Running your Heart Out: The 2012 Nashville Country Music Marathon & Half Marathon Rock 'n' Roll

"...running for The John Ritter Foundation, Dr. Allan Stewart, American Heart Association, Justin Carey, Dick Clark, Albert "Squeak" Carey, Gretchen, Papaspyk, Savana Sky and many more..."

Heart Patients: Why do we do what we do?

We do it. We do these things and we don't care. We don't care about the potential risks, we don't care what people think, and we could care less how things are perceived. We do these things for reasons only we understand. We've stood in the shadow of what could have been our final hours, and we were blessed to have come out on the other side. 

Heartosaurus Edoard Gheur, aka "PapaSpyk" tells of what could have been his final hours: 

"It felt like someone had just stabbed me through the heart"

"On July 13th 1997, I was cooking dinner in our house, when all of a sudden; it felt as if someone had just stabbed me through the heart with a huge knife.

I had never felt such pain before and collapsed on the kitchen floor. I called for my wife who came running into the kitchen and I told her to call an ambulance as I thought I was having a heart attack. She thought I was kidding and went back to bed.

Three hours later she woke up, panicking because I was not in bed next to her, and ran into the kitchen and found me ice cold with no pulse on the floor, she thought I was dead. She finally called the police saying “My husband has just died on my kitchen floor”. They came with an ambulance and they rushed me to hospital..."

We live each day connecting with other patients, spreading awareness because we've been so affected, and doing things that seem to keep our spirits up and keep us going. Some of us run Marathons, Triathlons and compete athletically, while others have taken up meditation, mountain climbing, or new religions. What we all have in common is that we do these things.......these things that fuel us and have a special significance. They're not just sports, new hobbies, or new distractions. These are metaphors; symbols of what was, what happened, and what is to be.

I run. It's something I've done in the past, and it has taken on new significance since my aortic aneurysm repair. I was cleared to run after my open heart surgery, and I've had physicals and frequent checkups with my doctors since. I'm told that my heart is in fine condition, and that I have no limitations. The tests I've had conclude the same thing. Often though while I'm out there, I wonder if there's going to be a pop and a white light. Will the next heartbeat be it? Done? Finito? It happens to healthy people let along someone with 6 inches of Dacron hose repairing their heart. This insecurity is very common with heart patients. Pat Peretta, an aortic Survivor and Triathlete told me yesterday that he goes through the same thing. So why do I do it? I do it because it makes me feel alive, not a slave to the circumstances. I do it because it spreads awareness about heart disease, but more importantly because it spreads a contagious attitude which is really the backbone of how came about. Heartosauruses like to do these things because we are fighters and we embrace challenge. This mindset is why so many of us have connected and built a great camaraderie out of our bad luck.

Justin Carey
I'm running the Nashville Country Music Half-Marathon on Saturday, April 28. It's going to have special meaning to me because my brother is coming along. Justin is 36. He was born blind, and with multiple heart defects. Long story short he's had 6 open heart surgeries since the age of 6 months. His heart is now failing and he's on the Heart Transplant list at New York-Presbyterian Hospital. He's been a musician since he was a child and can play piano and guitar. He plays country music and is a hall of fame member of the Northeast Country Music Association. He's been to Nashville before, but this is going to be his last trip; at least for a while. I've never been to the country music mecca, and I'm looking forward to it. There are a bunch of us making the road trip from New York to Nashville in an RV. My two oldest children are coming and it's going to be a blast taking them around town, having them at the race, and going to the post race concert where Rodney Atkins is headlining. We're all big fans and hoping he'll play our father/son anthem "he's mine". My daughter has a cast on her fractured arm she's hoping to get signed by him.

My uncle, Albert Carey, died of a heart attack last month. He was found on March 14 in his last minutes holding a prayer card to his chest at the foot of his bed. People who knew him say he complained about chest pain and "indigestion" in his last months. It's a sin that he didn't see a doctor before the heart attack claimed him, but I doubt he thought it was life threatening. In a bizarre coincidence his birthday is April 28th, the same day as the race. He would have been 61. This is why I run. A dear friend of mine who I met through Heartosaurus is an aortic aneurysm survivor. She is a famous artist who lost her foot due to complications related to the dissection. She lived in Manhattan for years, but after her dissection she returned to her family and hometown for her recovery. Her hometown is Nashville? Another bizarre coincidence? She's returning to Manhattan May 1. This is why I run. My 36 year old brother has had a life of adversity. He's confronted blindness, multiple heart defects and 6 open heart surgeries. I can't imagine walking in his shoes, or contemplating a heart transplant, yet he's taken all these years in stride as if it was the plan. This is why I run. Dick Clark, John Ritter, Barbara Walters, David Letterman, and Heartosauruses dead and alive........I carry your spirit every mile. This is why I run.

See you in Nashville.  



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