"Finding The Bright Side"
This past summer I had an unfortunate crash on my bike during one of my triathlon Junior Canadian Series races in Montreal, Quebec. I left this incident with a broken wrist, collarbone, shoulder blade, two vertebrae, and a rib that caused a lung puncture. Although it seemed like nothing could be worse, I was able to see the positives with the help of family and friends. I realized I was lucky to suffer no head trauma, no needed surgeries, and the lower part of my body had no damage. I was incredibly lucky to physically walk away from this. I am a strong believer in the saying, 'everything happens for a reason,' and I have finally found the silver lining of it all.
It continues to be a rough journey getting back to the normal swing of things, but I couldn’t be happier to be able to train again. I was immobile in both arms for months post crash, but my family was there with me giving me the assistance I needed (my dad became very good at doing my hair). Once I gained enough mobility to bike and run, I was completing trainer rides on my bike with my wrist cast still on, but able to enjoy the outdoors on the running trails. Due to my lower bone density, my bones healed slower than normal, and I was out of the pool for five months to ensure I had a safe return to training.
Within the last few months of training, I have found my silver lining, with the help of coaches and teammates of course. After having 10 weeks off, it came to no surprise that I had lost my feel for the water, and at the same time, my bike and run form was almost forgotten. While I thought it wasn't a great situation, my coaches thought the opposite. I was seen as a blank canvas where I could start fresh and recreate my swim, bike, and run technique to be more efficient (an opportunity a lot of athletes don’t get). So far there have been a lot of technical improvements and gains! The other benefit is being able to focus on my bike and run, and have those two demands become stronger... the swimming will come later. Because of this, I have already achieved an all-time personal best in the 20min FTP on the bike! I have learned that you may need to look at a situation differently in order to find out how to get the most from it and to not be afraid to ask others for support along the way.
The past eight months have been anything but easy, but I have been able to push through all the doubts and challenging moments to get where I am today. I try to stay optimistic with everything I do (knowing that something good is eventually going to happen). But there is no doubt that sometimes that satisfaction doesn't hold. I am originally from Alberta, train in British Columbia, and was away at a four-month training camp in Arizona where I was still rehabilitating. About five months into recovery I hit a mental wall. I didn't want anything to do with the sport and the last thing I wanted to do was begin a training session. I dreamed of being home with my family and friends and stop what I have worked and trained for up to this point. The hardest part was losing the motivation to train for a sport that I know I loved.
Even in this slump, which seemed to last forever, I found optimism. I believed that if I kept going and surrounded myself with people that wanted to train the mentality would eventually come back. Sure enough, with a lot of positive self-reinforcement, the will to train is currently making a comeback. This period included looking at highlights from past races and training sessions while trying to regain that feeling of accomplishment and pride after pushing myself to the limit. I looked up to athletes who have gone through struggles but were strong enough to get back on track and be successful. But most of all it was finding a bright side to every situation no matter what! (Had a horrible workout? Well that workout is out of your system and now you’ll be faster tomorrow). Many times you have to laugh it off and have the confidence to know that it was just a bad day. A few bad workouts don't make a bad athlete.
Recovery is a process and unfortunately, there are no time frames for when you will be fully healthy. I have learned there is a lot of patience involved and finding little goals along the way instead of solely focusing on the main target helps the time go by. A good reminder is that you don't want to get back to where you were, but rather better than you were. Work on the little things when you have the chance!
I am realizing more and more how crucial is it to listen to your body and if something is 'not right' to investigate immediately, and take all the recovery time required until it's safe to get back into training. I have (like most athletes) continued to train through injuries in the past thinking the pain will eventually go away, but I'm finally confident in taking a step back to play on the safer side of a situation and not risk further damage.
My right shoulder continues to be a challenge with one day pain-free and the next day having me leaving a swim early due. I am fully aware that this is going to be on an on/off basis for the next year, but I have the best support team with me in Victoria who is always by my side. I couldn't be more grateful for the doctors, physios, nutritionists, massage therapists, and coaches that have given me relentless aid.
I am now gearing up to an American Cup in Richmond, VA, as my first race of the season followed by Canadian Championships in Ottawa. I am starting to see everything steadily advancing together, and it's honestly a great feeling. I am exceedingly giddy to race, and I have confidence that I am heading in a positive direction.