Tuesday, April 14, 2009

A Tale of Two Recoveries


I got home from Party Pardee and felt pretty good. I drank about 20oz of OJ with a Power Protein Plus Bar - 23 grams of soy and whey protein and some fast carbs in a nice, neat package. The OJ is always with lots of pulp. My pulse rate was around 75, but BP was 110/55 - far too low to keep a tired heart happy. I needed salt to increase blood volume and take the strain of trying to maintain a normal BP on low blood volume off my heart. I had a craving for pizza anyway, so went to Round Table and ordered a medium deep dish and asked them to make the crust as thick as they could. More carbs. I ate half the pizza and then chased that with some strawberries and felt great the next day. A little tired, but pulse was 52 and BP 137/77 the next morning. My legs were sore, but not painfully so. I was amazed at how fast I had recovered.

The next day I was still pretty tired, and remembered I had finished most of my coffee mug after returning home, and had been unable to get to sleep until the wee hours of the morning. Caffeine is supposed to speed replenishment of liver glycogen, but it didn't seem like a good trade-off for lack of sleep. Tuesday I was hoping to go for a ride, but awoke with no energy and a slight fever. I had frozen the other half of the pizza in Zip-Lock bags and had been nibbling on them the last 2 days, but now I suspected I had another problem. The lack of fiber in the pizza had stopped me up, and my diverticulitis was making me sick. By Tuesday night I was running a fever of 102 and pretty sick. I was in max crisis management mode now, eating tons of fiber, oatmeal, apples, pulpy OJ - and nothing was working.

I got up Wednesday morning and started taking laxatives. My gut was sore to the touch, and the laxatives just made it worse, but after a few hours they worked. I finally had a total system purge by sundown, but was pretty sick from the infection deep inside. The worry is always that the infection weakens the gut enough to cause a breach, and peritonitis - a life-threatening condition. I didn't eat solid food for 2 days, and the only thing I could keep down was Acai berry juice and sweet tea. I lost almost 5 lbs from a week of eating almost nothing. The water loss from sweating out the fever had my BP all over the place. I postponed trying to manage that. One crisis at a time. Interacting system failures are impossible to manage.

By Friday I was starting to feel human again, and by Sunday I was ready to ride. I gave it one more day to be sure, and went for a ride yesterday - finally. I'd rate my immediate recovery protocols very highly, but an F+ for the deep recovery. I need to work on this as I can't afford to take so much time off after every timed ride. The upside was getting 8 days to let my legs finally recover and a lot of time to futz with my VDO cyclocomputer.

This is a disease that is enabled by pockets that form in your gut. They host bacteria. They make you very sick. You can't sterilize the area. You can't clean it. It never goes away. It is your unwelcome companion for the rest of your days. You have to manage it carefully or suffer from fever, debilitating fatigue and possibly death. This is the disease Fidel Castro almost died of.

It's been over two years since I first ended up in the hospital from it, sleeping 20 hours a day, and still going downhill. It is only occasionally a problem now, but intense endurance exercise is still a challenge for me. It's just one more thing to manage, like high blood pressure and a slightly "bent" heart. It's just another challenge. It makes the victory just that much sweeter!

3 comments:

Gotta Run said...

It is vey clear that you know your cycle stuff. how do I build speed while endurance? Read my recent post to get an idea of where I am at.

btw - love me my protein power bars!!

Grey Beard said...

Thank you for reminding me that I need to do a post on this. So many posts, so little time. :D

The short answer is, build endurance on long rides, build speed with shorter intensity. Stress one factor at a time. Heart, lungs, leg strength (torque), leg speed (cadence), core, nutrition. You have to go beyond the 2 hrs of stored glycogen to build endurance. This forces your body to adapt to burning fat earlier and faster, and gets your legs, core, back, arms, neck toughened in for longer rides. When you can ride 4-7 hrs actual rolling time and recover well, then start working on leg strength.

The best way to break through to the next speed level is find 10 miles of rollers with hillcrests 1/2 to 3/4 of a mile apart with 100-200 ft peaks and ride them for time. This will keep your muscle's cadence memory intact and add the stress of climbing. It will also train your cardio to recover as fast as possible.

If you can, stand and climb only the hillcrests to promote flat speed. As you tire drop back to every other or every third hillcrest. Add whatever power you can starting down the other side. Don't waste energy going fast at the bottom. Wind drag is a logarithmic loss.

Rollers are the ultimate test of a cyclist's physical capabilities as well as gear management, and cardio management. It's the TOTAL time through the set that counts - just like in competition.

Grey Beard said...

Robin,
Just reading your blog, so some more targeted comments. Start out at a slower pace, and try to keep your cadence up. 60 is the cadence of running, 90 is the cadence of biking. Do what you can. Also, go slow enough, especially starting out, that you can digest your ride fuels. Don't waste hydration on plain water, use Gatorade, Power's Electrolyte powder, Cytomax, or Perpetum.

If there are planned rest stops start eating as soon as you stop breathing hard to max digestion time and eat with plain water to control osmotic pressure. Ease back into the ride when starting out again to finish digestion.

Once you get through a ride 60mi or longer your physiology changes dramatically. You will feel much, much stronger on all subsequent rides. This is known as "The Distance Seal" and is the minimum for Century rides.

Best of luck this weekend. Looking forward to your report!