Adjusted Reality

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

Drawing my suck lines in sharpie

At the end of races, people run into the finish and then collapse.

I mean, these people are not limping or walking or even jogging their way in, they’re racing their ever-lovin’-hineys off.  Then all of a sudden, once the absence of the need for relentless forward movement is gone, once the goal is met, they have nothing left and find the ground rather quickly.

While I’ve not *quite* had that race experience, I do tend to go at life that way.

Vacation, which deserves it’s own post or two, because the ship was something of a ginormous magnificent work of art and technology, and I saw some REALLY COOL THINGS underwater, was not relaxing.  These cruises where we split as much time as possible with family and also as much time as possible getting pretty pictures underwater are very GO GO GO, and I usually find I’m more exhausted at the end of them than the beginning.  I always forget this going in, when I think, “gee I can’t wait for my relaxing cruise”.  They are WONDERFUL vacations, but they are not RELAXING.

I pulled my first rip cord near the beginning of the trip, when I had planned on finishing up the book publishing book and reading some other sports memoirs as research.  Instead, I needed my brain to relax.  I read pulpy sci fi instead.

Then, I had planned on getting some video footage to put into a live-on-scene video for my You Tube channel.  I just couldn’t bring myself to be ON,  no desire whatsoever.  I also barely glanced at my diving pictures during the trip because I felt pressured (by myself, not anyone else) for them to be awesome since my new camera cost a pretty penny.  What I needed was the absence of stress and I felt MORE of it.

Near the end of the vacation, my digestive system just wasn’t right, and I ended up with a minor stomach bug.  Nothing that made me lay in bed all day and miss having fun on the trip, but it probably helped me to be a little less glutinous near the end of the trip and I felt kinda gross for a few days.  No big.

We planned to have a big ol’ bike adventure on Memorial Day and instead spent the day inside, sleeping, and barely moving off the couch.  I felt mostly back to normal and started to inch the workouts back to normal and then Thursday’s brick workout SUCKED.  Like, my heart rate was spiking for no reason, and it was all I could do to eek out a 10:20/mile run pace at an effort usually reserved for 1-2 minutes faster and I felt wiped as hell after.

I was super worried my body was broken, but then a few hours later the snot monster hit me during my last meeting of the day.  While I was grumpy about having a SECOND illness in the span of a week, at least there was a reason for my terrible workout.  I pulled out a full stop at that point.  I did go to work and get groceries the next day out of necessity, but once I got home, it was on.  Or off.  Over the course of the weekend I read two (pulpy sci fi) books, finished Kings Quest Ep 4, slept about 24 hours, and didn’t give a heckin’ damn about anything originally on my to do list.

I will credit my full stop, with also the application of zinc every 3-4 hours for the entire 3 days, with the fact that I pretty much have gotten over a cold so quickly.  I felt pretty energetic even by Sunday afternoon, where I rode my bike for 45 minutes and then had the oomph to randomly clean out my swimsuit/kits area of the closet which has exploded.  By now, five days later, I feel completely back to normal.

One of the most relaxing moments of vacation was my half-hour massage on Mahahual Beach, and I tried to channel that feeling all weekend.  When I was tucked into my recliner on the couch, with atmospheric electronica music going, deep into some sci fi world 500 years in the future, I could almost feel my body vibrating, healing, stitching itself back together.  I’m not a huge hippie dippie metaphysical person, but there was definitely something good going on internally that I needed to let happen and spur along by just being *still*.

Anyhoo, healing trances aside, I also realized I need to make a stand so I don’t get that broken down again because training is about to get real in the next month.  I am not Superwoman.  I cannot be awesome at everything all the time, not even by pressuring myself to do so and wishing I was with all my might and stressing myself out completely with crazy unrealistic expectations.  Surprising no one, that’s not the path to greatness.

To quote one of my favorite concepts from SwimBikeMom – I’m going to need to pull the Suck Line up a little further for a while (probably the summer) to keep my cup of give-a-crap from running dry.

As of this moment in time, my house is now at the state my house will be at until I decide to give a flying fig, which could be as soon as tomorrow and as late as never.  I go nuts if my laundry isn’t done once a week so that will happen and it needs to be picked up enough to have our service come through and clean every two weeks.  Everything else can do as it will until I decide to make it a priority in my life again.

They say turning your hobby into a job sucks the life out of it.  I don’t completely agree, but ever since I got the nice new camera and decided I was going to try and start submitting photos to see if I could make it a minor revenue stream, it became this whole *pressure* thing.  After going through half my vacation photos, I have learned that

a) I am nowhere near professional grade with the on-land pictures thing, I have a lot to learn about how to take pictures with this camera, and as a whole, and

b) I’m guessing I probably have somewhere between half a dozen and a dozen underwater shots that I might feel comfortable submitting to a professional site once I edit them. I might get shot down, but even in the terrible conditions and crappy weather, I got a few gems and actually learned a lot about how to properly light and focus things.

My first instinct, like usual, is that I need to double down and study photography composition and get a bunch of lenses and take some classes and do a bunch of internet research and stalk all sorts of great photographers on instagram.  But then again, rather than take myself back to school and do a graduate thesis over yet another budding hobby vying for my precious free time, for now, it’s probably better to just TAKE MORE PICTURES and when some of them end up being cool, figure out what I did and do that again.

I wrote the last words of the last draft of my book in April, and haven’t touched it since.  It’s stressing me out because it’s becoming too real, says the girl who is apparently afraid of achieving a life long goal.  Why this is any different than my blog which I blather on incessantly, I have no idea.  But somehow it is.  Reading the publishing book has been insanely informative but also is overwhelming me with all the things I didn’t know I needed to know, so that’s helped and hurt at the same time.  Apparently, very little about becoming a published author is about writing the book.  Who knew?

Then, there’s my painting and jewelry and movies and all the other creative stuff I really like doing.  However, instead of being enjoyable hobbies I dabble in, I’ve put them on timers and on to do lists, so they’ve become tasks I MUST do.  Not because I don’t love to do them, but because I’m being a dumbass.  Like the other things above, I’m putting pressure on myself to both produce these creative works at a scheduled rate, and be awesome at all of them at the same time, while balancing life, work, triathlon, and trying to lose weight.

See, here’s the thing.  I grew up being judged, at the most literal sense of the world.  I was a gymnast, and my progress was graded (and gated) by a panel of judges.  I spent years with my ego, soul, talent, and, let’s face it, since leotards are just basically an indoor bathing suit so also my BODY bared to the world performing for a subjective score that would rank me above and below other people.  I spent my latter high school years doing the same thing except face first into a pool of water.  Then I spent my college years auditioning on stage – it was nice to be fully clothed, certainly, but in theater, there’s no absence of baring your soul and talents to be weighed, measured, and often found wanting.

I spent twenty years literally dancing for my (approval) supper.  I did it entirely by choice, but once I left college and got my first job?  It was honestly kind of refreshing just to wake up, go to work, come home, play video games, eat food, maybe drink some cheap vodka if I had a few extra bucks, and go to bed.  I didn’t have to prove anything to anyone.  It was kind of a respite until I got bored and started putting myself out there, showcasing my creative talents for subjective judging, bucking for promotions.

Running and triathlon was a fresh change of pace for a hobby in that the impartial clock dictates who wins.  A judge doesn’t come in and deduct points because of bad swolf on my swim stroke or penalize me for coming out of aero on the bike or decide that my degree of difficulty multiplier should be lower because I didn’t transition from my bike to my run quick enough.  It was GO and then STOP.  And for the first many, many, many years, it was competition with myself.  Then myself and Zliten and our group of friends but always friendly and never for anything but bragging rights.

This last revolution around the sun, I’ve found that I’m close enough to be in contention to podium at some of these local races.  Racing other people instead of just the clock adds in that wildcard back in where all of a sudden, the goalpost might change from having to bike x fast to hit a PR to having to bike x+1 fast to chase down the gal in 3rd.  I’ve relished the challenge and I think it’s made me a better athlete to race with that particular focus, and I KNOW it’s made me care more about racing, which is a huge relief after the last few apathetic years.

However, I definitely feel a little more mental fatigue because, y’know, caring takes effort.  I’m not showing up to races this year to have fun and hang out.  I’m there to focus and compete and hunt people down and do what I can to win or get as close as I can.   It’s a great feeling, but it takes a little more OOMPH than just showing up and seeing what happens. It also feels a little more like my gymnastics and diving days, where I am actually concerned about what others are doing because it directly affects my rank and determines whether I achieve my goals.

It will honestly be a bit of a relief to finish my last two sprints of the year where I have a chance and move on to the rest of the season.  Nationals, Cozumel 70.3, mayyyyybe Waco 70.3.  In these races, I have no opportunity other than either an out of body experience or lightning striking the top half of my age group of standing on the podium.  The feeling of being a little fish in a big pond.  No expectations other than just racing my ass off against the clock.  It will either be amazing or a total letdown, I’m not sure which yet.

I REALLY LOVE the little bit of momentum I found with some early season successes, but in true form, I feel a little fraudulent right now.   I, for many years, have self-identified as a mid-to-back of the pack athlete, and my improvements have been so incremental over the years that I still keep thinking that my 1st, 3rd, and 4th earlier this year have to have been because of extenuating circumstances, that I don’t deserve the fluke which was my Nationals qualifier.  Who am I to be good at this stuff?  I better keep proving it over and over until I actually believe it, right?

*cue David Bowie’s Under Pressure*

It’s just like the dumb expectations I’m putting on myself that my pictures need to be great because I spent the money on a good camera.  My paintings need to be good immediately because a million years ago I used to regularly do art and considered myself an artist and that can’t have stagnated a little in the last fifteen years, right?  My first draft of my book better be amazing because I’ve wanted to be an author for most of my life.  Even *I’m* looking at this thinking, “What the fuck, self?” but that doesn’t stop me thinking it.

It’s like all the childhood desires to be an author, a painter, a photographer, a creative genius awoke in me all at once this year, and I’ve been playing whack a mole with them trying to keep up with being a successful triathlete, good manager, and decent human being.  I enjoy a challenge, but it’s just too much at once right now.  It’s exhausting trying to be amazing at all the things all the time.  That way lies madness.  I’ve been down that road before and I’d rather turn around now before I end up rocking back and forth in a padded room somewhere quiet.

So, as of right now, the suck line needs to be drawn in sharpie (like another one of my favorite OG bloggers says).  Here are the things I care about:

  • Making sure I don’t drive my husband into the loony bin by overloading us with all the things.  Just most of the things.
  • Maintaining my diet program until the absolute last minute when it becomes impossible with 70.3 training.  I’m actually making substantial progress for the first time in forever, so I’d like to ride this wave as long as healthily possible.
  • Triathlon.  I’m really enjoying racing this year.  I’m excited to see what I can eek out of my legs in the next two weekends, enjoy the experience at Nationals, and go after some PRs at the 70.3 distance.  I’m also excited to get back to a few months of the endurance training I know and love and be comfortably exhausted for a while.
  • Having my family and close friends not disown me because I don’t see them ever.  Maybe not as often as we all would like, but enough so I remember what they look like and be there for the big things.  While I may not show up to every little thing, it’s important to me to not be a flake and to not completely disappear down a hole during training.
  • Work, standing obligations and the minimum level of adulting needed to deliver me to the other side of the season in tact with my life not completely in shambles.
  • The book.  Of all the artsy fartsy things I’ve gotten distracted with lately, THIS was the focus this year so it remains above the suck line.  I’m hoping with a few more weeks of distance from it and permission to ignore other things, I’ll feel less overwhelmed about it.

Below the suck line are too many things to list but include:

  • House organizational or remodel projects or really giving a crap if something is out of place.
  • Photos and being the most amazing photographer ever.
  • Videos and having a super popular You Tube channel.
  • Somehow magically being an amazing marketing/PR person.
  • Jewelry making and having a shop on Etsy.
  • Painting masterpieces on a regular schedule.
  • Advanced level adulting that is not urgent or time sensitive.
  • Feeling bad that I don’t make as many team rides as I feel like I should but haven’t fit with my training (or diet, regarding the social gatherings after)

It’s nice to list these things out and wave goodbye to them while I focus on the top six.  It’s not to say I’ll put all my painting stuff down for months or not submit my photos or have a moment where I go in search of learning about how to be popular on the YouTubes or research camera tricks, but I no longer have a time table on these things.  Furthermore, I am henceforth disallowed for judging myself harshly for either the absence of effort or the lack of being amazing in any of these areas.

Triathlon, #projectraceweight, minimal adulting, being a decent (I’m not even going for amazing or great) friend/family member, progress towards being an author.  My head is a little clearer and my focus is set.  Now, let’s bring on the summer!

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2 Comments

  1. Thanks for putting not driving me crazy in that list.
    Joel recently posted…April Showers make for great runs and ridesMy Profile

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