In the weeks after the ride, my breathing got worse. I was coughing more and more and couldn't really train with any intensity. Then it got to be where I was having breathing issues just in my normal day to day activities. Even going up a few flights of stairs turned into an issue. Although I hated to do it, I made an appointment with my doctor.
As a kid I had bad asthma. Most of the time it was allergy induced but as a grown up, by virtue of my training, my breathing ability was better than most. The doctor saw me struggling doing almost nothing, and immediately put me on a couple of rescue inhalers, He prescribed an antibiotic just in case something other than allergies was causing this. He said since last winter was so mild in the northeast, it has been a brutal allergy season for many. Since I spent a lot of time outside, I probably was exposed to more allergens than I could handle. Once I went over the magic threshold, a bad cycle began with my breathing and I never was able to recover. He hoped the inhalers would break the cycle and suggested to see a pulmonologist for a consult to see what he had to say.
After I took the inhalers, I had immediate relief. Not 100% relief but pretty significant. When I saw the pulmonologist, he did an initial breathing test. It showed that my breathing was probably 75-80% of "normal" which is different than "endurance athlete." He found that the inhalers seemed to have stopped the madness and that I was clearly on the road to recovery. He adjusted the inhalers and recommended that I ease back into training with an additional workout inhaler. He said to "ease" like a normal human being, not like a crazy iron man triathlete type of person. He figured that it would still take me 6-8 weeks to be fully back to where I was before this and that we'll do a full work up then. That'll be my baseline in case something like this happens again. Also, the earlier we catch it, the avoidance of it getting to crisis mode is more likely.
The good news is that I'm on the road to recovery and the prognosis is good. I can start training but need to keep intensity low for a while. I'm not racing Musselman70.3 this weekend (with the lack of recent training there was no chance of success anyway) but hope to race a few sprint tris this season (I have a local one the end of August). NYC26.2 is on the table but the early mileage will be walking, not running.
I realized that you can't take breathing for granted. You don't realize how much you need it until you can't. Luckily I can now so "game on."