I’ll be honest, this year didn’t start out great for me but I’ve always tried to keep in mind I have so much to be thankful for.
Late December, I injured myself at work, coming down a ladder, planning to jump into the sand but lost my balance and twisted my knee when turning around on the ladder. I felt something in my knee when I did this, but at first I didn’t think much of it.
After a couple days it continued to get worse and I could no longer run, walk up or down stairs, walk on uneven surfaces and walking very far at all would irritate it, even driving I could feel it. I was worried I had torn something but after X-rays, MRI and meeting with a doctor, I was told nothing was torn (thankful for this!) I had patellar subluxation. Pretty much twisted the tendon under my knee cap and partially dislocated my knee.
This meant no running for me and I had to be careful not to irritate it in any way, just let it heal. I could still ride my bike, although riding in the hills seemed to irritate it and I couldn’t get out of the saddle without feeling something in my knee so I tried to stay on flat land. I could swim, only if I used a pull buoy and did not move my right leg at all and I had to be very careful with flip turns. I had to stop going to strength and conditioning sessions at the gym because there was little I could do now in those sessions. I did a lot of strength work on my own, whatever I could do without irritating my knee.
After a couple weeks it had improved a bit. I tried running and it was very weak but ok. As soon as I went back to work, walking in the sand and walking up the stairs, it went right back to where it was and even worse. At this point I realized this might take longer to heal than I first expected.
The frustrating part for me, was in 2020 there were very few opportunities to race. I was in great shape by November expecting to race TX and FL 70.3’s which ended up being cancelled. I had really seen improvements in my training/running and was looking forward to doing Challenge Miami in March. With this injury happening in December, I thought maybe I could still be okay to race in March but as the days turned into weeks and weeks into months I began to realize I just had to let it go. Do what I could do at the moment (ride, swim and lots of physical therapy). I cried during this time pry more than I should have, I was just so frustrated and sad that this had happened and everything I had worked so hard for was going down the drain. I felt like it was going to be a long time before things were back to normal with my knee. Sometimes the harder you work for something, the more disappointing it is when something like this happens.
There were a few weeks I saw no improvements. Finally, after weeks of physical therapy there was a little improvement. At this point I was worried about it going backwards like it had in the beginning and I was careful not to do too much too soon. Finally two weeks before Challenge Miami (beginning of March) I was told I could try running. 1 min run/ 1-2 min walk for 18 minutes. I had never been so happy to run for 1 min! It ached a little that evening but felt fine again by morning. A couple days later I was able to run 1 mile/ walk 1-2 min for 25 min. I slowly made it up to 30 min runs every other day. I struggled to get passed 5-6 miles because my calves were getting so tight, I was afraid I would strain something if I pushed it any farther. I also had some quad issues. My right quad (right above the inside knee) would get very tired and be shaking by the end of the run. it had become very weak since it was inactive for a while.
I decided Texas 70.3 in April would be more realistic, even though I questioned if I would be alright to run 13 miles by then and what kind of shape I would be in. I had been putting in a lot of miles on the bike and swimming to try to keep my cardio up. Mid March I was able to start riding in the hills but still could not swim without a pull buoy.
When I started running again my legs were sore from running and I started to not be able to put much power out on the bike. 3-4 weeks before Texas everything felt like it was falling apart. I still couldn't kick well in the swim, my legs were tired from running which made my biking feel 10xs harder and I was just running every other day. Fortunately, after a week or two of this my running and biking began to feel easier.
Since it felt like it had been so long since I had raced and my knee seemed to be completely healed, just some strength issues with my right quad and leg, I would race Texas 70.3. I had zero speed work on the run and just a couple longish runs but I would test things out and see where I was at and try to just have fun.
Race week I was nervous to race because I felt a little unprepared but I knew this going into the race and had to just put in my best effort. I can honestly say, that I did...
Race morning was very windy, the water was choppy and 73 degrees, no wetsuits for us. We started off swimming into the current and I tried catching some draft but was left behind. I swam with one or two others around me. I just couldn’t get going any faster.
I exited the swim and saw my swim time. I was surprised at how slow it was and knew I had some work to do on the bike. I had to just face it, I had a terrible swim. (Pry 20-25th out of the water!)
I started off hot on the bike, feeling like I had some catching up to do, with a wind at my back I was cruising and having so much fun. I was averaging 28-30 mph on the way out and then at the turn around I got slapped in the face with a stiff wind. I knew that was coming! I thought wow, this isn’t going to be as fun going back. I was making up some time and passing girls along the way but rode alone the entire ride. After wondering if I would ever make it back to transition and hardly able to drink my water without getting blown off my bike, I made it back slower than I had expected.
I quickly put on my shoes and headed out for the run. I love loop courses and this one is so confusing and all over the place it keeps it interesting. I only looked at my watch once during this run. The first mile, it said 7 min mile which is about what I averaged for the 1/2. I decided not to look anymore and just give it my best effort. I ended up in 15th place. I was happy I had no knee pain during this race but it was so disappointing to think of what could have been if I had been able to race back in November before I was forced to take months off running. I feel like I am finally back, it’s time to rebuild, strengthen my leg, work on kicking in the swim, start doing some speed work on the run. I have decided to take the next couple months to focus on this and do more racing late June- November.
Thanks so much to my sponsors for sticking with me thru 2020 and this injury, thanks to my coach for always being so positive and giving me the guidance I need.
Thanks to YOU for reading this! I’ll be working hard the next couple months to crawl back into some fitness and be ready for my next races.
“When life knocks you down, get back up and fight harder”