Random Rantings and Ravings from a Slow-Poke Runner in the Heart of the South. (A Weeekly (sort of) Blog about running and just about anything else)

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Bonked by Bug

Subtitled: Why you should not bike with a stomach virus.

Ah, the joy of cycling! Building your mileage each week, pushing yourself and your cycling buddies with an increased pace, spinning up the hills. It can be a really fun sport. Which is why I was worried about missing out on the big ride on Saturday when I became ill on Thursday of this week.

I left work early Thursday with all the classic signs of a stomach bug: nausea, weakness, did I mention nausea? We had small, rather cold, missle-shaped pills at home to keep the nausea at bay (if you know what I mean) but what I worried about as I lay on the couch watching Oprah is, 'Will I miss out on the big 60 mile ride Saturday?'

You see, cycling is much different than running. Missing one long run in a 12 or 16-week training program is not a huge deal. But missing a long ride can make you the slow guy the very next week in cycling. At least that is what I have found to be true for a newbie like myself. That's why we have lost a few guys along the way this summer due to really unimportant things like babies being born or family vacations. :-)

So when I felt a little better by Friday afternoon, I figured I would be A-ok for the big Saturday ride. We planned a big dinner out with friends that evening at Olive Garden. The plan was to load up on carbs for the next morning. Only problem was, I got a bit of an uneasy stomach less than hafway through my entree. You have to understand, I don't leave leftovers at a place like Olive Garden. It just doesn't happen. I declined a post ice-cream sundae at my friend's house later in the evening. Again - doesn't happen. I laid out all of my cycling gear, put the Gatorade bottle in the freezer, and set the alarm for 5 am.

Disclaimer: The remainder of this blog entry contains references to my potty problems so proceed carefully.

Five am came early as it always does on a Saturday morning. I began to gather my gear but waited to get my morning “business” completed before heading out the door. I noticed the “business” was a little more “fluid” than usual but did not think too much of it. I also remember not being too interested in finishing my Clif bar en route to our departure site but, again, did not really think anything of it.

I felt pretty good as the ride started off but 10 miles into the ride I began to feel my stomach turn over a bit and had what felt like acid reflux. “Hmmmm”, I thought, “I hope this has nothing to do with my stomach problems this week.” Our first stop came 14 miles into the ride. I had mentioned my stomach acting funny to the other cyclists and had gone into the convenience store we were stopped at to experience a very brief episode of the “squirts”. Well, it is pretty early in the morning, or so I thought, so this is probably just a passing problem (pardon the unintended pun.)

However, 10 more miles into the ride my stomach was doing flips inside my body and the acid reflux was flaring up with each hill. Being a guy, I guess, I felt like I could tough it out. The only problem was, eating or drinking made the stomach problem and acid reflux even worse. A break at 27 miles did not seem to help me feel better at all and I began to struggle more and more, causing our small “peleton” of cyclists to be split up into two groups.

Somewhere after 40 miles we came to an area called “Brice’s Crossroads”, site of a historic civil war battle. I needed an extended break and felt like lying down because my stomach was seriously cramping by this point and my chest burning. The heat did not help matters any and I poured water down my back and over my head, which felt a lot better than drinking it. I decided at this point to continue on, even though a couple cyclists offered to go a shorter route with me.

A few more miles into the ride, the cramping and, especially, the acid reflux seemed almost unbearable. I stopped at a store at about the 48 mile mark and decided I did not want to go on. However, not knowing where I was, I called my wife and told her to meet me in a town just off a major highway that is called “Guntown”. Guntown turned out to be another 6 miles down the road and I only averaged about 14 mph as I pedaled through the discomfort of stomach pain. I stopped at a church at the 54 mile mark. I had bonked but could care less. It was only 6 more miles to the finish but I could care less. I wanted a nice shady spot to sit down and wanted the burning in my chest to stop. Thinking back, I probably should have just finished. It would have only taken another 20 to 30 minutes but, I really don’t have much regret. 54 miles with a stomach virus is not all that shabby after all.

I spent a lot of time in the bathroom later that day. Once it hit me, it HIT me, with sounds my words cannot express. Let’s just say, at one point, I fully expected for some alien-looking creature to come from within me snarling and growling telling me I was doomed. DOOMED! It was not pleasant at all and I am sure I owe much of that to pushing myself on the bike. Now I must redeem myself on some future ride to all of my cycling buddies for seriously bonking on a ride. I slowed a couple of them down but they were still great about it. Maybe I can do the same for them some day. And although I did bonk on this day, at least it WAS by a bug!


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