Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Steps Forward

There have been countless times over the last years, months and weeks that I've wanted to write publicly about the health issues I've been experiencing. But I've held off, firstly as I haven't felt ready, and secondly because it's such a long story, I just haven't quite known where to start.

The last week I've been here in Latvia with the NZ WOC team; friends who live on the other side of the world and whom I haven't seen since WOC last year, i.e. before all the crazy stuff went down. It's been a chance to catch up and fill in just what's been happening. I was hesitant at first, but eventually agreed to sit down with Gene for an interview where I've given a brief* overview of things - from my first scary episode through everything to post-op recovery and rehab.

*you may not think 45mins is brief, but believe me, once started on this I could talk for hours. Or days.

If you like awkward interview videos, you can watch the interview on youtube below, or find the podcast on Gene's website:

And while I haven't found the words to write about things yet, things are going better than I could ever have hoped for with recovery. The only goal this year is to enjoy whatever exercise my body feels up to, and the only focus to build up positive experiences to replace those of previous years. In both regards I can say I'm well on track.

In particular it's been amazing to get out and run races which in previous years have been a near impossibility without either having to stop and walk, or risk passing out. Being able to not just finish, but actually fight right to the finish lines at both Tiomila and Jukola was something I could only dream about in the last years, or even 6 months ago. Whilst running sprints and sprint-relays was something I have been too afraid to even attempt for over 2 years, as there was a >90% chance I wouldn't finish.

Tiomila 2016: 10s later I was passed out on the finish line.
Tiomila 2018: Drinking champagne on the finish line.

WOC sprint 2017: Jogging the run through and walking the second half of the course,
the only way to make it to the finish line.
WOC sprint relay 2018: Racing my heart out (sorry, bad turn of phrase)
in the finish sprint to stay ahead of Austria.
To be here in Latvia and racing WOC, 10 months after open heart surgery, is simply insane. I will happily admit that. 6 months ago, I didn't even want to think of competitive orienteering. My training (although I am reluctant to call it training!) has been solely what I feel like doing, and what my body feels up to doing, on any given day. Up to a week ago, I hadn't stepped a foot in Latvian forests, and had all but refused to do any WOC specific preparation. But what can I say? Once the atmosphere gets you, there's nothing more fun and enjoyable than hitting the start line and giving it your all. I don't think the thrill of finally being able to push hard and fight right to the finish line is going to wear off for a long long time!
Game face. 3 days post-op.
Game face. 10 months 3 days post-op.


  1. Wow Lizzie. I loved watching this. Thank you so much for sharing your story. You’re tough as! Have a blast in the long and look forward to following the rest of your adventures!

  2. Thank you for sharing! You are a fighter, enjoy the long distance :)