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Every one has a story. We truly believe this at Moms on the Run and are so honored when we get to tell these stories about our amazing members. This month's inspiring member is Marcia Fahnberg of Lakeville/Burnsville (MN) Moms on the Run. When her head coach and Franchise Owner, Kim Burggraaf, sent us this nomination, we knew we needed to share it fully, as we feel it tells the story so well. Read on to learn more of Marcia's story and what makes her so inspiring.
"Marcia is a constant source of inspiration for all of us at Lakeville/Burnsville Moms on the Run. She is always up for an adventure, has the most positive, upbeat attitude, and is full of determination. She proudly refers to herself as a 'Grandma on the Run' and is such a great role model of living an active lifestyle and a true example of how it’s never too late to begin your running journey!
Marcia joined Moms on the Run in 2018 at the same time that her daughter Lindsay joined MOTR in St Paul! Marcia dove right into the training program, pushing her limits week in and week out, building up her endurance and taking on new distances every week. She took on new challenges with a smile and was gaining strength week in and week out. She enrolled her two grandsons in Kids on the Run, and the three of them would often attend our Friday classes together.
Not unlike many new runners, Marcia experienced some aches and pains throughout her training process. She began experiencing pain that was inhibiting her from running, but she never let any obstacle dampen her passion for staying active. She did what she could: modified to include a bit more walking and sought out medical advice. She was on a constant hunt for solutions to eliminate the pain and keep on with her running journey. In May of 2020, however, Marcia had an episode that landed her in the hospital. She was cleaning her tub and something caused her to pass out in the process. When she fainted, they believe she hit her head on the soap dish in her tub which caused her to black out. She lives by herself, so was not sure how long she was passed out, but when she awoke she didn’t have any feeling in either leg. She had to army elbow crawl to the living room where her phone was. At the hospital they diagnosed her with Rhabdomyolysis (muscle breakdown). Her medical care team suggested a nursing home for Marcia, but she said absolutely not. She was able to return home with the promise that she would have help for a few days, and then worked diligently on her PT for the following weeks to ensure she could be strong enough to be self sufficient (showers, stairs, etc).
About 10 weeks in progress was still going slow. She still relied on the walker to get around and after an MRI they discovered that she had meralgia paresthetica and her femoral cutaneous nerve was pinched in her spine. Marcia continued to press on with determination and a positive attitude. She remained diligent about completing her PT and visiting the chiropractor and gradually began to increase her walking mileage. Her walking was slow and she still struggled with balance, but she began walking an hour at a time multiple times per day. Eventually she was logging mileage in the double digits on some days! And this was not power walking mileage — this was still recovering and building up strength mileage. Such a time commitment and a major feat — mentally, physically and emotionally. And all the while taking on miles with a smile and with gratitude. It really was such an incredibly inspirational thing to witness. Any communication I would have with her during that time was full of optimism and determination. Keep in mind that this all occurred during the height of covid and the shutdown when many were struggling with keeping a positive outlook in general. She could have so easily thrown in the towel on her recovery and be filled with frustration and anger. There were plenty of excuses she could have had: the gyms were closed, progress was slow, etc. In a time where so many people struggled to maintain their regular exercise routines, Marcia pushed on feverishly toward her recovery.
This Spring (March of 2021), Marcia felt that she was strong enough to return to MOTR for walking with the group. She started with all flat and paved terrain and gradually worked up her strength. About a month in, she was determined to start taking on inclines (stairs, hills, etc). It was so incredibly inspiring to watch Marcia take on those challenges. As Marcia would often say herself, it was just “one step at a time” or “one foot in front of the other.” Anyone watching could tell that summiting those inclines was a major challenge for Marcia. She took them slow and calculated, mindful to maintain her balance and control. She would take rest breaks as needed, but she made it up each and every incline she set her sights on. It was really such an amazing accomplishment to be a witness to.
On Mother’s Day this year (May 11, 2021), many women in our group completed a half marathon. We held a Mother’s Day event and had support out on the course, etc. Marcia came out and completed several miles with the group and stayed to cheer on her teammates as they finished their miles. Later that day, Marica posted that she felt the need to also complete a half marathon for Mother’s Day. Over the course of several walks that day, Marcia totaled 13.1 miles!
One of Marcia’s goals throughout her recovery has been to be strong enough to begin running again. She has been working with her PT on zero gravity running and, about a month ago, received permission to attempt a few running intervals. She successfully added in 30-second run intervals and has been gradually decreasing the walking breaks between! So amazing! She has even started attending our unpaved trail miles. This is a huge accomplishment as well. The balance and muscle strength required to walk on trail is significantly more than that required of pavement. With pavement walking being a challenge just a few months back, this progress is remarkable! I am overjoyed to see this continued progress and so excited to see the progress that lies ahead in the months to come. Marcia is an example to us all of what amazing things can be accomplished when you set a goal and refuse to give up.
I have had the privilege of coaching many individuals over the years. Marcia’s level of commitment toward recovery, steadfast persistence in her training, and optimistic outlook is second to none. It has been a true honor to get to tag along on this journey with her. Her zest for life and for movement is absolutely beautiful. You can’t help but find gratitude for those same simple pleasures while in her presence. Movement truly is a gift. Marcia has shown me and so many others the value of fighting for that gift and finding gratitude in the simple existence of something we often take for granted: walking. The phrase “I don’t have to run, I GET to run” has never resonated with more truth. I am very thankful for that reminder and know all of our teammates feel the same. She is 100% an inspiration to all of us!"
We wanted to learn a little more from Marcia herself, so we asked her a few questions.
Q: You have been such an inspiration to your teammates, literally one step at a time, with positivity and optimism. What’s your secret?
A: I am so honored to be nominated for being an inspiring member! I don't exactly consider myself inspirational but people tell me otherwise. To me it's all about the business of just getting back to normal.
Q: Please tell us about your medical journey over the past year and a half. What was the biggest challenge you faced during this difficult season?
A: When the accident happened all I knew was that not being able to move or walk the way I wanted was not how I wanted to live the rest of my life. Totally unacceptable! I have two grandsons (Elliott, 10 and Oliver, 7) that I need to keep up with and being with my MOTR friends were definitely part of my motivation. Recovering from an injury like this is very slow and sometimes frustrating but as my daughter Lindsay puts it, "My mom takes a licking and keeps on ticking."
Q: When did you join Moms on the Run and what has been a highlight?
A: I joined MOTR in 2018 because my daughter (Lindsay Dukes) was and is a member of St Paul Highland MOTR and I saw how healthy she was looking after just a few weeks. I found Kim's group and found that the times of her classes worked out well for me. What a fantastic, supportive group of women. They are a big part of my motivation. My daughter actually gave a speech at the 2018 MOTR banquet saying how proud she was of me. What a great moment that was for me.
Q: Please share a little about your personally (family, hobbies, etc.).
A: These days I am not working (lost my job during Covid), so I have the time to devote to my recovery. I was a bartender for 47 years and yes, I do have the stories to go along with them. My interests these days are just being out in nature, which I find incredibly healing both physically and emotionally.