The girl who rode up a hill and came down a mountain… on her face

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Every training program tends to hit a speed-bump at some stage. I hit mine on August 16th. Literally. On a mountain bike. Going 30km per hr.

To backtrack a bit, I was just under two weeks away from the Mandela Day 10km run. This was set to be my first 10km and the longest run I’d done to date. By this stage I was really enjoying my running. My legs felt good but I didn’t want to overdo it so, after having run two consecutive days that week, I decided to do a bit of cross training on my bike. Win-win right: some good muscle strengthening, keep the blood pumping without the inevitable jarring on the joints from running? Wrong. Note to self: stick with the running!

(Look at this enthusiastic fool, so unaware of the impending disaster!)

(Look at this enthusiastic fool, so unaware of the impending disaster!)

Now, I don’t have a great track record on a mountain bike, so I tend to hang onto my breaks for dear life. I have been advised, by far better riders than I, that this is when accidents happen: when you hesitate you tend to come off more often, so one should really try to just pick your line and use your momentum to your advantage. While I appreciate that this is probably sound advice, the moral of the story is that when you are hurtling down a steep hill at 30km an hr and approaching a speed bump, breaks are actually highly recommended!

Momentum, now that an interesting thing. Momentum is calculated by multiplying mass and velocity. I must have under-estimated my post baby mass because I picked up a HELL of a lot more momentum than I should have, and far more than I could control. I approached a series of bumps at such pace that I literally jumped the last one! I couldn’t control my bike so I decided to slow down, rather dramatically, using my head on the dirt. To add insult to serious injury my bike flew through the air just behind me and, whacking me on the back of my head and landing on top of me.

Long story short I cracked my helmet, got a not-so-cute roastie on my face, sustained a serious whiplash injury, disfigured my forearm to the point that I raced off for an x-ray to rule out a fracture,  and I landed like a ton of bricks on my left hip.

All of the above left me in a less than ideal state 12 days before race day.

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It took a few days and a few trips to my personal physio- God bless you Pumsile!- to establish what the damage was. My left hip was the worst affected and despite soft tissue treatments and frantic glut (butt) strengthening I walked with a limp and had to lift my leg in and out of a car using my injured arms right up until race day.

Still, I’m not one to back out of a challenge. I lined up at the start with two of my mates who had been training with me, not sure if I could run or if I’d have to walk the whole thing!

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My initial game plan for the race was to run ten minutes, walk one so that’s how I started…and that’s how this injured mama finished! I could feel the muscles around my hip stiffening up as I ran but if I managed to keep my leg very neutral and avoid any awkward rotations or uneven foot-falls, then I could run! I finished in a time of 1 hour 13mins and was super chuffed with the result considering the circumstances.

I woke up the next day feeling like I’d it hit by a bus, but very proud of myself too. I did it! With 10km done, next on the agenda was a 21.  I realised that this broken body still had a long way to go!

Mama on the Run