Adjusted Reality

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

Month: September 2016

I need a little specificity…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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And I get to ride bikes here! Total perk!

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

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

Strengths right now:

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

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

Weaknesses right now:

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

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

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This is the goal.  This is always the goal.

Last half September focuses:

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

First half of October:

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

Second half of October:

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

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

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

Perception vs Reality

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I’m well aware that this concept exists, and that the way I see the world is not necessarily the whole truth.  However, the universe has definitely been trying to hit me with the clue bat the last few days to drive that adage home.

Cases in point:

Study #1 – Work

I worked myself into an absolute TIZZY about my job last week, to the point where it was keeping me up at night, and I think it actually contributed to a minor 24 stomach bug issue (no appetite, upset stomach, chills, etc) mid-week.  Then, I had a frank discussion with my boss, who asked me straight out: is this a problem right now or fear for the future?

And it stopped me in my tracks.  I had to take a second and really consider it, but future unknowns were about 80% of the problem.  Yes, things are stressful right now, but it’s not abhorrently chaotic.  It’s next year I’m absolutely freaking out about.  With assurances that I wouldn’t have the same issue in the future, I was able to calm down fairly quickly.

Perception is that everything is completely out of control.  Reality is it’s loosely under control now and if everything goes as planned, it shouldn’t get worse.  Next year is next year.  There is no use losing sleep over it now.  I realized just hearing “yeah, of course you’re stressed and need help and we all know it and the plan is to fix it” was enough to take the uneasiness down to the normal dull roar it’s at during this time of the year.

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The session BEFORE my stomach bug really hit.  Pro tip: if you’re feeling sick, don’t sit in really cold air conditioning in a soaked-through sleeveless jersey for 15 minutes.

Study #2 – Training

Because I had said stomach bug, I missed my 8 mile long run Thursday morning and a weights session.  Skipping this key session, and not being able to make it up, left a window open and the doubt demons flew in.  How am I going to race a half ironman with a long run of 6 miles?  How am I letting myself be so unprepared for this race?  What is wrong with me?

Part of the issue is this year is SO different I have nothing to compare it to.  And when I consider what I AM doing, I’m ahead of the 8 ball in so many ways and things still have plenty of time to come together.

I think I rode my bike outside four times to get ready for my half in 2015, the rest were endurance class and trainer miles.  This year I ride outside 2-3 times a week and I’ve already had 2 long rides that were longer than my longest last year.  Last year I think I swam the 1.2 mile distance once in open water before the race.  This year, I’ve done it four times already (from 1.2 miles to 2.8 miles), albeit slow as molasses, but that’s the first step.

Perception is that I should be way further along than I am.  Reality is that the timeline has shifted five weeks, and I’m actually doing GREAT.  Being that I have pretty decent bike and swim endurance, and I’m halfway there on the run, I’m not doing too badly 7 weeks out.  I think reassessing my plans and laying in some key sessions to hit over the next few weeks will help.

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#junkinmytrunk #thegoodkind

Study #3 – The Scale

While the progress is still inching the correct way, it’s definitely sloooooooow.  And it’s no surprise when I went on vacation and didn’t track, and spent half the week last week not tracking because the sky was falling, apparently.

I’m also getting to the point where the weight loss has slowed for enough time, that my body shape is not this new exciting thing.  So the mirror has gone back from “yay” to “eh… alright”.  Every time I step on the scale, I’m like UGH, I must have gained weight.  And I haven’t.  Body dysmorphia is very very weird.  I mean, there are days I think I look alright in my glasses, I’ll change to my contacts, and feel fatter.  I *know* it’s bullshit, but it’s what my eyes see.

Flashback to yesterday, when I met some friends I hadn’t seen in a little while.  They were gushing over how tan, glowing, healthy, and muscular I was looking.  Another one said I looked 20 years old in a picture.  For someone like me, who has so long had my eyes so closely on the details and minutiae of losing fat, maintaining a healthy physique, and absolutely not regressing to my obese, can’t-walk-across-the-street-without-getting-winded self from 10 years agp… sometimes it’s hard to see the forest for the trees.

Perception in the mirror right now is that I still have a long road ahead, especially with how slow I’m losing weight, and the fact that I’ll probably need to pause for at least a season to prepare for and race Ironman.  Reality is that I’m comfortably wearing a shirt that I would have busted out of a few months ago, and with patience and persistence, I’ll get there eventually, wherever there ends up being.

Let’s do that details thing.

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Training last week:

  • Monday: 53 mile ride on the Austin 70.3 course.
  • Tuesday: 30 minute cruiser ride to the store and back.
  • Wednesday: 2 mile easy run, 1000m easy swim, 17 mile recovery ride
  • Thursday: impromptu day off
  • Friday: ~1 mile warmup run, 2.5 mile relay race in 23 mins (about 9:07 pace).
  • Saturday: 4500m swim in 1:45.
  • Sunday: 70 min cruiser ride to dinner and back

Again with the perception and reality – my instinct was to be like “well, guess it’s an impromptu rest week”, and then I go look at my logs in dailymile, and I did 9.5 hours.  While I can take issue with the *quality* of training in there (maybe a little less cruiser and do my weights actually and more running), the hours themselves are solid.

This week, the goal is to do things a little more intentionally.

  • Monday: quickie band weights at lunch, Taco Deli group ride (~20-ish miles)
  • Tuesday: 2 mile easy run AM (or failing that, as a brick after class), 30 min pool swim lunch, pain cave cycle class PM
  • Wednesday: gym weights lunch, PM BSS recovery ride
  • Thursday:  10 mile long run (yeah, its a stretch… it’ll be slow… but I’m ready for those double digits), 30 min swim lunch
  • Friday: off or makeup day (if I miss something above)
  • Saturday: 40-45 miles of speedwork on TT bikes, 3 mile brick run (at least last mile fast, all of it tempo pace if I can make that happen)
  • Sunday: off.

This is looking like a solid 12 hour week, which would be my peak so far this season.  It’s a lot.  I feel like I’m ready to conquer it, especially knowing that I’ll be shutting it down a bit next week to get ready to race the Olympic at Kerrville.

Food/Scale:

Weight loss last week: down 0.5 lbs to 181.8 average.  Again, slow as molasses, but the right direction.  I’m regularly in the high 170s on the not-as-evil black scale.

Let’s just move forward on the rest of it.  I don’t think I did *that* badly on food (hence the loss), but without data from tracking, I can’t measure all that much.  This week’s goals are:

  • Track every day.  Even the weekend.  My goal at the very least is to put in my food for the day before I go to bed, quicker is more useful.
  • Aim for -1000 calories down on fitbit UNLESS it’s unbearable.  Never sacrifice fruits/veggies/training food to keep calories down.
  • I’ve been DECENT at this lately, but we’ll continue to mention those 5 fruits and veggies per day.
  • Weigh every day.  Not just the days I feel skinny in the morning. 😛

I just did a crash course in Sports Nutrition this weekend – all the course work and the videos.  I just need to study and pass the open book, online test, hopefully this week.  While it was 90% stuff I already knew, there were a few things I picked up that I might work into my life.  However, if I’m struggling to meet the above goals, I shouldn’t add MORE new stuff.  I’ll make notes and work it in eventually.

That being said, the videos convinced me to add a fish oil cap to my daily vitamin regime.  Anyone have suggestions about ones that don’t taste fishy?

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The lake is the best place for me to calm my shit.  I went twice this weekend. I had a lot of shit to calm.

Life Stuff:

With it being my peak week, I’m just basically trying to stay sane, get sleep, and get through the week.

  • 8+ hours of sleep per night.  Non-negotiable.  At the very least, my 2 day average should be 8 or greater.
  • Take and pass my Sports Nutrition Specialist test.  I had expected the class to take longer, but since I rocked through it over the weekend so quickly, I want to make sure I don’t lose that knowledge before the test.  Attempting to do it Wednesday. Saturday night or Sunday will be my backup, but I’d like to get it done this week for sure.
  • Fun stuff: gaming with friends Thursday.  Family over for birthday celebrations Saturday.  Last wah-pah trip Sunday.

And I believe that will do it for this particular Monday.

Failing just a little at everything

Vacation was amazing and awesome and beautiful and typically, there are two ways I come back from a break: refreshed and ready to go, or longing to be there or anywhere else.  Sadly, I’m in the second category.  Spending a week playing outside (ie, not locked in a windowless box 8+ hours a day) made it really really really hard to want to go back to work.  I’m not sure what to do about that besides endure the ride through the harsh comedown and continue to work on my goals without suffering a nervous breakdown from a whole lot of too much and not enough at the same time.  So, that’s where I am.

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#bedhairdontcare

It’s not all bad (actually, mostly not-at-all bad), so let’s go over some of the highlights, shall we?

This weekend was brought to you by the word BIKE.

On Saturday, our goal was to log some major miles on the TT bike in Pflugerville.  Because we missed a few running opportunities last week (running is SO HARD in summer because morning or treadmill or heatstroke), we decided to host the first unofficial Labor Day Pflugerville duathlon with a field size of two.  The distances were either 3 or 3.1 mile runs, depending on which gender you were representing sandwiched around a 31 mile bike ride.

Things started out a little hairy.  My plan was to run easy the first loop, and then hit it harder after riding, which I vocalized.  My husband went out like a rocket instead (I only rolled my eyes at him a little – love ya dear!) and I just kept telling myself I was doing me this run, not trying to keep up.

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Love this guy, but running with him is a challenge…

After a quick change and two adjustments to my cleats to fix a problem, we were off and riding… and sadly, my love of riding at Lake PF is starting to wane.  It was super traffic-y the way we started, the roads have degraded to such poor conditions you sometimes HAVE to just ride in the middle of the road for your safety (and cars have to deal, no matter how much they want to honk and be impatient).  And then we had a truck blow a stop sign which made me have to slam on brakes coming down a hill (where I had right of way and no stop) and Zliten came inches from wrecking into my tire.  Fucking trucker asshat.

Then we got to the quieter section, and things got better.  By the end of the ride, I was actually having a good time, was in a good mood, and actually excited to run even though it was super hot.  I might actually be able to do 56 miles on this bike in this weird funky aero position at the end of next month (ack) and 112 miles in April (double ack!).

And, I have to brag since it’s been about 6 month since this happened… on the second post-bike lake loop, I had a pretty great run in the heat and beat my pace by over 1 min/mile and also passed Zliten.  He admittedly had died in the heat, but still.  Little victories.

After food and a quick lazy river stop, we hightailed it to a keg and pool party.  Sounds very college, but our host won a contest at one of the local breweries, so it was at least a classy keg party!  We bike commuted there, planning to leave around sunset, and then because beer and friends and safety and stuff, we got a ride home and picked up our bikes the next day.

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Bike check in station.  The view sucked.

While I didn’t actually ride bikes Sunday, I volunteered at Tri Rock bike check in on Sunday morning/afternoon.  For 4 hours, I got to help people get to the right place, answer a lot of newbie questions (<3), and generally walk, stand, and sweat a lot because it was feels like 113 when I left.  After that, we took our TT bikes in for a tuneup and they got a quick little spa day.  After a late late lunch, we ran errands and dropped the TT bikes off and picked up our cruiser bikes from the party, and on the way home, we grabbed a beer with friends we haven’t seen in a while.

By 7:30pm Sunday, we had been home a total of 5 minutes the whole weekend, and I’m pretty sure we had been constantly caked with either sweat or chlorine for 2 days.  The shower was magical.  But… then it was Labor Day.  No work, no one out on the roads in the morning… you just HAVE to ride bikes, right?

So, we did just that.  We jumped at the chance to ride the Austin IM 70.3 course during this perfect window of calm.  It was beautiful.  It was hot.  Country roads and streams and greenery!  But… country roads mean chipseal, and some roads were so rough I thought I was going to pop fillings.  There were some awesome roads to just cruise on.  However, most of it was pretty hilly (I think… 2k of climbing in 53 miles seems like a decent amount to me…).  I went back and forth between I LOVE THIS COURSE! and I WANT TO GET AN UBER HOME!  I ate and drank enough, I think, but I forgot my electrolyte tabs until 2 hours in, and on a sweltering day, that was a mistake.

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Still in <3 with the course at this point.

Generally the first time I ride a course I suck at it and then next time I’m better.  If nothing else, I got that out of the way before race day.  I want to come back and ride it a few more times so I can anticipate all the crappy parts and enjoy the good ones.  I also want to come back when 53 miles is not a SUPER LONG RIDE.  So I guess I have to ride more bikes.  Oh darn.

Beyond the bikes, the rest of the week felt like this.

The best I can do at life right now is to fail a little bit (instead of a lot) at everything so nothing is completely neglected.

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A couple more weeks and it will be cooler.  A couple more weeks and it will be cooler.  A couple more weeks and it will be cooler.

Cases in point below:

  • Haven’t seen our families (who would probably love to see us every week) since Aug 5th.  We have one weekend window on the 17th of this month and then maybe one more until Thanksgiving.  I’m sure they think we’re shitty kids, but our retired parents just don’t quite understand how busy everything is and that once a month IS us making shit shift around so we can prioritize them.
  • We prioritized social stuff last week and weekend, and it left me feeling exhausted.  I need to watch out for this, or I get in my “burnt out and hating people” mode and social stuff becomes a chore.  However, if I swing too far the other way, I have major FOMO depression and feel like a terrible friend.  It’s a huge balancing act being just enough of a jerk but not too much.
  • There’s some stuff that needs to be handled differently at work, and I’m yelling my ass off about it, but I have a feeling it will need to fail before it gets attention.  I’m trying to come to terms with it, but it’s hard to have to actually watch something probably go up in flames before it can be fixed.
  • I’m missing about 1-2 workouts a week.  Considering I plan about 10-12 sessions per week, that’s not the end of the world.  It’s just hard to have to just mark out my yahtzee week after week.  Prioritizing weights and cycling, and the fact that it’s summer and I love swimming, has typically meant that running gets the short end of the stick lately.
  • And guess what sport feels the most iffy right now?  Yeah.  I keep telling myself that once it gets a little cooler I can run at lunch, and running at lunch means I can get in a lot more miles more easily… but hopefully it’s not too little too late for Austin 70.3.  I’m 8 weeks out and my weekly mileage is about 10-13 and my long run is 6.  Yeah.  Not ideal.
  • I can’t seem to figure out the waking up before work for workouts either.  I mean, I know what the problem is – I just can’t go to bed on time. I even tried setting myself a bed time daily last week and I’m missing it sometimes by 4 hours when I say “fuck it” and need some extra downtime awake.
  • My house is a flippin’ mess, we haven’t completely unpacked from vacation, there are boxes everywhere now that we’re trying to clean out the office, I can’t seem to get my ass in gear to batch cook right now, and I need to accept this is going to be how life will be until after the IM in April.
  • I took 3 weeks off class as of today and realized that if I just let myself, it would never get done.  So, I made myself a schedule with the max I think I can handle per week without going insane… and it takes me through February.  Sigh.  I was hoping to be done WAYYY quicker than that.
  • While I am happy the scale is continuing to decline, I’m at about 1-2 lbs a month.  This involves actually tracking and TRYING to stay -1000 calories under what fitbit says my burn is (and, like the theme, fail just a little).

So, as you can see, there’s a lot going on in my life to fail at!  I guess you might more positively frame that as progress and not perfection, but I’m feeling salty, so we’re not going there, okay?  This is truly and simply how August and September usually go around here.  Utter chaos.  Every year. I just finally found a way to put the exact feeling into words.

What am I going to do about it?

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I’m going to eat all of this in one sitting.  Oops. 

I’m going to attempt to stop worrying about this shit that doesn’t matter.  It does not matter if my house is not in order (except the 1-2 days a month where it does and I’ll deal with that then).  Work is work and it will be what it will be.  I will do what I can to change things while I’m here, but try to keep my mind away from the things I CAN’T.

Think really hard about social invites.  Is it someone special to me I haven’t seen in a while?  Is it going to be super fun?  Is it going to stress me out with my other obligations?  Let that answer be the guide.  If the answer is no, make future (even if it’s a month or two out) plans to try to tell the people I really care about know they are loved but life is just chaos.  For example, I have an opportunity that I REALLY want to jump on next weekend, but I know it will leave me ragged.  So I have to adult and say no to it.

Keep plugging away on the things that need plugging.  Two class modules a week.  Eating good stuff and not too much bad stuff because even if it’s slow, it IS working.  Hitting as much training as my mind and body allows and not sweating missing an easy 3 mile run if life gets in the way.  Go to fucking bed when I’m supposed to sleep.

And the big thing – forgive myself when I fail just a little bit at some of these things, because I know I’m doing the best I can right now.  I’m not lazy or unmotivated, just overwhelmed.  And failing just a little still means progress, so there’s that.

Let’s end this with a few short goals for this week.  They’ll look familiar if you’ve been around here much.

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One goal – trust that my body knew exactly what it wanted the day we got back from vacation and eat lots more of this stuff.

  • Hit my training the rest of the week as much as possible.
    • Running: 8-10 mile long run, relay race (short fast run)
    • Swimming: 4500m distance challenge lake swim
    • Weights – 2 sessions.  One gym, one home (less intense).
    • Biking – recovery ride tonight, more miles this weekend if possible.
  • Try to stay at -1000 calories per day according to fitbit (which I’m going to actually guess is more like -500 calories for me), eat 5 fruits/veggies per day.
  • Go to sleep when my schedule says go to sleep. 9-10pm is the goal most nights.
  • Read all my Sports Nutrition course material this week (it’s only ~55 pages).
  • Don’t sweat the small stuff.

NOTE: it’s all small stuff. 🙂

#coloradoadventure Part 2 – Hanging Lake, Boulder, and Denver (again)

Part one, if you missed it, lives here.  Onward and upward (again)!

Wednesday:

On the road again!  The mornings in GJ kind of blended together, but there was definitely one more sampling of the typical hotel breakfast (I am DONE with traditional breakfast [junk] food for a while…), probably either a hot tub or pool, and then the suitcases made their way to the car again and we were off!

Sept1-14

Not sure if the reflection ruins the shot or makes it artsy.  We’ll go with artsy.

We really enjoyed breaking up the drive with a run in Vail on the way there, and we had recommendations to hit Hanging Lake for a hike, so we stopped.  There was a line out of the gate (at noon on a weekday?) and we almost skipped it, but something made us wait and I’m so glad we did.

Seriously, I’d suggest checking out my facebook album if my tale of Hanging Lake intrigues you at all, because this was one of the most breathtakingly beautiful places I’ve ever been in my life.  And me, the water baby, saying that about something not on the ocean or that I can even swim in?  You know it’s crazy amazing.

Sept1-15

First of all, it was a lot of up.  We went up over 1000 feet very quickly.  Our garmins say somewhere around 5 miles total, the official site says just over a mile each way, but there was a bit to get to the trailhead… so, whatever.  It was a decently hard climb that took a while.  It definitely counted as leg day.

Once we got past the initial rocky part, it was just waterfall after waterfall.  Every scene looked like one of those motivational posters.  I kept thinking “this is the best picture I’ve ever taken” and then we’d go around a bend and I’d see something more awe-inspiring.  It was insane.

Sept1-17

The water shapes the rock through patience and persistence.  Bam.   Blow that up and sell it to poor saps like me stuck in a office box with no windows.

After some crawling on rocks at the steepest part, we reached the top and took a short break to eat a snack overlooking Hanging Lake.  I wanted to stay there and watch it much longer, but there’s no rest for the wicked.  Places to go, driving to do.  We did make the trek to the top of the waterfall and got some other hikers to take our picture (see larger album for that one).

Sept1-16

Hanging Lake itself.  So very much worth the climb.

On the way down, we decided to run it as much as we could.  I did fall on my ass once, but it was exhilarating.  It was like being a kid at play again, finding the right spot to place my feet while they were in motion, letting gravity help us down instead of fighting it… magical.  And then, all of a sudden, we were back down at the trailhead and we ran the rest of the way to the car and were STARVING and it was SO MUCH LATER than we expected to leave but somehow would have done the climb again in a heartbeat right then if it was feasible.

Lunch was tacos from Qdoba.  Tacos are the best.  Sadly, we drove RIGHT by the hot springs we were going to visit after the hike (when it wasn’t going to take 3 hours), and put that on the list for next time.  We drove to Vail and got out and walked around a bit again, mostly to stretch the legs, and then made the rest of the trip back to 10k feet (even after acclimation, still felt a little woogy) and back down to Boulder.

Sept1-19

Hung above the bed (thus the “also here”).

Boulder is a bit of a lie from the 70 freeway.  You see signs to exit, and you get all excited… but then it’s another 45 minutes away.  And this particular night, it happened to be getting stormy.  Zliten held it together though, and we arrived at the hotel just after 7pm.

The good: the hotel had changed from a slightly ghetto Quality Inn and Suites motel to Boulder Basecamp, which was completely redone and much more hip and refined.  There was a spa and sauna, a lounge with a rock climbing wall and ping pong, and a very homey breakfast nook.  The bad: they didn’t have my reservation.  The great: they were able to clear it up with Expedia in about 15 minutes and ended up giving us a suite for no extra charge.

Sept1-18

If I was on death row, it’s likely my last meal would involve a club sandwich on sourdough.

It was raining pretty hard, so sadly, we had to get back IN the car (all we wanted out of life was to walk and not drive) and parked at the downtown area.  We walked around and found the Lazy Dog.  I was in the mood for some comfort food, so I got a club sandwich, a salad, and a glass of chardonnay.  Trivia was about to start, but we were beat, so we called it an early night and hung out at the hotel reading and relaxing.

Thursday:

We had a date with dirt in the morning, so we woke up, leisurely got our breakfast on, and Zliten searched where we were supposed to go.  HOLY CRAP it was an hour away instead of the 20 minutes we thought, and we had to leave RIGHT THEN to be 15 minutes late.  We called the guide who reminded us we were meeting at a trail, not the shop, searched the trail… and it said TWO HOURS away.  CRAP CRAP CRAP!  Then Zliten realized it was 2 hours WALKING, and only 15 minutes driving, and we were just fine.  Whew.  Way to get us truly awake!

Sept1-12

Gooooood morning!  A little caffiene and a lot of “oh crap we’re going to miss it!”.

We got gatorade for our camelbacks and snacks and were super prepared for 4 hours out on the trails.  Then, when we met up with the group, we spent the first hour learning how to ride mountain bikes (yeah, I picked up a few things, I’ll admit, but it seemed a little overkill for ME personally).  We spent about 2.5 hours riding, which was actually about 1.5 hours stopping and talking about Boulder, and 1 hour riding.  I was completely overprepared, but better than the other way around.

Sept1-11

The flatirons are the backdrop of Boulder, for the most part.

It’s not to say I didn’t have a good time.  I so very much did.  I was pleasantly enjoying myself riding over things that normally make me shriek on my tri bike, and then our guide showed us how to jump rocks.  I jumped like EVERY ROCK for the rest of the ride because it made me feel nine years old again and now I need a mountain bike (n+2 for the vacation now) and better health insurance because I am actually about 9×4 (+1) instead, and all the mountain bikers I know are pretty much held together with bruises and stitches.

I did almost eat shit going down a hill when the girl in front of me slowed down too much, I had to veer off into tall grass, and I actually hit a rock that slowed me down ENOUGH to fall back in line.  #rubbersidedown for the whole ride.  Yeeehaw!

Sept1-13

A happy boy and his bike.

We drank a beer together on the side of the road, because, that’s what you do after bicycles.  We left wanting a bit for more saddle time, so we rented b-cycles and headed downtown.  Something about a sandwich sounded amazing to both of us, so we hit a little deli with yummy and unique sounding food.  I got a chicken basil pesto half sandwich and super fun looking greek-ish salad with hummus.  It wasn’t a whole lot of food, but it was enough to get to tank half full.

Sept1-10

I may have taken a bite first.  Oops!

Zliten wanted a Colorado jersey, and we looked around for one, but everything was either not in the right size, or meh.  We’ll have to look around online.  It was starting to get wet and a little chilly, so we cycled back to the hotel – it was such a convenient way to get around.  We got some hot beverages, and hit the spa.  There were plans to swim in the Boulder Resevior that evening (5-9pm no boats!), but we were already cold and jumping in a chilly lake?  Nah.  Next time.

Sept1-9

Do want.  Again. Right now.

Once the weather improved a little, we hopped back on the cycles and headed to a Vietnamese place called Black Pepper Pho.  The egg rolls were SO flavorful, the pho was amazing and a regular size did us just fine, although I kinda wanted the large just because.  I could eat pho once a week, but I could eat THAT pho about once a day.  So, so good.  On the way back, we found my cycle bag had ripped and hit REI for a new one, and some new walking around shoes for Zliten.  Souvenirs, sort of!

After a long day of excitement, we were homebodies and read, hung out, played Pokemans, and relaxed our way into dreamyland.

Friday:

Up and at em… eh, at like, 9:30.  We ducked out for a little morning run and enjoyed Boulder’s river trail.  Sublime.  I want to run there always, at least in the summer.  While I felt we spent enough time in GJ, I wanted many more days in Boulder.  Sadly, we were forced to check out of the hotel by the cruel mistress of reality.  We consoled ourselves by roaming around on our B-cycles for a little longer, and then waved goodbye to Boulder and got ready to say hello to Denver!

Sept1-8

It’s just not fair how pretty this is.  Usually if there’s running water on my run route, someone’s pipe has burst.

A friend from high school/college/early days lived about 20 mins away, so we made sure to meet him for lunch on his day off.  It was great to catch up with some actually pretty great Mexican food, and it’s always nice to chat with someone who you haven’t seen in MANY years and it just feels like you’ve barely been apart.  Facebook definitely helps this happen more often.

Sept1-7

Our hotel view did not suck.

Then… Denver.  We got our 37$ parking spot for the night >< and checked into the hotel.  The front desk gal was super nice and found us the best room she could – top floor with a great view.  We did dorky things and squeezed in a weights workout in the room with the bands we brought (thus validating their inclusion in the luggage), and then headed out to walk around and meet another friend!

Sept1-4

Random Denver snaps.

Denver is beautiful, clean, unique, cycle friendly, and full of characters.  On that walk, we found dancing Jesus guy, a free concert about to start, a robot street performer, and much more I’m forgetting.  Another thing I’m not accustomed to is the casual attitude to marijuana.  People were smoking it all over. What’s more surprising that each one of them had their custom rolling papers. Now, I’ve never been completely averse to marijuana, as I’ve often times taken it in the form of CBD after buying from here. The dispensaries have club cards.  Even my friend, who is fairly allergic to the smoke produced, is just like, eh, it’s fine, it’s great for the state, I just try to stay upwind.  It seems like a much more reasonable way to treat the substance considering it’s essentially alcohol for people that would rather zone out and eat chips.

Anyhoo, we hung back at the hotel to change.  I actually put on just a little bit of makeup and used my hairbrush, first and last time of the trip, heh.  Once we were fancied up, we grabbed a few drinks at a “speakeasy”.  I ordered an old-old fashioned and spent the rest of the early evening drinking delicious whiskey drinks and eating fried things at Green Russell.

Sept1-6

Bathroom selfie as proof of said dressing up.  Keeping it klassy with a K around here…

We wandered around a bit looking for dinner, and finally settled on Stout Street Social.  We started with the kimchi fries (very much do recommend… they were great!) and Zliten and I split one very delicious burger and side salad.  After a few more bevvies and chatter, we looked for one more place to end the evening and it was like Goldilocks.

One place was too crowded.  One place was too loud.  One place was impossible to find.  Then, we finally stumbled on Polished Tavern.  They didn’t have an impressive whiskey menu, but made up for it with a plethora of infused vodkas, a nice outdoor patio, and not too much of a crowd.  We met up with another friend of a friend, and tried all sorts of different flavors, danced a bit, and finally got the DJ to play the entire Star Wars Cantina song.

We closed out the night wandering around trying to find the rooftop pool at the hotel (it was closed, sadface), and finally drifting off to sleep against the backdrop of the Denver skyline.

Saturday:

Travel home days are usually boring, but not when you fly out at 7pm!  You still have lots of time for adventure!  We got up and juuuuust in time, checked out of the hotel.  Since we paid for it, weleft the car in parking until the last minute of our 24 hours, and scoped out lunch downtown.  After hemming and hawing, we found a place that did noodle and rice bowls to order – Tokyo Joes – and both our eyes lit up.

Sept1-5

Noms.  Sans stevia sauce.  Always sans stevia sauce.

Pro-tip: sauces with stevia suck.  I use stevia to sweeten all sorts of things, coffee, yogurt, drinks… so I figured I’d give it a try.  In savory food, it doesn’t work for me.  I’ll take that little bit of added sugar if needed.  So… while the noodle bowl was FAN FLIPPIN TASTIC, I am so glad they served my mistake of a stevi-yaki sauce on the side.  I’m sure other people may appreciate it, but If I was avoiding sugar, I’d just go soy and hot sauce instead (which I did and loved).

Next, we hit the museum.  Haven’t done anything like that in a while, and it was a nice contrast from the rest of the sporty spice vacation.

Sept1-3

My favorites in the Women in Impressionism exhibit.

Sept1-2

Some of my other favorites from other exhibits.

Sept1-1

Ok, one more of the more unique ones…

After that, Zliten was ready to get this show on the road, so after a few stops, we got to the airport nice and early.  Same easy check in and TSA line, same 20 minute stop for the bag with the cords and the bike tool.  Friends said we MUST go to the airport restaurant Root Down, which was a branch of the super popular downtown one, and since we had plenty of time, we did just that.

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The verdict? One thumb way up, one thumb sort of sideways…

My turkey bahn mi burger and sweet potato fries with curry sauce was surprisingly awesome.  I’m not a huge deviant from my normal, but I figured, what the heck, and my gamble paid off.  I loved it.  Zliten got a traditional burger and did not love it that much.  Either way, it was just fine as our last meal of vacation.

And, here’s where I cut this insanely long story short and save you from the mundane boring details about a uneventful 7 hours to fly 2 hours to the next state away home.  I did definitely appreciate flying home Saturday night, so I had Sunday to relax and unpack and do laundry.  Tip top.  A+.  Would travel home on a Saturday night again.

Overall – Colorado is on the short list of states I will probably live in someday.  I’ll make that happen either when I’m rich enough to own a summer house, or when I decide that snow isn’t a deal breaker.  I’m already plotting how to do an extended camping trip there soon!  It’s definitely on the short list of places I will repeatedly vacation at, because friends, family, mountains, bikes, hikes, lakes, and all of the beautiful.

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