I haven’t had a cold for nearly 14 years. Not a day of illness, not a sniffle, not a cough, not nuthin. Because of that, I have not missed an illness-related training day in all that time. So, I guess you could say I was due and when it rains, in my case, it is time to start building an Ark.
I started to feel rumblings several weeks ago and began my usual routine of Vitamin C, Ying Chao, lots of tea, yadda, yadda to ward off threatening symptoms. Just when I thought I had avoided the onset, I went to spend a weekend in New York City with my 20-something year old daughter.
Let me begin by saying that I had forgotten how much WORK comes with being 20-something and how little rest one gets between episodes of socializing especially when St. Paddy’s day weekend is involved and when sleeping on an air mattress is the bed of choice. Add into that running in the cold, grey city, eating on the fly, being a little overtaxed from training, zipping through the germ encrusted filth of airports, taxis, and subways, you end up having the perfect germy tryst for the perfect storm. I got sick. I got sick in a big, big, big way.
Naively I thought I would be down for a couple of days and then bounce back as the picture of health I always brag about to everyone who cares about my health. This, unfortunately, doesn’t really involve that many humans so I brag to the dog, the TV, or mostly to the walls. I gave myself a couple of days, like any self-respecting sick-o, and then tried to launch back into training. Talk about rebound, back down, back up, and back down again. Nearly a month later, I am finally getting rid of the lingering cough and accompanying phlegm that I have produced in gargantuan amounts. It is not easy to ride your bike full tilt and suddenly be overcome with a coughing fit which shakes not only your core but the bike, the horizon, and just about every available nerve ending.
I always try to look for the bright side to most experiences and this one gave me a small, dim, point of light that I fanned and nurtured as often and as vigorously as I could manage. That small pinpoint of light gave me a sort of twisted, yet not altogether psychopathic, happiness even while suffering.
I talk to my coach about most things physically related in my life and, for the most part, he is a pretty good listener. Even if distracted, he makes me feel like he is completely tuned in and concerned. What I realized during this illness, is that he cannot handle descriptions regarding one particular bodily fluid. Phlegm. Mucus. Snot. I realized this first in an email when he begged me to spare him the intricate Technicolor descriptions of my snot production. Hmmmmm. I did it anyhow and when my enjoyment of his reaction began to fade, I resorted to personal reporting. A snot face-off, if you will. I cannot describe the joy I experienced while describing what I knew was disturbing to him (generally speaking, I would do it on a day of a particularly rigorous workout and I felt he had it coming and, so, justified) and watching the color drain from his face while his eyes would drift somewhere over my shoulder as if to focus on the clouds or the geese or something else that wasn’t me. “You should have seen what I hacked up in the pool this morning! It was HUGE! Grayish, brown, maybe a little yellow and I think there were chunks in there.” I watched with glee as his Adams Apple rose and fell rhythmically as if to choke a bodily fluid of another type back down to where it belonged. Eyes misting over, nearly crossed with the color of his face closely resembling the color of my snot. Oh man, did I enjoy that. Maybe too much. I began to run out of adjectives to use. I consulted the thesaurus for alternate ways to say viscous (sticky, gummy, slimy, gelatinous, gooey, and so on)
How long could I keep this up? Until either I got better or he stopped giving me killer workout days. Who would surrender, who would succumb, and who would fall first?
I am sure you can guess. I am back to nearly one hundred percent with only one or two coughing episodes each day but the workouts have not only continued to be challenging but have jumped up several notches on the intensity meter. In the end, I continue to suffer and he doesn’t have to listen to snot stories anymore. Is there no justice?
Not here, not now. In Annapolis, I think, absolute justice. A snot-free justice just waiting to be earned. And the masses will say “NO, it’snot!”