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Getting Back Up Again

Feb. 27, 2015, 4:21 p.m. (ET)

I had been thinking about the Tritonman EDR essentially since I crossed the finish line of the Detroit EDR in August. Throughout all the hard and easy workouts this fall and winter, I had at least one eye looking toward this race. It was the gateway to  the professional world of triathlon; all my major goals were contingent upon this race. After August, I had to wait months at another shot at my pro card, and I was going to be ready. It was the motivation when I needed to dig deep and the inspiration for many a day dream.

Two weeks before the race, reality and the race I had dreamed up in my head for months changed. I was in a terrible bike crash, riding at race pace speed. I had landed on my back atop the rocks on the side of the road.  It happened so fast that I couldn’t tell you how I landed, but apparently my helmet saved my life. Thank you Rudy Project for making helmets that truly keep us safe. 

By the end of the evening in the ER, I was able to hobble out with no broken bones, but stitches in my elbow and knee and a severely bruised back. Kirsten Kasper, another member of our CRP group, was heading into surgery for her broken collarbone (fortunately, her surgery went very well and she is on her way to racing in the next month or so). My coach Jarrod told me I was very lucky but to get used to the idea of not racing in San Diego. If I was ready, I would race, but I had a long way to go.

The next two weeks were all about baby steps to getting healthy again. I was back on the spin bike and walking within two days, and jogging soon after that. We are lucky to have a Vasa swim trainer in the garage that mimics swimming out of the water. I was able to utilize this until I got my stitches out. Each day I made progress, and I began to get back into the race mentality. When I was miraculously able to find my special infinity necklace that I had lost in the crash, under a rock on the side of the road a week later, I took that as a sign that everything was going to be OK.

Just a few days before the race, we finally decided I would take the trip to San Diego. I had been able to do bike and run workouts. They were still painful, but I could grit through them. I had resigned myself to the fact that the race would hurt — more than usual — but that this was what I had prepared for for months. I would regret not giving it a try.

Unfortunately, I did not leave San Diego with the pro card that I had been chasing for months.  I was stuck with the memory of race I had imagined and the reality of the race that had unfolded. I had a great swim, coming out of the water with some of the best elites in the U.S. and the world. Ironically enough, I had only been in the water for less than 2 hours total since the accident. Not realizing my chain had dropped from the big to small chain ring after transition, I had missed the lead pack and got absorbed in the chase pack. Riding in the chase pack was comfortable and gave me the experience of pace lining in a race for the first time. Mentally, I was ready for a great run and still in the position to achieve what I had come to do. But my body felt otherwise. The pain I felt dismounting my bike took my breath away and just getting through T2 was tough. My back got tighter through the run and I finished two spots out of getting my elite card.

Returning home was tough after expending so much energy remaining positive and convincing myself that I was healthy enough to race. I don’t regret racing at all, since I gained more experience and learned some important racing lessons, but I know I wasn’t close to 100 percent. With only two weeks until Clermont, the Tritonman EDR is quickly fading into the past as I focus on getting healthy again and keeping all the fitness I’ve built. These obstacles are making me tougher, both mentally and physically. In less than two weeks, I’ll be ready to go. I am so thankful for the support of USA Triathlon, Jarrod Evans, Jono Hall and Bobby McGee for getting me back on track, and Team Psycho for their support of our group. A special thanks to my mom and aunt, as my cheerleaders and support for the race weekend.