Lakeway resident Ike Herrick was 50 years old when he suffered a heart attack while working overseas in Indonesia as an oil and gas exploration consultant. He was overweight, had a cholesterol reading of 270 and a scary family history of heart disease.
Thus began his long journey to better health – 24,901.55 miles to be precise, which is the distance around the world at the Equator.
Now 77, Herrick completed his journey Feb. 6 in the Ascension Seton Heart Institute’s Cardiac Rehab Center. Clad in an SHI T-shirt with his wife Pinki, daughter Beth Toot, granddaughter Emily Toot, his SHI cardiologist, Dr. George Rodgers and others to cheer him on, he crossed his “finish line” on a treadmill as KXAN and Fox 7 cameras recorded the moment.
Initially, Herrick set a goal of walking three miles a day, 15 miles a week, 700 miles a year. As he gained strength and stamina, he increased the distance and speed and achieved up to 1,000 miles a year. After hitting 18,000 miles in total, he decided to set a new goal of traveling the length of the Equator and calculated it would take him to his 27th year since his heart attack.
Two treadmills and 20-plus pairs of athletic shoes later, Herrick has done it. And while he isn’t necessarily encouraging others to walk the Equator, he would love for his story to inspire others to get in better shape and improve their health.
“For too many years, I did not eat or exercise the way I should have and it eventually caught up with me,” Herrick said. “I was determined to keep my heart strong and walking was my way of doing it. I hope that people hear about my experience and set their own goals to stay heart healthy.”
Dr. Rodgers, who is with the Ascension Seton Heart Institute, has been Herrick’s physician for the past 25 years. He initially treated Herrick after his heart attack and told him a healthy diet and exercise regimen would significantly reduce his chances of suffering another one.
“Unmanaged heart disease is the No. 1 killer among Americans,” Rodgers said. “Not everyone has to set a high goal such as Ike’s, but numerous studies have found that 20 minutes of walking every day can significantly reduce your chances of developing heart disease.”
So after walking around the world, what’s next?
Herrick and Rodgers are now developing a new exercise regimen for Herrick that does not include a treadmill in the near future.