Sunday, June 13, 2010

my body is plotting against me

What do you do when you make plans and your body tells you otherwise?
What do you when you write checks your body can't cash?

At the end of my first season of racing -- short-track and cyclocross -- I was tired, fried really, but elated. I'd raced five short-track races and four cyclocross races between June and December, and while I didn't set the world on fire I could see improvement and growth each time I went out. By early December I was exhausted but happy, and ready for a break. I limited my riding to daily commutes that were mostly a combination of bike and bus, and decided I'd begin to focus again in mid to late February. Then, I plotted a schedule of commuting, practice rides in the mud, and yoga and crunches alternating every other day. meanwhile, I discussed my needs for more consistent bedtimes and a good night's sleep with my partner. She was supportive and said she'd do all she could to help.

Then the pesky health issues began. In late February I began to feel fatigued and noticed a lack of interest in riding more. By mid-march I knew I was having a Crohn's flare-up, and took steps to deal with it (short-term steroids, bland diet and careful attention to reducing stress and getting better sleep). I struggled to keep doing stretching at home, though the core work went by the wayside.

As the flare-up was beginning to subside in mid-April, my spring pollen allergies kicked in, and I wheezed and hacked like I had a two-pack-a-day habit. I carried an inhaler with me and sucked on it daily, hoping that I'd acclimate soon and no longer need it for the year. In late April I rode a metric century, one I'd planned with a friend weeks in advance; the effort exhausted me. I didn't ride for three days afterward and ultimately needed more than a full week to recover from the ride. By then it was May and the rains came -- making for the wettest May on record in Oregon in decades. I got sinus headaches as I tried to adjust to the bouncing barometric pressure, which couldn't stay still for more than a couple of days. The yoga pretty much went to hell at this point. But with all the rain, the pollen calmed down and I began to feel like riding more -- a Smith and Bybee Lakes loop here, a Sunday ride with friends there. I began hoping against hope that the worst was behind me.

Then last weekend I went on a ride in balmy, 65-degree rain, the muggy warm kind that isn't usually seen in Oregon (though more may show up now with global warming). I felt good enough on Monday to do a full commute. And then on Tuesday I woke up with my throat swollen to the size of a grapefruit and by mid-day the chills, fever and sweats kicked in. I went to the doctor, where an infection was diagnosed and antibiotics prescribed. Then the weather turned warm, and the pollen returned -- and for the first time ever, I needed my inhaler for more than an introductory period during allergy season. At this time, I'm waiting for the antibiotics to be done so I can begin to treat the yeast infection that is always a byproduct of taking antibiotics. meanwhile, I have a four-day weekend off the bike next week, when I'll be busy with a friend's wedding.

The short-track series begins the day after I'm done with all that, and I will be nowhere near ready to ride, let alone actually race.

In short, every time I've tried to get back on track and focus on my riding, nature and my body have had other ideas. What the hell is this about? Why is my body conspiring against me like this? Why has it been so hard to get myself into some kind of shape for the kind of riding I want to do?

I rode today for the first time in almost a week. It was sunny and warm, in the mid-70s, and we rode with friends to see a ballgame at the stadium downtown. I carried my inhaler and sucked on it as needed, which was several times during the course of the day. Every time I climbed the stairs at the stadium -- to get refreshments or find the restroom -- I felt out of breath and weak. Obviously, I'm just getting over being really sick, and maybe riding all the way into town was pushing myself a but too hard. But feeling the shortness of breath, feeling so weak -- it worried me. I can't remember a time when I've felt this way so often during one season.

Short-track season begins next week. I am not ready for it. I am strongly considering backing out, telling the guys to please find another volunteer and if I feel up to doing some of the later races I'll pay for them out of pocket, one at a time. I worry that volunteering and racing every single week may be biting off more than I can chew. And it bothers me to feel this way. This is not what I had in mind when I assessed my first racing season and decided I wanted to come back and do it again.

But without health insurance and access to a doctor more regularly, I don't know what else I can really do for myself here, except to probably scale back my efforts. I cannot push myself to try and do this and go to work every day and have time and energy for my Sweetie and do whatever else I want and need to do in my life. I have to admit that there is not enough of me to go around this time. And I have to pick something to put aside for now.

It feels like chickening out. it feels like being weak. And yes, I am physically weak from being sick, but it is so hard not to be able to follow through like I wanted to. It sucks.

I am feeling really sad tonight because I know what I will need to do tomorrow.

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