June 29, 2014

Cresting the rise

I have been feeling broken down lately. I have plantar fasciitis pain that has kept me from running for two months. I am currently wearing a boot to bed to try to keep the tendon stretched out. My right wrist started hurting the other day, so I had my carpel tunnel brace on as well. Pieces of me encased in hard plastic to keep me from hurting myself while I am sleeping. Danger, fragile!

On the last couple of bike rides, I have felt like I just don't have it anymore. I was climbing the last hill on the Seven Hills of Kirkland ride last month, which was actually the ninth hill because we opted for the longer route. I was really struggling. It is a difficult ride, but one I tackled well last year. As I tried to will myself up the hill, I wondered if my peak days were behind me. Was I now "over the hill" physically now that I can't climb this one. There was another tough ride a couple weeks later that felt harder than it should have been.

Intellectually, I know the day is coming where the times on the stopwatch will only increase. There will be no further personal best times, and the challenge of events will become something else. I do want to be that 75 year-old guy that is still out there running, and showing up at 5ks for the enjoyment of it all, race times be damned. Emotionally, though, I am not quite ready to give up. I still want to feel like I am on the up-slope of that metaphorical hill, even if I am climbing it more slowly.

Everyone has their own definition of when they are "old". Maybe it is a number, maybe it is an activity you no longer can do, or it could be the number of pills or splints it takes to keep you moving. My semi-joking line is that when I no longer sleep in a tent with just a Thermarest between me and the ground, then I will feel old.

I tested my "old" theory again this weekend. A few of us went on a "test" hike before our return to Delta Lake in August. A couple of us wanted to test out our new packs, and we all wanted to check our fitness  level before scrambling off the maintained trail. We hiked to Copper Lake, no small undertaking in itself, but ended up getting rained out and coming back early. It turned out to be a good thing.

My right arm had been bugging me for a couple of days. It felt like a nerve pinch starting in my shoulder, maybe from planks I had been doing during June. Thursday and Friday, I started noticing red blotches on my arm and hand. They were more painful than itchy, and I jumped online to check on the symptoms. There was a recent measles outbreak in Washington (thanks anti-vaxers), as well as an increase in Lyme disease from tick bites (though I hadn't made it to the woods yet). Nothing quite lined up, so I headed to the hills Friday morning.

Sunday morning, the pain and blotches were joined by some numbness in one finger, and swelling in another. Another possibility dawned on me, and after some more WebMD surfing, it was off to Urgent Care. My Internet research turned out to be right, unfortunately (I hate it when I'm right). I have shingles.

More on what that means in the next post, but just the diagnosis of "shingles" has me feeling pretty old. I am not giving up on on that hill just yet, but it does feel like I am starting to crest the rise.

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