2024.07.10 - This running life

Very few of us get through life without facing a medical nightmare, but our daily runs train us to be ready for the hard days. In my 30’s, and just after being featured as Michigan Runner of the Year, I was running the Freep marathon where I hit 20 miles just under 6 minute pace, when my heart decided to go to hell. In reality, it was the day I found out I was born with a birth defect, only having 2 flaps on what should have been 3 on my aortic valve. The valve prematurely aged and chose that day to stick open and send me into congestive heart failure. I could write a book about what happened next, but here are the cliff notes: I had a high-risk surgery called the Ross Procedure (you can look it up if so inclined), not approved by the AMA at the time. The operation was a success, but the post-op heart was about a minute and a mile slower. This obsessed runner grieved the loss of a fast pace, but I was able to still run.

My love of the daily run remained and it got me 30 more years of joy … Then on Labor Day, 2023, a new nightmare struck as my heart went out of rhythm, aging scar tissue from the old surgery seems to be the culprit. I’ve been somewhat quiet about it as I’ve gone through several surgical procedures, and some hospital stays, but I’ve been able to walk with a bit of running through it all.

That said, after 10 months away from the run, modern medicine has me back on the road, again, a couple minutes per mile slower, but I’m smiling through every mile! Ideally, we would run until our final day, but realistically, we must accept that it may end at any time. When that day comes, we will all still be runners till the end, carrying with us, all the miles we have ever ran, miles that are part of us, never to be taken away.

Enjoy every healthy day as they prepare us,

Randy Step, an admitted obsessed runner who ran more than walked 5 miles yesterday!

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