Wednesday, July 3, 2013

My First Bike Crash

   “Life doesn’t get easier or more forgiving, we get stronger and more resilient.” ― Steve Maraboli, Life, the Truth, and Being Free

  This past weekend I had my first bike crash. It was only a matter of when, being in the sport of cycling within triathlon. This is my first year in the sport, and with increased time spent on the bike, my chances were much higher of being involved in some type of crash (as every cyclist will be). I thought I would share this experience with everyone who reads and follows this blog (well everything I remember!)
   Last week was a hard training week for me, coming back from TriMonroe, a U25 Elite Development draft-legal race. I was really happy with my results and how training had been going. I felt I was improving all around, especially after having two good races back to back. I was ready to get back into training when we returned to Colorado Springs, but my body felt really tired all week. I pushed through the week; it was a 16 hour week for me. Although 16 hours does not seem like much to a full-time or professional triathlete, a 16 hour week is considered to be a longer week for someone like me. Although I was tired, I mentally felt good and did my best in all of my workouts, trying to keep a good attitude and accept the fatigue. Whenever I feel tired like this, I always tell myself to do my best, because then I cannot be disappointed. Coach Ken gave me the choice for the weekend whether I wanted to do a criterium, the Acacia Group Ride in the Springs, or an individual workout. A part of me wanted to do the crit, but I know crits can be dangerous, especially if you are feeling tired like I was. I did not want to ride alone, and I wanted to see how well I could do in the group ride, since it's probably the toughest ride in the Springs (it really feels like a race at some points). I had actually written an email to Coach Ken on Friday night that I thought it was a bad idea to do the group ride because I was really tired, and that I wanted to do a workout on my own, but his beautiful wife, Brandi, had just delivered their baby girl, so I decided to suck it up and not bother them. I deleted the draft, and told myself I would suck it up and that I needed to push through it.
   I'm wondering if everyone was so much more vamped up in the group ride than usual due to the fact that the Tour de France is going on (that was Kim's hypothesis). The warm-up was much faster and more aggressive than I had remembered, and I figured it was because some professional triathletes or cyclists had shown up that day. I kept my head down and made sure to stay towards the front of the group to avoid any possible hiccups that could cause a crash.
   We made the right hand turn onto MarkSheffel Road, and everyone took off (as usual on this ride). My Coach Ken told me what to do in this situation, and I took his advice and stayed with the pack! Last time I had been dropped at this point because I got stuck behind a slower wheel, but I was positioned perfectly (or so I thought).
    I was in the middle/front of the pack (if that makes sense). Everyone had been really aggressive going into the right hand turn and I didn't want to move around too much so I let some people pass me on my left, while staying with the group. This was a bit uncomfortable because I was on the left side of the pack, and got boxed in. Someone a few bikes up slammed their brakes. I remember this moment perfectly. I saw a few bikes in front of me start to go down, and this was when my heart definitely skipped a beat because I knew I was helpless. The girl in front of me went down, and it was like slow motion from there. She completely spun sideways and I tried to veer off to avoid the crash (as I have done in the past), but it all happened too fast. Next thing I know, I am flying through the air, I land on my tailbone (kind of fell backwards and sideways) and my head got whipped backwards and hit the concrete. Forgot to mention we were going 30mph when this happened. It took me a few seconds to realize what had happened, and the pain instantly hit me. The pain was so bad that my vision was blurred, and for a second had no idea where I was (probably because I hit my head and/or got bad whiplash); either way, my pretty blue specialized helmet was cracked.
   I finally realized what had happened and my body sort of went into shock. I was still lying in the middle of the road, and I noticed I couldn't physically get up because I had excruciating pain in my tailbone. My bike was no where in sight, and I was the only person who did not get up after the crash. I have not felt pain like that in my life, so I started hyperventilating and my whole body was shaking from the pain. I could not control it, and this scared me a lot. A big chunk of the pack stopped after the crash, and one rider in the crash rushed over, "I am a doctor. What hurts? Are your legs ok?Your neck?" I couldn't speak at first because the pain was so bad, but I finally spat out that my tailbone was all that hurt. They picked me up from the middle of the road because I was stopping traffic.
   A stranger who had witnessed the crash offered to drive me home. It is amazing how people respond when others need help in situations of crisis. I am thankful for this stranger, whose name I unfortunately did not get. I would like to thank him sometime.
   I sat in his car shaking as he drove me back to Tracy's, and the pain got worse as the adrenaline wore off, so by his judgement he decided I needed to go to the hospital. We arrived at the hospital and it all felt surreal. I was overwhelmed by the situation. I've never been injured like this before. The man helped me hobble into the hospital (more like he carried me in haha). He got all of my things from his car, made sure they got my name down, and left. I thanked him and gave him the best hug I could at the moment. I stood in the front lobby for 20 minutes, leaning against the front desk shaking in pain and my heart rate was still at about 180bpm. I started to pray that someone would come and help me and take the pain away, because I felt they were completely oblivious in the front  (I felt at the time). They finally came and got me, and I was actually able to walk to the back. I had called Tracy and Kim in the car, but did not want to burden my parents with my drama, so I hesitated to call them. I was told to call my parents, so I finally did that and they drove down to the Springs.
   I stood in one of the rooms for another 20 minutes, same thing, shaking and breathing uncontrollable and someone came in to take vitals and everything. Kim and Tracy arrived shortly and the pain decreased a bit. It was comforting to have them there. I remembered something my father had told me when things have gone wrong in the past. "Experience it," he would say. That was exactly what I did. I decided I was going to accept the pain, accept the situation, and experience it. Surprisingly, this calmed me down. I kept telling myself "adversity builds character, adversity builds character." It doesn't matter what life may hit you with; what matters is how you react to it, and the person you become from it. If adversity builds character, I have built a lot of character this past month (Tracy and I have joked about this a lot) :)
   The nurse finally came in and gave me two vicodin pills to help with my pain. 10 minutes or so later the doctor came in and I asked him in a slur "how long does it take the vicodin to kick in?" He said since I'm lean with little body fat, it wouldn't take too long, as he chuckled knowing it had hit me. The rest of my visit became a little dreamlike. The pain had vanished and I thought "I am fine, the pain is gone!" I went in for x-rays and received good news that I had no broken bones visible in the x-ray. I walked down the hallway and Whitney(Nadia's mom) and Nadia Duncan(my 14 year old adorable teammate) were sitting in the waiting area. "Oh hi," I said. I remember starting to feel a bit drunk at this point because the vicodin had really kicked in. I hope I did not embarrass myself too much. I can't quite remember the full conversation, but it means so much to me that the Duncans came to see me.
   My parents arrived and my dad saw the x-ray and had a bad feeling. All the imaging centers in the Springs were closed during the weekend so my dad decided it would be better for me to get an MRI in Denver on Monday. They picked me up and we went back to Tracy's to get my things (Tracy was nice enough to take Bikey home). Bikey was the first thing I checked, and I remember the stem was all unaligned (the handlebars and the front wheel were all torqued). I picked up my parktool, and was about to start working on the bike to "fix it myself," but my dad wouldn't let me. This is just me. I am more concerned about Bikey than I am about myself!
   On the way home I had my dad drop Bikey off at Cafe Velo as I lied completely drugged up in the back seat of the suburban (I couldn't sit because of my tailbone).
   I spent the weekend in Denver, and it was good to see my best friend Keiko (who brought me frozen yogurt!), my amazing sister Caroline, Julci, and my parents. Everyone was so incredibly caring this weekend, and I am so grateful for that because I know it must have been hard.
   I got the MRI Monday and we found out that I had a fractured sacrum. Luckily it was not the weight bearing part, however the news was not what I was looking for. I was hoping it was only a bone bruise. I broke down crying, and my dad comforted me, telling me it is called an accident for a reason and that I need to accept the situation. It was hard for me to accept the situation at the time. "Why me, why now?" I thought. Apparently it wasn't as bad as I thought. I could do the elliptical, swim, and attempt to bike depending on the pain. I decided I wasn't going to ruminate about it because that wouldn't be conducive toward anything.
   I headed straight back to Colorado Springs after the MRI, and slept for most of the afternoon. I spent yesterday morning with Coach Ken and the youth team. I really enjoyed spending some time outside with one of the 14 -year- olds on my team, Yana Brown, while watching the youth practice. If I can mentor them in any way, even if it's just by a few things I can say or do, that means so much to me. I would love to teach them some of the things that I have learned in my short life as well.
     Yesterday I met one of my favorite people, Joe Turcotte, the man who got me to pursue this sport at a high level after my tennis friend Jevgenij Cariov had gotten me to do my first triathlon. Joe stayed with me while I did the elliptical at Lifetime Fitness. He is a trainer there. I was able to do the elliptical for 30 minutes and then I swam for about 30 minutes, but my range of motion was definitely not 100% due to the whiplash in my neck. Overall I felt really relieved that at least I could do something!
    My phone rang in the car ride home. Cafe Velo was calling me to tell me that Bikey had been destroyed, the frame, the fork, and the wheels. I felt terribly because my good friend and CU Tri Team Sports Psychologist, Will Murray, had lent me his power tap and rear wheel. I felt as if things could not get any worse. Feeling overwhelmed and empty since Bikey was gone, I started to cry. It had taken me a year to get comfortable biking, and it wasn't until recently that I truly felt connected with Bikey. Coach Ken and my Dad told me not to worry so much, because Bikey is only a bike and a material object; "only a bike" I thought. Bikey was my baby. Bikey was a part of me.
    I was emotionally broken. I met with Kim and we had a nice afternoon walking the lake at the Broadmoor Hotel, and drinking an iced coffee. We then watched a movie at her house and went to bed. She really knows how to make a person feel better, and I feel grateful to have a friend like Kim in my life.
    Although I'm devastated that Bikey is gone and I've been thrown some curveballs this past while, I want to thank everyone who has cared for me, supported me, and loved me, especially in my most vulnerable times. I appreciate you all so much. I really do have such incredible parents, friends, teammates, coaches, and a wonderful community I have fallen in love with here in Colorado Springs.
    I continuously realize that we must appreciate every moment we have doing what we love, for you never know if it is the last moment. This includes loving those around you, being the kind of person you should be, and appreciating all that you are blessed with. I feel incredibly blessed and hopeful that everything will return to normal. In the meantime I will take it day by day, and experience this to the fullest. I hope to be healthy enough to race the State Games Triathlon in three weeks! I will not give up,  I will fight, and I will keep my head up as I have always done.
-thank you all for taking the time to read this.
p.s. I hope you all like my new helmet

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

It's Better to Be Nice by Caroline Warly

Another amazing poem, written by my beautiful sister, Caroline Warly.

It's Better to Be Nice
don’t yell because they say you’re wrong
don’t live a life of vice
be the person you’d like to be
and for goodness sake, be nice

don’t avoid saying sorry
don’t say things cause you’re mad
cause one day you’ll regret it
and you’ll wish you never had

don’t show off if you’ve done well
it may hurt those whom have not
and if you think you may have pained someone
apologize a lot

tell your friends and your family
that you appreciate what they do
tell them that they make you smile
and make you thankful, too

it really shouldn’t be too hard
to treat each other right
more good things always come from hugs
then ever from a fight

How to Stay Motivated in the Winter

I get asked the question "how do you stay motivated in the winter?" quite often really. I am human, like everyone else, and t...