2016 Paralympic Track & Field National Trials - My 1st Broken Bone
It has been a windy road to Charlotte, North Carolina. My posts have been limited, though I’ll be uploading a handful of them from the past 1.5 years. Stay tuned!
I arrived in Charlotte North Carolina for the 2016 Paralympic Track & Field National Trials- the main and final qualifying race that would determine the US T&F Team for the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio. Johnson C. Smith University agreed to host Trials, and so I found a lovely AirBNB place 6 miles away from the track to call home for a handful of days. One of the great things about AirBnB is that having a kitchen enables me to stick to preparing my own food, exactly what I like, and what I know works for my training and racing needs! Another advantage is that I have a quiet and private space to rest, meditate, stretch, and much more.
Arriving in Charlotte proved to be tricky. Our flight from San Diego to Dallas went smoothly, but the connection from Dallas to Charlotte was cancelled; we were rebooked on a flight 15 hours later. With gratitude extended to the American Airlines Representative that assisted us, we got free vouchers for dinner that night and breakfast the next morning! Walking through the airport was interesting as I was wearing a “ boot” on my left foot. A week prior I learned that I had a stress reaction in my 2nd metatarsal- generally these can turn into stress fractures if proper rest and care isn’t taken. I was advised not to run the week leading up to trials, and that once Trials were over, three weeks off would be sufficient for the stress reaction to heal. I’ve had stress fractures in my shins/Tibias before, but the pain had felt different and more intense than what I was feeling in my left foot.
Nonetheless, I was icing, taking anti-inflamatories, massaging, and using KTape to treat my 2nd metatarsal. I was also fortunate to have a dear friend who is an Athletic Trainer and Massage Therapist meet me in Charlotte for additional muscle and fascial work on my whole body. She came equipped with all of her knowledge along with her tools, compression pants, and Laser therapy tools! I couldn’t have asked to be in better hands.
We all went to watch some of the races and to cheer on various teammates. Unlike my normal routine of doing a few laps on the track on days prior to my race, I opted to have Kyle do some laps on his own. This would enable Kyle to figure out what our running space would need to be in order to keep me away from the inside rail, and in my lane. It would also give him a chance to figure out how the curves and the straight aways of the track compared to the track at the Olympic Training Center. I was truly following advice, and not running until my race!
On Saturday, I went through all of my pre-race rituals, shaving my head, showering, taking my afternoon nap, and fueling and hydrating throughout the day. We left our home away from home at 3:00PM, and drove along easily on I16S to the track at Johnson C Smith University. After checking in and finding a spot to park our gear, it was time to start warming up. We didn’t have to do too much to get our muscles warm and our hearts pumping because the temperature was 95+ degrees with high humidity. We ran easy and did 3 strides. We sprayed ourselves with a melted though somewhat still cool water bottle, and stretched in the shade of a nearby tree.
It was now 4:30- time for one more restroom visit, a drink of water, changing into racing flats, and heading over to the Call Tent. This last check-in point is where we are given our lane assignments for our race, and our “Blackout Glasses” and spikes are checked. Then an official marks us ready to race, and when it’s time, they escort us out onto the starting line for our race. This was the 2nd time Kyle and I would be racing together, and qualifying for the 2016 Paralympics was on the line! I had dreamt of being in the Olympics since I was 7 years old, and here was my shot to make it!
Out in the audience were some incredible individuals bringing me their love and support. My Mom and Dad, my sister Sandra, my niece Ariana, my nephew William, my aunt Pieti, my dear friend and guide Brittany, and my phenomenal mentor and friend Kathy (with her daughter Anne and grandson Baby J). My husband John was track-side. It was a special moment because this was the first time all of them would be seeing me race on the track! Each of them had made an incredible effort to come to Charlotte for this moment, and their love and enthusiasm was palpable, and electric!
Kyle and I did one more stride as we approached the starting line, and then the official had us take our lane assignments and held up the starting gun. As Kyle confirmed that my left foot was perfectly set up at the line, and our tether was snug in our hands, I breathed deeply and exhaled, and the gun went off. It felt so magical to run! Stride for stride Kyle and I were comfortably gliding down the back straight of the track. The first lap was soon behind us, and for those first 76 seconds, I felt no pain in my left foot! Now we were into the mentally challenging part of the race- 2 laps that need to be as consistent as possible even as fatigue starts to set in. It was then that somehow, instinctually, I slowed down my pace, feeling that if I pushed my speed something unknown was waiting for me. Not being able to communicate much to Kyle, I managed to slow our pace down, and as we approached the last 300 meters of the race, I felt sharp pain on my left foot each time it made contact with the track. It was as one of my Doctor’s had said, “The first 400 meters will feel great, the next 800 will not feel that comfortable, and the last 300 may be painful. But you are in shape, you’re an experienced athlete, and you can get through it to qualify for the games.” He was exactly right!
Thankfully we were now on the home straight with 60 meters to go. It was then that I felt and heard an unforgettable sound, “SNAP”! My left foot seem to shorten up it’s stride and in that split second I knew, “It Broke!” In that instant, I knew my 2nd metatarsal bone had just snapped! A rush of adrenalin swept through my body, and my only thought was “Finish the race!” Thanks to Kyle’s continued encouragement, he guided me across the finish line, and into the hugs of my family and friends whom I hadn’t seen in months and some in years!
After a handful of pictures with my family, I was quickly escorted to the Medical tent. I recapped what I had felt, and after a few tests, and applying ice to my foot, the pain was unforgettably intense. As tears streamed down my cheeks, and as I wondered how I would heal, and unsure of whether I had made the Team, I was approached by the US Anti-Doping Agency- “You’ve been selected for random drug testing.” I’m all about “competing clean”, but the thought of somehow walking on a broken foot to a toilet that seemed far away, was unbearable. John graciously stepped in and carried me off to the drug testing zone. An hour later, I finally emerged and was off to an Urgent Care facility for X-rays. A great staff attended me, and the Dr. Confirmed “it’s definitely broken, but it’s a clean break. No misaligned bones, no chips, a nice clean break.” I was then given a pair of boots, the one for my left foot was to keep my foot as immobile as possible, and the one for my right foot was just to help keep me balanced! Actually, I managed to convince the Dr. That I should have 2 boots for balance purposes! Then came the newest experience of all, a pair of crutches!
I’ll have to post some video of me trying to figure out how crutches work,. It would not be possible to use a cane while using crutches, so navigating independently would be a challenge. If there’s anything I seem to handle well though, it’s challenges. So as not to dwell on that too much, I opted to go find something to eat now that it was 10:00PM, and a cold drink to sip on and ease the pain! Thank you to the Center City Hilton hotel “for keeping your restaurant open past 11:00PM”, and for the wonderful company to close out Saturday July 2, 2016!
On July 3, 2016, The US Paralympics announced the athletes that would represent the United States of America at the 2016 Paralympic Games – Ivonne Mosquera-Schmidt from New York City, and Guide Runner Kyle Wardwell will be representing the US in the Women’s T11 (totally blind) 1500 meters in Rio De Janeiro!
I’m only full of gratitude and thanks to all of you for your amazing and unwavering support and encouragement throughout this journey. Our lives are forever changed with each experience, and I know that each day we do the best that we can do that day and every day!
©2009-2016 Copyright Ivonne Mosquera-Schmidt all rights reserved.