Adjusted Reality

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

Month: January 2022

On giving up…

It’s only January and I’m talking about giving up. But it’s actually a really good thing, I promise…

It’s time to chase this face instead of doing things I “should” be doing…

My facebook post about this race came up in the “three years ago” memories. Joel sent it to me in a message with the comment – “I haven’t seen you look this happy in years.” He’s not wrong. I want to be this happy again and my 2022 path needs to change if I want to make that happen.

After limping through Kerrville last year, building to an Ironman seemed reasonably doable, even with a break. I took one in October, because I really, really needed it. Then as the weather started to be the loveliest version of fall, I started running again. It was going really well for a while! I resumed weight training and swimming too after joining a second gym, and it all seemed copacetic. Maybe the Ironman would be possible after all! In November, I think my hopes were the highest.

Always at my happiest when I can run, though the smile is a little different.

Then, in mid-December, I came down with cranky heel syndrome (yes, it’s the technical term). For about a month, even on vacation, we maintained cycling base (30-90 min rides) and strength work. I was pretty nervous by that point, but figured after I returned from the cruise, then I’d come back rested and hit it super hard. Instead, I returned sick as an effing dog, and I hit the bed and Pedialyte reps instead. I was terrified it was Covid, and thankfully tested negative, but still endured almost 2 weeks of low energy, digestive issues, major dehydration, and alternating between being a sleep monster (literally could only work and sleep) and unable to sleep because of some sort of skin reaction that made me itch like a mofo. I finally coaxed the demon out of my meatbag earlier this week, realized I’m 3 months away from Ironman and started freaking out.

This is not the way to start a year or a training cycle. So, maybe I just won’t.

I think I’ve decided to give up on Ironman Texas. I am not excited about it in the slightest. Ironman takes heart, soul, blood, sweat, tears, and a whole lotta fire in your belly to complete. I have NONE of that toward this effort. It feels like an obligation me-three-years-ago made, so I “should” do it. Screw that. I wanted it in 2020. Putting in the work was a challenge that made me smile. Right now it doesn’t. When you think of something so beautiful as the Ironman experience, the inexplicable joy of suffering and rending your heart and soul bare, when you think of this as obligation, it’s the wrong fit. Period.

I can chase this crazy smile some other year

I don’t even care about the race entry fees. Making a decision to soldier forward on a bad path only due to sunk costs is a bad call. IM can consider my race fee a donation. However, I have never not started a race I signed up for except when I was injured. It’s a weird feeling to give up on it, since I don’t give up on things, but I deserve to pivot and change plans to chase my happy again. So, I shall.

Instead, we decided to sign up for ALL THE SMALLER RACES instead and chase that sh*t- eating grin of a hard-fought PR, age group medal, or just racing my arse off and feeling amazing at the finish line. In the span of 24 hours, I went from absolutely dreading everything about triathlon to smiling, thinking about the potential of the season to come, and making a race schedule and a training plan (which makes me smile because it is SO doable, where training for the IM was going to be. The utter dread has been replaced with sly smiles and utter enthusiasm. It feels SO GOOD to have the sword of Damocles that was Ironman no longer looming large. If I was iffy about my decision yesterday, I have no doubts today.

Nothing like wasting everything in the tank on the run and then trying to stand for pictures 🙂

I’m looking at these potential races for the year:

I don’t think I’ll sign up for all of them (the South Padre and No Label are the first that would drop off, in that order), but the idea of some more frequent race/camp weekends sounds like SO MUCH FUN. I get to return to X-50 at Texasman, which I really enjoyed in 2014 (wow, it’s been EIGHT YEARS?) and it’s enough distance to encourage me to maintain some volume this spring, but not to the point where I shouldn’t be able to reasonably knock out a race distance swim, bike, or run rather comfortably at any time. I would like another crack at Kerrville to see if I can, by that time, race a half ironman instead of limp through one, but I’m open to doing the sprint or Olympic if the idea of some longer training sounds like an obligation instead of an exciting challenge.

I need some swagger back, and that takes feeling good in my skin again

This change also allows me to continue to focus on getting strong and body composition. In November, I couldn’t even do one pushup from my toes. Yesterday, I did two sets of ten as part of my circuit. It’s not the three sets of twenty I used to easily knock out but a large improvement from two months ago. I’m very motivated to keep going here. I feel like a sturdier human being with better posture, if nothing else. With the level of training I’m planning, sticking to an average of 1500 calories per day is actually very reasonable without negative impact to my body, and should net me some results.

Really, with the reset in goals, 2022 appears to now be mirroring 2018 instead of 2017. I spent the winter getting strong, losing weight, and working form. In the Spring, I raced shorter, more frequently, and I found my mojo and started placing at races. I’m starting ~5-8 lbs higher than I was in Jan 2018, but I’d love to replicate this:

It’s doable. It takes work, care, and attention. It also takes enthusiasm. And I feel that enthusiasm now, excited to solve the problem and undertake the challenge.

So, we embark. I haveHere’s where I’m at right now and where I need to focus on the five sports:

I have not tried the Roka sausage on for quite a while. Glad I have a few months before open water!

Swim – I’m fully comfortable swimming 1-1.2k right now. I’m also slow AF right now because being injured degraded my form. My back is fine now, but my stroke is still janky. So, next steps?*

  • Swim 2x week. No pressure to rush into longer swims than 20-30 mins, but just getting to the pool twice a week is key.
  • Bring the toys and do drills. Now that I’m not worried about building my distance to swim for 2.4 miles, I can work on my form so I can swim faster.
  • Once my form feels like a fish and not a flounder, do some speedwork. But that’s not useful until I feel like I’m gliding through the water instead of muscling through it.

*With omicron spreading like wildfire right now, I’m avoiding the gym for a bit. The pool is the FIRST place I’ll feel comfortable returning to, especially the outdoor pool at Lifetime, but I’m going to give it one more week to stay away from humans just to make sure.

Bikes are always the answer. I just can’t wait when I can answer that question outside.

Bike – I’m at a comfort level of 60-90 minutes on the trainer, which should easily translate to about 1.5-2 hours outside casual road riding. I’ve been eschewing any level of effort simply to build distance since 2020, since that’s been necessary. Now it’s not! My Spring “A” Race is 40 miles on the bike, which on the TT, should take me a little over 2 hours. So, while I need to not COMPLETELY neglect some distance riding, I can focus on getting faster which just made me go “wheeeee” and also “ieeeeee” at the same time.

  • This means the dreaded FTP tests should start soon. February 1st, I’m looking at you. I need to look at it like my weight progress – this is where I’m at right now – and focus on making the 2022 number go up, not looking at how many watts I’ve lost since 2019.
  • My trainer rides mayyyybe need to be a little more focused than just watching Bloodbowl games and pedaling easily each time. Definitely 1x week needs to be speedwork if not more often. Bloodbowl games can prompt speedwork too (sprint for 60 seconds every time an elf gets injured!).
  • But also, when the Austin allergy season dies down, I need to do some outdoor rides in the sunshine. These make my heart happy.
I can’t wait to return to this run energy…

Run – my comfort level is unknown. At present time, my cranky heel is feeling happy and fine, so I’m ready to try again.* This is another area where my back injury is still effing with my form. Thankfully, if I am not worried about ramping distance so quickly, I can work on that!

  • I need to refresh myself on my pre-run drills, concentrate on my form during the run, and work hip flexibility. This helped me decrease my pace a lot in 2018, and it can work for me again this year.
  • Speedwork needs to return to my life. I’m fine keeping the runs shorter for the next two months (3-5 miles) if I can cut my pace from the 12 minute/miles closer to 10. We do this by running faster in shorter intervals.
  • I do owe myself a half marathon as a 3M virtual race, but I’ll just keep the shirt around and worst case, I’ll earn it at Kerrville completing the half. I do love long runs, I love them SO MUCH, but I need to earn the right to run again instead of faking it.

*Some unknowns about how often I can run as Austin’s air is often trying to kill me and I don’t really feel comfortable enough to run in a gym on a treadmill (read: breathe heavy around a lot of people during this Omicron BS). However, I’m willing to endure a little bit of allergy malaise to try to get out 2-3x week for short jaunts.

I’m almost back to using Black Betty-type weights!

Strength (the 4th sport): I’ve talked about this a lot, so the only thing I have to say is I’m committed to hitting this three time a week, doing whatever the trainer says to do. Like I’ve done every week since November except the week I was sick. Non. effing. negotiable. Nuff said. Let’s move on.

Nutrition (the 5th sport): Ok, here we go. I know what needs to be done. I just need to do it. Let’s call this #projectraceweight, Take 4. I’m just cutting and pasting past me’s planning and wisdom from March 2018:

  • Eat 1500 calories or less UNLESS it’s that special once a week splurge day IF you need it.
  • Eat good quality food 90% of the time.
  • Don’t eat random crap just because it’s there.  If you splurge, do it because you absolutely MUST HAVE THE THING and do that not very often.
  • This actually means a lot to you, so don’t eff it up with self-sabotage.
  • This is temporary and you are really good at maintaining your weight* once you settle somewhere, so you won’t have to be this neurotic forever.

*except in times of a pandemic, I guess.

Ready to feel comfortable in my skin again! Like she did!

All in all, I’m energized, excited, and so relieved to be following 2018’s path instead of 2017’s. Something about the shift just flipped my confidence on, I believe in myself instead of being filled with doubt and I think that’s going to make all the difference this year. I’ve made this journey before, and previous versions of myself been kind enough to detail a path to success, leaving myself this map and plan via year of blog posts, telling me how to return to my happy place.

2022 Focus and Direction

Alright, 2022, let’s do this. You and me, we’re gonna be friends, I promise.

I started you on a boat, so it can’t be all that bad!

So, let’s talk about goals. Many years previous to 2020, I would share a laundry list of the things I would like to do in all aspects of my life. This is not the year for it. I really and truly have a few important goals, and many smaller actions I need to work on to get there. Surprising no one but me after contemplation, they’re all very intertwined. Of course, I’ve got tangential personal creative projects and travel and adulting and such so I’ll also share my wishes for the various and sundry things of 2022.

Lookie, a sunrise on New Years. How novel!

Goal #1 – Establish some work-life boundaries and strategize how to use my time most effectively

It’s not often I list a work goal here, and certainly never first. I promise, it’s relevant and ties into other things too. I know that 2022 is not going to calm down. As Teal’c in Stargate says, in fact, it will “calm up”, almost certainly. I also know that it’s all very important, and it’s all very achievable. One of the best ways for me to set myself and my team up for success is to work hard but also do the things that make me a good human being outside of work so, frankly, I have more effs to give during work hours. Here are some strategies I plan to employ:

  • Making myself a daily checklist of non-work things I need/want to do and check them off (stretch, roll, ice, meditation, play guitar, etc) so I don’t ignore everything non-work related on busy days.
  • Giving myself 1 hour per day (and a half day on Friday) true focus time (no teams or email answering allowed) and blocking off time specifically to catch up on said correspondence instead of it distracting me during meetings and during my focus time.
  • Enforcing shutting down my work computer at least once a month for a fresh start. I found I would get so distracted when I had 50 tabs and 40 spreadsheets open, I couldn’t find anything and would get lost on my way to what I actually should be doing.
  • Using a daily cut off time where work ends and I’m unavailable (say, 530) UNLESS it’s an emergency that can’t wait OR I’m deep in the flow and I don’t have something pressing. If I have important focus work I still need to do, I’ll go back to my desk around 8pm after dinner and something non-work related when it’s quieter and under no circumstances will I get distracted with Teams chats that late (keeping them as unread and answering in the morning instead).
  • There are sometimes I’ll chat with various people (which I actually like chatting with) after hours. I need to make sure this is intentional and in both of our best interests to continue talking work (or socialize in some cases) rather than pick it up in the morning.
  • One of my biggest problems is I’m carrying work “home” with me a lot more than I used to. Some of this is talking, some of this is actual after hours work, but mostly it’s thinking. I do need some refractory time because my day-to-day work schedule doesn’t really allow me time to think, just do, but I also need to not spend evenings on the couch or worse, wake up in the middle of the night trying to solve all the problems. I’m going to try and write them down – that is, keep a work journal with all the various and sundry thoughts and ideas that come up whenever they appear. When I start mulling this stuff over (and over and over and over), instead, I’m going to go record. When I employ this strategy with other things, this allows me to let it go for the moment. Then, I can actually deal with it at an appropriate time, vs lying in bed at 3am having conversations with myself. This may look like more working (typing, at my desk) but I believe it will result in less working (in my head, at all hours)

This doesn’t include the actual optimization of my time at work, which includes bowing out of meetings I don’t need to be in and delegating a lot more, but trust me, this is a big one in 2022. In summary, I’m going to have to be a lot more of an arsehole with my time. Some of it feels bad and self-important. But I know I need to be more protective of the hours I have each day if I want to help us accomplish great things and not be a husk of a person at the end of it like I found myself at the end of each day, week, and year in 2021.

Remembering when I was back at my goal weight (and still wanted to lose 20 lbs, LOL). Baby steps.

Goal #2 – Be 165 lbs or less at the end of 2022.

Notice we haven’t even gotten to sport yet. I put this one second, but it also highly ties into the other two. While, yes, we’ve established I am a bit of a vain creature at times concerning my appearance, this is not just me-the-perfectionist nitpicking here. We’re so far gone, it’s affecting more than, “well, I’d like to fit in size 5, not size 7” or “I can take a few seconds off my run if I shave some weight and maybe get first instead of third at Texasman”. I’m snoring/not sleeping as well. I feel awful lugging myself around doing sporty things. Nothing fits, like, even stretchy pants and pajamas 4 sizes too big feel gross right now. I am the biggest I’ve been since I first lost weight back in 2007-8, and this trend cannot continue.

Also, I’m pretty sure I hit the opposite “thermocline” that I did when I dipped below 170 and found myself less hungry than I used to be – which made it pretty effortless to maintain that weight. Once I gained the “Covid 19” I’ve found that I’m always freaking hungry, and it’s annoying because I ain’t burning that many calories, so it’s pretty effortless to GAIN weight. So, I will endeavor to do the things I know I need to do and stop kvetching about how unfair it is and/or letting up on progress because of work stress or the fact there’s like 20 bags of chips in my house right now or whatever. If there is a way to throw money at this problem to save time that I discover along the way, I’m totally willing.

  • Track my food. Period. I don’t know why I haven’t been doing it, but I know I’m starting right now. 2022 rule: I cannot leave the dinner table and do anything else before I am caught up on food tracking each day. Nuff said.
  • Aim for 1500 calories a day average (+some tolerance for eating a little more when I’ve done over 1 hour of cardio). For example, if I do weights and an hour of cycling – 1500 calories. If I go run for an hour and a half – more like 1800-2000. The only days I should be going over 2000 calories are weekends when I’m training 3+ hours a day. And, I should aim to spread that calorie intake over two days. (Aka, if I do a 6 hour bike ride, eat ~2200 calories on Saturday and Sunday instead of trying to eat back 1500 extra calories in one day unless I’m in a period where it’s happening day after day).
  • Continue to weight train. If I end up building enough muscle that my body feels/looks good, but is above 165, I’ll still consider this a success.
  • Weigh at least 4 times a week (daily if possible but allowing for some missed days) because tracking this metric is important and it’s time for me to get over my feelers being hurt by the scale because I don’t like the number right now.
  • Make use of healthy meal delivery services (like Snap Kitchen and My Fit Foods) so we don’t have to cook to get healthy food. I’ve been whining about how you have to commit to x-amount per week but you know what? Let’s do it. I need someone to take some decision fatigue out of my life and food can be “fun” again at some point in the future when my clothes fit and I can run 8-10 minute miles again.
  • I am curious about Noom and the various and sundry other apps I’ve gotten on my Facebook ads since I clicked on Noom. Maybe I’ll try one of them. Sparkpeople.com was integral in my weight loss many moons ago, Duolingo is doing amazing for me learning German, maybe it’s time for a little more help.
Let’s try this one again…

Goal #3 Toe the line of IM Texas April 23rd AS LONG AS IT IS HEALTHY FOR ME TO DO SO

Hoooboy. It’s a long road from where I’m at to Ironman in less than 4 months (ieeeee), at least in terms of swim, bike, and run. But I remember this build, I’ve done it twice in two different ways, and I’m going to figure it out this third time, I have confidence. HOWEVER, this is a commitment I made to myself for 2020 that has been pushed 2 years. There is NO WAY IN HELL would I have signed on for it this year if it wasn’t a deferment. So, as much as I’d like to prove to myself that I’m still tough as nails even after weathering the storms which were 2020 and 2021, I have to remember that I also have the option to just walk away, anytime from now until halfway through the run on April 23rd. I’m giving myself that latitude and grace so I don’t push through something that honestly means very little to me (it’s my second Ironman, I’m not looking to PR, it’s not the race I signed up for) and end up with another year-long injury. It’s allowed to be difficult, hell, it’s allowed to suck arse through a straw in space, but it’s not allowed to ruin my May-December or jeopardize Goal #1 or #2 above.

Putting aside that I’m giving myself an out if I think it would damage me, I am going for it. Here’s the plan:

  • Do the things in Goal #1, respecting my time so I can get training in without it feeling like my entire life is work or triathlon. It’s allowed to MOSTLY feel like that, because both will be a lot, just not completely and totally because as we discussed, I need some creative, some social, and some downtime too, even if it’s not perfectly in balance this first four months of 2022.
  • Do the things in Goal #2. While there is some minimum level of swim, bike, and run I’ll need to hit to be prepared, it’s a lot less than I thought before IM season 2020, when I was pretty ready to toe the line on MANY fewer hours than 2017. However, when faced with a decision of priorities, injury prevention is the key. And the two ways I can really help that along are to strength train and carry around less weight. Any fat I can lose and muscle I can gain in the next ~4 months will really help me on this quest.
  • Put together a training plan, review each week for sanity, and commit to nailing at least 80%. I won’t lie, things will be busy from January until April. And I KNOW I won’t be perfect. But it’s approaching the time for me to hold myself accountable to doing the things I need to do to make my goals happen, no matter how difficult it feels.
  • Start getting a monthly massage again. Now that I’m not so protective of my back, I need this key piece of recovery back in my life.

Once I see how life is in May, I’ll determine what the rest of the year’s race goals are (I know I will need one of SOME sort) and how to proceed. For now, monofocus is on traversing 140.6 miles of our own accord in less than 17 hours. Period. And then I’ll figure out the rest.

Let’s all be butterflies in 2022! (emerge from our pandemic cocoons, remember how to fly, etc)

Alright, so those are the biggies. What else?

Continue to fight the urge to not fail in public and normalize the right kind of failures (those where you take a calculated risk, fail, and then learn from it) for the people around me. I’ve grown so much here over the last two years, but sometimes I’ll catch myself wanting to make like the duck (smooth and calm on the surface and paddling like heck underneath) and keep my fumbles quiet. There’s a time and a place for it, sure, and it’s fun to look effortlessly competent, but asking for help, explanations, or just struggling a bit isn’t the end of the world.

Find my new Pavlovian relaxation response, like Bloodbowl and Guitar in 2020 or reading whilst listening to ambient music in 2019 – the thing that I do to unwind and not think. Reading is good when I can get into it, but it’s not reliable anymore. 2022 could be the return of Bloodbowl, but I haven’t been playing it lately, or much of anything besides this stupid Board Kings mobile game which I kind of hate myself for because it’s such a timewaster endorphin generator (hit button, roll dice, feel happy). I need to find the thing that I can do that signals “it’s time to be happy and relax” because I realize I don’t really have that cue in my life right now.

Ready to visit some new places (and maybe favorites where I haven’t been for a while)

Figure out our travel plans, both local-ish and further out. So far I know of:

  • I started the year on a boat!
  • Camping for the Ironman race in April
  • Family cruise in May
  • 4th of July camping at Krause
  • Likely Germany over the summer
  • Some sort of diving trip
  • ???

There will definitely be some more camping in there, and I am super missing good diving in Bonaire (though we are intrigued with the dive resort we visited in Roatan) so fair chance one of those happens, but it’s all up for debate right now. My boss has a (smart, after getting through this year) strategy of working most of December but taking time off in January once all the end-of-year things are done. I may do this next year and GTFO of Austin during Cedar season or something, so that could affect travel plans too.

I need to tune this thing (I’ve been playing almost exclusively electric in 2021) so I can taunt people with barding outside my home!

Hobbies:

  • I’d like to add three new songs to my guitar repertoire
  • I’d like to complete my 9 scenery paintings and 4 underwater paintings (so I can hang them all up in collections)
  • Please, for the love of all that’s dear and fluffy, once I can stand it, crack my Fork Files back open, look at them with 2 years of perspective, and see if it’s even worth turning into a book or just filing it away as a good idea at the time but no thank you, and move onto something else. I need some fiction writing in my life again.
  • It’s now almost a joke because it’s been on the list for so long, but I would really like to set up a gallery on this site of my favorite photos, upload more to stock photo sites, and actually figure out how to “market” them with hashtags.

And last, and probably least – adulting. I’m sure there’s more, but we’ll start here.

  • Get to the damn doctor for a checkup before I turn 43. It was cute to put it off during the pandemic but it’s been over 2 years now.
  • Seriously start looking into an investment property (a duplex or four-plex). Speaking with a real estate agent we met on the cruise, while housing prices may not be going down any time soon, they’ve stabilized and interest rates for loans will probably soon go UP, so now is actually a decent time to buy.
  • Once we have an office to go to, so they’re not working 10 feet from my desk at home, get the floor in the living room fixed.
Aight, let’s do this

And, that’s a wrap. Or a start. Hopefully a more focused one than I’ve had in the last 2 years. I’m the kind of person who likes to have a lot of goals because I love checking them off. Sometimes that means I hit a lot of the little ones and miss the big ones. This year, instead, I’m trying to focus on the big goals of managing my time better and losing weight, as I believe they are the keys to doing almost anything else I could list here. Also, it’s a great question to ask myself. If I feel I’m going astray, I can ask “Is this the best way to use my time right now to achieve my goals?”

Almost always the answer though

I just need to remember when the answer to this question involves bikes, it’s usually not wrong.

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