Adjusted Reality

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

Month: August 2018

Cleveland National Championships Race #1

After finishing all the things right on time at work, with a huge sigh of relief, we headed out to the airport to jump on a plane at 6pm to Cleveland, Ohio.

Everyone kind of gives you funny looks when you say that’s where you’re going for the weekend (usually my vacation destinations are a little more… tropical), but then when you say it’s to compete in a National Championship race, they nod and say “good luck”.  I wasn’t expecting much out of Cleveland, but I was pleasantly surprised!

Our flight got in late, around 1am, and that meant we were settling into our room around 2.  Not ideal, but it was much better to get the travel day done with and wake up in the city ready to do all the things vs try to fly in the next morning.  We slept until 11am, and then unpacked and put our bikes together.  Zliten did an amazing job doing it rather quickly, and then we attempted to hightail it down for the official pre-race swim practice that ended at 1.  We left the hotel at 12:30, it was supposedly a 20 minute bike, what could go wrong?

Well, we got HORRIBLY lost, had to backtrack a bunch, and then ran into construction on the bike path.  It took us 45 minutes to go the 4 miles to the race, and we OBVIOUSLY missed the swim, so we just splashed around in Lake Erie for a few and then headed to packet pickup.  After that, we dropped Death Star off for her weekend at sleepaway camp, and split a burger for lunch from a food truck on site because we were DYYYYING by that point and just needed something… anything.  We made the journey back to the hotel, which involved walking about 2 miles and then picking up a bikeshare and riding that 2 miles back with my husband on his tri bike (since he couldn’t drop it off until the next day).  It was suuuuuper fun hauling ass and huffing and puffing my way up the bridge while my husband was taunting me about averaging 17 watts.

By that point we were back on the verge of hangry, and after perusing the area, settled on an Irish Pub for pre-race food.  I had a salad, and then this amazingly decadent meatloaf filled with bacon and gouda.  I would have felt guilty about eating the entire enormous brick of it, but I knew what I had done today and what I was about to go do tomorrow, and did not feel bad in the slightest.  We stopped by Heiman’s, a pretty fancy grocery store, and got some breakfast for the morning and snacks and random essentials, and then headed back to the room to prep all the things and relax.

Then the wedding DJ started in.  Our room opened to this beautiful arcade, which was awesome.  However, they host events there every weekend.  The rooms were these old converted offices from the old Arcade, so they were super substantial, but even through two heavy doors, I could hear the *thump thump* of the wedding DJ until 11pm when it ended.  I did not sleep well the night before the race, for various reasons, and that being one.

4:30am came super early, but I’ve got this pre-race thing down to a science, and this morning was no different.  Caff beans. Tea. Sunbutter honey english muffin.  Bathroom and contacts.  Quick appointment with the foam roller.  One more bathroom.  Kit up and go.  The shuttle situation was REALLY convenient, it took about 20 minutes from hotel to race site, and I was in transition setting up before I knew it. 

I had decided to do a really dumb thing and wear my new kit (just took the tags off) on race day since it was rushed to me.  Do as I say, not as I do… but honestly, I justified it because this race was for funsies and I just wanted to wear my new and shiny, damn the conseqences.  I got nervous about it while I was lying awake in bed the night before and I packed a backup kit just in case. 

Well, I’m super glad I did, because as I zipped it back up after using the porta potty, the zipper failed in the same spot it did on the last one.  I was SUPER frustrated, and I chided myself for being too effing fat for the kit (which, I’m not… my measurements put me one size DOWN).  This started a cascade of all the negative bullshit in my head.  My specially cultivated calm, confident, and slightly egotistical race day persona went right the hell out the window to “what the hell are you doing here, fatty mc fatterson?”.

I changed and tried to clear my head and headed down to the race start about a 10 minute walk away.  However, my head was too clear, and I left my swim cap, goggles, and earplugs in my morning bag, which I had in the bag I had checked.  We walked alllll the way there and back, and I had to run to join my wave and missed the warmup swim.  Oh well, it was consistent with the shit show the morning had become.  Oddly enough, I traded stories about popped zippers with the girl next to me (her wetsuit, my kit, I hoped it made her feel better), and then it was 3, 2, 1… GO TIME!

Hey, look at me, almost the only idiot in Lake Erie without a wetsuit! 😛

Swim:

Lake. Erie.  All the fun of an ocean swim without the salt water.  It had looked deceptively calm in the early morning, but as we headed out, the waves and current picked up.  I cursed myself for not bringing my wetsuit.  It took up a bunch of room in my suitcase, last water temperature reported before I left was NOT legal, and I rarely use it, so I just left it home,  However, some extra buoyancy would have been REALLY REALLY nice in the chop.  I swallowed a crap ton of lake, once even choking on it to the point of ALMOST hurling in the water.  I took a few seconds to breast stroke while I hacked and coughed and then got going again, albiet slower as I continued to try not to yak.

Then we hit the turn buoy and I was fairly impressed with my time at the moment, thinking I was swimming against the current and would have an easier time from then on.  I turned and found that was not the case.  The next 12 minutes felt like the scene from Monty Python and the Holy Grail where the knights run at the castle and it never gets any closer.  The chop often was above the buoy when I’d try to sight.  I almost ran into some boats and had to stop and ask which way to go (I wasn’t far off course, thankfully they were just very tight in directing us).   The swim back was a little faster but I was TIRED from fighting that current and by the time I got to shore I was very frustrated with the swim in general and especially the time it took.

Swim time: 44:06.  My garmin registered 2052 yards which means it was about 400m long.  Some of this might be sighting but I’m confident most of it was not, I stayed on the right path fairly well.  Still, I’d be at least mildly disappointed by this time for a 70.3 swim (which was actually only about three pool lengths longer than this…), so I’ve gotta hope Cozumel is a little less rough.  Or I’m a little better.  Or both.

T1:

I had been thinking “say something nice to Zliten, say something nice to Zliten” the whole way in, and what came out of my mouth was something like “don’t let me fucking forget my wetsuit ever again, that was bullshit”.  Oops.  Transition was a long run but it gave me time to check my head and realize I was about to start my best sport and I was going to be happy about it. 

On the way out, I shouted again to Zliten, “Yay, I get to ride my bike now!” and took off on Death Star to try and catch someone in my age group, as I was fairly convinced I was in last place at that point.  The truth is, I wasn’t quite, there were three people in my age group that took over an hour to complete the swim, and I heard accounts of people (who had legit qualified for the National Championships here, not newbies) getting towed in by kayak or even just making it to shore and handing in their chip for the day after completing the swim.  Regardless, I certainly wasn’t in the normal position I’d be in at this point and I was looking forward to chasing people down on the bike.

T1 time: 5:01.  Honestly, my garmin clocked the transition at almost a third of a mile.  I’m okay with five minutes for that length.

Smiles because I did. not. drown.

Bike:

I ate my gel and I worked the pedals and my speed was just NOT coming up for the level of effort I was putting out.  I was wondering if something was wrong… and then I realized it wasn’t me, it was the weather.  Headwind.  Cool.  17 mph into that isn’t too bad.  I went up and down the hills at the beginning and then got onto a freeway (cool!) and then made my way onto a crazy narrow single lane interchange thing that was super bumpy (scary!) and was relived when we headed into a neighborhood onto better roads.

My speed came up and my legs got under me, and I hit the turn around seeing about 18 mph on the garmin.  Ok, I could deal with that when I knew I had some help on the way back.  I just got to work and ate some blocks and passed everyone I could.  My bike was still doing the delayed shifting thing it has been lately but besides that everything felt nice and smooth and I just kept working my average up until I crossed the line.

The most obvious thing I learned on the bike ride?  If I leave my top tube straw out, instead of tucking it in after each sip, I will drink much more liquid over the course of a bike ride.  If nothing else, this race has taught me that. *captain obvious salute*

Bike time: 1:19:15 (18.9 mph).  Honestly, I paced the thing more like a 70.3 (155W/172W normalized @ 158 BMP AVG HR), because that’s what I’m practicing for right now.  The other “gear” I have is to race a sprint, and I knew going out like that would be a bad idea.  I’d love to race more Olympics and nail what that 25 mile race effort feels like, but for now, I’ll just be happy with that.

T2:

Again violating the “nothing new on race day”, I was feeling incredibly protective of my feet and doing everything I could to avoid blisters.  Even though I knew it would cost me time, I ditched the quick laces for regular ones.  Also, I left my socks OFF for the bike ride, and set them in my run shoes covered in powder so they’d be dry.  I can report that I got ZERO blisters on my feet during the two days of racing so it was worth it.

T2 time: 3:27. Big transition was big.

This is what a happy runner en route to the finish line looks like!

Run:

I got out and my legs felt pretty darn decent.  And then they sent us directly up a big hill.  D’oh!  I knew I only had to contend with it twice so I charged up the best I could without burning too many matches, and picked up my pace once it evened out.  I realized that my legs were definitely carrying me at a Olympic run PR at this point, but feeling like they had a lot more in them.  My options at this point were to pick up the pace or to cruise a bit, and considering I am inexperienced at this distance and also was racing the next day, I kind of cruised. 

All the lifting this year, and following my mountain goat husband up hills with less complaining has made me a better hill runner this year, apparently.  Everyone was complaining about the hills and I managed them just fine.  There was that first one, and then a short steep-ish one around mile 2, and the third, which I called optional hill because you went off the path simply just to go down and back up a steep hill.  Race directors are mean. 

There was no walking today, besides a few steps at one crowded aid station to get some water down.  I kept my pace fairly even – 9:45s to 10:15s (with a speedier 9:30 for my last mile).  Even though I didn’t feel like I needed it, I ate a gel halfway though just like I planned.  I finished feeling like I had a lot left in the tank, at least one more of the 3 mile loops, without needing to slow down.  For an Olympic run PR, I’ll totally take it!

Run time: 1:00:09 (9:42 average pace).  First sub-10 minute mile Olympic run!  I’m stoked!  And it wasn’t even all out racing.  I’m excited to see what I can do for my half ironman races this year if this is any indication of where my run fitness is…

Overall time: 3:11:58. 138/162 AG.  So close to those top 18 slots that qualify for worlds, hahaha!

I’d say overall, I put about 80-85% into this race, but besides the pre-race BS and the fallacious swim, I had a total blast on this course and couldn’t wait to race it again the next day.  After some food.  And sleep.

Dear self, medals are not food.

After wandering aimlessly for a bit, I picked up my bag and changed into clothes.  We waited around for a while hanging out with friends and then when transition opened, I moved my bike to the place it was supposed to be for the next day.  For our commute, we walked two miles to get to the city bikes, and then rode them back to the hotel.  Next on the agenda was to get cleaned up and food in my face to fuel tomorrow’s race!

Part two coming soon…

Krause Springs Part 1 – fourth of July, butterfly gardens, and wonderful laziness

I had magical memories of our 2017 Krause Springs trip.

I was wondering, even if a little bit, whether the magic I felt was the newness of camping with the popup.  It was just an entirely different experience than any other vacation I had taken in my life and I was hoping that essence would still be there at Krause.

And it totally was.  Even if this trip was different, it wasn’t any less amazing.

After a super smooth set up, we enjoyed our fairly standard first night meal when we don’t race the next day – hot dogs and veggie pasta salad, with an adult beverage this time because we could!  Usually, the first night of camping means being good, because we have to swim, bike, run, or do all of the three the next day, and in this case, we had ZERO plans.  However, our lack of sleep the night before limited it to just ONE and after the little fireworks show, we crawled in bed with our books and proceeded to sleep blissfully for 10 hours.

Wednesday was the fourth of July holiday proper, and we woke up to rain.  We had a delicious breakfast of bean and cheese tacos, and I spent some time coloring, intending to get warmed up to paint later in the week.  Then we took a walk to the butterfly garden.  Zliten spent some time drawing and I ran around and photographed everything. 

I wasn’t patient enough to get a picture of an actual butterfly or hummingbird, but I got some nice scenery before it started to POUR.  We hung back in the camper and made some fairly epic campfire stew and read and relaxed watching the rain drip outside our open camper windows. 

The persistent rain forced us to cook our first meal in the camper, and it actually worked out quite well.  When you don’t have to deal with the wind on the stove, you get a nice even temperature.

We lucked out and got a break in the rain pretty much JUST for the fireworks setup and show.  The rain had kept it cool and I’m sure there was less potential for fire hazards, so it worked out for everyone.  So much BIG KABOOMS!

The fireworks shows here are just plain epic, and I had so much fun playing with my new camera’s fireworks mode.  Zliten had to remind me to actually sit back and WATCH a bit instead of take pictures of every firework.

The next day, we slept until we couldn’t possibly stay in bed any longer, listening to the sounds of  a light drizzle on the popup canvas.  Once it cleared up, we had some breakfast and soon after, lunch because we were still hungry.

There was a lot of wonderful laziness on Thursday.  I read and napped and read and jumped in the pool and then read a little more, but I did take a hike to get some pretty footage of the area around the tent camping areas.

Our one big food experiment was campfire pizza.  It ended up a little burnt on the bottom, and it was more like a pizza inspired casserole, but all the delicious tastes were there.  Would totally make again.

Later, we headed down to the falls.

I neglected to bring the strap for my camera this vacation, so I spent the entire time in the natural springs clutching my camera for dear life.  I can report that I still have it! Success!

As the sun went down, I had to run around the campsite once again to see where the light was pretty and take more photos.  These weren’t the best grounds for epic sunset photos, but I enjoyed watching them each evening!

We took it easy that night and went to bed early to be ready for adventures in the morning.  Part 2, coming soon!

If you want to skip the words and just see all the photos, click here.

Week 4 – The Secret to Success

Hi everyone!  I leave for Nationals tomorrow!

All the feels!

I went from zero freakouts to maximum over the course of Monday, so I shut down my planned second workout of the day and just destressed and prepared instead.  I think I’ve even outdone my normal craziness with a 10 page vacation document for 4 nights away, but there’s so much “you must be here at this particular time” going on this weekend, and we don’t have a car, so it’s definitely not our normal getaway.

My goals in Cleveland are to:

#1 Survive racing back to back days.  I think I’m less worried about the actual effort, and more about the back to back 4am wakeups (ughhhh), and all the logistics that go along with racing two different races, so there’s that.

#2 I rarely get to race Olympic distance, so I’d like to take a stab at the holy grail for me, a sub-3 hour race.  The temperatures and the course should lend itself well to it, we’ll see how my legs and brain react to the day.

#3 Have fun!  I don’t have any delusions about actually qualifying for worlds in either category this year, so I’m just here to enjoy the experience and hopefully not come in last (and even if I do, eh, it’s fine, I know I’m a little fish in a big pond again).

This week I’m training fairly minimally because I’m not 100% sure how my body will react to two hard efforts in a row and I want to give it the best fighting chance possible without a real taper.  Also, it’s a great excuse to let some little niggles try and heal.  I’m looking at you, stupid blister on my right arch and cranky left leg (earlier in the week, my glute was bothering me, now it’s my ankle… sigh… the tapers).  I’m doing a bunch of short swims, did one bodyweight session, some bike riding, and trying to stretch and roll and boots as much as possible while I’m at home since all I’m traveling with is my teeny portable roller.

Monday morning bike rides make the entire week better.

Last week was a great training week – I hit every session I planned!

  • Monday: 1 hour easy bike ride, gym weights
  • Tuesday: AM run: 9 miles at 10:30-11:00 min/mile pace
  • Wednesday: off
  • Thursday: 20 mins swim, 30 min bike, 2 mile run indoor tri at Lifetime (unofficial, of course)
  • Friday: AM weights, PM open water swim
  • Saturday: 45 mile TT ride at the Veloway, 3 mile brick run (9:30-ish/mile goal pace)
  • Sunday: off

Things to note:

Tuesday’s run was the first strugglebus in a while.  I still did the exact run at the exact paces I needed, but the second half was not pleasant and I definitely aggravated my blister doing it.  It was a great mental toughness workout and honestly, I’ve had worse. 

On Thursday, I pulled off just about the exact same paces I did at the Indoor Tri in January but they felt much easier.  I almost hurled after getting off the treadmill earlier this year, keeping the same pace in August felt challenging but not pukeworthy.  The perceived effort on the bike wasn’t even the same zip code.  I was dying the entire time in January, this was a build from steady to sorta challenging by the end now, both ending at 10.1 miles in 30 minutes.

Saturday’s ride was actually super nice – while 15 loops of anything gets monotinous, it was nice not having to dodge cars or stop for anything but bottle fills.  I was able to manage 18.2 mph for the entire ride and the effort felt reasonable.  My legs were a little sore after 45 miles (which makes sense, because this is my longest ride in six months by 10 miles), but I definitely had another 11 miles in me to complete the half ironman distance and my legs ran off that bike just fine (I held 9:50s instead of 9:30s, but heck, it already was feels like 100 when we started, so I’m still pretty proud of that). 

On swimming: I just haven’t been able to manage to get myself to hit the 70.3 race distance yet.  I’ve increased my comfort zone to a little under a mile (1500-1600yd), I just haven’t had the oomph to do that .2 yet.  My glute most commonly starts barking on longer swims (especially towing the safe swimmer – I decided the second lap without it on Friday was worth the risk so I ditched it), so I’ve cut a lot of attempts at 3 lake loops (about 2400 yd) to 2 (1600 yd) because of it.  As long as I get a few 3 loop swims and some longer pool swims before race day, I should be fine (and I have 7 weeks after this one to do it so… not worried yet).

Training requires some substantial high quality food.  Training does not require that chocolate thing, but it did come with the meal so *shrug*.

I’ll announce that I’ve found the answer to weight loss success.  If correlation = causation, then all you need to do is eat two slices of cake, skip your planned workout, and drink whiskey for dinner.

Yep, I’ll be selling this on late night infomercials starting next week.  It’s the path to success!  Actually, I know what I do in the weeks before seems to affect me much more on the scale than what I’m doing immediately (unless it’s drastic like a long hot run or ride or eating a giant bowl of super salty MSG-filled pho), so I don’t want to get cocky, but for better or worse, that was my Monday and I woke up and weighed myself on Tuesday and the scale taunted me with 169.8, 169.9, and then finally settled on 170.2.  While that’s a low swing, my upswing the next day was only back to 173, and my trendweight is actually tilting down rather nicely.

  • Average calorie burn: 2519
  • Average calorie intake: 1888 (-631 deficit)
  • Average weight change: 175.0 to 174.5 (-0.5)
  • Average diet quality: 21.4

So, underneath my “diet by cake and laziness”, I actually have some solid scores for last week.  My goal for the next few months will honestly be to just keep doing pretty much this above and see where it takes me.  I ate mostly healthy food in the proper portions and counted my calories, but this plan also involves a burger and fries, whiskey and wine, a giant bag of BBQ from Rudy’s that consisted of most of this weekend’s protein, one small slice of cake and half a cookie.  So, it’s not all angelic but 9 hours of training means there’s room for a few splurges here and there.

This week, I’m going to have less of a deficit because I’ll be doing less training, and probably not taking the calories down too much lower (both because of racing).  So, I’ll expect to not see too much happening on the scale, but I hope to minimize the asshole eating (but allow for some) while in a new city.

Fun with the fireworks setting…

In life matters that don’t involve triathlon or what I put in my mouth, I edited July 5th and July 6th camping photos.  I still have 51 left for July 7 and 8th, but you can see what’s done HERE.  I’m not sure I’ve ever been so late with a vacation post (I almost want to pre-date it to July to hide my shame :D), so maybe look for a PART ONE coming soon-ish.  Maybe I need to post about my July vacation before I leave town in August.  Maybe I’m ridiculous, but I just love to explore and take photos!  Now, if someone could pay me more than 18 cents for it…

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