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The Los Angeles Marathon, set to start at 8:15 a.m...

March 01, 2007|Tony Barboza | Times Staff Writer

The Los Angeles Marathon, set to start at 8:15 a.m. Sunday near Universal City and finish near Central Library downtown, is expected to draw 26,000 participants.

Those hitting the pavement will include professionals paring down their times to just over two hours, ambitious walkers, and even those in costume, including a group of four Elvises and "Coat Man," who runs every year in a trench coat and wingtip shoes.

Add Superwoman to that list.

Shirley Kane, a nurse from Anaheim, plans to run her first marathon dressed as Superwoman for her 10-month-old daughter, Emily, who has been in the hospital since August.

Emily is fighting to adapt to a newly transplanted heart and is the real superhero for having survived, Kane said. The girl has suffered from a severely thickened heart associated with Noonan syndrome, a genetic condition she was born with. She received a heart transplant in December and has since been housed in a small private room in the cardiothoracic intensive care unit at Childrens Hospital Los Angeles, enclosed by a pressure-sealed double door to stave off infection.

Kane spends five days a week at the hospital watching over Emily, but also works two 12-hour nursing shifts each week at a hospital in Downey.

Kane, 39, found the endorphin rush of marathon training helped her cope with the stress of not knowing whether her daughter would survive. She began running three days a week last fall with a group of friends.

"As my miles increased, I would think about how my heart was pounding so hard and it was so healthy and hers was so weak," she said.

As a critical-care nurse, Kane knew that when Emily received a poor prognosis in October, it meant she would have no more than a year to live unless she received a heart transplant.

She is now doing better thanks to the transplant, and her body is slowly adjusting, said Dr. Jackie Szmuszkovicz, her pediatric cardiologist.

Kane, her husband, John, and their 2-year-old son, Dylan, hope to welcome Emily home by her first birthday on May 6.

The idea to run in costume began as a joke, but she soon saw it as a way to raise awareness of the importance of organ donation, without which her daughter would not be alive, Kane said.

Several weeks ago she ordered the costume online, altered it to fit her 5-foot-8-inch frame, and glued rhinestones and red sequins to her running shoes for good measure.

"I'm pretty bling-blinged out. You can't miss me," she said.

Kane will alternate running and walking, hoping to cross the finish line in about five hours and 40 minutes. She will wear a small reminder of Emily -- a photo ironed onto the back of her cape. On the photo it says: "My little inspiration."

tony.barboza@latimes.com

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