Heart Attack Hero

author : Team BT
comments : 1

Triathlete-in-the-making collapses, emerges from open heart surgery, and completes tri at long last

by Emily Holcroft

I collapsed on my living room floor on August 15, 2013 at the age of 41. I woke up in the ICU several days later not realizing that I had just undergone emergency open heart surgery for a quadruple bypass. When I asked my surgeon, “Does this mean I can’t do my triathlon?!” he smiled and replied, “Not this year, honey.”

I endured numerous complications following the surgery but was finally able to begin cardiac rehab a month later. As I could barely take one step when beginning therapy.

I left able to run three miles.

A lot of tears were shed as my Cardiac team congratulated me on my three month “graduation.”

My first triathlon was supposed to be in late September. Having been out of the hospital for only one week, we traveled to Bethany Beach to experience the festivities of my “almost” first triathlon. I could barely walk but was determined, at the very least, to pick up my t-shirt, number, and something called “swag.”

Unfortunately, the race I had planned to repeat the following September I again had to postpone due to heart complications. But the love and support from my husband, family, and friends kept me going. Little by little I was regaining my strength and began training again. It was then when I joined a triathlon club. My teammates and coach have been such an encouragement to me.  I feel stronger now than ever before. I am running, swimming, and riding farther than I ever imagined possible.

I registered for my first triathlon in June of 2015. My husband was there with a huge smile as I crossed the finish line with tears running down my face. It was the most amazing feeling. I raced in three more triathlons that season finishing in the top three in my age group in the last two. My final race was the one I had attempted two years in a row. That day will forever be etched in my mind.

I am currently registered for my first International race this spring. My goal is to complete a half Ironman in 2018 with aspirations for one day crossing the biggest finish line in the history of our sport, a full Ironman. When I do cross that line it will be in the most beautiful, tropical, place I can find!  

Having never been a runner, swimmer, or cyclist before the age of 40, I feel so very blessed to be able to call myself a “triathlete.” It’s all about how hard you TRI!! Happy training everyone!!

Emily Holcroft is a resident of Middleton, Delaware. Her story on The American Heart Association site is here.


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date: March 31, 2016

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