TEEN sensation Danielle Allen is in a race against time to prove to herself she can be a force in the upcoming national Ironwoman Series after being given the all-clear on her injured foot.
The Mooloolaba surf club member had plates and screws removed from her left foot at Brisbane Private Hospital on Tuesday after a five-month stint on the sidelines.
She plans to resume training in about 10 days.
With the 2012-13 Nutri-Grain Ironwoman Series expected to commence in December, the 18-year-old has given herself a three-month window before deciding whether to compete.
"If I do it, I want to do it properly," she said.
"I don't want to stay around the back of the field.
"If about eight weeks out (from the start of the series) I don't think I can compete as well as I possibly can, and I suppose do justice to the coaches and every-one else involved, I'll probably hand over the wildcard to someone more deserving."
Allen said she had been promised a wildcard for the next series after she finished 13th last season, thus avoiding the qualifying trials.
Only the top 10 placegetters are guaranteed spots for the new season.
Allen would have almost certainly been an automatic qualifier had she not missed the final two races last season.
She tore ligaments and dislocated bones in her left foot when she stepped into a pothole while running to the water in the opening board leg at round four in Perth on January 29.
Allen gamely carried on to finish ninth in the demanding 11.4km race, after entering the event in fourth place on the standings.
Allen was enjoying a breakout season before the injury.
She met with her coach, Michael King, for a strategy discussion at Mooloolaba yesterday.
The pint-sized athlete said she had done gym work and cycling while injured, but was nowhere near her optimum fitness level for this time of the year because she had not compensated for the winter cross-country running she used to do at high school.
"I think I am very confident of being able to compete … I'm trying to catch up as quickly as possible," she said.
"In the same breath, I don't want to overdo the foot.
"It's the type of injury that can keep recurring if you don't actually get it healed properly."
The 2011 dux of Matthew Flinders Anglican College moved to Sydney at the start of the year after she was accepted into the University of Sydney's medical school.
She plans to train at North Cronulla Surf Club, but will continue to compete for Mooloolaba.
When her studies conclude in November, she will return to the Coast to train.