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“Running Saved My Life.”

Courtney and her pal, Stacy, after the 2009 half-marathon they were supposed to run together. Post-race, Stacy gave Courtney her medal.

I came across Courtney Moose’s story on Facebook somehow last spring, but it took a while for us to connect and get her (amazing) story out there. I’m so glad we can finally share it.

A 37-year-old mother of two and family practice doctor in Brandon, South Dakota, Courtney also calls herself an on-and-off-again runner since college. “Life is busy,” she says, “I got married after my first year of med school, had my daughter first year of residency, then had my son less than a year after I started my practice. I kept running here and there, kind of in spurts.”

In May of 2009, Courtney ran a 10K with her friend Stacy, who convinced her to train for a half. They set their sites on the Omaha Half in September 2009. “On July 26 we ran our first 10-miler and were so proud of ourselves,” she says, “We felt that we were actually going to be able to do this.” Unfortunately, she would not have a chance to cross that finish line.

"Right before a race in July 2010. It was the anniversary of the day things were really bad; I was still in the ICU and my husband was told that running was the reason I was still alive. I ran a 10K that day, and my daughter Natalie, then 7, ran the mile."

Two days later after her victorious ten-miler, as she was heading home from work for her afternoon off, her Yukon got t-boned by a semi that ran a red light at 50 mph. It smashed right into her door. The result?  23 fractures including all 7 cervical vertebrae, 2 thoracic vertebrae, and 4 pelvic fractures; many internal injuries that caused her to spend 5 hours in surgery that first afternoon; and 13 weeks of wearing a halo.

Three years later, she reflects on that time on her life--and how she came out the other side.

How did running save your life? I had severe lung contusions, among other issues, and was on a ventilator for 10 days.  I also developed pneumonia a few days after the accident. Things were not looking good. That is when the trauma surgeon who took care of me told my husband that running had probably saved my life; my lungs and heart were so strong from running that they were somehow managing to continue working despite the almost fatal lung injuries.

What was the hardest thing about your recovery?  When I realized just how bad things were. One day after I was moved to the inpatient rehab floor, I was lying in bed and the phone in my room started ringing.  A phone rings, and you answer it, right?  Unless you have 23 fractures. I counted 25 rings and I could not get to the phone, which was a whole 2 feet from me. I simply could not get there. I remember thinking that less than a month earlier, I had run 10 miles, and now I could not get to the phone that was 2 feet from me in 25 rings.  How in the world was I ever going to get back to taking care of myself, let alone my kids and my house, and running? That was a dark moment.

Do you remember your first run back?  I got the OK to start running again in January, 6 months after the accident.  Of course, January in South Dakota is not ideal outdoor running conditions. My first runs were on the treadmill in my basement, and on the track at the gym. Not the most beautiful of scenery, but I was running!

Did you make it to that half?  Yep. I ran it in September of 2010, then ran the Quad Cities Marathon in September of 2011.  If you asked me before my accident about running a marathon, I would have said “NO WAY.”  But the accident completely changed my outlook and running became much more a part of me and who I am. As I crossed the finish line, my first thought was: Take that semi! I called my husband shortly after I finished and then texted the orthopedic surgeon who placed the halo, fixed my terrible arm fracture, and dealt with my pelvic fractures to thank him for all he did to get me there.

What’s up next? The Chicago Marathon in October. I’m hoping to beat 3:59:04, my time for the Quad Cities Marathon.

Courtney near the finish of the Quad City Marathon. Victorious in so many ways.

What’s your perspective now on running? Little did I know in May 2009 what I really was training for. It wasn’t a half marathon. When I began to realize how close I had come to dying, and that running probably saved my life, I knew I had to get back to it. After 6 weeks in a wheelchair, 6 more weeks on crutches, and 13 total weeks in a halo, I got back to life, and running became more important to me than it ever had been. Thanks to running I’m here to see my kids grow up!

 

 

 

37 responses to ““Running Saved My Life.”

  1. Thank you for sharing this story. What an amazingly strong woman. After recovering from that, I can’t imagine there is anything she can achieve!

  2. So inspiring. This helps me to remember to be thankful everyday for the ability to run. It also gives me some perspective on “obstacles” in my life!! Thank you for sharing this story!!

  3. What a wonderful story! I can only imagine the frustrating details of those six months before she was allowed to run again. I will try not to complain about my back injury again–this really puts things into perspective.

  4. Such an inspiring story! Thank you so much for sharing it. Your dedication to your health and your family by getting right back into running eliminates all the excuses in the world for not doing it!

  5. What an wonderful story! I have the honor of knowing Courtney, and can attest to the fact that she is both awesome and inspirational! She is truly a BAMR!!

  6. “Little did I know in May 2009 what I really was training for. It wasn’t a half marathon” I like those lines for their interesting perspective.

  7. Oh wow, what an amazing feat! Thank you for sharing this with us.
    That Omaha 2010 half marathon was my first half ever; so wish I would have known her story then. 🙂

  8. Wow, what an amazing woman! I teared up reading your story. Thanks for being an incredible example of courage and strength for the rest of us, Courtney!

  9. I am blessed to know Courtney personally for over 10 years now and she is a wonderful woman, mother and friend and truly an inspiration to me every single day!!

  10. Wow! That’s amazing. That made me cry. Not only does she run marathons after an accident like that, but she’s doggone fast too!

    Way to go Courtney!

  11. wonderful. what an inspiration. we nearly lost our daughter when she was 3 with a life threatening illness that kept her in the hospital for two years. i can appreciate what she might have gone through. thank you. it is invigorating. wishing her good thoughts on days that she needs a little more inspiration to get through.

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