Rumpus in Bumpass, aka Swim, Bike, Crash

On April 20, I was scheduled for my first triathlon of the year. (Yes, it has taken me a while to get all of these words out.) I’m not typically a fan of early season racing. I like to get in some good practice swims before I race. However, last year, I was registered for Rumpas in Bumpass as a warmup for Choo 70.3. Obviously, thanks to my labral tear, that was out, but the race company had an awesome deferral policy. That meant that this year, I had an already funded race entry for the race. Might as well show up, right? Right.

I had mixed feelings going into the race. I was so thankful that the weather was supposed to be nice. Was I prepared? Yes and no. I hadn’t done any OWS swimming, and I hadn’t ridden my bike outside yet. But I had put in the work and I was excited to start the season and see some friends at the start line.

Race morning was gorgeous. All the rain had cleared the area and things looked amazing. I was feeling good. I got everything setup in transition and hung out with friends as we waited for race start. I wedged myself into my wetsuit. It felt good. I hadn’t had a chance to try it out yet, but I figured things would be fine. I didn’t have an issue with wetsuits.

Cue foreshadowing.

I got in the water early and tried to get used to the cold. It was in the mid-60’s. Not awesome, but not too bad. Two men’s waves went off, then it was our turn. Racing! Yay!

I struggled to get comfortable. Why? Probably the cold and the fact that every year, my first OWS of the year sucks. I need to remember this. Future self, do some practice swims before racing! So I got myself into a spiral and realized I had two options. I could quit or I could figure out how to get out of my wetsuit and keep going. So I pulled up at a jet ski and took off my wetsuit in the water. It was not easy and I was gasping from the cold. But once it was off, I was going to finish this race. I am way too stubborn to quit, and I was pretty proud of myself for getting through a really bad moment.(Ominous music continues.) With the pause and the lack of the wetsuit, I was now behind the pack, but not too far off. There were plenty of swimmers around me, and by the time I finished, I was coming out with the first wave of sprint swimmers as well (they had a shorter swim course, naturally).

The trek to transition was through ankle deep mud. Do not recommend.

At transition, I ran into another girl I had met earlier, so I shared my foot rinse water bottle with her, got geared up, wished the girl luck, and headed out.

(This part is harder to write than I thought it would be.)

The race was a two loop course for the Olympic racers and single loop for the sprinters. There was a slight straightaway, then you joined the loop with a lefthand turn.

I made the turn and merged in, found a solid spot on the right, but there were racers flying past me on the left, both sprinters and olympic athletes starting their second loop. There were definitely people riding in groups, not necessarily in packs, but just situational things where riders were riding a few across and not really following the rules. That can just happen racing. Unfortunately, those rules exist for a reason.

I was barely a mile in when I heard yelling behind me. I shifted farther to the right, as I had been riding about a foot out to stay out of the gravel and junk on the side of the road. That was the wrong choice, as the guy coming up behind me was attempting to pass on the right.

(Yes, this is a complete rule violation. However, because I’m not sure what was all going on around me, I suspect there was a cluster of riders to the left as well and he made the best decision he had in a bad situation. He didn’t know I was going to also try to get out of the way by shifting right. I’m choosing to believe this was just an unfortunate situation and not a blatant attempt to flaunt the rules.)

Always wear a helmet. Always.

The other cyclist hit me. Thankfully, I wasn’t going super fast. I flew over my handlebars. I landed first on my left forearm, then the rest of my body crashed to the ground. My head bounced off the ground. That was probably the scariest moment. Heads aren’t supposed to bounce off of things.

I never lost consciousness and instead sat up pretty much right away. My left side hurt and I knew I was bleeding, but I could move my hands and my feet, and these all seemed like good things. I could see straight and my head didn’t hurt.

Some amazing spectators came running over to me, and I wish I knew who they were so that I could properly thank them. They made me focus on them and kept telling me to not look at my left side. This freaked me out. “Are there any bones sticking out?” I wasn’t in a ton of pain, but had this vision of something sticking out of my arm. I also pretty quickly asked if my bike was okay. As any cyclist would.

Mostly, I was just scared. I was sitting in the middle of the race course bleeding and it took a while for medical get to me. In reality, it was less than five minutes, but it felt like forever. I was able to stand, and cradling my left arm, I climbed into a cart and was taken to a waiting ambulance where they checked me over. I was freezing cold since I was wet and they kept piling me with blankets so I stopped shivering. They didn’t seem terribly worried, which was insanely reassuring. I needed to be seen by a doctor, but things weren’t dire.

I convinced them to put my bike into the ambulance and had someone retrieve my backpack (with my phone and ID inside) from transition and went to the hospital. No sirens, so it was a long trip. I chatted with the EMT and found out how he got into the gig. Mostly I think I was trying to distract myself.

At the hospital, things didn’t seem like too big of a deal. They helped me out of my wet kit and into a hospital gown which was awesome. Being cold was the worst part of all of it. My head was fine. I got taken for x-rays and was really hoping my shoulder and collarbone weren’t broken. I didn’t want to deal with pins. And they were fine! My elbow was less fine, and more worryingly, there was a whole bunch of gravel in my arm.

The most painful part were the muscles in my left shoulder and up into my neck. They still hurt today. But nothing was bad. They asked me if I wanted any pain meds and I said no. They insisted on Tylenol, so I took that.

I refused to look at the wound in my arm. I decided I didn’t want to know. The PA came in a number of times to irrigate my arm to work to get the gravel out. And apparently, they were able to get a lot of it out. But when I went back for more x-rays, it wasn’t enough and I needed surgery to get the gravel out and possibly a bone chip.

Great.

I was pretty chill through all of this. I wasn’t even concerned when they were pushing two kinds of IV antibiotics. This seems fine. My brain is weird. When they said surgery, I was like “Okay, let’s do this.” The whole time, I really was thinking about how lucky I was. I bounced my head off the ground and I was fine. This injury was relatively minor.

So off to surgery it was. Thankfully, it was just rocks and no bone chip. But I woke up with a brace on my arm, an appointment with an ortho for the following week, and prescriptions for even more heavy antibiotics. The worst part was that when I woke up, I was so hungry. I was given a soda and crackers, but I had a brace on one arm and an IV in the other so I couldn’t get food to my mouth. It was an incredibly cruel moment. Generally though, I felt good and was ready to break out.

The final verdict is a broken elbow, serious road rash on my left shoulder and quad, some very colorful bruising and a gross wound on my left elbow that is going to leave a sweet scar.

Two weeks out and healing is going as expected. I start up PT on my arm this week and will be getting a new brace. My doctor told me that recovery is probably around 8 weeks, so I’ll be back out there soon enough. But of course, this means that my comeback season isn’t happening this year. I won’t be trained up for 70.3 Ohio, so Sherpa Shark will be back as a spectator (and thank goodness I bought the insurance). I was registered for four more local races with Kinetic Multisports (the group that runs Rumpus) and because of my crash, they deferred my next two races til next year, have offered to defer my September races (though I hope to be back by then) and offered me a free entry into next year’s Rumpus. I think I won’t be taking them up on the last offer – crash aside, I need OWS practice before I race, so no more early season races for me.

In general, I feel really really lucky. This could have been a lot worse. Yes, I have moments of being annoyed by the situation, disappointed that I’m going to have to rebuild my fitness AGAIN (all I’ve been able to do since the race is walk and some lower body strength work), but I’m okay. Of all my limbs to injure, my left arm is probably best, since I’m right handed. I can still type (and am encouraged to to help keep my shoulder loose). It’s awkward and I still hurt, but my recovery is going to be easy compared to what it could be.

I have to say that one thing this made me realize is how amazing my friends are. Liz dropped everything to drive down to the hospital, sat there all day, talked to my surgeon, and stayed the night with me. Kim and Jon drove a stupid distance from their house on a Sunday to go retrieve my car from Fredericksburg. And so many others sent offers of help, meals, or well wishes. It definitely made me feel loved.

Going for a Walk Streak

“Disclaimer: I received an annual Strava Summit subscription and Strava merchandise to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!”

I’m quite behind on blog posts. As those of you who follow me on Instagram or Twitter know, I crashed my bike in my last race. I’m still working on the race report from that day. It’s a more emotional process than I thought it would be.

In sum: I’m fine, my bike is fine, my race season is not fine. The next couple of months are going to be all about rehab and recovery, but I’ve been here before and I know I can do it.

However, one of the big issues in coming back from injury is motivation. I can’t really bike, I’m not allowed to swim, and running is right out. I can walk, however, so the BibRave Strava Run/Walk Streak is perfectly timed.

(Note, I’m currently putting Strava through its paces and will be doing a review later in the summer.)

“But Megan! You’re anti-streaking!” And this is true. In general, I don’t like run streaks. I think they encourage people to push through injury or illness just to keep up the streak. That said, I think a limited-time streak (a month, for example) can be a good thing. And I think a walk streak is a great idea. Obviously, if you have a lower body injury, a walk streak is maybe not a great idea. But right now, as I’m dealing with a broken elbow, I think a walk streak is exactly what I need.

Right now, I have zero training mojo. None. Mostly because I’m not allowed to do anything. But getting out and moving every day (or walking on the treadmill) is something I can do. It doesn’t have to be fast, and it doesn’t have to be far. But I’m giving it a shot.

Anyone want to go on a walk streak with me through the month of May? To officially join:

  1. Sign up for Strava.
  2. Join the BibRave Run Club
  3. Walk! (Or run, if that’s your jam.)

March Mileage Report

Spring! Spring is here! Allegedly.

March was a pretty darn good month. I got in some miles and went to Disney World. What more could I want?

In my “cooking more” goal, I have failed miserably. Sort of. I’ve started using the Hungry Root service, which is a meal kit delivery, only it’s for very busy/lazy people who want to eat well and don’t want to cook. So far, I’ve been pretty pleased with it and I may do a review later.

I’ve not been great about reading either, mainly because I’ve just been crashing in the evening. I’ve been listening to a lot of audiobooks though, as I go through my day, so it’s kind of a win.

March Totals
Swim – 14.7 miles
Bike – 108 miles
Run – 58 miles

My bike miles were way down this month, but that makes sense, as I took my bike in for a tuneup (I really need to be better about keeping my chain and cassette clean) and I was out of town, so there was plenty of time spent not biking. And of course, with that came increased run and swim miles. My coach is getting me ready for the Fort Ritchie Swimfest 4500 in May, so my swim workouts are getting long. I did the 4500 at Swimfest two years ago without swimming this much, so I can only assume it will be less painful this year. And maybe faster.

Next up, April, when race season officially begins. Yikes!!

2019 Totals
Swim – 30.3 miles
Bike – 381 miles
Run – 106 miles

Comparison is the Thief of Joy

The title of this post is one of my favorite quotes from Theodore Roosevelt, and it’s something I try to remind myself of on a regular basis.

In this world of social media and everyone trying to put their best foot forward, it’s hard to feel like we’re not constantly being compared to everyone else.

I often talk about how I’m a proud back-of-the-pack racer. I joke that I like to get my money’s worth out of a course. And generally, I don’t mind being on the slower side. I’ve met some great people while out on race courses as we hang out in the back of the pack.

But sometimes, as people are busting out amazing race times, I wonder if maybe I’m not good enough, even when I’m out there doing my best and breaking my own records. It’s a feeling I’m sure a lot of people have, as they watch others chasing BQs and Kona qualifiers.

One thing I’ve decided to do is be more vocal about my personal accomplishments, show that we can all be proud of ourselves, regardless of paces.

Last week, though it made me a bit nervous, I posed a screenshot of my morning swim. I swam 3500 yards on a Monday morning. While I often share my distances, I don’t often share how long those distances take me. But this time, I decided to go for it.

I was very tired by the time this day was over.

And you know what? It felt kind of good to put it out there. Yeah, I’ve got friends posting 100 times under a minute and I’m struggling to break two minutes (though I managed it this weekend!) but that doesn’t matter. We’re all at different paces and that’s okay. I showed up at the pool on a Monday morning and swam for 90+ minutes and I’m proud of that.

I have similar feelings about FTP tests. I’ve seen lots of cool screenshots from people taking FTP tests and I’ve never shared that because I always felt like my FTP was so low compared to everyone else’s. But my FTP is continuing to climb, and that’s the key. I’m getting stronger. I can’t compare myself to anyone else.

That said, I’m not going to hide my numbers or be ashamed of them. My FTP is currently 157 watts. That’s the highest it’s ever been, and I’m really proud of the progress I’ve made over the past year, coming back from injury and being able to start the season stronger than ever.

I guess the lesson here is to not worry about how you compare to others, but just be proud of yourself and your accomplishments. And don’t be ashamed to share them. I know I’m always excited for friends when they achieve a new goal, regardless of how my own goals compare.

What could you do if you lost weight?

On social media last week, an acquaintance posed the following question:

Fill in the blanks:

If I lost ___ lbs, then I could ____!

I couldn’t decide if my reaction was outrage or sadness or a combination of the both. So I responded:

If I lost zero pounds then I could still do everything I can do right now because my weight does not control me.

My friend and teammate Steena also had an awesome response.

Weight is a very sensitive issue. There are plenty of people out there who want to lose weight for a variety of reasons. There are also plenty of people out there who have realized that life and health are about much more than weight. It’s a complicated, emotional thing, and I’m sure like many, I will always be a little conflicted about the whole thing.

But one thing I am sure of is that you shouldn’t let your weight hold you back. If there’s something you want to do, go do it, regardless of your weight! Want to take an awesome vacation or wear a bikini on the beach or join a running club or ask that cute girl or boy out on a date? Go for it! Don’t wait until some nebulous future where you think you will be better because the scale says you are slightly lighter than you were before.

I get it. I definitely have fat days, days where I don’t particularly like the way my body looks. I participate in a sport where I wear spandex. In public. And I let people take my picture.

escape the cape run
It’s easy to look good in a photo when you can see the photographers up ahead.

However, while I’m racing, I never feel like the chubby girl. I feel powerful. My abs aren’t something to be sucked in but something that helps keep driving my body forward as I race. My thick thighs are a family trait, passed down through generations of strong women (who probably aren’t pleased that I’m running around so scantily clad).

I’m a proud Athena triathlete. I’m not ashamed of my weight when I race, and if there is an Athena class (to qualify, a woman just needs to weigh over 165 pounds, regardless of height), you’d better believe I’m registering in the class, and I’m going to gun it to try to get on the podium too. Have I had people call it the fat girl category (including other Athenas)? Sure. Do I care? Honestly, sometimes I do. I try not to, but that’s easier said than done.

Do I sometimes look at other triathletes and think “I wish I had her abs or her shoulders?” Sure. But maybe she looks at me and wishes she had my hair. Maybe she struggles with self-confidence and body image too.

Let’s not let our bodies hold us back. Let’s celebrate what they can do in the here and now. Because every body is awesome.