Candice Appleby Not Racing Battle of the Paddle 2013


Candice Appleby - 4 time Battle of the Paddle Champion and a true SUP ambassador.


SAN CLEMENTE, California - Candice Appleby is one of the winningest stand up paddlers in the world and has won the Battle of the Paddle 4 times.  However, this year she has announced that she will not be racing due to a personal hand injury that just won't let her be at the top of her game.  Candice is an incredible athlete, sup racer, sup surfer and ambassador for stand up paddleboarding and will be greatly missed in the competition this year.  Please take the time to read her story as she tells it below:  


The Story


I’ve been in a bit (well a lot) of denial about the lack of progress of my injury. I had surgery in April and once the bandages came off and I got the “Okay” from my surgeon to get back in the water, I threw myself back into competition and training. “Let pain be your guide”, was his advice to me. Probably not the best advice for someone like me who has a pretty high pain tolerance. Not sure what that even means anyways. That advice, combined with pain medication, and a desire to compete and to be a part of our sport that I love in every way possible, made for a pretty destructive recipe.


My first race back happened on a whim. Anthony Vela and I traveled to Connecticut in June to put on a clinic as part of the Sounder Surfer Waterman Challenge. I wasn’t really planning on racing, but when I got there, saw the equal gender prize purse, $2500 1st place payout, and met an enthusiastic community that was excited to see me race, it was really hard for me to say no. The local shop graciously let me borrow one of my signature Surftech/Bark models off the rack and I was able to pull off the win. Doing a 10-mile race, untrained and just out of surgery was probably not the most professional decision and I felt it all over. Once, I did that race, I convinced myself that I was recovered and threw myself back into competition and training, all while battling my own body.


Over the past few months I’ve been trying to prepare and get my body in peak form, but I keep hitting a wall. I’ll have a few good days of training, but then my hand will be too painful and swollen and I can’t paddle for 5 days or so. I got through Molokai (regaining much or my inner strength), the Gorge Paddle Challenge, and the Ultimate Sup Showdown, but not without the help of pain medications (Meloxicam, and anti inflammatory/non-narcotic pain med). After the last event in Waikiki, I took myself off the pain meds cause I read about some gnarly intestinal side affects that I didn’t want any part of. I was also afraid that if I didn’t feel 100% of the pain, I might just hurt myself more (which I was).


In the last month, I continued to fight my body and prepare for Battle, but I’ve been beating myself up. I can’t fully grip my paddle with my left hand and the physical and mental pain of it all has just become too much to bear. Surfing isn’t so bad, cause all it takes is a few strokes to get into a wave, and then like any surfer knows, once you’re on a wave, there is no pain. The waves have a way of washing it all away. But even so, I have to pull back from sup surfing and give my body time to heal.


When it comes to racing, I just can’t race through the pain anymore. In the past I used to have to win to prove to myself my worth. I got picked on a lot as a kid and was in some bad situations as an adult even, so when I excelled in Sup, the feeling of winning gave me a lot of self-validation. But in working through my injury, getting past the anger of how it happened, the shame and self-loathing, I’ve gotten to a really good place in my life. I know it wasn’t my fault, I’m not ashamed anymore and I know who I am. I can honestly say that I love myself and I don’t have to put my body through physical and mental pain anymore to prove anything to myself or anyone else. It’s time to give myself a break and be a responsible Professional Athlete; rest my body and let myself heal.


The Injury


In February of 2011 my hand got in the way of someone’s foot, as it was on its way to kick me in the chest. Yes, truthfully/sadly enough, my injury is a defensive wound from a past abusive relationship. Over the course of 2 years, I had multiple appointments with various doctors and specialists, trying to figure out exactly what my injury was. Being that it’s a soft tissue injury in the Metacarpal Phalangeal Joint (left index knuckle), diagnosis is very difficult, as is making a fist and holding a paddle. I begged for an MRI for two years, explaining to my doctors that I’m an athlete and my hands are my livelihood, but their response was cortisone shots. So for the past few seasons I was racing injured covering up my injury with the “band aid” of cortisone.


My left side had become progressively weaker as I was unable to do the typical strength training exercises like pull-ups and using free weights. Finally in March of this year, after refusing another cortisone injection into my hand, I was given a referral to orthopedics where on my first visit, my surgeon said, “We’ll definitely give you an MRI.” I waited two years to hear that. A week later I had the MRI and he determined I would need surgery. I had surgery in April, which is why I missed event #2 of the Stand Up World Tour of Surfing in Brazil.


Before my surgery, my surgeon told me that I would be ready to compete in the Carolina Cup, three weeks later. Haha. Yeah right. I couldn’t even pick my nose if I wanted to, let alone, grip a paddle. I had a positive distraction during my initial healing process, as I was busy planning the Performance Paddling Junior Pro & Youth Sup Fiesta, with Anthony Vela. Well, fast-forward almost six months and my hand isn’t any better than it was before my surgery. It hurts every day and I can barely open a zip loc bag or even hold a cup off coffee in my left hand. I have faith that I have found a great physical therapist now and that I’ll be able to get my hand where it needs to be eventually.


But in the mean time, I know I have a lot to offer our SUP community beyond racing. All of my sponsors, friends, family and fans have been super supportive and I am so grateful for that. All I ask it to keep me in your prayers and for any one out there who is in a bad situation like I was a few years ago, please learn from my experience and know that you are good, and worth of being treated with respect.


Learn more about Candice Appleby here: candiceappleby.com

Learn more about Candice Appleby and Performance Paddling for Youth here: performancepaddling.com



Last modified onFriday, 27 September 2013 17:37

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