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  • Sep

    Journey To Rio: A Bump in the Road, Literally

    By Jarrod Shoemaker, 2008 Olympic Triathlete

    Editor’s Note: The road to Olympic qualification in triathlon is a complicated one for the average fan. Between event results, point standings and U.S. qualification events, there are several different ways to punch your Rio ticket.  One qualifying event was at last month’s Rio test event. Another is this weekend at the ITU Triathlon Grand Final in Chicago. We checked in with in-house triathlon expert and 2008 Olympian Jarrod Shoemaker on his latest Journey to Rio with the Chicago triathlon looming on Saturday.

    Everything was moving smoothly into Rio. I arrived into town a week before the race in early August and had acclimated very well. Running and swimming were on point and the little biking I did outside was great. Mostly we were inside on trainers since the traffic is crazy and there is not really anywhere to bike that is quiet or safe.

    Our race was on Sunday and on Saturday morning we had the race course preview. We met in transition and did one lap as big group and on the second lap we were able to take the hill and downhill a bit faster if we wanted.

    I decided to take a faster trip down the hill and ended up with a bit too much speed and nowhere to go. I had the option of trying to jump the curb at speed or hit a parked car trying to complete the turn. I hit the curb at speed and the next thing I remember is one of our coaches Bobby next to me tell me to just relax and me reaching over touching my collarbone and saying wow I broke my collarbone.

    From there it was waiting for an ambulance and a trip to the hospital for x-rays and a CT scan where it was confirmed that I had broken my collarbone -- but also that I did not have a concussion. Since I did not have a concussion I was able to travel back home that night.

    I flew back from Rio to Houston and onto Boston where my mom picked me up at the airport, when I should have been racing in Rio. It was quite a disappointment, but something I have not even thought about. As soon as the injury happened my focus was on getting it fixed and recovery.

    Going from being in the best shape of my life to a broken collarbone to surgery and not being able to move my arm was quite a shock. I started racing in 2004 and I had never had missed for than a few days of training due to any injury. For sure I have crashed and had cuts, scrapes, bruises, and small injuries, but never anything serious.

    Looking back on this injury I was very lucky, I ended up crashing on dirt instead of pavement or into a car so I only broke my collarbone and had a few minor scrapes. It could have been much worse walking away with only a broken collarbone was lucky.

    The bigger question is where does this leave me in regards to Olympic qualification, and that answer is tough. In Rio, no other U.S. male qualified so all three spots are open still, but we have five important races: Rio, Chicago and one next year to be determined that can act as auto-qualifiers, as well as Stockholm and Edmonton World Triathlon Series races where we can score points. I missed Rio and Stockholm was August 23; Edmonton was September 6, so I am missing 3 races leaving only Chicago on September 19 and next year’s race for me to either auto qualify or score points. It will be a challenge – but I am ready to take it on.

    As of right now, I am working one day at a time, one workout at a time. I am hoping to be back for some race this year but I am not banking on any one race. My goal is to be back and be back healthy.

    Sometimes it is hard to take things one day at a time, but ultimately sometimes it is fun to step back and just live in the process of training. Taking each session for what it is, each step forward deserves a smile, and being happy for every gain.

    Read Journey to Rio: Part 1 here.

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