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The Toughest Endurance Event Ever

Updated: Jun 21, 2022

I mean it! What is the toughest endurance event ever?

Ironman? Ultraman? Tough Mudder? Tour de France? A week with the in-laws?


I just crossed the finish line of what I consider to be the toughest endurance event that I've ever... (wait for it)


I didn't even sign up for it. In fact, I don't remember an entry fee. On the other hand, I did train for it. Every earthly citizen in the past two years has trained for this particular event.

"Wash your hands for 20 seconds"
"Don't touch your face"
"Keep six feet away from that person next to you"
"Spread love. Not germs."

I Knew It Was Coming

This story starts in a lab somewhere in China, but I'll skip that part and jump right in to a recent Friday morning when Lori told me she was feeling a bit "off", By Friday evening she was way off.

For the last two years, whenever someone is feeling a bit strange, you know they are going to suspect COVID. I had a weird pain a couple of months ago and thought it was COVID. Turned out to be hemorrhoids, but my point is that the current zeitgeist has a big effect on how we think. And on the following Saturday morning, the zeitgeist told me to get my butt down to Kare Drug and bring home a couple of COVID testing kits. (It also told me to stop using big words like zeitgeist).

One positive test. One negative test.

There is a bit of sadistic humor in watching someone swab their own nose, especially when the swab tickles and they blow out a hurricane of snot. I'm not saying that happened to Lori, but she was the positive one (and I was the one laughing).

For two days there wasn't much laughing as I watched her suffer through the COVID ordeal. Of course, I knew that I had it too. Lori and I may live a PG rated life, but we do get closer to each other than six feet and we don't sleep like Ricky and Lucy in separate beds. There may be dogs and cats between us, but we do get close enough to violate the CDC guidelines.

how to wear a mask
A fine example of how to train people with big ears, tiny eyes, and no fingers to wear a mask.

It Hit Me: Day One

I can't tell you Lori's story. She'll have to tell you that, but on Monday morning, we had switched places. She felt 90% better.

I, on the other hand, barely woke up and knew it was a "special" day. You know it is going to be a special day when you are exhibiting every known COVID symptom at the same time.

I take that back, because I did have my smell and taste. OH. THANK. GOD! Give me the migraine vice grips from hell. Give me the excruciating muscle and joint pain. And please, load my bronchi with SAE90W mucus. BUT DON'T TAKE AWAY MY SMELL AND TASTE!

Monday was a day from hell. It was day one from hell. (I never know if I should capitalize hell or not. I don't want to show too much respect for a place that's run by a dude with a tail and horns.)

By the way... Because WIX doesn't have a feature for adding footnotes to blog posts, I'm forced to be rather parenthetical.  Such is life.

Anyway, Monday was day one from hell. You never realize just how much energy it takes to compose two emails. One went to the boss and coworkers informing them that they were one man down. The other went to Michelle, our TriClub president, to let her know that I was effectively dead and couldn't even look at a calendar to propose a date for the next TriClub meeting, because I had wasted all my energy writing her an email.

Writing those emails was difficult, but it must have looked terrible. I imagine a bag-eyed, unshaven troll of a creature squinting at a little screen and wincing from the pain of a million photons slamming into optic nerves. I'm glad that picture didn't make it to Facebook.

After that monumental email effort, The couch became my best friend.

Days Two Through Five

I thought the Omicron variant of the COVID virus, although highly contagious, was supposed to be nicer to its victims compared to the Delta variant and whatever other known variants are lurking out there.

I may be assuming too much. We may not have been infected by the Omicron variant. But, whatever variant this was, I'm renaming it to the KG variant because those are the initials of the bully in my neighborhood when I was 10 and if you append a "B", you get the name of a very nasty organization that is known for causing much pain and suffering.

The entire five days were a blur. I hardly ate. I did do a lot of sleeping, shivering, sweating, cussing and crying. My spot on the couch alternated between a refuge from daily responsibilities and a prison of pain and agony. I have no desire to sit on that couch today.

An Artifact Of My Own Stupidity

I think it was the night of day three that I was having trouble breathing. Not life threatening, but enough to keep me from sleeping. In my COVID induced wisdom, I decided to take a dose from my asthma inhaler so I could breath easier and get some sleep. The medicine is albuterol: a steroid. Albuterol is a great drug but it does have some side effects. Here's what the Mayo Clinic website has to say about that:

I'm trying to breath easier so I can get some sleep and I take albuterol?

  • Nervousness - check

  • Shakiness - check

  • Headache - check (that was probably the covid)

  • Muscle aches - BIG FAT CHECK.

I was more miserable than I had been trying to breath through my narrow airways. The nervousness kept me up all night so I was completely conscious during the worst muscle aches of this whole ordeal, And what's worse is that I didn't realize it was caused by the albuterol until much later the next day.

OK. So I'm an idiot.

The Finish Line

For me, this endurance event lasted a whole five days. That's not very long compared to those who have been hospitalized for weeks or those who suffer fatigue and low energy months after their symptoms fade. I'm grateful to have only had five days.

Now I have to get back to training. I'm sure the recovery process will last weeks or months. This won't be easy getting back in shape, but I have to start somewhere and this evening Lori and I walked to the highway: a total of 1300 feet.

That's going in TrainingPeaks. It's a workout.

Honoring The Six Million

As of this writing, over six million have died in the world from COVID (according to WHO).

We can talk a long time about why that number may or may not be accurate. If we do engage in such debate, we are missing the point. People are dying horrible deaths from an organism that follows a very efficient evolutionary pathway. It doesn't care about politics. It doesn't care about your beliefs or your socioeconomic status.

Governments can only do so much to limit the spread of the virus. We, as individuals, must take responsibility to protect our health, And in doing so, we must be aware that our actions can have serious consequences to others around us.

Lori and I don't know how we got COVID. The only rational conclusion is that we let down our guard. No one else can be blamed for this.

Five days of suffering COVID symptoms is not the toughest endurance event. Living through this pandemic is the toughest endurance event.

Until next time...

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