Adjusted Reality

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

A work in progress…

Another week, and another which I would describe as, “whew, that was nuts!”

It is the junction where uncertainty is settling in some regards, and also where other uncertainties have just begun.  

Brene Brown (yes, I know, shut up, you’re going to hear this name for a while) defines vulnerability as uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure.  This is what I’ve been calling courage, but it’s actually quite different.  I’m pretty great at courage, but as I’ve discussed before, I’m a big fan of avoiding vulnerability at all costs with disengagement and aloofness.  This has reared it’s ugly head in many facets of my life.  I recognized it rather quickly in my racing, probably because it was the least emotional risk.  There are very few people (and they’re probably all in my head) who have any vested interested in whether I succeed or fail at triathlon.

However, the chapter I just read this morning was quite timely; it was about vulnerability of leaders in education and the workplace (in which, she equated that teachers and bosses are kind of the same thing, a sentiment which I actually love).  In the last two months, I’ve been struggling to find both where I fit in the org chart and also the best way to lead my team to succeed.  Some of these decisions relate to personnel changes, duty changes, and team dynamics.  

And most terrifyingly, some of these are things that belie my current title, and my authority over them exists in a world of grey due to technicalities.  I hate grey areas with a passion.  Everything in me wants to shine a light on it and sort it into sections of black and white, arranged neatly, with clearly defined labels and parameters, and say, “Okay, that’s sorted, I know exactly what I’m working with, let’s proceed.” 

In this case, the grey won’t sort right now.  I can’t do a thing or make someone else do a thing that will separate this one color into it’s two components.  My road diverges into two paths: to shrink back down into my clearly defined boundaries because it makes me uncomfortable to push beyond them, or acknowledge that pushing my limits feels awkward for me, and sit with those feelings while still setting foot into the grey.

This week, I had a few situations at work which made me feel vulnerable.  No, it wasn’t getting up and talking in front of the company as I do once a month, or putting my ideas front and center for initiatives coming up, or the immense responsibility I’ve taken on, y’know, the stuff that normal people probably freak out about.  In these particular instances, they were conversations regarding, either indirectly or directly, my worthiness and place as a leader.  This is the stuff that keeps me up at night, folks.

I didn’t really put two and two together until I read that chapter this morning, but I made the difficult choice to be vulnerable where years past, heck, maybe even weeks past, I might have turned the other way.  I won’t get into the how or what of these conversations, as my lead writer says, that would be telling, but I feel like they encouraged productive and positive outcomes.  I’m pretty proud that I took the risks even though I wasn’t backed in a corner, forced to do so.  I could have used disengagement as an avoidance tactic, telling myself that the conversations were unnecessary, and in one case, I almost did.

Am I sitting here right now days later with a mild shame hangover?  Absolutely. “Aw shit, I did actually expose my underbelly and leave myself vulnerable.  That happened.” These thoughts are running through my brain.  However, I also feel more pride than shame that I was able to approach someone with thoughts I wasn’t completely comfortable with myself.  Typically, I sit with these things until I can fully understand them and analyze them and find solutions and put them into neat little boxes.  In one case, there was no solution and I was simply asking for advice and help sorting through my feelings.

If y’all know me, I’d rather spend days researching something than actually ask another human a question that might make me look stupid or worse yet, cause some sort of rejection.  This goes doubly so for discussing feelings, the most disgusting of all topics.  This was huge for me.

Because this is not a management blog, let me transition a bit to other interests I talk about more often.  I have various personal quests: racing to my potential, publishing a book, and chasing other creative pursuits like photography, painting, music, and heck, even table top role playing games applies here.  I’ve found that in these pursuits, the willingness to be vulnerable is both of great import, and the place where I’m absolutely found wanting.  Throwing my creative work out to the world at large to judge gives me the willies.  When that involves that judgement and approval to be successful (like a book), that’s the stuff that freaks me right the hell out.

I’m a work in progress.  I’ve had this recurring vision lately where I come off the bike in third again at Texasman.  Instead of fading back to seventh, letting four women pass me, one of those less than a quarter mile from the finish line, this time I chase the girls ahead of me down and finish first overall.  It’s a big step that I can even have the inkling to even entertain this daydream, but the doubt monster still appears VERY quickly in it’s wake.  Who am I to dream about being first overall in a race?  That doesn’t happen for me.  Yeah, I’m good at the bike, but anyone that can beat me on the bike is SURE to beat me on the run.  

I’m not quite quick enough with a witty retort yet, but I’m at least trying one on for size.  I surprised the heck out of myself at Indoor Tri with the pace I kept, and that was on a treadmill, with no external motivation to catch anyone.  I had NO idea where I stood in the race because of the format, so who’s to say that with someone ahead of me to catch, I couldn’t push myself harder.  My athletic potential is a bit of an unknown right now.  Who’s to say that I don’t actually have that run in me?  Maybe I always have, and it’s just that nagging voice telling me I don’t that’s holding me back instead of some other physical quality.

All I can do is approach the start line with courage, confidence, and vulnerability, and have the cojones to really go for it this year.

Speaking of going for it, or actually NOT – the book is still sitting on the computer in my office, untouched.  I think I’ve accepted that I need to pursue this work with myself, and in some ways, my writing, before I think I’ll have a fighting chance here.  As a new author, I’d need to aggressively promote my book, not just sheepishly say, “I did a thing” and secretly hope no one notices while I get pissed off when that actually happens.  I need to be ready to shout about it from the rooftops, and I’m not there yet.  While I thought it was just a thing I needed to do, I’m now realizing that it’s a confidence I need to have in myself and a willingness to be extremely vulnerable.  I’m not there yet, but I’m walking the path.  

Swords, Shame Monsters, and Too Many Analogies

Guys.  Guys… GUYS!  Holy crap it’s been busy over here.

And all I am is a girl, standing in front of a bicycle, wanting to go playyyyy…

However, I like to make time to do at least a quick weekly check in, and I don’t want to break that habit, so here’s some stream of consciousness fun-and-games for posterity about January and what’s next.

Athleting:

While I had almost no leadup to my two races in two weeks, pushing that hard mentally seven days apart took a bit of a toll on my motivation for training after.  My brain needed and felt like it deserved a tiny little “offseason”, so I’ve taken the last two weeks fairly light.  Last week, all I did was ride my bike three times at no pace which could be considered fast.  Fast forward to today, Thursday, and I’ve swam ONCE on Monday and I’ve had my running stuff laid out since then, ready to go, and no dice.  Hoping to break that streak today, but the struggle has been real, y’all.

I’m not stressing about it, though.  My first triathlon this year is May 5th, and I actually plan to mostly soldier through the full season this year without much of a mid-season break.  I will still obviously periodize my training with shifting focus as the months go on, and schedule in recovery weeks, but I don’t plan on any extended month long breaks like I’ve planned in the past.  This means I’m not in a huge hurry to pursue peak form in March or anything, so this lazing around in early February is just fine. 

Next week this changes.  While I’m not ready to sharpen the sword just yet, it’s now time to mold the clay (how many different analogies can I use today? let’s find out!).  Two three-week periods of lifting heavy (hypertrophy) and then heavier (maximum strength) with a week rest in between did me was so beneficial last year I plan to repeat it.  My main focus in February and March will be lifting 3xweek, and swim/bike/run (1-2 short sessions of each per week) will supplement this, rather than the opposite the rest of the year.

Of course when the weather is amazing I’ll duck out for a smile paced ride with my camera, but not at the expense of picking up and putting down heavy things.

The Scale:

January was a rough start to the year, I did *okay* the first two weeks, and then racing always throws a wrench in the diet, and then a camping weekend… let’s just say I have made no progress.  I think I’ve done well enough that I’m not backsliding further, but I’m not quite back to that consistently under 170 where I was in early December.  I have yet to transfer everything to trendweight (busy and also, if it doesn’t change maybe my weight doesn’t change? is that how it works?) but it really helped me last year so I really need to do that.

Definitely haven’t gained everything back I lost, but it needs to trend down now, kthx…

But, I’m back, baby.  Since Monday, I’ve had a really good streak with my eating habits, and I’ve declared February a month of no deserts.  Everyone and their mother (and literally my mother as well) is trying to eff this up for me, but I will just take their offerings, put them in my freezer, and break them out when I’m at a higher training volume.

So, the plan and the goal is the same as it ever was.

  • 1500 calories per day, slightly less on days I can get away with it, to account for 1-2 days closer to 2000.
  • Mostly snap kitchen meals, supplemented with perfect fit meals since they are a little different/cheaper, with a small amount of bath cooking when I’m motivated to do so.
  • Salads for my mid-afternoon snack so I get in ALL THE VEGGIES (since the prepared meals are small portions, they’re not very veggie heavy).
  • Watch the booze calorie creep – but this is the year I’ve accepted that if I am to only allow myself one splurge overall, it’s probably going to be whiskey.  I just need to make sure it fits in my plan 1-2 times a week.

I know that my weight is collectively what I have done in the last month, and I haven’t been kind to myself.  I’ve been eating things I shouldn’t (and slacking on eating the things I should like those mid-afternoon salads), and probably more importantly, I haven’t been a good sleeper.  I *think* life is starting to calm down a little bit, and I’m hoping that my idiot nights of laying awake thinking about (mostly good exciting but still) stuff will be fewer and further between.

Between lifting and REALLY BUCKLING DOWN FOR REALS in February, I think the scale and I might start being BFFs again.

Life/Deep Thoughts:

Over the last few months, work has provided me a great growth opportunity (sadly without the title, YET, but let’s focus on the good parts).  Essentially, this is the thing I’ve wanted to do since I started here almost twelve years ago, and have gotten to do in smaller quantities as I’ve scratched and fought for it, but finally it’s all happening.  Sort of.  However, I really have to fight for this one since I have to forge my own path here and it takes ALL THE CONFIDENCE AND COURAGE I have built up thus far.

At a crossroads.  Literally.

The self-study I’ve done and have continued to do in the background on these ideals has helped me immensely with this.  I feel like I’m walking a tightrope with no net, one hundred feet above a pit full of hungry sharks, but instead of terrifying it’s exhilarating and exciting and I love the way it makes my emotions swirl, but I also recognize that it is indeed DANGEROUS and RISKY.  This time last year I might have shied away from this, but I spent the 2018 seeking out the dark places, and believing in myself enough to take what I wanted with the tip of my sword.  It’s a different me situation right now, and I’m quite good with dangerous.  It’s miles above boring.

I have about 2031537 essays I want to write about Brene Brown’s Daring Greatly and I’m 25% through the book.  I knew this would be a game changer, but I didn’t realize to what degree.  It’s definitely contributing to my sleepless nights but in a way that’s starting to connect and codify a lot of disparate thought fragments, so it’s worth it.  It’s made me feel a lot less weird about some of the things I’ve been cranking on in the old noggin’ lately. 

I will never think about vulnerability and shame the same way.  Her writing shows me the reasons why I have turned away from putting my full heart and soul into racing in the past.  It makes sense why I can say “I want to be a published author” and fully believe it, while simultaneously spending almost a year ignoring the draft I’ve written and spinning up other projects instead. 

I’m terrified of being vulnerable.  I’m not a weak person, and I believe in myself, but for things I really care about, I tend to keep them close to my vest.  My writing is good if no one else can read it and cut me to pieces with criticism.  My singing voice is great if no one else can hear it.  I explored that feeling a lot HERE before I actually knew what it was.  As I wrote the words it sounded super stupid, but now I know that’s the shame monster coming out to attack.

The shame monster says “who are you to dress like this”, and I give it this look.

Fear of shame dictates how I hold back sometimes.  If I share that I’m really going for it during a race, and then I blow up or just mentally fizzle out miles from the finish, what will people think of me?  “Oh, there she goes, talking big about her racing and then just failing again and again, yawn.”  If I share the deeper, more vulnerable thoughts I have on social media, what if it gets no attention?  Even worse, what if someone posts a haterade comment?  What if people wordlessly think I’m weird and unlovable?

The crazy thing is that I LOVE other people’s deep thoughts and long, personal posts conveying who they really are.  I value people that share themselves more freely.  However, as it is with most everyone, vulnerability is AWESOME in others and TERRIBLE in ourselves.

So, I’m working on being the courage and confidence I see and want to see in other people.  It’s heavy work, but each time I push myself further into the danger zone which is vulnerability, it feels REFRESHING and REAL and EXCITING and I think I’m even ready to combat my first haters if they show up outside of my own head. Maybe. 🙂

In the wake of all of that noise, I ignored most of the way-too-large to do list I wanted to do in January.  I needed much more downtime than I expected, and it’s okay.  The organizational projects will be there when I’m motivated to do so.  At some point, my book will come back into focus, when I’ve done the sidework I need to do to be ready for it.  I’m thoroughly enjoying tooling around with some different writing styles and it’s all towards the good and betterment of my command of the written word. 

I think my February focus will be to take the stress off myself here.  I would really, really, really like to complete one small organizational project, it will make me feel like a better human.  However, I’m going to leave my hobbies up to my own whims.  If little writing projects and reading and photography take up most of my time, that’s totally fine with me.  I need a lack of clutter in the To Do List and some freedom to focus on whatever it is that brings me down the unclear and unpredictable path I need to walk right now.

Indoor Tri – #fasterasamaster

Second verse, same as the first, a little bit louder and a little bit worse. Seven days removed from giving everything in my pursuit of the finish line at 3M, I was ready to rip it all up once more at maximum effort.

I’ve raced two, even three weeks in a row at times, so I know how to do this. Very little training during the week, check. Lots of rest, and a nice low stress work week, errr, big NOPE there. Proper nutrition, uhmmm, well, okay, I know HOW to do this well, even if maybe I didn’t follow my own advice in this particular instance.  I crashed into Friday feeling a little worn, but I knew I had most of the weekend to do myself well, as well as the benefit of racing in the last wave of the day at 11am (sleep, precious sleeeeep!).

Saturday was fantastic regardless of my sins and failures previous. I slept well until I woke naturally around 9:15, ate a bagel, and spent the morning lazing around until I finally hopped on the trainer.  The plan was twenty minutes with spinups every two minutes directly into a one mile run, easy with strides. In both instances, I had to keep telling myself, “slow down slow down SLOW DOWN, you need to save it for tomorrow.”

The leg beasts felt ready to roar the next day, which was encouraging, considering the week I’d had. I have some pretty steep goals: PR every leg from every single time I’ve done this race, even the crazy 8:30/mile pace I held many years ago when I was more of a runner. Should I achieve all of my lofty goals, I stashed a nice bottle of Baby Blue waiting in the cupboard for me to break my January resolution for one day only (whiskey and I decided it was best that we see other people after spending too much time together this fall).  Well, again, because I made the deal with myself for 3M.  Whatever motivates, right?

Power food!!!

For posterity, I ate half a club sandwich + some brussels sprouts + some french fries for lunch, and chicken, potatoes, and a greek side salad for dinner.  I slept fantastically, 9 hours with over 4 hours of deep sleep.  While the days leading up may not have been stellar, I did Saturday right.

I woke around 8:30 (suuuuuch a luxury for a race day), and did things similarly to the week before.  Morning included a mini bagel with bacon and cream cheese (and everything bagel seasoning!), two cups of earl grey tea, two caff beans, a quick trainer ride, a quick foam roll, a short drive to Lifetime Fitness, and we were off to the races, literally.

I felt almost jittery from caffeine already (it doesn’t take much), but Zliten convinced me to take my watermelon rocket fuel anyway.  Wheeee! I planned to push the swim harder than I normally would due to the format. Typically, I like to use the first leg as a warmup and then go chase on the bike, but since you get points for your rankings for each sport and not just a finish time there’s a different strategy to employ.

I swam a consistent pace that kept me slightly out of breath and my comfort zone, but not too far (I wasn’t shattered at the end).  19.5 lengths has been my best so far, and I smashed my record by hitting the wall at 21 right as the clock hit 10 minutes.  This is kind of surprising as I have been in the pool very few times since Waco in October, and I also had to deal with some rando dude hopping in my lane late and smacking me repeatedly while he did the breaststroke the entire time. It’s okay, I’m used combat in open water, it was annoying but didn’t shake me up too much.

Unicorns, rainbows, stars, and SO MUCH CAFFEINE!

The transition was fairly uneventful, ten minutes sounds like a long time, but it’s always JUST ENOUGH, as it was this time as I started spinning while loading up my playlist as they counted down from 10, 9, 8…

This level of effort on the bike was unfamiliar as I’ve spent the last few months riding smiley pace with the only exception being the FTP test I took earlier this month. I tried to tap into that effort, willing my speed to stay where it needed to be (21 mph) to beat my best of 10.4 miles. It was really challenging, and I had to take a quick jog out of the saddle every few minutes to recover, but I hid inside my carefully cultivated playlist and worked through the pain of my lungs and legs burning and ended at 10.5 miles in 30 minutes.

Two legs down, two PRs, but diggity DANG I was already dusted and only had 5 minutes to transition (up and down some stairs and across the building), which got me to my treadmill with like 90 seconds to go and not feeling very ready to run, let alone run fast.

It would have been easy to back off on the run, but I decided to ride this wave of confidence I’ve been feeling and tell my brain to suck it up, buttercup because I COULD DO THIS.  I set the treadmill at the exact pace (7.0 with a wee sprint at the end) I needed to beat my best of 2.33 miles in 20 minutes. Through the first five minutes it felt oddly doable. The next three minutes felt like a long, painful hour. I actually took a itty bitty breather in the middle, stepping back to a more comfortable pace (6.5), letting my heart rate settle a bit, but quickly returned to where I needed to be within a few minutes and tucked in to the effort. With about five minutes to go, I started the increasing my speed to get to true puke pace to meet my goal. Doing some fuzzy math, I knew I was close.

So I gave it everything I had for the last few minutes and hung on as I crested 8, then 8.5 miles an hour. And when the clock ticked from 19:59 to 20:00, my mileage changed from 2.33 to 2.34.  For reference, 8:30 per mile is my standalone 5k PR pace from 10 years ago, which I also haven’t been able to beat since.  I jumped onto the sides of the treadmill as I hit pause and tucked my head between my knees for a minute because I. was. spent.

Victory whiskey!  Can’t lie that this popped in my head a few times when things got tough on the run...

I’ve done this race over five or six different years and I performed better on Sunday in each leg than I ever have before. This doesn’t sound like a huge deal, except I am probably the LEAST trained I’ve been going into this race, ever, and I’ve had some pretty bright moments before, especially that one run many many years ago.  I had ZERO EFFING CLUE how I was going to surpass than and  I DID IT, it just took some friggin’ mental fortitude.

I was incredibly excited to tick every ambitious box I set in front of myself.  I’m proud of what my body was able to do, but even more than that, I’m proud of my mind.  Confidence and courage are pretty magical things, along with stars and unicorns, and I have carried all those things with me through the last two weeks.  That’s all that really mattered to me that day.  

However, I was also pleasantly surprised that my first race as a master (40+, even though I’m still 39, I’ll be 40 at the end of the year so it counts), I came out first in that division.  Even better, I was 3rd female overall, and 9th overall, and with 80+ people, that means I almost crested the top 10% of the entire race.  It was the cherry on the top of an amazing err… Sunday!

Now, it’s time to start getting real.  I have no idea where these last two weeks have come from, but it’s been a pleasant surprise that’s buoyed my already budding confidence.  If I can pull these results out of an untrained body but strong and confident mind, who knows what I can do with the same mental state and a few months of SPECIFIC training.  It’s time to eat the foods I should eat and not the ones I shouldn’t, lift the heavy things, and train short and fast for sprint triathlons this spring!

3M Half Marathon – when the stars align

Life has been whirlwhind-ly hectic this week/month/year, and I feel like I used a lot of words on social media to talk during the days around the race, but I still always like to put together these reports for posterity. So, let’s do this!

This is the first year I haven’t had any high hopes for this race.  3M has fooled me enough times already.  I’ll sign up really early in the year, purporting that THIS IS MY YEAR TO PR and then when winter comes around I’ll train halfheartedly or start training really late after a triathlon offseason, or maybe even train seriously and be dedicated to a plan and then I perform somewhere between OKAY and TERRIBLY –  like last year.  I always want to love this race, but it’s never loved me back.  I decided I wouldn’t get fooled again (no no), and I was running this one purely for funsies.

Saturday went fairly normally, but not *quite* to pre-race spec.  I had a giant club and soup for lunch instead of a turkey sub on wheat and had turkey meatloaf, mashed potatoes, veggies, salad, and some tater tots vs my normal grilled chicken potatoes and salad.  Similar but not the same.  Instead of swimming, I rode the trainer for 20 minutes.  Packet pickup saw my legs and back and neck start to ache.  We were rear ended while driving home Friday, and apparently, it was not one hundred percent without bodily consequences.  

I wore stars all week as I could because stars have just felt right lately, so I kept that clothing trend going. Perhaps in the attempt to influence them to align the next day?

The headspace is always different staring down a starting line so early in the season. There were the nerves and doubts stemming from the utter lack of preparedness. On one hand, my thoughts rang with self deprecation – the eff am I doing out there on a literal handful of runs in the last three months? But… there was also some budding excitement after the killer twelve I ran the weekend previous. I was an unknown quantity and there’s a lightness that correlates with the lack of expectations.  That was neat after driving myself batty this fall under the weight of them.

I planned to run this one pretty much solely on perceived effort. I watched Dune that afternoon, and they constantly quoted, “fear is the mind killer”. I aimed to go out there the next day unafraid to put my hand in the pain box and then let the chips fall where they may, no judgies. Ok, maybe very little judgies, I’m not really good at rationalizing not being good, but I honestly was just so happy about the run the weekend before, even if I choked at the race, I had showed promise.  That was good enough for me to feel optimistic about the season to come.

I did my best to spend the rest of the day relaxing, actually sleeping rather decently.  All the thoughts rattling around in my head didn’t perturb me as they had earlier in the week, probably due to the fact that I mentally reserved the two hours of the race to ponder and let my thoughts distract me from the effort. Oddly enough, I didn’t need distractions the next day, I was happy to be present and inside the effort, but it was a nice balm to put me to sleep the night before.

I woke up race morning at 2am with my glutes and lower back seizing up. More fender bender after effects. I fell back asleep on an ice pack and woke up two hours later and it felt kinda touchy but OKAY. I would start.

I hopped on the trainer for 15 minutes to spin up my legs.  I ate a mini bagel with bacon and cream cheese and two caffeine beans.  I drank my earl grey tea, hot.  I was up early enough to use the bathroom about 3 times before we drove to the race start, but of course I STILL needed to hit the porta potties, which continued my tradition heading out on the course almost at the back of the field (about 11 minutes after the race started), but let’s just say it was worth it.

At the outset of the race I was freezing (the feels like was in the 20s) but less than a mile on the course and I was like, ” why the eff do I have all these things on my body” and while I fixed that by ditching my Goodwill sweatshirt and wrapping my buff around my wrist and pushing up my sleeves, I dropped my phone and took about twenty seconds on the side of the road situating myself.

That’s the last of my complaints. My stride felt awesome, better even than last week’s magical run, and the mid 30s temperature that irked me so much before felt absolutely perfect. Derezzed came on and I pretended I was a Tron light cycle avoiding all the slower runners. Blah blah blah came on and I dedicated that to the haters in my head saying I was going too fast while I continued to tick off consistent splits right around 9:20/mile.

I passed 10k, with my fastest time running THAT distance in almost 10 years and I still felt freaking amazing. I kept waiting for the darkness to descend, as it has every year moving down Shoal Creek, yet somehow this time I kept outrunning it with those consistent splits far outpacing my current personal record from years and years ago.

Around mile 9 it was no longer playtime, the hills began to appear, but I was ready for some pain.  Four more miles like this, I said.  Starboy came on (stars!), which is a terrible song if you listen to the lyrics but for some reason makes me MOVE and I found another gear to power up the hills that usually defeat me.  Then mile 10 was roooooough with another longer hill, but my random playlist struck back with Devil Went Down to Georgia (metal cover), and while that was my worst split of the day at 9:37/mile, it was still highly below PR pace.  As I did the math all I had to do was just hang the eff on.  I was so close I could taste it.  I hurt, but not insurmountably, and I was not going to let this slip through my fingers, not this time, no way in hell.

2:08 is my personal best. As I made the last turn and saw the finishing arch in the distance, I was on track to hit 2:04. I decided that I wanted 2:03 because this is how we do. I found a little something left in my belly and put everything I had into the last few minutes and crossed the line at 2:03:48. I almost both cried and horked at the finish (seriously, y’all, I gagged RIGHT NEXT TO A BUNCH OF SPECTATORS) but I held it together in both regards.

I can’t tell you how much this one means to me. More than finishing Ironman, more than qualifying for Nationals, this was not months but something I’ve been trying to crack for over EIGHT YEARS. From no hopes to almost a FIVE MINUTE PR in a matter of days after dozens of cracks at it over the years.  What a banner start to 2019!  I’m over the moon about this one.  It was awesome to go out with confidence even though I’m not a proven entity right now, and I had the courage to believe in myself, that I had the capability to push through when it started to get dark, and persevere right through the finish line.

I will note that this was probably one of the roughest recoveries for a half marathon yet.  I did have brief thoughts mid-race about really going for it and descending my pace another 10-15 second/mile and trying for a sub-2 hour half, but I decided that I didn’t want to jeopardize my PR and played it a *little* cautious so I didn’t fall down on the side of the road at mile 11.  It was a good decision.  My bodily conditions post-race told me that I had absolutely drained the tank.  I could barely walk the next day, staring down curbs like they were mountains to climb.  I took a few days off simply because I was tiiiiiired, yo.  I had some serious meetings on Monday and they. took. everything.  Today is the first day I’ve felt like a normal human.  I’ve felt better after a half ironman, maybe even some of my marathons.

And now, I have the opportunity in few more days to toe the line once more.  I’ll be racing the Indoor Tri on Sunday, and since I’ve done this one on multiple years, it’s a good offseason benchmark.  Hoping to PR all my legs, which would be 19.5 lengths in the pool in 10 minutes (I swam 21 today at a lesser effort so here’s hoping!), 10.4 miles on the bike in 30 minutes, and 2.33 miles in 20 minutes on the run (this one will be the toughest, I haven’t run this fast in FOREVER but with what I did last weekend… anything is possible).  Also excited to finish this little racing block and then move into for reals #preseason training with a plan and heightened attention to nutrition and a little more seriousness.  If this is playtime, I can’t wait to see what a little hunkering down will bring…

Check check one two….

Hi everyone!

For various reasons, life is doing a me a crazy right now, but it looks like it will all resolve itself by the end of January, one way or another.  For now, I’m going to make this a quickie check in post and save the more involved topics for later.

I’m doing my best to take care of my health in ways that I haven’t been motivated to do in months, marking the transition from #offseason to #preseason.  I’ve cut back on booze.  I’ve been tracking my food and eating more veggies.  I’ve tried to rest, however, between allergies, things weighing on my mind both heavy and exciting, and also my body just not used to being rested (either fatigued from workouts or being an idiot), I’ve been having difficulty getting to sleep and staying asleep.

I’m seeing wild variances in my weight on days where I sleep and don’t sleep well, so hopefully once things calm down and my training normalizes, I’ll start seeing some progress.  I am familiar with the process, my weight is a general collective summary of what I’ve done in the past month or so, and I still have weeks of holiday eating to temper with Snap Kitchen and a reasonable deficit.  My weight is settling in around 167-173 (post long run vs morning after eating a larger late dinner), so I’m not too far gone from where I was when I last raced.  All in all, I’m about 2-3 lbs up from Waco weight in 2 months, which is still on average about 18 lbs down from this time last year.

On a day by day basis sometime I feel like this puppers, but overall, it’s peace and I know progress will start soon if I am patient and persistent.  I need to keep tracking my goals and I’ll get there.

Also, I haven’t started the year this light since perhaps 2010, so that’s had some interesting effects on my training.  I’ve run less times since October 28th than I can count on both hands, but I’ve settled into a nice place where 10:30/mile, give or take, is my happy easy pace.  I did 10 miles there the first weekend of January and it felt like a warm hug, at least a warm hug with some muscle soreness.  My legs are lacking the strength and base to sustain a lot of miles right now.  I’m currently pursuing a crash course to meet the minimum goal of finishing a half marathon, but for each run I undertake, I seem to be as good as I once was.

On Saturday, I did all sorts of stupid shit.  First of all, the week before the race, I ran my longest training run, clocking 12 miles.  My Clifton 1s arrived a few days before, so I took on those miles in brand new shoes, which is a HUGE faux pas.  Nevertheless, with a new playlist, mind addled with WAY too many things on it, and squeaky kicks, I started to pound the pavement and found that my turnover and cadence felt AMAZING and the paces on my watch agreed.

At first, I started to pull back when I saw myself running 9 minute miles, but then I decided to have some effing confidence and stick with it.  While I won’t try to fool myself and say the entire run was easy peasy lemon squeezy, it certainly wasn’t race effort and I ran the 12 miles approximately at my half marathon PR pace, y’know, the one I’ve been trying desperately to crack since November 2010.  I spent the first half in my head working through all the various things rattling around up there, and then the last half, I let the effort surpass those mental machinations.  By the time it got hard I was so close to the end, I just stuck with it and even negative split that mother.  It was one of those magical runs that gives you the tingles when you think about it.

I’m excited to toe the line this weekend and see if there’s a second effort in there in that same zip code.  Instead of the hot and humid we had last year, the pendulum has swung the opposite direction and it should be one of the coldest mornings on record (in the 20s, possibly feels-like-teens with windchill).  I know that when I’m running, I’ll be fine, I just have to prepare properly for pre- and post-race layers.  I have no expectations on the time on the clock when I finish but I do have a little more optimism than I did a few weeks ago about heading into a race so undertrained. 

There have been swims, there have been weights (once a week each), and I did conquer a FTP (functional threshold power) last week.  My previous measurement right in the thick of training mid-summer last year was 179 watts.  Considering that test was probably the last speedwork I have done as I was ramping up for a half ironman, I absolutely knew it had faded a bit.  I decided to aim for 160 watts, and I ended up with an FTP of exactly 160 watts, knowing I could have pushed harder.  I’m pretty chill with a loss of 19 watts considering it’s pre-season.  I’m hoping that next month, my watts will be above my weight because their trajectories should be bisecting each other soon.

I’ve spent the majority of the rest of my free time focused on some nerdy shit.  I’m finished off a fantastic Sci Fi book series – Space Team – at least until more are written, which inspired me over the break to write a choose your own adventure (they’re a bit out of order but the text is there) in the same style and possibly explore penning something longer form as well.  I’m marathoning a fantastic show called Critical Role, where voice actors play Dungeons&Dragons, and I’m hooked.  I’m currently reading some books in the Lit RPG classification (books where tabletop role playing game players end up IN the game), previously Creatures&Caverns and my current books are Spells, Swords, & Stealth

I’m also leaning into the ridiculousness of my Bard character in OUR tabletop game.  I’ve started writing session recaps in my character’s voice (which is fantastic writing practice and just plain fun to do), getting really into the story’s investigations like woah, and just coming up with clever and crazy shit.  It’s amusing me to no end, and anything that makes me smile this much is something worth doing in my book.

I’m 100% eyes wide open that this is an escape into fantasy land because real life feels kind of heavy right now.  I wrestled with it for a while, but I’ve got no shame following this path because it feels like something I should do.  In the last few months, I’ve become more engaged in my writing, enjoying “costuming” myself, and I’ve picked up music again.  I feel like some of the ludicrous things I do and plan to do during these sessions are also great exercises in confidence, taking risks, and practice in asking forgiveness not permission, which will be key in some other things I need to conquer this year.   

Actually, screw forgiveness as well.  I don’t need to be sorry for the things that I am.  I just need to forge ahead and let things fall in my wake as they may as long as my conscience is sound. 2019 is about telling the haters in my head, those negative evil voices that say that I’m taking up too much space in the world, telling all that noise and nonsense to kindly take a long walk off a short pier.

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