I had a pulmonary embolism in the fall of 2016. I was just 24 years old and was an avid runner/marathoner. I had completed about 10 marathons, including the iconic Boston Marathon.
At the time, I didn’t really know what a blood clot was, and I completely missed the signs of a blood clot developing in my leg. In my mind, any sign of leg cramping just meant I was pushing a little too hard from all of the running.
But, a couple of weeks after some cramping in my legs began, I started to develop chest pain. I waited a couple of days before going to the hospital. On the day I finally went to get looked at, I had run 16 miles that morning. I was young, fit, and healthy. Doctors were skeptical when they first started running tests.
They eventually discovered I had a blood clot, and I stayed in the hospital for a couple of days. Tests showed that I have the factor V Leiden clotting disorder and I would need to be on blood thinners indefinitely.
The road back to full health wasn’t easy. Doctors didn’t know if I would be able to run the same way again. I started having regular panic attacks and still battle with anxiety today. I got back into running and did my first marathon about a year after the blood clot with Team Stop the Clot® at the New York City Marathon. I ran it in two hours and 47 minutes (2:47) and I have since run a 1:13 half marathon and a 2:42 full marathon.
Over the last couple of years, I have gotten into triathlons. I qualified for the 70.3 World Championships in my first attempt at the distance and competed at the World Champs in 2021 and 2022. I finished my first Ironman in November 2022 in less than 10 hours. I’m very close to earning a professional license in the sport, which is my goal in 2023.
Having a blood clot makes me more aware of my surroundings. I have to think about things other people don’t. When I’m riding a bike or driving a car, there’s an added risk if I were to get into an accident. The various blood clot forums have been helpful since there aren’t a lot of studies on high-level athletes and blood clots.
The journey back hasn’t been easy, but things seem to get a little easier each day. My wife, my family, and the larger blood clot community have provided immense support. I wouldn’t be where I am today without them.