Road to London, My Story – Dean Bolt

I have to say that on December 18, 2012 I was feeling pretty good. My kids were coming home for the holidays and it had been a great year. I had qualified for the US Triathlon Team at the National Age Group Championships in August. Although I had suffered a recent tear in my hamstring, I had the off season to heal. All in all, I felt like many triathletes, pretty bullet proof due to my fitness. However, pulmonary embolism was about to become part of my vocabulary and it should be for all triathletes.


I suffered my pulmonary embolism at 1:30 AM on December 19, 2012 and although I was jolted awake by severe pain in my chest, my high fitness level moderated the symptoms convincing me it was not serious. By the time I entered the hospital on Christmas eve, my condition was serious enough that I was there until New Year’s Eve. When I was able to get out of bed at the hospital, I had a hard time walking the loop around the ward without having to catch my breath.

Once I arrived home I started walking for short distances working my way up to a mile at a slow walk. The winter months, which are usually reserved for long endurance efforts at each discipline, were reduced to slow walks and swimming. Swimming meant going for 25 yards, stopping at the wall to catch my breath before swimming back. Outdoor biking and running were out as long as I was on a blood thinner. My focus went from preparation for World Championships in London to being able to jog again without extreme effort.

However, our bodies are marvelous machines and as winter turned to spring I began to see improvement. I could swim and run far enough to begin to think that I might be able to get in shape enough to begin racing again. My focus would be on local sprint distance Triathlons to prepare for London.

Over the summer my fitness improved to the point where I finished a sprint distance race and began to think about improvement in speed. A summer 5K was close to the speeds I had been doing the previous year and I finally turned to the final focused training for London. I am going with full confidence ready to face the best. I now know that understanding the risk factors for embolisms is critical for all Triathletes.

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