How to Exercise at High Altitude: a word problem


(This is after the Medical Teams International Big Run
with my sis-in-law, Kim, who feels this pic makes her look schlumpy
but really she’s just schlumping ’cause I’m so short.
Thanks, Kim!)

I ran a 5K last weekend.

It was a miracle.

Four show-offy senior citizens passed me, speed walking, on the course. I didn’t care, though. Pfft; not me. I ran a 5K, folks, just four weeks after starting the Couch-to-5K program again. Last time I did Couch-to-5K, it took me 16 weeks to complete 9 weeks worth of sessions. So my running is slower than old people walk? Whatever. I totally outpaced the lady with the oxygen tank, so I’m marking it in the win column.

Greg and I arrived in Colorado yesterday, and today we completed the Vail Pass bicycle tour. We did it because we’re super sporty.

Sure, I huffed and puffed for the 45-second uphill portions and had to walk the bike a time or two, but, you guys, the guide told me during a water break that we have 25% less lung capacity at high altitude, so neither my huffing nor my puffing was surprising. That’s right, I thought, I have a darn good reason for not breathing, and then I posed a mathematical word problem for the guide — and for fun — because who doesn’t love a good word problem?

I’m pretty sure I get it, I said to the guide. Fill in the blank, OK? What I hear you saying is this: If I run a 5K race at a lower altitude and only four senior citizens pass me, then at this altitude when I run a 5K race…

five senior citizens — 25% more — will pass you, he finished.

In conclusion, I’m never running a race in Vail.

The End

……….

 P.S. Greg says both the guide and I suck at word problems (true for me, can’t speak for the guide), and that the question as I posed it was unsolvable because I didn’t provide the total number of seniors and allow for a percentage-based solution. In fact, Greg says, if 67% of the senior citizens (4 out of 6 total, since the nice lady with the oxygen tank was walking with a gentleman companion) passed me at sea level, then 100% (6 spunky seniors) would likely pass me at high altitude since they all, in this case boosted by an oxygen tank, would have better lung capacity than me. I say Greg can bite me.

……….

P.P.S. Free advice for the cautious at heart: always put your bike on a wedge.

……….

ABOUT BETH WOOLSEY I'm a writer. And a mess. And mouthy, brave, and strong. I believe we all belong to each other. I believe in the long way 'round. And I believe, always, in grace in the grime and wonder in the wild of a life lived off course from what was, once, a perfectly good plan.
18 comments
  1. Massage may be the oldest and simplest form of medical care. Egyptian offers the best bar in bgc tomb paintings show people being massaged. Massage has been practiced continually since ancient times in Eastern cultures. It was one of the principal methods of relieving pain for Greek and Roman physicians.

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  3. I’m a regular at crappy pictures and so glad I found you. Loving your posts so far and looking forward to going through the archives. Am I weird for finding the ‘bike on a wedge ‘ bit Hillarious!!!!!!?????!! Literally burst into laughter 🙂

    1. Welcome, Christina. Glad to have you here. And, yes, you’re totally weird for finding the Bike on a Wedge hilarious; you’ve come to the right place. 😉

  4. Well done on only 4 senior citizens! I myself always come first at the wrong end 😛

    1. OH MY GOSH! They always say RUN SMARTER, NOT HARDER, and I thought it must be a joke until just now. You are my new running role model. Cannot wait to try this out.

  5. You should totally run a 5k with me, because I surely couldn’t pass you. It’s taking me months to even START the couch to 5k program. I went to bed early last night so I could get up early and get started. I woke up a half hour early and turned off the alarm, then I went back to sleep and got up a half hour late. Clearly, the forces of nature are doing their best to protect my knees. (Which I blew out the last time I tried to run.) I am destined to stay soft and squishy.

    1. Oh, yeah – I’m SO not a morning runner. I tried to be, but it was a no go. I’m an afternoon runner. Good luck!

  6. Wow, you ARE really sporty.
    I do sports. Sometimes my 2 year old and I go on bike rides. I have to go really slow because his bike is 1/4 the size of mine, but it takes a lot of work to balance on a bike going that slow, so…

    1. I bet you have really excellent slow bike-riding muscles, Kendall. Just like I have really excellent slow running muscles. I’m always running, like, twice as slow as normal runners and I think “Oh yeah? YOU only had to run 23 minutes, whereas *I* ran 45… who’s got endurance NOW, friend? That’s right.” Running, I find, is all about finding the right form of self-delusion. That’s mine. 🙂

  7. I moved to Denver from Portland a year ago. I still get winded walking up stairs/hills. I’m pretty sure I aways will. Darn altitude!

    1. Don’t let any seniors climb your stairs, Jen. Just a suggestion ’cause I care about your self esteem.

  8. I’m right there with you on word problems – you lost me right when the bold font started. I totally understood the “P.P.S.” part though. Good idea.
    P.S. Love that pic of you two – awesome photography.
    P.P.S. Any “schlump” (which there isn’t any) would solely be attributable to having eaten HUMMUS at Red Robin the night before. I still can’t get over that. Fries rule.

    1. Heh heh.

      We had a PARTICULARLY rad and lovely photographer.

      1. Wait, Red Robin has HUMMUS???

        1. HA! That’s exactly what Ann said. 🙂

  9. I live in Colorado and i agree, the altitude can be rough!!! Glad you survived it and i am sure you beat the pants off of the O2 woman!

    1. Yep; totally left her in the dust. After I stopped to cheer her on. 🙁 I know – I suck as a competitor.

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