Adjusted Reality

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

Month: December 2016 (Page 1 of 2)

2016: #projectspring, #goplayoutside, and #ridingbikes

It’s interesting to see how over the course of a year, you can set goals and then life has other plans.  It’s not to say that I didn’t accomplish anything I set out to – just the opposite, I actually made some great strides towards things I wanted to do, but the massive SHIFT in what my little heart desired.

But, let’s wrap up, shall we?

Winter Season:

Jan27-1

Probably the last time this season I would smile when I was getting ready to run.

My race season got shot to hell when I recovered from burnout just in time to get injured.  My goal to run streak January actually went too long, when I pushed through hip issues for a week to race 3M.  I raced hard and came ~3 minutes from a PR and then for 6 weeks, I could barely run without limping.  I finished The Woodlands Marathon with a significant personal worst (6 hours+) and said FUCK YOU to my season and I don’t think I have ever been so happy to not be in training.

As for food – I did do the snap/my fit foods for a few weeks (while we waited for a dishwasher delivery) but it didn’t do me any good in terms of weight loss.

Feb17-5

It may or may not have been because there was a lot of this too…

One fun bright spot was our little Valentine’s Day Staycation, but most everything else… meh.  I was actually getting pretty depressed at this point and I’m not sure I was able to accomplish anything.  I couldn’t lose weight because I was half assed training for a marathon.  I couldn’t train right for a marathon because I was injured.  It was not a fun time.  Winter sucked, to be honest, more than usual.

Spring Season:

May23-3

Normally people cut their hair short when their life changes.  I cut mine a week and a half before.  I like to innovate.

This season was my jam and when the year started getting good… and terrible and scary at the same time.  Clear as mud? I’ll explain…

Training was just for funsies and very little.   3-5 hours a week, and mostly just being active.  I raced twice, Austin 10/20 which was a long slow slog and was more to earn the beer after while listening to the band.  I raced Lake Pflugerville and actually earned my second best finish yet on no training.  It was exactly what I wanted and needed, an extended break where being a human was priority over being a triathlete.

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I don’t always get a new bike, but when I do, I get it a week before I race.

I wanted to lose 25-40 lbs.  I lost 15.  I actually tried pretty hard but my body did not really cooperate.  While I still dream about getting to the 150-160 range, I was actually feeling pretty fit at the 178-182 mark with the muscle I build with weight training.  Baby steps.

Work had layoffs.  I wasn’t affected personally, but I didn’t agree (to put it in a PC way) with some changes that were made.  I felt betrayed and hurt and like everything was crashing down.  It made me really question what was next and whether I wanted to stick with my current job.  My work resolutions kind of went a different direction – I was much more focused on a contingency plan rather than success where I was currently.

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Docking at Roatan, post scuba glow.

Even though it got disrupted with the work stuff – we had a pretty nice vacation otherwise on our annual family cruise, diving in a new place (Roatan) and visited Playa Maya again in Cozumel for some crazy amazing snorkeling.

I did rock at #projectspring though.

Jul5-2

#ridingbikes.  That is all.

  • I bike commuted for the first time and got hooked and finally got my new tri bike.
  • We cleaned out my vanity, the guest room closet, and the shed/workshop area.
  • We sort of cleaned out the workout room… it’s better but still not a useable training room.
  • I revamped the blog!  I can’t believe that less than a year ago my blog still looked like poopocaca.
  • I started my personal training class.
  • I went camping twice and remembered how it disconnected and centered me.
  • And most importantly, I got my mojo back.  I really and truly needed some time to evolve a little and I got it.  I plan on doing a little bit of #projectspring-ing again next year after IM Texas.

Mar30-1

A weekend in the forest for Ren Faire cures a lot of mojo ills.

I did flake out on a few things that will go onto next year’s list:

  • We got a kitchen estimate and then balked at doing it with the work shake ups.  I feel a little more solid about the idea of dropping a few grand on something like that now that things feel more stable, but it’s always scary to hand over a big amount of money that you might need for things like food if things go sideways.
  • We didn’t clean out the office or finish the workout room.  Soon, my pretties.
  • The other stuff, like go do things and do creative things at home were sort of a cry for me to do something with myself besides train and work and TV and facebook.  I did some of that but I think I may have a perspective on how to do more next year now.

Summer Season

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Finally, some real triathlon-ing up in here.

Training ramped up over the summer.  It was awesome to start so fresh, but it was also weird to really race my first tri (not play at it) in August.  I kept judging where I was at vs a normal year and feeling super behind until I hit some great training and racing:

  • PR at Jack’s Generic and a top 25% finish in my age group (4th on the bike).
  • A SOLID run at Kerrville Olympic in tough conditions and a top 1/3 finish in my age group.
  • A ton of race pace bricks in the feels like a billion degrees where I didn’t die and stayed strong.
  • A ton of bike miles.  My longest ride in 2015 was 50 miles.  This year I knocked out two rides on the exact race course, one 65, one 75, and several that approached the 40-50 mile mark.
  • I completed the Distance Swim Challenge, topping out at 4500m in the lake.  Furthest OWS yet!
  • I maintained a solid weight training regime and got through the season without any nagging injuries.
  • My bike love totally blossomed.  I commuted a lot, and we did a bunch of group rides with the BSS crew.

Jul11-5

Riding bikes with these folks was a highlight of the summer.

Other stuff took a back seat as things ramped up in the triathlon department but I didn’t completely go in a training hole:

Aug30-15

Climbing a literal mountain on bikes requires a lot of selfies.

  • We took a trip to Colorado!  Sure, it wasn’t Roatan like we had planned, but we made the conscious choice to go adventure in the altitude instead of underwater.  We climbed mountains and learned how to do sweet jumps over rocks on our rented steeds, swam in new lakes, ran in pretty places, and had a damn fine time visiting family and friends.
  • I got my Sports Nutrition Specialization.
  • We did the normal summer things.  Waterpark and lake as much as possible.  Gaming with our gaming friends every other week.  Hal Sparks at the comedy club.  Birthday celebrations with a friend even though it was downtown and we had just crushed a long workout.  Newsies at the theatre.

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But yeah, training ramping up meant a lot of this type of recovery…

I struggled a little with work, but it became apparent that I wasn’t going to have to make any rash decisions about what I wanted to be when I grow up yet.

Fall Season:

nov4-1

Seeing sounds and hearing colors after the race…

I raced Austin 70.3 as my A race for the second half of the year and I’m feeling pretty content with my finish there in the opposite of ideal conditions and the utter lack of a perfect race day.  I found ways to rally that I didn’t know I had in me, and I’m excited to stick that all in my pocket to bank on for IM Texas next year.

While I can fret about some minor deficiencies in my training (need to ride TT bike moar, swim speed came together JUST in time because I neglected it, I always want to have more run volume), in the rearview, I think it was a pretty darn great training cycle and lead up.  I can only hope my IM cycle goes similarly.

nov29-3

All the rainbows in the world won’t protect against my stomach revolting.

I also raced Turkey Trot and found out what happens when your body just completely and totally revolts on you.  I’m looking at that as a positive experience simply because of the amount of rally I was able to harness – in a matter of 15 minutes I went from LITERALLY wanting to die to running at a decent clip.  I’ll also put that into my pocket for next April.

Work got crazy and I lost a lot of my give-a-shit to get other things done.  I figured I’d take the week after Austin 70.3 and get onto doing all the things like counting calories and tri coach class and being productive, but it just didn’t happen that way.  However, I’ve made a huge push at it over break so far and:

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All the 25 miles of errands I did one day over break.

  • I’ve expanded my comfort zone for commuter riding, clocking almost 25 miles doing errands on my cruiser one day.  I haven’t driven a car (ok, we went to the fam’s for Christmas in the car, but Zliten drove) since well before December 7th and have been out doing stuff almost every day.
  • Cleaned out my closet and drawers.  I have tons of hangers and space now.  Time to get new stuff! 🙂
  • I’m officially over halfway through my Triathlon Coach Certification.
  • I’m totally caught up processing and editing vacation photos.

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Can we go back now?  I miss it already…

And most importantly, I had the most AMAZING relaxing vacation in Key Largo.  8 days, no plans, 5 books read, all the diving and snorkeling I cared to do (and I cared to do a LOT).  It was everything I needed.

I’ve been trying to categorize the last few years in three words.  So, here’s 2016 in my most used #hashtags:

sept28-1

#projectspring (EVOLVE)

The universe whispers, then speaks, then shouts when you need to learn something.  This year, it was shouting “YOU ARE STAGNATING” and made it abundantly clear that just doing the “same ol’ same ol'” wasn’t cutting it anymore.  Injuries.  Work shakeups.  Many other things that made it clear that  it was time to mother. flippin’. evolve.

Aug30-12

#goplayoutside (FREEDOM)

I have never really considered myself really outdoorsy.  However, this year, I found such peace and freedom and happiness when I would #goplayoutside.  Every workday was better when I would commute and when things got rough, I’d take three walks a day.  I never felt better than coming home after riding bikes all day or taking a run on a beautiful day or swimming in the lake or camping all weekend or playing in the water for hours.  It hurts my soul a lot when I have to spend pretty days (and sometimes even the not-so-pretty days) indoors.   As cheesy at it sounds, I feel that call to the… not necessarily WILD, but definitely to go play outside.

#ridingbikes (OVERCOME)

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At the beginning of the year, I was terrified of riding my bike outside not in a triathlon setting.  Even as late as April and May, I still felt like I would never truly enjoy cycling and thought I’d never get to the point where I can use cycling for transportation.  Through solving some equipment problems, a little help and prodding from my friends, and just toughing it out sometimes, I’ve grown leaps and bounds as a cyclist and will plot and scheme how I can incorporate my cruiser bike into my daily transport and goings on.

If we branch out to the OVERCOME aspect of this, I’ve had to overcome some obstacles at work to finish out the year successfully, some of them in my own head.  I also had to overcome the idea that I was too busy for personal growth with triathlon and work – taking a few hours a week to learn new things and work on personal projects is not a deal breaker (at least some of the year), and I can absolutely work towards future plans as long as I don’t try to do all the things all at once.

And with that… I’ll wish you a very happy New Years Eve, and I’ll be back in early January with my 2017 plotting and scheming.

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Key Largo: Six Days of Fish Pictures

If you like fish pictures, this is the post for you!  I spent so much time in the water this trip, I felt like it deserved it’s own post.  Here’s a recap of our days in the ocean in Key Largo…

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Friday, the conditions were pretty awful.  The surge was pretty rough and the light was not good, and we got there during a lower part of the tide which is not ideal.  However, all ocean time is good time.  I saw an eel, my octopus buddy!!!, and some lobster, but the pictures aren’t really worth a feature because I got lazy and only brought my cheapo camera that day.  I wouldn’t make that mistake again.

Saturday, we went diving in the morning.  The rest of the day was awful, but the morning held up well for us.  We started the day with a grouper right where we descended.

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Later I’d see a Nassau grouper hanging out, trying to pretend to be part of a grunt school.

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We then found two eels right next to each other.  A green moray and a spotted moray (many more greens later, so here’s the spotted).  It’s weird – when we’d see them in the morning, they seemed like they were happy and lounging and docile.  In the afternoon and evening, they seemed like they were more aggressive and on the hunt.

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Midnight parrotfish are fairly rare and usually super skittish, but this one wanted to be friendly!

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Longspine squirrelfish aren’t THAT rare, but I really liked the lighting and colors in this shot.

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I had all the parrotfish luck, because this was a beautiful blue parrotfish hanging out with a juvie stoplight parrotfish and some grunt bodyguards.

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….and yet MORE parrotfish.  The rainbow parrotfish are SO hard to photograph.  They’re also super skittish and you have to get them in the right light (read… REALLY close to my flash) for the colors to come out.  This doesn’t quite capture how pretty they are but it’s the closest I’ve come!

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Then, the chain of awesome started.  It seems like a lot of times, you’ll see one cool thing, and then another cool thing, and then something else really cool all in a row.  This time, I found a spotted drum under a rock.

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Then, I turned around, and saw an eel just lounging.  He had cleaner shrimp and some little fish giving him a manicure and pedicure.

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Then, I turned around again, and I saw a Southern Ray just lazily swimming by.  I chased him down for pictures.

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The day ended with a scrawled filefish that wanted to give me his closeup.  I obliged.

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Sunday was all about the shallows and the lagoon.  It’s definitely a different sort of beautiful in the lagoon than the ocean.  It reminds me a lot of snorkeling in the quarry on a very very very clear day… in that it just looks like this alien world.

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On my way out, I did see a little baby tiny upside down jellyfish getting attacked by the swarms of juvinile fish that are everywhere in the lake.  I rescued it for a few seconds.  It was still there a few days later so obviously it can stand up for itself and probably didn’t need my help.

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In the ocean, we saw a lesser electric ray and a multitude of lobster (I have better pictures later of both, so I’ll hold off) and a bunch of adorable itty bitty nurse sharks napping the afternoon away.

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I also chased down a bandtail puffer fish until it actually posed for me.  If I could communicate with fish and just tell them that I am friend and I just want a picture, life would be so much easier!

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Monday, we flipped things around and went for an afternoon dive on the shop’s suggestion since the waters were supposed to be calmer.  Our plan was to go see Christ of the Deep, but the visibility in that area was crappy, so we just went back to Molasses Reef.  We started the day with a reminder of why to wear wet suits when diving… I feel pretty brave (/stupid?) getting that close to the stingy side of a moon jellyfish with no gloves on.

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Trumpetfish are not super rare but I have never seen any this big!  They would have been a family’s meal for sure!  Scale is hard to judge here, but he was probably the length of my arm and much fatter!

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Smooth trunkfish are always adorable.

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I turned away from the group for a moment to get a good shot of these angels, and then they were GONE!

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After cursing and freaking out just a little bit, I figured out which way they had to have gone and located them AND the reason they deserted me… a big beautiful nurse shark!

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You see grunts all over, but just the sheer VOLUME of them blew my mind.  Sometimes it was far as the eye could see…

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Another group was diving and had an underwater noisemaker rattling, and I went to go see what the fuss was about.  It was a shy turtle hiding under a rock.  He put up with my camera flashes for a little bit, and then swam RIGHT UNDER ME.  It made me happy!

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Then, we saw ANOTHER turtle, and this one was just lazily swimming along and he didn’t mind the company.  Turtles are my favorite.

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We ended the dive seeing a uniquely colored honeycomb cowfish.  I’ve never seen one quite this hue, it was gorgeous!

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Even with the jellyfish action, these definitely in my top 10 dives ever.  There was so much to see!

Tuesday, we finally got our clear days out in the shallows.  I saw a lot of lobster, and this cute little crab who really wanted to pinch me.

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We got out and walked to the jetty, and Zliten decided to get in and check it out.  He swam around a bit and then shouted THROW ME MY CAMERA!!!  Once I heard what it was, and that it wasn’t moving, I clambered down the rocks as quickly as I could and said fuck my fins so I could get some snaps of this guy.

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My octopus buddy hung out for a bit before hiding away again.  It made sense why I couldn’t find him after the first day… he had left for HIS vacation.  This made my week!

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We went back out close to sundown, and found all the eels on the hunt.  At first, I thought one eel was just stalking me, but Zliten pointed out they were different sizes.  It was still a little creepy.  However, I got this lovely picture, which I call Eel School Portrait.  It makes me giggle when I look at it every time.

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It was the full moon, so the lobsters were definitely partying and doing the moon dance.  This was the first time I’ve snorkeled after dark, and it was really fun to catch the inhabitants of the rocks doing different stuff.

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Wednesday was our last day and I was bound and determined to spend as much of it in the water as I could.  I think I clocked something like 4 hours submerged.    We spent more time around the jetty, which was great, because we saw more things, but it was definitely DANGER SNORKELING because there were thousands of these things all over.

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I always think I see highhats, but they’re always spotted drums (which are more common).  However, this trip, I found my FIRST highhat, after I chased a stupidly shy (ok, probably SMARTLY shy for his self preservation, but still…) midnight parrot fish into a crevice, this little guy posed for me for a bit.

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Let me introduce you to Lobster Family.  On a broken lobster trap, no less, there were constantly 6-10+ lobsters hanging out under this one rock.  I always said hi to them and let them tap my camera when I went by.

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I’ve not seen schools of parrot fish before.  It’s not the best photo, but it was really cool to see more than one at a time!

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We found an abandoned tractor tire, and inside of it was a sleeping nurse shark.  It made a nice photo.

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On the way back, we stopped in the lagoon for a bit.  Here’s more of that eccentric alien world.

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I almost didn’t get Zliten to come back out for another session, but enough pouting made it happen.   How about one more sleeping nurse shark for posterity?

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We found two lionfish this time.  Lionfish are SO gorgeous but so bad for reefs – they eat anything smaller than them and reproduce so quickly.  I hope beyond hope that they were not a breeding pair or we may come back and see all the lionfish and not much else.

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I turned my head randomly and caught a gorgeous giant spotted ray flying by about 5 feet from me.  The lighting was all wrong and I only had one chance at it, so this is the best I got.

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However, ALL the lesser electric rays were out.  I counted at least five we saw.  They are a lot calmer and you don’t have to chase them down.

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I’ll save you more eel and lobster pics, but they were out to say their farewells to us.  We did catch a very uniquely colored scrawled cowfish on our way back to shore.  He didn’t want to stay in my light (the fun of night snorkel pictures) but he lit himself up pretty well anyway…

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And for our last trick, in one foot of water, we played hide and seek with this little tiny baby crab.  He’d hide, and we’d tap on the sand above him and he’d come back out.  It was adorbs.  Please excuse the overexposure from all our lights in such shallow water.

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Things I learned this time:

  • It’s never worthless to get in the water.  Worst case, you see nothing and spend some time in the ocean and it’s still a win.
  • However, it’s ALWAYS worth bringing the good camera.  Especially on the bad days (because you’ll get better pictures).  You’ll never know what you’ll capture.
  • 75-79 degrees (December Key Largo ocean temps) is not really comfortable with just a swimsuit, but I didn’t need a wetsuit every day.  Next time I’ll grab some sort of cheapo leggings to go with my rashguard so I can save the pull and tug of getting the wetsuit on every time.
  • Having three bathing suits was not overkill.  I still had to put a wet one on to go out once in a while.  Four actually would have been ideal, and I could have left some of the other clothes I brought instead.
  • Snorkeling in the shallows after a few beers was fun. 🙂
  • Not so much learned, but enforced – the slower you go, the more you’ll see.  It takes looking under all the rocks and crevices and looking all around you to find the cool stuff.  There were SO many people we talked to that snorkeled there all the time and had never seen the eels and sharks.
  • When given the opportunity to snorkel/dive vs do anything else – I will pick water time.  We had designs about doing a long run, having a bike adventure around the key, going on a fishing tip… but instead we played in the water until we were pooped.
  • Besides looking at the pictures we took, the best way to unwind was reading.  We figured we’d go out and hit a bar at least one night but instead we just read books until our eyes were droopy.
  • Not to say there wasn’t cocktails being had.  The last word of wisdom is the best way to cure a hangover… getting outside and back into the water.  I did a pretty good job at not overdoing it, but was feeling pretty rough the last morning, but a quickie run and a dip in the lagoon fixed me right up.

Sadly, I’m now back to being landlocked, but we’re discussing our adventures for 2017, which will definitely include some diving on a cruise, mayyyyybe some altitude diving in Lake Tahoe if it works out, and perhaps a short liveaboard trip in the fall/winter.

And, if you’re still here, bless your heart, and want to see more, you can find my whole album HERE.

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Key Largo: 8 days, no plans, all the fish

After my family vacation turned mope-fest in May and our epic 4 towns in 8 days Colorado adventures in August, I knew we needed something a little more low key than the week-long diving trip we wanted to take in Roatan.  Bonaire was an experience like no other, and I’m looking forward to diving all day every day again soon, but after this crazy year, I needed something without morning alarms and commitments and all that.  Also, a little less expensive was ideal.

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Enter: Key Largo.  All the ocean fun with a much cheaper plane fare and snorkeling access whenever we wanted on the private beach and lagoon.  We even went down without a diving trip booked.  8 days, no plans.  It was exactly what I needed.

Thursday was an annoyingly long travel day.  I feel like we lost it almost altogether.  We were out the door at 9 to drop off the pets for a 11:40 flight.  We lost an hour care of the change from central to eastern time zones, we waited an hour for our luggage, we waited another hour for the car, and a 2 hour drive ended up being 4 with traffic. To top it off, our confirmation was lost, and we got denied entrance to our condo at 9pm, wondering if we’d have a place to stay for the night.

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However, it’s hard to complain about being in traffic in a Mercedez Benz, and once we got there and got our first margarita on the water (as we contacted the owners and they got it fixed lickety split), everything faded away and vacation really started!

Friday was a pretty iffy weather day.  We got a little snorkeling in, but the seas were rough and the day was more about EATING fish than seeing fish.

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We lunched at Hobo’s Cafe on mahi quesadillas and a lobster po boy, and fortified for the week and got groceries.  The crappy snorkeling convinced us that YES we wanted to dive and YES ASAP so we booked a trip for the next morning.

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We wanted to bike there, but the rain kept spitting at us, so we took the Benz (yep, going to keep saying it…) and visited the fish market to get shrimp and more mahi for tacos for dinner.  Most delicious grilled corn completed the meal.

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Saturday morning we headed out to Molasses Reef on a boat.  It was amazing.  I’m going to do an additional Creatures Seen in the Water post next, so I’ll save all those tales since this recap is long enough.  However, I will say that we both agreed we could dive Molasses Reef for a week straight and not get bored.

We had burgers for lunch at the little bar by the pier, and then I figured I’d spend a moment watching Kona since it was on NBC before going back out to the water.  Instead, I fell asleep on the couch.  I guess I needed the nap more than anything.

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The rain continued steadily so we put a dent into some of our liquor stash and read books on the patio all afternoon.  While more water time would have been ideal, it was glorious in it’s own right.

Sunday, the weather was finally Florida-tastic!  We had a lazy morning and then got on with the #ridingbikes to #goplayoutside!

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First was lunch at JJ’s diner, and after fish for days, a chicken gyro was a nice diversion.  Then, we headed to the dive shop to book another dive trip for the next afternoon because we didn’t get enough bubble time.  Then, we hit up the big dive store for some upgrades – I got myself a neoprene strap and holder for my snorkel (I was so sick of getting my hair caught in it… worth every penny of the ten bucks combined).  We also got new dive shoes to replace our boots.  All of it got stashed in my awesome blue backpack and we biked home.

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It was pretty close to low tide when we got to the water, and I groused about it at first.  “This is worthless,” I said, but I got in the water anyway.  Then it was amazing.  From then on, I got in the water whenever we got a chance.

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For dinner, we grilled our leftovers from the fish market with some butter garlic rice, grilled broccolini, and caesar salad.  I’m still dreaming about this meal.

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Monday, we got up in time to get some morning snorkeling in, and then ate another Publix sub and got out for our afternoon diving trip.

Diving days really are the best days even when they’re not.  The first dive was fucking phenomenal, but the jellyish were out.  I got hit by sea lice on the first dive (jellyfish particulate) and then again on the second.  But, I got to see all sorts of nifty creatures… which I’ll talk about in the next post.  Spoiler: I think dive #1 is in my top 5 of all time.  So, it was totally worth it.

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Then, we consoled ourselves with our stingy skin with fried food and blendy drinks and watching sunset from the tiki bar at Skipper’s Dockside.  It worked out just fine.

Tuesday, the seas were calmer and I was bound and determined to spend every moment I could in the water.  We snorkeled our normal spot in the morning and then we decided to walk to the jetty and Zliten jumped in there.  He spent some time looking around and then shouted, “THROW ME MY CAMERA!”.  What did we see?  Stay tuned for the next post….

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Walking back, I started poking Zliten’s shoulder and hyperventilating.  Apparnetly, in my language, that means MANATEES!!!  There, right in the harbor, were two of them (center bottom pane above) hanging out.  We watched them for a while and they were awesome.   It was the best morning.

Then, in the evening, we snorkeled until after sunset and we got to see the full moon over the beach.

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After getting showered and changed, we went to Tower of Pizza to refuel.  Their salad and bread was amazing, and the simple garlic butter linguini was sublime.  The pizza was pretty stellar as well (and we had leftovers for lunch).

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Wednesday was our last full day, so we started it off with a quick little run to the jetty (considering it had been over a week, I wanted to make sure I remembered how), and then it was pretty much eat, drink, snorkel, repeat.  For breakfast, I had the last of my yogurt and cereal, coffee with spiked eggnog, and then a morning snorkel.

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Then for lunch, we had the leftover pizza and I had some fruit to use up, so I made a smoothie.  I also had some tequila left, so I made my smoothie alcoholic. 🙂

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In the late afternoon, I dragged Zliten out for one more snorkel.  He was a little salty about it (he was enjoying the patio and reading and beers), but after we saw SO MANY COOL THINGS, he agreed it was worth getting back out there.

I was already making the sad face when we got out of the water (no more snorrrrrrkles, wahhhhh) but we still had our seafood feast at The Fish House planned.  We saved it for the last day and after four hours in the water, we totally earned it.

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Then, we had one more evening on the patio, using up the rest of the rum, and staying up way too late.  We didn’t want to let vacation go just yet.

Thursday morning came a little too soon, but I knew I’d feel better sacrificing a little sleep for another quickie run to the jetty and a dip in the lagoon.  I got a fond farewell from queen tarpin, the parrotfish, and the trunkfish.

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Then, we started the long trek home.  A few hours drive to the airport (with our last publix sub on the way), and an uneventful sunset flight home.

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I was pretty salty about coming home at first, but it’s been nice.  I feel refreshed and happy.  It helps I still have another two weeks of vacation, but it was a great kick off to my winter break.

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60 Degree Difference

Hello everyone!  Is this thing still on?

I have promised myself a big to do list today which doesn’t involve a long and detailed blog post, but here’s the quick recap.

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I finished work for the year on December 7th.  I also got to hang out with the Back to the Future Delorean car on the way out of work.  Super cool!

The next day, we hopped a plane to Florida, the land of oceans and Publix subs.

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We spent 8 glorious days there, being and eating fish.  Some days I ate fish for every meal, and some days I spent 4 hours in the ocean.  I lost all contact with reality and read something like 5 books while I was there.  It was everything I needed.

Now, I’m back, and enjoying the next segment of my break – the Get Shit Done period.  Zliten is still at work, so I’m attempting to do all the stuff that is less fun and more prone to distractions when he’s not home, like my triathlon coach certification class.  And cleaning out drawers and stuff.  I am going on bike adventures whenever I can, so there’s that.

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I did have a more normal-type weekend in which we rode bikes all afternoon Saturday (5 hours, 70 miles on the Walnut Creek Trail), and then hung in our PJs the rest of the time trying to stay warm because there was a 60 degree difference between our high in Key Largo earlier in the week and the temperatures right now.  Sigh.  Get it together, Austin!

However, in the spirit of Get Shit Done, and in a twist of normal events, I have posted (and captioned!!!) all my vacation pics already.  If you’re interested in a preview, check ‘er out here.

And on that note, off to stop procrastinating! Chapter 3 awaits…

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Bikes = smiles

I have always longed for an urban existence.  While other people dreamed of houses with white picket fences in the suburbs or lots of land out in the country, my perfect life envisioned was a sweet penthouse on the top floor downtown with an amazing balcony view.  I would be able to use my own power to get anywhere I needed (walk, bike, good public transport), and there would be no sitting in a car on the freeway every day.

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I’m going to have to get a proper cold weather cycle jacket eventually, but my 20$ Colorado hoodie seems to be doing just fine so far…

Where I live right now is a compromise, mostly because our JOBS don’t reside in the urban area, so we’d just be living downtown and commuting away from it, which is silly.  I live in a house with a yard.  Public transport here sucks.  However, everything I really need, in general, is just a walk or a short cycle away.  Unless you’re lazy.  Or scared of traffic.  Or let any little anomaly in the weather make you sigh and decide to just use the car this one last time and really, you’ll get on lessening your vehicle dependence soon.  Promise.

That was me for the last few years.  I loved the idea of using foot and pedal power, and I wanted to get there, but when it came to putting it into practice, it was just too hard.  Too scary.  Too inconvenient.  It was one of those resolution-y things I wanted to change this year.

I can’t say that I’m completely on my own power.  We still drive to group rides we could bike to sometimes.  I don’t commute every day, heck, some weeks during season I wouldn’t at all because I had to get to the gym at lunch most days and I just can’t quite reconcile that one with work timing.

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Riding with these peeps have really helped me this year!

However, the things I’ve gotten good at lately:

  • All weekend errands that I can feasibly run with the bike or my own two feet I do.  Picking up stuff from the bike shop?  Hitting the grocery store?  Grabbing lunch somewhere close?  Need a random thing from Big Lots?  Unless it’s pouring I’ll do it on two feet or wheels.
  • Work commutes even if we have other stuff to do before or after.  For example, I had a dentist appointment last week, but it’s close to the house, so I just biked there and then to work instead of taking the car.
  • Tooling around the neighborhood on my bike or just walking when it’s beautiful and I want to get outside.
  • HTFU on the weather.  I found that bikes are indeed still possible in the 40s and 50s with the right layers.  You don’t have to just put them away until spring.

I have to completely credit this to resurrecting my cruiser bike from the shed for a lot of this.  It’s so comfortable to just be able to head out in regular clothes (not bike shorts) and without clips and go do whatever.

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But when I DO kit up,  I have cool bike socks now. #sockdoping

I looked at my total bike miles for the year, and they’re not that far under past years, even with 6 months of not being a triathlete, and more of them being outside miles (than inflated inside trainer miles like previous years).  This really was the year of becoming a cyclist, and I’m super happy about it.

While I’m not seeing the huge payoff in races yet, I am seeing other benefits.

  • My mood is just so improved when I can ride my bike somewhere.  I can face the workday or an errand with the knowledge that at least I got to bike there and I get to bike home!
  • I’m just so much more comfortable on bikes as a whole.  My first group ride this year: “eeek, I have to ride bikes around people I’m scared”.  My last group ride?  “Yay bikes!”

And, most of all, I have this great sense of accomplishment.  You may not have noticed, but around here, I tend to undermine my achievements where I didn’t hit my exact goal.  For example, I rode 100 miles this weekend, but since it was just indoors on the trainer, I’m like, meh.  I could do better.    However, every time I get on my bike and go ride outside, it makes me happy and proud of myself.

I’m conquering demons I had even 6 months ago, where I would have maybe just ridden the trainer or took my car or did the thing that wasn’t biking outside (or even if I did, limiting myself to overly safe spaces like the Veloway).  I set a goal this year to become a better cyclist, and I’m happy to have changed from this girl to at least someone who’s on their way.

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Bikes = smiles

Was this an excuse to just post a bunch of bike selfies again?  Possibly.  But I’m really happy that the bike love I found in the spring wasn’t just a fling.  This is the first winter where my butt will be BFFs with my saddle and I’m actually really excited about it.

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