I…am back in the office.

In addition to the normal “back in the office” stresses, I have the additional issues of having been gone since Dinosaurs Roamed the Earth (24 June), and coming back in to a brand-new project about which I understand nothing. <SGT_SHULTZ> NOTHING! </SGT_SHULTZ>

Fortunately, my WorkMates were ready with an inflatable stress reliever.

inflatable_hammerThey waited until I had reached the breaking point, and then pulled out this little gem (they had it pre-inflated and waiting for me) so that I could hammer on the laptop and monitor and keyboard and mouse and even any paper copies of documentation that I might have laying around the cubicle. And I have to admit that it helped!…at least briefly, to get my stress level back down to the point that I could think again about domains, and domain groups,  and domain security policies, and security groups, and security group types, and inherent permissions, and  security segments, and segment-based security groups, and segment-based security group assignments to domain policies, and assignable customer roles, and role-based security, and…and…and BAM! BAM BAM BAM! BAM! BAM!

I need to get one of these to take home. Next time Lucy poops on the carpet…BAM! BAM BAM! BAM!

 

Well, we’ve been here in San Jose del Cabo, in Baja California Sur, for three weeks now, and I am tired.

Here I am, in Bahia de Santa Maria, on the boat between dives in the Corridor:

santa maria

We’ve been diving every few days since we got here, and I’ve been working my training schedule around that (or, more accurately, Ethel has been scheduling the diving around my training schedule). But now we’re in the last week here, and we had one day each left that we’d pay for dives, so I gave my last day to Ethel so that she could have two days of diving. Ethel is a more avid diver than I am; to me, after a while, it’s just more fish, and I’m pretty darn tired from training.

And from the heat, and from the humidity. The southern tip of Baja California is a desert drier than Phoenix ever imagined, but we’ve had some rain while here, and there’s something about the winds that causes this coast to be very humid in the summer months. My runs have been sweatfests; even in the gym, which is “air conditioned”, I’ve been leaving puddles under the spinning bikes and treadmills. So I’m pretty tired after three weeks of that, and when I get this tired, I don’t have much enthusiasm for anything, so it’s best if Ethel goes and enjoys the dives and leaves me here with a paperback and a bottle of Pinafiel.

When I’m in Mexico, I drink Pinafiel and Be soft drinks. Beats trying to find decaf iced tea at the Mega, and the Wal-Mart down here doesn’t carry the Clear brand. When you sweat as much as I’ve been sweating, you have to put SOMETHING in, and, of course, I don’t drink the water ; )

Training has been going poorly. Most of my swimming has been in the surf and swells, so it feels like doing laps in a washing machine for two hours. And the outdoor runs have been on hills, in this heat and humidity and desert sun, leaving me with no energy for the rest of the day – even though the washing-machine swims have been coming in the afternoons after the longer runs. Cycling hasn’t been much fun, either on the spinner bike at Cabo Fitness or on the StarTrac bike here at the condo gym.

I realized after two weeks that I missed Park City, and Salt Lake, and my condo with the little brook and the aspens, and my car. I didn’t miss Lucy, though. And, even though I scheduled this vacation many months ago, I don’t like taking three weeks and two days off when I still don’t feel competent at my job.  But it’s been a very difficult year (Ethel details this in http://bamaskigirl.wordpress.com/2014/07/11/if-i-knew-then-what-i-know-now/ ) and a vacation, even a tiring one, was probably a good idea.

One thing that Ethel doesn’t mention in her year-in-review is that within a few months of all this craziness happening last summer, I picked up the gauntlet of training for a half Ironman, which turned into a full before long. I now wish that I hadn’t done that, as it has turned into a stressor rather than a stress reliever. But the thing about gauntlets is that it is very hard to put them back down after one has picked them up; NOT putting them back down, actually, is the whole point, right?

So now it’ 8:30 AM, Ethel is in Cabo for her day of diving, and I have to put on my shorts and go out there and waddle for four miles on hills in heat and humidity in the desert sun. My gumption tank is empty. I have no enthusiasm at all. And that’s not how I like to live my life.

I picked the wrong -Man type of triathlon. I should not have attempted an IronMan. I should have chosen a PuttyMan.

silly-putty-packageSilly Putty is soft and infinitely malleable. It cannot hold its form – any stress at all causes it to deform. It has no true, defined shape, so it’s always OUT of shape. Nobody thinks of Silly Putty when they think of “hard” or “strong” or “persistent”.

And Silly Putty, if pressed against an image, will retain a mirror impression of that image – but only briefly, and any application of stress wlll distort the retained image completely out of recognition.

I suppose that one aspect of doing something like this (i.e. training for a distance event) is the attempt to get a different perspective on one’s self – to find out one’s “inner nature”. i’m finding out that my “inner nature” is Silly Putty. I’m much more Silly Putty than I am Iron.

My training continues, if we can call it “training”. I’m doing (mostly) the volume, but I’m getting slower as my training volume increases – this is backwards. In my experience, as my training volumes increase, I tend to slowly get faster; as my friend Mr Jim says, “jes mo’ miles”. Then, usually, after some period of time, I suddenly “turn a corner” and I am bounding where before I was trudging.

in this case, my trudging is turning into sludging; I’m getting slower the more work that i do. I am not used to getting into WORSE shape as a result of increased training; even when I’ve had to spend months in the Valley of Fatigue, I’ve felt a building confidence in my building of a training base. I’ve felt like I was improving in fitness. But that’s not the case this time.

And, while I have “sort of” decided not to do the full at Tahoe, I haven’t yet turned in the paperwork for that, and I still seem to be aiming my training at attempting the full; I think I’m still waiting for a miracle to happen, such that I “turn the corner” and suddenly feel like I’m in better shape than I was, so that I feel confident in attempting the full. But right now I don’t even want to do SpudMan in two weeks; I don’t see any point in it.

This morning’s 16 miles turned into 8.5 – after I hit 8 miles, suddenly I didn’t feel like finishing. After last week’s “hard” 18.5 hours of training, I wasn’t sure what I should do this week. Now I know. I should go to bed.

The problem with looking for a PuttyMan event is that nobody would put one on, because nobody is interested in competing, because there’s no competition. Putty just sorta sits there. And, right now, that’s what I’m planning on doing. Just sitting here. Like a lump of Silly Putt.

Saturday was the Daybreak Triathlon, at which event I completed the Olympic distance.

This is me, swimming in Oquirrh Lake:

swimming

That’s a still shot from a video Ethel took. In the video, it looks like I’m swimming strong and smooth. What you DON’T see is the eight or ten breaks that I took during the just-under-a-mile swim – grabbing onto a kayak, pulling over to the side of the lake, and even one place where I saw a rock coming up from the bottom and I precariously perched upon it : )

This was a 1500 meter swim (plus, of course, the additional distance added by my inability to swim straight). The day before, I had gone to the Park City Aquatic Center and jumped into the water, push the button on my watch, and swum an easy and strong 1500 yards in 34 minutes. No problem, no fuss, no heavy breathing.

But when I did my short warmup swim in the lake, I was hyperventilating at the end. And every few hundred meters, I had to stop for a minute or two to catch my breath. Why? I do not know. I really have no idea. I really, really do not know. Is it possible to do that for 1.2 miles in a half IM? I suppose so. Is it possible to do that for 2.4 miles in a full IronMan?

Is it?

At any rate, I finished the swim, along with about five other Olympic distance folks and a bunch of the Sprint people who jumped into the lake halfway. Now, the nice thing about doing the swim this slowly is that the athletes getting out of the water when you do are the slowest, most out-of-shape competitors, so I spent the entire bike and run passing people. One person passed me during the run; the rest of the last two hours of the triathlon was me passing folks. That’s more fun that hanging off the side of a kayak, gasping for air.

Now what? I’m going to Slumber Falls, in Texas, to do a retreat this weekend. Next weekend I have nothing planned; then there are three weeks in Cabo during which no doubt I will train myself into insensibility, rather than “vacation”.

I am supposed to do SpudMan in Burley, Idaho on the 27th (I think) of July.  I’ve signed up for a half IM distance (but not put on by the WTC) in late August in Provo.

Then there’s that business in Tahoe on 21 September.

When I think about Tahoe, it seems impossible. But when I consider the option of doing what I did on Saturday – for 2.5 times the distance – then maybe I’ll still try it.

I’ve really been taking by the little goat who Gives It All He’s Got. I’d like to be that goat. But he’s only Giving It All He’s Got for about a second and a half, and he’s in no danger of drowning. That does change things a bit.

…which, I suspect, is really a shame.

Yesterday, on the flight back from the Bay to SLC, I took this pic of Tahoe from the plane:

TahoeThat’s a big ol’ lake. The second deepest in North America, and cold. And intimidating. The lake is big, and it’s where the Ironman is, and that is big, too. Big, and deep, and cold. And intimidating.

Attempting an IM

(the astute observer will note that I did NOT say “doing an IM”. I just posted to my training group about how, at least once a week, I get a mindset of utter incredulity, or panic, at the notion of actually being able to complete the distance. It’s simply insane. Swim 2.4 miles? Okay, that I did swim approximately that distance, but it was as a single event, and it took me way over two hours of time in the water. Bike 112 miles? That sounds difficult, but doable – but trying it on the Tahoe course just sounds like a fancy way to wind up laying beside the road in paroxyms of cramps. A marathon? Sure, I’ve done three of those, but it’s been over twenty years since I ran a marathon.

Doing them all on the same day? WHAT HAVE YOU BEEN SMOKING?)

…means doing something so large that it eats up a lot of time. It’s a big deal precisely because it is a big deal. If it were easy, then why do it? But I don’t think I was aware of how much time it would take – and how, periodically, I would feel drained and gumptionless.

Some of the time I’m okay with this – I mean, the whole idea is that I’m going to be doing something anyway. I might as well be training. To quote (or misquote, depending on my memory) Cool Hand Luke, “Aw, heck – it’s just sumpthin’ to do”. As the oldtimers told Delton when he was upset about having to spend his weekends in jail, “Aw, heck, Delton, everybody’s gotta be somewhere”. Human experience simply is, and it is for twenty-four hours every day. It’s gonna be training, or sitting, or doing something else.

But sometimes, when I’m feeling dragged down, or when I realize how much slower I am running now than a year ago (after doing triathlon training since last October) and when I see that my weight is STUCK because I’m always hungry, I get discouraged. Being discouraged is not a bad thing – the best thing that ever happened to me was when I became discouraged about my ability to control my drinking. Being discouraged makes plenty of sense when courage doesn’t make sense. And courage doesn’t make sense when what one is doing can’t work, or when the cost is too high.

So when I start thinking that it’s simply not possible for me to train up to, and complete, IMLT (that’s “IronMan Lake Tahoe”, for those of you who aren’t down with the acronyms) then I can start feeling the discouragement seeping in. And when I start thinking about the cost, I get discouraged, as well. I mean, this thing takes all day.

It takes all day until I reach a point where I am really tired, and then I can’t do much. And then just recovering takes all of my effort.

So IronMan training becomes the central effort in my life. And that seems wrong somehow. Now, it doesn’t become the most IMPORTANT thing – that, of course, is breathing. But the thing about breathing is that it generally doesn’t take much effort, so one is able to attend to the second or third most important things, all the way down the line.

But when something disrupts that order, then at that point the effort of the something requires it to move up the chain – the cost is higher now. Are you still willing to pay it? Because it will mean giving something else up. That’s the way that priorities get shuffled. I don’t really believe that it’s a conscious process – at least, not in my case.

So right now I’m taking a day off from training. I didn’t intend to do that – it just sort of happened. I have another triathlon this weekend – an Olympic distance (it says it is, although the bike is 4 miles short). My coach buddy told me to do a “mini-taper”. I don’t know how to “taper”. I either train, or I’ve stopped training. I reckon tomorrow morning I’ll do a bit of something or other….just to keep fresh.

Who knows? Maybe my experience this weekend, in what I think of as a “QuarterMan” (over a third of the swim, about a fifth of the bike, and about a fourth of the run) might encourage me, or it might discourage me. Perhaps a reasonable, mature guy would not allow progress (or lack thereof) to dis- or en-courage him; I really don’t know if such an attitude is persistence, or denial.

Suddenly I’m thinking that I should maybe get on the bike for an easy 45 minutes or so this afternoon.

I am at the mercy of whim, mood, fatigue and projection : )

 

On Saturday morning, I completed the Cottonwood Heights “Tri The Heights’ Sprint Triathlon – 400 meter swim, 10.9 mile bike, and a 5K run.

 

baldswimmierEthel took this picture as I was making a turn during the serpentine swim. “Serpentine” means that you swim down one lane, and then duck the rope and swim back down the other.

(In this picture, I am smiling because I am swimming in a pool, not in open water ; )

The swim was easy; afterwards came the weirdness. Transitions! In the first transition, I lost a lot of time. And I found out that I don’t know how to use the Auto Multisport mode on my Garmin 910xt, which is sorta like buying a Mercedes and finding out that you don’t know how to drive.  Still need to get that part figured out.

But I got on the bike and immediately felt right at home on my Noble Steed.

“King of the Bike!” …okay, not really (and only “Bones” fans would catch the reference)  but being so far back in the swim meant that the athletes that I was with weren’t able to keep up with me on the bike; one girl passed me, but the rest of the ride was me passing folks, willy-nilly. The bike left Cottonwood Heights Recreation Center and headed up to the mouth of Little Cottonwood Canyon before coming back down all the way, so it was pretty much a six mile climb and a five mile downhill.

Strangely enough (or not so strangely, come to think of it) my intention had been to not worry one bit about racing or place during this race, but that had little effect once I started passing people. I suppose that I have a bit of a competitive side, although it doesn’t show up much. I’m not even Type A enough to be a Type B – I’m more Type C. But, then, maybe the other folks that far back in the race were Type C, too.

At any rate, I came into the rec center parking lot yelling “King of the Bike!” but Ethel couldn’t hear me, so it was lost on everybody else : )

The second transition was, of course, faster than the first, but I still lost time. I have no idea what I am doing during transitions, and – while it makes sense to learn how to do that faster – my brain keeps telling me that, when I get to Tahoe, I’m not going to WANT to rush the transitions. I’m gonna want to take a nap : )

The run started off very stiff, going straight uphill. (next time, I’m going to sign up for the Cottonwood FLATS Triathlon. The Cottonwood HEIGHTS Triathlon is too dang hilly). And the run was pretty much uphill out and downhill back; it was by far the slowest 5K I’ve ever run.

But I finished it, and I was very happy to have finished a triathlon. Without squealing like a girl during the swim.

After the race, Ethel drove home, and I rode my bike up the hill to Park City, because I’m stupid.

It’s three days later, and I’m really tired. Probably has something to do with riding my bike up the hill to Park City after a triathlon, but I simply had not spent enough time on my Noble Steed.

“King of the Bike!”

“A student of behavior psychology
Conditioned himself to stick to his studies
He grew tired of these routines and tried to drop them
But he was caught in his own trap and couldn’t stop them

Then he wondered
If he should start to take it easy
Overachiever, might be putting it mildly” — Overachiever, Crash Test Dummies

baldguyonbike

For some reason, I’m still training for triathlons.

I have no idea why. Like CTD’s psych student, I seem to be caught in a trap; I’ve conditioned myself to train, to go run and swim and bike, that even now, when I see that it doesn’t make any sense, I’m still out there.

This last weekend, my friend Sheldon and I did a seventy mile bike ride out in Wasatch and Summit counties, with a few thousand feet of vertical. This was the day after a fifteen mile dreadmill trot, and that afternoon following the ride Ethel and I did a hike up what turned out to be a false summit above Summit Park. That left me with over sixteen hours of training for the week, with no swimming because of the “collapsed lung” business. A good hard week of training.

This week, I’ve been discouraged. Seventy miles is NOTHING compared to 112, and 3500 feet of vertical is nothing compared to 6700 feet.

And that’s a ride by itself, not preceded by 2.4 miles of open water swimming,. or followed by a full marathon. That’s what Ironman Lake Tahoe means.

And last night, I finally ventured out into a pond with a friend for some open water swimming, for the first time since the day before the St George IM/2, when I squealed like a girl. Well, I didn’t squeal like a girl at Black Ridge Reservoir in Herriman, Utah, yesterday, but that’s just because I didn’t swim straight out into the deep water – I stayed inside the buoys. I still found myself stopping every 100 yards or so; swimming while not being able to see where I am is just too disorienting. Also, I wonder if I’m simply not able to swim more than that because I’m used to stopping at the wall every 25 yards and turning; regardless of how slight, the ability to pop up and take a breath and then push off from the wall may make all of the difference in the world.

This morning, I went to the pool, and it was disappointing, as well. Three weeks ago, before the lung thing, I was knocking out 500 yard sets with impunity. This morning, I was more comfortable with sets of 250 to 300 yards. And I don’t know – is it possible to lose that much conditioning in two weeks of not swimming? Or was it the incredible amount of what Ian would call “negative self talk” that I was giving myself? Because I was telling myself how poorly I was swimming while I was swimming.

Tomorrow I’m supposed to do a sprint triathlon – 400y swim, 10.9 miile bike, and a 5K run. Basically, less than a regular Tuesday/Thursday workout. But I’m having trouble wanting to do it, because the only reason to do such a thing is to train for an Ironman, and I no longer believe that I’ll ever be able to do said Ironman. So why bother with the little fish when I won’t ever catch the big fish? Unlike Jacob, I’m not willing to work seven years to get a girl, and then have to work another seven years to get the girl I really want; I don’t have fourteen good years left.

I can do two or three hours training without ever leaving my home office – got a bike and treadmill right there. So why leave the house and go down to the valley to swim and bike and run?

So I don’t want to do the race tomorrow, but I don’t know how to stop training.  And it’s difficult to keep training unless I am doing some racing.

So I’m stuck in a trap of my own making.

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