Adjusted Reality

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

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Cozumel 70.3 – Pre-Race and Swim (Part 1)

I have said and thought and plastered all the words about this race race all over social media.

My name is here!

Subtitle – what you wear on the plane when you’re equally excited to race and also scuba dive on this trip.

Blogging about it feels like the continuous flagellation of a deceased equine.  However, in an effort to record my thoughts here for posterity, and also provide a path for improvement in the future, let me take up the stick one more time and the beatings shall commence!

Race prep in Austin went just about as ideal as ideal could be, minus the normal taper freakouts that I broke my heel (didn’t) and was getting sick (wasn’t) and that level of ease continued with our flight into Cozumel.  I didn’t have any crazy half-days without food, or flight delays that kept us from getting a decent night of sleep, in fact, we were able to hit packet pickup and engage in some retail therapy at the expo before we had dinner Friday night, built the bikes, and got a great night of sleep.  The only hitch was both of us had overlooked our check in date at Hotel Cozumel was actually SATURDAY, but thankfully, they had a room for us anyway and only rolled their eyes a little bit behind our backs at the stupid gringo tourists who couldn’t keep their ish straight.

My husband is the ultimate friend-maker.  Breakfast the next day was hopping at 9am and there was no immediate seat space.  Instead of waiting, he asks the first single person to share a table, and lo and behold, it’s pro triathlete Angela Naeth!  We follow each other on Instagram, and it was a really serendipitous experience.  She was super nice (and fast – she ended up getting third!) and it was fun to talk triathlon over pancakes. 

Super shaky selfie but PROOF!

Even with so many things checked off the long to do list already, Saturday was SO busy.  After fueling up, we rode our bikes up and down the street next to the hotel, changing gears and resetting our sensors until we were satisfied they were in good mechanical order before riding the 5 miles on the main road to drop off our bikes.  I was really hesitant to do this, but I hoisted up my big girl bike shorts and within a mile, I found that riding bikes here was quite comfortable, more so than most places in the US, actually.  Everyone actually paid attention because there was always bikes or scooters on the road all the time, not to mention the roads are in great condition.

After getting the required bodymarking (? – that’s new for the day before) and nestling our bikes snug in their racks for sleepaway camp, we puttered around the docks a bit to get the lay of the land.  Then, we quickly realized we were getting zapped by noonday sun rolling around sans sunscreen.  Not ideal for the day before racing a hot, humid, windy 6+ hour race.

“Get a picture with both my Bicycle Sport Shop shirt and my Wattage Cottage socks!” “Oh crap, I’m wearing socks and sandals… socks only it is!” (sigh)

We boarded the shuttle back to the hotel, ate lunch, put together our run bags, and then hoofed it to transition two, about a mile from the hotel.  I had to pack light because space was at a premium, so once I dropped off my only pair of running shoes, I was left with my massage sandals.  Those walked another two miles through the grocery store and back to the hotel.  I sucked down a powerade in two seconds because I was dehydrated like woah by that point.  My legs and back and heel ached.  I clocked about 1o miles on my feet (not counting the bike and the quickie swim I had later) by dinner.  If I could turn back time, I’d spend less time puttering around swim start, and take the cruiser bikes the hotel so nicely offered for the rest of my errands instead of walking.

My pre-race nutrition wasn’t perfect, but it was as adequate as possible making use of the hotel buffet.  I drank plenty of water that evening and supplemented with nuun, had lots of carb options (though whole grain was few and far between), and got whatever meat looked reasonable and safe for protein (and backed it up with some protein bars), and there were plenty of veggies and salad available.  I didn’t overeat to uncomfortability (plenty of time for that later!) but I felt full and fueled.

The food is almost irrelevant with a view like that…

I went to bed feeling a little worried about being fatigued, but without a time machine, all I could do was sleep all the sleeps possible.

Race morning, I was up with the alarm pretty quickly, and thankfully, all my parts felt like they were in working order.  I spent the morning listening to my Confidence and Courage playlist and going over my race strategy.  Apparently, in Mexico, english muffins don’t exist, so we ended up with pre-toasted bread (!!!) and honey from the grocery store to go with the packets of almond butter we brought.  I drank most of a giant coconut water and also a gatorade.  I can’t eat a ton in the morning but I can suck down sugar water like a champ!

The bus quickly transported us to the swim start, and I finished up all the last minute prep has become rote to me as this is my eleventh race this year.  Getting my tires pumped up.  Setting up my three transition items (shoes, helmet, sunglasses). Resetting my stuff up under the bike clothes bag once the rain dumped on our heads.  Looking to apply sunscreen but finding it was actually Vaseline instead.  Wiping some of that lube on my unsuspecting husband (LOVE YOU), and then finding actual sunscreen and applying it.  The porta potty lines were long but they had a dedicated volunteer giving out toilet paper, so that was handy, and all too quickly I was stuffing all the carbs I had eaten over the last two days in my swim skin and merging with the mass of spandex-clad humanity. 

Another “if I had a time machine” moment – I got in the rolling swim start line after they dropped the pace corrals.  By the time I realized where I stood, Zliten and I were about 200 people (out of 2000) from the end of the line and it would have been incredibly difficult (and rude) to shove my way further up the dock.  Que sera, sera, I thought… and kept thinking, and thinking, as I started the race 27 minutes after the first age grouper.  At least the Dolphins at Chankanaab Park kept us entertained with flips and tricks while we waited!

Dolphins back there!!!

Swim:

I joked to Zliten that he should go first, since I was totally going to pee the minute I hit water.  Once I got going, there were just too many bodies and combat and fists.  I tried to find a line to draft, but since I was with people who planned to swim 10+ minutes slower than I was, I didn’t have much luck.  It was just masses of bodies.  Slow moving ones.  This was totally my fault for taking too long to poop, but it still made for a very frustrating swim.  The solace was when I finally found Wattage Cottage bolts in the water and figured at least I could save some energy and draft off my damn husband, who was going a *little* faster than the crowd.

It took 21 minutes to go out (maybe 900 yards), and then 2 minutes to swim about 10 feet directly against the current.  This was hilarious.  We were swimming at a 45 degree angle and STILL it was almost impossible not to be carried past the buoys.  We were like salmon swimming upstream.  I kind of had to hoist myself on top of the mass of human fish to save from getting swept away or kicked or punched too much.  Once we got around and swam with the current it was fairly easy breezy.  I enjoyed those 12 minutes.  Then we had to fight the current one more time to get to the dock and that’s about where I lost it when someone actually grabbed my arm to try to use me to pull them along.

I screamed all sorts of obscenities into the water and shook their hand off and sprinted quickly for the stairs… which took at least an extra minute because so many people kept cutting in front of me and squeezing through.  By the way – I still hadn’t peed.  I think I was too angry to pee.  That would be a good band name – TOO ANGRY TO PEE.  I defiantly hit my watch lap button at 39:42 while I was hanging onto the ladder waiting because I was frickin’ done swimming, but I knew my actual time would be slower.

Swim time: 41:08.  2:07/100m – 49/85 AG.  Not even my PR (about 40 seconds off) for what’s supposed to be one of the fastest swims on the circuit.  Not my favorite first leg of a race.

Transition 1:

I have never been so angry during a race in my life as when I exited the swim.  There’s a particular race picture (here if you want to dig through, I just can’t quite pull the trigger to spend 60 bucks on the set even though I was actually tempted this time) that made me LAUGH so hard, I’m shooting some mad daggers ahead of me.  I remember the full run through the parking lot (which was actually pretty speedy), I spent saying the F word, out loud even, a whole lot, about the people ahead of me and how I was going to absolutely destroy those stupid mother effers on the bike.

I was worried about taking off the swim skin under pressure since it’s tiiiight but it slid off in mere seconds, and since I’ve simplified my T1 to only include my helmet, sunglasses, and bike shoes, I was in and out and on with my life rather quickly.

Transition 1 time: 3:55 (and it was a rather long run from the water to the bike mount line – almost a third of a mile).  Happy with my efficiency here.

I’ll pick up next time when my feet hit the pedals.

Krause Springs Pt 2 – Bikes and Hikes and Hammocks

When last we left off, I was heading to bed early (ish) Thursday night because Friday we had another sort of adventure planned…

This year, instead of our mountain bikes and riding a few miles around the property, we brought our road bikes.  Matt was also on vacation fairly close to us, so we met up to go play bikes.  The weather was supposed to be rainy until 10am, so we planned that as our meetup time, but the sky held out on us so it was just humid and gross and sticky.  At present time, that kind of weather is no big deal, frankly, I’ve not only ridden but ran 10k in worse conditions a few weeks ago, but at that point I hadn’t acclimated yet and was WHINY AS HECK. 

I also started with not very cold water and no ice in my bottles, and one had watered down crystal light ice tea.  This is not the recipe for success.  I had to pull over a few times to cool down when my heart rate spiked.  We tried to get water on the way back at a trailer park but no one was around to let us use their spout, so we rode back to town on fumes and I went immediately to the cold pool.  In my kit.

While at least half of it was a miserable ride, the views were worth the suffering. 

Again, it’s funny how your perspective changes halfway into triathlon season.  Now, this ride wouldn’t have been a big deal.  Seven weeks ago, two hours on my bike in the heat tuckered me out!  Acclimation is real, y’all.  The rest of the day was for eating and reading and some dips in the pool and a side order of napping.  It didn’t suck.

I got up for a few minutes to take pictures of the sunset and then went right back to being a sloth.  It was lovely.

My only goal for the day was to play with the fireworks setting on my camera while burning some sparklers.  It was a super productive evening!

On Saturday, I did have a major thing on my To Do list I needed to check off – take pictures of the falls area.  It was one of my favorite places to take pictures last year, and that was just with my crappy phone camera. 

However, the weather had other plans for the first part of the day.  After a lunch of chicken, sausage, onions, and peppers, we had barely made it out of the pop up to hike down to the lake with our cameras when the storm started to blow in.  It did make some really neat pictures, though.  Maybe not the best quality, most ended up super blown out and I had to massively level and color correct them, but I think they convey how SURREAL it looked out there.

Later in the afternoon, we finally got our window and we hightailed it down to the falls area. 

The fifth picture in the set will be my new age meditation album cover when I get around to recording it, hah.  The seventh picture in the set is one of my favorite pictures I’ve shot ever of all time.  It looks like fairyland.  I was a little grumpy about the lack of sunlight, but I’m pretty sure they turned out alright.  I think a grey day is kind of a rarity mid-July and I’ll certainly be able to get sunny sunlight pictures next year when we come back (because, yeah, that’s happening).

I’ve never seen the falls and the springs area so empty on a weekend!  I know it was raining, but we don’t melt, people!  I know I don’t, so I enjoyed the extra elbow room.  I tried to not be super pathetic and sad that we were leaving the next day, but it was hard because it was the truth.  I consoled myself with the last of the hot dogs and pasta salad for dinner and stayed up way too late not wanting vacation to end.

While I could have probably used more sleep Sunday morning, I got up around 9am so I could do a bunch of “one last things”.

I took one last read and nap in the hammock (and a few pictures of the view as well).  I took one last dip in the pool.  We made one last batch of bean and cheese breakfast tacos.  I saw one last froggie.  And then, we put turtle home away and drove our hippie selves back home for one of the most satisfying showers in the history of the universe.

If six nights wasn’t enough last year, five nights was DEFINITELY not enough this year.  Obviously, it’s too early to really completely solidify next year’s plans, but I think I’d really like to camp the whole week.  I didn’t get a chance to break open the paints, and we didn’t touch any games we brought, I could have ridden bikes more, and even without all that, I could have just read, relaxed, and taken dips in the pool for another few days, happily. 

Even though it’s just seven weeks removed, this trip feels like a lifetime ago.  My day to day has gotten so hectic, which is absolutely normal for this time of year, but still, it’s a stark contrast to the peace, the easy days, the silence.  I can’t imagine having so little to fill my time, so little to do, but not being bored in the slightest.  I’m looking forward to remembering it all over again next year.

You can see my full gallery HERE.

Florida Cruise Part 1: Allure of the Seas, Nassau, Cozumel

I don’t know why I’ve put this one off for so long.  I think I’ve written so many cruise recaps that I was trying to figure out how to make this one more interesting, but I think you’ll just have to indulge me on this travel log.

Saturday, we flew to Florida, and entertained ourselves in extremely rainy weather by eating at the Sweet Tomatoes salad buffet after a soggy three quarter mile walk, playing cards, and having taco bell for dinner because, lazy (it was right next to the hotel).

Sunday morning, we planned to run, but it was still so rainy we went back to sleep instead.  I did get in a swim in the hotel pool even though it looked like this.

Between the rain and the humidity, my hair looked like I stuck my hand in a light socket the whole time.  *shrug*.  The good news is that from hotel to shuttle to port, we were on the ship and eating lunch in about an hour which is just friggin’ amazing, especially considering the size of the humongous Allure of the Seas.

Then, we checked out the gym, which was actually FABULOUS, and we spent more time there over the cruise than we expected.  I knocked out a nice progression 5k run (shorter than I had wanted but I didn’t feel like an hour on the treadmill) and then about 45 minutes of weights.  They had a great set of kettlebells which I made copious use of during the week.

Then, we did the normal boat drills, unpacking, cards with the fam, and then dinner.  Our waiters John and Simon were some of the best and most fun we’ve ever had, and we looked forward to dinner every day.  While it’s been too long for me to list out everything I ate, or even the highlights, really (if I didn’t take a picture of it), but we thought the food on this ship was a little better, even if the dishes were mostly the same, than our normal ship out of Galveston.

Normally, we go explore the ship and stay up and play a bit, but not this evening.  Instead of two sea days, this itinerary started bright and early in Nassau for diving the next day, so we went to bed pretty much right after supper and prepping our gear.

Monday was an early alarm (6:30 which was 5:30 back home).  I groggily did the wake up things while my husband was up and peppy and got us a plate of breakfast to split.

The giant tropical storm really mucked with our weather all week.  Don’t let some of these photographs lie – I edited the heck out of things so it looks all sunny and gorgeous, and while there were some moments of sun, it rained every day – at least a little, some days a LOT.

Nassau diving with Stuart’s Cove was something I remembered fondly from a previous trip, it actually made us choose this cruise.  However, this specific day, the conditions were crappy, we dove with a bunch of newbies, and the divemaster seemed to be over it – he went very quickly.  He said “follow ME not the fish” to which I muttered “yeah, we’re going to have problems” because I will always (in conditions I feel safe in) follow the fish.

It was not a complete bust.  I got some nice photos.

Quite a few gorgeous grouper.

Usually these crabs like to hide, but this one posed for me right on top of the reef.

However, overall, I felt kind of rushed and the visibility was just not great.  All dives can’t be Bonaire dives, I guess!

After dropping our gear and grabbing a very quick snack on board, we consoled ourselves with some Nassau beers at a bar in an alley.  Please pity us.

We dressed up for fancy dinner.  I had some super yummy cilantro crusted cod, but my husband ended up with some prime rib that he said was one of the best he’s ever had.

This is as dressed up as my parents get.  Aren’t they adorable though?

We had a few more drinks after dinner, perhaps tried out the late night pizza place like I totally said I was not going to do, and tucked ourselves into bed just after midnight.

Tuesday was an At Sea day which meant sleeping in and then really getting to explore the ship.

We hit the gym again and then tried out the “healthy” lunch area (which, I’ll give them credit, had some good choices like baked fish and brown rice and all sorts of veggies and fruit), and then went mini golfing with the family.  We lost terribly to my parents, which is not a-typical when competing against them at games. 🙂

The giant theater was gorgeous and we enjoyed a full production of Mama Mia before dinner.

I found some chairs to be really small in while we waited for dinner.

Hot. harissa. chicken.  With yogurt sauce.  Then bed.  Because more diving in the AM.

Wednesday, we docked in Cozumel and were excited for a second diving day, because #divingdaysarethebestdays

Our dive shop was right at the docks which was convenient, and our divemaster was AWESOME.  He saw I had a pretty sweet camera set up and pointed me in the direction of a lot of cool (small) stuff to photograph.

Seahorse!  Finally, Zliten doesn’t have to resent me for seeing them in Bonaire when he was sick and couldn’t dive.  I wish my lights wouldn’t have been acting up at that point, but this is an improvement over the last seahorse picture (actually not appearing in that post because it was so poor).

Red lipped blenny!  He kept poking his head out and taunting us with his adorably grumpy little face.

All the lobster.  With the new camera, it really picks up some great detail on subjects that are curious and friendly and pose for me.

This lionfish decided to pose with a gorgeous red coral background.  This is one of my favorite pictures of the bunch.

Clingy crab.

I’ve never seen such a big hermit crab in a his shell.  I love his little eye stalks.

And… a gorgeous eel.  This was with my macro.  Crazy.  For such crappy conditions, we actually had a pretty amazing diving day!

For the rest of my day in Cozumel, the ocean being unkind in Roatan, and a really rare find in Costa Maya in about a foot of water, check out Part 2.

Now appearing in real life, sort of…

I exist!  Really I do!

Not just a figment of someone’s imagination that was left in Mexico somewhere, nope, nope, not at all!

While I still have so many hours of photo editing, which means the vacation isn’t yet COMPLETELY over, I have had a nice gentle return to reality (thanks to my team at work, you did a GREAT job giving me plenty of time to catch up and reacquaint myself with choices slightly more serious than the lido deck or the promenade).  So, I suppose I should announce here that… IM BAAAAACK!

A few random thoughts from the trip while I make the pictures pretty…

Great vacation weather > shitty vacation weather > no vacation.  However, when some of your activities are based upon light and visibility, sometimes shitty vacation weather puts a damper on things.  Especially when the ocean in Roatan decides to attack you instead of being nice, when you were looking forward to it most of all, but more on that later. ><

Wind nor rain nor crappy visibility nor currentous waters will not keep me from my fishies though!!!

A fantastic way to make sure you don’t gain weight on vacation is to develop a minor stomach bug at the end of it (thankfully, just enough to have a slightly upset stomach, not enough to ruin my vacation).  Seriously, the scale today said 1.2 lbs lower than I weighed the day before I got on the boat, and my appetite is definitely what it was before, if not lower.  I’m definitely not loving the not-100% feeling that I’m feeling but I’m trying to find the silver lining here… 🙂

Going on vacation with family members who’s main goal is to eat all the food makes not eating like an asshole YOURSELF a challenge, but one that I did not completely fail.  One that I didn’t completely succeed at, for sure, as referenced by the midnight pizza one two nights, and the unfortunate discovery of bags of potato chips freely given at the deli counter, but obviously, I didn’t gain back all the weight I lost since March like I feared I would.

Coral rash sucks, but sucks more for the coral. 🙁

One thing that helped was the gym was SUPER nice.  Unfortunately our schedules didn’t sync up with any spin classes like we hoped, but they had nice new cardio machines and a boatload of kettlebells which I used every day we weren’t in port (and port days included between 1.5-3 hours in the water so I wasn’t completely slacking there either).  While you can’t out exercise a crappy diet, you can at least account for a few beers or extra bread and butter with dinner with some activity and I did my damndest.

And finally, I’m not entirely sure if there’s anything more relaxing than a massage on the beach after a few margaritas listening to the sound of the rain.  If I need to go to a happy place in the future, Costa Maya will be in my arsenal. 🙂

Moar later.  For now, I’m reacquainting myself with vegetables and gentle workouts (my body is not quite ready for anything ass kicking yet) and opening up the calorie tracker for the first time in a few weeks and stopping by Snap Kitchen on the way home for easy peasy healthy food to get me through to the weekend when I can make some of my own.  Life.  And back to it.

Playing in the woods at Lake Bastrop

We took our sixth trip in Turtle Home last weekend.

Nice to have a lake in our backyard for a few days!

We left work around 5:45pm and hit a little traffic, so we got to the site around 7.  This meant that a) the mosquitos were out in full force and b) we had to set up in the dark.

Luckily, we’re pretty good at it, managed it in about 45 minutes, and got treated to some pretty sweet full moonlight while we grilled some burgers and had some frosty beverages.

Looks kind of like an oil painting, no?

Saturday, we got up around 9:30 and our friends made us breakfast tacos!  Then, the boys went to get ice and the rest of the party was napping, I put my hokas on and went for a little hike.

I meant to just walk around the campsite but I kept going and going and found a cool trail and took lots of pictures so if I went missing, at least someone would know where I wandered by looking at DropBox.  Also, it was super pretty!

After I collected Zliten, we took Wasp and Yellow Jacket out to go play on trails.  Yes, I’m a priss and accidentally wore jewelry while playing on dirt with bikes.

We hit the Heron Trail, then the Fisherman’s Loop, and then decided to try the South to North Lake trail and it got a little advanced for us, so we just rode the other ones again and returned back with actual mud on our tires!  I still feel noobish at riding bikes on rocks but I’ve learned a few things, most helpfully, I’m much more confident leading than following (or at least leaving a bunch of space in between me and the next rider) so that helps in my quest to get a little braver.

After some delicious sausages from the grill for lunch, and a little too much fudge, Zliten decided it was time for casting.  Note that he didn’t say FISHING, but casting.

Look at that form!

After catching many leaves and twigs but no actual live fish, we watched the sun set, built a fire, and failed to make proper dutch oven popcorn (but had some real corn instead).  Instead, we dined on camping punch, laughter, and plotting and scheming for the future.

Seeing stars!

I was sad we couldn’t get the three day camp effect, but it was a perfect getaway for the time we had allotted.  Care of the time change, we got plenty of sleep on Saturday night, we were able to take the bikes back onto dirt in the morning, and get packed up and out a whole 20 minutes before our checkout time and home by 1pm.  Our heads were clear and it felt less like a chore to exist and do things than it did less than two days ago.

I need every ounce of that going into this next month.  I’m happy I was able to play in the woods for a weekend before a big long month of adulting.

If you’re interested in the full set of pictures, you can see them HERE.

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