I lowered myself into bed Sunday night with a deep, deep wheeze, followed by a bone-rattling cough that shot spikes of pain straight to the upper left half of my brain. Only the left half for some reason. I’m not sure why but every time the pain came it was only in the upper left half, never the right. But mainly I was focused on the lack of oxygen.
My lungs were ruined. They were completely demolished from two days of hard riding with a cough that just has not let up over the past week. I thought I’d ride the sickness out this weekend. Yeah, like that has ever happened in the history of ever. Last night I woke a dozen times throughout to cough and wheeze and desperately suck in what little oxygen I could. A few times I woke up solely from lack of breath. My lungs were so full of mucus and so closed off I was actually having difficulty breathing. Laying on my side seemed to give me more air than my back, but I’d inevitably roll onto my back once I fell asleep, which would slowly close-off my air intake, causing me to wake up and repeat the process.
The bronchial constriction finally let up this morning in the shower. Despite doubling up on store-brand Mucinex the evening before (and for the past 10 days for that matter), nothing would come out last night. But after the night of sleep things finally loosened up. In the shower I heaved up thick, brown, chunky mouthfuls of mucus and spat them out between my feet. With each chest vomit I could feel my airways clearing, bringing in more precious oxygen. I took a few deep inhales after I’d puked out as much as I could and it felt like an elephant had finally decided to step off my chest. I could breath once again.
Two days before, Saturday morning:
The Gateway ride was the first group ride I’d done in months, and the first race-type effort of the season. There’s a difference between doing structured V02 intervals and having to respond to accelerations from other riders. I think you can cause yourself more pain with V02 just because you know that you can stop and fall off your bike when they’re over. But there’s another type of pain that group riding or racing can bring out.
It felt good to hurt, despite my legs and lungs feeling like shit. I managed to inflict a bit of damage on everyone on the ride, then went off to ride a few more hours by myself, which ended up just being one more hour when I realized I was ready for a long session of staring at the wall back at home. The fatigue really set in once I stepped through the front door and sat on the couch to take my shoes off. It hit me like a wave. I felt terrible. Legs were a mess, my lungs went into hibernation, my head filled with pressure, and I became super sleepy. And hungry too but that’s a given.
There was little time for being tired though, because I had a date with Adelaide, Liam, Whitney, Steven, and Haley at the Gateway Fun Park, which was the second time half of us had been there that day. This time for actual regular people fun things like go karts, mini golf, and arcade games.
Sunday morning came around fairly quickly and I set off for a big ride, intent on making the most of the unusually warm January weather with a climb up to Peak to Peak and repeats on some of the higher elevation climbs. You know, to help my lungs clear out with some extra-thin, cool mountain air.
I started out with a nice warm up riding with Adelaide to show her the secret Linden neighborhood passageway that brings you out to Sunshine, which involves plenty of 15% ramps. She’s getting strong enough for me to ride at a medium pace, which is pretty amazing given her very recent introduction to bike riding.
After that I continued up Sunshine to Peak to Peak by myself, next down Boulder Canyon, up Magnolia, down Magnolia, at which point I realized I was working with half my normal lung capacity, climbed Sugarloaf, descended Sugarloaf, got water and soda down in Boulder, then did Superflag twice, descended two minutes to to the steep wall section to climb again just so I’d ensure my elevation gain was over 14,000 feet for the day. This all resulted in a liter of phlegm clogging our shower drain the following morning. Totally worth it. With a couple days of rest I know this cough will finally go away. If not, well…it’s not like I’m going to sit inside when it’s sunny out.