If running a marathon was easy, everyone would do it. The 26.2 mile race is strenuous for anyone, especially for Paul Sykes. He ran one just weeks after heart surgery.

Born with a bad heart valve and Paul Sykes knew someday he’d have to have it replaced.

“I was getting a lot of pain, chest pain,” said Sykes who loves to run.

“One day I went home after a run, and I fainted, which was the point at which I realized that surgery was not very far away,” Sykes said.

One of the reasons he chose cardiac surgeon Joseph Lamelas was because of his approach to cardiac surgeries. Lamelas specializes in minimally invasive heart surgery. Instead of cracking the patient’s ribs, he makes a small 2-inch cut between them. Then, tiny cameras navigate for him minimizing trauma to the tissue.

“The recovery time for traditional open heart operation is about four to six weeks; it could be as long as eight weeks. For a minimally invasive operation, the average is two to three weeks,” said Lamelas, a Cardiac Surgeon at Mount Sinai Medical Center in Miami Beach.

Just four weeks after his heart surgery, Sykes happily laced up his running shoes.

“The first run was such a great feeling not to have the chest pains anymore,” said Sykes.

Lamelas says with traditional surgery, Sykes may never have been able to run comfortably again.

“Some of the patients have more discomfort long term as well,” said Lamelas.

Minimally invasive heart surgery also means a shorter hospital stay and less risk of infection.

For Sykes, the real proof of victory came when just a few months later he crossed the finish line at the New York City marathon. He said he felt great pride and joy.

Now on to the Miami marathon.