Adjusted Reality

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

Eighth time’s a charm – Lake Pflugerville Sprint Triathlon

Saturday morning at 5:30am I was awake popping copious amounts of aleve and cursing being a girl.

Post swim was the best I felt yesterday.  I truly am a fish.

I’m not entirely sure why my body, which is usually a trooper, has to go into conniption fits for about a day once a month, but it’s just one of those things that it means to be me.  I’ve asked multiple doctors and health professionals about it (since all my exams have come back normal) and I’ve gotten answers from “well, just start taking painkillers when you THINK you’re about to start” (no) and “it’s just part of the process” (sad trombone).

This is all well and good until you wake up on race day feeling like a bloated, exhausted, painful monster.  I’m thankful it was the day before instead, but it hit me really really hard this month and I was a zombie on Saturday.  I woke up at 10:30am, and barely dragged my ass around to do all the packet pickup and lunch (Jason’s Deli) and swim and groceries things, and was pretty much ready to be back in bed after. I watched some TV and had dinner (chicken and air-fried potatoes) and did my normal transition practice and sadly, when I got to bed, I couldn’t fall asleep right away, but I did get almost 6.5 hours and I upgraded to halfway zombified when I woke up at 5am Sunday morning.

For some reason, waking up in the camper is a little easier, but with our own walls we were able to blare the music nice and loud and enjoy a cup of tea, the typical sunbutter honey english muffin, and two caff beans sitting at my counter.  To be honest, I wasn’t sure if it was enough that morning but I told myself I could have more once I got to my bike.

We lucked out and two people on the primo rack (closest to bike out) had taken up ENTIRELY too much room, so we squeezed our bikes in (I take up about 1 ft of space) and filled bottles and pottied and did all the normal pre-race stuff in what felt like the perfect amount of time (getting to transition about 45 minutes before closing seems to be the sweet spot – not being rushed but not too much standing around).  At the last minute I popped two 303 (herbal muscle relaxers) to hedge my bets on any residual cramps.  I was the first one of our little group taking off in wave 8, so I wandered over to the start, and spent a little time psyching myself up.  I wasn’t sure if today was going to be a complete shitshow or a decent day but it would all be over in about 90 minutes, give or take.

Love all these goofballs that came to cheer us on!!!

Swim:

Wave starts always catch me off guard, they used to be the norm and I’ve done plenty, but I’ve gotten spoiled with time trial starts and I forgot how combative they are.  Not Ironman-level kung fu judo chopping or anything, but definitely a lot of jostling for position.  I made it a goal to try and find feet to draft on, and I was actually fairly successful for the first half, but after the turnaround I just kept knocking into people or finding open water, so I just kept my efforts calm and tried to focus on good body position.

I swam until my body didn’t really fit in the water anymore and then high-kneed it out to transition.

Swim time: 11:05 (2:13/100m) 3/10 AG  This is my best in 8 years by 5 seconds (it’s always a little long, my Garmin recorded 596 yards and my sighting was pretty spot on).  To be fair, it’s only 40 seconds better than my worst showing in 2013.  I’m pretty consistent and I haven’t put much work over the years into swimming, and that goes doubly so this season.  I will say I think I got out of the water a lot fresher than I have in the past, as I really do think of the swim as a warmup for the rest of the race and rarely push it past the “I’m doing some work” feeling.

T1:

I think a spring of walking on the Addisage sandals have toughened up my feet, as I felt like I could run at a pretty nice clip even on the gravel sections.  Everything went smoothly and I got out of T1 quickly.  Technically, this is part of my bike time since I was over the mount line, but the only noob thing I did was not adjust my gearing (my TT bike had just been sitting in the garage since the last race) and it was very hard to get clipped in and going because I was in a very big gear and that was a few seconds of futzing.

T1 time: 2:13 6/10 AG.  I’m actually kind of confused by this because I thought I was pretty speedy and efficient, and it’s my best here yet by 2 seconds, but apparently I sucked compared to my 35-39 ladies.  *shrug*

No bike pics yet so you get my “stock footage” from the last race.  Are you sick of this one yet?  I’m not!

Bike:

After the clipping fiasco, I got going.  I know this course like the back of my hand (it’s the Jack’s Generic course and we ride the first half of it all the time), so I knew there was no reason to do anything but coast down the first hill into the turn.  Two girls passed me in that section, and as soon as I hit the turn, I went hunting.  I caught them within half a mile and just concentrated on eating my gel ASAP (cracking it open before the race REALLY helps a lot).  That went down fine, but I had oopsed and made my gatorade too strong.  It was undrinkable.  I took a few sips of it and almost spit it out because it was like sludge, but that’s ok on a sprint (I barely drink anything anyway).

Even with the questionable body condition and the lack of palatable hydration, I was feeling rather strong so I went to war.  I concentrated on staying in aero and passing as many people as I could.  Some of the super fast guys caught me but I was not passed by anyone of my gender again.  My goal was to try to hold 20 mph on the way out because I usually slow down on the way back (that tends to be where the wind is), but we actually ended up with it from the northeast, which meant the almost 20 mph I held the first half was with a headwind or crosswind, and made for a nice trip back.

I should have probably pushed the last couple miles harder if I was looking for the absolute best bike split, but the roads were so terrible and bumpy.  I let myself take my foot off the gas for a bit from the gasp-fest that was the first half and instead watched the road and prepared my legs (and brain) for the run.

Bike time: 39:55 for 21 mph 2/10 AG (10th overall female bike split).   My Garmin said right about 20, so I think this is a little generous, but just like Kerrville last year, I will take it.  I improved upon last year’s ride by five whole minutes (same course, just backwards).  Zliten put it best by saying that he feels like he’s one with his TT bike when he rides it now.  I feel the same way this season.  Death Star and I are pretty in sync now.

T2:

Everything went without incident.  I had planned on grabbing my frozen water bottle but I didn’t feel that hot and I hadn’t ran with it in months, so I took a few seconds to take a cold sip of nuun and left it.

T2 time: 1:17 5/10 AG  Seriously, I don’t know.  I know I took 5 extra seconds getting a sip of my bottle but I usually place HIGHER in transition than the actual sports.  Maybe the spot I thought was primo was actually further away?  Again, *shrug*.  Best here by 2 seconds.

How strong does BSS member Rachel (with smiley Courtney behind her) look finishing her first triathlon? 🙂

Run:

I ran out and up the hill and got going and everything felt predictably awful.  I had reminded myself the night before when going through my race plan that it would, so it didn’t freak me out as much as normal.  I hate this run.  I’ve done it a lot, so I’m comfortable with it’s suck, but I really really really hate running on kitty litter with no shade.

Physically, to keep myself running as well as possible, I tried to stay more up on my toes, keep driving with my hips to lengthen my stride, and swing my arms to touch my waistband.  Mentally, I kept reminding myself that I had just completed a friggin’ phenomenal bike ride, and I probably had a place on the podium if I could hang on, dig in, and not let any girls in my age group pass me.

Only two women passed me, and both were in their 50s and running like wild badasses, so I tried to ride their momentum for a while and then let them go.  Near the end, my teammate Lewis passed me and I tried to latch onto him but all that I had was the steady pace that did not waver the whole time.  Running in the heat and the suck felt painful but also somehow methodical – I kept thinking “just keep doing this for 20 more minutes, 17, 15, 10” and my legs kept moving.  They wouldn’t speed up for any sort of finishing kick, but all 3 mile splits were within 3 seconds of each other so I’d call that some even pacing.

Run time: 27:50 (9:16/mile) 4/10 AG.  This is a run PR for me here.  Technically by only 17 seconds, but that was from 6 years ago when I considered myself a runner who dabbled in triathlons vs running now being my weakest sport.  While I keep getting down on myself for not being able to hold that 8 minute/mile pace in races that I have sometimes in practice, I am showing steady improvement.  I have long term plans on how to make this better but for right now, I’m happy that my run has been SOLID this season, if not super fast.

Overall time: 1:22:21 3/10 AG. 

Look at my shiny plastic thingeeee!

I am over the moon with this result.  I feel like I nailed the bike even better than I have been.  I fought hard for that run, even if it wasn’t quite as fast as I would have liked.  I PR’d all three legs of the race (+ transitions), and for one that I’ve done for eight years in a row in various states of form and fitness, that’s actually quite a big accomplishment.  This resulted in an over 8 minute PR at this particular race (previously 1:30:30, Pflugerville 2015), and an over 4 minute PR on this course (1:26:33, Jack’s Generic 2016).  I also took back the house Lake Pflugerville title by 30 seconds, which hasn’t been mine in a long time.  Sorry, Zliten.  Better luck next year. 🙂

And, finally, with this fourth podium out of the five races this spring, I think I can finally dismiss the feeling of it all being a big fluke.  I think I can finally say out loud and with confidence that my case of the proverbial triathlon yips has passed for now.  At the local sprint triathlon level, I can put together a solid race that I’m proud of time and time again.  I’m good enough at this particular thing now to race for the podium, with an 80% success rate.  I think I can finally stick that feather in my cap and call it macaroni.

Lucky #wattagecottage hat and socks. 

It was a really great day racing with Team Bicycle Sport Shop.  We had a big handful of teammates racing and also a bunch of supporters.  Can’t thank everyone enough who just came to cheer! It’s always a little boost on the run when you know you’re going to see some friendly faces yelling your name at the finish.

Now I’m looking forward to a quick summer’s nap before hitting Coz 70.3 training hard – the next three weeks, the only requirement on the schedule is lifting at least twice a week, swim bike and run are to be applied AS DESIRED (sessions, distances, paces).  I already want to swim and ride today, which is a good sign, but with how SORE and TIRED I am, I’m taking myself right to bed after supper and getting one more long night of sleep first.

Kick the tires and start the pfires

Pflugerville is my 8th race this year.  I’ve had a lot of fun this spring, and I feel like I’ve gotten decent at the whole sprint triathlon process by repetition, but I’m ready for a little break.

One more outing for this kit and then it gets a rest.

However, let’s kick the tires and light the fires one more time, because Sunday, Sunday, SUNDAY, we race our 8th Lake Pflugerville Tri.  At this point, my legs pretty much have what they have, so this week has been more about doing stuff I feel like doing when I feel like doing it.  I am the most meticulous coach ever but it’s officially my last week of season Pt 1, and I’m ready for it.

Last week

  • 15 min bike, 30 min bike, 32 min bike (race)
  • 1 weights session (race week, that’s fine)
  • 2 mile run, 2 mile run (race)
  • 1050yd swim, 200m swim (race)

So yeah, not much.  3.25 hours.  There will be plenty of time to smash myself, right now is not one of them.

This week has been/will be:

  • Monday: Shoal Roll!  Bikes with friends.  This also counts as my heat training for the week.
  • Tuesday: weights at the gym (early enough in the week so I won’t be affected race day)
  • Thursday: AM 3 mile run with striders (working on the feeling I need during the race)
  • Friday: random outdoor 45 min bike ride
  • Saturday: swim (probably open water)
  • Sunday: RACE!

Looking at last year’s results, with what I know I can do on an average day this year, I’ll be in the mix for a podium slot.   I should be through the swim and out of transition in about 13-14 minutes.  I’m hoping to bike about 19 mph, which would have me through transition two in a little under an hour.  If I can do that, which is well within my capabilities, it’s all about the run I can produce.  I’m probably going to have to set a run PR here to do it, but honestly, it’s not going to be that hard because I’m in better shape than I have been in years.  So, it’s all up to how bad I want it, chasing down people on the stupid kitty litter trail.

On one hand, it would be nice to cap the season pt 1 with a podium, and prove to myself I can do that in Austin races, and not just out of town.  On the other hand, I’ve had such a great spring I won’t be heartbroken if I don’t.  All I can do is go out there and race my ass off, which I plan to do!

Hopefully with much less heel striking…

I’m actually mimicing a body shape and preparation from 2014, when I was weighing in the low to mid-170s and specifically trained for short course triathlon, where I did really really well.  So, I have high hopes.

I didn’t have the most stellar week in nutrition land last week.  I did just fine on the weekdays, but our grill going out/being so hangry I needed a salad and an appetizer made Friday night’s meal WAYYYY more calories than normal.  Then, after the race Saturday, vegetables were positively repulsive to me but I was super hungry, so that went to the tune of about an 800 calorie surplus over what I burned.  Sunday, I let myself indulge a little bit and ate some pizza I was craving and went slightly over the calories I burned as well.  So, my numbers are going to look like crap, but here they are:

  • Average Calorie Burn: 2190
  • Average Calories Eaten: 1924 (-266 deficit)
  • Average Diet Quality: 19
  • Weight trend change: -0.4 (176.9 to 176.5)

All I can do is own it.  I should have packed up half my dinner on Friday, but I ate it to the point of being uncomfortably stuffed, probably influenced by the fact that I was peeved about the situation.  I tried to eat immediately post race on Saturday, but a spicy kielbasa wrap did not sit well at 8:30am, so I made it through barely half and didn’t eat again til 1pm when I was utterly starving and remained in that state pretty much all day.  I have just recently found these protein chips and I think I will be packing a bag of them for after every race from now on, just in case the food is unappealing.  Maybe that will help?  And then, my husband is the opposite – not much appetite the day of, but the day after he’s a hunger monster, which leads me to overeat that day too sometimes (this being one of them).

In the grand scheme of things, it’s one weekend.  But I have a few of these “just one weekends” coming up and unless I want to call the weight loss progress right here right now (and I don’t), I need to step it up.

It’s still going down, but flattening out a bit.  I’m going to endeavor to work a little harder the rest of the month to increase the angle downward a bit.

Besides just the normal, I know I need to do these things on Sunday:

  • Eat a thing as quickly as possible after the race.  They always have pizza, half a slice of that should actually be wonderful post race filling fuel and I can usually stomach that post race.
  • When I get home, have food ready that’s at my fingertips that is both filling and voluminous and also low calorie.  My goal will be to plow through as many positive diet quality points as possible (fruit, veggies, whole grains, lean protein) as possible quickly in as few calories as possible.
  • Stop at 1 post race beer (so many calories!) until I can get home and have much lower calorie beverages (or bring light beers to put in the team cooler).

This next week is that wonderful week where I make no progress because my body is angry about the lack of my procreation, so I’ll probably get back to this reporting (not logging, I do that daily still) in two weeks when the curve starts to slope down again.

I finally culled, edited, and posted my vacation photos from my camera.  I was hoping to get maybe half a dozen to a dozen shots I wanted to submit to various photo sites and I came up with 28.  Most sites want something like 10-15 for the application process, so at least I have something to work with.  Submitting photos that are rejected doesn’t preclude me from trying again after the next vacation with a new set, so worst case I get some feedback on what I’m doing wrong and become a better photographer.  Best case, they like my photos and I can make a little money doing something I love anyway.

Also, that means I’ll post about my vacation next week.  Honestly, I’ve written about cruises so much, it will be a photo dump with some words. 😉

Randomly, I can check two of my adulting things off my 2018 list.  Zliten found us a “do your own will” site, and in less than 30 minutes I had that done.  My situation is pretty simple so it was easy to do.  Also, they had a optional pain management section, to which I succinctly said, “I’m an Ironman, I can take it”, so I took it SUPER seriously, but the important parts are filled out and official.

Sadly, I haven’t seen our feral cat, Wookie, since we came back from vacation (and he was around at least every other day before).  I’m hoping someone took him in and gave him a forever home, but I’m not that optimistic about that.  This one wasn’t really “our” cat, and was definitely feral and not friendly, but he visited enough I wanted to make sure he got fixed.

So, potentially sad circumstances aside – 2/5ths done.  Financial planner, organization, and a small construction/cleaning projected to go.  If I was motivated I could probably knock all this out in a weekend but I’m… not.

And, that’s not a bad way to leave a Friday.  See you on the other side!

All’s well that ends well – Windcrest Freshman Tri

It’s always weird when the drive to the venue is longer than the race, and this one was no exception.

But it worked out in the end, so let me tell you my tale of the Windcrest Freshman Triathlon.

The day before started completely by rote (yogurt and berries for breakfast, sandwich and salad for lunch), and we even got out of work a little early to make packet pickup and drive the course to scope it out.  Nice roads and nice little community to race in, and the turns didn’t seem AS BAD as I had feared.

We got to camp and got set up and then turned on the grill… nothing.  I finished unpacking while Zliten dithered with it for about 30 minutes and finally we gave up after 8pm and headed out for a pre-race dinner.  When your alarm is set for 4:45am, this is fairly tragic.  We went to Applebees (somewhere reasonably safe) and ordered too much food because by that point, we were HANGRY.  I ate a giant caesar salad, half an order of fries, and almost my entire dinner of grilled chicken, mashed potatoes, and broccoli.

Supposed to be my pre-race meal. 🙁  It was good post race though when we finally got the stove working!

I returned to the camper around 9:30, settled into bed around 10, wondering how badly I’d effed up my race with that super late, super giant meal.

The camper is magical, as I ended up getting some fairly decent sleep (if not quite enough of it at 6 hours), and my body didn’t protest TOO hard when the alarm went off.  I did the normal things – earl grey tea, hot, a sunbutter honey wheat english muffin (I figured I wouldn’t want much of it but the whole thing disappeared in the blink of an eye), two caff beans, and the normal morning dithering.  We left around 5:50 and got to the parking lot just after 6.

This race had us parking at a church a few blocks away and walking our bikes down an alley.  It didn’t look far on the map but seemed never ending in practice.  We got there at 6:20 and the announcer was saying transition was closing in 10 minutes (website said 6:45 so I was confused, I think he was just trying to get people dithering around in there OUT), so we picked a spot on the rack, quickly but deliberately set up our stuff, and hit the potty line.  During the pre-race meeting, my tummy started to rumble again, and during the pre-race prayer, I HAD to run to the bathroom.  No line at least! (No offense to God or whatever, I really really really had to go)

Swim:

We lined up by approximate swim times but that’s always kind of a cluster$%^#.  We ended up about 30th in line (out of 151), and my thought was “gee we’re up far” but my husband was “we should be up further”,  so we stayed there.  They let us go once every 10 seconds, and soon it was my turn and I waded into the pool and then they said START, so I did.

The thing I love about these pool swims is once you get in the water, your path is sort of set.  You can pass people, sure (I did once), and you do if they are significantly slower, but it’s a pain so everyone is just sort of going the same speed.  I don’t like to shell myself on the swim, I think of it as the warmup for when the race really starts, so I was happy to cruise near 2 min/100 pace.

Zliten was right behind me and tickled my toes a few times but I think I successfully let him draft the whole way (which was the plan, I wanted to give him every advantage this time to qualify for Nationals).  I could have pushed it a little more the last lap but I was behind a dude going *slightly* slower so I just cruised it into the wall instead.  Up the stairs (oh yeah, it was a super regulation pool – not really – one side was about 3 feet deep, that was fun), and onto the next.

Swim time: 4:36  2:17/100m. 2/9 AG, 10/69 gender.  IIRC, this also included some of the run to transition because my garmin said it was significantly faster.

T1:

They were kind enough to carpet the entire path to transition.  I suppose this is the one time they actually permit running at the pool!  I had no issues quickly and efficiently transitioning, the only thing that took me an extra second was I was unracking my bike and then Zliten unracked his next to me, so out of habit and politeness, I let him go first.  Not sure why.  I’m not usually that nice.

T1 time: 58 seconds. 1/9 AG, 2/69 gender.  Yeah!

This may be the nicest pictures that anyone’s ever taken of me on the bike.  Expect to see this one as “bike stock footage” over and over. 🙂

Bike:

I started out on the course and something just didn’t feel right.  Not like WRONG but I didn’t feel snappy.  Just one week ago, I was completely laid out with a cold, and while I felt better, this was my first hard effort since, and I think what I thought was feeling 100% was really closer to 90-95%.  I felt like I was pushing hard, but the speed just didn’t match up.  Looking back at my heart rate data, I rolled about 3 bpm higher than normal and I had a weird catch in my breath when I was really pushing it, so yeah, maybe I was just a few shades off complete recovery.  Or, there’s a chance my brakes were slightly rubbing (I haven’t looked yet), or something was just a little bit randomly off with my bike.  I’m banking on ME being the problem though.

Also, this course was not my strength.  I am a wimp when it comes to cornering, I slow down a LOT at turns, and this course had 28 of them in 10 miles.  I tried to push it a little bit more than normal, but a few of the right turns had me shrieking like a little girl due to debris in the road.  Meh.

While I was not super thrilled with my speed, I only had two guys pass me (one of which I passed back).  However, the guy I was concerned about – my husband- was way far ahead.  He’s less of a weenie on the turns.  Also, on the first lap, I got stuck behind a car and he was just ahead, and I had to chug up a (ok, THE ONE) hill while he kept his momentum.  Overall, he just had a little more OOMPH than I did.  I never was able to reel him in and he was out of sight by the end of the second lap.

Bike time: 32:32 – 18.4mph. 1/9 AG, 2/69 gender.  While this PLACEMENT is typically not something to complain about, I’m not thrilled about the pace.  Also, my garmin said the course was short, so my actual pace was closer to 18mph.  There were only about 10 people that went over 20 mph, and the first girl only beat me by about 45 seconds, so it was probably just a hard course but still, I just don’t feel like I did my best here.

T2:

I rolled into transition on a mission to get through quickly.  Racked my bike, shoe off, shoe on, shoe off, shoe on, race belt… race belt?  Where’s my race belt?  My area was kind of destroyed with everything askew, so I rooted around through my area and my husband’s area, and the girl next to me just in case, and I had NO race belt.  At this point, all I could do was go without it, so I ran up to run out and yelled over at the race director “my belt is missing” to which he said, not quite understanding, “where’s your number?” which I answered, “on my race belt, which is missing”, and he waved me through anyway.

T2 time: 1:04. 7/9 AG, 32/69 gender.  A lot more dithering than optimal.  I bet I could have been in and out in 40 seconds. 24 extra seconds actually isn’t that much, but it felt like an eternity.

No race belt, and what the eff am I doing with my arms?

Run:

I think the kerfuffle in T2 affected me more mentally than anything.  I ran out feeling annoyed, and defeated.  In my head, I had lost so much time, I was angry at some external force effing up my race, and the legs that didn’t really want to bike as hard as normal were having trouble with the run too.  I won’t say I gave up, because I was still pushing, but my brain went to some weird scattered places I don’t even remember.

I realize that on the bike, I play offense (chasing people down).  On the run, I play defense (running to not get caught).  Maybe it’s a mindset I should work on, but it really plays to my strengths (or weaknesses), and I spent the first half mile with a dude breathing over my shoulder.  As I approached the golf course, I saw tiny girl that had one of the professional suits with her name on the butt making her way back.  My first thought was “I’m not first female” (not that I expected to be) but then I thought “I bet she’s first, so I’m not that far behind”.

I tried to book the whole way up the golf course, but it was enough of a hill that dude passed me and got ahead.  Once we turned to go back down, the downhill started and I felt oh so relived.  I worked on fixing my stride and arm swing (which I should have done earlier but I got grumpy and distracted) and caught one guy who complimented my pace (gave him a thumbs up) and asked if I wanted to do two more loops (to which I grunted HELL NO), and circled back around to head down to the stick of the lollipop.

On the run back, people who were racing kept cheering for me.  At the time, I was super impressed with how friendly everyone was, and while I didn’t really have any breath to talk, I waved or gave them the thumbs up and smiled before getting back to the pain pace.  Upon reflection later, I realized that because I was the second girl in, they were cheering for me because I was one of the people leading the woman’s race.  That was pretty cool.

Finally the turn came and there was the arch and I could stop running and while I wasn’t stoked about a lot of the race, I was super excited about THAT.

Run time: 20:34 – 9:47/mile. 3/9 AG, 14/69 gender.  Garmin showed slightly faster (9:27/mile).  I didn’t push enough going up the hill (HR, cadence, and stride length show that clearly) and I need to remember to put crap I can’t control out of my head quicker.  In the grand scheme of things, it wouldn’t have changed anything, but seeing 15-20 sec per mile faster on my garmin would have made me feel better about the run in retrospect

Overall finish: 59:41.  1/9 AG, 3/69 gender.

My time goal was under an hour, and I made it, so I was happy there (though I thought I’d have more wiggle room than 19 seconds…).

While nothing about this race felt stellar, I was able to win my age group.  Eight other people showed up and I took first by over 8 minutes for women 35-39.  Not only that, sixty-eight other women showed up, and I was able to out-triathlon all but two of them.  While this is a triathlon that is very newbie friendly, there were plenty of people in team kits and when the race director asked “how many people have done an Ironman” about a quarter of us raised our hands, so it wasn’t as if I was the sore thumb sticking out as a vet triathlete at the race.

And here’s the conundrum.  On one hand, my confidence is a little shot because I felt like my bike performance sucked and I sandbagged myself on the first half of the run.  On the other hand, I didn’t have a perfect day (or lead up), and I was third overall for my gender, and fourth was about four minutes back.  I know it’s a big fish in a little pond scenario, but it’s still a nice feather in the cap.

However, I’m not quite sure how to feel.  I’m trying to go with super frickin’ proud, and I am, but for some reason, I’m missing the validation that this “actually maybe being decent at triathlons” thing isn’t a big fluke that I thought would come with the third podium, second age group win, and first top three gender placement.  Maybe that’s on my brain more than my actual race performance, though I just keep thinking about that bike and run pace and uggggggh, I do better in practice.  See, conundrum!

The good news is I race again in five days, so I don’t have too long to ruminate on this one.

EDIT: oh, the other good news is I got my race belt back.  Someone else grabbed it thinking it was theirs.  Oops!  Hooray!

Mayflowers bring pilgrims. And also June.

It’s June.  How the heck did that happen?

How has it been almost FIVE weeks since this? ><

I know May was a thing but I swear it was shorter than normal, but vacation and being sick does tend to contribute to a weird space time vortex where days disappear faster than the average bear.

After placing some things below the threshold of my attention right now, let me give an update on the things that actually do matter to me.

Training/Racing:

I raced Rookie, and ended up in that 4th slot just off the podium by less than one minute.  While that in and of itself was disappointing, I was something like 11th the last time I raced here and I had almost a 3 minute PR (on a race that’s a little over an hour), there’s clear improvement.  The girl who busted by me like a gazelle running 6-minute miles with half a mile to go clearly deserved the last slot on the podium, so no bad mojo there.

Then, I trained some, not as much as April but more than March.

  • Running: 5 runs for 15 miles + 3.1 miles at a running pace on the elliptical (running on a rocky ship has done me in before, so I don’t do it anymore).
  • Biking: 8 rides for 104 miles.  Not as much as I would have liked but this is where being sick and on vacation really hit my totals.
  • Swim: 6.6k for 6 swims.  As it gets hotter, I’ll do more of this organically.  Looking forward to it, actually!
  • Weights: 10 sessions.  I’m actually quite proud of this.  #getstrong
  • Other: 3 hours scuba diving, 5 hours snorkeling
  • Total: 26.5 hours.  While it feels like nothing, it’s just under an hour every day, and this doesn’t count my walks.  I’m approaching exercise like a healthy normal person!  Feels weird, man.

This month, I’ve got two back to back races again, a little downtime, and then I need to pick a strategy.

First, the races.  I’ll be racing the Windcrest Freshman Triathlon this weekend.  I feel a little cheesy about it, as it’s marketed as a beginner triathlon with a 200m pool swim, 10 mile bike, and 2 mile run, and this is not even close to my first rodeo.  However, we decided on this as our best chance for a Nationals qualifier and we’ve got a strategy to hopefully get Zliten there!  Obviously, it depends on who shows up, and I’ve been sick, so you never know, but I definitely have a shot at AG podiuming, and with a magical unicorn day, winning my AG or placing overall.  I’ll be happy with anything in that zip code but I told Zliten I’d give him all my race mojo so he could try and qualify so that’s really what matters most.

Last Redemption Racing event was my first and only tri podium at the time (and I had a great race), so hoping for the same this weekend!

Then, we race Lake Pflugerville Tri 8 days later.  This is our hometown race, although we don’t train there much any more, we know every inch of the course like the back of our hands.  This is another one, however, that I’ll probably be running for 3rd.  With paces I know I can match this year, that’s where I would have landed in last year’s race (but last year, I was 8 weeks out from IM Texas, so I was struggling to remember how to not drown and also run faster than a snail’s pace so I was 6th).  I like the swim, love the bike, but hate hate hate the run.  Hopefully I can channel a fiery little ball of anger into a great run and place there and close out the first half of the season well.

Then, I plan to take a little break and do whatever for a week or two, and then I need to decide how to proceed.

Right now I am strong and I am fast but I don’t have a lot of endurance.  I’m great at these 60-90 minute races but I’m pretty sure I would fall apart halfway through the run if you put in at the start line of an Olympic right now.  I’m not worried about ramping up the swim, that should be painless.  I’m not worried about the bike, I know that goes rather quickly and I just need to make sure to keep pushing the watts instead of only riding “fun pace”.  However, it’s doubling my typical run these days for Nationals, then doubling again for Sept 30th, without losing all those speed gains I’ve worked hard for this spring that is keeping me up at night a little.

Looking forward to doing more of these types of rides vs always being in the pain cave in our Pain Cave.

So the conundrum I will be solving this month is:

  • How long do I need to take some downtime to feel ready to hit it hard for Cozumel?  A week? Two weeks?  Until after the July 4th holiday?
  • What does that downtime mean?  Minimum requirement is maintaining the weights sessions but is it too much to go play bikes with friends a lot as an enjoyable way of building base?  Should I make sure I get out and run once a week to keep heat acclimation?  Do I completely cut speedwork?
  • When I actually get back to it, what’s the best strategy of splitting the difference between speedwork and volume ramp up without overloading myself too much?

Obviously, look for more about this from my wordy ass as the month progresses. 🙂

In #projectraceweight land, I can report that I successfully made it through a cruise and did not gain weight.

Now that I have the momentum, I seem to be making steady progress of about 1 lb per week, average.  That means, if I can stick with it for another 10 weeks (ironically, until Nationals), then I’ll be at what has been my interim goal weight for about a million years, 165.  That would rule.  I’m really happy with the progress I’m making, and while I definitely miss stuff like pizza and beer post bike ride and definitely DON’T miss being stressed about being invited to social occasions (what’s there to eat? will there be drinking? will this completely blow my calorie budget?), it hasn’t been too bad in retrospect.

Long term, I’d probably like to transition to eating right at what I’m burning sometime in August, and then once I’m done and recovered from 70.3 season, do this whole thing once again (strength work, short races, #projectraceweight take 4) and hopefully next year settle at something closer to my foreverweight.

Here is a thing I put in my mouth on vacation.  I still lost weight because I only had ONE (which is actually 190 calories, and truth – worth them)!

Short term, I just gotta keep making the donuts protein smoothies and doing what I’m doing because it seems to be working.  Metrics below (keep in mind this skipped vacation):

  • Average Calorie Burn: 2211
  • Average Calories Eaten: 1708 (-503 deficit)
  • Average Diet Quality: 22.8
  • Weight trend May 1: 181.4
  • Weight trend May 30: 177.6 (-3.8)

So, considering what was stacked against me last month, I’m totally stoked.

This month’s challenges are:

Race + camping this weekend.  I’ve learned a lot here and now I know that the three keys on race day are:

1) Eat IMMEDIATELY after the race, something substantial with protein and carbs, even if it’s junk food, otherwise I will be a hunger monster the rest of the day.

2) Have healthy filling meals ready to cook.

3) I’m going to go over on calories that day, so make sure the few days after are good, clean, low calorie, nutritious eating to balance it all out.

Racing back to back weekends.  I just need to make sure I follow the above rules, which are easier when I’m at home after the race.

Independence Day (early) party: camping at a friend’s house.  I’ll just make sure I get in some good activity that morning, eat a filling healthy lunch, and enjoy myself while I’m there, within reason.

The rest of the month is honestly mine to fuck up.  I need to keep my blinders on just a little longer and not get distracted.   I’ve lost weight, I’m feeling better about myself, so it’s MUCH easier to go “hey, let’s just get pizza instead of eating the Snap Kitchen meal that’s at home”.  Not yet.  Soon, but not yet.  I’m going to stick with being good like 90% of the time for a little while longer and see what more progress I can make.

Desanos, I miss you most of all.

Since I cut the cord on worrying about most other life and adulting stuff, I don’t have a whole lot to talk about beyond those things.  My very ambitious goals for June are plentiful and below:

  • Finish the book publishing book, knowing that I will absolutely need to re-read it again at some point in the future when I am 100% ready to dive into doing what it takes to get published.
  • Reopen my draft at some point during the month and at least stare at it for five minutes before I get up and walk away.

Far reaching, I know, but June is going to be about getting my head straight and ready to really kick training up a notch, so I don’t need a lot going on here.  Do I have more I’d like to do?  Sure.  These things might rhyme with schotography, fainting, and blovie making, but as I promised, they’re going to be things I do as I FEEL like doing them vs making an arbitrary deadline I set for myself.

Happy almost-Summer everyone!  Hit me up with your favorite indulgence in the comments so I can drool over it!

Drawing my suck lines in sharpie

At the end of races, people run into the finish and then collapse.

I mean, these people are not limping or walking or even jogging their way in, they’re racing their ever-lovin’-hineys off.  Then all of a sudden, once the absence of the need for relentless forward movement is gone, once the goal is met, they have nothing left and find the ground rather quickly.

While I’ve not *quite* had that race experience, I do tend to go at life that way.

Vacation, which deserves it’s own post or two, because the ship was something of a ginormous magnificent work of art and technology, and I saw some REALLY COOL THINGS underwater, was not relaxing.  These cruises where we split as much time as possible with family and also as much time as possible getting pretty pictures underwater are very GO GO GO, and I usually find I’m more exhausted at the end of them than the beginning.  I always forget this going in, when I think, “gee I can’t wait for my relaxing cruise”.  They are WONDERFUL vacations, but they are not RELAXING.

I pulled my first rip cord near the beginning of the trip, when I had planned on finishing up the book publishing book and reading some other sports memoirs as research.  Instead, I needed my brain to relax.  I read pulpy sci fi instead.

Then, I had planned on getting some video footage to put into a live-on-scene video for my You Tube channel.  I just couldn’t bring myself to be ON,  no desire whatsoever.  I also barely glanced at my diving pictures during the trip because I felt pressured (by myself, not anyone else) for them to be awesome since my new camera cost a pretty penny.  What I needed was the absence of stress and I felt MORE of it.

Near the end of the vacation, my digestive system just wasn’t right, and I ended up with a minor stomach bug.  Nothing that made me lay in bed all day and miss having fun on the trip, but it probably helped me to be a little less glutinous near the end of the trip and I felt kinda gross for a few days.  No big.

We planned to have a big ol’ bike adventure on Memorial Day and instead spent the day inside, sleeping, and barely moving off the couch.  I felt mostly back to normal and started to inch the workouts back to normal and then Thursday’s brick workout SUCKED.  Like, my heart rate was spiking for no reason, and it was all I could do to eek out a 10:20/mile run pace at an effort usually reserved for 1-2 minutes faster and I felt wiped as hell after.

I was super worried my body was broken, but then a few hours later the snot monster hit me during my last meeting of the day.  While I was grumpy about having a SECOND illness in the span of a week, at least there was a reason for my terrible workout.  I pulled out a full stop at that point.  I did go to work and get groceries the next day out of necessity, but once I got home, it was on.  Or off.  Over the course of the weekend I read two (pulpy sci fi) books, finished Kings Quest Ep 4, slept about 24 hours, and didn’t give a heckin’ damn about anything originally on my to do list.

I will credit my full stop, with also the application of zinc every 3-4 hours for the entire 3 days, with the fact that I pretty much have gotten over a cold so quickly.  I felt pretty energetic even by Sunday afternoon, where I rode my bike for 45 minutes and then had the oomph to randomly clean out my swimsuit/kits area of the closet which has exploded.  By now, five days later, I feel completely back to normal.

One of the most relaxing moments of vacation was my half-hour massage on Mahahual Beach, and I tried to channel that feeling all weekend.  When I was tucked into my recliner on the couch, with atmospheric electronica music going, deep into some sci fi world 500 years in the future, I could almost feel my body vibrating, healing, stitching itself back together.  I’m not a huge hippie dippie metaphysical person, but there was definitely something good going on internally that I needed to let happen and spur along by just being *still*.

Anyhoo, healing trances aside, I also realized I need to make a stand so I don’t get that broken down again because training is about to get real in the next month.  I am not Superwoman.  I cannot be awesome at everything all the time, not even by pressuring myself to do so and wishing I was with all my might and stressing myself out completely with crazy unrealistic expectations.  Surprising no one, that’s not the path to greatness.

To quote one of my favorite concepts from SwimBikeMom – I’m going to need to pull the Suck Line up a little further for a while (probably the summer) to keep my cup of give-a-crap from running dry.

As of this moment in time, my house is now at the state my house will be at until I decide to give a flying fig, which could be as soon as tomorrow and as late as never.  I go nuts if my laundry isn’t done once a week so that will happen and it needs to be picked up enough to have our service come through and clean every two weeks.  Everything else can do as it will until I decide to make it a priority in my life again.

They say turning your hobby into a job sucks the life out of it.  I don’t completely agree, but ever since I got the nice new camera and decided I was going to try and start submitting photos to see if I could make it a minor revenue stream, it became this whole *pressure* thing.  After going through half my vacation photos, I have learned that

a) I am nowhere near professional grade with the on-land pictures thing, I have a lot to learn about how to take pictures with this camera, and as a whole, and

b) I’m guessing I probably have somewhere between half a dozen and a dozen underwater shots that I might feel comfortable submitting to a professional site once I edit them. I might get shot down, but even in the terrible conditions and crappy weather, I got a few gems and actually learned a lot about how to properly light and focus things.

My first instinct, like usual, is that I need to double down and study photography composition and get a bunch of lenses and take some classes and do a bunch of internet research and stalk all sorts of great photographers on instagram.  But then again, rather than take myself back to school and do a graduate thesis over yet another budding hobby vying for my precious free time, for now, it’s probably better to just TAKE MORE PICTURES and when some of them end up being cool, figure out what I did and do that again.

I wrote the last words of the last draft of my book in April, and haven’t touched it since.  It’s stressing me out because it’s becoming too real, says the girl who is apparently afraid of achieving a life long goal.  Why this is any different than my blog which I blather on incessantly, I have no idea.  But somehow it is.  Reading the publishing book has been insanely informative but also is overwhelming me with all the things I didn’t know I needed to know, so that’s helped and hurt at the same time.  Apparently, very little about becoming a published author is about writing the book.  Who knew?

Then, there’s my painting and jewelry and movies and all the other creative stuff I really like doing.  However, instead of being enjoyable hobbies I dabble in, I’ve put them on timers and on to do lists, so they’ve become tasks I MUST do.  Not because I don’t love to do them, but because I’m being a dumbass.  Like the other things above, I’m putting pressure on myself to both produce these creative works at a scheduled rate, and be awesome at all of them at the same time, while balancing life, work, triathlon, and trying to lose weight.

See, here’s the thing.  I grew up being judged, at the most literal sense of the world.  I was a gymnast, and my progress was graded (and gated) by a panel of judges.  I spent years with my ego, soul, talent, and, let’s face it, since leotards are just basically an indoor bathing suit so also my BODY bared to the world performing for a subjective score that would rank me above and below other people.  I spent my latter high school years doing the same thing except face first into a pool of water.  Then I spent my college years auditioning on stage – it was nice to be fully clothed, certainly, but in theater, there’s no absence of baring your soul and talents to be weighed, measured, and often found wanting.

I spent twenty years literally dancing for my (approval) supper.  I did it entirely by choice, but once I left college and got my first job?  It was honestly kind of refreshing just to wake up, go to work, come home, play video games, eat food, maybe drink some cheap vodka if I had a few extra bucks, and go to bed.  I didn’t have to prove anything to anyone.  It was kind of a respite until I got bored and started putting myself out there, showcasing my creative talents for subjective judging, bucking for promotions.

Running and triathlon was a fresh change of pace for a hobby in that the impartial clock dictates who wins.  A judge doesn’t come in and deduct points because of bad swolf on my swim stroke or penalize me for coming out of aero on the bike or decide that my degree of difficulty multiplier should be lower because I didn’t transition from my bike to my run quick enough.  It was GO and then STOP.  And for the first many, many, many years, it was competition with myself.  Then myself and Zliten and our group of friends but always friendly and never for anything but bragging rights.

This last revolution around the sun, I’ve found that I’m close enough to be in contention to podium at some of these local races.  Racing other people instead of just the clock adds in that wildcard back in where all of a sudden, the goalpost might change from having to bike x fast to hit a PR to having to bike x+1 fast to chase down the gal in 3rd.  I’ve relished the challenge and I think it’s made me a better athlete to race with that particular focus, and I KNOW it’s made me care more about racing, which is a huge relief after the last few apathetic years.

However, I definitely feel a little more mental fatigue because, y’know, caring takes effort.  I’m not showing up to races this year to have fun and hang out.  I’m there to focus and compete and hunt people down and do what I can to win or get as close as I can.   It’s a great feeling, but it takes a little more OOMPH than just showing up and seeing what happens. It also feels a little more like my gymnastics and diving days, where I am actually concerned about what others are doing because it directly affects my rank and determines whether I achieve my goals.

It will honestly be a bit of a relief to finish my last two sprints of the year where I have a chance and move on to the rest of the season.  Nationals, Cozumel 70.3, mayyyyybe Waco 70.3.  In these races, I have no opportunity other than either an out of body experience or lightning striking the top half of my age group of standing on the podium.  The feeling of being a little fish in a big pond.  No expectations other than just racing my ass off against the clock.  It will either be amazing or a total letdown, I’m not sure which yet.

I REALLY LOVE the little bit of momentum I found with some early season successes, but in true form, I feel a little fraudulent right now.   I, for many years, have self-identified as a mid-to-back of the pack athlete, and my improvements have been so incremental over the years that I still keep thinking that my 1st, 3rd, and 4th earlier this year have to have been because of extenuating circumstances, that I don’t deserve the fluke which was my Nationals qualifier.  Who am I to be good at this stuff?  I better keep proving it over and over until I actually believe it, right?

*cue David Bowie’s Under Pressure*

It’s just like the dumb expectations I’m putting on myself that my pictures need to be great because I spent the money on a good camera.  My paintings need to be good immediately because a million years ago I used to regularly do art and considered myself an artist and that can’t have stagnated a little in the last fifteen years, right?  My first draft of my book better be amazing because I’ve wanted to be an author for most of my life.  Even *I’m* looking at this thinking, “What the fuck, self?” but that doesn’t stop me thinking it.

It’s like all the childhood desires to be an author, a painter, a photographer, a creative genius awoke in me all at once this year, and I’ve been playing whack a mole with them trying to keep up with being a successful triathlete, good manager, and decent human being.  I enjoy a challenge, but it’s just too much at once right now.  It’s exhausting trying to be amazing at all the things all the time.  That way lies madness.  I’ve been down that road before and I’d rather turn around now before I end up rocking back and forth in a padded room somewhere quiet.

So, as of right now, the suck line needs to be drawn in sharpie (like another one of my favorite OG bloggers says).  Here are the things I care about:

  • Making sure I don’t drive my husband into the loony bin by overloading us with all the things.  Just most of the things.
  • Maintaining my diet program until the absolute last minute when it becomes impossible with 70.3 training.  I’m actually making substantial progress for the first time in forever, so I’d like to ride this wave as long as healthily possible.
  • Triathlon.  I’m really enjoying racing this year.  I’m excited to see what I can eek out of my legs in the next two weekends, enjoy the experience at Nationals, and go after some PRs at the 70.3 distance.  I’m also excited to get back to a few months of the endurance training I know and love and be comfortably exhausted for a while.
  • Having my family and close friends not disown me because I don’t see them ever.  Maybe not as often as we all would like, but enough so I remember what they look like and be there for the big things.  While I may not show up to every little thing, it’s important to me to not be a flake and to not completely disappear down a hole during training.
  • Work, standing obligations and the minimum level of adulting needed to deliver me to the other side of the season in tact with my life not completely in shambles.
  • The book.  Of all the artsy fartsy things I’ve gotten distracted with lately, THIS was the focus this year so it remains above the suck line.  I’m hoping with a few more weeks of distance from it and permission to ignore other things, I’ll feel less overwhelmed about it.

Below the suck line are too many things to list but include:

  • House organizational or remodel projects or really giving a crap if something is out of place.
  • Photos and being the most amazing photographer ever.
  • Videos and having a super popular You Tube channel.
  • Somehow magically being an amazing marketing/PR person.
  • Jewelry making and having a shop on Etsy.
  • Painting masterpieces on a regular schedule.
  • Advanced level adulting that is not urgent or time sensitive.
  • Feeling bad that I don’t make as many team rides as I feel like I should but haven’t fit with my training (or diet, regarding the social gatherings after)

It’s nice to list these things out and wave goodbye to them while I focus on the top six.  It’s not to say I’ll put all my painting stuff down for months or not submit my photos or have a moment where I go in search of learning about how to be popular on the YouTubes or research camera tricks, but I no longer have a time table on these things.  Furthermore, I am henceforth disallowed for judging myself harshly for either the absence of effort or the lack of being amazing in any of these areas.

Triathlon, #projectraceweight, minimal adulting, being a decent (I’m not even going for amazing or great) friend/family member, progress towards being an author.  My head is a little clearer and my focus is set.  Now, let’s bring on the summer!

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