Fort Lauderdale runner overcomes strokes to participate in marathon

For many people participating in a half-marathon, the challenge has a lot more to do with the accomplishment of finishing rather than how fast you can get across the finish line.

Elizabeth Smith, 43, of Fort Lauderdale, will be participating in the Michelob ULTRA Fort Lauderdale 13.1 Marathon. For her, the challenge is to make it to the finish before the cutoff time.

In October of 2013, she went from living a fairly healthy life of natural foods and running frequently to being treated in the ICU for multiple strokes.

“Not knowing that I was having a stroke at the time, I went about five days before being diagnosed as having a stroke,” Smith described. “I ended up spending 24 days in the hospital. I had blockages all throughout my brain and developed a clot in my leg.”

She lost control of parts of body and suffered memory loss but after going through therapy and taking medications she has seen a lot of improvement.

“I started getting migraines and headaches. For most people that would be a good sign to go into the hospital but I am the kind of person that if I can go – I am going to go. Until all of a sudden I was in Panera and my arm went numb and the left side of my face drooped,” Smith said. “Since then doctors have allowed me to do some sports but no contact sports. This is the first race I am doing since. I used to run before but this time I will be walking, My main goal is to finish in three hours and 30 minutes – before the cutoff time –and get the medal. ”

She will be joining over 3,000 others that will begin at 6:35 A.M. at SW 1st Ave. and SW 2nd St. in Fort Lauderdale and continue for 13.1 miles weaving through the city’s historic neighborhoods before venturing down Las Olas Blvd. to Fort Lauderdale Beach for the final five miles.

“Since then I haven’t done anything like this and it is a personal challenge for me to see if I can go back and still do it. I am determined I will finish my in that time frame.”