Adjusted Reality

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

Month: February 2017

#letsgetdizzy – Pace Bend 6 hour race

Late last year, I saw an event which intrigued me – a 6 (and 12 and 24, but let’s not go there… yet) hour bike race at the Driveway – where all the big kid cyclists race every week during the summer.  I’m not at the point where I want to start doing those type of races where you can reach out and touch 5 other people’s bikes from your saddle, plus I could NEVER make it down south by 5pm on a Thursday with work, but I’ve always wanted to check it out.

This is my first timed bike race – and something about having an HOURS cut off instead of a mileage cutoff felt like it took the pressure off.  Yes, I had mileage goals but also if everything fell apart, I just had to ride my bike for some portion of 6 hours on a fairly flat ~1.7 mile loop.

Then, the city decided they were going to repave the Driveway that weekend and they had secured Pace Bend Park instead.  So, instead of ~20 feet of ascent in 1.7 miles, we were looking at 350 in 6.2.  Yeah, that’s slightly different.  The race production company gave everyone a chance to bow out for a refund, which was super awesome, but nope.  I was in.  I would just adjust my expectations.

Last week seemed to go by in a blink, and then all of a sudden it was Friday night and after dinner, grocery shopping, and packing for the race and camping after for like 3 hours, my back was SUUUUUUUPER sore from all the STANDING.  And still sore the next day when I woke up.  Crap.  Not the best way to start a race day, but after some dinking around and getting set up and the pre-race meeting and losing my gloves because Zliten stole them, we were off to the races in the 40-ish and spitting rain (and that would not change the entire time).

I really don’t feel like a play by play of 14 loops would be that interesting, so here’s some observations/learning experiences from my first endurance cycling event.

1. Just because Zliten knows where something is or where it was packed does not help you when you’re half a loop displaced from each other and you can’t find your shit.  Be self sufficient like a triathlon – if I need something I need to pack it on my own in my own stuff.

2. Sometimes you have no idea what you’ll need.  Last weekend’s 100, I had ZERO want for gels and the like, and ate predominantly solid food to fuel.  Saturday, solid food just tasted like garbage and I ate 4 gels, 1 whole pack of blocks, most of a grapefruit, and had 3 giant strong gatorade bottles.  I also had half an english muffin and some bites of quesidilla but both those things were just like BLECH.

3. Loops are rough to judge where you are in the pack.  I felt like I was getting passed, passing no one but maybe a few of the 24 hour zombies on their last few hours, and I was going to be dead last.  When I checked the results, I was solidly mid-pack in the 6 hour solo female group.  As a triathlete playing at being a cyclist for the day, I was PUMPED.  The female leader only eeked out 4 more laps than I did.

4. I have never been to a cycling event where music was allowed, and we were allowed one earbud in.  Having that the last 3 hours really helped me a lot.  I know I can’t use it for IM Texas, but IM Texas hopefully isn’t going to be 40 degrees, rainy, and have over 5k of climbing, so there will be tradeoffs.

5. Being part of a cycling team rocks.  Every loop, people in our tent were cheering, asking if I needed handups or anything, giving support, and generally being awesome.  When I did stop, they helped me get in and get out quicker than I would have on my own. I only clocked 13 minutes of stops over two breaks (one to refuel, and one because my back was cramping and I needed to stretch and roll it out).   I was pretty impressed with that!

6. I need to give myself some credit at being able to handle my shit.  When my back was cramping up around hour 3, I got in a pit of despair for a bit.  How was I going to deal with this?  How on earth could I ride 3 more hours with an effed up back when I couldn’t find my happy pills?  I just started trying things.  Caffeine dulls pain so I took another caff gel (this explains the crazy eyes above).  I stopped to roll my back even if it took ~5 minutes, it made it feel better.  Aero hurt after a while and sitting up hurt differently after a while, so I just changed my position a lot and adopted this weird half aero position going down hills.

7. I will never complain about 70.3 training again.  You mean I ONLY have to ride for 3 hours and maybe run off it for an hour as a big training day?  That’s like… nothing.

8.  I will probably be buying the short version of my long thermal bibs even if they cost a million bucks.  My butt was SO comfortable all day and I didn’t even have to reapply hoohah glide.  I need these bibs in my life on days that AREN’T 40 degrees.

9.  I’ll be looking for a kettlebell to buy for home or at least make sure I get to the gym once a week.  My back was in better condition when I was doing weighted squats, throws, and deadlifts.

10.  I’m glad I have a short memory.  At 3pm (3 hours in), I wanted to quit and never ride my bike again.  At 8pm (post race + post ciders), I was talking about maybe considering doing the 24 hour relay next year or mayyyyybe doing a 12 hour solo with a lot of breaks and maybe bringing two bikes I could switch between.  And if it’s at the Driveway where the elevation is flatter.  And if it fits in my training plan for whatever I’m training for.

As for my goals and how I did – when it was going to be flat, I was going to go for 100 miles.  I figured that was doable on my TT bike.  However, I’m not the best climber in the world, and I’m a lot more cautious in the rain, so I figured I’d get out there and see what I was riding before putting some unrealistic expectations on myself.

After 2 hours, I noticed I was perfectly on pace to hit 15 loops (93 miles) if I could stop really quickly and then increase speed a little (which I tend to do at the end of rides anyway).  However, my cramping back that caused the second stop also made me slow a little in the middle, so I had to readjust my goal to 14 laps (87 miles) and I made that with 5 minutes to spare on the race clock (5:42 of riding total).

After the race, I drank all the cider, ate hot dogs and macaroni salad, sat around a tiny fire, and had fun being outside and peeing in the woods.  Camping in the cold, as long as you have the right clothes and blankets, is pretty a-ok.  Of course, when we woke up in the morning, it was gorgeous, 60s, and a mix of overcast with a little sun peeking out.  *shakes fist at universe* Ah well.  I guess we had to REALLY earn our badass medal.

I feel MUCH more confident about the ride portion of Ironman.  I’ve now spent ~6 hours pretty much nonstop riding my TT bike.  For two weeks in a row, I’ve put in something approaching what I expect my time on the bike will be at Texas (hoping under 7 hours depending on all the things that day).  How am I going to run a marathon after?  One mile at a time and I’ve got 2.5 months to figure that out.

Ironman Vocabulary

I’ve trained for marathons and 70.3 races, but Ironman training is just a whole different animal.  I’ve even learned some new vocabulary words in the last month or two that I’d like to share with y’all.

Ready for a night on the town couch.

Swim pajamas – the clothes you wear either to or from swimming (or both) because you can’t be arsed to put on real clothes

Day off – just a 30 minute spin or swim.  And a weights session.  Oh, and stretching and foam rolling.

Light day – just a 30 minute spin, weights, and an hour easy run.  And stretching and foam rolling.

Doubles – two workouts a day, or a light day.

Triples – ah, that’s more normal (three workouts in a day).

Proof I don’t always wear race tees and spandex.

Dressing up – not wearing ALL spandex today

Really dressing up – my hair has no sweat in it since I have showered last, and I may or may not have actually brushed it.

Really, really dressing up – I have traded in my chapstick for lipstick.  The effort may or may not have killed me.

First snack – the snack you get while you’re making your real snack that will hold you over until your meal is ready.

Snack – something that other people would probably consider a meal, comes between first snack and mealtime.

Low Carb – only eating one source of carbs at a meal (a sandwich) instead of 3 (spaghetti with garlic bread and a brownie for dessert).

An appropriate amount of carbs during IM training… (just ignore the fat content…)

Second Meal – when you finish your dinner and track your calories and realize you need a whole extra meal or you’ll be in super huge calorie debt.

The window – the 30 minutes or less between your workout and eating.  Don’t fuck with the window.  Don’t fuck with a triathlete who is approaching the end of the window.  Best case: you’ll get snapped at.  Worst case: your finger will get snapped off.

Hangry – Hell hath no fury like a hungry triathlete.  Do not pass GO, do not collect 200$, go directly to a place which has calories available to consume.

Priorities – Having the energy to bike for 7 hours does not mean I also have the energy to leave the couch after or the next day (unless it’s for a recovery ride).

Recovery – The excuse I’m giving you as to why I’m not cleaning the house right now or going to your thing that does not involve swimming, biking, or running, and is really far away from my couch.

Workout room – A place to put all your triathlon gear.  Includes tri bike, road bike, cruiser bike, seven different helmets, ten bike tubes (some are flat and YOU TOTALLY WILL PATCH THEM LATER), a bike pump, a broken bike pump you haven’t thrown away yet, a smart trainer, a backup “dumb” trainer, a slightly janky treadmill that’s better than nothing in a pinch if there’s lightning literally striking your house repeatedly so you can’t go outside, a bunch of abandoned weights, all the bike tools, five pairs of leaky goggles that ARE JUST FINE IN THE POOL until you remember they really aren’t, 200 swim caps from races, four different single earplugs, three old backup garmins (that aren’t charged), two pairs of clip on aero bars, four yoga mats, three foam rollers, ten different flashy run and bike lights for night workouts, four wetsuits, and this nifty massager thing that you used once in 2012.

…and this is the AFTER picture, believe it or not…

Cooldown (optimal) – some easy effort for 10 mins and then 10 mins of stretching

Cooldown (time crunched) – walking to the shower still sweating and half assed stretches at your desk later.

Cooldown at a race – getting your medal, limping to the nearest curb, falling over and crying a little while trying to drink Gatorade.

D: <- this is the only caption I have for this face.

Fashion – look how my socks match my kit! See also #sockdoping

Shopping spree – ordering new running shoes a new bike kit and that really cool garmin you’ve been eyeing for months.

Shopping spree (alternate) – signing up for all the races.

#sockdoping – legal performance enhancing benefits via cycling in cool socks.

Laundry – one basket for workout clothes, one for regular clothes.  The workout clothes one fills up first, always.  Related: bike trainers make great extra drying racks.

Poor Death Star… so abused…

Optimal race hotel – close enough to walk to the race and has food and a bar within a block, aka limping distance.  Required: fridge and microwave for pre-race food and post race leftovers to eat when you wake up hangry again at 3am.

Pre race food – obnoxiously picked to be the perfect blend of carbs, protein, and has been tested and perfected over many many years to sit well in the stomach.

Post race food – my body is a fucking dumpster and I will fill it with EVERYTHING I can from the finish line to the restaurant to the bar to snacks later.

HTFU – my crotch hurts but I’m still getting on my bike for a recovery ride the day after a century because I hate my private parts and want to punish them.

#mfw riding bikes for a month straight.

Pain Free – nothing NEW hurts on me

Niggles – I’m three workouts away from a stress fracture

Injury – an appendage is LITERALLY off my body

Tired – this my normal condition daily on a good day

Exhausted – a little more tired than normal, aka, week 2 of a 3 week training block.

Knackered – I cannot understand how to make sense of the world and function right now, or most of week 3 of a 3 week training block.

Sore – Stairs and curbs are the mortal enemy of my soul.  Walking is hard.  Can you bend over and retrieve this sock for me?   …I better go for a swim/spin/easy jog to stretch things out.

A little looking back, a little more looking forward.

Shall we do some of that retrospection and reflection now that January is done and dusted?

A little scruffy but STILL SPARKLING DANGIT!  January did not defeat me!

Let’s start with the general stuff.  January life goals were a big HELL YES.  Besides completely procrastinating the great car cleanout of 2017, I did a great job at sticking to the things I wanted to get done.   I made ZERO progress on my weight, but I am tracking and weighing daily, and I know last time it took me SIX WEEKS to see any change.  If I have to choose between losing weight and fueling workouts properly I’ll take the latter, but I’m hoping to accomplish a little of both.  I started pretty strong with batch/healthy cooking but I’ve fizzled the last week or two.

I finally broke the cycle of doing moronic things like staying up super late and drinking like a frat boy a little too often (oddly enough, it just took 11+ hours of training per week, duly noted).  To do this Ironman training thing, I found I either had to a) prioritize rest and recovery or b) break the eff down.  I’m choosing a) for the next few months and I can do idiot things in May if I want.

Obviously, training-wise, the focus in January was cycling-centric and I capped that off with my first 100 mile outdoor ride.  I was able to get in 3 runs in the double digit range, but not a whole lot of mid-week volume to back it up.  I struggled to build my swim as planned because of allergies, lack of motivation to swim outside in the cold, and the fact that my ass was attached to a bike seat every day, but I got some work done there and reached the 3k/1 hour mark.  I did a pretty good job sticking to strength and recovery work, simply because I’ve figured out the most lazy ways to do it so I don’t have excuses.

Ways to make sure you do double digit runs/actually run faster than a slow slog during bike month – sign up for races with friends!

January stats:

  • 53 miles of running (10h)
  • 601 miles of cycling (35h)
  • 9541m swimming (3h)
  • 8 strength sessions (out of 9 planned)


Body Stats:

  • Average daily intake: 2161 calories, 112g protein, 64g fat, 30g fiber, 256g carbs
  • Average daily deficit: -806 calories
  • Average January weight: 188.7
  • Average weekly beer consumption: 12 beers (1.7 beers per day)

Going into February, I feel a little behind on the bike (I was hoping 100 miles would be more in my comfort zone instead of doing it once and it being REALLY FUCKING HARD), but I’m less worried about it then I was this time last week.   I’m ready to shift from all-crotch-smashy-against-my-bike-saddle-all-the-time January to training a little more evenly in February, making my foray into the longer-than-half-marathon runs so I can test the waters in that sport.

I’m planning on this block (and maybe more in the future) of 2 weeks on/1 week off.  I think if I have a shorter time to rest week, I can push myself a little harder.  Also – last week was rest week and kinda not that restful, so I can definitely see the value having a stepback week sooner than later where we don’t have errands evvvvry day after work and I don’t do a 7+ hour ride.

What, your rest weeks don’t involve riding 100 miles?  Pffft. 🙂

Week 1 of block 2 (this week):

  • Long run of 2 hours/10 miles.  Already done.  I hoped to maybe extend it closer to 3/15 miles, but I did it so close to my long ride that 10 miles was super hard enough.  Another hour run easy on the plan tomorrow and that’s it for runs.
  • 6 hour bike race.  I want to get as close to 100 miles as I can.  Even if I fall short, I’ll get to spend 6 hours of QT on a closed course with Death Star and notch another solid outdoor long ride.  Backing this up with mostly easy, short bikes the rest of the week.
  • 3k+ long swim and a lunchtime shorter speedier swim.
  • A more balanced week.  My bike streak is done, and while I believe it did me lots good, I will be MORE than happy to not hop on my trainer every 12-36 hours and spend some of that time running and swimming.

Week 2 of block 2 (next week):

  • Long run of 3-4 hours.  At least 15, up to 20 if I’m feeling good.  I’m actually blocking my long workout of the week off for this instead of a bike.  And, this will be the last big workout before a rest week, so if I feel awesome and go for the 20, I can immediately transition to rest week, I don’t have to *save* anything.  I’ll back this up with a *little* more mid-week volume (probably 2×1 hour runs, one slightly faster than slog pace).
  • Backing off on the cycling volume for one week.  No long ride, but 3-4 hours of quality riding and 1-2 hours recovery happy fun riding throughout the week.
  • 3-4k long swim.  Race distance would be great, if not, at least an hour session plus a shorter lunch speed session.

Rest week:

I haven’t planned this one out yet, but I’m hoping to spend some good QT in the pool.  Swimming is recovery to me.  Even a long swim makes me feel awesome the next day.  As for the rest of the week, I could approach it with little mid-week volume and a long effort on the weekend, or just a consistent 1-2 hours max daily.  It might be nice to just roll through some comfortable sessions and give my mental toughness a week off.  I’ll have to see how I feel.

Next block (Feb 20th and beyond):

I’m still struggling with what’s next and to be honest, I think I’ll have to evaluate how this block went and what I need to work on.  Do I need more cycling or running work?   When should I do my two “big days“?  Do I feel like I need more volume or can I back off a little and work more speed? How absolutely BEAT am I?  Should I do 2 or 3 weeks on before a rest week?  What life stuff do I need to work around?

Only time will tell.  But, I definitely have goals.  Let’s list them, shall we?

  • 20 mile run once, 15+ run at least once
  • 4k swim at least twice
  • Two outdoor long rides approaching 100 miles.  Now that I’ve hit the mark once and have two “long days” planned a bit later in the cycle, I’m not as hyper-focused on triple digits, but the effort should be there.
  • 2-3 sessions per week that are harder than an easy slog (cycle class or videos, pool speedwork, some intervals that are faster than 11-12 min/mile run, etc)
  • Weights twice a week.  Get into the gym at least a couple times to lift the slightly heavier stuff.  One non-dozen set each week since it’s kind of getting easy now.
  • Continue with the boots, rolling, and/or stretching everyday game.  It’s really helping.

And, to round out February, I have some non-triathlon related goals. The big focus of the month is IRONMAN TRAINING.  Everything else that needs to fall off to hit that hard?  It’s fine.  I’ll worry about my to do list and how my house looks in May.  But, I would like to accomplish some things, so it’s worth putting them out there.

It was a month of balancing a LOT of the sporty sporty with a little of the beers.  February will be much the same.

Healthy Living Stuff:

  • Even if the beer-only embargo is lifted, don’t be an ass about drinks.
    • Beer on weekdays, other stuff on weekends/special occasions.
    • Don’t average more drinks than January.  Training hours will be going up.  Beer counts should not.
  • Continue to track my food and weigh every day and aim for the proper ratios.  It will be GREAT to have this data.
  • Water.  it’s always harder for me in the winter.  Most days I’m getting my ~64 oz but I should be drinking more if I’m training.  I should be getting that PLUS some during workouts.
  • Realize that cooking during the week is probably not going to happen and my limit for batch cooking on the weekends is lower than normal.  Put together SUPER easy meals and plan for healthy take out options in between.
  • Priorities go in this order: eating good food to fuel my workouts THEN trying to maintain a deficit.  Both are good, but the former is more important than the latter.

Life Goals Stuff:

  • I feel torn up about what’s going on in the world right now, but for my own good I need to largely ignore it.  I don’t have time to give, but I have money I can donate to causes that are fighting all the bullshit and that’s something I can actually do.  This month, I need to investigate where to put it and set up some sort of donations.
  • Actually clean out the cars.  For reals.  It’s almost hilarious how long we’ve been procrastinating this.
  • Speaking of cars, after cleaning it out, mine is very overdue for it’s 60k mile service.  It’s just dropping it off and spending the money.
  • Wash and lube the entire bike stable.  Evilbike is a dirty girl right now and Death Star is kind of sticky.
  • Finish the last 3 triathlon coach chapters this month and start studying for the test.
  • Keep making small efforts to pursue my big scary end of the year side hustle goals.  Play with my book outline I’ve started.  Continue to play with growing followers and social media stuff.  Avoid personal facebook because it is a hive of scum and villany.
  • Once we get our bonuses, consider what we’d like to apply them to in terms of a housing project (and start researching).

Life goals – to have all Mondays looking and tasting this awesome!

All in all, it feels GREAT to have survived January and actually kicked it’s butt!  February is looking promising and then it becomes one of the best times of year… spring!

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