Since 1982 I've written a newsletter, Running Commentary. A new issue appears here each week, and material is archived.

Sat, 19 Dec 1998 09:51:50 -0500

Feel-Good Stories

(from RC 279)

Tony Sagare of Yakima, Washington, and Ernie DeCaro of Auburn, New York, both paid earlier visits to the pages of my newsletter. Both men appeared here at their lowest times.

Now I need to update these two stories. Let's start with Tony's report because his original story appeared first in RC. The return visit with Ernie follows next week.

When last we heard from Tony ("Life Savings," June 1996 Running Commentary), he was recovering from bypass surgery. His problem surfaced after the Royal Victoria Marathon the previous fall.

That was his 67th marathon or ultra, so he knew how he was supposed to feel afterward. This wasn't right. He tired too easily, even long after the event.

"I didn't feel I had any energy," he said then. "It seemed I was working twice as hard as I should have. I'd go up a couple of flights of stairs, and I'd have to stop and rest."

A doctor discovered blockages of two arteries and treated him with an artherectomy, a nonsurgical procedure similar to angioplasty. It didn't work, so Tony required the bypass operation.

"I could have had a heart attack at any time," he said in 1996. "It was very scary."

He reported a month later that he was walking up to an hour at a time and had walked the Olympic torch through Yakaima. "I look forward to running again by midsummer," he said.

A return to marathons was far in his future, if ever. He didn't tell me of his intentions to go back to where he'd left off, to run Royal Victoria again.

I heard of that plan and its results from our mutual friend Bob Dolphin. Tony, now 59, returned with a 3:50 marathon.

"The lump in my throat got really big," Tony wrote later in his club newsletter, "and I didn't bother trying to hold back the tears as I crossed the line. Under any circumstances finishing a marathon presents a wonderful feeling of accomplishment. For me it was a moment not only to savor as a runner but as one who had been truly blessed by the healing power of God."

He added in a letter to me, "I could probably go so far as to say that it was the most fulfilling marathon I've ever run. After going through the heart episode, I had some serious doubts that I would ever recover to a level that would permit another long run. Certainly the process has been slow, and patience (something I haven't handled very well) was necessary.

"My cardiologist hasn't given me any restrictions. Actually he's a 20-year friend who has always considered my penchant for running long distances a mental deficiency.

"I recall the last thing he said to me on the evening prior to the surgery was, 'After we get through with this, you can run another marathon, if you want.' So he was right about that."


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