About Ally

***UPDATE***

Ally will be reaching the finish line on Thursday, August 1st. There will be a celebration that evening in the parking lot of Lifetime Fitness in Chanhassen (near the intersection of Highways 5 and 41) from 6pm to 9pm, sponsored by Aspire Beverage Company. Please come out and help celebrate the completion of such an amazing achievement!! And special thanks to Aspire for their generosity!!

I have been trying to raise awareness for Carotid Artery Dissection, Traumatic Brain Injury and Stroke Prevention. I had a life threatening car accident just before my qualifying race for the Boston’s Marathon in 2008. I nearly suffered a massive stroke, had a stroke, and three traumatic brain injuries. In addition, I also trisected my left carotid artery. Born without my right carotid left me with a 5% chance of living. After my stent placement surgery, I was told I had  a week, then a month, then two months, and now had my fourth “new” birthday 10-10-12. Every couple months, I hear about people whose stents are rejected or recalled due to other complications. Just recently, I learned there is now a relationship between brain injury and brain cancer. I need help to raise awareness on so many levels. I hate hearing about those who have given up or are too scared to live with their stents, tbi’s or stroke.

April 22nd. 2013, (to raise awareness) I will be running from Stewart’s Beach in Galveston, Texas home to Minnesota! Please look at my running tab, closer to the date of my run, to see my official route! Suggestions are VERY welcome!!! I welcome any advise! ~Ally

56 responses to “About Ally

    • You are so sweet Ann! Thank you so much for the wonderful nanny job so long ago! I have been so blessed to watch your little family grow through out the years! I am so excited for Sam! I really hope I can take a day off from my run to watch Sam get married to the love of his life! I will try my very best to be there!!!
      Love, Ally

    • Thank you Kenneth! I look forward to our workouts. Thank you for the motivation! You are very determined to get break barriers. I have a lot to learn from you! Keep the healthy motivation and advice coming! ~Ally

  1. Ally! I´m Alba, from Spain. We met in Savonlinna 4 years ago. I have just know about your accident. I hope you will fight and win, keep the faith in life and continue being so great and full of vitality as you were. Best regards, darling!!

    • Alba!! I miss you so much!!! How could I ever forget you!!!! Thank you so much for the wonderful comments!! I will keep you informed via FB and my website. I wish we could have a CIMO reunion! I miss all of you so much! Friends for life!
      Warm hugs and I will keep you posted on my fight!
      ~Ally

    • Thank you Lisa! You are an amazing woman as well! You will take all the worry off of me during my run! I would have a hard time running this without you! I can not wait to see you in April!!!Elliot has a present for you and your new little girl!:D
      Don’t forget to wave when you pass me on your road trip south in June!! :D ~Ally

  2. Ally it was so nice meeting you in my store. When you returned today, I was so excited. I had lost the website info. I wish you all the best with your training. I will be following you through this journey!! Thank you for sharing your story with me, I find it quite moving!! You are an inspiration to so many people!!
    Tina
    (WHBM)

    • Thank you Tina! Every time I go into White House Black Market (Ridgedale location) I look for you and Anne! You have an amazing job and such talent for picking out only the best wardrobes! Thank you for finding me those $129.00 shoes for $30.00. You took down the store and back room looking for the right shoe to make the perfect pair! I am so excited to wear them to my conference in April! Keep up your amazing treadmill workouts at five am!! See you soon!
      ~Ally

  3. Hi Ally, was nice meeting you on your way to get your feet fitted! You are a special person for sure, and I will follow your story, maybe next you will sail across the ocean… Maybe to africa!
    Danny

  4. Ally:
    After meeting you on Saturday after class, I am so inspired by you. Your dedication to life, to getting healthy, to promoting awareness, and to just being you is truly awesome. I am so proud to know you and hope that I can be one of the many followers and supporters as you go forward in your journey and quest. Keep on doing what you are doing and here is to becoming even stronger, healthier, and even more wonderful than you already are!
    Karin Beckstrand

  5. Hey Ally. It was nice to meet you on the plane! It started snowing here in Denver, and it’s beautiful. We plan to go somewhere fun after work sometime this week so I’m looking forward to it.

    • Thank you so much Tricia! You are the best! I am so excited to be training in a climate that is so much better than our Minnesota weather! We have had so much snow. One of the runners my coach knows broke his leg on the ice training with his friends. I am very nervous about doing something like that before my big day. It has been treadmill, spin class, and Swim central for a couple more weeks! I can’t wait to be on real ground for a change! My friend Ali and I will see you soon.
      ~Ally

  6. Truly inspirational to read what you have had to overcome.As a stroke and CAD survivor myself,who is also an exercise addict,and ex competitive road and cross country runner ,who sadly is now limited by osteo arthritis of the knees. I know family and friends often think i do too much exercise,but most people just don’t understand how rewarding it is and continues to be. I am convinced it has been a major factor in my physical recovery,even if the cognitive effects of the stroke are still with me to some extent.I shall definately follow your progress on this journey.How long are you hoping it will take,and how many miles will you be covering ,and how many miles per day are you hoping to cover ?

    • Ian, I agree!! It aids in both the mental and physical recovery! Plus, we are very addicted to our sports! I do not take pain management meds or even an advil as my bloodthinners won’t allow it. I think my physical therapy routine and exercise have been the best recovery tools. I hate numbers but I would like to finish in 60 days. I understand with tbi, stroke and cad I have fatigue.. It can be tough so a marathon a day with a day off during the week to recover will be my goal. I am very tired of the treadmill, spin classes and swimming.. I am ready to get going! I have a fantastic coach who tells me to try and save my feet for the road. He is worried I will burn out before I start. However, we cad, stroke tbi people have quite the battle ahead of us. I wish you don’t understand the cad, stroke and tbi part of this as well as you do. However, since you do.. Any advice will be appreciated!!!!! Could you please share your story here so others will have a different perspective on cad, stroke and tbi?
      Keep up the fight!!!
      Any chance of becoming a swimmer? I have to say it has been one of my favorite cross trainers!!! As a runner myself, I know this question is a delicate as a field of land mines..
      ~Ally

  7. Hey Ally. I met you in the pool at the Crosstown Lifetime and, like everybody else here on your site, was touched by your story and your friendly nature. Good luck. jd

    • Thank you John! I am very excited to see you again around crosstown! I am leaving for dry road running at the end of this week. However, I am looking forward to you passing me in the pool March 3rd to April 3rd!! :D It was a pleasure to chat with you and I hope we can do it again soon! All the best! ~Ally

  8. Swimming eh ? No chance. i can swim to save my life and that is about it,and where my interest finishes,though i have a son who could swim like a fish and was a midlands (UK) open water 5000M junior champion a few years back.

    6 marathons a week for many weeks ! Wow and wow again ! Sure hope you have comfortable footwear as you are going to need it.

    In 2009 Eddie Izzard a UK comedian ran 43 marathons in 51 days in aid of sport relief,and that was a major achievement.,with ice baths every day,and requiring constant treatment of the feet to deal with blisters and the like. If i remember correctly,he was spending about 10 hrs running per day,as he was forever stopping and talking with the local people.

    Having never actually run a single full marathon,never mind multiple ones,i don’t think there is much advice that i could give. But i would imagine it is going to be a major mental battle to get back on the road each day,especially when you body and feet are probably going to be aching like they have never ached before.

    I currently spend about 2 hours in the gym and 2 hours walking (4 x 30 minutes),each day,but at least that is spread over the whole day,and over a variety of equipment in the gym.

    Still,i would expect that you will be sleeping well each night.

    You take care !

  9. Ally, you are an inspiration! By chance (or not) we met at LifeTime yesterday and you gave me a boost of motivation to keep forging ahead, no matter what. I was telling you about my husband, Ken, having the Regenexx Procedure, where the body’s natural repair process is activated with the use of the patient’s own stem cells. It has a worked (non-surgical) miracle for my husband, taking his back pain, due to crushed and missing disc sections, from a pain level 8 to a level pain level 1. He had his procedure done at the Centeno/Schultz Clinic in Colorado. He had one full Regenexx Procedure done, with his stem cells harvested from his own blood, centrifuged over night to separate out his stem cells. The next day, those cells were injected right into his back by the discs that were damaged. Then, they did a deep acupuncture procedure, to create trauma to the area so his body would be re-awakened to start repair work there. After that first treatment, his pain level went from an 8, down to about a 4-5. He came home, did all the exercises they recommended, and then went back about 6 months later for additional deep acupuncture only. After that visit, his pain went down to about a level 3. He came home, kept at his PT and also went to visit a spin-off clinic of the one in Colorado called Rejuv Medical in Sartell, MN, They did additional deep tissue work with him and got his pain level down to 1!!!! Ken continues to do his PT and, in addition, he wears a EMPI-SPORTX direct-current stimulator, sometimes, to make sure to keep the cells active and continuing their repair work in that area of his back. My husband and I are very, very grateful for this treatment. It has given him his life back!! Our very best to you, Ally, and all of those you touch by your courageous efforts. Salute!

    • Oh Kitty! Thank you so much! We have so much to chat about! I can’t wait to see you again at the gym before I head out so we can catch up and share a lane in the pool! :)

  10. Hey, this is the Directv guy thanks for the motivation and education you gave us today. You are blessed and I wish you the best of luck in everything that you continue to do, god has you here for a reason and you know that! Keep pushing forward and raising awareness, you taught me a lot in the 5 minutes we talked. God Bless -Flo Smith

    • Thank you so much for your support Flo!! It was great to meet you and your assistant yesterday at Costco. What a great chat! I bet you were surprised with my answer on why we couldn’t get the direct tv system!lol! Who says they are running across the country, saved up, and sold off practically everything to do it, right? :D I might have to look you up after the race though for some R&R with that Direct TV. That will sound very tempting after this adventure. Keep in touch and enjoy your spring to summer! God Bless you too! ~Ally

  11. Hey Ally! It was a pleasure meeting you this past winter. I enjoyed our conversation about training and our dogs. I had no idea all that you have overcome these past few years. You are living an incredible journey that will create inspiration for so many. I look forward to following your run this April, and hope to cross paths with you again in Minnetonka.

  12. Hi Ally,

    What you are doing is such a great thing! My daughter is not a CAD survivor, but a traumatic brain injury survivor, she is 10. She has an AVM in her brain that ruptured in 2011 and since has been suffering from several issues as a result of the traumatic brain injury, including hydrocephalus. We will be following your story and promoting awareness for your run! You are proof of a great strength and a model for my daughter to follow as well to not give up and anything is possible!!

    • Alexis,
      How can I help? Are you along my route? I would love to meet with your family! I am so sorry to hear your daughter is going through brain injuries and complications from her AVM. What is her prognosis? Do you have a support group? Is hydrocephalus permanent? How is she handling this, being the little fighter she has become? I have so many questions for you! Please keep in touch with me!! ~Ally
      Please tell your daughter that I will be thinking of her along my run!!! I am glad she is a fighter too! It’s hard to be a fighter. Tell her she is stronger than I am! I am very impressed your daughter and your family!

    • Andria!!!!So great to hear from you!!!! I have not had a back problem yet. Knock on wood! Things are going good. Well, interesting.. lol! I miss you girls!! I need to update this page and I have been crazy busy and sleeping!! Speaking of sleep I better get back to it so I can get out there earlier tomorrow! I can’t wait to see you in July! Save an appointment for me!!Check out my fb page too!!!
      ~Ally

    • Brandy,
      Missing the chicken sandwhich from Jimmy’s! Jimmy’s was awesome!!! How are you? I hope you and your son get some surf lessons in or something fun this summer being so close to the ocean! I am so jealous! Galveston is beautiful! It has that old world charm that I love with real peeps! How are you? I will text you! I have been trying to get a routine down which has been near impossible with me sleeping instead of posting.. lol.. I will figure this out!! Promise!!!
      ~Ally

    • Thank you!! Yes, I had a fantastic run on the trails all the way to the end of Research Forest Drive! It was amazing and my absolutely favorite place in Texas!! I fell in love with how fitness/recycling forward this portion of Texas was!! Thank you for the great advice!! Hoping this summers Tri’s are extrememly successful for you!! I took your advice to stay as much as possible out of the state forests as they have no shoulders and went 105 to panorama village up through Willis to Huntsville,Tx. I need to copy my journal to this page. If I don;t get it done soon look for me on my fb page.. Keep in touch Chris! Thanks again!
      Ally

  13. Ma’am, you have a heart unlike any other, something very very special inside. BEAUTIFUL + BOLD + INTELLIGENCE ÷ True passion × Love = Ally;)…I can go on and on…and I will ;) You amaze me by just being you….so driven…so pretty….so strong…a concentrated and locked down mind , but a free soul….To say I admire what you do is an understatement because what you do with your life ma’am is why I know there are true angels who walk (or shall I say run);) on this earth. Your actions guide myself and all others alike and force us to realize that we all have that fire inside as well we just need to ignite that passion and accept that we can be doing so much more for the ones in need. You need to know I am so truly grateful to be in your thoughts ma’am. My name is Roy, we’ve never met, but I did have the privilege of meeting Mr. and Mrs. Murray ( Mike I have the utmost respect for your family ) ;) relay that for me please? ;) I just really want to thank you and let you know that I did receive your postcard. ALLY you changed me in the most positive way…please understand numbers mean nothing at all! ! you say that too, but I am stubborn as ever, never know win to quit type and from the worry I heard in your mother’s voice I know you are just the same…I know you are hurting I could feel it in your words and of course your going to be sore blistered and drained you are well prepared for that;) I just ask please don’t ignore the pain because how far you have come pain is nothing to you but to your body pain is your bodies natural rpm gauge ;) please don’t run it over the red line and always change the oil ( take as many breaks needed and drink more water) ;) even if its all you drink now just take my advice and drink more;) ………………I live to be more like you and support everything you will ever do…….thank you once again ma’am.

    • Roy,
      Thank you for your sweet post! I was asking my Mom what your name was as I had a hard time reading your signature. I am so sorry my cards said Ray. Or at least I think they did? I am very excited to be sending you post cards and updates! You sound like a fighter too!! I promise I am taking much needed breaks! I will listen to my rpm and my blisters! lol! I hate being a bit slow as somedays are a bit more overwhelming than others. However, I have been stretching and napping after 12-14 miles, hydrating with several liters of water and each day I have an additional liter of coconut water. If my body feels too tired, or like today, overheated I will hydrate, ice, take a cold shower and make sure to take a nap that does not have an expected time for me to get back out there. I have been cautious.. However, I will get to Minnesota run walk or crawl!!!! * Secretly I do with some cowboys or cowgirls would come by with an extra horse and help me over the border but.. I don’t think that will be an option but is sure would be nice to see Texas on a horse! :D How are you? How is the restraurant? That is a very tough industry. I applaud you for your love of people! That is a very rewarding job as you also are able to make friends from all over the nation. I hardly have time for social calls or to grab a bite. Your lucky you have it all in one place and while getting paid! Lucky guy! Better get some work done….
      Look for another post card soon!!!
      ~Ally

  14. Ally, I am sorry to hear you are having some safety issues in Texas, It is a great state! Being a man I can’t imagine what it is like for a woman to have to deal with the bad apples of our society, because lets face it, they are out there! I hope the rest of your journey goes better as you should now be with the good country people of the state. BTW, I don’t suppose you are tracking you run with a Garmin, I would love to see where you have been?

    Chris

    • Chris, I was planning on using my Garmin. However, I can private message you my route as I want to be very cautious now. I hope you understand. Please find me on FB and I will send it to you! :D I understand every state has bad apples. We have a couple in our state too.(I had no idea for years I had been running past an axe murders house or swimming for nearly 24 years over a dead guy who was just recently found in our lake up north. I guess I should be use to crazy by now.. ) I am happy to carry Mace and a hand gun if I have too. However, Texas is a beautiful state and I think it would be sad for me to point of its lows rather than it’s high’s. The people have been absolutely AMAZING! Everyone from Huntsville north have stopped to ask if they can help us with the RV or ask if we need a lift into town. The land scapes are absolutely breath taking! I think the country people think I am a crazy northerner. They don’t understand why I would be running anywhere. lol! I have enjoyed watching them work the land. These men and women are hard working folk who work sun up to sun down. I don’t know how they handle this heat!
      Anyway, I am so sorry to exclude the good people. I have enjoyed taking my time through Texas! It has been a great trip so far!!! How are you? Are you from the Woodlands originally? What are your recomendations for the Dallas area?

  15. Do you plan on going straight thru Dallas? If so look up the Katy trail, you can hook up with it on the north side of downtown and it goes a good distance up hwy 75. If you stick to that road or close to it that will lead you to Plano which is a very nice suburb of Dallas like The Woodlands. I am not from hear originally, I was actually born outside Chicago but have lived in Texas most of my life. Help me out on finding you on Facebook, I am new to it and the few searches I have done has not turned up any results.

  16. Hey Ally! I was thinking of You, the heat in Texas, and just all the mental powers I can. Man, I still can’t believe almost 13 years, when Mike K said “Tom, meet Ally”

  17. Hi Ally!

    My husband is the deputy that just brought you across the Leavenworth bridge. When he texted me telling me that he was getting ready to escort a runner, I had to hear the story behind your journey. You are an amazing women! I am proud that my husband was able to help you a little along the way. Good luck with the rest of your journey to Minnesota!!

      • Hi again….

        It looks like it is meant for me to watch your journey. I was just taking a break from studying and logged on to Facebook. I immediately got goosebumps to see that you met Julie today in the little town of Sheridan, MO. She is the cousin of my kids on their dad’s side. In fact, Mike (my husband the deputy) and my son will be up there tomorrow at her mom’s property riding their dune buggies.

        Your mission continues to amaze me. As before, best of luck on your journey to MN. (:

      • Wow! That is crazy! I had no idea! I loved northern Mo. It was so beautiful! Dune buggies sound like fun! I couldn’t believe how friendly Sheridan, Mo was! I felt lucky to have picked to run through Sheridan! It was a happy accident! :D

  18. Ally-
    Obviously, after reading all of these blogs, you have touched so many people. Their is something very special about you. You are defiantly a gift from god! I was so intrigued, after our visit in the Platte City post office. Still working on finding that Kansas license plate, but I will find one and mail it. Hopefully, this Missouri heat and humidity will give you a break. Thanks so much for your inspirations.
    Karen Jo Mitchell

    • Karen,
      Thank you so much for the Kansas Plate! This was an amazing gift for my Dad! He loved it! I have a thank you started and it is a work in progress as my father would like to include a thank you as well. I had a great rest of the run until the last week when the cold and hard wind set in. It was hard to run with a fever. However, I made it that day 3 miles then a 20 nap then 7 miles.. 30 minute nap and so on til the day was done. Slept a lot more and ended strong. I am thrilled to be back home! How are you?

  19. Hi Ally! I visited with you today as you came by my house. (You stopped and pet my dogs and I assured you that you would soon be on much better roads). Just wanted to wish you well. Good luck as you travel home. I just read over your website and you are truly an inspiration. Prayers for a safe journey.

    • Julie,

      I loved your puppies! Thank you so much for keeping the little one who came back to you! You are so lucky to have them. I loved being able to stop and chat with you a while before I headed out again! It wasn’t long and I was in Iowa! I loved hearing about your family! Did you son catch any fish that day? Again thank you for the support! I have so much more to write on my blog.
      Better get to it. Keep in touch,

      Ally

  20. Welcome home Ally! I saw your story on the local news. Thank you for helping to raise awareness for Carotid Artery Dissection and stroke. I am also running to do the same. I’m recovering from carotid artery dissection and stroke from two years ago. You and your story are amazing!

    • Can you tell me about your stroke and dissection. Were you born without an artery as well? How did yours come about? How old were you? Are you running across America too? Where are you from? How is year two treating you? Did you have tbi’s as well? Who is your neurologist or neuro surgeon?

  21. Ally, I was born with two good carotid arteries. My story is documented on the Faces in the Crowd blog on tcmevents.org. Here is the link: https://www.tcmevents.org/blog/2013/03/05/184/feeling_like_an_athlete_again It’s much easier to give you the link rather than typing it over again, I hope you don’t mind. I was 44 when I stoked. I’d like to go on a long run like you did but it’s just not possible for me today. I didn’t have time for a stoke. My kids are college and high school age and as long as I can work I’m going to help them as best I can. That means that I can’t take extended time off work. My goal next year is to run my first marathon. I’m from Mendota Heights, MN. Year two is better than year one. It is a little less “fuzzy” if that makes sense. No other tbi’s other than a prior concussion a few years back. My neurologist is Dr. Mahdavi. I elected not to have a stent put in. I’m trying to go without and I think I’m doing very well. It means no more snowboarding, skiing, etc. I can still run so that is what I do! If you want more information I’d be happy to share. Have you met many others with a similar experience?

    • Yes, I have met on line others like us attempting this. I have not met someone who ran across the country. However, I hope someone else will do it! Hopefully over time we will find more of us! Maybe start a running club! If you get a chance, look at the Carotid Artery Dissection pages on FB. There are several pages and it is nice to hear others stories of surviving and thriving!

      Anyway, what marathon are you planning next year? I hope you enjoy your first marathon! I am more into the running for fun. I was very heartbroken after I learned my body had a hard time running under a six minute mile last summer. I may not be the fastest but I can go the distance.

      I am so excited to hear about your plans to help your children through college and continue to be a strong support for them. Lesson’s they will be sure to remember if something happens to them. I love hearing your strength. Keep up the amazing work! Maybe we will run into each other at a race. It would be fun to run with you!

      Happy second birthday! I am so excited to hear about your third.. and fourth.. and fifth…etc…

      Keep running! Great work!
      Ally

  22. Ally what an amazing journey. We all were elated and concerned at the same time for your safety and welfare. What a daring Adventure. Sorry u did not hear more from your auntie but believe you me we followed you in any way we could, your dad and mom were great help for me. I have been up to my ears in alligators and hope to have some peace by the end of the year. I was not on the computer very much and had difficulty trying to find you, I am computer illiterate for sure. I am having my minor surgery on the 19th of this month, much minor than the one your loving dad had. Miss u dear and dont see enough of you, but please take good care of yourself. You r always in my prayers. Love U Auntie Rosemary

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