On August 6th, 2009 I was training outside Missoula, Montana and was in the middle of hill repeats on my bike. Heading back down, I saw a SUV coming up the hill crossing over right at me. Biking around 30 MPH I had no time to react and just embraced the impact head on.
I landed off the side of the road in the ditch screaming. The closest fire department was gone on training, so the 1st responder took almost 30 minutes to get to me. Thankfully, people living nearby brought me a pillow and blankets as I lay there looking at my Tibia sticking out of my leg. I had a compound fracture of my left tibia and fibula, a metal fragment from the car went all the way through my left thigh, left forearm cut wide open, along with multiple cuts, road rash and lacerations.
My sister was living in Spokane at the time, and started driving straight to me while I was in surgery - and my parents took off from Yakima.
Just 9 months prior I had competed at the Ironman 70.3 World Championships and completed the race in 4 hours 9 minutes... and now I was uncertain about even being able to run again.
Over the next 2 years, I had 4 more surgeries: The 2nd surgery was to remove the titanium rod out of my tibia (which was originally placed to save my leg), and replace that rod, straightening my leg to as close to perfect as possible. Next up was a bone graph from my back to the Tibia fracture. Then we remove the screws from my knee. My fibula was shattered but the doctors were hoping that it would heal on its own, it did not. The final surgery included plating the fibula together with seven screws and a bone graph from my knee.
I also am so thankful for my parents, my brother and my sister. My parents took me back in at home during the trying time with no questions asked.
In December, 2010, I moved to San Diego to try and see if I could build back to where I had been. And honestly, I was ready for some great weather! In January of 2011, I was finally able to start running again... 1 1/2 years after being hit.
Training again, I realized the road to recovery was just starting. Almost immediately, I found a great group of people to train with and met my coach, Lesley Paterson 2x Xterra World Champion, starting doing rehab work at Rehab United with Bryan Hill and ART with Tyler Forbes. I also met the girl of my dreams, but she ignored me for a year before we went out.
Due to the pins and screws in my ankle and leg, things don't move like they used to. Competing in cross-country and track in high-school and college, I saw myself as a runner and this adjustment was beyond difficult - physically and mentally. My body compensated for the immobility, and other injuries popped up.
In 2012 I was planning on racing five half ironmans and a full ironman. Because of injuries I was only able to race one half ironman, Lake Stevens 70.3 in July 2012 and qualified for Vegas 70.3 World Championships - but 2 weeks later, my injuries flared up, and the entire left side of my body gave out. I was barely able to walk.
This was the weakest mentally I had probably ever been in the life. I was very unsure of many things, where to go from here. Would I ever be able to just run pain free ever again?
Leading into the 2013 season, I was very frustrated and discouraged, mentally completely out of it and wondered if I would ever get past this injury. Lesley had now coached me long enough to know what my body had gone through, what I responded well to and what was "too much" for me at this phase. I spent countless PT hours hours rebuilding the muscle atrophy in my left leg and changed my training program to what my body could handle.
Leading up to Oceanside 70.3 2013, I wasn't sure what my body or mind would do, but I knew what I wanted to do…..win my age group for the first time in a 70.3 event.
By the end of the 2013 racing season, I had raced most of the season without major injury flare ups. I felt like I had found the "secret recipe" and I am excited to head into the off-season with 9 months of healthy training as base for starting the 2014 season!
Image of compound fracture of my left tibia and fibia.
My bike was shattered too
Unwrapping my leg after the first surgery
Post accident surgery
Bike took it as bad as I did
Plates, pins and screws held my leg in place, but I ended up needing 4 surgeries.
At least I had a friend while in bed for months with my leg recovering.
Close up of the break
Changing the dressings
This is the hill where I was hit by a kid not paying attention and crossing over into my lane. I flew about 30 feet in the air.
Close up of the cleaned up exit wounds and surgery insertions.
Looking better on the surface after a few weeks.
ROAD BACK TO RACING: THE CAR ACCIDENT
August 6, 2009
August 6, 2009
Emergency Surgery with first titanium rods inserted
September 14, 2009
Titanium Rod # 2 replaces the first rod which was too short
December 8, 2009
Bone graph from my back to Tibia because bone was too shattered
April 23, 2010
Remove screws from my knee
October 20, 2010
Screw and plate Fibula.
Bone graph from knee to Fibula
Move to San Diego
Start running again!
May 14, 2011
First triathlon post-accident, Encinitas Sprint
First Half Ironman triathlon post-accident, Lake Stevens 70.3