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After valve replacement and triple bypass, more marathons

February 2 2011 at 8:09 AM

Dallas Morning News 

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Gregory "Spareribs" LaMothe
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By Debbie Fetterman, Special Contributor
Published 01 February 2011 11:09 AM

Coppell runner Gregory Spareribs LaMothe is fittingly referred to by some as Spare Parts.
He garnered this nickname after having a porcine aortic valve implanted in July 2008. He underwent triple bypass surgery at the same time.
Heart surgery was hardly the end of LaMothes running career. The popular Dallas Running Club and Lake Grapevine Runners and Walkers Club member completed his 32nd career marathon in November, his second since his heart surgery.
Although Im way slower than I used to be, I am really running well, said LaMothe, 64, a self-employed sales and marketing trainer, known in running circles for a humor column he wrote in a local running club newsletter.
Six years ago, LaMothes cardiologist warned him that the his aortic valve was tightening; it and would eventually block blood flow and need to be replaced. The condition is called Aortic Valve Stenosis.
For LaMothe, the condition is genetic. His father died at age 54, and he has had high LDL levels for years despite a healthy low-fat diet and regular exercise.
The next few years, LaMothe routinely saw his cardiologist, who told him to continue what he was doing until he unexpectedly became short of breath. During the summer of 2008, LaMothe suddenly became too fatigued to run more than a mile and a half even though he had already acclimated to the Texas heat.
He saw his cardiologist, who determined that three of LaMothes coronary arteries also were almost totally blocked. Stents wouldnt work, so he had bypass surgery and had his aortic valve replaced.
He chose a porcine tissue instead of a metal valve because it worked more efficiently and would enable him to resume running. It will have to be replaced after 10 to 12 years. The metal valve would have lasted longer but made running difficult.
After surgery, LaMothe couldnt run until his sternum healed. He walked like crazy, he said. He focused on redeveloping his lung power. He maintained a stretching and core regime, which has kept him injury-free since the surgery. In addition, he helped his wife train for and complete several half-marathons.
LaMothe was going stir-crazy those two months he couldnt run. He created a PowerPoint presentation for his doctor explaining all the reasons he should be cleared to run. The doctor gave him permission to build back slowly. LaMothe said he needed 12 months to resume running and more than 18 to build back his base.
In March, he completed the challenging A2A Arbuckles to Ardmore Marathon.
Hell overcome any obstacle to get his goal, said his longtime running partner Ros Dalrymple of Coppell. Hes so strong mentally.
LaMothe, supported by many of his website friends, was chosen to be one of the 25 honored Medtronic Global Heroes to participate in the Oct. 3 Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon festivities in Minnesota.
Medtronics mission is to help people get well and return to a healthy life, LaMothe said. Theyre trying to find people who are role models.
LaMothes Medtronic race goal was to break four hours and qualify for the Boston Marathon for an eighth time. He did so with 91 seconds to spare. It was well off his 1984 personal best two-hour, 51-second qualifying time, but he wasnt complaining.
I cant adequately explain the emotion running through me during that last mile when I knew I had done it, he said.
I get very emotional, and I was worried I would cry, but I was so overcome with joy all I could do was smile. What a wonderful feeling it was!
Debbie Fetterman is a Plano freelance writer.

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