KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Would you have the drive to get back into running half-marathons after undergoing a triple bypass heart surgery? For one Knoxville man, his will to get back onto the course is giving him the drive he needs to run again.

While most people see hitting the treadmill as a chore, Bryan Paschal savors every run.

“Last year, I’m at the Covenant Health Marathon, and I’d been training for it and my train wasn’t going as great as I thought it should have been,” Paschal said. “Then I get to race day. I couldn’t even run.”

It was a struggle that sent him straight to a cardiologist.

“And so he does a heart cath and in the middle of the heart cath, he’s like, ‘oh, oh,’ and he starts going, ‘we need to get somebody else in here,’ calls another doctor that’s a surgeon says ‘what do you think?’ What are they talking about?” Paschal said. “And he starts telling me, ‘hey, you’re 95 percent blocked in your widowmaker. We’ve got a couple other arteries that are 90 percent blocked. And you’re lucky to die during that race.'”

He immediately went into surgery. The triple bypass was a success for the Gresham Middle School math teacher.

“The bad part was my first thought was how soon can I get back to running because I love running that much,” Paschal said.

And he would be back on his feet: “I started out with just five minutes a day, a walk, and I could walk maybe a 10th of a mile in five minutes. That was as far as I could get that about three times a day, and slowly I just added a little bit each day I started to set some goals for myself. I said okay, by the end of the summer, I want to be able to walk 5k.”

More Health Watch Stories

The running community is rooting for him every step of the way.

“The good part about it was Jason Altman, who’s the director of the Covenant Health marathon, about how maybe it’s a couple of weeks after my surgery, he posted the registration for the marathon, you’ll sign up for it, and there’s a picture of me crossing the finish line. And I like he said I did that just for you. This and that gave me all the encouragement I needed. I knew back then I was signing up,” Paschal said.

In just a few weeks he will strap his number on his chest.

“I love it. I am faster than I have been in a long time,” Paschal said. “So this rebuilt heart, it works.”

And he will soon put it to the test.