Adjusted Reality

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

Page 2 of 198

Pitter patter

I spent yesterday morning concocting new curse words for the Texas heat on the bike and on the run.

Texas sure felt like the center of the sun yesterday.

It felt nice to resume some level of normalcy in my life. This is what a me is meant to do on a Saturday in mid-July.

I’m considering this the first week of official training for Kerrville 70.3, and I feel like I did rather well. If we’re using the last year and a half as any comparison, I would use words like “it’s a miracle” and “effing amazing” because I can’t think of a recent time where I have actually been able to lay out a plan and complete it as intended, but pandemic laziness doesn’t get to be the gold standard. So, I set out to do the things. I did them, with one reschedule. Do I get a cookie?

The smiles are a lie, only because it was done…
  • Monday: 30 minute TT bike/2 mile run/walk brick, weights
  • Tuesday: 1.5-2k swim
  • Wednesday: weights/off
  • Thursday: 3 mile run/walk
  • Friday: 1.5-2k swim, weights
  • Saturday: 34 mile road bike outdoors + 1 mile run/walk
  • Sunday: off 1.5-2k swim, weights

I don’t have a ton of deep thoughts but here’s a “state of the triathlon game” after week 1 for posterity:

Swim: I’m thoroughly enjoying being in the pool again. My back (fingers crossed) recovering, so I’m regaining some form and my times are starting to come down a bit, though I’m still slower than normal. I’m approaching race distance and feeling pretty good out of the water (at worst, I have a stiff back that needs a quick stretch before I do anything else). However, I am breaking these distances into sets with rests every 250-500m. In the next few weeks, I need to do at least one continuous 750m before I hit open water in August to make sure I can swim a lake lap without having to rest.

Cheesily happy to be back in the pool regularly

Bike: After my spill last week, I expected to be really skittish on the roads but I absolutely knew I needed to get back on the proverbial horse quickly. During the ride, I was a bit more careful than normal with my unclipping and clipping, but I didn’t find myself irrationally terrified or anything. My predominant emotion was crankiness at the heat (and myself for not waking up with my first alarm) rather than any flavor of fear. All was good and right with the cycling world.

My TT bike progress is now at 30 mins indoors, and about half of it was in aero. I’ve been taking it slow here, but it’s time to ramp up. I still aim to do this race on my race bike unless I just absolutely CANNOT, so this 30 minutes needs to become 3 hours. In the next few weeks my goal is to increase to 1 hour on the TT bike inside, and then start alternating weeks of long rides between my two bikes.

Run: Running sucks, but not running sucks more. So, here we are. I ran a mile after my long bike ride yesterday, two miles off a shorter bike earlier in the week, and went a whole 5k (!!) as my long run for the week. Let’s not talk about the fact that I ran six miles this week, but that I ran three times without causing harm to my back. I’m not even trying to run continuously right now. I’m throwing in intentional walk breaks. Even so, I’m able to keep my runs between 12-13 minutes/mile, which seems fine for what it is right now. I feel pathetic both talking about and during my runs, but I will effing take it.

I absolutely abhor this run/walk thing, but I have to face facts. Never have I ever ran an entire half marathon after 56 miles on the bike, and if there’s any training cycle where it’s going to happen, it’s NOT going to be this one. After this race, I start ramping up for an Ironman, and the likelihood of me running a full marathon after 112 miles on the bike, even fit as a fiddle, is so infinitesimally small let’s just round it down to zero. So, I’m going to train like I will race, even if it frustrates me. Have I mentioned I feel lame walking during a short run? Well, let me do it again. Running sucks right now, but not running sucks more.

Weights: Still working with my pretty pink 15 lb kettlebell. I think this is probably where I’ll stay for a bit and increase reps. This is the only place the bike crash is still causing me strife – my knees aren’t really tolerating squats or lunges right now, so wall sits it is (and they are plenty painful on my quads, thxuverymuch). I’ve been pretty decent about making ~15 mins of some light lifting and core happen by just sucking it up and doing it in the morning instead of going right to work.

Things I’m putting in my cakehole: So, I am about 15 lbs up from pre-Covid times, and I assure you, none of that is extra muscle. I’ve weighed more in 2008, and a brief time in 2014-2015 when a nutritionist gave me some bunk info and I put on 15 lbs in two months, but it’s not a good look or feel for me where I’m at. So, here I am, with a problem in one hand, the tried and true solution I’ve been through many times (calorie deficits, tracking my food), and I haven’t been able to put them together yet.

My pathetic excuse here is that I have been incredibusy at work. The reality is that I haven’t prioritized it. Just writing it down helps. Don’t be stupid, take 5 minutes a day to do the thing that will help you get what you want, me. There. Pep talk complete.

Vacations in the last month were nice, but indulging set me back a bit. Time to fix that.

So, what’s on tap for week two? Pretty much more of the same, but in a slightly different order and a little more of it:

  • Monday: 4 mile run/walk
  • Tuesday: 1.5-2k swim, weights
  • Wednesday: 45 min TT bike/3 mile run/walk
  • Thursday: weights
  • Friday: 1.5-2k swim
  • Saturday: weights
  • Sunday: 40 mile road bike outside, 2 mile run/walk

Since I slacked on one weights session and am loading it in today, that means I need to shift them out one day next week. Next week, if I can hold to the schedule, that means I can be back on track (for M/W/F), so I’m going to do that. It’s 15 minutes. Do the thing that helps you do the thing you want, silly.

Outside of that, I’m going to set a few other goals:

  • Track my food, aiming for 1200+activity per day on average
  • Weigh daily – for me this helps it become just a metric and not an emotional thing
  • Stretch at least 3x/week, even if it’s not directly after a workout
  • Ice daily

This is all basic stuff, I just have to reframe my thoughts from “I’m too busy” to “I’m prioritizing this” when I think about my time. I sit on the couch for at least the time it will take to do all these each evening if not more (besides weighing, that’s in the morning, of course!) even if the day gets away from me.

So, pitter patter. Let’s do this.

I hurt myself today…

…to see if I’m an eel?

Just kidding. Figured I shouldn’t lead with a picture of road rash, so here’s a shot from Cozumel first. It was Tuesday, not today, and it was mos def not intentional. Since we were camping at Krause Springs and had our pick of the days, we had saved our long bike ride for said morning as it looked like it would have the best weather. Of course, that all changed and instead it was super rainy.

Since humans are waterproof, we set out in the early morning anyway and had a fairly pleasant ride (even if I was grumbling about the hills a bit, they weren’t too bad). We planned an out and back on country roads and spent some unplanned time noodling around a new subdivision in the middle of nowhere. On the way back, I sped too fast over a bridge and I didn’t realize the water was over my wheel (it wasn’t on the way out) until too late and I fishtailed out, and went down sideways and slid to a stop.

It looked worst later after scabbing and bruising. At least I still managed a smile at the end.

I was a little shaken, but after a minute I realized two things: 1) I was in one piece and while I was bruised to hell, nothing was broken and 2) my road rash was really stingy and I knew it was gross from road grime. So, I got back on the bike quickly and we rode the 4-5 miles back to camp. Joel asked if I wanted to do another loop anyway, and I declined – I wanted to get my leg cleaned up and I wanted to assess the full scope of what my body was dealing with before pushing through. I could tell my adrenaline was still pumping even when I had to log onto work to give a quick presentation (yep, yep, more WFC), so my body definitely could have been hiding some worse injuries than it was letting on.

At least camping was pretty though!

The rest of the week wasn’t great, but obviously could have been worse. I was able to help pack up camp and rested Wednesday. I took a walk on Thursday morning (Joel ran, I figured that was a bad idea for me) and my knees still felt icky and bruised after 30 mins of ambling around. So, I had a 3 day pity party where I grumbled about YET ANOTHER SETBACK, but today, I got my arse to the gym. I spent 30 rather quality minutes on a spin bike and swam 1800 yards (not quickly but I’ve done worse and distance PR for 2021, woot woot!). I’ve got a training plan and I’m going to actually follow it this week. It’s pathetic, but let’s list it out for posterity:

  • Monday: 30 minute TT bike/2 mile run/walk brick, weights
  • Tuesday: 1.5-2k swim
  • Wednesday: weights/off
  • Thursday: 3 mile run/walk
  • Friday: 1.5-2k swim, weights
  • Saturday: 30-40 mile road bike outdoors + 1 mile run/walk (if I can swing it)
  • Sunday: off

I’ve got 11 weeks. I feel confident on the swim since I’m pretty much there at race distance, though I need to start getting in the lake at some point (that sounds like an August thing to me!). I feel confident I’ll be able to work up to the distance on my road bike, though I’m a little iffy riding on my tri bike in aero right now. I’m up to 20-25 mins so far. Next goal is to work my way up to an hour on the trainer and then go play outside on non-traffic-y or closed roads and work my way up to 3 hours there. The run is the biggest question mark and I just need to stop hurting myself (intentionally) so I can get out there and build some endurance and spend time on my feet without my back protesting too much.

I won’t be her again yet, but at least I can be out there

This morning before my workout, I thought, “why have I lost my edge?” I used to LIVE for finding my limits, pushing myself to the point of puke, sweat, and tears, finding the bottom of my pain cave, and since 2020, I just can’t bring myself to do it. As I started my bike today, the answer came to me. It’s rough seeking out pain when I’ve been constantly in it with my back issues for almost the last year. Why would I go hunting the thing that’s there? So, I decided to pursue a little bit of it, just for nostalgia’s sake, just to try.

I realized another thing today, after hammering some previously pathetic but right now kind of impressive for me watts and dripping buckets of sweat on the bike: it’s not the same kind of pain. Self-inflicted training pain-for-progress feels so much different because it has the beautiful after-effect of pleasure (endorphins). I can assure you, waking up in the middle of the night and needing to grip the wall to slowly navigate your cranky body upright comes with exactly ZERO endorphins. Maybe negative endorphins, if that’s possible. So, I’ve been sorely missing the payoff even though I’ve been paying the price for months and months.

Swimming is improving, and running is a thing again, but I’m still building the strength and flexibility in both these sports to get to a point where my pace isn’t limited by my body’s muscular condition. It’s simply impossible for me to really breathe hard, my ME just won’t move that fast. However, cycling… this sport is the place where I seem to be able to possibly start hurting myself a little (intentionally and productively – not by crashing) again. So, I shall do just that and hope it will bleed over into the other two sports in the coming months.

Cozumel Intermission

We’re moving. No, not us personally, and not to Cozumel (not that I would be terribly opposed, but not currently happening). Our office is moving, so that meant moving a TON of server equipment. This meant the office needed to close for five days.

Full flights were full. I guess we missed the window when there were 3 people on each plane…

Once we realized that we were fully vaccinated and travel was a thing again, we considered our options. One possibility was just bailing for a month and “WFI” (work from island) in Bonaire. After our first pilot program of “WFC” (work from camper), we decided against it. Working from anywhere is a nice concept, but it’s still a full work day. In the camper, it’s not a huge deal. Camping is cheap, working just kind of replaces the time I’d spend reading in the camper, you can still go on a lunch hike or swim, and you can look at something pretty when you glance away from your laptop vs just wall. Bonaire ain’t cheap. We typically dive all day every day, so work would feel like a BURDEN. We decided we’d feel cheated unless we owned a condo and were just paying for the flight and diving.

So, it had to be a real vacation. Right now, neither of us feel like we could leave work for a week without checking in/working a bit each day. There’s not enough redundancy (yet – working on it). This office closure was our window! We weighed a lot of different options, and Cozumel hit all the boxes (no cooking, reasonably affordable, easy access to shore diving, not a super long travel day) so on June 10th, we hopped an early flight to the same resort we stayed at 3 years ago.

This was the weather most of our trip. 70s, grey, and rainy.

It was kind of a trip (heh) to be back. Last time I was here, I was all sorts of fit, getting ready to PR a 70.3 in brutally hot and humid conditions. Now, three years later I am the most unfit I’ve been in a decade, unsure my cranky back would even let me dive. On the ride from the airport, we drove past the run course and I shuddered. No thanks. Not right now.

We had aspirations for an afternoon dive the first day, but we were REALLY tired so we went with the enchilada, cerveca, and siesta plan instead. The second day, we set up our gear and jumped in the water and with a *little* more help from Joel than normal we were diving!!! I definitely was missing some speed and power to chase things down and kick at weird angles to steady myself in the current for photography, but I was blowing bubbles and saying hello to fish friends and life was great.

What do we do now?

We dove 7 times in 4 days, opting against night dives when seas were rough and we skipped the 5th day entirely. Each dive, we stuck to the same very shallow area (25 feet max) around the shore. Lest this sound totally boring, I assure you it was not. We danced with lobsters and hermit crabs and eels and shrimp and all the fishy friends we expected (except squid – the cephalopods were notably absent). I haven’t edited the photos yet but these two fish about to fight… or maybe another f word… was a once-in-a-lifetime shot. Looking forward to cleaning it up!

Breakfast views don’t suck…

The rest of the trip was rather relaxing and uneventful for the most part. We ate lots of interesting and mostly mediocre all-inclusive resort food (of which I took way too many pictures). We (mostly) responsibly indulged on the unlimited pool bar drinks. I read 6 books in 7 days. I swam in the pool a few times. We took a few walks when it wasn’t super rainy (which was most of the time). I spent one day mostly reading in bed. It was lovely and relaxing and everything we needed.

After so much time in the space station away from everything, vacationing was weird. So. many. humans. All the flights were full or almost full. The resort wasn’t packed, but it certainly wasn’t empty. My mother was concerned that Mexico didn’t have the proliferation of vaccines that the US did, but the minute we got there, we noticed they were actually taking this ish seriously (unlike a lot of the US). Masks in public were MANDATORY, with a penalty of a fine or possibly jail time. All the residents of Cozumel, and I mean EVERYONE wore a mask. Almost none of the Americans at the resort did (we did at all times when we weren’t diving or sitting at a table).

Instead of crowds, I give you this Coati enjoying some pastries from the housekeeping staff.

Because our immune systems suck after staying at home for 15 months and sanitizing everything, even being masked like 90% of the time in public, we both caught a stomach bug that hit us two days after our return. I’ll spare you the details. It was pretty rough yesterday, but I think I’m over the worst of it today and just feel a little tired. I’ll need to snag a Covid test because it’s recommended after travel anyways (we took one Monday afternoon before traveling and it was obviously negative), but I’m really sure it’s not that.

Even with the unwanted souvenir, Cozumel was a lovely break in this weird new reality, and the ocean was exactly what my soul needed. However, tomorrow the intermission ends and it’s back to reality. Time to embrace the heat (uck) and start training all three sports for the 70.3 in September. Let’s do this.

My softer world…

It’s odd when your expectations are diametrically opposed to reality.

Doesn’t everyone wear red lipstick to ride bikes?

At work, I’ve climbed the ladder a bit and the next rung, one I never really thought I’d get to, is pretty well within my grasp failing only with my own failing. If I were to follow many of the examples before me, which I kind of expected to, I needed to get even tougher. Harder. More heartless. When one considers “the man”, thoughts stray to cold, calculating, tough, and serious MF’ers. Over the last 5 months, I’ve found the opposite. I’ve found I needed to be kinder. Softer around the edges. And I’ve found my “serious business” limit is a few hours, max. Then I just revert to the me that makes jokes and bad puns in big meetings, uses emojis in emails, emotes wayyyy too expressively over video calls, and otherwise is just the silly human being that is the core of my identity.

For the last few years, I managed projects. I mentored and guided people, but they had other managers to take care of the true personnel stuff. I now have a dozen human beings that I manage directly and find myself pseudo-managing a few more. Projects are black and white. They work or they don’t. They’re fun or they’re not. They’re clean or they’re buggy. Humans are full of grey areas. They have feelings, thoughts, concerns, bad days, or personal emergencies. Humans are wonderful, surprising, and amazing creatures. They are also unpredictable, imperfect, and at times illogical.

For all the challenges managing people presents, there was always something missing when I wasn’t and it feels right and good to be back to it. Going from zero to twelve people was a huge pendulum swing, but I’m enjoying it even if some days after work I just need to stare into space for a while. My sardonic wit, my little black heart, they’re fading a bit. One of the penultimate interview questions is, “What is your managerial style?” Over the years, I think I’ve adopted the chameleon as my management spirit animal, as my answer is this – whatever the team, situation, and project needs currently. And right now, we need kindness, we need communication, we need humanity. We are an organization of full competent adults that needs someone to nudge them the right way occasionally and remove roadblocks in front of them instead of some super serious stern meeting face grumperpants handing out reprimands when someone makes tiny mistakes and making sure people are taking 1 hour and not 1 hour and 10 minute lunches (what even is time right now?). So, rather thankfully, I have been afforded the opportunity to change for kinder rather than having to harden the eff up (even more).

Not quite crushing it like I used to

I suppose some of the hard edges falling off my persona right now may also relate to the lack of competition in my life. I’m in a league season of my new Covid “sport” Bloodbowl where I’m barely playing and totally phoning it in. Instead of practicing all the time, I play 1 lazy practice game a week and show up to official games with an IDGAF mood. I’m no longer feeling like I need to prove myself in the same way at work. This is odd, because there’s so much more at stake, but the sentiment is more like “I believe in you, here’s all the support you need and also here’s some realistic criteria for success” vs “I don’t believe your worthy, prove me wrong, and hey, the bar is about 10x higher for you than anyone else”. I do fine with both, honestly, but I can tell you that one feels like a challenge and the other feels more like being the underdog in a competition. Also, in the sporty section of my life, I’m just fighting to DO triathlon vs compete (either with others or even myself).

Swimming is going quite… swimmingly. I’m at the pool 2-3x per week and can tell it’s doing nice things to my cranky back. At the beginning of the swim workout, it’s a bit grumbly, but through the first ~500m or so it does something that I can only describe as “working the kinks out” and it’s a little jarring but then I’ll swim nicely for the rest of the time. I always feel better after getting out of the pool. I’m slow right now, but I’ve had a few good back days where I’m faster, and I can see a path to swim the 1.2 miles of a half Ironman in four months without an issue. I’ve got an Olympic distance swim on the plan today (1500m) which is honestly pretty much there. I have missed the swimming shaped hole in my heart, and I’m yearning for long swims where I solve all the problems and plot and scheme how to take over the world.

Do you like Desano pizzas? Biking out in the rain?

Cycling (outdoors – the aero position on my trainer is NOT so great right now) is also progressing nicely. I always feel better after I bike (mentally and physically) than before, even now that I’m approaching a 2.5 to 3 hour long ride. Last week I remembered the KT tape and my back held up like a champ for 35 miles. I’m very confident that I’ll be able to ride 56 miles in September – though riding it in aero position on my tri bike is certainly an open question. Bailing out of the “office” for a lunch or after-work bike ride is bliss and I’m doing this once or twice a week. Honestly, if this CONSTANT RAIN would stop, I could probably do this more often but apparently Texas is now the new swampland in training and the sky can’t stop crying about it. Get over it and give me the hot – at least I can predictably and miserably cycle in 100 degree heat. 😛

I can do the full dozen strength set (with knee pushups, switching out v-ups for something else) now, no problem. I just keep forgetting to do it. I have been succeeding at it 1-2 times a week – which, if I’m trying for 3x week, means I’m failing just as often – but it’s better than nothing. Stretching and rolling have fallen off. This isn’t great. I need to do better here.

And, let’s save the worst for last. Running. I gave it a try this week. One mile. Thirteen minutes. It didn’t feel great during, and my back was SO SORE after. I have a lot of unkind words for running right now. I’ve been asked to refrain from this sport before we hop a plane to Mexico where I will be hauling dive tanks so my back can be in the best condition it can be, so I’ve called it until later this month. Swimming and cycling are great, and I am extremely grateful to be back to them, but not running sucks. I miss the time in my head, the same song on repeat in my headphones because today THIS IS MY JAM, distracting myself by thinking all the thoughts to ignore the hurting and/or just succumbing and becoming one with it. I miss the pain because it gave me the most pleasure – endorphins are a hell of a drug and the other sports don’t quite give the same fix.

I miss this feeling after a long hard run…

Instead of simply complaining, let me list out my plans of attack to fix it:

  • Actually stretch, roll, and do the strength work. Apparently, I need to schedule this separately on my calendar from workouts or I will skip them.
  • I hate saying it, I’m going to hate doing it even effing more, but maybe I need to start with run/walk cycles instead of straight running. Ugh. I guess it’s better than not running at all.
  • I now have an adjustable standing desk as of… today. This is the last thing I can think of to fix my back. If it doesn’t resolve itself, it’s probably (past) time to bring in some sort of medical opinion. It’s entirely frustrating since I didn’t DO anything to it, and I’m pretty knowledgeable about the human body and sports stuff, but maybe there’s some physical therapy that I can do to make it behave.

Even with the run issues, I’m going to have a little faith and sign up for the Kerrville Half (not the Aquabike) this weekend. It’s only 10$ to transfer to the Aquabike if needed. I know me – if I sign up for the swim-bike event only, I will be less motivated to attempt to solve my run problems. My goal for this race is to complete, not compete. It’s simply enough to do sporty things again and I have zero expectations for PRs or podiums this year. Just the motivation to resume training is enough for me.

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!

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