In August 2014 I under went a fairly serious knee surgery. Having grown up with a dislocating patella, I was SO excited at the prospect of being able to do sports without worrying my knee caps were going to pop off! In preparation for surgery I amped up my strength training at the gym, hoping that by ramping up my training the rehab post surgery would be easier. Originally I was told 2 weeks in a brace and that I’d be back to work in 6 weeks……..That’s not exactly how it went!
The surgery it’s self consisted of relocating a tendon from my hamstring and attaching it to my kneecap to stop that pesky dislocation. Surgery was the easy bit; rehab is when the real work started! Lucky to have an amazing physio, the first time I got to see my knee (10 days post surgery) I was amazed at how quickly my muscles had disappeared and how foreign my leg felt. Trying to get my brain to activate the muscles around my knee (staring at them intently doesn’t work as much as you’d think), bending my knee 2cm was a massive achievement; this was going to take a lot of patience! It was the little things I found the most difficult like not being able to put on my own socks and underwear, walking down stairs was the scariest thing ever, forget moving a cup of tea from the kitchen! Mid September I got to sit on a stationary bike and it took 3 separate attempts (over a week) to make a full pedal rotation, the relief when I finally got it all the way around was overwhelming. This also meant I got to get back to the gym………spending hours balancing on the mini tramp, single leg squats and my personal favorite calf raises (oh so many calf raises). I was pretty determined to do everything I could to get myself back to where I was. Although I knew I was progressing it wasn’t till I got back to Tribe Life in the New Year that I really started to feel like myself again. I remember how I felt walking into the first session, so stoked to not be working out alone, I’m sure a waddled out of that class thinking something different. It was at least 8 months after surgery when the dull ache started to disappear and just in time for ski season. With the last 2 winter seasons (the longest I’d ever been off snow) a write off I could not wait to get back out there!!
The opportunity to do Spring Challenge, a women’s only adventure race came up and at first I thought, I don’t really do this kind of thing. After some pondering I came to the conclusion what do I have to lose, a day wandering around Wanaka with some rad chicks hey why not. Training for this started in May when the days are getting shorter and colder, it’s easy at this point to say “oh I’ll wait till a nice day” or I’ll do it tomorrow”. Something I’ve learned about myself thru this process is once I’ve set my mind to something there is no stopping me. I’m pretty sure my mom called me stubborn I like to think of it more as determination! Training during winter was interesting, getting out of bed to go for a run when its freezing cold, I defiantly rode my bike more then I’d done in winter before, and of course strength training at the gym. Not to forget that I was enjoying being back on the slopes! I was putting in about 8-10 hours of training a week.
The adventure race format keep us guessing up till the night before as to where it would take us. We knew we would be rafting, biking and run/navigating but the area is massive with multiple course options. I felt more at ease once we got the maps and having home court advantage was a plus. We started with a run from the shores of Lake Hawea 2km to the Hawea River, then a nice paddle down to Albertown where our bikes were waiting. At this point we had to start navigating and looking for controls, which for anyone who knows me knows I have the worst sense of direction!! So easy decision to not allow me anywhere near the maps! Being local to the area did make this a bit easier for us, and our 40km bike ride landed us in Luggate, and onto a trek thru some amazing high country stations your would never see otherwise. This was the most challenging part of the race with a few steep climbs and extra controls that required some compass work. We popped out at the base of Mt Barker with just one more bike ride to round off the day. My legs were not enjoying being back on the bike but once we got going they came right (like they had a choice). From Mt Barker back thru Albertown, quick lap into the Hikuwais to finish at Eely point.
Just over a year after surgery I completed the 80km event on a stunning Wanaka day, with 2 good mates by my side, totally stoked with the hard work I’d put in. To think at one point I didn’t think I could do it at all! I fully believe that if you think you can’t do something you probably won’t, but I would rather try and fail then not try at all because what do you have to lose? After Spring Challenge I was left with this thought of I know I can do more, push myself a bit further, I had defiantly started something. The only question now was what’s next?