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American professional triathlete Mary Beth Ellis was injured in a bike accident on Sept. 9 in Cozumel. Despite severe injuries and the resulting surgery, Ellis is working toward a goal of making it to the start line at the 2013 Ironman World Championship start line. She will be providing updates on her progress exclusively to Triathlete.com. See update No. 3, along with a video, below.
Today, I walked into the Oakley house here in Kona, and after telling me a story about recovering from a car accident to win the Ironman World Championship, Greg Welch handed me a T-shirt that read simply “Adapt and Conquer.”
I’m not sure if he knew the significance of that, but nothing could have better summed up the last 30 days for me—or, for that matter, the Ironman journey for so many people.
Adapting for me meant coming to terms with the fact that I won’t be the same athlete I would have been without the crash—and to realizing that my “training” now includes surgery and twice-a-day physical therapy.
Adapting meant I had to do one thing I’ve never been good at… take things slowly.
Living at 9200 feet in the mountains of Colorado, I had no choice but to take things slowly. One day at a time I was able to adapt to my injured and now recovering shoulder. Then slowly, inch-by-inch, I have been able to add in some training. First I got on the bike. Then, I began slowly running in the pool and on land. Finally, I added the last piece of swimming with both arms. Things I took for granted, were suddenly obstacles. But, I built confidence each day, and now I believe, beyond tall odds, that I can race. The only question that remains is how my body will adapt, overcome and conquer all the challenges it will face on race day.
So, yes, I will be at the starting line at Dig Me Beach in Kona. Yes, I have endured some challenges to get there. But every athlete who will stands on the starting line with me has had to adapt and conquer his or her own unique challenges. We may battle alone to get here, but we will all conquer this beast together on race day.
I will be on the starting line in Kona and look forward to racing along side every athlete who made I this far as we adapt, overcome and conquer everything the Ironman throws our way.
Please help more athletes stay in the game by supporting the nation’s biggest and oldest non-profit for sports injury research, a cause I’ve become very passionate about over the past couple of weeks, the the Steadman Philippon Research Institute. Anything helps, please check out my page here.
See two videos of Ellis back in the pool using both arms to swim below: