Adjusted Reality

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

Kerrville Olympic-ish Triathlon – Dollars and Change

I have a whole lot of thoughts on and around this one, but I’ll stick to the race details here.  Kerrville Quarter Distance Triathlon race report GO!

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Sunday morning:

After a few issues including LEAVING MY GOGGLES AND EARPLUGS at the gym in Austin and not noticing until after the expo closed (more of this later), we awoke to rain overnight, and lightning arcing through the sky.  I fully expected the race to get cancelled and was already debating the contingency plans (really long trainer ride? just go home and drink mimosas?), but the lightning part went away so the race went on.

I felt like I had been eating non stop since earlier in the week (more on this later also), which meant I was fueled pretty well.  I also hadn’t, erm, emptied for a bit, so at one point in the porta potty line I told Zliten I was about to poop my pants or puke, I felt so full.  Not the greatest way to come to race morning, but after a few visits to my friend (Porta) John, it was all sorted.  Morning nutrition: cliff peanut butter filled bar, parts of a gatorade and nuun that didn’t fit in other bottles, a caff gel, and two electrolyte pills about 30 mins before the start.

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Random foods, schwag, the pool, the swedish goggles and CVS earplugs, and the Texas pool.

Swim:

Kerrville is a time trial start, which means you’re in a line like cattle, and then all of a sudden you hear your own personal GO.  Which, in this case, means you’re diving into the water and hoping to all that’s good and fishy that your new Swedish style goggles hold tight.  You’re trying not to think about the fact that Zliten just built them last night after an online tutorial, you only tested with about 50m of laps in the hotel pool, and you’re really hoping they do not fall apart or leak or fully burrow into you’re eye sockets or fill your head holes with lake.  This is not the case with every swim, probably never again, but this is the start of your Kerrville swim.

Oddly enough, after the initial 100m, I didn’t think about them much.  Though, I can still feel the bones around my eyes a little sore in some places today.  This lovely, glamorous sport we do, right?

I started out with the pass pass pass pass and then we joined with the half ironman swimmers, which was annoying, but I found some space and mostly avoided trading blows with people.  The very dark goggles + a super grey day + the murky lake = couldn’t see my Garmin for anything.  So it was swim by feel.

My goal was to pace this like the Splash and Dash, but I think I got caught up in the fact that I usually do a half ironman here, and paced it more accordingly.  I also have to remember it was not wetsuit legal, in fact, it was 82 degrees, so that also slows the swim times down.  The quarter (what they called it, half of the half distance race) let the ladies go first, which was nice, until I got beat up by the first two dudes from the guys wave after me about 100m from the shore.  Seriously?  Swim around me.  There’s plenty of space.  Sigh.  Dudes.

That may have harshed my mellow a little, but I got out, saw that I swam ~22 minutes and filed that away under “that could have been a lot worse”.  Whatever the race clock says, my garmin clocked me at 2:00/100m moving time, so I’ll take it.

Swim: 22:40 (2:16/100m), 8/18 AG. 

Transition 1:

T1 has this really steep hill.  Some years, I’ve walked it.  This year, I actually came out of the water feeling great, so I jogged up it and actually passed some people.  Yeah!  I did all the normal things, plus decided on bike gloves for comfort, shoved my shit in the T1 bag and ran off.  I know this is my fastest time, I think by a LOT, though no wetsuit to deal with helped, I was also racked in the back of T1, so I had to deal with my bike for a lot longer.  Hooray for avoiding transition gravity!

T1: 3 minutes flat, tied for 7/18 AG

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Dropping off death star for a an overnight sleepaway camp for bikes.

Bike:

Warning: gross triathlete stuff ahead.  I had to pee the entire swim, but couldn’t.  I figured, no time like the present.  No one was around, and I went ahead and let it go.  Baby’s first pee off the bike.  Major (long distance) triathlete milestone!  I had a brief thought about the shoe stench and then all of a sudden the sky opened up and started pouring, and I was like, “that takes care of that”.

However triumphant I was with peeing, and however thankful I was for the bath, it really wrecked my bike mojo.  I’d never ridden the death star in the rain, so I had no idea how it handled.  I still probably don’t, because I took all the turns at 5 mph and rode so incredibly cautiously I was probably making little old grannies look reckless.  I felt very uncomfortable in aero, so I’d say I spent MAYBE 25% of the race there (and that may be generous).

The course is a generally a gradual downhill on one half, followed by a generally gradual uphill.  The bad is that I took the downhill super conservatively, and I probably rode it slower than I ever have, and lost a LOT of free speed.  The good is that the uphill parts felt a lot less uphill than ever.  Since I’d never taken them before on the Death Star, I got prepared, plopped down into little ring and prepared for the worst… and then all of a sudden I was up them, no muss, no fuss.  My 5 mile splits ranged from 16.5 at the worst and 19.2 at the best, so if nothing else, I was totally consistent.

It wasn’t raining the entire time, but wet roads are slippery, and some parts of the course were not blocked off, and you had to ride a small shoulder.  Fucked if I’m going to be swerving out into traffic in the wetness in aero to pass people.  I did it a few times (not in aero), but I definitely got stuck behind people more often than I should have.  Also, I realized that my aero helmet wasn’t tightened down around mile 20, which made it slip all over so I couldn’t see well.  I thought it was just a tragic hair choice with a higher than normal ponytail I could never figure out how to fix.  Sigh.  I will be reviewing that move in transition practice at least 10 times before the next race.

I was happy on the out and back section I didn’t see Zliten.  I know that sounds mean, but he is just unbeatable this year and I always win Kerrville.  Looking at the times, later we were actually surprised and then did a Strava flyby… I was maybe 100 feet up the road when he got there.  Heh.

I suppose, subconsciously, I was a little fearful of that hill I wrecked on last year, even though I didn’t want to admit it.  But, again, I was prepared for the worst, and then up it like I climb that kind of shit every week (oh wait, I do…).  I rode the last 6 miles so thankful I has stayed rubber side down and had a functioning bike, unlike last year.  I probably spent more time in aero at the end than any other section and then all of a sudden there was the sharp turn into the park and lots of coasting and there I was at T2.

Am I a little disappointed in my bike split?  Sure.  However, I would have been more disappointed with myself if I crashed and spent the night in a hospital or wrecked my new bike or even had a minor injury plaguing me this week due to a low speed crash.  Safety first, kiddos!

Bike: 1:39:25 for 29 miles (17.5 mph).  7/18 AG.

Transition 2:

I ran my bike in and racked and dumped my bag.  I made the conscious decision to use my hokas with regular laces and take a few extra seconds to actually tie them, and with how WET my feet were, I was actually super happy I did.  No blisters!  Since it was cooler, I left my handheld bottle, but I grabbed the gels in it and headed out.

T2: 2:25.  7/18 AG

Run:

This is usually the bane of my triathlon existence, but today I felt weirdly set up for success.  It was cooler, I was not coming off the bike overheated like normal.  I was feeling… rather great, actually.  I got out on the course and let my legs dig in to the pace, and all of a sudden the first mile ticked in at 9:46… and I was like, ok, let’s keep this up!

I also realized that while I had fueled appropriately for the weather, I was only one gatorade and one gel into the day at 2 hours and change.  I felt fine then, but I knew I wouldn’t by the end.  I let the universe decide my fate – caff gel in one pocket, non caff in the other, and I got the non-caff.  Probably for the best because I actually fell asleep before 3am, though the caff gel probably would have helped me finish a little faster.  Tradeoffs.  I also made sure to take in a gatorade and a water at each aide station because cool and wet doesn’t mean I’m impervious to dehydration.

Just before mile 3, I did the calculations.  If I didn’t see Zliten until mile 3.5, I was beating him.  Then I looked up and immediately saw Zliten, running strong.  I felt happy for him but also checked in with myself to see what I had left and see if I could at least give good chase.  Survey says: I was not really to spend all my cash.  I wanted to keep some of the change.  In my head was the training I still have left to do for my A race.  Six days until a long hilly 80 mile ride.  Thirteen out from my long brick on the Austin 70.3 route.  That is the race where I throw all the dollars at the course and say “keep the change”.  Not this one.  Patience.

Also, I was already having a pretty phenomenal run split for me.  I debatably did better at Cap Tex last year (slightly better official time, but this course was long and that one was a little short), but I was in much better run shape then.  This was a pretty great victory.  I kept plugging away, fading to low 10 minute miles in the last half, but still very pleased with what my garmin was telling me.

We had some friends and BSS teammates on the course, and closing in on mile 5, I kept hearing Zliten behind me giving them encouragement as they passed (I give hi 5s, less talking/breathing).  I knew it was only a moment of time until I saw him and then… yep… decisive pass.  I did pick it up a little and kept him in my sights for the rest of the race, but there was no way I wanted to do what needed to be done to my legs right then to go with him.

I know there was some rain at points, but I don’t remember it.  I love rain when running.  I just kept plugging away and telling myself “10 more minutes of running, “5 more minutes of running” “3 more minutes of running” and then there was the finish and I ran across and it was 0 more minutes of running.

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Ganked from teammate Larry’s facebook.  Hopefully he doesn’t mind…  Before the rain and the sweat!

Run: 1:07:26 for 6.4 miles (registered 6.64).  10:32 official pace. 10/18 AG.

Without really meaning to, I kind of paced this race like my ideal half ironman.  I definitely had another loop of the bike course at that speed.  If it was the race where I spent all my dollars (and also, had maybe done more than one 10 miler :P), I think I could have done another loop of the run approaching that pace.  It was just getting cooler and cooler as it started raining harder, but as I said, I love running in the rain so I don’t think it would have bothered me.

I post race fooded pretty well, got a taco and some chips and some fruit, and a beer.  We sat around for a while and chatted, but got really cold and it started to pour.  The first time it let up a bit, we got our stuff, and got the heck out of dodge.  We had planned to stay and cheer and enjoy a few more beers and float in the lake.  Sorry half finishers!

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Only slightly resembling a drowned rat.

Total time: 3:14:57. 6/18th AG.  You’ll notice that I never placed above 7th in any individual discipline, but I ended up top 1/3rd anyway.  Consistency is key!

Immediately after the race, I wasn’t sure whether to be happy or disappointed with it.  There were high points and low points.  I had no mystical “third place” to chase down on the run (5th was wayyyy ahead of me).  I was motivated by Zliten chasing me, but not enough to not get caught.  However, I had a really solid day altogether, pretty good age group placement,  and one of my best longer distance runs off a bike yet.  After 24 hours, I think I’m ready to mark this one down in the WIN column.

What’s next? Two more recovery days, and then we jump back into peak training for a while.  In the next two weeks, I have a lot of running and riding to do, and I’m ready for the final push to Austin 70.3.

Splash and Dash

I haven’t done a Splash and Dash in over four years.  Tuesday nights are typically for Endurance Cycle (Pain Cave) Class or offseason during the April through October time frame.  However, they were doing an awards thingee for our distance swim challenge with the awards for the race, and asked us to come.  Well, if I’m there, I might as well race it, right?

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I has a number.  I race now.

My goal was to treat it like a short speed session, which is not something out of the ordinary for me to do on Tuesday of a race week.  However, that meant going about 80-90% and holding some back.  I think I did alright at that.  I’m a little sore today but not any more sore than I’d normally be after a speed workout.

We sent the men folk off at the top of the hour and then got in place for our start 2 minutes later.  I haven’t done a mass wave start since Pflugerville, but I swam up to the line… and then I looked back… and there were about 50 million people behind me.  I halfway considered dropping back and then I was like, wait, don’t you usually come in top 1/4 or 1/3 in the swim leg?  Nope.  Stay there, woman.

It was a good decision.  Besides the initial rush of all the pointy edge front of the pack swimmers taking the hell off like a shark swimming down it’s prey, I didn’t get passed at all.  Weirdly enough, the first half of the swim, I had my own little bubble, no one in front of me and no one on my feet.

Also, right as I lined up for the swim, my garmin died, so this was all by the feels.  I found that pace, the one in the long intervals and swim tests, the one where I think I can hold it but I’m not entirely sure, and stayed with it for a while.  In the second half of the race, I was no longer alone, and luckily, I was finding THEIR feet and not the other way around.

Since my juiceless garmin gave me no insights into time elapsed, and I don’t have huge hope for official results since they haven’t even posted AUGUST yet, I can’t really judge my swim time.  The only thing I know is my time overall, probably, and I was told I was the next person out of the water after Zliten (who had a bad swim day issue with his goggles).  Unfortunately HE didn’t start his garmin right away so I just have no idea.

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I love lake.  How could you not enjoy a swim here?

I had a good swim, didn’t get passed, passed a lot of people on the second half, and paced it appropriately for me.  My goal was to swim pretty hard, since lately all my open water swims are sorta la-de-da-de-da, and I remembered how to do that.  Once that was done with, however, I really didn’t care about racing the rest of the race.  I talked to Matt and Peri in transition and took my time.  I even took the time to put my fitbit on so I got the 3k steps.  The race-y part, for me, was over.

First loop, I settled into a tempo pace.  Comfortably hard.  Quite certain I was not going to blow up but not able to hold a full sentence conversation.  Normally from there, my goal is to speed up, but yesterday, it was to just stick with it.

It took some conversations with myself not to go with people who were passing me, which is a good sign, but it was hard.  Some people were obviously wayyyy faster than me, but then there was the girl who used me as a pacer the first lap and slingshotted ahead (and thanked me for the pull) and I wanted to follow her, but she was running my race pace.  Not my tempo.  So I told myself, “Sunday, you will go with her, today, you stay within yourself”.

The run was fairly unremarkable, nothing tragic or heroic, just a comfortably hard 2.05 miles in the high 90s and in the kitty litter.  I let my stride open up the last tenth of a mile and I crossed and found Matt, who had been cheering for us all race and Zliten mumbling about gatorade, stat.  It was weird just being all “ok, workout’s done” at the end of a race and not shelled, but I know I’ll thank myself this weekend.

I’m pretty sure I finished around 37:40-something, if we were indeed 2 minutes behind the boys (the clock said 39:40-something when I crossed).  Looks like about a 30 second PR from 4 years ago.  Yay!  I know I didn’t make top 3, I know I didn’t finish last.  I’m pretty sure I was top third out of the water, maybe top quarter for females, and then got passed passed passed on the run.  Someday maybe I’ll suck equally at all the sports? 🙂

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Seriously.  This dumb expensive hard and awesome sport we love.  Sigh.

We did all the post race things.  I got my first tiny acai bowl and why did no one tell me that it’s healthy ice cream with yummy things in it?  I had a beer.  We hung out with our triathlon friends and met some new ones.  We got our awards for the distance challenge and made tentative plans to continue it with a 7 loop swim sometime soon.  I ate a hot dog because I was finally hungry and I was super stoked because it was charred and they had dill relish.  And then… it was getting dark and everyone was packing up and we got busted by Reed for missing cycle class on the way to our car (d’oh!) and went home and drank some whiskey.  The end.

Turning the Corner

First, I have a big announcement… I am now not just a Certified Personal Trainer, I am also a Certified Sports Nutrition Specialist!  Wheeee!   I’m doubly certifiable.  I finished this one a lot quicker than I expected, turns out, I knew most of it already and it took me approximately 8 hours to read the 65 pages of material, watch the 12 videos, and take the test.  I passed with an 91% (70 was passing).

What does this mean?  Well, not much.  I learned a few new tidbits like even my protein consumption out throughout the day and take a concentrated fish oil supplement because I don’t like salmon, but most of it was not a surprise.  But… should I open a business someday that deals with healthy living, I have a little more credibility than “I read about this stuff all the time because it’s interesting to me”.  If I had all the time and money in the world, I’d love to go back to school to do an Registered Dietician program, but for right now, this is good enough.

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Excuse me, sir, do you have a moment to talk about riding bikes?

As I’ve belabored over and over here, the previous 9 weeks have been kinda hard on me.  Coming back from a much-needed but also long offseason means I was more out of form by the end of spring than I had been in quite a while.  I also like an idiot chose to do this ramp up over the summer, where everything is harder already even when you ARE in shape.  My only measuring sticks were totally unfair ones: previous years (where I’m 5 weeks behind) and my husband, who comes alive as an athlete after 4 months off in the feels-like-the-center-of-the-sun weather.

Then, last week happened.  I turned a corner.  I had some great weekday training days.  Monday, I rode far behind with faster people and it felt good to push the pace.  Tuesday, I wasn’t sure how I’d feel after that, but I crushed a endurance cycle class + 2 mile brick run (and a swim earlier in the day).  Wednesday was recovery riding, and then Thursday, I finally got out and got that double digit mile run and oddly, it was no big deal. I even sped up the last two miles from high 11s to do race pace – around 10:30s.

Saturday, we took our TT bikes out for some interval work.  We warmed up for about 6 miles, and then did 10 reps of a 3.5 mile loop – we took the backside (about 1.35 miles, very slight uphill grade) fast, and did the rest easy.  I hit 19.6-21.2 mph, with 179-202W normalized power.  I peaked on my 6th interval, but my last half of them were stronger than my first (and it was getting HOT).

After a stop for liquid and a cooldown 6 miles, we headed out for a brick run.  At noon.  In the “feels like 108”.  It took all the mental toughness, but I got through it, and negative split it to boot (10:40, 10:20, 9:55).

I missed one weights session and one swim this week, but still logged over 10 hours and a lot of it was pretty solid, confidence building training.  This week, I have a bit of a stepback week so I can race on Sunday, but still planning 6 training hours + 3 racing.  I’m super excited to toe the line of one of my favorite courses, and only have to do half what I normally do (since the weather isn’t expected to be much better this weekend… SO glad I’m not racing 70.3 miles).

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Last week:

  • Monday: conference room weights with bands/bodyweight, 19 mile hilly faster ride in 1:17
  • Tuesday: 1500m swim (1000m steady, some fast 50s/100s after), endurance cycle (70 mins, 2×3 mins under threshold, 5 mins at, 5 mins over, 2 mins recovery, then an all out 10 minute TT), 2 mile brick run (11:00, 9:40 splits).
  • Wednesday: 17 mile recovery ride in 1:19
  • Thursday: 10 mile run in 1:56
  • Friday: off
  • Saturday: 45 mile TT ride in 2:48, 3 mile brick run, 30:45
  • Sunday: off

This week:

 

  • Monday: conference room weights w/bands + bodyweight, same hill ride
  • Tuesday: splash and dash race (750m + 2 mile run – hoping to take it about 90% and use it as speedwork)
  • Wednesday: weights, recovery ride
  • Thursday: 5 mile run, some race pace miles if I feel springy
  • Friday: off
  • Saturday: 1500m open water swim
  • Sunday: RACE! 1000m swim, 29 mile bike, 6.4 mile run.

For the race… my goal is to run down third, just like Jack’s Generic.  Whether it’s actually third or tenth, I want to not be a weenie on the run and chase people down.  I run really well off the bike in practice.  I need to put that in play in the race and not let my head get to me and run like I stole it and all those other things that mean JUST FUCKING RUN WOMAN.

As for the other disciplines, I want to swim medium-hard, and not come out of the water completely shelled.  I’m REALLY looking forward to riding my bike there, because other than the chip seal (crack your fillings) roads, I think this is the IDEAL course for me right now.  The first half is mostly a steady, gradual downhill which I love to push.  The second is, minus a few steepies, a nice steady gradual uphill/false flat situation.  Last year I was on pace the first 45 miles to break 18 mph and then *crash*.

Also, this year Zliten will be chasing ME (I start at 8:24, he starts at 8:32) so I will not only be running down 3rd but also running away from my husband (I’ll imagine him as a super scary monster) for those particular 3 hours.

No matter what, my eyes will be on the prize.  6 more weeks total and I race Austin 70.3.

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My only food pictures were this and pepperoni pizza this week.  So, as you can tell, I ate absolutely 100% healthy, homecooked food this week.

Let’s just not talk about food and the scale and stuff.  I think it’s probably about time to give obsessing about this a pause, at least until the work changes.  I’m regularly tracking the weekdays, and then just eyeballing it on the weekend (and then, if I remember, tracking on Monday and probably forgetting some stuff).  I KNOW it would be more useful for me to track over the weekend, but I just haven’t.

The progress has pretty much stopped.  And that’s probably ok.  As discussed above, I’m doing more hours and harder stuff, so I need to not be starving myself.  If my body wants more food, it wants more food right now.  I’m not really having trouble with this on hard workout days.  However, during off/light days when all I do is walk 10k steps or maybe do a short swim or something and fitbit says “you have 1300 calories” my body is like “the FUCK we do”.  That was Friday.  And Sunday.

I refuse to go to bed starving when I have to wake up and do 2-3 hours of workouts the next day.  I knew there would be a tipping point.  So, here we are.

This week’s goals:

  • Track all weekday food (weekends bonus)
  • Attempt to stay -1000 calories but not at the cost of major hunger.
  • Spread out my protein and calories better through the day.  I’m getting better at this but still occasionally I end up having to eat two meals worth of food after 8pm.
  • Fruits and veggies.  Crushing it so far today with blueberries in my yogurt and a giant veggie-filled salad!

As for the scale, I’ve been consistently weighing 182.  One day, I hit 181.  One day, I hit 183.  But as above, here we are.  I think this is my fall race weight and I can revisit this again come November when I go back to the long and slow stuff in cooler temperatures.  The best thing for me to do is push QUALITY food and pay attention to how things hit my stomach.  For example, I ate a bunch of raw snow peas for snacks a few days last week and noticed I was bloated every evening.  I need to be eating lower fiber or cooked veggies because I’m taking in so many other quality calories.

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And because you’ve made it this far, here’s a picture of me practicing being a rich eccentric famous person at Costco.  Ok, fine.  The real reason?  I left my glasses at work and all I had was my sunglasses to see things.  I tried on a coat (as you can see from the picture, it’s not that flattering, so I left it there).  Zliten zoomed off with my phone and the cart, so I spent 10 minutes wandering around the store like this.

At first I was upset because I’m sure I looked like a fucking weirdo.  And then I realized.  Hehe, I look like a fucking weirdo.  Who cares.  I’m sure if anyone did actually notice, they had a fun story to tell when they got home.  So…. yep.  Practicing being eccentric.

Happy Monday, everyone!

 

Just a little bit of history repeating…

Today, random 90s music pulled me down a deep rabbit hole of contemplation…

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Today, I was listening to the Bush – Machinehead album, which was the soundtrack to my teens.  I am trying to retrain my Spotify Discovery away from screamy metal (I listened to ONE NoFX album… and this is how you punish me?), so I’m making it a point to rotate through all sorts of music that I actually like. We’ll see if it works on Monday *crosses fingers*.

Anyway, it gave me some very vivid flashbacks of my junior year.  I was driving from my high school to two hours of diving practice on the other side of town, with clothes to change into for my 4 hour shift at Hot Topic after, tired as HELL, finding some greater meaning in that song about the day in and day out.  Sixteen year old me was a little more of a nihilist grungy beat poet than thirty seven, but it took me right back.

I’ve never been a do-nothing type of person.  As the scorpion says to the frog, it’s not in my nature.  As a kid, I’d occasionally lose myself in a book or art or writing or trashy mags with my friends.  However, it was typically always bike here, roller skate there, go to this club, go to that sport.  I took summer school not because I had to, but I genuinely wanted to.  If I was at home doing nothing it was because I was waiting for a friend to call me back to go do stuff.

But, again, those summers were a huge breath of fresh air.    While I loved school, it was nice to not have a schedule, to do the things *I* wanted to do, to be outside all day if I wanted to, and I was always both sad to see the three months end and excited to start a new grade, rested and refreshed.

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Then, for some reason, around age 14, I decided that it was time to grow up and get serious about shit and relaxing was for suckers.  I started training super hardcore with gymnastics.  It was absolutely my choice (my parents tolerated it, but were happy when I quit), and it was my all-consuming passion.  We’re talking 20+ hours a week to start.  Then, I wanted to get better, so I started adding 2 hours extra per day with the higher level team.  I ate, slept, and breathed gymnastics.  Then, two years later, right before summer break my sophomore year, I had a violent breakup with the sport and all of a sudden found myself… free.

I spent about 2 months just hanging out with friends, and my parents saw that as a recipe for trouble.  It probably was, in retrospect.  They said to get a sport or get a job or something.  I was interested in diving, but it didn’t start up until the new year, so I applied at some jobs and simultaneously got two offers.

As two was better than one in my book, so I went from a complete bum to working a LOT.  I quit the second after a few months.  I’d be hard pressed to work cold calling for phone surveys ever again, even if it was the last job on earth and I was about to be homeless.  However, working at the mall was a lot of fun, I liked my coworkers, and it was wayyyy easier to get praise for doing good work than my gymnastics coaches, so I was hooked.

Flash forward to two years of AP classes, becoming a MAJOR caffeine addict (apparently if you just drink a lot of coffee and diet soda it’s not a Jessie Spannow situation) so I could maintain mostly straight As, diving practice, school activities and clubs (have to be well rounded to get into college), working one or two jobs at all times, and hanging out with friends and my loser boyfriend all the time because… social butterfly.  I graduated high school EXHAUSTED.

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I quit my job and took one as assistant manager of an earring store in a really not-so-busy mall to save money for college.  It was a summer with no athletic training, no summer school.  In fact, I spent most of the time painting my nails with my feet up on the desk, and it was perfect…. and felt like the opposite of busy even though I was working 40 hours a week.

College had the same buildup.  The first year I pretty much did school, and that was enough.  But then I randomly auditioned for a play and got a bit part and I was hooked into theater.  It was my everything for a while.  I even took it as a minor, not because I thought I was going to do anything with it, but so I could act more.  I got jobs over the summer and I wasn’t good at quitting things and enjoyed the extra money, so I kept them during the school year.  Not doing a sport meant I saw a bunch of weight creep on, so I had to make time for exercise.  I was a super social creature, so time with friends was a priority. I basically just didn’t sleep much.

Then, I experienced life as a legal drinker in Reno, Nevada, where there is no last call and going out for the night at 1am wasn’t a-typical.  That last year of college, I got straight As by some sorcery, but I have very little memory of how.  Caffeine.  Unicorns.

I chased college graduation with packing up our apartment the same week and fleeing for San Diego with no job lined up.  I think I slept for about 3 months, with small breaks to play video games, eat, and surf the internet.  One day during this couch period, I asked Zliten to grab my socks for me.  They were about two feet away in front of me.  This is where I was at right then.  I was attempting to shed 8 years of fatigue by expending as little mental and physcial energy as possible.

It worked, or I realized that even the ramen money would eventually run out, as three months later I got a job testing video games working all the overtime.  Over the years that evolved into more.  I ate, slept, drank, and lived video games and being a video game designer. It was glorious to be consumed in something again, until I started ACTUALLY questioning my sanity at times, and decided to jump ship before I cut off my ear or anything.  Oh yeah, I also more than doubled my weight from my gymnastics days and figured I should probably do something about that.

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I moved cities and got a less stressful job with less responsibilities and had NO idea how to handle myself.  So, as a side project, I decided to work on this whole weight loss thing, which evolved into this racing thing I do now.  I was working full time or more, but my days at work weren’t that full, so it was more about being fulfilled.  Less responsibilities at work evolved into more, and while I rarely work overtime anymore, I do carry a lot of my job stress around with me at times, as much as I try not to.  This year, I added classes to the mix, and you see how history continues to repeat itself.  I don’t replace hobbies and interests, I pile them on until I can’t stand it anymore.

I don’t do normal well.  I long for some time to do nothing, but I’m not sure if it’s in me to just be and not work towards being something.

I’m not entirely sure there’s a really rich life lesson in here beyond a bunch of Friday brain and auditory-induced nostalgia.  I think I’m simply assuring myself it’s ok to be tired right now.  At least, with the wisdom that age 37 has brought me, I know I do it to myself, and that makes it a little better.

I sit here with over 7 hours of training on my legs already this week, sleepy from a stolen night of recreation that lasted just a few hours longer than it should, and preparing for a meeting to justify my team’s continued existence for next year.  Tomorrow’s relaxing weekend day includes an early morning wakeup for a 3 hour training session, hosting for a birthday party, and taking my Sports Nutrition Specialist test for certification.  Sunday is our last wah pah trip.  All things I want to do, but there’s not a whole lot of time for nothing.  I kind of want to run away to a secluded tropical island somewhere and not look back.

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I can’t help but dream of the condo in Key Largo we’ve booked for December.  At the door, there are a week of no responsibilities and no plans.  The pool, lagoon, and private beach on the property cry my name.  The cruiser bikes and the fresh fish store a few miles away and the grill on the patio are waiting.  I’m mentally salivating over the experience of doing nothing for a while and right now I wish that week was months long.

However, I just can’t help myself.  When I get home from the trip, I have the rest of the year off work. Being me, instead of the nothing I think I crave, I have some epic plans for finishing up classes and writing and riding bikes and running and all sorts of other projects.  I’m super excited for them, but still.  Maybe I’m incapable of doing nothing, or maybe having a full schedule is all I’ve ever known.  This is my life.  Maybe I need an intervention.  Or to be trapped on a desert island.  Or someone to grab my shoulders and say “FOR THE LOVE OF LEEZARDS, DO NOTHING FOR A WHILE”.

This person would then have to provide me a detailed lesson with bullet points, a mapped out plan, and a schedule on how to do that, because it’s come to my attention I have no clue.  I am at my most alive when I am consumed by things.  Climbing mountains.  Doing epic shit.  Gathering life experiences and photographic evidence like a greedy little hoarder of moments and stories.  Figuring out where I want to be and plotting a course there.

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Sometimes I feel like I’m living a catch-22.  I am like an extremely extroverted introvert who only wants to be around people, but it makes them so mentally exhausted.  In this sense, all I crave is adventure.  If you asked me what I’d rather be doing right this moment, it’s not watching TV or having coffee or whatever normal people do.  I’d be scuba diving in Bon Aire.  I’d be snorkeling in Roatan.  I’d be parasailing in Hawaii.  I’d be cycling in Colorado.  I’d be running trails in Alaska.  But I also sometimes feel like I could sleep for weeks, ya know?

It’s a little bit of history repeating.  The seasons bring similarity, and this season, year after year, always brings burnout and makes me question of my sanity.  Others repair and rebuild me.  Am I doing too much?  The answer probably harkens from the fact that I keep doing it.  I keep choosing to DO rather than not to do.  While I have a high tolerance for discomfort, I also hope that I’m not the kind of person that would continue to randomly put my hand into the fire even though it hurts.  We are what we repeatedly do.  And, for better or for worse, I repeatedly do epic shit because that’s who I’ve become.

TL;DR: My life is awesome and I probably just need a nap and to lay off the 90s alt rock.  Happy weekend everyone!

I need a little specificity…

Probably for no one’s interest but my own sanity, it’s time for me to check in a bit more specifically on how the first half of 70.3 training has gone, since, holy crap, we’re more than halfway there!

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My outdoor riding game is almost as on fleek as my selfie game as the kids probably no longer say.

First of all, as I’ve mentioned before, the comparison game is SO HARD to avoid.  Each year with a 70.3 has been unique but has always centered on the Kerrville Half being my A race.

  • In 2012, I trained so hard to make sure I could do the distance, and arrived at the end of the summer in burnout (though I finished, and learned a lot along the way).
  • 2013, I overcame injury earlier in the year to conquer the first on minimal training and on the second, PR (and probably indirectly saved myself from some burnout by being benched for 6 weeks).
  • 2014, I took a mid-summer offseason, and banking on previous endurance, did a short and steep 8 week climb to the race, which resulted in another awesome PR.
  • Since that worked out so well, in 2015, I did the same thing, and ended up having the universe and my uterus conspire against me and barely salvaged not-a-personal-worst on a mildly broken bike and body.

After the spectacular 2015 fail, I didn’t want revenge.  I wanted this year to be different.

  • First of all, I have given myself about double the runway (16 weeks instead of 8).  This has allowed me to ramp up more gradually.  Frankly, I spent about half this cycle with the plan of “doin’ stuff for about 7-10 hours a week”, but that fluidity built me a good endurance base without all the burnout that is associated with having to run 6 miles at 7am on a Tuesday at x pace because the plan said so.  I’m now at the half of the cycle where I need to train specifically for about two months and I’m ready for it.
  • Also, I’ve chosen a different race, Austin IM 70.3, 5 weeks later.  The record high is 90, and the record low is 30, so it’s a grab bag of what we’ll actually get, but it’s MUCH more likely to be cooler.
  • Speaking of different race… different course!  I can hope for a PR/to hit certain numbers/etc, but a different course means it’s not a direct measuring stick of I MUST PR EVERY LEG OR I’M A FAILURE.  The bike is a little harder with ~500 more feet of elevation gain, more steep hills vs gradual hills.  The run should be a little easier with 100-ish feet TOTAL elevation change, a 3 loop course that gives you a dose of AC each time, and it’s also highly likely to be a cooler day, which give me a bonus of as much as a minute per mile with similar effort than feels like 90-100.
  • The other huge plus is the race starts 15 mins away from my house, so I get to sleep in my own bed, can do a warmup swim in my own pool/lake the day before, and eat familiar food.  The drawback is the day before, I have to establish STRICT boundaries about no chores, no other humans around, just relaxing, because a whole day off on the weekend?  That never happens, and it will be so tempting to do all the things.

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And I get to ride bikes here! Total perk!

So, we’re 7 weeks (ok, 6 weeks, 5 days, but whatevs).  How am I doing?

Overall headspace: turning a corner just this week.  I had some freakouts last week that I’m not training enough, I’m going to be woefully unprepared, etc.  Then I started looking at what I’ve done and how much time I have left, and I started to feel wayyyy better.  I need some specificity in my life, as I said above, but the foundation and basic structures of this house are pretty well built, actually.  The next four weeks about filling out the major features, and then the last three are about painting the walls, putting up light fixtures, etc.

Strengths right now:

  • Strength.  I’m pretty solid right now in terms of core and body strength (thx u weights).  I don’t feel like I’m pushing the boundaries of what my body is capable of and enduring tons of minor aches and pains.
  • Swim endurance.  Thanks to the swim challenge, I’ve done at least the half iron distance (1.4 to 2.8 miles) 4 times in open water this summer, and haven’t felt too much worse for wear after them.  My regular swims of 1500m just feel like happy fun water time with very little fatigue after.
  • Bike endurance.  I still can improve here, but I’ve done two outdoor rides already (63, 53) that are longer than my longest last cycle (50). I have done four 3+ hour rides, and I have a few more planned before shutting it down.
  • Bike handling.  Obviously a work in progress as well, but I was able to ride with a group of non-n00bs yesterday and not feel completely like a square peg in a round hole.  I ride my bike outside at least 3 times a week now and I don’t suck at it nearly as much.
  • Accidental run endurance.  I had this as a weakness two days ago when I started writing this post, but then I went out and ran 10 miles (almost double my previous long run) with 2 race pace miles at the end like it was no big deal.  Endurance is endurance is endurance, I guess.  I’ll take it.
  • Weather acclimation.  I may bitch about it, but I’m handling the summer temps like a champ.  I was super excited about today’s run which wasn’t even in the 90s!

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I’m sure this me doesn’t completely agree on the acclimation part.  I don’t have to like the heat, I just have to get through (and I did).

Weaknesses right now:

  • Overall speed.  I found a glimmer of hope in my relay race, but then figured out I was 13 sec/mile slower than last year (8:48 vs 9:09 pace), so there’s that.  I have been sacrificing any real speedwork to log enough hours to build endurance.
  • Brick work.  I usually do a lot of these, but tallying up my training, I’ve done only done 10 bricks in the last 4 months (counting races), and nothing longer than 4 miles (and mostly 1-2).  I used to push about 2 per week, and that might be overkill, because I tend to run really well off the bike in practice, but maybe that’s because I practiced it so often, hmmm?  Either way, I should be doing more than one every other week.
  • Ease on the TT bike.  I’ve solidly PR’d my last 2 bike legs, so something is going at least sorta right, but it’s hard for me to stay in aero.  On the trainer, it’s a comfort issue.  My crotch is simply not used to being smashed that way for that long yet in tri shorts, and I have to wiggle around to find the upper body position that’s correct and doesn’t make my arms and shoulders sore.  On the road, I’m just not confident in the position with traffic on the road.   Every car that passes, every turn, everytime something makes me jump… I am up out of aero.  Luckily, during races I’m less of a weenie.

So, how am I going to bridge the gap in the coming weeks?

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This is the goal.  This is always the goal.

Last half September focuses:

  • Eeking out more bike endurance.  I’d like a 50 mile ride to be NBD by October 1.  It’s totally doable right now but still kind of a BD.
  • A long ride approaching race distance on the TT bikes outside.  Planned for this weekend.
  • Ramping up the run miles.  I don’t plan on doing ANYTHING with intensity, save racing the Kerrville Olympic on Sept 25, but I need to be running: a) double digits every other week and b) running more often/more miles.
  • Weights are now in maintenance mode.  I will not be increasing reps or weights at this point. 1x week at the gym lifting, 1x week with bodyweights and bands at the most.
  • Swim, continue with the status quo. Twice a week, about a mile per session, open water when I can.

First half of October:

  • Longer run bricks.  I need to run some 10ks off the bike to feel better about running a half on race day.  I’m planning on a long simulation day, where I ride the actual 70.3 course and follow it up with a 10k run, as the last workout before taper time.
  • Bike intensity.  After I’m clear of the 3+ hour rides (which will start to ramp down at this point) and the fatigue fades, I want to at least CONTINUE with harder rides, if not up the ante to prepare my legs for those hills.
  • Continue with the run mile increase.  I plan to top out around a modest 25 mile peak week a few weeks out (and most should be about 15-20), so my legs should be in decent shape just in time.
  • This is where weights can start falling off if they need to.  I won’t be happy about skipping them entirely, but a quick 15-20 min band/core session 1-2x week will do.
  • Swimming as above.

Second half of October:

  • Bike and run endurance is in the bank by this time.  I need to use my best judgement to shed fatigue and keep form.  The best things I can do for myself are workouts that keep my sharp and that increase my confidence, which is usually shorter speed workouts (but not *too* many – I’ve done that and spent all my cash before race day).
  • Swim – since I’ll be backing off on the bike and the run, I’ll push this a little.  More open water race pace swims.
  • Weights – cut out entirely 2 weeks before the race.
  • Taper –
    • 25% reduction 3 weeks out (about 9 hours). Pretty much a normal week with a shorter long ride and long run.
    • 50% or more week 2 (6 hours).  This will really be my rest week.  If I’m feeling fatigue or burnout here, things will be cut to be shorter, less intense, or eliminated entirely.  There are two key workouts on the plan totaling 3 hours.  If that’s all I do, that’s fine.
    • Race week – something every day (save 2 days out) to keep myself sharp.  I generally don’t perform great IMMEDIATELY after a rest week, I need the training to pick up a little first.  I should have energy, enthusiasm, and feel like each session is way too short.  If not, the scissors come out again, because rest is priority.

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Attacking specific training for the next month and a half like…

Going through all this has helped me lay out a specific plan for the next 7 weeks.  Some of the stuff coming up in the next few weeks is a little intimidating, but exciting.  I’m genuinely excited to see what happens when I toe the line October 30th, and I haven’t been able to REALLY say that with enthusiasm in quite a while.  And that makes me more excited!

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