desperately out of shape?
Is she a winner just for finishing? Or is she, by definition of last
place, a loser?
Hoover High's Laura Zung, the 17-year-old senior upstart with the
nagging habit of positive-splitting and the 36-second lead over the rest
of the Pacific League entering today's league final at Crescenta Valley
Park, o7 was f7 that last-place finisher.
She shouldn't have been, but an extreme, then-undiagnosed iron
deficiency wouldn't let her fly.
"It felt like someone was putting their hands up to me, like I was
trying to run against it, but they were like, 'No,"' Zung said.
Of course, four doctors and more than a year of continual massive
doses of iron later, Zung is running so well that letters from collegiate
cross-country programs are starting to trickle in.
The first was from a school she hadn't ever heard of.
Among those that arrived last week, one from Claremont-McKenna College
most appealed to Laura's mother, Patricia.
This week there was one from Whittier College, and another from
University of California at Santa Barbara.
How impossible that seemed the afternoon the first doctor phoned
Patricia, telling her to put down the receiver o7 now f7 and go get
Laura off the track. Blood test results had just arrived, and the doctor
said she would explain later, but Patricia needed to go get Laura first.
"My mom came to the track and pulled me out of workouts," Laura said.
"And I was in tears."
What the doctor explained was that the amount of iron in Laura's blood
was dangerously low. Possible-heart-failure low. Laura learned that most
people with such low iron wouldn't even be walking, let alone trying to
propel themselves over three-mile courses.
"It was frightening," Patricia said. "We were scared."
Still, knowing beat the heck out of not knowing.
Since Laura's race results plateaued and then regressed during eighth
and ninth grade, there seemed no reason for her to keep pushing so hard.
She just wasn't cut out for running. No matter how hard she said she
tried, her times didn't improve. They got worse.
Her father, Thomas, was concerned the sport was hindering her