Steve McLaughlin for The Boston Globe
The man who collapsed while running the Boston Marathon and had to be brought back to life was sitting up in his Boston hospital room preparing to return to Louisiana Ė and talking on his cellphone.
"I'm doing good. I'm doing good,'' Carleton Smith, 64, said from the intensive care unit at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center where he was rushed on Monday. "I had a bad day yesterday. But they are taking care of me. I'm sitting up in my chair right now, talking to my wife. So it looks, right now, that everything is going to be okay.''
Smith, an experienced runner who qualified by running in the New Orleans marathon in February, said he was in the Boston Marathon to run with his son, Jimmy, who had asked for the chance to cover the course, father and son, together.
"He wasn't worried about time; he just wanted to run with his dad,'' the elder Smith said, adding that his 34-year-old son has finished marathons in 2 hours and 59 minutes in the past. "He's a pretty good runner.''
According to its website, the elder Smith ran a 3:22 during the Rock 'n Roll Mardis Gras marathon and was first among 69 competitors in his age category.
According to Smith and Boston Emergency Medical Services, Smith was running at Beacon and Mountfort streets when he suddenly collapsed at about the 25-mile mark. His heart had stopped, and he was revived by onlookers and EMS personnel, officials said.
Smith, however, knows none of that. "I have no memory whatsoever" of what happened after he and son arrived near Kenmore Square around 1:40 p.m., he said. "I had no idea that I had a problem.''
Today, Smith said he is not 100 percent sure what caused his dramatic collapse, although he said Boston doctors placed a stent in one of his arteries as was done by his own doctors in 2007 after they discovered the circumflex artery was 95 percent blocked.
Smith, a retired energy company employee, speculated that the sudden cardiac arrest had its roots in his behavior a few years ago.
"I stopped running for a few years, and I was working a lot, and I had a lot of junk,'' he said."I wasn't watching my diet. I attribute it to that.''
Smith has been associated with a New Orleans runners club and has been a competitive runner for decades. Smith's brush with death is noted on the website of the New Orleans Track Club.
Chuck George, executive race director at the club, often runs with Smith. He said friends were tracking the Smiths on the web when they noticed that neither man finished the race.
George said he was so confident in Smith's health and running ability that he told club members it was a technical problem, not a sign that the Smiths were in trouble. When he learned about Carleton's Smith's collapse, he was stunned.
"He's one of the top runners in the area in the 60-and-over division,'' George said by telephone. "It's an unusual thing. Nobody would have expected it. He's always been a top-ranked runner.''
Smith, who was accompanied to Boston by his wife, Mary, said he will first start to walk before he ever runs again. He said he will wait to get medical clearance before resuming workouts, and that he expects his competitive days are now behind him.
"I've got a little building in the back of my house where I can't put another trophy in, if I say so myself,'' he said. "I've got so many races behind me, it's time to back off, and just do it for pleasure and to stay healthy.''
He said he expects to continue his volunteer cross country coaching duties at St Mary's Dominican High School in New Orleans, an all-girls school he has been associated with for nearly a decade.
"I know they worry about me, and I donít know what I would do without them,'' he said. "I want to tell them I love them with all my heart.''
He offered some advice to runners 50 years or older.
"Even if you think you are in good shape, you don't know what really is going on,'' he said. "I ran a hell of a race in New Orleans on Feb. 28 and now look at me. My advice is to go make an appointment with a doctor and get checked out.''
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