Photo credit: Daniel Acuna.
During the 1990s, Suzy Favor Hamilton was on top of the running world with numerous Track and Field Championship titles and three Olympic Games appearances.
By 2011, she was working as one of the most-requested call girls in Las Vegas using the name Kelly Lundy.
Below is an excerpt from Hamilton's newly released book, Fast Girl: A Life Spent Running From Madness, a memoir about her rise to stardom, fall from grace and struggles with depression—leading to her life as a prostitute.
We always played on the nature trails near the Wisconsin River, which flowed right below the house where I grew up in Stevens Point. My friends and I were walking together beneath the overhanging oak trees one fall day, looking for fallen branches to build a fort in the shape of a tepee. This would be a fort for girls only, where we could hide out. If the boys came by, they'd need to know the password, which we wouldn't tell them. As we continued our search, I shivered in the cool air and looked toward the train tracks, hoping to spot some more building materials and thinking that if I ran a little bit, the motion might warm me up.
"I'm going to go look for some better wood," I said, and took off.
My friends nodded, and we split up to cover more ground. As soon as I rounded the bend, I began to run. This had been my intention all along. I'm not sure why I lied to my friends. It didn't matter. I was flying.
I gathered speed, my sneakers crunching the dry leaves beneath me as they flew over the uneven path with its divots of dead grass, scattered acorns, and twigs, my steps falling with such certainty, I didn't have to look down. Running faster and faster, I discovered a totally new feeling: a perfect mix of euphoria and peace.
When I ran in gym class, I always landed on my toes, instead of on the balls of my feet, like most runners, and so I often thought of myself as a ballerina when I ran because they were always up on their toes, too. But on this day, even though I was running in the same way as usual, my body felt different. I wasn't running because my gym teacher had told me to. I was running because my body was compelled to, for the sheer pleasure of it. Nature seemed so clear to me, the trees swaying in the breeze above me as I passed through the grove where they grew. My stride was so effortless that I picked up my pace even more, my biggest smile on my face. I forgot why I was in the woods in the first place, forgot everything, and began to run like a galloping horse. I was now the horse and didn't ever want to stop. My arms pumped back and forth, my breath visible in white puffs that gusted out of my mouth into the crisp, cold air. I'd already run about a mile when I remembered that I was supposed to be gathering sticks for our dream fort. Suddenly I was afraid my friends would worry about where I was and what I was doing. I had to get back to them quickly. I also knew that I couldn't tell them that I'd run off pretending to be a horse. I heard them calling my name in the distance. I turned back in their direction, and the horse began to pick up the pace again, to a blazing speed now. This was incredible. Am I really as fast as I feel? I had no idea, but I knew that I'd found something new to love.
Fast Girl is available for purchase at local bookstores and Amazon.com.
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