by Steffan “Cookie” Cook

On Sunday February 24, 2013, members of the Southern California running and hiking group (and largest Spartan team in 2012), “The Weeple Army” held a low-key event/get together in the city of Signal Hill near Long Beach.

The Hike/Run was to be around 8km and would include various mental and physical challenges including the staple diet of those that often train for Spartan Races – car tires, house bricks, buckets and backpacks.
The course and set up was one of a 2.7k loop of trails and various hills whil carrying these items. It was a warm day and while many people were laughing at themselves for going through the motions of the absurd self-inflicted pain that many of us are used to, one man wasn’t enjoying his day as much as he usually does.

Half-way through the second loop, Andy Bird complained of feeling unwell and felt the need to rest a while and it was soon apparent that this wasn’t the normal, “take a breather” moment. A car was quickly brought to him and he was returned to base camp where he was given more water and he rested a little further.

He decided he was going to leave and make his way to a nearby hospital, just to be sure. As he entered the building, he started suffering from what he believed was a heart attack. It was quickly confirmed that it was.

Incredibly, Andy was taken to a bed and confirmed stable within 18 minutes. Even more incredibly, Andy quickly shrugged off the attack and was in good spirits within a couple of hours.

He explained, “Mild Cardio Infarction (STEMI) is what they called it. They did an angioplasty. Then they tubed my throat – a testransesophageal echocardiogram – and put a camera in to look at the outside muscle of my heart. The cardiologist has no clue why I had a heart attack as all the lab work came back as me being quite healthy. My blood pressure is low to normal.”

When asked what he’ll do to mitigate any future attacks he replied, “I will be attempting a lower sodium/lower fat diet. I will be taking 81mg of aspirin every day for the rest of my life and Plavix for the next year. After a short break I will resume my “crazy” (as described by friends and family) training.”

When asked if the hiking, rucking and carrying of tires and bricks was responsible for the attack, Andy defiantly shakes his head and points out the very opposite, “My friends asked themselves how it could have happened to me with all the training I do? I have to look at this in a positive light that I can only hope that what happened to me will hopefully get other people off the couch and hike, run, do something active as it could possibly save their life.”

He actually believes the training may have saved him. “If I hadn’t been training with the Weeples for so long and leading the Spartan Race lifestyle, I believe the heart attack could have been much worse.”

Hard-hitting words. Ones that should inspire action and movement. Andy hopes others will read his story and get off their couches and join him in training.

Go for a jog, a swim, get your body moving, active, and healthy. One day, it just may literally save your life like it did for Andy.

See you at the finish line.  Register today.

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7 Responses

  1. avatar

    I only hope this story inspires more people to get out and be a little more active than usual. His lifestyle saved his life.

  2. avatar

    I couldn’t agree more. There is nothing more important than your life!!!!!!!!!!!

    GET WELL and a I hope you have a Speedy Recovery…

  3. avatar

    Wonderful that he shared this inspiring story with us. A born leader….

  4. avatar

    Thanks for the great story about my “crazy” husband. He was home for one day and its back to business as usual back to work and gnawing at the bits to get back on the trail this weekend! Thank you guys for being there and watching over him. I <3 weeples and Spartans!

  5. avatar

    Great story. I too had a heart attach last October. I had a complete blockage of my LAD artery. Two things lead to my survival and recovery: dieing at the feet of my doctor and working out for my first half and planned Spartan. I am now back to training and working towards the May Texas Spring.

    My best advice: get up and move.

  6. avatar

    Great story and further inspiration, Andy! Last year, a few days after my 38th birthday, I was driving home from VA to SC with my 3 children in the back seat. About half way through NC, I felt as if I was having bad indigestion. My both of my arms felt numb at the shoulders.

    I decided to pull over at a rest stop, as all I could think about was “what if this is a heart attack” We got out of the car, I let my kids run round and play and I called my wife. She was concerned, but I could not fathom that this was in fact a heart attack. About 15-20 minutes, I felt better and hit the road again. Only to have that feeling to come back. I contemplated finding a hospital, but decided not to.

    Then, I reached onto my arm and took off my Nicoderm CQ patch. Within 2 minutes, the pain was gone! The next day I made an appoint to see a doctor, which lead me to a cardiologist. Everything turned out normal until my stress test. I was admitted for an immediate heart cath. This lead the docs to want me to get a quadruple by-pass to several blockages. Since my blood was to thin, it gave 3 different cardiologist time to discuss the situation and decided stents is an option.

    In Feb. 2012, I received 4 stents! Okay, prior to all this, I was doing P90X. By working out and being active, saved my life as did Andy. I did have symptoms of stable angina through out the year, but brushed it off as being out of shape and symptoms of a good workout. ooops. I was told that the blockages were there, however, my body started to grow new arteries to compensate. Nice!

    And now, 2013. One year later, I have decided to complete the Spartan Trifecta! I declared this at the beginning of the year and plan to do the Sprint in NC, Super in VA, and Beast in SC this year! I created a team and have been trying to enlist co-workers to be a part of Spartan Prodigy!

    Thanks for Andy’s story, I am NOT alone!

    *My cause for heart disease is genetics AND smoking a pack day

  7. avatar

    I have two bad valves in my heart (Aortic and Mitral) and my cardiologist says the training is good for me. I ran in more than 20 mud/adventure runs and 5K races last year and am looking forward to about the same this year. I ran two Spartan Races (Sprint and Beast, both in Texas) and started this year with the Florida Super. I’ll be getting my first Trifecta this year at age 49!

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