(Photo credit: WITSUP.com for my one gorgeous race photo 🙂 )
Well, Challenge Wanaka did not quite go how I was hoping. But, I’m okay.
The winds in the morning were gnarly. Our swim start was delayed by 10 minutes as they kept sending boats out to pull the buoys back into proper locations; they ended up just parking the boats and putting the buoy on top of the boat. This made one particular section of the rectangle we swam very slow. But, the other parts were pretty fast, and whether it was that or the course ended up a little short, I swam a decent enough swim for me and was onto the bike within an arms length of plenty of other women. I began the ride and legs felt good; I was riding strong.
But again, the wind. Having been here for 2 weeks and riding just about every day, it was the first time I felt like I was struggling to keep control of the bike at some points. The back of the bike was great — with the beam setup I actually find myself to be less of a “sail” in the wind on the back. But, controlling the front wheel was an issue for sure in some spots. I have never, ever been riding in wind like that, I would have told you before I had ridden in some gnarly winds.
I was doing good and sitting around 7th (I think) around 70k on the bike. At a turnaround I felt like 5/6 were in striking distance so I kept the pressure on. I remember this road having some crazy cross winds and being scared out of my wits at one point when large tour buses flew past almost knocking me off the road. I continued on, and that’s about the last I remember. I have a flash of memory seeing my front wheel go out from under me and saying “No, No!”. Then I remember sitting in the road and being very confused. No idea where I was or what I had been doing. I looked around and saw people on bikes. I must have been biking. Okay, which direction was I going? If I can figure that out I can just start going. I heard the word “Ambulance”. I could see blood. The confusion in my brain was the most intense confusion I have experienced, I can’t quite put into words how hard I was trying to put together the puzzle of what I was doing, but couldn’t. A woman then put me in her car. I have a brief memory of seeing Stef (WITSUP.com Stef) at the car window. A brief memory of walking through a waiting room. Then the next thing I know a nurse was asking if it’s okay if my friend comes in. Then Stef walks in.
TGFS. Thank god for Stef. She saw me and immediately said “I see you have pads all over your face!!” Sure enough, I did.
She sat with me through the course of several hours as we waited for stitching, cleanup, etc. Stef had to help out at one point and literally was washing the blood off of me with a washcloth. She’s a saint, people! And all the while was keeping me in good spirits and making it seem like I wasn’t actually going to look like Frankenstein when this was all over.
It turns out NZ also has public health insurance for visitors. While money was the least of my concerns at the moment, it is good to know. I know athletes often turn away care out of fear of expense in foreign places, so that was a relief to learn here!
If anything, this whole experience has really taught me about the value of health insurance! As this website explains, life can be incredibly unpredictable and therefore not taking out health insurance can have devastating consequences where healthcare costs are concerned.
Of course, no one likes to think too much about the possibility of being injured, but having a good health insurance policy in place is vital. If you do not already have health insurance in place, you might want to think about using a comparison website to find the best health insurance package for your needs.
Anyway, since then, I have been getting better slowly. The concussion was no joke. It felt like I was drunk whenever I would lay down and close my eyes – the world would spin around in that terrible feeling you have when you want to sleep and drank a bit too much!
But after a lot of rest, I can see things getting way better, so the rest will continue for sure. My wounds are healing slowly too. Hopefully I don’t gross out the people on the plane next to me too much!
In addition to Stef, I can’t thank the others who have pitched in to help me enough. Hillary and Maik, I would have been a disaster here without you.
It’s a tough pill to swallow, but unfortunately is a reality of the sport. I am focusing on the fact that while my face is knocked up, the overall injuries could have been much worse. I will rest and heal up (seriously, I promise to rest plenty!!!) and will keep moving forward. The fitness is there just need to keep rubber side down to show it next time.