Monday, August 08, 2011

The virus effect

After several weeks of feeling weaker and less motivated than usual in my workouts, I was finally ready to admit that maybe I was experiencing my annual August slump that hit last year and 2008 and really dramatically in 2009 post-Tour-Divide. Yes, clearly I needed some kind of outside boost to lift me out of the gully, which appeared to happen Sunday when I pounded out one of my fastest Stevens Creek mountain bike loops. That evening, I felt the scratchy beginnings of a sore throat, congestion and a sinus headache. When I told Beat that I thought I was getting a cold, he suggested that my burst of energy could have been spurred by my immune system, putting up one last shock-and-awe bombardment of defense before the virus clamped down.

When I woke up, my throat was still sore and my nose was running, but the symptoms weren't really uncomfortable enough to justify putting off my planned long run, which I felt I needed to complete just to see if I stood any chance of finishing the 50K I entered this coming weekend. I haven't really experienced an even remotely good run since mid-July, so I wasn't expecting much. I took off toward Black Mountain in the heat of the afternoon, tapping a deep well of motivation to at least jog the 7-mile, 3,000-foot climb up a dusty trail lined in spider webs and thorny bushes. I broke near the top and walked a bit until the dizziness abated and the thorny bushes stopped spinning. But as I crested the peak and turned around, I realized that I felt kinda OK. Actually, I felt pretty good. I took off down the trail on an seeming set of wings, pumping fire that was only partly contained by my clumsy legs' fear of running downhill. A few more rollers and I wrapped up a sub-three-hour 15-miler, which for me and 3,500 feet of climbing is probably a PR.

Returned home with legs feeling fresh and new — but, sure enough, the sore throat and congestion is still there.

I wonder if I really have that awesome of an immune system, or maybe just the world's most ineffective cold.

Or maybe it's just the molten Haribo gummy snacks that Beat and I have been consuming during these hot August efforts. Just a few blobs of highly concentrated rocket fuel to feed a summer virus, and suddenly I'm up and running again — at least for now. But really, how else do you explain these sorts of things?