For Sylvania resident Linda Shaw, exercise is a major part of everyday life.
As a swimmer, biker and most of all, runner, 58-year-old Ms. Shaw runs around 15-20 miles per week and spends nearly every weekend competing in races. For someone with an irregular heartbeat, who uses both a pacemaker and a defibrillator, Ms. Shaw isn't the average runner.
"I'm very competitive. I like to win," she said. She was recently chosen to join 25 other athletes who wear implanted medical devices for the Medtronic Twin City Marathon/10 miler in Minneapolis. On race day, which is Oct. 7, Ms. Shaw will line up at the starting line and race in honor of promoting positive health and fitness.
In the past seven years that the Medtronic Foundation has supported the event, in conjunction with sponsorship of the Twin Cities Marathon and 10 miler, it has had 159 runners compete. These runners have represented more than 23 countries.
Rich Fischer, manager of corporate public relations for the Medtronic Foundation, said Ms. Shaw is "part of the seventh team to run as a global hero. Linda's in good company."
He added: "It really is a kind of celebration of these people who have running a part of their life. A celebration of them continuing to do what they want to do."
He said the Global Heroes runners have a range of medical conditions, including cerebral palsy, diabetes, and Parkinson's disease.
"We have an interesting range in age from 15-72," he said. "We have a wide range of folks running as well. This year we have nine different countries represented."
Promoting fitness and a healthy lifestyle is something Ms. Shaw she takes seriously, although her condition, having an abnormal heart rate, is likely genetic. She said tests to determine the exact genetic variables would cost her $5,000, because it is not covered under insurance. Since she had the pacemaker and defibrillator implanted in March 2008, she urges people to get a second opinion and trust themselves above anything else.
"Listen to your body," she said, adding that she exhibited symptoms of an irregular heartbeat for many years before she knew she needed a pacemaker and defibrillator.
Being aware of how she feels was especially important during a race she ran in 2010, when she began to feel familiar symptoms of vision loss and leg weakness.
"I was doing really good," she said, "I was at the three mile mark." Knowing something was wrong, Ms. Shaw called out for help, feeling like she was going to pass out.
But then, she felt a jolt in her chest. It was the defibrillator, helping adjust her heart rate.
"I got first place in my age group," Ms. Shaw said. Later, at home she looked at her computer, which records her heart rate. She said the whole episode lasted eight seconds and her heart rate jumped to 300 beats per minute.
Even so, the scare hasn't prevented her from continuing to race. She has done 40 races this year so far and Ms. Shaw said her motivation post-race includes "good coffee and a cinnamon roll."
As the mother of four children, she said since she has been a runner, her daughters, 24 and 25, have gotten involved with running.
They have even run races together, such as the Rock ‘n' Roll Nashville Marathon and Half, in Tennessee.
But at the end of the day, Ms. Shaw is also happy working on an exercise DVD with her granddaughter, at home.
As she tells the story of her granddaughter telling her one day that it was neat that her grandma is able to work out with her, it is clear that Ms. Shaw values running, but she also values the time she spends with her family, above anything else.
Contact Kelly McLendon at email@example.com or 419-206-0356 or on Twitter at @MyTownSylvania.