Episode 4-301, Dave McGillivray and Heart Disease in Runners

RunRunLive 4.0

Episode 4-301, Dave McGillivray and Heart Disease in Runners

(Audio: link) [audio:http://www.RunRunLive.com/PodcastEpisodes/epi4301.mp3]

Link epi4301.mp3

Intro Bumper:



When I started the RunRunLive Podcast in July of 1857 it was a different world.  I know it hasn’t been 150 years but it does seem like a long time ago.  Now here we are at the sharp and dangerous blade edge of another season or edition or chapter – whatever you want to call it.  

I chose the meme of running plus living not to show the dichotomy or separation of the two but to highlight the synergy and union of them.  When you combine endurance sports into your life one plus one equals 3.  

Running has opened up worlds for me.  I like to say it has transformed me, but that isn’t quite the right way to put it.  I wasn’t a 300 pound diabetic asthmatic on the edge of physical extinction.  I was a normal, family guy stuck instead in the corporate grindwheel of modern existence.  

Maybe that’s a form of existential extinction. 

Running didn’t so much transform me as it enabled me to realize my own potential.  It snapped the strictures that tied me down and allowed me to transcend.  It broke my frame of reference and allowed my light to leak out into the world in a new way.  

And that, my friends is what I still want to do.  I want you to come see the light.  We live in a time of great epidemic.  I don’t mean Ebola or Aids.  I mean the epidemic of people not believing in themselves, not believing in positive change and not trying because they are constantly being told that they can’t make a difference.  

You can make a difference.  You can make a difference in your own life and in the lives of others by what you do, what you say and how you approach life.  

I can make a difference too, for you, for me and for those tiny humans that I brought into this world. 

Frankly, I don’t care if you run or jog or walk or wriggle like a snake to Elvis love songs.  What concerns me is that you do nothing.  That you think small.  That you feel like you have nothing to give.  That it has all been done.  That you’re not smart enough, not fast enough, not rich enough or not talented enough to make a difference in this world of ours.  What scares me is that you are afraid to try.  

If all you can offer is a smile or a hug then please for God’s sake give it today, give it now, because that is a tremendous gift that is in short supply.  90% of my days go by without either!

What can I give?  What can RunRunLive give?  What small stone can we toss into the shimmering pool of humanity?  What ripples can we make?  

For this version of the Podcast we will continue in mostly the same vein as version 3.  I’ll structure it to fit in to a less-than-one-hour envelope.  I’ll retain the 20+ minute interview with someone who can show us the achievement of honest synergy. 

I’m going to move the running tips segment to the front half of the show and try to make it useful to you.  

Likewise I’ll retain the life skills segment that I think many people like and move that to the back half. 

I’ll keep up the intro and the outro comments.  Not that you care so much about what is going in on my life, but just some context and frame and storytelling to glue it all together.  

I’m not going to drop in any more music, even though I can’t for the life of me understand why some of you apparently hate punk rock and ska…

That’s it, no big changes, just a little shuffling.  

Then why would I pause and take this time to ponder a new format?  This is topic that deserves more ink, but in short, because I believe in the power of introspection.  At some point as we draw into the New Year you should pause for introspection on your life and goals and direction too.  It can ignite an epiphany.  

I reserve the right to change my mind.  I reserve the right to change your mind as well. 

Are you ready to get out there?  


Hello, my friends and welcome to the RunRunLive 4.0 podcast.  My name, is Chris, actually Christopher, which, if you want to talk about morphemes, is Greek for Christ Carrier and I’ve missed you.  Seems like ages since we have chatted.  What have I been up to?  There is so much that It’s hard to summarize.  

On the life front I quit my job, left my family and moved to a 50 acre ranch in Pioneer Kansas to raise yaks full time.  It’s a peaceful plot of land amongst the industrial farms straddling Spring Creek.  I got myself 50 head of good breeding yaks.  

The running is good too and I’ve constructed some interesting trails but there aren’t a whole lot of hills.  The professional hit man business was fairly frantic throughout the fall so I spent a lot of time on the road.  Unfortunately, while I was gone the yaks went feral and now I have to be careful because they’ve organized and plot attacks against me when I leave the house. 

It can be startling when you’re lost in the peaceful reverie of a long run and one of those crazed, shaggy-headed beasts comes crashing out of the alfalfa at you.  ‘Yak Attack’ would be a good name for a band.

But – that’s all personal fluff and stuff – you don’t care about that.  

On the running side I’ve just been working on maintaining my base and staying healthy since my 15 minutes of fame at the New York City Marathon.  I tried an experiment a couple weeks ago to see if I could run or more than an hour every day for 7 days straight.  Just to see if I could take the load. 

The runs felt pretty good but my old and angry nemesis the plantar fasciitis flared up by day five and I aborted that flight of fancy.  Kudos to me to be able to set that quest aside and not hurt myself.  I’ve been logging most of my runs in the woods with Buddy the old Wonder Dog.  Including a nice nighttime headlamp run for 1:30 the day after the Thanksgiving snow storm.  I’ve got a good base and I’m not injured. 

We’re going to talk a bit about running in the snow in the first bit of today’s episode. 

Poor Buddy was pretty beat up by that run. He’s definitely slowing down.  He was standing at the top of the stairs looking at them the way I look at them the day after a hard marathon.  He still gets pissed if I don’t take him.  I won’t take him on the road anymore, only the trails, off lease so he can pace himself.  

If the hikers want to yell at me for having him off leash they can bite me.  That dog is 80 years old and still gets after it like a pro.  They should be so lucky when they’re his age. 

The other big adventure I’ve had this fall is around my own advancing decrepitude. 

 I know, it’s all relative, you’re rolling your eyes, here’s this running geek who does back to back marathons in October complaining about fitness and performance. Truth is I haven’t been able to muster a qualifying race since, I think, Boston 2011.  That’s a long time ago.  I’m still; looking for race fitness since taking the 18 months or so off with the plantar fasciitis.  

This fall I’ve taken the time to schedule all my general maintenance and upkeep appointments.  I got a physical, had my bloodwork done and got my eyes checked.  Basically checking the tire pressure and the oil.  Since I’m past the half-century mark my doctor scheduled me for a colonoscopy.  Which is a funny story.  

Meanwhile, I’ve been bugged by my heart rate wigging out on me in long hard efforts so I asked him to set me up with a cardio appointment as well.  Not because anything is overtly wrong, just to make sure.  I don’t want to go out for a run and not come back.  I owe to the yaks.  If the answer is “you’re old” I’m ok with that, I just want to be safe.  Which plays into our interview of Dave McGilivary today about his adventures with heart disease. 

I spent a week ‘prepping’ for the colonoscopy, which is fairly miserable and involves a diet that is antithetical to what I’m used to, then slamming a variety of laxatives in large doses.  They want your colon to be squeaky clean when they go in there with their camera on a stick.  

In the hospital, lying naked on a gurney, waiting for the anesthesiologist, I’m a bit nervous.  My resting heart rate, as you know is normally around 40 beats per minute.  Since I’m nervous I start doing some breathing meditation and it drops to 34-35.  Alarms are going off from the leads they have stuck on me. 

The anesthesiologist does an EKG to make sure I’m not dying.  My heart, they tell me, stops beating for up to 2.5 seconds at a time.  I’m like, ‘yeah, so?’  What do you want it to be?  I can control it by thinking about it.  The colon guy wants to go ahead but the cardiologist on call says ‘no’.  4 days of prep, 3 hours of lying around naked in the hospital with leads stuck on me, and they send me home. 

The irony here is that I was by far the healthiest person in that place.  They’re wheeling in a parade of sick people, but I’m too fucking healthy to get a camera stuck quip my ass.  The world is a crazy place. 

Since then I’ve been to the cardio and had the stress test and echo cardiogram that show there’s nothing wrong with my heart.  I think I have a bit of an arrhythmia in one of my valve when I surge after 40 minutes of running.  That’s what my data shows but they don’t want to see my data.  Their 20 minute stress test was a nice hill workout but hardly long enough to stimulate the symptoms I’m seeing. 

We’ll see what the clowns in this circus think when I go back for my consult before Christmas.  Until that point I’m just going to keep doing what I do.  Every day above ground is sacred.  Every footfall crunching the snow, clutching the ground and driving me forward is a sacred act that I savor. 

On with the show! (feels good to say that again my friends)

Section one - Running tips

Cold and snow running - http://runrunlive.com/snow-ho-ho

Voices of reason – the interviews

Dave McGillivray

Dave McGillivray is a U.S.-based race director, philanthropist, author and athlete. In 1978, he ran across the U.S. to benefit the Jimmy Fund and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.[1] Presently he is race director of the B.A.A. Boston Marathon and his team at DMSE, Inc. have organized numerous mass participatory fundraising endurance events since he founded it in 1981.

Here are a few of his many career highlights:

In 1978, McGillivray ran across the U.S. from Medford, Oregon to his hometown of Medford, Mass., covering a total distance of 3,452 miles and ending to a standing ovation in Fenway Park. His effort raised thousands of dollars for the Jimmy Fund and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.

Two years later, he ran 1,520 miles from Winter Haven, Fla., to Boston to raise money for the Jimmy Fund, even meeting with President Jimmy Carter at the White House during the run.

In 1982, McGillivray ran the Boston Marathon in 3:14 while blindfolded and being escorted by two guides to raise more than $10,000 for the Carroll Center for the Blind in Newton, Mass.

McGillivray’s many endurance events for charity are legendary, including running 120 miles in 24 hours thru 31 Mass. cities; an 86-story, 1,575-step run up Empire State Building in 13 minutes and 27 seconds; and running, cycling and swimming 1,522 miles thru six New England states while raising $55,000 for the Jimmy Fund.

In 2003, McGillivray created the DMSE Children’s Fitness Foundation to support non-profit organizations that use running to promote physical fitness in children and help solve the epidemic of childhood obesity.

In 2004, McGillivray and a team of veteran marathon runners journeyed across the country following the same path he took in 1978, raising more than $300,000 for five charities benefiting children.

Each year he runs his birthday age in miles, starting when he was 12, and has not missed one yet.  He was born on Aug. 22, 1954 – you can do the math. 

The race director of the Boston Marathon as well as an accomplished runner, McGillivray has run the marathon each year since 1973. For 16 years he ran it with all the other runners and since he began working with the race in 1988 he has run the course afterwards. 

His 2006 book, “The Last Pick”, which he co-wrote with Linda Glass Fechter, chronicles his childhood and career as the last pick for team sports because of his small stature, motivating readers to never underestimate their own ability to set and achieve goals. Order here on Amazon. 

A skilled motivational speaker, McGillivray has displayed his signature ability to engage and inspire listeners to more than 1,600 audiences from corporate executives to high school students.

McGillivray has received numerous awards –  valedictorian at both his high school and college, 2005 Running USA Hall of Champions, 2007 Runner’s World Heroes of Running Award, the 2010 Fleet Feet Lifetime Commitment to Running Award, 2010 Ron Burton Community Service Award, the 2011 Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center's 2011 100 list, and inducted into the USA Triathlon Hall of Fame in 2011 and the prestigious "Jimmy Award"  by the Jimmy Fund and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute for 30 years of contributing time and expertise to help raise millions for cancer research and treatment. 

McGillivray has logged more than 150,000 miles, most for charity, raising millions for worthy causes.  He’s completed 126 marathons and competed in eight Hawaii Ironman Triathlons. His personal bests?

Marathon: 2:29:58 and for the Ironman: 10:36:42

Section two – Life Skills

Working on the important stuff - http://runrunlive.com/the-efficiency-trap


And so it goes.  It’s a momentum thing, isn’t it my friends?  If you can start you can keep going and soon repetition becomes habit and habit becomes a body of work.  I have to admit it was hard to get this jump started again – but now that we have it should get easier. 

Just finished the book “Running with the Buffaloes”.  It documents a season of the Colorado University cross country team.  It is the year that Adam Goucher won the NCAA meet beating out Abdi Abdirahman and Bernard Lagat. 

What I found interesting was the training they went through.  These are 20 year old kids, mind you.  They were running 100+ mile weeks, in singles all through the summer leading into the season and held that volume in the 80’s and 90’s right through the season.  As they came into the racing season they layered on a bunch of high quality anaerobic work as well.  

Really shows you what you can get out of your machine if you do the work. On the flip side most of these guys were injured.  Adam made the Olympic trials but ended up having to retire early.  Abdi is still out there and ran the Olympic marathon with Meb in London 2012 – he DNF’ed.  Adam’s wife Kara is still out there too.  She came in 11th to Shalane’s 10th in London.  

It was a good book if you’re a running geek and readable in the sense that it has a real narrative vs just the technical bits. 

I raced the Mill Cities Relay last Sunday with my club and had a great race.  I did a warm up of 2.5 miles at around an 8:05 pace then raced the 9.5 mile leg at a sub 7:30 – which I felt pretty good about.  I don’t race that much anymore so it’s hard to gauge my fitness. 

Next weekend, Dec. 21st Brian and I are putting on the 2nd annual Groton Marathon.  This is a self-supported 26.2 mile run around my home town of Groton Mass.  No big thing just a bunch of us out having a long run and having fun.  You folks are more than welcome to come and run all or part of it with us.  Shoot me note if you’re interested. 

I was going to go down to Atlanta for the Jeff Galloway ½ this weekend but my life is just too busy to pull it off and I’ve been spending too many weekends on the road this fall.  I’m a bit fried.  

I have, believe it or not a cruise coming up in January.  We’ll see how I can navigate that and my training.  I’m going to have to miss my favorite New Year’s Day race – the hangover classic up in Salisbury with its ocean plunge in the Atlantic.  

The ‘How to qualify for the Boston Marathon in 12 weeks’ is in editing.  Thanks for all the inquiries. I’m shooting to get a promotional copy out by the end of the calendar year and you all can help me promote it and then a launch in February.  It’s been fun writing all this down, but challenging as well, because I really don’t have room for more projects in my life! But, I have to follow my own advice and get something done. 

The Groton Marathon will be my 48th marathon.  Currently I’d love to find another race in January or February to be my 49th marathon so I can run Boston this year as my 50th.  It’s got a nice symmetry to it, right?  

As for Boston I got a charity number again and I’ll be running for the Hoyts even though Dick has retired from Boston.  I’m not sure if someone else is going to be pushing Ricky this year or not.  

Those are my plans, as nebulous as they are, for now.  Remember celebrate every day and live in the now because this could very well be as good as it gets.  And I’ll see you out there. 

You can reach me, if you need to, at my website, which is due for an overhall, www.runrunlive.com and on all the social media platforms as cyktrussell.  


Chris Russell lives and trains in suburban Massachusetts with his family and Border collie Buddy. Chris is the author of “The Mid-Packer’s Lament”, and “The Mid-Packer’s Guide to the Galaxy”, short stories on running, racing, and the human comedy of the mid-pack. Chris writes the Runnerati Blog at www.runnerati.com. Chris’ Podcast, RunRunLive is available on iTunes and at www.runrunlive.com. Chris also writes for CoolRunning.com (Active.com) and is a member of the Squannacook River Runners and the Goon Squad Runners.

Email me at cyktrussell at mail dot com

Twitter @cyktrussell

All other social media “cyktrussell” 


Direct download: epi4301.mp3
Category:Running -- posted at: 5:23pm EDT





June 2022
      1 2 3 4
5 6 7 8 9 10 11
12 13 14 15 16 17 18
19 20 21 22 23 24 25
26 27 28 29 30