Mel Hauschildt’s Comeback Trail
For Melissa Hauschildt, this season’s greatest race has been to get back into top shape in time for Kona.
The Australian pro triathlete entered last year’s Ironman World Championship with high hopes but also with a mysterious pain. When riding, especially hard on flat terrain, her left leg would ache and then – as she’d describe it – go dead.
All photos © BrakeThrough Media
The problem turned out to be a kinked artery in her leg, a condition that would require multiple surgeries.
Pushing through pain is part of long-distance triathlon. A former standout runner, Hauschildt is a three-time world champ with two titles at the 70.3 distance and one in the ITU Long Distance. She’s used to pushing her limits.
“It had been coming on a couple of years,” she said. “I didn’t tell anyone because it was just kind of like my leg was dead but subconsciously I knew what to do. I got out of my saddle.”
The issues with her left leg got worse at the 2016 70.3 World Championships and by Kona, it was unbearable.
“As soon as I got on my bars and did 230 watts, it just shuts down,” Hauschildt said of her leg at 70.3 Worlds a year ago. “It’s like, what is going on? I started beating myself up, thinking I hadn’t tapered enough. Then after that 50km I got to the hills and I was fine…. I just kept thinking I just wasn’t recovered, but I got to the point where I was thinking why is the right one never aching?”
“At Kona, I just stayed down in my bars and I didn’t know what was wrong. … I was like, there’s nothing wrong, just stay down. Just keep pushing. I just stayed down for way too long and for the last 50 K’s it was the worse thing in the world.”
Hauschildt did not finish Kona. “That’s when I finally said I have to tell someone,” she said.
She was soon diagnosed and headed for surgery. She had her first surgery in March and another in June, during which she lost three liters of blood. “So my red blood cells have been dead low,” Hauschildt said.
Through it all, she focused on her recovery. Staying at sea level to replenish red blood cells. Running and swimming between surgeries. Her fitness is improving—she finished an impressive 10th at the recent 70.3 World Championship in Chattanooga.
For Hauschildt, the comeback trail leads straight back to Kona. We wish her the best on the Big Island.
What Melissa is Riding
Shifters: SRAM® RED® eTap® Clics™ on extensions, eTap® Blips on base bar
Front derailleur: SRAM® RED® eTap®
Rear derailleur: SRAM® RED® eTap®
Cassette: SRAM RED XG-1190, 11-26
Chainrings: SRAM RED 53/38
Wheels: Zipp® 858 NSW Carbon Clinchers
Aero cockpit: Zipp Bull, 40mm drop, with Vuka Evo carbon, 110mm
Power: Quarq® with SRAM RED cranks, 165mm
Tires: Zipp Tangente Course for training, Speed for racing
Frame: Blue Triad Elite SL