BY DEAN SIEMON
Jodie Bolt has a drive to move. A retired Army lieutenant colonel, she now works as a child neurologist for Madigan Army Medical Center on Joint Base Lewis-McChord.
She’s also a member of the U.S. Military Endurance Sports Team. She qualified for the International Triathlon Union’s World Championships for Duathlon Aug. 19 to 21 in Penticton, Canada, and earned her berth by taking first place in the women’s 50 to 54 age group at the USA Triathlon’s Duathlon National Championship in June 2016.
The competition wasn’t the only reason why Bolt said she went; participating in events like this is her respite.
“I don’t do ‘still’ very well,” Bolt said. “I’d rather be outside when I can.”
Her endurance was truly tested late last year after she crashed on her bike near her home in Lakewood, suffering two fractures on the left side of her pelvis. Bolt hit a speed bump that hurled her into the pavement. It didn’t take long to realize the severity of her injuries.
“I get a certain nausea when I recognize broken bones,” Bolt said.
Still, she attempted to finish her bicycle ride before collapsing on the family driveway. Her husband transported her to Madigan where the fractures were confirmed.
The good news was that she didn’t need surgery, but in true Bolt fashion, she wanted to remain active during her recovery. One day after the crash, she was walking on a path near American Lake on JBLM with her oldest daughter, Jackie.
Bolt spent the next several weeks on crutches, mostly putting her weight on her right side. Her first mile after the crash was about 48 minutes — far from her competitive 7-minute pace.
“I became a figure on the McChord track,” Bolt said.
She worked herself to be active with the short-term goal of attending a bicycle camp in Tuscon, Ariz. By this time, she was comfortable on the bike and had a strong performance doing hill climbs in places like Kitt Peak and Mount Lemmon, despite having some pains.
“Through my life, I tend to ignore pain,” Bolt said. “I’ve finished races with bones broken through the foot thinking it was my foot cramping.”
Not long after the hill climb camp, Bolt learned that she had fractured the sacrum on the right side. She said it was likely due to low bone density and having done a lot of work on that side of the body since the December crash.
While she followed doctor’s orders not to run, Bolt spent months on the stationary bicycle staying active. She again progressed well enough to do time trials that have a lower crash risk. She found herself cycling stronger this spring and through the summer.
On Aug. 12 during a time trial race in Oregon, Bolt finished third in the women’s 50-59 category with a time of 1:38:38. Not having officially pulled out of the world duathlon event, she decided to go for it.
With the support of her family, friends, co-workers and patients, she decided she would give it an effort.
“Even if I had to walk, I was going to finish,” Bolt said.
Being competitive wasn’t a problem as she started the event with a fourth place finish in the women’s 50-54 category in the sprint duathlon Aug. 19 with a time of 1:13:46.
Two days later, Bolt took the silver medal in the same age group in the standard duathlon with a time of 2:16:10. She credits the support system in Washington state and her faith.
“It’s the hug from your husband and your son, or the patient and son who tell you they’ve been praying for you,” Bolt said. “As a person of faith, I don’t have a coach; I listen to my heavenly coach.”
As for the rest of 2017 and into 2018, Bolt said she’s not sure. Her husband is retiring from the Army after 30 years, and her youngest son will be a junior at Bellarmine Preparatory School in Tacoma. The rest of the children are moving on in life.
Although Bolt doesn’t have a training plan, she said she will keep herself active.
“My life is always crazy like that,” Bolt said. “I really am a haphazard athlete.”