Athlete with Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD) and Buried Treasure

Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. – Bible, Galatians VI. Hey! I take good advice wherever I can get it.

Body, mind and spirit hold hidden treasures, strengths you earned during a your life-time.

The seasons come and go. An endless cycle. True for our lives and the garden. As a plant-based athlete, I really enjoy vegetable gardening.

10 years after running the Boston MarathonLiving in a tiny house with vascular disease, determined to stay in Ironman, the life-saver that fixed my genetic hyperlipidemia.
  • Little did I know in 2009, as an Ironman triathlete scientist running the Boston Marathon, that change was in the wind.
  • Little did I know I was to become an abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) patient. A massive life-threatening aneurysm was discovered as the result of weird symptoms in the 2010 Lake Placid Ironman, and repaired with a stent graft. Thanks Cook Medical.
  • Little did I know that an AAA would be the easy bit. Being an athlete with peripheral arterial disease (PAD) is even tougher, making running almost impossible – until I find the workaround, which I will.
  • What does one do? Dig deep. Unearth resources of the body, mind and spirit that we all possess, buried in the well-tilled soil of a life-time.
The seasons come and go. Summer crops fading. Time to prepare for fall, as for the autumn of our lives. Today, I found onions, elephant garlic and potatoes, lost in the ground cover.

Autumn planting. Taking out old tomato plants, harvesting potatoes, spreading mulch and broad seeding clover. Soil needs a break, until fall planting begins in August or September.

Me? I lay fallow long enough. I’m back in training and about time you lazy bum (I talk to myself a lot).

The answer: zero impact running style – To pull this one off, I need all the buried treasure (body-awareness, conditioning, experience, determination, inspiration, skill, and support) I can find, at the young age of 76.

Progress is being made on the treadmill, and judiciously on the road.

I will tell the story in the Old Dogs in Training newsletter, in monthly installments.

Watch the story unfold, as I attempt to carry my friend, Frits (only some of his ashes – he was much too big for me to carry), to the World Ironman Championships in Kona, Hawaii. Machteld, his wife, loves the idea.

Frits (with an “s”, right), a remarkable athlete, is sorely missed. He always wanted to qualify for the World Ironman Championships in Kona, Hawaii. I’ve come really close, twice. Let’s see if I can qualify and take Frits with me (Sorry, my friend, you’ll be in a ziplock bag).
Hope springs eternal” – Alexander Pope

A life without risk is no life at all.

Please wish Frits and me luck – we’ll need all the help we can get.

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kev (the luckiest man in the world)

MRI images of thigh region to show effect of exercise on muscle mass.
This is why you need to exercise. See how fragile the bone is in the unexercised legs. It’s not just the muscles that decay away.


  1. Papo Mendez says

    I have been an athletic person all my life and take a good care of my body physical shape by eating the right foods. Started playing basketball at 11 yrs old and continued playing other sports including free diving, spearfishing & scuba diving, but mostly b/ball. Played b/ball in college and continued playing Masters until 69.

    However, when diagnosed with AAA at 72 yrs, it was like taking my life away and I have to make a 360 degrees change. I have no cholesterol, diabetes, coronary issues, etc, etc! So, why this AAA? Where is coming from?? But, as a close friend told me: Hey, it is what it is!!

    So, I need to adapt to my new life and find ways to keep healthy and not to be in Lazy sofa watching TV all day. I tried to find info on what king of exercises could be done in multiple places w/o any results. My CardioMD informed I cannot do practically anything, not even swimming or lift more than 15lbs!!! It was very frustrating and you ask yourself; what I’m going to do? wait until the Man Upstairs request my soul?

    Maybe it was after 6 weeks or 2 months that I started going to the gym 3x/week doing some lights weights and running the stationary bicycle for 15 min. My mind started to change the way I see my future life. Slowly I kept adding more weights until reaching 35lbs curls, 60lbs b/press and 70lbs lateral pulls. Started swimming and then breath holding for short periods…and everything was fine, thanks God!
    No basketball or running as I was afraid the pounding could slip the stent or put it out of place.

    I was lucky that finally found this site and it looks that Kevin was going through the same thinking process on where to find more info to continue doing what he loves to do: running Triathlons!! Kevin’s site was my inspiration to continue doing what I like. I kept pushing the envelope and started scuba diving (against family advice) at 18′-20′ to find out any reaction from by body. I was lucky to find out that after diving a few times for 30 min at that depth my body was feeling OK. To ensure I was not making a life threatening sport, I wrote to DAN (Divers Alert Network) but they didn’t have any answers or didn’t know of any AAA patient diver case/record.
    Just last week I went scuba diving during the Florida Lobster’s Mini Season at 20′-25′. I completed 2 dives of +/- 45 min and thanks God, I’m back!!

    In summary, there are so many things that AAA patients are able to do or could do, but the lack of information is keeping many patients tied to their fears that cannot enjoy the things they would like to do… I think we should enjoy those things that make us happy instead of living a life w/o any objectives. Obviously, if you are going to do something not recommended by your CardioMD, please get as much information as you could before engage doing it. One more thing: star slowly!!!! Correct?

    Once again Kev, I think that your site have make the difference for thousand of people that day after day read to find more answers from other AAA patients that they could get from their Cardio MD’s.

    Keep the good work & wishing you the best of the best for Kona!!


    • Thanks for sharing and being brave enough to push the depressing limits that drs gives me courage.

      • Hi Sherry. They don’t have a clue because a patient is not a statistical average. You might laugh at this. I have progressive peripheral arterial disease with partial occlusion of my right popliteal artery. It causes severe claudication. I asked my really great endovascular surgeon if he could do angioplasty. He said it would risk my leg. He said that I should use exercise to build collateral (new) blood supply, advising, “Three 30-minute walks a week.” So a few weeks later I ran the Maine Marathon, which was challenging. Now I’m modifying my run to fix the problem, which no doctor can help me with. Ipso facto, it’s up to us. The key is education and determination. kev

  2. You are too kind, Papo.

    I remember when my life was turned upside down, and it took me six months to find someone to talk to, and it really helps a lot.

    Much appreciated,

    kev PS Rock On young man.

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Disclaimer: As a veterinarian, I do not provide medical advice for human animals. If you undertake or modify an exercise program, consult your medical advisors before doing so. Undertaking activities pursued by the author does not mean that he endorses your undertaking such activities, which is clearly your decision and responsibility. Be careful and sensible, please.