By Arne Sandberg Sr.
I remember the day of March 13th, 2008 like it was yesterday because I was in the hospital dying of liver failure from drinking. Having ignored the warning signs of vomiting, yellow skin, yellow glowing eyes, and the fact that I couldn’t function without alcohol in my body I continued to fool myself into thinking everything was ok. My life was in shambles and my health horrible but it was those darkest days that brought me to where I am today. I will never forget where I was heading and how it all turned around.
I had been a successful businessman, father, son, husband and had a pretty good life but a change happened which made me not want it anymore. My wife left me for another man, my business was tied up in the divorce, my son had been taken from me and my health was fleeting because I turned to booze to cope with all that was going on. Instead of being a man and taking on the challenges I decided to drink myself into oblivion morning, noon and night. If I was awake there was a drink in my hand. One morning I walked into my bathroom and did the ultimate stare down of myself while asking myself questions.
Is this how you want your family to remember you? Are you going to let a few problems ruin you? Are you a man? Are you ready to die?
It took all the energy, strength and humility I had to go to the doctor and ask for help. The choices he gave me were pretty clear. Keep drinking and die or take his help and quit drinking. Being given only 12-18 months to live, (I still have the hospital form), I decided to start thinking about all the things I wanted to do in life and formulated a plan to live healthier and be a better man than I once was.
Quitting drinking was extremely tough at first because all of sudden you have tons of free time on your hands to be productive. I met many people in AA over the first few months who were a tremendous help in staying sober. When I was healthy enough physically I started running and biking on my own. I used to play soccer and was also a BMX racer so I knew those things would be good for me and keep me occupied.
In early 2009 I injured myself in a half marathon. After returning home a good friend encouraged me to get into triathlons because of the way the training engages the whole body. After a few months of training I did my first Door County Triathlon and have done it every year since. That was 10 years ago and in 2019 I will be doing the sprint Saturday & then the half iron on Sunday. I have been able to accomplish this feat 3 times before and will try it again.
One of the greatest benefits of getting involved in running and triathlons was the doors it opened up to new people while I was getting my life back on track. During all of this I met my beautiful redheaded wife Jill, remarried and its been fantastic since. I am enjoying an amazing sales career and I am the VP of New Business for the good friend who introduced me to triathlons.
We have turned Door County Triathlon into an annual family/friends event. We have recruited many different friends and family to get involved and several will be joining us for their 5th year in 2019. We had 11 family and friends participate in the race last year. Either as an individual or a relay team. Of course there are always a few more in our group who choose to be the spectators & camera people. They are just as important as anyone out there doing the race.
I am very fortunate to have been able to race in many places across the world but we all agree that Door County Triathlon is the best race by far. Not only as a race but for an extended long weekend of fun in the Door. Racing to the finish is always the best and it has only been through humility, hard work and the grace of God I am still here 10 ½ years later.