Well motivated

Well motivated

When Jim Doyle of Champaign ran the Rattlesnake Master Run for the Prairie 5K on Sunday, he marked 10 years and 5,000 miles of running since his heart attack on Nov. 4, 2008.

In August, he realized he was getting close to 5,000 miles on the Nike running app he uses to track his running mileage.

“I figured out if I averaged 15 miles a week, I could hit 5,000 on Nov. 4. This could be kind of a nice symmetry,” said Doyle, who took second in his age group Sunday.

Blog PhotoThe 63-year-old Champaign man created a spreadsheet, mapping out his runs to get to his goal on race day.

“Goals and motivation are internal,” Doyle said. “How many runners do you know that win anything? Why are all these people running? It’s not because they’re going to win. Everybody has their own motivation.”

Doyle is clear about his motivation for running: his family. He doesn’t often think of how things might have turned out differently on the night of his heart attack, when doctors discovered five blockages that they opened with stents.

“I don’t think about this a lot, but I know I’m really, really lucky,” he said. “I’ve seen both my kids graduate from college. I saw my daughter get married. I met my first grandchild. I could have lost all of those. My motivation is pretty simple.”

Doyle has a history of heart disease in his family. He’s the fourth of five siblings to have a heart procedure. Two others have had stents to open blockages, and a late sister had an artificial heart valve.

Doyle was a casual runner before his heart attack, racing a few 5Ks a year but never training consistently. He started walking in the spring after his heart attack, and he walked the 5K at the first Christie Clinic Illinois Marathon. Then he started running, became a regular runner, improved his diet and completed the Illinois half-marathon in 2010.

Blog PhotoDoyle kept running half-marathons, and when he finished one in less than two hours, he set a goal of training for a marathon. He had to abandon his first attempt at marathon training in 2012 because of knee pain, but he successfully trained for and completed the 2013 Illinois Marathon.

In January of the next year, though, he noticed he became very short of breath while walking up the stairs to the top of the United Center for a Blackhawks game. He called his cardiologist and eventually had a heart catheterization that showed three blockages. He had bypass surgery in July 2014.

“I really don’t want to go down that path again,” he said. Avoiding a second heart surgery is also a motivation for him to stay healthy.

Doyle said there’s a sense of accomplishment for the 5,000 miles he’s run since his heart attack, “but I’m not finished. It’s just a milestone and you keep going. You’ve got to have goals.”

His next goal is to run the Lincoln Presidential Half Marathon in April. It was the first race he ran after his bypass surgery. And he’d like to run the Chicago Marathon, because he grew up in the city.

“I was really thinking about so many good things in the last 10 years that might not have been,” he said. “I don’t go there mentally very often. I just keep running.”


Jodi Heckel, a writer for the University of Illinois News Bureau, is a runner and triathlete. You can email her at jheckel@news-gazette.com, or follow her at twitter.com/jodiheckel. Her blog is at www.news-gazette.com/blogs/starting-line/.


Photos: Top: Jim Doyle finishes his run at the Rattlesnake Master Run for the Prairie 5K on Sunday at Meadowbrook Park in Urbana. Photo by Nikita Borosov. Bottom: Doyle at the 2017 Lincoln Presidential Half Marathon in Springfield. Photo provided by Jim Doyle.



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