Adjusted Reality

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

Month: September 2017

Kerrville Sprint Triathlon – a lot of words about a little race

So, last we spoke, I was doing some major mental gymnastics about a B+ race.

Picture fail.  My name is actually right under my butt.

I think it actually became kind of important to me for a few reasons.

  • This is the first race since Ironman where I felt like I showed up fit to compete.  Against my age group, against my previous self, though not really against my husband who is getting super fast (which I love and hate at the same time, mostly love, but yeah…)
  • B. It’s the last tri of the season.
  • C. After reading the sports psychology book, I realized that I had a lot of work to do, and less of it involved swimming, biking, or running than I imagined.

So, it’s not that THIS race actually mattered that much, but it was a great opportunity to throw some new strategies against the wall to see what sticks.  So, I did these things, some of which are new, and some of which I used to do and they fell off somewhere around Tri #30.

  • Going to bed, I visualized the race going really well.  I actually fell asleep before the end of the run so I have no idea how that one ended up.
  • I did the same thing as I was waking up.  I honestly think it helped me focus my energy somewhere positive instead of being grumpy about how early it was.
  • When I went to go potty and put in my contacts, I put on my headphones and listened to a few pump up songs good and loud.  My husband needs light to wake up on race mornings.  I need sound.  Loud sound.  This was step #2 about not being apathetic and I felt it actually start to work.
  • I actually followed my race breakfast plan.  I consumed a whole sunbutter jelly on wheat and a cup of earl grey, hot.  At the race I was full but not sick, caffeinated to the level of excitement and enthusiasm, but not jittery.
  • We took 10 minutes and went through our normal stretching routine.  That helped my body not be so stiff (these things involve standing around for hours before its go time and my body hates standing) and helped having something to DO for a bit instead of spacing out and wandering around.
  • When I sent my husband off, I spent a few moments away from everything, focusing on the race and what I was asking my body to do and just preparing to fight.  Then, I got in line, put my earplugs in, put my game face on, and didn’t talk to anyone.

The end result?  I started this race more focused, energized, and enthusiastic than I have in quite a while.  Every time I felt doubts creeping in (no effing way you’re going to hit 20 mph on the bike, you’re going to die on the run like you always do, yay, they delayed the start, I don’t have to be ready yet), I countered them with positive thoughts from my alter ego like – “you’re going to ride your ass off and try, you have been running really great off the bike the last month so probably not, eff that, let’s GET THIS THING GOING Y’ALL” with positive thoughts from my alter ego.

Enthusiastic or caffeinated?  You decide…

I thought fake-it-til-you-make-it was a little hokey, but damn, that changed my attitude.

I found myself getting pushed to the back of my swim wave in the line as people continue to jump in, and instead of being grumpy about it, I just walked up closer to the front (earplugs in, gameface on, saying nothing).  With this confidence, I walked over the line and started my race.


This swim is hard to really quantify how I did in terms of pace.  First of all, you WALK to the ramp and venture carefully down this steep incline which you are under no circumstances allowed to run.  This probably takes about 30 seconds if you’re as paranoid about tripping as I am.

Then, you swim.  I think the current was in our favor and I think I did fairly well in terms of my goals.  Swimming is the thing I’ve practiced least of all the sports, and open water swimming the least (once since my last race), so I decided that I would try to swim steady and strong but not gas myself.  I did just that.  Oddly enough, when I seed myself properly, I have a great swim, I never got swam over or passed, and I also had my own little bubble most of the time and never got into combat.

The only thing was there was definitely congestion at the swim exits and only two people at a time could get up the steep ramps with volunteer help, so I probably had to wait another 20 seconds here.

Swim official time: 11:19 – 2:16/100m – 6/29 AG

Interesting notables from garmin: 1:49/100 yd moving speed (which is exactly 2:00/100m).  159 average HR and normally my max in the pool is around 140 so I was pushing pretty hard.  Considering my pool swims these days are only about 5-10 seconds faster per 100 I’ll call this a win.


I knew I had paced the swim alright because I was able to jog up the steep hill.  Stepping gingerly on the rocky ground and hoping to avoid the stickers, I hustled to my spot as much as I could.  Looks like it took me about 1:20 to get to my spot, 1:00 to do stuff at my spot in transition (my feet were super muddy so I had to take a little extra time to wipe them off or the run would have been terrible), and about 30 seconds to carry my bike out to the mount line.

T1 official time: 2:55.   4/29 AG. 

Best I’ve done here so I’m stoked.  I honestly think the 3 other girls who got through T1 quicker (2:10-18) were just faster runners than I am.

Death star and I are starting to make a pretty great team.


Here’s where I wanted to start spicing up the enchilada.  I have been biking my ass off.  I have been putting in the miles.  I have been chasing faster people.  Since forever, one of my long term goals was to hit over 20 mph officially on a bike split.  I know this course really well (at least, I thought I did), and I figured if I’m going to do it anywhere this year it’s here.

Then the wind hit me.  I started freaking out a little because keeping that 19-21mph pace downhill was actually a lot of work.  Then I realized it was all a blessing in disguise.  If it was that hard to ride down the hill at that speed, riding UP the hill was going to be amazing.  I kept my effort on, and pretty much rode on the left side the entire time and I realized that I had become the person I used to grumble at that passed me and left me in the dust on tris.  At least I try to say “on your left” most of the time.  The caffeinated gel pre-opened in my bento box was amazing.  I may have skipped it entirely if I didn’t remember it was open and would be wasted, but when I did at about mile 3 it went down in 2 seconds, so obviously it was a good decision.

Then, my husband comes whizzing by me and yells, “the bike is two loops!”.  I tried to kick into another gear and go with him but by the time my brain found that thought, he was very far ahead.  I had yet to see the second half of the course and I didn’t want to gas myself early.  I figured I’d hammer the second lap depending on how the second half of the first loop felt.

I continued to pass pass pass and got surprised by a diversion to a side street and had to sit up and slow down a sec to not wreck on the turn.  Then, we hit the turn around and I started going up… faster than I was going down.  My average speed had dropped to about 19.5 mph at the bottom of the hill and climbed back up to 20.0 by the time I hit the top.  Let’s be fair, the total elevation gain in 14 miles was less than 300 feet, so finger quote “hills” is more appropriate, but it still went up vs going down.

The second loop I maintained what I had built but I had a little less oomph up the hill and only got to 19.8 when I pulled into transition.  Either way, I was super excited about it because it was my fastest bike split yet and I maintained it at a reasonable heart rate (165), though my power was kind of pathetic (150W, 162W normalized).

Official Bike Results: 43:08 for 15 miles, or 20.9 mph. 3/29 AG.

So, of course my Garmin (19.8) and the official race results (20.9) don’t match up.  I’m going to credit it to three things.  First, I probably took a few seconds to turn it off in transition.  Second, I think my garmin sandbags me because my pace is almost alllllways slower than race results.  Third, I think we actually biked less miles than planned.  Either way, the exact wording of my goal was to have 20+ mph official result on the bike split and it happened (and I’m taking it).


I was a little shelled from the bike coming in, but I kept repeating THIS TRANSITION IS LAVA.  LAVA.  LAVA.  I feel like I did OKAY here until I looked at my age group placement.

Official T2 time: 1:43. 10/29 AG.

I was 30 seconds slower than the leader.  While this in and of itself didn’t make a difference in my placement overall, I could have hustled more.


I started here and I had decent legs but not great ones.  Sub-10 minute miles were happening with some prodding.  My lungs felt like they could handle a little more, but my legs just felt so heavy, especially when we were going up (the absolute smallest) hills.  I gave myself the first mile to get with it and tried to turn it on for mile two… nope.  I had this 9:40-ish average pace and that was it.

I tried all my tricks.  Driving with the hips… which actually worked since my stride length of .96 of a meter is pretty good (for me).  Quick feet… nope.  My cadence was solidly 85 instead of the 90 when I’m really loose and rocking it.  I tried fishing but my mind honestly was too scattered to focus on anything external, it was taking an internal focus to keep my parts moving correctly.

Then, this moment happened.  Right at mile two a girl went by me with 39 on her calf.  Shortly after that, another with 35 went by as well.  “Well, this is it.  If you were in 1st off the bike (not likely, but let’s assume), the best you’re at right now is third.  Let’s catch them.”  I tried, folks.  Mile three’s split was about 7 seconds faster than mile two, but looking at both of those girls’ run splits, they were running 7- and 8- minute miles average.

I gave it all I had to cross the line as quickly as possible, but the best I had was roughly the pace I started with.

Official run results: 29:33 for 3.2 miles (9:28/mile). 12/29 AG

First of all, ouch on the AG placement, but I officially (and actually) did what I set out to do.  I ran sub 10-minute miles.  It’s actually one of my best run paces in a tri yet (I did slightly better at Pflugerville in 2014 and Rookie in 2015 but it’s been a WHILE).  However, my heart rate average was 170.  I can raise that 3-5 bpm and not blow up usually.  I’m not sure what happened there.

Happy finisher.  Also, I’m glad my husband and I are about the same size because I grabbed his tri top and that’s what I raced in…

Official results: 1:28:39 for 5/29 AG.

I missed 4th by about 45 seconds and 3rd by less than two minutes.  I was in 3rd place off the bike until the last freaking mile.  I recognized the moment where I needed to go and tried.  I was at least conscious enough to do that.  I maintained a pretty positive attitude throughout, and I didn’t quit.

So, here’s what I need to do for next year:

  1. Put my eggs in the bike basket (hehe) next year and go all in.  Aim to come off the bike in 1st place in these events (I’m typically coming in 3-5th, and this time I was only down 90 seconds on the leader’s bike time) and hang on during the run.
  2. Or, the obvious, get faster on the run.  I’ve made amazing strides (ha!) in the last few months taking my fast runs down from 11-something minute miles to 9-something, but I need to be able to run a 5k off the bike with an 8 in front of the pace to compete for podiums.  I need to have a mile time back in the 7s.  I need to shed at least 1-minute per mile over what I’m doing now.  I can out-bike a lot of women but I need to have a run that can at least hold position if not gain.

More reasonably, I need to work on both.  Also, do regular training that’s specific to my event instead of kind of whatever I feel like doing at the moment.  Also, maybe run more than 3-5 miles a week max.  Also, possibly ride the TT bike more than a handful of times all season not in races.  Oh, and swim more than an average of once a week for 20 minutes.

But, none of this was the focus this summer.  It was to recover after the Ironman and not get burnt out and still love what I do.  Any race goals were secondary to that.  I am more than happy with how everything went this tri season even if I was grumbly in the messy middle where my fitness was missing.  I’m stoked to have such a great bike split and more confidence on the TT.  I’m glad I did reasonably well on the other events and put up a time that’s hard to compare with anything else but was 11 minutes faster than 2011 on the same course, so at least I have improved a little in the last 6 years!

I have all the thoughts and goals for the next two seasons, but for right now, it’s time for one more month of biking all the miles as slow or fast as I feel like in preparation for Livestrong 100!

Kerrville Pre-Race – becoming my alter ego, and… calm the @#%$ down, it’s just a sprint

I am reading a fantastic book called Calm the F*ck Down (The Brave Triathlete).

Yes, this is actually the title of the book…

I’m approaching my third and final sprint triathlon this season.  The first one was a frustrating exercise in showing me truly how out of shape I was two months post Ironman.  The second one showed some promise, somewhere between out of shape and where I was at last year (which made sense, since that’s about where my training was at the time).

For this race, earlier in the year, I had envisioned coming to this race fit, closer to race weight, and specifically trained to kick ass at the distance.  Ironman recovery took longer than expected, my motivation for adhering to a strict schedule ALSO took a while and to be honest, is still not completely there, and I really just felt like riding my bike all summer.  I suppose a loss of about 3 lbs depending on the day is technically *closer* to race weight, but my intention was to have a tri kit that fit and I didn’t feel like a sausage in, which has not been the case yet.  THAT in and of itself is also another novel post, so let’s gloss over that and get back to racing, shall we?

Where I’m actually at right now is pretty all-around decently fit even though the scale is still laughing at me.  I don’t have the utmost confidence of a full season of consistent training, but I’ve had some workouts lately where I have surprised myself.  Also, this is a race that is set up for my success.  The bike course is relatively flat and fast.  It’s my second to best sprint bike split back from 2011 when I had no business getting my second best sprint bike split (I didn’t even have clipless pedals yet).  The run is on concrete, not kitty litter, and also pretty flat and shaded.  However, this one also seems a little more competitive in terms of where I’m likely to place in my age group, but the only thing I can do is show up and see what happens.

I’m sure this is going to sound like John Madden type commentary, but what’s really going to make the difference is how hard I can hammer the bike, and how my legs (and brain) feel at the start of the run.  I finally found the entrance to my pain cave again late this summer.  I’m still stepping into it apprehensively, there’s no “eff yeah, let’s go hurt ourselves today” attitude back yet, but I’m finding that once I get going, I can open the cave door and spend some time inside again instead of my body and brain immediately freaking out and going:

Here are things that I have done recently to give me some proverbial feathers in my cap:

  • I have ridden 100 miles and have not been too wrecked at the end at a not-completely-embarrassing speed.
  • I rode about 6 miles on the bike at about 20.5 mph average for the speed loop part of the bike and I was breathing hard but also chatting a little.
  • I ran 9:30 min/miles off a hard bike for 2 miles and was chatting in multiple word phrases on the first mile and also not completely shelled after.
  • I have seen 8s on the run for a little bit whilst really pushing myself.
  • I have done all these things without caffeine and some at the end of a long workday in the relatively hotter-than-race-day weather.
  • I’ve done an Ironman, which actually means absolutely nothing in this context except I’m too damn stupid and stubborn to quit hurting myself by moving forward rather slowly for 15+ hours in a single day.  And I like to remind the world that I’m an Ironman.

So, there are two sports psychology things I’m taking into this race.

Thing one – I’m crazy in the brainpan.  No wait, that’s not it…

First of all, like I usually do, I’m going to set goals and intentions for this week and that day.  But, we’ll do this a little differently.  First, I’m going to get all the insecure crap out now.  Here we go…

You’re too heavy to PR/podium you haven’t trained enough Ironman training wrecked all your speed forever all the fit girls are way faster than you especially after a full season of training and you’re going eff something up and  finish in the bottom half of your age group and then whine about it all weekend…

*record scratch*

Ok, beyond THIS point, we leave all the negativity and bullshit behind and I’ll walk you through the perfect race weekend.

I wake up on Friday refreshed and relaxed and excited.  I’ve had at least 8 hours of sleep every day this week and I’m ready for the trip up to Kerrville and reasonably calm.  I’ve got everything packed and I’ve thought ahead to pack all my tri gear in separate bags so I can put them right into the T1 and T2 bags.

I eat my normal breakfast, lunch, and snacks.  At 2pm, everything is settled at work and we head out.  The drive is uneventful, and so is packet pickup.  We have everything dropped off for the race and are done by 7pm.  At that time, we drive to our campsite, do minimal set up – just what we need to function for the night – eat our sandwiches, have some sleepytime tea, and go to bed.

After a restful night of sleep, we’re up and to the race site around 6am.  I’ll eat half a sunbutter and jelly sandwich and have some tea for caffeine and a coconut water for electrolytes.  I’ll get my tires pumped up, drop off my bottles, arrange my T1 area, and then get in the porta potty line and take care of all that nonsense while nomming some caffeinated blocks.

Then, as I approach the water, I become Sapphyra, the badass barbarian warrior chick who is going to fearlessly dominate the course.

Sapphyra conquers things.  Especially large rocks.

Ok, don’t laugh.  Fine, you totally can because I am honestly laughing at myself a little.  I need a slight break in the positive-only mandate with some some not-so-sunshine-and-rainbows thoughts from the past to explain what this is and why I’m doing it.

/rose colored glasses off

Part of the Brave Triathlete book that I really identified with was showing up as your alter ego (the version of yourself you want to race as).  Yes, this is a video game avatar, which has nothing to do with triathlon, but, here’s the thing.  Becoming Sapphyra made me feel strong and powerful in times where I was horribly obese, out of shape, and didn’t have that much going for me in life besides a powerful avatar.  She was confident and up to any challenge.

Ever since I (low speed) crashed and fell apart afterwards at this race two years ago, something has been broken in me more often than not on race morning.  I used to show up with big dreams and goals, scary ones, ones that I didn’t always reach but that’s okay, and most importantly, be SO EXCITED to go toe that line and see where ended up.  Now, I’m somewhere between calm and numb and full of ennui about the day.  Even Ironman morning I wasn’t so much crapping my pants like I expected, I was just worried about finishing using the bathroom for the fiftieth time before they closed the start line.

Sapphyra, however, is not apathetic.

/rose colored glasses back on

Sapphyra is unreasonably excited to have a reason and an arena to test her mettle.  She’ll look at that start line, at the competition, at the dawning day with eager anticipation to just get this thing STARTED ALREADY.  She’s hungry to find the entrance to the pain cave quickly, get inside, and start digging to see how deep it goes.  She’s eager to see if she can condense all the effort of 15+ hours of an Ironman into under 90 minutes.  She’s interested to see how she can use a course that is SO in her wheelhouse and cooler weather to dominate.

Sapphyra will line up in the right place for the swim, which is not at the back of the pack.  When she hits the water, she’ll concentrate on smooth form but also push the pace as much as possible without blowing up.  She will not sit behind anyone and she’ll swim aggressively (without being mean).  She’ll realize that she cannot win the triathlon in the swim and swim smart and not outside herself, but not lose focus and take the pedal off the gas.

She will move expediently but not rush through transition.  Once she hits the mount line for the bike, she’ll kick it into badass warrior overdrive (weather permitting – if we have rain, it will be semi-safe sort-of-overdrive on the turns).  She will cycle aggressively, building speed on flats and false flats, recovering on the downhills only when the Garmin reads 23+ mph.  She will take a salted watermelon gu that will already be ripped open in her bento box on the first long downhill section, drink a few times, but otherwise just effing hammer the bike as fast and as hard as possible with literally no regard for the run.  What run?  Are we running after this?  I’ll deal with that later.

Maybe the last mile, after entering the park, she’ll recover a bit.  She will do the same expedient but not rushed change from bike shoes to Hokas and get out of transition as quickly as possible because THAT TRANSITION IS HOT LAVA.

Here’s the epic quest.  She will get out on the run course and fight all the brain demons that tell her to slow down.  She’ll take her big ol’ two handed sword and slash the leg fatigue and the lungs screaming “NOOOOO” and the voices that say “slow down, you’re not a good runner anymore” and all the frustration that I rarely run at my potential during these things and that I’d actually be a podium contender sometimes if I could stop tanking this last leg of the race.  Not today, because eff that noise and nonsense.

She will get out on the course and find the highest level of hurt she can maintain for the distance.  She will concentrate on good posture and form and get a mantra in her head that helps keep the pace while rhythmically chanting it.  She will stay within herself but also look for people ahead of her and go “fishing”, especially those in her age group.  The last mile, she will turn it up one more notch and give a kick at the turnaround when she can see the finish.

Then, she’ll cross the line and become me again, and make a beeline for the food and the beer.

Barbarian badass recovery program

I am really sure that I’m making wayyy too big a big deal out of a little race, but it’s good practice.  The last thing I want to do is have a completely untested strategy when I approach one of these that really DOES really really matter to me.  So, even though it feels a little ridiculous, Sapphyra will be making her triathlon debut Saturday morning.

So, Sapphyra’s triathlon goals are:

  • A strong swim.  No idea what this means right now but it’s 10-ish minutes of my race I just want to get over with as quickly as possible while not wrecking the rest of my day.
  • 20+ mph on the bike.  It’s been my goal for a while, I feel very fit on the bike and this is one of the better courses for me to try for it.  Let’s do this!
  • A run with an average in the 9s.  8s would be awesome and maybe I’ll have enough caffeine and magical unicorn dust and badass secret identity mojo to do it.  However, I want to at least run sub-10 min/mile and run near the edge – outside my comfort zone, just before redlining.

Wish me/her luck this weekend!



Turtle Home Voyage #3 – Granger Lake

Last weekend, we were supposed to head to Port Aransas with the family for a weekend beach trip.  However, Port A really doesn’t *exist* right now, so we’re going to postpone our trip and go in the spring.

Here’s the highlight reel.  You can see everything here.

We had an extra day off work already booked, so we decided to take Turtle Home north instead of south and spent three days at Granger Lake.  The week before was extra hectic and stressful but once we pulled into our spot, I almost immediately relaxed because we had most of the campsite to ourselves.  The twenty-six slot section we were in had *maybe* 5 people at max over the weekend.  One happened to be right next to us, but she barely left her motorhome.  It was incredibly exactly everything I needed to destress.

Since Saturday was going to be quite a long day, we took Friday night easy.  We set up camp, and then cooked up a feast: steak, potatoes, and all the leftover veggies I had in the fridge.  So, so, so good.  Probably one of the best camping meals I’ve ever had.  We had a few light beers with dinner but went to bed around midnight like good kids.

But not before we got to see the spooky moon!

We had a day full of plans for Saturday – a bike date with Matt at 10am, and then lickety split, drive the hour up to Temple to hit up a sale to get our kitchen renovation supplies purchased, and spend some time with the fam.  Once we did some mental math on the store’s closing time and driving time, we realized we didn’t have time to ride the 40-50 miles as planned.  So, we went out for 30-ish-but-speedy in mind.

Once we hit the road, we found the wind was out to play.  I suggested we attempt another paceline because that worked REALLY REALLY well at HHH, and it was super nice to have three of us, which meant one mile of WORK and two miles of slight recovery.  We were able to keep a pretty nice speed and had some fun enjoying bikes on fairly empty country roads with light traffic.

We hit a turn and we made a puppy friend.  At first I was a little freaked out because you never know if dogs will be nice or aggressive, but thankfully, he just wanted to trot with us while we pedaled.  Sadly, this road was utter crapola, full of gravel and potholes and uneven, so we decided to turn around and do an out and back course instead a loop.

We also got to try out our anniversary presents.  Zliten picked us up these… walkie talkies… for lack of a better word, that attach to our helmets.  Spoiler alert: they rock my world.  Instead of spending most of our ride time shouting “WHAT” and “I can’t hear you” and “what did you call me? oh wait, you said turn left up here not you have a big rear”, we can just chat to each other like we were riding side by side.

Chipmunk to grey squirrel… can you hear me now?

Once we turned around, we hit this AWESOME tailwind.  We kept up our paceline and our speed climbed almost as fast as the temperature.  There was a (closed) bar that had sodas for sale on the honor system in a cooler out front, so we stopped and instead of a gel, I enjoyed the tastiest 1$ berry Fanta EVAR.  Biking in the country leads to fun discoveries!

We decided we had just enough time to roll up and down the Granger Dam road (adding about 6 miles), so we took some pictures at the Granger sign (as you do) and then time trialed our way back.  We spaced ourselves out every minute and busted ass down the dam road without drafting.  Strava says I got 7th place female and I know I held between 21-23 mph on my road bike, so I was pretty happy with life.  Yay bike fitness!

We quickly showered and changed and shoved turkey bacon avocado bagel sandwiches in our faces while driving and subsequently got a little lost on the way up and went about 15 minutes out of the way.  It worked out though, we found our people and our place and found out they were open later after all.  Whew!  After a jaunt around the store and a little wait, we met with our designer and finalized our cabinet order, added some granite slabs for the counter top (we shall see how that works out… but the difference in cost was 400$ vs 3000$, so we couldn’t pass that up) and some hardware and we got an INSANELY great deal.

We still have to buy some things and then also pay for it with blood, sweat, and tears, though Zliten’s parents are going to help us with a LOT of the work because they have done two kitchen redos now and are AWESOME.  I believe we still need to pick out paint, some tools to actually be able to cut granite, a backsplash (if we decide to do a backsplash and not just paint), a new kitchen faucet, a microwave with a stove vent, and probably about 20 other things that will come up, but the first big step is DONE!

Then, we went to a mexican restaurant, and I got a chicken fajita plate which was pretty yummy!  They had all sorts of salsas, which came in handy for the amazing breakfast tacos the rest of the weekend.


We had planned to make an elaborate chicken, rice, veggies, and campfire bread feast that night, but we weren’t super hungry and were kind of exhausted so we just attempted to cook the bread as an experiment and I made some camping punch.  The punch worked out great.  The bread did NOT.  Ah well.  The guts actually were delicious but the crust was too burnt, so we’ll try it again next time for about half the cooking time.  We supplemented this void in our stomachs with dutch oven avocado oil popcorn and one tiny half smore because… camping.

I spent the evening listening to classic rock, watching the stars, and switching off reading my non-fiction Calm the F*ck Down – The Brave Triathlete sports psychology book and my Star Force space dinosaurs fiction book.  It was exactly everything I needed to, literally, calm the f*ck down after the last month and a half of CRAZY.

We stayed up way, way, way too late and subsequently stayed in bed until almost noon reading.  We started the day with a walk around the campsite and some amazing breakfast tacos with bacon, potatoes, onions, peppers, and cheese. Our ice had melted, so we hit the store for that and a few other things.  On the way back, we finally took a moment on the side of the road to poke one of the cotton bales on the farmland we had been eyeing all weekend.  Yep – even packed in tight, it’s still fluffy!  It felt just like a cotton swab.

After re-provisioning, we inflated the kayak and hit the actual LAKE part of Lake Granger.  We had planned to go all the way out to the dam (which was a couple of miles away), but once we got out of the little inlet area to more open water, the wind started to beat us up, so we just paddled in a big circle instead in the more protected water.  We mooed at cows on the shore and bopped each other with paddles and enjoyed the clouds dancing for us with the sun and we even found a lucky hat that we fished out of the water.  We logged a little over two miles of arm and shoulder work in about an hour.

For late lunch, we grilled up these ridiculous Sausage Slammer things.  This amazing abomination consists of cheddar cheese stuffed in a jalapeno stuffed in sausage with bacon wrapped around it.  We had one each and had to save the rest because we felt our hearts threaten to explode if we continued, but they were so, so delicious and decadent.

Om. Nom. Nom.

We had time for one more activity before dinner.  I had originally thought about blowing up the tube and floating in the water while my husband fished, but I felt like being a little more active.  I put on pants and shoes and took a hike by myself.  The way out was a lot slower because I stopped to take pictures of damn near everything.  I found an armadillo friend who was a little shy.  I saw lots of dragon fly sex.  I found my way to the haunted bridge in the pretty afternoon sun that makes it glow.  It was ultimately awesome.

The magical forest of scared-y dillos and bug shagging.

Stew was on the docket for dinner.  It’s an amazing meal… but it takes a long time.  Fortified from fatty fat slammers earlier and some beverages, we were plenty patient and the stew took a few hours, but it was worth it.  So much better than the crockpot.  Cooking on fire is the BEST!

Fire makes food magical… and look pretty for pictures too!

However, after two days of cooking on fire… the next morning, I had a headache the size of Texas.  I’d make the joke that it can’t be because of all the carbonated malt beverages the night before, but I know my body and it was an unreasonable pounding in my head for the amount of hops and barley soda consumed.  Either way, the best cure for a headache is water, so we pumped up the tube and Zliten attempted to feed the fish with worms while I floated back and forth between two trees and watched the clouds.

We dithered around and made another batch of breakfast tacos and packed up our things a little bit.  We almost lazed out, but we found a little patch of motivation and took off on our bikes around noon.  We decided to just circle the campsite since I didn’t know if I felt like riding one mile or twenty, and the end result was 6 miles in about 25 minutes before we stopped simply because we needed to vacate the premises.  My headache was still in force, but cycling didn’t make it worse, and everything is better on bikes.

Long weekend home away from home. 

We left the camp a little after the 2pm checkout, but it was so desolate no one minded.  After an uneventful drive home, we spent the rest of the day couchified and unpacking and doing ALL THE LAUNDRY.

While I will not claim much involvement in helping beyond moral support, over the weekend, my lovely husband fixed the outdoor shower, the hot water, cleaned the water tank, the outdoor light, switched out the propane tank, and probably a few other things I’m forgetting.  At this point, the only thing that needs to be replaced is the battery, and the rest of the purchases are then just upgrades or toys!

Camping totally makes the week before and week after a little hectic.  There’s a lot of gear and prep and unpacking and you are absolutely away from your To Do list so you’re not making forward progress.  I didn’t even get to writing, which I totally could have and maybe should have since I’m now behind on my book.  Every so often though, it’s fun to say “fuck it” to your responsibilities and it’s SO WORTH IT to have those days where you’re just playing outside and the evenings where you’re disconnected from (most) technology and really focused, present, and in the moment.

I can’t wait to go again next weekend.


5 reasons why it’s awesome to ride bikes…

Happy bike Friday everyone!

Let’s just ignore the fact that I’m running today, but I couldn’t go another day without sending a little love note to cycling because it’s been good to me this summer!  Here are 5 reasons why riding your bike is pretty much always the best option.

1.  Sunshine!  We are not meant to go from our houses to our garages to our cars to our offices and back home.  Cycling gets us outside, gets us active, and gets the endorphins flowing.  Mood elevation, vitamin D, and exercise all in one, what could be better?

2. Savings!  If I bike commute two days a week, I save about 50 miles of wear and tear on my car and a gallon or two of gas.  My commute takes about 20-ish minutes in a car and about 45-50 on a bike, so for just a little more time on the roads I also get to knock out a killer workout as well.  And that’s more money that you can spend on… new bikes!  Bike gear!  Bike accessories!  Or… y’know… other things.  But that’s boring.

3. Freebies!  A lot of places will give you free stuff as a cyclist.  Birds will give you a free hair wash (before your haircut).  There are bars around here that will discount your first beer if you’re on a bike.  And then there’s tons of cycling events and bike to work days, if you plan it out efficiently, you can really make out like a bandit just for doing something you wanted to do anyways!

4. Avoid parking and traffic.  When we did the Turkey Trot 5 mile run last year, we rode our bikes downtown to the race site.  Besides being a great warmup, we avoided SO MUCH HASSLE by doing it.  What was a 45 minute bike ride on empty roads has been in previous years 1.5-2 hours of waiting in traffic with 20,000 other people to park and get to the start line.  They even had bike valet, so we essentially got bag check as well when the race wasn’t offering it, which was helpful to stash a top layer on a chilly morning that warmed up rather quickly.

5. All the smiles.  Bikes take about 30 years off my life when I’m riding them (in a good way).  I feel like a kid again.  I’m immediately transported to my little town in suburban Chicago where I took my purple and pink Huffy evvverywhere.  It signified freedom and I still feel it to this day when I ride my bike for transportation.

If you need more reasons, you can check out forty here!


August and then everything after…

I’ve got a lot going on this month, so instead of the weekly thing, I wanted to lay September out for the month.

Here’s what happens when I get lazy with instagramming for a few days.  You get the picture version of a training (and junk food) montage.

So, let’s get on with it, shall we?

In August, I rode bikes.  A lot.  It was my highest cycling month since January with almost 400 miles (and unlike January, it wasn’t cheat-y trainer miles because I rode mostly outside and my trainer is now HARDER than outside so…).  I ran and swam very little, but enough to remember how to move my arms and legs the right way, sort of.  I raced a triathlon and felt better about my performance than the same course back in June.  I rode 100 miles and was pretty happy with life after.

In September, I plan to be a *little* more balanced.  On the weekends, I still have rides planned but most of them say MEDIUM length (aka – 40-60 miles – which is medium in my life right now, heh).  Now that I proved 100 is doable, I feel like I just need one more long one a few weeks out of the next 100 and I’ll be fine as long as I keep the volume about the same.  I built some great bike base when I didn’t feel  like doing much else in the way of training this summer, and I’m pretty sure the next time I build to race a half ironman or ironman, that experience will help me out.

But… it’s time to change it up a little bit.  I have one more sprint triathlon Sept 23rd.  I should probably make it a point to run more than 12 miles and swim more than 3 in September, unlike August.  I still plan to bike more than the other sports, but maybe at least pretend like I’m a triathlete again, sorta kinda.

Last week I rode bikes for about 3 hours (in one shot), played DDR for about an hour, and then the last hour was split between a run and a swim.  It was a good recovery week after the 100 mile ride.

Here’s what I have planned for this week:

  • Runs: lunch run (probably about a 3 mile lake interval run), 2 mile brick run (chasing the faster people on my tri team)
  • Swims: sadly, with everything else, I only have time for one and it’s already done (unless I squeeze in another one while camping).  I’ll change this up the next week.
  • Weights: new program x2 (back to it after a week break), some DDR if I can work it in
  • Bike: 35 mile bike adventure Labor Day, 25 mile bike commute to/from work Tuesday, 12-ish mile brick bike Wednesday, 50-ish mile ride at Granger Lake on Saturday.
  • 11-ish hours as planned

So, yeah.  You can see where my priorities lie.  I am having fun riding bikes and I know in the next few months I need to shift to running if I want to make 3M Half Marathon my A race.  While that sounds like the worst thing in the world to me right now, I also know as soon as the temps drop I will be out there loving running and biking will be a little less awesome when I have to wear 20 layers and still can’t feel warm.  But also it might be still as awesome and I’ll see how things go.

Kind of secretly healthy.  Would have been healthier if they weren’t out of every single wheat bun at the grocery store ><.

August was rough for various reasons.  I actually had a few really good weeks in spite of it but there was work overtime (with catered food) and camping and one week where I just couldn’t even with any sort of effort for anything.

Here’s the wins – I’m eating much healthier than I was before.  While I still put things in my mouth that are negatives on the Diet Quality scale, I’m eating much more of the things that give me points like more fruits, veggies, whole grains, and nuts.  I’m slowly attacking the fact that I eat like a human garbage disposal on the weekends with strategy (pre-made salads/easy access veggies that are appealing, keeping pistachios like EVERYWHERE so I can eat them as a salty snack, etc).  I started making some progress with the booze calories and then I think my inner child twenty-one year old threw a tantrum with all the other diet cleanup I’m trying to do, so it’s one step forward, two steps back there.

But I think I’m ready to take another step forward, so here’s my goals for September:

Actually measure out the drinks I want to have when I’m home and try to stick to them.  I plan every-effing-thing else, and maybe that’s tipsy-me rebelling against stick-up-her-butt me, but just the act of setting aside a portion helps when I can make myself do it.  Just like taking a serving of chips or ice cream or anything else and having that instead of just allowing yourself to consume from the container, it’s all about portion control.

Continue to work on what I put in my mouth on the weekends.  I have done better with this and I feel like this is starting to be a habit, but definitely needs another month of focus.  I’ve done much better with veggies, but fruits and nuts can get ignored in lieu of junk food and whole grains sometimes become refined.  There’s some room for this but doing better is always a good goal.

Abide by the deficit a little more strictly.  I’ve had a few weeks with a pretty small deficit, and it’s proven that people tend to completely underestimate their consumption when tracking.  So, if I want to make progress here, I need to eat less than I am currently.  I make slow progress when I stay close to -1000 on fitbit (which seems to work out closer to -500/-600 on the garmin).  Hopefully, not going quite as crazy with the 70-100 mile rides will help me not want to eat small cities at mealtimes.

Here’s the numbers from last week.

  • Weight: 188.8 (+0.9) lbs
  • Avg cal per day: 1839(-743) calories
  • Avg deficit per day: 998 (+431) calories/Garmin average deficit: 621 (+454)
  • Macros: 58 (-23)g fat, 190 (-54)g carbs, 107 (-2)g protein, 28(+3)g fiber

DQ score: Monday: 26.  Tuesday: 26.  Wednesday: 21. Thursday: 24.  Friday: 25. Saturday: 8.  Sunday: 21.  Average comes out to approximately 21.5 (out of 32).

Overall… better.  The scale is still punishing me for my transgressions over the last two weeks but so far it’s looking better for this month if I can keep myself out of trouble and build up some momentum.

Because I am a data nut, here’s the averages from the last month.

  • Weight: 187.3
  • Avg cal per day: 2082 calories
  • Avg deficit per day: -820 calories (per fitbit, don’t yet have a month of garmin data)
  • DQ Score: 20.9.  A whole month on average over 20!  Yessss!

All in all, it’s a decent month although the top number is not going anywhere fast.  My goal is to beat these numbers in September and hopefully see some progress. Also, hopefully with a monthly average, I can actually see WHAT it takes to make that first number drop.

Four usuable rooms people.  The dream is alive! (ignore the dust)

I’m seriously proud of what I have been able to accomplish here.

My big goals were:

  • Finish the office to the point where it’s usable (DONE)
  • Paint and put everything in the shed that’s supposed to go in the shed (DONE)
  • Finish the pain cave to the point where it’s usable (DONE)
  • Write 4 first-draft chapters of my book (DONE)
  • Read two non-fiction books: How to Start Up and Daring Greatly (first one DONE, second I’m saving for later)

Other little accomplishments:

  • Got my e-chart set up for my doctors office which took faxing things and calling people and other adulting.
  • Started the inital prepping for our kitchen remodel.
  • Made myself sort of a girl again with plucked eyebrows and a self-pedicure
  • Saw some movies in the theater that I REALLY wanted to catch instead of whining about it later and saw Rob Schneider at the comedy club.
  • Had some friends over for an impromptu smallish game night.
  • Successful camping trip to Wichita Falls!

Whew!  I feel awesome about August considering I crashed into it feeling like a train wreck.  Amazing how marking some big things off my to do list, and making a prioritized list by month completely helped my sanity.

So, it’s September!  New month, new list.  Honestly, after the last few months of chores and getting the house in order, I think we deserve a little reprieve from that stuff.  I was getting close to burning it down so we could start over, y’all.  I’m glad I didn’t, and I’m happy it’s done, but it was a pretty close call.  So, we’re focusing elsewhere for the month.

  • TWO camping trips.  Since we had to cancel our family trip to Port Aransas because… well… it’s kind of not there anymore… (we’ll try again in the spring) we decided to go to Granger Lake instead for a long weekend to unwind.  We’ve both been rather prickly lately with the last month of craziness and three days in the wilderness without to dos, screens, technology, and frankly, much talking, sounds like the cure.  And then, camping for Kerrville… we’re staying two nights just for a sprint race, so most of the trip is also about chilling out and having fun.
  • Office.  Actually using it.  Now that the office is set up, we need to dedicate time to actually working on projects.  Here’s what I’d like to accomplish:
    • Three more chapters in my book.  I’m giving myself a little leeway because I’d like to make some strides in other things (below).  But, if I’m really rolling, I’ll try for one a week again and go for four.
    • Website functionality.  Investigate setting up site subscriptions, and payment options.  I feel like these are the last two things I need to learn to be able to set up a professional looking website.  I may outsource this one to Zliten or at least ask him to help me.
    • Side Gig Plan.  Start thinking about in what manner I would trade little green scraps of paper for things that I do.  What services would I provide?  What are appropriate prices?  What can I offer that can make me passive income (like stock training plans)?  What am I willing to do actively (like coaching a client one on one)?

Other stuff:

  • Dr. Appointment to drain my ears.  I’m not doing overtime anymore, so it’s not quite as annoying to get there during business hours and it would be nice to know if my ears are super plugged or my husband just mumbles a lot.
  • Two more Non-Fiction books.  One triathlon or memoirs type non-fiction book, and one about business/marketing/etc.  I haven’t picked them out yet – any suggestions? Hit me up in the comments.
  • Wills.  This should be fairly easy and cheap to set up online and then my parents will stop bugging me about them.  Also, it’s a good thing to do because I do ride my bike and dive 50 feet underwater and swim in lakes where people beat me up while I’m trying not to drown and I also abide by the 5 second rule liberally so it’s not as if I completely avoid risks in life.

I have a lot of other fun stuff planned too, like hosting game night, going to two others, celebrating some birthdays, and all sorts of other things I’m forgetting right now!

This week’s to do list:

  • Try to nail down our kitchen remodel and give someone green papers in exchange for it.
  • Identify the 2-3 non fiction books I want to read this month and buy them.  I’ll have a decent amount of reading time on the camping trip so I hope to have them queued up and ready to go!
  • Chapter 5.  It’s started, but just barely (about 1k words)  Finish it and start the next if there’s time.  Spend some time doing this in the woods!
  • Camping!  This will be trip #3 in the pop up.  Hopefully this one will be easier to pack for and less stressful.
  • Wills.  Zliten has already started to look into this, perhaps we can get this one taken care of!

I’m hoping to get all this done, but it may be ambitious with camping.  We’ll see!

PSA: If you’re looking for a way to help with the craziness happening in the Houston area, we sent some supplies on Amazon.  I liked this option because I know 100% of what I paid for this went directly to something that was needed in shelters.  Consider this option if you have a few $$ to toss their way and don’t know what to do.

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