Thursday, November 19, 2009

Better late than never: USGP #5 & #6: Mercer Co. Park, NJ, Nov. 14-15, 2009

It is seldom I wait until Thursday to update my blog from a weekend race, but a lot has been going on and it was a rough weekend to say the least. I went straight to New Jersey from France to the wonderful hospitality of the Stefanowicz's. Bob, their son, lives in Portland and he offered them up last year, but little did they know, I would be back. Host family's are sometimes the highlight of racing trips, and that was definitely the case for me this trip. It was a wonderful stay and Tim and Willy joined the fun on Friday night. But I guess I should cover some racing too.
With the rain during the week, I knew we were in for some peanut butter mud. I was just hoping for less running than last year. I got my wish. Saturday was heavy, but not too bad. Yes, sometimes it was faster to run, but I was able to ride the course in almost it's entirety. It was a suffer fest and I suffered myself into 9th place. Not my best finish, but that was all I had. I knew Sunday would be better.
Sunday was a lot drier, 70 degrees and much less running. I was feeling good, legs felt pretty good and I was ready for a rematch. I had a good start, found myself right where I wanted to be in the start, and then my body ceased to cooperate. Half way into the first lap, my breathing became labored. During the second lap, it apparently made my face purple. I passed the pit, knowing I was having troubles, knowing I was going backwards, but still determined to 'push through it' and finish. Tim yelled from the pit, "if you can't breathe, you need to quit." It still didn't register until about 400-500 meters later when I really could not breathe at all. My pedaling basically came to a stand still and a spectator who turned out to be a PA, told me I needed to stop. I did. He helped me try to relax and catch my breath and before I knew it, medical surrounded me, an oxygen mask was on my face and I was sitting there trying to breathe. Then it hit me. I had dropped out of my race and the tears began to flow. Not a great day for me. I was frustrated and mad that I was forced to not finish the race. A first in my short racing career. I have never quit a race. That was, until Sunday, the 15th of November. But some say if I hadn't quit, the consequences may have been a bit more serious, but honestly, I couldn't have continued. My head wanted to, but the impossibility of it was all too real.
So I spent some quality time up at OHSU this week in the sports medicine lab trying to figure out what was going on. It has been determined that I have allergy and exercise induced asthma. Whatever was in the air in New Jersey that day definitely caused my airways to shut down. Now, some ask if this is the first time, if I have had issues before, etc. Well, I have had signs and minor issues, but nothing too serious that I couldn't just shrug off, and nothing during a race. Trouble breathing during cross is normal, right? I have had some issues with allergies the past 2 years. I kept shrugging that off too, taking an occasional claritin, but now my body finally told me who was boss. I will respect my body's wishes and take measures to ensure that I give it enough oxygen in the future. I definitely don't ever want to experience what I experienced last Sunday again. So, for those that have checked in on me, Thank you. I am fine. I will fight on...

Gay, me & Bob. The awesome NJ hosts!!!

Willy pretty much sums up the day of racing on Sunday.

Post tears, Tim & I.

Bangers and Mash for dinner... and Guinness of course. Great Irish pub we took our hosts to.


Anonymous said...

I hope you feel better!

Anonymous said...

It's good that you figured out why your body revolted. If this has been an ongoing problem, just think of how happy your body is going to be with the proper treatment. I hope the rest of the season treats you well, especially the Pdx USGP and Nats. You're still my favorite crosser out there!

Monilee said...

Oh, that sucks Sue! Exercise induced asthma + allergies is a bad combo ... but with some good allergy medication and a puffer 'just in case' you'll be kickin butt in no time :)