Sunday, April 22, 2018     Volume: 19, Issue: 7

Santa Maria Sun / Athlete of the Week

The following article was posted on June 14th, 2017, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 18, Issue 15 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [] - Volume 18, Issue 15

Ryan Hillmer


For Ryan Hillmer, June 4 was a day of accomplishment. Apart from participating in the 24th annual Marianne Talley Memorial Fun Run, Hillmer also celebrated his six-month anniversary of being clean and sober.

Hillmer's road to recovery began when he moved to the Middlehouse, a residential facility in San Luis Obispo for men working through alcohol and chemical dependency. Since moving there last December, exercising regularly became a huge component of Hillmer's life.

Ryan Hillmer

"Exercise is one of the best recovery tools I've found, right after NA and AA meetings and the 12 steps of those programs," he said. "I have used regular exercise as a tool to stay positive, focused, and strong in my recovery."

Hillmer works out at the YMCA in SLO where he usually cycles or lifts weights, he said. But after experiencing the Marianne Talley Memorial 5K Race, Hillmer regretted not taking more time on the treadmill in preparation.

"Although I weight train and cycle basically every day, I never run," Hillmer said. "I went into the Marianne Talley Fun Run thinking that my cycling endurance would translate well into my running capabilities."

After the 5K race started, Hillmer felt exhausted almost immediately, he said. Thankfully, he ran with a close friend who stuck by his side the entire race.

"My friend Cody helped push me out of my comfort zone to make sure I finished without taking any breaks," he said. "He wouldn't let me stop at all. If he hadn't stayed behind with me, he easily would have gotten first or second place."

Hillmer finished the race just under half an hour with 28:05. The course of the 5K took him and the other runners down dirt roads and scenic trails through Talley Vineyards. Although celebrating six months of sobriety at a vineyard may sound ironic, Hillmer said he wouldn't have wanted to spend it any other way.

For Hillmer, admitting he was powerless to his addiction was the most important part of his recovery, he said.

"It was important for me to realize the potential of true happiness and joy without relying on drugs or alcohol for said things," he said. "The advice I'd give to those in my situation before getting clean is to just know that you deserve a better way of life."

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