It was Sunday 2 January. Despair at thought of another marathon turbo session. Decide to ride outside. Persuade three men to accompany me. Wear enough clothes to make an Eskimo feel naked. Embark on said ride. Enjoy the wintery wind in hair sensation and the wheels caressing the road/potholes. Soak up the Surrey scenery (decidedly better than sweat soaked wall in turbo dungeon). Two hours pass. Slight incline. Black ice. Front wheel slides – but not forwards. Reminiscent of Humpty Dumpty I am off. Rather than engage brain I engage hand/arm. Crunch. Of bones. Crunch. As two males land on top of me. Taken by friendly passing car driver to local pub. Resist using whisky to numb pain. All aboard NHS finest chariot to Royal Surrey Hospital, Guildford. Diagnosis – impressive fractures in radius, two metacarpals and a couple of fingers. In writing hand. Arm in cast for 6 weeks. Happy New Year.
But a month ago I finally had it off. The cast that is. Every single stilton smelling bit of it. And yes, it is true what they say. When your skin is under wraps for some reason your body decides it is part human part gorilla. And grows a layer of thick black hair. Delightful but nothing that a bic razor can’t sort out (although having stubble on ones wrist is rather unsightly and hence defoliation must be kept on top of).
When I told people about my injury I was met with a variety of responses. The most common being “oh what a nightmare. You must be so frustrated” (that said, many of my non sporty female friends were more concerned about my inability to wash my hair and shave my legs. Two skills that I didn’t manage to acquire the whole time I was in a cast. I have the scars on my knee caps to prove it). But was it as nighmare-ish as people assumed? Yes it hurt. But that was nothing that a bit of morphine couldn’t sort out. And yes, it was decidedly sub optimal not being able to wash my barnet. But I counted myself so lucky. There are those who are coping day in day out year on year with life threatening and debilitating illnesses and injuries. I had a broken arm. It wasn’t the end of the world. Plus, I firmly believe that you can derive positives from any misfortune, and ensure that it makes you a stronger, focused, flexible, and resilient athlete and person. Doors close – others open. Although I did find it incredibly difficult to actually open my door, considering it required me to simultaneously turn a key whilst twisting a knob.
Having broken bits taught me to appreciate the smaller things (ability to shave legs; tie hair, open jars, turn knobs, put on a swimming cap) and forced my obsessive compulsive persona to adapt and accept change. I altered my training – making friends with the turbo, the cross trainer and becoming at one with the swiss ball. I became a strength and conditioning machine with a core of steel to show for it. I had a more quality time to spend with the people that are really important to me – family and friends. And that is something that means so much. It also opened doors to new sponsor partnerships – such as with Brooks (www.brooksrunning.com), Jane’s Appeal (www.janesappeal.com) and Greepers laces (I love that a proportion of proceeds goes to charity – see www.greeper.com). Of course being injured also gave me a bit between my teeth, a desire to recover, to get stronger, a reignited passion for training and yes, an even bigger hunger for success.
And so I am back. For the past month I have been training my heart out in Spain with the wonderful Cat Morrison. We have rented a great apartment from Andres at ASV (www.aguilasserviciosvip.com) in a sun shiney little town called Aguilas, a haven for all things triathlon. I am loving being back into a routine and feel myself getting stronger each day. The arm, wrist and hand have healed nicely save for the knuckles on two fingers which are still the size of melons and show no sign of getting smaller. So I have paddle type fingers. All the better for swimming with. Cat is a great person to be around – funny, balanced and super talented, and plus she cooks muesli bars, chocolate cake, gigantuous pizzas and rice krispy delights. Always good to have one training partner that is culinary gifted. And another that loves to eat.
I am going to be here for another few weeks making sure my tan lines are as good as possible. Of course, early season race plans have been somewhat thwarted by the arm-in-cast but I have absolutely no doubt that within a few months I will be back to tip top form and ready to toe the start line. My first race will be Kansas 70.3 in June. I had such an amazing time last year, and cant wait to go back and defend my crown. And then its ironman time……. Yes, I am heading back to Challenge Roth in Germany to test myself against some of the best athletes in the world, have a crack at lowering the world record – not to mention get my annual dose of currywurst and lederhosen. Check out www.challenge-roth.de for all the info leading up to the race.
Finally, thanks so much to everyone who took the time to email me over the past few months. Your support was invaluable and gave me the boost I needed to make sure I faced every one handed challenge with a smile.