When I started this blog, I wanted to document my glorious return to fitness and health with frequent and inspirational entries that I just knew would cement my name and epic story in the annals of athletic achievement and blogdom in general. What happened instead was a predictable and pedestrian pattern of a flurry of inspirational, pertinent, and hilarious posts that quickly disappeared from sight; my sparkling wit and blog-thusiasm extinguished by the demands of day-to-day life and the general malaise that surrounds incipient old-age. In other words, I got lazy.
I did not, however give up on my goal of returning to triathlon.
The Holidayman Mega-Sprint Tri was being held in Beautiful Lake Holiday, Illinois on July 28. The whole thing sounded well within my ability and enthusiasm level. The distances were longer than the Batavia Tri I’ve done so many times before, but Batavia was in the beginning of June, and the water was always ice-cold, so July sounded like a better bet. 700 meter swim, 18.6 mile bike and 4 mile run. Not easy, but not as intimidating as an Olympic-length. So I registered.
My training habits are
unorthodox just plain wrong, so I followed no particular program, schedule, grid, or plan. I just ran and biked. I swam in the lake and river in Wisconsin and managed a few laps in the pool at the Y. I had no delusions about actually competing for a podium finish, I just wanted a finish and if i wasn’t dead last, that would be the icing on the cake.
Ten days before the race, I developed a sore throat. My theory was that some pool water got lodged in my sinuses and drip-drip-dripped on my tonsils all night. Nevertheless a little ibuprofen and I was doing a brick workout on Sunday which consisted of an 18.5 mile bike followed by running as long as I could, which came to about 2.5 miles. It was exactly one week before race day.
The brick really wore me out, but I relaxed the rest of the day and took Monday off from any exercise. I had started taking some cold medication on Monday because my sore throat had migrated back up into my sinuses. Tuesday after work I felt pretty good, so I went for a 5 mile run before weightlifing class at the Y, and felt fantastic, but I had a hard time sleeping that night. Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday were exercises in patience as I popped Advil Cold geltabs and Mucinex to keep my cold at bay. My sleep was interrupted by coughing fits and I had to stop using my CPAP machine, so I was up a hundred times a night to pee.
I don’t know if the Mucinex and cold meds had depleted my electrolyte levels or otherwise screwed up my body chemistry, but Saturday morning I was beset by muscle spasms on the left side of my back, between my ribs. I could hardly stand up or walk. I drove down to Sandwich, Il to pick up my race packet for the next day and it took all of my willpower to walk into the hotel lobby and not look like a cripple. In my mind, though, the race was still on!
Sunday morning, after the 5th night of tossing and turning, I got ready for departure. I had packed my bag the night before: bike shoes, wetsuit, helmet, water, towels for transition, race numbers, peanut butter and pickle sandwich quarters. Put the bike in the back of the pickup. Everything was ready to go. I sat down in the kitchen at 5:15 AM and asked myself: “Are you really ready for this?” After much mental hand-wringing I had an answer: “No” I didn’t want to get hurt. My back was still a problem. It had clenched a couple of times in the pre-dawn hours. I hadn’t slept well for days. I hadn’t gone on the short, light training runs and rides I had planned for the week before the race. This was supposed to be fun, and it plainly was not going to be. So I took off my running shoes and sat in my chair to lick my wounds.
7:30 AM, about the time I would have been getting out of the lake after a 700 M swim, my nose started to bleed. And bleed. And bleed some more. I thought it had stopped, and it started up again. I tried all the things I thought would stop it. And it bled. I could feel it running down my throat. I would get big clots of blood in my mouth and gag. I sneezed and it got worse. It was no longer dripping, it was streaming out of my nose. My bathroom looked like a crime scene.
I saw “HEALTER SKELTER” scrawled on the wall. It was time to wake my spouse and go to the hospital.
Ever hear of a “rhino-rocket”? Pray that you don’t. After about 45 minutes in the ER convincing them that I had insurance, the doctor crammed an inflatable tampon up my nose all the way to my prefrontal cortex. Finally after pumping this medieval torture device with air, the bleeding stopped. I was dazed, sitting on the little ER bed with a bedpan full of blood and cotton. My head felt like it had been inflated like a bicycle tire, and I spent some time considering that I had been bleeding rather severely for 4 hours. The doctor explained that everything I thought I knew about nosebleeds were wrong, gave me a prescription for antibiotics and sent me on my way.
So, ultimately, my attempted return to triathlon was a failure; whatever Karma, Dharma, or Universal Justice League there is again demonstrated it’s profound indifference to my wishes.
The training was good for me and I’ll complete the distance later in the summer. Next challenge: Sycamore Pumpkinfest 10K!