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TRIA Orthopaedic Center Your Cycling Blog

Hilary’s Road Home

June 11, 2009

Hilary Billington is a professional cyclist for Team Lip Smacker. Her path to and fro the NVGP has been rough, and now she’s headed back home. Read about it:

I am on an airplane now, heading home. This is not where I want to be. I want to be with the team, resting up before the crit tonight. But I’m doing the right thing, I keep telling myself this, through my tears of disappointment. Three weeks ago I was in urgent care. As I was hooked up to an IV, I realized that even though I did “everything right” to get better from my cold the week before, well some things you just can’t control. In a matter of hours, I went from going for an easy ride, but with good legs, to full blown Pneumonia with two-thirds of my left lung filled with fluid. So, off went Philly from my schedule. But, we were hopeful and my coach (Michael Engleman of the USWCDP) and I thought Nature Valley would still be a good possibility. As things progressed, and I kept getting healthier, things were looking better and better. I had 2 solid workouts, so we figured I was good to go. I knew I would not be 100%, but my team was super supportive and a new plane ticket was bought.

The problem is, I have 2 little germ factories at home that are named Shaw (7 years) and Carleton (5 years), and contrary to what Michael might recommend, I’m not giving them up for adoption! Four days ago Shaw brought home a cold that I thought I would avoid. Apparently my immune system was not up for the challenge.

The irony in all this is that today is the one year anniversary of the day that Michael (and the USWCDP) started helping me. One year ago Michael responded to the message from “me” asking for help. I was new to the sport, and I had no idea what I was doing. But my husband knew this, and knew that I needed some direction. He also knew that I would not listen to him, no matter how much research he did. So my husband crafted the email asking for help, sent it off, and Michael responded with – “Call me, we should talk”. Scott came home that night, and filled me in on the latest developments in my email account, with the caveat that if I was really mad at him, I just didn’t have to call Michael. So, Michael and I have had many a laugh about this over the past year – he claims false representation. My answer is always the same – I know a good lawyer (my husband).

You see, last year I was in a similar predicament, I got Pneumonia and being brand new to this level of racing, I did some stupid things. I got sick, took 2 days off, then pushed it, and kept pushing it, till 4 weeks later, my asthmatic lungs said enough, and pneumonia set in.

But this time I was smart, this time it was supposed to be different. This time I had Michael’s direction; direction I was listening to. Something that is not always so easy for me. So as frustrated as I am, I know that I did the right things. My Pneumonia cleared up this time. But my immune system couldn’t handle another hit so soon after, and the first germ I came into contact with made its home in my system.

So, with “the rug pulled out from under me”, I’ve had some time to reflect. I went into this year thinking I had no where to go but up. I thought, look at how far I’ve come in the last 2 years. Just think how far I can go in the next 2 years. But, as my team mate Anne Samplonius agreed, the mountain gets much steeper the closer you get to the top. But forward I move, because I’m not about to turn around now.

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