How being a multisport athlete means you never have to say you can’t work out

You know how I came to be a triathlete? I was a runner who had to start cycling and swimming because of injuries; it was a natural progression. These days, yet again, I am very glad I’m a multi-sport athlete.

A week and a half ago I was hiking Mount Finlayson with a friend. It was a foggy, wet day (although not raining). The trail was slippery in places, but otherwise OK. I had vibram-soled day hikers on; the same ones that have taken me up this hike, and others, many times.

We stopped at the top for some water and a photo, and started to make our way down. Not far from the summit, I stepped down. My foot twisted in, my leg twisted out, and in a heartbeat I was down on the ground writhing in pain.

My friend helped me hobble slowly down the mountain; but I fell two or three more times; my knee just gave way. At one point it made an audible, sickening crack sound, which was not (thank goodness) accompanied by pain. My doctor says it was probably my knee cap sub-luxating (or something like that). My physiotherapist says I kept falling because after that initial trauma my muscles were tensed up and not working properly.

The next day I hobbled to a walk-in clinic with my now-swollen knee and got an order for X-rays, tensor bandage, crutches, and ibuprofen.

It became apparent to me that my training plans are now put on hold. I spent last week trying to hold off a funky black cloud of misery, weight gain, longing for my bike, and longing to be out running trails, and being unable to even do household chores properly (pro tip gleaned from Twitter: hook a bag onto a crutch to carry things in. Pack food up like a picnic for taking it to the dining room to eat).

My friends were fantastic. Crystal came over to clean my place. Another friend took me out for dinner. I had offers of meals and help that I was so grateful for .. And my friend Yukari sent me a sweet note. All very welcomed and which brightened my spirits immeasurably. I drove up to the Cobble Hill 10k race to help out and cheer from my crutches on the sidelines. It was a gorgeous day and I was inspired to not lose hope.

First good news came a few days later when I saw my own doc. “Have I lost my triathlon season?” I asked her.

“No, no, not yet. I think you should heal. No broken bones, no ACL tear, possible meniscus tear, but we’ll know more after a month of physiotherapy.” So, I made an appointment with my sometime torturer – er – physiotherapist – Matt.

More good news after that first physio visit. Matt thinks it’s not torn, that it was a painful sprain/stretched ligament, and it’s on its way to recovery as long as I do a few things right. I can start spinning on the bike indoors for 10-15 minutes at NO tension. I can swim with light kicking (no paddle board, kick drills or frog kick). I have gentle stretching and strengthening exercises to do for the next 4 weeks.

The other interesting thing Matt said was to hold on to my crutches: either walk correctly (meaning slowly) or use them – but AVOID LIMPING at all costs. If I walk with a limp I’ll be teaching my body bad habits that I’ll just have to un-teach once things progress.

So – there it is. Hope reigns. Things are looking up. I might not get the times I hoped for, but it looks like I will be able to do all the events I signed up for on 2014:

  • April 27: TC 10K
  • May 25: Subaru Shawnigan Lake Triathlon (Sprint)
  • June 15: Subaru Victoria Triathlon (As the swim leg of TriStars Scrambled Legs Relay team-Olympic)
  • June 29: Tri of Compassion (Sprint)
  • July 13: Cowichan Challenge Triathlon (“Challenge” distance)
  • August 4: Self Transcendence Triathlon (Olympic)
  • Later in August: Maybe Tour de Victoria 140K, but entry fee $$$ is spendy!
  • October (if all goes well) – Victoria Half Marathon

UPDATE May 25: I have edited this post to take out the name and photograph of the person with whom I was hiking, because reasons.

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