On Sunday, August 26, two years of recovery culminated in Pentiction, for the 2012 Suburu Iron Man Canada triathlon, where Morrison raced in her first full event since her life threatening injury.
Not only did she finish the race, but she also placed third in the professional event.
Morrison says the event was all about overcoming the immense amount of obstacles – both mental and physical – she faced entering the race.
"It was a long time coming definitely, I mean I basically had a two year hiatus to recover from the injuries that I had. I wasn't fully prepared to do the run because I had tendonitis in my foot for a couple of months in April and May, so it set me back a little bit to getting those major base miles in."
Morrison says she’s pleased with her finish, but knows she can beat it with more preparation.
"It was solid enough, but I definitely want to continue to get the miles in and the base that I need to have the performance I know I have within me. But I mean, first Ironman back, third place is nothing to be complaining about.
"Solid enough" is an understatement when considering the severity of Morrison’s injuries. On June 10, 2010 while traveling from Penticton to Calgary, an oncoming van crossed into her highway lane, resulting in a head on collision which threw her vehicle 30 feet down an embankment.
The athlete was trapped alone in her car for 3 hours, and emergency responders had to use the Jaws of Life to remove her from her vehicle.
Once in hospital, it was determined that Morrison had suffered a shattered tibia and femur, a broken pelvis, fractured vertebrae, broken ribs, a punctured lung and a ruptured spleen. Other effects of the collision included her stomach moving into her chest, her heart being pushed to her side, a broken arm, along with a severe concussion.
She describes the injury as "as close to death as a human can go", and doctors were forced to put her in a medically induced coma for a week's time, while multiple medical procedures were performed.
Four and a half months following her accident, Morrison was put on a rehab program by her coach, saying that every day a little progress was made, something she says was very motivating.
"That was really critical, obviously physically but also mentally. Just to know that I was making steps forward," she explains. "Interestingly I just kept making those steps."
Progress continued to be made by the triathlete, who says it took her roughly a year of rehabilitation to be able to train at the level she deemed necessary for success.
She describes her rehab as a process, which began with a short 300 metre swim, progressing to riding rehab specific bikes, to riding on the pavement and eventually running again.
Despite the long list of challenges Morrison faced in rehab, as well as immense doubts from medical professionals, being unable to race in the future was never an option for the healing athlete.
"I never asked them. I just told them I would race again. One doctor came out and told me, you’re probably never going to race again and definitely not race at the professional level, and he was proven wrong Sunday. But I never asked any doctors because I really didn't care what their opinion was. I just thought to myself I’m going to heal, I’m going to recover and I don’t need any of their pessimism of doubts."
Interestingly enough, one of the doctors who worked on Morrison told her she would probably never race again, and if she did, it would not be at a professional level. That doctor watched as Morrison not only crossed the finsih line at this past Ironman race, but also took to the podium.
Morrison was set to begin racing again back in May, but her rigorous rehab had caught up to her body, as tendonitis developed in her right foot, forcing her to pull out of a California race in May and delaying her season.
Regardless of the setbacks, her positive attitude refused to quit.
"I just needed to stay patient and needed to stay focused on the goals and just believe that it was all going to work out, and sure enough it did… I’m not going to say I had rose tinted glasses, I mean it was not easy some days, it was frustrating… but whenever I got down on things, I just made every effort to recognize it and switch my mental state to something more positive."
Her positive attitude paid off, as July 8, 2012, Morrison raced in the Desert Half, taking place in Osoyoos, miraculously winning the event, an accomplishment she says symbolized the conclusion some dark times.
"It felt really good to kind of close that chapter. I felt a lot of people really questioned whether I was recovered or could recover, and I knew I had recovered… At the same time I really learned through this process people are going to think what they are going to think and say what they are going to say, and you have to be able to focus on what you need to focus on in order to not let the pressure get the better of you, because it can and will."
"Success doesn't come overnight, you have to just keep believing, you have to keep your eyes on the prize, even when you’re hitting the deepest lows and darkest moments when you can’t even imagine coming out from. Fall down seven times, stand up eight. You just have to stand up one more time because that one more time standing up might be the time you actually make it."
Now a recovered athlete, and medical miracle, Morrison is back to racing, with a half marathon in Austin, Texas on October 28. However, the professional triathlete has her eyes on her next Ironman event, being raced in Arizona November 18, as it will be 3 days less than two years since her near fatal accident.