Adjusted Reality

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

Sometimes it is just that simple…

April has been a mixed bag in the quest to become an athlete again, but things are looking up. I had… what I’ll call an “aha” moment but really it’s a “uh doiiii” moment.

May be an image of 3 people and text that says 'GET IN LOSER WE'RE ERASING 13 MONTHS OF BAD DECISIONS IN 28 DAYS....'

I’ve been trapped in this vicious cycle – every time I get motivated and get some momentum going, *something* happens and then I throw a pity party and eat and drink crap and eff off workouts and then all of a sudden I’m back to square one.

I had spent two glorious weeks without much back pain. The first week I think I was like, “fool me twenty times…” and didn’t do a whole lot, waiting for my back to go out again, but I got my ass in gear after a week passed. All was well… until I spent five and a half hours on a folding chair at a socially distanced family Easter yard party. My back started seizing up and I could barely walk again. I went the the chiropractor the next day hopeful, but the adjustment didn’t quite do the trick this time.

I was UTTERLY pissed. Why the hell was this happening to me? I know how to start from scratch, I know how to train, I actually have been YEARNING for the ability to just go out for a pain-free run, or go ride my bike in the sunshine. My brain wants to do this for so many reasons. I need more activity so I can lose some weight without eating only rabbit food. I need my active mediation time so I can think and dream and create. As I keep saying, I need my identity back.

May be an image of flower and nature

A week ago, I went out for a waddle to check out the spring flowers even though my back was cranky, and for some reason it clicked – my posture has been absolute poopoo kaka lately. When I’m wearing normal clothes and around normal humans, I’m vain enough to want to stand up straight, suck in my gut, and look like I’m not smuggling bags of cookies under my shirt. When all you wear is pajamas that are four sizes too big, there’s absolutely no reason to engage your core.

So I engaged my core whilst walking that day. And my abs were sore by the end, which is pretty pathetic, but my back felt… okay. For the rest of the week, I did the same, while walking, while bending over to do things, and yet again, it felt absolutely pathetic that I had to retrain my body to do something so simple but… it’s helped. Five walks, five stretches, and three bikes, and today I rode outside (!) for 45 minutes (!) and then even took a walk later and so far, so good. I have muscle soreness but I don’t feel injured.

So, I shall to attempt to continue to suck it up, buttercup (my abs) and continue to ride this wave of momentum. Sometimes, it actually is so simple, at least I hope.

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Because it’s go time. 9 days ago, I got my J&J shot. While it was an unpleasant weekend involving major brain fog, aches, chills, fever, sweats, and exhaustion, at least it was one and done (well, until we need boosters, but we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it). Now, I’ve got 19 days until I can carefully people again.

I’m looking forward to it, but I also not the person I was a year ago. I’d love to say that I’m super excited for group rides again, but uh… yeah… I don’t think I can keep up with anyone and if 10 miles is a long ride for me right now, I’m pretty sure that’s everyone’s warmup. It used to be mine. My kits are all too small and tbh, the idea of wearing a pair of jeans gives me anxiety. So, yeah, it’s time to suck it up, buttercup, in more ways than one.

One thing I *CAN* control is what I shove in my cakehole. So, I’m concentrating on that. I’m tracking calories again and even though it’s sorta maddening some days to try to eat 1200 calories + activity (when my activity most days is around 200 calories max because I’m starting so slow), it’s the only way I’m going to make my t-shirts stop shrinking.

I’m signed up for IM Texas 2022 in April. I’m about to pull the trigger on Kerrville Half Ironman in September this year. I need this long term motivation not to quit. It all seems so far away, so I’m not even trying to conceptualize what it will take to get there, but I know I need to start. I long for the days where I can pop out the door for an hour run at lunch or actually go out on a group ride with other cycling humans. So, that is where I start. Simply. And from there I shall build.

Regress, Refract, Resume

A whole year since the world went away has come and gone. And yet, I am still here, feeling about 1000 years older but also still frozen in time on the eleventy-seven hundredth of March, 2020.

Day 1 of official work from time time. I thought this would last a month. Oh, sweet summer child…

I started January strong in terms of healthy habits like daily stretching, activity, meditation, etc. I had some pretty nice successes in February, including completing a sprint duathlon all at once without a break, and even felt reasonably human-like after. Even with the craziness of work being at 11, I was finally on my way back to being a little bit more me.

No training in this… or even inside without power.

Then, the Snowpocalypse happened, and really knocked me off my game. Soon after, we celebrated birthdays and a lot of “eff it” was bid to good habits. I overdid it one day with a long walk AND a short bike (OMG) and my back injury regressed. My lower back would often seize up and half the time even just existing was painful. Instead of doubling down on the good habits to fix things, I ate comfort food, drank whiskey, and ignored bodywork. Two weeks ago, I limped into my chiropractor, and the crack fixed a lot of the injustices. So I got back to it, right? NOPE! This begun the torture of no internet for 2 days, trying to work full days off just cell service. Remember dial up? Yeah, it was a lot like that. Totally infuriating. So, I made all the excuses yet again because that sent me into a MOOD.

Finally, I arrived at Sunday (just a few days ago) realizing it was time to get off my lazy arse. This week has been better. I’ve walked 30-45 mins every day, stretched 3 times, and have done a core workout twice. Next week, I want to start incorporating cycling (30 mins max) again and try out the Oiselle Dozen and make my strength goal to be able to complete it. After that, I’ll try running again if everything holds up (and maybe step on the scale again, the horror!). However, the most important thing is also the least sexy thing – the core work and stretching. This builds the foundation, the one that is crumbly and shifting currently, but it is the thing which needs to be solid so I can go do the stuff that makes my brain more happy and my body less lumpy.

I miss this so much…

Of all the things to pop up on my Facebook memories today, 3 years ago I won my age group at No Label Tri and qualified for Triathlon Age Group Nationals. At that point, I was a badass bag of muscles with a razor sharp brain ready to dig deep into the pain cave. Now, it all seems so haaaaaard. How can I be her when life right now – even without triathlon – feels overwhelming. I can barely motivate myself to do ANYTHING, let alone go out and dig deep and bare my soul on that kind of effort that makes you both question and really know yourself.

But yet, all I can do is resume even if it feels like a faded memory of someone else.

Sometimes, my brain remembers what I was a year ago and truly wants to do more than my body can handle right now and that frustrates me. Sometimes, my brain feels so far away from that and wants to do NOTHING and my sluggish body is totally happy to comply. My motivation is low because we’re still in this nebulous state. Sure, we’ll all (mostly) get vaccinated and can sort of be people again. Then what? When will I feel comfortable being in the slipstream of some other triathlete’s pee on the swim? When will I not feel skeeved out drinking out of a water cup some other human handed me? When will I feel okay giving sweaty hugs at the finish line, all covered in snot and spit and various other bodily fluids? Is that this summer? Is it 2021? Is it… ever?

But, again, all I can do is resume. I know my back issues are not because of some acute injury or overuse, but from the LACK of use. I know my brain, when it wants to do nothing, is playing tricks on me and I am a better me when I can run, bike, and swim. I can have the self control to deal with the frustration of being able to do just a little right now, because it’s better than nothing and it means I can do more when it matters. The only other option is to stand still, and that’s not me. Not now, not before, and not ever.

Snowpocalypse 2021

We were just minding our own business here in Texas, enjoying our typical mild winter, when Alaska’s weather decided to meander down here all drunkenly for an early Spring break. We were not amused.

It was chilly, but not yet ridiculous, so we spent the weekend doing some usual Valentine’s Day stuff like playing games and steak and lobster on the grill. Normally, there would be a movie outing or a fun bike adventure. This year with Covid, not so much on the movie. This year with the weather, not so much with the bike adventure. So we snuggled up for the duration, and were warned that we may experience some rolling blackouts on Monday for a few hours max.

Imagine our surprise when we lost power at 3am on Monday morning and didn’t have it back when we woke up to a legitimate winter wonderland. The power continued to be conspicuously absent through the day. Our food went into coolers and bags in the snow. The gas fireplace earned it’s keep heating the living room. Since it was a long weekend, and the snow was new and novel, we tromped around the neighborhood and I annoyed Joel by stopping to take pictures every two minutes but… it’s not like we get this every year!

Later, he cooked up a bunch of chicken on the grill and I still made ravioli with italian sausage, caesar salad, and garlic bread as planned for second Valentine’s Day (thank you, gas stove, and thank you Joel for insisting we get a gas stove!). At dusk, we went on another walk to get cool pictures of lights in the snow and check out the ghost town of barely anyone out and about at 7pm on a Monday.

When it got dark, it got REALLY DARK in the house without even the normal visual hum of the power lights all the electronics in house. It was just us, the fireplace, and a lantern or headlamp to find our way around outside of the glow of the living room. In contrast, the thick coating of white snow made it super BRIGHT outside, almost as if night never really fell.

Tuesday should have been a workday, but we still found ourselves without power, and so did the office. A few things were running on the backup generator but the situation wasn’t conducive to any sort of productivity, so we set out to officially close the “office”. Once that was settled, we got gas for the Xterra and then spent three hours sitting in it, enjoying the heat, and using every capacity it possessed to turn said gasoline into charged electronics.

What do you do in the dark? Read. A lot. I powered through most of a 3 book series whilst we lived in the pioneer times because there wasn’t much else to do. Joel said he missed sounds and music so I broke out my acoustic guitar throughout the week to serenade him. I also started leaning a new song from the book I got for my birthday last year and summarily ignored because looking up whatever I fancy on the intertubes had been easier. I need to practice but I think I have Free Fallin’ in the bag.

Wednesday, we went through the same song and dance. Officially closed the office. Schleped ourselves out to the Xterra, ready for another three hour tour to charge up the electronics… and then an hour into the process, we saw our garage lights come on! We had power! Rejoice! I didn’t trust it would stick around, since we’d heard about other people getting it back for short stint and then losing it again, so we plugged in every device that needed charging and kept waiting for the blackout… and it never came!

Thursday, I woke up to the ceiling fan still twirling. Even so, we were being asked to conserve power and act as if we didn’t have it as much as possible. So, besides doing one round of dishes on economy mode (they’d been in there since Sunday and were… ripe), and one small load of absolutely needed wash (hung by the fireplace to dry), we did just that. I grabbed a few things off my work machine and then worked offline on my teeny laptop all day. We kept the heat off and lights off and kept almost everything in the house unplugged. Thankfully, we didn’t have to charge things in the car but otherwise it was the same ol’ same ol’.

We were asked to conserve water as well and all of Austin and surrounding areas were handed a boil notice. I had spent the last few days not washing my hair because it was cold. Now, I had to not wash my hair because the water was gross. In the grand scheme of things, it wasn’t a major hardship, I just felt… yucky. I was very thankful that we splurged and did dishes and laundry in the small window while we could.

Friday was more of the same, but work finally had power and brought up all of our systems so we could actually work, so it was the first “unofficial” workday of the week. That is, if people had power, internet, and could do so without any hardship. Most of our folks, thankfully, were in situations where they could and most agreed that was nice to be back at it, and for life to feel a bit more normal again.

On Friday morning, it had been below freezing for over 120 hours. On Saturday, we went for a walk in t-shirts and shorts in the sunny, 70 degree weather. Oh Texas winter, you so crazy. Finally, Monday at 2:30pm the city finally lifted the boil notice and I immediately left my desk and took the most welcome and wondrous shower ever.

Our personal fallout was minor and fleeting. No burst pipes, we didn’t lose much food, no major issues. All that happened was that life was weird for a week and the house was a disaster area for about a week and a half. I’m very happy to be back to (pandemic) normal and live in slightly less interesting times.

However, this one still thinks she’s a garage kitty and wants in all the time, no matter the temperature. We don’t mind too much. 🙂

Virtually motivated

Last year, I poo poo’d virtual races. Doing a “race” without the community, without a finish line, without a competition and a podium, this seemed silly to me. My drawers are overflowing with race shirts and medals, I didn’t need any more. Frankly, I was a bit burnt out with racing and training – trying to maintain Ironman level training during a very packed year professionally and personally – and I had ZERO desire to race if it wasn’t… a race.

I took a breath, and let go of being an athlete, while also mourning that IM Texas wasn’t going to be a thing. My “long day” workout (1 hour swim, 5 hour bike, and 2 hour run) the week before the world shut down was the closest I would come to being a two-time Ironman. When the race cancellation was announced, it was a bit of relief but I also felt a bit of sadness. I was barely holding on, but I was closing in on the end of the last big block of training and the start of taper. Could I have gotten to the finish line? I believe so. But, I never got the chance to find out.

So, I gave myself the rest of March and April to just slack. And then all of a sudden it was June. Once we had our pool set up, we did a little sprint tri, which was fun, but then… I just lost interest in doing anything difficult, since life was kinda difficult already. I swam… a few times. I biked more than anything since it was easy to hop on the trainer. I stopped running when it got warm and then by the time it was cooler my back/core was in shambles because I also stopped stretching and doing strength. I walked a lot and took a lot of pictures. I wasn’t a complete couch potato but it just wasn’t… me.

And then all of a sudden it was New Years Day, and I ran 1 mile. And it was HARD, y’all.

January’s goal was to run or bike every day, stretch every day, and do strength 3x week. I missed four days total, but I’ll still call that a win, considering my garmin connect log for the last 6 months. I worked my way up to 30 minute bikes and 2 mile runs. I maintained my stretching and core strength routine. My back still bothers me, but it’s been hurting a little less each week. I feel increasingly less like a sack of potatoes when I go out for my short little jogs. Progress is happening at the speed of molasses on a winter day, but happening it is.

Joel happened on Ironman VR races two weeks ago, and decided to sign up. I hesitated. 1 mile run, 20k bike, 5k run? That’s wayyyyy beyond me in one session right now, but I had 4 days. I was able to get it done in 3. We bought the damn shirt and medal because you know what? It’s been a year. A full year since I toed a start line. I don’t see it happening anytime soon. I guess I actually do kinda miss the race schwag even if I can’t have the rest of the experience.

The first and last Casa de Jank 2020 Tri and the only time I wore my new Austin Triathlon Club kit. Hopefully it will get some wear in 2021.

This weekend, they doubled the distance. I crunched the numbers. A 2 mile run, 25 mile bike, and 6.2 mile run is a LOT for me right now, but I thought I could break it up and have a chance. The plan was the 2 mile run and a little bit of biking Thursday, a big push on the bike Friday, the rest of the bike and 2 miles of running on Saturday, and 4.2 miles of run/walk Sunday. I missed starting the bike Thursday because I had about 8 hours of meetings and was just… spent after work, so I had to do more cycling on Friday than planned (I did half at lunch and half after work to get in 16 miles total). Yesterday’s brick ride (9 miles) and run (2 miles) really familiar and nice. Today’s 4.2 mile run/walk was a lot, but I have this really nice soreness in my legs that I haven’t felt for a while and my back seems to be stiff, but holding up alright.

I would NEVER have done this much without virtual racing. I guess I need the motivation, so I’m going to keep doing them. Next weekend’s race is back to the sprint distance. I think I’m going to try to do most of it at once. Can I actually swing 20k on the bike and 3 miles of running or run/walking at one time? I’ll give it a try on Saturday and leave Sunday to finish some run miles if I need.

I need virtual racing right now. I need something that provides reasons for me to get my ass out and do sporty things. I’m a shade of who I was a year ago. It’s going to be a long road to rebuild what I had. Qualifying for Nationals again? Completing my second Ironman? I’m not there, not even close. But I’m now on the path, and since I’ve walked it before, I know where it leads.

Adventures in waiting and not waiting

First rule of adjusted reality blog is I don’t really talk about work, but sometimes things are worth recording for posterity.

New Years Day Sunset foreshadowed some FIRE this year…

As I alluded to last post, there were some BIG THINGS at work. They happened, or better stated, they are happening. Two weeks ago, I looked at two castles to storm this year, both of which I was equally excited to approach, both with force fields around them, guarded by powerful wizards. Right now, one of these castles shimmers faintly in the distance and has all but faded from view, and the other has a giant moat blocking my way and I’m waiting for the drawbridge to finish lowering.

Adventures, amirite?

I’m in the best timeline where, even with the occasional grumbles, I was incredibly happy and challenged and fulfilled with the status quo, and the new path is a fantastic opportunity for myself and the project. I keep getting introduced to these warm, personable human beings I’m going to work with and feel very lucky. These type of things are not often win/win and it feels that way right now, so I’d like to capture this moment and feeling in time.

That did not mean that the last two weeks have been a breeze. I spent most of last weekend working. Monday, Joel had to fetch me tea and soup and cough drops because I could barely leave my desk during the workday and I was talking so much in meetings he noticed my voice was hoarse. I don’t do limbo well, and right now, there’s some inevitable waiting involved while the final things finalize. But, this too shall pass. I’ll just have to summon some patience and just wait for things to fall into place. I hate waiting, but it’s definitely something for which it is worth waiting.

This minor life diversion wrecked my momentum with all the things I talked about here, but it was only for 3 days. Last weekend, we ordered deli sandwiches and later pizza. There was champagne. I didn’t bike or run, I didn’t stretch, and I didn’t meditate. And then, Tuesday, I woke up feeling ABSOLUTELY EFFING AWFUL.

I may be a shadow of what I once was on the bike but we out there.

So, as much as it was difficult to do so, I started again. Each morning since I’ve meditated (except this morning, oops, I was too motivated to write, I’ll go do it next, I promise). Every day since I’ve tracked my calories, and they’ve stayed more or less in line with my goals. I’ve weighed, and while I won’t get excited until I see some more weekly averages, I think it’s going the right way. It’s allegerific AF outside right now, but I’ve been on the bike 22-25 mins per day, resumed strength training, and stretched. Post-March 2020 me would have used this as an excuse for weeks or month. 2021 me ain’t having it. My meatbag is worth more than that.

So, here I am. Nothing terribly profound to say. My back still hurts but it hurts less when I do the good things I should. If I wore jeans anymore, I’d not yet fit in the skinny ones, I’m sure, but it seems to be trending that way. I’m a long way from Ironman, but I’m not quite Couchman anymore. I’m in the middle of many, many things, chipping away at incremental progress. It’s not sexy, there are no medals or achievements or accolades of which to speak, but it’s certainly better than waiting. 2020 me was waiting for something. 2021 me isn’t willing to wait anymore.

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