Adjusted Reality

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

Tag: offseason (Page 1 of 10)

10 Camping Tips for People Who Are Not AT ALL Rugged

As I’ve said before, I grew up in a family who’s idea of roughing it was a hotel without an indoor pool.

Nature and I have only really recently became BFFs.  I always liked the IDEA of being outdoorsy, but not the reality.  While I’ll never lose my enjoyment of posh penthouse hotel rooms overlooking a sprawling downtown city center, I have also come to love being in the middle of nowhere as well.  Here are my tips for those of you who relate to the meme above but also secretly want to become a badass woodsy nature princess.

1. GET A GOOD TENT.  Even if you ignore everything else I say, DON’T CHEAP OUT.  Every time we are able to set up our 200$ REI tent in less than 5 minutes and watch other people struggle for over an hour, I thank my husband for not listening to me when I said “dude, why don’t you get that 40$ one that’s the same size?”.  If you don’t want to commit, you can rent a nice one from REI.  If you still don’t want to commit, borrow a crappy one from someone for your next trip and I guarantee you’ll be sold.

One of the telling things about how outdoorsy I am is that my best tent picture is actually from my backyard…

2. Double thick air mattresses.  People make fun of mine, and I’m certainly not at the rugged “backpack only hike in hike out” level, but it beats the hell out of sleeping on the ground.  PRO TIP: get something like this so that you’re not screwed if you end up somewhere without power.

3. Bring so many layers if it’s cold.  My first time in the winter, I just couldn’t get warm and I think I had on every article of clothing I brought simultaneously.  Conversely, in the summer, you’ll need WAYYY less than you think.  Bring a couple swim suits, a few super comfy things to wear, PJs, and you’re pretty much set for a week.

#hammocklife forever

4. Hammock.  I get tired of sitting in camping chairs after a while and it’s nice to have somewhere to recline.  I just bought a new one that has mosquito netting and while I can’t vouch for that specific one yet, that’s probably where you’ll find me on every camping trip for every moment until forever.

5. TP.  Even for improved camping with bathrooms.  Sometimes you don’t want to walk that far and the woods are closer.  Sometimes they’re out.  Sometimes you need something absorbent for a non-bodily waste related reason.  There’s no reason not to have a spare roll of TP in your car.

You see flowers, I see a nice field to pee in when that sun goes down… as long as I have my TP…

6. Improved camping.  Spend the extra money, it’s worth it.  Access to showers (even if they’re gross) and being able to plug stuff into charge if needed is great and not usually much more expensive – though they usually fill up quicker. PRO TIP: if you do find yourself on the primitive side of things and there are improved sites in the area, asking one of the campers there all nice like will usually net you use of their power to charge your phone, or the combination to the showers. 

7. Here’s the order to unload the car:  Tent, pump up and place mattress in tent, make the bed, THEN everything else.  It doesn’t work the other way if you have a tiny one. 🙂

8. The no-PTO-mini-vacay: go out Friday night (with enough time to set up before dark) and come back Sunday morning.  This is better than the “go to the woods for one night to get drunk and eat hot dogs” trip, you get a full day and night in nature.  You don’t get the three day effect, but this way you don’t have to take time off work and you also get almost a full Sunday at home to relax and unpack.

No matter how long you get to have this as your view, it’s soul-refreshing.  But I do recommend 3 days.

9.  The three day camping effect.  However, if you can swing it, something magical happens on that third day.  You feel lighter, unburdened, and probably more relaxed than you have in years.  You’ve forgotten your to do list, schedules, and the importance of the time of day, and day of the week.  You morph from worrywart and sufferer of decision fatigue to your cooler, more relaxed camper persona, who’s most pressing concern is whether to walk down to the water or continue to sway in the hammock.  It’s a chance to spend multiple days in mono-task mode which is a HUGE luxury for a lot of us and one of the most creatively refreshing things you can do.

10. Just do it.  You’re going to whine about all the gear.  It’s going to be too hot, too cold, too windy, or it might rain.  It’s going to seem like a lot of work and you may as well just stay home because you could get soooo much done.  But… go camping.  At least sometimes.  It’s good for your soul.  Your inner woodland nymph crying to get out will thank you.

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Six days of food in the woods….

With all other time constraints removed, we both love cooking.

Not as much as eating, but it’s up there.

So, while I’m sure some people would find vacation where you prepare every meal sort of tedious, we rather enjoyed it.  The only frustrations were the meals that didn’t come out quite right or quick enough, but Zliten loves to grill and I like making sides, so it was never like UGH I HAVE TO COOK AGAIN.  There were some challenges, but it was fun to try things that you normally wouldn’t think to eat in the woods.

Our setup was pretty great.  We had a sink with running water, and a cutting board that fit nicely over the sink (so you could use one or the other but not both at the same time).  We had a gas grill and a stove with two burners.  We had the potential to purchase wood to build a fire, but we never did.  We also had a microwave in the camper (from the previous owner), but we tried not to use that.

We brought about 7 bags of food total, which seemed like an INSANE amount while packing up.  We didn’t use all of it, but we did a pretty darn good job.  While I completely overpacked on the clothing aspect, I only slightly overpacked for food.  I might be a little less obnoxious about it here next time knowing there’s a convenience store a mile away, but for fresh produce it would have been a drive.  Anyhoo, the goal was to exist the whole time on the food we brought, and besides a beer run mid-week (camping = less booze, more beer), we did it.

Meals:

Meal #1 – Hot dogs.  Because it’s camping and you have to.  We cooked these on the gas grill the day we got there, and it was so late and we were so tired from work and packing and setting up that I think we just ate them with a side of beer (and were obviously too tired to get a good picture).  The specific dogs aren’t my favorite (the applegate NATURAL not organic like I usually get) but everything tastes better while camping.

Meal #2 – Bean and cheese breakfast tacos.  We took a can of beans and reheated it in a pot while toasting the tortillas on the stove.  We caved the next day and heated it in the microwave, rather than have to clean the pot again.  We ate these for breakfast on day 2 and 3, and then I think we ended up sleeping so late or had food left over that we didn’t dig into the second can of beans or eat protein bars until the last day.

Meal #3 – Fish tacos with coleslaw.  We made tilapia tacos twice, the first time with lemon pepper, and the second time with cajun seasoning (both with avocado oil and vinegar).  Fish was cooked PERFECTLY both times by our master griller on the gas grill and I prepared some fresh coleslaw and topped it with a sprinkle of cheese and hot sauce.

Meal #4 – Turkey sandwiches.  This isn’t super revolutionary, but instead of pre-made, I brought all the produce and cut it up from scratch.  It was kind of nice to have a non-grilling quick meal, but it was also sad not to have grill meat and it was a ticking time bomb because fresh deli meat goes bad quickly.

Meal #5 – Sausages and bbq beans.  This was kind of a mid-day snack meal after a big breakfast and a veggie snack, before a big dinner.  The beans were cooked on the stove and then we cooked the sausages on the gas grill (and the beans were cold by the time we ate).  We couldn’t figure out what to eat with these particular sausages, but our garlic mustard seemed to fit the bill.

Meal #6 – Dutch oven chicken and pasta with broccoli and cauliflower.  This was an impromptu thing when I realized that we had chicken, leftover pasta, fresh leftover veggies, cheese, avocado oil, fresh garlic, and seasonings.  We actually had the neighbors cook the chicken on their smoker grill egg thing (of love and wonder), and then boiled up some pasta, and tossed some oil, garlic, and fresh veggies in the dutch oven.  Combine with cheese, salt and pepper and it was worth the time even if I may have been extremely HANGRY waiting for it.

Meal #7 – Beef stew.  This was our experiment.  We did this from scratch as well, with 1 lb grass fed stew meat, fresh onions, potatoes, celery carrots and…well… a bag of frozen veggies.  At first we thought it was a fail because the beef was super chewy with the first bowl, but after giving it another hour, it was PERFECT.  So, two options next time: make with ground beef, or know it’s a 3-hour wait for this one.

Meal #8 – Burgers.  Because you’re camping.  We only brought two grass fed patties and ate them the second to last day with a side of veggie pasta salad.

One cannot live on main dishes alone, so here’s the support crew of snacks and sides…

Fruit.  I ate a bag of cherries in two days, and the rest of the days I noshed on plums and cuties.  The plums were a little too ripe and half of them went bad but I am just peeling the last clementine now.  Next time, I might pick some more HYRDRATING things like melon, but it was also nice to not have to refrigerate them.

Cut up veggies and hummus.  Since we had a ton of meals involving fresh veggies, the leftovers went to snacks.  Sadly, *some* of them went bad but I’m going to chalk that up to them being held hostage by the other (heavy) cooler on top.

Roasted corn.  Because, you kind of have to when camping, it’s the perfect grill veggie.

Veggie pasta salad.  This was the experiment.  I was going to prep it ahead of time but I got busy, so I legit just brought all the ingredients (5 different types of veggies, dry pasta, oil and vinegar, spices, two types of olives, feta, cilantro) and it took three days and three smaller Tupperware to make it, but on day four… it was worth it and was 3 servings of side-dish love.

Jerky, nuts, and protein bars.  Since I was missing my normal yogurt breakfasts, I felt low on protein all vacation.  This helped.

Julio’s tortilla chips.  Hint: avoid these.  They were so addictive that we went through 20 servings of chips in like 5 days (instead of those veggie snacks).  Then we looked at the ingredients and whaddya know, the third one was MSG.  My plan was to just bring a smaller bag of chips for both of us and next time I would try to keep it to that.

Smores. This was a challenge because we rolled sans fire.  We roasted one marshmallow on the propane burner and put one together and that was okay.  Then, I put together two smores and wrapped them in foil and put them on the grill.  Much better.

Avocado oil popcorn.  This may be one of the best things I have put in my mouth in a long time, and it was SUPER simple.  Avocado oil in dutch oven.  Two kernels.  Wait until they pop.  Put more in.  Wait until the popping slows.  Salt.  Serve.  Wonder where this has been all your life.

Fourth of july oreos.  Because it had pop rocks in the middle… duh!  I think we still have 2/3rds of them two weeks later.

For those of you who are interested in even MORE details, read below.  Here’s my entire packing list to keep two people fed well for a week.

Meats (all of these lived in the big cooler with all the ice and stayed at least fridge temp the whole time):

  • 2x package of 2 vacuum sealed chicken breasts (the ONLY thing left was two of these).
  • 2x package of 4 vacuum sealed hot dogs
  • 2 vacuum sealed burgers
  • 4x 1 vacuum sealed tilapia filets
  • 2x packages of 2 vacuum sealed sausages
  • 1 lb vacuum sealed stew beef
  • 1 lb of turkey (this stayed in the fridge)

Produce (and what I planned to use it for):

  • 1 big bag of potatoes (stew, potential snacks or sides we didn’t do, only used a few)
  • 1 big bag of onions (stew, sandwiches, burgers, potential campfire onion snacks we didn’t do, only used a few)
  • 1 head cabbage (coleslaw – I still have half of this but you can’t buy a tiny head of cabbage…)
  • 1 bunch of celery (stew, snacks, pasta salad)
  • 2 bags of carrots (stew, snacks – only needed one)
  • 4 heads of broccoli (pasta salad, pasta snacks, planned to grill some but didn’t – only needed two)
  • 1 head cauliflower (pasta salad, pasta)
  • 1 head of cilantro (pasta salad – needed just a little, the rest went slimy)
  • 2 tomatoes (burgers, sandwiches – needed just one, might have used both if the salad stayed good)
  • Bag of salad (sadly, this went slimy two days in or I would have eaten the crap out of this)
  • Cucumbers (never ate because no salad, but magically they stayed good and I’ve eaten them this week)
  • Bell Pepper (pasta salad, snacks)
  • Corn (side dish, only ate 2 of the 6 and the rest went bad)
  • Random leftovers from the fridge that had no place in the menu  – asparagus and green onions (used onions in the pasta salad but the rest of both went bad)

I am a condiment aficionado.  You might could get by with less, but I feel like the space was mostly worth it.

  • Seasonings: salt, pepper, montreal seasoning, garlic powder (and fresh), cajun, lemon pepper
  • Avocado Oil
  • Red wine vinegar
  • Honey
  • Dressings: coleslaw, lite ranch, italian (FYI, light ranch + red wine vinegar makes a better coleslaw dressing than coleslaw dressing).
  • Relish, mustard, ketchup, avocado oil mayo, hot sauce
  • Green olives
  • Pickles

The rest of it:

  • 2 cans refried beans (used one)
  • 2 cans bbq/onion beans (used one)
  • package of flour and corn tortillas (used half, used the rest at home)
  • leftover shredded cheese and a block of cheddar (used half, used the rest at home)
  • meant to bring feta for the pasta salad but got goat instead (used half, ate the rest at home)
  • pantry snacks: marshmallows, graham crackers, chocolate, oreos, chips, nuts, jerky, protein bars, jar of popcorn kernels (ate most of the chips and jerky, a little of the rest)
  • Nuun for electrolytes (which we didn’t really use)
  • Many types of teas (which we used three times)

And we tried to go minimal on dishes, here’s what we brought:

  • 2 bowls
  • 2 mugs
  • 8 plastic plates (but we only used two)
  • 2 forks, spoons, 1 butter knife, 1 steak knife
  • 1 big knife
  • 2 potholders
  • 2 spatulas
  • 1 small pot
  • Dutch oven
  • All the foil
  • Paper napkins and paper towels (probably could have just brought the latter).

All in all, I think we did REALLY well on our first trip out.  Here are the few observations and things I might change next time:

  • The meat situation worked out REALLY well.  I was worried, but the cooler kept things cold enough as long as we got ice every or every other day.
  • Next time we’ll rearrange things so the coolers don’t get stacked on top of each other so often.  I definitely reached for chips instead of veggies because they were more accessible.
  • I am impressed with the amount of produce we were able to get through, and how well it did for a week in a cool, protected, but not refrigerated or chilled place.  I honestly think I would have eaten most of it if it wasn’t for the hostage situation with the other, heavier cooler on top of it much of the time.  I will definitely make sure that each veggie is being used in at least two dishes plus snacks if it’s big (like the cabbage, broccoli, etc).
  • Buy all the produce the day before.  It will last longer (hi slimy salad).
  • We will definitely bring our charcoal grill too.  The gas grill was convenient, but it didn’t get very hot in the wind, and dutch ovens cook better with coals on top.
  • We need to not do meals where we cook on both the gas grill and the gas stove… unless we grill something like chicken and then toss it in something on the stove (in the dutch oven on top of pasta).  Even in the heat food cooled too quickly to do that.
  • My original thought on day 2 when I started cooking it was to prep the pasta salad beforehand, but it was kind of a fun challenge and it was one less thing to do before the trip.
  • Having minimal dishes made us have to do them right away which is a GOOD thing when you live in the same room as them.
  • Next time we’ll have to try at least one new thing!  I could easily replicate this whole menu now and have a great week of eating, but what fun is that?  I think next time I’d like to try and make a big pot of chili or maybe I’ll find another great dutch oven recipe out there.

Camping food is magic.  First of all, it tastes WAYYYY better than cooking at home.  Also, I ate and drank like a big piggie, and I didn’t gain any weight.  Magic!

Do you have a great dutch oven recipe or an idea of something great to eat while camping?  Hit me up!

 

 

Into The Woods

I never expected to enjoy an almost week camping trip so much.

But with this as the view from my back porch, how could I not?

Previously, camp/camping for me meant different things at different times in my life.  First, one night in a van with my uncle and cousin because my parents’ idea of roughing it was a hotel without an indoor pool.  I liked being outside, and fishing was fun, but I honestly liked being able to eat all the junk food I wanted more than anything.  Second, a giant group of girls in (air conditioned) bunks who spent all day doing gymnastics, with short breaks to go do flips into the water off ropes and diving boards instead of onto mats and foam pits.  Then, for the majority of my life, it’s been braving an uncomfortable night or two of minimal sleep as an excuse to get drunk in the woods.

Six days, huh?  This would be interesting.  Thank goodness for turtle home, which made it not just bearable, but AWESOME.

Krause Springs Family Property.

Terribly ugly property.  Don’t know how I stood it for six days…

This is not your typical pack-em-in-make-all-the-money campground at all.  The property is owned by family.  It seems like most or all of them live on the property.  They have their favorite campsites (which are reserved unless you have permission).  They seem to put a lot back of what they make into improving the property – for example, there’s the same guy who’s been working on all the beautiful stonework for the last 20 years.  He was out on non-holiday days just laying out a beautiful stone path.

Near the office, there’s a butterfly garden, which we walked through snapping a shit-ton of pictures.  This featured gorgeous spring-fed fountains, amazing manicured gardens with bright, beautiful flowers, the biggest windchimes I’ve ever seen, a koi pond, and a bunch of places to relax and take it all in.

Not too many butterflies, but beauuuutiful gardens.

There’s a natural spring-fed pool, which we frequented a lot.  We’d walk down every hour or two during the day and jump in.  They had a fun little rock wall to jump off, which was the preferred way for me introduce myself to a cold, spring fed body of water (instead of taking 20 minutes to acclimate).

Refreshing!!!

There also was a falls area, which was more like your typical Texas watering hole.  We floated there in the tubes a few days, but it was kind of treacherous to get down there, so we spent more time in the pool.  It also had a rope swing and a jumping cliff.  I decided the last full day was jump-off-all-the-things day, and I started with the cliff.  I must have mis-aimed my jump, because I landed knees down in (thankfully) soft mucky ground.  If I weighed much more, I may have really injured something, so that was enough to decide instead it was just jump-in-the-pool day.

One more thing about the property – it’s TINY!  Mountain biking or hiking around it was less than two miles.  I didn’t get my 10k steps any day while camping and I honestly can get close some days without leaving the house at home.  Super vegtastic vacation was super vegtastic.

On camping in a popup vs a tent…

Turtle home!

There are things that I absolutely LOVE about tent camping.  I love sleeping when you can see the stars and hear all the nature sounds.  I love that I get to spend so much time outside (tent is for napping, changing, or sleeping).  I love waking up early naturally.

I don’t love sleeping on a bumpy air mattress that hurts my back after 2 days.  I don’t love that the summer heat in a tent is unbearable unless you’re sleeping from about 3am to 9am max.  I don’t love being attacked by bugs at sunset.  I don’t love my lungs being wrecked from inhaling campfire constantly.

As I’ve said many times, I want to camp more.  There are so many gorgeous spots in Texas, heck, in Central Texas within an hour or two of our house, and we go so rarely.  It’s too hot, too cold, easier to get a night of sleep in bed vs a tent before a long ride/run, have to pack so much gear into the car, don’t have any shelter from the elements after if we’re chilled to the bone/on the verge of heatstroke.  There are so many races I’d like to do where camping would be so cheap and convenient but… eh… it’s a gamble with everything above.

Enter the popup.  It solved ALMOST every problem I have with camping when the goal of the day is more than beer drinking.

I expected the AC unit to keep it slightly cooler during the day than outside and at least passably bearable to sleep.  I had to sleep with a sweatshirt on with it set on low.  The constantly-on AC made falling asleep a breeze with the white noise (I think I slept better there than at home).  During the day, it kept it cooler than I keep my living room.  Best of all, it filtered the smoke of campfires and the noise of the 20 billion kids camping next door.  I slept ’til noon one day.  NOON.  I can’t even do that at home.

I’ll talk about it more later but we had a small fridge and a sink with running water and a cutting board that laid right over it.  While the AC was my favorite, my hot-sun-loving-but-dirt-hating husband couldn’t get over he had a sink with running water to wash his hands right *there* instead of being a dirty hippie.

The size is amazing.  Just like the tardis, it’s bigger on the inside.  We were happy to have two beds (queen and double) just in case one of us got bed-hoggy but we never used the second.  Also, let me give a shout out to the mattress – the dude that owned it before us did put in some upgrades and the beds were definintely one of them.  They were more comfortable than a lot of hotel beds, and the queen is even heated.  The living space was fully comfortable for two people and I could see a close-knit family of four being okay with it (however, we used the second living space for coolers so it’s four people with less affinity for produce than us).

I was so enamoured with the thing initially, I spent a lot of time in it.  I even gave myself one “rain day” (when it rained for 10 minute in the morning) where I didn’t even go down to the water and sat inside and painted for 5 hours.  However, mid-trip, I realized I’d be pissed if I spent all my time inside while CAMPING, so I found ways to deal with the heat and enjoy the view from the patio.

My ONLY complaint is the pee situation.  We brought a luggable loo, but neither of us could bear to break it out.  I’m not shy about peeing in the woods, but in this area, there were LOTS of people/kids around.  I also don’t mind the walk to the bathrooms when I’m awake.  Whatevs, I like steps.  However, I need to figure out how to pee when waking up in the middle of the night/early morning without the hike to the bathrooms, far into the woods, or risking indecent exposure.  Again, not a huuuuuge deal for two days, but by mid-trip, I was pretty over it.

Beyond dogs and smores…

Looks pretty, tasted even prettier.

Normally while camping I try to keep it simple and pretty much pre-made.  However, this time we had access to a gas stove, a gas grill, a small refrigerator, a sink, and a cutting board/counter (not to mention a microwave, which we tried not to use), so we tried to get a little more creative.

This is a whole post in and of itself (coming soon…), but I’m really impressed with what we were able to cook!  We split things very nicely between eating exactly how we would when we’re home, cooking things like fish tacos, beef stew, and other things made with fresh produce, and also some camping treats like smores, dutch oven popcorn, and a giant bag of crack chips.

Arts and crafts and activities.

BTW, mountain biking trails in sandals is a dumb idea.  Don’t do this at home kids (that’s why I did it while camping?).

I figured each morning would be some activity because, nature.  However, my sleep schedule with perfect temps and all the white noise of the AC quickly defaulted to it’s normal vampire 2-3am sleep and 10-noon wakeup.  So, considering at 9am it was feels like almost 100 already, besides one falls hike and one mtb ride, I stuck to jumps into the pool every hour or so and the walks there and back.

However, I arted things. It was so nice to sit and concentrate and plan and execute with stillness. I spent time learning how to finally draw a bike from reference, I planned out a circular scene to paint and painted a bit on my mug each day.  I am in LOVE with my new camping mug!  Since I probably shouldn’t amass any more mugs, I plan to buy small canvases and paint something every longer trip and build a camping wall.

Oops, I totally arted.

We also played a lot of games – catchphrase with some camping neighbors, and on our own, we played Farkle, Chupacapra, and the Pathfinder card game.  We painted a few miniatures as well.  However, we spent a lot of time hanging out with neighbors, reading books, or just kind of staring out into space absorbing the awesomeness of the wilderness.

I had visions of writing or doing business plan stuff, but it wasn’t the right vibe.  I felt so much mentally lighter leaving camp.  I feel like it’s about time to start dedicating a few hours a week to this stuff, and maybe sometime over the fall taking a camping trip SPECIFICALLY to write, but I really needed to unload a bit first.  And I totally did.

The RV Camping EcoSystem.

I have nothing relevant visually here, so enjoy a picture of the best fireworks show I’ve ever seen.

Previously, when we’ve camped in tent camping areas, we’ve either been camping with a group of people at Ren Faire, where there’s social-ness all around, or in other areas, where people just kind of keep to themselves.  Here, I expected to be on our own for six days, was kind of looking forward to it, but my social husband went around to make friends with everyone in the area, so we hung out with neighbors (some who had been coming here 6-26 years) about half the nights and ourselves the rest.

The mix of people there was… interesting.  I’d say, just like Austin, we were a little blue dot in a sea of red.  There was everything from confederate flag waving people to the guy who thought Ronald Reagan was God’s gift to the world, to the drama filled xenophobic party in the pavillion on the 4th… but oddly enough everyone else was peaceful.  The nice thing with an indoor space in the popup is that if you want to be antisocial – you just go inside.  It works out.

Also, the first few days we were there, it was us and GIANT RVs that cost as much as a house, so we were the crappiest house on the block (until the weekend came, and more popups showed up).  Most owners are super excited to show them off, so we got a few tours.  It’s just flippin’ amazing how like a little house some of these things are.  Some have two bathrooms.  Some have five beds in two bedrooms and full size kitchens.  Some have their own porches.  Some have “toy haulers” that fit golf carts, jet skiis, etc.  I don’t need any of those things but it was really fun to see how elaborate they can get.

If you want to see more of the gorgeous property, check out my album HERE.

Too much adulting, running away to the woods…

This week was *probably* the closest to a normal human adult type week I’ve had in years.  I didn’t like it at all.

Super serious workouts this week when this was the second most intense effort I put out.

Ok, there were some parts that were nice but it felt really weird.  I think I’m going to have to go run away and play in the woods for a while to make up for it.  Good thing I have plans to do just that this weekend.

Normally the workout section of my weekly recaps are big and detailed, but this week can be summarized with one sentence: I rode bikes for about two and a half hours.  Not very far and not very fast.

A few more words: I rode moutain bikes with coworkers and had a blast almost dying 20 thousand times on the beginner trails.  Note to self: ride mountain bikes more to assess whether the threat of death by rock or faceplanting into tree is real or percieved.  The rest of the week was my big red cruiser and bikes on the way to eat fried food and drink beer or bikes around the neighborhood dropping off books that were previously gathering dust to little free libraries to hopefully be enjoyed by someone else.  So, all sorts of super serious training.

I was super busy during the week and I can’t lie, I had thought about killing it with some training over the weekend.  However, my arm REALLY hurt from the tetanus shot and I stubbed my toe REALLY hard on my kettlebell Friday night, to the point where I wasn’t 100% sure it wasn’t broken and standing sucked.

Ok, ok, universe.  I’ll chill the fuck out.  I hear you.

This week, I’d like to get as many of these tests done as possible:

  • FTP cycling test (DONE)
  • 100m and 300m swim
  • 1 mile run test (max speed)
  • 3 mile MAF test (how long does this take at ~142 bpm HR)

If one or two had to go into early July I’m sure it wouldn’t be the end of the world but it would be nice to get some metrics.  I plan on doing these in controlled environments (trainer, treadmill, pool) to keep variables like elevation, activity pausing, temperature, etc, to a minimum.  I have four days before I go camping and I have four activities.  I think that will probably work out to get at least three of them done.

Then, while camping, the goal is to hike, bike, or run every morning before it gets hot and spend the afternoons playing in the lake.  That’s about as training plan-y I’m willing to get.


My dietary/scale type goals are going well and not so well at the same time.

It’s been a lot like this lately.

In the win column:

  • I saw a 182 on the scale for the first time since October (though it was an anomaly).
  • I’m feeling much happier with the way I look right now than I have at any point this year.
  • I think the new dietary changes I’ve been making have contributed to this and it’s incredibly encouraging to have a direction that actually seems to be working.

In the… not as win column:

  • I’m not all in yet.  I’ve been eating up leftovers which include things that are on the negative diet quality points.  I ate takeout twice on Sunday and both of these had refined grains.  I let my husband talk me into a giant non-whole wheat pasta meal last night (and felt crappy after).
  • Doing all this tracking is tedious.  It’s gotten to the point where tracking my food is pretty rote, but adding up the diet quality and metrics is getting tiresome.
  • I’m not magically 150 lbs yet.

I’m taking the next two weeks off, for the most part.  I’ll track my food while I’m not camping but I doubt I’m going to do it while I’m in the woods.  Thus, I’ll have incomplete diet quality scores for two weeks.  So, I’ll just resume all this silliness on July 10th and really go for it.  After a taste of how I was feeling (and how the weight is actually starting to come off), I’m sure it will be easy to be motivated to get back to it quickly.

However, I have data from last week.  Let’s see the damage.

  • Weight: 186 (-1.9) lbs <- this is GREAT but it also seems to reflect the weeks past rather than this week.
  • Avg cal per day: 1811 (+35) calories
  • Avg deficit per day: -682 (-263) calories
  • Macros: 58 (+1)g fat, 170 (-13)g carbs, 90 (-3)g protein, 29 (+2)g fiber

DQ score: Monday: 16.  Tuesday: 9.  Wednesday: 5. Thursday: 26.  Friday: 22. Saturday: 5.  Sunday: 8.  Average comes out to approximately 13 (out of 32).

Yep.  Craptastic.  I did some really good things with incorporating healthy stuff in my day but ruined it with a bunch of fried food, refined grains, and beer.  There will always need to be room in my life for those things, but maybe just a little less while I try to take down these ~20 lbs I’d like to see gone.

And my doctor at my check up reminded me that more than 7 drinks in a week increases the chance for liver issues.  Ughhhhh.  My first thought was “you can pry my whiskey from my cold dead hands, lady!!!”  But, it would be good to figure out how to approach that number a little more closely most weeks without ruining my life (before it pickles my organs, apparently).

These are all things I will take super seriously starting the second week of July.


Last week was a doozy.  We did all the things.  It was exhausting.  We were productive over the weekend, and then we kind of crashed.

Turtle home!  It’s so much bigger on the inside…

Done:

  • Pop up registration
  • Trial run (I did literally neither of these things but took care of other things like groceries and errands and cleaning and getting poked with needles while Zliten was doing them so… win for both of us?)
  • Finished the shredding in the office.  And, as I said, we cleaned out the paperbacks on our bookshelf and donated them.  Baby steps.  The office may indeed get done this year!
  • Pick a weekend for our gameday potluck.  It’s on in about a month!
  • Bonus: measured the cabinets and discussed options for the kitchen with Zliten’s ‘rents.  They are SUPER AWESOME and are helping us with a lot of it and gave us some nifty ideas about moving around the pantry and they even gave us an estimated cost for the cabinets which seem super duper reasonable.  Will the kitchen or the office get done first?  Dum dum dum dumm…

Not done:

  • DDR Pad.  I stubbed my toe so I wasn’t *really* motivated to do this and didn’t get far enough into the office to find all the PS2 stuff anyway.  I *do* want to get this one done so I can have it set up for our next game night.

This week is a little different.  Before Thursday, the To Do list is:

  • Get all the things ready for camping and then get to the campsite and set up before dark and then exhale a sigh of relief because it’s been a lot of work to go on our maiden turtle home voyage!

Then, when we’re camping, we have all sorts of things we want to do but may or may not do any of them.

  • Every morning before the sun is too evil, we want to mountain bike, hike, or run.
  • Afternoons when it’s so hot we can’t even will be spent in the springs or the pool.
  • Other than that, we have all sorts of arts and crafts and stuff we’re excited to do including…
    • Painting minis
    • Painting our own camping mugs
    • I will for really real spend some solid QT starting my book.
    • Games!  We’ve got a really long game a friend loaned us we’re looking forward to trying and the normal dice games and Oregon Trail and stuff.
    • Get through the Big Yellow Endurance Book and How to Win Friends and Influence People and maybe start the next non-fiction book as well (as well as whatever fiction I decide to read).

Perhaps, if I’m inspired, I’ll write up some business plan stuff and plan out other book ideas and other things I haven’t thought of that will come to me on day 4 in the woods with no work and no internet.  However, I need to carve out some time for sitting in a chair with a beer quietly looking at a campfire or the stars, so I need to manage my own expectations on how many productive things I want to do vs how much time I spend staring off into space.

Pendulum swingin’

Perspective is such a weird thing.  Three months ago I was training like 12-15 hours a week.  Now, getting in 5 hours is a stretch.

Although, new mountain bikes and pretty trails (not actually pictured because I was too busy trying not to die) help things along a lot.

When you’re in the thick of a big build, you’re like, how on earth will I fill up this time?  If I don’t ride bikes all Saturday, will I be so bored?  Will my butt fuse itself to the couch?  The answer is: not so much.  I ignore so much of life when I’m triathloning a lot, and then when it comes back into focus… I realize how “normal” people feel.  How sometimes it’s challenging to prioritize workouts over real life stuff.  When I’m training, that’s just how it is – it goes work, triathlon, and then EVERYTHING else.

Right now it’s like work, to do list, appointments, social events, fun stuff, playing bikes with people and then the rest of triathlon.  As it should be right now, because #offseason.  However, it’s been two months and I think I’d like to see what a few weeks of focused, specific (while still minimal) training can do.  It will be a balance of still prioritizing other stuff but the time I spend training will be a little less playtime and a little more structured.

The first thing is to get some metrics.  Before the end of this month, my goal is to measure all these things:

  • 100m swim
  • 300m swim
  • 3 mile MAF run test
  • 1 mile all out run test
  • VO2 Max garmin measurement (run and bike)
  • Cycle FTP test

I tried to pick things that seemed doable each month but also usable metrics.  The FTP test is a good hour long cycling workout.  The MAF test is actually a pleasant run pace, not like a 5k race.  The 1 mile run should be short enough to not need a ton of recovery.  I considered a 1000m swim test but I end up putting those off a lot so I picked the shorter distances (since I’m doing sprints anyway it’s more applicable).

I love swimming.  I love swimming fast (not pictured here but whatevs).  But I do not love swimming fast for a long time.

The challenge is that this week and next week are cray-cray (as the kids probably don’t say anymore).  My goal will be to get the FTP and probably one of the run tests done this weekend, and the swims and other run test will be next week.  I’m sure once I start lifting I’ll have other metrics I want to do there, but for now, until my cranky pirformis is 100%, there we are.

Last week:

  • Monday: 5k run in 37 mins
  • Tuesday: 40 min work commute (7.5 miles)
  • Thursday: Double brick at the gym (10 min cycle/1 mile run x2)
  • Friday: 15 min easy trainer spin (3 miles), 20 min swim – 1025m
  • Saturday: 13 min swim – 1 Pflugerville loop
  • Sunday: Lake Pflugerville Tri (500m swim, 13 mile bike, 3 mile run)

So, you see, the frequency is up there, but the duration is not.  It feels good to get a little movement every day, so it works out.  None of this has felt overwhelming, nor should it, at 4.5 hours.

This week is definitely scheduling workouts around life with a lot of ?.

  • Tuesday: mountain bikes with friends at lunch
  • Wednesday: rode bikes to volunteer party.
  • Rest of the week: ???

Since this is the week of social things and appointments and errands, it’s either early morning or late late night some days for stuff and it’s offseason.  So, nope!  I’d love for this to be my return to structured training, life has said NAH.  So, I’ll roll with it as best I can.


I’m really deep down the rabbit hole right now reading about healthy eating for athletes.  I wrote up about 2000 words just on Maffetone’s nutrition theories, but honestly?  No one probably wants to read that but me.  So, I will attempt to be as brief as possible in the summary of how I’m applying it to my life last week and this week.

Right now it’s a balance around here.  Lots of the top right, but some of the bottom right as well.

We always start with the low hanging fruit around here, so here’s what I’ve been trying for:

  • More fruit, smaller pieces of things that are more varied (instead of a pint of blueberries in a day, a small apple, 1/2 cup blueberries, and some grapes).  The variance is so I get more diverse nutrients.  I’m also going to try to vary the fruits I eat per week so I don’t get in the rut of eating blueberries with breakfast and an apple as a snack for 3 months.
  • Nuts and seeds.  I cut these out of my diet to get more of my calories from carbs and/or cut calories, but I definitely miss them.  After reading about ALL the health benefits, they are back.  I’m aiming for a serving or two per day.
  • Honey instead of stevia in my breakfast yogurt.  While Maffetone said the jury is still out on stevia, in general, sports nutrition literature generally poo poos any sort of artificial sweeteners.  It will be a harder fight to completely eliminate them from my life (diet soda as a mixer for booze, light sports drinks for when I want electrolytes without all the calories), but I can start here.
  • Green tea instead of coffee.  I’ve finally increased my caffeine tolerance to the point where this isn’t too much for me and made the switch.  I have had one cup every morning for the last week and haven’t feel jittery, but just felt up, alert, but even all day.  I think I’ve found my morning beverage!
  • A big salad per day with olive oil and vinegar.  What’s a great way to increase my veggie consumption?  Have a giant bowl of them as a snack!  I’m also trying to branch out from my lettuce, tomato, cucumber, onion salad and I’ve been also bringing shredded carrots, asparagus, celery, and broccoli for it this week.  I’ll try to change up at least two things in it per week to vary the nutrients.
  • Chewing my food.  This has been an eye opening experience the last week.  Did you know that if you don’t chew your food properly, you get less nutrients out of it?  I guess it makes sense, but it’s never hit me that way.  I’ll chomp down once or twice half-heartedly and then swallow while I’m shoveling the next bite in.  I tried to take the time to chew my food last week and found out a few things.
    • It’s not just bullshit, chewing your food and eating slower actually DOES satiate your hunger quicker.  I was fuller on way less food.
    • It is a habit that needs to be encouraged.  Unfailingly, I will start wolfing my food down and then have to stop myself and remember to chew the rest of the meal.
    • Some foods are delightful to chew – fruits and veggies taste better, imo.  Potatoes fluff up nicely.  However, meat, generally, is NASTY to chew well.  I really am a vegetarian in a carnivore’s disguise because I love the taste of well seasoned meat… but when you chew it well, you actually taste the actual meat flavor.  Except maybe chicken and mild fish… I don’t really like the unseasoned flavor of meat.  At all.
  • Carbs.  Mostly complex ones.  Beans, potatoes, corn (homemade popcorn, corn tortillas, etc), brown rice, whole grain bread, pasta, etc.  I am never ever going to be able to completely avoid refined grains, but they should be a small part of my week.

One big salad a day, just like my iguana…

So, here we go.  How did things go last week?

  • Weight: 187.9 (+0.1) lbs <- it was that time of the month so this is practically a loss.  I’ll take it.
  • Avg cal per day: 1776 (+23) calories
  • Avg deficit per day: -925 (-45) calories
  • Macros: 57 (+14)g fat, 183 (+2)g carbs, 93 (-9)g protein, 27 (+0)g fiber

DQ score: Monday: 14.  Tuesday: 9.  Wednesday: 25. Thursday: 22.  Friday: 21. Saturday: 21.  Sunday: -1 (race day).  Average comes out to approximately 16 (out of 32).

I can definitely see what’s up here.  Monday I wasn’t really concentrating on the new rules.  Tuesday I wasn’t either and had some alcohol.  Wednesday – Saturday, I did a pretty good job.  Not perfect, but I’d be happy if I could replicate that most days right now.  Baby steps.  Sunday was race day, which meant junk food and drinks.  I actually think I did decently in terms of not being a complete jerk with the food – for lunch I consumed one slice of pizza and a salad, and for dinner we had a baked rigatoni dish with extra broccoli and chicken, but with the alcohol and lots of refined carbs (and not much else), the score went ker-splat.  That’s fine.

As we get through this week of all the social party type events and eat up our leftovers with refined grains, I think I’ll be able to raise this score a lot in the coming months with a little time and attention.  However, it is a BITCH to sift through your food like this.  Like wayyyy more than counting calories.  I won’t do this forever.  Once I’m reasonably happy with my score (bringing it up to the low to mid 20s on average), I’ll stop counting it every week.


I’ve been excited to let the pendulum swing the other way for a while, concentrating on being a normal human but this week it is really really on the other side.  Social engagements (because this is my SAY YES season) and appointments we’ve been putting off comprise most of the weekdays this week.  So, it’s busy busy busy!

Super excited to actually go use this thing instead of just running errands about it and spending money on it.  Next week…

So, how did I fare last week?

  • Pop up stuff.  Some of it.  I got it insured,  but Zliten tried to do the registration and he was missing a piece.  We tried to get it into the backyard to set it up and the gate was 4 inches too small.  We did get all the accessories we needed (we think) to go with it, so at this point it’s just making it official and making sure everything is ship shape.
  • Finish the shredding in the office.  Nope.  It will go on the list this week too.  This is the curse of the office.  We do a little to the point where it’s not a complete disaster, but it never gets finished.  Hopefully we can break the curse this year.
  • Do more kitchen remodel research.  Well, I definitely confirmed I want two tone cabinets (white on top, dark on the bottom), found replacement glass racks for the wonderfully 70s built ins we have over the bar, and determined kind of hardware I want.  That’s something.  At this point, this is on hold until we decide WHEN we’re doing it (finding two weekends in a row that won’t negatively impact summer racing goals) and then we’ll get into it more seriously.

Instead of things that kept us off our feet on Saturday, we test rode and purchased mountain bikes.  Considering this was on the big to do list as well, I’ll call it a wash.  Also, earlier in the week, we saw a coworker kill it in the Pirates of Penzance opening night.  It was super nice to be able to do stuff like that.  Offseason!

This week, I may have to cheat and put down a few more than three things, but we have a super mellow weekend planned so it should work out.

Pop up registration.  (this is actually done thanks to my awesome husband!)

Trial Run.  We need to set up the pop up, run all the things (water, power, etc) for a little while, and make sure everything is working properly.

Finish the shredding in the office.  This is now becoming the “clean out the car” of the season.  I really just need to do this, if for no other reason than to make some forward momentum progress.

Get the DDR pad set up.  Since I’m not doing a lot of formal training this week, it would be REALLY nice to have this as an option to do whenever at home in the AC.  This is also my present for getting the office done.

Pick a weekend for our next friends game day.  It was super fun and I don’t want the tradition to die.

The contrast to that mellow weekend is an insane week.  We’ve had/got:

  • Contractor fixing the fence yesterday morning
  • Yelp Elite event Tuesday evening
  • Cap Tex Volunteer event last night
  • Doctor appointment this morning
  • Gaming tomorrow tonight
  • Doctor for Zliten tomorrow morning

Plus, we’re hitting a big milestone this week at work, so it’s been rather hectic around there as well.  Is it the weekend yet?

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