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[IP] runner with asthma and insulin pump

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Aquinas runner clearing her health hurdles on the track

By RYAN DUNLAY / Telegram Sports WriterDAVID CITY - While most runners can 
leave their hurdles behind them on the track, Kayla Schmit deals with hers 
every moment of every day.

When the 17-year-old David City Aquinas junior takes to the track for the 
Monarchs, she's usually carrying a relay baton in one hand and an inhaler in 
the other with an insulin pump strapped to her hip.

Such is life when you're a runner who happens to have diabetes and asthma.

"The most important thing to remember is that you can't give up," said 
Schmit, the youngest of David and Connie Schmit's five daughters. "To 
improve, you have to work outside of practice. It's not easy."

Dealing with diabetes is nothing new to Schmit. She was diagnosed when she 
was 10 months old and has never known life without it.

"I've gotten used to it, and I have my insulin pump; that helps a lot," 
Schmit said.

"If I didn't have the pump, I probably wouldn't be able to work at it as 
much. It fluctuates my insulin intake and makes sure my blood sugars are 
consistent when I work out," Schmit said.

Last summer, Schmit was training for the upcoming cross country season, 
running up to 10 miles a day or doing speed workouts, a series of 100-, 200- 
and 400-meter sprints. In August, though, something changed. All of a sudden, 
she couldn't breathe.

A visit to the doctor revealed Schmit has asthma as well.

"I was only getting two-thirds of my air, the doctors said, and I was tired 
all the time," Schmit said. "I'd try to run and I would be short of breath 
almost immediately. I couldn't run like I used to."

Unfazed by her newly found condition, Schmit kept running. Clutching an 
albuteral inhaler in case of emergency, she competed for the Monarchs' cross 
country team as planned. Even though her times increased significantly, 
Schmit said quitting was never an option.

"I was kind of disheartened because I was just getting good at cross 
country," Schmit said. "This year I slowed down, but I started getting used 
to (the asthma). By the end of the season, I was improving."

During the 2002 season, Schmit could run roughshod over a 2.5-mile cross 
country course in 18 minutes, 30 seconds on average. She posted a season-best 
effort of 17:50.

In 2003, she struggled to break 22 minutes for much of the year, but managed 
to turn in an 18:40 effort near the end of the Monarch campaign.

Schmit ran the 1,600 and 3,200 races for Aquinas' track team last year, but 
Monarch coaches agreed it would be better and safer for her to focus on the 
800-meter run and 3,200 relay.

"I don't have as much endurance," Schmit said. "Before I could run 10 miles, 
but now I'll go three and I'm dead."

Despite her limitations, Aquinas girls track coach John Svec said Schmit's 
work ethic makes her a role model for her peers.

"She's just an inspiration," Svec said. "Her teammates know of the challenges 
she has to go through, and they see her working hard every day in practice. 
She loves to compete, and that wears off on others."

While her illnesses haven't been easy to handle, they've left Schmit with a 
wealth of information on both conditions. Schmit said she'd like to attend 
Creighton University like her sisters with the plan to become a 

She'd like a chance to educate others about diabetes.

"It's something I've been interested in for a long time," she said.

Schmit's plans may or may not be realized, but her past and present actions 
bode well for what might come. Right now you can find her running on an open 
track to unknown future. For the time being, she doesn't want to rest or do 
anything else.

So far, nothing's been able to stop her.

Reach Ryan Dunlay at 563-7538 or rdunlay @columbustelegram.com
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