Adjusted Reality

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

Page 2 of 193

Who am I to dare? (Texasman Race Report)

Once again, race week was not ideal. Some random baloney at work hit me kind of hard and I sucked at sleeping and had a minor nervous breakdown – which for me, doesn’t really look like much outwardly, but I was probably a little more curt and cranky than my best self by the end of Friday.

Saturday morning, though, I woke up feeling fresh and renewed and ready to go play in the woods for the weekend. The first thing on the agenda was hitting the Roka warehouse sale on the way out of town, in which we spent hundreds of dollars on thousands of dollars in triathlon items. Score! Then, we made the long drive to Plano for packet pickup, and then Lake Ray Roberts to camp and race. We left the house for the Roka sale before 9am and listened to my epic classic rock playlist for many hours, pulling into camp just short of 5pm. It’s a long trek for a sprint triathlon for sure.

I was a superb eater Saturday. I’ve been at a pretty decent deficit lately, but I fueled well. I had a protein bar for breakfast, a footlong subway turkey for lunch, jerky and watermelon to snack on, and a salad, potato, and chicken for dinner. I hydrated DECENTLY well without needing to stop every 2 minutes to pee on the drive up.

While I had been utterly lacking in training the week of the race (I ran once for 2 miles easy, biked once for an hour fairly easy to make sure I remembered how to do that), I eased into the water about 6pm to remember how to swim and make sure my swimskin was still intact and fit and found a nice stroke and pace and figured that would have to do.

I slept only about 6 hours, but for a 5 am wakeup, that’s not bad, and it was the opposite of fitfull, I crashed hard. In the morning, I had my two cups of earl grey tea, my gluten free everything bagel, and two sport beans. When I hit the restroom, I looked at myself in the mirror, and for a moment, I believed that the person looking back at me looked like someone that could actually win. That is something right there. I’ll remember that one.

At the race site, I set up my transition, hit the potties, ate my rocket fuel gel, and found my confidence start to waver. I felt like all the fit girls I saw had a 40-something age marked on their calf. This wasn’t going to be a walk in the park. “Who am I to dare,” I thought to myself in a moment of insecurity, “everything last year was just a fluke.” I knew that was my irrational brain trying to nope out of being tough, so I reminded myself of the process. The population of the day didn’t change my strategy. Get out in front on the swim and find feet. Don’t eff around in transitions. Chase on the bike. Run your ass off.

As you’ll see below from the age group vs overall placement, 40-44 was indeed FREAKING STACKED, it wasn’t simply my imagination.

Swim:

I got to a spot on the beach in the front and high-kneed into the water and got to swimming hard. It’s not often I find myself in a mass start these days, and there was a lot of jostling with my neoprene-clad friends. I held my line and hit my tangents pretty well even going directly into the sun. I had someone tickling my feet (dangit, *I* was supposed to find the feet, not you, mysterious stranger!) half the swim but I could never really find anyone to return the favor ahead of me. I settled for finding some clear water and swimming smooth, and I was actually pretty pleased when I saw the time on my watch when I crossed the timing chip.

Swim time: 9:17 (1:51/100m). 15th F overall 5th AG. I’m actually really proud of this pace, but the placement sucks. Spoiler: only one of the girls who placed in my age group beat me on the swim and not by much – some people went out a little hard and faded. However, I’m kind of glad I didn’t know how far I was back in placement at that point, I might have been cranky about it.

T1:

It’s a long run and the pavement is very rocky, so I took two seconds to grab my sandals under the tree. While I ambled quickly up the hill, I took all the swim things off my face and peeled my swim skin down to my waist. Everything went fairly smoothly except the couple extra seconds it took to get the swim skin over my hips. I’ll peel it down a little further when running next time.

T1 time: 3:06 13th F overall 5th AG. I dunno. Maybe I could have done better but I don’t feel like anything went wrong or there was any faffing around.

Bike:

Even if I’m a little less confident and feeling a bit untested on the bike this year, going hunting on two wheels is my favorite. I mounted my steed and got. to. work. There was a nice, fairly steady uphill but not too uphill section out of the park and I just pass, pass, passed. My goal for the race, but especially on the bike, was mostly extrinsic motivation instead of oogling my own power numbers, so I literally just put targets on everyone’s backs and readied my arrows. Ready, aim, fire, repeat.

Because I tend to think in Dungeons&Dragons terms these days, my thoughts went to barbarianism every time I had to make a difficult pass – rage and reckless attacks. It made a little more sense in my race brain than now when I’m relating the actual mechanics, but to make a successful pass, you need to not only get ahead, but you need to drop the person behind you and make them think that they don’t have a chance to catch you (rage). I needed to have the oomph to not only get ahead, but fly by them at a speed much higher than they were maintaining (reckless). It worked, as I only got passed back ONCE going up a hill I decided to spin easy, and I never saw them again after I bombed past as soon as it flattened.

Very close to the turnaround, I started counting girls and they were all pretty much bunched up within a few minutes of each other (and me). I picked off three before I made the last turn, and thought I might have been in third at that point.

I took it a little easier on the way back into the park, I spun a little lower resistance higher cadence to hope to ready my legs to run because I felt a little tension in my left hamstring (which is not a place it’s supposed to be on the bike) and I didn’t want to cramp. I wasn’t peeping my power *too* much, but the average I saw was damn near close to my FTP, which was both impressive and a little worrying as that effort shouldn’t have been a thing I could do, and certainly not one after which I should be able to run well.

Bike 50:52 (19.6 mph) – 5th F overall 2nd AG. 174w average, 188w normalized. I am more than happy with the process and the output, it was a tougher day than last year (to the tune of 10w higher for the same pace when I’m ~12 lbs lighter). I might have done a little better to let up a little less the last few miles but maybe it saved my run so… *shrug*. I’m peace with this.

T2:

Uneventful. I was sad they weren’t calling out places like last year but I focused on getting my gear changed expediently and ready to run. My new hokas are a little troublesome in transitions, the tongue likes to slip back and takes a little adjustment but it was but a few seconds to fix. I headed out to see if my hunting prowess now extended to this next leg as well.

T2 time: 1:17. 18th F overall 4th AG. Okayfine.

Run:

Quickly, I found my legs forgot themselves as we set out up the hill. It felt like a repeat of last year when someone blew right by at the beginning with a 49 on her calf and I could not figure out how to go with her. She wasn’t going that much faster but it was uphill and my calves were whispering rumors about potential cramping if I abused them too much too early, so I let it be, hung back, and resolved that if that was the masters win, I would waste it all to catch her on the downhill.

Then, I had another girl blow by me. She also had 40-something on her leg. I stuck with my effort, but I was really demoralized by the end of mile 1. As I approached the turnaround, I counted women – no one was that far ahead but far enough and going fast enough that I had no confidence I could catch them. So, I went strategic. I would maintain my pace – the two gears under redline I had right then, and if anyone faded, I would save my kick to attack then.

Sadly, that meant one more girl blew by me at a pace I couldn’t answer to on the way in, and I never ended up catching anyone. If I have one regret, the thought that was playing in the theater of my mind during the run was that I just wanted this sh!tshow to be over, I went to the bad place. I had 49-year old within my sights the entire time, but there was absolutely no advantage to me catching her besides perhaps some pride recovered and some practice to see if I could actually do it, but I decided to let her have her finish nine seconds ahead of me and save the fight for another day.

Run: 27:59 (9:01/mile) 17th F overall 4th AG. Let’s talk about the good – this is a great pace for me in a race (if you ignore that I’ve been running off the bike in the 8-something minute miles, though not after a bike with this level of effort, for sure). I placed higher on the run than the swim which is a huge thing for me. However, I think I could have pulled this pace down a little and I’ll talk more about that below.

Total: 1:32:30 8th F overall 3rd AG. Honestly, I only lucked out because the OVERALL winner was 41 and MASTERS winner was 43, and they took them out of the age group awards. I would have been 5th.

The encouraging part is that the winner clocked a 1:28:44. That’s less than four minutes faster than me. That’s fathomable in the future or maybe even a magical unicorn day – which this was absolutely not. My age group winner was 1:30:48. That’s less than 2 minutes faster. That’s even more doable. Our paces were really close, she just had a bit more on the bike than I did and she was 90 seconds ahead of me on the run already, otherwise, I may have been able to find the motivation to beat her 8:50/mile pace if we were racing side by side. I had cards left to play if I found myself in the position to play them, I fully believe that.

One one hand, I’m at peace with the run. Yeah, I didn’t quite accomplish what I was after – the pace nor the feeling nor the process, but I made a strategic decision in the moment. I’m left wanting, I’m left feeling like I missed an opportunity for growth as an athlete, but I’m also left with less wear and tear. Even so, I need to remember that if extrinsic motivation wanes, turn to intrinsic. I think if I would have seen how close I was to 8-something minute mile pace, I would have increased my effort just enough, and maybe THAT would have been enough to catch Mrs. 49.

On the other hand, the mad passionate irrationalist is left wondering what would have happened if I would have given every inch to that run. The realist keeps coming back to the fact that I don’t think I had the runway to chase down first within my capacity, the rest of the race being the same. I could have practiced the chase, but I think that’s all that it would have been – practice and still coming up short.

Luckily, I have some more chances at this practice in 2019. My next race is Windcrest, where I hold a bunch of Strava QoMs on the bike course and also have a nice shot at first again. It all depends on who shows up, including my own legs, lungs, head, and heart.

Texasman Cometh

I have been absent from the blog, but not from life.

In fact, life has been full of things, starting immediately the next day after vacation. Work has continued to challenge me, some days, in the way that makes me want to fist bump someone and say eff yes, and some days, in ways that makes me want to bang my head against a wall. Training was a challenge to resume after vacation, as well as proper nutrition, but I feel like a fortnight of that is behind me and things look to be settling into a comfortable level of organized chaos.

This weekend, I journey back to Texasman as my first outdoor triathlon of the year, and I’ve had varying levels of feels about it over the months. A few months out, I was, like, megamaniacally ready to crush it. I had some aggressive thoughts about how I was going to conquer and run everyone down and be amazing and powerful and it fueled some of my training to be better than before.

Right after vacation, I had thoughts of despair. “I can barely make myself train, ” I whined to myself, “how am I going to do anything worthwhile at this stinkin’ race in a few weeks? I’m bloated and soft and fat and I probably have forgotten how to even do this ish.”

Spoiler alert: I have not forgotten how to do this ish. And I’m actually down a few lbs.

I have been utterly lacking on swim training, but something lately has clicked with my form to help me at least maintain that slightly-under-2:00/100m without much effort. I’ve swam twice in the last month or so, and they have both been *fine*. In fact, I jumped into Quarry Lake in a wetsuit for the first time this year, expecting the normal mild panic and feelings of aqua-incompetence (not to be confused with incontinence, though I did pee in my wetsuit because this is how we do as triathletes…) and found that I felt great.

It wasn’t my fastest time around the buoys, but at a nice cruising pace, I feel like I may be able to improve my ~10th out of the water this weekend. My goal is simply to keep form as best I can, a comfortably hard pace, and try to find some feet to follow that are going slightly faster than I want to go from which to draft.

The bike is another place where I feel like it’s more about muscle memory than anything. I have been spending time with Death Star riding in my living room, but not as much as I think I should. I crushed my recent FTP test, finding 181 watts out of nowhere, and when I make the effort, I’m mentally and physically ready to rock. I just remember by this point last year I felt SO EFFING CONFIDENT about my biking prowess and I’m not entirely in that mindset yet.

I’ve found in the last few races though, having a bit of untested fitness and an open mind has lead me to things that I didn’t believe possible, so I’ll roll with that on race day. I want to replicate last year, where I set out on the bike to go hunting. I know I can do it, and I want to concentrate on chasing everyone down. That’s how I rock on two wheels, and I can’t wait to have my first opportunity of the year for relentless pursuit.

The run is always my question mark, although, I have much more confidence in my feet this year. I’m about 11-13 lbs down from where I was at last year this time. My body has finally come to terms with that, as well as absorbed a year of strength training, and my average paces are much lower than they were before even with the minimal hours I’m calling training this year.

I can’t wait to see what I can do with my new running proficiency and also my new mental strength. I have had visions over the last few months where instead of falling back on the run, I rise to meet the challenge and run people down. I’m not sure what I have in me in this situation but that is SO EXCITING to me right now. I know there’s greatness in there somewhere, and I’ve found some really unbelievable things in my body and brain this year, and I can’t wait to go run it out for 3 miles, testing my mental and physical fortitude.

While I always strive for excellence as of late, the pressure is off. Zliten and I discussed the matter, and we are probably not going to go to Nationals even if we qualify (he reserves the right to change this if we both qualify, but it’s not a driving goal). I simply get to go out there and give it my all, however the chips may fall. I could have an amazing day and come in first. I could overestimate my capabilities and blow up or have a rare (lately) day where I just don’t have it, and in all instances, that’s okay. I’ll either win some or learn some and live to race again this season.

However, with all the caveats, this year my goal is to lead out strong and fight my arse off for first place. Aiming for anything less is bullshit.

Sail Away

I needed this time away a lot more than I realized. Which I’m sure is a surprise to absolutely no one, not even myself in hindsight. While I find myself thrust back into the craziness of life and required to use my best words other places right now, let me at least share some relatively unedited pictures and tales, disjoined as they may be, from the eleven days I spent footloose and fancy free.

Our adventures the first day were without incident and with only minor turbulence. Happily, all of our seven (!!!) bags consisting of three large suitcases, two carry on suitcases, and two backpacks made it just fine, although my new bubble lens may possibly be considered a threat to national security with the fervor with which they examined our camera bag. While I joked that the kitchen sink might perhaps be in one of them, half of the space is dedicated to diving and photography and video gear so I only felt moderately ridiculous about it.

The inaugural vacation day’s highlights included reading, a nap, two games of cards with the ‘rents (though losing both games was not), and a trip to the deli of all delis for the Publix sub of which I’ve been dreaming for two years.

The next morning began with a sunny and steamy Florida 5k run. The procession from shore to ship was quite smooth and pleasant, and we spent our first moments on the ship exploring all the inside decks with our cameras. This was our inaugural voyage on Celebrity Silhouette, and I found myself wayyyyy too preoccupied in the time leading up to do recon, so everything was new and shiny. It was actually rather novel to discover all the nooks and crannies (and all the nifty art) firsthand over the first few days!

I don’t often get an opportunity to see the sunrise, so when I found myself up fifteen minutes before our expedition to Grand Cayman to shore dive, I trekked up to the top deck. I intended to take just a few pictures but I ended up spending almost half an hour watching it grow even more and more brilliant.

I finished Siddhartha the day before. Loosely quoted from the book, “I can do three things. I can think, I can wait, I can fast.” I had been a little thin on patience lately, it’s a good reminder to practice that a little more. Patience to fully appreciate the sunrise. Patience to get that perfect shot of that wily fish that wants to turn just when you click the shutter. Patience in all things.

It was great to clear my brain in preparation for our descent.  

In Grand Cayman, I met an octopus named Trevor, caused my husband to have to answer the question, “did you get a divorce at sea”, got myself the first inkling of a sunburn (first and last time all trip), and remembered how much I love shore diving with just Zliten instead of with a big group.

It was nice to have a chance to dress up every evening. I got a chance to wear some new, and new old clothes that haven’t fit me in a while. It was also nice to get some compliments on them. I’m so new about actually kind of caring about my appearance again, it’s nice to know I’m doin’ it right when I get out the makeup and do something with my hair.

Besides my octopus, I met plenty of octogenarians (and plenty of younger folks as well, though at forty we were definitely on the younger side of the average age of this ship’s passenger manifest), frolicked in my pajamas on the dance floor while most of the ship was asleep, and viewed a sunrise and sunset on the same day from different sections of the same deck.

During sea days, I feel like I sunk into a relaxed mode fairly quickly. I lost and recovered an hour more times than a reasonable human should, sometimes on purpose, and sometimes not. I found a routine involving entirely too much food (though somehow I still find myself a few lbs down at the moment – magic!), some activity, gym-like or not, cards, and jockeying for the primo spot to read my book on the pool deck. I felt the tangles in my soul unwind themselves, which was a relief to me and very possibly everyone else in my life.

The last few days have found a routine involving entirely too much food, some activity, gym-like or not, cards, and jockeying for the primo spot to read my book on the pool deck. I feel like the tangles in my soul have unwound themselves, which is a relief to me and very possibly everyone else in my life.



Diving the ABC islands was excellent, for the most part. I kicked off three sequential days of diving in Aruba, the scene of my first blue water dive, six years ago to the month.

Sadly, Aruba’s visibility was poor, but we had the opportunity to dive two wrecks, the Antilles and the Perdinalles, which was unique. We saw TWO frogfish, a ray, and quite a few other gorgeous sea creatures. Did not love diving with the group. I’ve become a bougie diver. Ah well.

Curacao was the diving situation of dreams. We embarked from a sleepy, chill dive shop with a house reef steps away that I could dive for a week repeatedly. This was the nicest introduction to a new island yet! The staff was friendly, they had a resident parrot that screamed, sang, mooed, meowed, and said hello as the mood struck. They also drove us back to the docks for free instead of calling us a cab, as requested. The Atlantis Dive Shop will hold fond memories for me.

Bonaire, and returning to Dive Friends, was well worth the mile-each-way hike carrying about 35 lbs of gear on our backs. My dedication to weight training has definitely helped me – even last year I think I would have been miserable ruck sacking all my gear around – and this year it was totally no big deal. While I definitely have a little crush on Curacao after our first encounter, Bonaire is the island that’s stolen my heart. I’m fairly certain I’ll own a little piece of it someday. The dives were spectacular as expected and I can’t wait to return for two weeks in December.

We surpassed over eleven hours underwater in the four days of diving, and then we boarded our vessel once more for the long sail north.

After our last dive in Bonaire, we became acquainted with a large group of Canadians that singlehandedly ran the ship out of Bud Light. The next day, I figured, eff it, why not wear my smallest bikini exposing all my jellyfish stings and diving bloat? Then, because I am an unreasonable and illogical human, I consumed not one, not two, but THREE plates of lobster at dinner. We frolicked for an hour at our first silent disco, and it will not be our last. That was wayyyy too fun.

The last thing I did before bed the last night was sing Black Velvet with a backup band in front of about 100 people. Let me tell you, folks, Bandaoke, as the call it, was a higher degree of difficulty (no lyrics that highlight as the music plays) and for some reason, it was like twenty times more intimidating. Nothing much makes my legs quake these days and that did, although my husband said I hid it well. Feeling that level of (totally irrational) fear was odd for me, and now I need to go sing more because, dang, I could do way better and man, I felt really ALIVE after performing!

It was nice to be, not having to be something, for eleven days. I’m all for growth, but part of growth is rest and recovery. This was a pleasant interlude.

I figured I’d have more deep thoughts this trip, but honestly, the only thing that kept coming to mind was “don’t let the perfect become the enemy of the good”. In my pursuit of excellence in things, sometimes it’s grand (and utterly necessary, for sanity’s sake), to take a glance in the rear view mirror to appreciate progress already gained. Cruising on a ship as the youngins reminded me how much more life I still have, even if hitting a certain milestone lately MAY have kicked some ambitions into overdrive. I’ve got time. As Billy Joel says, Vienna waits for me.

I honestly ended this trip excited to get back to it. To return to the crazy of work, eating like a human being that doesn’t need four plates of food at dinner, training for my upcoming race (t-minus 5 days!), and achieving things and being better. It’s in my blood. I just need to remember to be ENOUGH sometimes even when I’m pursuing MORE.

Elsewhere…

I have been using my words in other places lately, but far be it from me to be reticent here on my little soapbox.

It’s almost time for vacation and to quote my lovely husband, “I can’t possibly check out at work, so I’m checking out with workouts.”  To be fair, I spent the greater part of this week with a cold, so I had an excuse for a while, but this weekend I’ve spent in my sweats instead of my spandex even though I feel most of the way better.  I. just. can’t. right. now.

There are two thoughts on my mind.  First, my brain is just elsewhere besides running, biking, and swimming right now, and it’s taking a lot of my mental effort and enthusiasm right now.  It’s all good.  I’m starting to find my confidence and stride in some things that felt utterly over my head before, and once I adequately conquer these things, I know it will all come back around.  Ten days away from everything should shake loose some cobwebs.

Second, if you’ve met me, you might know I have a propensity for overdoing it – *it* being anything and everything under the sun.  I’ve found some success in sport lately by not doing a whole lot of sport.  When I do venture out I’ve been doing amazing things – I kept up with people at the last brick workout who usually beat the crap out of me.  I felt a little sheepish about my bike fitness until I knocked out my best FTP test (181W) ever last weekend.  I PR’d my bench press Monday (105#).  It feels like while I’m doing a whole lot of nothing, whatever I’m doing is beneficial.  It’s really weird but, okay, let’s go with it.

I mean, I know I can’t do this forever, but as they say, stress is stress is stress and the last thing I want to do is go over the edge right now because I pushed myself too hard in too many areas.  Been there, done that, don’t want to go back and do it again.

Besides work, which is definitely a thing but not a thing I generally talk about here, I’ve dug deep into various writing projects.  I’ve actually found it very relaxing lately.  I’ve been practicing writing fiction for the first time in many, many, many years by delving into the backstory of my Dungeons and Dragons character.  I’ve been writing a recap of our adventures in a very ridiculous, overly flowery style of prose.  It’s been crazy fun to write over the top drama, looking up every third word on thesaurus.com and picking the most esoteric and enigmatic one (see what I did there?). 

I happened to connect with someone, incidentally, commiserating on the fact that we both struggle with asking for help, someone who’s writing I really respect.  I had a moment of gushing vulnerability regarding my fears and insecurities about my book draft and the whole process.  She encouraged me to send it over and I found at once ALL my old inclinations.  I almost just said no, I wasn’t ready yet.  I gave a multitude of excuses about how rough it was and how I didn’t want to waste her time.  Yet, after all that, she still wanted to read it.  

I’ve given myself until I leave on vacation to get my shit together.  And then, instead of scrambling to actually do something about that, I wrote and edited thirteen pages of my D&D character’s backstory.  I felt compelled to finish it before I could even open my book draft.  Talk about self-sabotaging tendencies…

The happy end to this story is that I did indeed open the draft a few nights ago, and I’m through a first editing pass of the intro and the first chapter.  I’m glad I found my writing voice, but man, it’s rough to go back and revise stuff I penned before that.  There’s no way I will be able to get through the entire book before I leave (yes, the irony of me wasting time here is not lost on me, but I need to decompress a little right now).  However, I figure delivering the first few chapters in a slightly-less-than embarrassing state will at least show the beginnings of my capabilities. 

I’m excited, not so much because I believe in my draft yet, but that I believe enough in myself to take this first step.  That’s been prevalent so far this year in my choices and actions, and I’m super stoked to see where it leads.

However, while performing all these terrifying feats is invigorating, it is also kind of exhausting.  I’m looking forward to just letting it all go for a while, and I hope that when I transition from life to vacation life, I can do just that.

 

Talking the talk and walking the walk.

Recaps haven’t felt like the right things to write lately, so I haven’t been doing them.  2019 is the year of different, I suppose.

New leggings, new decade, who dis?

I feel so… engaged with everything in life right now.  I’m drowning a little, failing a little bit at everything, but I don’t mind in the slightest.   Ok, I mind, but it’s EXCITING!  Forty, and the months slightly before and the days after have felt very new.  It’s like turning the page into a new decade has come with some fresh perspective and renewed vigor that had been lacking lately.

There’s this curtain of fear that had been hanging heavy over my head, that feels like it’s been lifted.  I mean, shit, I’m still afraid of things.  However, because we are what we repeatedly do, it’s getting easier to analyze what I’m feeling and move on.  Yes, I’m afraid of a thing.  Yes, it’s either for a stupid or actually good reason.  Yes, it’s still something I want to do, even if I’m feeling that friction.  Yes, I’m going to effing do it anyway.  And I do.

Early this year I was offered an opportunity to talk at the big SXSW gaming convention on a panel about Building and Maintaining Online Communities.  I pushed away all the haters in my head telling me how scary that would be and how maybe someone else would be better to represent our company and instead jumped at the chance.  It’s easy to do that when it’s two months away.  As the date approached and I started writing notes and meeting with other folks to help solidify what I wanted to say, it started to become real.  And real is scary.

I told anyone that asked that I knew words would come out, but it was up for debate whether it would be the right amount of them and the right ones.  To that end, I wrote many pages of notes, figured out what I really really wanted to express, and practiced by actually talking about these things out loud, which I’ve found helps me when I have to give big talks in front of people.   Three days before the conference, our moderator had reswizzled the questions and I spent time studying and rewriting my notes.  I showed up to the conference with 5 pages of highlighted points of discussion.

When I got to the venue, it was not a table with chairs on a stage as I expected.  It was a collection of oversized chairs, raised, on a stage.  I had nowhere to place my notebook and I couldn’t rely on the crutch of reading from my notes.  I started to freak out.  A lot.

Riding a wicked post-panel high.  Exhaustion followed.  It took more out of me than I expected.

But, eventually, I settled into a mindset of que sera sera.  I just had to prepare differently.  I translated my five pages of notes into a one page crib sheet I could glance at from a side table, and I also spent an hour before the talk reviewing what I wanted to say queueing off THAT sheet instead of my “script”.

The panel started, and for the hour, I felt in the zone.  Competent.  Comfortable even.  The haters in my head were banished from the room, and I was charismatic, and smart, and even occasionally funny when the moment warranted it.  There are so few times in life where you get the opportunity to walk away from something so very important and feel like you just EFFING NAILED IT, and on March 15th, I got that opportunity.

I’m attempting to bring psychology principles back to the forefront of my life again, and it made me think of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.  So very rarely do we get to feel the top of the pyramid, self-actualization, realizing one’s full potential.   And to be honest, I’ve not gone back to watch the talk (though YOU CAN if you want) because I have such a rosy glow from it.  However, I’m really proud how I took a situation that caused me a little strife and overcame it, and actually found a new “gear” in my public speaking capacity.  If I really find my center, I can actually present without notes, or at least, many of them.  I don’t need lines, I can actually improv if it’s a subject I’m knowledgeable and passionate about.

Pic unrelated, but proof that I still actually wear stuff that’s not skirts and boots these days.

If we’re delving further into things that go bump in the night in my brain, asking for help is a big huge scary monster for me.  While I enjoy helping other people, for some reason, when I think about asking, my brain lambasts me with doubt.  “Why would anyone help you?  What can you give them?  Nothing?  Then why would anyone waste their time?”  With my theme this year of feeling the fear and doing it anyway, I’ve reached out no less than three times in the last month, expressing vulnerability (so terrifying) and asking for help.

Oddly enough, because humans are inherently social beings that want to be connected to other people and asking for help is indirectly expressing “I recognize you are COMPETENT at this and I want to be like you”, three out of three times so far have been incredibly positive interactions.  This is news to no one but me.

While I don’t feel like my exploration into confidence and courage have ended because, damn, I can’t imagine that’s not a life long pursuit, my focus has translated into COMPETENCY.  I talked about how I’ve either subconsciously or consciously played down my abilities most of my life.  I’ve decided that playing small is not a service for me or for the world, so I’ve attempted to reverse the self-deference which is my natural habit, and be who I truly can be.  That sounds so trite and weird, but it’s been a big thing for me lately.

I’m delving into things I am not experienced at with work and when I make mistakes, instead of feeling a HUGE shame response and disengage, I’m just asking how I should do better next time and working harder.

I’m using the big words again.  I’m sounding like someone who knows their shit instead of doubting myself.  I’m asserting myself in the areas in which I know I’m experienced instead of shrinking down.

I’m setting out at paces on the swim, bike, and run that scare me, and I’m finding that if I get out of my own head, I can back them up without fizzling.

This was a good day where I went faster than I ever have before.

I wrote this down in a scratchpad late last year – “Think of all the things I could do if I didn’t let fear stop me.  If I just hit each roadblock, and instead of stopping and pouting because it was a little hard, intimidating, or scary, just strategized about how to get around them and to the next checkpoint.  Think of where I could be then!”.  I feel like I’m making strides to actually live this in reality.  I’m not only talking the talk, I’m starting to walk the walk.

My life right now is incredi-busy and kinda stressful and overfull and brimming with challenges.  And I am loving every minute of it.

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