As reported by the New Britain Herald, September 27, 2008.

Asthma Gone, She Aspires to Race

By Prachi Vidwans

NEW BRITAIN - Born with a severe case of asthma, resident Dabney Mockalis is fighting to gain the experiences she missed as a child - even training to run in a marathon next month.

Mockalis spent her childhood with a rescue inhaler permanently at hand in case her lungs needed to be shot a dose of her vaporous medicine. But for Mockalis, like other patients who can't breathe deeply enough for an inhaler, it often didn't work.

She had to stop being a kid every four hours so she could use a nebulizer, a larger instrument that provides a steady stream of medicine. "We used to call it 'the machine,'" Mockalis said.

If Mockalis was ill, she'd have to take steroids to keep her airways free in addition to her other daily medications.

As a child, Mockalis was held back from childhood mischief. "I tried to keep up with my friends. If we were running, I was always last. It was especially bad in winter, you know, with sledding and making snowmen, because asthma is bad in cold weather," Mockalis said.

Mockalis was unable to be a part of a sports team, because exercise and exertion trigger asthmatic attacks.

"It was a bummer because all my friends were on the field hockey team or soccer team, but I never got the opportunity to do physical things in high school. I had to do calmer clubs, like yearbook."

And, for a quarter-century, that was her life.

Mockalis noticed significant improvement in her condition at age 25, when she realized that she wasn't wheezing as much anymore.

"It wasn't a completely gradual change. One day it just didn't bother me anymore," Mockalis said.

A pulmonary test at her doctor's confirmed Mockalis could go without her daily medications.

"It could have been a change her immune system, a change in environment, but it's common for childhood asthma to go away," said Mark Metersky, a doctor of pulmonary medicine and bronchiectasis care at the University of Connecticut Health Center in Farmington.

Mockalis immediately sought to try as many sports as she could.

"The first sport for me was snowboarding - I loved it! And it was great because I was good at it even in the cold weather," Mockalis said.

Mockalis was determined to stretch. When her friend, Nora Stearns, told her about the Hartford Marathon Foundation's training program, she jumped to take the challenge.

"It was immediately so much fun! They have a training schedule that I try to follow five days a week. Now I can run for one hour - in May I couldn't run for one minute," Mockalis said. "My boyfriend comes running with me sometimes, saying, 'Hurry up!' and cheers me on. He tries to run, but he usually rides his bike cause he can't keep up with me."

With such support coming not only from her boyfriend, but from her mother and family, Mockalis met her first race with a burst of adrenaline.

Although Mockalis and Stearns had only been intending to run the 3.1-mile race, their ambitions have ballooned as their training progressed.

"We started with no expectations, started with a 5k race. Now our goal is 13.1 miles. It's definitely gotten more intense and rewarding," Stearns said.

Stearns and Mockalis will be running in the Hartford Marathon on Oct. 11, a 5k run through the Greater Hartford area that will be their longest yet. Anyone, no matter age or experience level, can participate. For information on the marathon itself, call 860-652-8866.