Adjusted Reality

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

Page 2 of 202

Reflection and Celebration

42 was certainly a lot.

If you’ve met me, you know I *like* a lot. Every year lately I think I’m maxed out on ways I can learn and grow and then life continues to drown me in opportunities. I wouldn’t trade it for the opposite situation in the slightest. The days have ups and downs, but I am loving the trajectory of life right now. However, that doesn’t mean that I’m not running on a healthy dose of overwhelm right now, as evidenced by my absence in journaling duties here.

I’m so excited for all the opportunity of 43. I used to think that I wished for boredom, but I have found that it’s impossible for me to be bored and I am happiest when my life is full of things that dare me to be better. There is so much I want to do, so much I want to learn, so much I want to be. I look forward to continuing to learn how to be a better leader, learning more about disciplines outside my comfort zone, reminding myself what it feels like to be an athlete, getting better at guitar, learning how to elf better in Bloodbowl, painting, and continuing to learn German, and visiting new places and spaces and taking pretty pictures of it all. And who knows what opportunities will present themselves that I haven’t even thought of yet? It continues to be a lot, and I don’t anticipate 43 putting on the brakes anytime soon.

I have, in the past (and sometimes in the present) been overwhelmed with the idea of learning something new. However, the last few years has taught me that I just need to start. Take the first bite of the elephant. Sure, I may look at a thing and think, “damn, that’s overwhelming, how the heck will I ever be good at that?” The answer is, and I need to constantly remind myself, one day at a time of relentless forward progress.

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So, let’s put the overthinking aside and talk about doing. So, how did I celebrate this last trip around the sun? I was being a bummer in February saying stuff like “what can I do to celebrate that the pandemic and being on a diet has ruined for me” but brought myself out of my funk and actually had a pretty great time. I started 43 as I meant to go on, with a 5k run in the sunshine before work, feeling grateful about how much stronger my body (and mind) feel than last year this time, and that life continues to challenge me and gives me interesting problems to solve. Then, work. It was a good day… buuuuut allll the meetings left me feeling like a little bit more of a homebody than expected. So, instead of going out, we had Vietnamese delivered (birthday plan #1) and enjoyed a deliciously over frosted cupcake and my favorite whiskey.

Thursday birthdays are meh, so we really started celebrating on Friday. My second birthday plan was to hike and take pictures somewhere pretty. I took off work a little bit early and we hit a few nearby spots. First, we stopped at the Peacock Preserve. The trail was stunning, but the peacocks definitely stole the show! Did you know that peacocks sound like really angry kittens? I was 43 years and 1 day old when I learned that.

Next, we hiked Mt. Bonnell. It’s an Austin must-do, and we only took about 14 years and 9 months of living here to finally go hike it vs just biking by the trail. It’s about five minutes of steps and then an AMAZING view.

It was a little crowded and we were getting hangry, so we took off right before sunset. And then I regretted every moment as we watched the STUNNER of a sunset happen on the car ride to dinner. Ah well, next time we’ll bring a little picnic or somethin’. And there will be a next time fo sho.

My third birthday request was a nice long bike ride in the sun. Thankfully the weather obliged, and we managed a 1h30 min bike and a 4 mile run.

That helped burn a few more calories than normal, so we could hit up my last birthday wish – Trulucks. We actually ate fairly responsibly (1 lb of crab and not 2, just two sides and a salad) and then after had a quiet night at home.

Most of the week between my birthday and Joel’s birthday was full of work or training or other life stuff, but we did meet up with my parents for a birthday celebration dinner (and then with his, the week after!). To continue birthday celebrations, we went camping at the San Antionio KOA. It was totally the urban woods – feels like nature backing up to a wooded trail, but just a few miles away from downtown.

After our first night of relaxing (and freezing, it got down to the 30s!), we checked out a taco shop that was… okay.

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Then when that settled, set out on bikes to check out the trail and see the Alamo. The Alamo was… underwhelming. It was very small, crowded, and too full of people.

The trail totally wasn’t. It was a beautiful ~20ish mile ride meandering up and down and stopping way too often to take pictures.

After some fortification for our stomachs, we took a nice long hour and a half sunset walk on the north end of the trail before we retired to the camper for the rest of dinner, and a nice early sleep.

On Sunday, we did our actual seriouspants training ride – goal was 40 miles, we got about 38, which was just fine for me. It was a beautiful day, and awesome to be out stretching our legs on the bike, it just got a little people-y at the end and we got sick dodging them.

I was definitely a little worn out after all that activity, but my SOUL just felt better. We say that “Joel-plant needs sun” but I need it as well, and after 6 months without camping, it was SUPER nice to be in the “woods” for an extended weekend.

On Joel’s actual birthday when we got home, I asked him what he wanted to do, and we ended up just running some errands together so… I guess happy birthday (I hate errands so it’s definitely a present)?

I really enjoyed all the celebrations, but like I said in the last post, it’s now time to buckle down a bit, eat better, train more regularly, and get back to non-birthday life.

The wheels on the bus explode

On one hand, I’m super engaged and excited about 27 different projects I’m working on both personally and professionally.

Boom works on many different levels (love my new kit!)

However, that also means I’m running on a healthy dose of overwhelm right now, as evidenced by my absence in journaling duties here.

I’m in the middle of learning something very new at work, onboarding and training new people, doing crazy balancing acts to manage my time both personally and professionally, and still trying to do this racing and #projectraceweight thing. I failed pretty hard at most this pretty hard in March – the wheels didn’t fall off in many cases so much as just explode. I next owe a post on all the fun things I did over our birthday celebrations (workin’ on it!), and these were all welcome divergences, but it was definitely a solid derailing of a lot of personal initiatives. However, the awesome thing is that we can change the tires and get back on board anytime. Today is that day the bus starts rolling again.

In 2018, I mentioned that on March 20th, when I officially started #projectraceweight I weighed 186 lbs. One month ago, I was very excited to see if I could meet or beat that weight since I was fluctuating right around 189 on my lower days and trending downward. Sadly, on March 19th, my trendweight is 191.9, which is only 0.2 lower than my trendweight was on Feb 20th. I suppose one could look at it as I let loose a little for my birthday and didn’t gain weight, but it’s a little disheartening that a whole month went by without any forward progress.

Well, the leftover sweets are in the freezer for later times, the celebratory birthday meals have been consumed, and it’s back to being kinda strict and counting all the calories until the race. Goals are simple and should look reaaaaally similar.

  • Track my food
  • Aim for 1500 calories a day average (1200-1300 on low activity days, 1500+ a little on higher volume days)
  • Weigh at least 4 times a week 

It’s what was working before, so let’s resume!

When you fail to plan, you plan to fail. This rings so true this month, as my workout calendar looks like this:

I mean, sure, I’ve had worse in 2020 and 2021, but notice there are no swims for 3 weeks because leaving the house is hard (changing that TODAY since my race involves SWIMMING). Also, this week was just STUPID busy and I really meant to get some activity but I had to work and then prioritized destressing (read: whiskey) the few moments I wasn’t working, so that was not the most adult way to cope but what is, is. I haven’t had that many zero workout days in quite a while. I forgot what weights were (last week, I was dealing with various cranky body parts, this week, same plus the time issue).

On the bright side, I’m pretty happy with my cycling, I’ve had an indoor and an outdoor road bike right around that 40 mile race distance, and both of those are more difficult than 40 miles on my race bike. Not this weekend (as I’m doing a charity ride) but next weekend, I get outside on that bike and remember what it’s like to ride Death Star not in my pain cave. It’s also been nice to be back to running for a bit. My pace ain’t pretty, but I can lope along at 11:30 min/miles and seem to be handling the volume increase I need to make it through the race. I *think* I may have solved the heel problem with a change in insoles, I’m going to try a 7 mile run on Tuesday to test it out.

Six weeks to go until race day means I’m not horribly in the hole right now, it just means I need to prioritize things like actually leaving my house to swim, doing the last few long brick workouts/bikes/runs in the next 3 weeks, and then keep up some training regularity during taper, push a little speed, and stay sharp (as well as lose all the weight I can safely).

Mar 21-27 Schedule

  • Monday: weights, 1-1.5k swim
  • Tuesday: 7-mile run
  • Wednesday: weights, 45 min bike
  • Thurs: off (stretch and roll!)
  • Friday: 5k run
  • Saturday: Rosedale ride (either 40 miles + 2-3 mile brick run or full metric century and 0-1 mile run)
  • Sunday: off (stretch and roll!)

I would absolutely love to get one more swim in there (maybe Thursday night, Friday night, or Sunday?) but there’s a lot of other To Dos this week so I’m going to cut myself some slack.

So what’s left? I need to hit to feel good before this race:

  • Standalone 9 mile run (wk of Apr 11)
  • Multiple 1500m swims, at least two in the lake before race day
  • At least one long brick (Apr 3) – 40 mile TT bike (outside) to 10k run
  • Practice tri day (Apr 9) – 1500m swim, 25 mile TT bike outside, 10k run

Thankfully, all of these seem within reason for where I’m at right now. The path to this point didn’t *quite* look as I expected in January, but I’m glad the journey has been at least directionally appropriate. With a brief interlude for birthday shenanigans, I’m ready to hit it hard and make 43 the year I fully emerge from the pandemic funk and get back into shape (mentally and physically). There is nothing that makes this happen besides patience, persistence, solving problems, and making it happen, so this is how we do.

Swing with me

It’s been a hell of a week.

While I will maintain that I would much rather have swingy weather in the winter than just *cold* – it was very weird to be sweating up a storm biking outside on Monday in the 80 degree weather and then have spent Wedensday night through today barely above freezing. IDK, I just shut down when it gets this cold for this long.

Work also did the thing where I didn’t think it could get more hectic, but it did, building day over day. The next few weeks threaten to be the same. I spent the last two weeks being meticulous about my training and in the last few days, the wheels fell off:

  • Monday: 1.5h bike, 1100 yd swim, shoulders
  • Tuesday: 45m bike
  • Wedensday: circuits, 1000yd swim
  • Thursday: off
  • Friday: push, 45 min bike
  • Saturday: 2h bike 4 mile run
  • Sunday: off

Not the most successful week, but it was what it was.

We’re now approaching 9 weeks to the race. I’ve made a half ironman build from pretty much nothing in this time, so I’m feeling okay about things, because I am very much not building from nothing this time, but I can’t have weeks like last week if I want to progress. So, I need to plan better. I know mornings are key (when I don’t have early meetings), lunches are possible (though generally early in the week is better), and after work is just a stupid idea until the time changes and I can drag myself outside after work and go play bikes. So, for now, what does that look like?

  • Monday: pull AM, lunch 1200y swim
  • Tuesday: bike 45m AM, run 5k lunch (or vice versa depending on the weather)
  • Wednesday: circuits lunch
  • Thursday: AM run or bike, birthday hike
  • Friday: legs
  • Saturday: 1.5h bike, 5 mile run
  • Sunday: 1200y+ swim

I need to accept that until we’re in the office, leaving the house a few days a week for the commute, it’s going to be heckin’ tricky to swim and I may need to give up my Sunday off to make it happen. No full days off either there, but two days are just weights so that’s pretty close!

Since it’s the end of February, let’s check in!

  • Get back to the pool 1x week when it’s reasonable to do so. I’ve been to the pool twice. I’ll take it. Plan is to keep at it.
  • Continue doing some level of speedwork almost every ride and ride 3x week. I have been doing this and it’s been working, but no FTP test yet. Because, reasons. Moving this goal to March (but like, soon. Not end of March)
  • Run 2-3x week short and speedy. I had to cut this a bit mid-month to rest my heel, but I’m back! I’m still in the 11 min/mile but starting to feel better about my running stride.
  • 3x week weights. Get back to the gym as soon as it feels safe to do so, but maintain at home until then.
  • Follow a training plan. When I fail to plan, I really plan to fail. I do much better when I schedule myself time to workout because if I don’t, I’ll push it from the morning to lunch, munch my lunch procrastinating, and then after work I’m just wiped and don’t wanna. If I know I need to bike before work on Wednesday because it’s the time I have to do it, I’m way more likely to actually do it!

Thankfully, this hasn’t meant that I’ve been throwing caution to the wind with my nutrition goals. I’m at 1480 calories avg/day over the last 7 days, and two of those included 2+ hour workouts (so I ate closer to 1700-1800 those days). It felt like my weight loss was slowing, and it looks like that’s the case per trendweight.

The trend is still going in the right direction; I just need to keep at it. I was hoping to be regularly in the 180s by March, and I’ve hit 189 a few times, it just seems to be one of those “thermoclines” that is difficult to break through. I know how to do it – through patience and persistence. I am committed to make relentless forward progress here. There is just no other option. Even if it goes slow, it is better than giving up. I had two years of pretty much eating whatever the eff I wanted, now it’s time for penance so I can achieve my goals, one low calorie frozen microwaved meal at a time.

Since we’re at the end of February, it’s time for a goals check in on other stuff too.

#1 – Work Life Balance or some ish

  • Making myself a daily checklist of non-work things –
  • Giving myself 1 hour per day (and a half day on Friday) true focus time – slightly less successful than last month day to day, but I was able to clear up a Friday to tackle a big project I’ve been putting off for months and find enough time to put it together into a presentation a few days later. I expect next month is going to be hell in this regard, and then it gets exponentially better in April. I just need to hang on
  • Enforcing shutting down my work computer at least once a month for a fresh start – I complained incessantly about not being able to find a few things right after restarting but it did wonders for my ability to focus/not getting lost in the sea of documents and tabs.
  • Using a daily cut off time where work ends and I’m unavailable – hasn’t felt too bad. I’ve had a few ridiculously late days but also plenty of days where I walk away at 5 and barely pay attention to work chat just to make sure nothing is on fire and not engage the chats that can wait that I don’t want to if there are any.
  • After hours chats/Carrying work “home” with me – Joel and I have been pretty bad about taking work to the couch after hours. I’m thinking next month we’ll try what worked occasionally in January – if we find conversation straying to work, set a timer for like 30 mins. Get all the work talk out. Then, put it away for the evening.

March is going to be a challenge, but there is actual, real, not just potential light at the end of the tunnel.

Chop the wood, carry the water (again)

There is a quiet zen to the place where I’m at right now.

There’s no mystery to the path. Eat 1200-1500 calories. Complete the training. Do the recovery. That’s all there is. Chop the wood, carry the water.

I am not averse to hard work. However, I have to know it the difficult thing I’m doing matters. I’m perfectly fine beating my head against a brick wall over and over as long as I have confidence that eventually, my head will win and break through. Throwing myself against an immovable object over and over with a likely outcome that I will end up a bloody pulp is not what I’m all about.

It’s a good thing I’m following a path for which I have a map and plan, and already seeing results. Let’s start here today:

Check out this beautiful chart. It continues to go in the right direction. Please ignore the actual weight because it’s obviously still in “more out of shape than I’ve been in a decade” territory, but not quite as offensively so as it was last month. If I am attempting to walk the same path as I did four years ago, I have some previous data points to measure against – and one of them was being 186 lbs on March 20th that year. It’s February 20th, and I’m 189 lbs. A month ago, this all felt so out of reach, such a hill to climb, so unattainable. Now, if I keep at it, I’m looking to be on course, or even ahead of my progress in 2018.

And by the end of that year, I looked like this (not to mention I set my Half Ironman PR in feels like 100-degree Cozumel, placed 1st in my age group twice, and went to Nationals, but excuse me while I have a non-athlete moment here). It is so difficult to remember that in just one year, I dramatically changed how I felt about myself. And it’s so convenient that I’ve done it before, just four years ago, so I can follow the path again without quite so much self-discovery if necessary. It’s tempting to beat myself up a little bit for needing to do all this work again a scant four years later, but we all just lived through this damn pandemic. Did I react a lot less logically and maturely than I had hoped? Yup. Do I have a time machine? Nope. So, all I can do is move forward.

And so I have. I’ve been at this now since January 10th in a mildly halfarsed manner and then with maximum effort for the last three weeks and progress – she’s happening. If the pretty little chart above isn’t enough proof, let me tell you a story. As a reminder of the before-times, in February of 2018, I had to get dressed and leave the house pretty much every day, so I had a constant metric about my appearance. In February of 2022, I have only had to wear real clothes about twice this month, so my checkpoints are a lot fewer and further between. Yesterday was one of them. I threw on my <3 bike leggings and a t-shirt and headed out for family time. Lo and behold – when I looked at myself in the bathroom during potty breaks, I thought, “hello, lover, dang, you look strong and sturdy right now”. I cannot tell you how much of a relief that is after a year and a half of being frustrated and throwing shade at the mirror.

Not quite back here yet but I see a path

Yeah, ok, maybe nothing tastes as good as skinny fit feels right now. I hate everyone and everything for saying it, most of all myself, but while heckin’ trite, it’s kinda true at the present moment. Don’t worry, I’m not giving up pizza and beer PERMANENTLY or anything, but maybe for the next few months we’ll go with Quest Pizza and straight whiskey instead. Looking at the potential of what’s before me, I can sacrifice being an arsehole with food for a bit to get there. I guesssssss.

In the last seven days, I’ve eaten 1413 calories/average per day. I think this is pretty close to the bottom of what I can do without driving myself insane, so I’m glad that the little chart is going the right way.

Looking at the other side of the equation (output), it’s also going well but not without its challenges.

This week, I didn’t follow my plan as well as I did the week before, but with a 45-minute ride today not pictured (because it hasn’t happened yet), the approximate boxes will be checked. I say approximate, because my #%^&ing heel has been hurting all week after Monday’s run, so I subbed in biking for that time. I tested it out yesterday after my bike and cut the run at 1 mile because it was just uncomfortable.

The positives:

  • Yay swimming! It shall make it’s return 1-2 times a week from now on since we’ve figured out how to make it work for us
  • Keeping up with strength. I’m now at 2×17 and failing on the third set at 15 on my pushups, which is so much closer to knocking out 3×20 than in November when I couldn’t even do one. And. of course, other stuff too, but the pushup is my “north star” of my strength progress.
  • Holding ~130W/15+ MPH on the trainer for however long I bike is now pretty standard rather than the sad 11 MPH I was doing two months ago. Do I need to do some real speedwork/FTP test soon? Yes. Am I enjoying and also improving on my current “do a 30-45 sec spinup every 5 minutes” plan? Also yes. I said I’d do an FTP test in February and I have 8 more days to put that off, thankyouverymuch.

The negatives:

  • Running and my heel. And my reaction to it this week was to ignore it and hope it would go away, rather than aggressively rehab. That ends today. I will ice, stretch, roll, and do band exercises daily until this goes away and stays away.
MFW the heel does not cooperate (but the bike ride was actually great) and yes this is the only angle I take selfies from nowadays I guess

So, next week’s plan will look a little bit different. I’m going to tentatively put one run on it, on Saturday, hoping that my rehab efforts will work, but with permission to cut and (not) run if needed and turn it to more bike miles or an extra swim.

  • Monday: outdoor ride (hopefully a few hours) and a 1000yd+ swim (yay 3-day weekend), shoulders
  • Tuesday: 45 min lunch ride
  • Wednesday: circuits AM, 1000+yd swim PM
  • Thursday: off
  • Friday: 45 min bike AM, push lunch
  • Saturday: 2h15 bike OR convert 15-45 mins of this to a run BUT ONLY IF I HAVE NO HEEL PAIN
  • Sunday: off

Two swims, four rides, three weights, one optional run. Somewhere between 7-8 hours. But also this:

  • Monday: ice heel, stretch heel, roll heel, do heel band exercises
  • Tuesday: ice heel, stretch heel, roll heel, do heel band exercises
  • Wednesday: ice heel, stretch heel, roll heel, do heel band exercises
  • Thursday: ice heel, stretch heel, roll heel, do heel band exercises
  • Friday: ice heel, stretch heel, roll heel, do heel band exercises
  • Saturday: hopefully be able to run but then ice heel, stretch heel, roll heel, do heel band exercises
  • Sunday: ice heel, stretch heel, roll heel, do heel band exercises

…and so on.

Chop Wood. Carry water. This is the way.

A little bit of sunshine

If I haven’t been clear, I really do hate this time of year…

The difference a day makes… second photo is Friday (75 and sunny), the rest are from Saturday (45 and hailing)

…except when this time of year gives us random afternoons that are in the 70s and sunny when I can actually get out and ride my bike!

I’m typically booked to the hilt with afternoon meetings, but on Fridays, the schedule is a little more relaxed. I complained last week about how I’ve been missing my end of the week bike ride? Well, if the sun keeps shining like this, it’s much more likely I will reverse that trend. With approximately 29 days left before the time change, I’m going to aim to get outside to ride at least once a week until then. We were both geeked up to ride outside again yesterday for our brick… until we saw the weather. It was advertised as 54 and cloudy and windy (not perfect but posssssible) and 45 and hailing is what was delivered (just no). I *guess* I would if I had to, but this kind of weather is what the trainer + Bloodbowl games are for. Absolutely lovely weather for the run portion of the workout though, I was happily bopping around trying to catch hail on my tongue.

This week, I was able to successfully hit 100% of my workouts, even with today completely off. Hooray! As suspected, it just takes doing. Now, it’s time to ramp the difficulty just a bit and start ONE swim per week. After discussing logistics with the Joel, we decided our best bet would be the pool down the street from the house (indoors), but at an abnormal time (during the workday, and we’d adjust our schedule). So, we have a date to swim at 3:30 on Monday. We shall see how that goes!

Return of the fish face this week plz?

So, this looks like:

  • Monday: Circuits AM, Run 5k lunch, Swim 3:30pm (wow, a triple!)
  • Tuesday: Bike 45 min AM trainer
  • Wednesday: Run 2-3 miles AM, leg workout lunch
  • Thursday: off/walk if it’s nice
  • Friday: Circuits AM, ride bikes outside again (45 min-1h) pretty please?
  • Saturday: 1h15 ride, 4 mile run
  • Sunday: off/walk if it’s nice

Wednesday will be a challenge, I have a 9am meeting so I need to get running pretty dang early, but I can walk in the door and show up sweaty to it (thanks Teams for not relaying smells over calls). I also only have a 30-minute window for lunch, but easy enough to do my leg workout during that time, whilst I nuke my food, and spend 5 mins off camera stuffing my face at my next meeting. In the before times, I was heckin’ busy as well and got it done. I need to get back to that mentality of just making training work around my schedule even if it’s not optimal conditions.

I’m feeling buoyed by this week’s sporty success, but a little hesitant to say I’ve solved all my stupid mental blocks about training yet. If I can get a few more weeks under my belt like this, I’ll be more confident.

In other encouraging news, February’s trend line looks like dis:

The line is actually going somewhere, y’all! *happy dance*

My goal was to cut my calories to around 1350/day average from 1500. In practice, before, I was just shy of 1600/day per week. Last week, with an effort to eat less, I cut that to 1468/day. So, it looks like that, plus a slight increase in activity, was enough to start the trend line going in the right direction.

Let’s not concentrate on the fact that some *&$holes stop drinking sugared soda and go for a walk and start losing 2 lbs/week, and here I am lifting three times a week, doing about 5 hours of fairly intense cardio, and eating like a freaking bird to achieve any sort of results. Let’s instead focus that I’ve found something that is working and I’m pretty willing to do whatever is necessary for a little while to get rid of that lumpy too-stuffed sausage feeling I’m rocking right now.

Yeah, it means that snacks don’t really exist in my world right now. Yeah, it means some nights I need to choose between having dinner and having a few drinks + a snack. Yeah, it means I need to be VERY careful to check my mood and make sure I’m not HANGRY at people. However, it’s going to be worth it when I’m back near my fighting weight and feel confident and happy in my own skin again. Blah blah blah, nothing tastes as good as skinny feels. I abhor all the stupid diet rhetoric that attempts to placate angry calorie-starved people as they dig into yet another plate of plain chicken and broccoli. But, like I said, it’s working, so I’ll play along for a bit until I can get back to riding bikes for a few hours and stopping for pizza and beer on the way home.

These days will return at some point…

I slept well and my resting HR average is back down to 49, though my stress levels don’t seem to be going down. On the flip side, I didn’t prioritize was recovery, and it shows because my heel is a little cranky today and things feel tight all over. So, next week’s goals are:

  • 100% of my workouts, no excuses
  • Aim for 1200 calories/day every day that I can, 1500 max on other days and try for my average to be closer to 1350
  • Pick two recovery things per day: stretch, roll, ice, boots, massage (and they can’t be the same two every day)

Hopefully the sun continues to shine (both literally and figuratively) on my efforts and cheers to another great week!

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