Adjusted Reality

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

Author: Quix Page 1 of 195

Regress, Refract, Resume

A whole year since the world went away has come and gone. And yet, I am still here, feeling about 1000 years older but also still frozen in time on the eleventy-seven hundredth of March, 2020.

Day 1 of official work from time time. I thought this would last a month. Oh, sweet summer child…

I started January strong in terms of healthy habits like daily stretching, activity, meditation, etc. I had some pretty nice successes in February, including completing a sprint duathlon all at once without a break, and even felt reasonably human-like after. Even with the craziness of work being at 11, I was finally on my way back to being a little bit more me.

No training in this… or even inside without power.

Then, the Snowpocalypse happened, and really knocked me off my game. Soon after, we celebrated birthdays and a lot of “eff it” was bid to good habits. I overdid it one day with a long walk AND a short bike (OMG) and my back injury regressed. My lower back would often seize up and half the time even just existing was painful. Instead of doubling down on the good habits to fix things, I ate comfort food, drank whiskey, and ignored bodywork. Two weeks ago, I limped into my chiropractor, and the crack fixed a lot of the injustices. So I got back to it, right? NOPE! This begun the torture of no internet for 2 days, trying to work full days off just cell service. Remember dial up? Yeah, it was a lot like that. Totally infuriating. So, I made all the excuses yet again because that sent me into a MOOD.

Finally, I arrived at Sunday (just a few days ago) realizing it was time to get off my lazy arse. This week has been better. I’ve walked 30-45 mins every day, stretched 3 times, and have done a core workout twice. Next week, I want to start incorporating cycling (30 mins max) again and try out the Oiselle Dozen and make my strength goal to be able to complete it. After that, I’ll try running again if everything holds up (and maybe step on the scale again, the horror!). However, the most important thing is also the least sexy thing – the core work and stretching. This builds the foundation, the one that is crumbly and shifting currently, but it is the thing which needs to be solid so I can go do the stuff that makes my brain more happy and my body less lumpy.

I miss this so much…

Of all the things to pop up on my Facebook memories today, 3 years ago I won my age group at No Label Tri and qualified for Triathlon Age Group Nationals. At that point, I was a badass bag of muscles with a razor sharp brain ready to dig deep into the pain cave. Now, it all seems so haaaaaard. How can I be her when life right now – even without triathlon – feels overwhelming. I can barely motivate myself to do ANYTHING, let alone go out and dig deep and bare my soul on that kind of effort that makes you both question and really know yourself.

But yet, all I can do is resume even if it feels like a faded memory of someone else.

Sometimes, my brain remembers what I was a year ago and truly wants to do more than my body can handle right now and that frustrates me. Sometimes, my brain feels so far away from that and wants to do NOTHING and my sluggish body is totally happy to comply. My motivation is low because we’re still in this nebulous state. Sure, we’ll all (mostly) get vaccinated and can sort of be people again. Then what? When will I feel comfortable being in the slipstream of some other triathlete’s pee on the swim? When will I not feel skeeved out drinking out of a water cup some other human handed me? When will I feel okay giving sweaty hugs at the finish line, all covered in snot and spit and various other bodily fluids? Is that this summer? Is it 2021? Is it… ever?

But, again, all I can do is resume. I know my back issues are not because of some acute injury or overuse, but from the LACK of use. I know my brain, when it wants to do nothing, is playing tricks on me and I am a better me when I can run, bike, and swim. I can have the self control to deal with the frustration of being able to do just a little right now, because it’s better than nothing and it means I can do more when it matters. The only other option is to stand still, and that’s not me. Not now, not before, and not ever.

Snowpocalypse 2021

We were just minding our own business here in Texas, enjoying our typical mild winter, when Alaska’s weather decided to meander down here all drunkenly for an early Spring break. We were not amused.

It was chilly, but not yet ridiculous, so we spent the weekend doing some usual Valentine’s Day stuff like playing games and steak and lobster on the grill. Normally, there would be a movie outing or a fun bike adventure. This year with Covid, not so much on the movie. This year with the weather, not so much with the bike adventure. So we snuggled up for the duration, and were warned that we may experience some rolling blackouts on Monday for a few hours max.

Imagine our surprise when we lost power at 3am on Monday morning and didn’t have it back when we woke up to a legitimate winter wonderland. The power continued to be conspicuously absent through the day. Our food went into coolers and bags in the snow. The gas fireplace earned it’s keep heating the living room. Since it was a long weekend, and the snow was new and novel, we tromped around the neighborhood and I annoyed Joel by stopping to take pictures every two minutes but… it’s not like we get this every year!

Later, he cooked up a bunch of chicken on the grill and I still made ravioli with italian sausage, caesar salad, and garlic bread as planned for second Valentine’s Day (thank you, gas stove, and thank you Joel for insisting we get a gas stove!). At dusk, we went on another walk to get cool pictures of lights in the snow and check out the ghost town of barely anyone out and about at 7pm on a Monday.

When it got dark, it got REALLY DARK in the house without even the normal visual hum of the power lights all the electronics in house. It was just us, the fireplace, and a lantern or headlamp to find our way around outside of the glow of the living room. In contrast, the thick coating of white snow made it super BRIGHT outside, almost as if night never really fell.

Tuesday should have been a workday, but we still found ourselves without power, and so did the office. A few things were running on the backup generator but the situation wasn’t conducive to any sort of productivity, so we set out to officially close the “office”. Once that was settled, we got gas for the Xterra and then spent three hours sitting in it, enjoying the heat, and using every capacity it possessed to turn said gasoline into charged electronics.

What do you do in the dark? Read. A lot. I powered through most of a 3 book series whilst we lived in the pioneer times because there wasn’t much else to do. Joel said he missed sounds and music so I broke out my acoustic guitar throughout the week to serenade him. I also started leaning a new song from the book I got for my birthday last year and summarily ignored because looking up whatever I fancy on the intertubes had been easier. I need to practice but I think I have Free Fallin’ in the bag.

Wednesday, we went through the same song and dance. Officially closed the office. Schleped ourselves out to the Xterra, ready for another three hour tour to charge up the electronics… and then an hour into the process, we saw our garage lights come on! We had power! Rejoice! I didn’t trust it would stick around, since we’d heard about other people getting it back for short stint and then losing it again, so we plugged in every device that needed charging and kept waiting for the blackout… and it never came!

Thursday, I woke up to the ceiling fan still twirling. Even so, we were being asked to conserve power and act as if we didn’t have it as much as possible. So, besides doing one round of dishes on economy mode (they’d been in there since Sunday and were… ripe), and one small load of absolutely needed wash (hung by the fireplace to dry), we did just that. I grabbed a few things off my work machine and then worked offline on my teeny laptop all day. We kept the heat off and lights off and kept almost everything in the house unplugged. Thankfully, we didn’t have to charge things in the car but otherwise it was the same ol’ same ol’.

We were asked to conserve water as well and all of Austin and surrounding areas were handed a boil notice. I had spent the last few days not washing my hair because it was cold. Now, I had to not wash my hair because the water was gross. In the grand scheme of things, it wasn’t a major hardship, I just felt… yucky. I was very thankful that we splurged and did dishes and laundry in the small window while we could.

Friday was more of the same, but work finally had power and brought up all of our systems so we could actually work, so it was the first “unofficial” workday of the week. That is, if people had power, internet, and could do so without any hardship. Most of our folks, thankfully, were in situations where they could and most agreed that was nice to be back at it, and for life to feel a bit more normal again.

On Friday morning, it had been below freezing for over 120 hours. On Saturday, we went for a walk in t-shirts and shorts in the sunny, 70 degree weather. Oh Texas winter, you so crazy. Finally, Monday at 2:30pm the city finally lifted the boil notice and I immediately left my desk and took the most welcome and wondrous shower ever.

Our personal fallout was minor and fleeting. No burst pipes, we didn’t lose much food, no major issues. All that happened was that life was weird for a week and the house was a disaster area for about a week and a half. I’m very happy to be back to (pandemic) normal and live in slightly less interesting times.

However, this one still thinks she’s a garage kitty and wants in all the time, no matter the temperature. We don’t mind too much. 🙂

Virtually motivated

Last year, I poo poo’d virtual races. Doing a “race” without the community, without a finish line, without a competition and a podium, this seemed silly to me. My drawers are overflowing with race shirts and medals, I didn’t need any more. Frankly, I was a bit burnt out with racing and training – trying to maintain Ironman level training during a very packed year professionally and personally – and I had ZERO desire to race if it wasn’t… a race.

I took a breath, and let go of being an athlete, while also mourning that IM Texas wasn’t going to be a thing. My “long day” workout (1 hour swim, 5 hour bike, and 2 hour run) the week before the world shut down was the closest I would come to being a two-time Ironman. When the race cancellation was announced, it was a bit of relief but I also felt a bit of sadness. I was barely holding on, but I was closing in on the end of the last big block of training and the start of taper. Could I have gotten to the finish line? I believe so. But, I never got the chance to find out.

So, I gave myself the rest of March and April to just slack. And then all of a sudden it was June. Once we had our pool set up, we did a little sprint tri, which was fun, but then… I just lost interest in doing anything difficult, since life was kinda difficult already. I swam… a few times. I biked more than anything since it was easy to hop on the trainer. I stopped running when it got warm and then by the time it was cooler my back/core was in shambles because I also stopped stretching and doing strength. I walked a lot and took a lot of pictures. I wasn’t a complete couch potato but it just wasn’t… me.

And then all of a sudden it was New Years Day, and I ran 1 mile. And it was HARD, y’all.

January’s goal was to run or bike every day, stretch every day, and do strength 3x week. I missed four days total, but I’ll still call that a win, considering my garmin connect log for the last 6 months. I worked my way up to 30 minute bikes and 2 mile runs. I maintained my stretching and core strength routine. My back still bothers me, but it’s been hurting a little less each week. I feel increasingly less like a sack of potatoes when I go out for my short little jogs. Progress is happening at the speed of molasses on a winter day, but happening it is.

Joel happened on Ironman VR races two weeks ago, and decided to sign up. I hesitated. 1 mile run, 20k bike, 5k run? That’s wayyyyy beyond me in one session right now, but I had 4 days. I was able to get it done in 3. We bought the damn shirt and medal because you know what? It’s been a year. A full year since I toed a start line. I don’t see it happening anytime soon. I guess I actually do kinda miss the race schwag even if I can’t have the rest of the experience.

The first and last Casa de Jank 2020 Tri and the only time I wore my new Austin Triathlon Club kit. Hopefully it will get some wear in 2021.

This weekend, they doubled the distance. I crunched the numbers. A 2 mile run, 25 mile bike, and 6.2 mile run is a LOT for me right now, but I thought I could break it up and have a chance. The plan was the 2 mile run and a little bit of biking Thursday, a big push on the bike Friday, the rest of the bike and 2 miles of running on Saturday, and 4.2 miles of run/walk Sunday. I missed starting the bike Thursday because I had about 8 hours of meetings and was just… spent after work, so I had to do more cycling on Friday than planned (I did half at lunch and half after work to get in 16 miles total). Yesterday’s brick ride (9 miles) and run (2 miles) really familiar and nice. Today’s 4.2 mile run/walk was a lot, but I have this really nice soreness in my legs that I haven’t felt for a while and my back seems to be stiff, but holding up alright.

I would NEVER have done this much without virtual racing. I guess I need the motivation, so I’m going to keep doing them. Next weekend’s race is back to the sprint distance. I think I’m going to try to do most of it at once. Can I actually swing 20k on the bike and 3 miles of running or run/walking at one time? I’ll give it a try on Saturday and leave Sunday to finish some run miles if I need.

I need virtual racing right now. I need something that provides reasons for me to get my ass out and do sporty things. I’m a shade of who I was a year ago. It’s going to be a long road to rebuild what I had. Qualifying for Nationals again? Completing my second Ironman? I’m not there, not even close. But I’m now on the path, and since I’ve walked it before, I know where it leads.

Adventures in waiting and not waiting

First rule of adjusted reality blog is I don’t really talk about work, but sometimes things are worth recording for posterity.

New Years Day Sunset foreshadowed some FIRE this year…

As I alluded to last post, there were some BIG THINGS at work. They happened, or better stated, they are happening. Two weeks ago, I looked at two castles to storm this year, both of which I was equally excited to approach, both with force fields around them, guarded by powerful wizards. Right now, one of these castles shimmers faintly in the distance and has all but faded from view, and the other has a giant moat blocking my way and I’m waiting for the drawbridge to finish lowering.

Adventures, amirite?

I’m in the best timeline where, even with the occasional grumbles, I was incredibly happy and challenged and fulfilled with the status quo, and the new path is a fantastic opportunity for myself and the project. I keep getting introduced to these warm, personable human beings I’m going to work with and feel very lucky. These type of things are not often win/win and it feels that way right now, so I’d like to capture this moment and feeling in time.

That did not mean that the last two weeks have been a breeze. I spent most of last weekend working. Monday, Joel had to fetch me tea and soup and cough drops because I could barely leave my desk during the workday and I was talking so much in meetings he noticed my voice was hoarse. I don’t do limbo well, and right now, there’s some inevitable waiting involved while the final things finalize. But, this too shall pass. I’ll just have to summon some patience and just wait for things to fall into place. I hate waiting, but it’s definitely something for which it is worth waiting.

This minor life diversion wrecked my momentum with all the things I talked about here, but it was only for 3 days. Last weekend, we ordered deli sandwiches and later pizza. There was champagne. I didn’t bike or run, I didn’t stretch, and I didn’t meditate. And then, Tuesday, I woke up feeling ABSOLUTELY EFFING AWFUL.

I may be a shadow of what I once was on the bike but we out there.

So, as much as it was difficult to do so, I started again. Each morning since I’ve meditated (except this morning, oops, I was too motivated to write, I’ll go do it next, I promise). Every day since I’ve tracked my calories, and they’ve stayed more or less in line with my goals. I’ve weighed, and while I won’t get excited until I see some more weekly averages, I think it’s going the right way. It’s allegerific AF outside right now, but I’ve been on the bike 22-25 mins per day, resumed strength training, and stretched. Post-March 2020 me would have used this as an excuse for weeks or month. 2021 me ain’t having it. My meatbag is worth more than that.

So, here I am. Nothing terribly profound to say. My back still hurts but it hurts less when I do the good things I should. If I wore jeans anymore, I’d not yet fit in the skinny ones, I’m sure, but it seems to be trending that way. I’m a long way from Ironman, but I’m not quite Couchman anymore. I’m in the middle of many, many things, chipping away at incremental progress. It’s not sexy, there are no medals or achievements or accolades of which to speak, but it’s certainly better than waiting. 2020 me was waiting for something. 2021 me isn’t willing to wait anymore.

Establishing Habits (for now this is enough)

So, here we are. Week 1 down of being a reasonable hoo-man, and honestly it was pretty great.

I’ve got a new routine, one that I quite like. My alarm goes off at 8am, I snooze it once while my brain wakes up, and then I do this 10 minute meditation thing I came up with. Half the time, I start the process with crazy brain work or life thoughts, but by the end, my mind is calm, clear, and awake. Then I go over what I’d like to accomplish, setting my intentions for the day. If I’m nervous or excited about something, I acknowledge the butterflies in my stomach, and give them a pep talk. This week I’ve woken up feeling more relaxed and energized than I have in months. Maybe years.

Each day at lunch I’ve made time to either bike 20 minutes or run 1 mile. I’m keeping the feelings of “wow, this is pathetic” at bay and being grateful that my back is holding up so I can actually do some daily activity. I’m also prioritizing 10-15 mins of stretching and rolling each day, and some very light strength 3x week.

I mean… very light.

  • 3×10 knee pushups
  • 3×20 crunches
  • 3×20 side crunches
  • 3×10 supermans
  • 3×10 sec boat pose
  • 3×10 single leg calf raises

If you look back at my history, this is nothing. Laughable. Why even bother? But for now, it is enough.

I’ve been tracking my calories, trying to stay around 1500 per day. For the level of activity I’m doing, I can certainly safely go lower, but I don’t want to drive myself crazy. This should reasonably be a 3500-ish calorie deficit for the week, taking off 1 lb. One nice thing about being SO far gone for SO long? I’m about 5 lbs down already. It’s all water/inflammation weight certainly, but it was nice to see the OMG number go away pretty quickly. My plan is about 1/3 Snap Kitchen meal delivery, 1/3 batch cooked healthy meals, and 1/3 making shit up like this greek chicken meal we threw together today. Homemade hummus is best hummus.

I’ve also been trying to chill on the pressure to DO ALL THE HOBBIES. Between all manner of games, writing, photography/editing, reading, painting, and guitar, there’s always more I want to be doing with my spare time. This weekend, I’ve been meaning to paint and crack back open a video game I started Friday and also another I started last week and haven’t even touched my guitar but I also spent all day yesterday reading two books in a really fun RPG lit series snuggled under my blanket next to a roaring fire and then spent today playing outside in the once-every-10-years snow Austin gets. It is okay sometimes not to be productive with my spare time and just relax.

There are some interesting things brewing professionally right now for me as well, but they are all in “wait and see” mode. I’m eager to see which of two (both favorable and exciting) paths will lay out for me in 2021. In the meantime, I’m appreciative of the fresh start on this year’s to do list. For the first time in forever, I didn’t start a work week behind the eight ball. I was adequately prepared for every meeting I had, and there was this moment where I was working my way down my to do list for the day and I found myself doing something 45 minutes ahead of schedule. I finished my work for the week on Friday without anything hanging over my head.

I realize it’s not always going to be this way, but it nice to have a moment in time where things were really and truly under control.

For the next week, for the rest of January, really, I plan to just continue to keep all these nascent habits going. I’d like to add a little bit to the bike and run each week, but ONLY if it’s good for me to do so. I’m not who I was, I’m not who I want to be yet, but I see a path there now, and that is enough.

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