Back In Ironman Training With My 5 Year Old Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm Stent Graft: Refuse To Lose!

Refuse to lose tee

Photo by FitOldDog, with permission.

Back on the bike. Photo by Sue.

Back on the bike. Feels good. Photo by Sue.

Ironman training begins again, TODAY! It’s all about attitude!

I’m afraid that I neglected this blog for a while. I was distracted by (1) my business, (2) a pelvic problem, and (3) my recent animal rights work, but I’m back.

Be consistent with your training. Whether you are working to reach the bathroom unaided. Or undertaking an ultra-marathon. Um! I’d like to do an ultra. I need to qualify for Boston again first. Reasonable goals, don’t you think? Injuries, and life, can get in the way, but don’t give up! Refuse to lose!

It was clear that I needed a coach! But I’m on a fixed income. Until my business makes me rich, I don’t want to spend that type of money.

Joe Friel's 24-week Ironman training plan, starts today.

Joe Friel’s 24-week Ironman training plan, starts today, for FitOldDog.

RED ALERT. It was also evident that I needed to be sure my abdominal aortic stent graft and extension were in good shape. A trip to Cleveland for my annual, clinical trial-based CAT scan with contrast, and Dr. Parodi of the Cleveland Clinic, said, “All is well.”

[Exercise Works: last year I met Dr. Parodi for the first time. He seemed stressed out and distracted. This time he was happy as a clam, jolly, cracking jokes, and focused on my case. Why the difference, I wondered? Answer – he’s taken up CrossFit!!!].

Solution to my training issue?

(1) Sign up for a race, to define a specific goal.

(2) Buy a training program, designed by someone who knows what they’re talking about.

I laid out the cash for the 2016 Louisville Ironman. Why? This course treated me well in the past. The race is in October, giving me time to get back in Ironman shape.

I bought a membership to TrainingPeaks, to keep me honest. Then I downloaded Joe Friel’s 24 week Ironman programAll for less than $200. I’ll do this twice before the race.

I’m still around, thanks to my stent, and keen to qualify for Kona one day.

Happy Trails and don’t forget, Refuse To Lose!

FitOldDog aka The Plant-Based Vet



  1. Thank you for sharing your experience. I was just diagnosed with a thoracic aortic aneurysm. As a lifetime cyclist (and coach for past 25 years) I’m a bit distressed.

  2. Hey Kevin,

    You’re doing a great job for the rest of us with aortic issues who want to stay fit and lead an active lifestyle. I suffered an ascending rupture and an ascending/descending dissection down to the renal arteries in Dec 2014, and was repaired with a dacron graft in the ascending aorta and stenting in the rest of my aorta. Had a lot of complications following the surgeries (heart beating irregularly, kidneys shut down from the system shock, lungs developed about a quart of fluid each – so was put under heavy sedation for another 10 days till I recovered) and finally managed to get out of ICU after 3 weeks, and then back home a week later. I had a lot of recovering to do, to get back to playing squash and weight training, and here I was barely able to walk! Anyhow, I rested well and got back to stretching/walking in the first 8 months after leaving hospital, then started light squash. After about a year, in Jan 2015, started with light weights and am still doing moderate lifting, nothing that would strain me. Squash has progressed, but I always have that feeling/voice inside telling me not to push myself too hard. I can’t tell if its paranoia or gut wisdom. So the question arises: How much can we push ourselves post-surgery? How much is alright, and when does it get to be too much? How safe is the dacron graft, and the endovascular aortic stent?

    • Hi Abbas,

      I woke up, made my tea, looked at my site, and thought Damn! Your story eclipses any minor bumps I had in my road. But I guess the fear and uncertainty are the same general idea. I’m impressed by your story, of not giving up and returning to what you enjoy.

      If your last sentence is a question, my answers are:

      A life without risk is no life at all.

      Body awareness training helps, but the things we deal with don’t send any messages. Regular checkups seem to be the only way, when it comes to the state of our grafts, stents and endoleaks. However, we don’t have to be unwise about it.

      I often think about the unstable nature of the right arm of my stent, as I go over hard bumps on my bike, or take a fall. I never did know it, when I displaced the left arm, in that bike wreck, in 2013. My aneurysm was nicely expanded before it was spotted in a routine ultrasound, a month later (after another half Ironman).

      Running my benefit-risk analysis certainly helps to put things in perspective, but you seem to have that all put together. It’s in one of my blog posts – it’s been suggested that I make it into an app, but I hesitate, for some reason.

      I live for today, meditate more, enjoy the moment more (boy, I love my morning tea), worry less, and tend to think about it less and less, gently pushing my body as best I can. Aging sure creates a challenge, but I have people like Bob Scott and you to provide the inspiration I need.

      I think you are doing it just right. Gently pushing, never giving up.

      That’s the trick, I think, my remarkable friend.

  3. Linda Bailey says

    Hi Kevin

    I am a 62 , living in the north of Scotland and have just been diagnosed with a thoracic ascending aortic aneurysm. I am otherwise pretty fit. The TAAO is 3.5 cm. I was wondering if you had come across any concerns with regards to using a swim tether ( TYR short belt ). I know the upper limit drag is <30 pounds with an aneurysm, but I wonder wether a tether would increase my BP too much.

    I really appreciate reading everyone’s story, it has made me more positive.

  4. Kevin Morgan says

    Hi Linda, interesting question that resembles Alan’s question (Adelino Martins on our Facebook page: “Living Life With An Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm”) of long ago, with respect to golf. For him, my concern was thoracic torque, but he still plays seriously, and his TAA hasn’t grown in over 10 years. Same issue. Thoracic torque, but at 3 and a bit it is barely an aneurysm, unless it involves the aortic valve. I lived in Penicuik for 5 years, and really liked the Scots way of life, once they forgave me for being English. My thought: minimal risk. -kev

    • Linda Bailey says

      Thanks Kevin. I am such a keen swimmer and I keep my HR well below 120. As you say, it is the torque and mild to moderate drag. It is interesting to hear the other gentleman’s story, very uplifting.

      Hope your training is going well.

      Scotland is indeed a wonderful place to live.


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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.