Guest Blog: Just 10 Months After Heart Valve Surgery, Fran Conquers The Gulf Coast Triathlon

The pictures show Fran’s transformation…


Fran’s words amplify his inspirational journey… He wrote to me:

Hi Adam,

On Saturday, I completed a 70.3 mile triathlon. It was the day before my 10-month aortic valve replacement anniversary. Here’s a recap of the triathlon – if it can be of any encouragement. Keep up your wonderful work!

Recap: Gulf Coast Triathlon May 7, 2016
Location: Panama City, Floria
Mission: Complete Ironman Florida (1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike ride + 13.1 mile run)

I started the swim very cautiously, in the back & waited one minute after the horn went off for my wave to go. Then, I stayed to the far outside, swimming to the first buoy turn. The first 100 meters I had several thoughts scrambling through my head of: turning around after getting out!

I was uncharacteristicly experiencing a lot of intense high anxiety, fear and rapid breathing or shortness of breath.

Having started in the back and off to the outside, I told myself to just relax, think of my stroke, moving forward, saying a few prayers to calm myself. I stayed on the outside and away from most swimmers for the first 900 yards.

Although I was very happy exiting the water, I was quite chafed around my neck and under my right arm. Thinking more of how my pre-race body was feeling, I forgot some of the basics… Vaseline. Once on the bike, I happily rode out of the transition area feeling good. Making a right-hand turn that led toward the 20-mile marker.

I started my run and after only 1.2 miles I just had no more energy.  I stopped around mile four and actually sat. I took off my right shoe and massaged my toes. It was a lot longer day than anticipated, but with much hope and gratitude at the finish.

Stats from the race:

  • Heart rate average was 144
  • Heart rate maximum was 153
  • Swim time: 42 minutes
  • Bike time: 2 hours 57 minutes
  • Run time: 3 hours 10 minutes
  • Finish time: 6 hours 56 minutes

No excuses! Just GRATITUDE!!! 🤓❤️👏  And, a whole lot more respect for the basics.

God willing… I’ll complete the Ironman Florida (2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike ride + 26.2 mile run) on November 5, 2016

All the very best,
Fran Fidler

Adam Pick
Written by Adam Pick

Adam Pick is a patient, author of The Patient's Guide To Heart Valve Surgery and the founder of

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