It's been a few days since the weekend that was; the weekend that I still feel like i'm recovering from, in a foggy haze. I had decided last week, amidst some cajoling from my significant other, that I should enter the Deswick's Logans Run marathon event. I was umm-ing and err-ing about it, mainly because of my lack of miles and my very long recovery times at the moment. In the end, on the last day for registrations, I bit the bullet and entered, deciding to pop a couple of really easy days in the leadup to try and have the best possible chance at feeling fresh on the day.
I planned to the minutiae for this race; my nutrition was prepped, I was well aware and prepared for all the hills and my favourite singletrack was involved. What's not to love? I was looking forward to a day in the sun. My legs hadn't come good but I was reasonably confident I would be ok. New warrior AB would be fine.
We got there and it was 1 degree on the thermostat in the car, crisp indeed! After a non warm-up (it actually made you much colder to roll around than standing huddled in one spot) the gun went and I found myself weaving around a bunch of hubbards for what seemed like a long time, feeling very cold and just riding in hope of the old legs waking up.
About 10km in, the legs hadn't warmed up at all. The first and last 23km of the race was the same grassy doubletrack with many a blind corner and sandy spots, no big climbs but undulating. I was struggling to get myself out of the saddle and wondering if I would begin to feel better.
I was cornering poorly, feeling really out of it and quite dizzy. I careered myself into a hole at one stage. I continued on in the hope that I would begin to feel better. A large climb greeted us, with a trail of walkers. I managed to ride two of the pinches that were flagged either side by people pushing their bikes, but was relegated to my feet shortly after.
Nearing the top of the climb, which ordinarily I wouldn't think much worse than a Camp Mountain, I had a few distinct dizzy spells and a strong urge to lie down. This was not ideal as we were headed to the singletrack. These strange sensations were making me a bit nervous about my capability on the bike.
Well, despite riding really poorly down the descent, I still managed to drop the group of roadies that were on my wheel at the top. Yay me, though the dizziness hadn't ceased yet.
I kept on going, wondering what was wrong with me. This wasn't a case of not having the legs, this was something else, surely, or was it? Was it my head? What the heck was going on? I was SO prepared to go well in this race (I had pretty modest aspirations for it anyway considering my training mileage and all this recovery i'm needing).
My legs felt like empty sausages, through the last singletrack before the feed zone, I put in a couple of pedal-strokes and then would have to sit and recover my breath like a fat old emphysema patient. Surely i'm not this unfit? I'm not that fat that I can't get out of the saddle (am I)? I haven't had a great lead up to the race but it's been reasonable all things considered...
I'm feeling physically nauseous riding up to the feed zone, Aiden is waiting there with little pea. I stop to get a bottle and when I stop the pounding in my head increases, not decreases, and I have a spinning sensation—is this vertigo? Feeling quite upset, I stop and talk to Aido, he urges me to continue. I tell him what's going on for me and he says he respects my descision. I grab my little pea and I know what the descision is. I feed her in my race kit in the feedzone.
We drive back to race HQ and I spend the rest of the day trying to get horizontal somehow, which is largely unsuccessful. Ben, our awesome junior, showed his skills and consistency extend beyond the XC realm by smashing the competition and taking 1st in U19 and overall. Amazing!
I am left deflated. I take a few more days off the bike. I decide I should ride and manage an hour recovery ride, averaging 22km/hr. It's a flat route!
I see my doctor. Surely with a baby that is mostly sleeping through the night this level of fatigue is unwarranted? The most hours I have managed to do on the bike since her birth is 12 —hardly an excessive load. We decide to test for thyroid problems, due to familial thyroid issues, and iron.
I get a call today with a concerned doctor wondering how I am managing to ride my bike at all with very low iron and anaemia, a result of feeding little pea copious amounts of milk of my own production each day. She thinks someone with this level of deficiency would struggle to walk to the shops, let alone race marthons. Bingo, there's my answer!
How did I not notice this? It's a progressive thing; I have been trying to take my own advice and train sensibly, but am I stupid not noticing how much recovery I am needing for every session? The fact that I have reverted to needing a mid-afternoon nap? That odd feeling like my legs are going to buckle, and the headspins I get when I get off the couch from feeding little pea?
In one sense I am mad at myself for not realising that shit wasn't right sooner, on the other hand I feel like a massive weight has lifted off me, knowing now I am equipped with the tools to fix it.
So a big lesson to learn is to keep your fatigue in check—if it's seeming excessive there may be a reason. It will probably take me a few weeks to start to feel ok again but there is a ray of sunshine poking through the clouds and in a few weeks there will be rainbows and sunshine for sure!