Adjusted Reality

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

The road to hell is paved with good intentions

My last post was cute. Absolutely adorbs.

When I started lifting again in 2020. And later in 2020. And then in early 2021. And then about 3 more times. Never got much beyond the pink kettlebell.

Here’s how that particular week and the one after it went:

  • Start Sunday and Monday with great intentions and hit the gym
  • Be heckin over it with work and stress by Tuesday night
  • Do nothing but go for walks the rest of the week when Joel can drag me away from my computer
  • Repeat
Because this is my life right now

Luckily, we had scheduled the first free session with a personal trainer. Joel made mention of perhaps continuing it, and I scoffed. Pfft, come on, we know how to do all that. We’re (lapsed) certified personal trainers, I’m a triathlon coach, I know more about sports nutrition than a lot of nutritionists. Why would I pay someone to do a thing that I can do in my sleep?

Then, we went to the gym and met with Tim, the little big muscle man. While he does not skip leg day, he DEFINITELY doesn’t skip arm day. He proceeded to ask us about goals and talk through what it would take to get there in terms of diet and training and he passed the first test – it all tracked with me. No crazy diets (just sane calorie and macro goals), no promises of rapid results (1 lb week fat loss and ~1 lb month muscle gain), and just the stuff I knew I should be doing anyway but haven’t been. He did say the typical, “I promise I won’t bulk you up” girl thing but I understand that’s a silly stigma with women and weight training. Good sir, I used to deadlift my weight and looking imposing in a dark alley is on my lifegoals list, do your worst.

Proof I used to do this thing

Then, he proceeded to absolutely wreck us with a very simple 30 minute 5 lb dumbbell workout. My arms were in pain for DAYS. And then we gave them a lot of money to continue to do this for us for the next year.

We decided on this for a few reasons:

  1. Accountability. It’s not been a huge issue for me before, but 2020 just wrecked my momentum. Apparently, I need to feel like I’m going to let someone down beside myself if I don’t do the thing. Also, I have now PAID for someone to feel let down, so it’s both social and financial peer pressure!
  2. Decision fatigue. I make a stupid crazy number of decisions per day at work. Not having to think about what I’m going to be doing at the gym lifts some of that fatigue.
  3. Variety. I’m a creature of habit, I’ll do the same strength workouts over and over because they generally work. However, with our assessments, it was determined that we did a great job maintaining our large muscles, but could do better with the smaller/stabilizer muscles. This will help with that

We went the first week on Monday and Wednesday with Tim and then Friday with Adrian. Tim was awesome, but I think Adrian is our dude. He does triathlon (sprints), so while he doesn’t quite understand the insanity we’re about to embark on with Ironman, he does get endurance sports a little bit. He’s focused on body composition and injury prevention, which is really what we need right now vs GETTIN SWOLE.

This is week two. Our goal is to stay on the one day per week plan with a trainer, and two days where they write workouts for us and we show up and do them. We do have the option if we start falling off to book more sessions per week; we’ll just chew through our funds a little faster, as right now we’ve prepaid for about a year at the once-per-week rate. For all my skepticism spending money on this at first, I have no regrets. This is what I need right now for all those reasons above.

2021, was able to waddle before I gobbled again!

My big fall goal after Kerrville was to run the Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving. No, not the real one downtown with the mass of humanity, but a similar one around my neighborhood. The key goal: 5 miles without walking. I was all set to gradually ramp up to it, but then see above for how my weeks have fared. See below for my training plan:

  • October 29th – 1.5 miles
  • October 31st – 2 miles
  • November 3rd – 2.5 miles
  • November 8th – 2.5 miles
  • November 22nd – 3.1 miles
  • Thanksgiving – 5 miles

This is a “do as I say, not as I do” moment, but it is what it is. The turning point has been I can honestly say the last two runs, for the first time in well over a year, were entirely without back pain. I set out on Monday to run until I felt any slight discomfort or 3.1 miles. Same with yesterday and 5 miles. I’m slow as sh*t, my heartrate is through the roof at what feels like a relaxed pace. However, somewhere between the last chiropractor adjustment and finally adding some strength training, this seems to be the last piece of the recovery puzzle. Beyond just the physical activity benefits, this enables me to do the most wonderful thing I’ve been missing for the last 20 months. I can kick myself out my door with just my running shoes, music, and a head full of thinky thoughts and process them while I put one foot in front of the other for some sizable amount of time. I have been kicking myself at why I have been able to allow all this lovely fall weather pass by without me running in it. I think the answer is above. This week, I finally regained the ability to truly enjoy running instead of faking it.

And running right now should probably be the priority (after weight training), followed by biking and then swimming. I have a half marathon in January. Ramping quickly is doable for me but is sooooo risky for injuries. If I can (sanely this time, please) increase my long run 1 mile a week, very likely I can actually trot along comfortably at my 11:5x pace for 13.1 miles and that would be enough for me to joyfully kick off 2022. I cam build pretty quickly on the bike, but we are eyeballing the normal early February 6 hour race as Ironman prep, so I need to have at least some 3-4 hour rides under my belt before we tackle that one. Swimming is lowest on the totem pole, it takes me very little time to ramp even after a long time away, and there’s very little injury risk. For the rest of 2021, I will be swimming for injury prevention (does wonders for stretching out my back) and enjoyment (it’s another one of those active meditation exercises for me that helps unspool my brain), but no stress in terms of race prep if I mostly ignore the pool until January.

Totally gratuitous picture of the hobby room right now

For now, the focus is consistency, establishing good habits, and conquering the stupid voice in my head that says work is more important than all this. And it doesn’t have to be either or. Yes, I need to be away from my desk but I got some DAMN good (in my head focus) work done on the 5-mile run. I’ve mostly worked through a 40-minute lunch trainer ride on my phone. Just like I was playing D&D online or Bloodbowl practice games whilst finishing my trainer rides in 2020 when I was hell bent on not giving up other hobbies for Ironman, I can make this multitasking happen for work as well.

Hopefully this new road I’m following goes somewhere else than hell, and is paved with something sturdier than just intent.

The Fall Stall

How is it November? I mean, all the things happened, but really quickly, and now we have two months left of 2021. Uh… what?

I intentionally took October a little chill in terms of training. We went on lots of “spookywalks” after work to check out the Halloween decorations in the hood, and I kept up with weights twice a week most weeks, but ignored my bike, my running shoes, and the pool was right out. However, in the last week, I realized that I am a better human when I have some swimming, biking, and running in my day, so I’m working on getting back to that.

I also started tracking my calories and weight when I returned from vacation. The scale was not kind, but it could have been worse and I’m trying to do this thing with the weight through the end of the year, even if it’s during what is normally “the fall stall” (as in, stalling any sort of progress). Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas are days, not months, and I shall aim to remember that. It’s been challenging, not going to lie. To be honest, for a few weeks it was going in the right direction, but then a few things happened:

  1. Joel wrecked his back, and he’s mostly out for a few weeks. This shouldn’t matter because mine is actually behaving just fine, but having someone else motivating me to do stuff helps.
  2. The weather changed, finally. On the positive, I can get outside almost at any point of the day. On the other hand, I’m not forced to get my workout done so some days it’s lead to me putting it off until never.
  3. I splurged a little bit Halloween weekend, the scale went up, and now I’m frustrated with it and have been rebelling by “forgetting to weigh myself” this week.
  4. I’m in this spiral where I get stressed about something, I sleep terribly, I’m tired, I skip my workout, I’m stressed, I sleep terribly, I’m tired, etc. I haven’t done any sort of training for three days and my garmin watch still says I have 36 hours of recovery due to poor sleep and stress.

Hallo self sabotage, my old friend. I need to fix this. Ironman Texas is in about 6 months and while I’m not ready to have an official training plan, I need to get back out there so I don’t lose the base I built this summer.

More of this attitude

Let’s try this. I still need some time to be able to not have a training schedule but I need to go swim/bike/run/weights. So, I’m going to try a list of what I need to do next week. No paces, no assigned times. Just a get-er-done list.

  • Run 2.5, 3, and 3.5 miles since we have absolutely gorgeous weather next week
  • Bike 30 mins and 1 hour
  • Swim twice, and no less than 1k yards each time
  • Weights and stretch at least twice

And, just like all my plans until they get foiled, eat 1200 calories + activity each day.

Maybe a little less of this. Okay, a lot less of this…

Because I acknowledge I work better with a plan, I’m going to TRY for this:

  • Monday: 30m bike, 2.5m run AM
  • Tuesday: weights and swim, PM
  • Wednesday: spin class at 5:30pm
  • Thursday: weights AM (home)/walk
  • Friday: off/walk
  • Saturday: 3.5 mile run, swim
  • Sunday: off/walk

Yeah, this is frontloading the week (when I have more motivation, it seems) and yeah, it’s missing one run (I’ll see if I can figure it out, or maybe two is enough). I know if I can make it a habit, it makes me less stressed, happier, healthier, and I sleep better, and life just continues to improve on whatever the opposite of a vicious cycle is.

More of this kind of cycle…

Yeah, I could really use the opposite of not being able to relax, not being able to sleep, waking up in the middle of the night, having crappy dreams, and feeling a stress hangover (tired, braindead, head foggy) at the end of each day. And I really want to WANT to get out there and be active. So, I’ll need to fake it until I make it. Starting today.

We realized we needed to remove some friction, so we decided to get a second gym membership. I still love Lifetime, but it’s not convenient while working from home. LA fitness is a little more bare bones, but it has all the basics we need (pool, cardio machines, a huge weights floor, some classes) and it’s about half a mile from the house. I’m hoping this will be a good investment into Ironman training since we will be working at least part time from home through the race. I just have to have the little bit of momentum it takes to get my arse out of the house and half a mile down the road.

Liberty (of the seas)

I have learned a thing this month, and that thing is never ever ever go back to work for 3 days after a long weekend of racing and then leave again for a week.

Was worth it though!

I was exhausted and mostly ate, slept, and worked all the hours from the time I returned on Tuesday until 5 minutes before we had to leave on Sunday morning. However, I finished everything I absolutely had to, and closed my office door knowing I gave it my all and headed out on vacation with a lighter conscience, so, worth it, I guess.

This was the Liberty of the Sea’s first official trip out (except for a test cruise the month before) since March 2020, so we were able to enjoy lots of onboard credit and a very refreshed and excited crew at the mere cost of some minor hiccups like the phones not working for the first day or two and dinner reservations being difficult to maneuver in their new system. I expected to be kinda skeeved out by the mass of humanity, but it wasn’t too bad for a few reasons.

Masks everywhere. I was happy about it.

#1. Masks were required almost everywhere and they legit hunted you down to remind you if you forgot.

#2 We had a balcony room, which we have resolved to never ever go without again, so we were able to get some fresh air and relax outside without being around other people.

#3 They were at about 1/3 capacity so it wasn’t the crush of humanity I was expecting.

Might have skipped diving but still got to hang out with fishies.

The ship stopped in Cozumel, Costa Maya, and Roatan. We uncharacteristically skipped diving altogether, and just went snorkeling in Cozumel and Roatan, and enjoyed an even less crowded ship on the Costa Maya port day and hung out at the pool. We didn’t want to lug all the gear, and didn’t want to do the boat dive with newbies on the ship thing everywhere, and since we just dove Cozumel months before, we decided it could saved for the next trip. I forgot how much WORK snorkeling is compared to diving. All the kicking and diving down to get pictures was worth it, but definitely tuckered me out after a few hours of it!

I could not sail by Roatan and Cozumel without visiting a beach.

Except for those two port days, we kinda got into a pleasant vacation routine. Having natural light in the room meant I woke up pretty close to sunrise. I’d snap a few pictures on the balcony, a few mornings we got breakfast or coffee delivered and I’d enjoy the morning fresh air and sun. If not, I’d crawl back into bed and read and nap a bit before we set out for a bite to eat.

After that, we’d leisurely hit the gym. I have officially sworn off running on the ship because it’s super easy to tweak something with a rocking boat, but I was super happy to play with the elliptical (running lite) and lift weights every other day. Every session ended with a super long stretch. It sounds weird to say how novel it was to hit the gym for an hour + most days, but it truly was. No dragging myself out of bed, complaining because it’s either a workout or some actual rare monofocus time before the day really gets going, and finishing when I actually feel like it vs when I have to pry myself away 5 seconds before the next thing in the day starts. Just… doing stuff. When I wanna do stuff. For as long as I wanna do it. Bliss.

Lobster and shrimp on the buffet (and they were goooood).

Then, we’d meet my parents for lunch after the daily sweat session. The Windjammer served your typical cruise buffet faire, though they had this killer sandwich station that I frequented more often than anything else, and a killer Indian food section Joel and my mom loved. One difference from usualy – the desserts were actually pretty top notch. I typically pass and save my sweets for one dessert a day for dinner but I indulged. I legit ate too much this trip. I’m happy I didn’t gain a bunch of weight (probably due to the workouts, all the walking, and epic snorkeling trips) but I certainly didn’t lose any.

When life hands you the opportunity to eat a red velvet donut you eat it.

In the afternoons, we’d play some cards with the parents, sometimes we’d hit the the pool, and occasionally we’d read and nap, or on good days, we’d make time for all three. As the sun set, we’d often have a glass/bottle (hey, it’s vacation) of wine on the balcony and read before we had to get ready for dinner. If I’ve mentioned reading a lot, I finished four books on this trip. Vacation is for voracious reading.

We have been on this ship and had this particular week of dinner menu items before and it’s always a good gustatory experience with lobster night and lots of seafood and other interesting dishes to try. This time though, since we were there on the week of our anniversary, the fam splurged on us and we all went to the steakhouse, Chops, for fancy dinner night. The pretzel bread, greuyere tater tots and delicious cheesecake were carbtastic highlights of the meal. Oh, and the filet mignon was pretty great too. I’ve had better but only on our grill in recent memory, so they did just fine with their signature dish. We found out that the same menu is available at lunch for half the price, so we may try that next time.

The balcony was well enjoyed. So was the wine bar.

I’m not sure if it was our dinnertime was pretty late (7:30) or that we crashed into this vacation super exhausted already or that we’re getting old, but dinner usually ended the day’s adventures outside of the room – pajamas were quickly donned and we either read books on the balcony or curled up in bed. Occasionally there was more wine on said balcony. Occasionally we just drifted off to sleep on full bellies, anticipating another glorious balcony sunrise. Once, I had to dig out the earplugs, but they solved the problem. 🙂

Once, however, we made it to the ice show. Weirdly, the 45 minute spectacle triggered a few deep thoughts (okay, at least slightly more profound than “what should I have for lunch?”) and one of them was whilst watching the cast on their first show back in a year and a half – they fell. A lot. But they looked damn happy to be back out there performing and we were happy to be watching them. No one cared. It was cool to watch a human do exciting things live and we all clapped and smiled and enjoyed ourselves and no one complained except maybe my parents and it’s simply because their happy place is to find all the things that are wrong and talk about them on cruises!

I may not be the same person I was before the pandemic – I am a bit softer (mentally and physically), and I’m out of practice spinning ALL THE PLATES and it’s much harder to hide my failures under a veneer of perfectionism right now. It’s okay. The cast wasn’t the same either. Maybe no one is the same. Maybe it’s okay to have utterly failed at returning my body to it’s early 2020 form just yet and maybe I can forgive myself for losing my words by late afternoon meetings after I’ve been in them all day back to back to back to back and not having the witty retort right on my lips at all times isn’t the highest sin and failure. Maybe it’s okay to fall down in public with everyone watching me as long as it’s with style and I get up and smile, give a cheeky bow, and continue on with life.

I’ve been feeling a touch of the imposter syndrome lately. This year, I’ve taken on some new duties in the position to which I was promoted – though this was just a slight evolution of what I was doing already, just in a more official capacity. Then, I took on more things because of the position which I aspire to next and no one was doing them and I just can’t see something undone and not solve the problem. And then, there’s yet more positions I still need to fill, that I’m subbing in for until I can find the right human. I’m doing none of this at the full capacity in which I could if I could just focus on one thing, even for a week, maybe even for a day. I’ve joked that work right now feels at best like I’m failing lightly at a lot of things, but it causes my inner perfectionist (that jerk) to trigger the thoughts like “well, you’re not nearly as good at this as the previous person who did it” and that just feels bad, man.

About day three, after my brain defragged a bit, I realized that’s nonsense. I may not be as good as the four other humans that were doing the jobs I am doing now in each moment, but I’m what they’ve got, and I’ll do the best I can until I can find someone better to do it.

Relax brain, relax.

A little time away from the daily crush of OMG all the things reminded me that all the things I was putting off “until all this Covid crap is over” are probably more overdue than I want to admit. Going into vacation, I lamented that I hadn’t had a real haircut since Nov 2019 (Joel kindly removed about 6 inches of split ends about a year ago but that was it) and I didn’t really have time to do anything about it. I stopped using the 25$ shampoo once I stopped leaving the house and figured I’d get back to giving a crap and that was cute and fine if it was a few weeks or months, but after years, it’s not a reprieve, it’s just what I look like, and there’s a reason I don’t take a lot of non-doctored selfie angle pictures lately – I don’t like it.

My husband, hero, and ignorer of my BS, booked me a haircut on the ship the first full day. I’ve come to realize lately that I am in the fortunate situation where I have more money than time, so I ignored my inner cheap skate whining about the cost and also my inner tomboy whining about spending time in a salon vs almost any other fun activity that would ruin my hair instead of make it pretty and just went with it. When it came time, I sat down in the chair and he actually even upsold me on doing color too. I picked something kinda close to my natural, just a little darker and redder, and he spent two hours taking my hair from the absolute rats nest it had become to this…

I legit searched for a before, but I think I’ve had my hair in a ponytail since 2020.

Since then, I realized that life is too short to feel bad about yourself in ways that you can absolutely control, so I’m back on the 25$ shampoo. Even if I’m in headphones all day. I need to take baby steps back to normal human life again, and that includes being confident and happy in my meatbag.

All in all, the week away was super nice, though we both lamented we could use another week (maybe with a little less eating and a little more sleeping) because there was no rest for the weary. The moment I returned home on Sunday, I had a Bloodbowl league match scheduled and then I had to work for about four hours prepping for a presentation the next day, and life has been pretty much the normal chaos ever since, which is why I have been attempting to pen this recap for about two weeks during stolen moments of quietude.

Yep. Could use a little more of this.

I fully did not expect to enjoy this vacation as much as I did, so much so that we’re actually looking at taking another cruise in January, just us. It’s exactly what we need right now. There are a few days we can go adventure in port, but not being in those locations for longer means I won’t feel pressure to MAKE THE MOST OF EVERY DAY like when we go to a dive resort. On sea days, sign me up for a balcony, a book, all the room service I can order, and quiet days with no obligations.

Kerrville 70.3 – I survived!

Normally, this focus on survival would be the start of a less-than-stellar race recap, but TBH, survival was really my main goal. So, spoiler alert, mission accomplished!

Thank the rainbows and stars!

We set up camp Friday night, and while it was the normal MO on leaving for trips for the year (I work up until the second I am torn away from my desk), I had 2.5 hours of the drive to transition my brain into race mode. We got settled, had our hot dogs, read books, and got a pretty dang decent night of sleep.

Saturday, we did all the pre-race things like normal, and like normal, it took wayyyy longer than expected (I think we were puttering around town from noon until almost 5pm). We met up with our tri team for the first time in over 18 months and enjoyed a pre-race swim and chats, put everything in various bags and dropped them off in the proper locations, and triple checked we had all our gear since we haven’t done this in forever. We shopped for some essentials which included fuzzy halloween pajamas and adult beverages for post-race, and drove the bike course to remind ourselves where all the hills were.

We had all the normal food, replacing usual breakfasts with bagels since we had some leftover, and the pre-race sleep was somewhere in the middle – about 6 hours of moderately restful sleep – and I felt pretty good when I got up around 4:30am. More puttering ensued to use the potty, drink the coffee, triple check all the gear yet again, use the potty, etc happened as usual, and we got to the race with plenty of time to continue the puttering (pump up bike tires, fill bike bottles, use the potty, set up transition, give away the warm clothes, use the potty, pour myself into my wetsuit, curse myself for not using the potty one more time, etc).

ALL THE THINGS.

With Covid being a thing, we were as careful as we could be with masks and social distancing pre-race. However, once it was time to lose the mask, it was like, ok, whatever, it’s up to the universe now. It was a little weird to tuck into the humanity which was the line to start the swim but also a little bit normal too and then all of a sudden I was in the water and it was off to the races!

The swim was a bit rough. My back is mostly but not all the way better. It’s worlds away from when I could barely get out of bed earlier this year but a few things still can trigger it to be mildly cranky and that little niggle makes it REALLY difficult to sight in open water. I definitely meandered quite a bit because of it and drank a LOT of lake water and had to stop a few times to not choke and die (even had a kayaker ask if I was okay). However, for all these complaints, there were parts where it was rather pleasant as well and I finished feeling refreshed and warmed up, which is always the goal for the first and shortest leg of the race. We’re going to defocus times here, because that’s not what this race was about. Yeah, it was a personal worst by a minute or two, but I expected it and my pace was actually better than some of my lake swims this year.

Since time was not critical, I was pretty casual in T1. I actually used the wetsuit peeler station but in a non-rushed way, walked the hill, didn’t rush through gear change, and got out of there in about 6 minutes. I think a lot of my compatriots were in the same boat, because I expected to see way fewer people and bikes than I did, so I think we’ve all slacked on the swim this year. 🙂

Death star’s sleepaway camp partner was a pretty pink QR. 🙂

Honestly, I was the MOST nervous for the bike in this race. My TT bike and I have not been BFFs this year. However, the ride today was the absolute best part of the race. I was just… happy the whole time. That’s not normal for me. I usually get angry on the bike and use it to go hard and pass everyone, but today I smiled and sang show tunes and just thought about how grateful I was for so many things that have taken place over the course of 2021, most relevantly that I was here doing this when six months ago I was barely able to ride for 20 minutes. But other things too.

I saw Joel a few times and Matt near the end and other Austin Tri people throughout the race and just hung onto whatever pace felt good and sustainable, pleasantly surprised that it was more like 17-18 mph than the 15-16 I was riding in training. I was chuffed to make it up the big hill in loop one much more easily than I expected (yeah, I was huffing and puffing by the end, but I didn’t fall over or have to walk it or anything), and on the second loop, the time passed quicker than expected. Tons of warm fuzzies on the bike. It truly is my happy place during races even if it was in slightly different, more mellow ways this race than normal. I ended at about 16.7 mph for the 56 miles, which is actually not my worst showing here!

I rolled into transition, thanked Death Star for a great ride, and saw both Joel and Matt. Matt was doing the aqua bike only, so his race was done, of which I was a bit jealous, but I pressed onward after a nice relaxed 6-ish minutes in T2.

Really just wanted to jump in the lake instead of run a half marathon but….

Since Joel and I started running at the same time, we decided to hang together for a while on the run. It was nice to have company for the first 5 miles, but we were definitely holding each other back since we pace differently. Near the end of the first loop, I had to fix my sock, and I sent him on to do his thing. I was doing okay both mentally and physically, even if I was at turtle speed (~13 min/mile). However, around mile 8, my legs and back reminded me just how undertrained I am in this discipline and there was probably more walking than running until mile 12, when I hit the spectator area and got that lovely last burst of energy. Personal worst BY FAR (hah, I think it was something like 3h13 mins) but again, I expected this and was just happy to cover the miles.

I was just a minute slower than my previous personal worst from BSLT in 2013 (also an injury comeback race) with 7h42 min today but none of that matters. I climbed what seemed like an insurmountable hill even three months ago. Now it’s time to rest a bit and then climb even more for IM Texas in April 2022.

Gratitude shining through

I will be racing in a few days.

And, yes, it feels absolutely weird but also a little bit wonderful to say that for the first time in 20 months. I wish I was just unabashedly excited to get out there again, but I am…. not. I am full of all the feels, and excited is in there, but I wouldn’t say it’s in the top three.

I feel trepidation. Not as much as when I signed up and started training again, I’ve lost some fears over the last few months, but it’s been a pervasive sentiment through the process. I haven’t started from this out of shape in a long long long long long time and I wondered back in June if I had it in me to climb the hill yet again. I’ve had a training cycle whilst coming back from an injury. I’ve had training cycles during absolutely crazy work times. I’ve not had to contend with both at the same time, also during the weirdness which is pandemic/post-pandemic/not-yet-post-pandemic-just-kidding times. I’ve been less prepared but also very very very much more prepared and usually when I do cheeky ish like this I have a nice large endurance base to pull from, which I VERY MUCH DO NOT RIGHT NOW, thxuverymuch.

I’ve just had to knock those fears down one by one by doin’ stuff. Yes, my wetsuit still fits and I will be able to swim the 1.2 miles without consequence. I may be super skittish on my tri bike but I should be able to cover the distance just fine. The run will be sunny and hot and I’ll walk some of it, but that’s all part of the plan. Yes, there will probably be some risk being around humans but I’ve done the best I can, and will do the best I can during the race to limit my exposure. And there’s no questions it will be a long day. Perhaps it will be my longest ever in a 70.3.

In the maelstrom which is my feels right now is definitely a dash of guilt. I am an arsehole for letting my health go as much as I did and I’m still not doing a superb job at reversing course. In theory, I should have less friction against training than ever. My schedule is packed, but it’s also flexible. There is nothing stopping me but me. I’ll even make good on giving myself 2020 as a mulligan and give myself some grace earlier this year with the cranky back from hell. However, since I’ve last posted, my training hours have dropped in half, I can only get in gear about three days each week to train, and gosh, if it’s not in the morning, it just doesn’t happen because lunches are hectic and after work, I’m just effing drained.

Rest has definitely part of the plan this time.

I’ve typically got about 2-3 months of scheduled training in me before I need a break. I’d say I started too early, but when you’re beginning from zero fitness, 2 months just isn’t enough, not even close. So, I hit that wall, right around the end of August, and have just been winging it the best I can. I should have done more in a myriad of areas, including training but also actually tracking my food and weight, eating healthier, and continuing weight training.

But also, there is a healthy dash of gratitude. Months ago when I started, I had severe doubts whether my body (and frankly, brain) could handle training to go race for seven hours, give or take. That little voice in the back of my head was sneering at me, telling me that maybe this is the end of an era, the end of the triathlete, and I should take up underwater basket weaving instead. I’m ever thankful that I was offered a 2022 deferral to IM Texas, which motivated me to say “well, if I’m going to do an Ironman next year, I should at least try to do a half this year.” And with such fanfare, I started this process to unstick my butt cheeks from my couch this spring post vaccination to see what happened.

It was necessary for my health and sanity. I needed a goal to pursue because obviously “because I like doing these things” isn’t enough. I truly enjoy swimming, biking, and running. I do. But for some reason, it’s tricky to motivate myself to do them just because. I need reasons. Even if I finish the next few races as they’re tearing down the finish line, it’s all worth it.

This is all a girl could wish for: bikes, brick runs, and beer with the best company.

When I started 2021, I longed for the ability to just go play. I yearned to once again get on my bike and go on long rides, long enough to justify stopping for pizza and beer on the way home without guilt. I wanted to be able to head out the door on a beautiful (or hell, terribly hot) morning and run for an hour with a smile on my face. I wanted to dive into a pool or a lake and lose myself in quiet thought.

Well, I am here. Here I am. I have clawed my way back from injury and the folds of my couch and I can do all of these things now. I’m not breaking any records this season (except for perhaps “the slowest”) but I have retained the ability to persist. And so I shall on Sunday.

I typically have race plans. I feel so rusty at this but let’s give it a whirl, shall we?

Super elite nutrition plan, I know.

Friday, we will get to Kerrvile, set up camp, eat hot dogs, and relax.

Saturday, we will eat all the normal things (bean and cheese tacos for breakfast, turkey bacon guac sandwiches for lunch, chicken potato salad for dinner, some salty snacks and electrolyte drinks during the day). We will get our packets, set up our transition bags, and drop off said bags and bikes, and then drive the bike course to remind ourselves where all the hills are even though we’ve done this race like 8 times before.

Sunday, I will wake up in the morning, drink coffee and eat a bagel with bacon and cream cheese and gatorade, try to poop, stretch, listen to peppy music, make Joel put the KT tape hashtag on my back because I swear it helps, and get to the race early enough to make him not nervous but late enough so we’re not sitting there for 3 hours, wearing a disposable mask around other humans that I can ditch 2 seconds before I start swimming.

I should have spent more time here this summer, but I think I spent enough…

After setting up transition 1 and trying to poop 3 more times, I’ll sip some more electrolytes and consider whether downing a gel is a good idea. I will slather the eff out of my neck with aquaphor to make sure I don’t get chafed, and then shovel myself into my wetsuit. I’m in the second swim wave, so I’ll try to start in the middle of it and stay a little off to the side (since I’m not fast and I’d really rather not get into combat this time). I will just chill through the swim and enjoy it. I’m not in danger of missing a cutoff and I’m also not in danger of a PR, so I’ll just hang with a relaxed pace and enjoy the sunrise and cooler water. My guess is I’ll come in between 50 and 55 minutes, with a personal worst for this race. It’s all good.

I’m a little skeeved out about the swim exit (I’m guessing in small town Texas, the volunteers won’t wear masks), but it is what it is, I’ll just do my best to stay away from other humans when I can and make peace when I can’t. I won’t worry too much about my pace up the big hill to transition, and take the time I need (but not lollygag) in T1. Since I’m skittish on the bike and also aero is kinda uncomfortable for long periods, I made the call to wear my bike gloves since I’ll be up on my hoods more often.

As is the theme, I should have spent more time with Death Star, I hope it is enough.

And on the bike, I’ll just… ride. However I can. Whatever gets me from mile 1 to 56. I will take a gel (probably caffeinated) as soon as I can finagle it and then every 45 mins after (aiming for one more caffeinated before I finish the ride). I have zero pace or power goals. I just want to enjoy as much as I can and survive the rest. There’s one big hill I remember kicking my ass that we have to do twice. I think it will be okay as long as it doesn’t take me by surprise. If I had to venture a guess for my bike time, it will be around 16mph, or 3h30.

Once I get to the run, I’m golden. I mean, sure, the longest I’ve ran since Jan 2020 is 10 miles, but at least I can’t drown or crash, heh. I have solid plans to run/walk (at least a tenth of a mile each mile of walking) and TBH, it could potentially not be my worst half because I’m not going to run until I blow up (physically and mentally) and get all pissed and walk for a mile and a half. Last Kerrville I broke down on the run and averaged about 13 minute miles even though my running pace was 9-10 minute miles. I could optimistically see improving upon that. And… if I don’t? Who cares. I just need to make the cutoff of 8h30. Pretty sure I could walk the entire thing and still finish.

The run aid stations are the second part of the race that feels a bit skeevy with Covid. I will do the best I can – I’ll take things from the tables myself if possible, and if not, try not to put my mouth on the actual surface of the cups. I’ll attempt to take in 2 gels during the run and get on the brown pony train (yay coca cola!) as quickly as I can for the energy.

I’ll stash a disposable mask somewhere for after the finish. I’m sure there will be lots of teammates I haven’t seen in forever and we will want to hang out a little. We will probably try to limit our time around all the humans though, and we’ll probably mosey back to the camper quickly to eat all the food.

If nothing else, I hope I can be this happy of a girl, after riding my first 30 miles this year!

It certainly doesn’t look like the 2019 race plan, but I’m just happy to toe the line, reasonably confident I’ll be able to traverse 70.3 miles on my own accord. After the last 20 months, it is enough, really and truly. Because through all the other doubts and inadequacies I feel right now, gratitude that I can go play outside with my triathlete friend, slow as it may be, definitely is shining through.

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