I’ve been sick with a sinus infection for almost 3 weeks now. What I thought was just a cold, proved to be more than my body could fight off on its own (in a reasonable amount of time). Finally, after seeing a doctor, getting a 10 day antibiotic treatment, and lots of sleep, I am hopefully just a week shy of feeling 100% normal. Being sick has been super frustrating. With races scheduled every weekend of April, and running the Boston Marathon 6 days before the Cohutta 100, I will readily admit, I was getting a little worried about training. Until this past Sunday, that is.
I have been desperate to ride the Bird Knob loop since October. When the chance to ride there with Chris presented itself for Sunday, I jumped on it. Of course, I hadn’t given much thought to how the antibiotics might interact with the challenging climbs. Challenging, it most definitely was. When we reached Catherine’s Furnace, I made sure to take in nutrition appropriately (this always being a challenge for me). However, the calories and electrolytes were not enough to combat the fatigue I was feeling not only mentally, but in every muscle fiber of my legs. I had ridden much more of the climb up Kaylor than ever before, made it through the entire descent down Boones, all the way to Cub Run; only stopping for some hard switchbacks and stream crossings. That is a big deal for me considering the last time I rode those trails in October; I had been a weenie: stopping a bunch and being way too “brake-happy”. I was ecstatic with how I was doing! Until we started climbing Big Mountain.
Chris had ridden ahead of me for a bit at this point, which was good. It’s nice being able to ride with someone, but not always feel the need to be with them at every point of the ride. I like being on my own with my thoughts. It was a good time for me to think about how I was truly feeling. When Chris came back down, I told him I wasn’t feeling great anymore. I was tired. At some points, the exertion made me feel like I was going to throw up. We were fortunate enough to be near an off-roading trail for a bailout point, so Chris suggested we take it and do some exploring. This was probably the best decision of the entire ride. Not only did we see some amazing and beautiful parts of the mountain, but I got to ride trails I have never been on, and up the challenge of being able to deal with new terrain and LOTS of rocks. It was an absolute blast! It wasn’t until we reached the highest point of our ride, near Fridleys Gap, that I realized my fatigue and low energy had pretty much disappeared. The mountain had consumed me – body and mind – and I felt restored.
So, though I am still finishing up my antibiotics, and know it takes a few days for them to leave your system, this ride gave me all of my confidence back and even boosted it to a new level! Training will recommence, and I will hit the road running, and ride as many trails as I can.
I guess, if there’s anything to be learned here, it’s that bailing out (not just on rides) happens… to everyone. And that’s OK! And you never know, maybe it will turn out to be one of the best decisions you could have ever made.