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Powering up for Electric Run

Long Beach woman with spina bifida is among those planning to join in second annual Costa Mesa event.

October 28, 2013|By Rhea Mahbubani
  • Misty Diaz, 29, a Long Beach resident who suffers from spina bifida, will run in the Electric Run at the OC Fair and Event Center on Nov. 1.
Misty Diaz, 29, a Long Beach resident who suffers from… (SCOTT SMELTZER,…)

She's only 29 years old, but Misty Diaz has undergone 28 major surgeries.

Doctors have done everything from repairing her intestines to retethering her spinal cord and providing her with balance necessary to stand up without toppling over, tie her shoelaces and live independently.

The Long Beach resident was born with spina bifida, a congenital condition that often causes paralysis of the lower limbs. Over time, she grew addicted to drugs that helped her with pain management, anxiety and difficulty sleeping, among other conditions.

"I wanted different results," she said. "I wanted to not be in pain, I wanted to wake up at 7 a.m. and not feel groggy and tired. I was willing to try something different to see how I would feel and to see if it could have a different effect."

Diaz decided to get sober. The last time she took a sip of alcohol or swallowed a pill — other than maybe Tylenol or Ibuprofen, when needed — was Feb. 2, 2012.

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A few days later, while wondering where to channel her energy, she drove past a billboard advertising the annual Ronald McDonald House Run/Walk. Without giving herself time to think about her lack of training or her need for leg braces and walking canes, she signed up.

Even with the braces and canes, Diaz still completed the 5K walk — and felt "really good." A fortnight passed, and she enlisted for a similar event in Seal Beach. And so it continued.

"Running gave me an outlet to use my energy to help my mind and body," she said. "It boosts my confidence and self-esteem and gives me a sense of accomplishment."

Now, Diaz is only a few days away from her 33rd attempt. She, like others, will line up Friday at the OC Fair & Event Center in preparation for the Electric Run.

After debuting at the same venue last year, the event has been hosted at various locations nationwide, attracting thousands of attendees. Participants are invited to walk, jog or run five kilometers — or 3.1 miles — to the accompaniment of pulsating electronic dance music.

Start-line festivities include free face-painting, while tunes blast and neon glow sticks are thrown out at the crowd before the untimed run begins. Sent out in waves of about 800, guests then make their way through eight distinct courses, decorated with upside-down umbrellas, glowing arches, wall art and an inflatable castle.

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