Sunday, October 30, 2016

Week 2

 Monday: Mountain bike, 3:53, 37.9 miles, 3,969 feet climbing. This week started out with a solid ride on Monday afternoon. I was still grumpy about my weekend fails, so I didn't take any photos, but enjoyed a beautiful autumn ride with bare trees, snow-capped peaks, and temperatures approaching 80. As I was descending the upper (gravel) section of Sugarloaf Road, I swung around a corner at high speed and encountered a cow moose standing on the right side of the road. I screeched my brakes and made a quick stop. She lowered her ears, bristled the hair on her back, and took a few steps toward me. I swung my bike in front of me and backed toward the trees, all but certain I was going to have to shimmy up one of them because she was about to charge. Just then a white car approached. The driver stopped and asked if I wanted him to accompany me past the moose. I nodded gratefully, and the moose went back to grazing on bushes as we rolled past. This was the third most unnerving moose encounter I've had. The first two were in Alaska of course, and one was just two years ago in Anchorage.

The semi that got stuck a week ago
Tuesday: Rest. I'd intended to go for a short run, but I only have about an hour to spare on Tuesdays, and this hour was taken up by failed efforts to dig out a large box truck that had become stuck on our dirt road. This was the sixth installment of Beat's CNC machine delivery saga, after one partial delivery, three no-shows, and one large semi-truck that also became stuck in the middle of the road for 13 hours. Anyway, we're learning more about life on a narrow mountain road, and we hope the delivery company is wiser now as well. The digging was hard work so this didn't really feel like a rest day. Beat eventually pulled the box truck out himself with a Toyota Tundra that he recently bought from a friend.

Wednesday: Treadmill, 0:30, 3.5 miles. Weightlifting, 0:40. My breathing struggles seem to have two triggers — being outside, and sometimes (not always), hard efforts. And "hard" effort isn't the right term, because my worst difficulties usually crop up during moderate efforts (heart rate 150-160bpm.) Anyway, a friend suggested trying a high-intensity workout indoors, which is a good idea. I set out to boost my heart rate to 185 on the treadmill by running two-minute intervals: two minutes jogging at 12:00-minute-mile pace, and two minutes increasing the pace 0:30 each time. I eventually boosted the speed to 6:00-minute-mile pace and got my heart rate up to 192. I made it through two minutes before I felt nauseated and had a horrible side stitch, but had no breathing issues. I think treadmill intervals work because it's a controlled, low-risk environment, which vastly reduces anxiety. As others have suggested and as I've suspected, anxiety about "not breathing" plays a large role in my attacks. So I plan to continue with these intervals during my gym sessions, to see whether I improve. At the very least, it's nice to know that underneath all of the mucous and anxiety, there's still a modicum of high-end fitness left in my body.

I should also talk about my allergy shots, which didn't go so well. I made it through two rounds of shots before I had a reaction — my left arm became noticeably swollen and I felt some chest tightness. The nurse noted some wheezing, so they cut the session short. This was disappointing, as I really want to continue with the cluster immunotherapy and get this over with (if I have one more reaction, I have to go to single shots, which will take months.) At the same time, I experienced breathing reactions when I wasn't exercising. This means it's likely I have allergic asthma. Maybe allergy shots will actually work. One can hope.

Thursday: Mountain bike, 1:41, 13.3 miles, 2,299 feet climbing. This was a medium-effort ride with no issues.

Friday: Treadmill, 0:30, 3.5 miles. Weightlifting, 0:40. I did the same treadmill intervals with the same results. This day I wore my own heart rate monitor and saw 197(!!) I'm not sure if this is accurate, but it was a surprise as I'd long assumed that my anaerobic threshold was in the mid-180s. I also didn't feel nauseated this time and really enjoyed running a six-minute-mile pace, but doubt I could hold it much longer than two minutes. The weightlifting session went well. I was already able to boost a few of the weights on my fourth session overall.

 Saturday: Mountain bike, 2:36, 18.6 miles, 2,948 feet climbing. I tried out this allergy mask, which I got in pink because it's a little less scary, and also felt a little less self-conscious because it's so close to Halloween. Anyway, I didn't love it. Even on my best days, my face is a nonstop faucet of snot, so constantly pulling it down to blow snot rockets probably negated its effectiveness. I don't see myself using it a lot in the winter, but I think it may be helpful in the spring and summer during high-pollen and wildfire smoke days.

 Sunday: Hike, 4:30, 8.5 miles, 3,253 feet climbing. This week was a scorcher, with temperatures climbing into the 80s nearly every day. One positive aspect of record high temperatures is clearing the steep and avalanche-prone mountains of snow, so I thought it would be fun to go hiking on Sunday.

 We headed to South Arapaho Peak. At 13,400 feet, it's one of the more prominent mountains in the Indian Peaks. As we expected, it was very windy and not warm, but in some aspects not all that different from the time my friends and I hiked up James Peak in July.

 Snow-filled wind shelter at the peak. Okay, it was a lot windier and colder than James Peak was in July, but with a soft shell and mittens I was perfectly comfortable. I did have difficulty breathing for the last 1,000 feet to the summit. Up here, my heart was beating 140-150 and I was gasping. I had to stop and take breaks to catch my breath. Beat asked why I was moving so slow, but I couldn't move any faster. It was perplexing. I suppose this makes some sense, though. I've tried to pretend that altitude isn't an issue for me, but I'm beginning to suspect that it may be a major factor. If I'm a poor breather in general, it makes sense I'd do worse at 13,000 feet. Either way, this theory will need more experimenting and I doubt I'll get too many more chances to hit 13,000+ feet before winter clamps down.

Despite gasping slowness, this was a fun hike, although I turned my ankle on the way down and collapsed onto my back, smacking my head. It hurt something fierce but thankfully didn't result in injury. My left ankle has been a bit of a liability ever since I broke it after tripping while carrying a television down a flight of stairs when I was 19 years old, and never went to the doctor (but it was definitely fractured at the very least.) The dumb things we do when we're young, eh? (Says the 37-year-old who's recently become quite bad at breathing.)

Total: 15 hours, 69.8 miles ride, 15.5 miles run, 12,479 feet climbing. All in all, this was a good week. I may have to do 1.5 rounds of allergy shots this week (I hope this works out.) So I'll have to continue to tread lightly. But I'm satisfied with 15 hours of effort. 

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