Shortly after the Memphis marathon I began training seriously for my return to Chicago. What I remembered about the Chicago course was it was flat, fast, and there were around 40,000 runners, and well over a million spectators. Over the last quarter of the race, there were bands stationed every mile, with musicians anxious to help push tired runners to the end. Thinking of all this motivated me during my training. On October 12, 2003, I crossed the finish line at 3:30.08 and qualified for the Boston Marathon. Thank God for cushion time! My wife and girls had accompanied me on this trip and were there to celebrate with me. I still get emotional thinking about reuniting with them after I made it through the chute.
The following week I made an appointment with a cardiologist. I completed a stress test on a treadmill where I was told to run as long as I could. Well, it did not take long till the doctors and nurses started referring to me as “The Marathon Man.” I was told I passed the test with flying colors and there should not be a problem with completing the Boston Marathon in April. I was then instructed to go across the street to eat a hamburger and come back for one more test. It was during this test the doctor saw something suspicious. He ordered a heart cath for the following day as a precautionary measure. However, during the heart cath they found blockage that could not be corrected with a stint and would require open-heart surgery. I had this surgery the next day and returned home after a four-day stay in the hospital on Christmas Eve. I told the nurses Santa was coming and I had to be home for my girls.
April came and it was time for my wife and I to make our way to Boston. We were both so impressed with how organized the expo was, and I loaded up on my Boston Marathon merchandise, unsure if I would ever have the chance to get more. We had a great weekend in Boston. My wife and I ate great food and enjoyed sightseeing. Come race day I soon found out training solely on a treadmill for a marathon was not wise. I vividly remember looking up and realizing I was at the bottom of Heartbreak Hill. I was so discouraged I started walking. I experienced cramps for the first time. I was planning to complete the race in four hours, but finished in just under five.
Although this was not my best race experience, I was so thankful to have made it to Boston. I know running saved my life. If I had not been running, my doctors told me I would have never felt the burning in my chest that led the doctors to find the blockage that would have led to a fatal heart attack. While I was running the Boston Marathon I focused not on the pain I was in, but how grateful I was to have the opportunity to run.
Recently I have put my running shoes back on and am training for my first marathon in many years. I am proud to say I will be running with my youngest daughter for her first half marathon with hopes of one day soon returning to Boston for my revenge on Heartbreak Hill. We have a score to settle.
For more personal accounts of the 2005 Boston marathon, click here.
All our most recently posted stories can be found on the BOSTONLOG homepage.