Adjusted Reality

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

Month: October 2016

Getting ready to dance at my party.

It’s amazing the difference a week makes sometimes.


I’m not a morning person.  You know it’s serious business when the headlamp comes out.

This time last week, I was feeling extremely fatigued.  I had no idea how I was going to get through a week involving a 14 mile run (longest run since March 5), and my long brick (55 miles bike/10k), when I felt absolutely flattened on Monday after a day of rest.  I was feeling pretty much the opposite of confident about this whole half ironman training and racing thing.  I’ll finish because that’s what I do, but I felt like I’m not nearly at the form I am at this point in the cycle.

I skipped some training and added a recovery ride on Sunday to do errands, but somehow still ended up with almost 11 hours.  I’ll take it.  This last week, it was about two things:

  • Going long
  • Gaining confidence/feats of strength

Intentions met.  Besides all the normal supporting workouts, I was able to complete said 14 mile run and long brick within 2 days of each other.  Thursday morning’s long run was an exercise in sheer mental toughness.  I didn’t really enjoy any step of it besides the one I took in the door after finishing.  It was hot, I was tired, I was sore, and the miles went on forever.  And honestly, I’ve had races that felt easier.  However, I finished.  I didn’t walk.  I’ll pull on that one on race day.  If I can do that on a random weekday and then go to work all day, I can do it as the last leg of my race and then sit on my ass for a week.

The brick felt a little less terrible, but still wasn’t a walk in the park.  The bike was actually really pleasant.  We rode with a group of people from our tri team, and I actually kept feeling stronger over the miles, which is normal for me when I’m on bike form, so there’s that.  It was hot when we started running, and silly me picked a really hilly route (there’s more elevation change in one of the miles I ran than the whole 70.3 course), but I was STILL able to maintain race pace for the 10k.  I had no confidence that I was going to be able to keep up the pace at a mile in, but I freaking did it.  It should be much easier on the flat course, with support, *hopefully* on a slightly cooler day.  But even if it isn’t – I’ve conquered it before.

I just need to dig on that stuff during race day.  I need to remember that it will not always be this way if it’s bad (if it’s good, I’ll let myself believe it will).  How I feel at mile 1 of the run, even if it’s bad, doesn’t mean I won’t be able to hold pace at mile 12.  Even if every step is painful, I can still do what I need to do because I’ve done it before.  My brain tends to give up before my body so maybe I’ll be able to tell it “not this time”.   Even if I’m not sure I remember the steps sometimes, I’m ready to dance at my party.


Those steps are at a time signature of under 10:30 per mile after a hilly 56 mile bike ride.  Let’s hope I can master them by race day.

And now, it’s officially taper.  The next three weeks are going to be focused on:

  • Injury prevention.  My knee is a little tweaky and swollen after yesterday’s “rest” activity of shopping for, cleaning out, and helping replace a fridge, and you KNOW I will be babying it until it feels 100% better.  I’m avoiding some of the evening outdoor riding that involves lights on my bike.  Doing my best to be the right amount of paranoid so I show up to the race in one piece.
  • Rest and recovery.  I didn’t do a great job of kicking this off properly because of said fridge replacement at almost midnight last night, but I’ll be making sure that there’s lots of feet up time in the boots and reading in bed to make up for it and I have zero plans to party all night at any point until at least October 31st.
  • Eating better.  I’ve done a pretty good job about treating my body like a dumpster at times over the last few peak weeks because I have the calories available.  It’s actually *really* challenging to eat super clean when you need to take in all the calories and carbs without overloading on fiber, and I believe there is totally room for cake and beer in an athlete’s life.  However, I didn’t meet my fiber requirement 3 of the last 7 days, so I’m a little too far on the “junk food” side of things.  Noted.  I’m eating pretty much the whole produce aisle to make up for it today (and will continue this week).
  • Staying sharp.  This week goes back to medium – length workouts with little bits of speed.  It just gets shorter from there.  Hoping by race week, my legs will rested and begging for more.

This week’s plan, which can change at any point:

  • Runs: 8 mile run w/3 miles below race pace. 10k off the bike, race pace.  2 mile easy.  Intent: settling into race pace.
  • Bike: endurance cycle (indoors, safe, but also ass-kicking), 30 mile TT interval ride (before the 10k run). Intent: bringing down distance, bringing up intensity.
  • Swim: 2250m race pace swim in lake, 1500m pool swim with some speed.  Intent: sharpening the stick, settling into race pace.
  • Weights: 2 sessions.  Intent: stability.  (<- these are the last before I get back to it after the race).

Other than training and work, it was mostly eat and sleep, as a good peak week should be.  And while it was probably a little boring, I actually feel much better mentally, so it works out!  Highlights (and one lowlight) of the week:


  • Celebrating our anniversary with tacos and fancy whiskey on a schoolnight (though I actually found my bed pretty early, so it was still in the spirit of resting up!).
  • I tracked all my food!  I may have done my weekend tracking today, but I did it!
  • KONA!!! While it wasn’t the most exciting Kona ever (repeat champions who were significantly ahead of the second place finishers), it was SUPER inspiring to be watching it 3 weeks out of my race after a long brick instead of after my first long run of marathon season, like every other year.
  • Lowlight: as I’ve sort of alluded to above, our fridge started to slowly die this week, to the point where things weren’t REALLY frozen by Sunday.  Not exactly what I wanted to spend my day off dealing with, but we found a fridge that fit (not easy with our space), was under 1k$, and was available to be brought home immediately.  I sacrificed a little sleep and my knee, as I said, is a little cranky, but we didn’t waste any food because we jumped on it.


Instead of a fridge picture, here’s a giant pretzel and shepard’s pie and salad for lunch after the long run.  Considering some of my options, it was decent carbs and protein (dumpster option: fish and chips – I resisted).

I’ll call it a pretty successful week and we can all move forward with our Mondays, shall we?


It will not always be this way.

So, I wrote this whole weekly wrap up thing and I just nuked it because if it bores ME, then I can’t imagine anyone else would be interested.


So, instead, a double rainbow. #whatdoesitmean

I think I’d rather talk about how I’m getting nervous for the race coming up.  With 3.5 weeks left to go, the calendar is at that uncomfortable spot where I’m fatigued from training, but it’s starting to close enough to get real.  How is it less than a month away?  How the heck am I ever going to feel rested again?  Can we get this over with so I can go back to base training for a little while?  Can I have a few more weeks to work on my cycling and running speed?  When am I going to get excited for this thing instead of nervous and just kind of tired of it?  Argh.

I’ve been thinking about how I will thrive there and races when I’ve felt the most successful.  I cave under TOO much pressure.  When I place a huge importance on a time goal, and the day pees in my sandbox, sometime I just say “fuck it” instead of just rolling with the punches and still getting close.  If I don’t put ENOUGH pressure on myself, when things get hard and it stops being fun, I’ll let off the steam instead of digging in because… whatever.  It’s just another race.  It’s that special combination of realistic and achievable but also challenging goals (and, ya know, meeting them) and magical unicorn pixie dust that really makes me zing on race day!

Looking over my past races, I’ve had days that I felt meh, even ANGRY about that ended up with some of my best age group placement or times.  But they’re not the ones I remember as my best races as of late.  Kerrville 2014 – I missed my overall time goal by 2 minutes but I stayed strong through the whole thing and didn’t give up and felt joy a lot of the time.  The Woodlands where I ran every step of the marathon, even if it wasn’t my fastest race.  Some of the shorter races where I found the edge and stayed there and held it together chanting three words over and over.


X-wing and Death Star are ready.  Am I?  Errr… I’ll get back to you on that one.

The half ironman usually goes like this for me… I generally have a good swim, a good to great bike (unless I crash), and then sputter and die on the run, except for that once where I didn’t completely (2014).  Here’s where I’m at right now:

  • The swim – I probably won’t have my fastest ever, but I shouldn’t be that far off as long as it’s wetsuit legal.  I know how to set myself up for a good day by not killing myself.  I’m going to do that.
  • The bike – here’s a source of my anxiety.  I’m not good at riding the new bike, but so far, that’s still translating to PRs in the sprints (about 1 mph) and the olympic (.5 mph, with rain).  This course is harder (more climbing, chipseal, etc).  So, I think one thing I need to do is just ride my best and let go of any expectations.  If it rains and I spend 75% of my time out of aero, I won’t berate myself.  If my legs feel off and I can’t manage 17 mph, I won’t sit there and cuss.  I know the *feeling* of the pacing I need to ride and whatever that translates to on the garmin and the power meter will suffice.
  • The run – here’s the other source of unease.  I really, really, really want to nail this run.  I probably have no excuse.  There’s very little elevation change and it’s very unlikely to be hot.  My run fitness is coming around and I ran low 10’s off the bike in a race in similar conditions and felt like I had a little more in me.  I really think this could finally be the race where I finally nail the run, if I don’t get in the way of myself.

Scared of failing, scared of succeeding.  This is my damn head right now.

It’s been an interesting training cycle.  Because I haven’t done the same thing over and over, I haven’t seen the same metered weekly progress.  It’s fits and spurts.  It’s a little more mystical than doing the same long ride every two weeks on the same bike and watching the pace improve.  Some rides are at 13 mph.  Some rides are at 15 mph.  Some are at 18 mph.  Sometimes the 15 mph rides are WAYYYY harder  than then 18 mph ones.  Some days I run 12 minute miles, some days I run 9 minute miles.  I don’t exactly know what to expect will come out on race day and that’s… both scary and exciting!


Some days it’s all smiles.  Some days it’s mental gymnastics to take every next step. 

I feel like training has been more flexible this time around, which has been great.  I am *just* now this week feeling the crush of fatigue and responsibility, like it’s stopped being so fun anymore.  Looking back, I maintained a training load of between 8-11 hours the last two months solid and this week won’t be any different unless a leg falls off somewhere between now and Saturday afternoon.  That feeling of it being a little much is fine.  It’s time to taper.  Just one more long workout and we’re there.

Does this mean I’ve pushed a week too long?  We’ll find out.  I’m embracing the fluidity – besides the two key workouts – a 14 mile long run (done – every soggy, sore, and mentally tough step), and a long brick this weekend, the rest of it is optional.  I bailed on a ride already this week in favor of rest (I read and slept for TWELVE HOURS) and split a run to make sure I wasn’t tearing myself up the day after (felt great and did all the miles, probably thanks to the above).  At this point, I’m nearing the end of training actually building endurance, and anything that doesn’t keep the legs fresh and/or doesn’t build my confidence for race day goes in the trash.

As for the fuel, a few weeks ago, I gave up on maintaining a deficit and giving in to eating my appetite.  Oddly enough, the weight loss I saw stop has slowly started crawling again (I think I’ve lost 1 lb on average over 2-3 weeks).  This is still that weird “wow, I look so bloated I don’t look cute in clothes but I still weigh less” loss that you get when you’re deep in season, but (healthy) loss is loss is loss.  I figured I was done for on the scale when I stopped really caring about the deficit, but the body sometimes knows better than some equation, I suppose.


Hello, lover.  This ramen (Spicy Miso Pork, from Jinya) is one of my current food crushes.  And it lives around the corner from work…

I’m really really (ok, fine) sort of trying to continue to track, simply because I think this would be great data for the push to IM.  It’s just… not my world right now to be all judgey about it so it’s hard to remember.  If I’m hungry, I’m going to eat a thing, no matter what Sparkpeople says.  I know 1200 calories per day is too cold.  2700 calories per day is too hot (at least at half ironman training levels, ~10 hours per week).  Still working on finding the porridge that’s JUST RIGHT.

One of those things I need to remember – it will not always be this way.  It’s hard to keep sight of that once you’re so deep in the extremes.  When you’re injured, it’s hard to envision a time when all the parts will work again.  When you’re dieting in offseason, it’s hard to remember that someday it will be required eating to shove 3-4k calories in your face in a day.  When you start your training program, it boggles the mind to think that you’ll be racing for 6+ hours, when an hour run seems exhausting (but you’re excited to get there).

Then two months pass and the pendulum swings the other way.  When you’re riding for multiple hours the umpteenth weekend in a row, you can’t remember a time when 45 minutes on the bike was enough, thank you very much.  When you’re deep in fatigue from training, you think you’ll never be rested or sleep enough again (but you know you will if you’re not an idiot).  When you’re racing, you will not be in pain forever.  The finish line has beer and chips and medals and most importantly, sitting.  Get to the beer and chips and sitting and how about a smile in the meantime that you’re able to be out here doing this crazy shit today, huh?


Seven years ago today, after about ten years of being together, we tied the knot in a tiki hut.


I remember it like it was yes-… nope, actually it feels like a long time ago.

Six years ago, I made Zliten sherpa my first Olympic triathlon.  Aren’t I sweet?


At least I got a medal.  And then there was champagne.

Five years ago today, we celebrated by renting out swanky loungers on the balcony of the movie theatre to watch Starship Troopers.

Four years ago today, we were recovering from our first half ironman race together!



Three years ago, we flew in a wind tunnel and then ate Pizookies.


Not us.  We were so into though we bought more sessions and… those sessions are still on the fridge three years later.  Whomp, whomp.

Two years ago we spent a long weekend in Port Aransas.


Not a bad view to celebrate #5.

We may have not gotten to scuba dive like we wanted to, but we ate buckets of seafood like champs…


If you can’t swim with ’em, eat ’em, I guess?

Then, last year, we spent our anniversary in Bonaire.


Salt Pier.  I have dreams about this place.  I need to return…

How do you top that for #7?

Well, you don’t.  I mean, it was awesome riding further than we ever have before, or as I said, celebrating our anniversary by shoving our crotches against bike seats for 5 hours.


And these massage boots are probably one of the best physical presents we’ve ever gotten ourselves…


…but as hard as this year tries, it’s no week on an island where I can walk 100 feet and pick up a tank and go dive.  And that’s ok!  In two short months, I’ll be preparing to fly away and spend a week in Key Largo.  I can wait (I think).

But, as for our year seven highlights:

And… here we are.  Embarking on year eight.  I’m super excited to see what happens in the next 365!  Happy anniversary Zliten, you’re the bestest and I can’t wait to do all the things and eat and drink all the things with you this next year!



Rip Roaring Ride

Before this ride, Zliten said he was really nervous.  For some reason, I wasn’t.  At all.  Yeah, it would be our longest ride outdoors to date.  Yeah, it would set a PR for climbing (beating our mountain ride in Colorado by over 500 feet).  But I was totally calm about it.


I think it was the fact that it was fully supported, and I had 3 outs (turnarounds for the 28, 50, and 65 mile rides) if we really weren’t feeling it.  Frankly, we would also have SAG support in case of the worst.  Do I take those outs?  Rarely to never.  But… it always makes me feel better to have them.

Also, it wasn’t a race.  We had a time where we had to complete the ride by, but there was no timing, no placement, and no stress.  And I was on Evilbike, who’s become my best buddy this year.  Death Star is very sexy, but we are still getting acquainted.  Evilbike is <3.  After about 5 years of constant misunderstandings, we just get each other now.

In the morning, we drove up to Liberty Hill Elementary School, which we thought was an hour away but really was less than 30 minutes – score!  I completely did a stupid and didn’t eat anything pre-ride, just drank some decaf coffee with a little sugar in it, but since it was a supported ride with a buffet at each rest stop, I didn’t think much of it.  There was a chill in the air that morning, but the weather forecast said it should warm up rather quickly, so I decided to leave my sleeves in the car and deal with it.


We started out with the crush of people, and made our way further up to the front over the first few miles.  We couldn’t roll through the first 14 at 10 mph or we might not make it back in time!  The ride was supported really well, we had motorcycle escorts on the main road making sure cars were polite.  I want a motorcycle escort always please!

Then… it started to rain.  Cloudy, chilly, windy… I was really kicking myself for not bringing my sleeves.  It was probably the first 2 to 2.5 hours where I was cold, wet, and kind of miserable.  I don’t ride in the cold much.  This is the weekend my bike usually gets tucked away, except maybe a trainer session here and there, until Spring.  I guess I have some things to learn about riding in different seasons.  Next time, I will bring the sleeves.  I probably would have worn them most of the ride and even if not, they fit easily in my jersey pockets.

I made up for the fact that I didn’t eat by hitting up the buffets as we passed them.  Tally for the day: about 3 bottles of gatorade or gatorade-like substance, two date rolls, one caffeinated gel, one small brownie, a few handfuls of pretzels or chex mix, one pb pretzel bar, and one english muffin bacon and cream cheese sandwich, which I stuck in my shirt and ate from about mile 30 to mile 50.  I’m starting to think about what’s going in my special needs bags mid-bike and mid-run at IM Texas, and I’ll probably bring something like that.

We passed all the turnarounds, and committed to the longest ride.  We took the turn to do the loop that gives you the extra miles, and immediately was glad we did.  It was the prettiest section of the course.  I didn’t paparazzi a whole lot because we were working, but this is a great representation of what it looked like.  Sweet Texas country.


We found a lot of downhill, which I just can’t bring myself to fully enjoy, because I know I’m going to pay for it, and pay for it we did.  Thankfully, the climb was gradual (but long), and we hit the over halfway point, the sun started to peek out, and I was like, “Ok, it’s going to be a long day, but I can totally do this”.

At some point in here, Zliten and I were riding together, a car was riding behind us, so he ushered me to get in front and we happened to turn around a blind corner right as a truck came the opposite way.  It wasn’t that close, but my adrenaline was definitely up for a bit after that.  Next time I’ll use my common sense and drop back instead.

For some reason, the last half of long rides are usually my favorite.  The beginning miles, I just start psyching myself out.  When I’ve covered some ground, my legs are usually warmer, and I’m feeling better and more confident.  In fact, I’d say that the ride was split pretty squarely in quarters.  The first, we were kind of miserable and cold and it took FOREVER.  The second, things were getting better.  The third, I was really enjoying myself and I took the lead for a lot of it.  It’s crazy, all my other 5 mile splits are 14 and 15-something mph, and then there’s this one that’s 17.8.  I found some flat (or more flat, we still gained over 100 feet), and I was pushing us.

Then, after about 55, we found those rolling hills that Zliten really likes, and he pulled me until we hit the main road again.  The last 25 miles, we averaged almost 16 mph while still doing a decent amount of climbing.  I may have sent some psychic cuss words at him, but I stayed with it and then all of a sudden we were back on the home stretch (which was a LOT less nice without our motorcycle escorts) and then the ride was done.  It was advertised at 79, we hit about 75, and I totally did not mind.


And then, after a distance and climbing PR, how do you celebrate?  By running, of course.  We changed into running shoes and at first my legs felt like lead, but after a minute or two they loosened up and actually felt really good!  I would have been happy to complete a mile at any pace after 5 hours on the bike, but one at 10:10/mile?  Super stoked.

I really wanted to get a good, over-distance ride in this half training session.  It was nice to ride 75 miles, and then run, and realize that I could definitely have done more on both if I was pushing to exhaustion.  I’d say I’m feeling it not in body soreness, but in a tiredness I can’t seem to sleep away (it’s the last peak week, this is normal for me, as long as I’m not stupid it will go away) and my appetite turned up to 11.  I have eaten ALL THE THINGS.

Two more feats of strength coming up this week, and then it’s time to start tapering!  Wheee!

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