Russell Tan is one of an unfortunate group of RTB members who've had an accident riding their bike. In 2015 he was hit by a car in Seward Park and ended up in Harborview pretty banged up. He's launching his comeback to triathlon and took some time to answer some questions about where he's at now and how that experience has changed him. Good stuff!
How long did your recovery take?
What were the factors or people that had the biggest impact on your recovery?
I believe the mental and physical therapy had the biggest impacts to my recovery. From a PT standpoint, I had to have a unique type of therapy considering I participate in 2 elite sports: CrossFit (I'm a coach too), and Triathlon. I received anywhere but not limited to personal training, acupuncture/flame cupping, massage, TPI (trigger point injections), ASTYM (If your condition includes soft tissue degeneration, scarring, or fibrosis, ASTYM can boost your body’s natural capacity for healing by grooming down scar damage). In hindsight, I didn't get any mental therapy, but I believe there was a flame inside of me and mental fortitude to get past this and be the best version of myself. Talking with friends and family in the sport and alike really helped. There were numerous people who visited me at home after the accident, and that gave me hope and strength.
What were the most significant non-physical impacts from your accident?
The mental aspect of getting back on the saddle was huge. My first ride back, I was on the road with a few friends and had tons of angst, but without them near me acting as a shield of sorts, I couldn't tell you how long it would take for me to get back on the saddle.
What did you learn about yourself through the whole ordeal?
We get stuck in the hustle and bustle of external factors and having nice things, having a great career, and living up to the status quo of what people have/think, that it's real simple for me these days: Live in the moment, enjoy life, and take advantage of this 2nd chance in life you were given. Appreciate and love the ones who showed up when it mattered most and haven't wavered until this day.
Did you learn anything new or see anything differently now?
I appreciate the sport even more now considering what happened. Not just the physical preparation, but the key details that help aid in your performance such as supplementation. I learned about so many new and helpful products to take. Equipment was another thing. I've always valued paying an extra dollar to get a quality product and learned I got what I paid for when I didn't. Had it not been for my Catlike helmet maintaining its integrity as I hit the windshield and ground, I may not be writing this e-mail to you. $300 is a small price to pay for vs. your life!
What are your recommendations for someone who faces a similar situation?
Take you time...there were moments where I tried to get a week ahead of schedule in PT, or assumed, "ok, I'll be good next month." As weird as this sounds, embrace and enjoy the journey. Take stock of the good and the bad moments, because you'll learn a lot about yourself and realize what kind of internal grit and mental endurance you have.
What are you most thankful for today?
I'm thankful for this second chance at life and being able to partake in this sport and appreciate others that are near and dear to me. I'm extremely grateful to all of the trainers and family/friends who tireless stood by my side to get me back here. I'm excited to get back to the starting line at 70.3 on 6/30/19--everything happens for a reason, and there's a reason I'll be blessed to have that natural high crossing the finish line and being announced that I'm an Ironman again--there's no other feeling that comes to it. The fans, the final 100 yards, crossing the finish line with flashes of light from cameras hitting my face, the volunteers holding onto me and handing me my medal. This all happened to make me realize that I have more work to do and others to share the journey with--one mile at a time leading up to 140.6 and the beauty life has to offer.
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