Back to Normal

12923232_456795557839846_7986080387765353919_nMy life has finally returned to it’s normal ebb and flow. My biggest problem is once again getting sick with colds, as opposed to dealing with the aftermath of Adelaide’s crash that happened a year and a half ago, or my non functioning thyroid and depression. With the more serious problems behind, I can finally turn my focus to getting upper respiratory viruses and missing races and large chunks of training as my primary worries. It’s pretty nice to have a cold be your main problem in life. Despite the frustration of waking up day after day with the same raucous cough and eventually having to cancel my plane ticket to the race for which I’ve been training for over three months, I’m not that upset.

It’s been almost four weeks since I first came down with this cold, which is bordering on ridiculous, even for me. After taking an initial week off from training to mend, my cough seemed to reach stagnation. Rest wasn’t curing it so I decided to start training again. Maybe breathing hard would clear everything out? It’s never worked before but there’s always that chance. Over the next two weeks I began ramping things back up to normal, culminating with a 25 hour week last week that included 20 kilometers in the pool, an hour-and-a-half track session with 8.5 miles of intensity, a couple days of easier bike intervals, and a race on Sunday. I don’t have anything else to talk about so I’ll write about the race.

I travelled down to the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs with Travis and his girlfriend Rachel, attempting to muffle my hackling, overly productive cough with an elbow in between conversation. The day before, Saturday, I’d gone on a group ride with seven other people that had showed up for the greatly reduced Gateway ride. I was half wheeled by a couple masters guys and non-racers, then turned back after getting dropped on the climb up to Carter, ego fully torn to shreds. To be fair, my legs had been destroyed from the track workout the day before, and my cough hadn’t helped matters either. I needed a good night’s sleep to recharge. I spent the night coughing into my pillow.

Onto the race.

During a slight incline during the first few minutes of the neutral section, I was dispatched to the very back of the pack. Things were not looking good. My legs ached, my lungs cackled, and I felt incredibly uneasy riding in the group because I was seriously out of practice. I was picturing crashes happening in front of me for most of that first lap, which never helps positioning.

This was a race that I’d decimated three years ago, and now I was all the way at the back, riding scared and worried about getting dropped on the first main climb, a 10-minute false flat stair step ordeal that never gets very steep. By the time the hill came around I’d at least made my way to the middle of the pack of 50. The pace went up gradually until everyone else was breathing has raggedly as I. Gaps opened up with a kilometer to go. I went around riders who I had assumed were stronger (that day) than me, never to see them again in the race. Near the top of the climb I dug as deep as I could to close a large gap that had formed and barely made it. There were only 12 guys left at that point. Was that the race?

Everyone took too long catching their breath over the next half lap and 20 more guys eventually caught back on. By then I had started attacking on the downhill and got away with Zack Allison (Elevate) before the base of the next climb. My hope was to get a bit of a head start in anticipation to the explosion that was sure to happen in the pack. My lungs couldn’t take another brutal beating like that again and survive 50 additional miles. On the climb, I eventually dropped Zack in my effort to stay out front. By the top the pack was only 20 seconds back. I pushed on. Then on the feed zone roller after the finish line the group came to within a few bike lengths before I attacked again and got away for another half lap by myself. At that point I started dreaming about doing well in the race, not just hanging in to eventually get dropped. I didn’t have any power in my legs at all, but almost everyone was racing timidly, scared from how hard the first lap had been.

When the pack caught me later on I started attacking again but was re-caught at the base of the climb. Pierre (Lucky Pie) slipped off the front on the climb, which was much easier than expected. 10 minutes later, with two laps to go, I got off the front again at the top of the course and was joined by a Primal Audi guy a few minutes later. He and I eventually made it to Pierre, and the three of us started the second to last climb together with a 50 second lead on the pack. I couldn’t believe the race had been this easy and slow. I didn’t have a power meter but I knew that the efforts I’d been putting in were pretty weak, and the fact that I had been off the front so long meant that everyone was riding incredibly cautious-like. Maybe I should have been riding like that too.

About 12 guys came sailing by near the top of the climb and I couldn’t hold on. I only needed to go about 15 watts harder for 90 seconds to survive over the top but I had nothing at all in my legs at that point, and I’d been having some massive breathing issues as well. I was eventually gathered up by a chase group a mile later and ended up just struggling up the final climb at a snail’s pace for 19th, which is probably one of the worst local race results I’ve had while not working for a teammate.

After I finished I chugged a root beer and ran for half an hour at a super slow pace, coughing so hard that I had to constantly stop and catch myself from throwing up. The drive home was pretty miserable as I was on the verge of puking for over an hour. Then the nauseousness vanished with the snap of the fingers and I was finally able to eat my post race snack of sharp cheddar cheese and spiral sliced ham, both oily and soft from sitting in the warm van for half a day.

I did an easier 3.5 hours of training the following day, Monday, and realized that my cough hadn’t gotten any better for about a week. I took Tuesday almost fully off and still had coughing fits all throughout the night, keeping Adelaide and myself up for the 10th day in a row. I finally pulled the plug on the race I’d been training for, Texas 70.3, this morning. It’s just not worth continuing on like this at 50% capacity. Time to rest up for a few days and start up again at 51%.

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