HER Olympic dreams may have been dashed, but Caloundra's Margie Atthow is simply happy to be alive after suffering a pulmonary embolism.
The 27-year-old was among the top middle-distance runners in the country and had qualified for the national selection trials when she was struck down last month by a blood clot in her right lung.
"Running had been going really well up until then," she said yesterday.
"I had come back from a grand prix meet in Newcastle the day before and I woke up and had a raging pain through the right side of my back.
"I just thought it would be a muscle spasm so I just kept on training through it.
"I probably got 10 days through and then I actually started coughing up blood and that's when I thought something rather serious might be going on.
"I thought it might have been pneumonia but I saw my doctor, who sent me for scans, and I was told it was blood clots."
Atthow started treatment at Nambour General Hospital and was told her 1500m London Olympics aspirations were over.
It was a bitter pill for Atthow to swallow because she was closing in on a Games berth and nearing the form of her life.
"I had come fourth at Newcastle and the time was only just off my personal best and I'd already qualified for the Olympic trials in Melbourne in early March," she said.
"My times were looking promising, but when all this blew up the specialist said I wouldn't be doing anything until I was off the medication (blood thinner).
"I am taking the medicine until August, so I'm out of action until then."
Atthow was left to ponder what could have been.
"I don't think it was ever going to be good timing for this, but it was particularly bad timing. Having to withdraw from the trials, that was pretty gut wrenching."
However, Atthow also recognises how bad it could have been.
"IT was pretty crushing and it has been hard getting my head around it, but as all of my doctors have been telling me, I am actually pretty lucky to be here ... because the clot had to travel through my heart to get into the lung and they said it could have just as easily lodged in the heart and you could just drop dead," she said.
Atthow said her passion for competition had not waned and she was eager to return to the track later this year.
"I'm not allowed to do intense exercise at the moment. I am doing yoga and light jogging to keep some fitness and keep me vaguely sane," she said.
"The size of the clot killed off 15% of my lung on the right side, so hopefully scans in August will show I have had some healing from that."