Adjusted Reality

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

Pace Bend Ultra 6 Hour Cycling Race

For posterity, since it’s been a while, this is a compilation of words I said on Facebook before and after the race.

This race was how I finished off 31 days of cycling with a bang, I arrived at camp the night before utterly exhausted but enjoyed unwinding by playing some guitar, as well as some games, eating all the food, and then crashing for 10 hours.

In the morning, I awoke feeling much less exhausted, and puttered around eating more of all the foods (English muffin, chicken salad sandwich, etc) and getting ready. At 11:45, we hit the start line for the race briefing, and then we were OFF!

I can fake being trained for a 3 hour ride, and up to that point, I was rolling happy, enjoying the ride, bopping to my nonsense pop playlist. Close to that 3 hour mark, I noted that I was at half ironman (3 hour total ride) power and knew I was in trouble. “Caffeine and sugar got me into this, caffeine and sugar will get me out of this!” was my mantra. One of my guilty pleasures during these types of races is regular coca cola. I had two small cokes over the race plus a caffeinated gel. When I ended the race, I thought I might never sleep again!

3.5 to 4.5 hours was my low point, though I was thankfully not despondent as normal. My back hurt, my legs hurt, everything hurt and I was dying but I’m now very familiar with this feeling and I know it comes and goes. And it did. The last hour my mood and pace improved and I ended at 88 miles in 5:24 (the rest of the time was in the pit changing bottles, getting food, trying not to die). This is one of those races where the only women that show up are pretty much pros, so I was faaaar from the podium (5th out of 6), but that’s not why I was here, so no worries.

I ended the six hour ride a ball of pain and caffeine and tireds and happy and hungry, but I was pleased with the effort, considering it was quite a stretch for me on a 50 mile long ride previously.

This kicked off the next stage of Ironman training where it was time to kick it up a notch, but first, I enjoyed my first, my first day off since December the day after the race.

Usually whilst camping, you’re required to be packed up and out by noon. However, because certain races were running up through the next afternoon, we had our spot until six pm! We enjoyed a nice leisurely morning eating all the food once again, playing guitar, taking some pictures, reading books in the sun, and most decadently, an afternoon nap.

Somehow, after riding six hours the day before, I felt much less tired than I did all week previous. Nature is the best!

3M Half Marathon Shorty Race Report

For posterity, copying over the short race report from Facebook, since it’s been a month and I don’t much on which to elaborate!

I suppose this is now my 3M uniform since it’s worked out well for me the last two years!

To keep the cycling streak alive, this morning began with 30 minutes on the bike at 5:45am whilst consuming coffee and an English muffin. It was actually a great warmup. The warm part of the morning concluded when I left the car. Giving up my sweatshirt was painful and I was very thankful for the disposable replacement which was a garbage bag. I kept it around my nose and ears and kept telling my husband I felt like trash and giggling. Whatever keeps you amused before sunrise in the cold, right?

Oddly enough, I started running and felt… good. Possibly even great! My pace was not quite PR level (2:03) but not too far off. I ditched my bag as I was no longer trash and stowed my gloves, wondering why it was earlier to do that than last year and then realized I had left all my nutrition in my morning drop bag. D’oh! I had a momentary freak out and then remembered there was a gel station halfway through the race. Around 4.5 miles, where I’d normally take a gel, I felt the absence, and pulled my effort back from about an effort level of 7.5 to a 7 until I picked up two gels and knocked one with caffeine back really quickly (and another one 2 miles later).

Mile seven felt very ploddy until the sugar and caffeine kicked in, but thankfully it was not too little too late and it perked me up just fine. Around 10.5 miles my quads started to threaten to cramp when the hills went up instead of down. I have a full seven days of training next week, I couldn’t give it everything and risk being out of commission, but I gave it enough to come in at 2:09 and some change.

This is my fourth best of many (at least two dozen) half marathon efforts over the years. On tired, unsharpened, sloggy from base building legs. My forties are neat! I’m a fan.

Not a fan of walking right now, however. Probably won’t be tomorrow either. ?

Being bad in public/jukebox hero

Let’s go for the scandalous views based on the title alone, shall we?

I assure you, while I’ve an absentee blogger, I haven’t changed THAT much. 🙂

2020 started with all the hope, passion, optimism, and fervor that all years do. Quickly, I emerged from my bubble wrap and found literally ALL the chinks in my armor at once.

In the most general sense possible, things that I thought I had nailed, I hadn’t. Things I thought I was good at, I wasn’t. The transition from hedonism to structure was rough, and the vestiges of almost a month off left me in a weird state. I was without my edge, at a disadvantage, and just feeling screwed. A rude awakening from 26 days of leisure, absolutely and for sure.

Let’s face some facts. I don’t deal with being bad at things well. I’m either good at things, or “they don’t matter to me”. My tendency if I don’t succeed quickly is to say “fuck it” unless something grabs me by the nose and makes me REALLY WANT IT. Triathlon did that. Bloodbowl did that. Game Production did that. Now, I’m applying that elsewhere.

I spoke previously about my proud moment where I realized that reaching out to ask for mentorship would help with that dumb game, and that perhaps spending time flailing in public at something that interested me wasn’t the worst thing in the world. It was a nice gentle foray into those two things that trip me up (being bad in public and asking for help) that didn’t have high stakes in my life. On the heels of sticking my neck out there, I was licking my wounds about an opportunity at work that I thought was something I had in the bag that didn’t work out, and decided to do the same thing. I walked into my boss’s boss’s office and asked if we could have weekly mentorship meetings.

Oddly enough to no one but me, like most of these interludes, it wasn’t met with disdain, but actually got me some cred and he’s been helping me to learn and improve. It’s been awesome, but also scary for me because I AM SHOWING MY WARTS. I like doing all the improvements in secret and showing people when I’ve found my awesome. This whole vulnerability thing is rough and terrifying but also enthralling.

I am in a perpetual state of overwhelm lately, to the point where it’s become the norm. I understand people that can legitimately say they feel boredom the least. My entire existence, work and personal life, right now feels like it’s a cycle between going full tilt at as many things as I want to pursue as I can, bashing my head against them as long as I can stand it, and then recovering for the shortest amount of time possible until I can go rip my heart out of my chest and stomp on it all over again until I yield yet again.

It makes one tough. It also makes one tired.

Me, doing my damndest to indulge as many hobbies as possible at once (Bloodbowl matches on the screen whilst riding the bike trainer)

I’m training for an Ironman right now. I’m 11 weeks away. Previous me would LAUGH at my progress, say I’m not doing enough, I should be crushing the volume, I should be putting together a lot more training than I am right now. Current me realizes that I’m doing what I can do while I’ve not been able to monofocus, and that might actually fare BETTER than the alternative.

I’ll spoil the race reports I haven’t put up yet, but I actually ran my 4th best half marathon (out of at least two dozen) at 3M (2:09) on so little training and unfortunate circumstances that it was silly. I rolled my best 6 hour Pace bend (88 miles) yet on a long ride of 3 hours the week before. I put together a day I called Long Day Junior (30 min swim, 3h ride, 1.5h run) and lived to tell the tale just fine. I’ve been really bad about the weekday workouts being anything but short base, and inconsistent between the sports (aka – I haven’t run in 3 weeks but I’ve been killing it on the bike and swim, earlier I was only running and biking), but endurance is endurance is endurance and I’ve been skating by.

This weekend will test some boundaries. I have a 15 mile run slated for Saturday. As I said, I haven’t run for a while. We’ll see how that goes. Maybe my endurance will chug through 2.75ish hours just fine. Maybe I’ll die at 10. Only the proverbial dice of the universe know. That will inform how I proceed.

My hope is that less training will get me to the start line uninjured, and my muscle memory and mental toughness will see me through the long long day, hopefully reaching the finish line somewhere before 15:52. It’s a gamble, but since my focus remains elsewhere, it’s my only play right now.

It’s fun to have a good reason to say “I feel like trash” and not be self-deprecating (it was COLD 3M morning)

I owe you a story about a guitar, and I’ll elaborate because it circles back to my first point.

When I was 16 years old, I wanted to BE A ROCKSTAR. I could see it, feel it, the epitome of Juke Box Hero

Bought a beat up six string, in a secondhand store
Didn’t know how to play it, but he knew for sure
That one guitar, felt good in his hands
Didn’t take long, to understand
Just one guitar, slung way down low
Was a one way ticket, only one way to go
So he started rockin’, ain’t never gonna stop
Gotta keep on rockin’, someday gonna make it to the top

That was so going to be me. I asked for a guitar for Christmas. My parents gave me money to literally buy a beat up six string in a secondhand store. I lost my nerve and spent the money on clothes instead and I’ve never owned a guitar since.

Through my life, I’ve always felt the call to music and I’ve been able to envision myself on a stage singing and playing guitar. But… this was the sacred cow. I didn’t admit this to myself for at least two decades, but if I sucked at it, I would be crushed. For some reason, this was my holy grail and it had me shaking in my boots.

Lately, I’ve been eating sacred cows for breakfast, but this one still mooed loudly at me. Finally, I asked my husband for my Christmas present last year – to dig out his old guitar so I could learn to play it. In my mind, I definitely didn’t deserve anything new, but something that already existed would be such a low investment that if I sucked, if I couldn’t do it, if I gave up, it wouldn’t matter. Even just asking for THAT was nerve-wracking for me. I had to face the climb.

Good thing I like the climb.

What could it be? Maybe a tommy gun?

I gave myself 2020 to suck at guitar. That might sound weird to anyone not inside my head, but I assure you, it’s important. Refer to above where I have to be good at things or I quit them. Building on sucking at things in public, I also decided it was important to suck at things in private too (so many innuendos, I realize, but bear with me without snickering too much).

I spent many days in the last month and a half building up callouses and swearing at the C chord (ok, I still swear at C) and my guitar strings sounding like a dying narwhal, but eventually I could play Amazing Grace. And then I could play some chords without looking. And it started feeling a little more natural. I spent so much time steeling myself to be frustrated at guitar, convincing myself the practice was worth it, convincing myself to not give up so easily, prepping myself for a fight.

Oddly enough, guitar is one of the things in my life right now that calms me. There’s no stakes, I’ve got no timeline, progression is happening, and I can produce things that sound like music after about a month of practice. This amuses me so! It’s also a new enough hobby that I can spend entire runs just imagining myself performing, having proficiency, and it’s just spellbinding to me. I’m not yet in the messy middle (like a lot of other places in my life) where I’m banging my head against improvements, feeling like a failure at things while actually improving incrementally but below my threshold of notice, despondent that I SUCK AT EVERYTHING, while I just need to keep going.

I still see that me, up on a stage, singing and plucking, and it gives me hope and motivation. Motivation for that specifically, and for everything else, for the fact that I can fight through feeling like a failure at things to improve and conquer and not stay complacent and relentlessly and dauntlessly pursue the things I want.

Often, I judge myself for being a dabbler, but I think dabbling gives me hope. When I’m at the prohibitively difficult parts of the proverbial skill tree of life in other areas, it’s nice to have a place where improvement is easy and noticeable.

On that note, it’s probably time to play some guitar…. my fingers don’t hurt TOO BADLY right now…

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.


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.

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