2 heart attack survivors share a new interest in running

C.J. Lin is a staff writer for the Daily News and is training with our newest LA Roadrunners program in Westlake Village. C.J. will be sharing her experience training for her first Honda LA Marathon, as well as featuring the runners from her group as they journey together to completing 26.2 miles.

By C.J. Lin, Daily News Staff Writer
Updated: 11/21/2011 07:34:02 PM PST

Six years ago, Barry Zweben and Michael Moline never thought they’d be training for their first-ever L.A. Marathon.

The two men, both now 54, became close friends through a shared, but unfortunate, set of circumstances: They both had heart attacks. Zweben underwent a quadruple bypass surgery and Moline had a six-way bypass surgery at Tarzana Medical Center.

“When they cracked open my chest, the pain was so bad,” said Moline of Agoura Hills. “I’m just afraid of ever having that pain again. I remember consciously, being in my hospital bed, really believing that I’m going to be living minute to minute. Slowly that evolved hour to hour.”

They met while at a cardiac rehab gym in Tarzana and have been working out four to five days a week since.

And now, they’re healthier than ever. What better time to tackle the daunting 26.2 miles of the marathon?

Which is probably why they’ve decided to take on the task after joking about it for years. Moline had always asked Zweben when he was going to do the marathon, and Zweben would laugh it off. But this year, Zweben told him: “I’ll do it if you do it.”

So the two train with the L.A. Roadrunners in Westlake Village on Saturdays. They’re not doing the race at a full-out run for fear of injury or overburdening their hearts. They’re heading into it with a fast walk that should see them finish in a little more than six hours.

Time isn’t an issue for them; it’s completing the race and getting a second chance to cross it off their bucket list.

That, and hopefully inspiring others as ambassadors for heart health by encouraging a good diet and lots of exercise.

“Our story might give others, who find themselves in similar circumstances, the encouragement to try this as well,” said Zweben, who’s from Chatsworth.

“I know what it’s like to rediscover what it felt like when I was younger,” said Moline. “It would allow me to tell people if you do this, you can run a marathon.”

They’re so lucky that they have each other to train with and then run the race with. The long miles zip by faster when you have someone to chat with, keep your mind off the pain and tell you to keep going because they know you can.

“It’s much easier when you have a friend with you,” Zweben said. “Because it motivates you to keep going.”

Don’t I know it.

I’m supposed to be running three to five miles every other day, but more often than not, that “run” is more of a “walk.”

It’s not that I can’t physically do it. It’s just that I don’t want to for some reason. I guess it could just be my natural dislike for running.

But I recently ran and actually finished my first-ever race, the Race for Rescues at the Rose Bowl to raise money for animal shelters. It was only a 10K – 6 miles. I couldn’t have done it without my buddy Mike Tang. He kept my snail’s pace with me, and made the six miles much easier to bear.

I need someone to train with, someone whose presence alone will shame me out of my laziness and secretly embarrass me into doing my best.

Someone like Moline is to Zweben, or Zweben is to Moline, although they don’t need any extra motivation. They’ve already been through the wringer, and are happy that they’re even able to be doing this.

Which I guess does shame me a bit, now that I think about it. I guess I just need to just shut up and run.

SUNDAY, MARCH 9, 2014