An endless string of injuries and sickness meant only one race in 2015 for Linsey Corbin, but the Bend, Oregon resident is now making lemonade out of those lemons. She feels fit and healthy and is currently training in Maui, Hawaii.
Slowtwitch: It is good to chat with you in Maui.
Linsey Corbin: Thank you.
ST: Why Maui?
Linsey: Well, this fall I went to Kona to watch the Ironman and I was kind of bittersweet to be there. I had never just watched the race, and I was in Kona 10 pounds overweight and super injured. I had not even worked out in about 8 weeks, and then decided that I had to come back to Hawaii to have good memories and do something fun. So right around that time we booked tickets to Maui to celebrate Christmas here and do something unique we had not done before. I was also pretty optimistic that I would be healthy enough to train by now, and rather than trying to find fitness in the cold weather of Oregon and riding the trainer for hours on end, we decided to go to Maui to get fit right here in a positive environment. It is energizing and yeah, that is what we are here for.
ST: So when did you arrive?
Linsey: I came on December 15th and was here about 10 days and then Chris came. Now Chris will be here for 10 days and then I will have another 10 days alone. Returning on January 11th.
ST: Are you missing the nice weather at home?
Linsey: We actually started to get snow around Thanksgiving, this year and so I felt that I got my Christmas holiday with all that snow we had in Bend. But now in nice weather here, before we go home for some more snow. It has been quite the winter in the Pacific Northwest. But as I said, riding the trainer to find fitness did not sound like much fun, so I think I found a great winter to be a snowbird.
ST: How was Christmas?
Linsey: Christmas was different. It was the first time we haven’t been around our family, and that is very important to Chris [Corbin] and I, so it was an alternative Christmas. We were adopted by our friend Aaron Altura whom we have known for years. He is a friend of many pro triathletes and I met him through Chris Lieto. Brent McMahon has also stayed with him, and he lives here in Maui with his family. The whole family is actually involved with the local tri club and so they never thought it was crazy when I went for a 12-mile run, or rode my bike for 5 hours. That was just normal for them. Chris and I also went on a cool hike, so this week was surely more of a vacation versus a traincation. But this coming week the traincation starts.
ST: Are you well and healthy?
Linsey: Yes, I am 100% healthy and all my bad fortune from the last year is hopefully behind me. No aches, no pain and I am just building my base for 2016 right now.
ST: Is 2015 a year you are happy to say good riddance to?
Linsey: 2015 is a year I would like to forget, but I actually learned a lot about myself and now have greater respect for what we as athletes do. A lot of learning and growth happened in 2015 and hopefully I can put those lessons to use in the future. I pretty much did not race all year and that is something I never expected. And so I just assumed that I would be healthy and things would be fine. Maybe a few small bumps along the way, but I had to deal with severe bumps in 2015. So I decided to put the year to rest, and now I am looking forward to 2016 and onward.
ST: Is it maybe best to deal with all these bumps in one year versus having it spread out over several seasons?
Linsey: It was just a bad domino effect and one thing after the next happened. Bad luck and bad timing, but I am doing my best to focus on the positive that comes out of it. I now have a lot of built-up motivation for when the going gets tough in 2016.
ST: I think your only race in 2015 was 70.3 St. George.
Linsey: That is right and that was also a forgettable race. I was still recovering from being sick in South Africa, so I had a bunch of lung stuff going on when I raced St. George. When I finished the race I learned that I had a broken femur. St. George and I did not get along this year.
ST: How did that chain reaction of bad luck get started?
Linsey: It probably started in February. I went to a training camp in Clermont, Florida with my coach Jesse of QT2 Systems and training camp was awesome. I was gearing up to race the championship event in South Africa and I went straight from training camp to Mexico to celebrate my dad’s 70th birthday. In my head I thought I would go to training camp and work really hard and then recover in Mexico for a week. But I think I did not properly recover while we were in Mexico and I actually got sick while we were there, and that was in mid February. Came home from Mexico and finally got over what I got in Mexico, and the next day we were on a plane to South Africa. My immune system was likely not 100% on that long flight to South Africa, and it was about 2 days of traveling to get there. But I was excited to be there and felt healthy and trained for a couple days and fell in love with the course. I was excited to race and I did feel fine.
ST: And then?
Linsey: On a training ride about a week before the race I got stung in my ear by something. It was a bug, and I never had an allergic reaction before, but my ear swelled up and I started to fell not very well. I am still not sure if it was related to that, but the next day I had a high heart rate, and then I got a fever and chills. We went to the doctor and they did some blood tests, and it turns out I had both a bacterial and viral infection. So I took a 1-day liquid Z-pack and was hoping I would be healthy enough to start the race. But then I got the most sick I ever have been in my whole life. So I did not leave the hotel for 5 days and was crawling on all fours to the bathroom. It was miserable. I [obviously then] did not start in South Africa, and we cancelled our trip and came home early. That was the beginning of April. All April I was home in Bend, but the next mistake I made was that instead of respecting how sick I had been I was just “oh it was just a cold and I am fine” and just started to train again. I thought about moving my schedule around and racing Ironman Texas.
Linsey: I think my immune system was shot from being sick and just pushed on with the training. I wasn’t doing anything crazy but I still had a chest infection. I was coughing up a bunch of stuff and went to St. George like that. I then woke up after St. George and had a sore hip flexor. I had sore calves, sore quads and since it was the first race of the year I did not think much of it. But all the other soreness went away except for that hip flexor. I was not running on it because I knew from experience that you don’t run through an injury. I then had an MRI and it showed that I had a stress fracture in my femur. I was diagnosed with that in mid May and it was a very atypical stress fracture. A lot of doctors looked at it as they had not seen one in that location before. It was a non-weight bearing stress fracture, but we were not sure what caused it. So I basically did not run from May 1st [St. George] to November 1st.
ST: But you sounded hopeful somewhere in between that you still might come back from this and go to Kona to race.
Linsey: The doctors told me 8-10 weeks and it was a very small stress fracture. Some thought it could almost have been a stress reaction. I then went on crutches and really respected the injury the first month, but then I thought I could get fit in 4 weeks and race and qualify for Kona. I definitely pushed the cross training, the swimming and the biking, and it wasn’t causing any pain. So I thought I should be able to race an Ironman in late July, or early August and squeeze into Kona. Looking back that probably wasn’t the smartest decision. But those are the lessons you learn.
I tried to run-walk in late July and I felt pain. So I had another MRI and it showed that it was not healing at all. The location where the stress fracture was such that anytime I was walking it was putting strain on the hip, and the bone just was not able to heal.
ST: So it was season over for sure at this point?
Linsey: I was still hopeful that I could race somewhere by November, and I just do not like to give up. [laughs] I still cross trained a little bit for another month and thought the MRI must be wrong. In mid August I run-walked again and the exact same pain was there. That is when I knew that my body had won and I had lost. So it was time to really rest and my husband Chris, who put up with a lot of tears and frustration this summer, basically threw down the gauntlet in mid August and said “ I don’t think you can sit on the couch and do nothing for a week.” And anyone knows I like a good challenge and I pretty much sat on the couch for 8 weeks. People don’t believe me, but I did not walk around the block, or go to the grocery store. I did nothing. I have an all or nothing personality, so I was either going to be all in or all out, and that is pretty much what happened. I did nothing for 8 weeks. And I had an MRI after those 8 weeks and it came back all clear. The first exercise I had was walking around in Kona in the expo, and that was exhausting.
ST: Earlier you mentioned Kona being bittersweet for you. Can you talk about that?
Linsey: I loved watching the race on race day, but being in Kona in general was pretty difficult. I did not expect it to be easy, but I made the decision to go because I am a huge fan of triathlon. I was either going to watch the race from my computer at home, or watch it in person [in Kona.] I have been racing in Kona for 9 years, 2015 was supposed to be 10, and I have never watched it before. But it was bittersweet, I was not tanned, not in shape and not training, and it was a harsh reality to be at my goal race and be so far from my goals. But it was super fun to watch the race unfold and to cheer people on. But physically it was super hard and I was exhausted at the end.
ST: You also volunteered in Kona.
Linsey: I did registration earlier in the week and then I did bike check-in the day before the race. I then did body marking on race day and that was a lot of fun to see everyone come in.
ST: Did you attend more social events now that you did not race?
Linsey: I definitely did more than I normally do, but I also wasn’t over the top. I missed the Thank God I Am Not Racing party, I needed to rest up for the big day.
ST: So what is next?
Linsey: I will be in Maui for about 2 more weeks and then I will go home. In mid to late January I am speaking at a USAT athlete symposium in Richmond, VA and then I am flying from there to Clermont, FL for a couple days and then I am racing 70.3 Panama. I just bought the plane tickets, it is just a month away and I was in denial for a while that I was able to race, but I think it is a reality now. I think I am going to do it. [laughs]
ST: We wish you best of luck and enjoy those last two weeks in Hawaii.
Linsey: Thank you, I am looking forward to it.
You can follow Linsey Corbin via Twitter at @linseycorbin
All images © Chris Corbin of Corbin Brands