Friday, July 22, 2011

More Numbers

Good cholesterol: way high. Bad cholesterol: way low. I'm a cholesterol rock star. My liver and kidneys and thyroid levels are all great, too.

But they still want to do a stress test to figure out the weird EKG results. Maybe the glitch in my heart has something to do with why I've struggled to recover from hard surges on the bike this season. Maybe it's also got something to do with why I sometimes get so dizzy after exercise.

I've undergone Conconi and lactate threshold testing in a sports performance lab, but the doctor wants a cardiologist to have a look at a more specific test. "You're getting into your forties, Eric. We don't want you to just drop dead now, do we?"

My response to all this crap has been pretty stoic. But I can't help thinking about Steve Larsen, one of the first guys I met after I moved to Davis. He owned Steve Larsen's Wheelworks, the best roadie / tri shop I've ever seen. I didn't understand the significance of the name until I flipped through The Cyclist's Training Bible, which quotes him a few times. A Google search revealed that Steve raced the Giro as a member of the Motorola team, won a MTB national title, and won an Ironman Lake Placid and top-ten at Kona.

He sold me some tires the first week I moved to town and gave me some good ideas about places to ride around town. He was really welcoming and encouraging, and he reminded me of Kent McNeil, owner of the old High Gear bike shop in Omaha and the founder of the Trek Bicycle Stores in Omaha, KC, and St. Louis. 

The next time I went to Wheelworks, Steve had sold it and relocated with his family to Oregon. In 2009, word reached Davis that he had died of a sudden heart attack while training. A world-class talent and the father of five kids, dead at 39.

We later learned that Steve may have died of complications from a virus or an allergy, but the heart-attack theory is what stuck with me. 

Even though I can't pedal up a hill and suffer from a weak lumbar spine, I'm in pretty good shape for someone my age. But Steve Larsen was among the elite athletes of his generation. If it can happen to somebody like that, it can happen to anybody. The results of my EKG may mean that I'm a higher risk of a sudden heart attack. Or they could mean nothing at all.

Hence the stress test. It'll probably be on a treadmill, which only reinforces my oft-repeated assertion that running sucks. But I suppose it's better than never running again.

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