Riding Ave of The Oaks Century after Heart Attack

This Saturday is the Ave of the Oaks metric century ride. I choose this one because while riding 63 miles is not that hard for me at this point, doing it and 6000′ plus of climbing is. I’d say that’s a pretty decent climb for someone without a heart attack so it would be a good goal for me. I try just to be happy that I can ride at all but it’s hard not to compare myself with someone who has no heart problems and I love riding up hills, always have, even though I’m not good at it I’m just persistent that way. Below is the elevation chart.

Ave of the Oaks Century elevation chart.

Ave of the Oaks Century elevation chart.

I’ll be riding it with my PT from my old cardiac rehab program and one of my cardiologist. Which makes my wife extremely happy, even though she wishes I didn’t do it at all. I think I’m ready. While I haven’t ridden that distance in a while I have been riding lots of hills and doing 3,000′ climbs in 28-30 miles rides and some hill repeats so I feel ready and the best riding shape since my heart attack.

I’ll do my best to keep track of my ride and bring you a crank by crank report.


heartATTACKrider is now on twitter

But they limit the number of characters in your name so my twitter is heartattackride NOT heartattackrider…..oh well close enough and still kinda makes sense. Why twitter? I come across little things that I want to post and instead of having a zillion little bits and pieces here a thought it would be easier just to do it there and I can hopefully reach more people that way.

Controlling My Heart Rate While Riding.

“Mindfulness is built around the premise of disengaging from overly emotional responses and extraneous thoughts that clutter the mind’s ability to think clearly. By using techniques such as breathing, visual imagery and meditation to slow down and focus on the present, the theory goes, a person can tap into a higher level of awareness. The more acute awareness is the byproduct of more active brain waves brought on by meditation, studies have shown.”

Can I really control my heart rate? On Friday I didn’t have much time to ride (preparing for the Avenue of The Oaks) so I decided to do some hill repeats in preparation for April 4th. After warming up for about 1/2 hour I started riding a hill I like that is 0.6 miles/205′. S0 for me that was 5min 30sec – 6min 30sec with a coast back down of 2min 30sec ‘ish. My goal was to do 10, I made it to 8 before I limped home. My heart rate would range in the 145-150bpm range at it’s peak and by the time I recovered back down the hill and turned around to go at it again I’d be around 107-110bpm. After my 5th uphill battle I was approaching 155bpm a little too easy for my liking  my doc doesn’t like me to go more than 155 bpm for very long)  so I concentrated very hard and focused on my breathing pattern, almost a meditative trance if you will. I made deliberately strong exhales and inhales while imagining (invisioning) in a very real time way that my heart was very relaxed and barely working to pump. I also imagined every artery in my body was widening open as I had to make through the steepest section. When I glanced at my heart rate on my Garmin after 20-30 seconds my heart rate was 4-7 beats lower every time I did this. Now this isn’t scientific but I did make sure my cadence was same on each of the last 3 hill climbs as a reference. I was now able to maintain 147-148bpm. Whenever I stopped this “technique” I would instantly raise my bpm.

I learned this technique of controlled breathing soon after my heart attack. I got terrible panic attacks and would “freak out” that I was going to have another one. I started listening to Jon Kabat Zinn’s cd made with Dr. Andrew Weil,  Meditation for Optimum Health. Also through Pranayama yoga classes where breath awareness is a major component of your practice.

I really started to utilize Mindfulness Meditation when I first started riding again after my heart attacks. I was terrified to go too far, to hard, too fast etc…so I decided to use what I had been listening to at home and what I was earning in yoga while pedaling. It seems like such and obvious think now but I still forget about it. But, when I see a hill coming up or my heart starts to get a little out of range for my liking I try these techniques and they work for me.

Reiki heals the heart of pro cyclist Hayden Roulston back to racing & the Tour of California.

 Now, I watch the races on tv  and read a few cycling blogs and mags but do not follow the peloton religiously so I was unaware of Hayden Roulsten and his condition. After watching stage 7 of the Tour of California and hearing that Hayden Roulston (Cervelo Test Team ) had come back after being told to stop racing due to a heart problem I had to find out what his condition was and how he made it back to the peloton? From what I could find Hayden was found to have a rare heart disease, arrhythmogenic right ventricular dysplasia,  affecting the muscle of the right ventricle which can cause sudden death. Roulston was suffering shortness of breath and an irregular heart beat. 

Hayden had a random life altering meeting with a lady in a cafe who turned him to the practice of reiki, a Japanese hands-on healing process, and Roulston is now a devout follower, convinced it saved his career. “When I first tried it, I trained the next day and felt something different.” says Hayden. Having ignored doctors request he pursed the rieki treatment and last March took 4th in the individual pursuit at the world championships in Manchester and a double medal winner at the Beijing Olympics. Along with his change in diet and lifestyle Hayden believes that rieki was real key to his commback “Reiki is the the be-all and end-all for me … it’s pretty amazing stuff.” he told the New Zealand Sunday Star Times. Some bloggers I have found have been skeptical of the rieki and credit his comeback due to his cleaner living. Either way why not try all of the options at your disposal.

I know that from first hand experience with rieki, healing hands, meditation and other unknown techniques to me  I would not have been nearly as successful in my abilities after my own heart attacks without the attention to the mind and body connection that I received at various times.* Side note: I plan on writing more about my experiences with mind body healing soon.

Congratulation Hayden on your success at the Amgen Tour of California and for the inspiration I get from your unwillingness to let the medical community dictate your lifestyle and medical options.


Photos L-R; Cervelo Test Team,  Cycling News.com, nzherald.co.nz/

To read more about Hayden view these links;

Two years ago Hayden Roulston was a dead man riding.

Roulston wins battle of heart and mind.

New Zealand channel 3 News

3news.co.nz video interview

The Reiki Digest story on Hayden.

Promising 911 Treatment?

My life was saved because of a clot buster drug (not sure which one?) and while researching new innovative approaches to cardiac health I came across this article at medicalnewstoday.com about a new treatment for 911 patients while in route to the hospital by a “strategy to treat heart attack patients that requires lock-step collaboration among teams in the ambulance, emergency center and cardiac catheterization lab” his strategy is called PATCAR – Pre-Hospital Administration of Thrombolytic Therapy with Urgent Culprit Artery Revascularization. ” The strategy was designed to test the idea that the use of a clot-busting drug before the patient arrives at the hospital, followed by heart catheterization, reduces the chances of death in heart attack victims,” says Richard Smalling, MD, PhD, professor at UT Medical School at Houston and director of interventional cardiology at Memorial Hermann – Texas Medical Center.”

I would probably have never been given the drug as the paramedics said I had no signs of a hear attack. Even as I was being taken into the hospital on the gurney one of the paramedics asked ow I felt. I said ” pretty good and the same as when they first got to me. he said” You probably just over did it and are dehydrated.” My assumtion is that I called early enough before the “real” symptoms hit: nausea, chest pain, arm pain, which didn’t start until I was at the hospital. i certainly hope other hospitals hear about this and put in to action similar plans.

Here is a link to the article, http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/139703.php

My 3rd Cardiac Rehab Program

Below is a chart (click on it to view it larger)showing my routine during phase 3 & maintinence of my cardiac rehab at Scripps Integrative Medicine.

After 30 minutes of either stationary cycling or running on the treadmill or track I would perform the following pictured workout. While cycling or running I was allowed to maintain a heart rate of 140-145 maximum. On the stationary bike I would usually do a 3 minute warmup, 3x 8 minute intervals then a 3 minute cool down before starting the rest of the work out. The intervals might be 120-125bpm then 125-135 bpm and finish with 135-145bpm.  I would up my heart rate by either a low cadence hard gear or just by me regulating high cadence efforts and the occasional standing up to peddle. The runs were on their outdoor track (still monitored). It was a mix of walking fast, no lower than 125bpm and a slow jog which I would be able to hold 145-150bpm without a problem. My treadmill work was also done as intervals. Again, a 3 minute warm up then 3x 8 minute jog and 3 minute cool down.

I also will be posting notes and comments on 2 other programs I participated in over the next few months.

If you have any questions please feel free to post them here. I’d be glad to pass on my experiences.


This was my personal program reviewed by my doctor, nurses and exercise physiologist based on my health. DO NOT COPY this program with out first consulting your doctor(s).

My best riding since my heart attack…

YTD Riding Total- 576.93 miles / 38,524′

  • Road – Geared: 440.55mi / 34,363′ 
  • Road – Fixie: 136.38mi / 4,161′ )    
  • Dirt: 0

Not that any workout I do is worthy of publishing, bragging about or keeping track of but, I think it might be of help to some. Plus, it helps motivate me. Those of you who have had heart surgery and want to know what someone else is doing who has had 7 stents and 2 heart attack (5 years ago+ as of this posting) is doing. 

So. I’ll post what workout. I do, riding or otherwise, with pertinent info; heart rates, blood oxygen etc…

February has me out more so far but it has been tough with our new baby to get more than 2 hours in.

Goals for the year:

1. Feb 14, Palm Springs Century, full length – bailed out due to rain interrupting training and new baby duties.

2. April 4, Avenue of the Oaks Century (metric)

3. Sept 12, Amtrak Century, full length

4. Ride a BMX race again…..TBD

5. Ride 100 miles on my fixed gear….TBD

6. Do 10,000′ climbing in 1 day….

7. End the year with 150,000′ feet.

Riding Log- As of 04.1.09

04.01.09:  Road Ride-Fixed

  • 1:35 min  
  • 19.52 miles 
  • 875′ climbing 
  • 129 ave BPM / 156 max BPM (ave)

03.30.09:  Road Ride-Fixed+ Rehab work out

Warm up/(5)x 2.15sec effort at 8 out of 10, 145bpm-155bpm  & 4min recovery inbetween/ recovery home/cardiac rehab leg and weight program

  • 51.20 min  
  • 10.59 miles 
  • 260′ climbing 
  • 120 ave BPM / 154 max BPM (ave)

03.29.09:  Road Ride-

Felt amazing. My best ride since my heart attack. Climbed ober 2000′ in first 18 miles. My highest ave heart rate to date.

  • 2:38 
  • 32.63 miles 
  • 3047′ climbing 
  • 141 ave BPM / 160 max BPM (ave)
  • Blood oxygen levels: Before ride 78/98%. After ride 109/98%
  • BP after stretch and cool down-111/74/86bpm

03.26.09:  Road Ride-

  • 2:22 
  • 39.50miles 
  • 3049′ climbing 
  • 139 ave BPM / 157 max BPM (ave)
  • BP after stretch and cool down-119/79/90bpm

03.23.09:  Road Ride-Fixed+ Rehab work out

Warm up/(5)x 2.30sec effort at 8 out of 10, 145bpm-155bpm  & 4min recovery inbetween/ recovery home/cardiac rehab leg and weight program

  • 55.42 min  
  • 11.57 miles 
  • 358′ climbing 
  • 126 ave BPM / 148 max BPM (ave)

03.21.09:  Road Ride-

  • 2:43 
  • 35.02 miles 
  • 2513′ climbing 
  • 134 ave BPM / 158 max BPM (ave)

03.20.09:  Road Ride

Hill repeats- 30 min warm up/(8) x 6.30min x0.7mi hill with 2.30-45min recover in between and recovery home.

  • 1:39 min  
  • 15.66 miles 
  • 2,1111′ climbing 
  • 126 ave BPM / 159 max BPM (ave)
  • BP after stretching/cool down 110/77/86bpm


03.17.09:  Road Ride

  • 55.42 min  
  • 11.57 miles 
  • 890′ climbing 
  • 126 ave BPM / 148 max BPM (ave)

03.15.09:  Road Ride

  • 3:53 min  
  • 43.76 miles 
  • 2,212′ climbing 
  • 121 ave BPM / 158 max BPM (ave)

03.11.09:  Road Ride

  • 1:07 min  
  • 14.74 miles 
  • 1,113′ climbing 
  • 131 ave BPM / 147 max BPM (ave)

02.24.09 – 03.10.09

03.04.09:  Road Ride-fixie + Scripps weight program

  • 40.01 min  (5) x .75mi efforts at 145-155bpm with 4 1/2 – 5 min recover spin in between.
  • 9.29miles 
  • 278′ climbing 
  • 130 ave BPM / 155 max BPM (ave)

03.06.09:  Road Ride 

  • 1 hr 49 min. 
  • 23.24 miles 
  • 2125′ climbing 
  • 129 ave BPM / 151 max BPM

03.04.09:  Road Ride-fixie + Scripps weight program

  • 30.37 min 
  • 7.16 miles 
  • 214′ climbing 
  • 138 ave BPM / 155 max BPM

03.01.09:  Road Ride 

  • 2 hr 06 min. 
  • 24.88 miles 
  • 2,233′ climbing 
  • 138 ave BPM / 155 max BPM

02.25.09:  Road Ride 

  • 1 hr 16 min. 
  • 17.41 miles 
  • 867′ climbing 

02.6.09 – 02.23.09

02.23.09:  Road Ride -Fixie 

  • 56.53 min. 
  • 12.74 miles 
  • 400′ climbing 
  • 130 ave BPM / 148 max BPM
  • bp before ride 129/70 71bpm – bp after cool down 114/76 81bpm

02.21.09:  Road Ride 

  • 2:11 min. 
  • 27.47 miles 
  • 2251′ climbing 
  • 137 ave BPM / 150 max BPM

02.19.09:  Road Ride 

  • I felt good but my hr seemed to be 12-15 higher than normal so I cut my ride short.
  • 35.10 min. 
  • 6.90 miles 
  • 597′ climbing
  • 145 ave BPM / 169 max BPM

02.14.09:  Road Ride 

  • 2:09 min. 

  • 25.32 miles 

  • 2325′ climbing 

  • 137 ave BPM / 152 max BPM
  • bp before ride 127/76 75bpm 

02.11.09:  Road Ride 

I had just stared some hill repeats when I flatted and ran out of air and no pump, so I came home and did my Scripps Rehab workout.

  • 24.09 min. 

  • 5.57 miles 

  • 1397′ climbing 

  • 134 ave BPM / 153 max BPM

02.08.09:  Road Ride 

  • 1:13 min. 

  • 14.59 miles 

  • 1274′ climbing

  • 135 ave BPM / 152 max BPM

01.28.09 – 02.05.09

02.05.09:  Road Ride -Fixie (quick one before the rain)

  • 43.44 min. 

  • 9.93 miles 

  • 371′ climbing 

  • 131 ave BPM / 151 max BPM

02.03.09:  Road Ride -Fixie

  • I tired hard to make it 50 miles but my butt got sore and the winds tired out my legs.

  • 2:43 min. 

  • 36.33 miles 

  • 507′ climbing 

  • 125 ave BPM / 150 max BPM

01.28.09:  Road Ride 

  • 1:34 min. 

  • 18.77 miles 

  • 1431′ climbing / 1502′ decend


    142 ave BPM / 160 max BPM


01.05.09 – 01.25.09

01.25.09:  Road Ride – Fixie 

  • 1:39 min. 

  • 20.32 miles 

  • 957′ climbing / 962′ decend

  • 130 ave BPM / 141 max BPM

01.22.09:  Road Ride 

  • 1:41:00 min. 

  • 23.07 miles 

  • 1473′ climbing / 1362′ decend

  • 131 ave BPM / 151 max BPM

  • After cool down 115 BPM at 97% oxygen.

01.17.09:  Road Ride 

  • 1:35:00 min. 

  • 21.62 miles 

  • 1150′ climbing / 1267′ decend

  • 137 ave BPM / 154 max BPM

01.13.09:  Road Ride 

  • 1:14:00 min. 

  • 17.39 miles 

  • 824′ climbing / 898′ decend

  • 142 ave BPM / 161 max BPM

01.12.09:  Random at home workout 

12×16 stairs / Medicine Ball 200 ( did most of it) / 3×8 8# chest flys / 3×8 8# standing flys / 1×12 stationary lunge per leg
no hr monitor on

01.08.09:  Road Ride 

  • 49.37 min.

  • 10.49 miles  

  • 854′ climbing

  • 138 ave BPM / 161 max BPM 

01.06.09:  Walking / Hill Repeats

  • 50 min. 

  • 5 hills with park bench work out in between-3x 10 steps ups / 3x 10 push ups / 3x 10 tricep dips

  • 50 crunches on a stability ball.

01.01.09 – 01.04.09

01.03.09:  Road Ride 

  •  8.41 miles 

  •  34.47 min. 

  • 630′ climbing

  • 139 ave BPM / 161 max BPM 

  • (2x) 45sec with 60sec rest between -full body plank,  back plank ( I forget what it is called but pretend your Superman), (2x) 15  slow girlie pushups , 10 minutes of strecthing.

Good ride…

On Saturday I was able to ride 36.8mi with over 3790′ of climbing in just under 3 hours. Not that fast but I was happy as my ave heart rate of 142 for those 3 hours and I had a max hr of 165. No chest pain or discomfort. I started taking the smallest dose of Lisinopril(2.5mg) for my blood pressure but felt no issues from it. I’m planning on riding in the Tour De Poway in about a week. Not sure if I’ll do the full century or the metric century.

I Couldn’t Be More Happy.

I rode in the Amtrak Century yesterday, my first try at one. On my previous posts I forgot to mention that my real goal was not to ride 100 miles in the time allotted (8 hours), but to ride it only stopping when needed. That was the real challenge I wanted. Not more that 4-10 minutes per stop. Could I ride 100 miles basically non stop?

I made it to 75.46 miles in 5 hours 14 minutes or riding time, 2365′, 135ave bpm, 156 max bpm. Only stopping at the rest stops to refuel and use the bathroom. My first stop was 4min.30 sec., 2nd stop, 6min.20sec and my last stop was 8min.45sec. 

I was really surprised I had no pains at all, no numb hands, back pain, no sore butt or neck aches at all. It was actually quite easy. The only reason I stopped was my legs had no more life. From about mile 60-75 was a tail wind on mostly flat road which as you know means you can feel great and fly along thinking your strong as ever. Any hill though I encountered stopped me dead in granny gear. So being that at mile 81 was a 1.2 mile hill I stopped at the last train stop before the 100 mile mark and rode back to the start of the ride to return home (this century was one way). I could have rested at the last rest stop for 1/2-1 hour and gotten my strength back to finish but the competitor in me felt that was a bit of cheat to my goal. I was much more satisfied knowing I made it this far essentially non stop.

Considering I had never ridden more than 38 miles or over 3.5 hours in the last few years and got very little training in the last 2 weeks I am really happy with my results. This has given me so much more confidence in my hearts ability and strength, released a lot of mental blocks that come with being a heart attack survivor and hopefully will motivate any of you who have a goal in your recovery.

I want to thank Dr. Howard Elkin for being a great doctor, friend and teaching me that I can still have an active life, Dr. Elisabeth Kaback for her confidence and positive encouragement and the staff at Scripps Cardiac Rehab for helping me through some mental and physical blocks and of course my wife for being very nervous about me trying this but knowing I needed to.

My Heart Attack Stats

* Note: I still have some data to fill in-

Heart Attacks: 2

When: 08.04.01 – 08.05.01

I had 2 heart attacks in 24 hours. After be taken to the hosiptal by paramedics I started having one within a few minutes. My life was saved by getting a “clotbuster” shot. which opened my arteries up enought to stabilize my condition. While waiting for mu surgery in the morning I started to have another at approx. 6:00am.

Total Blockages: 4 (7 if you count restenosis)

(3) During my first surgery were found:1 in the ——-. 1 in the ———–, 1 in the ———–. A 4th later developed or increased in 2005 in the my ——-artery

Stents: 7

(2)ea.in the first 3 locations. Coated stents were not available at the time and so I was given normal stents within a year I had 2 more surgeries to place 3 new coated stents inside the old ones.

Angiograms: 6

#1 – 08.05.01

Whittier Presbyterian Hospital; Dr.Howad Elkin – My first one for the intial heart attack and 1 stent placed.

#2- 08.05.01:

Whittier Presbyterian Hospital; Dr.Howad Elkin – 24 hours later due to my compaining of stil having chest pain. Nothing was found and my Dr. felt that my stress was manifesting itself as chest pain.

#3 – 02.15.02:

Redondo Beach; Dr. ————– – Due to chest pain, chin pain and a cardiolight it is determined I need to have an angiogram. Since the 2 blockages had not been stented yet they put 2 in.

#4 – 02.15.02:

Scripps Green Hospital; Dr. Paul Tierstein – Due to a cardilight test it was determined that I need an angiogram which yeilded scare tissue in the 2 of the first stents.

#5 – 2.30.02:

Scripps Green Hospital; Dr. Paul Tierstein – Due to chinand chest pain I went in. Nothign was found, Even was scoped by a camera and I looked perfect. Stress attack #4

#6 – 09.30.07:

Scripps Green Hospital; Dr. Paul Tierstein – When I would ride for a long period of time at higher bpm’s (144+) I would get slight chin pain and a dry cough. At my cardiac rehab the next day I told the staff and after 15 minutes or riding a staionary biek I was getting chin pain again. I was admitted and the next morning had an expolartory angiogram where a very small bloackage——% was found and balloned. Due to the fact I work out hard and at higher efforts is the only reason I could feel this blockage said the Dr.Tierstein.

* Never try anything I do without consulting you doctor(s). I have had clearance & or testing done to determine if what I’m doing is reasonable/safe for me to try. This website is not meant as any substitute or suggestion of medical advice, It is mearly a documentation of my experience(s).

Feel free to email me with any questions or comments. I will do my best to quickly respond.