Adjusted Reality

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

Author: Quix (Page 1 of 179)

Chopping the wood and carrying the water

Marathons hit me right in the feels.

Not entirely sure there’s a better feeling than at the end of 26.some miles.

I mean, after running 26.2 miles, you are raw.  You’ve gone through periods where you’ve felt amazing and then subsequently wanted to give anything just to lie down on the side of the road and die for a little bit or maybe even forever.  You’ve felt the highest highs and the lowest lows.  You’ve spent a few hours with yourself and only your two feet (and maybe a kickass playlist, if that’s an option) and that finish line is the most glorious thing in the entire world.   This is a fact both when it’s a standalone run and especially when it’s after a long swim and bike.

I mean, I love shorter races.  There are so many benefits.  You can race them more often without falling apart (mentally AND physically).  You can be to the beer tent by NINE AM.  Specifically for me, my body handles going short and fast (ish) muuuuuch better than going long.  At least right now.  And, I’m more competitive at these distances.  I’ve never even been within spitting distance of a podium if there’s an Iron or marathon anywhere in the name (even with a half qualifier).

But, there’s something about those longer races.  Maybe it’s the glory (my mother, when hearing how long the race was that I won, was like, “oh, that’s all?”).  But I also love the type two fun of the long days of training, maybe even more than racing.  Even when it’s running for hours in the rain (ok, maybe I *especially* like this one).  Or riding my bike for the majority of a workday, even if it’s in 3 mile circles.  Or losing count of how many laps I’ve done in the lake when it’s the temperature of bathwater.  I live for this stuff.

One thing I have to keep reminding myself is that the ultimate goal isn’t to *RETIRE* from those type of races.  I have no qualms that I’ll be back at the marathon and Ironman distances someday.  However, I want to do more than limp through them.  I want to be strong and fit and light enough to maintain a good stride and pace through 26 miles.  I want to be flexible enough that my range of motion isn’t limiting my power on the bike or my hip extension on the run.  I want my core and upper body to be strong to push the bike in aero for 56 or 112 miles like I do for 14 in a sprint.  I don’t want to train through a bunch of niggling injuries, I want to feel good and ready for training days and when I step up to the start line instead of wondering what will break on me this time.

So, the reminder to myself is to chop the wood and carry the water.  I need to get STRONG before I go LONG.  It will be interesting to test the waters with a half ironman in September and see if I can pull off the run I know is in there if my body would stop being such a flimsy and rigid little jerk.  It will be a higher degree of difficulty dive being in Cozumel (hot/humid), but my two best half iron races have been in similar conditions, so we’ll see how that little experiment of one goes.

This probably isn’t going to happen for a while so I’m going to use this picture a few times.  Get comfortable with it. 🙂

However, the focus right now is getting ready for the first two back to back races next weekend and the weekend after.  I am much less likely to win either of these but if I have a great day, like a really great day, it’s not outside the realm of possibility to stand on the podium.  It’s going to be all about the bike on these.  They’re both on the hillier side.  It’s really hard to catch me on the flats but going up?  Yeah… not so much… and then it’s all about what’s left over on the run.  I’ve got a stronger run game than I ever have right now, but my legs have not yet figured out how to match that 6- or 7-minute mile pace (I’m barely able to hold 8-something and not consistently), which standing on the top-step sometimes takes.

Backing up a bit again, I hit most of my training last week with some modifications.

  • I did a harder trainer ride with less recovery than I expected on Monday, so I went 40 instead of 60 minutes.
  • I did both sessions of weights at work with kettlebells instead of lifting once at the gym.
  • We had to work late on Wednesday and missed the team brick, but made up for it with a shorty brick on the top of our parking garage at work.  It ended up being more cornering practice on the bike than anything, but I ran a nice 9 minute flat mile off the bike.  And, it made my mood go from >:( to 🙂 so it was worth it just for that.

However, I think the happiest thing last week was those run miles off the bike.  I ran three more over the weekend, and the splits were 9:07, 9:01, and 8:59.  I’m consistently able to approximately hit that 9 minute mile and in most cases, I have another gear that I could summon on race day.  I’m still not running a lot, but it’s been quality.

Cycling seems to be going well, I’m getting better at the ability to hold higher power for longer instead of just in short intervals.  It’s been nice training on the TT bike outside with the team and trying to chase the faster riders!  Weights work is still continuing even though I’m going through the same phase I always do around this time – where my mentality switches from “OMG I love weights, I need to prioritize this work year round” to “man, it’s really hard to lift, run, bike AND swim all in the same week…. hmmm…”.  But, I’ve committed to 2x week, even if some of those weeks end up me just throwing around kettlebells in my work parking lot, it’s better than what I’ve done previously.

And I do <3 me some Black Betty.

Swimming is just a solid fourth right now.  I made it to the pool twice last week.  I didn’t swim fast or far, but I swam.  At some point, I need to do sets.  At some point, I need to swim in the lake.  But, for now, I’m showing up, and that’s a start.

This week’s plan:

  • 2 weights sessions (1 DONE!)
  • 2 20-30 min swims (maybe one of these in the lake, perhaps)
  • 3 bike rides – one 90 min commute (DONE – that was rough), one 45 min smashy brick, and the weekend’s ride is TBD depending on the weather.
  • 3 runs – two easy with some more miles (one 4 miler DONE, one more planned), one fast 2 mile brick
  • Stretch + roll + boots and ankle/shoulder exercises almost every day.

It feels like nothing in terms of hours when I’m planning it, then my week gets super busy and it’s all I can and want to do right now.  And it seems to be working, so I’ll take it and not try to pile on a million more hours.  Yet.

Our post-Easter Easter feast.  My only indiscretion was a tiny sliver of chocolate cake and ice cream, which was plenty.

In the other front to #getfaster, I hit a nice milestone last week.  My average weight is finally back in the 170s (179.6, but still).  Keeping score – this is 6.1 lbs in 4 weeks.  I am now officially lighter than I’ve been since the beginning of August 2015.  I expect this week to be an exercise in frustration because it’s that time of the month in which I feel like a water balloon, but we’ll see how much of that is giving into crappy cravings and eating badly and how much of that is actually my body.

I have five weeks before vacation, and I should be faiiiiirly close to seeing an odd 169.9 on the scale the week before I go if my progress stays even.  That would be RAD!  To keep myself motivated, I’ll remind myself about the fact that about 30 seconds has melted off my running paces in the last 4-5 weeks, and if I don’t eff it all up, another 30 seconds could magically melt off by my last race of the spring.  How cool would that be?

Last week’s numbers:

  • Last week’s average calories: 1607
  • Last week’s average daily burn: 2301
  • Average deficit: -693
  • Average diet quality: 22.8
  • Average weight: 179.6

This week should be fairly easy in the grand scheme of things.  I don’t have any social functions, and my only planned splurge is lunch out on the day we ride bikes.  I just have to stay the course and hopefully I can report similar numbers to those above, with a lower average weight!

I’ve got nothing related to this section so please enjoy this view of two canoes on a lake.

I am happy to report that we have two CLEAN cars in our garage now.  The kitchen remodel is 100% fully and finally over. *cue the angels’ chorus*

I’m making my way through The Essential Guide to Getting Your Book Published and I’ve gotten to the chapter about how to pitch your book and what you should send in a package to a publisher.  The good news is that this is some GREAT information.  The bad news is that for non-fiction books, you’re supposed to do this stuff BEFORE you write the whole book.

I decided it wasn’t a terrible thing.  I have proved to myself that I could finish a first draft.  For my own confidence, that’s a wonderful step.  However, I will probably never put together almost 300 word doc pages again before I do this again because it’s a great judgement on whether you SHOULD EVEN WRITE THE BOOK.  It will be a great exercise with the 3-5 other ones knocking around my head before I dive into the deep end with them.

However, first on the docket is editing and reading and letting my husband read it.  He’s getting antsy.

By the end of this weekend, I would like to have another video recorded and at least the background of my next painting done and our workout room tidied up.  But only if it’s not stressing me out to do all that stuff.  Because it’s triathlon season, and that means adulting and crafts get ignored unless I feel like it.

Also, I’ve currently decided that I’m going to look into is selling my digital photography.  My husband, under the influence of vodka, bought me a really nice new fancy digital underwater camera that actually takes pictures in the proper format to do this, so my goal is to see how long it will take to make back the money it cost to order it!

I figure this *might* be worth something to someone besides just looking pretty on my social media and blogs.

And on that note, I’m going to take my unfocused self (squirrel!) and go focus on something.  Happy Wednesday!

Bluebonnets, bikes, and half a cup full of give-a-crap.

Hello, world.  Nice to meet you.  I like riding bikes, if you didn’t know that already.

Bluebonnets and cheese…

However, I like riding bikes a lot less when it’s really cold and windy.  I’ve done plenty of that riding training for Ironman Texas, and I have no issues heading out on my bike into the cold, or into the wind, but both at the same time kind of sucks.

Last year, hardening the eff up was kind of a point of pride and helped me make the jump to the Ironman distance on the bike (which was the discipline I needed the most work on, endurance-wise).  Honestly, it also helped me when Ironman day came and we had 20-30 mph winds on an exposed toll road.  However, this year, I’m training for sprint triathlons, which translates to racing for approximately 40 minutes (vs 7 hours) on my time trial bike.  Then, later this year, I will be training for an approximately 3 hour ride in hot and humid conditions.

So, there was nothing that riding 43 miles in the feels-like-30s and super windy conditions would benefit me, besides the excuse to eat some junk food along the way at aid stations and after (which would probably sabotage my weight loss efforts – I can negate that calorie burn in one aid station full of cookies and PB pretzels).  So, instead of doing any of that, we stayed home.  This is my third DNS over the last 9 years, and the other two were because my knee was so injured I could barely walk.  There was no choice in the matter for the previous two.  On first blush, I figured I should woman the eff up and go.

However, the more I thought about it, the more I realized I should probably miss the start line for things more often than I have.  In this case, for very little gain, I would be subjecting myself to illness (cold and windy riding for hours) and injury (always the risk of it riding outside, but in a group of thousands of other riders it amplifies).  When I signed up, I was super looking forward to it IN SPITE of it not being specific training, and was ok taking a break from hammering the bike to go have a beautiful morning riding outside and supporting the Rosedale school.  When the enjoyment part was removed with the crappy weather, I realized I was still supporting the school with my entry fee and decided that a trainer ride in my living room would be a much better idea.  And that was that.

We don’t want to get here.  We want to keep a reserve of give-a-crap.

I hate giving up, but I had to put it in perspective.  Seven days previous to that would-be ride, my body and mind produced a PR and a first place.  Four days after that, my body and mind ran 8:58 pace (30 seconds better than I raced at) off a challenging bike.  These breakthroughs are coming around for a few reasons, I believe:

  1.  My body (and mind) are strong enough, finally.  Those two months of weighted squats and throwing kettlebells and working the posterior chain and my upper body finally feeling stable enough to be comfortable in aero position and my arms and hips gaining enough flexibility to start approximating a runners stride instead of the marathon shuffle -these things are starting to pay off.  And, I’ll give credit to a little bit of mental work as well.  Figuring out how to get out of my own way and let my body do what it can do without judgement or limitations has been a 2018 focus.
  2. My body (and mind) are RESTED enough to do this kind of thing.  I have learned in life that for me to be successful, I have to walk the line between “we are what we repeatedly do” and “I have a finite-amount-of-give-a-crap”.  If I ask myself to HTFU constantly, and for things that don’t matter, I end up becoming the girl who cried wolf and I won’t show up when the chips are down.  If I give myself a pass on the things that don’t matter, I’m more likely to show up to the things that are more important.  Then again, if I shy away from HTFU moments entirely, I tend to continue to avoid them.  Like I said, it’s about walking that line.

Go ahead and pretend this is a selfie of me in the cold and wind riding outside.  I won’t tell anyone if you won’t.

So, I skipped a charity ride (apparently a lot of other folks went outside at 7am, said NOPE, and did the same as well) and life went on.  I had a nice relaxing weekend at home and then in my sleep on Sunday morning, I decided to shove one side of my ribs two inches higher and spent the day spasming in pain.  That was super fun.

I’m all fixed now (chiro put me back the next morning and now I’m feeling reasonably fine), but that was the universe shouting to BACK THE EFF OFF for a day.  I couldn’t run or bike or swim (was actually planning on doing a short session of each that day).  I could barely help with chores – which sounds conveeeeeenient, but I set off a spasm attack by putting a sweatshirt on. 😛 Yeah, it sucked. But, I watched about eight movies this weekend and got reacquainted with my couch and feel like I had some nice, lazy downtime and I’m ready to attack this week.

Workouts last week:

  • ~1 hour lifting Monday/Friday
  • 90 min bike commute Tuesday
  • 1k swim and 60 min team BSS brick Wednesday
  • planned day off Thursday
  • 1 hour trainer ride with 3×5 min race power and 3×1 min 200+ power Saturday
  • Trying not to anger the rib dieties by looking at anything funny (off) Sunday

And that’s it. 6 hours of training (I missed a short run, bike, and swim, 1.5 hours total).  I’m aiming to do a little this week and the week after (but not too too much) and then a rest week to prepare for Texasman.  This week’s plan:

  • 3 runs: two speedy (2-3 miles) off the bike (Wed/Sat) and one easier 4 miler (done!)
  • 3 bikes: 40 min trainer ride- 3x (5 min hill (~200W at low cadence)/2 min easy) (done!), two 45-60 min brick rides (Wed/Sat) with some spice as well.
  • 2 swims: probably both in the pool, around 1k meters, maybe up to 1.5k if I get enough time one morning… (Wed/Fri)
  • 2 weights sessions: kettlebells (done!), lifting (Thurs), maybe a bonus core session (Sat) if I can.

Looks like a lot, but it comes out to around 7 hours, give or take, because a lot of these sessions are 20-30 minutes.  I also slacked a little last week, so I’m recommitting to hit my shoulder and ankle exercises AT LEAST 5x this week and either a stretch or roll every day if not both.

I run (and bike and swim) on chicken and potatoes.

On the body composition facet of project #getfaster – I’m actually seeing some results on the scale, and weirdly enough, without affecting my training efforts.  Unicorn status: reached.  I know this is ONLY the case because I am not training all that much, this dive would be a much harder degree of difficulty if I was attempting this while training for something longer, but it’s… like… working!  I’m doing the things I am supposed to do and my body is responding.  This is revolutionary, y’all!

  • Last week’s average calories: 1659
  • Last week’s average daily burn: 2214
  • Average deficit: 555
  • Average diet quality: 21
  • Average weight: 181.8

My weight graph is going the right way as well.  This week officially gets me back to the weight I raced Austin 70.3 at in October 2016.  Referencing my progress HERE, its nice to note that I have lost 4 lbs in two weeks.  I’ve also dipped into the 170s a few times in the last week, which happened last in October 2016 (and like, twice before I ate my way through the holidays/offseason and gained almost 10 lbs).

If I can keep with the rate of loss here, I may be able to be in the low 170s, maybe even high 160s by vacation… and that’s a place I haven’t been in many, many years.  So, I just need to keep doing what I’m doing.  Can do.  It’s challenging but not impossible.  Progress breeds inspiration for me, so it’s been a little easier to keep going this time.

Things get created here.  And not just dust.

In other news, I have a hit another huge milestone – I have officially, as of Saturday, April 7th, finished the first draft of my book.  Now it’s done and ready to publish, right?

Totally kidding.  I know I’ve got a long way to go.

My next steps are:

1. Take a first editing pass on each chapter to clean it up a little so it doesn’t hurt the eyeballs to read.  However, I know I’ll want to canoodle with this forever if I don’t set a time limit, so I will start with that in mind.  I’m not sure what that is yet, but I don’t want to still be doing a first pass on this in December.

2. Read it myself.  Like, laying in bed, on my kindle, like I read other books.  Trying to distance myself from the fact that *I* actually wrote the thing and see how it reads overall.

3.  Read The Essential Guide to Getting Your Book Published.  And maybe do some internet research and poking some of my author friends as well on learning all the things about getting published.

I’m hoping to complete all these steps within the next month or so.  Then… my first beta reader (my husband).  Eeep!

I have lots of other video and painting plans to tackle later this month, but I’m happy to have knocked out my April writing goal on the 7th.  Take that, procrastination!

Time Marches on, and now it is April…

I love March – Spring finally springs, the trees get green, things actually seem to start for the year (January and February are warmups, really), and there’s a lot to celebrate.

Celebrating another strength workout down with Black Betty.

If only just the fact that I tend to, this month, get older than I have ever been.

Lifting heavy has been fun, but my body decided about a week earlier than planned to be done with it.  I’m hoping to be a little more successful at it next go around, if I maintain my once-a-week work in the weightroom with the same lifts, but my body just did not appreciate lifting heavy things at low reps that many weeks in a row.  OR it might be that I didn’t take the rest week as prescribed.  Nah, can’t be that.  I’ll heed that advice next time I go into a lift-all-the-things block.

I hit 100# on my bench press, 90# on my incline bench, 145# on my squat, and 155# on my deadlifts successfully at 3×4 reps.  I now own a 40# kettlebell that I can do swings with, and if I can borrow the 55# one from a coworker, I can squat and deadlift that no problem.  I am both rowing and overhead pressing 60# for 3×8 right now.

It makes sense in hindsight, because every other sport I have done required daily strength work, but it took a long time for me to connect the dots that lifting heavy things + actually getting to a RESTED state for one = being a better triathlete.  I have seen the payoff with an increased ability to produce watts on the bike and leg strength and proper stride on my run.  I’m just starting to test the waters now, and I look forward to digging into the pain cave this spring, because I like what I see so far.  Swimming, like the poor red-headed stepchild it is right now, is what it is.  We’ll get there now that 70-80 degree days are more of a thing and I’m actually trying to triathlete again.

But, I got to stand on top of a podium, so there is that. 🙂

April will be a fairly balanced month.  Training SOLELY for sprints (not sprints and a half marathon or sprints and a century ride or sprints AND anything) affords me the opportunity to stick with the weights, and keep all the runs, bikes, and swims short for the most part.  If I’m not killing myself with volume, I can do that hurt-so-good speedwork and concentrate on drills and form and pre-hab and stretching and for the love of god actually get back to run warmups if I’m not running directly off the bike.

Work, yes, but obviously there will still be some time for playing bikes on beautiful days chasing sunsets and twinning our #wattagecottage socks because that is necessary for survival.

What it will look like, for the most part:

Swimming: twice a week. If I want my swim to stop sucking, I need to do it, even if it’s the least convenient sport on the planet.

  • 20-30 min swim focusing on drills and form and longer efforts (300-500m at race pace, etc).
  • 20-30 min swim focusing on speedwork (25-100m repeats).

When it stops being super chilly, I will try to take one of these per week into the lake.

Biking: three times a week.  I really want to PLAY bikes right now, but I need to limit that and actually WORK on building watts and stuff with harder, more focused, melt your face off rides.  But not too many, I want to still love bikes and also not get burnt out. So, I’ll split it up as such each week.

  • One happy fun longer play bikes with the group with the group type ride.
  • One brick workout with the speed circles in the middle (or similar if we don’t make the team brick).
  • Split the difference on the third ride – maybe a commute with some harder intervals on the way to work, or a trainer ride with some spicy stuff in it, or maybe even endurance cycle class.

Also, I must be on my tri bike once a week, preferably outside if at all possible.

Running: two to three per week.

  • Brick workout – typically a few miles all out off the bike.
  • Longer and easier (maybe work up to an hour or so…)
  • Then if I get a chance to do the third one… it will probably vary by week depending on whatever else is on the docket.  I’d love to work some track work back into my life but due to convenience it will probably be more running off the bike.

Weights: hoping to keep the three sessions per week but shorten them.

  • One medium-heavy session in the gym with the typical lifts I’ve been doing (squats, deadlifts, bench, rows, presses, woodchoppers, etc, at the weight I can do 8-10 reps).  The priority here are lifts I can’t do elsewhere.
  • Lunchtime kettlebell routine/core workout I’ve done twice and liked (kb squats, swings, deadlifts, side rocks, pushups, planks, etc) OR another gym session if I can make it.
  • The Oiselle Dozen or something similar, very short, mainly focused on core and another excuse to stretch after.

It sounds like a lot but each session is actually pretty short, and I want to combine them when possible.  If I’m going to the gym for lifting, I’ll can warm up with some running or cool down with a swim if I have time.  I can probably do a short run at lunch AND that kettlebell workout in an hour if I hustle.  Bricks are great efficient workouts that knock out two sports and I run best off the bike because I’m already warmed up.  And it creates less laundry.  Win, win, win.

Yes, this is all super healthy food (almond crusted chicken and turnip mash with collard greens).  I love me the heck out of some Snap Kitchen.

I’ve talked a ton and a half already about nutrition, so let me just say that the scale is going the correct way, and I think I’ll probably continue with these goals through April:

  • 1500 calories, good diet quality.  In that order.
  • Batch cook 1-2 meals that are approximately 300-400 calories per serving, and supplement the rest of the week with Snap Kitchen foods.  I was balking at the cost and then I realized I’ve not gone out to eat except grabbing a turkey sandwich on the way to the race and splitting a chopped beef sandwich on the way back (under 25$) and on a good week before I’d spend at least 100$ (if not more) on takeout or restaurant food.
  • I’m just not doing desserts except on extreme special occasions (read: family member made it and maybe a few times on vacation).  Once I detox my food intake a little, I find I don’t really need to be eating cake or cookies or sugary crap.  I do not gain anything but a headache and regret when I eat a slice of cake.  However, most every evening, I do have dark chocolate, either via split a piece of Sees Candy with my husband or a square from a good chocolate bar.  I will cut you if you get between me and my half piece of chocolate. ><
  • Really, what I need to do is limit my indulgences to my two nights a week where I get to drink some whiskey.  I’ve learned that at the bottom of it all, I can totally cut out everything else and this is the last thing to go.

This month, I will need to navigate:

  • Two game days (bringing a veggie tray. and trying not to cry too loudly in front of any potato chips that may or may not be there that I WILL NOT EAT)
  • Not eating like a complete asshole after a 40 mile bike ride + brick (planning an acceptable amount of calories for lunch and probably Snap Kitchen for dinner).
  • A birthday/Easter family celebration (though *we* are cooking this one so I will have lots of lean protein and veggies available and I’ll probably just cook myself a healthy dessert so I can have something to do with my hands while the rest of the family goes into sugar overload)
  • Another race camping trip (with the same issue of finishing a sprint at 9am and then not just commencing with the eating junk food and drinking beer until I pass out)
  • Possibly another birthday shindig, monthly cake day and cheese day at work, and whatever else life wants to throw at me.

So, I just need to remember all the reasons I’d like to take some weight off and that if I really focus for a few months it will save me years of half assing it and being disappointed with my results.  That’s worth ten orders of fries and an ice cream sundae.

On the general life stuff front – I’ll give myself an A+ on the fun stuff, D on the adulting.  That’s about par for the course.

Creative/fun/learny stuff –

Reference here.   Also, it’s incredibly hard to photograph canvas well.

I painted a thing, see?  I’m actually super happy with it, which is an outcome I didn’t expect when I started.  My art-ing muscle is a little weak and atrophied, but I’m looking forward to flexing it a little more to strengthen it.  The process is fun!

To keep from freezing up choosing a subject, my husband is picking them.  So, next up, I have a snorkeling picture from Roatan featuring some very curious Sergeant Majors.  I’d love to do one painting a month, so that’s my goal for April.

I read two books, Angel and You Do You.

Angel gave me a really great insight into Angel investing, which is something I either would love to do or might be on the receiving end of someday.  While I feel like I learned a lot, I probably need to focus my attention elsewhere because I am neither rich enough to really jump in with both feet (minimum requirement to be accredited is 200k annual salary) nor ready to launch anything that would need Angel investors for a minute.

You Do You was a really fun anti-self help book that had me nodding my head with it and laughing.  She talks about how to take risks, stop worrying about what Judgy Mcjudgersons are thinking or saying about you, and basically own your own quirks and let your freak flag fly.  I wouldn’t say it’s life changing for me, but I’m the kid that roller skated down the block with a refrigerator box on my head pretending to be a robot who really never gave that kind of shit up.

In April, I have Operation Ironman and The Essential Guide to Getting Your Book Published on the docket.  I might have already finished the first one but I’ll save my discussion for later.

I wrote a chapter (chapter 10).  I’m growing increasingly unhappy with my writing, which means I’m probably on the right track and getting close to wrapping things up.  I’m torn.  I really am super excited that April will see my last book chapter done and I’ll have, for the first time in my life, completed a book, all 80k or so words of it.  However, then, holy shit, it’s real, and I need to actually do something with it and, ulp, maybe someday someone will actually read the thing?  Why didn’t I go into writing pulpy sci fi instead of non-fiction about myself?  Ack!

I made three more videos!  I’ve been having a lot of fun with it, and I’ve been learning a lot about the process.  For some reason, I have to constantly remind myself that I don’t need to be AWESOME at it right now, because again, like the painting, I’m having fun working on getting better by practicing. 🙂

I have notes written out for at least two more (part 1 and part 2), and I’ll make it a goal to do at least one additional video by the end of April on *something*.

Adulting –

We need some bodies to help us with the cabinet (we will have a captive audience on April 14 and will do it then), and then the garage will be done in a few minutes after that.  I’m ignoring that corner of the world until then.

My pantry will survive in it’s current state until I actually give a fig about doing it, which is obviously not any time soon.  I think I have to face facts that I used up about two years of give-a-shit doing my kitchen and there’s no way I’m going to be able to bring myself to be on a diet and in training and also domestic AF and I’m okay with that.

I’ll just continue to revel in the fact that I have a renovated kitchen and ignore all the other crap outside of it for another few years.  I think that’s a sound plan.

I feel slightly bad that I’m doing a fairly craptastic job at the adulting list, but it seems that 2018 has been about flexing my creative muscles again, and manifesting some progress on some long time goals I’ve wanted to achieve.  I’ll give up all the organized spaces in my house to make that happen.

Some days you are enough (No Label Sprint Tri)

I randomly had a dream a few nights before the No Label Tri that I got first in my age group.  If you’ll remember, my last race I came in LAST place, so this is not typically something that happens for me.

Even though my self-confidence tends to flag occasionally, I do have my moments where I actually believe I can do things.  I started to write it off, hahaha, that’s funny, you’re going to get 5th like you always do, if you’re lucky… I thought to myself.  And then I told that asshole to eff off and go away.

What do I have to lose being confident?  I thought.  What could it possibly hurt to dream big and believe I had a fighting chance at placing in or even winning my age group?  Why not start the race as an optimist for a change?  So, I attempted to hold onto that moment of confidence, that moment of standing on top of the podium, in the back of my mind through the week.

We were lucky enough to have Good Friday off work, so we had our pre-race swim, packed the camper, ate an early lunch of a giant turkey sandwich, and had a fairly uneventful drive to Katy, TX.  The RV Park we stayed at was the opposite of anything natural – it was a jungle of concrete with our little mobile boxes tucked in right next to each other – but it also had a pool, a hot tub, and an icemaker, so I was perfectly happy with what it was for it’s purpose – a makeshift hotel room.

We cooked our traditional pre-race chicken, potatoes, and salad, and puttered around a bit before we settled down with books and attempted to sleep.  The concrete jungle was loud at night, and sadly, I think I got a little less than 6 hours of sleep.  Earl grey tea and a sunbutter + honey english muffin (plus two caffeinated jelly beans) perked me right up, so I’ve had much worse and I really think I’ve nailed my pre-race nutrition for the year as I felt solid all race.

Rocket fuel!

The late night meant a later sleep and we got to transition 15 minutes before closing (don’t do that).  Yeah, no time for a warmup run.  Oh well.  Then, I left transition without my swim stuff because I felt rushed and barely got back in on time.  Then the potty line was long.  I was incredibly thankful that the planned race start of 6:45am came and went and the race director was just starting the briefing.

We stood in line for what felt like eternity (I think it was about 40 minutes) waiting for the start and then watching the fastest swimmers cruise through the pool.  Chatting with the folks around us, the general consensus was that this race was always kind of a shit show.  The course is either long or short and something is the matter with it, it never starts on time, and they were impressed because most of the right things had gotten in the packets this year unlike other years.  I took a deep breath and thought, Well, good thing I’m just here to kick off my season.  A rust buster can totally be a shit show, no problem.

All of a sudden it was my turn and I dove into the pool, like I had told myself absolutely NOT TO DO, but thankfully my goggles held their seal and I was off!  My plan was to sprint a little bit to try and catch the person in front of me and then draft off them for the rest of the 300m.  The guy in front of me took off like a bullet and I actually had to swim for my life to keep the people behind me from catching me.

Spending a little more time here lately but I’ve probably swam more in one long session last year IM training than I have collectively in 2018.

Around lap 4, I noticed that two other swimmers had passed Zliten, who had started right behind me, and I got two taps on my toes, so I stopped at the wall and let them pass.  The couple seconds it took to let them pass was so worth it, as I got to ride their bubbles spending CONSIDERABLY less energy the last two laps.  I sort of rolled my way out of the pool awkwardly but quickly, and was off to T1.

Swim time: 5:54/300m – 1:58/100m pace.  3/15 AG.

It’s hard to compare this to anything because it’s a pool swim, and you’re sort of forced into the pace of the people in front or behind you.  However, I’m incredibly happy with this considering I can probably count my swims this year on one hand so it can only get better from here.

T1 was about 10 feet from the door, which was nice.  I ran out with intent and then with purpose went down the wrong rack.  D’oh!  Once I got to my spot I did the quick sock shoe sock shoe thing, though since it was a parking lot it was nice to not have to worry about putting my stocking feet down like I hate to do on dirt or mud.  I clipped on my helmet and tried my sunglasses and immediately stuck them down my jersey – it was so freaking humid I couldn’t see out of them, but I didn’t want to not have the option for the whole bike.  I should have.  I didn’t use them all morning.

Zliten was about 30 seconds into his transition when I unracked Death Star and told him I’d see him out there, figuring he’d be whizzing past me in no time.

T1 time: 1:15. 3/15 AG.

I was on a mission on the bike here.  I know I’m not the best runner but I am getting to be a pretty darn decent cyclist.  From analysis of my age group last year, I found the bike times to be really slow.  I figured there were a few options: either something happened last year (wind, rain, etc), the course was super hilly (which it wasn’t), or that I had a chance to blow the competition out of the water and come off the bike in first and then just run for my life, hoping no one would catch me.

So, with that knowledge, my goal for the bike was just to get out there and pedal my ass off.  I spent the first mile or two rolling past about twenty people on a super chip sealy and debris laden road, and then finally I relaxed into aero when I found a nice, clear section and got down to it.  I was holding around 19 mph, 20 when I really concentrated, and I felt some wind, which I was hoping was headwind.  If I can hold this pace in the headwind, I thought, I can REALLY crank it on the way back.

Sadly, I never found the tailwind.  Somehow, on an out and back course with a box in the middle, it never felt easier and the wind was causing SOME sort of resistance at all times.  I continued to pass people (and proudly, I got passed a total of ZERO times) and just keep inching that speed back to around 19 mph average, the power around 160-170, and staying as aero as possible.

Guys… guys… GUYS!  It’s all about the bike.  Truth.

On the way back, the chipseal seemed even worse, and the sun was completely in my eyes without sunglasses so I could barely see the road.  It was super bad and I even sat up for a while on the worst of it exclaiming out loud, “How is my tire NOT FLAT RIGHT NOW?” after hearing the tenth PING of debris flying out from my spokes.  At some point I realized it was not going to get better so I just got back down, and figured it would be what it would be.  I’d either flat and get practice changing a tire quickly during a race or I’d make it back to T2 in tact, and riding like a wuss wasn’t going to help either way.

Thankfully, my tires held and I rolled into feeling pretty great and ready to do battle with my nemesis, the run.

Bike time: 44:13. 19mph. 1/15.  By like, 3.5 minutes.

In a vacuum, I’d say I was least pleased with my bike, because I feel like if I would have gotten less distracted with the chipseal and a little braver passing people in aero and pushed just a little more, I think I could have probably held closer to 20 mph.  I was not cooked in the slightest off this bike.  It was windy but not THAT windy and the course is super flat.  However, it’s the highest power (161W/167W normalized) I’ve held in a sprint so far and my heart rate was 164 average, so I didn’t have *too* much further I could have gone without jeopardizing my run, it was just a wee bit on the conservative side.

Also, you can’t complain too much about outbiking your age group that much.  So I won’t!

I headed into T2, and watched a gal coming out fall trying to clip in.  I said, “Everyone does it, don’t worry, go get em!” to encourage her and I was off mine without incident and running to my rack.  I got my shoes on quickly and decided to leave my handheld bottle (it was 63 degrees) but grabbed my caff blocks out of it and was in my race belt and headed out quickly.  I didn’t see my husband and I was okay with that because he’s usually a faster runner and I needed a head start to hold him off.

T2 time: 1:12. 6/15. 

The few seconds I took to get my chews cost me a few seconds and places on this one, but I think it all worked out.

I ran out of T1 and found two things – my feet felt like popsicles (60-ish degrees and a little wet from humidity and well ventilated bike shoes = cold!) and my arches also felt like they were running on little springy tennis ball halves with my new insoles, like the first couple times I ran in them.  This was not a good sign.

Apparently I have a running fever that can only be cured with more ‘bell (and maybe some track work and losing 20 lbs but let’s focus, people…).

I did my best to ignore it and also ignore some dudes zooming past me at what looked like an effortless 7 min/mile lope and concentrate on my form and my breathing.  I will not say that anything about what I was doing felt comfortable or effortless or flowing, but my legs were turning over and my watch kept showing about 9:30/mile, so I settled there for a bit.

As soon as that started to feel just a little bit comfortable, I tried working my pace down to where it felt just on the line of terrible and death and despair.  If you feel happy at any point when racing a 5k, you’re doing it wrong.  I’m sure it’s exactly what other people think when I whiz past them on the bike, but I get so jealous of people with great form and relaxed strides.  I’m working the strength, I’m working the flexibility, someday it will click, but I just have this hard line right now around mid-9-minute miles where my legs just don’t understand it anymore and my lungs aren’t really much of a help either.  I put down a (really stale, been open for months) caff chew to help educate them both on the wonders of going faster than that.

I passed the water stop that was about halfway, and the girls operating it said, “Less than a mile to go!” I looked at my watch and I knew that wasn’t the case at 1.55 miles but I felt like I might as well believe them for right now and just go for it.  I kept looking back to see if I could see my husband, and I expected that he would be loping past me any minute, but after my watch ticked over to 2 miles down, my goal was to give it everything I had to see him at the finish line and not any time before that.

I won’t steal race pictures I didn’t pay for but I’ll surely LINK this right here.  My bib # was 114 if you want a good laugh because I definitely had some pain face going on the last mile of the run.  I did a really nice job negative splitting the run with 9:31, 9:21, and 9:11, surging to low 8 minute miles by the time I saw the arch.  While I wasn’t sure my legs would hold up once we hit the last tenth of a mile on the gravel, I found the finish line upright and before my husband.  Less than a minute, but still.  It’s been since 2015 that I’ve beaten him in a triathlon.  MINE!

Run time: 28:15. 9:25/mile. 7/15 AG.

I will say that I’m pleasantly surprised with this run considering I took about 6 weeks off after 3M and I’ve been on a bountiful 5-ish miles a week plan since.  However, I’ve run pretty well off the bike lately and I was able to give it a little extra today.  This is one of my better 5k-off-the-bike paces, if not the best, so I’ll be happy with it.  And it did the job.

Total time: 1:20:52. 1/15 AG.

One hell of a rust buster shit show of a race!  I. will. take. it.  The insecure part of my brain wants to caveat it a million ways.  Yes, I picked circumstances in which just about everything was to my advantage (pool swim, colder weather, flat course, running to end at a brewery as motivation), but that’s strategerie, man.  Yes, 1:20 is not a particularly fast time overall (though it’s definitely a PR for me), but I was 16th female overall out of 126 finishers and I would have many of the female categories if not at least podium-ed, so it wasn’t completely a weird age group anomaly.  Plus, I beat second by over a minute and third by almost four, and 15 people meant two in my age group should get Nationals invites, so I could have come in 3 minutes and 50 seconds slower and still made it).

I’ve had a few people ask me if now I’m just going to coast the rest of the spring season since I hit my goal of Nationals qualification on the first try.  Let me tell you – standing on that podium felt way too effing good to do that.  I’m excited to work harder and get faster so that I can be in the mix like that all the time.  However, I also tend to race really well when the pressure is off (but not too far off), so this is a great place for me to be right now.  It’s also a nice sign that I’m doing the right things to improve, so I’m going to stay on this little “prioritize lifting heavy things and eating less food over all else and yes, that even means run/bike/swim” path and see where it takes me.

In my next race, I’m less likely to stand on the top spot, considering the results last year, but anything can happen.  In the next month, my goal is to improve my strength and speed, and on that day, if I leave it all out there on the course again, I’ll see what I can do.  I just might find that podium again sometime soon.

That’s not what I’m doing right now.

Spring has sprung.  The flowers are blooming, the trees are getting gussied up for the year, and the sun is actually warm and happy and shining instead of a dirty liar or just GONE for days at a time.

Kettlebells in the sun are the best kettlebells!

Spring for triathletes means that allllll the social medias are a-twitters (or a-grams, or a-books) about their 60 mile rides with stops for donuts and pizza and beer at the end.  Or maybe even the serious ones riding centuries or more (with or without the junk food stops) now that the weather is primed and ready for riding bikes all day.

And then, here I am, spending a majority of my scant 4-6 hours a week (like, less than the time of some of my long rides last year) training, with the vast majority of it indoors, lifting heavy things in the gym.  Do we still say FOMO?  Is that still a thing?  Well, either way, I have some major lust to be doing all that stuff again.  I really wanted to just take my bike and go for hours and hours.  I wanted to go find a pretty place in the country and go run until my watch ticks over to double digits.  I think the only reason I’m not compelled to swim lap after lap in the lake is that the temperature starts with a 6 and that’s cold for me but soon that will be a thing as well.

And, let’s be honest, I miss the other aspect of that – the refueling.  Stopping mid-long-ride for a Rudy’s chopped beef taco and a Coke.  Ending a multi-hour ride at Desanos for a pie and a pint.  Opening up a new bag of Baked Sour Cream and Cheddar Ruffles and cracking whatever’s cold in the beer fridge after a run that’s taken me from the morning to the afternoon.  Oh, how I miss Ironman training, if especially the “eat anything anything ANYTHING you want and not gain weight” aspect.

However, that’s not what I’m doing right now.

I spent the last 7 weeks in the gym lifting heavy as my major form of exercise.  My biking, running, and swimming were minimal, and I called it cardio instead of training.  It’s definitely not where I’m usually at this time of year, although, my spring training has varied so much over the last five years, I don’t know that there is a usual, but this is DEFINITELY not it.

While it also gave me a chance to let my cranky left leg heal up without pounding on it all the time, my body needed a reset.  I could run or bike or swim for hours without any real issue.  I just couldn’t do it very fast.  The limiter on both how far and how fast I was going was muscular, not endurance based.  I was having trouble getting my heart rate up and hitting paces because my LEGS didn’t want to cooperate.  The cue to stop running and biking was not when I got tired, but when my legs and lower back hurt too much to continue.  My form sucked on my run because I didn’t have the strength and flexibility to fully correct it.

Basically, staying out of the weightroom for a year and a half made me a fragile little flower that was only good at one thing – doing things slowly, for a moderately long time.  Because we are what we repeatedly do.

To paraphrase another oft-used quote – to do the same thing over and over and expect different results is madness.  While I really want to just go run pretty places at a comfortable speed and ride bikes with friends at a conversational pace from the morning until the late afternoon, THIS IS NOT WHAT I’M DOING RIGHT NOW.  There’s a big disconnect between that sort of training and standing on sprint triathlon podiums.  And while I want to just go play, my spring goals state that I should be doing a little more work than that.

And those goal are to have this kit see Cleveland Ohio for Nationals. 

The good news is that my body is responding to the stimulus.  I went out for my first team BSS brick workout of the year on Wednesday.  While I’m not *quite* where I was at the end of the season last year, my ability to ride my TT bike around 18 mph in traffic and then hold a 9:30/min mile for 2 miles after (with a few gears left on each discipline, this was going moderately hard but not puke pace) shows promise.  My endurance may suck right now, but I’m sharpening up for the shorter races quite nicely.

The most encouraging thing is not necessarily the paces, but the feeling.  My body feels strong as hell right now.  I was pushing 10 more watts last week than I was on that same ride last year.  My speed just sucked because it got windy and I also got myself a little turned around and had to slow down and backtrack.  Twice.  Because I’m dumb.  On the run, I was sucking wind, but my legs felt strong and capable, not like they were dragging to keep up, like they have the last year or two.  As my endurance grows back again, I have a feeling my speed will coincide this time.  And that’s exciting!

Also, just in the last week, my left knee/ankle/heel have started to cooperate.  It took a massage and then an adjustment and some new ankle strengthening exercises, but I think it’s gotten the hint that it’s triathlon season and it’s no longer welcome to hinder me.  Or, it’s that the chiropractor, stumped as to what the problem was, said “maybe it’s a little early arthritis?” to which my body said “hell no, we’re not that old” and fixed it’s malfunction.  Either way, I was a much happier person last week because of it.  I’ll joyfully go through a little bit of daily/monthly maintenance so I can play pain free.

My plan this week is recovery.  It sounds weird to me with such minimal training, but I feel a little beat up from the heavy weights.  I plan to mostly lay off the iron, with some short rides, runs, and swims to keep it fresh.  Next week, when I’m recovered from the race, I’ll start resuming a normal spring training schedule with a balance of both.

If I haven’t mentioned a race plan, it’s because I don’t really have one besides going as close to that sweet sweet pukepace as possible the whole time to establish some metrics via heart rate and watts and actually how fast I move from point A to B to build upon for the rest of the season.  This is a true “rust buster” race.

Actually completely pro #projectraceweight – almond crusted chicken, turnip mash, collard greens from Snap Kitchen.  So, so good.

I have the number 56 on my whiteboard at work.  It means 56 days until vacation, and I have 56 days left to be really strict with my diet.  7 down, 56 to go.

Last week was definitely an adjustment period.  1500 calories is challenging, but most days, it’s doable.  Snap Kitchen for most meals really helped the initial break in period, and helped us “blame” something else for our smaller portion sizes.  Don’t get me wrong, the food is actually pretty yummy and it was suuuuuper convenient not to have to do any cooking, but sometimes we’d just open up one of the meals and laugh at how small they were (before crying, because it’s our ENTIRE meal).

This was a pretty good representation of what I’ve been normally eating on a daily basis.  The exceptions were Thursday, when I had some drinks after work.  I had planned on it, so I just eliminated all my snacks that day, and ended up right at my 1500 calories anyway.  On Saturday, we had birthday celebrations.  I did my best to eat like a normal human being with what was offered, but I knew I was going to go over on calories unless I skipped dinner (and ending my day with cake at 4pm would set me up to feel flippin’ awful), so I sucked it up and called it a “maintenance calorie day” at 2300 (500 of that was dessert that if it wasn’t homemade by my family, I would have skipped, so I can pretty much see what I would normally eliminate to stay in my range).  Sunday, I was right back to it, so we’ll call it a successful week.

For funsies, the numbers went like this:

  • Average calories: 1646
  • Average Diet Quality Score: 22
  • Average Calorie Burn (per Garmin): 2346
  • Average Deficit: -700
  • Average Weight: 185.7

This next week presents it’s own challenges.  There are no family parties to navigate, but I am racing.  It’s so not an A race, but I definitely don’t want to go too low in terms of calorie consumption both the day before and the day of the race (but I’d also like to not to sabotage my weight loss efforts either).

So, my goal will be to eat normally today through Thursday.  Friday, I’ll eat my normal, pre-race routine of a normal breakfast, a turkey sandwich for lunch (somewhere on the way down to Katy, TX), and then grill up some chicken, potatoes, and a salad for dinner.  Honestly, I will probably be able to get by on around 1500 calories, give or take a little for snacks if I’m feeling hungry.

Race day will probably be the biggest challenge.  I’ll have my normal sunbutter jelly half sandwich in the morning with a coconut water and probably 1 gel and a little sports drink during (probably about 500 calories total).  The race is sponsored by a brewery, so I’m imagining there will be beer after, and that will be happening.  But I’ll try to limit it to ONE (~150 calories) even if they’re serving up all you can drink, because I can easily drink most of the calories I can eat in a day with good beer.  With these races, the food is always questionable – if its something AMAZING I’ll indulge but if it’s crappy lukewarm pizza or something, I’ll come prepared with a protein bar or jerky and nuts or something to have something down the hatch to rebuild (200 calories).

Avoiding these.  Because they are crack.

Once we get back to our campsite, I’m planning the attack two ways:

#1 – I plan to go for a little hike and hit the pool and I’m bringing some games and my painting supplies so I don’t just kick off the day with a beer at 9am when I finish and then continue doing that while just sitting in my camp chair.  And, if I do end up sipping stuff all day, I’m making some very diluted punch and having a bunch of non-alcoholic fizzy water options so if I want to catch a buzz I’ll need to stay very very very very hydrated!  Win win!

#2 – I plan to bring really healthy food as my only options.  Veggies and fruit and nuts and jerky to snack on.  Small steaks with potatoes and veggies for lunch (good high quality carbs and protein and nutrition for recovery).  Fish tacos with coleslaw on the side for dinner or pre-made chicken salads if we can’t be arsed to cook again.  I’m going to leave the chips and smores and all the other crap that’s just (delicious) extra calories without any nutritional value at home so I’m not even tempted.

And, if I end up going a little overboard anyway, it is just one day in the grand scheme of things and I’ll pick myself up, dust myself off, and get back to it again the next day.

Someday, the long days of training and the ability to make a few gluttonous food choices will return.  But, that’s not what I’m doing right now.  And I’ll be fine with it, if for only 56 more days.

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