Look at her GO!|
By ASMA SALMAN
Posted On » July 15 - 21, 2009 (Volume:8 / Issue 28)
FIT MUM Myrna Saliba has proved the medics wrong by defying a potentially crippling bone disease and setting a path to success in the world of business and athletics.
The international race winner now aims to spread the good news about healthy living with an outlet venture so others on the island can follow her lead.
The Bahraini resident has boundless energy packed into a petite 160 centimetre frame and can often be spotted pounding the roads in training for her next marathon adventure.
Myrna is a certified fitness trainer from the prestigious American College of Sports Medicine and has completed her master's degree in physical education. She is a running coach and is certified by the Road Runners Club of America. She runs a Wellness Consultancy from her offices in Harbour Mall at Bahrain Financial Harbour and is in the process of setting up a speciality sports outlet - ASHE (awareness for sports health and environment).
'I will not just be selling shoes and clothing from my outlet but ASHE will be a platform for me to start educating people who are into fitness and running about wellness as well. I will be here to give them a helping hand.
'I was your average Jane sitting at home when the doctor diagnosed me with osteoporosis and said that I would not be able to do all the things that I'm doing today ... but I turned my life around,' said the Lebanese/ Canadian mother-of-three who celebrated her 53rd birthday recently.
In retrospect, Myrna feels that she has been truly blessed with the disease. Osteoporosis is a disease of bone that leads to an increased risk of fracture. In osteoporosis the bone mineral density is reduced, bone micro-architecture is disrupted, and the amount and variety of proteins is altered.
According to statistics, osteoporosis is the cause of 1.5 million fractures each year. 'Osteoporosis opened my eyes to so much around me and physically and mentally I am a much better person now than in 2000, the year I was diagnosed with the disease,' said the self-confessed aficionado for all things natural.
Myrna is currently pursuing a degree in naturopathy. She is also a keen environmentalist and drives a hybrid car on her trips to Canada.
Myrna started weight training according to medical advice and soon caught the running bug. When she started training for her first marathon her doctor warned her that she could break her bones if she ran the official distance of 42.195 kilometres.
Myrna claims that she has never felt better in her life and her bones appear to be improving thanks to an 18-hour weekly fitness regimen of running, biking, swimming and weight training.
She also follows a specially-designed nutrition plan and keeps a strict eye on her fat and carbohydrate intake to maintain her level of fitness.
Myrna's determination and energy has trickled down to her family. Her three daughters - Adeline, Carla and Gaylee - have careers in banking and clinical pharmacy, architecture and engineering.
Her engineer husband, Fouad, and the girls enjoy running as a hobby but Myrna is truly passionate about the sport.
Her true grit is the reason that she is establishing her business at a time when most would baulk at the prospect of investing during a global economic downturn.
'I was always behind my children when they were growing up and put myself on the back burner. Now it is my time and I have to do what I always wanted to, despite all the odds. Maybe the time is not right ... but the time is right for me. This is my moment and I will make my 'baby' successful.'
Myrna recently won an international half marathon in Phuket, Thailand, and was placed number one for age group 50 and over.
She was ranked 29 out of 187 women participants and 117 out of the total number of 494 runners. This is the latest feather in her hat but Myrna was still not very pleased with the result.
'Although I won by a 10 minute lead and clocked in 1 hr 55 minutes for 21.1 kilometres I was aiming for a 1 hr 40 minute finish time. So, as a runner, I was not happy as I was competing to beat my time and did not achieve what I trained for. But, it was a hard race as we had to run up a mountain in hot temperatures of up to 36 degree Celsius with high humidity,' said the Saar resident who has completed 17 marathons since 2003.
'Despite everything this victory is important to me and I would like to dedicate my award to Shaikh Talal bin Mohammad Al Khalifa, president of Bahrain Athletics Association, for encouraging me and my family as runners before the London Marathon,' she added.
Apart from staying busy with her business concerns, Myrna has registered for her first-ever Ironman contest in Australia at the end of the year and is training for the competition. But her sights are set on a bigger challenge as she aims to qualify for the toughest Ironman triathlon that is held in Hawaii annually where only physically superior athletes meet the entrance criteria.