Adjusted Reality

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

Month: September 2014

Kerrville is Coming

It’s race week!  How did that happen?

So, it’s time to geek out a bit about the preparation and planning and goals and whatnot.  Lots of type A stuff and also gooshy stuff ahead.

Race forecast:


While this is not optimal for someone that plans to be racing until 2pm-ish, I’m ready for it.  I might potentially be willing bargain a small piece of my soul for a rogue cold front that bumps that down to something like 75 high, 60 low though!


Nutrition plan:

This is a lot different than it was even a few months ago.  I’m trying to keep my carbs from sources that I know make me feel good, and not bloated and yucky.  Also, I used to be so anti-gel, but they’re just so much easier, guys.  I’ve also trained with at least one flavor of the brand of gels I know are on the course, so if shit hits the fan and I forget EVERYTHING, I can just roll with Cliff vanilla and live off the course and be fueled by frosting.

It kind of scares me how I’m going pretty much anti-what-everyone-tells-you to load up on pasta and bread and rice and stay away from fat and protein and for the love of god don’t eat fruit or veggies for fiber.  However, I’ve had stomach problems at a lot of races since I started following that advice, or even if I didn’t, I always had issues getting nutrition down during the race.  This is what has sustained me lately around my training sessions, I’m able to get down a lot more calories during training, and I’ve felt better than I ever have, so I’m going to give this a try.  Matt Fitzgerald can tell me “I told you so” later.

Pre-race food:

Day before breakfast, probably a bulletproof coffee for the drive and/or maybe some breakfast tacos (on corn) or maybe a kind bar or nuts or fruit or whatever as I’m hungry. Something very tried and true, but trying to never get beyond a state of mildly peckish.

Day before lunch, I’m planning on hitting up the steakhouse that we ate at 2 years ago.  On the menu will be either chicken or steak, potato, and salad.  As much as it will pain me, I’ll stay away from the bread and absolutely NO desserts.

From late afternoon until bed, I’ll snack.  Planning on bringing fruit, some corn or potato chips, maybe microwave mashed potatoes, some nuts/nut butter, and maybe another small iceberg-y salad and I’ll snack to my tastes.  No wheat, rice, beans, or veggies (iceberg doesn’t count) at all.

AM: Purple stuff and kind bar upon awakening.  Maybe some fruit as I putter around.  Another kind bar closer to the race.

Race nutrition:

Yes, I am a dork and have my flavors picked out.  I’m sure it will change on the course, and I’m sure you will be on the edge of your seat to know IF INDEED I TOOK THE PB CHOC AT EXACTLY 2 hours. 😛  And no, my race plan doesn’t involve tacos.  I am as surprised as you.



Hydration: start with grape gatorade since it’s my favorite, hit every bottle exchange to fill aero bottle, so that means to be empty by then (which means ~20 oz full strength gatorade per hour).  Keep a downtube of grape gatorade so when lemon lime gatorade makes me want to puke, I can have a reprieve and skip a bottle grab (or use it in between).

30 mins into bike: salted watermelon caff gu

1:15 min into bike: lemonade non-caff gu

2 hours into bike: pb chocolate caff gu

2:45 into bike: apple cinnamon non caff gu

Have a pack of chomps and some jelly beans available.  Eat them as hungry/needed, which shouldn’t be much with this schedule.


I’ll start this with my handheld of warm grape gatorade (not intentionally, but it will be in my T2 bag from the night before and I remember the change in flavor was worth the temperature) and take aide at the stations as needed.  I can do gels with gatorade, but if I time it right I can take them with water, so I’ll try to do that.  There’s the opportunity to get aide like once every half mile so it should work out.

Mile 1-2 on the run: salted watermelon (caff), or rootbeer (non-caff) evaluate need for 303s (The question I ask – is the pain I’m in general soreness I’d do better without, without risking injury to myself? The last two years, the answer was yes.).

Mile 5-6 on the run: whichever I didn’t take the last time, or my pineapple non-caff if I’m over caffeine at this point, evaluate need for 303s again if not taken.  Also evaluate need for salt pills.  Realize this is a hail mary since you’ve never taken them in training, so this would be a SERIOUS bonk happening.

Mile 9-10 on the run: if I can possibly get another gel down, it will be here. If my stomach can handle it, this will probably help me in a major way the last few miles.  I don’t see myself wanting to caffeinate at this point, so one of my spare gels or grab a vanilla from the course.

Goal Posts:


And, now, it wouldn’t be a pre-race post without some goals.  I can’t lie, I have a time in mind, and I really want to get there.  Everything is showing me that I should be able to do it, and maybe more depending on what I have in me Sunday.  However, I want to also establish process goals so that if the unexpected happens, and that time is out the window, I can still have something to work towards and goals to meet.

A time goal is the time I’m shooting for.  B time goal would net me at least a PR for that leg (that’s how far I’ve come this year, which is already a victory).  A process goal keeps me focused and in it, B process goal is mostly about fun and keeping it light.



  • A time goal: under 40 (2:04 for 100m).  This could be tough, or the current + wetsuit might make it doable.
  • B time goal: under 44 (2:17 for 100m).  I can almost hit this with just steady swimming dragging a safe swimmer in the lake sans wetsuit.  Should be no problem unless conditions are suuuuuper crap.
  • A process goal: keep my head in the swim the entire time.  No spacing out.  1.2 miles of work, not paddling.  If I feel my pace stagnating, do some intervals (faster to the next buoy, etc)
  • B process goal: don’t drown, and get your wetsuit partway down before the strippers attack.


  • A time goal: under 3 mins.
  • B time goal: under 3:25.
  • A Process goal: No transition gravity.  Quick, focused, decisive, not fumbling.  Helmet, glasses, shoes, go. Deal with sleeves (if needed) and gloves on the bike.
  • B Process goal: remain upright, no napping.



  • A time goal: under 3:15:00 (17.2 mph).  Biking is really a wildcard for me right now.  This could be do-able, or this could be out of reach.  It’s 0.6 mph better than last year.  What I’ve been riding is way tougher than this course, but I haven’t hit 17 mph average in a long training ride outside.
  • B time goal: under 3:22:00 (16.6).  That’s the pace I rode at the x-50 earlier this year, it was a harder course, and I think I’ve improved since then.  Without weird conditions, this should be highly doable.
  • A process goal: high cadence whenever possible, strong work, sticking with the hills instead of giving up and soft pedaling up them and recovering on the downs only when pedaling doesn’t meet any resistance.  Feel like I’m giving the effort I’ve found in endurance class or the last two outdoor rides.
  • B process goal: don’t let Zliten catch me, or if it works out this way – pass him quickly.  Either way, make him laugh when I see him on the course.  Sing silly songs.  Have fun and enjoy the gorgeous ride.


  • A time goal: under 3:30.
  • B time goal: under 3:44.
  • A process goal: velcro my visor to my handheld so I can just grab my race belt in one hand and that in the other and go and mess with it on the course instead of having to put anything on in transition. All business, get outta there as quickly as possible.  No gravity.
  • B process goal: remember where my bag is and get my bike there, also remember to leave transition going the right way with all of the things.



This is hard.  I know where my fitness is, and I know what I’ve run off the bike before, and I know what I’ve done in races, and I know I have surprised myself a lot on runs lately and held back a little.  And I know I’m in a whole different zip code with my running fitness than I was 365 days ago.  There’s a huge gap.  I am really not sure where my edge is.  So, here’s a lot of scenarios…

  • A+ time goal: 2:10 (9:55/mile).  Ack – this is stretching, but it’s not 100% completely unreasonable if I have a super great day.  I will not go out intending to hit this pace.
  • A time goal: 2:15 (10:18/mile).  This is hard, but reasonable if I’ve kept the rest of the day in check and can keep my head about me.
  • A- time goal: whatever gets me in under 6:30 total even if it’s over 2:15. If I go out a little too hard on the swim and bike and still get in under my goal time, I won’t be too mad.
  • B time goal: 2:30 (11:27/mile).  This was the pace in which I ran my marathon last year and walked a little.  This is as slow (probably slower) as I can see going on the run unless the wheels have truly come off.
  • D- time goal: sub 2:42 (12:21/mile).  I mean, really.  I don’t think I’ve actually logged a run in the 12s since November last year.  I’m better than this, but it’s always worth mentioning what would be a PR.
  • A process goal: use the first mile or two to see what you have and then build upon it.  Don’t force a pace until you settle in.  Run the whole distance minus stops at aid stations to fill bottle if necessary (aka Gatorbait).  Second half, find the line right before you blow up and stay there and push against it.  Negative split, just like pretty much every training run this year.
  • B process goal: run with joy, a positive head, and never give up.  Take each problem that comes, evaluate, decide, and then act and release it into the universe.  Thank the volunteers and spectators if you can use your words.


Total time:

  • A goal: sub-6:30.  While if all of my A goals come together I may come in before that, I don’t think that’s reasonable to expect that, and I’ll let that be an incredibly joyous surprise if the day comes together like that.
  • B goal: sub-6:55.  I had a pretty great race for my abilities last year.  I’m better than I was last year.  My time should reflect that.
  • A process goal: keep pushing.  Race this race.  70.3s hurt, and they have highs and lows.  Ride out the lows knowing it will get better, and try to hang onto those highs the best you can.
  • B process goal: continue to think of Kerrville as your happy race.  Enjoy the course as much as the last few years!  Try not to swear too, too much at the big hill each time.  Also, maybe come up with a song you can sing at the hill instead, even if it does involve cursing.


And now, my parting thoughts and what I’ll be trying to hang onto at the race.


Laying it all out there on a race course is always the goal (well, unless it isn’t, but any race that you’re RACE RACING, it is), and I find it’s all about trying to stay out of my own way to get there.  I’m a pretty positive person generally, but races can dredge up this pit of vile, black negativity to where I’m emo-ing harder than Death Cab for Cutie and saying things to myself I wouldn’t to my worst enemy.

Race brain is really weird.  Unless I am prepared with positive things to stick in there, sometimes it can get really toxic up in my cranium.  So, I try to figure out things I can call upon to keep it habitable in my head.


I want to be the type of athlete that hangs on when things start to hurt.  I know that there will be points during the day where I’m challenged to back down.  I’ll start to lose focus during the swim and be tempted to coast instead of push.  I’ll hit that mile where I’m ready to be done with the bike and it will take a lot to keep fighting up the hills so much.  I have no idea what fresh hell the run will send my way, but I’m sure four times going up the killer hill will make the wheels come a little loose, and I’ll really, really be wanting to walk it.  Coupled with the third loop of “not the last loop but you’ve been racing a really long time” downer-ness, the run is always a challenge here.  It makes for great support, but you see the same damn things so many times.

Each time these things come up, I want to be the type of athlete who settles in, looks inside herself, and finds what it takes to keep clinging onto the race I want to have instead of the race I’ll have by default.  I’ve been doing this thing long enough to know that every race has good parts and bad parts and it doesn’t just go good good good bad bad bad end.  It tends to go more like “good bad good good GREAT good bad BAD BAD VERY BAD ok I guess good bad good GREAT UNNNNNGGGG finish”.

I’ve spent the end of this summer sucking some major wind at the pool and the lake.  I’ve emptied my mind and closed my eyes through some CRAZY spin class intervals and rode up the hills in the heat and the wind.  I’ve refused to succumb to the summer shuffle, and I’ve hung onto Zliten running up hills like a mountain goat instead of letting him go.  The thing I’ve found is that I have more matches to burn than I think I do.  I’m not a soft and delicate flower.  Biking up a hill (flick, swish, burn) isn’t going to kill me, I’ll get to ride down soon enough.  Running up a hill and breathing hard (flick, swish, burn) just means I get to recover on the way down.  I don’t want to have a book full of matches at the end of this race.

I can push through the bad and even OH GOD HORRIBLE points without blowing up, because it will get better.  I’ve found those highs and lows and barring a few things like injury pain or dizziness or shitting myself or other red flags meaning the day went completely and utterly sideways, the great thing about endurance sports is the pain you’re in changes up on you every once in a while so there’s something to look forward to, right?  Variety is the spice of life.

And… I don’t want to finish so late I miss the beer tent this year, so, I mean, priorities, right?



And with that novella, I’m going to ride out this week of easy peasy lemon squeezy workouts besides the one little bitty hour of race pace work tonight, and I’ll see you on the other side.

Sharpening The Stick

I’m not sure anyone in their right mind would ever say that 8 weeks is a perfect amount of time to train successfully for a half ironman race from offseason, but that’s just how I’m feeling right now.  Let’s talk again about 2pm on September 28th depending on whether I’m miles away from the finish or already at the beer tent, but I’ll happily ride the high of it right now.


Also, new tri top and visor.  Love them both!  I won them in a contest, how awesome is that?

My other 70.3 training block experiences have been either after a LONG LONG season as my goal race, or less than six weeks back from zero because of an injury.  Neither seemed to be optimal for me.  Last year (my 3rd) didn’t go so badly, I PR’d by 29 minutes, you can never complain about doing better than you’ve ever done, especially when it’s the amount of a short lunch break.  I may have even done just about the best I had in me at the time (my run game was still in the crapper).  However, I definitely made a lot of training mistakes that I think I have fixed (or at least done better with) this time.

1. Taking a break mid-summer was the best thing I could have ever done.  I was able to do fun summer stuff, I was able to unload all the mental and physical early season stress, and I didn’t burn so many mental training matches pushing through training in the heat, which meant I was able to do it when it counted.  Last year this time I had dealt with heat sickness and heat sensitivity and some pretty decent overall burnout.  I like this year better.

2. Doing a race first week back sounded like a terrible idea when I signed up, but it was a great measuring stick on where I was at, and a great welcome party to season part 2.  It made me super excited for this 2 months to start out with a (really good) race effort at a short distance.

3. My answer to any long distance race in the past has been to throw more and more mileage at it.  This has left me feeling (over) prepared, but a little crispy and mentally blahhhh by the race.  You can’t fix months of tired in 2 weeks of taper without completely shutting down and losing fitness (hi, earlier this year!).  This time, I didn’t have the ability to throw months of long rides and runs and swims at the race, and Zliten gets exponentially crankier the more the hours climb after 10 per week, so we had to train smart.  Each session had to count.  Each session had to have a purpose.

4.  When each session had a purpose, it was easier to remember to pick up the intensity.  The first few weeks were just volume building, but the last few weeks, everything was either tagged recovery or had a specific goal or pace.  And that pace was definitely not 100% easy.  Very little soft pedaling on the trainer, focused running, and swim sets in the pool or alternating easy/hard efforts in the lake.


And when this, or this is where you swim on the daily…


…its pretty hard to get super grouchy about life.

5. Mentally, I never really felt like I was down deep in that depressing hole of “wah, the race is so far away and training is never going to end” because it was so short and focused.  I’ve been able to attack each training session with enthusiasm, instead of whining “is it taper yeeeeet?”  This is so good for my head.

I’m going into this race a little curious about what my legs have, what my lungs have, what my heart has in it.  I’m getting goosebumps to toe the line this year, not because I’m nervous for a race I’ve done and finished 3 times, but because I’m a little more than excited to see what’s inside me that day.  What have I cultivated in this little triathlete garden of mine in the last 12 months?  How different of an athlete will I be on that familiar course?

6. Recovery.  I’m recovering like a mother fucker these days.  In the last few weeks, my legs have sprung back to life like little champions after hard efforts, and I love it.  I can smashy smashy, and it doesn’t lay me up the way it used to.  I wish I could attribute it to some lovely new stretching/rolling/whatever routine, but I’m not doing that stuff (I know, I should, I do sometimes but not as regularly as I should).  On days off, I could certainly picture more recovery miles, and I seem to be able to be pretty much ON on my hard days.

7. Fueling.  Part 1 is the workout stuff.  I gave up on chews and I’m now back to gels.  I tolerate some better than others, and I’m working through those logistics, but it’s much easier to get the gel out every 45 mins than fumble with the bento box or handheld pouch every mile or two to get a crumb out.  Without fail, I eat before any long or hard morning workout, and have butter coffee right after.

Part 2 is the rest of my day.  I am not perfect, and I may have a long way to go to get there, but this whole no bread/pasta/wheat/rice thing is really working for me right now.  Corn and potatoes and fruit are fueling my 10-ish hours a week of training just fine.  My stomach feels less like a bag of farts and fluid most of the time.  I’m pretty sure this is part of the recovery success.

I still do not understand the lack of weight loss, but my body is weird.  I’ll roll with it.  I’m eating much cleaner than I was this time last year, so I’ll take it.


Yes, that’s cauliflower rice.  It was pretty great!

I realized I’ve been very type B about logging my training here, so here’s a little more on this for posterity:

Week 0: 5.5 miles of easy peasy to get back into a training schedule, and then Jack’s Generic Sprint Tri Race.

Week 1: 10.5 hours total – swim focus week, bike secondary.  3 hours swimming, 4.5 hours riding, 3 hours running, one strength session.  Not much intensity.  Just logging the hours again.  This was like dragging myself by the nose, it was rough.

Week 2: 11 hours total – bike focus week, run secondary. 45 mins swimming, 6.5 hours cycling, 2.5 hours running, 1 strength workout.  Another rough week, because I started to pick up the intensity just a little.  Mostly in the bike (this was my first endurance cycle class, another spin class, first Ronald Reagan ride), but I finally start doing sets in the pool also instead of paddling.

Week 3: 10.5 hours total – run focus week, swim secondary.  2 hours swimming, 4.5 hours cycling, 4.5 hours running.  This is where I sort of forgot about pure strength work in favor of strength building (harder) workouts.  Still mostly volume in the run department, (24 miles with a 13 mile long run), but I kept the intensity in the bike with an endurance class, and while I swam easy in the lake, I kept to sets in the pool.  I was happy about a stepback week the next week, but also finally started feeling like this 70.3 wasn’t a crazy idea.

Week 4: steback (7.75 hours) – balanced.  1 hour swimming, 4 hours cycling, 2.75 hours running. I intended to get some test data, and tried, but I’m not quite sure what to do with what I got.  Apparently my zones on the bike are just about as high as I thought (130 tops out my zone 1, if 160 is my lactate threshold), and I just need to work HARDER.  My swim test was 18:20 for 976m (normalized for my werid length pool), though I forgot my garmin and did it on the pool clock and got interrupted twice for people asking me things so I probably could have done better. 😛  I skipped the run test because I was needing the whole stepback part of the stepback week and the only speed I did this week was one fast mile off a long bike.

Week 5: 11 hours – run focused. 1 hour swimming, 6 hours cycling, 4 hours running.  This was the week where “sharpen the stick” started in full effect on the bike.  Stupid hard 1.5 hour endurance cycle class + race pace hour run one day.  Lots of kicking my own ass on the trainer, nothing easy there.  Another easy pace half marathon run where I had energy for days after (easy pace these days is about 1 minute/mile faster than last year’s race pace).  Very encouraging week.

Week 6: 10 hours – the week of the brick.  2.25 hours swimming, 4.5 hours cycling, 3.25 hours running.  I did the endurance cycle class + 30 mins running Tuesday, then a long swim with a hard effort at the end + 2 miles running Wednesday, then a medium paced bike + race pace hour run on Thursday, and lastly a long-ish hard bike + race pace 4 mile run Saturday.  I did 2 hard swims and 1 easy, and lots of smaller recovery runs in there.  I was flying high after Saturday’s brick, it was a great way to close out my last workout before taper, and I feel ready.  Let’s go!


The endurance hay is in the barn.  I’m here, and I feel powerful, capable, and confident.  Now, it’s time to do all those things for the next two weeks that keep you sharp but let you recover.

  • Short bricks: short fast bikes with short fast runs.  Keep the legs focused on that cadence and turnover.  Typically, if I can get through the first few miles, speeding up just happens (though I’m ready to fight for it if need be).  So, focusing on those first few miles is key.
  • Work in the pool and the lake to keep focus and intensity.  This is mental training I need right now more than physical.   I tend to space out during long swims, and it hurts my open water pace.  I need to quit that shit.
  • When I usually taper, it’s like “oh cool, I can ride, run, and swim once or twice this week and be done because I don’t have that many hours”.  This time, I’m trying to keep up the frequency of workouts, for the most part, but turn down the time for each session.  This is supposed to leave you fresher.  It’s a little more of a time commitment, prepping for many quickie sessions, but since I haven’t been going full force since, like, April, I’m ok with 1-2 more weeks of some doubles, it’s not making me throw a fit.
  • More sessions at lunch/PM, so I can sleep in.  I haven’t had the best sleep track record this last week or so, so I’m taking care to get my rest.  I’ll have no problems with morning on race day (yay purple stuff), so I’ll train to my strengths for now.
  • Continue to work on fueling my workouts as if they were races (when applicable).  I want my body to be used to gels, and I want to know which ones I like/tolerate best.

And, there’s a whole lot of words on the current state of affairs.  Now, along with the stick sharpening, it’s time to really start visualizing the race, focusing on the details, and coming up with the plans and goals and what I want to stick in my head to help me along the way.

Or maybe not.  Maybe it’s time to go into the great (known) unknown and just find whatever the day gives me.  That’s worked well at times this year.

Apparently, there are a lot of sticks to sharpen this week.


Tour of my Head

I’ve spent a lot of the last few weeks head down, nose to the grindstone, so I don’t have a lot of exciting news, but I figured I should come blather on for posterity about how things are going.  And share some pictures of skies and food and my face, because that is what we do.


In three weeks, I will be getting ready race a 70.3.  Six weeks ago, I was on vacation, ending a glorious off season.  Five weeks before that, I was FINALLY having a tri where I felt I put it all together.  A week before that, I was having one where I didn’t.  My head has been a lot of places recently.

I hit some major funk right around April and May which was decidedly burnout, but since I had races on the schedule, I just had to power through as best I could without going insane.  My season was just about 2 months too long (and sadly those two months contained all the triathlons).  I knew I was grumpy and unenthused with training and racing at that point, it was just like “ok, you signed up for this shit, put in the work, so you can not be disappointed in yourself after”.  If that sounds pessimistic as fuck, it is.  That’s just where my head was this spring.

Five weeks off did EVERYTHING I needed.  While I didn’t really feel it while it was happening, once I got back to training, I realized that I had unloaded all the fatigue, all the negativity, all the mental exhaustion.  I didn’t realize how much it sucks to drag myself through training now that I’m on the other side of it – after a few weeks of acclimation, I’m happily bopping through the weeks and checking the boxes and finding myself not completely smashed into submission.  Feels good, man.

It’s happy to have my head, heart, and body all back in alignment again.

It shows how mental this shit is.  Lots of base + specific training + taper + bad attitude = the same as 5 weeks off + no base + no specific training + good attitude in the results.  There is NO WAY I should have done what I did on that Jack’s Generic course in August.

Since then, I’ve made some progress into continuing the STRONG and just making it LONGER.



I’m swimming more (generally about 3 times a week) because I love the spaces I have to swim.  It’s so refreshing to get into a nice clean outdoor pool and swim sets in real lanes.  These times are coming down nicely.

Much more often though, I’m swimming in the lake.  I’m pretty sure this is all mental but I swim SO MUCH SLOWER open water.  I thought maybe it was just my calculations, but now that I have a watch, it shows it as well.  I’m regularly 2:20-2:25/100m in the lake, but I’m more like just under 2:00 to 2:10/100m in the pool.  And where I need the speed is the lake.  I suppose it’s time to really push it in the lake the next few weeks.  I don’t think I have much more time to really train my body to be much faster, but I can train my mind to push a little harder and not consider open water = always easy pace.


I’ve been maintaining at least 4 hours a week of cycling (6 on bike heavy weeks), which I’m decently happy with.  Would I like to ride more?  Sure.  However, since I have about 10 hours a week to play with, this is probably about the proper ratio considering the proportions of the race.

I am making sure to get good quality rides in when I am riding.  I’ve done three long rides outdoors (and I feel like I really nailed the last 51 miler), and I’ve got at least one more planned before the race.  I’m riding on more difficult terrain and conditions outside than the race, so I’m ready for it.

When I’m inside I’ve attempted to keep the stupid easy TV trainer sessions to once a week.  Of the nine sessions I’ve done in the last few weeks, only 3 of them were those easy steady state rides.  The rest have been videos or spin classes and they’re definitely getting me a better bang for the buck.  I’ve established that I can get my heart rate up to approximately a brisk walk and sit there for hours watching TV and eating junk food for an insane amount of time.  Yeah, there is something to time in the saddle, but I think shorter time amounts and more ass kicking workouts is helping me with this particular race block.



Ugh.  Running in August.  Enough said.  I remember 6 months ago when I knew there would be a point where I would hate running this year, but I couldn’t fathom it when every day was super pretty.  Well, it’s here!

I’m surviving this time by liberal use of the treadmill.  I’m banking on the fact that I feel pretty heat acclimated when I HAVE to go out in it, but it’s mentally nice not to have to brave that every time I want to get any sort of run in.  I feel like I’m not running enough at all with a total of 71 miles last month, but I checked last year and I didn’t even get in 50 last August.  So, in my least favorite running month, I’ve done a little better this year.

I’ve also spread my running out a bit.  This time last year, I was running about twice a week, one long run every week, and one less-than-long-run.  I remember dreading every one of those and feeling flattened by the heat and the effort and discouraged at how slow I was going.

This year I’m squeezing in more, shorter runs, which crush my soul and my body a lot less (and I can push myself a little more and add a dash of speedwork), and stretching the time out between double digit long runs (every 2 weeks).  I think this will pay off.  At least, I hope.  My goals with my runs have been to a) maintain as many miles as I can without going insane b) run some of those miles faster than slog pace so my feet remember how to turn over and c) run miles off difficult bike rides to prove to myself that my legs will hold up in the race.

Weights… let’s just move on.  I do need to incorporate some core and continue to stretch, but the constant fatigue in my arms and legs tell me I think I’m doing ok kicking my own ass in other ways.


Overall – things are going well.  I’m pleased with my progress.  I’m pleased with how my body seems to need less time to recover, and my mind, generally, is really into the run/bike/swim stuff lately.  It’s nice to really and truly love it again, instead of just going through the motions.

Feeling good about training again may also be a product of “garbage in, garbage out”.  I usually start seasons with the attempt to eat clean (whatever version of healthy diet is my flavor of the season), and by the end, I’ve deteriorated to crap because a) during offseason I better not eat like an asshole or I’ll gain weight so I’ll get it out of my system now and b) the only way I can get through some training is to promise myself a treat.

I’m not above it yet, I really look forward to my once a week splurge meal.  I’d be in the depths of despair if I couldn’t have pizza, ice cream, mexican combos, sandwiches, or burgers and fries ever again.  It’s nice to have something easy, something delicious, something I can just order whatever I want and enjoy instead of making sure I’m somewhere that I can get things sans grains.

However, I’m really noticing a difference in my energy, my recovery, my attitude, and definitely how I feel when I stay away from junk the vast majority of the time, and it’s sort of amazing.  So that is keeping me on what I’m doing.

It’s been a freeing experience – I figured giving up pasta, bread, and rice was going to literally kill me.  I figured that I wouldn’t find anything worth eating.  I couldn’t be more wrong – I found most of these items are really tasteless vehicles for sauce and toppings that really taste just fine on their own, thanks.  And if I’m skeeved out of eating a burger with no bun, I should probably rethink eating it WITH the bun, that means the quality of beef is not worthy of my cakefruit hole.

Also, corn tortillas literally save my life.  Potatoes definitely support my training.  Once you cut out other sugars, fruit tastes SO GOOD.  Another secret is making sure I have a lot of healthy things around that I like to eat that are easily accessible, and I have less desire to get crazy with the junk.  Like below, I got a bunch of yummy things from the store and put together an appetizer plate to munch on, it was so, so, so good.


I’m also back at that point where I’m considering a nutritionist again, but someone particularly specializing in endurance athletes.  This is proving to me that I need a little help.  I’m eating cleaner than I ever have, and I’m seeing some change in my shape, but my weight just won’t budge, and there is plenty that I have to lose.  I’m pretty broken when it comes to food.   I could eat myself into a calorie surplus with only a giant pile of carrots.

I’m not quite ready (financially and mentally) to hand the reigns over to someone else.  However, there is part of me that just wants to hand the problem over to someone else and say “tell me what to do and I’ll do anything just fix me fix me FIX ME!!!”.  I need rules.  I need some assurance that I’m not wasting my time trying to follow said rules.

And, welcome to a tour of my head, circa early September 2014.  Please visit the gift shop on the way out.

Pajaro Dunes/Monterey Bay

When last we spoke, I was boarding an airplane from Portland to San Jose.


The flight was entirely uneventful.  We emerged on the other side, hugged Zliten’s parents, who had been at the airport for, like, 4 hours.  They expected traffic and hit NONE so they just spent the afternoon reading and drinking coffee.  We loaded up our suitcases into their truck, and drove down to our condo on the beach.

We passed a lot of farmland and a lot of middle-of-nowhere and I was a little skeptical until we rolled into the condo and saw the sunset over the beach from our balcony and all was legit with the world.


They had taken it upon themselves to bring food in a giant cooler for all the meals and a bunch of snacks.  It was 80% super duper thoughtful and 20% tricky for us because of food allergies/preferences/I need some goddamn veggies or I go crazy.  We had super yummy burritos the first night (regular white flour tortilla – such a splurge…) and chips and salsa and guac.  I also probably ate my weight in peanut m and ms and chex mix and trail mix over the three days we were there because they were just there.  Sigh.  Between that and the all the previous beer, the scale and I STILL are not friends.

We played hand and foot – Zliten’s dad and I sort of dominated both games, and then we crawled into the highest bed ever. I’m not kidding, it had a step stool to get into.


The next morning, we made sure to take time to get a short beach run in.  I made up songs about the bird collectives that were hanging out on the beach (which made me think of Oiselle) and then on the way back Zliten stomped through their territory and made them all scatter.  I was worried, but not an ounce of bird shit soiled his clothes.  I think we may have spent a few karma points there.


I found a bunch of really in tact sand dollars and ran with one for a few miles to bring it home with me.  Also, we found a dead guitar shark (it has another name but come on… looks like a guitar shark) on the beach.  After a half hour of awesomely slow beach running in beautiful cloudy and 60s temps, I took off my shoes and got in for a Pacific ice bath for a few minutes.  So, so, so good.  I wish I could do that every morning after my summer runs instead of jumping into a not-cold shower all the way turned cold.  *insert wistful sigh here*

We ate some breakfast after – I made myself a big bowl of veggies and dip and had some trail mix and some fruit.  We played some more games (more winning) and then took a walk on the beach with the ‘rents.  We ended up going really far down and back, and took about an hour and a half – in the middle of the day – which meant a really wicked sunburn. Oops.  It was a really nice walk though, it was this weird dance of Zliten’s mom not wanting to get her feet wet and I pretty much wanted to be in the ocean the entire time, so lots of zig zagging to the water and back.

The whole vacation we had been craving pizza and holding out, and they had Round Table in the area (one of the pizza chains I’m assuming is only on the west coast), so we indulged.  I got a small supreme and Zliten and the family got a hawaiian and we snacked on it all vacation.  Ah, pizza.  Love it. The rest of the night was games and family time, after a quick break to watch the sunset.


Friday was our last full day of vacay, but it was to be one of the best… we were going to Monterey Bay aquarium!  First, another beach run.  Gorgeous.  Then we took the hour drive down and spent the afternoon at the aquarium.  Picture ‘splosion below.   I took soooo many, running multiple cameras out of juice, but here’s my fave few.


Lionfish and starfish.




Jellies, jellies, and more jellies.


Loooong jellies are long.


California sheephead fish.  Took FOREVER to get a decent picture, they swim fast!


Assorted tropical fishies – the kind which we see when snorkeling in the Caribbean (which made us wish we were snorkeling).


After a much needed fish taco stop and loooooong drive home in traffic we made it back to our dunes.  The night held more games, chicken cheesesteaks (on white rolls – again, super splurge), and another break to try to watch the sunset from the deck.  It was cloudy, so not quite as impressive, but watching the sun go down over the ocean is never a disappointment.


Saturday morning we took one more quick run – we needed detergent to finish some wash, so we ran through the national park to get to the condo office, and then the beach on the way back.  I took one more dip in the ocean in my run clothes, and then went and spent some time on the deck – apparently there were some dolphins playing right near where we were splashing.  Awesome!


We got packed up and said goodbye to our home in the dunes and headed to the airport through a mountain so we could see something different, and then (after a long day of travel ending about midnight), we were home.

I really enjoyed spending time with so many people in so many locations, but it was hard to really settle into vacation mode packing up and changing home bases so often.  Still, lots of fun and it was exciting to run and swim and explore three new places in a week!

(…and yes, now that I’ve been back 5 weeks, I’ve finally wrapped it up, never say I’m not timely!)

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