Adjusted Reality

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

Month: February 2021

Snowpocalypse 2021

We were just minding our own business here in Texas, enjoying our typical mild winter, when Alaska’s weather decided to meander down here all drunkenly for an early Spring break. We were not amused.

It was chilly, but not yet ridiculous, so we spent the weekend doing some usual Valentine’s Day stuff like playing games and steak and lobster on the grill. Normally, there would be a movie outing or a fun bike adventure. This year with Covid, not so much on the movie. This year with the weather, not so much with the bike adventure. So we snuggled up for the duration, and were warned that we may experience some rolling blackouts on Monday for a few hours max.

Imagine our surprise when we lost power at 3am on Monday morning and didn’t have it back when we woke up to a legitimate winter wonderland. The power continued to be conspicuously absent through the day. Our food went into coolers and bags in the snow. The gas fireplace earned it’s keep heating the living room. Since it was a long weekend, and the snow was new and novel, we tromped around the neighborhood and I annoyed Joel by stopping to take pictures every two minutes but… it’s not like we get this every year!

Later, he cooked up a bunch of chicken on the grill and I still made ravioli with italian sausage, caesar salad, and garlic bread as planned for second Valentine’s Day (thank you, gas stove, and thank you Joel for insisting we get a gas stove!). At dusk, we went on another walk to get cool pictures of lights in the snow and check out the ghost town of barely anyone out and about at 7pm on a Monday.

When it got dark, it got REALLY DARK in the house without even the normal visual hum of the power lights all the electronics in house. It was just us, the fireplace, and a lantern or headlamp to find our way around outside of the glow of the living room. In contrast, the thick coating of white snow made it super BRIGHT outside, almost as if night never really fell.

Tuesday should have been a workday, but we still found ourselves without power, and so did the office. A few things were running on the backup generator but the situation wasn’t conducive to any sort of productivity, so we set out to officially close the “office”. Once that was settled, we got gas for the Xterra and then spent three hours sitting in it, enjoying the heat, and using every capacity it possessed to turn said gasoline into charged electronics.

What do you do in the dark? Read. A lot. I powered through most of a 3 book series whilst we lived in the pioneer times because there wasn’t much else to do. Joel said he missed sounds and music so I broke out my acoustic guitar throughout the week to serenade him. I also started leaning a new song from the book I got for my birthday last year and summarily ignored because looking up whatever I fancy on the intertubes had been easier. I need to practice but I think I have Free Fallin’ in the bag.

Wednesday, we went through the same song and dance. Officially closed the office. Schleped ourselves out to the Xterra, ready for another three hour tour to charge up the electronics… and then an hour into the process, we saw our garage lights come on! We had power! Rejoice! I didn’t trust it would stick around, since we’d heard about other people getting it back for short stint and then losing it again, so we plugged in every device that needed charging and kept waiting for the blackout… and it never came!

Thursday, I woke up to the ceiling fan still twirling. Even so, we were being asked to conserve power and act as if we didn’t have it as much as possible. So, besides doing one round of dishes on economy mode (they’d been in there since Sunday and were… ripe), and one small load of absolutely needed wash (hung by the fireplace to dry), we did just that. I grabbed a few things off my work machine and then worked offline on my teeny laptop all day. We kept the heat off and lights off and kept almost everything in the house unplugged. Thankfully, we didn’t have to charge things in the car but otherwise it was the same ol’ same ol’.

We were asked to conserve water as well and all of Austin and surrounding areas were handed a boil notice. I had spent the last few days not washing my hair because it was cold. Now, I had to not wash my hair because the water was gross. In the grand scheme of things, it wasn’t a major hardship, I just felt… yucky. I was very thankful that we splurged and did dishes and laundry in the small window while we could.

Friday was more of the same, but work finally had power and brought up all of our systems so we could actually work, so it was the first “unofficial” workday of the week. That is, if people had power, internet, and could do so without any hardship. Most of our folks, thankfully, were in situations where they could and most agreed that was nice to be back at it, and for life to feel a bit more normal again.

On Friday morning, it had been below freezing for over 120 hours. On Saturday, we went for a walk in t-shirts and shorts in the sunny, 70 degree weather. Oh Texas winter, you so crazy. Finally, Monday at 2:30pm the city finally lifted the boil notice and I immediately left my desk and took the most welcome and wondrous shower ever.

Our personal fallout was minor and fleeting. No burst pipes, we didn’t lose much food, no major issues. All that happened was that life was weird for a week and the house was a disaster area for about a week and a half. I’m very happy to be back to (pandemic) normal and live in slightly less interesting times.

However, this one still thinks she’s a garage kitty and wants in all the time, no matter the temperature. We don’t mind too much. 🙂

Virtually motivated

Last year, I poo poo’d virtual races. Doing a “race” without the community, without a finish line, without a competition and a podium, this seemed silly to me. My drawers are overflowing with race shirts and medals, I didn’t need any more. Frankly, I was a bit burnt out with racing and training – trying to maintain Ironman level training during a very packed year professionally and personally – and I had ZERO desire to race if it wasn’t… a race.

I took a breath, and let go of being an athlete, while also mourning that IM Texas wasn’t going to be a thing. My “long day” workout (1 hour swim, 5 hour bike, and 2 hour run) the week before the world shut down was the closest I would come to being a two-time Ironman. When the race cancellation was announced, it was a bit of relief but I also felt a bit of sadness. I was barely holding on, but I was closing in on the end of the last big block of training and the start of taper. Could I have gotten to the finish line? I believe so. But, I never got the chance to find out.

So, I gave myself the rest of March and April to just slack. And then all of a sudden it was June. Once we had our pool set up, we did a little sprint tri, which was fun, but then… I just lost interest in doing anything difficult, since life was kinda difficult already. I swam… a few times. I biked more than anything since it was easy to hop on the trainer. I stopped running when it got warm and then by the time it was cooler my back/core was in shambles because I also stopped stretching and doing strength. I walked a lot and took a lot of pictures. I wasn’t a complete couch potato but it just wasn’t… me.

And then all of a sudden it was New Years Day, and I ran 1 mile. And it was HARD, y’all.

January’s goal was to run or bike every day, stretch every day, and do strength 3x week. I missed four days total, but I’ll still call that a win, considering my garmin connect log for the last 6 months. I worked my way up to 30 minute bikes and 2 mile runs. I maintained my stretching and core strength routine. My back still bothers me, but it’s been hurting a little less each week. I feel increasingly less like a sack of potatoes when I go out for my short little jogs. Progress is happening at the speed of molasses on a winter day, but happening it is.

Joel happened on Ironman VR races two weeks ago, and decided to sign up. I hesitated. 1 mile run, 20k bike, 5k run? That’s wayyyyy beyond me in one session right now, but I had 4 days. I was able to get it done in 3. We bought the damn shirt and medal because you know what? It’s been a year. A full year since I toed a start line. I don’t see it happening anytime soon. I guess I actually do kinda miss the race schwag even if I can’t have the rest of the experience.

The first and last Casa de Jank 2020 Tri and the only time I wore my new Austin Triathlon Club kit. Hopefully it will get some wear in 2021.

This weekend, they doubled the distance. I crunched the numbers. A 2 mile run, 25 mile bike, and 6.2 mile run is a LOT for me right now, but I thought I could break it up and have a chance. The plan was the 2 mile run and a little bit of biking Thursday, a big push on the bike Friday, the rest of the bike and 2 miles of running on Saturday, and 4.2 miles of run/walk Sunday. I missed starting the bike Thursday because I had about 8 hours of meetings and was just… spent after work, so I had to do more cycling on Friday than planned (I did half at lunch and half after work to get in 16 miles total). Yesterday’s brick ride (9 miles) and run (2 miles) really familiar and nice. Today’s 4.2 mile run/walk was a lot, but I have this really nice soreness in my legs that I haven’t felt for a while and my back seems to be stiff, but holding up alright.

I would NEVER have done this much without virtual racing. I guess I need the motivation, so I’m going to keep doing them. Next weekend’s race is back to the sprint distance. I think I’m going to try to do most of it at once. Can I actually swing 20k on the bike and 3 miles of running or run/walking at one time? I’ll give it a try on Saturday and leave Sunday to finish some run miles if I need.

I need virtual racing right now. I need something that provides reasons for me to get my ass out and do sporty things. I’m a shade of who I was a year ago. It’s going to be a long road to rebuild what I had. Qualifying for Nationals again? Completing my second Ironman? I’m not there, not even close. But I’m now on the path, and since I’ve walked it before, I know where it leads.

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