“Oh man, this is not good.” That was my thought as I was trying to gain control of my bike. Turns out, hitting a pothole on your bike while going downhill at 30 mph isn’t too great. After a few swerves to the wrong side of the road and trying not to go head first over my handlebars, I ended up laying my bike on its side in the ditch. Too bad my left shoulder took the brunt of the force, as I was kind of hoping the bike would and I could get a new one! As I sat in the ditch with 2 teammates and my coach, I had the same thought “oh man, this is not good for Ironman training.” I was banged up pretty badly & I knew I was hurt. An afternoon in the ER and a few x-rays later, the orthopedic surgeon confirmed that I had 3 fractures in my scapula and said the dreaded words I didn’t want to hear. “You’re for sure not going to do any races for the next 8 weeks, and maybe not Ironman Wisconsin either.” The tears came fast and hard, and I was devastated.
I wallowed in those sorrows for a good 48 hours. Maybe it was the pain meds, maybe it was the awful concussion I got that let me have these “poor me” thoughts. Then I had a realization. Why just give up on a goal you have and worked so hard on for nearly a year? That’s not you, Carly. Get back in the saddle and finish what you started. So I talked with my coach and came up with a game plan. Speed walk. Do yoga. Kick in the pool. Do whatever you can. Just don’t quit on your goal.
Over the course of the next 8 weeks, I slowly but surely progressed back to being on a normal Ironman training schedule. Was it easy? No. Were there days I wanted to quit? Yes. Did I have doubts that I could actually get to the start line at Ironman Wisconsin? Absolutely. But I knew I needed to persevere and push on. That first time back riding my bike on the open road was by far the most nervous I’ve been in my adult life. Pretty sure the first hill I went down there was smoke coming from my brake pads and I was certain I had wore them out! Lots of positive self-talk and just getting back in the saddle helped ease the fears that come with crashing. I got more and more confident during every ride I did, and before I knew it, I was doing 100+ mile rides without fear. With a visual scar reminder on my leg (from my handlebars digging into my thigh when I crashed), I reminded myself how fortunate I am that I am a healthy, strong woman who has goals to be met, and nothing can stop me, not even a bike crash.
Having a positive mindset, having coaches that work with you on a daily basis to set small & manageable goals, having teammates that support you (and who are willing to speed walk with you or drive you everywhere!), and remembering that broken bones heal but broken dreams do not are all things that got me to where I am now----less than 2 weeks away from achieving my goal of racing happy and having fun during Ironman Wisconsin!