The tree that led me to tri
Two dates are burned in my memory. The
day of my accident — and the day I stopped thinking about my accident.
by Pam Beaton
we all did the things we are capable of doing, we would literally astound
ourselves,” so said Thomas Edison. What he failed to mention is that
sometimes we don’t realize what we are capable of until a catastrophe of
epic (oh alright, minor) proportions forces us to. Who knew that something
as immovable as a tree would be the transforming force that would alter my
pursuit of that elusive winning attitude? It took 28 years to come to this
realization and it couldn’t have come at a better time.
Finding My Niche
As a child, I was always active in sports and dancing, even if my short
attention span didn’t keep me there. I usually managed to participate, but
never truly attempted to excel, content with the status quo.
When I entered my first real competitive sport, soccer, I tried a little
harder, but never wanted to succumb to the pressing “win” attitude that
many of the parents had. Eventually I progressed to track and field –
hurdling and jumping through my teenage years.
But as I entered adolescence, the effort I put
forth wasn’t the best it could have been. Eventually, I left high school
an athlete, not a first-place finisher.
Lifting The Weight
In the 10 years since graduation I changed my athletic focus to
weightlifting — avoiding cardio like the plague. In weightlifting, I
thought I’d found the key to my lackluster zest for winning, by not having
To further nurture this I obtained my personal training certification.
Weightlifting has been sufficient to quell my need for athleticism, and I
am happy with my strength gains over the years.
Despite these gains, I always felt that my body, mind and spirit were
capable of more, but I didn’t know what would bring me greater
satisfaction. At that time, I was looking towards the future, although I
didn’t know it would bring a tree.
Fighting Trees Does Pay
Almost two years ago, I moved from Nevada to Massachusetts because I
needed a drastic change. It was a change not just in population and
culture, but in vegetation as well!
In Nevada I never saw shrubbery that was taller
than three feet or wasn’t of the sagebrush variety. And even when I did I
could plow through Nevada vegetation like a tractor through a Missouri
cornfield — with much ease. Massachusetts trees, however, are much more
The details are too lengthy to outline, not to mention embarrassing, but
one night I ended up on the losing side of a fight with a tree. The crash
left me with minor but temporarily disabling injuries.
Road To Recovery Begins
In medical terms, I had a closed compound fracture of my left ulna and
radius resulting in internal fixation to stabilize both bones. In reality,
my left forearm was snapped in half, encased in a cast for six weeks and
outfitted with extra hardware — two metal plates and 12 screws.
All of my weightlifting progress disappeared the moment I crashed into
that tree, and I thought I would never be able to lift again. Eventually,
I realized that nothing would keep me from the gym.
After A Tree, Tri’ing Should Be Easy
Because I lost movement in my left arm, I had to leave my job as a
bartender, although the silver lining was that I got another job more
suited for my education. But to offset the ridiculous cost of living in
this great state, I got a second job teaching swimming lessons at the
local YMCA. I soon found that teaching squealing children to swim was
nothing compared to rehabilitating my swimming technique.
Little by little, I increased my swimming time and tried to lift weights
again. In the beginning, it was torture. Every concentric movement was
agony, every pull of my hand through the water was painful, and gripping a
weight was excruciating. Nowadays, the pain has ebbed, although I still
wear my scars proudly. The lifting and swimming has gotten easier, and I
have managed to incorporate a minimal amount of cardio.
The passing of my 28th birthday prompted me to pursue a new goal . The
fact that my swimming improved in leaps and bounds got me to thinking
about doing a triathlon. Regaining my strength after the accident took
courage, but pushing myself to such a new athletic goal as doing a tri
would take guts. I chose guts.
Two dates are burned in my memory. The day of my
accident — and the day I stopped thinking about my accident – that’s the
day I decided to do a triathlon.
Hitting a tree has taught me many things, but fighting back has meant the
lesson of a lifetime. What I learned is this — the past will always be
there to haunt me, try to hold me back, but the future is mine to conquer
and astound myself.
Check back later for more....