Adjusted Reality

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

Tag: triathlon (Page 1 of 26)

Earning the right to run

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It’s time to re-earn my right to run.

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

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

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

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

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

January wrap up, February goals

January is my least favorite month.  And now it’s over!  Woohoo!

Both nacho cat and I are thrilled about this.

I spent some time thinking about it and while the cold kind of sucks, and it’s depressing that it’s dark all the time AND there’s no Christmas light to brighten it up, the real bummer is the allergies.  January is a month where you just have to stay inside a lot and that’s kind of against my nature.

However, there are opportunities that come with the cold and the dark and the inside that I don’t get to capitalize on all year.  Let’s call them the silver lining, because they’re still under the rain clouds, but if nothing else, January and February feel unique.  And that’s something.

I went a little gung ho with goals last month, even trying to moderate, and I definitely realized the need to back the eff up on some of them.  I definitely underestimated how crispy I was from the last two months of remodel and all the other DOING THINGS last year.  January was a bit of a forced reset in some aspects, and some nonsense wrapped up and it actually felt pretty good.

Sporty Stuff:

These feet are moving faster than they have in quite a while.  Thank you speedwork.

I’ve covered this a lot.

I had a very short but fairly successful cycle training for 3M, breaking through some barriers.

Then, I had a really rough day where blisters, nagging injuries, and my digestive system decided to undermine my chance at a PR at 3M.

The next week, I had a pretty solid day at the Indoor Tri.

This weekend I will ride my bike much longer than I am trained for and call it the end of this weird little winter mini-season and start the process towards being a well-built sprint triathlete.

I’ve detailed my frustrations in previous posts, so let me focus on my wins:

  • I think I’ve figured out what my left knee/heel/ankle issue is (mildly collapsing arches) and the solution is pretty easy and apparent – my insoles.  I’ve worn them to walk around in since I got them and they’ve been comfortable and I’ve felt way better.
  • I have found some momentum (not perfection, but getting there) in proper planning and sticking to it.  If I make sane, and specific plans, I tend to follow them.  I may have to accept that giving myself a bunch of slack right now is asking for me to hang myself (not literally).
  • While I haven’t been perfect, I have re-established some good habits with stretching (and shoulder rehab – whatever is crunchy in there is getting better).  I think spending the 5-10 minutes doing something good for myself almost every day is worth it.
  • I’ve made it to this point, even with some hiccups along the way, extremely excited to start building for 2018 spring and fall seasons!

This month is all about going back to foundations.  I have a few goals:

  • 3x week heavy strength training for the next 4-6 weeks.  This is priority number one.  I’m going to pump (clap) ME up.
  • 3x week 30-60 mins cardio.  While I’m going to play the intensity a little by ear depending on how the lifting is going, I want to continue to keep a little speedwork in my life and not lose the gains I’ve made with remembering how to push myself on the run.
  • Continue to stretch and roll and boots and shoulder rehab on the daily.  Get used to my insoles on shorter runs.
  • Make a structured training plan through the end of September (Cozumel 70.3).  Try to narrow down what races I actually want to do (I could race every weekend from now until then if I wanted…) and plan exactly when I’ll take a small break in the middle.

Nutrition:

The only possible thing you can eat on a day that your car pees and freezes is pho.  Them’s the rules.

It’s been a month of baby steps.

I tracked my food for about 18 days and fell off the wagon near 3M and haven’t yet started again.  I can put up some excuses but I just didn’t do it and I’ll own it.  Without even finishing tracking this month and without analyzing what I did track, I know I ate probably a little too much for my activity level and also ate stuff that was lower quality than I should.  But, the holiday leftover treats are finally making its way out of our fridge and pantry and I’m not replacing them.

I made some steps to track my alcohol intake, but like a dummy, I forgot to get my own bottle of vodka and because I shared it, I have no idea when I ran out of what I intended, but I’m pretty sure I went over.  However, the win here is that we’re back to our normal FREQUENCY of enjoying a cocktail (1-2 times a week max) and it’s starting to feel normal again instead of a drag.

February is about quantification.  I’m not going to make a bunch of crazy rules that nitpick specific things like I can only have whiskey between 7-9pm on a Wednesday or I can only have a splurge meal on Saturday afternoons or whatever.  I know how this works and I know how to succeed, it’s just, like, DOING it, and being consistent.

  • Track all my food starting Feb 5th.  Aim for roughly 1600-1800 calories per day (yes even on weekends).
  • Analyze diet quality once a week.  Keep the average over 20.

This should simultaneously work to control my portions, limit alcohol, sweets, and refined grains, while pushing good quality food.

Life and Stuff:

Random days off because your city is frozen (and has no infrastructure to fix it) make for some awesome relaxing productive happy fun times.

Here’s a funny thing – when you’re not knee deep in a giant project, training is steady but pretty light, and you’re in town the whole month… you can accomplish a lot without feeling overwhelmed!  Here are things that I did:

I finished one chapter of my book.  Chapter 7, if you will.  I’m not 100% happy with it and I know it needs a lot of revision but it was one of the toughest yet to muscle through and I did it and I’ll fix it when I do my second pass.

Christmas stuff is put away.  Sadface.  At least I have my disco kitchen to make me happy year round.

The garage is half done.  It was either spend the time shoving shit in random places so we could get the second car back in or actually take time to organize and clean some things out and do it right the first time.  So we’re doing the latter, and we’ll finish the job next weekend.

I think I did a decent job at relaxing this month and spending some actual downtime slacking.  It’s much easier when it’s cold outside and/or the air is trying to kill you to not want to adventure and DO ALL THE THINGS.  Like I said, this season is a great opportunity to hide inside and not feel bad that I’m missing all the beautiful weather.  Feeling a constant itch in my eyes and tension in my sinuses does not nice weather make, no matter if it’s actually in the 60s or 70s outside. 😛

I have really really really gotten into a few games again and it feels nice (and actually quite peaceful) to spend some time actually playing video games.  I mean, it is my livelihood…  Hopefully my left leg continues on it’s healing path and I can feasibly play some Dance Dance Revolution soon for recreation!

There’s some sort of mental block I’m having with movies.  I did two of them and felt ridiculous.   I think I may want to do LESS of them, but maybe get myself set up with the webcam in front of my computer and actually plan out what I’m going to say and talk about something useful.

I made a necklace and two pairs of earrings!  I had brief thoughts of setting up an Etsy store to sell the earrings (the necklaces are a labor of love and too much work to be cost effective to sell).  I still might, because the idea of selling a handful of them and paying for all the money I’ve sank into the hobby for ten years is intriguing, but the last thing I want to do right now is to make something I’m having fun with into an obligation.  I think once I teach myself a little more about marketing, it might be a nice, low risk thing to practice selling.

I read Millionaire Fastlane as one of my non-fiction books this month.  The guy is a little rough around the edges, but a lot of the things in his book resonated with me.  He addressed some things that have felt icky or squishy or weird to me about starting a business and I feel like I have just a little more focus on at least what I need to learn.  I definitely have more to say on this later, but I’m really happy I picked this one to read.

I also read a very badly written book geared toward newbie triathlon (badly written both in style/editing and also some of the advice was totally bunk) that I won’t bother mentioning much about.  However, it made me realize that really and truly any Joe Schmo can write and publish a book.  It IS possible for me.  And I guarantee mine will be better (I think it probably is already more coherent already as a first unfinished draft), so it won’t be the absolute worst book in the world!

What’s on tap for February?

  • Finish picking up and organizing the garage so it’s back to normal with two cars in it and everything stored away properly.
  • Organize the pantry.  We didn’t do this over Christmas break like normal and it’s definitely in need of about 1-2 hours of love.
  • One more chapter in my book.  While this schedule means I won’t have it done by my birthday, I don’t want to force it to the point of burnout to make some arbitrary deadline.  If I’m so inspired, I’ll write more.  Three more to go!
  • Read a business book and read a sporty non-fiction book.
  • Make one 3-5 minute one-take live video about… something.  Let’s start small here.
  • Remember to do fun things that aren’t just dorking on social media like playing games, making jewelry, maybe break the paints out and get some canvases.
  • On a day in which the air is not trying to kill me an it’s nice outside, go for a cruiser bike adventure day.

I’m looking forward to February.  From this side of it, it looks calm.  Peaceful.  Like a chance to recharge my batteries and reset to kick ass through the rest of the year.  That seems like a breath of fresh air, even if the pollen in said air is trying to kill me…

Lifetime Indoor Tri

Sunday, I found myself up at 3:30am.

While the reason for the ridiculous time was actually allergies, it wasn’t too far off from my 5am alarm for the Lifetime Indoor Tri.  While it was fairly inconvenient timing – I really should have spent the weekend logging more saddle time and also getting prepped for camping next weekend – I love this stupid little race and I couldn’t say no when Zliten gave me the puppy dog eyes to sign up.

Funny thing – on the way into work Monday, he was like, “wow, I didn’t realize how much this would disrupt our week”, and then, thankfully, “I see what you were saying…” because, yeah, I did complain about it.  However, even given the alternative, I’m still glad I did it.  It’s a great opportunity to start chipping away at the bottom of the well of the pain cave to make it deeper for the races that actually matter later in the year.

I did more of the things right than I did last week.  I ate a full sunbutter and honey sandwich, I had a few caffeinated beans and my earl grey tea (hot).  I also woke up in enough time (barely) to use the restroom enough so my stomach was clear before the race (grumble grumble maybe I do need to set my alarm earlier grumble grumble).  I went into the race feeling probably just the right amount of pressure – I wanted to do well and I knew I had a chance to podium, but it wasn’t like… the most important thing in the world.

Swim:

I slipped into the water and found a song that didn’t suck on my swimp3 player and was actually longer than the 10 minutes I was going to swim, and the countdown started… 3, 2, 1, and I pushed off the wall.

I am a steady pace swimmer, I’m not one to sprint out of the gate, and I saw my husband, who was sharing a lane with me, pull ahead.  I knew we had different swim styles, and the last thing I wanted to do was race him head to head getting in each other’s way, so I actually dropped back a little and drafted off him for the first half.  He started to slow, so I passed him and offered up my feet to draft on – I think he hung on for a while but by the end I was approximately half a lap ahead of him (though since he made it halfway we both got credit for our 19 lengths).

19 lengths (475m) in 10 mins (5/17 open women)

Exactly the same as last year.  Considering how different this pace is from my normal swim at Pure’s pool (which is admittedly a little short), I think their pool is a little bit longer than 25m.  Though, I’ll never know.  Last year I was definitely in better swim shape at this point, so I will take it.  Could I have pushed harder and maybe eeked out another half or full lap?  Probably, but I always see my swim as my warmup, and honestly, anything I gain by pushing really really hard and redlining on this leg generally counts against either my transition or bike.  So, I don’t.

That’s not to say that I don’t plan to work on my swim, or work on efforts in practice that would be considered finding my edge… but that’s not where I need to be in racing.  In non-drafting triathlon, there’s not a huge advantage to coming out of the water in the first pack so I’ll continue to swim uncomfortably comfortable and save the puke-worthy efforts for later in the race.

Bike:

Having 10 minutes to transition always seems like such a luxury until you actually have to manage it.  I finished at the far end of the pool so making my way back took probably a minute.  Then, I put on my bibs and jersey and grabbed a bag I had put together with all the rest of the crap I needed (good job, past me, that was helpful), and got to the cycle studio quickly.  However, I didn’t do a great job at making sure it was all packed efficiently (bad job, past me) and after fumbling with my stuff I was on the bike and pedaling just in time.

This level of effort always surprises me this early in the year.  I’ve not prepared specifically for a sustained 30 minutes of pain – I’ve been either riding easy to recover during half marathon training or doing shorter (1-4 minute) intervals.  I had a number I wanted to see (170-180 watts), though I had a coin flip in my head whether that was the right one, and I knew the effort would sort itself out eventually.  Watts don’t lie when pitted against level of effort.

Ten minutes in, I wanted the watts to lie to me a little.  I was holding in the low 160s, which was not *terrible* considering I don’t those bike’s sensors calibrations from a hole in the ground, and the effort felt like “kill me noawwww” but not “I’m dead”.  I did take 15-20 seconds every few minutes near the end to get out of the saddle and jog, dropping my watts a little, but I had to do something to break up the seemingly never ending UNCOMFORT.

Just like tempo runs, FTP testing/long intervals are my least favorite bikes.  Which means I need to do more of them.  The best way for me to force myself to do more of them is to go to cycle class and schedule them in the program and also maybe do some TT bike racing if I can find such a thing that fits in with the sprint-triathalon-a-palooza I plan to do this spring.

10.1 miles in 30 minutes (20.2 mph) (3/17 open women)

Considering that I was all bike all the time at this point last year, and in the last few months my cycling has been sporadic and highly recreational, I’ll take the .2 mph in reduction from last year.  Things are looking good for when I actually start digging into getting fit for a short and painful sprint triathlon bike split this spring.

Here’s the painful part, I crunched the numbers and if I would have pushed harder (10.4 like I did last year), I would have ended up 3rd overall.  It’s a great confirmation that it’s. all. about. the. bike.

Run:

Again, five minutes to walk next door and find a treadmill sounds luxurious, but I decided to change out of my jersey (on the gym floor, I am the opposite of modest) and futz with my shoes a bit and music and then OMG all of a sudden it was 3, 2, 1… GO!

I was super excited to crush this 20 minute run because I had been training for this – all the intervals I’ve run in the last six weeks may not have necessarily paid off for the half marathon, but surely it would help me here, right?  I had wide eyed dreams of holding some 8 minute mile pace because I actually have some experience at that this year.

However, I forgot about the whole “off the really hard bike” part of triathlon.  It’s been a while.  My goal was to start with low-9 minute miles and see how quickly I could get into the 8s.  My legs had other plans and felt incredibly noodle-y off the bike and that was a hard NO out of the gate.

Luckily, 10 minutes/mile felt fairly relaxed, so I got my bearings there and quickly found the oomph to press the UP button on the treadmill speed a few times until it felt ROUGH around 6.3.  I stuck with it.  My heart rate wasn’t pegged yet (it was high 160s, low 170s, I know I have a little more before I hit my ceiling), but my legs just felt like lead and it was taking all my concentration to keep them turning over fast enough to stay on the treadmill.

I spent more time than I wanted to in those mid-9 minute miles because I barely felt like I was hanging on, but then I found something else with about 5 minutes to go and picked up the pace.  I finished strong and improved on last year.

2.13 miles in 20 minutes (9:20/mile) (7/17 open women)

While this is confirmation that my run still needs work and is still my lowest ranking in the disciplines, it’s getting better.

I’m really happy with my speedwork allowing me to dig deep and not surrender here. A scant .05 more in 20 minutes seems like an incremental gain, but I will take it.  I think what I’m more proud of is the process.  I felt the uncomfortable part of the run where I wasn’t sure I could hang on AND I DID.

I need to do that and feel that feeling a million more times over the course of this year and realize that I’ve got more in there than I realize, I just have to get messy and tap into the uncomfortable place, and frankly, blow the hell up a few times to find the line.  Not quit because my brain says it’s hard.  Not quit because a stupid injury is nagging at me (though obvs. I need to take care of these things).  No, I need to find the point of being crumpled up on the side of the road dry heaving and barely able to stand.  Only then can I *really* know where the line is.  For the last few years I’ve been working on finding the endurance line which is actually really effing far given a reasonable pace and proper training.  Now I’ve got the need for speed.

2018 is going to be the year of HANGING THE F%#K ON.  I’ve been whining about my speed for years, but I haven’t been willing to do anything about it.  Why?  Because that work isn’t sexy and it’s really brutal.  It’s thrilling to go through the process of doing your first Ironman.  Century bike rides!  Twenty mile runs!  You look accomplished as f#&k on the instagrams.

The kind of work I’ll be doing this year will look totally weak in comparison.  Taking 20 seconds of a 5k PR, hell, finding my 5k PR again from many years ago, these things don’t smack of the heroic.  But, they are the horses that I’m choosing to chase down this year in the pursuit of race podiums.  The end result is sexy.  But the work to get there totally isn’t.  Gotta keep my eyes on the prize though!

Overall – I ended up 6/17 in the open women’s division.  If I was 2 years older, I would have ended up 3rd in masters and if I would have pushed harder on the bike…. yeah.  A little disappointed at the result but not at the process so I’ll move on and take it as fuel for the fire to train harder for the races that really matter in the spring.

Next up in the crazy winter race-a-palooza, the ill-advised six hour bike race.  I can’t lie, I would love to see a podium here (but certainly don’t expect it) and depending on who and what (aka – my brain and legs) shows up, could either be a hilarious notion or a distinct possibility.

What I did on my winter vacation + January goals

While this might contradict my 2018 resolution to post more interesting stuff, it’s time for a recap and my January plans!

So festive the last day before break.  Can’t believe that was less than a month ago.  So many adventures since then!

December was a welcome break from routine.  The 8th was my last day of work for the year, and the next day, I hopped a plane to Bonaire for a week.  Then, I had five days at home by myself, and since where I was on holiday was two hours ahead, I was naturally up at 7:30-8 most mornings without an alarm (it was nice for the week it lasted).  I spent the days working on my book, getting the house back in order with the kitchen remodel explosion and the vacation luggage explosion, wrapping presents, editing vacation photos, and getting in my first week of actual 3M training.

I did take one day and go on a bike adventure (blog post forthcoming) from 8 am to 6 pm, but for the most part, I was actively productive with projects because I figured the next week wouldn’t lend itself to that sort of focused work (which it didn’t).

The holidays were fantastic – we celebrated with family on the 23rd and had a decadent meal of lasagna, brisket, so many side dishes, and way too many deserts. There were fun presents, card games, and fun times.  Then, we had our Christmas Eve tradition with the neighbors, which involves a double digit run first to mitigate the indulgences of past and future, Din Ho family style food, a trip to the bar next door, and hanging out all evening watching random Christmas movies and having festive cocktails.  With all this going on, we waited until the actual day to open most of our own presents, and holed up on the couch all day.  It was a perfect three days.

The next week felt like errand and kitchen central – we spent a lot of the daytime hours either tracking down tile or running errands or working in the kitchen, though we did make time at night to see the new Star Wars movie (I loved it), and marathon some shows and movies on Netflix and play video games.  Friday, I wrote a choose your own adventure story, and after some MOAR errands, we ended up at a random Indian/BBQ place that took forever and had a weird dance class going on at the same time… but the food was so amazing once we got it, I’ll give it another try once they have some time to settle in (the place is very new).

Zliten was getting a little despondent about his winter break being full of crap to do, so I declared Saturday HIS DAY and let him choose whatever we did (within reason, no hopping planes back to Bonaire and we had to run the next day).  Sadly, the plumbing broke in the kitchen so the first thing on his day was fixing that, but that was done in a jiffy after YET ANOTHER trip for him to Lowes  Then, we went on a bike adventure but it got cold quickly, so it ended up just being a ride to get Jinya ramen the long way.  We holed up the rest of the day and played video games and watched TV and I said I owed him a day of his own when it was nicer.

Bike love while biking with my love!

And, on the last day of December, we put the finishing touches on our kitchen, and I spent spending 90 minutes scraping paint off the floor, and then called it officially done!  I may have been procrastinating a 2 hour run in the feels-like-20s, but I saw enough people on social media doing their own runs in that or colder so I bucked up and went outside and it wasn’t bad at all!  Since 2018 is about HTFU’ing, it was a nice way to ring in the new year.  And so was our 80’s PJ party (which is why I wrote the choose your own adventure – it was our party game!)

Here were my specific December goals:

Build up my run miles and start incorporating a little speed 1-2 times a week.  YEP.  I’m on about 20 miles per week now, with one speedwork session, one easier run with a race pace mile in the middle, and one long run.

Resume strength training NOPE.  I was so sore the first week of running I decided this needed to wait.  I started this week.

Resume tracking negative diet quality – NOPE.  Maybe I paid the price for this because the scale is fairly unkind this week, but I needed to let go a bit.  This month is the time for tracking again.

Write four chapters in my book – MOSTLY YEP.  I got to about 3.25.  I lost steam and then never had a chance to spend focused hours on it while Zliten was home with me.  I’m really happy with the progress I made, though!

Yes, I’ll keep posting this picture forever because OMG my kitchen is done and looks great!!!

Finish the kitchen – YEP! There is one little piece of trim left, but we’ll do that… later.  Someday.  I’m at the point where it’s now my kitchen, and I don’t have to work on it for a month or a year or a lifetime.  Whew!

Write a personal mission statement.  YEP!  New years resolutions are great timing for that one.

Travel lightly.  YEP!  I was able to put all my clothes and scuba gear into one big bag that weighs just slightly less than 50 lbs.  With my normal backpack, and one carry on split with Zliten with our camera equipment, scuba trips will be just fine with one checked bag each.

Take my annual FB/Twitter break.  MOSTLY.  This didn’t stress me out as much as the end of 2016 post election, but I made sure to keep myself logged out on my phone of social networks besides Instagram and that was all I really needed.

Play Games!  YEP!  More than any month so far, and it’s carrying into January nicely.

Catch up on my reading.  YEP!  Done with Carl Sagan (picked up at the end but the middle was a slog), 7 Habits (great read that influenced some of my NY resolutions), Bedtime Stories for Triathletes (motivational but a little disjointed), and Runner’s World – Your Best Stride (which has influenced my training, stretching, and actually made me start regularly doing drills – more next week).

Relax.  I actually think I kind of sucked at this one.  I only had two of my 24 days where I didn’t do anything productive.  I’m happy with what I accomplished, but I feel like I need some downtime after my downtime!  January is for rest and recovery and some days of just doing effing nothing above and beyond the normal.

It’s a new year so lets sparkle like unicorns, bleaches!

So, January.  This is usually the month where I go mega-maniaic on goals and stuff.  The motivation is there, but there’s also the nagging in my brain reminding me that I just finished a kitchen remodel and did A LOT OF SHIT in the last few months.  So, I’m trying to temper my enthusiasm with kindness to myself and a dose of reality.

January Training:

Let me first tell you a story.  Tuesday, I had some quarter mile repeats on the schedule after work.  Outside, it was in the 20s and icy, and I’m not going to risk running on that.  There were so many accidents that literally every road to my gym was at a standstill.  At home, I have a treadmill that tries to buck me off when I go faster than 9 minute miles.  This was a huge test of my resolution as an athlete to HTFU because I had roadblocks on every path.

However, there is HTFU’ing within reason.  Running outside in icy weather when I don’t have the shoes for it is madness.  Waiting in traffic for 1-2 hours to get a mile down the street is sheer lunacy.  I opted to trade Thursday’s slightly easier (4 mile with 1 at race pace) run and brave Danger Treadmill (who only tried to kill me once during the race pace mile).  While it’s not exactly EVERYTHING AS PLANNED WHEN ITS PLANNED, this wasn’t a lack of motivation.  This wasn’t me being lazy.  The universe put up enough road blocks that I had to change my plan.

Since I haven’t talked about it much, the last two weeks have been successful but a little rough getting back into being a runner.  My first speed workout, I was barely able to pull 400s under 9 minute miles.  Last week, I ran my fastest 400m repeat at 7:30 min/mile pace.  I have to remember that it doesn’t take long for my leg turnover to come back, it does take pushing through being uncomfortable for a while to get there though.

Proof I HTFU’d in the below freezing and feels like 20s on NYE for 11 miles.  Add night + icy and I’m out because I don’t want to FOMA (fall on my arse).

Week 1 (Dec 18):

  • 18 miles running – 1 speed (5) , 1 easy w/race pace mile (3), 1 long (10)
  • 56 miles cycling
  • 1 swim (because it was 75 degrees out and I had to)
  • 8 hours total

Week 2 (Dec 25):

  • 19.5 mile running – 1 speed (5.5), 1 easy w/race pace mile (3), 1 long (11)
  • 20.5 miles cycling
  • 5.25 hours total

So, here’s the plan for Week 3 of 3M training (Jan 1):

  • 22 miles running – 1 speed (6), 1 easy w/race pace mile (4), 1 long (12)
  • ~20 miles cycling
  • 2 light weights sessions (Oiselle dozen or similar)

Each run is also prefaced with a dynamic warmup and drills that I will talk about more in another post.

Week 4 will be similar, with a shorter, faster long run (8 with 5 at race effort).  Week 5 will be some short speed workouts, and then I’ll see what I can do at the race.  My plan right now is to line up with the 2:05 pacer and see if I can hang on for a PR.

The subsequent two weeks are ill-advised, but I’m doing them anyway.  First, I’m going to do the Indoor Tri and see if maybe I can eek out another “podium” (I placed 3rd last year, I’ve won overall once).  Then, I’ll ride bikes as long as I can stand, because the week after, I’m doing a 6 hour bike ride.  My longest ride since Oct 22nd is a little shy of 3 hours on my cruiser bike.  What could go wrong?

But how could I resist another “Official Badass” medal?

After Feb 3rd, I resume reasonable person status and start an intentional training plan that will guide me through a little offseason weight training and then into hopefully crushing the heck out of some spring sprints.

In January, I do a streak.  In 2015 and 16, I did a run streak.  Last year, I did a bike streak.  Neither of those make sense in terms of my body condition and training, and swimming is right out.  So, 2018 is the year of my stretching and rolling streak.  Every day in January I will spend 5-10 minutes working on my flexibility and five days a week (at work), I will work on my foot strengthening exercises (more on those next week).

January Consumption:

I’m facing the fact that I need to track and quantify again.  Not forever, not even for a long time, but after vacation and holidays, my level of what’s acceptable to eat is set at a lower bar than normal.  I need to bring it back up to that diet quality average ~20 level.

To that end, this month, I’m going to track my food and log my diet quality, with the intent of dropping it again soon.  It was a pain, but I think I need to reset my normal back to the healthy normal where cheetos and cake are very occasional sometimes foods.  I’m not even too worried about my calories in vs calories out, but I’m more concerned about what those calories are.

Tuesday, I tracked and ate 1800-ish calories.  I logged a 20 on the diet quality scale.  Yesterday, 1700 and 24.  So far, so good!

Still some of this.  Especially the good stuff.  But less.

As for booze, I’m trying to moderate my moderation.  I’ve tried to do a dry January (made it 11 days before caving and definitely drank LESS but not NONE), I’ve done a reasonable-quantities-of-beer only January (made it but I was definitely over beer by the 31st), and they’ve had their merits, but neither felt like they enriched my life.  The three reasons behind reducing booze consumption are a) the calories in alcohol b) my tolerance is huge and I’d like to scale back to being a cheaper drunk (see above, less calories) and c) it’s the one thing about my lifestyle my doctor complained about and I know having a lot of drinks per week doesn’t help me feel my best or recover quickly from workouts.

But, there’s a place in my life for whiskey.  Even in January.  So, what to do about making my doctor, my liver, and my inner child 21-year old happy?  I’m doing a portion control January.  Basically, I have the alcohol I plan to drink for the month already sitting in my cupboard – a nice bottle of whiskey for sipping, a bottle of vodka for mixing, and two bottles of post-race champagne to split with my husband on Jan 21 and 28.  That’s approximately the maximum recommended amount of booze in a month.  Once those run out… I need to wait for February.  If I end up going out, I will subtract that portion from my home stash but I don’t have a whole lot of plans to do so, which actually works out well for me right now.

January Life:

I’ve had an epic couple of months of doing ALL THE THINGS.  This month is definitely about less.

Resisting the urge for big plans or adventures this month.  I need to do a bunch of this.  Except inside.  Because it’s fugsnickling cold.

  • I want to at least finish the one chapter I started in my book.  If I could do 2 this month, that would put me back on schedule.  My goal is to at least sit in that room and write for a few hours once this month unless the muse strikes me more.
  • Get Christmas stuff put away and get the garage full of tools and kitchen remodel remnants cleared out so we can actually park our cars inside again.
  • I’m doing exactly ZERO other productive adulting things this month.  This even sounds too productive but they both kind of need to be done sooner than later.  Everything else can wait.
  • I want to spend some of my free time playing games.  I’ve started Hearthstone, Grand Turismo 5, I’m working on getting caught up in the games I work on, and if I can find some time where my legs aren’t too sore from training, I’d like to make some progress unlocking things in Dance Dance Revolution since I’ve started over again and crack open Just Dance.
  • I want to post a video 3 times per week, and to make it less stressful, they are ONLY going to Instagram stories this month so they’re totally throwaway.
  • If I get some additional free time where I’m not too dead to the world and don’t feel like gaming, I’d like to drag out my paints and/or beads and do something crafty.

January GO!  What on tap for y’all this month?

New Years Resolutions – Focus, Intention, and Purpose

2017 was freakin’ epic.  I finished an Ironman!  I did my first official century ride!  I went on amazing vacations and got a camper and spent a ton of time outside!  We redid our kitchen!  How the heck do you follow up something that crazy and grand?

By doing less.   Oh yes, by one hundred percent absolutely positively for sure doing LESS.  2018 is about doing less with purpose, intention, and focus.

This will be my junior year with Team Bicycle Sport Shop.  Looking forward to training and racing with them again!

Racing/training:

I want to strengthen the bond between coach and athlete here.  Yes, I am that person in both aspects, so this will take myself being kind, patient, and firm with… myself.

As a coach, I will schedule myself like I was scheduling another athlete.  I will not put crazy sessions that make no sense on my list just to see if I can do them.  I will not fill my week too full without good reason.  I will consider both what the sessions mean to the athlete in the context of goals for the season and also what’s going on in life right then.  I’ve been coaching myself long enough to know how I operate.  I don’t do well undertrained, but I also need to watch my tendencies to want to do way too much and then disappoint myself by either failing sessions or burning out right before races.

As an athlete, I will HTFU this year.  If coach does her job and schedules things better, it is my job to actually complete the sessions AS INTENDED.  If I have 6×400 with a one mile warmup and cooldown, starting with drills and ending with stretching and rolling on my schedule, that’s what I do.  And, I’m going to do my best that if it’s scheduled for Tuesday morning, I do it Tuesday morning because I put the session there for a reason.

I feel like this will help grow my experience as a coach and also my confidence as an athlete.  If I could sum up my athletic goals in triathlon in a mission statement, here’s a go at it:

I am a strong, fit triathlete who is rarely injured because I have good stability from weight training and flexibility/form work.  I have the confidence because I complete my training sessions.  In races, I take that confidence and head close to the front of the pack in most races where it’s appropriate to start the swim, and I’ve closed the gap between my decent pool swimming and subpar open water form.  I continue to do well on the bike because I train and race with power goals.  I leave the bike and can now chase down people on the run.  As a coach, I will set reasonable goals for my athletes (me and Zliten), and include only the necessary training on their schedules to succeed.

Here’s this year’s plans so far:

Winter:

  • Jan 22: take the little bit of training I’ve been able to do and see what I can do at 3M.  My new A+ goal is to PR.  With the paces I’m running, sub-2 is not reasonable right now, but my legs are showing some promise, so, on a really good day, I may be able to come in under 2:08.
  • Feb 3: do an ill-advised-but-it-will-be-fine 6 hour cycling event.  I’m here for the fun and to support the team and go camping.  I may not hammer this one but I know I’ll survive it.
  • Take at least a month after this with minimal swim/bike/run and get into the gym and lift heavy in preparation for the rest of the year.

Spring: goal is to get fit and then race a LOT of sprints to try to qualify to nationals. I want to shift my mindset at the shorter distances to actually racing for the podium vs getting my heart rate up.

Summer: cut off the racing with enough time to give myself an offseason before getting back to it for Nationals (if I make it) in August and then Cozumel in September.

Fall:

Sept 30: Cozumel 70.3.  I have some outcome goals here.  First, sub-6:30 or better (PR).  Second, I’d like to finish far enough up in the results I actually go to the rolldown for Worlds (as a super longshot, I’ve heard rumors of people being in 20-30th place and getting it).  But honestly, I want to race this to force myself to figure out one of my biggest triathlon problems – I do not love hot weather but I’ve had my two best half runs in sweltering heat off of my two fastest bikes those two years (though I’ve also had some pretty critical explosions).  I need to figure out how to succeed in the heat, be it training, gear, or just HTFU’ing.

After this, I’ll make some decisions.  Ironman Waco 70.3 or Oilman last minute?  A fall half marathon?  Offseason?  I’m not committing to anything after Sept 30th.

You will notice there are no marathons, no ironmans, no century rides, no 10k swims on this list.  Will I haul off and randomly do a long bike ride because it sounds fun?  Probably.  But I’m keeping my focus (after Feb 3rd) on one thing: triathlon, and succeeding at the distance that my next race is at instead of random long base training for no reason.  I’m running the longest right now that I need to run all year and that is super refreshing to me!

Less of this face in 2018, young lady!

Human Being-ness:

As a human, I want to be a more patient and kinder person.  I feel like in relentless pursuit of goals sometimes I get a little snitty and self-centered.  I get annoyed by the MOST ridiculous things that shouldn’t even register on my radar.   I joke that I’ve gone from being a people person to an anti-people person – that grumpy 80s TV dad that just wants his underwear and his recliner and silence.  However, in going from a state of fluctuating between mega-maniacal (DO ALL THE THINGS) to burnout, I’m definitely finding human connection challenging to enjoy more often than I’d like to admit.

I actually like people.  I am actually probably more of an extrovert on the spectrum than an introvert.  I love random conversations, and I’ll talk your ear off and listen to just about anything with a few beers in me (i.e. – when I’m finally relaxed and not thinking about the next thing on my TO DO list).  Sure, I’m a little socially awkward at first with people, but I’m mostly comfortable in my skin as long as it’s not a “hi, will you be my friend” situation.  It’s that my brain is so far up inside itself thinking about what’s next and goals and achievements that it’s hard to focus on anyone else.

Yep, my problem is that I’ve become a bit of a selfish asshole.  The way I fix that?  By committing to less and really and truly being IN when I do commit.  If I can have more space in my life between TO DO, then I can actually enjoy these things instead of feeling obligated to do them.

Yes, I GET to have a great group of people in my life that want my time and attention.  I’m not burdened by it.  That is a very negative way to live and I’m going to leave that one behind in 2017 in the rear view mirror where it belongs.

If I had to pen a mission statement for this one:

I will do my best to be present in the situation I am in, instead of having my thoughts stray to the future.  If I’ve committed to something, I will give it time and attention to the best of my ability.  If I’m feeling overscheduled and overwhelemed, if I’m fumbling at life, I will take a good hard look at my goals and to do list, and I will prioritize until it feels reasonable.  I will approach social interactions as a pleasure instead of a chore.

Food/Scale:

It’s nice to weigh a little less than I did last time this year.  Obviously obsessively tracking my food and diet quality didn’t work.  I seemed to only make progress when I actually let go a little and ate… dare I say… intuitively.  I gave my body a break and trained INCREDIBLY minimally.  Or maybe turmeric is actually the magic anti-inflammatory bullet, so obviously I’m going to continue to take that.

So, obviously I want to continue to take steps back towards my race weight, but I don’t honestly have much to say here that’s revolutionary.  Just keepin’ on keepin’ on with what’s *slowly* working.

  • I want to continue (after a slight holiday feasting break) with my diet that’s at least half fruits and vegetables.  I feel the best when I’m consuming a diet high in plants in their truly natural form.
  • This is accompanied by making sure I continue eat my my normal breakfasts and batch cook my meals to get enough lean protein, whole grain carbs, and snack on things like almonds and pistachios instead of chips.
  • I want to limit my indulgences to ones that I truly enjoy and that will will be a fun and relaxing diversion from my normal.  For me, that means most of the sweets I get go into the freezer and I’ll dig them out once a month when I have a craving, but I’ll consume alcohol in moderation on Saturdays and there will be Desano’s Pizza or after long bike rides.
  • If not tracking, I will at least be conscious about what I put in my mouth is going to help me towards my goals or not.  It doesn’t all have to be positive diet quality (just most of it), but if it’s not, it should be for a reason and not simply because it’s there in front of me.

Self-enrichment:

This is another place where my life needs focus.  My eyes are now open to all the things I want to do and learn after a period of just being happy existing as a game developer and triathlete.  But, in true form, I want to do and learn them all NOAW.

The last two years, I’ve had this giant, big, varied, scary to do list.  I was trying to be a jack of all trades, master at none.  I’m going to pull back and pick one focus this year:

2018 is the year I focus on becoming a published author of a non-fiction book.

I’m pretty sure that’s my mission statement right there.  Here’s the steps I envision taking next year:

  • Finish my book.  I have about 3.75 chapters left to go.  My goal is to finish the first draft by my birthday (or at least birthday month).
  • Put it on the kindle and read it myself.  No taking specific notes, no editing, just read it as if I was reading another author’s book it to see if it’s interesting.
  • Ask my husband for help with his dialogue.  I’m a fairly prolific writer with a lot of strengths, but dialogue is not one of them.  If you could, why not ask the character what he would say in those situations?
  • Edit chapter by chapter.  I know I need more environmental description and cues.  I can see and smell and taste and hear all the things that happened to me.  The problem is, the reader can’t unless I describe them.  I know I need to make things a little more cohesive because I wrote the chapters out of order (as in, don’t describe things five times, describe it once and go back and reference).
  • Get some beta readers.  Some that are familiar with triathlon, some that are not, to see if it’s interesting to either/both groups.
  • Become knowledgeable about the industry.  Read books and devour websites about publishing, editing, agents, and marketing your book.  Stuff like this.  While I want to know so much more about marketing in general, I’m going to take 2018 to focus on this slice of marketing.
  • Continue to read in the non-fiction genre.  1-2 books per month in between my pulpy sci-fi 25 book series that will likely never end…
  • If it gets this far… build a website for the book.  Contact publishers about the book.  Get an agent (or not).  This stuff is so far away and I need to learn what half of this means, but my goal by the end of the year is to have a finished manuscript I’m proud of and at least know where to go with it next.

The Lists

Here’s where I break my mold of focus and intentions, because I am me, and I am not doing away with TO DO lists.  However, I’m still trying to stick with the intention of planning LESS.  I’m trying to keep the first list reasonable. I am also trying to leave off a bunch of fluff so I actually do the things I really need to do, like actually see a financial planner for eff’s sake.  Focus.  Intention.

The second list should be FUN!  I will do these things as they sound pleasurable and enriching to me, not as TO DOs I need to check off.  These need to be things I GET to do, not that I *have* to do.  If my sewing machine stays hidden, that’s ok.  If I post weekly recaps because I’m pouring my time and energy into my book, that’s totally acceptable.  They are here simply to remind myself there are better ways to spend free time rather than Netflix and dorking on social media on my phone.

Now that this is done, we can do smaller, bite size projects.  After a break, that is…

Adulting List:

Yep, a lot of this is carryover from this year that didn’t get done.  Still want to do them.  Will try again.

  • Wills
  • Financial planner
  • Fix our occasionally around kitty stray
  • Organize our entertainment center and pantry
  • Build leezard a lounging platform she can’t knock her plate off
  • Probably some other small organizational projects that emerge as I check these off.

Mostly take the year off adulting because HOLY HELL we adulted pretty hard last year with house projects.  Actually taking January ENTIRELY off any sort of TO DOs minus the normal cooking, keeping the house to the point where the cleaning service can do their thing, and laundry.  I need a friggin break.

Fun List:

  • Resume monthly-ish game night with friends in February.
  • Camping! ‘Nuff said.  Especially in the spring when it’s nice out.
  • I love pictures but shy away from video.  I had a blast playing with it underwater, and I want to do short videos about random stuff 3x per week, if nothing else, posted in my Instagram stories.
  • More video games.  I’m serious about this.  I got Grand Turismo 5 for Christmas and we are going to stream “Drunk Driving Saturdays” (i.e., having a few beers and playing GT in the comfort and safety of my own couch) for a while and I want to actually feel like at least a casual type gamer again.
  • Vacations: Cozumel for the half IM and then a week of diving, family cruise in May, family trip to Port A or Galveston, maybe a long weekend in Chicago, maybe somewhere snowy (with the camper?) in the winter to cross country ski or snowshoe?
  • Painting… I’ve been having a lot of fun with minis but I also would love to expand to canvas again, even if only on camping trips.
  • More bike adventures.  I mean, the kind where it’s beautiful outside and we hop on the cruisers in the morning with backpacks and baskets and only have a vague plan for the day and coast back in at (or after) sunset.  I’m open to the other kind with clips and kits and friends as well, but I want to do more where the bike is just the transportation, not the focus.
  • Posting more interesting things besides weekly recaps.  It really helps me when I’m training towards a goal race, but other times it’s like… yep, rode my bike some miles, ran when I could be arsed to, ignored the pool and weight room, and ate, drank, and slept a lot.  You don’t care.  I’d rather write something else with focus instead of this being my glorified diary all the time.
  • Crafting.  I recently found my beads and I really want to spend some time playing with them and making new pieces (I did one over break, and I love it.  Moar!!!).  I would really like to get my sewing machine out long enough to be comfortable getting it set up and stitching things.

2018.  Let’s do this.  But not too much of this.  Because it’s the year of LESS.

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