While still home in Lehigh Acres recuperating from a terrible accident last September, Lisa Buohler has just learned she has been ranked Number One in the USAT Duathlon. That makes her a master runner and it gives her an inspiration, she says, to continue running and biking and returning to running future marathons.
Buohler plans to see her doctor in early March to see if he will give her the go-ahead to compete in the Lehigh Spring Festival race later in March on the first weekend of the festival.
"That's how I really got started in running and it would wonderful to be able to run in that event," she said.
"But it really depends on what the doctor says. I think he may believe I am pushing it a little too hard," she said.
When she was injured she spent a few days in the ICU of Lee Memorial Hospital while doctors tried to patch her up.
"It was like five days after my accident that I walked around the hospital room and ward after my accident. I had all kinds of wires connected to me and was only able to get up after I got my brace the third day to use the potable potty by my bed.
A duathlon is an athletic event that consists of two different activities, running and biking. In a duathlon, the athlete begins with running, then bikes, and finishes with another run. The distances vary greatly in different competitions. Buohler enjoys both marathon running and running in a duathlon.
Buohler was injured in an accident last fall when she was biking along SR80 in East Fort Myles and was struck by a SUV. The accident caused her to be hit by the front of the SUV and it projected her more than 20 feet into the air and she landed in the grass with both back and internal injuries, so severe that she spent time in the ICU of Lee Memorial Hospital.
She was out practicing for an upcoming running event. She was riding her bike in the proper area of the roadway when she was struck.
She was wearing a helmet which she believes probably saved her life.
"It has three cracks in it," she said. "But I don't have any memory of the accident. I wish I could recall it but my mind just won't let me," she said.
Actually, Buohler received several life threatening injuries, including a broken back, five fractured vertebrae, three lumbar spine fractures, two thoracic spine breaks, herniated and bulging discs in the cervical spine, a lacerated liver, lung contusion, a fractured plateau of the knee, a sprained ACL, a small meniscus tear, a fractured foot, abdominal wall bleeding other internal bleedings and bruising.
The accident occurred just a week before she was planning to travel to Spain to compete in a duathlon world championship.
But Buohler, who is 42, is a determined athlete and believes she will be able to compete again, if not fully, partially, on a short time basis.
"I want to get back to where I was," she said this week at her home. I love the sport and it means all the world to me to be able to compete again so the festival hopefully may be my comeback," she said.
She still dreams of participating in the Boston and New York Marathons on in April, but admits it takes up to 16 weeks of training.
"I've been jogging and walking. It would make me happy just to finish in the Marathons," she said.
When she was notified just recently that she is ranked number 1 in the USAT Duathlon, it gave her a determination to get back to running and bike riding as soon as she can.
"Maybe next year, I can yet go to Spain and participate in the world championship event," she said smiling.
But hopefully, she says, this coming September, she may be able to participate in the world championships in France.
"It's incredible I am walking, I have been told. I've told by my doctors to be patient," she said.
Buohler said she had registered a while back before her accident for the Disney World Half Marathon, a race which she had run in ever year for the past five years.
"Back in September after the accident, January of this year seemed a long way ahead and I thought for sure I would be back up and running again by then, and if not, well I would at least walk it," Buohler said.
Being somewhat anxious several days before the event, she went ahead and made up her mind to try to run at least one mile. She said she wanted to see how her body felt.
"The mile went pretty good. It had been 14 weeks since she had run even though she had been walking many miles consistently. She said she had a little minor neck and back pain and some aches but the mile felt pretty good.
On an Internet website blog, in which she has written about all the races she has participated in, Buohler said her sternum had been fractured in the accident and the respiratory muscles brushed with some cartilage damage, also a contusion in the lung, there was still a slight pain in the chest when she inhaled deeply.
"I decided to make my way on that chilly exciting morning to the elite corral where I had been assigned
After being admitted shyly to my wave, I humbly edged to the side so other runners would be able to pass me freely once we started. The gun fired and the fireworks cracked; I began a steady easy jog to the side of the road and watched the flow of runners race by me. I had barely been running a mile and the pain in my neck started. I continued on until at around mile two, the pain was intense enough that I thought I would have to stop and was very disappointed.
"I headed into a porto-potty. Inside I could hear the runners passing and thought, 'what do I do now?' I realized I should at least find my way to the first help station or volunteer. I joined the flow of runners again settling into a very slow and easy pace and discovered to my delight the neck pain had subsided. I high-fived some of the volunteers' hands, and continued on with a smile. I slowly steadily made my way along the course, delighted at how natural and comfortable it felt, stopping here and there to greet a character and take a picture. The left side hurt a little but that also subsided quickly," she wrote
The race at Disney, although pretty flat, has a few little ups and downs, small overpasses that they crossed.
But a couple of miles from the finish, she said she was beginning to feel uncomfortable and thought perhaps she should stop. Tears revealed her emotions and she moved even more slowly toward the finish.
But she continued and made it, but almost immediately after she stopped, she tried to take a deep breath and there was no air.
"I could not breathe; it was like my lungs had decided to close up," she said.
Buohler started walking toward a medical tent and as soon as she began to walk, she said her breathing did return to normal.
She admitted that her medical doctor didn't think it had been a good idea.
She moved to the U.S. from Europe in 1991, two years after her parents came over from the United Kingdom. She is married and the mother of two children, ages 18 and 13. And she is currently working as a professional personal fitness trainer in Fort Myers, but at the moment, only on a part-time basis.
Her husband fully supports her endeavors in running but admitted that he had no interest in running for himself. However, he has often gone to the marathons with her and took lots of photos that she has on her computer as a slide show.
Medical bills have continued to soar even though she had made a claim. Today, they amount to around $170,000.
Earlier in February, there was a charity run in Cape Coral to help her with expenses. She said the Cupid Chase 5 K raised around $8,000 and expressed sincere appreciation to the people who participated.
Her email box on her computer has filled up with letters that have encouraged her. She admitted that she didn't know that so many people cared.
But for now, getting well as soon as possible is her goal. And like all other goals, there is little doubt she will make it.
"I love running and I enjoy the duathlon," she said.
"It gives me excitement and pleasure."
Before running competitively, she said she had been strength training three days a week and for two years with a trainer, she had decided to do a little more by running more.
Her first competitive race was a 4-mile road race, where she placed first in her age group with a time of 30.27.
That is how it all started. She raced again and again and from 5Ks to half marathons and then came the duathons.
"They were great fun and that's what I want to get back to," she said.
There is little doubt by those who know her and her determination that she will eventually be back for the good race.