FORT WAYNE – Fort Wayne resident Lisa Bashford was training for a 5K race with her sister-in-law four years ago when she experienced acute shortness of breath.
Bashford, 37, who had been an athlete all her life, was confused and frustrated. She wasn’t out of shape, although she had never trained for a 5K before. But after a quarter of a mile, every time out, she would get winded.
I didn’t know what was happening, she said. The harder I pushed, the worse it got.
Bashford, a physical therapist assistant, was diagnosed with exercise-induced bronchospasm, a condition similar to asthma that narrows airways during exercise.
She hasn’t stopped running since.
I don’t like excuses, Bashford said. I didn’t want to quit.
Four years later, Bashford has run multiple 5Ks. She has participated in several half-marathons and finished the Columbus Marathon in 2011 in Ohio.
The mother of two has also started a company, Your Fitness 411. She acts as an online accountability coach for some and also puts together runs and workouts in the Fort Wayne area.
Now, her story has put her among 10 finalists to meet Apolo Ohno, fellow exercise-induced bronchospasma sufferer, through the National EIB All-Stars contest.
The winner will be announced Monday.
I’ve always told my friends and family that Apolo is my favorite athlete, Bashford said. And I’m also a fitness coach, so to be able to use the EIB and help people, to be on that platform, would be really beneficial.
It all started because Bashford didn’t want to give up on physical fitness.
Like asthma, EIB is treated with preventive inhalers and rescue inhalers in case of emergency. A couple puffs, and Bashford is on her way.
After the 5K, she developed an addiction to running – and the runner’s high.
It’s a love-hate relationship, she said. I hate the first mile, but after that you sort of fall into a pattern and you cruise through it.
I’m away from my kids, it’s my own time, I’ve got my own music in. I can think about things without someone needing me all the time.
She has helped motivate friends to follow her example, too. Several have lost 30 to 50 pounds or more, she said. And her condition, while treatable, has given her a platform to support her no-excuse philosophy.
With mixed results.
It makes people mad, she said. They like those excuses. It gives them a way out. It gives them a reason not to go out, work hard, exercise.
Bashford has another big goal ahead – her second marathon, again the Columbus run, in honor off the victims of the Boston Marathon tragedy. She is recruiting friends and family to join her in the 26.2-mile run, which was a daunting task the first time trough.
Bashford ran the event with a friend and remembers each mile.
Her friend got sick at Mile 16. Bashford’s knees started to give at Mile 18. By Mile 20, she felt another surge of energy, a second runner’s high. By the 23rd mile, she started feeling nauseous, too.
And then they reached the end.
By the time you cross the finish line, you’re cramping, and you’re sore, and swollen, and hungry, Bashford said. But it’s so worth it. You get a nice, pretty medal at the end.
And bragging rights.
She can brag all she wants, and convinces others they can do the same, thanks to that 5K – and, in some part, the condition that could have ended her training.
I could have backed out easy, Bashford said. I never would have gotten here. I’m thankful I kept it up.