Adjusted Reality

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

Month: December 2014

Awesome (and not awesome) Things – 2014

The days in 2014 are getting short, so here’s a recap of how things went.  Honestly, I stopped tracking a lot of my goals, and happy I got as much done as I did!  Here’s my top 3 (and bottom 3) things for 2014 and how I did on my goals.

2014-09-28 15.56.48-1


Awesome thing #1: I got really really close to my half marathon PR!

Awesome thing #2: My first AG placement in a tri that was not 3rd out of 3!

Awesome thing #3: Laying it down at Kerrville with a huge PR under rough conditions.

Honorable mentions: Volunteering a lot more.  +karma and it’s actually kind of fun.  Surprising myself big time at Jack’s Generic and breaking the curse.  A PR at 10/20 for the 3rd year in a row.

Not awesome thing #1: Nutritional nightmare and subsequent tummy blow up at Woodlands.

Not awesome thing #2: Huge burnout funk (the start of it here) encompasing X-50 and Pflugerville.

Not awesome thing #3: Kind of dying at Space Coast marathon.

2014 Goals:

1. Plan out a reasonable season with adequate training time and enough offseason to keep me from being crispy.  Figure out what the A, B, and C races are and set appropriate goals.

I did great here – except for late April – early June.  I thought throwing a bunch of training at burnout would make it go away.  Surprise (to no one but past me, I guess)!  However, I rebounded with a vengence later to attack season pt. 2 with full on sharp teeth!

Also, apparently I didn’t set any racing goals as resolutions.  I’m ok with that, as I set them all year as races approach.



Awesome thing #1 New gym!  Lake, outdoor heated clean pool, endurance spin with wattage_cottage, and less than 5 mins from work.

Awesome thing #2 Getting my run legs back after the debauchle which was 2013.  It’s nice to be putting down paces that don’t embarrass me.

Awesome thing #3 Finally womaning up and riding streets outdoors in August and September.  Can’t wait to get back out there, actually!

Honorable mentions: longest swim ever, longest outdoor bike ever, fastest over-half marathon run ever, some massively awesome triple brick miles.

Not awesome thing #1 Missing 1k run miles by just a few.  I’m totally going to hit this next year.

Not awesome thing #2 Letting myself get into a hole after x-50 and trying to push through and do long distances for no reason.

Not awesome thing #3 Marathon training was inconsistent this year.  Also, missing my training partner!

2014 Goals:

1. Maintain a 20+ mile per week base, with some 40+ weeks during peak (running).

20 mile per week?  Close.  I intentionally took some weeks off or lower during off season or after races, but if you expanded it to be 15-20, I’d say I hit that.  40+ weeks? Yeah… only during marathon training.  Maybe next year.

2. Have a specific workout planned for each session with pace goals (unless it’s truly a recovery day, then EASY will suffice).  Do not neglect speedwork on any of the three disciplines.  Show up and conquer each training session.

I did REALLY, REALLY well at this for the Kerrville cycle.  I think I know how to periodize tri training decently now.  It didn’t work as well for marathon training, shockingly, that doesn’t seem to fit into a 2 month cycle. 😛



Awesome thing #1: Butter coffee w/protein powder.  This has replaced yogurt as my breakfast and rocks my world because of the ability to consume it so quickly after training.

Awesome thing #2: I hate to say it, but upping my fats and lowering grains.  I’m going to stick with it for a bit if for only one reason: my gut is a lot happier and I am able to handle race day nutrition much better since I started carb fueling myself by corn and potato instead of bread and pasta.

Awesome thing #3: I batch cooked throughout most of the year.  It’s just gotten to be a habit.  There is nothing that fights the junk food monster better than having a healthy, yummy meal ready to heat up.

Honorable mentions: tacos rule my world.  If I ever get an academy award or something speech worthy, I’ll probably have to thank tacos in the list of things that got me there.  Bacon fridays (on Friday, a group of us at work split a large order of smoked bacon) are also on my list.

Not awesome thing #1: I had some bouncing around, but I’ve ended up about back where I started.  It takes about 2 months for me to really get in and start losing weight and feeling good and then I have a race or vacation and it goes back up.

Not awesome thing #2: I don’t think I did much better this year about not eating crap that I didn’t want because it was in front of my face.

Not awesome thing #3: I have a ninja blender and have not made ONE morning smoothie with it.  I see a 2015 resolution.

2014 Goals:

1. Track calories and diet quality all year, minus vacations and/or periods where I am on break.

Oops.  I went super neurotic about it, then got stressed and stopped in April.  I think I’m going to figure out a middle ground for 2015.  Tracking helps me, but when I spend too many hours analyzing my intake it gets me crazy.

2. Batch cook the majority of 2014, and make use of my fit/snap kitchen when I’m too busy to do so.  Try some new recipes, and try to incorporate foods that I don’t 100% love but want to love, to see if I can make myself love them.  Keep variety in my fruits and veggies – man cannot live on spinach, mixed veggies, apples, and berries alone.

Yep!  I so did this.  I expanded my veggies (cauliflower, brussels, sweet potatoes, etc).  I did lots of batch cooking and it still rocks my world. 


Leisure Time:

Awesome thing #1: Vacations!  I got to visit Honduras, Belize, Cozumel, Portland, the Oregon Coast, Pajaro Dunes/Monterey Bay, Port Aransas, Cocoa Beach, Miami, and the Bahamas.  Not to mention race trips to Allen, Denton, the Woodlands, Boerne, and Kerrville TX.  I am really lucky to be able to have the financial means and be healthy so I can use my time off on vacations, not sick days.

Awesome thing #2: Waterpark!  Getting a season pass to Hawaiian Falls made my summer.  I’m already counting the days until we get to do it again.

Awesome thing #3: We’ve had a regular gaming group for most of the year and it’s been so much fun.

Honorable mentions: Getting the chance to see FIVE broadway shows this year.  Lots of awesome friend time and parties.  I barely felt like I fell into a training hole this year and it was a good thing.  Ren Faire.  Halloween.  Five weeks summer offseason to do fun stuff.  Life is good.

Not awesome thing #1: So much money fixing things.  Everything broke this year – electronics, house stuff, car stuff, teeth, legs, etc.  I’m really fortunate to have both a cushion in the bank and our salaries are such that shit like this can still happen and we still are able to put money into that cushion.  And that everything broken that was important could be fixed.  But still.

Not awesome thing: #2: I need to pay some more attention to the house – we have so much stuff that needs organization and purging.  Two adults should not be wishing for more space than a four bedroom house.

Not awesome thing: #3: Gonna go with three fractures in the leg bones for Zliten.  While I’m sure it’s much more annoying to be the one on crutches, it wasn’t without annoyances to be the spouse of a crutchy mc crutcherson.  And, hello, runs are not as fun solo all the time.

2014 Goals:

1. Set one goal per month to clean/organize/redo something.  It can be as small or large as I choose.

Ugh, I tried.  But this stressed me out and I left a lot of things undone.  I still need to scope this smaller (plans for 2015 already in the brain…).

2. We must fix the shingle in the roof and replace the front door.  Scope out redoing the slab on the patio and covering it, repainting/brick work the exterior, kitchen counters and if we want to redo anything else there (gold stars for completing).

We did the shingle and decided to wait because money.  We’ll do this next year.  Door is still holding together.  Nothing else yet.

3. Holy crap, I had a lot of minor things.  So, um, let’s list them.

Things I wanted to do that I did: continue to either host or go to a game night every ~2 weeks or so, not go into a training hole (aka, see people that aren’t my family a few times a month), uploading photos that go on the blog on the blog instead of linking from elsewhere, have more house parties, complete the TX Tri series with volunteering the races I didn’t race.

Things I made some progress but didn’t really accomplish: social media blackout days (I find I close it down more often than I did, but it’s still too much), purge my lists and follow people I’m interested in (working on the second, but I feel BAD about the first!), write shit on the blog that’s not just lists and graphs and race recaps (getting there, but I used to, like, WRITE, now it’s really journally), take care of myself not to get crispy (I did better, but I let the season go too long earlier this year).

Things I just didn’t do: get through my coaching class (I just dropped it, working full time and training and other hobbies and a life means the thought of it is just stressful), go somewhere epic (lots of vacations, but didn’t leave North America), making something wearable on the sewing machine, scuba dive once over the summer (and NOT doing it made me feel like a big noob diving in December – oops), and do something epic over the top nice for someone.  I mean, I think I did nice things for people, even stuck my neck out professionally for some folks, but it wasn’t that selfless “random act of kindness”.


2014 Summary:

If I could sum up my feelings about 2014 in three words (plus, of course, extrapolation because, let’s face it, I’m not succinct and this is my little sandbox so… yeah):

1. Grateful/fortunate/lucky: I have so much cool shit in my life.  While I’m always going to have things to improve because goals are cool, y’all, I am truly happy and proud of the person I’ve become in my 35 years.  I think me at any age would be happy to meet me at 35 and hang out.  And not just 18-20 year old me so I could buy me beer.  Though I probably would.

2. Fun: Yeah, there are things that feel like chores.  Some days at work are a slog.  Sometime I have to clean the house and go grocery shopping or call a human on the phone and life sucks.  But honestly?  So much of my life is viewed as PLAY lately.  I get to summon a whole bunch of creative people to a meeting room at work and come up with plans to make ideas into life.  I get to play in the lake, the pool, at the gym, on trails, in my neighborhood.  Being able to view life as play does not suck.

3. Focused: I focused on doing races for a reason.  I focused on training for a reason and not just MOAR MILEZ (although I fell into that trap a bit late spring and paid for it).  I tried to help us focus a bit more at work and be more proactive about our planning which helped us be more focused and complete more.  While I lost it a bit at home, I tried to make sure relaxing days were for relaxing, and productive days were productive, and there wasn’t too many of one or the other.

I’ll hoist a glass of wine for 2014, it was a pretty great year!  2015, I’m coming for you… after a nice long holiday break (which I am currently in the middle of and it is GLORIOUS).

Winding Down

Merry Christmas from the Donna the Iguana!


I am not a cold weather fan, and I’m probably just counting the days until the waterpark opens again, but I do love this particular time of year.  The lights, the tree, the music, and it probably helps that my husband just kind of a Christmas nut, so we do it up.

However, once it’s grey and January and there’s no Christmas lights up it SUCKS, but we won’t think about that yet since I have another two weeks or so to be happy and/or merry.


Another thing I love about December – everything has slowed down a bit around here (very, very thankfully) and it’s a time for relaxing and reflection.  And some running, don’t get me wrong, I still have a race in 9 weeks and 4 days, but I’m still on the zen hippie plan over here.

1. No electronics.  I haven’t brought my garmin, my HR monitor, or my phone (music) on a run yet and I probably won’t until after the new year.  A year ago, you could pry my electronics from my cold dead hands, but during the right periods of time, this year I learned that it’s nice just to let go and just go move.

2. I’ve had rough mileage goals last week (wanted to hit 30 run miles, hit 32), and I will for the next two as well, but they’re suggestions.  They’re also gauging my big February decision: 13.1 or 26.2 on the 28th.  Right now I’m ok with it being up in the air, and my mileage totals and body condition will influence that decision greatly.

3. Some bike, some swim, some weights, but they’re not a focus.


Until Jan 5th, I’m taking it as it comes and using my watch and my brain and my heart to decide what’s to do.  I’m doing my best to shovel myself out the door when I’m supposed to go, because often during the winter I don’t have a whole lot of “get going” oomph, but the general plan is “until I feel like stopping”.  And generally once I start, it’s some other force like I’m going to be late to work or it’s getting dark or running longer than 12 miles my first week back is probably a bad idea.  And even if there is, I promise myself no guilt for going outside, running around the block, and coming back inside if I’m not into it.

In food related stuff, it’s December.  I give myself some latitude here.  There’s some of this:


Lemon pepper fish, asparagus, greek salad.  Every bite on that plate was amazing.

However, there’s also some days that look more like this:


…and that’s ok.  One way I’ve tried to keep myself from resembling the Goodyear blimp is batch cooking of my old favorites and trying some new recipes.


Of course, zuppa toscani is pretty much a mainstay around here, as is beef stew, and chicken tacos, sirloin burger soup, and shepard’s pie made their appearances.  However, I’ve been trying some new tricks.  Some of my new favorites have been:

Low carb tuna casserole.  Recipe inspired by this, but you know I can’t follow a recipe to save my life so mine turned out different in a wonderful way.

Tamale pie.  I got the idea somewhere on instagram, but when I looked for the post, I couldn’t find it!  I took leftover barbacoa that was a little dry and needed some help, and added olives, onions, green pepper, corn, and black beans, and made it wet with tomato sauce and taco seasoning.  I used this recipe for the topper.  It was dinner last night and hit the spot in a huge way.

Not-at-all chicken and dumpling soup.  Zliten asked for chicken and dumpling soup.  I cringed and was thinking of how to make two different ones without the dough, but then remembered that he wanted THIS soup, which actually doesn’t have the dumplings in it.  I used a modification of this recipe as my soup base (sub cauliflower + one potato for the asparagus, omitted the butter, used more sour cream), and just threw in chicken, one more chopped up potato, and a whole bunch of veggies and he can’t stop eating it.

Protein powder fro yo.  Take 4 cups of (full fat) plain yogurt (not greek), add a few scoops of protein powder (so far, I’ve done cinnamon swirl, cookies and cream, and chocolate with mint extract), and you have a dessert.  It still hits the sweet spot, but it has protein and not a lot of extra sugar and some nutritional value.

I may have also made some heavenly peppermint stick ice cream, but it’s got zero redeeming nutritional qualities and it’s for Christmas dinner.  I also won’t put the recipe right here for you just in case.

In other life-things, which I’ve had a decent amount of, because I haven’t been training my face off:


Got some really sweet tickets from Yelp to go see Anything Goes on opening night (yep, more orchestra seats for the price of some social media-ing and parking).  We were just a few days off the cruise ourselves, so it was a nice transition into real life.  There were some epic tap sequences and it was one of the rare shows where it was the full broadway cast, no substitutions.

It’s hard to say that it was the best, competing with Wicked and Beauty and the Beast, but it was up there.


I don’t always spandex.  While our holiday party was in that unfortunate time after vacation/the race where nothing fits and I feel like a balloon, I used a blow drier and a straightener, put on makeup, and figured something out and headed downtown to Fado and we made merry.  It was a bizarre party where the bar was open, then cash, then open for a minute, then cash, and the food was available for like maybe 30 mins before they took it away and brought desert (so guess who ate a plate of deserts for dinner figuring it was better than an empty stomach + booze + people I manage? ding ding ding!).

However, the whiskey, conversation, someone I see daily not recognize me (maybe I should quit with the ponytail and jeans and tees all the time?), and our company’s epic white elephant gift extravaganza made up for it.  Fun times.

Friday was Zliten’s last day on crutches, and Sunday was his first 20 minute trainer ride!  He’s now back to 2/3rds of a triathlete and hopefully the healing continues well so he can run soon.

Once quitting time on Christmas Eve can get here, I have 11 whole days off and not very many plans, and I hope to keep it that way!  If I can spend the majority of my break in my PJs on the couch (when I’m not in spandex training), life will be great!


Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Joyeux Noel, Grumpy Festivus, or whatever you celebrate, cheers!

Vacation Recap: Florida and the Bahamas

Here’s the rest of the Florida/Bahamas fun.  Please excuse the words as they’re just there to justify the giant picture dump.


Friday: The Day Before the Day Before

Last year, I forgot to eat and found myself eating my first meal at 6:30pm and it involved a giant burger, fries, potato skins, and a beer.  This year, I planned ahead and we had a breakfast of leftover turkey corn tacos and we headed to the airport full, not starving.

Traveling with Zliten on crutches was both wonderful and terrible at points.  I had to lug all the suitcases, which was not great, but the minute we got to the gate, Southwest folks got us a wheelchair, we got priority check in and through the priority security line, and then we got to board first and got to sit in the first row with all the leg room.  Hopefully we never have to do it again, but it has it’s perks.


When we got to Orlando, we took a shuttle to pick up our steed at Sixt, and while I’ve never gone with this company before since they’re not at the airport, I regret that and will never rent with anyone else again if I can help it.  The service was great, we got no pressure to upgrade, do extra insurance (my amex + regular insurance covers everything needed), and we ended up with a small SUV for a really reasonable rate.  Score!

We made it to Melbourne before the packet pickup closed, and it was a breeze.  I was really hoping to skip the expo since it would have been a nightmare for Zliten.  Also, the shirt was pretty awesome this year, so I decided to skip any extra merchandise.


The night before the night before is about two things for me: eating and sleeping a lot.  I took care of the first with some Ruby Tuesday’s – I got the seafood trio and ate an INSANE amount of salad bar.


Then, I had a nice hot bath and climbed into bed and I crashed.  For 12 hours.

Saturday: The Day Before

I woke up feeling very refreshed and calm.  I headed to the free breakfast but kept it in check – I had a bunch of bacon and an apple with PB and some nuts from my snack stash.  I read for a bit, but then the pool outside was calling so I enjoyed that for a bit.  I weighed the merits of a shakeout run vs more swimming and swimming won.


Generally, we do a movie the day before races and this was no exception, we had a 2pm appointment with the Mockingjay.  I realized on the way there that I was getting hungry, so I needed some sort of snack before the movie.  I hit up the mall food court for something and the only safe-ish food I saw was a subway veggie salad.  This marathon was full of salad power.  It hit the spot and I didn’t eat any moviegoers or chairs in the theatre.  The movie was pretty good too!


For dinner, we went to Florida’s version of a Texas steakhouse, Backwoods, and it was pretty spot on.  I very reluctantly skipped the fried pickles, and had a small filet with mashed potatoes and baked potato soup.  I decided I had enough “salad power” mojo and needed some carby carbs.

Again with the bath and settled into bed and was almost asleep and then my brain realized “OMG WE HAVEN’T THOUGHT ABOUT THE RACE ALL DAY SO LETS THINK ALL THE THINGS”.  Lesson learned.  Even if Zliten isn’t racing, I still have to annoy him a LITTLE BIT with race talk or I’ll suffer later.  I got maybe 3 hours of toss-y turn-y sleep.

Sunday: Publix Sandwich Day (I mean, Marathon Day)

I discussed the race in length here, so I’ll skip that for now.

On the way back from the race, I headed into Publix and got two footlong sandwiches clad in full race gear, medal, number, sweat, and all.  I got some stares, and cheers, and probably some jeers due to my funk, but it was worth it.  Those sandwiches are magical.


I downed that, some beer, and some chips and sat out on the balcony reading… and then I started to fade.  In a weird way.  Like, the amount of caffeine I had should NOT have had me fading at 3pm.  Once I got inside, I felt great.  The heat really did a number on me that day.


We waited until the sun wasn’t right on it, and went down to the pool.  Let me tell you, if you get a chance, get in a pool as quickly as you can after a long hard race.  I really think how quickly my legs bounced back was a product of how much water time I had the week after.

After the pool, there was a lot of laying in bed and reading, and then I slept pretty solidly for 9 hours.  I like this post race trend.  I used to sleep really fitfully but the last two long races?  Like a log.

Monday: In Transit

After being good with my food choices, I was excited to take advantage of the breakfast offerings and had some fresh made waffles with syrup, bacon, and cereal.  We got repacked fairly quickly and got on the road a little late, but well within the acceptable time to make it to Miami before the boat left.


I did something I haven’t done in forever – we had lunch at a fast food chain.  And, I actually didn’t regret it.  Hardees actually makes a pretty solid burger.  Zliten said it was WAY better than the burger he got at Ruby Tuesday’s and they’re, like, an upscale burger restaurant.

The drive was fairly uneventful, we made it to the Sixt drop off around two and they already had a cab waiting for us to get to the ship by the time we had paid.  Love them.

Once we got to the cruise terminal, Zliten was whisked into a wheelchair, through priority lines, through the back of the terminal, and onto the boat in a jiffy.  Again, hope we never have to do this again, but it was pretty nice.


Because I had marathon metabolism going strong, I needed some second lunch.  We hit the buffet and as would be the norm for the next few days, I’d grab a few plates of stuff and Zliten and I would nibble on it.  Crutches + buffet line = nothing happening, so I was on food duty. I had some delicious shrimp chowder and curry and salad, and I would meet my best friend for the trip (and the reason my pants shrunk) – pretzel bread.  So, so good.

We brought our kindles and read until the boat drill happened, then I stowed our clothes once we got our suitcases.  I told myself I’d wait and ended up missing the first bit of sailing away, but I was just compelled to have to do it then.

After chores were done, we had a sailaway drink or two on deck.  I had a margarita (I had been craving one for months), Zliten got a mai tai, we tried a rebellious fish, and then got sold on the bottle service when we priced out the options.  It took us three days to finish it, so I’m going to say it was worth it.


After having our fill of rum, we headed down to dinner after I changed.  I brought nice things to wear to dinner I was wearing them, damnit!  We had the most fantastic waitstaff for dinner (Irish and Cloria) and we requested them every night. They were so fun and Irish kept bringing us little snacks from the Philipines from her personal stash.

This particular meal was loaded corn on the cobb, cheese tortellini soup, salad with blue cheese (their blue dressing was to die for, so I had that pretty much every day), Moroccan veggie cous cous, and half the bread basket.  And, I had to have dessert, because it was chocolate melting cake with cookie ice cream and strawberry sauce.

All you can do after a meal like that is read and sleep, so we did just that.

Tuesday: Freeport Snorkel

7:20am is usually an ungodly hour on a cruise but since we slept so early it was fine.  We hit the buffet for breakfast, and I tried to avoid crappy crashy carbs since we had a full day of activity planned, so I had plenty of corn beef hash (they made it totally the WRONG way, it wasn’t good), home fries, bacon, fruit, and cheese.

I wasn’t a huge fan of their breakfast, to be honest.  On other ships, there is more variety for people like me who really don’t love breakfast food, but I ate that same plate of food pretty much every morning because there wasn’t much for people who didn’t do eggs and didn’t want carb overload.


After we digested a bit, we got off the ship and headed into Freeport to meet up with our tour.  We wandered around a bit and then got told to sit in a spot, and we waited, and waited, and then finally they told us we were at the wrong place.  Grrr.  No harm, no foul, as the other group had not left yet, and we got into the van and headed out for adventure!

Our guides Shammie and Michael were fantastic and Shammie spent all the driving time giving us ecology info about the island.  He was very smart and well educated.


Our first stop was a blue hole, which is essentially an ocean sink hole.  I’ve seen pictures of some epic blue holes in Belize, so I was excited.  This one was CONSIDERABLY smaller, but still neat.


Our second stop was Paradise Cove.  This included two of the coolest experiences I’ve ever had snorkeling.


One – they feed the fish regularly here so they swam with us like we were in their school.  This was so fun!


Two, we got to get up close and personal with a golden spotted eel.  He was chilling in 2 feet of water and we didn’t get a lot of spectacular pictures but it was definitely a highlight.


So instead, here’s one of my FAVORITE fish.

Our guide did a lot of diving down and picking up cool stuff for us to look at and while at first I was pretty “meh” on the idea of having a guide, it was totally worth it.  We got to shore and realized that it had been 90 minutes out in the water.  Holy crap!  Time passes so fast for me in the water.

The time past was not lost on my stomach, and I was thankful they had us put in our order before we set out – fish sticks and fries were waiting for me and they were DELICIOUS (in the sense that I was soooo hungry). Our tour group probably thought I inhaled my food wayyy too fast but I told them I did a marathon 2 days ago so WHATEVS.

After we had lunch, we got back in our chariot and headed to a mangrove marsh and brought out the kayaks.  By this point I had been wet and cold all day and was a little upset about having to be in front but I found out that both of us got just as wet and I ended up having a lot of fun anyway, so there’s that.  We found out about the cycles of mangroves, and how if you are in a young area, you sink in the mud, but if it’s more mature, you can get out and stand. Crazy!  We kayaked almost 2 miles before we packed up and headed back.

After we got back to the port, we got ourselves a Sands beer.  It’s their local Bahamian one, and we actually passed the brewery on the way back, and just like most beers of the Carribean, it was light and refreshing.  Finally, I got my wet, cold, and shivery butt back on board and took a very long hot shower.

We brought our rum bucket up to the pool deck and watched the boat sail away and the sun start to set.  We wanted to do the art auction (kind of), and we collect the prints they give out (mostly why we wanted to go), but Zliten was very settled and didn’t want to have to crutch down, so I checked in on it about an hour in.  And then it kept going.  And going.  Finally after another hour, I asked if I could get my print because I had to go to dinner.  I may have spent a karma point or two there but dang.  Looooong auction was long.

Once I got back I required a drink and Zliten required sustinence, so he poured me on while I trolled the buffet for a snack.  I grabbed us some random munchies, including my beloved pretzel bread, some malai kofta which I love, and some really yummy cold salads.


Zliten makes me laugh.

Finally around 8:30 we decided to hit the real dinner.  We split a fried brie (which is as wonderful as you would imagine), too much bread, shrimp minestrone, salad w/blue cheese, a potato and cauliflower curry, and a chocolate raspberry cake.

Apparently I slipped Zliten roofies (he later remembered he took a benedryl), because he was falling asleep during dinner, and I think we both conked out before 10.

Wednesday: Diving at Nassau

Unlike most diving adventures, we didn’t have to be up at the crack of dawn.  The excursion wasn’t until 11:30.  However, Zliten was so excited he was up by 6:30, and I even couldn’t sleep past 8:45.  So, breakfast it was.  Same as the day before.

I read and Zliten got our dive bags together, and we got off the boat VERY early.  He went sans crutch (we feared the dive company wouldn’t be happy about taking someone with a fractured leg on board even though the doctor cleared him to do so) so we took it very slow.  Even so, we had a wait, but hanging out in the beautiful Bahamian sunshine was only so much of a burden. 🙂


The company picked us up and we spent 45 mins bussing to the other side of the island.  We saw lots of cool buildings, a new Chinese gambling resort going up, and Sean Connery’s house.  I wouldn’t be in any hurry to go back to Freeport, but I’d come visit Nassau itself for a vacation.  We ended up at a big marina on a big dive boat with just a few people.  Nice!

My ears were feeling a little off since Sunday, so I warned them I might take a while getting down to depth.  I also tweaked a quad muscle getting my gear and weights on.  Annoying.  The worst part of diving is the gear, it’s quite heavy and cumbersome.


I did have trouble with ear squeezes (when the pressure doesn’t equalize properly, it feels like someone is pinching your ear drums) both times, but I made it eventually.  With that stuff, you just have to be patient or you can rupture your ear drums.  No dive is worth that.

The first dive was an 80-100 foot wall dive called Sand Chute, and it’s the first time since my certification I’ve been down that deep.  It was really cool to see the wall go from the 60 feet it started at just off into nothingness of 6k feet of ocean floor.  A little terrifying, but a lot awesome.  We saw a baracuda, but there wasn’t a lot of notable ocean life out, and that was fine, because I had a bunch of noob moments with my buoyancy and trying to wrangle the camera.  Oh well.


When we got back to the boat, I headed straight for the bathroom (turning over a new leaf of not peeing in my wetsuit, I guess). When I got out, there were a bunch of people I didn’t recognize and I was scared I got on the wrong boat, but they had ferried out the Discover Scuba (aka – we want to dive but we have no official license) crew.  Makes sense why we had such an empty boat for the first one!

The second dive was better.  Zliten and I got to go explore the James Bond wreck (a boat wrecked for a 70s Bond movie, I forget which one) on our own.


We got to play with some Angel fishies.  It looked like a mama, daddy, and fairly big baby fish.  Even if not, it was more fun to think of it that way.


These looked like something out of an anime to me, but they are actually places where sick coral is nursed back to health.  I didn’t get too close because I didn’t want to hurt it.


Zliten found this guy and grabbed him to show to me.  Once we put him back on the ocean floor, he came out of his shell and flicked his antenae angrily at me, standing his ground.


And of course, there was much gorgeous flora and fauna.  Any day when you can blow bubbles is a good day.


Once Zliten was out of air (he uses about twice what I do – he was actually below 10% of the tank and I was at 50%), we did our safety stop and surfaced and were actually the last ones on the boat.  We rode back to the marina, found a sweet t-shirt to buy, and got on the bus back to the boat and snacked on a kind bar and some gatorade.

Once again, I enjoyed a nice long hot shower and then we got “lunch snacks” (aka dinner buffet) around 6 – including split pea soup, lentil salad, my homie pretzel bread, and some salad.  We got the rum bucket and finished it up while we watched the diving videos and shuffled through the pictures on the tablet.


I was onto my two nicer dresses so it took a little motivation but I dressed for dinner.  I finally got Zliten to do so as well.  I had a goat cheese puff (didn’t eat half of it, it wasn’t that great), but I did have some of Zliten’s lamb kofta, another salad, coconut shrimp curry, a few bites of carbonara pasta, and this nutella in a mug pudding desert that ruled my world.

Apparently, I drugged Zliten again, because it was reading and sleepy time after dinner.  We stayed up almost until midnight, we are party animals.

Thurs: Sea Day Out of Nowhere

I slept sort of fitfully because my ears hadn’t drained from the diving, and I was hoping I’d be fine to snorkel.  We woke up to the announcement that the port was cancelled because of high winds.  The tender wouldn’t be very safe, and even if we got there, conditions would be crappy.  I was about half bummed because, well, you don’t get to snorkel on a private island every day, and half happy because I could use a relaxing day on land.

We went to the dining room for breakfast since we were up already and were in no hurry.  It wasn’t much different than upstairs.  I did indulge in some pancakes, and they did actually have hashbrown cakes instead of home fries, but I had the same bacon and fruit as upstairs.


We spent most of the day on deck reading.  I think by that point I had made it through 3 or 4 books.  Love vacations and getting lost in a book.  I spent the day in jeans – it was nice and sunny but a little windy and in the 70s.  While some folks from the north were playing in the pool and sunbathing, that’s fall weather for us here in Austin.

We hit the dining room for lunch as well.  I went incredibly unhealthy with a popcorn shrimp appetizer with jalapeno tartar sauce which was spectacular, and a shrimp burger (burger made of shrimps) on a pretzel bun.  I couldn’t help myself.


Did some meandering about the ship.  We checked out the shops and the photos and didn’t find anything.  I checked out the wine tasting but decided to open the bottles we brought on board instead.  We listened to some live bands by the pool and watch the Mrs. Bicep competition (I decided against trying to compete, lol).

We hit up the art auction and had some champagne and actually bought some art!  When the auction for three Krasnyanskys went up, Zliten and I both could picture where to put them in the house so we bid and won!  I also guessed closest to the actual price of the Picasso and ended up getting two more free prints.  They’re being shipped to the house now.  I’m so excited for new art!  Wheee!


I couldn’t even bring myself to change for dinner so we went casual.  We had our last dinner with Irish and Cloria.  As normal, all the bread and butter, a pork spring roll, tomato soup, salad with blue cheese, and a crab and fish cake.  For desert, I got a Mexican brownie with dulce de leche topping and vanilla ice cream.  I had some great food on this cruise but I think this may have been the top.

After dinner we sat by the pool and drank our last bottle of wine.  I think both of us were kind of ready to sleep after that dinner but we had paid the corkage fee, so we were going to drink it, darn it!  We got our luggage packed and put outside the room right at the midnight deadline, and then, you guessed it, read and slept.

Friday: My Own Couch!

Since this is already epic in length, I’ll keep this short.


Got up and ate the same breakfast.  We spent 4 hours at the airport and had some pretty epic mahi tacos for lunch.  Read a lot of my book.  Had drink tickets for the flight that had to be used this year and it’s kinda crazy how quickly you get tipsy on a plane.  It was a little bumpy but beautiful.


We got home and spent the weekend relaxing.

The end!

Hot and Hard: Spacecoast Marathon

I’m reluctant to put proverbial words to paper on this one because I’m really still not sure how I feel about this race and where I go from here. But it’s time. So here we go.


Pre race:

I did all the right things.  I ate reasonably on Thanksgiving (for Thanksgiving, that is, though I did have a LOT of bread).  I ate plenty of good food on Friday instead of one big meal real late like last time – see below my second meal of the day (and probably a meal’s worth of snacks extra), not the first.  I wore various pairs of running shoes all week even though it was PERFECT weather for cute shoes and boots.  My legs were coming around to where m-pace felt like holding back.  Packet pickup on Friday was a breeze and meant I stayed out of the expo.  Hell, I got 12 hours of sleep the night before the night before.  Nothing but love here for process.


The only thing was my head was hardly in it.  Usually when Zliten and I are about to race, we’re excited and nervous and chatter about the day.  Well, he wasn’t all about that, so I tried to put it out of my mind and just pretend I was on vacation.  That sucked for two reasons: a) no real race day enthusiam b) until about 9pm when I laid down to sleep and was bombarded by OMG ALL THE THOUGHTS about the next day.  Which netted me mayyyyybe 3 hours real sleep total.

I also skipped my shakeout run for swimming in the hotel pool.  Now, the shakeout run last year was the beginning of the end for me, which is probably why I ditched it.  I don’t always shake out the day before, and I don’t think it affected me, but probably worth noting.


The morning of, I really just wanted to get this over with so I could get on with being on vacation.  I wasn’t exactly the epitome of a pumped up jam.  I did some of the normal things (purple stuff, kind bar) but not others (skipped coconut water which I think was a huge mistake, could not poo for the life of me).   We got there, parked, I porta pottied (nada), took some pre race pics, sat with Joel until about 20 mins before the race started and all of a sudden needed to use the portas again (yay!).

Another reason for not-looking-forward-to-it: the forecast kept getting warmer and warmer and while mid 70s, sunny, and humid doesn’t sound like the end of the world it is certainly not optimal marathon weather, especially for us not-trying-to-qualify-for-Boston folk who are out closer to noon. To be clear, I started the race in a tank and shorts and I was completely comfortable before I started running. Bleh.

I got in with the thick of people, found a spot between the 4:45 pacer and the 5 hour peeps (no 4:50 pacer), and we had our countdown and then it was time for launch!


Start – 6.5
I held back here. My goal was to run 11 minute miles and I constantly had to pull on my own reigns to do it, but I hit the turn around at 10:58 average feeling great. I took in a gel around 1 hour and was enjoying the day so far.  Around mile 5 I actually started to really get into this thing and had hopes it might be a great day after all!

Goal was to speed up to about 10:50s average by the half. I felt great until about mile 8-9 and was tempted to fix that average in the first mile after the turnaround, but I tried to be patient.  Then, the first low got me – some of these miles go up a bit and the crappy sleep I got the night before started to show because I got hit with the tireds wayyy too early.  Not a good sign.

Also, my sock kept twisting up, and I had to pull over a few times to fix it, and it never really felt right. I’ve ran with these socks MANY times and they’ve never done this before (grrr).  I took another gel early -I figured crankiness = need more caffeine and sugar. Finished 20 oz full strength gatorade at 12 and ditched my handheld. I hit the half point at 10:55 pace and feeling decent, a little worried about my toe, but not exploding like last year.


When you’re doing the robot 15 minutes before the race, probably time to get serious…

13, 14, 15 were decent, I couldn’t speed up like I wanted, but I was holding steady (another gel around 14-15), and then at 16 I just… walked. It very much came out of nowhere, and I couldn’t fight it. I don’t understand how I have these strong 18-20 mile training runs and then fold at marathons wayyy before that, but it just happens.  Something to fix.

I think it was partly my surroundings. A lot of people around me on the marathon course were walking. The half course was coming right at us and most people were walking since it was the 3+ hour folks coming into the finish (they race the second half of the marathon and they start 30 mins before us). I didn’t realize it until post-race unraveling, but it was REALLY demoralizing that day, and I need to be ready for that if I do this race again.

I walked, fixed my sock again, and then ran until an aid station and then walked and ran a bit and walked and stretched and played with my sock a few more times. I didn’t understand at that point how hot I was, but I was fading and starting to give up. Not good.

Around 18, the five hour Galloway (run/walk) pacer passed me and it woke me up. I was not willing to concede missing sub-5 hours and my thought was “hang on to that dude for dear life”. Now, you may giggle at the run walkers like I used to, but that pace is no joke, especially 18 miles into a hot marathon. When they called run, it was about 1 minute per mile faster than my goal m-pace. When they called walk, it was 14-15 min powerwalk pace, which was CHALLENGING with my current muscular condition.

Both running and walking hurt a lot, but in different ways, so at least it was changing pain which was better than same pain right then.  Sometimes I had to run for two of their segments to keep up but I was not going to let that jerk (reality: awesome marathon angel) out of my sight.

I held with the group until about 22, I even passed them at one point but they reeled me back in. I had convinced myself he was WAYYY ahead of pace according to my watch (which lost data for a while and I had still set to autopause even though I swore I’d fix that after last year) and I’d catch him later. My plan was to gel around 3:45, but I finally got my fourth down right after 22.

Mile 23 and 24 were more low points. Whereas last year I rocked the last 10k, I didn’t get that same boost at 20, it was a major fight.  I had the worst leg cramps ever and I had to continue to pull over to stretch them to the point where I had people ask me if I was ok.

However, the pixie dust didn’t completely evade me.  When I hit 24.5 things fell back into place and I finally got that third wind. My last two miles were the fastest. The second to last mile was in the 10:20s and the last 1.2 averaged in the 9s. How? I’m not sure. Marathon magic.

I crossed the line probably looking like a crazy third grader on field day but feeling like an Olympic sprinter (EDIT: the video actually shows me chugging along fairly nicely but definitely hid the EFFORT that was going on there).

Post Race:

I got my medal and towel and cold washcloth, chugged 4 waters, and found Joel volunteering at the pizza tent. He got me a chair, a fresh slice of cheese, and gave me his ice pack and all I could say for about 15 minutes was “I’m so hot. That was so hard. So hot. So hard.” I limped to the beer tent and got one and sat down and maybe added a few words to my current vocabulary but I don’t think I made coherent sentences for almost an hour.

My garmin said 4:54, but somehow there was 6 extra minutes of farting around because I came in just over 5 hours official time. It was a PR (by 1:37), but I was just CRUSHED initially. I mean, it’s hard to bitch about a PR in wayyyy harder conditions but OMG, 58 seconds. Come on. If I could have known, I had to have been able to find that somewhere, right?


After 8 days of reflection, I have found some other things to be proud of.
1. Any day you can cover 26.2 miles and walk your ass into a grocery store after and order sandwiches less than an hour after you cross the tape is a good day.
2. While my third wind came so dang late, who can knock mile 25 and 26 being the fastest of the day?
3. I had heat, salt, and (really mild) dizziness issues for the next few days. I did not hold back here. While I might have had a few more minutes in me, I didn’t have all that much more than I gave.  That. heat.
4. I placed 89/232 in my age group (38%). Damn near top third. Solidly in the top half. My goal time of 4:40 would have gotten me top quarter. It was a HARD DAY, y’all.

HR AVG: 162, which is probably pretty spot on for a marathon target. Zone 3.


That day, we spent between the balcony overlooking the ocean, in the pool, and laying in bed.  Being directly in the sun was not good for me – I faded until I got into the AC, so the heat was definitely a factor.

The next week – I spent probably half a normal training week in the ocean on vacation so lots of active recovery.  Along with a lot of good food, booze, and passive (lounging on deck chairs reading) recovery, I feel pretty darn stellar after just over a week.  Water, especially salt water, is magic for marathon recovery.


What’s next?  Well, I’m signed up for another marathon Feb 28th. I’m putting a lot of thought about how hard I want to train and race that one (or potentially drop to the half).  I’ve decided I’m going to do a lot of whatever feels good this month, with a goal of maintaining some running base, and see where the chips lie at the beginning of January.

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