ENCINITAS, Calif. – As Tania Tuluie runs, she keeps track of everything: her pace, her stride, and especially, her breathing.
“Lungs are everything for a runner,” Tuluie said. “We are constantly working to get our O2 intake and all that. There’s so much to it.”
In October of 2018, the avid runner found out she had a rare condition called pulmonary sequestration that required surgery to remove the lower half of her left lung.
“That was devastating,” she said. “Because not having two lungs impacts your life or lifestyle.”
And her lifestyle revolves around running. The 54-year-old says she has completed more than two dozen marathons, and when she heard the news about her lung, she figured her run had stopped.
“I went online and I googled, ‘Can I run with half a lung? Can you run a half-marathon with half a lung?’” she said. “I found one lady who ran a half-marathon. And then I was like, ‘Can you run the Boston Marathon with half a lung?’ There was zero. And I thought, ‘Oh my gosh, it’s over.’”
But it wasn’t. Thirty days after her surgery, the mother of two ran a full mile. Then added more miles, and more miles, and in 2019, she ran another marathon.
Tuluie says she has run four marathons post-surgery and qualified for her eighth Boston Marathon – including her third after surgery. Soon, she hopes to beat her personal record of 3 hours and 30 minutes.
“I love running,” Tuluie said. “It just makes me feel good. I just enjoy it. When you have goals, such as a marathon, it keeps you disciplined, it keeps you accountable and it also takes you places.”
Tuluie works as a graphic designer but will soon take on another role: as a sunshine volunteer at Scripps Health, the hospital where she had her surgery.
She says she wants to comfort and encourage pulmonary patients by showing what’s possible.
“There is life after,” Tuluie said. “You’re impacted, but hopefully only temporarily. And if I can inspire someone not to give up and to work at it and just set your goals here and try to get there, then I would be thrilled to give that back.”