TUCSON, Ariz. — Monica Medina lifts her left foot over her bicycle to place her feet on the pedals. She's getting ready to start her 4th week of training for her third El Tour De Tucson.
Medina started cycling two years ago in preparation for her first El Tour De Tucson, but got a serious heart attack three weeks before the big event.
"It was more emotional for me to be told that I might not be able to ride in El Tour De Tucson, than it was to be told that I had just had a heart attack because you put so much effort into the training," Medina said.
She ended up going against advice from doctors and competing in the race. With no complication, she worked hard and raised $1,500 for a charity.
Medina is now cycling for her third El Tour De Tucson, training at 75 miles, but competing in the 50 mile race. She said she feels lucky to be alive.
"This is a lot of internal dialogue happening with yourself, you just almost died," Medina said. "Some people don't make it through these cardiac events, and I was very fortune that I did. Something happens when you have an encounter like that. It's either fight or flight, and I was going to fight this one and go for it."
Medina is fundraising for Ben's Bells. She says her near-death experience inspired her to want to help an organization spread kindness in the community.