April 12, 2024
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April 12, 2024
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My Most Difficult Ironman Experience

I’ve done the Ironman five times. (Nut case.) The first time, I was reduced to shuffling like an old man. But that wasn’t the hardest. The third time I nearly passed out. But that wasn’t the hardest. The second was the hardest.

Seven weeks before the race, on Sunday, September 24, 2012, I was halfway through a 100-mile training ride when I found myself on the ground. No slo-mo film of me falling; it was instantaneous, like waking from a bad dream. A car had clipped my back tire and knocked me over.

My left forearm hurt. (So naturally you called for an ambulance.) I got back on the bike and headed home. While riding home, I looked down to see that the handlebars were wobbling. (Were that handlebars broken?) The handlebars were ok, but my arm was broken. (So naturally you called for an ambulance.)

After biking home, my wife took me to the hospital. In the ER the orthopedist said, “Your arm is broken. We’re going to have to operate and put in a plate.”

“Great! Can we do that now?” I asked.

“No… we operate on Mondays.”

“Because I have a race in seven weeks. I have to get back in the water.”

Dead silence.

My wife looked at the doctor and almost requested a psych consult. (Because people normally think of exercise when they break their arm.)

The next morning, as I was being wheeled into surgery, I looked up at my doctor and asked, “Swimming after surgery?”

“Swimming is good rehab.” (I can only imagine what he was thinking as he walked into surgery after hearing that question.)

Two days later I went home. My first thought was, “I need to get back on my bicycle.” So, we set it up in the garage on a trainer, which turned it into a stationary bike. (But your arm was immobilized.) We worked around that.

Ten days later the splint came off and… (You decided to rest?)

… I started swimming again. The first few times back in the water, the pain was so great that I could only swim for a few minutes. Week by week I increased the swim, the bike and the run.

My singular thought through those six weeks was, “I’ve earned this and I will not be denied.”

I arrived in Arizona seven weeks after the surgery. I had defied the critics who thought I wouldn’t even be able to get in the water or run for six weeks. It was time to show that I had been right about my training. It was time to suit up.

By David Roher


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