By Kathy Przywara, Community Director at the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America
Clearly, I’ve lost my mind! I’ve committed to train for and participate in a half century (50-mile) bike ride. That’s not the crazy part. I have asthma and it frequently becomes a factor in what I do. Will I be able to keep my exercise induced asthma under control so it will allow me to even train for this ride?
I love biking but would never consider myself an avid cyclist – or an athlete. I’m “Sunday cruise on the parkway” – not “Maserati on the Autobahn!” I’ve done longer rides in the past that were 25 to 30 miles as a casual cyclist. Training to ride 50 miles should be an achievable goal, right? I have nearly 4 months to train! However, I haven’t ridden much over the past 2 years. I broke my wrist and it didn’t heal properly for a while. That made riding difficult. It’s all healed and fine now. Over that same time, my environmental allergies and allergic asthma have flared more than usual. I’ve been struggling to get them under control again. Since committing to do this ride, the running dialog in my head goes something like this:
“I can do this! I still have 4 months to train!”
“But what if I can’t breathe?”
“I have plenty of time to train and build up my endurance”
“But what if my allergies are bad all summer? What if I can’t breathe?”
“The course is mostly flat and there is only one big hill to climb. I can walk it if I have to.”
“But what if I can’t breathe?”
“This is going to be fun trip with a bunch of friends.”
“But what if I can’t breathe? I don’t want to hold everyone else back.”
The Rosarito Ensenada Bike Ride is something my husband has been wanting to do for several years. The timing just has not worked with kids in school. This fall, we become empty-nesters and can be more flexible in our travel. So, this is the year!
My husband started seriously cycling about 4 ½ years ago. It quickly became clear that my asthma was not going to let me keep up with his pace. He was able to build up endurance much quicker than I could at the time. I quickly got discouraged because he wanted to ride much farther on routes with more hills than I thought I would be able to handle. I didn’t want to hold him back, so I just stopped riding with him and became even more discouraged. Now, we have a big difference in our fitness levels and I’m going to have to seriously train to build up my endurance. But my asthma is an ever present factor.
My husband is really excited about doing more riding together and has many training rides in mind. Awesome, right? Then I realize that he’s thinking I can just jump right into a 20 mile ride! And we are right back to one of the reasons I stopped riding with him before. But, this time will be different. I’m advocating for myself and educating him about my limitations.
This is going to be an adventure. I know there will be bumps in the road. I know there will be times when I will want to give into my asthma and let it conquer me and hold me back. I’m determined to not allow my asthma and allergies define me – to find ways to conquer them and meet this challenge head-on.
Read on for the next part of my journey.
Kathy Przywara is the Community Director at the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. She manages asthma, nasal allergies and food allergies. She is a passionate advocate for education and support for those managing asthma and allergic disease.