After a serious car accident in May 2015, doctors told Stephanie Sprague (25) of Dubuque, Iowa that she’d be in the hospital for the next four months, and even then things were unlikely to be “normal” for her. Remarkably, Stephanie beat those odds, leaving the hospital in just 4 weeks and making a full recovery. In fact, Stephanie has gone beyond just recovering—she will be ready to run her first Madison Marathon this November.
Focal Flame Photography, the official photographer for the 2015 Madison Marathon events, talked to Stephanie about her road to recovery what she learned along the way about her own incredible strength.
Focal Flame Photography (FFP): How many Madison Marathons have you run?
Stephanie Sprague (SS): This will be the 1st one!
FFP: How many total marathons or half marathons have you run?
FFP: Have you participated in other similar events?
SS: Yes, a few of my favorites are the Dominate Dubuque Series, the Heritage Trail Race, the Benefit Classic, the Grandview Gallop, and the Turkey Trot.
FFP: Are there any personal accomplishments you are particularly proud of?
SS: Simply being here and being able to run.
FFP: What does running and participating in events such as the Madison Marathon mean to you?
SS: This past year has taught me to not take anything for granted. I was by no means an avid runner previously, but being able to push through life’s obstacles and strive to become an even better runner than I was before is a gift in itself. Not only is the Madison Marathon a gift for me, I will be running it with my father who has had his own life struggles and just started running at the age of 53.
FFP: With so many races to choose from, why did you pick the Madison Marathon?
SS: Timing is the most important thing in my recovery right now. The Madison Marathon is just over 5 months from the day of my accident. Doctors told me that I would be in the hospital for at least 3 months and may not have my “normal” life back. The fact that I am able to participate in this year’s Madison Marathon is a miracle.
FFP: Can you tell us what it has been like to train/prepare for a marathon after recovering from the accident?
SS: Memorial Day weekend I went off a gravel country road and rolled my vehicle several times. I was unconscious and trapped in my vehicle for over 3 hours before someone noticed my vehicle and called for help. I remember waking up in the hospital 4 days later. Miraculously, I did not suffer a single broken bone. I had some severe internal injuries, but nothing that would be life threatening. After the doctors initially said I would be in the hospital for at least 3 months, I was discharged after 4 weeks thanks to my health and physical shape prior to my accident. I had been running and doing Farrell’s kickboxing regularly prior to my accident. I can give huge thanks to the impact running had on my physical health, which led to a much faster recovery! One of my more crucial injuries was my right side abdominal wall was detached from my spine and was essentially torn to shreds from my seat belt. During training, this has been the hardest obstacle. You really don't realize how much you use your core muscles until they have been compromised. I have had to make sure I have had very low impact training on top of doing a lot of core muscle strength training with a stability ball.
FFP: What will it mean to participate in November's race?
SS: It will mean that anything is possible if you put your mind and heart to it. I also would like to emphasize that being in good physical health prior to my accident has helped made this race that much more possible.
FFP: Is there anything else you’d like to share about your experience?
SS: Just to maintain good health, as you never know when it may help save your life.
This article is part of a series featuring athletes who are participating in a Madison Marathon event in 2015. Focal Flame Photography is honored to serve as official photographers for the Madison Marathon. All runners will receive free FocalShare™ digital race photos courtesy of the event organizers. The Fall Madison Marathon events will occur on November 8, 2015 on the streets of Wisconsin's capitol city. For more information or to register, visit Madison Marathon.