Breathing can be tough for any long-distance runner, but for Conrad’s Mallory Holloway, it’s a challenge she faces every day, with plenty of success.
An early childhood illness led Mallory’s parents to take her to the hospital, where they found out she had Cystic Fibrosis.
“She was a relatively healthy baby, but got sick when she was one,” Mallory’s mother Katrina said. “We went to A.I. [duPont Hospital for Children] and did a lot of visits, had testing done, and found out she had C.F. They got her on the medications that she needed and went from there. “
Cystic Fibrosis is a genetic disease that affects an estimated 30,000 Americans. C.F. often leads to persistent lung infections, and the flare up of mucus creates a challenge, according to Katrina.
“Her lung function isn’t as high as it is for other kids. Cystic Fibrosis causes a buildup of excess mucus in her lungs, so it’s harder for her to breathe than it is for other kids. She’s actually had three hospitalizations in the past three years to give her treatment to battle bugs that are growing in her lungs. She has to stay really focused on her treatments and take all of her meds so she can be as successful as she can.”
Katrina said one of Mallory’s best treatments is simply being active.
“Running is great for airway clearance, so she’s always been encouraged to be as active as she possible could. She danced for a long time when she was younger, and when she hit middle school she was really interested in running, so she did cross-country and was really successful. The care team adjusted her therapies and regimen so she could be successful.”
Mallory ran on her mother’s middle school cross country team, and fell in love with the running, and the views it can bring.
“I think it’s fun because the courses are really pretty, and it’s really fun to have your gameday face on and your team gets very excited for you.”
Mallory added competing in cross-country has brought about confidence, and a welcome distraction to her daily battle with C.F.
“I try to think about running, instead of what I’m not able to do. If I am having trouble breathing or it’s hot, I try to think about catching the girl in front of me and try focus on what I’m doing, so I’ll forget about it.”
Mallory started off her season with a bang, finishing 2nd in the B division of the Lake Forest Invitational, but said some of the hotter September days were a true challenge.
“You get really short of breath, and then it gets harder to run and your chest gets tight. It is really hot, and your legs don’t move as fast.”
Runners tend to be heading towards some kind of goal, which Mallory said includes breaking the 20-minute barrier in a race this season. Her 26th place finish out of 155 runners in the Division 2 State Championship meet last fall came despite being the only 8th grade finisher.
The foundation has been built for future success, but Mallory said she’s learned to deal with the frustration if there’s an ill-timed flare up.
“It’s very disappointing, because you feel like you’ve trained very hard, but you just have to forget about it and move on.”
One race Mallory said she’s most looking forward to is next month at Winterthur, where she’ll indirectly get to race against her dad.
“We actually have a race coming up where he’s doing the Old-Timers Race and I’m running [New Castle] Counties on the same course. I just have to beat him at that, then we’re all good.”
That sounds like any child talking about their parents, and for Mallory’s mom Katrina, she’s happy her daughter is getting great treatment, and can enjoy a sport her family loves.
“It was obviously a scary diagnosis, but we’re really lucky to be where we are by [Nemours's] awesome care team, and got her the care and medication that she needed, and they still follow her now.”
Mallory’s not alone in becoming a runner with Cystic Fibrosis. At least two runners met the strict time qualifications for this year’s Boston Marathon, proving, with the right drive, Mallory Holloway can be just another runner--while at the same time, a role model for anyone with C.F. Being active is absolutely an option.