Marton teacher with iron will takes on Ironman
Twice in her life doctors have told Erica Green she would never run again. Now she's in training for an Ironman triathalon.
In 1999 the Marton school teacher was in a serious car crash that shattered her legs and left her in a wheelchair for two years. Doctors weren't sure she would ever walk again, but she did.
Last year she had surgery to remove a brain tumour, leaving her with balance, hearing and memory issues. Her doctors didn't think she'd ever run again, but she is.
"I've got a really stubborn nature. So if you definitely want me to do something, tell me I can't do it," Green said.
Green did her first Ironman in 2007. She said she got into endurance sports during her recovery from the crash. She competed every year until last year's brain surgery.
She said she'd learned from her last recovery that she had to take each day as it came and just do what she could do. That was the attitude she was taking to training for Ironman.
"When I've done Ironman, you can't tell me I can't do anything. People can't do Ironman when they're full-bodied, let alone with the injuries I've got."
She is being trained by Commonwealth Games silver medallist Samantha Warriner.
"I thought I was doing all right before, but since Sam started coaching me it's a whole new level now."
Each time before she trains she has a lot to do – make sure she's taken her pills, put gel pads between her toes, strap her feet up, and strap her knees.
"It's a lot to do. I have to get fast enough on the bike so I can afford to take 15 minutes to wrap up for the run."
The injuries Green suffered in the crash still cause her a lot of pain, and her surgeon has advised her that one of her toes needs to be amputated.
But it wouldn't heal until after Ironman had been and gone, so Green is delaying surgery until after she has completed the race.
"Those are the main problems with the run – the headaches, the loss of balance, and the things like that, they just make it more awkward."
Green found it hard to say if dealing with her injuries had brought her extended family closer.
"It's one of those chicken or the egg things. I couldn't have done it if we weren't tight, and we're tight because we've done it."
She said her husband, John Green, had been her rock and said the whole family had rallied behind her, and her school had been just as outstanding.
She brings that same iron will and passion to teaching health and hospitality at Rangitikei College.
"I'm sick of seeing our kids just give up. The normal hurts of the world just seem to cripple them, and that's not how it should be."
And she encourages her students to show the same level of support with each of the their "personal Ironmans".
Kellogg's approached her just before Christmas. They had heard about her and wanted to know if she was interested in being part of their "Unstoppable" campaign. Kellogg's has provided Green with mentoring, training gear, and money to pay for coaching.
"I've got this coaching with Sam Warriner that I wouldn't have been able to get otherwise.
"For someone who has made it to that level in her field, she really cares about her athletes. She's just gracious."