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I hope my story will inspire every middle age woman who is battling a health issue, and will motivate and positively touch others.
WHO AM I:
My name is Myrna Saliba and I am 53 years old. Both my husband and I are Lebanese (I am from Becharré and he is from Amioun) but we have been living outside Lebanon for quite some years. (we also have Canadian nationality). In brief I am a serious marathoner, ultramarathoner, Ironman, personal trainer, running coach, wellness coach, environmental activist, life time student, wellness public speaker, freelance writer, and business woman. How did all this come about? Read my story and the media links below. It has been indeed a long journey, and before 2000 never in my wildest dreams did I think of running, let alone competing and achieving any podium placing.
In 2000, I was diagnosed with osteoporosis. As part of the warm up, before my weight lift sessions (essential to fight osteoporosis), I was introduced to running. At first I could not run 3 minutes in a row, as I had never ran before. Soon I got bitten by the bug, and running became a passion. A few months later I wanted to run a marathon. My physician got mad at me and was not at all encouraging; he said I should not run any marathon or else I would break my brittle bones. It has been 10 years since then, and yes I broke 3 bones on separate occasions (twice on the bike and once running - but these things happen in any sport!), and I had 4 surgeries one for a broken wrist and the rest for Morton Neuromas in my feet and other medical illnesses, yet I completed 19 Marathons and qualified 6x for Boston: in Berlin 2005, Chicago 2006, London 2007, Bahrain 2008, Sudbury 2008, and Berlin 2008. Some of my athletic achievements include:
- 8th place age group, Ironman Western Australia, Dec 2009
- Ist Place age Group 50+, Phuket International Half-Marathon,Thailand, July 2009
- Overall female winner “ Bahrain Marathon” March 2008 (Article - Bahrain & Beyond)
- 1st place age category and 4th female overall, “Mendon Trail Ultra-Marathon 50K” 2007
- 1st place age category, 5 miles - “Taunton 23rd Turkey Trot” Nov 2006
- 1st place age category, Half-Marathon - “Marathon de Rimouski” Oct 2006
- 6th place age category, Half-Marathon - “Toronto Waterfront Marathon” Sep 2006
- 5th place award age category, “Albritton Fruit Sarasota Half-Marathon” Mar 2006
- 2nd place age category, 10km - “Festival de La Santé Oasis- Marathon De Montréal” Sep 2005
- Overall female winner, 10km - “La Foulée de L’Espoir” June 2003
WHY SHARE MY STORY:
My goal is to motivate people to lead a healthy lifestyle, to believe in themselves, and to dare to test their limits. The message I would like to pass on is, “Believe in the power of your mind, know your inner self and discover your physical potential, then … with a little bit of passion and a whole lot of determination everything is within reach.” – Myrna Saliba.
People must not feel helpless or live in fear when facing a problem (whether health related or not). We always have choices, and it is not always best to follow the easier path. I chose the harder road to get better; it took a while, but it paid off.
Having a goal, focusing on the light at the end of the tunnel, and getting over the many obstacles I faced was very discouraging at the time, but very empowering in the long run. It strengthened my resolve. Early on it was not easy to discover “myself” and to decide what was best for me to do, especially that at times, I had to go against my doctors’ and my family’s advice. Soon I realized, although my family loves me, they don’t know me like I know myself. And doctors? They have to play conservative; they must protect themselves! Doctors stress on the things you cannot and should not do, they tell you ½ of the truth, the ugly truth which is: “your medical diagnosis.” They prescribe ½ of the tools you need to use to fix what’s wrong (medications, physiotherapy, surgery etc.), but they rarely mention the most important tool we need to capitalize on, the other nicer ½ of the truth: “our mental strength” and how that plays an effective positive role in everything we do, including the healing process!
HOW I TURNED THINGS AROUND:
I did exactly this:
1. I believed in the power of my mind and my strong will to get better.
2. I learned about my inner self, and I spent a lot of time with "the other me."
3. I taught myself, through running, to be very much in tune with my body.
4. I discovered, and am still discovering, my physical strength, and how far I can push myself to new limits without injury.
5. I developed a passion (a running passion). Without passion one cannot push forward. What makes Olympians wake up at the crack of dawn to train is the same passion that allows a pianist to practice for 6 hours non stop! It is all about passion.
6. Resolve, determination and discipline were my precious tools.
Steps 1-6 made everything possible and within reach. “They say knowledge is powerful, I always say knowledge of one’s self is the greatest power.” – Myrna Saliba. With this type of knowledge, we can achieve a lot.
It is like operating any machine you buy, the more you push and press buttons, the more you read the manual and learn how to operate it, the better you can use it to maximum capacity and satisfaction. Alas, in a world moving at a very fast pace, we are too busy discovering what’s out there and we forget to discover first and foremost our very unique selves and what capabilities we have.
HOW MY RUNNING PASSION CHANGED ME:
I have tremendously improved my health in the last 10 years. Today, my femur bones are osteopenic and no longer osteoporotic. I am an athlete, in the full sense of the term. I am toned and muscled. I look and feel much healthier than many youngsters in their twenties. When people ask me, “How old are you?” I say, “I am not sure," and that is the truth considering that my ‘birth age’ is 53 and my ‘bone age’ is 70 and my ‘heart age’ is in the mid-twenties! Age is just a number. We are what we think we are. All I think is what I feel: I am simply a very active, energetic, fit person, and that’s all that matters.
BEIRUT MARATHON 2010
This year my husband wanted us to run the Beirut Marathon 2009, but it coincided with Ironman Western Australia in which I was competing, and could not miss, as it was not only my 1st Ironman, but my 1st triathlon ever. (Ironman is a 226km distance in ONE race and ONE day: 3.86km ocean swim, 180km bike ride, followed by a 42.2km marathon run.)
We both hope to participate in Beirut in 2010. My husband is 64, and he started running at 55 just to share my passion. Now he too has done 9 marathons. Beirut 2010 will be his 10th, a very special one indeed to be celebrated on home turf.
As for me, my parents have always asked why don't I run Beirut? It just never happened for one reason or another. This year it will be my honor to race in Beirut for my country, for myself, for every woman who has a health issue, and as a wedding gift for my parents who will be celebrating their 60th anniversary this coming September. I hope to make everyone proud.
THAILAND PHUKET RACE http://www.gulf-daily-news.com/source/XXXII/097/pdf/Page51.pdf