Adjusted Reality

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

Month: February 2024

Austin Half Marathon Stupid Hills of Stupidness

I ran (I can say this without irony, minus some short walks because stupid hills are stupid) the Austin Half Marathon yesterday.

Two weeks ago, I was just getting back to the tail end of my training after Covid. I successfully did 10.5 miles, but the two mid-week runs that next week, my hip flexor felt… off. So, I decided to pull the plug on running until the race and aggressively rehab (boots, ice, massage gun, stretch, roll every day). I did a test run Wednesday off the bike and it didn’t feel bad during but didn’t feel completely awesome after. So, I went back to aggressive rehab and figured que sera, sera. I’d start the race and see what happened.

The day before, we ate very normal things: a rotisserie chicken, potatoes, and veggies for lunch, and a turkey sandwich for dinner (switched up the normal order though because the chicken arrived hot and fresh from the store, wasn’t passing that up!). We had planned to take a walk to stretch out our legs but sheeeesh it was frigid and windy, so we skipped it. It’s been in the 60s or 70s every day for weeks, but a cold front blew in Friday afternoon, taking it down to lows in the 30s and highs just barely at 50 this weekend. Back up to 70s today!

Hi hello the caffeine hasn’t kicked in yet

At first, I was fretting about the temps (32 at the start), and overprepared with layers forgetting 30s, sunny, and little wind is actually a great race temperature – it’s just been a minute since I did a run only race. I got to the gear check with about 20 minutes before official start time, deciding between two layers of sweatshirts and a garbage bag (which provides excellent disposable warmth) and ditched everything but the throwaway black hoodie I picked up at goodwill the day before. We got started about 15 mins after official race start, which meant we were close to the back, and that was fine with me – I didn’t need to get caught up trying to catch faster people.

However, that meant a lot of dodging and weaving, which actually seemed to be okay on my hip, it liked the variance of different surfaces and angles. The first three miles were mostly uphill going south on Congress from the bridge, and my pace was in the 11s, but I felt oddly fine. Happy even. A starbucks coffee pod – which is for me absolute overkill rocketfuel – was keeping me smiling and bopping to my music. I ate one small chew every mile I didn’t take a gel, and I took the first one at mile 4. More caffeine! Wheee! I really and truly thought I might just speed up and negative split the race with how I was feeling right around halfway.

Really and truly, up until a few miles to go, I spent the morning enjoying the weather, my caffeine buzz, and my playlist thinking, “gosh, this isn’t so bad, what the heck was I worried about?” Joel and I were running different race plans and paces, so we just kept texting back and forth with progress. I’m impressed texting and running is something I can do without falling on my face. Then around mile 8, I had to walk a hill, a very short steep one, and then got right back to running. I was well ahead of my (slower than normal but achievable) goal pace of under 2:30, so I didn’t worry about it.

From the top of the previous hill, it looks even stupider

Then, I was reacquainted with Enfield, which is frankly, just dumb. I’d blame it on the fact that I was underprepared, but I remembered walking some of these when I was in fighting shape. I am not sure why every race course that goes through downtown has to be on this street, but it has entirely uneccessary ups and downs. I saw my goal time feasibility slip away somewhere between mile 11 and 12, but I couldn’t really do anything when the steep inclines threatened leg/back cramping (both downhill and uphill).

My face at mile 12.

The last bad hill at the mile 12 marker was the one where you have to run a very steep long downhill just to get to a steep uphill and you question WHY, for the love of peanut butter, why do we have to go so far down just to go so far back up again. As I was making the face pictured above, I noticed spectators were handing out Fireball shots. I took one, which I never do in races. Once I summited the hill, it was just enough to loosen me up and I ran the rest of the way in, no more crampies. I’m not saying it’s race strategy in the future, but it certainly worked for me this eighteenth of February in the year of twenty twenty-four and I will take it.

Somehow the Enfield hills weren’t enough and instead of sending us directly down Congress, we had to weave through other streets and find JUST A FEW MORE. My adjusted goal time was 2:40 and I hit the finish line at 2:39:54. Can’t complain.

Then, after making my way through the finisher corral, I sat on the ground, ate my pretzels, vibrated with too much caffeine still in my system, and was thankful I didn’t ditch my throwaway hoodie (it rode 12.5 miles with me tied around my waist) because I was shivering again by the time Joel joined me to make the trek home. Yesterday was a smorgasbord of air-fryer snacks and whiskey (it was a few glasses before I could actually walk around without cramping, heh). Today, I’m super hungry and imagine I’ll eat a little more than the calories say I should (1200 ain’t happening today and I am not exercising!) but will be back to normality by tomorrow.

Om nom nom

Hopefully my legs get with the program. I mean yesterday was OWWWW my everything. This morning? Cranky hip is mildly cranky. I’m kinda shuffling around today because of general soreness. I think I’m probably going to skip running this week and prioritize walking and biking and weights and maybe get my arse to the pool for a swim, finally. Longer term (as in, maybe in a couple weeks), my run focus will be shorter (5-10k max) and faster. I want to try to keep that base over the summer if possible so I can try this again next year. But, like, 3M. Or something else late fall. Not this stupid race of stupidness.

All in all, glad I did it, glad it’s done. The main motivation for signing up was to get me to increase my run endurance over the winter, which I did. With Covid, and then my hip, I had feared I’d just limp this one in, but I was able to do more than that on the stupid hilly course of stupid stupidness. All smiles now.

Batter up, February!

Not even one month into 2024, and life threw me a curveball.

Apparently, this is my run-10-miles outfit, twice in 3 weeks and not intentional!

When we last spoke, I just ran my 10 miles, and I was feeling pretty good about all the things. Joel had been under the weather, but all signs and portents pointed it toward NOT Covid. That lasted until the next day when he took a test and found it was indeed Covid. Bleh.

I tested negative. Since I’d been taking care of the poor guy for two days breathing the same damn air, I figured I had it or I didn’t. I frontloaded my week with some weights and biking just in case since I felt fine. That Wednesday, I woke up absolutely flattened. I couldn’t get out of bed, my batteries just stayed somewhere between .01% and 0% charge all day. Making food was impossible. Getting chips from the kitchen was half-marathon worthy. Even digesting food was difficult. It wasn’t that I was nauseous, my body was just like, “this is hard, yo!” and noped out. I pretty much slept all day.

Thursday, I woke up weirdly fine. I felt like I had a mild cold, or bad allergies. Totally able to work and go for 2-3 mile walks. I tested Sunday before I rejoined the real world and found out, “Surprise! It was Covid!” My symptoms were totally gone by the next day or two, and the only thing lingering was my brain wasn’t quite as sharp as normal.

On one hand, I was extremely fortunate to have such a mild case. On the other, I can see how this damn thing spread so much this time. It was indistinguishable for me from a 24-hour flu-like illness with bad allergies, both of which are super plausible in Austin in January. It was definitely not like 2022 Covid with a week+ of low energy, stabbing sore throat, aches and pains, and where the idea of doing anything besides dragging myself around the house would have been laughable.

Lots of walkies with this one instead when he felt better. It wasn’t all bad.

I REALLY wanted to start running again as soon as my symptoms were gone, like I said, I felt totally fine. But I had enough people send me articles in caution of my plans, I waited the minimum of 7 days from symptoms abating before I took a very tentative 20-minute jog, keeping my heart rate really low, and I felt GREAT. I did a little more the next day, and a little more two days after that. I kept up with the strength *pretty* well the whole time, considering. I managed two sessions a week the two weeks I was Covid-ing, and was back to three sessions last week and even upped some numbers. I walked 28 miles over the last three weeks of sickness and recovery.

Yesterday, I set out to do a long run. I had in my head “somewhere between 3 and 12 miles” which is weird, but let me explain. I prepared for a situation where I actually wasn’t indeed recovered and would be okay calling it if I felt crappy. If I was doing optimal training, this would be my 12-mile week. I made it 10.5, which I’m actually pretty thrilled about. My muscles got tired a little quicker, but my endurance felt great. I had a wonderful first 4-mile loop, pretty good second 4-mile loop (though muscle fatigue set in around 6+), and I decided 10 was good enough, then it was close to 2 hours, then it was close to 10.5. My legs were much more tired after this one than the last one, but I still feel like with race energy, more fuel, and more caffeine I’ll make it the 13.1 just fine.

My goal here is to just survive this race, get my medal and t-shirt because I totally don’t have enough of those (but Austin Half shirts are usually pretty choice), complete the goal, and then resume running 3-ish times a week with a max of 10k. That’s my happy place right now. Running for an hour – yay! Running for two hours – ehhh. I’ll get back there eventually but I’ve had enough of it for a while. And maybe, just maybe, we’ll figure out the speedwork thingee this year.

I covered the training part of Covid pretty well, which obvious wasn’t great, but let me also discuss food/scale. I can’t complain about this, and TBH, the point in which my weight really started to go down was when I got sick. *shrug emoji*

I didn’t do a great job keeping up with my written-out sheets, but I’d give myself a B+ with everything else. I tracked every day. I weighed most days. I meditated most days. I did two forms of recovery most days (I think every day but the sleep-for-15 hours day). And at the end of January, my trendweight was right where I asked myself to be: 186.4. My goal will be to be at the most 185.4 by the end of February, and spoilers – if I don’t screw it up, I’m making great progress and almost there ALREADY!

  • Week 1: -718 calories
  • Week 2: 1511 calories
  • Week 3: -1390 calories
  • Week 4: -252 calories
  • Week 5 (so far): 1191 calories

So, yeah, while I was sick, I made sure to not starve myself, if I needed extra food to have energy and feel better, I gave it to myself. And the scale did the right thing for once. I’m now back on track, February is looking great, so I just need to keep at it.

In the world of adulting, we have a date tentatively in April to get both our bathrooms remodeled. The planning process took about two hours, and then writing the biggest check we’ve written since the down payment for the house, but it’s all taken care of, and supposedly each one will be done in a week. I’m excited! Big 2024 adulting goal, check.

We also finally took down inside Christmas (what? we were sick, give us some slack) and mostly cleaned up the garage. We need one more push this month to get the last 20% and we’ll finally have both cars back in! Woo!

The last adulting thing I have on my list is cleaning out the fridge. This one is also on the list for February – we normally get forced into the issue because of a freeze/power outage (at least the last three years), so if this doesn’t happen, we’ll just do it the old-fashioned way, not under duress, later this month.

Before you know it, these times will be here!

I had dealing with the pool on the list but by this point, we may as well wait for it to get a little warmer and just start getting it prepped for use. The benefit of getting it covered over the winter is not a big deal anymore since the leaves already did their thing this year and we did two rounds of major leaf patrol. At least we have the big cover for this fall when it’s time to put the pool to bed for the year.

Onto the fun stuff! I picked up my guitar three times. It was nice to reconnect with it. My fingers are a little clumsy, but I remember how to play even after a few months. I finished the last Germany 2023 pictures this week and have started to sort Paris 2022. I’m making a goal to get through them (at least sorting them, if nothing else) by end of February. I’m at 93k words in Book 2 and truly closing in on the ending (the weekend I was sick I just really zoned out and wrote all day both days and made some great progress last weekend too). I’ve got a goal to get an editable draft done by birthday camping time. It’ll be close (possibly done DURING the trip, hehe). I haven’t touched my paints, and probably won’t until after the draft is done.

5 nights here? Okay, if I have to…

We decided, after much looking at tropical islands, to go camping at Canyon Lake for my birthday for 5 days. Everything was super expensive during my birthday since it butts up against spring break. We also had some questions about whether we could travel that far for reasons that are reasons no longer, so we just made the call to just chill out in the urban woods for a few days and go on pretty hikes and Joel will make me some excellent food in celebration of my progression to my next triathlon age group. Still need to arrange the rest of the year for travel, I am still planning on a Bonaire trip and something in Europe. February goals? Probably.

So, this tiny little short but longer than normal month, goals are:

  • Survive the half marathon, and then keep running after but shorter
  • Weights 3x week non-negotiable
  • 29 days of counting calories and 185.4 or lower trendweight
  • Clean out garage and fridge
  • Finish sorting Paris photos
  • Finish first edit readable draft of Book 2
  • Plan travel for the year

Sounds like a lovely month to meeeee!

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