Sad News for 28 y.o. Champion Niels Albert

Albert, who read from a letter during the press conference, said retiring was the only option because of the health condition.

“The bike has always been the biggest passion of my life, but after six years, I have to abruptly give up my professional life,” he said, according to a Sporza report.”

The 28-year old Belgian has the condition which, when in competition, could cause a fatal heart attack. “Much sooner than I had anticipated I have to end my career,” the two times world champion declared emotionally at a press conference.”

Links to the news:

Via Cyclingnews.com

Via PodiumCafe

Via VeloNews

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.

High-intensity Interval Training

For the last few years HIIT (high intensity interval training) like Little Method the Tabata Method have been big news. Tabata seems to be the most widely talked about, invented by Prof. Izumi Tabta. Since most of the world is trying to loose weight and lose it faster it easy to see why these workouts are now buzzwords – if you are trying to loos weight and /or have very little time to work out, my favorite excuse, these methods might be good for you. The claims are big aerobic, metabolic and cardiovascular benefits, see NY Times article.

Here are some good links I have found to this style of training related to cycling, but there are manny other HIIT workouts involving running, push ups, squats, kettle ball etc… around.

NY Times

Active.com

Shape.com

Indoorcyclinginstructors.com

About Prof. Izumi Tabata

As I have no medical training of course discuss any of what you read here with your doctor before you start these programs. Let me know if you find others or tell me how you like these methods.

Interval Training Helps Cardiac Patients

Found via twitter @icycleoc who RT @ironheartracing via @runnersworld

Article from Runnersworld.com ©Runnersworld.com

By Meghan G. Loftus

In a new study out of McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, researchers have found that completing 20-minute sessions of cycling intervals–with one minute at 90 percent maximum heart rate, one minute rest, repeated 10 times–significantly boosts overall health and fitness, even in patients with cardiovascular disease.

The New York Times reports:

It might seem counterintuitive that strenuous exercise would be productive or even wise for cardiac patients. But so far none have experienced heart problems related to the workouts, [lead researcher Dr. Maureen] MacDonald said. “It appears that the heart is insulated from the intensity” of the intervals, she said, “because the effort is so brief.”

Almost as surprising, the cardiac patients have embraced the routine. Although their ratings of perceived exertion, or sense of the discomfort of each individual interval, are high and probably accurate, averaging a 7 or higher on a 10-point scale, they report enjoying the entire sessions more than longer, continuous moderate exercise, Dr. MacDonald said.

“The hard work is short,” she points out, “so it’s tolerable.” Members of a separate, exercise control group at the rehab center, assigned to complete standard 30-minute moderate-intensity workout sessions, have been watching wistfully as the interval trainers leave the lab before them. “They want to switch groups,” she said.

The American Heart Association recommends 30 minutes of continuous, moderate exercise five times a week, but this study indicates that 20 minutes of interval training is as beneficial and possibly more enjoyable. And, obviously, the interval workouts are shorter. The majority of Americans who don’t exercise say it’s because they don’t have time.

If you’re in the minority–that is, you do have time for prolonged, moderate exercise–you shouldn’t abandon your current regimen. This type of exercise also has proven heath benefits. But on days when you’ve got to squeeze in a workout, intervals may be the way to go.

Do or Do Not. There is No Try!

The Coach Gives Me SomeTough Love!

On Tuesday I saw my cardiologist (Dr.K) for my quarterly blood work results-which I was too busy to do the prior 9 months. One things I love about Dr.K is she always starts my visit with “What’s new?” or “Tell me how things are going?” You may say she is just being polite but having been to going to her for the last 3 1/2 -4 years I can assure you this is part of the treatment I receive. For the most part my appointments last 30-60+ minutes, usually 3/4 of time is talking about how my life is going and how I deal with it. We never even look at the blood work results until we discuss the factors that ultimately effect them. This time I started with a sigh and said “It doesn’t get much worse”…her response “Tell me what’s going on with you?”. Now, I do my best to be in the moment and happy as much as possible and while I have been feeling very low about life in general (money,work etc…) I’m never visually depressed, unhappy or fail to find laughter through the days but I gave her quite a dump of excuses, emotions and reasons why life “doesn’t get much worse”.

Dr. K is from New york and has a bit of that city’s flavor to her but she is also very sweet, caring and ultimately there for her patients. So, basically she called me out for any excuse I had for not working out, not eating correctly, not doing what I know I should be doing in regards to how I live my life and handle stress. Sort of like a coach at half time pumping up his team – calling out the errors and missed opportunities and motivating and reinforcing how not to make those mistakes and get my head back in the game, “You already have the answers and know what to do you just need to do it.” is what she said. At first I didn’t like hearing it – I know what I need to do I don’t need someone else telling me- 10-15 minutes into the discussion I realized I need this. I’m not a huge Star Wars fan but her statement to me of “There is no try, just do” (reference to Yoda’s “Do or do not, there is no try”) was spot on.

I wish more doctors especially cardiologist treated the whole person more…because somedays you just need to have someone call you out!

What kind of treatment to you get? What does your doc do or don’t do you’d like to see more or less of? Do you prefer just the facts or also want a coach at your visits?

Eric

I Think I Had A Heart Attack 6 Years Ago?

I have never been good with dates of important occasions. As I get older (45 next month) what year something happened to me is far less accurate than my Garmin is at knowing how many calories I have burned.

I know it was August that I had my 2 heart attacks (within 12 hours). But a few years ago I had forgotten the day and I think it was in 2007 sometime that I stopped recalling the year it happened also. The only way I know it was 6 years ago is I have to repeat to anyone at least 3 times who hears my story that “Yes, I was 39” So since I’l be 45 next month this month is my 6 year anniversary of being alive. My wife just came in and said “What are you talking about? You were 36, not 39”. OK so it was 9 years ago. Proof I just can’t rememebr or do I choose not to? I still have my stent ID card that tells me the date of my first stent(of which I have 7, stents not cards) but I keep that in a drawer somewhere and choose not to look at it. Each year around June I think “Oh I’m going to celebrate the anniversary of my heart attack by riding a century or a 200 mile week or a 10,000′ day of climbing” none of that ever happens.

While I still plan to do something(?) someday(?) to mark the occasion with a post cardiac feat of super human strength I think to my self- ” Isn’t being here everyday to see my family and friends a daily celebration better than any ride I could do?”

I was wondering how anyone else celebrates or doesn’t their cardiac “event”.

KEEPriding- Eric