I’ll never forget my first sports-induced asthma attack. I was in the 7th grade running the mile run for the Presidential Physical Fitness Testing. In case you’re not familiar with this, it was something held at the end of the school year where you competed in various activities (sit-up, pull-ups, Mile run…) and could win awards for it. (It’s still around, check out more info here: https://www.presidentschallenge.org/celebrate/physical-fitness.shtml). I was always an active child, and could run pretty fast (even if I looked like an Ostrich…thanks Dad), but half-way through my run I was suddenly light-headed and could feel my chest tightening. I couldn’t catch my breath and had to stop. I walked the rest of the way, scared and pissed off I couldn’t finish the race. Within a week from that moment my mother took me to the doctor and I was diagnosed with sports induced asthma. Had to get an inhaler and watch my intensity during sports. So, from that moment I gave up on the idea of running.
This year with turning 30 I decided to add ‘Do a Marathon’ on my list of yearly goals. I did not want asthma to stop me, once and for all. Over the summer I covered the National Senior Games, and one of the participants was a woman over the age of 80 with severe asthma who was competing in Track & Field. As soon as I saw that I knew I had to find a race to participate in. Then lo and behold the Rock n’ Roll Marathon announced it was coming to Cleveland, and it was including a 5k (perfect for a beginner like me!). There really could not have been a better first marathon for me to attempt.
So, already an avid power walker, I decide to slowly incorporate running and jogging to my workout. Just enough so I wouldn’t become light-headed and completely winded. As I trained myself I found that I was going longer and longer in between my jogging and running before feeling too winded. I also had it in my head that as God as my witness I was going to do this.
Yesterday was race day, and I was stoked to finally do this! I wasn’t the least bit nervous. I had it in my head that I was not only going to do this without dying, but that I was going to make it to the finish line by my goal time of 45 min. I did intervals just like when training, but every time I passed cheerleaders, friends and family members of the racers or bands I got that extra push to run more and run faster! Before I knew it the finish line was in sight. It felt so incredible to cross the finish line! For the last 17 years I was convinced I would never get to run another race because I had asthma. That excuse is gone. I have proven to myself I can do it (and at 30!), and accomplished another goal for the year! Now im thinking about doing the Cleveland 10k in the Spring. Suck it asthma!