Adjusted Reality

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

Month: June 2019

All’s well that ends well, redux (Windcrest Triathlon)

Guys, I’m not sure I’ve ever delayed a race post this long, but let’s chalk it up to racing twice in 8 days, camping, three insane weeks at work thus far, and a little bit of ennui.

Let’s take a trip in the way back machine and recount the events around the Windcrest triathlon. The week previous, I was a cranky sonnuvab*tch about many various things, but I hoped beyond hope it would clear up before I toed the line. Since this was a Saturday out of town race, so we left work a little early the day before, finished packing, sat in traffic, got to packet pickup a wee bit earlier than last year, and then, the Xterra DIED. At packet pickup, which was outside in 95 degree heat. Not optimal. We got it jumped fairly quickly, but it wasn’t looking like it would hold well, so we rolled into camp a little apprehensively, not knowing if the car would start in the morning to get to the race.

Our prep went much better after that, including our camping neighbor being a mechanic that helped us fix the car!!, but we ended up not having dinner ready until after 9pm, and went to bed kinda late, but I slept really really well and woke up feeling pretty okay on 6 hours of sweet sweet camper sleep. The morning was uneventful, I ate two caffeine beans, drank some coffee (this is new, but has worked really well lately!), ate an everything bagel thin. Before the race, I sucked down another caffeinated gu and some nuun and I felt highly ready to GO RACE NOW once things kicked off at 7am.

One thing about the morning – over the last year or two, I’ve oscillated between unbridled apathy and aggressive, chaotic confidence before races. This morning, I found myself in a state of quiet competence. It felt like I’d finally found the perfect fit even with the lack of mental management in many of the moments before this one.

Swim:

I positioned myself properly and started pretty early in the pack, and I was lucky enough to find a nice little bubble of clear water the entire race – in a snake pool swim, if you don’t seed yourself properly you either have to swim over people or be swam over, and that was not the case. However, my same goggles that flooded in March’s race flooded again – twice – but clearing them was fairly quick. I supposed that they weren’t meant for the pool, because they had been just fine in open water last year.

Swim time: 4:28 (2:14/100m, but this included a bit of a run as well). 1/8 AG. This was fine. No issues here besides the goggles debacle.

T1/T2:

I don’t have much to say besides my transitions seemed efficient and without issue, so I will combine them here and leave it at that.

T1: /T2 times: T1: 58 seconds 1/8 AG; T2 50 seconds 3/8 AG (my shoes take a few extra seconds but they’re worth it…)

Bike:

I hopped on my bike and got ready to chase, and chase and pass I did… until I got to a spot in the course that was weirdly marked. I almost turned, but I questioned myself at the last minute and dug into my brakes to stop my bike, and the back wheel came up a little at the force. I waited for someone else to pass, going straight, and then I followed. It cost me a little time, especially as it was on an uphill, but at least I wasn’t off course.

Zliten started right behind me on the swim, followed me into transition, and out on the bike. He apparently had me in his sights the entire ride and caught me about mile 8. I let him pass me and coasted down a hill just outside of draft range, and then passed back a mile later when I found my effort a little lacking.

My head stayed much more positive this year, as I knew what to expect on the course, all the turns, all the (not steep but definitely present) hills didn’t faze me. I knew this course was about quick acceleration and cornering so I aimed for that the entire time and moderately succeeded.

Bike time: 33:04 (18.1 mph) 1/8 AG… and actually 2/45 female – the master’s winner beat me by 14 seconds. I still retain some of my QoMs here on strava but not all of them. This was ~30 seconds worse than last year but I believe the stop and start on the hill can account for most, if not all of that nonsense.

Run:

Zliten beat me out of T2 but I passed him as he pulled up to the water stop immediately outside the racks. I found the effort I wanted, though it wasn’t the pace I was hoping for. I stuck with it, and found myself passing more than being passed, so I continued the one hair below red line pace, working my way up the hill, knowing the feeling of wanting to hurl cookies would subside a little once I started heading back down, even accelerating my speed. And it did. And I did.

I almost reeled a lady in I had been following, but I knew she started significantly before me, it would have been a sprint to the finish, and she wasn’t in my age group, so I avoided the jerk move at the little local triathlon and cruised into the finish just enough behind her to not feel like a arsehole.

Run time: 19:19 (9:12m/mile though garmin said 9:00 exactly). 1/8 AG. I still don’t feel like I reached the peaks I’ve found off the bike in practice, but this found me fairly close.

Total time: 58:37, which was good enough for 1st in the 40-44 age group, as well as the shortest on the podium. I was the second masters finisher (first was about 90 seconds ahead of me), and fourth female overall. Over 1 minute faster than last year, to boot.

I was pretty proud of my finish (and punching my ticket to Nationals again, even though I’m not actually going this year), but I was so, so proud of Zliten, who obtained his first triathlon podium, coming in 3rd of 9 in his age group by just a few seconds!

We spent the rest of the day celebrating with good food, adult beverages, and enjoying the outdoors of the San Antonio KOA before heading back home the next day to unpack (and work).

The pursuit of success and the fear of failure

Yadda yadda yadda, using my words in other places lately, excuses excuses, and *scene*.

Check my insta feed for the hilarious outtake on this one…

It’s good to know that some things stay constant around here, even if those things are the asshatery regarding my consistent stream of extenuating circumstances. Ahem.

Let’s recap. Since I last graced this digital space with my presence, I’ve spent an inordinately long time recovering from laryngitis. I spoke less than a dozen words over that initial weekend of infirmary, which was a feat akin to the most introverted person in the world getting in front of a sold-out auditorium to give an improv performance – very much against my nature. I got by with a text to speech app and lots of interpretive dance to communicate with my husband that weekend, but it was not easy. It was worth it, though, as on Monday, I had some of my voice back and by mid-week, sounded almost entirely like a human being again.

However, some minor effects lingered for quite a while. I’m still not exactly 100%, as I determined last night, when I completely bowed out of singing the high notes at the end of Phantom of the Opera instead of making an arse of myself in the attempt, but I’m about at that 99% mark – mostly unnoticeable, even in sport. I’m okay with this timeline.

It’s a good thing I don’t know the lyrics to Hamilton yet…

It took a frustratingly long process to get there. I’m not used to being knocked out this long, which was exacerbated by the fact that the week I got sick had JUST kicked off the Finally Not Being A Petulant Child and Following A Schedule and Training Again initiative, which got highly derailed by feeling and sounding like a pile of hot garbage. I ditched all workouts that weekend, and spent the entire next week laying off both swimming and running, only riding my bike super easy peasy lemon squeezy.

By last weekend, I figured, I *had* to be recovered, and I mounted my steed for the FTP test I had missed the weekend before. While I’ve had good FTP tests (the bar for a good test is feeling like absolute detritus as the last seconds tick down, but being pleased with the number on the screen), and I’ve had disappointing FTP tests, I’ve not had the issue where, with 8 minutes to go, my body just SHUT DOWN. I went from pushing my ~190 watts to ~130 with little perceivable reduction in effort. Folks, I become intimately acquainted with The Man With the Hammer at that moment in a way that I have not in some time (FYI, I just finished the Velominati book The Hardmen and if you enjoy cycling humor, or cycling, or humor, you should give it a read).

The ride home was a bit slower after the feast but playing bikes and BBQ made for a splendid extra day off!

It was ultimately frustrating, but a clear sign of a few things: 1) I was not yet recovered, I definitely felt some crud remaining in my lungs and 2) my brain felt a little broken as well. It’s been too much serious around here all the time. I needed to go play bikes. So, I rested up Saturday and Sunday, and on Memorial Day, I slept in and then went for a joyride around North Austin in the early afternoon. It was peace and love, and kicked off a week in which I did not entirely follow a plan, but I did FOUR WHOLE HOURS of intentional triathlon training. Two of these were in the morning before work. This is progress, people!


Before Thursday’s brick-with-a-wee-bit-of-spice on it, I felt like it had been three years since I gave anything in the zipcode of maximum effort, but I had a doozy planned for the weekend. Yesterday’s workout was the first triple brick in quite a while, that is, a 10 minute warmup, and then 10 minutes on the bike transitioning quickly to a 1 mile run, both at a moderately painful pace, and against all odds, do this two more times, each faster than the instance before. The first bike felt pretty good at approximately 150 watts, the 8:57/mile run felt like a jog, and then ish started to get real. I actually tanked my power in the last bike segment (holding 149W instead of the 160+ goal I had) simply because my legs wouldn’t turn over for the first five minutes, and I just narrowly missed my run goal of 8:30/mile or lower for the third mile, but at 8:34, I’ll call it close enough, especially since it met the secondary goal of being faster than the second mile.

Finally feelin’ it again. Diamonds help!

All in all, I’m back baby, physically and mentally, just in time for the next two weekends of racing – Windcrest Tri and Pflugerville, respectively. Then, we begin to lay the foundation deep and wide, but that’s a topic for July.

One thing I’ve been ruminating on lately (care of The Passion Paradox, another recent read, which I talked about last time as well) is the difference between these two motivations: the fear of failure and the desire for success. They are both means to the same desired end, and they might seem similar on first blush, but I’m finding that they feel oh so different on inspection. Fear of failure is running scared out of transition two, hoping no one will chase me down. It’s compromising a little too much at work knowing I’m up for a promotion. Pursuing success means running with heart and courage, conscious of triathletes ahead and behind me, but only invoking meaning in those circumstances if I can use it to my advantage. It means making the choices at work, boldly, that I believe will benefit my project and my team and therefore my company in the long term, and letting the chips fall where they may.

The first step in transformation is being cognizant about behaviors that you wish to change, and I’m there now. I’m hoping to take this knowledge into the next two weekends to practice chasing down success instead of running from failure, and at the respective finish lines, let the results separate themselves from the processes.

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