Marathon Challenge



Larry Haydu 56

Summer 2006 Profile

A decade ago, when he was only in his mid-forties, Larry had a heart attack while shoveling snow. Prompted by the attack, Larry became more active—running and walking and working out on a NordicTrack four times a week. But over time, he lost these healthy habits. His college-bound daughter encouraged him to join Team NOVA. Larry is eager to get back into the routine of exercise, but he's somewhat apprehensive about whether his body will be able to handle the stresses of running 26.2 miles. His wife and parents worry, too.

Larry's Race Results & Update

Official Time/Pace
6hrs. 17min./14:23 minutes per mile

Are you still running, four months later?
Yes, still running, about three times per week, four-six miles each time. Considering training for the year with the Tufts President's Marathon Challenge team, and have done several of the Sunday runs w/ them this summer. Also did the New Charles River 7.5-miler in June.

What else has stayed with you?
Affection for my teammates; conviction that a marathon is something I could do again; greater trust in the power of intention and of teamwork to help me reach beyond what I thought I could do. And comfort running in rain, in snow, and in freezing cold. Gratitude for the opportunity to test myself and succeed.

What it all meant
I watched the Boston Marathon from the sidelines at mile 17.5 for many years. In the early years I thought, "How great it would be to run it." In the middle years I thought about how fun it would be to bike the course. And in recent years I conceded that I would probably never do it, could never get into good enough condition to actually run 26.2 miles. And oh, by the way, I'd had a heart attack and worried that the exertion of a marathon would put too much strain on my heart. I didn't imagine I could pull it off.

In all those years of watching I was awed by the elite runners as they went by, but I felt the most admiration for the ones who struggled up the Newton Hills, long after the elites had passed, and somehow kept themselves going. I'm very grateful to NOVA and to Tufts for the opportunity to do something I may never have tried on my own.

This experience showed me in a new way how important attitude and the support of others can be in achieving a goal that seemed impossible at the start. Setting the bar high and having the example and encouragement of my teammates helped me find resources inside myself I wasn't sure I had. Each runner gave me inspiration. Don's unflagging optimism outlasted my doubt. I started believing him! My family and friends nourished my commitment, and they stayed excited for me even when my own excitement flickered.

I was amazed to discover how much my mind influenced my experience of pain and weariness or of strength and endurance. I learned in a very concrete and immediate way how powerful self-talk can be. I learned that it is possible for ME to run a marathon, and to run a marathon after a serious heart attack. And I was reminded that taking on and accomplishing something BIG like this feels really, really good.

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