I’ve been away for a hot minute, for reasons. Contrary to what you may believe after viewing the following photo, that reason is not that I’ve become a sorcerer in real life.

After Pflugerville, the work crazy did not calm down. In fact, to quote Teal’c from Stargate, it indeed “calmed up”. For the two weeks between the race and vacation, I put in a ridiculous amount of hours and maintained a ridiculous level of stress. I ran ONCE, because it happened to be 75 degrees after work one day and I couldn’t pass up that experience in late June. I spent the weekend in between doing almost NOTHING productive to keep my sanity intact, even if I should have been packing for camping.

That, of course, made packing for camping even more stressful, because I was attempting to do it between 10+ hour workdays. The night before I left, I worked, attended our game night, went back to work, came home and packed for camping around midnight, and then logged back onto work until almost 4am. My husband had to drag me kicking and screaming from work the day we departed… about 30 minutes later than we were supposed to leave because I had to finish things.

My switch had been stuck ON for days, and it took a bit to turn off. I spent the drive there ridiculously hyper (I had actually ingested some caffeine, the horror, I know), and was inexplicably UP on very few hours of sleep while we did our normal first night of camping things, including hot dogs, classic rock, and adult beverages.

However, when I crashed, I plummeted.

The next day, I couldn’t bring myself to leave the camper and face human beings, so I buried myself in a book all day. Two days later, I got some sort of stomach ick, and again, I didn’t leave the camper that day either except to go nap in the hammock for a while. I read another entire really long book that day as well.

However, the rest of the trip was lovely. Once I went through all that, I emerged a relaxed, happy, and peaceful version of myself.

I spent the week with my nose either in a book or behind a camera. I fell out of two different hammocks. I did two flips into the pool off the rock wall. I rode Evilbike twice, and I believe that first ride the day before the fourth of July really was the turning point where I started succeeding at Operation: Get My Chill Back. When I started out on the ride, I was cranky about the heat, the hills, and the circumstances. Halfway through, I started noticing beauty, both in the effort and the surroundings, and the ride back was much more pleasant.

The fireworks on the fourth were spectacular as usual. Occasionally, I’ll have thoughts about camping somewhere else over that particular holiday weekend, as the campsite can occasionally get crowded and the slots are very close together, and then I remember the show they put on for free and perish the thought.

Friday, I spent the morning in the woods, hopping dexterously from tree root to moss-covered rock to avoid the drink, with my camera and tripod in tow. Caked in dirt, sweat dripping off my brows, I took my time to learn some new camera techniques, spending almost thirty minutes in front of a waterfall.

It was amazing to visit familiar spots every few days to see how the lighting and conditions changed – especially the butterfly garden. The flowers changed both by time of day and as the days passed, budding, blooming, and wilting. I was happy to have spent a few minutes with my favorite early in the week as the bush was pruned and they were gone the next time I came around. One particularly pretty pink bloom only opened on the last day, mere hours before we departed. I watched the butterflies on the milkweed and coaxed them to stay just a little longer in front of my camera to get the perfect framing and focus. We’ll see if anything turned out when I sort through the all the shots I took over the nine days.

Our last day, I woke earlier than normal for a bike ride with friends. I noted an entirely new attitude of gratefulness. On the slippy gravel, I was impressed with my core strength, bike handling skills, and lack of fear, even a year ago, I would have felt my heart plummet into my stomach under the same conditions. The grass and trees were this vibrant shade of green, almost as if I was seeing the world through my photo editing program having already saturated the colors. The company and chatter was unsurpassed. Matt got a flat, and while I waited for him to change it, I befriended this itty bitty baby dragonfly. I coaxed him onto my hand twice, and watched him preen and wiggle his tail at me. Time slowed for a bit, and at that moment, I knew I’d found the peace for which I’d been waiting.

I have 1600 photos from the woods, so don’t expect this is the last you’ll hear of this, but also, don’t expect anything too quickly. 🙂

Since then, I’ve embarked on another, different journey, my first week of Half Ironman training, for my fifth attempt at the Kerrville Half at the end of September. It’s been a paradigm shift, for sure, and it’s come into focus how far I’ve fallen from some of the normal athlete and even normal life things that had become habit. It’s mystifying how easy it is to unmake habits under times of duress. So, my friends, I know the worst thing I could do was to try to be perfect all at once. So, each week, I’m going to attempt to introduce a few new or returning habits and soon, it will all be like clockwork again.

Last week, I started small:

  1. Following a schedule again. I didn’t plan terribly ambitiously, and I actually missed a swim because I scheduled it kinda wishy-washily (maybe this day, or that day, and then I didn’t do it at all). However, I was able to do three runs and three rides, logging 10+ and 75+ miles respectively, logging 7.5 hours. It felt amazing, like coming back to myself.
  2. Morning workouts. I don’t trust myself right now to be able to leave work at a certain time and if I do, that I’ll have motivation. I need to get my ass out of bed and on the road if I’m going to log the miles.
  3. Batch cook. I’ve been leaning on Snap Kitchen a lot, and I will in a pinch, but I miss my home cooked food. Last week, I cooked chicken/veggie spaghetti and zupa toscani. To compensate for more cooking time, I’m starting to do the grocery delivery thing instead of shopping. While it costs a little more for each item, I think we may save money in the long run, since we’re not adding impulse items as we walk down the aisles.

This week, I’ll do a few more things:

  1. Swimming. Riding and running are easy to do since all I have to do is step right outside my door. Swimming is harder to make a priority. I need to swim at least once, hell or high water (ha!).
  2. Recovery. Stretch, roll, massage boots. Pick one per day. You can’t do the same two in a row (otherwise I’d just use the massage boots every day).
  3. Diet quality. We’re going to start slow here, not logging food or tallying everything, but if I put something in my mouth that I would consider “sometimes food”, I will keep track of that this week.

If these all seem kinda like softballs, they are. It’s not as if I’m completely ignoring other things. My alcohol intake is down, my vegetable intake is up, I’m getting on the scale a few times a week and I’m not completely mortified of the results (160-something every time, though it’s been close a few times…). I’m just chosing to give myself some easier victories to build on later once I have some momentum. So, while neurotic me is itching to count calories and really make a go at losing the weight and speaking of weights, do some of that, and swim more and do two-a-day sessions and start logging a lot of hours training, I know that way lies madness right now.

For now, I’ll keep riding my bike to work and back and longer on Saturday mornings, shoveling myself out of bed and into my running shoes before I’m awake enough to realize what I’m doing, putting good food in my belly to keep my energy and enthusiasm up, and hoping that taking the simple route this training cycle will be enough.