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Thursday, December 2, 2010

Runner Q&A: Lusia

Something I've been wanting to do for a while is to interview some of my fellow runners in the area.  I've met so many people who have overcome obstacles, helped others, and just done absolutely incredible things.  Today, I wanted to post an interview that I did with my fellow Galloway runner, Lusia.  

I first met Lu in the spring of 2009 when she was placed in my marathon/half marathon training group.  She had been a part of the Galloway program previously, but it was before I was a member.  Her break from running had been forced when she was injured in a car accident in 2005.  Once I heard her story, I was amazed at her determination to get back into running.  She's been doing a ton of training, and I am so happy that she's a part of my group.  I hope Lu's story shows how anyone can get out there and run.  She's an amazing example of the people that I've met while running.  Here is our little Q&A.

Kim: Can you tell me a little bit about your running history?
Lusia: I have been running for about 9 years, with a 3 year hiatus from June 2005 – to July 2008. Before running my first marathon in 2004, I ran with the NCR Trail Snails which gave me a taste of distance and adventure racing. In spring 2004, I signed up to participate in the Jeff Galloway Program with Fleet Feet and completed my first marathon that fall (Baltimore Marathon). I really enjoyed the experience and had a lot of fun which lead me to sign up to run the Marine Core Marathon the following year.

Kim: Can you talk a little about your accident?
Lusia: While training for the Marine Core Marathon in 2005, I got into a car accident. I was driving on a highway when the cargo van in front of me swerved into the next lane. As soon as I realized why, I had slammed into the back of a broken down mini-van at 70 miles per hour. After impact my car spun into the center grassy median. I did not know the extent of my injuries at that time. I could not move my right leg and the first thought that came to mind was “Great! I broke my pelvis!” I heard someone scream “fire” and I thought it was my car that was on fire so I opened the door and basically flung my body outside of the car and began pushing myself backwards with my hands away from the car.

Eventually, people who had stopped came and dragged me to the side of the road. I was really blessed that day. I had 2 military doctors and another doctor who stopped to help and quite a few nurses. Even till this day, I remember asking the paramedic if he could avoid having to cut my shoes off my feet. I had just bought them and as all runners know, running shoes are expensive! Ha-ha Unfortunately, he could not save my shoes. I ended up being transported via helicopter to the University of Maryland Medical Center and undergoing 5 ½ hours of surgery.

When I got out of surgery, I saw the extent of damage done to my body. I shattered my right femur and the impact of pressing on the brake caused my right tibia bone to snap which broke through my skin causing it to be exposed. I also had a fractured right wrist. During surgery they opened up my knee and put a titanium rod through my femur and a titanium rod through my tibia securing them in place with pins.

Kim: How did your accident affect your running?
Lusia:  After my car accident there was no running or walking for a very long time. I went from 3 days in shock trauma, to being transported to a facility for in-house rehabilitation for 3 months. There I learned to walk and climb stairs again. Once I left there, it was time for out-house rehabilitation where I endured 6 painful months of physical therapy and towards the end they started incorporating strength training exercises to help build the muscle around my knee in my right leg.

Kim:  What type of training have you used to get back to running again?
Lusia:  For 2007 I did mostly elliptical and cycling on the recumbent bike followed by strength training for my legs. In spring 2008, I graduated to light running with continued strength training. By early fall I was running up to 6 miles using Jeff Galloway, of course. I remember my first run like it was yesterday. It was more of a hobble. Actually, many of my runs were hobbles. Ha-ha Left leg was compensating for my right and rightly so. It was the weaker leg and the knee pain was intense. As my right leg got stronger, there was less compensation and eventually my gait corrected itself.

Kim: How has your running improved over the last few years?
Lusia:  Since coming back officially, my running has significantly improved. To date I have run 5 half marathons, 1 relay race, and I'm preparing to run my first international half marathon in Jamaica in December 2010.

Me, Lusia and Rachel after Lu's first race back!
I joined the Jeff Galloway program in the spring of 2009 to attempt my comeback race at the ING Philadelphia Half Marathon in September 2009. It was tough at first. I was wearing a knee brace and had just started to change my eating habits.

By the time my comeback race came around I was ready. I was lighter, had retired my knee brace and was running pain free! There was no doubt in my mind that I wouldn’t finish. After completing that race I was so driven that I ended up running the Denver Half Marathon a month later!

Kim: What races are you most proud of?
Lusia: I’m definitely proud of my first race back from my car accident. I also am proud of the Miami Beach Half Marathon I ran in February of 2010. I had been training and picking up speed. It was my first race where I was actually running as part of the crowd and not lingering in the back by myself! It was awesome!

Kim: What races do you have coming up on the horizon?
Lusia: My last half marathon race is coming up in Negril, Jamaica, The Raggae Half Marathon, on the 4th of December. It is my first international race. I also have the Celtic Solstice on the 18th of December and in February 2011, I’m running the Disney Princess Half Marathon where I will channel my favorite princess, Princess Jasmine!


K said...

What an inspirational story! Thanks for sharing it with us.
I'd also like to applaud the doctors at the University of MD shock trauma center. They are top notch!

Kovas Palubinskas said...

What a way to come back after that accident!

Misty said...

Awesome come back story! I knew about the accident but not the details. Lu, good luck on your first international race.

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