Saturday, April 18, 2015


Recently Smashfest Queen announced a contest of sorts when they shared this post:
"We chose the name Unbreakable for our kit because we believe that, like the diamond, our strength is created under pressure. We believe that the bigger the challenge, the greater the opportunity for strength. We believe that what doesn't kill us makes us stronger.We would love to hear your story of a challenge you had to overcome in training or racing that ultimately added to your experience after which you emerged feeling Unbreakable."

Unbreakable kit shown here!
Instantly upon reading of the contest, I thought of my friend Shayna.  Many local people know Shayna personally or have seen her story either on the news or through a friend.  I messaged her and said:  THIS IS YOU!!  and encouraged her to share her story one more time.  Though the contest winners are chosen at random I believe Shayna is the definition of Unbreakable.  I am honored that she chose to share her story on my blog and I hope that I can represent her well.  Most of the story is written by Shayna unless I've noted otherwise.  I recommend grabbing a box of tissues...


June 30th, 2012 a beautiful morning for a bike ride with friends. Myself and five others head out for a ride called ‘Around the Mountain’.  After a bit of a warm up, Kata takes off quickly, Maria is in pursuit and I am trying like hell to keep up. The others are behind me. We all get separated about a mile apart. With my hands in the drops, my legs going as fast as I could, I look down at my Garmin to see my speed at 25MPH, when I looked back up I saw the car. I do not know if she saw me immediately, but I was told she never hit her brakes. A drunk driver in a Jeep (on her way home after a long night out) had pulled in front of me.  I did not have time to hit my brakes and we collided.

I remember seeing the Jeep, I remember feeling my body slam into the car and then I woke up. I was confused and not understanding what had happened. I turned my head to see my wrist had spun around and popped out of the skin, I couldn't move. I knew. My lungs had collapsed, I could not breath well and started to panic. I don’t even have words for the pain. I hope to God no one has to ever feel that. I hate that memory.

I was evacuated by helicopter to St Joseph’s hospital where I spent four and half hours in surgery. I shattered both wrists, collapsed my lungs, broke my pelvis in three spots (millimeters from my spine, so lucky!), broke my SC joint, tore the ac joint in one shoulder, tore the rotator cuff in the other, compound fracture on right knee.  Coming out of surgery every limb was covered in ace bandages and Velcro wraps, except for my left knee. After a few days I would try and walk on that leg but it hurt. Finally after a few days of complaining they x-rayed my knee. I went into another surgery lasting over 4 hours. Every ligament was completely torn, tendons ripped, knee dislocated and meniscus was displaced. For anyone that has had this type of reconstructive surgery, I am sorry.

I stayed in the trauma unit for 9 days. Maria never left my side, friends were always coming by to see me, and to help. So many people to thank! I will always believe in my heart that I had such a fantastic recovery because of the love I was shown from so many people.

After the hospital, I went home for two weeks were I stayed in a hospital bed. Friends would take shifts taking care of me and bringing over meals. After the first week I could move my arms but I could not weight bear. I was completely reliant on others.

Shayna one month post accident.

I spent the next two months in care center. I was unable to move my legs and still had no weight bearing on my wrists until the last week of my stay. I learned how to get in and out of a wheelchair, shower myself and finally got to take my first steps. I had a goal that kept me positive. I wanted to do Ironman 2013. I had been training for the Mountain Man triathlon when the accident happened.  Ironman was not on my radar at that time, but having finished Ironman Arizona 2011, I felt like that was the pinnacle of health and fitness that I wanted to get back to.  

Shayna 2 months post accident.  Learning to walk again.

I left the care center at the end of August 2012. I finally got to go home to continue my rehab there.  September, I had to have two more surgeries on my neck to repair the broken SC joint. I was unable to move my left arm for weeks. Feeling frustrated, scared and like I had another setback, I refused to let this get the best of me. On the positive side, I was able to walk more.

In mid-November 2012 I remember going down to watch Ironman Arizona at the bike course on the Beeline at Shea. Later that evening as I watched my friends finish Ironman, I made the decision. First thing in the morning I waited in line and signed up for IMAZ 2013. I signed up for Ironman so I would have a reason to get out of bed. (I could easily get depressed.) I signed up to prove to myself that the drunk driver did not get the best of me. I would not let her take anything more from me. I signed up because I just wanted to be me again.

Shayna promotes bicycle safety and law.  By law, vehicles are required to give 3 feet when passing a cyclist.  If there is not enough room to allow 3 feet, it is illegal and unsafe to pass.

The journey began. By December I learned how to walk some distance without a walker. Who knew that walking down a set of stairs required so much balance? January my goal was to ride my bike again. I don’t know how many times I ‘tried’ to ride but it was too much for me emotionally. Sometimes I would just look at the bike and cry. When I finally got that first ride in, I was so happy!!! I did it! Physically it was difficult as some days I had trouble getting my leg over the bike frame, or after a ride I would be stuck and couldn't get off without help.  Still to this day not every ride is easy, I get scared. Sometimes I can’t get on the bike because the fear is paralyzing.

Shayna's bike frame - destroyed when she was hit by a car.

February I started running. My runs were slow, painful and frustrating. I could barely run a 15 minute mile pace and only for a few minutes at a time. After every time I tried to run, I would have to rest and stay off my legs for days. My knees were so painful. It took months before I could go 3 miles without stopping. I tried everything I could do to make it easier to run. I went to physical therapy, I got my knees taped, I took Advil, I used compression and still to this day, I wear pain patches.

Over the next few months I got stronger on the bike and my muscles started to return. Every time I rode, I felt protected. My wife and my friends would ride next to me and behind me, helping me feel safe from cars. I had a goal and I was not going to stop till I got there.

I struggled, mentally and physically every time I ran. Looking back now, I am pretty sure I cried on every run.
My longest run before Ironman was 13 miles, most of which was walking. My plan was to run to each aid station then walk through.

Ironman morning I prayed to God.  I asked him to please just for this one day, allow me to be pain free.  I don't know if it was the endorphins, or everyone smiling and cheering me on out there, but He answered my prayers and for that one day, for those 12 hours, I was pain free.

I knew what my times would be for the swim and bike from training.  The run was unknown, but I just wanted to get through it and enjoy being out there.  Ironman is a good day, that's what sucks you in.  The training is awful and hurts, and then you get to race day and everyone is smiling and cheering, you just have to smile back.  

Shayna crossed the finish line of Ironman Arizona 2013 in 12 hours, 51 minutes, and 29 seconds.  A PR at the iron distance by an hour.  Doctors told her that if she hadn't been in such great shape when she was hit, she would have been dead.  Since November 2013 she has taken on the Tahoe Rim Trail 50k, Silverman 70.3 - a notoriously difficult half ironman, and the Tour de Scottsdale- among other smaller feats.  And recently she ran a half marathon NONSTOP, the first time she's been able to run more than 9 miles at a time since the accident.  

I asked Shayna what unbreakable meant to her.  She replied, "unstoppable, strong... determined."  She then asked me what it meant to me.  I told her that when I close my eyes, and I imagine her lying on the side of the road, shattered into a thousand pieces and then imagine her body knitting itself back together, healing, over months and years... that is unbreakable.  Not that we are never broken, but that when we are broken, we come back together stronger than we were before.  Shayna is UNBREAKABLE.  

Shayna in Orange Crush, smiling on her bike ride!


Runner Leana said...

I found this post through Smashfest's FB page. What an amazing story! Shayna truly is the definition of unbreakable. Congratulations to her on all of her accomplishments!

Cristin said...

Lpve you to death Shayna. Yes, this brought a flood of tears for lots of reasons. YOU are truly unbreakable. Hugs.