Adjusted Reality

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

Tag: offseason (Page 1 of 12)

#projectraceweight, take three

I am not an idiot.

A pizza-eating-sunglasses-inside-wearing giant dork?  Sure.  But not an idiot.

I mean, sure, I do stupid things.  I make bad decisions.  I go with the “feels good now” choice versus the “will actually push me towards my goals” choice more often than I’d like to admit.  Sometimes I eat birthday cake even though I KNOW I will instantly regret that decision (stomachache, calories, etc).  Sometimes I stay downtown and party with the band that we just met and go into questionable dive bars and play flippy cup with the bartenders instead of going home before sundown like a good little triathlete.  Sometimes I’ll go for the fun bike ride with the team instead of doing my speedwork.  Sometimes I binge watch a season of a show on Netflix I’ve seen five times instead of finishing a writing, movie, or art project.

However, I do these knowing full well that I am making the “right now” choice vs the actual right choice.  So, I’m not an idiot.  I promise.  I’m just GREAT at self sabotage.

Delicious, amazing, decadent self-sabotage.

I know the reason I haven’t been losing weight even if I’d rather bitch about it the last few months than actually DO anything.  My calorie output is approximately 2200 per day (and that’s improved from the roughly 2k or less I was seeing when the air was trying to kill me with either allergies or freezing temperatures), and I’m TRACKING 1800-1900 average per day, which means I’m probably consuming a little more than that.  Studies show that even dieticians under-track their consumption so I am sure I’m doing that too.  It’s just hard to be so meticulous.

Instead of getting batshit crazy and tracking every crumb (I just had a conversation with my husband about whether he should track his GUM intake since he’s on this crazy handbasket to hell with me this time…), I’m just going to aim for a lower number to make sure, errors or not, I maintain a deficit.  This week begins the attempt at 1500 calories average per day.   The last two months have been pushing an importance of #1 – diet quality and then #2 – calories.  Now, I’m reversing the order.  The most important thing is to stay as close to the 1500 number as possible.  Of close second importance is diet quality, but if one has to win over the other, calorie count is king.

This sounds like a very subtle difference, but it’s actually pretty significant in how I handle situations that challenge me vs my goals.  It feels a little bit dirty sometimes (I really want a bottle glass of whiskey, and I’m going to not eat dinner an apple so I have those calories).  In all honesty, it’s not the best long term solution, but it is the *only* way I lose weight that doesn’t make me go completely bonkers.

Not an apple, but about as many calories as a large one.

When I eat super clean, 1500 is plenty for nutritional purposes.  For example, yesterday I ate:

  • Breakfast (10:30am): 1 mug of green tea + 1 cup Greek Fage 0% Yogurt with 1/2 cup berries and 2 tbsp powdered PB (270 cal)
  • Lunch (12:30pm): Snap Kitchen Supreme Pasta (340 cal)*
  • Second Lunch (3pm): giant mixing bowl salad with lettuce, broccoli slaw, cucumber, tomato, corn, peas, pepperchinis, olives, reduced fat feta, and lite italian dressing (150 calories)
  • Snacks (4pm-8pm):  1/2 oz pistachios (75 cal), sliced apple with powdered pb and cinnamon (100 cal), corn tortilla with beans and lite jarlsberg cheese (175 cal)
  • Dinner (8pm): Snap Kitchen Shrimp Paella (360 cal)*
  • Before bed (10pm): Sleepytime Tea (0 cal) and a square of dark chocolate (40 cal)

*Yep, I’m making this week a no brainer by using a meal service.  I <3 Snap Kitchen when kickstarting something like #projectraceweight because it’s easy to eat healthy food that’s pretty flippin’ delicious.

This works out to about 1500 calories and 31 DQ points.  One off a perfect score – just can’t justify switching out that last dark chocolate square for a piece of fruit instead to hit that +1.  I’ll live with that.

I rode my bike for 45 minutes easy-peasy-like in the evening and got my 10k steps for the day with walks, burning approximately 2300 calories and with a -800 calorie deficit.  Day one done.  If I can do this 5 days in a row, I will mathematically have lost just a little over 1 lb.  If I can keep this up consistently for the nine weeks before I go on vacation, I can lose almost 15 lbs.

However, I know how this goes.  I need to have an escape hatch every once in a while.  Sometimes you have to splurge.  So, once a week, I’ll allow myself to take in closer to maintenance calories – or around 2000.  I can attempt to make that up, by eating a little less on the days around it, burning a little more (though my training schedule is pretty set and intentionally fairly consistent), or just accept that I’ll go a little slower.  If I eat 2000 calories once a week for the next 9 weeks, I’ll lose 13.5 lbs instead of 15.  However, that math is a great reminder that every little decision I make counts.  Passing on an order of fries once a week is the difference of 1.5 lbs of fat loss over two months.  That doesn’t suck.

My lovely french fry friends… it’s not you.  It’s me.  I just need some space.  We’ll be together again soon.

So, I embark on #projectraceweight for the third time (and many other times before that under a different name).  While it’s frustrating that none of them have actually succeeded, I’m starting a little lighter (186.0 today) and in better shape each time (I’m coming off six weeks of heavy weight training, BULKING, if you will, not couch sitting like the previous two years).  And that doesn’t suck either.

It’s easy to be weak willed when faced with a goal months away vs the chocolate cake in my face (one slip up can’t hurt, right?), so I’m going to write out all the reasons why losing that 15 lbs would be awesome, in no particular order.

  • I’d like all the clothes I have in my closet/drawers fit me, and not pick the same few things over and over.  I have some really cute clothes I can’t wear because of the extra spare tire I’m carrying around.
  • When we lost weight, we stopped snoring.  The snore monster is creeping back into the bedroom.  I’d like to stop waking Zliten up at night (and vice versa).
  • Actually maybe someday wanting to purchase a race picture instead of them making me barf.  It would be awesome to be proud of how I look on the course vs embarrassed at looking like a sausage in my team kit.
  • I’m sure this knee/ankle/heel thing could be much improved with less constant pressure and pounding from my bodyweight.  Being able to run pain free again would be worth saying no to every junk food in the world.
  • A free 30 seconds per mile running.  Just for saying no to the chips or seconds at dinner for the next nine weeks is totally worth free speed.  I just need to remember that junk food = slower runs.
  • Confidence.  It feels really vain to say, but I’ll feel less hesitant about being on camera, putting myself out there as a brand ambassador and health and fitness mentor, and maybe even asking for help and mentorship myself if I feel better about my body.

So key points for me to remember until May 20th:

  • Eat 1500 calories or less UNLESS it’s that special once a week splurge day IF you need it.
  • Eat good quality food 90% of the time.
  • Don’t eat random crap just because it’s there.  If you splurge, do it because you absolutely MUST HAVE THE THING and do that not very often.
  • This actually means a lot to you, so don’t fuck it up with self sabotage.
  • This is temporary and you are really good at maintaining your weight once you settle somewhere, so you won’t have to be this neurotic forever.

Like I said, day one is done.  And I didn’t fall face first onto a plate of french fries.  Day two has started.  Six-one more to go.

February Transitions, March Happiness

Ah, February.  A very transitional month.

Am ready to retire this hat and scarf for the season, kthx.

You are not January, with it’s complete suckiness, but you still have some crappy parts.  You have Valentine’s Day, but you also have allergies.  You have some first peeks at spring, but you also have freezing cold and windy reminders that it’s not there yet.

But, it isn’t all bad, because it leads to March, one of my favorite months, where it really feels like the year gets going.

Sporty Stuff:

Lift all the things.  And apparently, wear all the red.

I have really really really enjoyed lifting weights.  I’ve talked about it a bit this month already so I won’t belabor the point too much, but I feel like I’m making good habits, building some good strength (especially in my posterior chain which is a notoriously weak spot in my body), and hopefully setting the stage to translate what I’m doing this month into speed and power in triathlon.

February has been basic hypertrophy.  I’ve been doing 3 sets of like 6-8 reps of your standard compound exercises like squats, deadlifts, bench presses, overhead presses, and the like, with other isolated exercises to support those efforts.  It’s been fun to work the weights up and I’m now deadlifting and squatting over 100# and the bench press is getting close (but my arms are just not quite as strong as my legs).

February has also been the month of the bike.  Not because I’ve done a TON of biking, but it’s ALL I’ve done.  It’s just hard to get to the pool without a race looming.  I’ve intentionally laid off the running (though I finally ran a little off the bike this weekend and it was… okay…).  But I have been doing cycling, and towards the end of last month, I’ve actually have been doing intentional workouts that I planned ahead of time with power targets.  I really miss tooling around for hours outside but this is the kind of stuff that’s going to make me a better sprint distance cyclist.

I think I have my season figured out. (Bold font means I’ve already plunked down the monies)

  • March 31st – No Label Sprint Tri in Katy, TX
  • April 8th – Rosedale Ride
  • MAYBE: April 15 – Tri Color Super Sprint in Fort Bend, TX.
    • Not signed up for this one yet because it’s 3 weeks of races in a row and would need at least a half day PTO on Friday to get there and to packet pickup, but it looks fun (and like a field I might be able to place in).
  • April 29th – Texasman Sprint in Denton, TX
  • May 6th – Rookie Super Sprint Tri
  • MAYBE: June 3rd – Playtri Sprint Tri in Irving, TX
    • Not signed up because this would make another 3 weeks in a row, and it’s a far drive, and it’s not near anywhere to camp, but I could potentially succeed in this field on a great day.
  • June 9th – Wincrest Freshman Tri in San Antonio, TX
  • June 17th – Lake Pflugerville Tri
  • MAYBE: July 15th – Waco Tri (recon for the possible 70.3 course)
  • MAYBE: Aug 11-12 – Nationals.  If we go.

However, the plan after Lake Pflugerville is to take a few weeks of R&R and then start really hitting it hard for Cozumel 70.3 and mayyyyybe Waco 70.3.

So, what does that mean for March?

I will continue to lift, and lift heavier until the week of March 26th.  While it’s not exactly the most perfect preparations for the first race, I think it will pay dividends for the rest of the year.  For the next three weeks, my goal will be to lift at the weight where I can do 2-4 reps max.  If I get to 4, it’s too easy and I need to increase the weight next round.

After that, my goal is to continue to lift at the 8-12 rep range 1-2 times a week through the rest of the season with weight increases, like, every few weeks.  Or every month.  This is enough to maintain my strength gains and maybe eek out a little more without impeding my swim/bike/run workouts.

I will continue with the same sort of bike workouts I’m doing now.  While I really miss riding with the team and I also miss riding outside, I think doing these 30-60 minute rides with hard intervals and specific power targets will help me figure out how I should ride these sprint races (though I’m sure I’ll have to do SOME outside riding…).  I’m pretty sure that I will be able to blow my Kerrville Sprint effort out of the water by the time season rolls around.

I will slowly reintroduce swimming and running.  Just enough to be comfortable to swim 300m hard in the pool and run a fast 5k on bike-tired legs.  I do not plan to do much volume here – probably 1-2 swims a week max (10-20 mins max) and a 30-45 minute run and a shorter run off the bike each week.

It will be interesting to see how a March triathlon works – it’s quite early in the season to actually be competing – but I’m interested to see how things go.  Maybe somehow I’ll qualify for Nationals and then I’ll race the rest of the season pressure off!


I love tacos.  I especially love mostly organic, pretty healthy, positive diet quality homemade comfort food tacos.

I think I’ve gotten these down:

  • Eat good food, lots of plants, lean protein, whole grains, etc.
  • Skipping cake day some of the time is not the end of the world.
  • My body is not a bender robot, I do not need alcohol all the time to survive.

I actually feel pretty excellent right now in terms of (lack of) fatigue and mental faculties and give a shit and actually wanting to be a productive and interactive member of society, so I think I’m going in a good direction.  I could nitpick that sometimes I forget to eat fruit and nuts for my snacks and eat other stuff instead, and occasionally I’ll go out to eat places that don’t offer whole grains and so I indulge in *shocker* rice noodles or flour tortillas, but it’s definitely the exception and not the rule.  Whiskey is now a condiment, not a food group.  Establishing.  good. habits. is. happening.

What I haven’t gotten the hang of:

  • Eat 1600-1800 calories average.

And this is the one that matters to see the scale go down.  The last week (pre-birthday celebrations) I’ve actually done better (1778 calories average over the last 7 days), but it takes either being IMPECCABLY nitpicky with what goes in my mouth OR going to bed kind of hungry (and sometimes both).

  • Calories AVG: 1898
  • DQ AVG: 21.4
  • Weight AVG: 185.3

A little too much food, but mostly good stuff.  I am going to surmise that my weight is probably down a little from January (since I don’t have the greatest data) but not enough to feel like YAY I LOST WEIGHT yet.

Luckily, this month, I will pick up my activity – just a little bit – for two reasons.  One, it won’t be so farking cold and air won’t be trying to kill me, so I have no excuses not to get my 10k steps per day.  Two, I will be upping my cardio a little bit with some added swims and runs, so if I can keep my eating the same, maybe I’ll see some changes in the scale.

I will aim for the exact same goals because I think they’re doing good things for me:

  • 1600-1800 calories average per day
  • 20+ Diet Quality

That’s it, that’s all!


February felt suuuuper short.  We got some things done but it felt like we were at maximum capacity without getting stressed out about doing shit.

We did put up the last piece of trim in the kitchen, but we totally spaced getting help hanging the cabinets when we had friends over this weeknd.  Hopefully we can grab another pair of hands to hang the cabinet soon.  It’s the only thing blocking the garage being cleaned out, and then we can cease remembering the stress of remodeling and move on with our lives with our gorgeous and oh-so-worth-it kitchen!

I guess the pantry is on March’s list.  Oops.  Like I said, February was too short!

I finished Chapter 9 in my book.  I only have 10 and 15 left.  I’m so excited!  Everything is coming together… at least for the first draft.  Then I have to read it and face how incoherent a book written out of order will be and how much editing work I have ahead of me.  However, I will definitely let myself celebrate Draft 1 complete when it happens, because that’s better than I’ve ever done before!

I read the Startup of You and it got me all thinky.  I definitely have some new things to think about in terms of my 2018 resolution of not being a self-centered asshole, or to look at it a more positive way, strengthen my network by being a helpful, nurturing, and approachable individual.  Then I read Runner’s World – Train Smart, Run Forever, and pretty much nodded along with it, because it’s how I’ve been leaning towards for this year’s training.  It’s a great resource for someone interested in a low mileage but still productive and cohesive training plan.

I made a video!  Wooohoo!  I can’t wait to make more!  But… it was 35 minutes.  I’ll have to work on the rambling. 🙂  I’m stoked that I went from super intimidated by it to super excited for it just by doing it once.  Sometimes that’s all it takes, I guess!

I remade the earring I lost, I did not break out paints, but I did play a lot of games.  So, about fifty fifty here.

Biking outside has been problematic for various reasons, and I’ve actually resigned myself to the fact that trainer time is actually more productive and better for me right now.  I’m looking forward to some happy fun outdoor group rides with friends though.  Soon.

Again, I feel like the order of this month is more of the same.  I feel like my year is on a pretty good trajectory, it’s just been a little slow to get going (which is ok… we don’t have to run at maniac speed all the time).

March’s To Do list:

Finish the stupid garage.  Really and truly.

Organize the pantry.  Like Nike says, Just Do It (this will take like, an hour or two max).

One more book chapter.  Chapter 10.

Two non-fiction books.  One business and one sporty (TBD).  I have a backlog of both so it shouldn’t be too hard.

More videos!  Record at least one that’s coherent and no more than 10-15 minutes by the end of the month (if not weekly).

Yesterday, I went from “I have no idea what I want to paint” to “OMG I have fifty ideas of what I want to paint” by surfing through my own photo references.  Then, to avoid more decision paralysis, I let Zliten decide which one I should do first.

And it is… **drumroll please** sunset at Salt Pier (without my silly face).

I laid out the line drawings and then completely covered it up with paint (doh – ill skip that in the future) for the first layer.  So, the goal this month is to complete a painting and start #2, whatever that will be!

March holds a lot of cool things that I’m really excited for, and it feels like the year is really beginning now.  Yay!

What’s your favorite month of the year?


Total Randomness

Whew, ok, the last post gave me the willies.  Talkin’ about humans and feelings and stuff.

Things that do not impress me – arm day noodles and also feels like 30 degrees.  C’mon winter.  You had your time.  Spring please!

Today, I’m going to go with total randomness.

Last week was the first week in a long time that I have barely noticed my heel being cranky.  I was feeling some pretty big feelings about this earlier in the month, but I’m hoping between rest and dutifully wearing my insoles, its healed.  Not to mention about missing out on some killer running weather, I’ve missed most of the season where I actually wear clothes that look somewhat put together since it’s not 200000 degrees outside.  Why bother looking nice if I have to complete the ensemble with running shoes?  Oh well.  I can be a fashion police fugitive if it means a year of injury free training and racing.  I’m willing to make that sacrifice, so it’s been a winter of mostly the same five hoodies and two pairs of jeans every week.

Speaking of things that should set a good tone for the upcoming season… I am really really really really really really enjoying heavy weights (as much as I like to make faces while doing it on the Instagrams).  I forget how much I actually like taking the time to lift.  It’s just as achievement based as run/bike/swim, it’s super fun to keep those weights numbers going up, and you really and truly can’t overdo it.  I’m doing one hour three times per week, and I can see that’s pretty much the top limit on what’s useful.  Unlike riding my bike, which I want to do as much as humanly possible until I collapse into a puddle of quivering goo.

I’m starting week #4 today and my gains right now are probably more based on remembering how to actually do the exercises (muscle memory) than actual strength.  However, even if it’s totally subconscious, I do feel more sturdy and a little more definition in the marshmallow fluff all over my body.  If I could eat a little less, I’m sure it would help but that’s a whole ‘nother thing.  I’m hoping to stick with the lifting more throughout season – 1-2 times a week.  Honestly, coach-me thinks lifting probably does me more good than a random 3-5 mile jog, but it’s hard to convince athlete-me of that when the thing I compete at is swim bike RUN.

A day of happy.  Bikes, weights, unicorns fighting robots, and good food.

Obviously, since I’m just mandating that I do “cardio” 3xweek for 30 minutes, I’ve been riding my bike and that’s it.  Because of the heel shenanigans, I decided to lay off the running, but I am looking forward to getting back to it in the next week or so.  I’ve had some plans to hit the pool but then it will be cold or rainy or the sky will be blue or the day will end in -y and I do something else instead.  Hopping on the trainer takes so little prep time.  Swimming for 30 minutes is like a 75 minute commitment.  I know I’ll get back to it when I need to, I’ll whine about being slow for a month, and then things will go back to normal.

Here’s a weird thing – my bike rides have actually gotten really GOOD lately.  Over the last week, I’ve noticed that I’m putting in less effort to get the same power numbers and speed.  I’ve also been having less trouble waking up in the morning, and actually have been able to hit the workouts before work fairly regularly.  Ladies and gentlemen, I think I have hit the mythical place I haven’t seen in years: BEING RESTED!  It actually feels great!

It’s like all the things are coming together.  Weights make me feel great.  Shorter bouts of cardio with some intensity is awesome.  The other key is that I’m handling some shit in my personal life a little better which is a little tough for my BRAIN but fantastic for my body.

As an endurance athlete, I’m used to constantly feeling beat up.  I’m actually more comfortable feeling a little tired and sore.  During season, the punishment is mostly from workouts and a little fun when I can fit it in.  During offseason, it’s adventures and enjoying the freedom to have beers more often and not being the best at sleeping and of course junk food because I don’t have to care what I feel like when I wake up in the morning because I’m not training.

I mean, after you earn an “Official Badass” mug you have to break it in at least once, right?

This has been a weird situation where I’m not training hard but also under a strict embargo to not eat and drink like an asshole because I’d really like to see the other mythical place called: AT RACE WEIGHT.  It’s quite weird.  Usually I have a reason not to go home and have glasses of whiskey like, “I have to get up and train for two hours tomorrow and you know how miserable that feels”.  Now, I’m having to come home to “Yes you CAN have beers tonight but should you?”  It’s like college, where all of a sudden you have freedom to do whatever, but then this big goal in the distance, and your job is to not to eff it all up by pursuing short term pleasure instead of long term goals too often.

It’s been a weird handful of weeks trying to sort this one out.  I figured this would be a little easier, but it’s the end of February (two months later) and I’m still struggling with this one at times.  In my quest to analyze what my malfunction is here, I’ve come up with a few things.  Alcohol is fun.  Just like Sleepytime Tea and my book and a square or two of dark chocolate now mean bed, a glass of whiskey means it’s an evening off goals and to dos, and it’s time to relax and unwind.

I’ve also learned if I let myself sit on the couch being bored watching bad TV surfing the net, I’m more likely to want to have a glass of wine to make that more exciting.  If I do something engaging, like beading, playing games, etc, I’m generally pretty engrossed as is.  Idle hands, and such.

Along with all this other healthy living noise, I’ve been doing a decent job at the QUALITY of what I’m putting in my mouth, if not the quantity.  I have been reliably eating about 1900-2000 calories per day average, which I know at my current level of activity is just about maintenance level if not mayyyybe a little under.  So, I’m not losing weight and that’s okay, because I’m not currently doing the things to lose weight.  I’m a little grumpy about that, but at least it makes sense.  Between a new lifting program and trying to eat the good food and not be a jerk and have vodka for dinner every few days, I’ll give myself some grace to allow myself to eat enough not to feel (too) hungry as long as it’s good quality food, for the most part.

I have been tracking and quantifying all my food, so that’s a huge step in the right direction.  Next week, I’m bringing out some of the big guns – food that is lower in calorie but should be just as filling.  I’m going to try to stay away from overloading on full fat cheese and high calorie sauces/dressings, and really stress less sweet fruits like berries and plums that are higher in fiber but not as many calories.  Still the same method of tracking calories and/or diet quality, I’m just trying to play the game a little better.  At some points in my life, at this level of activity, 1200-1500 was a normal day – not that I want to go that low, but 1600-1800 should not be THIS HARD.

Tacos often save my life for meals these days.  Whole grain (corn tortilla).  Lean protein (organic beef).  Dairy (light organic sour cream and cheese).  Veggies?  Well, I get lots of veggies elsewhere. 🙂

Speaking of hard… I’ve really got a block about this learning to do video thing.  I have no problems with pictures (I mean, obviously).  I actually have gotten comfortable with the live streaming thing – both on a professional capacity and now at home streaming driving games (most Saturdays at 6pm – come watch us drive badly for a few hours).  Making what I’m considering “video content” (at my desk, about a topic, with some picture references) is a little harder.  My husband was terribly kind to set it up for me, and then I realized how GROSS that view of the office is (the background is a bunch of papers and mess and the closet door) and now I’m self conscious about that.  Since that’s what I have to work with, I’m going to have to figure it out.

Then, of course, there’s all this crap.  For the moment, I’m mostly going to leave it alone or I’m going to have to go back on that drinking thing… y’know…  My baby steps are going to be:

I took the first step and applied for a brand ambassadorship for a small company I like and respect.  My goal is to keep an eye out for other ones that come up that I’m interested in (though I missed the window for a lot of them by waiting until after the first of the year).

I plan to be more interactive on social media.  I think I’ve finally gotten over feeling like an internet weirdo about commenting on people’s instagrams and twitters and stuff.  It feels like this is what blogs used to be, and the best way for me to feel like part of a group instead of an outsider looking in is to be a participant and just clicking <3 does not count.

I think I feel so awkward about asking for help because I haven’t paid it forward enough yet.  So, I’m going to look for opportunities to offer help where and when I can.  I may not have copious free time, but I’m happy to offer advice on shit I know about – being a productive and efficient human (even if I don’t always follow through I know HOW), advice on the video game industry, advice on training or healthy diets and at least casual advice on helpful things to do to make that thing stop hurting or feeling weak or being a beta reader for a book or whatever.  I’m going to look for opportunities to help and mentor and maybe I’ll be more comfortable asking for it myself.

Whew, ok, getting heavy again.  Reading these non-fiction books is making me think too much.  At least the one I’m reading right now (Run Fast, Run Forever) is just kind of making me nod along going “yep, I’ve followed this training plan before, I know I like it…”.

The one day where we were not either freezing or raining we went and played bikes in the woods.  And it was glorious!

It’s not been all business time.   I’ve played a lot of games.  Video games, table top games, some board games, and we even went bowling with some friends.  I had one of my best scores in a while, something like 145 (and of course, I forgot to get photographic evidence).  We saw Brian Posehn on Friday (with tickets practically right on the stage, it was awesome).  We had lunch and game with the family on Saturday.  We saw Black Panther on Sunday and it was really powerful.  I’m so close to actually breaking out my canvases and paints and my beads.  We played mountain bikes last weekend on a day that was actually not cold or rainy.  I have spent a few rainy mornings in bed reading, and sometimes it’s even fluffy sci-fi fiction! There is downtime being had, folks.

It feels like winter is starting to come to an end, even if technically we have another month, and even if the weather surprises us like crap days with rain and 30 degrees.  I’m really looking forward to Spring – in that I’ll be training (aka, get to play outside in the pretty weather) but not training TOO much (aka, get to play outside in the pretty weather occasionally doing things that don’t include watts/pace suggestions).  First, though, I need to sort out two things – my spring training plan and my spring race schedule.  Then the season can ACTUALLY change.

What are you most looking forward to about Spring?

Earning the right to run

Back in the day when I started this whole “trying to not be such a fatass” thing in 2007, I had no intentions of ever running unless chased.

I also didn’t know what a deadlift was, so there’s that...

The elliptical or the Dance Dance Revolution game pad were more my style, as was the weight room.  You see, at 200-something lbs, running doesn’t even seem possible.  However, more low impact cardio (or cardio that at least DISTRACTED from the impact like playing a game) wasn’t terrible.  However, even at my highest weight, I could still enjoy and make progress at lifting heavy things.

I started my fitness program with 20 mins of cardio three times a week, and did strength exercises or lifted weights almost as much at 15 minutes at the same frequency.  From there, as I found I enjoyed it (and as the holiday season approached and I decided I wanted to keep losing weight instead of gaining it), I increased the amount of time little by little.  For the first two years or so of this whole shebang, I was working out up to about five hours a week and two of those were lifting.

Oddly enough, I had very little complaints in terms of injury.  I was running miles and 5ks faster than I do now on approximately 2 hours per week of actual RUNNING.  I was also able to maintain a weight that is about 25-30 lbs lighter than I am now.

Once I started training for half marathons, I didn’t have the 2 hours a week to lift, so I cut it down to just a little maintenance lifting and then when I found triathlons, forget it.  Three sports to train meant something had to give.  Besides some targeted, focused periods where I lifted heavy throughout the last seven years, I tended to shy away from it.  I would either do bodyweight stuff, or just slack on it entirely.  Don’t get me wrong, mat exercises are both worthy and important, but the best way to build muscle and get strong and stable?  Lift heavy things.

Step one, pick up heavy thing, step two, put it down, step three, don’t collapse on the way to the car.

Once I get into a routine of doing it, it’s great.  I actually look forward to the gym.  It’s one exercise where my performance doesn’t suffer doing it in the morning vs when I’m actually awake.  The shock of different things feeling sore fades after a few weeks and you just feel… good.

But, those 2-3 weeks of prelude to that, feeling like a baby deer with noodle arms?  Those are hard.  I’m actually doing much better initially this time because I have spent the last two months doing bodyweight work (foundations).  Funny how doing something the right way makes it easier.  The next few weeks are actually remembering how to swing a kettle bell around in three sets of eight reps and where they keep the little weight lock things so the plates don’t fall off while I bench press (hypertrophy).  So far, it’s going well, and I’m kind of looking forward to when the weights get to three digits in some lifts and the reps are more like 3 because that’s all you can handle.

I read somewhere a long time ago that you had to earn your right to run with proper strengthening of your muscles FIRST.  I inadvertently did that in 2007 and 2008.  The problem is you have to re-earn it over and over and over, not just once.  I’m now complaining on and off about a wonky shoulder and knee and ankle and heel and every race for the last year, if not longer, has had a caveat of “I did well considering my body wasn’t 100% at the starting line”.  Guess how long I’ve been out of the gym – that period of time plus about six months.

It’s time to re-earn my right to run.

I’m not doing anything revolutionary.  Three times a week, with at least a day in between, I’m heading to the gym to do all the things that make me harder, better, faster, stronger.  Squats.  Kettlebells.  Bench presses.  Deadlifts.  Core exercises that make me play the “cramps or just sore abs” game.

Hopefully these days will come back soon… sans the wonky heel.

I haven’t set food on a road, track, or treadmill since over two weeks ago, and my heel is still giving me shit off and on.  I’m super sick of being broken and limping along and doing alright considering at races.  I’m looking to this next 6-8 weeks to fix me.  It has before.  I hope it will again.  I’d give anything to show up to a start line completely healthy, without any caveats.

These three hours a week are the most important things on my schedule.  I’ve also got 30-60 mins of cardio three times a week, but to be honest?  If something had to fall off, it would be this.  If the air stopped being both stupid cold and trying to kill me with allergies, I could knock this out with my normal walking I do on a weekly basis if I wanted to count that.  I don’t, because I’d like to not die when I start triathlon training again, but I could by the letter of the program.

It’s a weird adjustment to be paring down so low on cardio (and calling it cardio, not training, it feels so un-triathlete of me), but it’s refreshing to shake things up.  I know the endurance comes back quickly, and I’m not training for anything long for quite a while.  Hopefully, I can take the next two months and earn my right to run, and run fast.

Winter Solstice Bike Adventure

On December 21st, 12 days into my 24 day winter break, I set my alarm for 7:30 am.

Normally, this would be sacrilege.  The initial reason for it was my bi-annual dentist appointment at 8am and I had to be up and out and not underfoot for our cleaning service at 9am anyway.  However, instead of looking at it as a drag, I figured it was a good opportunity to embark on a bike adventure.

The day started a little rough because I had a few too many beverages and stayed up too late the night before (it’s vacation!), and forgot my backpack (with my ID, credit card, etc) at home.  Not a big deal for the dentist appointment, which went quickly, smoothly, and was over with before 9am and paid up by insurance.  It was only kind of a big deal because I needed it for the rest of the day’s adventures and going back home meant I had to descend the half of Steck-o-slavakia I had already climbed and resummit it.

When I got home, I *almost* thought about just calling it.  The last three days I had spent at home, doing chores, writing my book, working through my To Do list, and I wasn’t even close to complete.  A whole extra day of progress, I thought, that would be incredibly valuable.  Then I realized that was bullshit.  This was my day.  I had been looking forward to this adventure for months.  The weather was AMAZING.  I was just being lazy.  So I grabbed my backpack and took off again.

I had an engagement after work in which I either had to meet Zliten at work at 6pm on my bike, or drive there in my car.  We all know I’m anti-car.  I’d rather bike the 11+ miles unless it was sleeting if I had the option.  So, I had and endpoint and about eight hours to kill with a few destinations:

  • All great bike adventures start, end, or have an interlude with Rudy’s chopped beef breakfast tacos.
  • It was going to be 75 degrees that day.  I would be passing within a mile of the gym.  A swim HAD to happen.
  • Lunch’s destination was Jinya, at the Domain, which seemed like a great place to kill time as well.

Other than that, the town was my oyster.  I had my biggest backpack, the basket on my cruiser bike, a sunny day, enough layers to keep me as warm or cool as needed.  As I cruised down Jollyville with my stomach rumbling (I was approaching three hours awake, over 10 miles ridden, and zero food), I knew the first stop would be Rudy’s.

I pulled into the parking lot and practiced the ritual of the day.  Helmet off, in the basket.  Grab lock and wind it around my bike’s frame (not that anyone was looking to steal my 10 year old rusty Schwinn, my helmet with the headset is worth more than it is, but it would suck to be stuck about town without it).  Make sure to secure key somewhere I wouldn’t lose it.  Garmin off my bike and in my pocket or backpack.  Unzip phone from carrying case.  Switch out sunglasses for glasses.  It felt awkward at first because it’s been a while since I played cruiser bikes, but it became routine after a few stops.

The spicy, meaty, carby taco went down within a minute or so.  I splurged and sipped on a coke (I figured I could use the caffeine) while I tinkered with my phone, updating Zliten with my whereabouts, and surfing instagram.  While I didn’t want to spend all day on this bench, it was a breath of fresh air that I could.  After the conclusion of a very busy work year, a vacation that was FREAKING AMAZING but very active trying to cram in as much water time as possible, and three days of chores and productivity, it was refreshing to take fifteen minutes, just wasting my own time, with nothing, no one, and nowhere specific waiting on me.

My next planned stop was the gym, but I realized that I was also halfway to Cornucopia, one of our holiday traditions, so I set sail north instead of crossing under the freeway.  On the way, I realized that we needed to pick up an Academy gift card, and I figured I’d pop in and take care of that.  An hour later, I emerged with a new pair of swimsuit bottoms, a black hoodie, some new shirts, yoga pants, and said gift card – after trying on a metric butt-load of coats I was hoping would look better than the one I had on (and none did, even if they were cute on the hanger… wah…).

On the way to Cornucopia, I noticed a new indian and BBQ restaurant.  I made a note to check it out later (and that was interesting when we did, but that’s another story), but I had lunch plans already and was full speed ahead to the ‘corn.  I intended on getting maybe 2-3 small bags of different flavors, but I went in hungry and tasted all of them about three times, ending up with six after narrowing it down.  I ate a LOT of popcorn over Christmas break.  Me: I want to try to maintain my weight loss over the holidays.  Also me: *buys approximately 100 cups of popcorn*.  Ah well.

At this point, my backpack is fully stuffed and part of my basket is taken as well.  I have to be careful about acquiring anything else large for the rest of the day.  My trunk, it has the junk.

I headed back down south and hit the gym right around 1pm, which was perfect, because all the lunch swimmers were out of the water and I had a lovely pool almost completely to myself.  I’ll admit, on one taco and some popcorn, 90 minutes biking, five hours sleep, an a *wee* hangover from the night before, I was not 100% impressed with my performance, but considering the circumstances, 1k in a little over 19 minutes swim time was just fine.  When I changed back into my clothes, I couldn’t bear to put my jeans back on and was thankful that I had purchased a new pair of yoga-ish capri pants from Academy.

Finally, it was lunch time.  I finally had the opportunity to take the new pedestrian bridge from the quarry to the Domain, and I made it to the holy grail of ramen, Jinya.  Again, I was very glad I was “behind schedule” (I figured I’d be there closer to 12:30-1) because they were still busy and I snagged a seat at the bar.  I was waited on by the spitting image of one of my friends – she had the same look, personality, and even vocal tone.  I had a nice, leisurely lunch, revisiting a favorite meal of mine.  Honestly, if I had a top ten of all time, the spicy umami pork miso ramen would likely be somewhere on there.

I was amazed with how my day had shrank so quickly from “how am I going to fill eight whole hours” to “oh my gosh, I need to leave here in about TWO hours and I could easily amuse myself for another eight”.  It was the ultimate day of freedom.  I am generally a solitary person, and I would have loved my partner in crime if he wasn’t stuck at work (I was doing my best to take him along with me via texts and pictures), but I was having a great day just hanging out with myself.  I was the opposite of lonely.  I was out and about, enjoying someone’s company I don’t often get to spend a whole day with (the last time was Ironman Texas, in a sense).

I popped my head into Bird’s Barbershop, since I had a free haircut coupon, but they were paaaaacked, so I figured that long hair is just fine for colder weather and I’d deal with my mop later.  I was on a mission to find some of the last gifts on my list, ones that I didn’t just want to order on Amazon.  I happened into a new store called Limbo, and found some very beautiful, extremely appropriate, if a little pricey, earrings.  I spent the next hour popping into a million different other stores and found nothing else that even came close, so I went back to Limbo (the first store I visited…) and had the pleasure of purchasing the earrings from the lady who made them and owned the store.  It was definitely worth the extra $$ to avoid the cheap, mass produced crap and get the perfect gifts.

The Domain, that day, had began it’s transformation from work to play for me.  While my old work building loomed in the distance, and I remembered some of the times I walked out of that building to take a walk on those same streets to clear my head, sometimes during the roughest periods not *entirely* sure I could make myself go back, six months of distance definitely helped (and things have been MUCH better since then for me).  I don’t miss the traffic, the rude people, the middle-aged pillheads, and that finding lunch under 10$ a plate is laughable, but as an entertainment destination, it’s a lot of fun.

After I got the gifts worked out, I did a little looking for myself and actually had some restraint, and settled on some peppermint gelato as a snack and fuel for the next bike leg.  I figured I was 7-8 miles away from new work, but I miscalculated and I was almost 11 – plus it was getting windy (and I was heading into it) and daylight was not on my side.  Along with that, I had been on my feet or pedals pretty much all day, so I was not making great time.  This was the first time all day since Steck-o-slavakia that felt like work and took me a little over an hour to roll into the parking lot, when I anticipated maybe 40-45 minutes.  Since it was the shortest day of the year, I was pushing it for the last 15 minutes and it was flat out DARK for the last five.  And, I left my lights at home.  Oops.

I snuck in one more gift shopping stop in our area and met up with Zliten as he left work.  Unfortunately, I forgot to stop my garmin so I don’t have an exact mileage or time, but I think it was about 28 miles in about 2 hours and 45 minutes, both of which are a PR on my cruiser bike.

So far, the last two years, I’ve had a bike adventure day on the winter solstice.  I think it’s a fun tradition, bucking the motivation just to stay inside, curled up in bed with a blanket.  For months, I’ve watched the sun dip lower in the sky earlier and earlier, and this is the day I’m out playing bikes celebrating the fact that IT JUST GETS BETTER FROM HERE!!!

I wonder where I’ll ride on December 21st, 2018?

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