Gary D

Posted on February 23rd, 2014 | By:

Branch: Jorgenson

I have been a competitive runner most of my life. I was a WI HS State Champ in XC (1967) and second in the mile (1968). I was a varsity scholarship athlete at Ball State University. I continued to find success competing at both the local and national level for over four decades. In 2008 after a year of medical consultation I was diagnosed with arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy(ARVD/ARVC). This is a rare genetic heart disease sometimes found in endurance athletes and often post mortem. There is no cure and it is most often progressive. Treatment consists of medication and implanting an ICD/Pacemaker.

This essentially left me in right heart failure, paced 100% and with medication to control the ventricular arrhythmias. Once diagnosed I believed that my running career had come to an end. I was no stranger to the Y often running indoors on a treadmill after the Y first opened a facility on the SACS campus. While appreciating my new found limitations I knew that I would continue to exercise even if at a diminished level. Over time I was able to both psychologically and physically return to some limited running. Up to that point I walked, rode the exercise bikes or used an elliptical knowing that I would be safest exercising indoors at the Y.

Over the last few years I found that I could successfully complete a program that consisted of intervals of walking and running for up to four miles.

As a competitive runner I was no stranger to running interval workouts on the track. I simply had to adjust to the fact that my circumstances limited me to running no more than 200 meters before I would walk an interval of 200 meters for recovery. I believe that it is my years of running and maintaining fitness that has allowed me to continue this program. My over-all commitment and mileage is a far cry from all my years of running. However, the Y and the indoor track have allowed me to maintain a quality of life that I thought would no longer be possible. I no longer miss the years of training in all types of weather and circumstances that often placed me at risk.

For years I would often seek out college indoor tracks while traveling for business just to provide some respite from the outdoor elements. I was thrilled when I first discovered that I would finally have an indoor track less than a mile from my house. The Y has been a family affair for my wife, my daughter(also a runner), her husband and my grandchildren. I suspect that most individuals diagnosed with a heart condition like mine would have long since given up any idea of exercise. Consistent exercise has been and will always be a major part of my life and I feel blessed to have a wonderful facility close by that has allowed me the opportunity to continue down this path at the age of 64.