Adjusted Reality

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

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Rain, rain, something, something…

This has to be the coolest and rainiest May in memory. April showers kinda brought May showers this year, I suppose. It seems like we’re a month behind normality in the great outdoors – we’re JUST now getting our first sunflowers and the spring wildflowers are still in bloom.

While I certainly will not complain about the temperature being… temperate, it’s definitely made outdoor training a bit of a challenge. Sunday, we found our window for our long ride – from about 130-330pm – and made the most of it to hit 25 miles. Tuesday, we made a break for the pool (!!) for the first time in 15 months at lunch between storms. Wednesday, we took a work break around 3pm and rode 10 miles. Today, I’m staring at the rain hoping for a window to ride or swim again (or mebbe just drive up north to the indoor pool) and wondering how tomorrow’s 30 miles are going to go when the forecast says rain all day (I REALLY don’t want to ride on the trainer…).

I’ve also taken 3 walks, did my dozen once and I’m staring at the yoga mat right now and it will be my next stop today, so that will make at least 2 sessions this week. I stretched, oops, like, once. Let’s put that on today’s agenda as well, shall we? No running yet, but that’s sorta by design in the quest to calm my cranky back.

I’m happy to report that el backerooni (ok, nah, let’s never use that one again) is probably the best it’s been today in at least a month. Coincidentally, yesterday was the first time in forever I had zero meetings, so I wasn’t hunched over my desk quite the same way as normal when I’m on camera for hours and hours. I don’t ACTUALLY think this is a coincidence, so hopefully this weekend we can do the chores required to free up some space, which will allow me to get a real desk! I’m hopeful this could be the last piece of the puzzle to permanently un-eff my cranky back. Since we will be working from home through 2021, and then probably be in a WFH/in office hybrid situation as a long term thing, it’s necessary. My little corner desk was totally fine when I spent a few hours a week in my home office. Definitely NOT FINE when I spend 8+ hours every weekday there.

I have to admit that I have zero clue what I weigh right now. I also have to admit that I have not managed to track my food lately. Gut check (heh) is that I’m not eating terribly but I’m also probably not maintaining enough of a deficit to lose a significant amount of weight. Shirts have still most definitely shrunk and jeans are intolerable for more than an hour or two and I’m still on the “pjs and maxi dresses” fashion plan.

I should be more worried about this than I am, but I know my tolerance for adulting right now (beyond work, which is using up most of the adulting reserves) is pretty low. So, I’m picking my battles. And right now, the hills on which I’m willing to die are establishing regular swim, bike, and weights workouts, healing my back, and eating things that are green and grow in the ground more than once a day. Once those things are rote again, I can start nitpicking every calorie. Maybe after I go here for a while…

We’re closing the office for a few days next month to move our servers, and I’ve decided to bail to Mexico since I’m not (thankfully) unneeded. I’m unreasonably excited for the ocean and fishies and diving and beaches and tropical drinks and lounging by the pool. This will be the first vacation in 18 months that won’t involve WORK. Our camper is fantastic, and actually being able to get away *somewhere* kept us just on the edge of sanity during the pandemic, but we’re both ready to just show up somewhere and let someone else cook and clean and drive and bartend for a while.

Off to do all the things and wait for my window to do a thing that makes me sweaty later!

Bikes are the answer

What was the question? Actually, wait, does it even matter? Aren’t bikes the answer to everything?

I’m certainly not 100% back to it, but getting there. I keep doing stupid things to irritate my back (for example, packing up an office worth of paperwork and hefting around boxes) but it’s more like two steps forward one step back right now. Problems like this are stopping me for a few days vs a few weeks. Small victories.

I’m doing the dozen again 2-3 times a week. V-ups are a no-go right now, and I’m doing the pushups from my knees, but everything else is doable and generally I feel *better* after, not worse. I’m hoping to work up to actually lifting kettlebells at some point, but only after I can do this whole routine easily. It’s nice to do something that feels normal, something I used to do in my pre-covid athlete life.

Riding road bikes outside (not in aero) also seems to make me feel better after. Sunday, I rode 20 miles and felt great. I realized that it’s light until after 8 right now, so I figured “let’s do this” and went right back out the next day. Riding outside is happiness and a great way to unwind from work. I was excited to do it again and maybe start a little running and then… bam. Packed up an office and my cranky back returned. Then work. Then social plans. So I haven’t been back out.

But, speaking of social plans, I believe they’ll play a part in helping as well. We’re riding bikes with a friend tomorrow. Aiming to make that a weekly thing. Some of the weekly social rides are starting up again and I have this weird mix of feeling tied to work but also a huge level of flexibility in schedule, so the ownness of my schedule is really on me. Riding bikes outside is giving me joy and also seems to be rehabbing my back, so I need to make it a priority.

Next week, we aim to set up the pool and I’ll have yet another avenue for quick and easy at-home exercise which should, in theory, heal my back further. Since I’m vaccinated I can also return to the gym and swim in the pool or lake, but I’d like to start at home where a 10 minute swim workout doesn’t feel like a waste of a drive. This is the longest I’ve been away from swimming in a decade. I am highly looking forward to resuming being a fish again.

Running has been… slow to start. It feels *okay* off the bike for a 15-20 minute run, but it makes me really sore the next day. I miss it. A lot. However, I need to earn the right to run first, I suppose, so I’ll focus on ramping up the other two sports and strength first.

In that light, I’m considering signing up for the Kerrville Half Aquabike instead in September. 1.2 miles swimming + 56 mile bike feels reachable by then. The run does not. Ramping up from one to 13.1 miles over the summer sounds… rough (and more importantly, potentially harmful to recovery). Maybe I’ll do the sprint on Saturday and then the Aquabike the next day. That might be a nice stretch goal. Taking a bit of time to decide – a few dollars more in race fees are worth figuring out what a challenging but achievable goal will be by then.

I’ve now started scheduling my workouts on my work calendar, and being more specific than “do something”. It’s helped a bit. I’m feeling cautiously optimistic right now and looking forward to playing bikes all summer!

Sometimes it is just that simple…

April has been a mixed bag in the quest to become an athlete again, but things are looking up. I had… what I’ll call an “aha” moment but really it’s a “uh doiiii” moment.

I’ve been trapped in this vicious cycle – every time I get motivated and get some momentum going, *something* happens and then I throw a pity party and eat and drink crap and eff off workouts and then all of a sudden I’m back to square one.

I had spent two glorious weeks without much back pain. The first week I think I was like, “fool me twenty times…” and didn’t do a whole lot, waiting for my back to go out again, but I got my ass in gear after a week passed. All was well… until I spent five and a half hours on a folding chair at a socially distanced family Easter yard party. My back started seizing up and I could barely walk again. I went the the chiropractor the next day hopeful, but the adjustment didn’t quite do the trick this time.

I was UTTERLY pissed. Why the hell was this happening to me? I know how to start from scratch, I know how to train, I actually have been YEARNING for the ability to just go out for a pain-free run, or go ride my bike in the sunshine. My brain wants to do this for so many reasons. I need more activity so I can lose some weight without eating only rabbit food. I need my active mediation time so I can think and dream and create. As I keep saying, I need my identity back.

A week ago, I went out for a waddle to check out the spring flowers even though my back was cranky, and for some reason it clicked – my posture has been absolute poopoo kaka lately. When I’m wearing normal clothes and around normal humans, I’m vain enough to want to stand up straight, suck in my gut, and look like I’m not smuggling bags of cookies under my shirt. When all you wear is pajamas that are four sizes too big, there’s absolutely no reason to engage your core.

So I engaged my core whilst walking that day. And my abs were sore by the end, which is pretty pathetic, but my back felt… okay. For the rest of the week, I did the same, while walking, while bending over to do things, and yet again, it felt absolutely pathetic that I had to retrain my body to do something so simple but… it’s helped. Five walks, five stretches, and three bikes, and today I rode outside (!) for 45 minutes (!) and then even took a walk later and so far, so good. I have muscle soreness but I don’t feel injured.

So, I shall to attempt to continue to suck it up, buttercup (my abs) and continue to ride this wave of momentum. Sometimes, it actually is so simple, at least I hope.

Because it’s go time. 9 days ago, I got my J&J shot. While it was an unpleasant weekend involving major brain fog, aches, chills, fever, sweats, and exhaustion, at least it was one and done (well, until we need boosters, but we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it). Now, I’ve got 19 days until I can carefully people again.

I’m looking forward to it, but I also not the person I was a year ago. I’d love to say that I’m super excited for group rides again, but uh… yeah… I don’t think I can keep up with anyone and if 10 miles is a long ride for me right now, I’m pretty sure that’s everyone’s warmup. It used to be mine. My kits are all too small and tbh, the idea of wearing a pair of jeans gives me anxiety. So, yeah, it’s time to suck it up, buttercup, in more ways than one.

One thing I *CAN* control is what I shove in my cakehole. So, I’m concentrating on that. I’m tracking calories again and even though it’s sorta maddening some days to try to eat 1200 calories + activity (when my activity most days is around 200 calories max because I’m starting so slow), it’s the only way I’m going to make my t-shirts stop shrinking.

I’m signed up for IM Texas 2022 in April. I’m about to pull the trigger on Kerrville Half Ironman in September this year. I need this long term motivation not to quit. It all seems so far away, so I’m not even trying to conceptualize what it will take to get there, but I know I need to start. I long for the days where I can pop out the door for an hour run at lunch or actually go out on a group ride with other cycling humans. So, that is where I start. Simply. And from there I shall build.

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. 🙂

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