Ryan Meinke runs for lifeA series of disastrous events led Ryan Meinke, 27, to running three years ago.
By: LaReesa Sandretsky, Lake County News Chronicle
A series of disastrous events led Ryan Meinke, 27, to running three years ago.
On Halloween of 2010, Meinke overdosed on alcohol and drugs. He was in a coma for four days.
“It was really shocking. It was one of the scariest times in my life,” said Michelle Hallman, Meinke’s sister. She was in Two Harbors when she got the call that Meinke was in a hospital in St. Paul. She immediately headed for the hospital—a three-hour drive that seemed to take forever.
After the family was told Meinke had a slim chance of survival, he woke up and was walking within three days.
“Everyone was really surprised, including me,” he said.
Meinke, returned from St. Paul to Two Harbors to recover in his parents’ home. Six months after his overdose, tragedy struck again. He found out that his cousin, Joe Roach, had committed suicide.
“It really hit home. The first thing I did was go for a run,” Meinke said.
He plugged in his iPod, laced up his shoes and headed out the door. His body was still weak from the overdose and he could barely complete a mile. Just when he thought he couldn’t run anymore, the song “Rooster” by Alice in Chains came on his iPod.
Then, Meinke recalled Roach showing him an awesome new purchase nearly two decades before—an Alice in Chains cassette tape. Meinke was only 7 or 8 at the time, but the song brought him right back to that moment with his older cousin, and he found the strength to run a little bit further.
“I’ve kind of been running ever since,” Meinke said.
In 2012, Meinke signed up for the Garry Bjorklund Half Marathon. In just over a year, he went from barely being able to finish a mile to finishing a half marathon with a time of 1:41. Then, he set his sights on the full marathon. Following the Dick Beardsley training plan, he has run two 20-mile runs and over 600 miles since February. He said he chose to run the long distances to challenge himself.
“I think you really find out what you’re made of. It’s almost therapeutic and you have a lot of time to think,” he said.
Meinke’s sister said she’s seen the positive impact running has had on him. He regularly babysits her sons and she calls him an excellent role model.
“It gives him control in his life that he needs. He’s done a complete 180,” Hallman said. “I’m so lucky to still have him in my life.”
First and foremost, Meinke said he’s running the marathon for his cousin. Beyond that, he said his family has been a big motivation.
“Watching us all grow up has been very inspirational,” Meinke said.
During the week before the race, Meinke prepared for the 26.2-mile journey from Two Harbors to Duluth by running a few easy miles and finalizing his marathon day playlist. One song he knew early on would make the cut? “Rooster” by Alice in Chains.