Adjusted Reality

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

Month: October 2021

Liberty (of the seas)

I have learned a thing this month, and that thing is never ever ever go back to work for 3 days after a long weekend of racing and then leave again for a week.

Was worth it though!

I was exhausted and mostly ate, slept, and worked all the hours from the time I returned on Tuesday until 5 minutes before we had to leave on Sunday morning. However, I finished everything I absolutely had to, and closed my office door knowing I gave it my all and headed out on vacation with a lighter conscience, so, worth it, I guess.

This was the Liberty of the Sea’s first official trip out (except for a test cruise the month before) since March 2020, so we were able to enjoy lots of onboard credit and a very refreshed and excited crew at the mere cost of some minor hiccups like the phones not working for the first day or two and dinner reservations being difficult to maneuver in their new system. I expected to be kinda skeeved out by the mass of humanity, but it wasn’t too bad for a few reasons.

Masks everywhere. I was happy about it.

#1. Masks were required almost everywhere and they legit hunted you down to remind you if you forgot.

#2 We had a balcony room, which we have resolved to never ever go without again, so we were able to get some fresh air and relax outside without being around other people.

#3 They were at about 1/3 capacity so it wasn’t the crush of humanity I was expecting.

Might have skipped diving but still got to hang out with fishies.

The ship stopped in Cozumel, Costa Maya, and Roatan. We uncharacteristically skipped diving altogether, and just went snorkeling in Cozumel and Roatan, and enjoyed an even less crowded ship on the Costa Maya port day and hung out at the pool. We didn’t want to lug all the gear, and didn’t want to do the boat dive with newbies on the ship thing everywhere, and since we just dove Cozumel months before, we decided it could saved for the next trip. I forgot how much WORK snorkeling is compared to diving. All the kicking and diving down to get pictures was worth it, but definitely tuckered me out after a few hours of it!

I could not sail by Roatan and Cozumel without visiting a beach.

Except for those two port days, we kinda got into a pleasant vacation routine. Having natural light in the room meant I woke up pretty close to sunrise. I’d snap a few pictures on the balcony, a few mornings we got breakfast or coffee delivered and I’d enjoy the morning fresh air and sun. If not, I’d crawl back into bed and read and nap a bit before we set out for a bite to eat.

After that, we’d leisurely hit the gym. I have officially sworn off running on the ship because it’s super easy to tweak something with a rocking boat, but I was super happy to play with the elliptical (running lite) and lift weights every other day. Every session ended with a super long stretch. It sounds weird to say how novel it was to hit the gym for an hour + most days, but it truly was. No dragging myself out of bed, complaining because it’s either a workout or some actual rare monofocus time before the day really gets going, and finishing when I actually feel like it vs when I have to pry myself away 5 seconds before the next thing in the day starts. Just… doing stuff. When I wanna do stuff. For as long as I wanna do it. Bliss.

Lobster and shrimp on the buffet (and they were goooood).

Then, we’d meet my parents for lunch after the daily sweat session. The Windjammer served your typical cruise buffet faire, though they had this killer sandwich station that I frequented more often than anything else, and a killer Indian food section Joel and my mom loved. One difference from usualy – the desserts were actually pretty top notch. I typically pass and save my sweets for one dessert a day for dinner but I indulged. I legit ate too much this trip. I’m happy I didn’t gain a bunch of weight (probably due to the workouts, all the walking, and epic snorkeling trips) but I certainly didn’t lose any.

When life hands you the opportunity to eat a red velvet donut you eat it.

In the afternoons, we’d play some cards with the parents, sometimes we’d hit the the pool, and occasionally we’d read and nap, or on good days, we’d make time for all three. As the sun set, we’d often have a glass/bottle (hey, it’s vacation) of wine on the balcony and read before we had to get ready for dinner. If I’ve mentioned reading a lot, I finished four books on this trip. Vacation is for voracious reading.

We have been on this ship and had this particular week of dinner menu items before and it’s always a good gustatory experience with lobster night and lots of seafood and other interesting dishes to try. This time though, since we were there on the week of our anniversary, the fam splurged on us and we all went to the steakhouse, Chops, for fancy dinner night. The pretzel bread, greuyere tater tots and delicious cheesecake were carbtastic highlights of the meal. Oh, and the filet mignon was pretty great too. I’ve had better but only on our grill in recent memory, so they did just fine with their signature dish. We found out that the same menu is available at lunch for half the price, so we may try that next time.

The balcony was well enjoyed. So was the wine bar.

I’m not sure if it was our dinnertime was pretty late (7:30) or that we crashed into this vacation super exhausted already or that we’re getting old, but dinner usually ended the day’s adventures outside of the room – pajamas were quickly donned and we either read books on the balcony or curled up in bed. Occasionally there was more wine on said balcony. Occasionally we just drifted off to sleep on full bellies, anticipating another glorious balcony sunrise. Once, I had to dig out the earplugs, but they solved the problem. 🙂

Once, however, we made it to the ice show. Weirdly, the 45 minute spectacle triggered a few deep thoughts (okay, at least slightly more profound than “what should I have for lunch?”) and one of them was whilst watching the cast on their first show back in a year and a half – they fell. A lot. But they looked damn happy to be back out there performing and we were happy to be watching them. No one cared. It was cool to watch a human do exciting things live and we all clapped and smiled and enjoyed ourselves and no one complained except maybe my parents and it’s simply because their happy place is to find all the things that are wrong and talk about them on cruises!

I may not be the same person I was before the pandemic – I am a bit softer (mentally and physically), and I’m out of practice spinning ALL THE PLATES and it’s much harder to hide my failures under a veneer of perfectionism right now. It’s okay. The cast wasn’t the same either. Maybe no one is the same. Maybe it’s okay to have utterly failed at returning my body to it’s early 2020 form just yet and maybe I can forgive myself for losing my words by late afternoon meetings after I’ve been in them all day back to back to back to back and not having the witty retort right on my lips at all times isn’t the highest sin and failure. Maybe it’s okay to fall down in public with everyone watching me as long as it’s with style and I get up and smile, give a cheeky bow, and continue on with life.

I’ve been feeling a touch of the imposter syndrome lately. This year, I’ve taken on some new duties in the position to which I was promoted – though this was just a slight evolution of what I was doing already, just in a more official capacity. Then, I took on more things because of the position which I aspire to next and no one was doing them and I just can’t see something undone and not solve the problem. And then, there’s yet more positions I still need to fill, that I’m subbing in for until I can find the right human. I’m doing none of this at the full capacity in which I could if I could just focus on one thing, even for a week, maybe even for a day. I’ve joked that work right now feels at best like I’m failing lightly at a lot of things, but it causes my inner perfectionist (that jerk) to trigger the thoughts like “well, you’re not nearly as good at this as the previous person who did it” and that just feels bad, man.

About day three, after my brain defragged a bit, I realized that’s nonsense. I may not be as good as the four other humans that were doing the jobs I am doing now in each moment, but I’m what they’ve got, and I’ll do the best I can until I can find someone better to do it.

Relax brain, relax.

A little time away from the daily crush of OMG all the things reminded me that all the things I was putting off “until all this Covid crap is over” are probably more overdue than I want to admit. Going into vacation, I lamented that I hadn’t had a real haircut since Nov 2019 (Joel kindly removed about 6 inches of split ends about a year ago but that was it) and I didn’t really have time to do anything about it. I stopped using the 25$ shampoo once I stopped leaving the house and figured I’d get back to giving a crap and that was cute and fine if it was a few weeks or months, but after years, it’s not a reprieve, it’s just what I look like, and there’s a reason I don’t take a lot of non-doctored selfie angle pictures lately – I don’t like it.

My husband, hero, and ignorer of my BS, booked me a haircut on the ship the first full day. I’ve come to realize lately that I am in the fortunate situation where I have more money than time, so I ignored my inner cheap skate whining about the cost and also my inner tomboy whining about spending time in a salon vs almost any other fun activity that would ruin my hair instead of make it pretty and just went with it. When it came time, I sat down in the chair and he actually even upsold me on doing color too. I picked something kinda close to my natural, just a little darker and redder, and he spent two hours taking my hair from the absolute rats nest it had become to this…

I legit searched for a before, but I think I’ve had my hair in a ponytail since 2020.

Since then, I realized that life is too short to feel bad about yourself in ways that you can absolutely control, so I’m back on the 25$ shampoo. Even if I’m in headphones all day. I need to take baby steps back to normal human life again, and that includes being confident and happy in my meatbag.

All in all, the week away was super nice, though we both lamented we could use another week (maybe with a little less eating and a little more sleeping) because there was no rest for the weary. The moment I returned home on Sunday, I had a Bloodbowl league match scheduled and then I had to work for about four hours prepping for a presentation the next day, and life has been pretty much the normal chaos ever since, which is why I have been attempting to pen this recap for about two weeks during stolen moments of quietude.

Yep. Could use a little more of this.

I fully did not expect to enjoy this vacation as much as I did, so much so that we’re actually looking at taking another cruise in January, just us. It’s exactly what we need right now. There are a few days we can go adventure in port, but not being in those locations for longer means I won’t feel pressure to MAKE THE MOST OF EVERY DAY like when we go to a dive resort. On sea days, sign me up for a balcony, a book, all the room service I can order, and quiet days with no obligations.

Kerrville 70.3 – I survived!

Normally, this focus on survival would be the start of a less-than-stellar race recap, but TBH, survival was really my main goal. So, spoiler alert, mission accomplished!

Thank the rainbows and stars!

We set up camp Friday night, and while it was the normal MO on leaving for trips for the year (I work up until the second I am torn away from my desk), I had 2.5 hours of the drive to transition my brain into race mode. We got settled, had our hot dogs, read books, and got a pretty dang decent night of sleep.

Saturday, we did all the pre-race things like normal, and like normal, it took wayyyy longer than expected (I think we were puttering around town from noon until almost 5pm). We met up with our tri team for the first time in over 18 months and enjoyed a pre-race swim and chats, put everything in various bags and dropped them off in the proper locations, and triple checked we had all our gear since we haven’t done this in forever. We shopped for some essentials which included fuzzy halloween pajamas and adult beverages for post-race, and drove the bike course to remind ourselves where all the hills were.

We had all the normal food, replacing usual breakfasts with bagels since we had some leftover, and the pre-race sleep was somewhere in the middle – about 6 hours of moderately restful sleep – and I felt pretty good when I got up around 4:30am. More puttering ensued to use the potty, drink the coffee, triple check all the gear yet again, use the potty, etc happened as usual, and we got to the race with plenty of time to continue the puttering (pump up bike tires, fill bike bottles, use the potty, set up transition, give away the warm clothes, use the potty, pour myself into my wetsuit, curse myself for not using the potty one more time, etc).


With Covid being a thing, we were as careful as we could be with masks and social distancing pre-race. However, once it was time to lose the mask, it was like, ok, whatever, it’s up to the universe now. It was a little weird to tuck into the humanity which was the line to start the swim but also a little bit normal too and then all of a sudden I was in the water and it was off to the races!

The swim was a bit rough. My back is mostly but not all the way better. It’s worlds away from when I could barely get out of bed earlier this year but a few things still can trigger it to be mildly cranky and that little niggle makes it REALLY difficult to sight in open water. I definitely meandered quite a bit because of it and drank a LOT of lake water and had to stop a few times to not choke and die (even had a kayaker ask if I was okay). However, for all these complaints, there were parts where it was rather pleasant as well and I finished feeling refreshed and warmed up, which is always the goal for the first and shortest leg of the race. We’re going to defocus times here, because that’s not what this race was about. Yeah, it was a personal worst by a minute or two, but I expected it and my pace was actually better than some of my lake swims this year.

Since time was not critical, I was pretty casual in T1. I actually used the wetsuit peeler station but in a non-rushed way, walked the hill, didn’t rush through gear change, and got out of there in about 6 minutes. I think a lot of my compatriots were in the same boat, because I expected to see way fewer people and bikes than I did, so I think we’ve all slacked on the swim this year. 🙂

Death star’s sleepaway camp partner was a pretty pink QR. 🙂

Honestly, I was the MOST nervous for the bike in this race. My TT bike and I have not been BFFs this year. However, the ride today was the absolute best part of the race. I was just… happy the whole time. That’s not normal for me. I usually get angry on the bike and use it to go hard and pass everyone, but today I smiled and sang show tunes and just thought about how grateful I was for so many things that have taken place over the course of 2021, most relevantly that I was here doing this when six months ago I was barely able to ride for 20 minutes. But other things too.

I saw Joel a few times and Matt near the end and other Austin Tri people throughout the race and just hung onto whatever pace felt good and sustainable, pleasantly surprised that it was more like 17-18 mph than the 15-16 I was riding in training. I was chuffed to make it up the big hill in loop one much more easily than I expected (yeah, I was huffing and puffing by the end, but I didn’t fall over or have to walk it or anything), and on the second loop, the time passed quicker than expected. Tons of warm fuzzies on the bike. It truly is my happy place during races even if it was in slightly different, more mellow ways this race than normal. I ended at about 16.7 mph for the 56 miles, which is actually not my worst showing here!

I rolled into transition, thanked Death Star for a great ride, and saw both Joel and Matt. Matt was doing the aqua bike only, so his race was done, of which I was a bit jealous, but I pressed onward after a nice relaxed 6-ish minutes in T2.

Really just wanted to jump in the lake instead of run a half marathon but….

Since Joel and I started running at the same time, we decided to hang together for a while on the run. It was nice to have company for the first 5 miles, but we were definitely holding each other back since we pace differently. Near the end of the first loop, I had to fix my sock, and I sent him on to do his thing. I was doing okay both mentally and physically, even if I was at turtle speed (~13 min/mile). However, around mile 8, my legs and back reminded me just how undertrained I am in this discipline and there was probably more walking than running until mile 12, when I hit the spectator area and got that lovely last burst of energy. Personal worst BY FAR (hah, I think it was something like 3h13 mins) but again, I expected this and was just happy to cover the miles.

I was just a minute slower than my previous personal worst from BSLT in 2013 (also an injury comeback race) with 7h42 min today but none of that matters. I climbed what seemed like an insurmountable hill even three months ago. Now it’s time to rest a bit and then climb even more for IM Texas in April 2022.

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