Fastest ride up Kings in 10 months; 60 year old working to turn back the clock. But how far?

Unrelated to the main story, more for entertainment, the video shows a driver with a death wish at the base of 84 in Woodside. The truck ahead of the car clearly had its turn signal (for a right-hand turn at the base of the hill), and yet the car... well, you just gotta watch the video.

Strava, unfortunately, knows all. You can’t hide from the truth. You get older, you get slower. Unless… unless you were leaving something on the table before, leaving room for improvement that can take you past where you were before, even though you’re getting older.

Obviously this isn’t the sort of thing a younger person thinks about. It’s tied to that sense that you’re on a downhill slide; that feeling that your best years are behind you. You start to think about things you used to do, that you can’t anymore. But, while the long-term trend is not stoppable, you can, even at 60, have a better year than you did at 59. That is my plan. The past few weeks, I’ve finally seen evidence that it’s possible. My times up Kings are gradually improving, with today’s 28:22 being my best since June 16th last year. My ride Sunday up Old LaHonda was my best since July 5th last year, and West Alpine, best since June 21st last year.

So on the one hand, I could be depressed about my best cycling years behind me, but the real truth is, it still may be possible to turn back the clock a year or two.

Am I denying my own mortality? Sure. Maybe. Is it unhealthy? The opposite I think, as it encourages me to take a bit better care of my body, watch my weight more closely (this winter it had kicked up a few pounds more than I should have let it) and believe in the numbers.

Numbers. It’s all about numbers, isnt’ it? Strava times are obvious. Other numbers came from my breathing test, which showed, even though I didn’t notice it, a significant improvement using an albuterol inhaler. I never got that albuterol “buzz” or any other feeling that it was actually doing something, so I quit using it a while after it was initially prescribed a few years ago. But my test last month showed, at least in the lab, that it should help. After going back on the stuff, establishing a routine and making it part of the plan, I’m seeing my Strava numbers improve as well.

How far can I take this? Not too. I’ve still got an addiction to chocolate that limits my weight loss, and the limited amount of time I can ride doesn’t allow for the type of training that would really do me good (hard rides occasionally, not all the time, because easier rides would be added into the mix).

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Ever watched your heart in action?

IMG_1621monitorThis morning was the final set of tests for my breathing issues; this time it was a 40 minute tour of my heart, using ECG and sonogram, mostly the latter.

It starts off with a test I’ll always fail… blood pressure. Actually not terrible this time; 146/84. For me, in a doctor’s office, this is not-so-bad. At home or work, it would be about 137/78 or so. But even though I’m more calm in a doctor’s office than I used to be, I’m still not… calm. In fact, I find myself speaking in a very quiet voice, if speaking at all. Weird. Not my normal self. But on with the test.

For the most part you’re on your side staring at the tech’s glasses because you’re propped up into a position you can’t move from. But from one of the positions I was able to actually see what was on the screen, and what you see is… well… it looks like something you’d see in a popular mechanics article showing how an internal combustion engine works. You’ve got something that looks like a 2-stroke cylinder with two flapper valves. The valves are the really interesting parts. When you consider how important they are, as in, what happens if one develops a leak, or decides not to seal… and then you think about how many tens of thousands of times a day this valve is doing that.

Of course, there’s no piston in your heart, just walls that close in at times to pump blood one way, then release to let more blood back in. Or something like that.

And then there’s the sounds. You know there are clues in the sounds, but you don’t know what you’re listening for. Same thing, really, for the pictures. The tech is seeing things, taking pictures of the screen at irregular intervals, sometimes many in a very short period of time, sometimes a minute goes by without a picture. Is that good, or bad? There’s nothing coming from the tech to indicate one way or the other. The good news, at least, is that at the end they didn’t strap me to a gurney and tell me “You’re not going anywhere today” or something like that.

At the end of it all I’m told the results were going to be seen by a cardiologist, who would then consult with my doctor, who would then go over it all with me, after which I feel like I’m getting somewhere, or get my affairs in order. Thankfully, the latter doesn’t appear to be a possibility.


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