Dad who survived heart attack competing in Ironman Triathlon



Posted on November 3, 2010 at 5:57 PM

MILL CREEK, Wash. - David Watkins knows how he wants to be remembered.

With each step, he's paving his own legacy, preparing for one of the biggest challenges of his life. It's a major feat for a man who almost died on the operating table.

Watkins was born with a congenital heart defect but didn't know it until five years ago after passing out.

"I lost my heartbeat for five minutes," he said.

He underwent emergency open heart surgery.

"And I had a stroke a month later," he said.

And still David pushed through - focusing on that legacy.

"I had this crazy aha moment of Ironman," he said.

A year later, he competed in the Iron Man Coeur d' Alene. The race consists of a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike ride and a 26-mile run.

He finished 40 minutes after the 17-hour cutoff so on Saturday Watkins will try one more time - in Panama City, Florida.

And he won't be alone out there. His trainer and 50 other people with his ailment will also be racing.

"The number one lesson I've learned from him is no matter how much you're down how much you don't think you can do something you can," said trainer Chris Eastwood.

His two little girls will be waiting at the finish line.

"I can't go a run without the visualization of coming across the finish line and getting my victory pose all ready and I gotta tell you every time I do I well up," he said.