Adjusted Reality

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

Month: June 2017

Fishy Business – Roatan, Costa Maya, and Cozumel

As time goes on, as a fishie in a human’s body, all vacations seem to descend into as much time in the ocean as possible.

My natural state of being when there’s ocean around.

With land-based vacations like Bonaire or Key Largo, that means just about every moment until Zliten cries uncle.  On a cruise, though, you’re limited to the days your have at port, and I think we pretty much made the most of them.

Day 4 of the cruise, we docked in Roatan, and took a cruise tour excursion to Tabatya Beach.  We heard good things about the snorkeling there, and it did not disappoint.  We’re actually considering returning there later this year, the reef was so gorgeous.

I actually didn’t look at any of my photos until after the cruise was over because I was bummed about them for no reason.  My back was hurting and I couldn’t stabilize as well as normal so I figured my pictures were going to be shit.  Not true in the slightest.  I’m sure I missed a few things because I wasn’t at 100% but I have some great stuff to show off, so here we go!

This may be one of my favorite pictures I’ve ever taken.  A giant school of Ocean Surgeonfish playing the the morning sun.

Giant mature Rainbow Parrotfish are usually super skittish and they’re super hard to photograph well, but this one and a few friends were just hanging out in like 18 inches of water feeding.  Watching them from above, their fins kept poking out of the water.  I stayed there for a while in awe even though I almost snagged my rashguard about 10 times on the coral.

Sergeant Majors are my favorite common fish and they were super brave and wanted to include me in their school and show me around everywhere.  This was taken without zoom.  They were THAT friendly.

Not a terribly rare fish, but I like my picture of this Banded Butterfly feeding.

Parrots are all over down there, but this Stoplight was showing me his good side.

Pufferfish says “peekaboo, I see you, now GO AWAY”.

It was a spectacular day.  We started out about 9am with beautiful conditions and light.  We took three trips in, about 60-90 minutes each time, and took a break the first time to reapply sunscreen and the second for a quick lunch.  I think we covered at least 2 miles in the approximately 4 hours we were out there, if not more.  Bonaire might be tops for diving, but I think the snorkeling in Roatan is definitely some of the best around and we’re definitely considering spending a week there soon.

Storytime!  On day five of the cruise, we docked in Costa Maya, a new port for us.  The diving was pretty expensive, the snorkeling situation was a little sketchy (either not great or you had to go out of town), so we decided to take a cab to a nearby beach and see what “not great” meant.

Well, not great means that you will have to swim about an Ironman distance swim to see anything and dodge boats and current to do it.  In the future our yellow snorkel vests and even a diver down flag would be prudent.  These pictures are not the greatest, the lighting and conditions were not super, but here’s a few things from the area around Yaya Beach.

First thing we saw was a giant Sea Cucumber.  In Bonaire they were called Donkey Turds and I think that name is pretty appropriate, no?

After a loooooong swim, I was excited to find a few squid.  Then I turned around and watched as a pod of like 40 of them swam away.  Sigh.

As we were coming back to the shore, we saw this pretty little starfish in just a few feet of water.

Then we found a beach (which may have been private) to cut across instead of the boat lane and walked across a road and more beaches and we were back at our Carribean Life beach area and our stuff was all there and we declined to go back out a second round because there was nothing near us, and we didn’t want to swim ANOTHER 2 miles.

I’m torn as to what I’d do if we go back here.  It was kinda fun to adventure snorkel but I really feel like there has to be a better place to go that doesn’t take a boat or a 45 minute cab ride each way.  And maybe it’s OK to take the cruise excursion where you only snorkel for 40 minutes if it’s more quality, and maybe it’s better to go to the zip line and waterpark instead or drink beers at the swim up bar in the port instead and call it a day.

Friday, Day 6 of the cruise in Cozumel, had an interesting start.  We made sure we were super early to the dive shop, which was in a resort… and they made us wait outside the complex.  And wait.  And wait.  Finally they told us to go down a path, and we found the wrong one which lead backstage to a show and were escorted out.  Then, we got escorted again to the right one (stupid Gringos), and hey, diveshop!

This may also be one of my other favorite pictures I’ve ever taken.  This Queen Triggerfish is gorgeous, super rare, and posing like a model for me.  Bonus boxy brown (spotted trunkfish) on the bottom as well!

This Spotted Barracuda totally wanted me to follow him.  Probably as food not friend but I don’t know for sure!

Tuuuuuuurtle!  I expended probably about a quarter of my tank kicking against the strong current to take another pass at this guy for a better picture, and I’m glad I did.  The lighting is great, if almost a little *too* bright.

I wish I could have had a banana for scale (or anything, really), but this Lobster was multiple feet long.  It’s tail could have fed a family.  I’ve never seen a lobster so big!

In this section, we went through some really gorgeous swim through areas which I attempted to not defile with my tank (and mostly succeeded).  This Blue Angelfish lead the way.

More swim through perspective.  This was a gorgeous section of the reef (and you can see our tour guide up ahead).

Again, showing off some goregous reef background with a French Angelfish friend.

All diving in Cozumel is drift diving.  We took some pretty significant rides.  The good thing is to progress forward with the current, you just have to relax.  The bad thing is when you want to see something specific not with the current, you have to kick like hell.  My back was not thrilled with that second situation but it was WORTH IT in some instances to get the shot.

My first drift dive in Coz a few years ago was not my favorite ever, but I feel like after this experience, it’s something I want to learn do right.  Like, with a multi-day trip.  Perhaps after a 70.3 next fall.  This plot may be hatching…

I will at this point direct you to my full album.  If you want to see more gorgeous reef, check it out.


Losing the blues.

I’m done with the Ironman blues.  Hello from the other side!

Finally this week I came out of the fog.  I remember what it was like to be doing all that training, but it doesn’t feel wrong to *not* do it.  I still get to ride my bike.  We hit the pool once and that made me a happy fishie.  I laced up my hokas this morning for their intended purpose, and it wasn’t far and it wasn’t fast and it was kinda hot but it felt good.  I’m going to try to keep it to 5 hours a week, give or take, but I think both my body and brain are ready to be a super casual recreational triathlete.

It’s a good thing too, because I signed up for a race!

We do this one every year.  Last year I was about 3 months into offseason, I just bought my new bike that week, and I was just a minute and a half off my PR and my second best showing ever.  This year… I’m going to go in again with no expectations and see what I can do.  Go play triathlon hard that morning.  Maybe not even with a watch. All hippie-like without data (but I like looking at it later so maybe not).

So, this week I start with the swim/bike/run – yes all 3 of them in one week.  Here’s the plan.  It’s super detailed.

  • Monday – ran 2.68 miles
  • Tuesday – ride TT bikes at the Circuit of the Americas track for ~2 hours
  • Wednesday – ride bikes with the BSS crew
  • Thursday – probably be dead from all the exertion plus I have gaming so *priorities*
  • Friday – swimming, maybe in the lake
  • Saturday – short brick at Lake Pflugerville (probably 10-15 miles on the TT bike + once around the lake)
  • Sunday – go die somewhere because obviously I’ll be worn the eff out

After these two weeks I may just hang my TT bike and hokas back up for a while again, or I may continue to play triathlon at this low level for the summer.  I haven’t decided yet.  I should probably lift some heavy things soon (like at least my own bodyweight) so we’ll see how I want to prioritize everything.

Last week I was about 2 for 3.  I actually did 4 things (3 bikes, 1 swim).  I got 10k steps on my fitbit every day (technically minus Saturday, because it counted steps for a 2 hour bike ride, and I only really *walked* 7k but details…).  I did not wake up and do stuff because a) my back really wasn’t ready and b) I realized waking up in the morning and going cold to do some stretching without a warmup was probably not the finest idea ever.

I assure you that the second panel did not turn into the third, although I have threatened before.

My adventures in nutrition can be summarized thusly – I did really well all week.  Then I went and rode bikes for 2 hours kinda hard on Saturday and hosted a party with lots of food so I ate and drank a lot.  Then I resumed normality on Sunday and here we are.

This week’s tally:

  • Weight: 187.4 (-1.6) lbs
  • Avg cal per day: 1732 (+17) calories
  • Avg deficit per day: -838 (+35) calories
  • Macros: 56 (+2)g fat, 164 (-12)g carbs, 93 (+3)g protein, 23 (+1)g fiber

So, besides a little extra fat (still within the acceptable range), everything is going the right way regardless.

Last week’s goals:

Continue with Week one goals.  Track and maintain a deficit.  Water.  Try to keep the alcohol consumption to reasonable levels. – Check.  Saturday was a little out of hand but in the grand scheme of the week it all normalized.

Fruits and veggies. – Check.  I went back and could count at least 5 fruits and veggies every day.  Thursday was pushing it a *little* bit including celery from the wings we split but if you’re counting 5 average per day over the whole week?  Nailed it.

Protein.  – Better, but not quite 100g.  I went up to 93g from 90.  When I eat more, this is effortless.  With smaller calorie counts, this takes some planning and perhaps a snack with protein because I’m just not making it some days.

This week’s goals:

Continue with previous goals.  Track and maintain a deficit.  Water.  Try to keep the alcohol consumption to reasonable levels.  Five fruits and veggies per day.  This is a reminder to not regress.

Protein.  I need to watch this carefully.  On nights where I’m having some adult beverages I should skew towards things that are carb-light, and have quality protein and fiber instead to make my macros.

The tally.  Now that my appetite is back to mortal levels and I’m used to not having a food orgy every day, it’s time to START working on my diet quality (the word of this season is baby steps).  Not doing anything this week, except trying to make good choices.  Next Monday, I’ll add up my DQ score and see where it’s at in comparison to where I was a few years ago.

I did some things besides swim/bike/run/eat!  #offseason is glorious.

It’s so weird.  During periods of heavy training, I’m like, what the heck do I fill my life with on the weekends if it’s not either riding bikes for 6 hours or running 20 miles and then laying exhausted on the couch watching Netflix?  Just laying on the couch watching Netflix sounds rather dull without the bikes to tire me out first.

Then, I remember how awesome it is to have some spare mental and physical energy on the weekends.  It’s the worst when you’re recovering because you feel tired without the fun and endorphins, but then once that breaks… HALLELUJAH!

Here are the things I did this weekend:

  • Had two glasses of wine on Friday because I had calories left and I could.
  • Rode my bike with friends for 2 hours.
  • Went out to lunch.
  • Actually died on the couch for a while watching all the 2017 IMTexas videos to try to catch ourselves in them.
  • Picked up the house and prepped for the party.
  • Hosted 11 people and had a fantastic time.
  • Read a few chapters in the Big Yellow Book and finish section 1/3 (and some in my fiction book as well).
  • Did laundry and actually put it away the same day.
  • Cooked a BUNCH of batch meals – curry turkey with brown basamati rice and veggies, shepard’s pie, chili.
  • Went for a walk.
  • Watched a movie.
  • Painted some minis.

…and I was still in bed early enough Sunday night to wake up and run this morning and I feel refreshed and happy instead of overwhelmed.  Glorious!

My goals were:

Find a non-fiction book. – Check.  However, I had just started the new Argonauts book and I’m into it so I’m waiting until I finish it (certainly this week) to start reading How to Win Friends and Influence People (in the Digital Age) – figured I’d start with a(n updated version of a) classic.

Find office chairs.  Check.  600 bucks later, we both have seats we’re happy with that we can sit in for a while.  They’re worth it.  I sat in it to paint for about 2 hours and I didn’t want to die like I do in any other non-couch chair in the house.

Host people without stressing out. Check.  We spent maybe 2 hours cleaning and prepping simply because we effed up with the timing and didn’t schedule this on a cleaning service week, so next time should be even simpler.  There was plenty of food and drink without me going overboard.  We all had a blast playing games.  This will happen again soon.

Life goals, super check.  This week has a few more extra curricular activities, so I am picking one thing that will be a time commitment (Sunday), and the rest should be low hanging fruit.

Find a doctor and schedule a check up.  I have no idea why I’m putting this off.  Actually, yes I do.  This is definitely the year to get my blood drawn and I probably need to recover my account info for the login and the UHC website is confusing and blah blah blah.  Get over yourself and DO EITTT, woman.

Dance dance.  While the next two weeks I’ll probably err on the side of spending my energy doing triathlon stuff, I purchased a DDR pad a few weeks ago and I’d like to get it set up and working BEFORE I really want to use it (and get frustrated that I’m spending my play time getting it set up).

The Office, round 2.  Zliten thinks we can get at least through Step 3 this coming weekend in a few hours.  I’m cautiously optimistic.

And on that note, off to do all the things I can do with a brand new week!




#projectoffseason (2017)

I meant to do one of these posts immediately after the Ironman, but it just sounded WAYYY too exhausting and overwhelming to even think about most of this stuff until about two days ago.

At least SOMEONE is using the tri bike!

Now, the haze is clearing and I’m adjusting to the fact that no, I don’t in fact have to train 15 hours a week and yes, that’s actually a good thing.  I have some energy back that doesn’t need to be carefully allocated to run/bike/swim/lift/recover/find food/work/minimal adulting.  I really enjoyed laying it all out there last year publicly (read: accountability) with #projectspring in 2016, and seeing what I could accomplish.  Without further ado, I give you – #projectoffseason (2017).

#1 – #projectraceweight is back.

Plates like this will probably NOT be happening very often for the next few months.

It’s one of my least enjoyable to-dos, but it’s necessary.  I was lucky to not gain anything after IM Texas, but I also didn’t LOSE anything during the training cycle (after gaining ~5 lbs over the holidays/mid-season break).  So, for the foreseeable future, the goal is to make the number on the scale go down in healthy ways.  I will track this weekly, and probably do a whole post on this in more depth at some point, but the main focuses are:

  • Find the point of activity where I can eat a sustainable amount of calories without bumping up my appetite to the next tax bracket.  This will take some experimentation, but it seems to be around 4-5 hours per week (depending on the intensity) + 10k steps per day.
  • Clean up my diet quality.  Last time I focused primarily on calories in vs calories out, and I will still do that, but I think I felt better (and kept a lower weight) when I dialed back the refined grains, fried shit, sweets, and (just a little bit) booze that went in my cakehole.  I’m not going crazy but I would like to make some strategic reductions on this stuff.

I’m not putting any numbers on anything just yet.  I’d just like to be a moderately active individual that eats mostly plants in recognizable form and animals not swimming in fat that sometimes eats fried cheese or too much whiskey or chocolate cake but not that often that weighs less than I do now.

#2 – House Projects

I expect more scenes like this.

With all this time and energy not used on running 20 miles or biking in circles for 6 hours, we can finally make some progress on the projects we keep putting off.

Office Space.  This is our big first focus and already in progress.

  • Step 1: clear out the junk actually IN the office.  That’s mostly complete, we need a few more hours max to fully check this off.
  • Step 2: Get the office set up as an office – two computers fully hooked up, get a bookshelf that doesn’t need to be propped up, moving the furniture where it’s supposed to be, proper chairs, move the sewing machine in, etc.  This is getting pretty close as well.
  • Step 3: clear out the closets and shelves so that we have storage space for things we need in there (and get rid of the rest/put things in the attic).
  • Step 4: decorate.  It would be awesome to put up a shelf and display game boxes for everything we’ve worked on instead of having them stuck in the closet.
  • Step 5 (ongoing): now that this room is fully set up, it can no longer be used as a junk room!  We will have to figure out where to put our crap immediately instead of just throwing it on the floor.

Kitchen Remodel.  Zliten’s parents have kindly offered to help us redo cabinets and some other stuff at some point.  We’re hoping to pick a few weekends in a row over the summer/fall if our schedules align that we can dedicate to this because it would save us a WHOLE lot of money instead of just crying “Ikea do it for meeee!”. I don’t expect to finish all this, but here’s the wishlist:

  • Fronts of the cabinets (if not the whole thing) and hardware and fixing the ones that don’t close properly.
  • Add storage where there’s this awkward butcher block and cabinet situation.
  • Change the color of the countertop (we have a kit we found on the side of the road for free!).   Maybe we’ll go marble/granite/whatevs someday but for now I just want it to not be ugly white formica that stains instantly.
  • Add a microwave over the oven instead of awkwardly in the corner that opens the wrong way (and that’s not dying).
  • Get those nifty rolling drawers for our lower cabinets so things don’t get lost in the back/corners.
  • Paint.  I like our kitchen wall color (green) but I might consider a lighter color for the cabinets than dark purple-y grey we have now.  Maybe light grey, maybe even white, maybe cherry stained wood to match the color of the floor… or maybe we’ll go black on the bottom and white on the top to match the counter.  We’ll consider our options.
  • To do all this we will have to completely clean out our kitchen drawers and cupboards, and we can work on paring down on what we have so it stores nicely instead of *just barely*.
  • Bonus round – build out a bar area by the beer fridge instead of our cheapie wire shelves that barely kind of work.

Shed.  We have a rule of no more new bikes until we get a new shed, and we really want mountain bikes so we can go play in the dirt with our team this year. 🙂  Also, getting our camping gear out of the workout room would really be able to make that room more useable.  We’re obtaining the pallets for the base soon, then we just have to spend the money and time assembling it (hey, we can save money AND get a good workout).  Looking at it, people who know what they’re doing take about 4 hours to assemble, so we’re probably looking at 8-12, heh.

Pain Cave.  It’s much better than it was as the junk room last year, but it’s been acting as bike storage with a treadmill that can be used if you shift stuff around and make room vs an actual workout room.  Once we get the shed, we can dedicate this room to have usable space to use the trainer, the treadmill, and maybe even an area to stretch/yoga.

Back Patio Remodel.  I highly doubt we’ll get this far this year, but next on the list would be looking into making our back patio a place we want to spend time again.  Also, once we place some teak memorial benches, we’ve said we’ll consider a hot tub which is some motivation to chew through this list!

#3- Side Hustle Stuff

Just need to remember this one when I’m faced with challenges…

I made some big pushes this year in learning new things and growing as a person, and now it’s time to take it to the next level and look at how I might turn this knowledge into practical things I can do to benefit others and put green pieces of paper in my pocket.  In no particular order:

Books. I have at least 3 book ideas knocking around.  Since one ended with “Ironman”, I have been kind of putting it off until I crossed the finish line.  No more.  Time to work on this. I set a very ambitious goal of having at least one self published book out by the end of the year, so here are my focuses:

  • Outline the book or books (try to focus on one to completion but I have a feeling I’ll end up at least starting all of them so I can jot down notes as I’m inspired).
  • Actually WRITE – I can crank out blog posts all the time but writing a story is like a scary monster to me right now.  Those muscles are a little weak.  Time to fix that!
  • Look into publishing options so I know what to do when the time comes.

Website. I feel like I did a pretty decent job fixing this one up as a personal site, but I still have some learning to do (or probably to outsource to my more technically minded Zliten so WE have some learning to do).

  • My goal with a business website would be to sell something where someone could purchase and pay for something securely without my input.
  • I need a way to allow people to subscribe to newsletters and updates and super cool free content and stuff.
  • And the biggie – I need to come up with a site plan, build the site, and generate the content.  But I know how to do that (it’s just actually doing it).

Business Plan. If I was going to ask people for green paper in exchange for services I can provide, how would I envision scaling it out to make an acceptable wage if it was my only source of income sometime in the future?  I don’t know much detail here yet but I know I have a lot to figure out.  Basically, what services would I like to offer directly to a finite amount of people at a premium (300$x10), and what can I do once and sell at a lower cost to an infinite amount of people at once (30$x100 or 3$x1000).

Marketing/PR/Social Media.  This is the part that scares me the most.  I have faith I can figure out everything above this line item.  My fear is I will build something I think is amazing and no one will come.  I feel like once I get more into this, I’ll have better goals but my initial ones are:

  • Step 1:  I know people get full degrees in this stuff and I don’t expect to be that awesome immediately, but I feel like some instruction that’s not tacked on as the last chapter of a sporty class might help me feel less clueless.
  • Step 2: Figure out what I need to know more about.  I’m hoping that once I am a little more informed on marketing as a whole, I can figure out what areas I need to study further.  If facebook followers and ads are very important, I want to learn everything I can about that.
  • Step 3: Put together a rough draft on what I would do to promote these services if it were time to pull the trigger.

Other related things.

  • I think it would be fun to do spin classes someday.  I’d like to look into what it takes to get certified to do that.
  • I am a wanna-be coach who has never been coached since age 18.  I think it’s important that I change that.  I want to look into picking up a coach for the next season and/or potentially doing some group workouts with coaches (like through Rogue Running) to experience the other side.
  • Continue to learn.  Read one non-fiction book per month about nutrition, triathlon, business, or marketing.

Sometimes cat has become more-often-than-not cat which means he needs his balls cut off.

#4 – General Adulting To Do List (or all the things I’ve put off while training for the Ironman).  I am actually pretty impressed at all the adulting I’ve already done this year because this list was a lot longer in January.

  • Fixing Wookie Cat.  Another feral seems to have adopted us.  He’s around enough that we can’t just ignore him.  It’s time for snip snip snip.  Luckily it just costs 20 bucks through the humane society and just takes a little time.
  • Wills.  At 38, I still think I’m immortal, but it’s a good idea that I plan for the impossibility that I’m not.
  • Doctor.  My doctor left our insurance plan and I’ve put off getting a new one because I want to find one I la-la-la-love (who understands athletes).  I’ve put it off for a year and a half.  I need to quit that.
  • Financial Planner.  I’d like someone to give us some expert advice into: a) where I should invest my money instead of a savings account? b) how I should invest this if I’m thinking of starting a business sometime in the future? c) am I ever going to be able to retire?

Of course #goplayoutside is on this list, for sure!

#4 – Fun/Random Stuff:

I want to train myself to be ambidextrous on the bike.  I’ve gotten so used to unclipping and putting my left foot down that I can barely do it on my right even WITHOUT clips now.  I’ve gotten much more comfortable with bike handling but this is definitely still my dirty little secret.

iFly.  We have passes from the last time we went many years ago we should use up.  It was SO FUN we bought discount passes for another two flights each but haven’t been back since.

Comedy tickets.  We have a bunch of them that expire at the end of the year.  It’s walking distance and they play every night of the week.  There’s no excuses here.

#goplayoutside – kayaking, swimming (the kind without a garmin), camping when we can find a little temperate weather, fishing, hiking, and all the other types of outdoor fun.  There are some very #austin places I haven’t been and I’ve been here a decade – Hamilton Pool, Enchanted Rock, Mount Bonnell, and Deep Eddy to name a few, and I’m sure I’ve got more to go if I made a proper list.

Domesticity.  Let’s not get crazy, but I’ve got a few clothing projects I’d like to do.  First, I have a few pairs of pants I’d like to hem/fix.  They are perilously close to getting donated instead so if I screw them up, oh well.  Second, I have some less-than comfortable boots and shoes and a TON of Hoka spare insoles.  I want to make them be friends.  I’m aiming low with this one.

Hosting people more often without it being a THING.  We used to have friends over all the time but for some reason now it’s become an ordeal and something we do about twice a year.  Similar to the crappy dinner party, I want to have a monthly game night potluck.  The house will be reasonably clean but not perfect.  We’ll make something easy for part of dinner but other people will contribute and there will be no pintrest-worthy spreads like we do for New Years.  We’ll sit around and play games and talk and enjoy having friends around and if you miss this month’s, no worries, there will be another.

Vidja games.  Now that I’m not so brain dead and have free time, I’d like to play more games instead of zoning out watching Netflix.  Having the office set up might help with that, but there’s also all sorts of PS4 adventure games and I bought a DDR pad and have unearthed my PS2 and that means super fun plyometric workouts as well.  Games!

I’m fully aware that this is a LOT OF STUFF and I don’t expect to check everything off this list if I want to keep my sanity and my job, but I felt like #projectspring was SO ambitious and I did a vast majority of it, so I figured, let’s do it again!  Cheers to aiming high and let’s see what amazing things I can tackle and how my life will change in the next few months as I really settle into being a semi-normal human being.

What’s at the top of YOUR to do list right now?


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