Challenge Penticton: A Broken Ankle Test Race

My first “race” after a broken ankle at Challenge Penticton.

I raced Challenge Penticton long course nationals on Sunday.  The date was exactly 20 weeks of recovery from my broken ankle.  Writing all of these words in a post are a reason to celebrate:  racing – Challenge- anniversary- recovery.  I am lucky/happy/stoked/motivated to be where I am at right now as I was first out of the water, first off the bike, and pain-free for the running I completed.

cycling Challenge Penticton triathlon
Flying over the roads in Penticton, BC at Challenge Penticton. Thank you to Powerbar for fueling the trip; Trek, Bontrager, Shimano for offering a ride; Rudy Project for keeping my head and eyes safe and comfortable; Champion System for the comfy clothes; and Cobb Saddles for the comfy seat.

Local Penticton star Jen Annett won the race, with an incredibly close second place finish going to Liz Lyles, and Karen Thibodeau took third place.  Chapeau ladies on some really tough and impressive racing.  The ITU long course distance of 3km/120km/30km is no joke.  I stepped off the course 6km into the run.

I was not ready to race this event.  My first 30 minute continuous run was on July 26th.  If you are reading my blog for the first time you might want to see THIS POST or just check out this photo from Easter this year because it explains everything.

Eventually, every pro athlete faces some significant adversity. For me, that time is now. I have fractured my ankle crashing my bike. Fortunately I have an amazing surgeon, Dr. Brent Weatherhead, who is at Rebalance MD. I also benefit from having Dr Jamie Grimes and Katie Button, a great rehab team behind me at Synergy Wellness. Thanks to my incredibly supportive sponsors, family and medical team I will make a full recovery and return to racing this season. I will write about recovering on my website and I hope I can offer some support to anyone else who is frustratingly sidelined this season. So far my advice would be to stay positive, do everything you can in that moment and visualize where you want to go. Visit www.racergirl.com for updates 😀🏃💨#injury #adversity #rehabilitation #trimalleolarfracture #brokenankle #triathlontraining #triathlon #running #cycling

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The surgeon said it would take 6 months to get back to racing.  I am now at 5 months.  So I asked a friend to meet me at 6km into the run so that I could race a conservative distance then save up for my next opportunity.

I don’t want to simply finish races.  I want to race a top performance and for that I need a bit more time.

Here is why the effort on Sunday was positive:

I was first out of the water! ✔

leading pro women at challenge penticton
Running out of the water first at Challenge Penticton.

This reflects additional time in the water while I was banished from weight bearing spending time actually FIXING my stroke.  Who says you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.  I am legitimately faster, particularly open water (which matters WAY more), and that was step one of the process Kelly Guest and I laid out to use the injury time constructively.

I was very apprehensive of the run off the beach into the water at the start.  I worried about it a lot the night before as I felt really unprepared. On race morning, when the gun went off my body just automatically performed as it knew how.  I haven’t run in the water once since the accident but when I needed to, I could.  Another checkmark.

I came off the bike first! ✔

I don’t consider myself ‘race fit’ by any stretch but I had a solid bike split regardless.   I am within reach of professional level fitness despite not being 100% healed quite yet.  I am pretty out of practice, having not raced since last November, but this race is a step closer.

I was at the pointy end of the race when I stopped. ✔

I am still competitive even if I don’t feel I am quite at my best yet and that is good to know. Knowing how close I am is motivating.  Despite extremely limited training I was running okay. I can’t wait to start to push my limits again.

I am ready to get back to training today.  ✔

Everything I did on Sunday made me fitter.  Nothing I did was a setback to my recovery.  I had no pain when I stopped and I am not sore today.

I take all of the above as reasons to be stoked.  There is still a lot of work to do to get to where I want to be but I feel like I am on the right track. My effort on Sunday ticked all of the boxes as a recovery checkup.

I had some other fun things to do.  I co-announced the cross triathlon event with Steve King (won by Katie Button – yay!).  I did a “Breakfast with Bob” with Bob Babbit which I thought was fun and covered lots of interesting history.  Bob is such a legend in the sport.

I also sat with Sister Madonna for dinner.  Lots of checkmarks.

✔✔✔

Time to get back to work.

Thank you Mike Brown for the invite to race your amazing races, Challenge Penticton and Great White North.  Both are on my race calendar next year.  Thank you Scott Bevington of Challenge St Andrews for giving me a lift at 6km on the run course (and promising to tackle me if I wasn’t looking like I would stick to the plan).  Thank you to my homestay Josef and Heidi Dietrich, you guys are absolutely incredible hosts and so interesting and fun to hang around with!  Thanks Velofix for the last minute race tuneup.  Thanks to coach Kelly Guest for keeping me on track. Riding the rollercoaster of injury requires a pep rally squad almost hourly… between Kelly and Mike I’ve so far been able to keep it between the ditches.

Finally thank you to the women’s field at Challenge Penticton, Tara Lee, and Katie Button.  It is great to be at a race with you guys and those of you who offered me support and encouragement (you know who you are) I can’t thank you enough.  There’s still a lot of racing to come for me and I am looking forward to having you guys there to help test my limits.  Much love xo.

To my sponsors, I think this is a slam dunk as far as a test.  We are on track with the schedule I had anticipated.  I might be racing a little late this year but as they say, better late than never!

Thanks for reading!

 

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