On Sept. 4th, 2010, 12 days before my 50th birthday, I had just crossed the finish line of the Cow Chip Classic 10k in Sauk City, Wisconsin. I felt a small tightness in the middle of my chest, and assumed I was dehydrated and out of breath from sprinting in the last few hundred yards. Within moments, I became light-headed and nauseous. Upon noticing that my face was gray and ashen, my friends went to get help. As I sat down by a tree at the finish line, I couldn't understand what all the fuss was about. I had up to five EMT's working on me, getting vitals and placing nitro glycerin pills under my tongue. Never once did I feel that I was in imminent danger.
The EMT's convinced me to go to the hospital across the street to be checked out. They knew all along how serious and dire my situation was, but never let on. At the hospital, the Emergency Room doctor took my two buddies out in the hall and told them that I was having a massive heart attack and that I was in grave danger. He wanted to air lift me to UW-Madison's Heart Hospital Immediately. Unfortunately, the helicopter was having mechanical problems, and I was told I would be transported by Ambulance.
A 45-minute ride later, I was whisked into an operating room with four or more doctors waiting for me. One hour later, I awoke, and was informed that two stents were placed in an artery near my heart. The doctors opened a 100% blockage in my lower anterior descending artery. (Commonly known as The Widow Maker). I was told by my primary care doctor later in ICU that 90% of patients with this kind of heart attack don't survive. Strength of my heart and lungs, due to my running, was what saved my life. I was told that if this would have happened 7 or 8 years earlier, I would not have survived.
There is no history of Coronary Artery Disease in my family. I was told that I gave it to myself. I had stopped running at the age of 25, started smoking two packs of cigarettes per day, abusing alcohol and gaining 80 lbs. through poor dietary habits. At the age of 39, I stopped smoking, drinking and changed my diet. Two years ago, I changed my diet even more, and immediately noticed results. After my heart attack, there were a few concessions I was forced to make. I could never eat Edy's Rocky Road Ice Cream again, and no more donuts. Two vices that I couldn't take out of my life, until now. Once I found out that Sherbet was a tasty and healthy substitute for Ice cream, I knew I'd be okay with the rest of my diet.
Since my heart attack, I have picked up my training, and have completed a 30 mile trail race in Illinois (My time was 30 minutes faster than last year before my heart attack!) and on May 14th, I competed in a 50 mile trail race on Wisconsin’s Ice Age Trail.
My Cardiologist has given me several Echo Cardiograms since my heart attack, and has told me that my heart is completely normal! I have 1 - 2% permanent damage as a result of my attack. On the day of my attack, I had 20% damage!
After speaking with Stan Theis, the Cow Chip Race Director, and the EMT’s that helped me that day, I made the decision to pass my good fortune forward. My 100 mile charity run will take place on Sept. 2 - 3.
I will start in my hometown of Menomonee Falls, WI., and run a route to Sauk City, WI starting on Friday, Sept. 2nd at 5 a.m. from the playground of Shady Lane Elementary School and finishing around 6 a.m. on Sat., Sept. 3rd at Marion Park in Prairie du Sac, WI. Along the way I will run through the towns of Oconomowoc, Marshall, Watertown, Sun Prairie, Waunakee and Sauk Prairie.
I have coached high school cross country and track for the last 8 years, and enjoy teaching young athletes about the importance of exercise and diet. During my run I will meet up with local high school and middle school cross country teams, and they will help me run through their towns. The teams will also be fundraising, with the proceeds being split 50/50 between The American Heart Association, The Sauk Prairie Ambulance Association and the individual teams. I will present a check to the American Heart Assoc. and the Sauk Prairie Ambulance Assoc. after running the Cow Chip Classic 10k.
I look forward to your support, and hope that my charity run inspires young and old to exercise regularly and eat properly.
Remember..... Stay Vertical/Stay Fit
More info at: https://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=203046299751158