Adjusted Reality

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

Month: July 2021

Showing Up

Eight weeks until Kerrville 70.3. And I daresay I’m starting to feel kinda sorta like an athlete again.

I joked that we should have ridden six more miles so we could be a Tool song (46&2). I was not up for six more miles that day though.

A fat, slow, out of shape athlete, yeah, but I’m actually using the a- word again (not THAT one, we all know I have no issues using that other one, especially when referencing myself). What made the switch flip? I pondered it a bit this morning, and then the answer appeared plain and simple. I’ve made a plan. I get up in the morning, and I do the thing that’s on the plan. My body and my brain are showing up. I’m not perfect. I have bad days, I reschedule sometimes, I skip things very occasionally, but I am showing the eff up again. This is everything.

Last Week – 7/19-7/25

  • Monday: 4 mile run/walk
  • Tuesday: 1.5-2k swim, weights
  • Wednesday: off
  • Thursday: 45 min TT bike/3 mile run/walk weights
  • Friday: 1.1k 1.5-2k swim
  • Saturday: weights
  • Sunday: 40 mile road bike outside, 2 mile run/walk
  • Total time ~7 hours

Monday’s run was hooooootttt but fine, and my second longest run of the year. I had to reschedule my brick on Thursday morning, and 45 minutes on the TT bike and a run after was JUST PLENTY FOR THE DAY THANKS, I was way too dusted to lift also so I just skipped it. Friday, I had to cut my swim short due to scheduling issues, but I did try some faster 100s during it to compensate for the brevity. Sunday’s bike ride was like pulling teeth for some reason. I actually went faster than I have all year on the road bike, but it just felt… annoying. The run, again, was just fine. Hot, but fine.

Moving right along to this week – 7/26-8/1

  • Monday: 1.5-2k swim, weights
  • Tuesday: 5 mile run/walk
  • Wednesday: weights/1 hour heat acclimation bike 40 min heat acclimation walk
  • Thursday: 1 hour TT bike/3 mile run/walk
  • Friday: weights
  • Saturday: lake swim (1500m)
  • Sunday: 2-ish hour TT outside, 3 mile run/walk
  • Total time ~9 hours

Tomorrow’s plan is intimidating. Death Star and X-wing (our TT bikes) have now been serviced, I got my chain replaced (finally) from the great chain debacle of 2019, and they are squeaky clean and ready for action again. The question is, am I? Let’s just call a spade a spade – I’m afraid of riding my race bike outside right now. It’s been two years. In the best of shape and days, I’m a little skittish on it when I’m not on a closed race course. These are not the best days and I am definitely in the worst shape. I worry my back won’t be up to the task. However, the way out is through, so it’s time. Let’s test the waters.

Speaking of testing the waters… I swam in the lake today for the first time in almost two years! It was perhaps the slowest swim I have ever logged in my life, but I now can officially check swam the race distance in open water under the official cut off time off the To Do Before The Race list. My stroke was awful, I couldn’t figure out how to sight the buoys without either stopping and treading water or tweaking my back for the first loop and a half, but I think I remember how to open water again now and hopefully the next jaunt will be faster.

My “it’s not a hickey, I swear” picture proof.

This week also had some other successes that contributed to that “feeling like an athlete” thing. I showed the eff up to all three weights sessions this week. Next week, I plan to move to the adjustable kettlebell that Joel bought during his optimistic months of the pandemic and I summarily ignored, because it’s finally time to increase from 15 to 20 lbs! Monday’s 5 mile run was the longest I’ve run since March 2020 and was just fine. On Thursday’s brick run, I just literally forgot to walk my first interval. I was going along at a (very slow but steady) clip and all of a sudden, it was half a mile in. I went back to my run/walkplan immediately because I didn’t want to push my luck, but it was nice to have a brief moment where I was lost in the run again. Also, my garmin sez I’m 100% heat acclimated. I feel it. It’s effing hot, and heat acclimation does not equal not whining like a little baby whilst triathleting in it, but it feels less stifling and my heart rate isn’t spiking on the run as much (+1 VO2 max this week, wut wut!).

It’s bizarre to me that it’s five weeks until taper. It was all so unofficial this season. I started biking because I was tired of not biking. I got back in the pool once I was fully vaccinated for no other reason than I hoped it would help my back. I started running because I had to, I suppose, and that’s when it became real, but I think even at that point, I had so little hope that I’d be able to climb to a 70.3, I didn’t want to jinx it. I guess I should take a rest week at some point, but I am building so slowly and these paces are so slow it’s not even that taxing and I just don’t… want to. And that’s different than the last, oh, 18 months, so I’ll allow it. This cycle ain’t about anything but regaining my sanity and identity, so if I make mistakes, so be it.

Next week! (8/2-8/8)

  • Monday: 1.5-2k swim, weights
  • Tuesday: 1 hour TT bike/3-4 mile run/walk
  • Wednesday: 1.5-2k swim, weights
  • Thursday: off/heat acclimation walk or bike
  • Friday: 6 mile run/walk
  • Saturday: weights
  • Sunday: 45 mile bike (TT or road), 4 mile run/walk

It’s possible one of those swims could push to Saturday like this week (and that would give me the opportunity to swim in the lake again). Sunday’s bike will be TT if at all possible but I do need to extend the mileage to 45. I’d love to squeeze another easy bike ride in there for mileage/heat acclimation maintenance, but Thursdays are rouuuuugh at work. If not, I’ll try to get out for a walk instead. 6 miles of run feels daunting, but it’s what I need to do and it happens to be the next integer after 5. I won’t even run 13 before the race, most likely. If I continue to add one mile per week, I’m looking at topping out at 10 before taper. I could cheat and increase more than a mile per week or fudge my taper a week or two, but neither of these sound like smart ideas right now. We shall see. I ran a max of 10 coming back from injury 6 weeks before BSLT 2013 and I survived. That’s all I’m looking to do here, so it will be fine (yep, will be fine, totally fine, yep, uh huh, totally not just trying to convince myself here).

Heat acclimated, sure, but still whiny (and hungry)

The rest of my goals haven’t been quite so awesomely, but let’s talk about it instead of burying my head in the sand:

Track my food, aiming for 1200+activity per day on average – I started strong last week… for a few days… and then fell off and didn’t get back to it until Monday. This week, I did the same, but I at least retroactively went back and logged this morning. I don’t know what the mental block is right now. This literally takes 5 minutes and I KNOW it will help me. I need to make a set time for it, so I’m going to say if I haven’t logged by the time I eat dinner each day, I can’t do anything else until I am caught up logging my food.

Weigh daily – for me this helps it become just a metric and not an emotional thing – hahahaha yeah, it’s very much an emotional thing right now. Last week, I was decent about it and got super grumpy that nothing is changing and didn’t get on the scale once this week. Grrr. Will start again tomorrow (since I’ve already eaten today).

Stretch at least 3x/week, even if it’s not directly after a workout – I’ve been decent at this. (note to self – get up and stretch now, afk 5 mins brb)

Ice daily – I’ve been hitting most days, and also found that our Air Relax leg massage boots actually have positive effects on my BACK as well. The body parts, they’re like, connected to each other. Who knew? Definitely not someone that had a personal training and triathlon coaching certification. 😛 In retrospect, the boots were for athletes and I didn’t deserve them. Stupid sentiment I agree, but that’s exactly where my brain had been, I guess. My brain now deems me worthy to use them now and am using them a few times a week.

For the next week or two, I’m just going to keep trying to work these four habits into the routine and keep my training inertia rolling. Nothing more, nothing less. Consistency, patience, and persistence will get me to the places I want to be. It’s not even that difficult, I just gotta show up.

Pitter patter

I spent yesterday morning concocting new curse words for the Texas heat on the bike and on the run.

Texas sure felt like the center of the sun yesterday.

It felt nice to resume some level of normalcy in my life. This is what a me is meant to do on a Saturday in mid-July.

I’m considering this the first week of official training for Kerrville 70.3, and I feel like I did rather well. If we’re using the last year and a half as any comparison, I would use words like “it’s a miracle” and “effing amazing” because I can’t think of a recent time where I have actually been able to lay out a plan and complete it as intended, but pandemic laziness doesn’t get to be the gold standard. So, I set out to do the things. I did them, with one reschedule. Do I get a cookie?

The smiles are a lie, only because it was done…
  • Monday: 30 minute TT bike/2 mile run/walk brick, weights
  • Tuesday: 1.5-2k swim
  • Wednesday: weights/off
  • Thursday: 3 mile run/walk
  • Friday: 1.5-2k swim, weights
  • Saturday: 34 mile road bike outdoors + 1 mile run/walk
  • Sunday: off 1.5-2k swim, weights

I don’t have a ton of deep thoughts but here’s a “state of the triathlon game” after week 1 for posterity:

Swim: I’m thoroughly enjoying being in the pool again. My back (fingers crossed) recovering, so I’m regaining some form and my times are starting to come down a bit, though I’m still slower than normal. I’m approaching race distance and feeling pretty good out of the water (at worst, I have a stiff back that needs a quick stretch before I do anything else). However, I am breaking these distances into sets with rests every 250-500m. In the next few weeks, I need to do at least one continuous 750m before I hit open water in August to make sure I can swim a lake lap without having to rest.

Cheesily happy to be back in the pool regularly

Bike: After my spill last week, I expected to be really skittish on the roads but I absolutely knew I needed to get back on the proverbial horse quickly. During the ride, I was a bit more careful than normal with my unclipping and clipping, but I didn’t find myself irrationally terrified or anything. My predominant emotion was crankiness at the heat (and myself for not waking up with my first alarm) rather than any flavor of fear. All was good and right with the cycling world.

My TT bike progress is now at 30 mins indoors, and about half of it was in aero. I’ve been taking it slow here, but it’s time to ramp up. I still aim to do this race on my race bike unless I just absolutely CANNOT, so this 30 minutes needs to become 3 hours. In the next few weeks my goal is to increase to 1 hour on the TT bike inside, and then start alternating weeks of long rides between my two bikes.

Run: Running sucks, but not running sucks more. So, here we are. I ran a mile after my long bike ride yesterday, two miles off a shorter bike earlier in the week, and went a whole 5k (!!) as my long run for the week. Let’s not talk about the fact that I ran six miles this week, but that I ran three times without causing harm to my back. I’m not even trying to run continuously right now. I’m throwing in intentional walk breaks. Even so, I’m able to keep my runs between 12-13 minutes/mile, which seems fine for what it is right now. I feel pathetic both talking about and during my runs, but I will effing take it.

I absolutely abhor this run/walk thing, but I have to face facts. Never have I ever ran an entire half marathon after 56 miles on the bike, and if there’s any training cycle where it’s going to happen, it’s NOT going to be this one. After this race, I start ramping up for an Ironman, and the likelihood of me running a full marathon after 112 miles on the bike, even fit as a fiddle, is so infinitesimally small let’s just round it down to zero. So, I’m going to train like I will race, even if it frustrates me. Have I mentioned I feel lame walking during a short run? Well, let me do it again. Running sucks right now, but not running sucks more.

Weights: Still working with my pretty pink 15 lb kettlebell. I think this is probably where I’ll stay for a bit and increase reps. This is the only place the bike crash is still causing me strife – my knees aren’t really tolerating squats or lunges right now, so wall sits it is (and they are plenty painful on my quads, thxuverymuch). I’ve been pretty decent about making ~15 mins of some light lifting and core happen by just sucking it up and doing it in the morning instead of going right to work.

Things I’m putting in my cakehole: So, I am about 15 lbs up from pre-Covid times, and I assure you, none of that is extra muscle. I’ve weighed more in 2008, and a brief time in 2014-2015 when a nutritionist gave me some bunk info and I put on 15 lbs in two months, but it’s not a good look or feel for me where I’m at. So, here I am, with a problem in one hand, the tried and true solution I’ve been through many times (calorie deficits, tracking my food), and I haven’t been able to put them together yet.

My pathetic excuse here is that I have been incredibusy at work. The reality is that I haven’t prioritized it. Just writing it down helps. Don’t be stupid, take 5 minutes a day to do the thing that will help you get what you want, me. There. Pep talk complete.

Vacations in the last month were nice, but indulging set me back a bit. Time to fix that.

So, what’s on tap for week two? Pretty much more of the same, but in a slightly different order and a little more of it:

  • Monday: 4 mile run/walk
  • Tuesday: 1.5-2k swim, weights
  • Wednesday: 45 min TT bike/3 mile run/walk
  • Thursday: weights
  • Friday: 1.5-2k swim
  • Saturday: weights
  • Sunday: 40 mile road bike outside, 2 mile run/walk

Since I slacked on one weights session and am loading it in today, that means I need to shift them out one day next week. Next week, if I can hold to the schedule, that means I can be back on track (for M/W/F), so I’m going to do that. It’s 15 minutes. Do the thing that helps you do the thing you want, silly.

Outside of that, I’m going to set a few other goals:

  • Track my food, aiming for 1200+activity per day on average
  • Weigh daily – for me this helps it become just a metric and not an emotional thing
  • Stretch at least 3x/week, even if it’s not directly after a workout
  • Ice daily

This is all basic stuff, I just have to reframe my thoughts from “I’m too busy” to “I’m prioritizing this” when I think about my time. I sit on the couch for at least the time it will take to do all these each evening if not more (besides weighing, that’s in the morning, of course!) even if the day gets away from me.

So, pitter patter. Let’s do this.

I hurt myself today…

…to see if I’m an eel?

Just kidding. Figured I shouldn’t lead with a picture of road rash, so here’s a shot from Cozumel first. It was Tuesday, not today, and it was mos def not intentional. Since we were camping at Krause Springs and had our pick of the days, we had saved our long bike ride for said morning as it looked like it would have the best weather. Of course, that all changed and instead it was super rainy.

Since humans are waterproof, we set out in the early morning anyway and had a fairly pleasant ride (even if I was grumbling about the hills a bit, they weren’t too bad). We planned an out and back on country roads and spent some unplanned time noodling around a new subdivision in the middle of nowhere. On the way back, I sped too fast over a bridge and I didn’t realize the water was over my wheel (it wasn’t on the way out) until too late and I fishtailed out, and went down sideways and slid to a stop.

It looked worst later after scabbing and bruising. At least I still managed a smile at the end.

I was a little shaken, but after a minute I realized two things: 1) I was in one piece and while I was bruised to hell, nothing was broken and 2) my road rash was really stingy and I knew it was gross from road grime. So, I got back on the bike quickly and we rode the 4-5 miles back to camp. Joel asked if I wanted to do another loop anyway, and I declined – I wanted to get my leg cleaned up and I wanted to assess the full scope of what my body was dealing with before pushing through. I could tell my adrenaline was still pumping even when I had to log onto work to give a quick presentation (yep, yep, more WFC), so my body definitely could have been hiding some worse injuries than it was letting on.

At least camping was pretty though!

The rest of the week wasn’t great, but obviously could have been worse. I was able to help pack up camp and rested Wednesday. I took a walk on Thursday morning (Joel ran, I figured that was a bad idea for me) and my knees still felt icky and bruised after 30 mins of ambling around. So, I had a 3 day pity party where I grumbled about YET ANOTHER SETBACK, but today, I got my arse to the gym. I spent 30 rather quality minutes on a spin bike and swam 1800 yards (not quickly but I’ve done worse and distance PR for 2021, woot woot!). I’ve got a training plan and I’m going to actually follow it this week. It’s pathetic, but let’s list it out for posterity:

  • Monday: 30 minute TT bike/2 mile run/walk brick, weights
  • Tuesday: 1.5-2k swim
  • Wednesday: weights/off
  • Thursday: 3 mile run/walk
  • Friday: 1.5-2k swim, weights
  • Saturday: 30-40 mile road bike outdoors + 1 mile run/walk (if I can swing it)
  • Sunday: off

I’ve got 11 weeks. I feel confident on the swim since I’m pretty much there at race distance, though I need to start getting in the lake at some point (that sounds like an August thing to me!). I feel confident I’ll be able to work up to the distance on my road bike, though I’m a little iffy riding on my tri bike in aero right now. I’m up to 20-25 mins so far. Next goal is to work my way up to an hour on the trainer and then go play outside on non-traffic-y or closed roads and work my way up to 3 hours there. The run is the biggest question mark and I just need to stop hurting myself (intentionally) so I can get out there and build some endurance and spend time on my feet without my back protesting too much.

I won’t be her again yet, but at least I can be out there

This morning before my workout, I thought, “why have I lost my edge?” I used to LIVE for finding my limits, pushing myself to the point of puke, sweat, and tears, finding the bottom of my pain cave, and since 2020, I just can’t bring myself to do it. As I started my bike today, the answer came to me. It’s rough seeking out pain when I’ve been constantly in it with my back issues for almost the last year. Why would I go hunting the thing that’s there? So, I decided to pursue a little bit of it, just for nostalgia’s sake, just to try.

I realized another thing today, after hammering some previously pathetic but right now kind of impressive for me watts and dripping buckets of sweat on the bike: it’s not the same kind of pain. Self-inflicted training pain-for-progress feels so much different because it has the beautiful after-effect of pleasure (endorphins). I can assure you, waking up in the middle of the night and needing to grip the wall to slowly navigate your cranky body upright comes with exactly ZERO endorphins. Maybe negative endorphins, if that’s possible. So, I’ve been sorely missing the payoff even though I’ve been paying the price for months and months.

Swimming is improving, and running is a thing again, but I’m still building the strength and flexibility in both these sports to get to a point where my pace isn’t limited by my body’s muscular condition. It’s simply impossible for me to really breathe hard, my ME just won’t move that fast. However, cycling… this sport is the place where I seem to be able to possibly start hurting myself a little (intentionally and productively – not by crashing) again. So, I shall do just that and hope it will bleed over into the other two sports in the coming months.

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