Ingrid Kantola

2010 CrossFit Games Finals

Ingrid Kantola: Update

A suprising diagnosis provides a new perspective for this elite athlete

Ingrid Kantola took 1st place in all three events at the Southern California Sectional event. Unfortunately she was handed a diagnosis that required open heart surgery. This clearly kept her from competing at the regional level. June 11th marked the one month anniversary of her surgery, which went very well. Already, Ingrid has hit the gym and is taking the initial steps towards what is estimated to be a 100 percent recovery (aka lookout 2011 CrossFit Games). 

Ingrid had open-heart surgery seven weeks prior to her first official CrossFit LA class after the nine-week medical absence. John Burch, of CrossFit LA, sent the following update:  

"This WOD was 500 double unders and every minute on the minute do 5 burpees... Ingrid scaled, based on her decision, to two rounds of 100 double-unders and modified burpees. She rested for 5 minutes between rounds. The handstand-shoulder touches are part of the warm up."

The following is excerpted from her WOD log on the CrossFit LA discussion board, from June 11th. Ingrid talks about the shift in perspective and how she's slowly rehabbed herself.

"So as many of you know I’ve been out of commission since April 3rd when I got sick with what we thought was meninigitis, which turned out to be a bacterial infection on my heart that required open heart surgery. I had surgery on May 11th so today is the one month anniversary of my operation. I’m feeling better everyday and I get my PICC line out today so I will officially be tube free and on track to begin exercise at the 6 week point if everything continues to go as well as it has.

It was really a coincidence that I decided to write in this blog on the 1month date, but I was looking through my bookmarks and I checked out everyone elses notes and got insanely jealous of Zach and Becca and everyone doing fun stuff and going after their weaknesses and setting PRs. It’s the first time that I’ve really felt like I was seriously missing out on something. It’s hard to believe that Crossfit is the big one when a lot of my friends have been traveling and partying and basically enjoying their summers. I guess that it’s the fighter in me that wants to see how hard push ups really are after your sternum has been cut in half and to test that patched up valve with some box jumps and shuttle runs. I was told that I should make a 100% recovery and I’m getting the itch to get there.

This is weird for me to say because Ive never really seen myself as a patient person and I think I’ve done a good job of taking things day by day and not trying to get too many steps ahead of myself. I realized that I’ve also looked at the past few months as being a timeout from real life. Like I was taking a side journey and that I’d get back on the main road soon enough. I’ve always defined myself in terms of athletics and without that aspect of actually being a competitor it has been hard to relegate my focus to simple health and recovery.

Several good things have come through all this free time. One is the relationships with friends and family that I have relied on for support and solidification of them in my life. I’m incredibly thankful for all the notes of encouragement that filled my hospital time and for the visits that kept me company during long days and evenings. I have no idea how I will ever show my appreciation for my Crossfit family at Cfla. From the Sunfare food deliveries to bill jordan simply sayIng ‘I’ve been thinking about you a lot lately’ then showing me his kidney removal scar- I cannot imagine feeling more loved.  I am also closer connected with my sister and parents for their constant attention before and after surgery. I did not spend a night alone in the hospital and even when I claimed to not want the post op Popsicles my sister stood by me and fed them to me until my bloodsugar was back up and my whole mouth was red. 

Another is my passion for athletics beyond participation. I’m going back to school to study sport management and I now feel excited about that field beyond just doing something different with my life. I’m eager to learn and develop a new career plan based on what I learn. I feel like I’m going to be moving forward whereas before I almost saw grad school as still treading water. Before this all went down I had been feeling some existential anxiety. And while I still don’t know my purpose in life on this planet, at least I’m excited to find out what it might be. I remember one headache and morphine filled day in early April when I asked my dad about a lot of the things that had been on my mind and he disregarded all of his professional and educational accomplishments and told me that one of the things that had brought purpose to his life was raising my sister and I. It was one of the days that was the hardest and the best at the same time.

I’ve been cleaning out my old room in Sacramento this week to make room for a foreign exchange student my parents are hosting this fall. As I go through old year books and journals and take down all my medals from grade school to highschool, I realize that I never accomplished my goal of being an Olympian. And it’s a goal that I am probably never going to achieve. I’m simply excited to continue to grow as a person and move towards the human traits that I want to obtain.

I don’t really know where I’m going with this. But maybe I’ll be able to look back on this in 10 years and see spring of 2010 as something completely different."

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Ingrid at the Southern California Sectional Ingrid Kantola, stadium event, Southern California Sectional
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9 comments on this entry

1. Andy Petranek wrote...

Ingrid is both an amazing athlete and an incredible person. She has shown incredible grace and poise through this extremely difficult time - somehow managing to maintain a smile on her face and a positive attitude even when things looked bleak.

It's been amazing to watch her through this year - both peaking at the SoCal Sectionals, and then battling through this heart trauma. I feel lucky to have had her as part of our CFLA community for the past year. She is truly an inspiration!

I'm confident she'll return to her old form (and then some) before the end of the year!

2. DAN LAU wrote...

keep it up Ingrid, you are awesome :)

3. Z wrote...

Ingrid is awesome all around. She'll be back faster and stronger than before soon.

4. Armen Hammer wrote...

Glad you're better, Ingrid. Hit it hard and I'm sure we'll see you competing with the best again in no time!

5. Don Ricci wrote...

truly an inspiration! ingrid's positive attitude through these tough times will undoubtedly spring board her into great success both in crossfit and in pursuing her professional dreams post grad school, more so than ever before.

Seeing her train at cfla this past year has been a motivator to push myself further, but to see her back in the gym after open heart surgery is even more motivating to not only myself, but the whole cfla community to "train through the pain."

6. Billy wrote...

Elite fitness does not equal health then. I am glad she is doing well.

7. Sam M wrote...

The Notorious I-N-G. She's an elite athlete, but more than that, she's an extraordinary person. I light up when I see her orange scooter outside CFLA, and I'm not the only one. We're all lucky to have her in our lives.

8. StevieV wrote...

Ingrid - Wow what a great post. What a great perspective on life. who knows maybe they will make CrossFit an Olympic sport? You are an inspiration to many - and many more need you to be there as an inspiration yet. Good luck - hope to see you at the GAMES.

9. Diane Bell wrote...

What a feel good message to read! We are so happy for your amazing recovery and optimism about the future. We have no doubt that it will be filled with love and happiness and enough challenge to keep things interesting. Way to go!


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