Tragedy to Triathlon!

To say that triathlon has simply changed my life would be an understatement. Triathlon has not only changed my life, but has changed me as a person, my outlook on life, and more importantly my overall attitude.

Four years ago,  I tore my Piriformis muscle playing soccer (a muscle in the gluteus that is used for lateral rotation of the leg). The experimental surgery was full of risks. It was a difficult decision, but I decided to face what was deemed to be impossible. .  The surgeon told me I  would NEVER run, play soccer, and there was a chance  I might never walk again.  I was also told that the scars would be huge, the pain would be excruciating, and my body would never be the same.

The surgery consisted of cutting from the upper part of my hip extended around the outside of my hip and continued down the middle of my thigh. My gluteal muscles were split along the fibers to expose my Piriformis muscle and then my Pirformis was cut in half, in order to take the pressure off of my Sciatic Nerve.

I remember lying in the hospital bed after the surgery in a lot of pain.  I couldn’t move my leg without help. I was given a walker so that I could get around and eventually I graduated to crutches and then a cane (quite a sight to see a 20 year old walking around with a cane). Physical therapy was terribly painful for the next six months, but I made a commitment to make it back to my soccer team by August and I was well on my way there, until I tore the Piriformis muscle in my opposite leg.

One of the very few pictures Jess would allow to be taken during recovery

364 days after the first surgery, I went back in to the same surgeon and scheduled the second.   This time was different, what if I wasn’t so lucky the second time around? Even with  fewer complications and shorter rehab, it was still painful and frustrating.    My hopes and dreams started to fade. I quit the soccer team in hopes that I could just focus on my rehab. If it wasn’t for my athletic trainer working by my side for those two years,  I would not be the athlete that I am today. He believed in me when I didn’t believe in myself.

With my soccer career over, I didn’t know who I was anymore, until I discovered the love of swimming.  A friend worked with me at perfecting my stroke and breathing and I was getting pretty good.  I got involved with the club swim team at school, took up mountain biking, and started running.

A close friend got into triathlon training. The feeling of competing for yourself but ultimately for a team is a feeling that I have never experienced.  I competed in my first race this May in an XTERRA off-road triathlon and was hooked!

Xterra Eureka Springs - Jess placed 5th overall! FIRST in age group!

This journey has taught me many things. It taught me to stand up and fight, believe in myself, never let anyone dictate what will become of me, and most importantly it taught be that the impossible is ALWAYS attainable.

If you are facing a overwhelming obstacle in your life, take it from me – you are stronger than you think! Never give up on your dreams because if you are willing to work and sacrifice, then you can achieve them, no matter what they may be!

Upcoming Races:  XTERRA DeGray Lake on August 20th and the National Championships for XTERRA on September 24th.


One thought on “Tragedy to Triathlon!

Comments are closed.