Back! (28:26)

My line at last night’s Moonlight Run…
400. Sam Spritzer 0:28:26 0:09:09 30/M50-54 271/M

And that had to be my second worse time ever. Only the 2000 St. Gregory the Great “The Great Race” with a time of 29:04 is worse. And that was when I was 30 pounds heavier and smoking a pack and a half of those cigarettes with the hole in the filter called Vantage.

But the goal wasn’t to be the fastest or place within my age group. It was to FINISH! Most of my fellow runners and friends were somewhat appalled that I was able to make a comeback so soon – seven weeks after that fateful moment. But as long as I kept my heart rate below 140, I was good to go.

The evening started out nice and warm but without the oppressive humidity of the days before. As customary for me, I can be found at the front shortly before the gun, giving out the customary good lucks to all of my Checkers buddies. There was one problem…the street was narrow, there were 600 runners and I was suppose to be in the back! You just had to see the look on fellow gym-rat, Debbie’s face. She was like all tatter-taling to my trainer, Pat LaDuca who made it very clear she was gonna kick my a$$ if I didn’t get back there and run SLOW. Somehow, I did manage to get back there.

For the first two miles I ran with another gym-rat, Maureen, whose only objective was to make sure I kept my heart rate at 140 (+10% for bounce factor!). And every 25 steps just like a Marine drill sergeant, “How are you feeling?” “Are you alright?” Even at a 9:45 mile pace, I did manage to get ahead of her a couple of times but the thought of Pat kicking my a$$ was just too gruesome. Now this 9:45 pace is truly for the birds…I am used to sub-7 minutes! But at least, I was able to enjoy the view, recognize spectators along the route, not worry about catching my breath and even ran backwards twice.

Finally when I got to the 2 mile mark, I am like hardly breaking a sweat and poor Maureen is literally pleading for mercy all while I am strolling along at a 9:45 clip. With one mile to go, why not…Pat be damned!! As long as my heart rate stayed within a reasonable range and I wasn’t laboring, I felt like I wanted to give it a go. And boy, did I blow by probably at least 50 runners half who were already running on fumes and the other half who were either conducting business or tell the latest gossip in Housewives of Amherst.

At the 3 mile mark which would be around the top of a downhill on Glen Av., I decided to just fly…and I mean literally fly! Normally at such a stage in the race, I would be braking on my way downhill in order to avoid running out of control and mashing myself into some poor spectator. I just had to be a blur…and never in my entire life did I ever run so fast. Later when I checked my Garmin, I found I was screamin’ along at a sub 6:00 minute mile pace. And I crossed the finish line…ALIVE! I didn’t bother to check my heart rate but I think it was around 145 or so. I just didn’t feel it like I used to.

The greatest feeling wasn’t just being able to finish a merely seven weeks after laying in a hospital bed with a completely blocked artery! Lovely wife Steph was waiting for me at the finish line, with a water bottle asking me 13,427 times “Are you alright!??” Unlike in the past, I was able to respond right away instead of falling half dead totally exhausted! And to top it all, two minutes later I was doing a recovery run in the parking lot of Glen Park. Never in my entire life did I feel so good! No chest pains, tightness, shortness of breath, fatigue, light-headiness feeling, etc. I probably could have kept going for another mile or so.

I will have to admit it was scary but one way or the other, it had to happen. But it could not have been done without the support of so many wonderful friends, by the grace of God with a couple of angels helping along the way. And lastly of course, wonderful, lovely wife Steph (now I better hurry up out of town or she’ll be down here smothering me in a ton of puppy love kisses or Pat will be kicking my a$$).

It took a heart attack, but I finally beat you, Sam.
                                                       -Budd Bailey

2 comments for “Back! (28:26)

  1. August 20, 2009 at 10:16 pm

    So glad you were able to get back up and running again. Congratulations on finishing your first race…that is a great comeback to me! Soon you’ll be so far ahead leaving a cloud of pixie dust in your wake!

  2. Evelyn Gardner
    August 21, 2009 at 12:35 am

    You did it Sam! You accomplished what you wanted to and ran the race to the finish line. It is nice to have some angels watching out for you! The best reward was Steph waiting for you at the finish line to make sure you were all right. What an experience you have had Sam and your back in the race now. I am so thankful your in such great shape.


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