Women Who Run This Town: Alethea Mshar



Despite fighting a variety of conditions, Alethea continues to pursue her unfaltering passion for running and also serves as a Fifth Third River Bank Road Warrior. Asthma, thyroid failure and Guillain Barre Syndrome are three conditions that try to hold her back, but end up making her stronger and more driven to succeed and find self-success. “I have had to fight for every step I take, and every second per mile,” she said. “Running is part of caring for myself, which makes me a more effective person in every area of my life; wife, mother, employee, daughter and friend. I want to continue my quest for self-improvement in running.”

WLM: What’s the most exhilarating experience you ever had while running?

Alethea: I often feel exhilaration while running. Probably the most exhilarating and humbling running experience I have had was running the Hump Days Hills and Hops. This is a Fifth Third River Bank Run training session, and Greg Meyer serves as the running coach for these training runs. As a child I held huge admiration for Greg Meyer because my parents ran the River Bank Run. Greg cheered me on as I ran the hills that evening. It was an extremely emotional experience for me to have a childhood hero who was an elite runner cheering for me as I ran.

What has running helped you accomplish?

Running has helped me develop confidence and learn about self-care. My family is more complicated than average. I have two kids with special needs, one of whom has survived leukemia. It is challenging to maintain balance when the needs of my family are pressing. Yet, I have learned that when I make time to care for myself, which running contributes to, I have more energy, both emotionally and physically, to care for my family.

Where is your favorite place to run and why?

My first love is trail running. There are some gorgeous trails in the woods near my home where I can run with my dog and not see another human soul. Running there is a form of meditation, and I always return from my trail runs relaxed and fulfilled.

Do you listen to music while you run?

I love to listen to music while I run.  I am a rock and roll fan. I love hard rock, classic rock, punk rock – you name it! My playlist has everyone from Neil Diamond to Ozzy Ozborne and more. My current favorite song is Work this Body by Walk the Moon.

What’s one obstacle you needed to overcome to stay encouraged?

The biggest obstacle I needed to overcome was recovering from Guillain Barre Syndrome (GBS). In 2012 I was diagnosed with GBS after being unwell for over  months. My symptoms were numbness and tingling in my arms and legs as well as profound weakness. During the summer of 2012, when I would sit down on the floor I was unable to get up without either getting help, or crawling to the couch or a bookcase and using both hands to pull myself to standing. It took tremendous effort and a long time to recover from that. I was just finally able to run again in the spring of 2014. Once I was able to run again, I have not taken a single step for granted. It’s not hard to find the time in your schedule or the motivation you need to get out the door and run after being devastatingly ill and believing that there was a big likelihood that I would never be able to run again. My husband is wonderfully supportive of my running, and sacrifices his time to make sure that I can do the training that I need to do.

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