IN June, 2009, Brian Penrose had open heart surgery.
On Sunday he ticked the final box in his rehabilitation when he finished the Orange Colour City Running Festival half-marathon.
Penrose finished the 21 kilometre circuit around Bloomfield in a time of two hours, 22 minutes and 45 seconds.
“Yesterday [Sunday] was the final tick of the box for me,” Penrose said.
“I was just happy to finish. Absolutely rapt. I opened up my big mouth after I ran the 10km last year, which is the first time I have run that far, and said, ‘Okay, I’ll aim to do the half-marathon’.
“It became a target with my rehab and, really, it was the ultimate goal.”
Penrose was shocked to finish in the time he did.
The Orange Runners Club member set himself the goal of finishing the course in three hours - or at least before the presentation began.
He said his emotion crossing the finish line was brought on by two things.
“One, I was stunned by the time, and, two, the reception I received when I came around the corner was just amazing,” he said.
“I loved every minute of Sunday.”
Penrose had open heart surgery to repair a dodgy aorta close to two years ago.
He now has a mechanical valve in place of the bad aorta.
The 52-year-old found out he had issues with his ticker following a stint at Kapooka in Wagga Wagga.
“I put in my application to join the army reserves at the tender age of 50 and I needed to get fit, so I thought I’d join the runners’ club [back in 2008],” he said.
“I then went down and did the first week-and-a-half [at Kapooka] and then my heart played up. That was the end of any exercise.”
He had the surgery and then spent the ensuing three months at home.
But as soon as he was right to lace up his joggers, Penrose was back with the runners’ club.
“My cardiologist said I was right to start exercising again and I thought I’d just go back and start with the runners’ club,” he said.
“I went down with my son for the first time and it took me 45 minutes to do two laps, which is two kilometres, of the Elephant Park circuit. Now it takes me 15 minutes to do three kilometres.”
Since then Penrose has run the City to Surf, the 2010 Run for Fun at Homebush and a number of other fun runs.
However, Sunday’s half marathon was the longest distance Penrose has run.
He said the benefits of running had changed his life.
“I’ve lost 22 kilograms as well,” he said. “It’s definitely helped and I feel a lot healthier.
“My heart now ticks away like a clock, and I can hear it because it’s mechanical,” he laughed.
Next stop for Penrose will be the Mudgee half marathon.