Congenital Heart Defect Survivor completes marathons, 100 mile runs & Ironman Triathlon’s

Heart Inspired
October 22, 2009 my life changed as I was diagnosed with a life threatening Congenital Heart Defect resulting in more than 40% of my blood flowing backwards and a dangerous Polymorphic Ventricular Tachycardia Arrhythmia. Both went undetected my entire life and were not identified until that day.

Just 2 months later, on Dec. 23, 2009 I had open-heart surgery at the Cleveland Clinic, #1 Cardiac Hospital.
My name is Bob Alexander, Endurance Athlete, and Congenital Heart Valve Defect Survivor. I’ve been married for 36 years and have three great kids.
My 1st race was just 5 months after heart surgery, the 2010 Bolder Boulder. Since having open-heart surgery in 2009, I completed 24 endurance races included 2 Half Marathons, 7 Marathons and the New York City Marathon within 10 months, 2 – 50 Mile Ultras, A 100 Mile Ultra in 24:16, seven Century 100 mile cycling events in the Rockies & a 240 miler climbing 20,000 vertical feet, Ironman Arizona in 16:33:20 just 23 months after open-heart surgery. I gave my Ironman Finisher medal to 6-year-old Heart Transplant survivor Gabriella.

I will be doing 2 more Ironman events in 2013.

I am no one special, I just truly believe, despite the odds, “Anything is Possible”!

Bob Alexander — Husband, Father, Congenital Heart Defect Survivor, & Endurance Athlete who Loves Life

Ca State Cycling Champion Beating Heart Disease to Race (and win) Again.

I met Loren Stephens through this blog and my twitter. It happens that we only live a few miles away. I have only ridden once with Loren, on his recovery day, as I am rarely in good enough shape to even see his wheel. I am thoroughly motivated, and encouraged by what he has accomplished mentally and physically since his open heart surgery and heart attack. He is committed to not let his heart stop him from once again becoming a cycling champion. He wrote his account of hat happened to him below.

My Odyssey to return to the top level of masters bicycle racing after open heart surgery and subsequent heart attack

by Loren Stephens

I am an elite level masters cyclists in the USA. I have earned many podium finishes in masters time trial and criterium and am a past California State Masters Criterium Champion for 65+ men.

I was diagnosed with degenerative mitral valve disease (60% leakage) in April 2010. On July 1, 2010 at UCLA Ronald Reagan Medical Center I had a 7.5 hour open heart surgery to repair my mitral valve and to do an atrium reduction. My heart was removed from my body in order to make the repairs. I spent 5 days in ICU and a total of 7 in the hospital.

After getting out of the hospital I struggled with some A Fib problems. I ended up having to be cardioverted out of it. I have been AF free since.

I was able to start training on the bike in September 2010. In late September I had a ventricular tachycardia event while riding and passed out cold. My Doc said I was lucky to be alive and took me off the bike and put me in cardio rehab.

After cardio rehab I was given the OK to start training on the bike again in preparation for the 2011 racing season. I was making great progress until February 15, 2011 when I had a heart attack on a training ride. After a stent and few days in the hospital I was out and found myself back in cardio rehab.

After completing rehab I was given the OK to start riding the bike again. I have been riding mainly to gain back my old levels of endurance.

In December 2011 I started working with my long time coach again and  started full on training in preparation for racing USA Cycling Masters Nationals in early September 2012. I have no restrictions other than the fact that I’m on Plavix which will limit my racing for the first half of the 2012 season. I have raced a couple of races just to test my fitness. In June I raced the California Senior Games and came in 2nd in the 40K road race which also qualifies me to race at the 2013 National Senior Games in Cleveland. My next races will be USA Cycling Masters Nationals in early September 2012 in Bend Oregon and the Huntsman World Senior Games in early October in St. George Utah.

Not bad for a guy who was told he would never race again. I proved them all wrong.

You can follow Loren’s twitter here and his blog and coaching website here.

A New way of Life. Readers Story-

Just ran across your site. I really enjoyed reading your posts.

I’m 47 years old, mostly healthy, though out of shape. Saw the doc for a physical 5 months ago. Immediately was put on cholesterol and BP meds. 4 months later my blood pressure and cholesterol numbers were good and I had lost 15 lbs. Then I had my heart attack. I had it during my first visit to a gym while working with a trainer. A clot broke loose and I had an immediate 100% blockage of the circumflex artery.

I’m 4 weeks past that. Just been released for Cardiac Rehab. A strange thing happened during my stress test prior to release to rehab. I realized that I loved the exercise! They got my heart rate up to 150 bpm, and I loved every moment. This was probably because I’d been wondering if I was always going to be physically limited. I want to turn this new feeling into a new way of life.

I’m looking for ways to increase my fitness, especially after I’m done with rehab.

While Googling “bicycling after a heart attack”, I found your site. It really gave me a lift. It’s great reading about someone who has had cardiac issues, but still loves to ride.

You’ve given me inspiration to stay on track, increase my fitness, and above all, get back on a bike!

Thanks for sharing your experiences.

Tim

Riding a Century After Open Heart Surgery! Readers story-

Hi, Eric. You said you were interested in some stories related to cardiac recovery. Last April, I underwent sudden open heart surgery to replace my aortic valve and repair the aortic root. Thirteen days days later, I had to have emergency pericardial surgery to drain fluid that was accumulating (1 liter’s worth).

I was already registered to ride the 2009 Make-A-Wish Foundation Wish-A-Mile 300 bicycle tour in July (100 miles a day x 3 days), and set a goal to try and ride it. I am happy to say that I was able to ride a full 100-mile century 116 days after my open heart surgery, 103 days after the 2nd surgery. I took Day 2 off, then rode another centuiry on Day 3.

As I reflected on it, I have begun to wonder if anyone else has completed a century that soon after such a surgery/episode. Do you know?

Mark

34 Years Old Who Had A Heart Attack And Has 3 Stents, Can He Still Snowboard?

I received a question from Jon and he was kind enough to let me post it here. Please feel free to add anything to our conversation through the comments link. 

“Hey Eric,

I had a heart attack 3 weeks ago at age 34 and had 3 stents put in. I’m on all the meds now and watching my diet. I just want to know if I will be ok to go snowboarding again next winter.

Jon.”

 


 

Please Tell Your Cardiac Story.

I’d (and I assume many others) would love to hear how you have dealt with, conquered or beaten heart disease. Do you still ride a bike, surf, mountain bike, bmx, skateboard, ski or snowboard since your heart attack or heart disease started? Any little story you have can go a long way in providing motivation for others who struggle with wanting to ride.

After you write your story here I’ll make a special page for it so other can communicate about it.

Thanks,

Eric