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Archive for April, 2008

Sick Puppy

Before I left for school this morning, I noticed that Muttboy was acting strange.  He came into the kitchen as I was preparing to leave, looking for the Milkbone that I always give him before I go out the door.  He was holding his head awkwardly and limping.  When I knelt to see what was wrong, I noticed he had a scared look in his eyes and he was shaking.  I got him calmed down and he seemed to be feeling a little better.

Then, when I got home this evening, Dorothy was sitting next to Muttboy, petting him anxiously.  I knew as soon as I walked in the door that he something was wrong.  I immediately called the vet, and they said to bring him down right away.

He had a little trouble getting into the car, and when we got to the vet, he stumbled walking up the sidewalk.  Once we got inside he kept panting nervously, but was not as interested in seeing the receptionist as he usually is.  The receptionist, who knows Muttboy from other visits, could tell that he was not at all himself.

When we got into an exam room, the vet techs took blood and Muttboy’s temperature.  They seemed to have an idea what was wrong, and they did not appear to be at all anxious, which went a long way to allaying my fears.  Soon the vet came in and said that the blood tests revealed that Muttboy has Lyme and ehrlichiosis, both of which are tick-borne bacterial infections.  Fortunately, both are also easily treatable with a big antibiotic regimen.

Right now Muttboy is resting quietly beside me, having had a shot and a handful of pills wrapped in cheese.  He should be back to normal in a day or so, but he will be taking eight pills a day for six weeks.  It is a huge relief knowing what is wrong and that it is something that can be taken care of with little fuss.  He is a good, sweet dog and I can’t stand the thought of him feeling sick.  Muttboy will certainly be getting a little extra love over the next few weeks.

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Why My Teammates Hate Me

My teammates don’t actually hate me, but they are very puzzled about my training and a little annoyed, I think, that I can race as well as I do despite bad training.  About a month ago, I got back from El Salvador and raced on about three hours of sleep and managed to finish third. They couldn’t believe it.

And then there was today.  After last Sunday’s race, I started to feel weird, as if someone were choking me.  My head felt the way a balloon looks when you squeeze the bottom of it, and my throat kept tingling.  I had a terrible feeling that I knew what this meant, but I gamely ignored it until I woke up around midnight, shaking uncontrollably and sweating miserably.  For the next several days I had a fever, bright red throat, and the desperate hope that I would get better in time to race.  Last night, that hope flew out the window as I coughed my way through about four or five hours of restless sleep.

So today when I lined up for the race, I felt lighter, since I had sneezed or hacked up about fifteen pounds of phlegm (sorry to be so graphic!), but not really in any sort of racing mood.  I gave myself permission to drop out of the race if I felt another coughing fit coming on.

Once the race started, I felt detached and sluggish.  Even so, I stayed near the front most of the time, and when I dropped back I quickly moved back to a smarter spot in the peloton.  Every time we hit the hill, I could feel my lungs tickle threateningly, and my legs lacked any real snap.  Nevertheless, on one of the trips up the hill, I decided to attack.  My brave effort lasted about half a lap before I was caught by the pack.  The other racers know who I am, so they are not likely to let me get away, but I thought this time would be different: they would say, “Oh, he’s sick–he can’t do anything.  Let him go and we’ll find him dead on the side of the road in five minutes.”  No such luck.

When Chris attacked with about four or five laps to go, it just proved my theory.  He hasn’t placed yet, so the pack didn’t try to chase him down right away.  Finally, after a couple of laps, we started to reel him in, but it proved to be too late.  At the bell lap, I kept myself as close to Zack, the series leader, as I could, knowing that he would get a good lead out and I could try to follow.

In the final stretch, it was Chris, still off the front.  After the small gap came Brian, Zack’s lead out guy, with Zack right on his wheel.  Then four other guys and then me.  At the bottom of the hill, Chuck, my teammate, started his sprint, and I grabbed his wheel just long enough to pass two of the guys in front of me.  Then I launched everything I had left and went wide to the right.  I could see Zack ahead of me, hammering for the line, but I was gaining.  Zack looked over his shoulder and saw me gaining.  His face–though this must be fantasy and not a real memory–wore a look of shock and terror as I stomped on the pedals.  At the line I threw my bike in a very poor imitation of my old hero Davis Phinney, but it was not enough.  Zack still beat me by half a wheel.  Nevertheless, it was good enough for third place.

After the race, Justin, one of my teammates, shook his head.  “I’m still trying to figure out your secret,” he said.  “You race better when you’re sick and you don’t train?  Maybe I need to get sick!”

I don’t recommend it as a training strategy, but it seems to be working for me.

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