A bike accident left photographer Sara Black out of the Ironman 70.3 Asia-Pacific Championship but for her, getting back in the saddle is the start of a new journey

Photos courtesy of Sara Black

Sara Black

Last November 2015, I ran the New York marathon, my first ever. It was an amazing experience where I discovered I was limitless. That the things I told myself I could never do, I couldn’t do them because I planted that limited thought in my mind. But the marathon showed me that if I dug deep, I could achieve things beyond my wildest dreams. I was craving more and a triathlon seemed like a natural sport to transition to. Add to that a crazy bunch of tri-obsessed friends who wouldn’t stop encouraging me to give it a ‘tri.’

So in December 2015, I learned how to swim from scratch. Joined my first aquathlon (Atleta Ako) in March 2016 and then my first open-water swim (VIP swim in Lobo) in June. The only thing missing was the bike part. When a slot opened up to guest relay for Team Gotta in Ironman 70.3 Asia-Pacific Championship in Cebu, without even knowing how to bike, I said yes. (Totally disregarding the fact that I had a sad childhood where I did not learn how to bike!) When you’ve spent time developing your inner athlete, you just gain this confidence that you can enter any situation, you may not know how to wrap your head around it, but you know you’ll be fine.

Just another day after training with tri friends

So I bought a roadie, started riding casually, and then underwent serious training in June to make the 90km for Cebu. Two months! Could I make it?

I was very diligent with my four rides a week, and three weekends before the big race I attended a tri camp in Subic to prep me for Cebu. I was all pumped up.

Those hills in Subic were pretty challenging for a newbie like me. It was such a relief to get on the downhill. Finally, some speed. I was going about 50kph when I hit a pothole that had the same color as the road. There was no way for me to tell it was deep. When my wheel came out of the hole, I knew I couldn’t control the bike anymore, so I tried to steer it to some soft grass on the side of the road, and finally crashed on my left hip there. The bike flew away and my helmet cracked. That was how intense the impact was.

There was a big buzzing sensation and sound for a few moments, kind of like a short circuit. Then I wiggled my toes, moved my legs, and when I tried to get up—I felt the most excruciating pain in my hips. I just laid there refusing to move, but I couldn’t stay in the sun forever, so the guys on the SAG scooped me up and put me in the car. It was so painful, I didn’t know yet at that time my hip was fractured.

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An X-ray image of Sara’s hip fracture

When I got to the hospital in Subic, I was a mess. I was trembling, I was so scared. But somehow I was able to catch myself and establish presence of mind. I decided to accept the horrible tragedy that just happened and have faith that everything will turn out fine. Luckily, after I was transported by ambulance to Makati Medical Center and was able to get a CT Scan, it revealed that the hip fracture was stable and I didn’t need surgery. Thank God! What a miracle.

Visitors came in droves to support Sara

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I spent the next four days confined. I could barely move, otherwise there would be a shooting pain through my body. But throughout this whole ordeal, I never felt more loved. A flood of visitors came every single day to cheer me up. Love and prayers from friends and family from all over the world really helped put me in good spirits. Little did I know, the uphill climb was just about to begin.