Just What I Kneeded

What happens after a life-altering knee injury?

Tri, tri again


(Little Miami Triathlon Fall 2015 Recap)

Triathlon montage.

(clockwise from top left) Me and my super awesome tri partner before the race. Icing the knee(s) in the car on the way home. Headband that appropriately says, “This isn’t sweat. It’s liquid awesome.” The kinesiotape configuration that makes a world of difference with swelling. Us post race–we still look pretty good!

Facebook reminded me the other week that it’s been three years since my DeNovo transplant and Elmslie TTT (surgery was on 9/18/12). Three years. I would never have recognized the anniversary if it weren’t for the FB memories that pop up at random. That’s a great thing because it means I don’t worry about the knee quite like I used to the first two years after the surgery.

How to better celebrate another year down than to complete a triathlon?

That’s right. I had no grand ideas that I would be able to COMPETE in the venture. Especially not with everything that’s happened over the last six weeks. Through all of that, I managed to run only once (for about 2 miles), bike three times (for a total of about 30 miles) and kayak twice (for a total of about 18 miles). That was the full extent of my “training” for this triathlon. Well, I do still swim fairly frequently, but perhaps not surprisingly, swimming is not a great training plan for a triathlon that does not include a swim leg.

I thought I’d back out after my dad passed away. I had an understanding partner who didn’t pressure me and said we could try again in 2016. But I decided to go ahead with it because I really needed to focus on something else.

I did the Little Miami Triathlon the first time four years ago. My goal then, too, was simply to finish. I’d broken my leg the year before and had my first knee surgery only five months before the LMT.

This time, I’m about 20 pounds heavier, so that’s not an awesome start. I had also been running quite a bit leading up to the 2011 event and biking 20 miles a couple times a week. In short, I was much better prepared then than I was this year. And it was brutal.

But I finished. And damn did it feel good.

I struggled mightily on the run. I knew it was going to be the tough leg. But there were SO many people out there motivating me–all of us. There were kids with parents manning the water/aid stations, and they would cheer us on. There was one kid kneeling in the middle of the road with both hands flung high in the air, “Motivational high fives! Right here! That one’s for you!” There were people along the route clanging cow bells and cheering us on, “We’re so proud of you! Good job! You’re doing great!” I couldn’t help but smile when I passed one kid dressed up as Captain Jack Sparrow. There were cyclists (not with the race) who flew past us as we ran on the trail toward Killer Hill, “Awesome job!” Other racers would pass me and tell me to keep it up. It’s kind of hard to stop when you’re getting that much awesome support from strangers.

I didn’t do so well on the bike either. At least I can blame a constant headwind for the trouble on the bike; it seemed like it was blowing straight in my face no matter which way I turned. Tons of people passed me on the run, so I felt better when I passed a number of people on the bike. That didn’t stop the negative self talk that started up when I found myself fairly alone on one uphill stretch that went directly into the wind. “Ok, well, you’ve gotten this far. That’s ok. No one will blame you if you stop. Oh, look, that guy got off his bike to walk. That seems like a good idea. No, don’t get off the bike. If you get off the bike, you’ll never get back on. Wait. Josie [my friend/driver] has the car key. If I stop here, I can just call her to pick me up. Where the hell am I? I can’t even give her directions to come scrape my body off the side of the road. Shiiiit. Better keep pedaling.” Like I said, it was brutal.

Last time, when I rounded the final corner and saw that the last little bit of the bike course was all uphill, I started crying/cursing. This time, I was so focused on simply turning the pedals, I didn’t even realize that I was on the last hill until I saw the flags marking the finish line. Holy shit. I was almost there. I had one last surge of energy that put me across the line. My time this year was considerably worse than last time, but I don’t know that I really care. I finished. My friend told me, when I started lamenting the time, to knock it off. She said that doing what I did with virtually no training made me that much more of a badass. I think maybe it just makes me insane, but I’m going with her version.

The one really good part of the race was the canoe. We didn’t do very well in 2011 (in fact, we did so poorly, we had other participants laughing at us). We didn’t want a repeat of that, so we practiced a few times and watched THIS amazing video that was clearly filmed off a VHS tape from the 80’s. The people in it are perfect, mullets and all. It was entertaining to watch them, but more importantly, the video was pretty informative. It helped! We had compliments from other teams about how well we navigated the waters, and we had at least one other team following us because we were doing such a good job picking routes downstream. We passed people! That was pretty cool.

After the race, I crawled across the back seat of my car so that I could prop my leg up. We stopped at the first gas station we saw to buy ice that we then put in a couple plastic sacks and packed both my knees in ice. I stayed that way for the two-hour ride home. I’m happy to say that, while there are parts of me that are very sore, my knee is ok. In fact, it’s responded better than I’d dared hope. There is some residual pain, but it’s completely manageable with the normal measures of ice and elevation.

Which means… I’m looking forward to the HUFF 50k relay in December.


Author: Laura

I have a fern I named Frankenstein. I like leprechauns, practicing kung fu moves on my dining room furniture, and pretending that one day I will move to Fiji. I dislike my neighbors' kids, anything that is chartreuse, and Ben Roethlisberger.

2 thoughts on “Tri, tri again

  1. Pingback: Slogging (my version of running) | Just What I Kneeded

  2. Pingback: I fell only once | Just What I Kneeded

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