By Sheila Howard
Editors note: this is part 2 of a series by Sheila.
You can read Part 1 here.
DOWN CAME THE RAIN….
As I approached a blind curve to the left, I slowed some, as the curve was getting closer. Out of nowhere, a “crotch rocket” type motorcycle zoomed around the curve up ahead. Already over the centerline, he was headed straight for me and coming fast. I had exactly three thoughts. One, I could cut my wheel and get around him on the right side? No way. There’s not enough time or road on the right, and if I made it, I’d be off the mountain because it’s a sharp switchback left. Second thought, can I cut hard to my left and go back into his lane? No. A couple of cars just came around that curve, and there could be another behind. I still remember feeling scared at my last thought - that the only option is to hit him, and this may not end well. But it happened so fast! I still remember the sound!
All I can say is that God absolutely rescued me that day, and I will always be grateful for what seemed, then and now, like a miracle! Upon impact, somehow my left shoe stayed clipped into the pedal, but my foot somehow blew out of my shoe. My right shoe unclipped as I was thrown in the air and up the road a bit. I landed on my knees and bounced over on my back at the edge of the pavement. My bike, the motorcycle and rider continued up the road and into the grass, off the road. I never blacked out. My legs were hurting so bad, and I wondered if I could walk. A friend was right behind me, jumped off her bike and leaned over me, touching my legs and back. “Can you feel this?” she asked. “Yes!!!” Once I realized I could feel everything, I felt a sense of relief and calm.
After a long and twisty ambulance ride to the ER and a dozen x-rays and CT scans later, not even one fracture. Torn ligaments, stitches, wounds, scrapes, deeply bruised bones in both legs and trauma to my knees was as good an outcome as it gets! My doctors, physical therapists and friends all remind me how blessed I am to be here and have the chance to recover! My road bike was completely destroyed.
Sheila’s bike after her accident
My physical therapist was incredible, and I completely trusted her to help get me back to training and racing. I’d hoped to be back at it within three months for some late season races. That didn’t happen. The impact to my joints, bones and knees in both legs took longer to heal. Though the timeline was not what I wanted, I tried to follow orders. Since my crash happened pre-season, I would sit out of racing all of 2012 and come back to racing this season, 2013.
I could begin cycling again as part of my PT way before I could begin running. I was able to keep a cardio and cycling base, and as I got stronger and my legs healed, I worked on getting faster and added in running to get ready for my first race in June. My running proved to be a big challenge this season, and it will be my “offseason” quest to improve as well as, for the first time, to be consistent in swim workouts during the cold months.