Just as I was starting the 2016 triathlon season, my life took an abrupt turn. In an instant, my dream of racing my first 70.3 triathlon was significantly postponed. In an instant, my journey would change. In an instant my life would travel down a road I NEVER expected to travel. In an instant, I was faced with devastation, frustration, sadness and doubt.
I traveled to Kauai for a vacation that we had planned and saved for for 2 years. We had left the kids at home and joined close to 30 of our friends on a trip to the “Garden Island”. On just day 2 of the vacation, we set out on the adventure that I had chosen. We kayaked up Wailua river, put the kayaks on a bank and began hiking to the Secret waterfall. The hike was about a mile and a half to the falls. We got about a mile in when we stopped at a swing made from vines to take a group picture. Our group was made up of myself, Gabe, 4 of our friends, and an awesome guide. I climbed up on the top of the vine swing and when I threw my second leg over, I lost my balance. I went to jump outwards to prevent falling on my face. Unfortunately, as I landed, my left foot landed on an exposed tree root and folded. Instantly, my race at Vineman flashed before my eyes as I fell to the ground and experienced the worst pain in my leg.
After a few minutes, I calmed down and tried to compose myself. The pain subsided and I began to think I MIGHT be okay to continue on. I convinced the group to help me up and I would try to put pressure on my left leg. I slowly placed it on the ground, shifted my weight, and…..everything went black and the pain came back but more intense. There was no way I was walking anywhere.
Gabe piggybacked me out of the forest. It was not fun. It was not ideal. But it was what needed to be done to get me out of there and to the hospital. There was no cell reception and no way we could get a helicopter to retrieve me. We stopped a few times to let both of us rest, his back and legs and my focus to deal with the pain until we got out of there.
I don’t know how long it took us to hike out of there. But that was just the first half. We still had to kayak out. I sat in the front of the boat, leg elevated, freezing, and fighting through the pain.
We finally reached the dock, the guide pulled up the van and drove us to the hospital. I spent the next few hours being evaluated at Wilcox Memorial Hospital. It was then that the news was given: broken tibia.
I still had a glimmer of hope that I could still race in July. I still held on to the hope that my dreams for 2016 could live on….until…..
The orthopedic surgeon came and broke the news that I needed surgery. I had broken the tibia all the way through and it would require pins and possibly a plate to correct. Not only that, but he was concerned with the break as it went into the ankle joint. He kindly told me that my dreams of racing in July were not resonable. I would be in a boot style cast for about 3 months and even then the flexibility, muscle, and bone density would need time to be built back up.
Surgery was performed the next day. 6 pins were placed to stabilize the tibia. The recovery process began. 3 months. 3 long months. No training. No swimming. No biking. No running. My life turned upside down.
Waves of emotions flooded me the next couple of days. I was mad at myself for being wreckless and climbing the vine. I was devastated that I couldn’t race my big race. I was sad that I ruined our vacation. Finding positives in this situation was HARD, but I knew I needed to find them to prevent dipping into depression.
So what now?? Where do I go from here? All I can do right now is take it day by day. Some moments I am okay and feeling positive. Other times, tears are streaming down my face and frustration takes over.
My blog has changed from my journey to Vineman 2016, to my journey back to the triathlon scene. I will document the roller coaster of emotion. I will be open and honest about this injury. I know recovery isn’t going to be easy, but I get back to swimming, biking, and running.