Thursday, March 30, 2006

Spin Bike Zombie

What's that pain in my . . . oh yeah. Tailbone hurts. Bike wreck. [one click]

Wait a minute. Where am I? How did I get here? [one click]

I'm pedaling but, . . . this is some type of room. The lights are still dim, . . . there's music. Did I turn that on? There are bikes everywhere. Nobody here but me. The clock says 0505. [two clicks]

Why is there no coffee in this room? Hello? . . . . COFFEE! . . . uh. . . coffee? Humph. Water and e-gel. Maybe if I just close my eyes . . . [one click]

Nice. Dreamy U2 song . . . where the streets have no name . . . . ow ow ow ow quads . . . stand up. Breathe moron. [one click]

Song, another song, another song, click click click,

Hey, there are people coming in. They seem to know me. There's Coach T! Hi Coach T! Wait. My hand did not waive and nothing came out of my mouth. Who is that gnarly wasted looking dude in the mirror?

Clock says 0600. Why is Coach T shouting above the music? She wants me to pedal faster. But, I . . .

The lost spin class . . . .

Where am I? How did I get here? Where did this desk come from?

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Heaven is . . .

Heaven is a gym, at least it was a little piece of the gym this morning. Characteristically, heaven had nothing to do with anything that I did or left undone. I just completed an effective but unremarkable swim workout. Heaven was occuring three lanes over, and if I had been my usual hedgehog self, I would have missed it.

In the far lane of the pool, two members were aquacizing. They were yucking it up, ribbing each other, encouraging each other, telling stories, and having a grand time--at 0530 in the morning no less. What's so heavenly about that? Look closer at the people.

She was probably around 60, caucasian and not fit. He was probably around 40, fit, huge rippling muscles and African American. In another place or time, she or someone from her generation might have called him "colored" . . . or worse. They certainly would not have been in the same pool together. Absent the gym and their acquaintance with each other, she might have crossed to the other side of the street out of fear as he approached. Heck I might have. This guy was a seriously big dude and I can be a seriously flawed man.

But here, in the gym, in 2006, they were answering the ancient question, "who is my neighbor." Their answer was spot on and gave a little view of heaven, here and now.

The solitude of training is one of its attractions. Solitude, however, is not the same as absence. Don't forget to lift your eyes from the heart monitor or the clock. You never know what you might see, even heaven sometimes.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Fast Women

Speed kills. At least it felt that way. I was having some type of out-of-body experience involving quad-lock at the end of each mile interval on the bike this morning.

One of my tri-friends, M&M, invited me to join her brick workout this morning. I was really more security detail in the dark than training partner. M&M is further down the path than I. She has a coach and a sweet Cervelo tri-rocket of a bike. On our mile repeats, I considered it a victory if I could keep visual contact around the curves of the "picnic loop" and if I could catch her before she was 1/3 done with her recovery lap.

All I could do was watch and admire the watts. But that's OK. She was strong and motivated me to get stronger.

Afterwards, the run was an easy 6 miles in zone 2, much more to my comfort level. All in all a five star morning recess. Until . . .

As we finish up the 6 miles, some old guy on the path tries to pick up the pace because he sees M&M and doesn't want to get beaten by a "girl." We, of course, could have dropped "old guy" like a bad habit if we cared. Even without caring, just running our "horse to the barn" tempo for the end of run, old guy faded quickly.

Old guy, you probably won't even read this, but you are seriously missing out. This morning, you lost the opportunity to admire the grace and athleticism of a fellow human being, all because you did not want to be beaten by a "girl," actually at 38 year old woman who has made herself into quite an athlete. Old guy, if you quit thinking with your chorizo, you will see there is a whole world of women athletes out there, both professional and age-grouper, who are way more interesting than their male counterparts.

David Carr never had society criticizing him for wanting to be the team captain or the quarterback. On the contrary, he doubtless received encouragement from numerous sources. The same cannot be said for Deena Kastor, Suzy Favor Hamilton, Mel McQuaid, Jessie Stensland, Sarah Bowman, (the freshman phenom pictured above) or even my Coach T. Each of these "girls", at one point or another, was jeered or pushed or shunned for being faster than the boys and wanting to stand out. They chose to stand out anyway.

Watch and admire, old guy. Fast women are really good-- good people and great athletes. Watch, admire and learn.

Monday, March 27, 2006


With apologies to Forest Gump, my swim workout is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're gonna get. I guess that is a sappy way of saying I'm an inconsistent swimmer. That said, if I am honest, I am predictably inconsistent. My attitude tends to dictate "what I get."

This morning, I was all set to struggle through a recovery workout resembling nothing so much as the death throes of a harpooned whale. Why? This weekend's efforts on the bike were way out of line. If the uber-greyhound, Maria Gratia's boyfriend, had not been there, this greyhound would have been picked up by animal control. During the workout, the only thing that changed was my attitude.

"Kick drill--Hershey. Hmm. OK. Waaaaa. My quads hurt. Bitter baker's chocolate."

"Double zipper switch drill--blech. cocoanut."

"Double zipper switch drill, other side, come on now. Channel Iron Wil. Wow, pretty good. Milk chocolate with vanilla cream center."

"Tripple zipper switch, Iron Wil don't fail me now. This is getting better."

"1500 yard work set. Turn those sholders, throw that arm forward, blow that air out . . . . "


Sunday, March 26, 2006

Flags--A Cyclist's Lament In Haiku

Wind holding flags taut
Eighty mile Tour de Cypress
Eternal torment

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Hills are for Heroes

. . . and I ain't one.

So I had a training ride today with a few hundred of my closest friends in preparation for the BP MS150, a two day bicycle tour from Houston to Austin to raise money to battle Multiple Sclerosis. (Greyhound rides for Mrs. Greyhound, but that is a story for another post.)

The 60+ mile course was pretty hilly (in places very hilly by Texas standards) and there was a good headwind, so all the freshness stored up in my legs from a recovery week quickly dribbled into a puddle on some rural Texas highway, along with little bits of my spirit.

It was like the second week of the Tour de France where some of the world's best sprinters (which I am not) arrive in the mountains and drop out the back of the peloton like road kill while Lance puts on his "dead Elvis grin" and picks off all the contenders at the front like they are so much flotsam.

I don't climb well. OK, I climb poorly. I'm not even flotsam. I'm road kill. So why am I the "Greyhound"? That, too, is another post. But I refuse to be found on the road between the armadillos and 'possums ( or is that amadilli and opossae?).

In my irritation at the pace lines and cycle studs streaming past ("ON YOUR LEFT") I found an appropriate focus point. The "studs" and their cycle chicks were stopping at the strategically placed rest stops and quaffing gatorade with oreos, gorp, chex mix and all manner of delicacies for the truly soft. That is not the "tri" way.

So I says to myself, "self, you've got enough e-gel and water in your camelback to ride to Canada. Keep your heart rate in zone 3, however fast or slow that is, put your head down, and just don't stop. Ride past them while they are cooling it in the rest stops, and let them pass you a dozen times if necessary. They draft, you don't. They rest, you won't."

. . . and throw in a transition run after the ride while they get their massage therapy.

There are all kinds of victories to be had in triathlon. You just gotta know where to look.

Friday, March 24, 2006

So, here goes . . .

What does a geek do when he decides to attempt becoming a triathlete? Consult the internet, of course. Beyond triathlon focused magazines and training websites, I have been incredibly entertained by the Tri-Geek Kahuna and so inspired and motivated by his compatriot Iron Wil. Although this is probably a mistake, I too have decided to enter the world of Tri-blogging.

I say it is a mistake, because I doubtless will not be as funny as the Kahuna, nor as profound as Iron Wil, nor as faithful as either of them in posting every day. I certainly have a ways to go in making the blog as super cool as theirs. I mean, I can't even upload my freaking picture to my profile, which I just now figured out how to edit. Whatever my shortcomings, I will be something they are not. For whatever it is worth, I will be me.

The "me" of 2006 is very different from what I was eight years ago when the greyhound puppy was born to Mrs. Greyhound and me. At my towering height of 5'4", I was north of 165 and ran two miles in 24 minutes--painfully. Now, as I approach 40, I am 140 lbs. and have done all sorts of things my mom calls "crazy stuff" like marathons and 180 mile bicycle tours. More important, I'm happier, healthier, and have tons more friends than the law nerd of 1997.

I did not travel from there to here because I am anything special. It happened because I made some really good friends along the way who taught me that training is recess and races are field trips. Any success I have is the product of their friendship and encouragement. (Thanks Coach T, Maria Gratia. . . and tons of others). With apologies to Iron Wil, if being "me" can encourage someone else to break "through the wall" that stifles their potential, then I was not just a waste of good carbon.