again. When I told a friend I was afraid to actually make this a goal cause then it would make it REAL, they said "those who have specific lofty goals are the ones that are truly living". So I'm going to keep living life out loud and chasing my wildest dreams. Plus if I don't BQ in 2021, we just keep running and try again.
DF: Selena documentary: thumbs up or thumbs down? (I know your answer to this but your posts made me laugh.)
CR: Selena: The Series gets two major thumbs down from me! As someone who was very young when she was still alive and related to her struggles of being mexican american even after her passing, it was such a disappointment. This was the perfect opportunity to introduce her legacy to a whole new audience 25 years later and instead you gave us party city wigs and bad Lifetime movie like storytelling. I obviously still have lots of strong feelings about this series and can't wait to see how much worse it gets in part 2. So be ready for even more hot takes via IG when it's released!