In 2004, my annual physical revealed I had a heart problem: four blocked arteries. I was told I had no option but to have open heart bypass surgery.
On August 31, 2004, I had the surgery and was in the hospital for about 3 1/2 days. Prior to being released, my surgeon came to my room and during our conversation, I told him I would be looking forward to training for my first marathon. The surgeon just smiled and shook his head as he left my room.
Four weeks after being released, I was walking 50 miles a week. At ten weeks post-surgery, I was back on my training/running program, and at 16 weeks I ran the "Race on the Trace" 5 miler at Natchez Trace State Park and placed in my age group. I felt so blessed to be back competing. That was in January 2005. I continued to participate in racing distances up to the half marathon.
In 2007 my wife, Kathleen, who had run Boston in 1999, encouraged me to run Boston since I had raced all over the country and had never run a marathon. I remembered what I had told my surgeon and decided to take my wife's suggestion. I started training for the distance in late fall of that year, got in a couple of 18-20 milers, and signed up for the 2007 St. Jude Memphis Marathon. I finished second in my age group, 25 minutes under my Boston qualifying time.
I then ran the Boston Marathon in 2008, finishing with a time that re-qualified me for the 2009 Boston. It was quite an experience. Since I registered late, I had to stay in Braintree, Massachusetts, and had to take the transit system to get to where the buses would take me to Hopkinton for the start. Once arriving in Hopkinton, I managed to find my corral, and we were off for the 112th running of the Boston Marathon.
The Boston Red Sox game had just let out, which added to the number of people trying to get on the transit system. While in line, a man some distance in front of me had a heart attack and ambulance personnel were trying to get to him. Then on the other side where people were getting off the system, a man grabbed a ladies purse and the transit authority personnel were in hot pursuit! There were people being pushed and shoved.
After finally getting on the transit line, there were no seats available, so I had to stand. There was a lady seated in front of where I was standing. She got up and offered me her seat. I learned she was sitting in a seat designated for those 60 years of age and over. I thanked her, and then let her know I was from the South, and gentlemen do not sit while ladies have to stand. She seemed surprised.
I finally made it back to my hotel and back home. My Boston was a real experience, to say the least! Especially considering I waited until I was 65 years old to enter the race, and had undergone quadruple by-pass surgery 3 1/2 years earlier. There were other incidents I have not listed.
For more personal accounts of the 2008 Boston marathon, click here.
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