Adjusted Reality

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

Tag: offseason Page 2 of 15

The quiet

After last week’s mental meanderings, and the return to some physical activity over the last seven days, I feel a little more… even-keeled.

A friend told me this outfit was Daphne and Velma all in one and I think that might be the highest compliment ever.

There’s many reasons that I throw words on this page.  It’s a historical reference of my life that I often use in lieu of my failing memory.  What did we do for our sixth anniversary?  How did I train for that half marathon I notched a personal record back in the day? answers all those questions for me even when my brain cannot.

However, one of the most beautiful and wonderful things this blog can do is be my therapist.  I started last week VERY VERY confused as to what was going on in my brain, and through three days of massaging a piece of writing, I figured out why my mind was lashing out.  While I don’t have all the answers yet, I at least know what was REALLY causing me strife.  As they say, knowing is half the battle, because when I know the full shape of the problem, I can actually formulate stabs at a solution instead of just generally freaking out and trying to prove my self-worth in other, completely unrelated ways, while not getting to the heart of the matter.

If I want to be an author, I’m going to have to amass an audience (it’s just how it’s done these days, apparently).  If I want to have the guts to create a community, I’m going to have to believe in myself 100%, that the ware which is myself is worth hawking tirelessly from the rooftops, even through the perils of disregard and rejection.  I’m closer now to feeling that self-worth than I’ve ever been, and I think part of the anxiety is that I’m so scared of losing it, as right now it feels terrifyingly fleeting.  I’d gotten used to being self-deprecating, and it’s honestly EASIER for me to be just imperfect enough that I don’t feel like maybe I’m destined for any level of greatness.  Just… decentness.  It’s comfortable to live on this side of the mediocre.

Obviously, I still need to learn the HOW of the marketing stuff.  I tried to dip my toe into that over the last few years and just like editing my book, I’ve found a huge mental block.  I’ve got some decisions to make (do I stick with or actually register a new site that’s got more focus), but I think I’d be more receptive to the ideas that made me overly uncomfortable previously.

And I’m not even squidding about how much this has been octupi-ing my thoughts…

While I’ve often been frustrated at my lack of progress in specific things over the last few years, there’s no doubt in the big picture that I’ve transformed.  Spring 2016 was when everything shook apart and I realized I needed to diversify myself as a human.  Within that next year I collected three certifications (personal trainer, sports nutrition, triathlon coach).  I’ve learned a lot about investment, business development, and have a list of about a million things I could start up should I find myself unemployed (though, obviously, that’s not the plan). 

Then, I started to nurture my creative and performer identities.  I started painting again, I wrote a freaking novel, I’ve gotten really into photography and photo editing and have even taken a crack at video.   At work, I’ve found myself as the co-host for live steams and giving presentations at the all-hands company meetings as well as other official video.  I get to do things that push me in the public speaking regard about 3-4 times per month and I relish the opportunity to improve (and it’s also a bit of an adrenaline rush).

For someone focused on only work and triathlon previously, that’s a lot of personal growth in 2.5 years.  That period of time also included completing my first Ironman, three half Ironman races, two six hour bike races, two half marathons, and at about two dozen races of other distances.  Beyond my job and training, I have to give myself credit for spending ANY time on diversification, though I couldn’t imagine my life without it now. 

And thus, cue the low level of anxiety that stretches me to always want to be better, always wanting more.

However, I’ve felt more quiet in the last few days than I have in a long time.  Figuring shit out helped, but also, I’ve been able to return to activity, which has made me feel like my normal version of a human. 

Actual weights on bar not pictured, but rest assured, they are tiny.

The only thing that I’m doing with any seriousness or schedule is lifting, and even that’s very loosely reigned in.  I’m starting with 2xweek until my body says that 3xweek is reasonable (read: not sore two days later – I’m guessing not this week but next).  I’m doing a nice, long, full body, lighter weight lift hitting all the main muscle groups each day (e.g. squatting and benching 65lbs, dead lifting 85 lbs, rowing and overhead pressing the 45 lb bar only).  Once these numbers start to approach where I was at earlier in the year, I’ll start lowering the reps and splitting things up a little more.  When I add the third day in, it will be kettlebells (lighter stuff), like what I was doing in the last few months.

Besides that, the plan is: some run, bike, swim, or other cardio a few times a week.  As long (within reason) or short as I feel like.  At whatever intensity feels good.  And if curling up with a book or going out with friends or drinking whiskey or playing video games sounds better on any given day, I’ll do that instead (as long as it’s not ALL given days).

I swam on Thursday and it felt like coming home.  Sure, I was slow and clunky and my goggles kept leaking, but it felt absolutely wonderful to glide back and forth across the pool.  There’s something about the silence and focus when it’s just you and the water (and some tunes), and maybe that’s why I was going into a bit of a tizzy over the last few weeks – the lack of time in my own head enforced by the circumstances of sport.  I had been accustomed to some 3-4 hour stretches on the bike/run over the summer with just me and my grey matter, and I suppose I missed that.

Saturday, I had grand plans for a bike adventure.  I wanted to go somewhere pretty and take pictures and have lunch and in my head we would set out in the morning and spend the day on bikes.  Reality set in – we stayed up late playing video games the night before and started riding after noon.  We decided to take off from the house instead of driving the bikes somewhere and I didn’t want to tax my knee *too* much with crazy hills, so we just rolled a fairly normal suburban loop with a lunch stop at Little Deli.  My legs told me that the mildly rolling 600 ft of elevation gained in 21 miles in 90 minutes was perfect for right now, more would be overreaching.

This week is a short work week, which means in theory I will have more time to play, but I know the siren song of the couch will be strong once I’m off work.  If I had to put together a loose plan it would be:

  • Lift #1 Monday
  • Swim Tuesday
  • Lift #2 Wednesday
  • Run on Thanksgiving morning
  • Bike adventure sometime over the weekend

I’m a little anxious both TO get back to running and actually ABOUT getting back to running.  It’s the one sport for me in which absence doesn’t make the legs grow fonder.  If I take too much time off running, I usually end up paying a price.  I don’t want to put too much pressure on my knee trying to replicate the paces from a few months ago.  I also don’t want to mentally flip out if I find 11-12 minute miles difficult after a minor injury and almost a month off. 

I decided that doing an official Turkey Trot under these circumstances seemed like an idiot decision, so I’m running out my door on Thursday instead.  I don’t know if I’m going to go one mile and then turn back or finish all five.  I do know that running around my neighborhood means I’ll go at a pace and distance which feel comfortable, instead of getting swept up in the chaos of a race.  My body has been pretty clear that all the good efforts have been used up for a while, and I’m happy to remove any excuse to try to push the issue.

Speaking of turkeys, Thanksgiving is in just a few days, and that means that the holidays are in full swing.  For many reasons, I’m excited.  For my diet, I’m terrified.  This has been my most successful year in almost a decade in terms of weight loss – and of even more import – figuring out the mystery behind making the scale move in the right direction.  For so many years I was using incorrect metrics and had too much faith in the calorie burning effect of training.  If my goal is to maintain my weight, the only distance in which I can eat intuitively, as much as I want, is Ironman (11-15+ hours per week of training).  Under any other conditions, especially offseason, I need to watch my shit lest my nice new size 9 juniors jeans will start to shrink.

Since I’ve been focused on taper tantrums and post-race blues, I haven’t shared (or cared) much about metrics, so here’s a bit of catch up.

The first part of September was flat (training volume up, had to eat to fuel those efforts).  November (offseason, little to no activity) has some rollers, but both still *slightly* trended down.  Late September and October, even with 10 days in Cozumel, was a huge success because taper (5-6 hours a week) is honestly my optimal training volume to lose weight.

The other nice feather in my cap is that I set 165 as my interim weight loss goal for the year.  Over the summer, when things slowed down, I said I’d be happy with 170 but I’ve surpassed that, and I’m so close to my original goal, y’all!

Since Waco, I’ve not made much progress, though I haven’t expected to.  Trendweight is also reminding me that in the last 3.5 years I’ve been tracking, I’m 10 lbs lower than any recorded weight in history.  That doesn’t suck.

I expect things to get a little easier now that I’m moving around again.  Last week, without any hassle, I hit 5.5 hours of activity.  I expect that will stay constant through the holiday season.  I need to keep committed to how I’ve been eating all year and absolutely track my calories and weight daily to keep that line from reversing course (I can’t really deal with the diet quality tracking right now, that will be something I get back to after the new year).  If my trendweight looks exactly the same as it does now on January 1st, I’m fine with that.  If it’s back to where I was in the summer, I’ll be pissed. I love me some peppermint bark and mulled wine and all, but nothing is worth erasing months of hard fought progress.  Moderation is key.

For now, I’ll be encouraging and enjoying the silence.  The quiet ease of this time of year.  Sleeping in and staying up late.  Everything moving a little slower, including me. 

I need to learn how to fail

The last two weeks have been a trial of patience.  I have been empty and in the winter without something to ACHIEVE and it’s taken me to some weird places.

Oh my gosh I’ve never missed the gym so much in my life…

Typically, I have coping mechanisms for that, but with coach’s orders to not engage in physical activity more intense than walking, I couldn’t go chase my tail for a few hours and reach that blessed state of blissfully spent.  I had a brief respite after hours of riding back to back roller coasters on Saturday, and it was like balm to a wound – THIS was the feeling I was missing!  Obviously, I hadn’t really *achieved* anything besides getting strapped into a seat and whirled around, trusting that metal harnesses would save me from certain death, but the aftereffects of the adrenaline rush rivaled those of a race or great speed workout.  Brain chemicals are wacky, man.

Fifteen days have passed since Waco.  It feels like an eternity, but I’ve made it through the required waiting period without either breaking down and sneaking in a sweet, sweet endorphin hit or going *completely* insane.  Last night, I got to go lift and I can’t remember a time when I’ve been more excited to go push a bar with very little weight up and down over and over.  It’s time to start tracking my food again and eat at least 80% healthy food again, and I’m oddly stoked about it.  In both cases, I need to make sure I don’t take this new, shiny mega-maniacal drive I’ve found and completely overdo it as is my typical tendency when I find some enthusiasm about a thing.  A thousand miles an hour or collapsed on the floor are the only two states I find myself in lately.

This offseason break has been VERY different than others.  Usually, I’m mostly fine doing nothing for two weeks.  Honestly, it usually takes me a kick in the pants to get back to it, contrasted this time with counting the hours until the embargo on gym-related activities were lifted.  I’ve never felt so much difficulty turning OFF, and though I stuck to it in terms of athletics, wanting to be ON seeped out in many other different facets of my life.  For the last few weeks, I’ve been trying to put my finger on what are these heckin’ things in my head?  I mean, feelings, obviously, but why do I care so much about bizarre things ALL OF A SUDDEN? 

Over the last few sessions, I had this odd compulsion to WIN at at Dungeons&Dragons, a cooperative storytelling game, aka – a game that doesn’t really have a true victory condition. I thought I had been REALLY clever at some things, and instead multiple times, I either mildly or spectacularly fucked things up after spending all sorts of time preparing and it really affected me for a moment.  What the-?  All of a sudden this really fun thing became about being great at it, and then when I wasn’t, it kind of stung instead of being HILARIOUS (which it absolutely was).

Feeling the feelings again sucks sometimes. I’m really, really rusty at it.  When nothing needed a feeling it was much easier than when everything has a dice roll at being a feeling whether it is deserving or not.

The feelings go up, the feelings go down…

It was really fun when those feelings were confidence, courage, power, elation, and worthiness, when I was building up my race persona before Cozumel.  It’s decidedly less fun when they are shame, inadequacy, disappointment, and despair (and especially less fun when THERE’S NOTHING REALLY WRONG AND YOU’RE JUST BEING DRAMATIC).  With the peaks come the valleys, I know.  It’s inevitable, but that when you’re used to riding the flats for a long time, the rolling hills feel like mountains.

As a perpetual student of psychology, I tend to step outside of my head a LOT into that overhead third person over-the-shoulder view.  It’s entirely obvious that that the gross overreaction in my head isn’t about a game at all, and even in the moment when I’m experiencing these things, I know I’m projecting.  I’ve spent the last few months under extremely high stress conditions at work.  Tapering for a big race is crazy-making already, tapering twice in a row was enough to endanger a non-consensual trip to the funny farm.  Pressure makes diamonds, and under pressure I do thrive, but one can’t push on forever without consequences.  The cracks from 2018 have finally let the light in, which I am ultimately grateful for, but I need to be careful they don’t cause me to crumble.

This is complicated by the fact that I actually kind of like myself right now.  Weird sentiment, I know.  Bear with me.  Minor fumbles aside, I’ve had quite the banner year – my first triathlon season gracing the podium multiple times, hitting personal records that have stood for many years, qualifying for Nationals, losing a noticeable amount of weight for the first time in forever, my first brand ambassadorship, success at work.  Great, right?  But what’s clanking around in my brainpan right now isn’t pride in my accomplishments, it’s that evil villainess voice shouting loudly at me – HEY DUMMY GOOD FOR YOU THAT YOU DID SOMETHING GREAT NOW YOU HAVE SOMETHING TO LOSE DON’T SCREW IT UP (you’re going to screw it up you’re going to screw it up you’re going to screw it up).

As the reigning queen of Ye Olde Village of Self-Sabotage, this is not an unfounded fear.  I’m hoping that this is the moment, the year, the age that I break that cycle, but I’m already doing stupid crap to the contrary.  Case in point, falling on my knee and twisting my ankle, which turned out okay THIS time because it’s almost all the way better two weeks later, but I could have EASILY broken something and derailed my spring season.  I haven’t gained any weight, frankly, I’ve seen some new lows on the scale this month, but I’m not doing myself any favors with the lack of tracking and any attention to diet quality lately.  I’m hobby hopping instead of actually pursuing excellence at things I care about which means I’m avoiding the uncomfortable nature of having to actually TRY at something beyond the jack-of-all-trades level. 

I’m shying away from delving into the dark place true mastery of a craft demands, when that’s all my little heart desires.  Screw you very much, brain.

My brain personified, being eely, eely annoying.

I want to be an author with a published book.  It’s been a dream of mine since I was sixteen, probably even longer, and I’m the closest I’ve ever been in my life.  However, I’ve spent months ignoring my completed first draft.  Thinking about editing it actively pains me.  I realize now that my Pavlovian block here has very little to do with my perceived capability as a weaver of words, or the work necessary to arrange approximately 90,000 of them into a state of coherence.  I live for that stuff.  It’s the other parts that I didn’t really think about when I wrote some sentences and saved the draft for the first time fourteen months ago.

The truth is, I’m sharing a real and raw story about myself and seeking approval.  I do the first part all the time on this blog, but it’s because I know no one really reads this that I know in real life (minus a few of you… hello!) and I’ve convinced myself I don’t care about the paltry few hundred views very few comments compared to the alternative.  I hit a big mental block when I considered trying to promote and see if I could make it popular as an exercise to learn about marketing.  Not because I care what the world at large thinks, but because I didn’t find myself very comfortable sharing that stuff with the people represented on Facebook, collections of coworkers, family, friends, people I knew from high school, etc.  I’m great at the stage, but I’m terrible when I have to look people in the eyeballs.  Instagram feels like a stage.  Facebook feels like eyeballs.

I knew I would also hit that same conditioned response about my book, which is a HUGE issue.  As an unknown author, I need to leverage every avenue I can to build an audience if I really want to have a go at this thing.   I need to believe in myself and my product wholeheartedly and have ZERO shame or hesitation shouting about it from the rooftops.

Which feels just about like… this… right now.

In the last two months, some switch flipped where I got brave and shared some things in a similar vein of what I’m sharing in my novel on the Book of Face, and at first I got a lot of positive responses!  That was awesome!  Then, I think I pushed it a little far and continued to write stories and I think people were like, “ugh, we get it, you are having insecurities about triathlon, and you lost some weight this year and you’re using big words GOSH”.  I’m trying to pull back on the sharing a little bit –  simply because I think I’ve proved my point to myself that I am worthy of self-promotion and also brave enough to open up to people I encounter in real life instead of being an enigma, and I don’t want to continue gilding the lily too often.

The truth was that I got to the point where I was having fun with it.  The likes and the comments were actually making my day instead of being WHATEVS, someone noticed me on the internet, and then, the LACK of them on some posts were making me feel like I failed somehow.  From that third person perspective, I know this is stupid, it feels like regression to care about public opinion.  Not everything I write is going to resonate with everyone.  But there I was, feeling like I might as well take my ball and go home if not enough people wanted to play my game with me. 

Let’s lay it all bare and dig further.  I’m honestly terrified I’ll write this book and maybe it will be well-written, interesting, witty, and amazing, but I’ll fail every charisma check trying to promote it.  I can’t care this much about what people think about ME, but the product of my work, when I’ve actually dedicated myself to it, that has the potential to actually crush me and I’m worried that being that vulnerable could actually hurt my heart.

Just like the lionfish could hurt my body if I touch it.

The romance of taking the leap, going into the dark place, being brave is so alluring to me, but the problem is… it doesn’t always come up roses.  Just being confident and courageous isn’t going to finally lead to all my dreams coming true all of a sudden.  It does mean the OPPORTUNITY to pursue my dreams instead of being frozen with fear and forced into inaction, which is a step in the right direction.  I may find that I’ll never have the skill to have award winning photographs, and maybe no publisher will ever touch my writing with a ten foot pole, and maybe first place in my age group twice in 2018 is the best I’ll ever do in triathlon.  I have to accept that just because I’m willing something into existence doesn’t mean it’s inevitable.  I’m not a wizard even though I play one on the internet sometimes.

The one thing I know is that there’s something about this anxiety from which I don’t want to run.  I can solve this easily – stop caring.  I’m pretty sure I can quit anytime I want – log out of social media, stop looking for avenues to share my photos and writing and other creative work, stop actively searching out things that grow my comfort zone, give myself permission to just… exist – for a while, or forever.  The problem is I don’t think I want it to go away.  It feels like there’s something worthwhile underneath all these growing pains, so instead of turning it off I’m going to see it through and follow this where it goes.

One thing has become clear to me: I am not accustomed to failure, and it’s darn uncomfortable.  Let’s be clear, I’m not perfect, I don’t do everything right, but WHEN I fail, most often it’s because I blow it off or don’t really put much effort into it.  Bright student, lacks initiative.  Then I can truthfully say, “well, if I *really* wanted it and dedicated the time, I could totally do it”.  To further protect my psyche, the dark place in my brain keeps me from actually trying hard because I’m terrified beyond belief that my highest capability at said thing isn’t enough.

I need to spend some time there, actually leaping with every fiber of my leg muscles, and still falling flat on my face enough times to desensitize myself to the experience.  I’ve spent a lifetime this year convincing myself that I was enough, and now I’m pretty much there.  I kind of think that I’m worthy, finally, but it feels very fragile to say it still, I can whisper it but not *too* loud.  The next step is shouting it out and convincing the world because this is the lot I’ve chosen in this life.  The challenge is to maintain that confidence while having the courage to willingly put myself in these positions where someone will tell me that no, indeed, I am NOT enough for this particular opportunity.  And then, I need to pick myself up, spend a minimal amount of time licking my wounds, and throw myself off the next chasm of opportunity with reckless abandon.

Offseason: the death of superheroism

Offseason… yeah…

It me! Ok, fine – it Nachokitty, but very REPRESENTATIVE of my week.

Each year, it’s a little bit different.  I’ve had experiences where I was one hundred percent ready, willing, and able to let go and blissfully do nothing for a while.  I’ve had seasons where I just couldn’t and instead kept at it, and that way lies only tears and burnout.  Usually, I’m somewhere in the middle of the spectrum, and that’s where I find myself this time, a few feet to the left of the middle.

The hard stop which was falling down and my knee swelling up to about twice it’s size has both put a damper on last week but also made me take it reeeeeeeeeal slow, which is exactly what I needed, if not wanted.  No “let’s just bike commute today because it’s beautiful” (read: 25 miles and 1k climbing) or “I can’t resist a little run”.  It’s been a zero week – I’ve averaged less than 5000 steps per day.  Somehow I’ve been able to resist gaining back all the weight I’ve lost this season even though I wake up every day thinking, “this one, this is the day where the scale is going to tell me the bad news”, but so far, so good.  It feels like I hung up my running shoes so long ago, but it’s barely been more than a week.  But this is just as coach has ordered, so it will be done.

It doesn’t mean I don’t have the feels about it.  I was joking with a coworker about not being a superhero any more, but as much as I try to be a fairly well rounded person, a core part of my identity is *triathlete*.  It’s much easier to shed that when I can assume another one – like woodland nymph (camping), mermaid (diving), or vagabond (traveling).  It’s hard to just sit on my couch and binge nextflix and play video games like a normal human.  That’s the ish I earn after riding my bike and running all morning.  Without it, it feels… just wrong.

I know the first week is always the hardest.  No matter how AWESOME the race was, there’s always the comedown after.  Generally, the advice is to sign up for another race to look forward to, but I’m honestly not ready to dive into my next season planning yet.  I’m pretty sure I want spring to be a carbon copy of this year, short stuff and trying for podiums (and maybe have my eyes on improving my run enough to seek some overall placements, possibly the first one, at the smaller races) and to get BOTH of us to Nationals this year.  The fall is still unclear to me.  The 70.3 distance tortures and excites me so.  Eight tries and I still haven’t nailed the run.  That’s both frustrating and motivating to me.  I’m not sure what sort of fire I want to put my feet into yet.

But I know where I want to put my feet at the end…

I’m not letting myself think too much about triathlon right now.  I’ve tried to look back, and had planned to dedicate most of this blog to that subject, but every word I eek out about triathlon sort of feels like work right now.  In short, it was the best friggin’ season of my life that went on just a little too long even if I felt like I barely trained at all week to week.  I qualified for Nationals twice and notched PR after PR at sprints, and then another, even on a hot crazy day where nothing went right in Cozumel on my 70.3 distance.  It wasn’t all I dreamed of, but I’m still proud of how I fought.

I had a few spectacular fails as well, but I will take solace in that they were due to random body problems (lady cramps at National Day 2, GI issues out of friggin nowhere at Waco), not my brain spontaneously combusting without reason, as I have in the past.  Nationals – I have no answer for that besides maybe pre-emptive painkillers (which I HATE taking) and just adjusting my expectations.  Waco… I’m still baffled that actually following my fairly conservative nutrition plan resulted in overfeeding.  Maybe I have to accept that I’ve lost enough weight that 400 calories of gels and about 400 calories of Gatorade is too much in 3 hours of moderate cycling, but that seems wrong as well.

For right now, I’m putting a pin in all that and moving forward with offseason.  Now that my first zero week is done, and I have two working knees again (thank god), I’ve got goals.  Because how can I relax without things to accomplish, right?

Hopefully I still enjoy taking silly selfies after the diet derailing gauntlet of the holidays + offseason…

The scale has yet to freak me out.  So far, I haven’t gained weight by sitting on the couch, eating junk food, and drinking whiskey.  However, I know that this is untenable.  This week, I reintroduce the normal diet of vegetables and fruit and lean proteins and nuts and whole grains and minimize the crap (read: give up most of the junk food but probably only about 25% less whiskey).  Next week I start tracking again and try to stop imbibing like a frat boy.  It’s okay if I don’t lose weight during the holidays, but if I’m regularly tipping the scales above 170 at any point, I need to get that ish in check RIGHT NOW.  Next year I’d like to make the big push to get down to for my for realsies, actual #projectraceweight weight of 150, but I’m not daft enough to start that project in earnest in November. 

I need to let my body heal.  Saturday, when I woke up, I noticed my left heel, the perpetually cranky one that seemed to REALLY ENJOY running down those steep hills in Waco, and my right ankle, the one I twisted falling down because I am a klutz, hurt.  While that sucks, it also meant my knee was finally not the overwhelming, all consuming pain that it was for the five days previous, overshadowing everything else.  My ultimate goal is to slide into January 2019 completely, totally, 100% healthy, so that looks like a lot of REST, getting back to walking every day, stretching and rolling, some rehab and strengthening, good food and plenty of hydration, taking the anti-inflammatory stuff like turmeric, and being very conservative about when and how I resume the swimming, biking, running, and weight lifting.

When the time comes to resume the lifting of heavy things, my offseason goal is this: an unassisted pullup.  I can sort of muscle one up by jumping halfway up on my bar at home but it definitely doesn’t count.  I’m interested to get to a more stable bar at the gym to see if I can do one with a kip, which also doesn’t count but is closer, and to check out the assisted machine and see how little weight I can manage there.  How this helps me with triathlon, I have no idea.  It just seems like a fun little distraction that also hinges on me not gaining any weight (since I have to lift every ounce of me that exists). And also, who doesn’t pass a bar-shaped object like a pipe or a door jam and have the first instinct to do a pullup as they pass it?  Just me? Heh.

Once it is time to do so, I plan to make all swimming, biking, and running about pleasure and adventure vs any sort of training plan.  My schedule is blank and to be written spontaneously until at least mid-December.

Fun fact: it took me about 5 minutes to remember the word I was looking for was spontaneous.  So, you’ll have that.

I also have other, non-sport or weight related goals.

While I’m doing a CRACKING job at procrastinating, I need to get back to editing my book, and resist the urge to rewrite the whole thing or scrap it and write some sci fi that isn’t extremely raw and personal instead. 

I want to continue to work on self-promotion and becoming comfortable with sharing stuff like I will in said book by posting personal stories on social media with a level of writing that makes me feel proud, not just dashing off a handful of words and throwing them at the screen as has been my habit for a multitude of years. 

I want to keep my eye out for some brand ambassador applications (’tis the season) and apply.  It’s been fun to rep Wattage Cottage, and I hope to continue if she’ll have me again, but I have a few other non-competing brands I like a lot that would compliment that.

I’d like to progress a little in my photography, which for right now, honestly means study versus action.  I think I have a pretty decent eye for it, and I’m willing to do a lot to get the shot, but I think I need more KNOWLEDGE.  I need to learn my camera and all it’s myriad settings inside and out.  I need to learn what the heck I’d use a wide angle lens for successfully.  I need to learn how all the talented nature photographers I follow on Instagram get those amazing shots that give me all the wanderlust feels.  I also need to learn my editing tools a little better and editing conventions in general instead of winging it, and find out if I want to make the jump to better programs like Lightroom.  This will start with online research but might also progress to finding an actual class somewhere with an actual person to be my Obi-Wan.

It’s video game season.  I’m looking forward to having the oomph to play interactive things in my downtime instead of just staring passively at Netflix.  I have no specific goals beyond just PLAY MORE.

I’m sure other things will come into play as I embrace offseason, but I’m looking forward to indulging in my other hobbies and having the freedom to do stuff like pop by a friends house on Friday night with dinner and see family and go to Six Flags on a Saturday without twenty years of notice and expert-level schedule juggling to make it happen.

While I still mourn the death of the season, I’m also excited to shed my supersuit (what? it’s spandex…) for a while and just be mild mannered me.

Sticks and Stones

Sunday, after unloading the car, eating, showering, and enjoying my comfortable couch for a while, I started to become curious as to what my camera had captured with the FIVE HUNDRED pictures I took at Krause Springs.

The spot really photographs itself, even with a cell phone camera (haven’t touched the real ones yet).

In context, I took SEVEN HUNDRED on the cruise, so apparently I average approximately a hundred shots per day while in pretty places.  Since I had plenty of time with the small piece of land we were camping on, I experimented a lot with different modes and exposures and settings and I was excited to see what worked and what didn’t.  I didn’t worry TOO MUCH about getting the perfect shot, as it’s a place I could easily return to on a weekend day trip. 

Before digging in, I realized that I needed to be tough with myself about finishing projects before I start a new one.  I had the top 10 “application package” photos from the cruise picked out and ready to edit, and as someone with “squirrel” syndrome, I knew I needed to finish those first and put that project to bed.  I probably spent too much time agonizing over making them perfect on Sunday but I wanted to give myself the best shot of being accepted.

This week, I bit the bullet and submitted my photos all around the internets.

  • Submitted to a contest.  If you have a sec, vote my scuba photo up (you don’t even have to register or anything).
  • Got involved with Nat Geo Your Shot and submitted some photos to the We Love Animals Assignment.  It seems like a really neat community that I hope to continue to involve myself in.
  • Submitted eight of my best photos to Getty/iStock, Shutterstock, and Adobe Stock.

This being one of my favorites…

As you can see by the links (even though right now the first one isn’t working yet :P), I’ve been accepted to two out of the three, the first within 24 hours and the second well within 48.  Also, ALL the photos I submitted were accepted. 

At first I was insanely pleased.  Then, as I tend to do, the doubt creeps in… maybe EVERYONE gets in and this is like a participation trophy.  I poked around the internet and in fact that is NOT the case, it’s actually a pretty nice accomplishment to do that on the first try, and iStock/Getty can take up to a month or more to get back to you sometimes, so I’m back to feeling pretty great about things. 

After going through the process, I now know my insanely high quality bar is above theirs.  And, the fact is, you have the best chance in making sales by having a HUGE portfolio.  Now it’s time to test the limits and see what flies.  Obviously I don’t want to put up a bunch of crap, but I have at least 15 more shots that I agonized over which were great but not my top 10.  Also, I have some stunning shots from Bonaire that more than meet the resolution requirements of 4 mexapixels or more but aren’t as high quality.  I’m going to gather up some of those and start submitting over the coming weeks.  I don’t want to rack up a nasty rejection rate because on some sites that matters, so I’ll take it slow, but it’s nice to know that at very least the best of what I’m doing meets the quality standards needed.

I feel like this one now might suffice even if it’s not *quite* as high quality.

In the future, I think I’ll pick out my absolute best ones and put them aside for amazing opportunities and submissions to stuff like this, but I don’t regret putting my best foot forward for the application process.

This is a lot of words about photography and process on a blog that is mostly triathlon and food and sometimes navel gazing – but I’m getting to that last one, I promise.  My theme for the year, in triathlon, in #projectraceweight, in my creative pursuits like writing, photography, one-take videos, it’s been all about GETTING OUT OF MY OWN WAY. 

Sometimes when you have a little confidence in yourself, awesome things happen.

Surprising no one but myself, my quality bar for myself to feel worthy of something is apparently much higher than the world’s.  Sometimes I have remember to lower my expectations and get moving.  I’m not sure when NO or FAILURE or NOT GOOD ENOUGH TRY AGAIN became fearful things, and I’ve been able to hide it well with a veil of apathy in the past, but I was never that kind of a kid.  I didn’t stand under the high dive going “eh, I don’t want to do that, looks lame (read: scary)”.  I was the one climbing the stairs repeatedly to free fall as many times as the day would let me.  Yeah, sometimes I’d over or under-rotate and smack my body on the water and be temporarily in pain, but that didn’t prohibit me from trying again.

It’s the same with these opportunities.  A “smack” isn’t anything to fear, and a proverbial smack is even less of an issue, there’s not physical pain or red welts to go with it, just some hurt feelers.  If I set a goal and I don’t reach it, it’s not that I’m a horrible human being, it’s that I still have some work to do in that areas and god forbid I wasn’t perfect the first time.  However, it’s actually pretty nice to be perfect the first time when you can be. 🙂

There’s one common thread that I’ll need to face here soon.  I have this little corner of the internet, Adjusted Reality.  I have social media accounts.  I have a You Tube channel.  I plan to set up either a section of Adjusted Reality for photography or maybe make a standalone site for it.  I have a book that eventually I will finish editing and I’ll want to share it with the world.  There’s all sorts of crazy future plans too but this is what’s in the hopper RIGHT NOW.

(my feelings right now about self-marketing…)

If I want to make the leap from a couple hundred followers on Insta and Twitter, somewhere between 100-1000 (if I’m lucky) page views here, and crickets pretty much everywhere else, I’m going to need to get a little more outgoing.  If my content is good (which is subjective, but I need to believe in it to market it, so I will), that’s one piece.  That’s what I’m working on now, creating quality content, including the content of my actual body (#projectraceweight), and my basket of accomplishments (Nationals Qualifier, Stock Photographer, etc).

However, eventually, I’m going to need to learn how to make my voice heard in all the noise.  It’s not enough to just be out there, as much as I wish it was with all my heart.  You have to SHOUT from the rooftops to get heard in all the noise.  I’m getting better at being out there and even interacting with people on social media without feeling like a creeper (being part of the #wattagebrigade has really helped here).  But I’m really terrible about actually “hawking my wares”, so to speak.

Here are my two issues:

Knowledge: I’m not an expert in this stuff.  I’m learning as I can, but I really do feel like I could use a course specifically on how to market yourself.  I want to pay someone who is an authority in this some money and have them dump all the knowledge on me so I can take copious notes and develop a foolproof plan and checklist of all the things I need to do to dominate the world.

This is fixable with some time and money, and something I’m going to prioritize in the next offseason.  However, I’m never going to get anywhere with that until I fully deal with the second thing…

Confidence: By uncovering the fact that I was using apathy to cover for insecurity, I’ve made a lot of strides here.  Whenever I start feeling ennui about something that I was excited about, I try to analyze what happened.  Sometimes it’s true *overwhelm*, which is valid and means I need to focus on LESS at that particular moment.  However, sometimes, it’s just that the reality of what I’m about to do (submit a photo for critique, toe the line of a triathlon, be goofy on camera, publish some writing) makes me a little uncomfortable.  Generally, I’m at the point where I can get over it and do it and it’s great.

Feels good, man.

However, the next step is to actually let people know it’s there, which feels like sticking my hand into the fire yet again, after it’s burning hotter.  I ALREADY did the uncomfortable thing and put it out there, now I literally have to shout to call attention to this vulnerable thing that I have done!  Hello!  Here it is!  Come check out this little piece of my soul and pick it apart, everyone!  Previously, I was convinced it was all knowledge I lacked, but now I’ve found that I’ve hesitated to take steps that would increase visibility on various work I’ve done.  I’ve made various excuses about that but it honestly boils down to confidence in my self, and the confidence to be vulnerable to an audience that could potentially call me not nice names.

But as they say, sticks and stones can break my bones but names can never hurt me.  I’ve spent 2018 creating and it has felt AMAZING.  I’ve gotten over a lot of things and have put my work out into the world and will continue to do so.  Soon, though, my goal is to figure out how to confidently hawk my wares, both technically and also having the chutzpah to not just do a thing, but also point and it while shouting it’s praises.

One Year Campiversary

Twelve months ago, I had no idea this was going to be one of my favorite things in the world.

ICYMI, last year our company moved offices, and we had some extra time off around the July 4th holiday.  Obviously, this prompted me to start looking at vacations, and when I found prices to be outrageous, I lamented that I wish we could just go camping, but not in July without air conditioning.

We started looking up rentals, and long story short, ended up purchasing a used Jayco pop up.  We obtained Turtle Home from a nice gentleman who had used it approximately eight nights in the previous nine years, for the cost of approximately double the price of a flight and accommodations in Colorado (the cheapest place we could go) over that long weekend.

Our first foray was six nights, which was a little overwhelming to me (the most I’d ever camped was two), but the site was an hour from home, so if it didn’t work out, we could just pack up.  We didn’t do that, in fact, I didn’t even want to go home when it was time.  I still don’t know at what point I’d get tired of camping in the pop up, but the answer is at least more than one week.

I expected the AC in the camper to put out a little bit of cool air so it wasn’t completely miserable to sleep.  I didn’t expect to need a hat, a thick comforter, and fleece pullover with it on low and sleep much more soundly than normal.  I figured it would be roomier than a tent, but I didn’t figure it would be spacious enough for two people to be able to lounge around in it comfortably with plenty of personal space.  I hoped I would have a decent time camping, I didn’t expect it to hook me as completely as it did.

I’ve spent 24 nights in the turtle and at the end of this week it will be 29 – that’s about a month of my life in the last year camping.  It’s been invaluable for races – it’s cheap, relaxing, comfortable, and sometime you can even stay AT THE VENUE and wake up with the race in your backyard, which is super convenient for someone who is not a morning person.  It’s been great for training, it’s nice to roll out of a campsite and be able to take a long bike ride in the country without navigating city traffic to get there and back.  It’s been amazing for time away to unwind and relax.  My brain shuts up a little bit after a few days in the woods and it’s a beautiful thing.

Our first year of camping included:

Even if you ignore the other trips, we’ve saved at least 10 nights of race hotel accommodations – considering the average hotel room price with taxes and fees, that would definitely be closing in on 1,000$ if not already there (for example, Hotter’n’hell was a 45$ campsite vs 150-200$ for basic rooms in the area).

In our Sophomore year of camping we plan to do these trips:

  • Krausse Springs for fourth of July again.  I’m super excited to have this as my view for another 5 days.  I’m super excited to paint, ride bikes, traipse around the property with my camera, read, make some great campfire food, and just chill the eff out for a while.
  • We are toying with the idea of camping as a training camp type weekend sometime this season at Granger Lake.
  • Race camping for Waco 70.3.  First camping half ironman!
  • A few nights in the Fredricksburg area over the holidays.  Y’know, they have free buses that take you to wineries and back.  That sounds like it doesn’t suck.
  • Mayyyyybe Pace Bend Ultra.  As part of a relay.  Or crew.

…and I’m sure we’ll be doing some more races and hopefully a few weekends where we take off and just enjoy being outside and relax.

I’m super excited for five more days in the woods.  Can we go yet?

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