Tillis back at work day after collapsing during race

Posted May 18, 2017 6:58 p.m. EDT

— U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis was back at his Capitol Hill office on Thursday, one day after he was taken to a Washington, D.C., hospital following his collapse during a 5-kilometer charity race.

"My first two calls were to my mother and my wife in the ambulance on the way in to tell them I was fine," a smiling Tillis said Thursday.

The 56-year-old went to the ground and was treated by bystanders about 2 miles into the ACLI Capital Challenge race in Anacostia Park in the southeast part of Washington. An off-duty police officer administered CPR to him while other racers called 911 for help.

Tillis said he recalls getting dizzy but disputed the reports that he had collapsed on the race course.

"I actually went to the side and sat down and then fainted," he said. "I call it an impromptu power nap."

He was taken to George Washington University Hospital, where cardiologists checked him out.

"They did a full stress test. Literally after running 2½ miles on an inclined treadmill, proving that the heart was in good condition, I came back (to the office), took a shower and got to work," he said.

Tillis said he works out regularly but only started running and training for the race early this year. He said he likely was unprepared for running in the heat on Wednesday.

"I take care of myself and am in pretty good shape for someone coming up on 57 years, and I don't want to allow this to have me rationalize that I should become a couch potato," he said.

While he said his wife will likely curtail his running, he said getting back to work was a priority for him, given the tumultuous week in Washington.

Tillis praised the selection of former FBI Director Robert Mueller as a special counsel to lead the Justice Department's investigation of President Donald Trump's ties to Russia and of suspected Russian meddling in the 2016 elections.

"They made a great pick. This is somebody that's got a great track record," Tillis said. "It just gives us processes that we can get to the facts and eliminate these distractions so that we can get back to fulfilling promises that we've made.

"We have an obligation to put legislation on the books that fulfill the promises that we're making, and I think that we can do that," he said.