Did we forget about Spring? 32F up on Skyline… but I felt pretty good

Some day I’ll get tired of taking pictures here, West Old LaHonda. I don’t think anyone’s going to get exposed to the Corona Virus in this place. A safe place to escape to in a crazy world.
Tuesday we thought we’d get out ahead of the rain, like the weather forecast said, and instead ended up on Skyline very wet and very cold. Why do we ever believe the forecast? Then last night what do I do? Check the forecast again. And it says a low of 46. Taking out the garbage a bit later, the air had that feeling, that bite, that said “I’m coming for you.” And despite the forecast, I took it seriously. Glad I did.

Waking up I looked at the current outside temperature on my watch (because telling time is just an excuse for wearing a computer on your wrist). 39 degrees. So it was three layers up top (base layer, jersey, jersey/jacket), heaviest gloves, toe warmers (booties might have been a better choice). And watch the temp on our Garmins decline as we rode toward the start. Karen met up with us; “Pilot” Kevin was off on what might be one of his last flights, this time to New Zealand. Since it’s Thursday we ride through the park, but since it’s Corona Virus world parks are closed so we had to ride up Kings the whole way. Not sure we really had to; there were no barricades as we passed the park entrance on the way up.

I felt OK, not great, but OK, and generally better than I’ve felt for a while. Kevin and Karen evidently felt a bit better, as I lost their wheels almost exactly halfway up the hill. Hate that, but I don’t think I could have kept with them much further. And I didn’t want to completely blow up. I kept them mostly in sight until the final push to the top, finishing about a minute behind. No rest for the wicked; I immediately turned south onto Skyline and tried to recover as we went. Somehow I kept on their wheels, having to think, for the next 5 minutes, how it’s a lot tougher to have to chase after losing a wheel than staying on it.

Lance the Corgi, getting a walk on Canada this morning.
And it was getting COLD. Dropped down to 32 up top, and stayed that cold all the way to West Old LaHonda. But we were dressed for it, and it was one of those things where it was more “interesting” than bad. Plus it was really pretty out.

Power levels gradually coming back up, which is a good thing. And every time I think of slacking off, I remember how much I need to keep my lungs working really, really hard, because it literally strengthens them, it allows me to overcome their deficiencies by breathing more often. If I do catch Covid 19, I need to be in a place where my lungs are more asset than liability.

An added bonus at the end of the ride- Lance the Corgi was out for a walk! Lance used to get out with his fellow Corgi Tiger, but Tiger passed on a couple years ago. It’s been a long time since we’ve had a Lance sighting, so it was a relief to see he was still with it. Lance & Tiger. Yes, Lance was named after Lance Armstrong, and Tiger after Tiger Woods. Both pre-dating the downfall of each. Curiously Lance is still with us, while Tiger has, I guess, resurrected himself both figuratively and otherwise.

“Exercise” should not run down your immune system. The saying “That which doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” is almost true.

It is surprising how many people believe that hard exercise is going to put them at a higher risk for getting a cold or virus. Today I saw a post in a local racing club’s e-list that linked to an article that kinda sorta said exercise was good for you, but really didn’t say why. Or give a good example of when too much is too much. Here’s the link to the article- What’s missing is anything referencing really pushing yourself to your limits, and makes the usual recommendations to not go too far. In fact, pushing yourself really hard and long can have substantial benefits. Below is my reply-
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A superficial piece that ignores the research that’s been done lately on the remarkable role played by a type of Cytokine that’s released only in response to a combination of extreme & endurance exercise that goes far beyond the usual recommendation of making sure you walk the dog around the block each day.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2269132/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/31454519

There is also a similarly-remarkable ignorance of how well the body can adapt to deficiencies, if pushed. On the baseline 25/75% lung function test (how much C02 can you expel during the meat of the exhalation process), I score 28%. That’s a few points off a clinical definition of COPD. But my V02 max is 140% of normal for my age (64). Anyone riding up a hill with me knows what that sounds like. Basically my lungs have been trained to work at 3x normal expiration. I breathe far more often once I get past idle. If I didn’t push myself so hard, I’d never get close to covering breathing requirements under a taxing circumstance. Were I (or should it be when I?) to get Covid-19, the respiratory part of it would have easily put me in severe distress (and of course that could still happen; it could happen to anybody, but I’ve at least got a fighting chance.

I have the unfortunate advantage of having an extremely personal take on all this, having both the lung issue as well as a chronic mild bone marrow cancer (Essential Thrombocythemia). It’s put me in touch with blood values in a way that I can very easily relate to what went on during the worst of the doping era (not saying it doesn’t continue). I keep track of my blood values like a hawk and, working with my oncologist, make adjustments based upon a number of parameters that include not just white & red blood cell counts but also relationships to FTP, heart rate and more. Essentially I have turned my Oncologist into a doping doctor. He is learning a LOT that he didn’t know previously, in terms of how the body reacts to both exercise and changes in medication and resultant blood values.

Not everyone can push their limits on a regular basis. There could be medical reasons why it’s not a good idea (and how many of us know someone who dropped dead for no good reason, because they had an undiagnosed heart issue? Best to get a full workup if any question, including cardio-pulmonary function and stress test). But mostly I think there’s an incorrect assumption that you’re going to get sick if you work out too hard, which I guess is what the article is trying to refute.

By the way, this morning I sent a note to my Oncologist letting him know I’d rather put off this month’s blood test until hospitals are out of Covid-19 crisis mode.

Mike Jacoubowsky