December 24, 2022 3 min read

2022 has been an interesting year for me as an athlete. In January I dislocated my elbow and fractured my radius head in a bouldering fall. After surgery, it took months of aggressive physical therapy to regain mobility, stability, and strength in my elbow and the surrounding muscles and ligaments.

In May I toed the line for my first obstacle race post-surgery at the Big Bear Annie Dube Spartan Big Bear Race in VJ Shoes XTRM 2 Spartan race. I went into that race with every intention of letting go of expectations and just having fun, with gratitude to just be able to race again. But the truth is that’s easier said than done. I was absolutely terrified standing on that start line. Don’t get me wrong, I get nervous for every race whether it be a world championship or a neighborhood 10k. But this was different. I couldn’t shake the nerves, my body felt tense, and I questioned what I was doing there. 

Crossing the finish line that day having completed every obstacle felt like a huge weight off my shoulders. Things were looking up.

Then just a month later an ankle injury took me out of the Spartan race in Puebla, Mexico. 

Injuries and setbacks are part of the game for us as athletes.

In some ways I think they help us become stronger competitors by testing us just as much mentally as they do physically. And while my mental game is certainly a major work in progress, I’m beginning to rediscover my passion for sport in ways that I haven’t felt in a long time. 

⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣I just returned from the Spartan World Championship race in Abu Dhabi. Prior to the race, I wasn’t feeling very invested and even questioned bailing on the trip altogether. Even once I arrived, I felt exhausted from the travel, my legs felt sluggish, and I felt ill-prepared for the heat.⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣

⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣Something changed the day of the race. I woke up feeling psyched. Giddy even.

A feeling I honestly haven't experienced this entire year. I'm not sure what triggered it but I rolled with it. The heat suddenly didn't feel so miserable. My legs felt fresh. I was ready.⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣

⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣The race didn't go perfectly but I'm stoked with how I attacked it. My heart Annie Dube in VJ Shoes at Spartan World Championship on Rope Climb was all in. I didn't hold back. I wasn't afraid to push to my limit. It can be a scary way to race but I tried to stay present and focus on each immediate task.⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣ I found myself in a fun battle with two of the strongest athletes in this sport. I had to be aggressive in the dunes and flow through obstacles efficiently. I launched myself off of walls, almost forgetting about my suspect ankle.⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣

⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣It felt so good to race hard and get a little reckless, more like my old self.

All was going well until I hit the ground hard jumping off the rope wall. My ankle buckled and sent a sharp pain up my shin. It rattled me and it took time to find my rhythm again. I spent the rest of the race fighting to make up lost ground. I’m disappointed that I let it shake me mentally but damn proud for putting myself out there and racing with heart.

⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣In some ways this race felt like a fitting ending to the strange year I've had.

Sometimes it all magically comes together.

But more often mistakes are made, injuries surface, a spear is missed. Podiums are nice but they aren’t the end game. I'm holding onto that fervor I rediscovered out in the desert - full heart, full throttle, a bit reckless - because that’s really what this racing thing is all about.

-Annie Dube @mountaingoatgirl