This Sunday marks the end of a nine month journey to becoming an Ironman finisher. So much work, blood, sweat, and tears to finally reach this point, and it's amazing how far I've come. It's best to talk about what pushed me to make Ironman Coeur d'Alene my goal.
Back in 2015, while riding my bike home, I was hit head on by a SUV. For someone reason, the woman who was driving this SUV decided on that day, and that time to cut a corner, and plow right into me. I've been told that I was thrown off my bike a good 30 to 40 feet ... every part of my head took the blunt of that distance covered. If it wasn't for my helmet, I would have been dead on the scene.
You can think you are the world's best cyclists, the world's most observant person, or whatever. You think you're unbreakable and refuse to wear a helmet.
All I want to ask you is... Do you not value your brain? You must not.
Just wear a god damn helmet, and safe yourself a lot of pain. Listen to someone who's had the memories of their own child's birth, instantly, disappear. And that's only the beginning.
I was diagnosed with a diffuse axonal traumatic brain injury, and from that day, my life was changed forever. I had to relearn how to walk, talk, create/retain memories, process information, just to list a few. I lost so much of my memory... Childhood, teenage years, adulthood, large chunks gone forever. Two of the most painful, not remembering my wedding day, and the birth of my own daughter. I would take never being able to walk, talk, etc..., to get the memories of my child's birth back!
It took many months a rehab to get back on my feet, and getting my brain to function, what is now, the new normal. I hard to learn how to do everything differently. I couldn't rely on my brain for anything.
During this entire, and on going recovery process, all I could think about was getting back on the bike. Of course, all my doctors instantly said 'no way'. All I was always told... You cannot risk hitting your head on any level again. They soon realized the risks outweighed the danger of the severe depression I was battling. Suddenly, getting back on the bike was everyone's primary objective, and my family and I worked very hard to achieve that goal.
Fast forward to the end of last year, I was back on the bike, and getting my fitness back to levels that were better then before the accident! My goal, to get back on the bike, pushed me, and I did it. It wasn't easy, and it's still a challenge riding while still recovering from a TBI. But, a new issue popped up. I started to slump again, and many of the TBI issues that were getting better started to slip away. My personality requires something to strive for, like most people. So, my doctors told me to come up with another goal. I wanted to go back to competitive bike racing again, but at the time I still wasn't clear for that level of activity. So I thought about it ... during that time, I remembered watching the Ironman world championships in Kona on TV, and enjoyed when the coverage switched off the pros and concentrated on the regular competitors racing in the event. I always thought, 'if they could do something that like, then I should be able to do it'. The goal quickly become clear ... become an Ironman finisher. When I told my family, and doctors, it wasn't popular, haha! Similar to me wanting to get back on the bike. I got a lot of concerned looks. But I was pretty clear, and told everyone...
go big, or go home
That brings us to nine months ago, when I started my training for Ironman Coeur d'Alene. I knew it was going to be a challenge. I mean, my god, I never properly swam in my entire life. I couldn't even swim 25 yards without dying! So I first needed to learn how to swim. And that brings us to today, just three days away of achieving the biggest athletic goal of my life.
Ironman has pushed all the limits of my brain injury, but I pushed through, learned, and adjusted. I can't train like your average athletes can, I had to respect my limitations and find ways around them.
On a side note, I've been thinking about writing a post about how I live/train while still recovery from a TBI. I know there are others out there in similar positions.
Here's to Sunday, where I go in for my first Ironman, and fourth triathlon, and cross that finish line to hear the announcer tell the crowd, and me...
Erin Hamilton! You are an Ironman!
(technically Ironwoman ... but technicalities 🙂)
This goal saved my life. Gave me purpose. Gave me structure. If you put in the work, the dedication, you can achieve anything! You just have to believe in yourself! Never be afraid to ask for help. Put the plan together, and execute. Keep fighting!
I would have never reached this point without the help and support of others, and I can't thank them enough! This journey didn't take it's toll on just me, and took its toll on my family, and friends. They went through the ups and downs with me, and still stood next to me! They are all amazing people, and I'm so happy and proud to have them all in my life.