First of all: congrats! It's great that you are joining tournaments and enjoy it.
I was skeptical about being able to handle it, but it turns out that you spend all of that time thinking about the game. This is the type of time that just evaporates, leaving you wanting more.
Absolutely true. It's one of the reasons for why I personally love playing long games and enjoy them far more than blitz. You are too preoccupied to even consider boredom as a possibility. It hasn't changed a bit since my first game.
I start by convincing myself out of these things until I get to moves that would be more reasonable for the position. But if I do find something that shows a glimmer of promise, I'll defend the hell out of it against my better judgement.
That's good and bad. Why good? Because it shows the direction you will guide/evolve your own style of play. You will get very good at positioning, calculating exchanges and mobility. Hell, I'm willing to bet that after this tournament you'll see that the first 30 or so exercises from that book I recommended aren't much of a challenge.
Why bad, though? Predilection or tendency toward certain actions telegraphs a lot to your opponent. Whether they'll pick up on it or not is largely decided by their experience. Once you'll get close(r) to playing in the 1800+ bracket, it would be prudent to diversify by trying to play/practice against your style. It worked very well for me, should work as well for you.
Yup. Humbling, isn't it? ;)
Your approach is healthy and absolutely correct.
Overall, I'm glad to see that you are enjoying yourself, growing as a player, and that's what matters the most. And while I would like to look at your games, there's no pressure. I'm pretty fucking busy myself and it doesn't look like it's about to change until graduation (i.e. June, most likely).
Please, shout out to me with further chess updates. I don't frequent Hubski as I used to and wouldn't want to miss out on the similar news. :D