FRANKFORT — Amy Compston began running when she was 11 years old and she’s never stopped.
But, along the way, the now 28-year-old mother of four and full-time nurse, nearly ran her life off the road. That she got back on it and where it’s taken her since then is her story, one inspiring enough that she was recognized Thursday by the Kentucky House of Representatives.
Compston was asked by a friend to go out for track in middle school and soon was running competitively for Greenup County High School. But three or four years later she was running with the wrong crowd.
“My mom was recently divorced and working fulltime and she wasn’t able to be around that much,” Compston said.
At 15, Compston swallowed and snorted 30 Xanax and awoke in the intensive care unit of a hospital “with tubes in every orifice.” Six months later she helped some friends wash down another batch of pills with whiskey and again awoke in the hospital.
Her mother enrolled her in a Christian counseling program. She went but she was often intoxicated.
Then came the car wreck. She suffered severe facial injuries but recovered. Somehow, she managed to get a nursing degree from Ashland Community and Technical College and get married.
Through all of it, she kept running. But she kept taking drugs, too.
She introduced her husband, Chris, to drugs. She’d stop somehow each time she became pregnant, but after the child was born “at the first opportunity” she’d return to drugs. Somehow she managed to hold down a job, attend church and raise a growing family while living a life of addiction.
“I was definitely living a double life, even a triple life,” Compston said. “My friends at church, my work friends, they knew that side of me, but they didn’t know the drug part of my life.”
But she was in turmoil.
“God started working on me,” she said. “I was having nightmares about getting caught; about losing my kids; and I just had no peace in my life.”
One day she went home and told Chris she was through. He could join her in a new life or she and the kids would leave.
“At first he was shocked but almost immediately, he was on board,” Compston said.
She decided then she wanted to run a marathon and began training, a familiar site along the streets of Ashland. In January of 2012 she ran her first marathon and her time was good enough to qualify for the Boston Marathon.
Then in July of last year, “I surrendered my life to the Lord,” she said. She was no longer “running away from God.”
She signed up for the Boston Marathon and in April finished among the top 15 percent of female runners. Cheering her on were 21 family members who spent the day passing out Christian tracts to those at the race.
They had no idea they were standing only 20 feet away from the site of a terrorist bomb explosion. They left the site five minutes or so before the explosion to meet up with Amy after she’d finished the race.
Later a photograph of the scene appeared on the cover a magazine, showing the site of the explosion and there lay one of the tracts her family handed out that day.
Back home, she learned of a mission by her church, the Unity Baptist Church which sponsored Penne Paris Nursery Schools in Moyo, Uganda. The school and another like it in Laropi, Uganda provide students with lunch and education for a year at a cost of about $45 for each student.
Teaming up with Mark Maynard, editor of The Independent, Amy is raising money for those nursery schools by asking for pledges for each mile she’ll run in an ultra-marathon, 50-mile race in Nashville in November.
Originally, Compston and Maynard set a goal of $10,000. But she’s collected $23,000 in pledges already so they’ve upped the goal to $40,000. She’s established a website: www.amyforafrica.com where people can donate.
So Thursday, Rep. Kevin Sinnette, D-Ashland, and Rep. Rocky Adkins, D-Sandy Hook, sponsored a resolution honoring Compston, not only for her charitable efforts but for her inspiring story of overcoming addiction.
As she stood, her hands clasped behind her back, in front of the 100-member House, Sinnette and Adkins took turns reading the resolution recounting her story. In the gallery, Chris and three of her four children (the 2-year-old stayed home with his grandmother) watched with pride along with several family members and friends.
Members of the House came forward and shook her hand and even asked to have their photographs taken with her.
But Compston and her family didn’t tarry long. They were back on the road to Ashland. After all, Amy has to get back on the road to train.
But then running is nothing new for Amy Compston. It’s just the direction she’s running in that changed.