Adjusted Reality

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

Month: February 2018 Page 1 of 2

Adjusted Reality Vlog #1 – Three Ill-Advised Races in Three Weeks

It may have taken until the second-to-last day of the month, but I knocked out one of my February goals and joined the ranks of YouTube and made a video!

Adjusted Reality Vlog Episode #1  – Three Ill-Advised Races in Three Weeks.

I took my January self out for a spin… three spins, actually! On very little training, I raced a half marathon, an indoor triathlon, and a bike race back to back to back. What could go wrong?

Sidenote: I was debating even publishing it because it’s not perfect.  I say um and uhhhh a lot, I futzed up the pictures, but I’m super excited with how it turned out for it being my first go at it.  I’m proud of it, warts and all, and I’ve got a ton of ideas both for future episodes and also for how to make them better.

Have you ever started a race completely unprepared?  Had a race go off the rails?  Hit me up so I know I’m not the only one. 🙂

Total Randomness

Whew, ok, the last post gave me the willies.  Talkin’ about humans and feelings and stuff.

Things that do not impress me – arm day noodles and also feels like 30 degrees.  C’mon winter.  You had your time.  Spring please!

Today, I’m going to go with total randomness.

Last week was the first week in a long time that I have barely noticed my heel being cranky.  I was feeling some pretty big feelings about this earlier in the month, but I’m hoping between rest and dutifully wearing my insoles, its healed.  Not to mention about missing out on some killer running weather, I’ve missed most of the season where I actually wear clothes that look somewhat put together since it’s not 200000 degrees outside.  Why bother looking nice if I have to complete the ensemble with running shoes?  Oh well.  I can be a fashion police fugitive if it means a year of injury free training and racing.  I’m willing to make that sacrifice, so it’s been a winter of mostly the same five hoodies and two pairs of jeans every week.

Speaking of things that should set a good tone for the upcoming season… I am really really really really really really enjoying heavy weights (as much as I like to make faces while doing it on the Instagrams).  I forget how much I actually like taking the time to lift.  It’s just as achievement based as run/bike/swim, it’s super fun to keep those weights numbers going up, and you really and truly can’t overdo it.  I’m doing one hour three times per week, and I can see that’s pretty much the top limit on what’s useful.  Unlike riding my bike, which I want to do as much as humanly possible until I collapse into a puddle of quivering goo.

I’m starting week #4 today and my gains right now are probably more based on remembering how to actually do the exercises (muscle memory) than actual strength.  However, even if it’s totally subconscious, I do feel more sturdy and a little more definition in the marshmallow fluff all over my body.  If I could eat a little less, I’m sure it would help but that’s a whole ‘nother thing.  I’m hoping to stick with the lifting more throughout season – 1-2 times a week.  Honestly, coach-me thinks lifting probably does me more good than a random 3-5 mile jog, but it’s hard to convince athlete-me of that when the thing I compete at is swim bike RUN.

A day of happy.  Bikes, weights, unicorns fighting robots, and good food.

Obviously, since I’m just mandating that I do “cardio” 3xweek for 30 minutes, I’ve been riding my bike and that’s it.  Because of the heel shenanigans, I decided to lay off the running, but I am looking forward to getting back to it in the next week or so.  I’ve had some plans to hit the pool but then it will be cold or rainy or the sky will be blue or the day will end in -y and I do something else instead.  Hopping on the trainer takes so little prep time.  Swimming for 30 minutes is like a 75 minute commitment.  I know I’ll get back to it when I need to, I’ll whine about being slow for a month, and then things will go back to normal.

Here’s a weird thing – my bike rides have actually gotten really GOOD lately.  Over the last week, I’ve noticed that I’m putting in less effort to get the same power numbers and speed.  I’ve also been having less trouble waking up in the morning, and actually have been able to hit the workouts before work fairly regularly.  Ladies and gentlemen, I think I have hit the mythical place I haven’t seen in years: BEING RESTED!  It actually feels great!

It’s like all the things are coming together.  Weights make me feel great.  Shorter bouts of cardio with some intensity is awesome.  The other key is that I’m handling some shit in my personal life a little better which is a little tough for my BRAIN but fantastic for my body.

As an endurance athlete, I’m used to constantly feeling beat up.  I’m actually more comfortable feeling a little tired and sore.  During season, the punishment is mostly from workouts and a little fun when I can fit it in.  During offseason, it’s adventures and enjoying the freedom to have beers more often and not being the best at sleeping and of course junk food because I don’t have to care what I feel like when I wake up in the morning because I’m not training.

I mean, after you earn an “Official Badass” mug you have to break it in at least once, right?

This has been a weird situation where I’m not training hard but also under a strict embargo to not eat and drink like an asshole because I’d really like to see the other mythical place called: AT RACE WEIGHT.  It’s quite weird.  Usually I have a reason not to go home and have glasses of whiskey like, “I have to get up and train for two hours tomorrow and you know how miserable that feels”.  Now, I’m having to come home to “Yes you CAN have beers tonight but should you?”  It’s like college, where all of a sudden you have freedom to do whatever, but then this big goal in the distance, and your job is to not to eff it all up by pursuing short term pleasure instead of long term goals too often.

It’s been a weird handful of weeks trying to sort this one out.  I figured this would be a little easier, but it’s the end of February (two months later) and I’m still struggling with this one at times.  In my quest to analyze what my malfunction is here, I’ve come up with a few things.  Alcohol is fun.  Just like Sleepytime Tea and my book and a square or two of dark chocolate now mean bed, a glass of whiskey means it’s an evening off goals and to dos, and it’s time to relax and unwind.

I’ve also learned if I let myself sit on the couch being bored watching bad TV surfing the net, I’m more likely to want to have a glass of wine to make that more exciting.  If I do something engaging, like beading, playing games, etc, I’m generally pretty engrossed as is.  Idle hands, and such.

Along with all this other healthy living noise, I’ve been doing a decent job at the QUALITY of what I’m putting in my mouth, if not the quantity.  I have been reliably eating about 1900-2000 calories per day average, which I know at my current level of activity is just about maintenance level if not mayyyybe a little under.  So, I’m not losing weight and that’s okay, because I’m not currently doing the things to lose weight.  I’m a little grumpy about that, but at least it makes sense.  Between a new lifting program and trying to eat the good food and not be a jerk and have vodka for dinner every few days, I’ll give myself some grace to allow myself to eat enough not to feel (too) hungry as long as it’s good quality food, for the most part.

I have been tracking and quantifying all my food, so that’s a huge step in the right direction.  Next week, I’m bringing out some of the big guns – food that is lower in calorie but should be just as filling.  I’m going to try to stay away from overloading on full fat cheese and high calorie sauces/dressings, and really stress less sweet fruits like berries and plums that are higher in fiber but not as many calories.  Still the same method of tracking calories and/or diet quality, I’m just trying to play the game a little better.  At some points in my life, at this level of activity, 1200-1500 was a normal day – not that I want to go that low, but 1600-1800 should not be THIS HARD.

Tacos often save my life for meals these days.  Whole grain (corn tortilla).  Lean protein (organic beef).  Dairy (light organic sour cream and cheese).  Veggies?  Well, I get lots of veggies elsewhere. 🙂

Speaking of hard… I’ve really got a block about this learning to do video thing.  I have no problems with pictures (I mean, obviously).  I actually have gotten comfortable with the live streaming thing – both on a professional capacity and now at home streaming driving games (most Saturdays at 6pm – come watch us drive badly for a few hours).  Making what I’m considering “video content” (at my desk, about a topic, with some picture references) is a little harder.  My husband was terribly kind to set it up for me, and then I realized how GROSS that view of the office is (the background is a bunch of papers and mess and the closet door) and now I’m self conscious about that.  Since that’s what I have to work with, I’m going to have to figure it out.

Then, of course, there’s all this crap.  For the moment, I’m mostly going to leave it alone or I’m going to have to go back on that drinking thing… y’know…  My baby steps are going to be:

I took the first step and applied for a brand ambassadorship for a small company I like and respect.  My goal is to keep an eye out for other ones that come up that I’m interested in (though I missed the window for a lot of them by waiting until after the first of the year).

I plan to be more interactive on social media.  I think I’ve finally gotten over feeling like an internet weirdo about commenting on people’s instagrams and twitters and stuff.  It feels like this is what blogs used to be, and the best way for me to feel like part of a group instead of an outsider looking in is to be a participant and just clicking <3 does not count.

I think I feel so awkward about asking for help because I haven’t paid it forward enough yet.  So, I’m going to look for opportunities to offer help where and when I can.  I may not have copious free time, but I’m happy to offer advice on shit I know about – being a productive and efficient human (even if I don’t always follow through I know HOW), advice on the video game industry, advice on training or healthy diets and at least casual advice on helpful things to do to make that thing stop hurting or feeling weak or being a beta reader for a book or whatever.  I’m going to look for opportunities to help and mentor and maybe I’ll be more comfortable asking for it myself.

Whew, ok, getting heavy again.  Reading these non-fiction books is making me think too much.  At least the one I’m reading right now (Run Fast, Run Forever) is just kind of making me nod along going “yep, I’ve followed this training plan before, I know I like it…”.

The one day where we were not either freezing or raining we went and played bikes in the woods.  And it was glorious!

It’s not been all business time.   I’ve played a lot of games.  Video games, table top games, some board games, and we even went bowling with some friends.  I had one of my best scores in a while, something like 145 (and of course, I forgot to get photographic evidence).  We saw Brian Posehn on Friday (with tickets practically right on the stage, it was awesome).  We had lunch and game with the family on Saturday.  We saw Black Panther on Sunday and it was really powerful.  I’m so close to actually breaking out my canvases and paints and my beads.  We played mountain bikes last weekend on a day that was actually not cold or rainy.  I have spent a few rainy mornings in bed reading, and sometimes it’s even fluffy sci-fi fiction! There is downtime being had, folks.

It feels like winter is starting to come to an end, even if technically we have another month, and even if the weather surprises us like crap days with rain and 30 degrees.  I’m really looking forward to Spring – in that I’ll be training (aka, get to play outside in the pretty weather) but not training TOO much (aka, get to play outside in the pretty weather occasionally doing things that don’t include watts/pace suggestions).  First, though, I need to sort out two things – my spring training plan and my spring race schedule.  Then the season can ACTUALLY change.

What are you most looking forward to about Spring?

I don’t know and I don’t care.

Let me tell you a story about a little history repeating itself.

I don’t really have any related pictures, so here’s a selfie of me as a unicorn.

I have been stuck in a specific game for two years now, and I’m kind of embarrassed to admit why.  *I* made a mistake by trying to play the game what I thought would be the most efficient way and not paying attention to what I *should* do.  After a while, I found myself in an area where I was outmatched and outclassed.  Advice told me that I needed to go back and level up by playing some optional content in the game.

I got mad at that suggestion.  “If it’s optional, why do I *have* to do it to not get beaten down?”  I whined.  “This is totally ‘fifteen pieces of flair‘ bullshit.” For two years, I complained instead of taking action and doing the thing they suggested.  “The game shouldn’t let me progress like that,” I said.  “I’m stuck and overwhelmed at the prospect of going further and I don’t’ know what to do.”

This year, I made it a goal to get through the whole game because I realized I was being an idiot.  It sounds like a silly and empty resolution, but it’s actually teaching me a few life lessons that are not so trivial.

First of all, unblocking myself on a task (because, while we try to hide it well, games are a series of tasks) I’ve been putting off for two years is ROUGH.  After a while, you turn a blind eye to it, whatever it is that you want to do but keep putting off, and you get comfortable with it not being done.  There have been years where rooms of my house didn’t even exist to me because I wasn’t ready to deal with them.  I’ve also gotten comfortable with a lot of things that I shouldn’t over the years – being overweight, not being a capable runner, being prone to injury because I let pre-hab slip, letting myself and my education stagnate, not jumping on opportunities… I could continue to sit here and air my sins, but you get the drift.  I’ve passed by making progress and pursuing dreams because it “sounds hard”.

Here’s something hard – running a fucking marathon after a full workday swimming and biking.  Probably harder – spending months training to do this, logging a ridiculous amount of time in the pool, on the bike, and on the roads.  Getting to the point where a 20 mile run long day actually felt like a break because it only took three and three quarter hours instead of the entire day to complete.  Hard is finding that last gear half a mile from the finish line and riding the line of maximum effort staving off the dry heaves and the urge to collapse.  Hard is turning away from beer and bbq for one more lap after riding for more than five hours, even if it means nothing to anyone but you.

Level of Ironman difficulty – less than asking someone for help, apparently…

This is the stuff that looks nice and heroic on the Instagrams.

What sounds stupid, but was harder?  Starting my book.  Sitting at my desk writing words.  Like I’m doing right now.  Like I do all the time.  Just in a different format about different things with different stakes on the result in my brain.  That’s right, the idea of swimming, biking, and running 140.6 miles sounds wayyyy less intimidating to me than writing a lot of words and asking someone to deem it worthy of publishing and promoting and then asking people to pay monies for it.  In fact, this, a million, trillion times over.  The idea of doing TEN Ironman races is less scary than that.

What I’m coming to terms with this year is that I do an EXCELLENT job of hiding fear and insecurity and sheer terror from myself with a “fuck it” attitude.  “I don’t know what to do” is my way of dismissing something that I’m intimidated by from the realm of possibility because no one has approached me and handed me the knowledge or solution on a silver platter.  Entitled, who me? *sarcasm*

Did I know how to train for and complete and Ironman five years ago?  Did I know much about fitness or nutrition ten years ago? Did I know how to run a successful online game fifteen years ago?  Did I know psychology twenty years ago? The answer is NO, but I do now.  “I don’t know what to do” is a stupid excuse in and of itself.  What I really mean is one of two things:

I’m lazy.  This is the valid excuse.  I’m totally alright with being unwilling to dedicate the time and effort to making something a priority, as long as I’m honest about what it means to me and/or how I can get around without that in my life.  I don’t know how to install a kitchen counter top, and that’s fine, because I paid someone to do it.  I don’t know how to write code but right now my job nor my hobbies depend on this knowledge.  And that’s fine.  We all can’t be superstars at everything.  I am not superwoman.

Most of my house projects fall into this category (I’m not scared of organizing the pantry I just haven’t prioritized it), but when the day came where my kitchen was set to be demolished, I realized I was actually scared. Honestly, I was so happy to see my empty kitchen that first evening because I knew from there, there was no going back and I had no choice but to see this through.  That leads me to the second meaning…

I’m terrified.  This is what I need to cut out.  This is where I’m lying to myself and convincing myself that I don’t give a flying fig about something, when I actually do.  I’m not willing to sit down to the table and face the fact that I’m going to do something challenging, I might fail, and that yes, that actually matters.  If you look at my race reports, the bad ones have a different tone in the last few years.  Early to mid-2010s, if I had a bad race, I might find myself sobbing in the shower after a little too much champagne or at least really bummed about it.  Then, the breakthrough races happened where I’d be walking on air for a week.

Lately, all the highs and lows are gone.  I had a disastrous 3M – which was supposed to be an A race – and I was over it by the time we walked out of the beer tent.  I had a pretty great Kerrville Sprint last year and I was more excited about the camping trip than the race at the time.  I did a freaking Ironman and I was over it pretty quickly, I didn’t see the big deal (though, as the months have passed, the BIG DEAL has come into focus).  While you can chalk this up to being more seasoned, older, wiser… I’m not sure I’m ok with this prosac-like response to my life.

It’s ok to feel both comedy and tragedy.

I should be upset if my race falls apart.  I should be elated if I accomplish a goal I’ve trained for.  I’m totally allowed to be scared of doing something new.  I should have butterflies when I toe the line of a race or take the first step towards learning or doing a new thing.  I need to be HONEST with myself, and I’m allowed to feel the feelings.  I actually NEED to feel the feelings to be the human I want to be.  I like the idea of “feeling the fear and doing it anyway”.  But, I have to FEEL it and know that I’m SCARED (because I can conquer that), not just convince myself that I don’t care enough.

Speaking of mildly scary things, the kitchen turned out amazing, which will help bolster my confidence in taking on something else similar in the future.  However, just like the Ironman, it took months of effort to get it done and my body house is STILL not 100% completely back to normal (soon).  I have a healthy respect for the effort, though I know it’s in my capability.  I just need to be properly prepared mentally for the process if I were to take it on again.

And, coming full circle, back to the game I want to finish, I think in this instance it was really more of the former (my own entitlement and laziness), but surely there were elements of the latter.  What if the game was too hard and I’d fail?  I tend to quit games that I lose at initially.  Somewhere along the line in my life, getting smacked down does not inspire me to get back up again.  It makes me take my ball and go home.  That’s fine when it consists of pixels on a screen, but when it creeps into other areas like sports and other goals, I don’t like it.  And since we are what we repeatedly do, it’s not good practice.

My eyes are opening to the fact that I’ve lived in this bubble for quite a while, where rejection and failure live outside.  I live a fairly comfortable life where people are generally nice to me and I do just fine performing the daily tasks of being a moderately successful productive human.  Unless I seek it out, I don’t really need to face the scary stuff.  I could probably live the rest of my life here and no one would think less of me, except me.

This really hit me when I arrived at the six hour race.  There was no ambiguity here.  I was highly outclassed, and that’s not being dismissive of my capability in sports, it’s the honest truth.  I was the little leaguer showing up to a varsity game.  My BEST case scenario (minus a competitor’s mechanical or injury, which no one with any sense of dignity or karma wishes on anyone) was finishing last having ridden what I’m capable of even when I’m trained (which I was not).  It was really weird to face being the worst at something, at best, and potentially completely failing at it because of my lack of preparation.

What a weird feeling… lining up to be the worst at something for six hours…

Processing my failure ahead of time really kind of helped me go into it with a different attitude.  “I don’t know how to not lose this race but I’m going to do my best anyway.”  This has helped me realize that I need to own my shit this year.  I don’t know how to do a lot of things that I really want to do and I’m not going to let that be the sole reason I don’t do them.

  • It is OK for me to write a book that no one wants to publish.  There will be other books (I have at least three more swimming around in my head).
  • It is OK for me to race my fucking guts out for a podium and come in fourth or tenth or last.  There will always be other races.
  • It is OK for me to start a business or offer a product that totally flops.  Most entrepreneurs don’t hit it big on the first, second, or sometimes even twentieth idea.  If it’s something I want, I’ll keep trying.
  • It is OK for me to reach out to someone for mentorship who either rejects or ignores me.
  • It is NOT OK for me to lie to myself about the importance of these things to me.  They are important.  It is OK to be disappointed, even temporarily crushed, about them going poorly.  It’s called being a human, not a robot.

The mentor thing is the weirdest and seems like the easiest to conquer but if I could skip this step and never ask for help from anyone ever, I would HAPPILY do that.  Forever and ever amen.  But, that’s not how the world works.  When the shoe is on the other foot – I don’t mind answering questions or helping people with things I’m good at doing.  I actually love when I get those opportunities, it’s a lot of fun, but I always HATE ASKING FOR HELP myself.  Because it makes me feel weak and annoying.  Which is dumb.  It’s scary to be vulnerable, but I’m learning it’s necessary to grow.

Going forward, my goal is to be honest with myself, and when I find something that’s keeping me from a goal, don’t let “I don’t know” or “I don’t care” be an excuse if it’s something that matters to me.  I need to figure out what the road block is, and either work through it or be honest with myself that the price is too high at the moment.  It’s not that I don’t know or don’t care.  It’s that I’m overwhelmed and intimidated and I know how to fix that if my brain lets me process what I’m actually feeling.

Oh, and the game I’m playing?  I’m over halfway through and I’ve found that it’s a HECK OF A LOT OF FUN.  I’m finding myself playing it a lot and definitely not just because I’m forcing myself to achieve a goal.  I feel stupid for spending the last two years stuck, but apparently, things happen when they happen for a reason.

Earning the right to run

Back in the day when I started this whole “trying to not be such a fatass” thing in 2007, I had no intentions of ever running unless chased.

I also didn’t know what a deadlift was, so there’s that...

The elliptical or the Dance Dance Revolution game pad were more my style, as was the weight room.  You see, at 200-something lbs, running doesn’t even seem possible.  However, more low impact cardio (or cardio that at least DISTRACTED from the impact like playing a game) wasn’t terrible.  However, even at my highest weight, I could still enjoy and make progress at lifting heavy things.

I started my fitness program with 20 mins of cardio three times a week, and did strength exercises or lifted weights almost as much at 15 minutes at the same frequency.  From there, as I found I enjoyed it (and as the holiday season approached and I decided I wanted to keep losing weight instead of gaining it), I increased the amount of time little by little.  For the first two years or so of this whole shebang, I was working out up to about five hours a week and two of those were lifting.

Oddly enough, I had very little complaints in terms of injury.  I was running miles and 5ks faster than I do now on approximately 2 hours per week of actual RUNNING.  I was also able to maintain a weight that is about 25-30 lbs lighter than I am now.

Once I started training for half marathons, I didn’t have the 2 hours a week to lift, so I cut it down to just a little maintenance lifting and then when I found triathlons, forget it.  Three sports to train meant something had to give.  Besides some targeted, focused periods where I lifted heavy throughout the last seven years, I tended to shy away from it.  I would either do bodyweight stuff, or just slack on it entirely.  Don’t get me wrong, mat exercises are both worthy and important, but the best way to build muscle and get strong and stable?  Lift heavy things.

Step one, pick up heavy thing, step two, put it down, step three, don’t collapse on the way to the car.

Once I get into a routine of doing it, it’s great.  I actually look forward to the gym.  It’s one exercise where my performance doesn’t suffer doing it in the morning vs when I’m actually awake.  The shock of different things feeling sore fades after a few weeks and you just feel… good.

But, those 2-3 weeks of prelude to that, feeling like a baby deer with noodle arms?  Those are hard.  I’m actually doing much better initially this time because I have spent the last two months doing bodyweight work (foundations).  Funny how doing something the right way makes it easier.  The next few weeks are actually remembering how to swing a kettle bell around in three sets of eight reps and where they keep the little weight lock things so the plates don’t fall off while I bench press (hypertrophy).  So far, it’s going well, and I’m kind of looking forward to when the weights get to three digits in some lifts and the reps are more like 3 because that’s all you can handle.

I read somewhere a long time ago that you had to earn your right to run with proper strengthening of your muscles FIRST.  I inadvertently did that in 2007 and 2008.  The problem is you have to re-earn it over and over and over, not just once.  I’m now complaining on and off about a wonky shoulder and knee and ankle and heel and every race for the last year, if not longer, has had a caveat of “I did well considering my body wasn’t 100% at the starting line”.  Guess how long I’ve been out of the gym – that period of time plus about six months.

It’s time to re-earn my right to run.

I’m not doing anything revolutionary.  Three times a week, with at least a day in between, I’m heading to the gym to do all the things that make me harder, better, faster, stronger.  Squats.  Kettlebells.  Bench presses.  Deadlifts.  Core exercises that make me play the “cramps or just sore abs” game.

Hopefully these days will come back soon… sans the wonky heel.

I haven’t set food on a road, track, or treadmill since over two weeks ago, and my heel is still giving me shit off and on.  I’m super sick of being broken and limping along and doing alright considering at races.  I’m looking to this next 6-8 weeks to fix me.  It has before.  I hope it will again.  I’d give anything to show up to a start line completely healthy, without any caveats.

These three hours a week are the most important things on my schedule.  I’ve also got 30-60 mins of cardio three times a week, but to be honest?  If something had to fall off, it would be this.  If the air stopped being both stupid cold and trying to kill me with allergies, I could knock this out with my normal walking I do on a weekly basis if I wanted to count that.  I don’t, because I’d like to not die when I start triathlon training again, but I could by the letter of the program.

It’s a weird adjustment to be paring down so low on cardio (and calling it cardio, not training, it feels so un-triathlete of me), but it’s refreshing to shake things up.  I know the endurance comes back quickly, and I’m not training for anything long for quite a while.  Hopefully, I can take the next two months and earn my right to run, and run fast.

Pace Bend Ultra #teamdfl but still #ultraAF

I don’t think I’ve ever been so unprepared for a race.

Ready to ride?

I’ve gone to races a little battered and broken.  I’ve shown up to short races with zero speed in my legs.  But generally, if I’m planning on an endurance event that will take most of a workday, I’ve trained for it.

Not this time.

I had INTENDED to train for 3M by doing a long ride every third weekend, but then I needed a brain break and my body was falling apart and vacation and then all of a sudden it was the end of December.  I had just a few weeks left and had to cram for a half marathon, which left little time for cycling, save 20-45 minute trainer rides and one very broken up multi-hour cruiser bike ride at 10 mph.

I had INTENDED to do a long ride the weekend before, but instead we raced the Indoor Tri hard and fizzled out after another hour on the trainer and called it.  We got in one 90 minute trainer ride about a week and a half out, which felt REALLY LONG.

Yeah.  Entirely unprepared.

Then, I decided to look up the start list and scope out who else was showing up.  Huge mistake.  I found six girls in my division, and most of them were cycling pros minus one super fast triathlete that always wins her age group.  Last year I was mid-pack.  This year, there was absolutely no way except for a mechanical on someone’s part that I wasn’t coming in dead f#%*ng last.

We got to camp around 5pm and set up and cheered the 24 hour racers off at 6pm.  It was actually quite inspiring because if the were going to ride bikes for a full day, I could do it for an afternoon.  It was chilly (40s), so I added some extra layers to my ensemble while we cooked pre-race dinner of chicken, potatoes, corn, and pre-made salads.  We enjoyed a leisurely dinner and bedtime since we had a lax wakeup time as our race didn’t start until noon.  More afternoon races please!

Credit – taken from Rob Jan Martinez’s event photos.

We had set an alarm for 10, but the camp got rather noisy after 8am (there was a race going on, after all), so we were up and had a very relaxing morning with green tea and bean and cheese tacos and split a turkey bacon guac bagel closer to the race.   That would never fly with a triathlon or running race, but my stomach is pretty sturdy on the bike and some good solid non-sweet calories really set me off right.  Again, more races starting at noon, please!

Around 11:45, we lined up with the other six hour racers, got a briefing, and got sent on our way right at noon.  As expected, everyone else in the race took off like a bullet and Zliten and I settled in at the back.  We made the call to wear our non-aero helmets that had our walkie talkies and try to hang together the whole race.  It was a challenge to sort out the cadence of following him because we had to stay non-drafting distance but couldn’t be *too* far or the walkies cut out, but we got it handled within a lap or two.

We made a quickie stop to pick up his inhaler after the first lap, and then watched the miles tick by fairly pleasantly and effortlessly at first.  I was amazed at how good I felt at 20, 25, and then just more than 30 miles when we made our first pit stop to get nutrition and fill bottles.  This was encouraging.  Maybe somehow my legs remembered how to ride bikes for a long time even after a 3 month break?

Credit – taken from Rob Jan Martinez’s event photos.  My layers were keeping me warm, but definitely not looking very sexy….

Around mile 40, my legs started to feel that little bit of fatigue burn.  While I was pretty impressed with how long it took to feel tired, I was facing the idea that the second half of the ride was not going to be so pleasant.  Time slowed to a crawl once my garmin hit 3 hours.  My 16 mph consistent pace started to slow in the 15s.  I spent some time doing the math here on how long laps were taking and how much time was left to distract myself from the unrelenting hills.

So, yeah, let’s stop for a moment and talk about elevation.  The course is a 6.2 mile loop with 300-some feet of climbing.  While that doesn’t sound like a lot, consider the 50 miles I had in my legs at this point had almost 3k of climbing.   My Ironman race had less than half of that in 112 miles.  There’s a decent size hill every mile here.  I am fairly certain that my legs would have had a little more in them if it wasn’t for the constant up and down.

I was shifting a LOT to keep pace and all of a sudden I heard a loud crunch and had no pressure on my pedals.  It sounded like a simple dropped chain, but when I got off to look, it looked all mangled in the gearing.  I figured I had done something bad to my bike, and luckily Zliten was within earshot so I told him to stop.  Since we weren’t supposed to ride backwards, I walked my bike up to him and he looked at it, shook his head, fixed my dropped chain (apparently they drop differently on the TT bikes…) and we were off again.

Before that stop we were skating the line between being able to make 13 and 14 laps, but this put us back a little, though 13 was still possible as long as we didn’t take too long at our last break.  We rolled into camp at 62 miles in just over 4 hours of riding (though it was about 4:25 total race time).  While my legs weren’t feeling awesome, I also didn’t expect to feel like a little baby deer all of a sudden when I got off the bike.  I spent 10 minute on the couch of my camper trying to stretch the cramps out and got myself up and back on the bike to make the cutoff of when I wanted to be back on the bike – 4:40pm.  This would give us time for 3 more conservatively paced laps + about 5 minutes of wiggle room.

Six hours of riding = crazy eyes and non functional brains.

Then, I realized both of us were attempting to roll out without our helmets.   Right.  Race brain.  Grabbing them put us a few minutes behind so I attempted to pull us along a little faster to make up for it.  We timed lap 11 and we were on pleasantly on pace.  Lap 12, my legs started cramping again and I said that maybe it was time to go drink beer and watch everyone else finish, but Zliten convinced me not to, and then he unconvinced himself, but I was already re-convinced and in the mindset of “if I cross with more than 25 minutes to go, I can make the last lap” so we decided that was the plan.

We crossed at 5:33 and change.  26-ish minutes to finish one more and that was just enough.  Now, I knew this last 6.2 miles didn’t mean anything in context of the race.  I had been lapped at least twice by every single female out there.  My legs were screaming.  But, we both made the decision to make the turn away from BBQ and beer, sitting and salvation, to ride another loop around the park because that’s what mother effing Ironmen do.  It wasn’t our fastest lap but it certainly wasn’t our slowest, and we came around the last corner and attempted to line our wheels up to finish at the same time.

It didn’t work – technically I still haven’t DFL’d because it counted Zliten’s finish as one second later than mine.  We were the absolute two last people to cross the finish line with our 81 miles, and had the least laps by far, but it was still a glorious day of riding bikes.

Six hour racers!

Riding 80 miles on no training is no joke, and I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it to the mass population, but it was a fun experiment to see what residual endurance I had left from last year.  While my legs fatigued a little early, they hung in there until the end.  And so did my brain.  I had a MUCH better day mentally this year than last year.  In 2017, at points I had wanted to throw my bike away and never see it again, and this year, I kept a pretty even attitude through the ride.  My speed was only 0.1 mph less than last year, so I missed that 14th lap because we took longer breaks, not because we were riding slower. And that’s pretty freaking impressive.

I ain’t even mad that literally everyone else in the race besides me got a medal because there happened to be 4 people in my one age group, especially because 3rd place was a freaking pro cyclist I know who kicks some major ass on the bike.  I would have been outclassed on my best day and that’s just the facts of life sometimes.  There is no earthly way I could ride 100+ miles at 18mph right now and that’s what it would have taken.  To get third.  It was kind of freeing to just get out there and ride my bike and not worry about where I stood with anyone besides myself.

NOMS. Doesn’t look like much but the pork was DIVINE.

Oddly enough, when people have been riding for 6-24 hours straight, there’s not much of a party atmosphere after, so we were the sole racers awake after 9pm.  We followed suit not too far behind them after housing a giant plate of BBQ and talking a lot about how our legs were sore.

I’m really torn.  I said I wouldn’t do this race next year unless it was my focus, and it probably won’t be.  It was too expensive.  It’s too pro.  However, I had so much darn fun, I’d consider plopping down the scratch to camp for the weekend and ride bikes for the afternoon.  Maybe a relay?  Maybe offering to crew for someone?  Maybe just randomly try the 12 or 24 hour race and see how far I can go with a bunch of breaks?

Either way, this ended this weird little three weeks of racing on an unexpectedly happy and positive note.  Onward and upward!

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