6.10.2011

Sick and tired...

...of being sick and tired.

Pine and Oak pollens
make for the dirtiest car on the block
After a seemingly endless Winter, Spring has brought with it the worst allergens in recent memory. I take Zyrtec year-round, since there is always something that will set off my sinuses (my mom has been diagnosed with allergies to dust mites, mold, and cats. She and I have nearly carbon-copy allergy symptoms, so I assume that I suffer from reaction the same allergens, even though I've never undergone conclusive testing. She and I also both live in old homes with cats, which accounts for the 12 months/year of respiratory issues). My hubby theorizes that our extended cold weather with relatively sudden warm-up caused everything to bloom all at once. I am inclined to think he's onto something.

For a couple of weeks my worst allergy symptoms were itchy eyes. Riding my bike made matters worse--all that pollinated air (trees and lilacs) was forced upon my eyeballs at high speeds, even with sunglasses protecting my eyes from larger projectiles.

My eyes seemed to improve about the same time that I came down with a cold (2 weeks ago). The cold was not a particularly bad one, but had me feeling pretty run-down for about 5 days. I had 1 day of feeling almost fully recovered from the cold before my allergies took over--with a vengeance. The neti pot has been my friend and has spared me from almost certain sinus infection (along with the help of my friends Sudafed, Mucinex, and Benadryl...better living through chemistry), but I have been making use of my albuterol inhaler 2-3x/day for about the past week, even though I'd not had to use it much at all for months prior.

I'm starting to think that maybe I should follow my mom's advice to get allergy tested and undergo the series of shots. But it's really a pain (literally). It would require going in 1-2x/week to my PCP for customized shots...for at least a year. And there's no guarantee that it would completely eliminate my need for oral allergy meds. I would also likely still have to continue taking inhaled steroids for my asthma, too.

I'm hoping that this year is just a fluke. I've taken Zyrtec daily for a couple of years and it's been a godsend. Hopefully next Spring will be better. I know that I'm not the only one miserable from the pollen. Mold is almost certainly a factor, too, as we had a really wet Spring. We have mushrooms growing all over our yard.

Poor Ikky...
It's not just Humans who are feeling the effects, either. Our Ikky kitty has had horribly irritated eyes and has scratched off small patches of fur around his ears and neck. He has had sensitivity to allergens in the past, but this is the worst we have ever seen him suffer, as well.

So my workouts have taken a bit of a hit in recent weeks. A freak heatwave a few days ago did not help matters. DH and I had planned to roll out a nice 70+ miler in preparation for our first century of the year, next weekend. The plan was perfect, as DS was spending 2 nights on a camping trip with his class, so DH could work a half day, then we would drive down to our favorite bike shop, put in 45-50 miles, then finish the miles with the shop's Tues. Night Ride group.

Mother Nature, fickle bitch that she is, decided to throw temps in the mid-90s and high humidity at us, instead. We started our ride around 2:30. 12 miles into it I had consumed a 24oz bottle of sports drink and was already feeling the effects of heat sickness...chills, weakness, headache. Not good. I started pounding water and Endurolytes capsules, plus added a Nuun tablet to one of my bottles. I still could not shake the heat issues. My lungs were not doing well from the poor air quality on top of my allergy/asthma issues, either.

Even before I started feeling ill we decided to cut the ride back to 60 miles. But by 25 miles it was clear that even that was not going to happen. So we managed 35 miles and skipped the shop ride. Bummer, since that ride is the only one in our region ranked in Bicycling Magazine's top 50 organized rides in the US. This would have been our first opportunity to join the group for the ride (we live an hour away from our LBS, so that limits our ability to do many of their rides).

On the bright side, tree pollination should be about done. Hopefully the worst is behind me. I've cut back on some of my workouts and am feeling antsy about it. I haven't done well with my weight/core workouts since my sinus issues kicked-in, since any floor work leaves my head congested and achy. I hate neglecting the core work, too, since it doesn't take long before I feel the effects of that--when my core weakens I feel it in my lower back, arms and shoulders after long bike rides. The legs are only part of the bike strength equation.

Speaking of bikes, we're about thisclose to pulling the trigger on another bike for me. I currently have 2 road bikes, though one we need to sell. I have plans to give cyclocross racing a try, this fall, which requires something other than a road bike. I have a POS steel mountain bike that could work...if I were a bodybuilder. The bike is just plain too big for me and weighs probably in the neighborhood of 40#s. I'm a week little girl and trying to haul that beast over barriers and up hills is not gonna happen. Plus the fit has never been right for me. It's at least a full size too big. It's the reason I balked at the idea of cycling for so longer. I couldn't imagine that it would be fun when I was in physical pain within a half mile of riding (the crap, squishy, too-wide saddle didn't help matters).

Redline Conquest
Enter the bike. For about the past 6 months our bike shop friend has been not-so-subtley "suggesting" an entry-level Redline bike in his shop. It's my size. But it has Shimano shifters and I'm definitely a SRAM girl.  Our LBS is phasing out Redline and replacing the line with Ridley bikes, so this remaining Redline bike is also on clearance.  Mike said swapping the entry-level Shimano group for entry-level SRAM was no biggie...so that kinda sealed the deal.

The plan is that I will ride this bike for 2-3 years, until DS is big enough to inherit it, then I will likely upgrade.  This will make for a great "Winter-beater" bike, too, as it can take studded tires and will roll fine over snow and light ice.  I look forward to being able to ride outdoors later into the Winter and earlier in the Spring...ie not being stuck on the miserable indoor trainer for quite so many months.

Ed
The bike is much flashier IRL.  That blue paint is a royal blue metallic.  I've already decided that rather than another bike with orange trim or accessories that this bike should have lime green (bar tape and bottle cages), to match the shop's new kit.  I think it should be named "Ed" (Shaun of the Dead's obnoxious best mate) as well.  "Rule #1: Cardio" had been a consideration, after the list of Zombieland rules (after all, what better vehicle to survive zombie apocalypse than a cyclocross bike?), but all of our other bikes have more anthropomorphized names. And Ed is damned funny.


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