Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Preparing for a Century... and Unexpected Happenings!

David took a vacation day from work today so that we would have an opportunity to get some serious miles under our belts before this Saturday's 100 mile century ride. The plan was for 54 miles and we did it!

However, this was not a stress-free ride.

A strange thing happened to me with my heart rate monitor. It beeps when I am out of my "zone". The zone is where Polar suggests my heart rate should be when I want to have an effective workout. My watch alerts me when I am not within in the targeted range.

At roughly the 12 mile point, my watch was beeping. We were climbing a pretty steep hill, so I assumed I was over my zone ~ which goes up to 149 on the high end. I couldn't resist catching a glance to see where it was. To my disbelief, it was reading 111 at the peak of the climb! The watch was alerting me that I was under my target zone. Now that was strange. Then, as we leveled out, my heart rate dropped to 48. Wow, that's really low. What was going on?

That triggered a pattern of scarey thoughts about what could possibly be happening with my health.

I had a health scare back in April 2010 that began with an assortment of unusual symptoms. The doctors eventually discovered a blood clot in the portal vein of my liver. They also found gallstones. My symptoms leading up to the diagnosis ranged from an itchy rash on sun-exposed areas of my skin, to dark urine, to light-headedness, to vomiting and fainting, and then severe abdominal pain on the right side. They did not do a gall-bladder operation because I needed to be on blood thinners to resolve the blood clot. After being hospitalized and  fed only liquids through an IV for a while, most of my alarming symptoms faded away, and I was discharged from the hospital. I was left with lingering symptoms of a different sort. Mainly, occasional bouts of dizziness with a sense of my heart racing. This happened most often when I was standing for prolonged periods of time, for instance, when shopping. If I immediately left the store and sat in my car in the parking lot, it would sometime subside. I was referred to a heart specialist who determined that my heart is perfectly fine, but my blood pressure was low. I may have been on too much of a dosage of my blood pressure medication (I lost weight and since I was exercising, the dosage prescribed to me when I was heavier and not as active was too much).

That feeling of dizziness happens less frequently now, and it is much less intense. I do occasionally get episodes of abdominal pain -- approximately every 6 to 9 months. Sometimes vomiting comes with it. A pain-killer eliminates the discomfort and puts me to sleep, and then it doesn't happen again for a while.

Now I am losing weight again. While I am on a different blood pressure medication, I've been told it is a very low dosage. But since my diseased gall bladder is still inside of my gut, I live with an ever-present fear. Also, I have never been given an explanation as to why I was experiencing the dizzy spells... although fewer and far more milder now. This all leaves me with my mind running through strings of possible traumatic health conditions I might have whenever something unusual seems to be going on.

David advised me to pay no attention to my heart rate monitor. It was probably just missing beats.

Hmmm... it's never done that before.

Eventually, my heart rate does seem to return back to normal ranges. But suddenly, I need to pee. We pull into a nearby cafe. It is closed. There are no other stops nearby. We end up riding another 10 miles or so until we reach a gas station where I can use a bathroom. I am relieved and we continue on our way.

The day was cloudy, yet mild -- temperatures in the mid-40's -- for most of our time spent riding. Occasionally, the sun would peek through the clouds, and eventually it did warm up a bit. I was feeling overheated. We pulled over to stop so I could remove my gloves, my outermost jacket, my neck-warmer, and knit headband.
Concerned about my daughter arriving home on the school bus at a specific time, I express concern over the length of our route. We had about an hour and a half and about 20 miles to go. David modified the original planned ride to give us more of a comfort zone in getting back to our house in time.

The ride went well until we were roughly 4 miles from home... and facing three sizable climbs, with about 20 minutes before the school bus drop-off time. David asked me if the rear tire seemed soft. I hadn't felt anything unusual. But preferring to err on the side of caution, I suggest that we pull over to inspect the tire.

It was soft. David pumped it up. We continued onward towards home.

At the top of our first lengthy climb, we pulled over to check the rear tire again. We had 8 minutes before drop-off time, and David needed to inflate it again! We had a slow-leaker on our hands that wasn't quite slow enough.

We descended two gigantic hills on the main road before the turning point onto our street. As we began our final 3-part climb at the base of our road home, we get the obvious flat tire sound of, "blumb, blump, blump...".

David pulled over again to re-inflate the tire. I was getting panicky. The bus would be at our house any minute! I phoned a neighbor to escort my daughter off the bus in case we didn't make it back home in time. Whew! What a relief to know we have wonderful neighbors.  : )

David had the tire ready to go again, and we hopped back on the tandem.

We weren't three houses further when that familiar, "blumb, blump, blump..." was happening again. Fortunately we made it into our driveway before the bus arrived! I phoned our neighbor to let her know we were safely home. The bus was four minutes late, and my little girl was cheerful and happy -- blissfully unaware of any unusual circumstances.

That was the conclusion of our ride. It was 54 miles. Being mid-February, I'm glad we had a chance to ride. And being that we have a century ride to tackle in a couple of days, I'm really glad we were able to put on a few base miles. Now, we just need to get that tire fixed!

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