A Broken Collarbone (or, Helmets are Awesome)
I broke my collarbone yesterday. A big, huge, serious bummer. But it could have been SO much worse - like a fractured pelvis, or something requiring surgery. And now that I’m back from the orthopedic surgeon (who confirmed all this), I’m trying to collect my thoughts and keep all my friends posted about the state of things.
How I Did It
I was racing yesterday in the Threshold Racing Reservoir Triathlon. The morning started out great - perfect weather, easy set up, and some guys I knew from the Every Man Jack team let me rack my bike with them in transition (which made me feel cool). The race itself started well, I think. Some friends I had watching me said I came out of the swim towards the front of my age group, which would have made my day. The bike was going well - fast - until a left turn somewhere around mile 15. I pedal through the turn, catch a pedal on the ground, and go BOOM, flipping over the handlebars and landing on my head and shoulder.
My Strava performance chart gives a pretty good sense of what happened:
Luckily, I decided to go over the handlebars at exactly the right time (I suppose). There were a handful of folks there - volunteers flagging the course, and cops directing traffic. Not that anyone wants an audience when they wreck themselves (without checking themselves), but it sure is handy to have trained men and women standing over you to check if you’re OK before you can even open your eyes.
A bit dazed, I got up and dusted myself off. We waved off the ambulance after I could prove that I was coherent, knew my name and the date, and all that. For about 10 seconds, I thought it’d be pretty bad-ass if I got back on the bike and finished the race, road rash and all. The thought of changing my flat tire erased that idea from my head. I was bloody but mostly fine. I heard then that there were a couple other bad crashes, and was thankful that I wasn’t being carried off on a stretcher like another one of my friends was.
I got a ride back to the transition area by a very friendly cop, who even dropped my bike off at my car (no major damage there that I can tell, I think I took the brunt of the impact). Immediately I saw my friends waiting to cheer for us as we came in from the bike. These three ladies - perhaps in as much shock as I was - went straight into ‘i will take care of you’ mode. Within seconds they helped me to the EMT tent, got me water, and gathered all my stuff up from the transition area. And then they drove me to the hospital. Thank you, ladies!
Getting Treated (Physically, Emotionally)
The closest facility to the race course was an urgent care center in Morgan Hill. They got me cleaned up with instructions to see an orthopedic surgeon the next day. My friends and I then went straight to In N Out where I had to sit strategically so as not to gross out the other patrons eating burgers while looking at my fully-exposed-raw-meat-looking shoulder. Yum. I got through the rest of the night with a few whiskies and some good much-needed friend time to keep my mind off the pain and the fear that my season would be wrecked.
Over the following 24 hours, I was quickly overwhelmed with the support of so many people. The race director called to check in on me and make sure everything was OK (awesome touch!) My purplepatch coach Matt Dixon helped me get an appointment with a great orthopedic surgeon at UCSF. Training buddies sent me emails to make sure I was OK. Side note: it really makes you feel like a rockstar when the woman who’s won two Ironman races this year emails you to check in on you… thanks Mer! Friends from all throughout my life have sent encouraging notes, and it’s really meant a lot to me. I’ve really needed the support, and am so thankful for having so much of it.
I am so happy to have great friends there to take me to the hospital, take me home, handle all my gear when I can’t, have fun with me to help keep my mind off it, and commit to a race with me for 2013 to keep my spirits up. Thanks you guys!
What Happens Next
Well, it takes 4 months for this thing to heal. The first four weeks, I’ll be in a sling. I won’t be able to do my first Ironman this August - major bummer. I’ll be dropping out of several races I’ve planned to do, and hope that a few race directors out there will be sympathetic enough to credit my entry for a future race.
It really sucks to have put so much effort into something like training for long-distance events, only to have it all crash to an end. But I’ll have to take this as an opportunity to relax, heal, and prepare for a new season next year. One of the things that I’ve always loved about endurance sports is that while there are clear winners, there aren’t any losers. You only lose if you quit.
See you all out there next year.