"I could have gone home at any time, knocked on the door and asked my mother for help. But I was caught up in my addiction and I didn't want her to see me like that."

Finally, Blue bottomed out. Hooked on opiates and saddled with both high blood pressure and asthma, he sought help.

It took him another 18 months to summon the courage to join the mission's running team.

"When you're coming out of the 'storm,' you start to get your physical abilities back," he said. "When I finally did suit up to run with them [before dawn], in a freezing drizzle, I saw everyone smiling. And I'm, like, what's going on? Why are they happy? But I liked it.

"You get into your groove, your running zone, and everything goes away. You're free-spirited. No worries. No nothing. You just get out and jog."

Blue continues to run despite working 70 hours a week as a floor technician at both University of Maryland Medical Center and BWI Marshall Airport.

"Anthony has blossomed here," said Tom Bond, program director at the mission. "When you first walk in this door and you want to move forward though your whole life has been napalmed behind you, it's a scary time. But this is a quiet, humble, hardworking guy with a lot of intestinal fortitude who has really grown over the last three years

"Recovery for all of us is a lifelong process. Along the way, we'll need all of the tools we can stick in our tool belt — and that includes running."

mike.klingaman@baltsun.com

If you go

The 2012 Baltimore Running Festival runs through much of the morning Saturday. The starting time for the Baltimore Marathon and the Legg Mason Team Relay is 8 a.m. at the corner of Russell and Camden streets. The 5K runs begins at 8:15 a.m. at the corner of Paca and Pratt streets. The kids Fun Run is set for 9:20 a.m. (runners age 7 and under) and 9:30 a.m. (kids 8-12) at the Kids Fun Zone on Lot C at the stadium complex. The half-marathon begins at 9:45 a.m. at the corner of Conway and Light streets. Marathon runners should start arriving at the finish line around 10:15a.m. For more Iinformation, including a full events listing, go to: thebaltimoremarathon.com.

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