This week's inspiring story was submitted by Elise Zuber. Thank you for sharing your story of setbacks, triumphs and perseverance!
Breathing is something that many of us take for granted. For me that is not the case, as someone who has grown up with severe asthma and allergies, I know all too well how precious the ability to breath is. I never thought that with my asthma I would be able to run, after all I couldn't even make it ten yards without triggering an attack. Yet over a decade ago I sat there with so much internal angst that I needed a place to workout the internal turmoil. Other efforts to control it and release it would fall short. So, challenged by a friend to get some cardio in 3 days a week, I laced up. I couldn't even run a half of a mile. I had to build up my lungs and increase their capacity; it took time, discipline, determination and a lot of prevention medications.
Three years following that challenge I was stuck at a 3 mile distance, which honestly I was proud of. But I was determined to push myself further. I was starting to experience that "runners high" and the internal peace I felt after runs was something I started to chase after. I slowly increased my distance and got the courage to sign up for my first marathon. I ran it in Chicago and was hooked, no turning back, distance running became my passion. Soon after, I started to chase after a BQ, it was difficult, still being asthmatic and frankly allergic to everything, well I never know what my running days will be like.
It was April of 2017 and I was on target to qualify. I was 15 miles in and being paced by an amazing friend and strong runner when everything came to an abrupt halt. I landed wrong on my leg due to a rut in the road and the bone that the hip flexor is attached to internally broke. I tried my best to push through. I had no DNF's on my race history and didn't want one. It soon became evident that I was done as I was collapsing every time I put weight on my right leg. The pain was unbearable, the MRI showed the damage and I was confined to a wheelchair for a month. I lost all mobility in my right leg and the doctor felt like I may never walk normal again. The only place I wasn't in pain was laying flat on a hard floor.
After of month of forced rest, lots of tears and prayers I was able to start physical therapy. I went for 3 months, 3 days a week, more tears, a few swear words and lots of prayers later I was finally able to attempt running again. It was painfully slow, I had to utilize the "run/walk" strategy, I felt like I would never regain any speed or distance again. Yet through a very determined physical therapist and my strong will, I determined to not let this injury end my running.
Running for me is so healing, energizing, mind clearing and a perfect metaphor for life's challenges, so I pressed on.
My PT encouraged me to simply work on endurance, to not worry yet about speed, I needed to build up my hip strength so it would be able to carry me through races. Taking that to heart I did just that.
Nearly 6 months after the injury I signed up for a half marathon, my son stuck with me, encouraged me and helped me work through my many emotions, I finished with tears. An exact year after my injury I completed a marathon, not fast, but I finished! I kept going! I have since ran a 50 K, 50 miler, a 70 miler and a 100 miler! Just last month I decided it was time to add some speed training. I don't know if I care about a BQ anymore.
I don't know where my running adventures will continue to take me. What I do know is that I will run as long as my lungs and my body allow me to.
Running for me has taught me so much and helped me learn that I can overcome challenges with hard work and determination. Running has shown me that things tend to work out and sometimes you just need to some uninterrupted time sort it out in your mind. I am forever grateful for how running has helped improved my lungs, my mind and my body!
I train 6 days a week with my two dogs. They are the best running partners out there! Most people think I am crazy as their combined weight almost equals mine. I receive a ton of comments about them though! :) They earn every race medal I get!
- Elise Zuber