I get knocked down. But I get up again.

Wednesday saw me cooped up in my room crying for a solid 5 minutes, if not longer. A proper cry on my own until my eyes stung and were undoubtedly red and puffy. I needed a solid cry on my own since I broke my collarbone 3 days earlier. An emotional three earlier. Just three days earlier when I was completing my third training session in just over 24hours after arriving at the amazing Thanyapura training resort, where Jurgen Zack, the IM legend, had just complemented my bike skills and dubbed me Queen of Thanyapura after a fun swim race; where I had just chicked the CEO in a 5km sprint to the coffee stop; where I’d just met Ben the coach who was all lined up to dramatically improve my swimming skills over the next two weeks; and where I was going to live a fantasy of living like a pro for just two weeks to set me up for World’s in August. One moment life couldn’t be better, then next moment I am picking myself and my bike off the ground before a car ran me over.

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IM legend Jurgen Zack has been very supportive during the week

We were 90km’s into a 110km ride when some light rain made the road slippery. I clipped a wheel and came down, breaking the end of my right collar bone. I remained calm during the accident as I gathered myself and my bike off the road, I remained calm when I got in the back of a Thai strangers ute to take me further down the road, I remained calm when the paramedics strapped me to a spinal board and rolled me into the ambulance, I remained calm during the 50minute drive to hospital on my own staring at the white ceiling listening to the wha-wha of the siren, and I even remained calm after the x-rays when the doctor announced my collarbone was broken. It was as soon as John arrived and I said out loud “I have broken my collarbone” that the tears came. All my dreams and goals for the year were over. Gone in a split second. Usually you say to people they are lucky it wasn’t worse, but for once I felt like the worse happened. Why couldn’t it just be severe grazing. Or even a dislocation I’d take. Not a break.

But a break it is, and I’m not the first cyclist and I sure as hell won’t be the last. I’m no different, no more special, and my goals are worth no more than others who have injured themselves. Triathlon is a mental sport as well, which you can never train nearly enough, but I am putting myself through the paces now.

It has been a rollercoaster ride the past week. Initially I wanted to go home straight away. I am here to train, John is working all day, and so without training it appeared there is literally nothing for me to do. We are not near the beach or town, and the resort only has one restaurant that we eat all 3 meals at.  I was lonely, and dare I say it, bored. John has told me before that only boring people get bored. I understand and agree with that, but when literally the only thing you can do is read or watch TV, I hope it’s more of a positive than a negative that I was getting bored. So I considered going home, but there are two issues. Firstly, physically travelling. I can only hold so much with my left hand, and any weight in my left is counteracted by my right, affecting my collarbone. I would need to arrange helpers both here and in Australia to get home. And then the second issue, once I got home I would need a helping hand to dress, undress, shower, cook and do pretty much everything for me while John is still working in Thailand. I am a complete dependent and stuck either way I go. For a very independent person this is a new, frightening and ultimately sad feeling. I was lost and confused and to be perfectly honest, didn’t know what to do.

Whilst I needed to make a decision about the immediate future, I also need to sit down and make a plan for the long term future in regards to my triathlon goals. I have officially cancelled my position for the World’s in Canada. I will be in a brace for 3-6 weeks and will not gain complete strength and flexibility back for 6 months. This puts me mid November before I can be back to where I was, which accepting this reality was difficult.

However, the last two days have seen a huge improvement in both my physical and mental recovery. I now see mid-November as the perfect timing for another great summer of racing. It takes the pressure off training during the difficult winter months. It gives me a chance to focus on strength and rehabilitation as planned. Whilst I wanted to spend a solid winter improving my swim, it will just have to wait a little longer than hoped.

Having so much time on my hands has enabled me to stop, take a step back, and breathe. Triathlon is a sport. A hobby. Something I do for pleasure. It is not my job, my life, my income. It does not define who I am. Not being at the level I was does not make me any less Priscilla Barrington. My personality hasn’t changed, my morals, goals and ambitions remain the same. It is a minor injury that will be overcome before I know it. We, as triathletes, get too caught up with how good we can be or want to be, that we forget why we started this sport. Every race doesn’t have to be a PB. No one will judge you if you don’t perform as well as you potentially could have, had you sacrificed more time from the little that remained for training, had you not had that injury, had you bought that more expensive equipment. I love triathlon because I love training for 3 sports. It keeps training interesting and challenging. I love the people I have met. I love the feeling of self achievement and reward from racing. I love the endorphins I get from exercising each morning. There will be nothing more rewarding getting back out there racing after recovering from this minor hiccup.

So now I am excited. After allowing myself to get all my tears out, it has now enabled me to see clearly. The silver lining of this accident is I can let myself relax. I can take the pressure off training hard all through the cold winter for a race that had started to also cause financial pressure. I am excited to do fun and social training during winter with friends, instead of isolated speed sets on my own. I am excited to catch up with my coach and set new goals, perhaps get the 7 peaks passport signed off, compete in fun runs, or do some road racing. Anything is possible now for the year ahead and I am truly excited. An accident can knock me down, but I’ll just get straight back up and charge right back at it with new and refreshed passion.

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This mornings sunrise. We have found a way I can finally get in and out of the pool which has made me a lot happier

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About Priscilla Barrington

Hi, I am a short course Age Group triathlete in Victoria. I love short course because I have developed a bit of a competitive side and short course enables me to race LOTS! Like most triathletes, I like to talk a lot about triathlon... so have taken to writing down my thoughts opposed to boring my friends with my triathlon trash!

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