I have qualified for the National Senior Games in Minnesota in 2015 in cycling and a few track and field events. I am not sure if I will enter, but if I do I will do so in cycling. Track and field is much too difficult on the legs. I tried some shorter running and field events where running distances would be shorter. Still, the pain and subsequent recovery time from these events was too great.
I do not care if I finish last, which may very well be the case since I am at such a huge disadvantage. My bike and gear cost me about $1000 dollars (however, I am planning on upgrading this winter). Others will be competing with about 10 to 20 thousand dollars in state of the art cycling equipment to minimize drag. That being said, I would like to be competitive and I am afraid my disorder will get the best of me. I do not want to go to Minnesota only to withdraw because my body is going bonkers since I cannot sleep or rest. I need to figure out how to overcome the combination of CFS and competition. Part of my plan to overcome this issue was to enter several events in the second half of 2014 to see if my body can get used to travel and competition.
I believe there is one reason to account for the fact that my transition back into competition has not been smooth: Personality types. During my research of CFS and BFS I have noticed patients are more than likely Type A personalities. Type A personalities are more likely to get stressed out over little issues and are driven to succeed. Competition is a change to my daily routine and it stresses me out. I continually worry about miniscule things such as did I pack a toothbrush or did I check the derailleur on my bike when I should be sleeping.
Many people do not believe me when I tell them I have a neurological condition. They tell me that I look fine. But I try to explain to them that outward looks can be deceiving and hide what is going on internally within my body. It is impossible for anyone to understand how I feel unless they too have similar symptoms. And it is certainly impossible for anyone to understand how my condition affects my performance. For instance, in a short 5K cycling time trial I may have to adjust my position several times to overcome tightening muscles, burning muscles, and stiff and numb muscles. To make matters worse, I start to feel like I am chocking to death when I push to maximum output wattage – part of the globus sensation in the throat. Obviously, it is not ideal to move around on a bike – it is best to stay in one aerodynamic position. However, this is nearly impossible for me.
My biggest fear is that eventually my exercise intolerance will span all exercise activities making it impossible for me to not only compete, but to exercise period. Unfortunately, I believe that day is coming, but hopefully that will be a few decades down the road, and not a few years. I say this because my symptoms are worsening over time.
I do not tell my story looking for any sympathy or to brag because I can exercise and compete with a neurological disorder (If you look at my results below they are not top tier by any means. Besides, I cannot say for certain how much the disorder hurts my results since I have never been a great natural athlete to start with). I tell my story because I have been on a mission to bring more exposure to CFS and BFS. I would also like to help motivate people to exercise, compete, and live healthy lives – even if they have a disorder. We are only on this earth for a short period time and we have to make the most of it!
Here are some of my results this past year (* indicates the event result qualified me for the 2015 national senior games in Minnesota):
Old Timers Wrestling Tournament: 2nd
Washington State Peninsula Senior Games:
20 mile time trial: 1:03:00 (1st in my group – on a rental bike, 4th overall)
South Dakota Senior Games:
20K: 34:48 (2nd)*
10K: 17:09 (2nd)*
5K: 7:47 (2nd)*
Track and Field:
High Jump: 4’2” (2nd)*
400M: 1:22 (3rd)*
Long Jump: 12’0.5” (3rd)*
Standing Long Jump: 7’0.5” (3rd)*
Nevada Senior Games:
5KTT: 9:19 (4th missed 3rd by less than 0.3 seconds – was uphill 250 feet)*
40KRR: 1:08:12 (5th)
Utah Senior (Huntsman) Games:
Cycling (Class 3):
5KTT (1000 foot climb): 15:33 (1st in group, 9th overall out of nearly 300 riders)*
37KRR: 1:05:06 (1st in group and overall at this distance)*
Mountain Biking (Beginners Class):
1.5MTT (500 foot climb): 10:03 (1st overall in beginners)
2MTT (700 foot descent): 9:06 (1st in group, but pretty slow overall)
4MCC: 20:03 (1st in group, 2nd in beginners)
K – Kilometers, M – Miles, TT – Time Trial, RR – Road Race, CC – Cross Country