Adjusted Reality

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

Month: August 2010

I Kicked Nature’s Ass

Today was my first open water swim in many, many, many years.  It’s been at LEAST a dozen years since I really swam in a non-chlorinated body of water.

I had not really faced the fact that I really had to do this until I found I was hesitating to sign up for the tri.  I literally waited until the last minute, Saturday night at around midnight (the price went up the next day).  I couldn’t figure out what the problem was, why I had issues clicking the button.  I’ve proven that I can do twice the bike and run distance back to back.  I’ve proven that I can swim WELL beyond the 500m required.  I wasn’t sure what the problem was.  Then I remembered the whole open water thing.

I decided to sign up anyway, figuring worst case I’d be uncomfortable, get through it, and be better next time.  I read up on forums and sites and everything, and heard stories and accounts of people freaking out their first time swimming in open water.  That made my decision easy – I had to find a way to try it before the race.  However, I convinced myself it was just in the spirit of not having any surprises on race day.  I’ve swam in my singlet, I’ve gone swim to bike to run, I’ve done just about everything to prepare I can think of – that was one of the only missing pieces.  I didn’t figure the open water would faze me.

I’ve got BIG PLANZ this weekend with friends in from out of town, so today was the day.  I was hoping to get into the facility up the street from work, but found out it was TWENTY BUCKS for a day pass, so I searched for another place – I was solo so it had to be somewhere with lifeguards and other people.  Barton Springs Pool it was.  Three dollars for entry is much more reasonable.  However, it’s 68 degrees in there year round.  For someone that runs about 10 degrees colder than the rest of the world, I expected that to be my biggest problem.

After work, I moseyed down there, paid my cash, and went in.  I was a little nervous by then but excited, as I always am for new and exciting experiences.  My toe dipped in the water and it was a bit freezy, but not as bad as I expected.  It took me at least 5 minutes to get down the steps, but once my bottom half was acclimated to the water, I dove in and got ready to swim some laps.

That’s when the totally unexpected freak out occured.  Holy SHIT there is nature here.  I don’t know what I was expecting, but this was so different than the bottom of a pool.  I was ok as long as I kept my head above water, but anytime I went under, I found it a little hard to breathe.  I tried to swim all the way to the end of the dammed off area but I just couldn’t make it and turned around and went back to the shallow side (I got in right about halfway between).  Every time I put my head under things were just too much.  Plants!  They even touched me in some spots!  Fish!  Living creatures!  Freaky, freaky nature all up in my bidness.

I retreated to the shallow, feeling sort of pissed off, disappointed in myself, and defeated.  I regrouped, and started again from shallow water, where I found I was actually fine.  The first drop off startled me, but I was able to keep my composure.  The next drop off wasn’t too bad.  The next fish I saw made me jump a little, and then I realized that I had this experience 13 years ago.  I even paid for it.  It’s called fucking snorkling.  I became more and more comfortable with everything and saw the end in sight.  I was going for it.

However, the plants kept fucking with me.  For some reason, more frightening then live things swimming around, more frightening than anything, was the areas where the plants reached almost up to the surface.  I had to summon logic-brain to talk sense into silly brain.  Plants don’t eat you.  Plants don’t harm me in any way.  Plants don’t even feel all that icky.  I felt a little less anxious, and silly for feeling that way, but definitely not comfortable swimming through the area with high plants.  I almost convinced myself I had made enough of my point and turned around again and then I looked at that wall.  It was maybe 100 feet away.  I decided I was not going to quit 100 feet from the wall.  I swam through all the NATURE until I touched that damn wall and turned around.

I felt awesome and accomplished but still had to navigate back through the plants.  Something happened though – I didn’t mind as much.  The fish started to become my friends, when I saw one, I would take a few extra underwater strokes so I could see it longer.  The plants, I realized, were just plants.  I took about 3 lengths down and back of the 1000 foot expanse, each time, it got easier until the last time I realized I was just about as comfortable as in the pool.  The first two laps, I definitely had to psych myself up and say little things in my head like, “I am kicking nature’s ass” and “I’m a fish!  Wheee!”  and “Yay for boobies, I have natural floatation devices”.   The last one, I was just thinking about my day and dinner and work tomorrow and then I knew I had done enough.  I looked around, and the sun was setting, and when I asked the lifeguard for the time it had been an hour.

Holy crap!  An hour swimming with nature and I had stopped all of twice – for less than a minute to adjust my goggles at the shallow side.   I didn’t feel tired at all… til I got out.   Then the muscle fatigue and shakiness set in (good to know for the swim/bike transition for the longer distance), but I was way too proud of myself to be buggered about it.  I was also happy that I realized that at no time was I freaked out because I couldn’t touch bottom.  The SANE thing to worry about didn’t really bother me at all.

I am so so so so so glad I decided to do this before the race.  I’m pretty sure I would have made it, I”m a tough cookie, but dang that would have been a WAY worse experience with a thousand people kicking me in the face.  Definitely doing one more sesh there next week before the race.

I’m also happy I *did* it.  It would have been so easy to just not sign up.  This was way out of my comfort zone.  Old me would have made some excuse about having to drive all the way across town on a weekday and that it wasn’t convient and I didn’t have enough time to really properly train anyway so I might as well do it another time.  Me this year put my foot down and said fuck it – I will conquer it, I will do what it takes, and there are no excuses.  Like nike says, just do it.

So, I mentioned ONE of the things was open water.  The other is heat training/acclimation.  I forgot how brutal it is when you’re not used to it.  As much as I thought “it’s only a 5k” and “I ran a half marathon in this” – I have to remember that I only succeeded at that half in 80’s (that felt like 90s with humidity) because I trained 100% outside.  I had a great and powerful slap in the face courtesy of a 5k I ran Tuesday morning.  It felt like I was wading through soup and it was all I could do to keep a 10 min/mile pace.  Tomorrow, I’m heading out in the morning for a bike ride in the heat as well.  It takes 2 weeks to get acclimated to exertion in the heat, and two weeks is what I got.  Can’t say I’ll be sad to bring my training back inside for the rest of August after this, but you gotta do whatcha gotta do.

If last week was the week of discovering new muscles and making them hurt, this week was the week of kicking nature’s ass.  Tuesday by surviving my run (seriously pukeworthy), today by swimming with living things, and tomorrow I’ll be terrorizing the ‘hood and tearing it up with a 12 mile ride.  What have you kicked in the ass this week?

Pavlovian Response

Sometimes you just gotta roll with the punches.  On the heels of my two epic ride/runs last week, it was time for something completely different.  We started the new gym on Monday.  In some aspects, it was great.  I finally have a pool to swim in regularly.  Yoga, spinning, and weights classes have been fantastic.  They provide towels and everyone is very very friendly.  However, the whole 30 minute limit on cardio equipment is a huge buzzkill.  As well as said cardio equipment being older than sin (though they are replacing about half of it within the month, so I can’t bitch too too much).

My instincts told me to try out what the gym does WELL otherwise I would be completely dissatisfied, so my workout schedule was completely different than normal.  Even though calorie-burn wise it was definitely not my norm, my body feels WORKED, because it was all something different.  I haven’t lost any significant weight since I started at the old gym.  Maybe encouraging different types of workout will help.

However, I gotta get through the next few months before really giving that a go.  It was a nice break, but I’m 2 weeks out from my sprint tri and less than 2 months out from my olympic, and in 3.5, another half marathon.  Once it gets temperate again, it won’t be as important to have cardio equipment, but it’s going to be MAJOR important for this second tri.  So I’ll be keeping my 10$/mo gym membership at the cheap gym for the time being.  Zliten didn’t get a chance to check out this gym much because he got sick this week (boo), so I don’t think we’ll be signing up right away.

So, we’re down to t-minus 2 weeks and I need to get back to tri prep.  I just did a practice tri at the gym and knocked it out of the park.  I know I have the endurance, I just need to work out some of the details.  At least one run outside.  At least one bike outside.  At least one open water swim.   I know I can swim 500m, I know I can bike 12 miles, I know I can run 5k – I can do it with my eyes closed.  I just need to make sure that I remember how to do that in the hot Texas summer sun.  It’s hawt.

Sugar Rush:

Instead of fro yo, Zliten picked up some ice cream at the store.  It may sound gross, but I had about a cup of mixed java chip and mint chip and it was SO YUMMY.  But I felt SO YUCKY after.  I feel kinda grody today.  Every time I think about sweets today I just get….uck.  It’s totally a Pavlovian response, I know I LOVE me some ice cream and my mouth waters for it, but my body cringes.  Maybe I need to learn how to make some low sugar healthy type ice cream?  Anyhoo, the upshot is… I’m totally fine waiting til the weekend to have any more sweets during wedding celebrations part 2 time, if I even want any, and I will save the fro yo until after my tri unless something else sounds yummier.

Today is day 5 of no fried foods.  Last thing I had was half a cheese stick.  This is way easier since I hadn’t been in the habit of eating fried food all the time – just hadn’t made an effort to NOT eat it when it’s around.  I’m not going to really miss this or crave it probably for about 2 weeks, or until someone orders one of those great and terrible bar plates and wants to split it with me.

Weights and Measures:

I’m back to weighing most days and I’ll be reporting the lowest and highest weight each week.  I accidentally forgot to count calories the last few days, but I’ve been hanging tight around 1300 post exercise calories, so that works.  I’m not going to stop it long term, so I’ll be back to it Monday.  As much as I’m a little disturbed how high my weight is right now, nothin’ I can do but slowly chip away at it.  So there we go.


Monday: bike 9 miles, run 2.3 miles (700)
Tuesday: power (weights) class, 30 min swim, 1 mile run home (700)
Wednesday: 35 mins arc trainer, 60 mins yoga (600)
Thursday: 60 min spin class (600)
Friday: off
Saturday: 2 hours DDR (600)
Sunday: swim 1/2 mile, bike 12 miles, run 5k (1100)

Average consumption per day: 1687
Average burn per day: 614
Average net per day: 1072
Low/High Weight this week: 162/164.2

A little low, but I seem to be doing ok since I wasn’t doing a lot of high intensity workouts. Next week is mostly focused on getting those experiences I need to feel ready for the tri.  I’ve got a LOT going on so we’ll see how it plays out, but this is the plan:

Monday: 30 min swim (350)
Tuesday: 5k run morning, group power (700)
Wednesday: open water swim (450)
Thursday: 12 mile ride morning OR spin class after (600)
Friday: 5k run, 30 min swim (750)
Weekend: outside bike ride one day (600)

Priorities: 1 open water swim, 1 run outside, 1 ride outside.  The rest is gravy.

Just in case you all are curious, I’ll post my eating plan for the week here too.  Mostly because it’s a good reference for me – but I know I love getting ideas from what other people eat.  This week is a little different than normal because we have out of town guest coming on Thursday, but here it is.

turkey/cheddar sandwich, carrots, watermelon
shake and bake, taters, broccoli

chicken caesar wrap, side salad
fish rice veggies

Fresh Choice (salad bar)
baked chicken parmesan w/fiber pasta, side salad

pb honey strawberry sandwich on sprouted grain, side salad
canned tuna, mac and cheese, w/a buttload of frozen broccoli

turkey/cheddar sandwich, carrots, apple

chicken/beef tacos w/beans


So, how’s your week looking?  Undertake anything that scares the heck outta you lately?  Any foods where your mouth says yes but body cringes even before you eat it?

Yoga Tingles

Public and Private:

So, I’ve always considered making a facebook fan page.  Just because it’s the kind of thing that might make me giggle.  The dozen or so people who read this blog could…uh…read another place where I update even less than I do here?  Yeah, so I’ve never had a reason to set one up.  If you can’t get enough of me here on this bloggity blog, well, now, it’s too bad.

Just this week, I felt I had to remove all reference to my real name here, and I even decided to remove all past job references as well.   I shall be, henceforth known only as Quix (or Quixotique, or crazy-person, or whatnot).

Because… this week, I addressed my community of millions for the first time with my real name and job title. I got my first fan invite on facebook to my RL profile page and it hit me: I need to once again make a distinction between my public and private life.  I’m going to need to set up a facebook fan page to communicate with some people who I don’t necessarily want to see my regular day-to-day updates.  If I slip and check in somewhere on yelp or gowalla and post it to facebook, I don’t want to get stalked.  It’s a bizarre, but familiar circumstance.  It was nice for a 3 year break but I so so so so missed it.

Also, adding my real identity to my RL job, I feel the need now to remove it from this blog.  There was a time when I thought this blog might be my only chance at having a soapbox.  A way to reconnect with old friends, and find new ones.  A way to have a platform to communicate with the world at large.  I knew it was in PLACE of the opportunity I had before, although it ended up being so much more.

However, now I go from thousands (old job) to tens (here) to millions (new job).  It’s awe inspiring and cool and humbling and powerful feeling, but with great power comes great responsibility.

I hope all that has to happen is to take my name off the bio.  I’ve always been hesitant to link to my game, but it’s definitely not happening now.  The health and fitness part will continue on, the life stuff will continue on, but I think I’m going to put a kiebash on any work talk.   Which I rarely do, but still.

Results of the No Weigh Experiment:

After approximately 2 months I returned to the scale yesterday.  It was actually dusty.  I hopped on and the scale rewarded me with a number of…drumroll please…


Yeah.  Let’s call this one a FAIL.  3 lbs gained in 2 months.  My food tracker has said that I should be losing between 3-5 lbs per month.  I’m going to weigh in every morning for a while to see if I’m just unreasonably bloated for some reason (I was down to 163.2 this morning), but something’s gotta give here.  I’m now 8-9 lbs over my maintenance range which is so far beyond unacceptable it’s not even funny.

Giving up sugar was a good thing to do, which I might not have done if I had to weigh (the first two weeks, I’m pretty sure I was eating a little more non-sugar stuff to compensate).  Hopefully giving up fried foods will be another step to unlocking the way to take off weight.  In the queue of things I’m thinking of trying is a month off any “diet” food (anything light or diet) and a month eating LARGE breakfasts and smaller lunches and dinners.  Taking suggestions below.  Eliminating carbs or alcohol altogether is out of the question.  I was down at 150 consuming both of them, not willing to give them up thxuverymuch.

I would like to eventually return to weighing either once a week or a month, but for now, I need to go back to daily weighing and work on taking the emotion out of it.  164.0 doesn’t make me any less of a person or an athlete, but it sure has made me short tempered the last 2 days.  To be fair, it has also made my pants a little tighter, so it’s not JUST the number, but still.  It’s a measure.  It’s like getting upset that my hair is 13.2 inches long.  If I don’t like it that length, I need to be patient and grow it out.  Or make plans to cut it.

Getting smacked in the face with a 3 lb gain after 2 months off though – no bueno.

New Gym:

So I tweeted this about my new gym: “I’d date him again because he’s intriguing, but I’m definitely not ready to go steady.”

Day One was just full of fail.  Their cardio equipment is older than I am.  I could only do 9 miles on the bike before my ass was about to fall off, and the treadmill, I could only handle 2 miles because I was already in a horrible mood, my ass hurt, and the stupid thing felt like I was going uphill the whole way (and the note on it said the incline was broken that way).  Um, yeah.  Please, let me quit my 10$/mo gym with nice new cardio equipment for this piece of shit at 50$ per month.  Not happening.

PLUS – you reserve your machine in 30 minute segments.  Cool if you’re heading there after work and want to make sure you have a treadmill or lap lane.  Bad because it is in 30 minute segments, and I was given a sideways look when I said, “hey, sometimes I have a 10k run on my training schedule and need a machine for an hour” and they were like…”um, well, if it’s really dead I *guess* you could do that but we don’t normally”.  And I watched.  People only did 30 mins on their machine.  Folks, the shortest workouts I EVER do are 5ks.  And that’s more than 30 mins with warmup and cooldown.  Especially on a shitty treadmill going uphill the whole way.

Day Two was much better.  I dropped in for a power hour type full body strength workout and dang – it was fun, it went way quick, and I felt WORKED.  My bod is totally sore today.  THIS is the kind of thing I need to keep up with weight training.  And they have a couple different ones.

Then, I swam laps for 30 mins and besides the fact that apparently my gigantic head needs a larger swim cap, it was great.  The pool lanes are super small and it was kinda crowded with 3 people, but it was totally doable.  And probably good training for tris since I’ll have people all up in my bidness anyway.  I’m thinking I’m going to stick with breaststroke this season since I’m way more comfortable with it, and eff em all if they make fun of me.

Then, I felt nice and cool from swimming so I changed and ran the mile home.

Day 3 was great.  I got there about 35 mins before class and burned some mellow calories on the arc trainer (not as nice as the one at the cheap gym, but adequate… to keep going with the dateable analogy – I wouldn’t kick it out of bed, heh), and then went in for my first yoga class ever.

I’ve never been a yoga fan.  I force myself to do it through half training so I don’t get injured or too tight, but the people who do it all the time and love it?  Sorry, but I thought y’all were crazypants.  Maybe I need to rethink that.

Being in a dark room with a mellow dude telling us what to do at first was kinda getting on my nerves and for the first 20 mins, I kept staring at the clock.  Then…I got into it.  I relaxed.  I shook off my horrible mood and stress and mind going a mile a minute and just got into the movements.  All of a sudden, I started getting tingles.  And then some time passed, and it was over.

60 mins of yoga is a decadent thing.  If we continue this gym, I will definitely have to indulge that every once in a while.  250-ish calories for an hour is not the kind of thing I can really count as a workout, but as an activity (and something I bet I can get Zliten to join me doing as well), it was well worth an hour of my time spent.

Tonight?  I embark on my very first SPINNING class.  Hopefully I will not have ladybit problems

So the plan right now (since Zliten really loves the gym so far)?  Keep the 10$/mo gym for bike and run days that I can’t do it outside, and use this gym primarily for swimming and classes.  I hate to pay for two gyms, but they are just both 2 halves of a whole.  And it’s cheaper than the super nice expensive gym still.

That’s about it for the happs this week.  I’m just trying to make it through to Friday catching as many classes as possible and stay sane.  Question of the week: have you (or would you) pay for 2 gyms?  Avoiding, hating, or loving the scale lately?   Ever have to deal with fans that stalk you?  Of course, I’d love to hear yoga or spinning or other fabulous stories as well…

66% Olympic

Monday, Monday.  Another week down, truckin’ along with everything.  Life is grand!

No sugar update:

It’s getting easier and easier.  For some reason, the only time I recall being tempted this week was a birthday cake.  Why on earth for some reason crappy sheet cake has been the thing that keeps calling my name this month.  I know it’s not worth the calories.  But for some reason, that sickeningly sweet frosting-ness just makes me WANT.  It’s not even what I’m going to treat myself to this week when I break my month sweet-fast.  I am THOROUGHLY looking forward to the frozen yogurt though!  I do believe I’ll wait until Saturday, on the way home from the new gym.  Next week, I’ll decide what else to work on.  Current thought is avoiding fried food until Vegas.  That’s one thing I’ve noticed that’s crept back into my life a little too much lately.

New Gym:

This week we’re both finally a) not sick b) not on vacation c) not injured d) have the money, so it’s time to give the new gym a try (and hopefully switch over if everything is super cool).  This means regular access to a pool.  Yay!  Just in time too, my first tri is in about 3 weeks.  I should, uh, probably sign up for it.  Need to by the 8th or it gets more expensive.  How the HECK is it August already?  Le sigh… Speaking of new fitness equipment – we got a pull up bar so now every time I go into the bedroom, I try to do a pull up every time I pass it.   I can’t even fathom doing a proper one right now, but hopefully soon!

66% Olympic:

I did 2 pretty epic workouts last week – the 5k run-12 mile ride-5k run and the 25 mile ride and 10k run.  This week was sort of a test to make sure my endurance is where it should be.  Good news – it is!  I rocked both workouts with reckless abandon.  The run bike run got a little rough at the end, but I made it.  I’m sure that running 5k is actually more tiring than a half mile swim – so I feel pretty awesome about the sprint distance.  The double length ride and run is the last two legs of the Olympic distance, and I was just so PUMPED about how easy it was.  It was tough, but not KILLER.  Right after, I chowed down on some major food, and then we walked about 2-3 miles downtown that night.  My legs are a little tense, but I’m not wrecked.  I’m glad that I’ve made such strides in the last few months with my biking (anything over 10 miles at one time was just crazy talk – now I do 25 each week), since I’ll have to give myself a crash course in lap swimming.

No Weigh:

Sometime this week, I’m going to get on the scale.  Mondays were never a great weigh in day so I’m probably going to do Wednesday morning.  I’ll check in and let y’all know later this week how it goes.  It’s been bizarre after 3.5 years of constant weighing to take 2 months off.  I was certain about a month ago I had gained about 5000 lbs, and earlier this week, I felt like I was feeling super skinny, like maybe possibly I was even back to my goal weight.  I’m interested to see where I’m at.   Hopefully I’m still interested even after I see the number, heh.

Well, let’s get down to it.  Here’s the numbers for this week.

Monday: ate 1852, 5k run, 12 mile bike, 5k run (1200) = 652
Tuesday: ate 1421, off workouts = 1421
Wednesday: ate 1494, off workouts 1= 1494
Thursday: ate 1875, 45 mins running speedwork (653) = 1222
Friday: ate 1979, 45 mins arc trainer (600) = 1379
Saturday: ate 3016, 25 mile bike, 10k run (1828) = 1188
Sunday: ate 1348, off workouts = 1348

Avg consumption per day = 1854
Avg burn per day = 611
Avg deficit per day = 1243

Right on!  That should equate to about a 1 lb loss.  But we all know how wonky my body is, and I haven’t weighed forever, so who knows, right?  Here is next week’s plan.  Another week where I have 0 plans to start out – I’m really hoping for a mellow week with maybe a little less boozin’.  Two fairly debilitating hangovers in one week is enough.  Fun to attain, but sort of a drag to deal with.

Monday: bike 12 miles, run 5k (800)
Tuesday: swim 1 mile (700)
Wednesday: run 10k (800)
Thursday: weights (250)
Friday: 40 mins arc trainer (500)
Saturday: swim 1/2 mile, bike 12 miles, run 5k (1100)
Sunday: off

So, question of the week – what’s that one food that always calls out to you, but is never worth it once you actually eat it?  Cheers to an awesome week!

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