Adjusted Reality

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

Tag: triathlon (Page 1 of 35)

Running out of steam…

Facebook’s “this time last year” feature keeps reminding me that I really should be on a beach somewhere by now. 

It me, last year this time.

For the last five Decembers, I’ve spent time at the ocean – either in Florida or the Caribbean or Bonaire.  While I spent my epic diving vacation pennies for the year already on Cozumel (and I am taking my sweet time editing those photos or I’d have posted about it already… sigh…), and I certain haven’t been short on the traveling, it feels like something is missing when it’s December 10th and I have been nowhere near a beach.

I’m spoiled, I realize this.  But my mood has been a smidgen more melancholy and I’ve been affected by the seasons changing because of it.  It’s still over 100 days until our next trip.  We’ve discussed a long weekend in Florida in February simply to eat as many Publix sandwiches and squeeze in as many dives as possible (priority in exactly that order), but either way, it’s a while until we get to blow bubbles.

Fishies, I’m coming for you in APRIL!

We’re trying to make the best of it by taking a long weekend popup trip to Fredricksburg, and I’m excited to try out some cold weather camping.  We plan to ride bikes all over the Texas hill country, hit up some of the wineries in the area, and check out the Christmas festivities in town.  And, of course, all the normal camping fun – reading, games, and maybe I’ll even break out the paints?  Anything could happen!

I plan to take a complete and total social media detox those days.  I’ve been a little too wrapped up in it lately and my sanity can definitely use the radio silence.  I KNOW I need this when I start negotiating with myself that I’ll just log on to post pictures and then log off.  Nope. If I’m struggling with this, it’s imperative that I disconnect fully.  I really just need everything (besides my lovely husband) in my life to shut the eff up for a while.  Time to cut the cord.

It me this December, hopefully

I have a few days off solo before camping.  I plan to sleep, to ride bikes to places to take pretty pictures, to start running a little longer and more often but only if it sounds fun, to practice my music, to edit a few photos, possibly go shopping and/or clean out my closet, and possibly, maybe, crack open my book to edit, or maybe just lay in bed and read.  I’m not sure which of these I will actually get to, but I’m really excited to find out!

I feel as if I’m writing this post simply for posterity, because I can barely put words together about things right now (not a good sign for book editing).   As for the usual weekly banter, one bike, run, swim, and weights session per week continues to be what I’ve been able to negotiate with myself as offseason activity.  It’s enough to keep competent at everything but not to improve.  Which is TOOOOTALLY fine.  There’s a time and a place for that and it’s 2019 for the most part, maybe a little more running before then because I’m signed up for a half marathon in like 5.5 weeks I want to complete without dying, but I have no ambitious goals.

Real talk: I’m super unmotivated on the diet side of things.  I’ve probably put on 1-2 lbs legit (not water weight) since Waco and I still haven’t yet calmed the eff down with the staying up late and indulging in holiday cocktails (holiday cocktails = whiskey in a glass, just in December!).  I haven’t really been tracking my food.  I haven’t been eating massive quantities, but I also haven’t really been watching myself at all.  I’m a little cranky that I feel kind of puffy but I also can’t be arsed to care too much.  It might be easier once I’m done with work for the year, but I highly doubt it unless I keep myself super busy because the kitchen is like RIGHT THERE, YO.

Gratuitous Iguana in the tree shot because holidays.

I sound rather grumpy about this whole thing, even to myself, but honestly, I’m just kind of… tired.  And sort of in awe that I’m tired when I am doing so little right now, but I suppose it’s just indicative of what a year it’s been overall.  Despite my ennui right now, I am really looking forward to my 19 day vacation and all the amazing things it will entail.  I just am too lethargic to do the dance of joy about it yet.

Long winters nap, I will be in you soon.  And then, hopefully, I will wake up at some point.

Finding fall, and other transitions…

The opportunity to indulge in a four-day break was incredible last weekend.

Thiiiiiiiiiis thankful! 🙂

However, it was just enough to sort of *start* the healing process from the sheer stress of the last few months, so I’m really longing for that nineteen day break beginning at 6pm on Thursday, December 13th.  This really came into focus when I spend DAYS freaking out about something that actually happened two weeks previous, but I had NO recollection of it.  When my memory gets this fallible, I require some time to defrag the hard drive which is my mind. 

Things get weird for me this time of year.  I tend to have some sort of minor mental breakdown, due to the combination of the lack of daylight, end of the year work stress, and since I usually save a lot of time off for December, the lack of downtime.  This year has honestly been fairly innocuous, thanks to not being an idiot and trying for a late season marathon anymore (with all the other stress, let’s heap MORE TRAINING ON IT! YEAH!), but in years previous, I have done ridiculousness like put my fist through a wall before because an errant electronic device wasn’t cooperating (spoiler alert: it wasn’t about that at all).  My frayed nerves right now are actually probably below par for the course.

An actual picture of my brain in November.  Just kidding, that’s our holiday lights through a set of those “christmas lights” fractal glasses.  But the feels-like is just about right.

I’m about a month’s distance from the last race of the year.  I’ve spent it in the company of a LOT of whiskey.  I built a sturdy ship over the previous months, and I have had great fun wrecking it.  Thankfully, it feels like we’ve moved past that phase and my body and mind are just in sleep-all-the-sleeps mode right now.  If I thought my mind was quiet last week, you can hear a pin drop in my mental echo chamber this week.  I’ve realized there is a time and a place to worry about all the shit I was fretting about and that’s not right here and right now.  If I want to be a useful human being ready to pursue goals with vim and vigor at some point, I need to be rested and refreshed and that takes letting go for a while.  Like, really let go instead of pretending.

I’ve found a nice cadence of activity.  It’s worked out to an average of one short swim, one 5k-5 mile run, a 2+ hour weekend bike adventure, and a little lifting every week.  I was hoping to focus more on the heavy stuff, but my body has made it clear that it’s not ready to be back in the gym doing that 2-3 times a week so I’m listening.  This relaxed, easy, whatever-whenever schedule has worked out to about 5-6 hours a week so far, which is PERFECT for offseason.  Everything feels good and joyful and restorative, both to my body and soul, but it doesn’t feel like TRAINING, which is exactly what I need right now.

Finding fall (narrator: fall was found).

This weekend’s bike adventure was an especially fun one.  We set out on two wheels, with our good cameras (aka, not just our cell phones), searching for FALL.  In years past, I don’t know what I’ve been typically doing around this date, focusing head-down on running, I guess, but I can tell you I’ll do my best not to let another season go by like this without exploring and capturing it.  The logistics and execution of this ride at times were tedious – every few minutes, I would to call out to Zliten that I was stopping RIGHT NOW, I’d spend a few minutes taking pictures in various modes and at various angles, and then I’d go find him and catch up.  He rode almost two more miles than I did overall.  This is nothing I would ever do during a serious training ride, but I think the results were worth it!

Turning back the clock a few days, I set out for my first run since Waco on Thanksgiving.  For reasons I detailed here, it was not an official trot, but I aimed to cover the same amount of miles (five) as fast or slow as I felt like, and cut it short if I wasn’t feeling it.  Thankfully, my easy pace has stayed approximately the same (10:45/mile), and we both ended it feeling like we *could* have gone a little longer (with some nutrition, we ran on zero fuel or water before or during), but it felt like enough.  I thinking the exact same thing as Zliten turned to me and said, “can we do that again next week?”.  Yes, yes we can (and actually already have).

While I’ve spent the last month embodying the drinking habits of college frat boy with the liquor tastes of an aging upper middle class white male (mildly expensive bottles of whisky, on the rocks), I have been watching my business with the food intake, for the most part.  I can pinpoint maybe one or two days in the last month where I ate like a jerk, but typically, my appetite has been in line or just a little below my calorie burn.  I’m pretty proud of this trendweight entry for someone who is not actively trying to lose weight:

Over the last two weeks, I’ve lost 1 lb.  That’s still trending down, even over Thanksgiving, during offseason.  I even hit my goal weight for the year (165) on the nose over the weekend (extremely dehydrated, but still…).  Calling this one in the bag is almost a done deal, it’s close enough to taste it. 

I think one of the key things I’ve learned this year – which is helping me right now even if I had one day over the weekend in which my food intake could be entirely described with one word (pizza) is to deal with not being FULL very often.  For me, there’s a vast chasm between being satisfied and the actual sensation where my mind pushes against eating more food.  On the satiety scale, 5 is no longer hungry and 7 is full.  For ME, it feels like about 12 actual integers between those two.  If I am careful, I’m fine on about 1500-1600 calories more days of the week than not, and that’s enough to keep the line pointed very shallowly down.  I can just as easily eat the same quality of food in higher quantities (to the point where I feel, not uncomfortably so, but just full), not feel any differently, and have the line point slightly up.  Full is an occasional indulgence.  No longer hungry has to be the norm.

I also feel like my appetite has hit a small thermocline at this weight I’m at now.  I am satisfied with significantly less than my husband who weighs 15-20 lbs more than I do, whereas even earlier this year, I’d find it hard to not eat exactly the same thing as he did day in day out even if I knew my metabolism burned 3-500 less.  I’m sure it frustrates him to no end right now when we eat lunch and I’m fine and he’s like, “where’s the other half?”. 

However, it’s working for me and I’ll keep at it.  It would be an immense triumph to actually get to January and be ready to set my next (and maybe final) weight loss goal of 150 lbs.  That knowledge in and of itself may be enough to stave off the normal crap-tastic holiday eating.

Hopefully when we take these DOWN, I’ll be at the same or less on the scale than when we put them UP.

I am admittedly still avoiding my book.  Knowing what I’m stressed about is half the battle, but I’m not quite ready to tackle the other half yet.  It still gives me anxiety and I’m unashamed that I’m going to avoid that battle for a little while longer until I’m feeling a little more mental fortitude. 

I have been extremely productive in my procrastinating though!  I’ve been pretty deep into photography lately.  It’s a wonderful hobby in that I can gather a whole bunch of source material over an afternoon or a week of adventures, and the editing?  I can do that sitting on the couch watching TV at my leisure.  I feel like I’m improving and finding different tricks each set of photos I edit.  I’m finding more photographic opportunities than just diving and vacations, just a random bike ride or putting up holiday lights or a particularly cool moon is excuse enough now to drag out my camera.  I’m not great yet, by any stretch, but I think I’m at least getting better than your average person snapping shots and slapping an insta filter on them.  Onward and upward!

For various reasons, music has snapped back into focus in my life.  I’ve found myself really into it the last few months, not just putting it on as background as I have in years past to get into flow or to take my mind off a particularly hard run, but more.  I’ve been looking up lyrics to songs that tweak my fancy and thinking on what significance they have, and listening to music LOUD to feel things (my new headphones are awesome).  It’s not just a backdrop, it seems like it MEANS something, if that makes any sense.

Maybe finally inspired by living in the Music Capital of the World?

I had an urge to pick up the guitar recently.  I’ve never played guitar.  I picked up my cheapo ukulele and learned some chords but it sounds crappy and I’m awkward at it.  Many years ago I played piano and I have a keyboard sitting in my dining room I haven’t touched in years, except to play Heart and Soul on it a few times (the only thing I could remember).  I figured this would be a much better use of my time as I can actually read music, so I found a song that seemed easy and repetitive, and I actually learned it by heart in about an hour total of tinkering over the break.  I’m pretty good at patterns.

Now the hard part.  I like playing music, but I LOVE to sing.  My next challenge is that I need to learn how to proverbially pat my head and rub my tummy at the same time.  I want to learn how to accompany myself.  This should be interesting.  I assure you, because part of the motivation behind this is to overcome mental self-confidence road blocks, I’ll embarrass myself with it by sharing on the internet when I’m ready.  You can look forward to the nonsense coming soon.

I also realized I had been reluctant to undertake this as a hobby because it’s quite imposing on the house.  Photo editing is silent, for the most part.  Writing my book is the next step up – I have to remove myself from the living room, but I don’t make any noise.  Video creation makes noise and takes a mild level of quiet on the set, but it’s shut away in another room.  The piano is in a common space.  I can turn the volume way, way down, but it’s not really conducive to practicing because I can barely hear it and definitely can’t FEEL it.  I can solve this with headphones, but I don’t know what to do about the singing.  I can whisper to get the cadence right but I’m not a quiet singer so that’s always going to be rather disruptive and probably the part of the music I’m most self conscious about. 

I’ll have some time alone over the break to practice, but if I want to actually get into this, I’ll need to find some quiet where I won’t disturb my husband playing and screeching over and over until I get it right (or at least less wrong).  Then again, this might just be a fun distraction to learn one song, post it on the internet, check that item off my bucket list, and move on to other things.  Hopefully that would be my book, but maybe I’ll take up underwater basket weaving and become the champion of the world at it.  Who knows?

All I know for sure is that I have eleven more workdays left.  I can do this.  A long winter’s nap is so close, I can taste it (but hopefully not too much tasting, lest trendweight get upset with me).

The quiet

After last week’s mental meanderings, and the return to some physical activity over the last seven days, I feel a little more… even-keeled.

A friend told me this outfit was Daphne and Velma all in one and I think that might be the highest compliment ever.

There’s many reasons that I throw words on this page.  It’s a historical reference of my life that I often use in lieu of my failing memory.  What did we do for our sixth anniversary?  How did I train for that half marathon I notched a personal record back in the day?  AR.com answers all those questions for me even when my brain cannot.

However, one of the most beautiful and wonderful things this blog can do is be my therapist.  I started last week VERY VERY confused as to what was going on in my brain, and through three days of massaging a piece of writing, I figured out why my mind was lashing out.  While I don’t have all the answers yet, I at least know what was REALLY causing me strife.  As they say, knowing is half the battle, because when I know the full shape of the problem, I can actually formulate stabs at a solution instead of just generally freaking out and trying to prove my self-worth in other, completely unrelated ways, while not getting to the heart of the matter.

If I want to be an author, I’m going to have to amass an audience (it’s just how it’s done these days, apparently).  If I want to have the guts to create a community, I’m going to have to believe in myself 100%, that the ware which is myself is worth hawking tirelessly from the rooftops, even through the perils of disregard and rejection.  I’m closer now to feeling that self-worth than I’ve ever been, and I think part of the anxiety is that I’m so scared of losing it, as right now it feels terrifyingly fleeting.  I’d gotten used to being self-deprecating, and it’s honestly EASIER for me to be just imperfect enough that I don’t feel like maybe I’m destined for any level of greatness.  Just… decentness.  It’s comfortable to live on this side of the mediocre.

Obviously, I still need to learn the HOW of the marketing stuff.  I tried to dip my toe into that over the last few years and just like editing my book, I’ve found a huge mental block.  I’ve got some decisions to make (do I stick with AR.com or actually register a new site that’s got more focus), but I think I’d be more receptive to the ideas that made me overly uncomfortable previously.

And I’m not even squidding about how much this has been octupi-ing my thoughts…

While I’ve often been frustrated at my lack of progress in specific things over the last few years, there’s no doubt in the big picture that I’ve transformed.  Spring 2016 was when everything shook apart and I realized I needed to diversify myself as a human.  Within that next year I collected three certifications (personal trainer, sports nutrition, triathlon coach).  I’ve learned a lot about investment, business development, and have a list of about a million things I could start up should I find myself unemployed (though, obviously, that’s not the plan). 

Then, I started to nurture my creative and performer identities.  I started painting again, I wrote a freaking novel, I’ve gotten really into photography and photo editing and have even taken a crack at video.   At work, I’ve found myself as the co-host for live steams and giving presentations at the all-hands company meetings as well as other official video.  I get to do things that push me in the public speaking regard about 3-4 times per month and I relish the opportunity to improve (and it’s also a bit of an adrenaline rush).

For someone focused on only work and triathlon previously, that’s a lot of personal growth in 2.5 years.  That period of time also included completing my first Ironman, three half Ironman races, two six hour bike races, two half marathons, and at about two dozen races of other distances.  Beyond my job and training, I have to give myself credit for spending ANY time on diversification, though I couldn’t imagine my life without it now. 

And thus, cue the low level of anxiety that stretches me to always want to be better, always wanting more.

However, I’ve felt more quiet in the last few days than I have in a long time.  Figuring shit out helped, but also, I’ve been able to return to activity, which has made me feel like my normal version of a human. 

Actual weights on bar not pictured, but rest assured, they are tiny.

The only thing that I’m doing with any seriousness or schedule is lifting, and even that’s very loosely reigned in.  I’m starting with 2xweek until my body says that 3xweek is reasonable (read: not sore two days later – I’m guessing not this week but next).  I’m doing a nice, long, full body, lighter weight lift hitting all the main muscle groups each day (e.g. squatting and benching 65lbs, dead lifting 85 lbs, rowing and overhead pressing the 45 lb bar only).  Once these numbers start to approach where I was at earlier in the year, I’ll start lowering the reps and splitting things up a little more.  When I add the third day in, it will be kettlebells (lighter stuff), like what I was doing in the last few months.

Besides that, the plan is: some run, bike, swim, or other cardio a few times a week.  As long (within reason) or short as I feel like.  At whatever intensity feels good.  And if curling up with a book or going out with friends or drinking whiskey or playing video games sounds better on any given day, I’ll do that instead (as long as it’s not ALL given days).

I swam on Thursday and it felt like coming home.  Sure, I was slow and clunky and my goggles kept leaking, but it felt absolutely wonderful to glide back and forth across the pool.  There’s something about the silence and focus when it’s just you and the water (and some tunes), and maybe that’s why I was going into a bit of a tizzy over the last few weeks – the lack of time in my own head enforced by the circumstances of sport.  I had been accustomed to some 3-4 hour stretches on the bike/run over the summer with just me and my grey matter, and I suppose I missed that.

Saturday, I had grand plans for a bike adventure.  I wanted to go somewhere pretty and take pictures and have lunch and in my head we would set out in the morning and spend the day on bikes.  Reality set in – we stayed up late playing video games the night before and started riding after noon.  We decided to take off from the house instead of driving the bikes somewhere and I didn’t want to tax my knee *too* much with crazy hills, so we just rolled a fairly normal suburban loop with a lunch stop at Little Deli.  My legs told me that the mildly rolling 600 ft of elevation gained in 21 miles in 90 minutes was perfect for right now, more would be overreaching.

This week is a short work week, which means in theory I will have more time to play, but I know the siren song of the couch will be strong once I’m off work.  If I had to put together a loose plan it would be:

  • Lift #1 Monday
  • Swim Tuesday
  • Lift #2 Wednesday
  • Run on Thanksgiving morning
  • Bike adventure sometime over the weekend

I’m a little anxious both TO get back to running and actually ABOUT getting back to running.  It’s the one sport for me in which absence doesn’t make the legs grow fonder.  If I take too much time off running, I usually end up paying a price.  I don’t want to put too much pressure on my knee trying to replicate the paces from a few months ago.  I also don’t want to mentally flip out if I find 11-12 minute miles difficult after a minor injury and almost a month off. 

I decided that doing an official Turkey Trot under these circumstances seemed like an idiot decision, so I’m running out my door on Thursday instead.  I don’t know if I’m going to go one mile and then turn back or finish all five.  I do know that running around my neighborhood means I’ll go at a pace and distance which feel comfortable, instead of getting swept up in the chaos of a race.  My body has been pretty clear that all the good efforts have been used up for a while, and I’m happy to remove any excuse to try to push the issue.

Speaking of turkeys, Thanksgiving is in just a few days, and that means that the holidays are in full swing.  For many reasons, I’m excited.  For my diet, I’m terrified.  This has been my most successful year in almost a decade in terms of weight loss – and of even more import – figuring out the mystery behind making the scale move in the right direction.  For so many years I was using incorrect metrics and had too much faith in the calorie burning effect of training.  If my goal is to maintain my weight, the only distance in which I can eat intuitively, as much as I want, is Ironman (11-15+ hours per week of training).  Under any other conditions, especially offseason, I need to watch my shit lest my nice new size 9 juniors jeans will start to shrink.

Since I’ve been focused on taper tantrums and post-race blues, I haven’t shared (or cared) much about metrics, so here’s a bit of catch up.

The first part of September was flat (training volume up, had to eat to fuel those efforts).  November (offseason, little to no activity) has some rollers, but both still *slightly* trended down.  Late September and October, even with 10 days in Cozumel, was a huge success because taper (5-6 hours a week) is honestly my optimal training volume to lose weight.

The other nice feather in my cap is that I set 165 as my interim weight loss goal for the year.  Over the summer, when things slowed down, I said I’d be happy with 170 but I’ve surpassed that, and I’m so close to my original goal, y’all!

Since Waco, I’ve not made much progress, though I haven’t expected to.  Trendweight is also reminding me that in the last 3.5 years I’ve been tracking, I’m 10 lbs lower than any recorded weight in history.  That doesn’t suck.

I expect things to get a little easier now that I’m moving around again.  Last week, without any hassle, I hit 5.5 hours of activity.  I expect that will stay constant through the holiday season.  I need to keep committed to how I’ve been eating all year and absolutely track my calories and weight daily to keep that line from reversing course (I can’t really deal with the diet quality tracking right now, that will be something I get back to after the new year).  If my trendweight looks exactly the same as it does now on January 1st, I’m fine with that.  If it’s back to where I was in the summer, I’ll be pissed. I love me some peppermint bark and mulled wine and all, but nothing is worth erasing months of hard fought progress.  Moderation is key.

For now, I’ll be encouraging and enjoying the silence.  The quiet ease of this time of year.  Sleeping in and staying up late.  Everything moving a little slower, including me. 

Offseason: the death of superheroism

Offseason… yeah…

It me! Ok, fine – it Nachokitty, but very REPRESENTATIVE of my week.

Each year, it’s a little bit different.  I’ve had experiences where I was one hundred percent ready, willing, and able to let go and blissfully do nothing for a while.  I’ve had seasons where I just couldn’t and instead kept at it, and that way lies only tears and burnout.  Usually, I’m somewhere in the middle of the spectrum, and that’s where I find myself this time, a few feet to the left of the middle.

The hard stop which was falling down and my knee swelling up to about twice it’s size has both put a damper on last week but also made me take it reeeeeeeeeal slow, which is exactly what I needed, if not wanted.  No “let’s just bike commute today because it’s beautiful” (read: 25 miles and 1k climbing) or “I can’t resist a little run”.  It’s been a zero week – I’ve averaged less than 5000 steps per day.  Somehow I’ve been able to resist gaining back all the weight I’ve lost this season even though I wake up every day thinking, “this one, this is the day where the scale is going to tell me the bad news”, but so far, so good.  It feels like I hung up my running shoes so long ago, but it’s barely been more than a week.  But this is just as coach has ordered, so it will be done.

It doesn’t mean I don’t have the feels about it.  I was joking with a coworker about not being a superhero any more, but as much as I try to be a fairly well rounded person, a core part of my identity is *triathlete*.  It’s much easier to shed that when I can assume another one – like woodland nymph (camping), mermaid (diving), or vagabond (traveling).  It’s hard to just sit on my couch and binge nextflix and play video games like a normal human.  That’s the ish I earn after riding my bike and running all morning.  Without it, it feels… just wrong.

I know the first week is always the hardest.  No matter how AWESOME the race was, there’s always the comedown after.  Generally, the advice is to sign up for another race to look forward to, but I’m honestly not ready to dive into my next season planning yet.  I’m pretty sure I want spring to be a carbon copy of this year, short stuff and trying for podiums (and maybe have my eyes on improving my run enough to seek some overall placements, possibly the first one, at the smaller races) and to get BOTH of us to Nationals this year.  The fall is still unclear to me.  The 70.3 distance tortures and excites me so.  Eight tries and I still haven’t nailed the run.  That’s both frustrating and motivating to me.  I’m not sure what sort of fire I want to put my feet into yet.

But I know where I want to put my feet at the end…

I’m not letting myself think too much about triathlon right now.  I’ve tried to look back, and had planned to dedicate most of this blog to that subject, but every word I eek out about triathlon sort of feels like work right now.  In short, it was the best friggin’ season of my life that went on just a little too long even if I felt like I barely trained at all week to week.  I qualified for Nationals twice and notched PR after PR at sprints, and then another, even on a hot crazy day where nothing went right in Cozumel on my 70.3 distance.  It wasn’t all I dreamed of, but I’m still proud of how I fought.

I had a few spectacular fails as well, but I will take solace in that they were due to random body problems (lady cramps at National Day 2, GI issues out of friggin nowhere at Waco), not my brain spontaneously combusting without reason, as I have in the past.  Nationals – I have no answer for that besides maybe pre-emptive painkillers (which I HATE taking) and just adjusting my expectations.  Waco… I’m still baffled that actually following my fairly conservative nutrition plan resulted in overfeeding.  Maybe I have to accept that I’ve lost enough weight that 400 calories of gels and about 400 calories of Gatorade is too much in 3 hours of moderate cycling, but that seems wrong as well.

For right now, I’m putting a pin in all that and moving forward with offseason.  Now that my first zero week is done, and I have two working knees again (thank god), I’ve got goals.  Because how can I relax without things to accomplish, right?

Hopefully I still enjoy taking silly selfies after the diet derailing gauntlet of the holidays + offseason…

The scale has yet to freak me out.  So far, I haven’t gained weight by sitting on the couch, eating junk food, and drinking whiskey.  However, I know that this is untenable.  This week, I reintroduce the normal diet of vegetables and fruit and lean proteins and nuts and whole grains and minimize the crap (read: give up most of the junk food but probably only about 25% less whiskey).  Next week I start tracking again and try to stop imbibing like a frat boy.  It’s okay if I don’t lose weight during the holidays, but if I’m regularly tipping the scales above 170 at any point, I need to get that ish in check RIGHT NOW.  Next year I’d like to make the big push to get down to for my for realsies, actual #projectraceweight weight of 150, but I’m not daft enough to start that project in earnest in November. 

I need to let my body heal.  Saturday, when I woke up, I noticed my left heel, the perpetually cranky one that seemed to REALLY ENJOY running down those steep hills in Waco, and my right ankle, the one I twisted falling down because I am a klutz, hurt.  While that sucks, it also meant my knee was finally not the overwhelming, all consuming pain that it was for the five days previous, overshadowing everything else.  My ultimate goal is to slide into January 2019 completely, totally, 100% healthy, so that looks like a lot of REST, getting back to walking every day, stretching and rolling, some rehab and strengthening, good food and plenty of hydration, taking the anti-inflammatory stuff like turmeric, and being very conservative about when and how I resume the swimming, biking, running, and weight lifting.

When the time comes to resume the lifting of heavy things, my offseason goal is this: an unassisted pullup.  I can sort of muscle one up by jumping halfway up on my bar at home but it definitely doesn’t count.  I’m interested to get to a more stable bar at the gym to see if I can do one with a kip, which also doesn’t count but is closer, and to check out the assisted machine and see how little weight I can manage there.  How this helps me with triathlon, I have no idea.  It just seems like a fun little distraction that also hinges on me not gaining any weight (since I have to lift every ounce of me that exists). And also, who doesn’t pass a bar-shaped object like a pipe or a door jam and have the first instinct to do a pullup as they pass it?  Just me? Heh.

Once it is time to do so, I plan to make all swimming, biking, and running about pleasure and adventure vs any sort of training plan.  My schedule is blank and to be written spontaneously until at least mid-December.

Fun fact: it took me about 5 minutes to remember the word I was looking for was spontaneous.  So, you’ll have that.

I also have other, non-sport or weight related goals.

While I’m doing a CRACKING job at procrastinating, I need to get back to editing my book, and resist the urge to rewrite the whole thing or scrap it and write some sci fi that isn’t extremely raw and personal instead. 

I want to continue to work on self-promotion and becoming comfortable with sharing stuff like I will in said book by posting personal stories on social media with a level of writing that makes me feel proud, not just dashing off a handful of words and throwing them at the screen as has been my habit for a multitude of years. 

I want to keep my eye out for some brand ambassador applications (’tis the season) and apply.  It’s been fun to rep Wattage Cottage, and I hope to continue if she’ll have me again, but I have a few other non-competing brands I like a lot that would compliment that.

I’d like to progress a little in my photography, which for right now, honestly means study versus action.  I think I have a pretty decent eye for it, and I’m willing to do a lot to get the shot, but I think I need more KNOWLEDGE.  I need to learn my camera and all it’s myriad settings inside and out.  I need to learn what the heck I’d use a wide angle lens for successfully.  I need to learn how all the talented nature photographers I follow on Instagram get those amazing shots that give me all the wanderlust feels.  I also need to learn my editing tools a little better and editing conventions in general instead of winging it, and find out if I want to make the jump to better programs like Lightroom.  This will start with online research but might also progress to finding an actual class somewhere with an actual person to be my Obi-Wan.

It’s video game season.  I’m looking forward to having the oomph to play interactive things in my downtime instead of just staring passively at Netflix.  I have no specific goals beyond just PLAY MORE.

I’m sure other things will come into play as I embrace offseason, but I’m looking forward to indulging in my other hobbies and having the freedom to do stuff like pop by a friends house on Friday night with dinner and see family and go to Six Flags on a Saturday without twenty years of notice and expert-level schedule juggling to make it happen.

While I still mourn the death of the season, I’m also excited to shed my supersuit (what? it’s spandex…) for a while and just be mild mannered me.

Wacky Waco 70.3

I’ve been hesitating writing this one, and almost convinced myself to just copy my social media posts over here and phone it in, but I do look back at this stuff for posterity, so rock and roll, let’s do this.

The week of the race was probably one of the most hellaciously hectic – not just the “to do” list, but I had to be ON a lot with filming, live streaming, and other things going on in work and life.  The problem for me sometimes is not being ON (I live for that stuff), but turning OFF after.  On the week where sleep matters A LOT, I spent a lot of nights awake thinking all the things, which is SO abnormal for me.

Thankfully, I had the headspace to take a little time off work Friday and arrive in Waco in the late afternoon (versus Saturday like we had originally planned), and all went smoothly with the trip up.  Once I got to athlete check in and did all the pre-race things, this is what I had to say:

I’ve been fretting all day, all week, heck, all month about various and sundry things both related and not related to this race. At one point, I questioned, is this what ACTUALLY losing your mind feels like? Are THEY going to find out and whisk me away to the funny farm?

After the comedy of errors which was this week, I hoped I hadn’t spent all the mental energy I had left for the race. My cup of give-a-crap hath runneth dry mid-race before, and folks, it’s not pretty. On the drive up, thankfully, things pivoted. I enjoyed conversation and actually peeping that big, beautiful, bright ball in the sky. Oh sun, I have missed you so. Never stray for so long.

When I saw the finish line today, that familiar arch, I smiled. The spark is still there. I’m pretty certain there’s still some poetry left. Forget all that fast flowing freeeezing water with debris we’re supposed to be swimming in. Never mind that race day is twenty degrees warmer than yesterday. I’m ready to do battle on Sunday, once more, with feeling, with whatever course the race director lays out before us.

And, of course, I’m enjoying the opportunity to eat all the things. That is partially why we endure, to order something from the BBQ truck called The Terminator guilt free, right? ?

It was a bit of a brave face at the time, I will admit – but I was there, I was going to race whatever course was deemed appropriate, and that was that.  I don’t back down.  I’m not a quitter, even if the notion flits through my mind occasionally.

I got the best night of sleep all week in the camper, and woke the next day naturally to do the rest of the race prep things.  We went on a test ride, dropped off our bikes, attended a race briefing to find the swim cancelled (about 10% boo since I’ve been swimming well lately, and 90% yay because that water looked VERY UNSAFE).  The only thing I botched a little was that I ate my lunch (turkey bacon guac bagel sandwich) around 4pm instead of at a reasonable hour, but followed up with dinner (chicken, potatoes, and some veggies and hummus) quickly and the calories got in as they were supposed to.  I snacked a little more than normal and was probably about 2200-2500 calories, which is a lot more that I’d take in on a rest day, but a nice surplus to start the race in the morning.

I ended the day with this thought:

While I adore fine food and drink, being pampered, and penthouse views, there’s nothing quite so peaceful as waking up in the camper. Even if the situation at hand involves all the mosquitoes, one shower for the whole camp, and the illustrious “pee bucket”, being outdoors stills my soul. Best night of sleep and the most relaxed I’ve felt all week. I’m feeling the proper amount of nerv-cited butterflies fluttering around inside.

I haven’t been able to visualize this one yet. Cozumel, I pictured it clearly months in advance. This race has remained hazy. Of course I have a race plan, I just haven’t really been able to transport myself there mentally. Now, I’m pretty sure I know why.

A week ago, one course was set. Two days ago, it was altered to a point to point swim through rapids and obstacles, and the bike course changed as well. As of this morning, the run course has changed, and the swim was scrapped. Instead of kicking off the age group racers in the first wave of the swim at about 7:30, I’ll be hopping on my bike in the middle of the fray around 9am. That’s ok. I get to chase. I love the hunt.

While there are some minor logistical adjustments with gear and nutrition to consider, the overall plan for tomorrow is unchanged: bike with my head, run with my heart.

I slept a little fitfully that evening, but it was typical pre-race.  Luckily, with the swim cancelled, we did not have an early wakeup call, and rolled into transition around 7am, with plenty of time before the race to get set up.  I had my “Courage and Confidence” playlist on repeat, and actually didn’t take my headphones off until about 5 minutes before we queued up (around 8:40am).  It was nice to hide and listen to Willy Wonka about 6379 times. 

Bike:

At first, the bike course was incredibly narrow and crowded and that made me a little cranky, but I figured it was the best they could do with the situation at hand.  I wasn’t going to do unsafe things to keep my power or speed up, so I knew early on that the bike wasn’t where I was going to kill it this race.  The idea of staying draft legal (6 bike lengths) in this situation was laughable – it was just impossible.  I did my best to not hide behind anyone for too long but I’ll admit that there was no way I was technically legal for at least the first quarter of the race.

Once it got clearer, I found that I was maintaining the 150W average I wanted to (though the plan wasn’t to find it so early) with absolutely no effort, so I went with it.  I also found that I LOVED this bike course.  It had enough elevation changes to keep my legs fresher than Cozumel without any killer climbs – lots of rollers – which I just adore.   While other people complained about the chipseal on the country roads, to me, it just felt like home, like riding out at Pflugerville or Kerrville. 

About mile 40, I felt some deep fatigue/minor cramping in my lower back and inner thighs.  I’m frustrated about this, I don’t know why this has happened in both my races when my training rides were pretty spectacular.  In practice, I took less salt and nutrition in wayyyyy hotter conditions and my rides went by in a blink of the eye.  My power dropped steadily but I stuck with the pace.  I’m proud that I rode REALLY evenly – I stayed between 18-18.7 mph the entire time.  My goal was to push the last hour to try to come in under 3 hours, but with the threat of cramping looming fiercely, I played it a little more conservative.

Bike time: 3:06:03.  I would have been about 3:04 and change, but I had to stop and pee early on and that took about 90 seconds.  This is right about what I did at Coz time-wise and power average, but I enjoyed this course MUCH more and smiled through it instead of being angry (first at others, then at myself) the whole time.

Transition:

The chute was crowded and muddy, and everyone in front of me was walking their bikes so I did too.  My legs just didn’t have it in them to run through the mud in my bike shoes (read: still on the edge of cramping).  I sat to put on my shoes and talked to people next to me.  I could have been a little more expedient, but I honestly just didn’t care right about then.  Once I got up, running felt okay so I did that, heading out under the arch, wondering what the run would hold.

Transition time:  5:29.  Meh.  I’m not impressed with this but I can’t hate myself for it either.

Run:

My legs felt oddly okay, so I just tried to pace myself at that 10-something minute mile and hoped for the best.  Quickly, I knew it wasn’t going to be my day.  I had followed my nutrition plan exactly on the bike (2xcaff gels, 1 pack of spearmint blocks, 4 salt pills, 2 303s after I started cramping, and probably about 3 bottles of gatorade).  However, within the first mile of the run, I started feeling AWFUL.  Overfull.  Nauseous.  I tried to hold it together, sometimes that fixes itself, but I walked the first aid station and could only take in water.  Not a good start.

Then, I saw Zliten, and he had one communication for me as we crossed paths, “No shame in walking the hill” and then “oh yeah, love you!”.  Then, when I got to the hill, just the bottom looking up, I shouted, “OH HELL NAW!”.  In that moment, the switch in my head flipped from “shooting for a PR” to “maybe let’s survive this and resist the urge to turn in my chip at each aid station I pass”.  While I will give the Cameron Park area props for being BEAUTIFUL, it was so hilly.  They rerouted part of the run there, which added extra elevation, and not just a little bit, the kind of hills you maintain running heart rate walking up at 18 minute mile pace and bust up your quads running down.

I’ll be honest, I sulked a lot of the first lap and walked a lot (I ran the downhills- that’s about it – not even the flats after mile 2), while also visiting at least five different porta potties to try and take care of business out of one end or the other, and figure out how to make my revolting digestive system feel better.  I could not even fathom eating anything solid (I took ZERO gels or blocks in over the course of the run), but after a while I found I tolerated gatorade and the coke was actually settling my stomach, so I stuck with that so I could at least get SOME calories in.

Finally, I got my shit together on the second lap.  I stopped hitting the porta potty at every aid station even though I still felt like I could use it the whole race.  I figured whatever happened, happened, I was beyond giving a flying fig.  I established a 100 step run/100 step walk cycle, except at aid stations and the hills (which I walked).  Once I finished up the stupid hilly section (which I said goodbye forever to – because I don’t think I plan to do this race again), I started pushing myself to increase my run cycles to 200, then 300, then 400.  I had entirely lost my internal monologue and I had a few people call me out and ask me what the heck I was counting.  Oops.  At least I was mostly passing people by that point.

My last three miles were 12:10 (a fair amount of walking), 11:24 (just a little walking), and 10:17 (I think I walked once for 100 steps), so my RUNNING was on point, I just couldn’t keep it up for that long.

Once I realized that I was close to a 3 hour run, I wasn’t willing to let that time tick over.  I’ve only run over 3 hours in a half Ironman once and it was in 2013, after being injured and having a 5 week cycle to go from being unable to walk to racing hot and hilly BSLT 70.3.  Surely, I could do better than that during the best season of my life.

Run time: 2:58:37.  Spoilers: I beat it.  But it took a pretty good physical and mental push at the end to overcome the fuckery of the rest of the run.  I’m happy I was finally able to latch onto a goal and conquer it, but gosh, it came so late in the day.  A few days out, I feel less content with this than I did after the race.  I think on Sunday I was just happy to be done, both with the race and the season, but now I have a different perspective.  Now, my sentiments about the run go something more like “fuck that race, fuck that course, fuck my stupid malfunctioning body, fuck my weak ass brain, fuck that day in particular”.  If I raced with my heart, it was kind of like this. I could have been in a better situation, but I also could have handled my cards I was dealt a little better, especially in the first lap.

Total time: 6:10:09.  Nowhere near the 5:30 I was hoping to beat, which was kind of unrealistic with that stupid run course, but I could have gotten closer if I tried a little harder and gave up a little less at some points.

My face at the finish.  Big difference in how I felt at the finish line vs Cozumel.

Lest you think I am hating everything about the race, let me talk about the awesome parts.  As I said, I was a pretty big fan of the bike course.  I got to camp, which is always a bonus!  We raced with a billion people we knew, both on Bicycle Sport Shop team and also Wattage Brigade.  The town came out in force to support us.  I’m so happy they made the call to cancel the swim early, versus having us out in transition at 5am lugging gear and wetsuits, wondering if it would happen.  It was a well done race for an inaugural one.  It just wasn’t my race, and it probably will never be with that ridiculous run, and that’s totally okay.

My heart goes to the long stuff.  I love the training.  Somehow it feels more epic and heroic to come into the finish line 6 hours later instead of under 60 minutes.  I love the idea at someday being able to podium here like I can at sprints, but my head now knows its unrealistic without a BIG change in my strength, my weight, and my brain.  While that’s a bit of a downer, it’s also enough to already make me hungry to tear shit up next season.

That is, after a NICE long winters nap where the only requirements on the schedule is lifting heavy shit a few times a week.  Ah, offseason.  I am here, finally.  Embrace me with your arms of blissful recovery!

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