“Old Runner” is a seventy five year old well seasoned runner still running marathons with atrial fibrillation. I find him to be truly inspirational.
It was November, 2002, at the NYC marathon. I had previously run 15 marathons over a period of eighteen years, none slower than four and ½ hours.
This one was going to be five hours and 15 minutes!
I experienced shortness of breath while running to the side of the street and high-fiving the kids watching from the sidelines. I had to walk the bridge decks (the only change in elevation on an otherwise flat course.)
Suffering no ill effects from this race, I kept on running over the years, experiencing occasional periods during a training run where I had to slow to accommodate perceived extra effort without any change in actual pace. These episodes would pass after a few minutes and I could resume my normal pace again.
Then, in 2007 I passed out in the bathroom while urinating (the doctors have a word for this phenomena which I can’t recall). I went to the hospital for observation and after a stress test was diagnosed with right atrial fibrillation. An ablation procedure changed nothing. Another doctor I visited said he would not have performed the procedure; when I asked why he stated, “too many trigger points”.
Today I’m seventy five years old, a veteran of 37 marathons. I haven’t run a marathon for a couple of years, my most recent half marathon was last year. I’m still running but most of my runs include some walking. My A-fib is on and off, meaning I go in and out of fibrillation, I have no idea when this occurs any more just that it does occur. A stroke is the biggest danger I face with this form of a-fib so my cardiologist prescribed “warfarin” a blood thinner. At 75 years of age my pace is closer to twelve minutes a mile, which is a bit depressing, but it is what it is and I know moving is the most important thing I can do for my health – so I keep moving.