Adjusted Reality

“Reality can be beaten with enough imagination.” – Mark Twain

Relentless, Dauntless, Analytical

2019 gave me an incredible opportunity to grow, learn, and really reexamine my priorities, methodologies, and desires.

It me. Thanksgiving. With the hairs and everything!

I started this missive with the words Courageous, Confident, and Logical, but I wanted to refine my intentions even more. While courage and confidence were huge pillars for me over the last year or so, I don’t think they accurate describe what I’ve sought and continue to seek in my thoughts and in life. They’re even a little too wishy washy. Relentless is the confidence to not stop in the face of either potential or actual failure. Dauntless is the courage to look something or someone really intimidating in the eyes and believe that you can be a worthy opponent. While I had my faltering moments this year, I aimed to be relentless and dauntless in the challenges I took on, and I think more often than not, I succeeded in embodying those ideals.

The third descriptor, Analytical, is what keeps me from being the bull in the China shop. There’s been a big push at work to be incredibly analytical, to examine the data before coming to anecdotal conclusions. We’re letting our numbers, our community, the current market trends, and sanity dictate what we undertake. “This is the way it’s always been done” is notably absent from that list.

I spent a lot of time post morteming the last decade of my work decisions, which was crazy making until I realized that my own gut was more often than not correct when I was given enough information. I spent a lot of time over the last two years doing that with triathlon as well, and when I revised some unuseful processes and really prioritized the important stuff. I have done my best to spend time both deep in my own head, and also looking at my thoughts and actions from over my own shoulder to figure out what makes me tick and the true reasons behind my thoughts and actions.

My only regret is that I seem to have unmade some health and triathlon-related habits over the last few months in the pursuit and passion of other hobbies, but it’s all about priorities. My work life has changed so much that instead of looking for things to be done, my plate is now 200% full each day. For 2020, my goal both in work and in my personal life is to keep a constant stack rank of all the things, and figure out what falls below the “suck” line. At work, that means they’ll have to be delegated, we’ll have to make the process more efficient, or we’ll have to decide it’s unneeded. In my personal life, it mostly means that I’ll have to decide what is most important, and give myself permission to suck at or leave undone the rest.

This iguana gives no effs. 2020 goals, to be more like this leezard…

Putting aside analytical for now, as that’s not a huge challenge for me, while Relentless and Dauntless take a little more oomph for me. I searched my mental archives for some of the things of which I was most proud that embodied working on my weaknesses here.

I’ve made strides in my public speaking over the last decade (it’s kind of required when you lead a team), however, this last year took it to a new level. Each month I’ve spoken in front of the company, and I got the opportunity to be on a panel at SXSW. It’s grown from a quick wrap up where I talked on the surface of our features and thanked the team to an in-depth look at thoughts and motivations behind the psychology and analytics of our strategy on features. I’ve also taken this from a literal script I would write for myself and read not as confidently as I would like to being able to do this without said script, just a power point with a few bullet points, as long as I practice it a few times beforehand. This is something I’m hugely proud of, as I’ve always considered myself more of an actor (reading prepared lines) vs a charismatic speaker (my own thoughts, more off the cuff). I look forward to more opportunities to practice this art in the coming year.

Dauntless is an obvious one here, as public speaking is further up on some people’s list-o-phobias than spiders or even death. I will also offer relentless as I aggressively pursued the opportunity to speak at work until it was just expected of me on a monthly basis.

Climbing this volcano = much less daunting than winging public speaking!

Bloodbowl, a turn based strategy game loosely based on football/rugby starring orcs, elves, and other fantasy races attempting to kill each other in interesting ways, is the best worst game ever. It’s frustrating, one unlucky dice roll can ruin your game even if you’re doing everything right. It’s definitely “not my kind of game”, and it was definitely not intuitive to me and I wasn’t magically good at it when I picked it up. Just the opposite, quite frankly. I sucked. Instead of letting this faze me, I embraced the incremental improvements. In fact, last season, I remember thinking at one game halfway through the season, “this is my best loss yet, with a few things going my way, I could have maybe even tied!” and then, I was able to tie, and I’ve even won a few matches after practicing like hell.

While I’m proud of the fact that I was undaunted by the level of difficulty and relentless in the fact that I wasn’t innately good at it and didn’t immediately give up, I think I’m most chuffed by the fact that I asked for help. When I started to improve, I found I had more questions than answers, and instead of going into my own research hole and banging my head against things and getting frustrated, I asked the winner of the last season for advice, and he’s sorta my coach now. 🙂 I still have to catch myself from apologizing too many times about asking his advice, because he truly does seem to enjoy giving it, but I’m making progress.

Speaking of the mentality of apologizing for taking up space, let me lastly circle around to Dungeons&Dragons. It finally hit me this year that these sessions weren’t only an excuse to eat cheese and misappropriate song lyrics. The exciting thing about becoming someone else is that you can explore other mindsets, other mentalities, other viewpoints, and do things that are either against your nature or that scare the fuck out of you in a less threatening way, and try how they feel on for size. Playing a genderfluid bard has done things like reinvigorate my love of music, poetry, and writing, but has also let me explore the psychology of stepping outside of traditional female thought processes.

It’s fun to try on other personalities…

It’s reinforced that if I want things, I need to ask for them. No one is going to show up and offer me my goals, I need to pursue them relentlessly and dauntlessly, obviously using my logical side to make sure I’m taking the correct steps to get there.

I’ve tried on internalizing successes and externalizing failures as it makes sense. Obviously, I want to learn from my mistakes, but I’ve tried to stop letting it shake my core. We make mistakes, sometimes they’re not really our fault, sometimes they completely and totally are, and that’s what it means to be a human. I may be imperfect in my actions and thoughts and words, but that doesn’t make me an unworthy and inadequate person. I have the chance to wake undaunted and relentlessly try again the next day in pursuit of whatever it is that’s on top of the list.

I’ve learned that rejection is not the end of the world. Honestly, my character is better at it than I am, I’m constantly fighting a situation where me IRL wants to say “fuck it”, but it’s absolutely not what my bard would do, so I’m sticking with it as an exquisite exercise in frustration ><. However, it’s a great lesson that simply because something doesn’t work out the first time doesn’t mean it’s not meant to be. The more confident I am in certain areas, the more dauntless and relentless I am to make it happen. I need to believe in myself and summon that same magic power in wide variety of areas.

#spoiledAF

And in that same vein, perhaps next time I’ll tell you a story about a guitar.

2019 wrap up, 2020 goals

2019 was a really challenging year, but it’s also been one of the best in memory.

I really am a lucky individual to be at this place in my life. I’ve got opportunity to grow and learn out the wazoo right now, and I’m doing my best to make the most of it by firewalking into each situation… not unafraid, I definitely still feel the fear, but perhaps undaunted by it. While I can’t say I’ve become COMFORTABLE with failure, I’ve ceased to be paralyzed by it. I probably have a few thousand words rolling around in my head about this stuff, so I’m going to seperate all that into the next post and keep this one more of a wrap up/looking forward goals post instead.

Training and racing I documented very very well, so I’ll sum up quickly:

  • Finally a half marathon PR!
  • Did really well at some indoor tris
  • Notched a 3rd and a 1st (qualifying for Nationals, but decided to skip it this year)
  • Raced a 70.3. Enjoyed the process but the outcome (though mostly out of my hands due to a mechanical) was slightly disappointing

2020 is truly the year of the Ironman. I’ve got a half marathon in January, a 6 hour bike race in February, and after that, nothing until April 25th. I’m booked until May, and then after, I’ve promised myself the rest of the year to do WHATEVER. Last time it was long distance cycling. This year, we’ll see. Maybe it will be underwater basket weaving?

I was selected to rep Nuun and then also become part of the #questsquad in 2019. I’ve reapplied for Nuun, and I believe I’m already in for Quest. BSS no longer has a tri team, so I thought long and hard about going for a kit ambassadorship, but the one I wear doesn’t do that, and I’m not deviating from my Roka kit for the Ironman. No free gear will stray me from it. Technically I’ll be under the umbrella of Austin Tri Club as my people, I hope to get to know them better by attending some functions and/or workouts in my copius free time. 🙂

#projectraceweight was a bit of a disappointment this year, but I found myself with other priorities instead of dedicated towards the meticulous attention and tracking losing 20 lbs takes. I’d really like to knock this one off the list in 2020, as my last (post vacation super bloated weight) was actually 5 lbs higher than I said I weighed in my January 2019 post, so I’ll have the challenge of both fueling myself for Ironman and watching my shit in the coming months. It will simply take tracking my calories, watching my metrics, and eating the right things because I haven’t been doing much of any of that this year. If I’m successful, I have a feeling it will take the shape of the 5-ish I’m up right now from my absolute lowest will hopefully come off during IM season, and the rest I can work on in the second half of the year.

My hobbies have taken a completely different form this year. I stopped thinking about them as something I needed to improve upon to learn a new craft to support myself someday, and simply felt the drive to indulge and improve. It’s unblocked me in some ways and in some cases, I’ve dropped the motivation to partake.

While the words haven’t been here in this particular location, I’ve written more fiction this year than I have, perhaps ever in my life. I’m writing with more care and attention to detail. I like the words I’m making. I did almost nothing with the first draft of the non-fiction book I’ve written, and I think I’ve fully realized why. It’s very personal. If it doesn’t do well, I’ll feel rejected not just as a writer and marketer, but at my core of a human being as well. This isn’t my first book that’s a learning experience. I care too much about it for it to be my training exercise. So instead, I’m going to write some fiction and learn the ropes that way. I actually aim to cut off my Fork Files at a good ~100 page stopping point this year, edit it to smooth out the writing style and level of big-word asshattery, and publish it in some form or fashion.

We took two major vacations – the 9 day cruise and two weeks in Bonaire, both of which featured some amazing diving (the former included a ton of great family quality time as well). In 2020 we plan to do a 7 day family cruise in May, a 6 day Dungeons and Dragons cruise (yes really) for our anniversary in October, and probably a Key Largo trip in December instead of somewhere more expensive, though on the wish list are Australia, Maldives, Hawaii, and Fiji.

We camped in February, July, and for races. I hope in 2020 to do something similar (though July will be more like 5 days vs 10) but also take a fall trip or two somewhere new and pretty.

I’ve gotten better at prioritizing gaming, especially in the last few months. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed delving into the mind of my Bard, I’ve found that I can really explore facets of my personality perhaps I’m less comfortable about as me IRL. I’ll cover this in my next post, but suffice to say D&D has me hooked, to the point where I’m actually looking at running some stuff next year. Probably just for my husband at first, but I’ve been really interested to try my hand at it. Also warranting more than a one-liner here, I’m on my second season at our work Blood Bowl league and I’m really really into the game. I’ve put almost 200 hours into it and I thoroughly enjoy the puzzle of figuring out how I’m going to combat each team with the tools I have at my disposal.

In 2020, I want to continue to prioritize gaming, both as research and knowledge for work, and also because it’s part of me that’s fallen off that I don’t like. It’s my livelihood, and I have a lot of decision-making responsibiilities right now. I want to make sure I’m making informed ones. I want to play a larger variety of games, even if they’re “not my thing” or I’m “not good at them”. If I’ve found the fun in the most brutal, frustrating, and confounding game of Bloodbowl, I can probably figure it out elsewhere.

Photography has stuck with me, and editing has become my relaxing hobby when I’m either watching TV that I don’t want to 100% pay attention to, and also during our Monday night online D&D sessions during downtime. I recovered my accounts from all the stock photo sites, and man, my photography has improved in the last two years! In 2020, I want to do two things:

  • Submit more to stock sites. I’ve made like 7 bucks with my 23 photos from last May’s vacations, maybe if I did this regularly… 🙂
  • Set up a gallery on this site to organize and showcase my best photos. It’d be nice to send people who are interested a clean link with just photos instead of saying, uh, find and friend me on facebook if you want…

I’ve found that this year the time to search them out has been the limiter on contest entering instead of confidence, so I’m going to back off on BIG goals there. If it happens in 2020, that’s awesome. If not, no worries.

I fell RIGHT off music when things got busy last year. I learned 3 songs on the piano, about the same amount on the melodica, and then, nada. However, I think I figured out that the proximity was the problem for the piano (not something I can pick up anywhere), and the sound of the Melodica was novel, but not pleasing. Another thing I’ll discuss at more length shortly, but I’ve always wanted to learn guitar and said my secret wish was to be a rockstar. For some reason, it’s been my sacred cow, but as this has been the year to eat them for lunch, I asked for a guitar for Christmas and I’ve completed my first “lesson” last night. 🙂 Today I’m going to learn chords! I am giving myself 2020 to suck at guitar. I will put out no goals about learning songs or Youtubing myself or whatever, but I will say that I’d like to put in about 3 hours of practice a week to build both callouses and competence.

I painted when I felt like and I fell off videos and fell right the hell off learning marketing. That’s okay. Priorities shifted and I only have so many free hours in the day where my brain functions above the zone out at the TV level.

Finally, adulting. We did all the big things (financial planner, replace garage doors, tear down the bush and replace the fence), but skipped all the little organization projects. I have to face the facts that my life is a series of prioritities, and I’m ALWAYS going to squeeze in writing, photography, triathlon, reading, adventuring, or some much needed downtime over making my house look nice unless absolutely necessary.

In 2020, I’m going to put down two adulting goals:

  • Pay off the house
  • Look into foundation repair (it’s expensive and ugly but we have some BIG cracks that need to be fixed)

I’d like to clean out my closets and I’d like to organize the media racks and I’d love to get rid of the empty terrarium, but I can’t promise that next year I’ll prioritize doing any of this over things that actually make me happy and fulfilled. So, I’ll let go the constant guilt that my house is not HGTV ready because who cares, right?

I typically pick my three words of the year and share them here, but I’m going to save that for the next post. Stay tuned.

Changing the Narrative…

It’s offseason, which means it’s time to dust off the cobwebs in the psyche and really dig around in there. Peeking out of my hole to share some insights…

Also, it’s been a nice excuse to get caught up on diving photos just in time for my holiday trip, where I’ll take two weeks of footage and get blissfully behind again…

It’s been a little over a year since my focus on Courage and Confidence. My headspace has changed so much in some regards, my prior thoughts and feeling ring so foreign to me. I remember a time when my head was full of negative and self-deprecating sentiments. I remember having little confidence in my capabilities and suffering from constant and overpowering imposter syndrome. I remember internalizing things that happened to go wrong in my life even if they weren’t my fault. I remember feeling numb, disinterested, and disengaged with many things in my life and sort of… floating.

I remember being paralyzed by a subconscious fear that I wasn’t good enough at something, at anything, at everything. I remember shying away from activities where I didn’t find immediate success. I remember being afraid to speak my mind, stand up for my opinion, and stick my neck out for things I believe in, because people would think I was just a dumb stupid girl that didn’t know anything.

I know that was my reality. I just don’t feel like that anymore.

I also remember sleeping well and not waking up in the middle of the night with worries, thoughts, ideas, and schemes. Numbness is a mixed bag, but one I very much like being absent in my life right now. I’ll take a little overthinking at 2am because it means I CARE ABOUT SHIT.

One thing I’ve started doing is trying to use that overactive imagination and the asshole voice in my head for the powers of good. You know the one I’m talking about, the one that spouts things like “you’re not worth it” or “don’t even bother, you won’t be good enough” or “everyone will make fun of you” or “you’re a terrible person”. The obvious thing is to combat this with lukewarm statements like, “I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and doggone it, people like me.” I’m trying a new thing… taking my silent pep talks to the next level. Instead of mild platitudes, I tell myself things like “I’m fucking amazing at things when I give them enough effort and time, my brain is a work of wonder when I really focus, and it’s awesome to be in my orbit.”

I’m taking precautions to avoid stepping over the line into narcissism – I’m focusing on myself and not any sort of value judgements on other people (no way do I want to start down the terrifying and dark rabbit hole ranking myself against anyone else). But, by striking this hyper confident tone in my personal head narrative that I’m awesome and confident and good and worthy and capable and competent, I think I’ve made huge steps towards actually believing I can be and becoming these things. I’m internalizing my successes and externalizing my failures (while analyzing what happened so I do my best not to repeat a flailing performance). I no longer feel fragile enough that criticism of some work I hold dear could fell me.

This has helped me more confidently orate at work. I don’t cower when I need to state my opinions (which are based on a heck of a lot of knowledge and experience) at work in front of superiors. Earlier in the year, I held back a lot because I felt the sword of Damocles hanging over my head, just waiting for me to mess up, get something wrong, and be called out as incompetent. While I always need to practice my presentations, it also has become natural for me to get up in front of the entire company and talk competently without notes. Earlier in the year I literally almost had a panic attack when I had to condense my six pages of SXSW panel notes into one crib sheet. I’ve been on camera this year than I probably have collectively in my whole life, leading or co-anchoring the dialogue. Years gone by, I would have passed up these opportunities instead of embracing each one and asking for more.

Also, I’ve learned how to be vulnerable and ask for help and enjoy NOT being amazing at things in public. I started playing this ridiculous game called Blood Bowl (think elves and orcs playing a hyper-violent version of Rugby) with the league at work. The camaraderie and trash talking has been a blast, but I was easily one of the worst players in the league last season. So, past me would have just NOPED out after that, scared of flailing and showing people how badly I suck at a thing.

Instead, I saw myself get a LITTLE better at the end of the season, and got hooked hard. I play or watch games almost every day now, and I recruited one of the best players in the league to give me some advice. We chat about the game almost daily as well and he answers all manner of my inane questions and seems to be happy to do so. Past me would have likely just spun myself up having to learn everything in secret both because I felt like I’d annoy anyone who I’d ask for help and also I didn’t want to look like I didn’t know everything about something. THIS IS A HUGE STEP FOR ME.

At the beginning of the year, I hadn’t shared any of my (not blog) writing with anyone. That’s not the case now. I’ve written voraciously (not here though, sorry), and shared it selectively with folks I thought might be interested, and in some cases, I think I may have overwhelmed them by dropping too many words in their lap. Earlier in the year, I felt mortified about it, like “my writing sucks, who would want to read so much of it, I can’t believe I sent someone the burden of all these words of mine”. Now, I’m like, “huh, maybe it’s not their cup of tea and/or they don’t have time to read it”. I had someone reciprocate and send me a link to their writing. It’s sitting open, and unread. I’m looking forward to it. I just haven’t had time.

Earlier in the year, I was worried when my diving photos got very few likes on Facebook, like way less than when I post about anything else. I almost thought about posting them elsewhere instead, taking the lack of response as people rolling their eyes at my content. Then, several people, not the same ones that hit that precious FB thumbs up button tied to self worth, over the last few months tell me how much they enjoyed seeing them. That made me more motivated to keep sharing… just because people don’t obviously and visibly appreciate the things you do don’t mean you shouldn’t keep enjoying them publicly. Posting my photos is not an imposition to anyone.

Instead of letting that overactive imagination in my head come up with these unlikely narratives where people now think I’m a horrible person who is crap at everything, I’m trying to follow the Occam’s Razor principle, that is, that the simplest theory is usually the right one.

At least, that’s what I’m inking in my narrative and will confidently go forth believing until convinced otherwise.

Kerrville 70.3

When it’s one of those races where I can’t get excited nor angry about the result, it’s the hardest to get motivated to write a recap. And thus, it’s been like 16 days.

A lot of the details have surely faded in that time, it feels like it’s been offseason forever right about now, but, in the interest of having a record of days of consequence, here I am. Also, as MEH as I was about the race itself, the bike at mile 6 was pretty dramatic. But I digress.

The day before was by rote. Normal breakfast (greek yogurt and berries), lunch (sandwich), dinner (chicken taters salad). Lots of snacks. I definitely had an appetite even with so little training that week, my body seemed to understand what it was in for and attempted to greedily grasp at any calorie in my vicinity. Bags were packed, bikes were delivered, and I was in bed and asleep by 9.

Then I woke up as my husband crawled over me in the camper to go pee, and I couldn’t fall asleep for hours. D’oh. Not his fault, my brain just wouldn’t shut off.

The morning went by rote as well, doing all the normal pre-race dinking around. It was already warm, the lake was not wetsuit legal (actually, it was the warmest it’s ever been), and it was going to be a day – the high was slated to be in the 90s and with humidity and rain… yeah. It was going to be a fight.

But, I was there, and ready to do battle.

Swim:

Sixteen days out, I have very little of note on the swim except:

  • It was long. The leader of my age group, with the fastest swim time, clocked over 42 minutes for the supposed 1.2 miles, not buying it.
  • It was slow. 47:03 was not a time I expected to see when I emerged from the water.
  • I couldn’t friggin’ pee. I even stopped kicking a few times to try and it just didn’t happen. Whomp, whomp.

Swim: 47:03 for (ahem, probably more than) 1.2 miles.

T1:

Kicked ass, went fast while I saw other people hanging out, and beat everyone in my age group but one person. Rock!

T1: 2:53

Bike:

I started out super confident, ready to make up some time and find the girls in my age group leading the race and get in the hunt. I peed on the bike on the first straightaway when I had some personal space (yay!), and I got to work, feeling good at my expected pace and power.

Then, at mile 6, as I went to pass someone up a hill, shifting both my big and little gears at the same time, I dropped my chain. No big deal, right, easy to fix a dropped chain, this should be seconds, right? Well, instead of simply dropping my chain, it was wrapped around the back of my crank twice. I tried to get enough slack to unravel it, and after a few minutes of making sure I wasn’t being a dumbass, I sat by the side of the road with my poor, crippled Deathstar, waiting for SAG.

I was most pissed at that point because I spent days carbing up and had just popped an energy gel. If I had to get pulled, I was still going to go run that effing half marathon even if it didn’t count.

Within five minutes (!!!) the on-course bike mechanics came by and then spent 11 minutes first attempting to do the same thing I did, and then after a while cut my chain and reattached it, sending me on my way. I was thrilled to get a chance to continue to race, but unfortunately, sixteen minutes back meant I was out of contention for most any goals I had that day, except mayyyyybe sneaking in just under my PR if I really really fought for it for the next five hours.

I did my best to continue the ride just as planned, fighting off cranky brain demons, and went into the tactic I took occasionally in training. I delved into stories, thought about other stuff, and just made sure that power stayed where it should. My power was 140W (154W normalized) which I believe is my best 70.3 showing. My speed – 18mph (not counting the stop) definitely did not represent this effort (especially when my husband rolled in 3 minutes slower than me at at least 20 less power, 25 lbs heavier). My bike was not 100%, my brain was not 100%, but I’m happy with the underlying tones of the things in this ride that went right.

Bike time: 3:25:20 (3:08:13 garmin time)

T2:

It was already super hot. I was already a little demoralized. I took some extra time to sit down to put on my shoes, drink an entire Gatorade, and go for my salt pills and 303s… which were ruined by a leaky biofreeze. I had to throw them out. Awesome.

T2: 5:35

Run:

I was going to give it a go. I ran the first two miles fast – total time in the 10s, even stopping at every aid station. Somewhere in between mile 3 and mile 4, I broke. Looking at the total time, I needed to get close to a half marathon PR to PR my race, and that wasn’t going to happen in the 90+ degree and humid day we were facing. So, instead, I decided to take my time and have fun.

Four years ago, facing the same type of bullshit, I spent half the run almost crying. This time, instead, I made friends, joked with volunteers, made a run wife, made copious use of the aid station buffets, and rolled in with a time, while not my best, definitely not my worst, and actually pretty impressive with all the walking I did.

Run time: 2:47:54. Let me note here that my moving time was over seven and a half minutes shorter than my actual time. I spent THAT LONG stuffing ice down my kit and once retying my shoe.

Overall time: 7:08:47. Meh.

All in all, it was a day. That’s about what I have for you. I finished, which I didn’t think was possible at mile 6 of the bike. I made a conscious choice to tank my race and have fun instead of annihilate myself once my day took a turn for the worse. The frustrating thing? 3rd in my age group was over 7 minutes slower than my Cozumel race last year. I’m very certain if I came off the bike when I should have (under 4 hours), I definitely had a 2:35 half marathon in me, and I could have podiumed. However, coming off the bike at almost 4:30, there was no 2:05 half marathon for me in that heat.

I’m more than happy about the potential that my body and mind showed me this training cycle, though I’m a little sad I didn’t get to realize it race day. This year, however, this was the build for something bigger, and now it’s time to focus on Ironman Texas in April, that is, after some rest and playing bikes this fall!

Ring the bells that still will ring

Alrighty folks, it’s race week. It’s been both a lifetime and a wink since I started this training cycle, but whatever has transpired in the last few months, here it is!

70.3 training, conquered.

It’s been over a month since I’ve penned anything in this space, fiction is simply holding my interest a little more than status reports, but I would be remiss to completely abandon a training log. So, let’s catch up.

In my last post, I was incredibly proud of how my brain quieted down a bit and training felt fantastically familiar. I was practically at my typical maximum training distances already and feeling confident. Then, I had some rough days at work and things went a little sideways with the training schedule. I took an extra day off the week of August 20th, and my long training that weekend took an unfortunate turn – I had a pretty great bike but took a digger at mile 2 of my run and bruised the heck out of my knee and elbow. While I could tell I had no permanent injury from the tumble, my body reminded me each step of what had transpired. I also felt weirdly dehydrated, had to take lot of breaks to drink, putting down almost a full bottle per mile. I had to cut it short due to both time and bodily conditions, clocking 9 miles instead of 11.

I took the next week almost completely off. It was supposed to be a rest week, but I had a little more planned than a one hour run Thursday and a long workout Saturday. I fared much better on that one, though. My bike was a wee bit under race power, but I had a much more successful run, finishing out my 2 hours at 11.56 miles in much hotter conditions. I’d be more than thrilled with this pace at the race.

September 2nd kicked off my last peak week. I hit every workout planned, for 10.5 hours total. I hit two long back to back swims. I ran a speedy almost-half marathon, clocking 2 hours and 5 minutes exactly for 12.5 miles (about 10 min/mile pace). Then, while I had flagging motivation to start the session, once I got going, I absolutely crushed my long day – 57 miles with a faster pace and higher power output for the distance than ever before, and a 6 mile run conquering the noonday heat in feels like 105 degrees. It was confidence-building and great problem solving practice should the race be this sweltering (though please no!!!).

Labor day bike and run play time. Every Monday should be like this…

Two weeks ago, I had a resurgence of work stuff going on, so I missed a few sessions. It was taper, I completed the big stuff, I wasn’t too concerned. Unfortunately, I ended up having to cut my long workout a bit short as well, which caused me a little consternation. The hour bike went fantastically, easily holding race power, but I got out on the run really late, it was really hot, I wasn’t feeling 100%. I pushed through whininess and uncomfortable feelings, but when I started getting goosebumps and feeling dizzy, I called the run at 90 minutes instead of 2 hours.

Last week started with the same chaos, but thankfully my workout plans were simply to do something for between 30-60 minutes most days this week, and the only non-negotiable was a race distance, race pace swim. I had a pretty fantastic brick, clocking 3 miles around sprint distance pace off race power (I’ve slowed a little as it was 9:12/mile instead of in the 8s but DANG IT’S HOT, I’m going with that as my excuse) and that swim yesterday, clearing race distance in just under 41 minutes. My PR is just over 40, and I’m nowhere near as trained as I was at that time (and also the water was at least 10 degrees hotter), so the final piece fell into place with that workout.

I’ve probably clocked less midweek miles than typical, especially some of those work-crazy weeks, but in recollect, I’ve never climbed to race distances so quickly in the training cycle with such ease, and I’ve never completed so many long runs, especially off the bike. Holding race power (140-150 watts) feels natural both indoors and out (though outside is always easier). I’ve spent plenty of time in the heat, and I’m as acclimated as I could possibly be. I didn’t swim that much this cycle but I did put up four 2k+ swims, three of those in open water.

I do believe I’m ready to race in seven days.

I’m going to refrain from laying out my entire strategy from Saturday morning until the finish line since we’ve done this many, many times and I don’t plan to fix what isn’t broken, but let’s talk a bit about the swim/bike/run plan even if we’ve heard this all before a million times. It’s a good reminder.

If you’re going to ask about #projectraceweight, see my answer in the bottom left. I’ll get back to that after the race…

Swim:

If it’s legal, even by 0.1 degrees, I’ll wear my wetsuit. It helped a lot yesterday. Either way, my goal is to not get caught up in the craziness and to swim like it’s a warmup. If it takes an extra minute or two, that’s fine. I’ll make up that time before I hit a few miles in on the bike if I feel warmed up and refreshed instead of gassed.

I’d love to see under 40 minutes, but only if it’s at the proper effort. I’m guessing closer to 40-42 if all goes well.

Bike:

Give myself some time to warm up, but by the bottom of the first lap (around mile 13 I believe), I should be at race power and maintain it the rest of the ride UNLESS it feels particularly awful and like I’m trashing my race to do so. That means pushing downhills as well as uphills, and passing aggressively as needed. Gel as quickly as I can stomach one, and then every 45 minutes after for the entirety of the race. One bottle of electrolytes every bottle stop. Depending on the weather, I may take 1-2 salt pills per hour for the remainder of the race as well, and I’ll have 303 muscle relaxers on hand in case I need them. Though I’ve been blessedly pain free most training days, I know ish can go sideways during a six hour race.

I really really really want to see a sub-3 hour split here, finally. I rode 3:01 in practice in what I expect were more difficult conditions than the race, so if all goes well, I’m gunning for 2:59:59 or bust! Well, as long as it’s not going to tank my run. Again, I’ll sacrifice a few minutes to feel fresher if I need. Though I do covet a bike PR, you place in the race with your overall time, not your bike split, much as I try to will that change into existence.

Guys, this is really fast for me in feels like 90s…

Run:

This is always my wildcard. I can peg my swim and bike times within a few minutes maximum. I know I have a ~2:10 run in me right now if I can keep my cool, literally (core temperature) and figuratively (quieting the arsehole voice in my brain telling me it’s okay to stop and walk). I’ve also had over 3 hour run split days when everything falls apart. So, the goal is not to do that. Keep it together, woman!

Every long run has me pegged to finish between about 2:10-2:20. I know this is within my reach if I can simply keep myself from walking. If that means taking an extra few seconds to shove ice in my kit and pound three cups of electrolytes every aid station, I’ve proven to myself that it’s worth it.

Transitions:

Are lava. Get in, get out, get on with your life.

Overall:

I’ve definitely in a different place than I’ve been with racing as of late. I’ve not had the mental gymnastics of last year’s race prep. There was something in me that so badly needed to prove my competency by having a stellar race. I felt an inkling of self worth for the first time, and I was grasping it so tightly it could barely breathe. A year removed, I have more faith and confidence in the fact that in many facets of life, I am putting forth a lot of effort and kicking some ass on the daily. While I really do quite want to showcase my true potential next Sunday, I don’t feel like the entirety of my ego is on the line.

I don’t know that there’s any way I could want a PR more than I did at Cozumel without my heart actually exploding, so I’ll say I’ve got a little less hunger, but in reality, it may be the same level, just in a different fashion. It feels quieter, it feels calmer, but that fire in my belly is super totally there. I am a little behind on race visualization, I’ve been distracting myself to get through sessions, this week I will concentrate on being wholly inside myself.

This one last year was a freaking warrior. I can only hope to do the same this year and make past me proud!

I’ve been listening to Leonard Cohen – Anthem a lot this cycle. It’s got the famous quote, yeah, the one with the crack and the light, but I believe it’s the first part of the lyric spoke to me more.

Ring the bells (ring the bells) that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything (there is a crack in everything)
That’s how the light gets in

There will be a point in which the race will stop feeling good and nice and fun. It might be two seconds into the swim, or perhaps I’ll have a banner day and it won’t arrive until the second hour of the run. That’s the point in which I need to forget perfection, and ring those dang bells that still will ring. Whatever cylinders I have at the time, I will be running on all of them, whatever that looks like on September 29th.

And if that looks like a unicorn day clocking sub-6 hours, a solid day putting up a PR (sub 6:28), or a day full of challenges where getting to the finish at all is a mountain in and of itself, I’ll be content as long as I don’t lose my fight.

Page 1 of 194

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén