b'CITIZEN SPOTLIGHTTurning tragedy into triumph:Heidi was determined to get How a brush with death became a stroke of luck back on track. It took a couple years before she felt better and You may have seen Heidi Allen zipping about town in her mail truck,wasnttiredallthetime.She covering16milesofgroundonherdailyroute.Or,maybeyouveeventually got her bike back out spotted the postal worker traversing the same distance on a pre-dawnandstartedridingagain.She jog or bike ride before she begins her deliveries. Servicing more thangot up before sunrise to head 800 homes in Independence, Heidi is a xture for many residents. Butto Anytime Fitness and walked theres more to Heidi than being a local mail carrier.after her gym sessions. Little by The45-year-oldavidrunnerandbicyclistjustcompletedherlittle she got better.rstmarathon.AccordingtoRunnersWorldMagazine,thatsanItwasastruggleatrst, accomplishment less than 1 percent of the U.S. population can aunt.Heidi admitted. And one day I For Heidi, that feat is even more impressive, considering a near-fataljust started running because I stroke eight years ago almost claimed her life. used to run. I ran a mile before I just didnt feel right and kept telling them all weekat work, I justI knew it.feel like Im sick but Im not sick, Heidi recalled. It was just an uneasyShekeptprogressingand feeling like when youve got the u or whatever and you dont feel good. joinedthreedifferentrunning Headaches, shoulder pain and general malaise plagued her for aboutgroups. She ran an entire 10K a week, and her blood pressure was sky-high. She thought she had itin the Thanksgiving Day Race in under controlbut suddenly she took a turn for the worse. She awokeCincinnati. Eventually she hit the in the middle of the night with an extreme thirst and an odd craving for12-mile mark, then 15, then 18, then 20. She signed up for The Flying toast, but she couldnt swallow anything. Pig, determined to run a marathon, but it was canceled this year, and that meant she had unnished business.I went to the bathroom and looked in the mirror and the left side ofThis October, a group of friends organized a run in Bellevue. Four my face was droopy, and my right side, I couldnt shut my eye, and Ihours and 49 minutes later, Heidi had completed her rst marathon. couldnt talk right apparently, Heidi revealed. So I woke my daughterLooking back on how far shes come, she almost cant believe it herself.up and had her drive me to the hospital. She was 16 and we had a big pickup truck and I was like, You can drive as fast as you want. I think it was a wake-up call and an incentive at the same time," Heidi She was only 37 years old. True, things had been rough. Shed gonesaid of the stroke. It helped me learn how to actually set some goals and through a divorce, which was nalized barely two months prior. She lostwork towards them. I just was feeling kind of like a failure at the time and I her house in the divorce and she and her son and daughter just movedhad nothing. I wanted my kids to see that you can go on and change. Its into a new apartment. Her life had been upended, and now this? not easy, but if you stick with it and chase those goals you will get there, and I wanted to be an example for them.Tests revealed she had a vertebral artery dissectionor tear in herNow Heidi is in the gym at least three times per week, bikes an vertebral arterythat led to a blood clot, and eventually a stroke.average of 30 miles per week and runs up to 50 miles per weekall in They said mine was actually severed, Heidi revealed. I had no bloodpreparation for her next marathon.ow from my neck to the top of my head on the right sidenone at all.Photo Courtesy of Heidi AllenIt apparently tried to heal itself and there was a blood clot there and it just kind of got shoved up.Doctors werent sure what caused the dissection, but oftentimes theyarecausedbyatrauma,perhapsoccurringamonthpriorto showing outward signs of the dissection. After a stint in the hospital, Heidi suffered from residual pain and had trouble sleeping. Because the stroke struck the part of the brain that controls motor function, she had to use trekking poles for more than a year to help her walk. She had a stutter. She couldnt drive, which meant she couldnt work. As a newly single parent, she struggled nancially. Part of me was not worried because it was just fate and I knew everything was going to be ok eventually but it was going to be tough, Heidi said. Theres times where you want to do things for your kids and you cant, but by the same token they kind of learned some valuable life lessons. They had to grow up quick. Heidi crosses the nish line of her rst marathon after 4 hours and 49 minutes.DECLARATIONS of Independence,November 2020- March 20217TIONS of Independence,November 2020- March 2021'