Adjusted Reality

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

Month: December 2013 (Page 1 of 2)

2013 Season Recap: Highs and Lows (and 2014 Musings…)

I’ve done all the race reports, so I won’t bore you with a blow by blow, but here’s the highs and the lows for the year.

High: Not racing for over 2 months (12/15 to 2/26)

I really needed a break after last year.  I enjoyed 7 weeks of just being slothy, and then the slow, gradual build from a lump of putty to an athlete.  During that period, I would not call that a high point, because it was frustrating, but in hindsight, it’s nice to know that it’s possible to go from sloth to athlete again in a few months.

It also helped us to be able to cheer and volunteer for other races since we weren’t racing ourselves.  I got to hand a bottle to the women’s winner of the Austin Marathon because I wasn’t racing it.  That was cool!

We also got to do cool stuff like learn to scuba dive because we weren’t training so hard.  And we, as triathletes, absolutely needed another really expensive hobby!

High: Winning for overall women at Lifetime Indoor Tri (Feb)

It feels cheesy to say it, because it was so small, but there were 11 women.  And I beat the rest of them.  Being solidly in the middle of the pack, give or take depending on the event, I’ll take what I can get.

High: PRing at Austin 10/20 (April)

My body was NOT in shape to do this, but my mind wanted it enough that I took 2 minutes off my time from 2012.  My pace was just a little bit shy of my half marathon PR and I finally saw a ray of light that my running might not be in the crapper as much as it felt like.

Low: Knee injury, my first two DNSs at Red Poppy Ride and Rookie Tri (April/May)

While I’m happy it wasn’t anything needing surgery or something super serious or season ending, it was INFURIATING being that hobbled for that long.  How could an angry tendon cause THAT much chaos?

While it sucked to have to DNS two races, the silver linings were plentiful.  The red poppy ride shirt was the exact same as last year, but in green, so I felt ok wearing it.  I was able to get a partial refund for Rookie, and the weather was SO INCREDIBLY TERRIBLE that the day of, I was perfectly happy on the sidelines.

Also, it inspired me to volunteer more again – for the 5k9, where my job was to dance at the finish for all sorts of cute puppies (and their owners) so they looked at the camera, and later for the Cap Tex Tri (that one was less of a joy, but still cool because I got to cheer on Hunter Kemper, and some majorly badass elite paratriathletes).

However, the WORST about this was missing all the great running weather and letting my nice running base dwindle to nil.  That sucked hardcore and would hamper most of my season.

High: Losing 10 lbs (March, April, May)

The major, major silver lining around this time is I took off 10 lbs, which I have kept off.  I haven’t made much progress since, but this has stuck with me through tri season, marathon season, and two vacations, so I’m calling it a win.

High: Play Tri – the comeback

I was worried about this one – I had gotten clearance to run 1.5 miles only 12 days before this race, and could only bike normally a week before that.  I went out and rocked an Olympic triathlon, solidly PRing all 3 legs of the race.  And I got to eat In N Out after, which is always a win.

Mixed Bag: Pflugerville Tri and BSLT

Plugerville was both a high and low.  I really rocked the bike leg, and did alright on the swim, but the run suffered because of my knee.  I missed beating last year’s time by 1.5 minutes even though I should have had no problem with that if I was healthy.  However, this was the race I was most proud of last year, and I came close to it coming back from an injury.  Can’t be too upset.

BSLT was mixed too.  I was only 6 weeks back from zero on the run, and 7 weeks back from zero on the bike, so I am really, really happy I finished comfortably under the cutoff.  However, that race was so hard, and I wanted to cry so many times during it.  I was so incredibly unprepared to race any 70.3 at that point, let alone a hot, hilly, windy mess.  I was just happy to finish out part 1 of the season, take a week or two to reset, and then move on to preparing for actually doing Kerrville justice.

High: Couples

This was the first race I felt like my knee and lack of training didn’t affect me.  I PR’d by about 1.5 minutes, and I conquered the crazy hill on the run I walked last year, and I beat Zliten.  I still don’t really like this race and don’t need to do it next year, but I remember thinking, after this one, “I’m really back”.

Low: Jack’s Generic and Tri Rock

The heat really started to get me at the end of the summer.  I was kicking some serious ass on the swim, and rocking out the bike, but when I’d get to the run, I’d hit this huge wall halfway through and just fall apart, and my run paces went past meh to disappointing to embarrassing (for me).

Jack’s was all mental.  I just lost it when I crossed by the finish and had another lap in the 10000 degree sun.  Tri Rock was about the same (also 2 lap), but I was sick all that week with a stomach bug that seemed to be a little bit heat related, so some of that was playing it safe.

You would think that solid performances on two out of the three legs would at least be a mixed bag, but the suck overcame that for both of these.  For example, I was 9 minutes ahead of my time from last year at tri rock when I crossed the T2 timing mat, but then it took me TWELVE minutes longer on the run, so I missed my time by 3 minutes.  It’s not as if I was flying last year at 11 minute miles, but I just bonked SO HARD this year it was even worse.

High: First 112 mile ride (August) and 2.4 mile swim (July)

Yeah, the bike was on the trainer, but we did it.  It was a fun day we endeavor to replicate again soon.  Seriously, I <3 the trainer when it comes with a bike buffet, great movies, and my husband.

The 2.4 mile swim was in a lake and everything.  I loved it!  I even nailed it about 20 mins under IM swim cutoff without any 1.2 mile+ training, so I figure it’s all up from there!

High: Kerrville 70.3

This is my happy race.  I went in convinced I wasn’t going to do it next year and I just don’t think it’s possible to avoid this Smokin’ Good Tri.  29 minute PR.  Solid PR on each leg.  Happy and smiling the entire time, and finally, for the first time since July, I felt like I didn’t give up during the race.  Sure, I walked a few times on the run, but not all that often, and I held it mentally together.  I still don’t feel as if I’ve RACED a 70.3 yet, but I’m hoping to change that next year, and this effort was incredibly close.

High: Watching Manu beat her goal at Uptown Classic 10k

She asked me if I thought she could extend her endurance from 5k to 10k in a few months, and instead of a simple yes, I sent her a training plan.  She foolishly followed it (muahahaha) and ended up beating her goal of breaking 1 hour by over 2 minutes!  Roar!  I bet those speed workouts helped, even if they weren’t that fun…

High: Marathon training cycle and Space Coast Marathon

After a week or two of rest, I turned in my goggles, told my bike we needed to see other people for a while, and set out on my run heavy plan.  I wasn’t excited about it at all because I had hated running all tri season, and now that’s all I got to do all week?  Bleh.

I changed my tune quickly, as the first two weeks saw my paces drop, the temps go from insane to gorgeous, and my run love returned crazy hard.  I started rethinking my strategy for the marathon from “just finish” to have a fairly ambitious (to me) time goal.

I could have easily picked out both 20 mile runs as specific high points, and the whole training period went so well.  I went from dreading runs to actually planning to continue run training pretty quick after the marathon.

Sure, it didn’t quite work out on M-day, but I’m really proud of my effort there, and look forward to conquering another one soon(ish).

And now, here I am (ok, not HERE, I wish, but it’s the last sporty pic I had for the year).  I’ve decided a few things for 2014, though I really don’t have much of a solid race plan besides a happy puppy wishlist that would have me racing like, every weekend.

1. I’m going to race 3M and PR the crap out of it.  Considering doing another half marathon in the winter/early spring as well, but not sure which one.

2. As much as I want to do ALL THE RACES, I did really, really well with a long training cycle that didn’t have to accommodate races as training.  My husband does not love this (he’d be at a start line every weekend) so we’ll have to balance that.

3. I don’t love racing and doing a ton of long training in the heat.  I also get resentful because summer is my fave time and I don’t have the time or energy to do stuff like tubing, scuba, snorkel, kayak, sit on a patio with drinks somewhere overlooking the water, etc after training for 5 hours in the sun.  I’m going to play to my strengths and not do the full TX Tri series next year (volunteer, yeah, but not race), and take some offseason time while it’s hot and do some other fun stuff.

4.  I don’t feel like I need a long offseason after this year – I took 2 weeks off after each major race, which in each case was enough to let my body and mind bounce back, and the time I was injured made me not want to slug up intentionally, so I’ll continue that the planned time off this summer.

5.  I felt the best gains when I focused on one specific sport at a time.  When I tried to train equally at all 3, I felt like I stagnated at all 3.  So, I plan to do focused weeks of swimming, biking, and running (for example, 4-5 runs, 2 bikes, 1 swim) to see if I can get that effect of high mileage without, y’know, all that high mileage.  We’ll see how that works out.

6.  I will not ignore speedwork for another year.  It was magic how quickly my legs remembered how to run faster after… running fast.  I can only imagine the bike and swim will follow suit.  I did a little on the bike and some earlier in the year on the swim, but I think that specifically planning this out will help.

7.  I will not be afraid of the treadmill.  Just like laps in the pool and the bike trainer are not the same as doing it outdoors, the treadmill is not the same as running outside, sure.  However, when it’s hot as fuck, one run outside per week to stay heat acclimated will do just fine, and you can actually do some work without heat stroke.  I had huge gains this year on my bike and swim, and guess what?  I do a TON of work in the pool and on the trainer.  My run sucked this year.  I slogged through all of it outside.  Coincidence?  Probably not.

8.  Found a new type of triathlon up in Dallas called the x-50.  1 mile swim, 40 mile bike, 9 mile run.  This sounds like the PERFECT distance for me, so I’m probably going to do both that are offered in May and then June (which will be my season pt 1 end)

9.  I want to do a full Ironman aquabike (2.4 mile swim, 112 mile ride).  I’m not ready for the whole 140.6, but after doing both of these this year, I’m ready to put those two together.  I’m thinking about doing that at Redman, but it’s the weekend before Kerrville.  There aren’t too many options in my area that I’ve seen.  How thrashed will I be after a swim and a ride?  How important is kicking as much ass as possible at Kerrville?  I’ll have to make these calls.

10.  I’m looking at 70.3 Canberra (yes, in Australia) as part of vacation in December, but we’re figuring out if this would be logistically and financially reasonable.

11.  I want to run another marathon, but I’m not sure where that fits in the schedule.  It would either be travel to somewhere cooler over the summer, or sometime in fall while training for Canberra.  Or possibly that waits til early 2015.  Or we do Space Coast again and Australia is just a vacation.  Decisions decisions.

12.  I want to focus on the training and how that improves me, just like the marathon cycle.  Missing my goals there disappointed me a lot less because I had such a strong and successful training period – I had already proven to myself that I was a stronger and more capable runner.  While it’s always nice to have things click and perform really well at a race, I think the key is focusing on performing consistently in training and hitting specific goals.

And, with that, I’m off to the gym to do a 5 mile tempo and a swim…. 2014 is almost here, y’all, and I’m excited about meeting it a lot more fit than 2013 NY!

Run, Fly, Swim – Florida Vacation (Part 2)

When I last left you, we were heading for the water in Key Largo.  Let’s pick up there….

Tuesday (continued):

We dropped our suitcases on the floor, grabbed our suits, and headed out to the water.  I wanted to get at least a little time in the water before sunset.  However, we got incredibly lost trying to get to the beach, we found the boating area, but no sand and no private beach like advertised.  Finally we asked someone, and they pointed us the right direction.

I was in such a hurry to get in, I forgot to stow my coverup.  In a “we’ve come too far” moment, I just wrapped it around my head instead of putting it back on shore.

I had wanted my toes in the sand for months.  Ahhhh….

Yep, this scene pretty much describes my happy place.

Once the sun went down, we went back to the condo and explored.  It was slightly more expensive than a hotel room, but it was so worth it.  This place had a decked out kitchen with anything you’d need to cook up a meal, a patio with a grill, sink, and fridge, THREE other patios, a super nice king sized bed (such a relief after sleeping on two kinda lumpy queens).

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We decided that Key Largo meant fish, and having a grill meant fish tacos.  We headed to the grocery store and picked up the essentials for a fanastic first dinner there.

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We also found out that Key Largo meant Dottie the dog, and gatos everywhere!

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Our next door neighbor was incredibly nice – she worked for Outward Bound and lived here full time.  It was really cool to have vacation pets and someone to say hi to and tell about our adventures for the day.

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We spent the rest of the evening drinking corona lights, reading our books, and chatting on the gorgeous patio in front and then when it got later, the one off the bedroom.  I remember feeling like all my stress was melting away, and while I’d really enjoyed running the marathon and NASA and the drive, THIS really felt like vacation.

Wednesday:

I woke up around 9 and felt pretty rested and awake, so I spent the morning reading and stretching out all the marathon soreness in bed while Zliten slept.  He fiiiiinally woke up so we headed down and I made myself brunch (half a sandwich and a greek yogurt with berries) and shortly after we got out to explore the multitude of water around the area via snorkel.

Instead of walking, we took our other trusty steed to get there.  Hey, we had to lug our gear, plus it was vacation and provided and would have been a CRIME not to use, right?

At first, upon putting on my gear, I was disappointed.  There was only about 2-3 feet of water.  What possibly could we see around here?  I was pretty sure we were going to have to take a boat to get any fun water time.

I was wrong.  Around the rocks, there were TONS of fishies, ready to hang out and look pretty for pictures.

And, because it was in such shallow water, the sun rays looked GORGEOUS filtering through.

Zliten played with a lobster for a while.

I hung out with an octopus for a while.  At first I was a little nervous, but the fish swimming around him showed me at the very least he was not hungry, if not friendly.

I couldn’t stop snapping pictures of his gorgeous color and seemingly fluid skin.

After two hours, I was finally pulled away by THIS fish, because he was hungry.  So, I said goodbye to our beach, reluctantly.

I had figured that food would wait until the sun went down (and if it’s ME saying this, I must be really into what I’m doing), but he doth protest, so back we went and I had the other half of my sammich and a big salad.

After letting it settle a bit, we tried out the saltwater lagoon.

After the fishie cavalcade in the ocean, it was not quite as impressive, but after getting over that, it had some really gorgeous, subtle moments.  There were all of these blue fish all over – they looked like the neon tetras we used to have in our aquarium as a kid.  I thought maybe enough people in condos had abandoned their aquariums here and that’s why the population got out of control, but it’s probably very unlikely that was the case.

In a few cases, the light made for gorgeous pictures.  Most of the lake, however, was shaded by the trees, so after about 40 mins of exploring, we gave up and decided to hit it around noon time on Friday.

I may be smiling here, but it was all forced.  I was sad to get out of the water.  The only condolence was that I had two more days to play.

We went to the condo and got cleaned up, and decided to get souvenir shopping done with early.  I got myself a diving shirt and Zliten got a fish book at the diving shop, and we were rewarded with a gorgeous sunset as soon as we stepped out of the store.

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However, indecision grabbed us on the rest of the presents for friends, and we got hungry, so we ended up at a place called the Fish House because it was close.  It was a good decision, even if it was by proxy.

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We got a fabulous crab dip for an appetizer (3 hours of water time makes me swim-gry) and then both went for the super gluttony platter.  That is not what it’s called but it’s an accurate description.  What arrived was a piece of blackened mahi that would make a fine meal in and of itself, but also 8 huge blackened scallops, a handful of huge shrimp, and half a whole lobster.

I am not ashamed to say I ate the whole damn thing.  They served a side of potatoes, coleslaw, and corn, which I barely touched, but you’re not here for the sides, you’re here for the fish.

After a day like that, all you can do is read and then go to bed.  And maybe have a piece of key lime pie and some tea, but that’s it.

Thursday:

Another reason for the early to bed was we had to be up at the crack of dawn (literally) for scuba diving.  We splurged and drank some cappuccinos from the welcome basket and enjoyed the sunrise from balcony #3 (upstairs guest bedroom).

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Bad decision, as caffeine, sugar, and nothing else (none of which I am used to) in the morning wreaked havoc on my stomach, but it all turned out ok.  We started the morning getting all the paperwork signed at the dive shop, then drove to the docks and got on the boat and headed out.

I got a little nauseous on the boat on the way out.  It was super pretty but also super choppy.  I held it together without feeding the fish over the side of the boat though, which was nice.

We were the first one to sign up for the charter, so we got to pick the dive sites!  Our first dive was the Benwood Wreck.  There are tons of wrecks in the area, but we picked this one because my husband is an air hog, and that means his deep dives are very short.  This one was particularly shallow, so we could get much more bubble time.

We both got down with ease (I was worried since it had been 8 months but it is sort of like riding a bike).

It was not quite as crysal clear and blue as diving in Aruba and Bonaire, but it was still gorgeous to explore the wreck and all the fishies living there.

The highlight of this dive was getting to touch a jellyfish, after the guide explained which side to touch.

Jelly action shot!

Extreme Jelly Closeup (scha-wing?)

The only bad thing (gross alert) was halfway through the dive, I burped some major acid (fuck you, cappuccino) and threw up a little bit in my mouth.  I freaked out for a moment, but realized I was 40 feet underwater and the only solution with a regulator in my mouth was just to swallow it.  It was gross for about 30 seconds, and then I realized I was scuba diving and got happy again.  I did get a little queasy again on the boat but it passed quickly and I felt fine the rest of the day.

We motored to the next spot, which was French Reef, and the particular spot we dove at was called 5 caves.  Guess how many caves there were?

No problems descending the second time, and we got to play with more fish, swim through (read: get stuck in – I am still not great at remembering my ass is fat with an air tank on it) caves, and see some cool stuff.

Zliten gets all the lobsters.  Apparently, they really, really like playing with the go pro.  However, the camera died before the highlight of the trip – we got to see a small sleeping nurse shark!!! up close.  Someone made the shark motion at me, which my first instinct was to back the fuck up, but then he motioned at me to come over, so I did.  And I got to see something cool.

Way too quickly, diving time was over.  Thanks to the cool cats at Scuba Do.  They were a little pricer than some of the other charters in the area, but they had tip top service, really clean and nice gear to rent, and the charters are really small, instead of squeezing as many people on the dive boat as possible.

Scuba diving is weird.  You feel like you’re not doing much of anything, but then you get done for the day and you’re FAMISHED in a way only matched by long run-gries.  So, we went home, quickly cleaned up and washed off our diving gear, and headed back to the docks to the Pilot House.

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We rehydrated with some cornona-ritas.  Sounds kinda weird, but they were kinda delicious.  We had some wings as an appetizer, and then I had some crab bisque and a greek salad (yep, still on the salad thing, cocoa beach fries broke me, I think).  I ordered mahi on the salad, and she forgot to bring it, but it was totally ok because I was stuffed anyway.  I had a piece of Zliten’s fish and chips and a mojito and called it an afternoon.

These birds had some major attitude and we enjoyed watching them play on the boats.  Probably a lot more than the boat owners trying to keep their boats tidy and free of bird poo, but whatevs.

This is how Key Largo does Christmas.  I approve.

We then went to the grocery store to get provisions for dinner (Zliten was getting grumpy about all the trips there so I promised him this was the last time).

Then, we had a few more beers on the patio, and headed to the jetty to take in the sunset.

It did not disappoint.

Some days, you do get to live in a postcard, indeed.

But, as much as Zliten tried to force the sun to stay in the sky, it was over too soon.  We took the shrimp and pasta and brocoli and alfredo sauce we had obtained from the grocery store and made some delicious dinner, enjoyed a few more beers, and watched Charlie Brown Christmas Specials from the patio.

Friday:

The morning was for napping and reading, per usual, but we had been putting off the shakeout run we had planned for Wednesday for too long, so off we went.

15 mins easy ended up being 15 mins at marathon pace, which was nice, but I was definitely ready to be done when we finished.  So, recovery was happening nicely, but it wasn’t quite there yet.

If only all runs could be so gorgeous!

We had some lunch (trying to eat all the food in the fridge) and then headed out to the saltwater lagoon for try #2.

 

The light was much better closer to noon.

The lagoon was SATURATED with these itty bitty fishies, and they weren’t shy.  I knew I was still enough to take a good picture when they swarmed my camera to look at my screen.

Still more subtle than the ocean, but stunning.

This one fish kept following me.

We spent an hour in the lagoon, then went back to the ocean.  Sadly, it was a REALLY rough day and visibilty sucked, so we tried for about half an hour, but it was a bust.  HOWEVER, on our way out, I saw a NURSE SHARK under a rock, in about 2 feet of water.  CRAZY!  Again, no pictures because I am lame.

We also found some beached jellies.  Glad we didn’t step on them.  They are MUCH heavier than they look, but they are JUST as slimy as you’d expect.  We threw them back in the ocean so they could be fish food.

Sad we didn’t see any moray eels, we had to do our best impression for the camera instead.

We headed back to the lagoon, got a bit more water time, and then decided to spend the last few minutes of sun we had on our last day in the one body of water we hadn’t hit yet – the pool.  I left my goggles in the condo, so I just sort of paddled around for half an hour and it felt wonderful.  Definitely inspired me to get back in the water once I got home.

We hit up a fish market (Zliten approved this, totally different than a grocery store), and the souvenir store and got home in time to take the cruiser bikes to the jetty for one more sunset, thus completing our key largo triathlon – 15 min run, 3 hour swim, 10 min bike.  We made one more round of killer fish tacos on the grill and *sniff* got our bags packed and readied the condo for it’s next tenants and got to bed early.

Saturday:

Woke up early, packed up the car, drove an hour and a half to Ft Lauderdale.

This summed up my thoughts about leaving my ocean paradise, waiting in a long security line, and exchanging 70s and 80s for 20s and 30s.  We caught our flight just fine (Ft Lauderdale is much more efficient about lines than Austin, apparently), and it was uneventful.  We got our luggage in Austin, and met my parents for the ride home.

And this is how I felt about it once I got there.  Really, I love home.  I’m usually a-ok to leave vacation when it’s time to go, but I really, really didn’t want to go home this time.  It was too awesome.

And thus, ends my picture orgy.  I would be in the depths of depression, but I get more bubble time in March, so I don’t have too, too long to wait.

Run, Fly, Swim – Florida Vacation (Part 1)

This vacation was different than usual: normally I go outside of cell range, and thus, I can’t share anything early.  This time, I had coverage the whole time, so if you follow me on twitter or fb, you got some sneak peaks!  That also provided a conundrum – how much to disconnect?  I finally had to just put my phone and tablet away in the Keys, for the most part, since I didn’t feel as relaxed as normal, but it was nice to be able to share some pics and thoughts!

Anyhoo, I digress.  Here’s the recap of the great FL trip of 2013!

Friday:

It was a nice visit with Zliten’s parents, and we said goodbye to them as they dropped us off at the airport.  That was a little weird (they were here on vacation and they dropped US off), and the security line was so long that we got done just as our flight was boarding.  We had banked on lunch at the airport, and I would have done bad things in hunger, but I survived on some homemade jerky and ritz crackers.

It’s weird, we always take the BEST pictures in airports as we’re leaving for vacation.  I guess it’s because we’re extra happy?

The flight was uneventful, and we landed in Orlando, got our “mighty steed” (what a SCAM, I was quoted 300-something and ended up paying 600-something for the car, but since we needed it we just ate it, but anyhoo…), and drove the 45 minutes to Cocoa Beach.  It was gorgeous and green and lovely and warm and… totally flat.  No hills.  Great place for a marathon!

We hit up the first local looking place we could find, which happened to be the Sunset Cafe, and got sat facing the water and sunset.  Yay!  I had been craving a burger, so I got that, and because it was the first time I had eaten all day, we also got potato skins and a big beer.  I usually don’t indulge the week of the marathon but it was absolutely 100% necessary.  After we had dinner, we checked into the hotel and ended up on the first floor.  Of course, when we don’t have to deal with a bike and all the tri gear, we get the first floor room (but it was awesome and convenient, so I won’t knock it!).

What was also convenient was there was a grocery store right next to the hotel, so we loaded up on groceries.  I found the BEST chips, but I totally can’t remember what they are – they had flax seeds and brown rice and sea salt and it’s probably a good thing because I ate 2 bags!  We snacked on chips and hummus and veggies and made a salad and relaxed and passed out pretty early.

Saturday:

I slept TERRIBLY.  The beds didn’t seem that bad, but they were a little lumpy and I think it was a little bit nerves, and I tossed and turned a lot.  I woke up at 8 feeling bleh so I went back to bed for an hour and slept AWESOME so I felt better.  Gotta get my good “day before the day before” sleep.  We popped over to the gym and got a quick shakeout run on the ‘mill – 1.5 miles (.5 miles warmup, .5 at m-pace, .5 cooldown) and my ankle started feeling a little wonky after but I tried to ignore.

Once we got out of the car at packet pickup, my ankle started feeling worse, and thus my mental downward spiral that day.  We didn’t spend much time at the expo, but bought some biofreeze and an ornament.  I was going to splurge on a shirt but nothing really caught my eye as worth the money, so just the race shirt it was.  We went to a few stores to find a charger for Zliten, and I was, like, shooting mental daggers at him.  OMG, I have a broken ankle, I have to run a marathon tomorrow, and you want me to trek around to stores finding a stupid charger? *drama*

We went to an awesome place for lunch called the Discovery Beach Cafe, I ended up there because of the awesome yelp reviews.  When we walked in, it was totally dead and looked like a casino coffee shop.  I figured yelp had done me wrong, but they did not.  I had an amazing club sandwich and fries (only thing was – surprise – they but hardboiled egg on it… great for some, but not this egg hater… who puts egg on a club?) and had great service.

Then, we went to see Catching Fire (Hunger Games 2).  I really, really enjoyed it and it ended the same way I ended book 2 – MORE NOAW PLEASE!  It was a nice way to spend an afternoon off our feet.

We came back to the hotel, hit the hot tub, laid our stuff out, ate mac and cheese, and I convinced myself to conk out early.  By then, I was limping pretty bad and I figured the best way to have a shot at the marathon was to get as much healing sleep as possible.

Sunday:

I’ll refer you to here on the marathon itself, but after, we got back to the hotel and I knew we’d feel much better if we continued to move a bit, so we walked down to the pier a few blocks away, and I got a margarita, a salad, and fried shrimp and fries at the Atlantic Ocean Grill.  NOTE: I’m pretty sure Floridians eat the same type of fries at every meal, the thick cut seasoned fries, if I am to believe what I am served by restaurants.  We walked out to the end of the pier and had a beer out there at the Tiki Bar, but it was cloudy and windy and cool, so we walked back down and found another bar (Oh Shucks).

This one had a view of the beach and a very nice bartender, and corona light on tap (my favorite crappy beer), so we spent the afternoon there.  We met a very nice couple from 2 hours south (Port Lucie, if I remember correctly) who we started talking to when they sat next to us.  She had run the marathon and talked about her work in Haiti.  Always fun meeting random runners!

After sunset, we headed back to the hotel, hit the grocery store for more beer and probably one of the BEST turkey sandwiches I’ve ever had in my life (and I am a turkey sammich connoisseur, so that’s saying a lot). I ate the whole footlong, because, marathon, and went to sleep.

Monday:

I slept kinda fitfully again because I was sore but I was getting used to it.  Oh well, only one more night on this bed!  Oddly enough, my ankle was just fine, but my right knee was complaining.  Oh well.  We got up at 9, hit up the hotel breakfast (froot loops, apples, english muffin with cream cheese and bacon today), and then headed out to Kennedy Space Center.  We were lucky to go on a Monday during off season that was cloudy and cool, so it was so dead!  Loved it!

Zliten is the space nut in the family, so it was cool to see him go all googly eyed at all the rockets.  I went googly eyed myself quite a few times because space stuff is awesome!

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We started with lunch.  NASA makes awesome salads!

Then, we took a guided tour of the rocket garden.  The tour guide was great and had been working with NASA for something like 30 years, so he had lots of stories.

We also took the bus tour (my marathon legs appreciated sitting) and saw cool things like the roads the crawlers used, some launch sites, and what I didn’t expect, a lot of cool wildlife!  I didn’t know that a whole lot of their land is a wildlife preserve.  We saw gators, a manatee, and a bald eagle or three from the bus window (sadly, the pictures didn’t turn out).  Also, there is a building (fittingly, it’s green), that makes all of it’s own power.  If only we could have this everywhere!

The tour dropped us off right by the Atlantis exhibit, so we waited in line for just a bit and then got to check out some movies.  Then, they shuffled us into another room, which had cool screen that surrounded you, and played another sweet movie on Atlantis.  Then, as the movie ended, the screen went translucent, and raised on the actual shuttle Atlantis RIGHT THERE!  It was breathtaking!  Great presentation!

We spent the next hour or so noodling around that exhibit, and Zliten found a very convenient restroom.

After, we hit up the rocket garden for a few more pictures.  The size of these things are just mind boggling.

Then hit the early space museum on the way out (though it was a quick visit, not as long as we would have liked), and then it was 4:45, they closed at 5, and there was supposed to be a LAUNCH that evening.

We booked it back to the hotel, hurried out to the beach facing the launch site, and got settled just as the sun was going down.  Then, Zliten checked the website.  Delayed until the next day.  Booo!

At that point, all I wanted out of life was veggies, and all my marathon inflammation agreed, so we passed up some other cool local choices for Ruby Tuesday, because I knew they had a salad bar.  It was kind of nice, anyway – I’ve never been to one, even though I know they’re a chain all over, so it was a new experience.  I ate two heaping plates of salad, and ordered the seafood trio (crab cake, shrimp, lobster tail) and broccoli and ate it all.  Marathon metabolism totally still in effect.

We had planned on maybe having a night out on the town that evening, but we were both not really into it, so instead of dresses and going out, we hit the hot tub and pajamafied ourselves and read.  Boring, maybe, but it was what was needed.  I crashed hard when I did, and it was very, very early.

Tuesday:

Twelve mother fucking hours of largely uninterrupted sleep.  Booyah.  I felt like a new person.  Much less sore, my knee was still a little cranky, but overall, I didn’t feel like I was 70 years old anymore.

We hit up the breakfast one more time just as it was closing, and I had my typical english muffin and cream cheese, this time with sausage patties, and of course some cinnamon toast crunch.  Crappy cereal and breakfast carbs, I love you, but only on vacations.

We got checked out and on the road by about 10:30 for our drive to Key Largo.  It was largely uneventful, but I remember thinking that the highest hills in Florida are the garbage dumps (they’re right off the highway and yeah, kinda smelly).  Also, we cheered everytime we hit a toll, because we had been talked into purchasing the prepaid toll tag.  Even if we didn’t actually rack up 50$ in tolls, it was a win, because we got the grumpy of paying for tolls over with in the first 30 mins of vacation.

We ended up stopping in Boca Raton for lunch, at Dominic’s Italian Restaurant.  We almost left town because we couldn’t find anywhere to eat, and we were turning around to get back on the highway and found this place, and I’m glad we did.  Zliten got the lunch tortellini, which was a HUGE plate of cheese tortellini with meat sauce.  I’m scared to see what the dinner plate size was – this fed two people, easy.  Even with marathon metabolism, he ended up taking about 1/3 with us.  I had pasta fagoli soup, another salad (my body was still craving the veggies), and a slice of spinach pizza.  All of these things were wonderful, but the superstar of the day was the garlic rolls they brought us.  They made me briefly decide I was going to just live in Boca, and get fat on them, and live a happy life.

However, we had a Condo in Key Largo to get to, and we were over halfway, so back in the car we went.  We got excited to get to the end of mainland Florida and thought it would be epic to “drive over water”.  Turns out, there’s still a lot of land between the mainland and Key Largo.  It was cool, but I think to get that picture of just road and sea I was thinking of, we’d have to go further down the keys, maybe.

Either way, we rolled into town, drove down “the road”, found the Kawama Yacht Club, and settled into our condo for the day.

Just kidding!  We pretty much threw our stuff on the ground, found our swim suits, and headed out to the beach.

…and, this seems like a good time to take a break.  Part 2 coming shortly!

Going to Meet the Man with the Hammer

Paul Fournel’s writing is now on my “must read” list.  Just one quote, hell, one concept I found in random googling really caught me this fall.

I want to go searching for the man with the hammer.

I’ve spent years dialing back my run speed, safely running slowly to increase distance, to increase stamina, to complete half ironmans and marathons, to stay in zone 2 or below, and shockingly enough, my legs adapted.  My pace slowed.  I was able to go further, but even on shorter runs, my pace and turnover became laughable.

This marathon cycle, I realized that the other component of “lots of easy miles” has to be “a little speedwork”.  Just that one day of making my legs move 5k speed or faster for a short amount of time really helped me figure out that I’m not a terrible runner, I’ve just not been training properly to give my legs the speed to go fast.

So, with this awesome base under me for the marathon, now that my legs feel recovered, I am prepared to meet the man with the hammer.

So, a few years ago (hi there, 2010!), I had I set a big scary goal of a sub-2 half marathon.  I trained really, really well and mostly hit my paces spot on, but then I got stupidly sick the week of the race.  I probably shouldn’t have run, but I shoved down some behind-the-counter mucinex and got through the race in 2:19, which was about what one could expect on a hilly course, when I was taking cough drops like shot blocks.

I gave the 13.1 distance a-go one more time in the fall of 2011, banking on Olympic Tri endurance + 3 weeks of specific training, and got myself a nice shiny 2:08 PR.

I haven’t race-raced a half since.  I’ve run the distance a lot, but it’s either been a training run, off the bike, pacing someone else, just as a fun run, or sometimes, just because it’s Thursday.  I do believe it’s time to change that, if only to have some more recent data for calculations so McMillian doesn’t tell me I should be running a marathon in over 5 hours because my best half in the last 3 years, which was part of a 20 mile run, was 2:25.  Hell, my half marathon split at the marathon was around 2:20 (and that was running pretty comfortably).

So, while I didn’t think I was ready to run as fast as I did during this cycle to chase a 4:40 marathon, I am CERTAIN I’m not ready to train to run as fast as I need to go to sub-2.

But y’know what?  I’m not sure how fast I’m ready to run.  I surprised myself with a 1 hour 6 mile run on Saturday just because I felt good and I wasn’t completely gassed at the end.  I don’t know where my limits lie unless I go out to meet the man with the hammer.  So I’m going to spend a short ~4 week cycle doing some stupidly fast (for me) run training, and then toe the line at 3M Half Marathon to see if I can outrun that man with the hammer.

I’ve signed up today and I’m not wasting a 100$ late entry fee on prancing comfortably to the finish.  I don’t plan on trying to run safe, I want to run for at the very least, a PR (2:08:07).  I want to either have photos of the worst pain face I’ve ever made in my life at the finish, or be walking it in because I left it all at mile 10.  I want to go out fast at the pace I need to hit, and then continue running that pace until I cross the line.

A goal – 1:59:59.

B goal – PR (sub-2:08:08)

C goal – to have given everything I have at finish

9:09 is a terrifyingly fast pace for my brain for 13.1 miles, but I’m not sure if it is above and beyond the capacity of my legs and lungs.  That’s what this training cycle will tell – how fast the man with the hammer runs, and if I can beat him to the finish line.

November Recap, (Rest of) December Goals

Better late than never!

1. Keep up the awesome training momentum.  Hit the last high mileage week.  Taper well.  Recovery is key.

I trained really well.  I tapered well.  I didn’t even really hit my normal taper madness until 2 days before.  Success!

2. Eat the number of calories fitbit says to eat, and track diet quality.  Try to lay off the sweets and eat lots of nutritious foods.  If I can lose 1 lb per week, I can run this marathon close to 170, that would be nice.  Take my digestive enzymes.

Marathon training is never time to lose weight.  I just need to accept.  Also, a week of family cooking for us that was not my normal healthy did not help this initiative, nor thanksgiving or vacation indulgences, but that’s ok.  I didn’t gain weight, I didn’t lose weight.  I’ll call that a win for the circumstances.

3. Sew something.  Anything.

OMG, YES!  I mended a bunch of things, plus made a remote holder for the bedroom.  I feel a LOT more comfortable with the sewing machine after that session.

4. Finish the current book, start another.  This should be a done deal since I’m traveling.

I’ll cheat because I read it technically in December, but I finished that book and another.  I need to start the next series now!

5. Frame some of the art that’s sitting in the tube in the closet.

Hell yeah!  We got about 1/3 of it done and even hung.

6. Go through my cold weather clothes and put away/give away the stuff I don’t like.  Hit up the thrift store and get some stuff I like better.

Done and done.  Sadly, I have more clothes than hangers now, but I’m happywith my winter wardrobe!

7. Writing: work on my savage worlds story, and write non-status report blog posts.

I wrote one or two blogs that weren’t status reports, but I did ZERO work on my story.  Boo.

8. Get my hair trimmed/layers redid.  Cut Zliten’s hair, it’s a mess!

Fail.  I actually did decide intentionally not to do my hair because it’s now long enough that I have convinced myself I like it long, which I will maintain until about Feb/March to where I get kinda grumpy when I’m getting ready and can’t figure out why, and then I realize I’m over my hair, which should have been apparent because it’s been tied back for the greater part of the last few months.

Zliten’s now has grown out to be interesting as well, though it does need a clean up even if we don’t decide to keep it long.

9. Swim at least once, I shouldn’t go two months without hitting the pool.

Ermmmm, I swam on vacation (in December).  I haven’t done actual laps yet.  Maybe this month.

10.  Try to use up the food that’s already here instead of buying stuff.  My fridge and freezer are bursting with stuff and I keep going out and buying new stuff to cook.

Sort of.  The fridge and freezer have been cleaned out and are pissing me off way less.  This should happen more often.

11.  It’s almost vacation time!  Get together a list of stuff for Florida (restaurants, things to do, packing list, etc).

Yeah.  Not a problem there. 🙂

12.  Drink more water.  I’m not as good about this in the colder months, and if I forget about it too much, I get chapped lips.

Ehhhh, sort of.  My chapped lips went away but I’m not sure that I really did all that well with this.

13.  Between more work deadlines and family obligations, make sure to take enough time to relax and destress.  Don’t let shit get to ya, woman.

Well, I destroyed a wall because I got stressed and hormonal.  However, I felt pretty freaking calm the day after and learned how to fix a wall, so… maybe a split between a fail and a win there? 🙂

December is almost half over, but I’ve kept this one up all year, so let’s roll with it.

1.  It’s the holidays, so this is not going to be perfect, but most of the time, let’s stay away from sugar, refined carbs, fried food, and other junk.  I’d like to end this month no heavier than 175.

2. Take enough rest as needed and then train speeeeeeed at lower volume, with some bike and swimming mixed in.

3.  Return to a bit of weight training by the end of the month.  It’s time.

4.   Sign up for the next race or two.  Work on the race plan for 2014.

5   Finish up Christmas presents!  I’m close, but have a little bit of work left.

6.  Start my next book series.  Going from superheros in space to elves and orcs.

7.  Write my Savage Worlds story and get out my backlist of blog posts (this being one of them).

8.  Donate some stuff + a gift card to the Austin Children’s Shelter drive at work.

9.  Go for our annual Christmas Lights run/walk around the hood.

10.   Do a really, really long bike over Holiday break.

11.   Have a good steak.  I’m really craving one of those…

12.  Cuddle more with my husband.  His idea, but I like it.  It’s cold outside, cuddling more is good.

13.  Hang out with friends this month (since the training load is light) and play lots of games.

I’m not sure I’ll continue this for 2014, but it’s been fun!  This month should be pretty easy since a lot of them are fun stuff. 🙂

What’s you December goal?

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