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Rick Majerus wasn't joking. He really meant it when he said he hopes he's in running shape to compete in the New York City Marathon next year.

Since seven-bypass heart surgery in December 1989, the Utah basketball coach has dropped 45 pounds to 240 and 6 inches off his waistline to size 42.The still-hefty Majerus, who's never made any secret of his love for food, said he runs four or five miles per day and will compete in a 10-kilometer (6.2-mile) race Saturday in Milwaukee, where he formerly led the Marquette basketball program.

He said his goal is to run the New York City Marathon in November 1992.

"I'm going to run it. This will be a good challenge for me," Majerus said while in Muncie on Monday to speak at a banquet. He was head coach at Ball State University for two years before going to Utah.

"I've got to get healthy or I'm going to have another bypass," said Majerus. "I have inherited arteries that are bad and I worked them bad with my diet.

"The only thing I can do is diet and exercise to get my arteries clean. I want to live a healthy, happy life."

Majerus, always quick with a quip, doesn't spare himself when it comes to his wit.

"I don't think I'm going to replace Jack LaLanne but I can give Richard Simmons a run for his money," he said, referring to the fitness gurus of decidedly different styles.

He said his eating habits have changed, not necessarily to his liking.

"I'm eating a lot of oats now. I go to the starting gate instead of the stands at River Downs" in Cincinnati, he said.