Sunday, April 30, 2006

The Other Woman

The one or two regular readers out there may have noticed a trend. I've never thought of myself as a lady's man, but I tend to be surrounded by women--Mrs. Greyhound, Coach T, Maria Gratia, M&M. True confession time. There is "another woman."

Its not M&M. She trains with me because I'm married and harmless and yet still male enough to proivde rudimentary security in the park at 0500. I'm sort of her training eunuch. Coach T is a 23 year old runner chick that could drop any would-be attacker, and I'm not sure why she lets me hang around. Maria Gratia is spoken for and Calivnist (like me) besides. Mrs. Greyhound has nothing to fear from these women.

No the other woman is Carmen. She is so infatuating, in part because I'm not sure she's into me. I get the feeling that, at any moment, she could kick me to the curb and move on without regret; yet, I want more. I need to master her, establish my worth to her.

Oh, the lines. The taut, lean smoothness of her body. The silken slience of her movements. The earth moves when she lets me mount her; yet, if I don't please her she throws me off. She has no patience for imperfection. Somewhere, she knows, there is a triathlete worthy of her -- those carbon forks and that aerodynmaic rear end. She lets me know every time I clip in, that she's doing me a favor.

Carmen Tequilo. She only tolerates me . . . and yet, I must have more.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

BP MS150 Day 2

An account of day 2 has to begin the night before. The BP MS150 stops overnight at La Grange, Texas turning the Fayette County Fair Grounds into a cycling Woodstock. Thousands of cyclists descend upon the town, filling every hotel room, every bed and breakfast, and many private homes. Thousands (including me) stay at the fairgrounds in massive team tents.

The sponsor for my team is a plush, Houston hotel, health club and spa. So we have masseuses on hand, all the beer you could want, and awesome food. I’m sure that other parts of the country have their favorite post-ride libations, but (with all due respect) nothing can hold a candle to Shiner Bock. Just ask Lance.

It was over several Shiners that I met Steve, a triathlete from New York who has done Escape from Alcatraz and all sorts of gnarly events that garnered immediate respect in my eyes. As a newbie, I had absolutely nothing Steve would need, except . . .

As a top fundraiser, I had a get out of jail free card! You can imagine the scrum when 13,000 cyclists try to leave from one location at one time. The top 300 fundraisers don’t have to wait in line, but get to start first with a guest of their choice. The Maria Gratia and the Ubergreyhound had already gone home, so the triathlon gods nominated Steve. We nosed our way to the front of the line and were off with hardly anything but empty road in front and 13,000 cyclists behind.

25 mph down the rollers on smooth pavement with mist rising up in the fields and nothing but the whisper of the chains. AWESOME.

The highlight of Day 2 is known as “The Park,” which follows a two lane, 20 mile tree-lined road through a very hilly state park. I know Bold is sniggering about SLPs at this point, but some of the hills are Battle Mountain steep, even west side of Vail Pass steep. The big difference is they go back down way before Battle Mountain or Vail Pass and there is a lot more oxygen

Right before you enter “The Park,” you have an election. The hard route to “The Park” turns right, the alternate (i.e. SLP) route goes straight out to Highway 71. “The Park” ate my lunch last year, and I was not sure how much gas I had left in the tank, especially given the heat we expected. But as I came to the turn, I asked myself, “self, what would Iron Benny do?” WWIBD!

The answer to that question was obvious. Iron Benny would turn right into the park and put the hammer down. I made the turn, and did as much hammering as a skinny greyhound is capable of, skipped the rest stop mid-way through the park, and came out the other side ready for more. BRING IT!

What a difference a year makes--thanks to Coach T and Maria Gratia.

From there it is grab a banana in Bastrop, pull yourself over the hills to the valley of the winds, and climb the hills into Austin. Hammer up to 24 mph as you scream through the UT campus, lean around the curves and then you see the finishing chute. Zip up the jersey like you’re a pro showing off the sponsors and pose for the camera. You can see a photo from the finish here.

Finished by 11:25 a.m. instead of 2:30 p.m. like last year. 2 days, 10 hours, 180 miles. Nearly $8000 in contributions raised by this rider for the MS Society.

Admiring hugs from Mrs. Greyhound and the puppy and a text message from Maria Gratia, “Now that’s what we call kickin’ ass.”

Bring on Buffalo Springs Lake. I ain’t skeered.

Monday, April 24, 2006

BP MS150 Day 1

It’s hard to keep track of things when you’re on the bike for 10 hours over two days with 13,000 of your closest friends. Nevertheless, I captured this montage of observations about the 2006 BP MS150. Day 1:

Jessi S. (“Go Jessi”) Cannondale bit me near the beginning of the ride--sprocket marks on my calf. Either she caught me looking at that sexy Quintana Roo tri-rocket, or she knew that I was so hydrated that I was about to go “nature break” VERY soon. Luckily I scored a random port-o-potty at an outlying development before we came to blows.
Once you exit the city, you're on the Katy prairie, wind at your back, smooth highway, like riding with no chain! 20+ mph with no effort at all. The effort comes later.

After Belville, you hit your first hills of any consequence. At the same time you really began to work, the heat started to rise in what turned out to be a very warm weekend indeed. Maria Gratia and Coach T pounded the hydration sermons into me, so I managed nutrition and had no serious incidents. I did see the walking wounded however. Last year it probably would have included me.

Somewhere along the way, I heard the voice of Robo-Stu, saying, “We are so lucky for this heat and these hills. This is great training for Buffalo Springs Lake!” When I saw a very large, lean and muscular black man half-way up a large hill walking his bike and massaging his cramping quads, I elected not to repeat Robo’s encouragement.

Props to the farmer playing the fiddle in his bib overalls standing by his tractor next to the highway west of Belville. I kid you not. This is Texas after all.
Until Belville, I rode with the ubergreyhound, boyfriend to Maria Gratia, my trainer. Right after Belville I noticed my computer was not registering, so I stopped for a nanosecond to adjust the sensor and ubergreyhound was gone. I hauled a** for the next 90 minutes thinking he was just over the next rise, but he pulled off at a break point and I screamed right by.

Highlight of the trip: I met Ashton Turner. She’s the six-year-old I posted on here a few days ago--a genuine (pronounced Jen-yew-wine) celebrity. She was just as cute as advertised, but she was still shy and did not ring the Hello Kitty bell for me. Bummer.

Meeting Ashton was also what I call a “How the h*ll did you get here” moment. I saw Ashton perched on her Trek half-wheeler about 80 plus miles into the ride after (I thought) haulin’ a** over the hills to catch ubergreyhound. Either Ashton’s Dad is Quadzilla or they started an hour early in Katy rather than in the City. That’s my story anyway.

The quintessential “How did you get here” moment occurs near the end of a century ride when you come upon a morbidly obese, sedentary office worker atop a mountain bike with saggy suspension and knobby tires doing 7 mph as you struggle valiantly to maintain your heroic tempo at the end of the day. More power to them for going out and making changes, but your mind involuntarily inquires, “How the h*ll did you get here?” One theory is that they fall through worm holes in the space time continuum. How else could a large object traveling at 7 mph cover 80 miles in 4 hours.

On a related topic, the team sponsored by “The Scooter Store” seemed to have the higher than average BMI compared with other teams that I observed. I’m just sayin’ . . . In contrast, the “Men’s Wearhouse” team seemed to have a very high percentage of riders who went all out and shaved their legs for the event, . . . not that there’s anything wrong with that.

Notwithstanding the hills and the heat, my cadence and tempo were so much better this year. No bonking. No suffering. Better bike fit and fitter biker all added up to an awesomely fun, and for me a fast ride.

It is very satisfying to pick up the cell phone when your wife is calling just to leave you a message for whenever you happen to finish and be able to tell her, “Heck, I’ve been sitting here drinking beer for an hour and a half already.”

When you’re nearly 40, it is also very satisfying to have a 26-year-old single gal, your personal trainer, yell out your name at the finish, shortly followed by the word “AWESOME!” (You girls hold all the power over us.)

My watts were epic, and my amps and volts and millibars were nuthin’ to sneeze at either. I don’t have exact figures because of the bike computer malfunctions, but I cut more than an hour off my elapsed time from last year and did the 99.5 miles on the first day in about 5:30 on the bike. Average HR: 136. I know Bold can’t stand a bike post without a chart, so I used my highest tech gear to chart my performance. Here is my chart from the first day.

Stay Tuned for Day 2 where we learn the meaning of “WWIBD”

MWM ISO Aero Goddess

I'll post about the MS150 soon, but right now I need help. Bike experts: I'm unexpectedly in a position to by my first tri bike! SWEET! What should I get and what should I name her?

MWM, 39, 5'4", 139 lbs. ISO enduring relationship with aero goddess. This is my first time, so be gentle. Super expensive, finicky, high maintenance gals need not apply.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Hello Kitty Rides to Austin

What's 3 foot 2, weighs 39 pounds, and won't stop talking on the bike? Just your typical Texas girl, Ashton Turner, age 6, youngest participant (with her dad) in the BP MS150 this weekend. Her pink helmet and "Hello Kitty" bell were too cute to pass up. Her training advice: "Don't eat too many cookies at breaks or you might get sick." You know that actually must have happened.

The article also featured the oldest participant, who is 92. Get the full story here. I have reprinted an excerpt about Ashton---and if you turn your eyes to the right side of the page you'll see a secure fundraising link, just in case you can't resist joining the cause. How can you resist those pigtails? (Cheap trick using somone else's kid, I know. But at least the cause is just).

The cycle of life

THERE may be 86 years between them, but when it comes to surviving this weekend's BP MS 150, Ashton Turner and Bud Schiffman have the same strategy: Lots of breaks.

"That way you don't have to go the whole way without any food or water," said Turner, who, at 6, is the youngest rider in the event's 22-year history.

For Turner, it's a passion that started two years ago. Tired of cheering from the sidelines as her dad zoomed by, she asked if she too could ride.
"I told her when she was 6 she could," said her father, Mason Turner, who has participated in the ride since he was a teenager. "She hasn't forgotten about it."
Because she is so little that most bikes that fit her are inappropriate for long rides, Turner, like Schiffman, needed a special bike. She rides a Trek half-wheeler that snaps on the back of her dad's bike and allows her to help pedal. If she gets too tired, though, she can relax and make her dad pick up the slack.
"You can feel me pedaling," she said after going for a spin on the bike, which is decorated with streamers and a pink Hello Kitty bell that matches her pink helmet.

"I can feel when you don't pedal," her dad said.

Why is she riding? "So I can get stronger, and for those people who actually do have the MS," said Turner, who is so comfortable in her helmet that she sometimes wears it around the house.

Aside from the cookies she gets at break points, her favorite thing is talking to people when she rides. "I used to be shy, but now I like to talk," she said.

Too cute!

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

You Might Be A Triathlete If . . .

Spend any time at all on triathlon blogs (including this blog) and you will see a recurring theme: pensive wanderings about who am I, am I a "real" triathlete, can I accomplish my goals . . .

Triathlete-ocity is not an on or off kind of thing. It is more like a virus. It can be dormant, somewhat active, or in full blown rage throughout your body. I have developed a test that involves no bloodletting by which you can tell if you are a triathlete, and if so, how "bad" a case of triathlonitis you are carrying. I offer this as a public service.

You might be a triathlete, if:

1. You or your spouse have ever asked the question "Honey, does this wetsuit make me look fat?"

2. You use words like "hydrate" and "hydration" rather than "drink" or even "beverage."

3. You have referred to "breakfast" "lunch" or "dinner" as "nutrition" rather than "breakfast" "lunch" or "dinner."

4. You have ever calculated how many grams of carbohydrate or protein per kilogram of body weight are in that peanut butter sandwich. (Give yourself two points if you knew how many kilograms you weighed before starting the calculation.)

5. You and your spouse each have a special razor for shaving something other than your face.

6. You have ever thought about installing "yankz" on your dress shoes.

7. Your daughter has, at least once, referred to your swimming attire as "panties."

8. Your car always, or nearly always, contains a bike, a swim bag, and a run bag--just in case there is time to squeeze in an extra workout.

9. You have leaped off your spin bike at the end of class, yanked on running shoes and sprinted for the treadmill. (Give yourself two points if you either timed yourself in that interval, or if you referred to it, even in private, as T2).

10. You have strong feelings about the proper or best workout or recovery drink or gel. (Give yourself two points if you have ordered said condiment online and in bulk.)

11. Your heart rate elevates when you surf for bike porn and charts, and you surf for those instead of, well, . . . other stuff.

12. You insist that any list of the world's sexiest women is not complete absent Jessi Stensland, Mel McQuaid or Lindsay Benko. (Or, to give equal time, your heart goes pitter pat for Peter Reid, Norman Stadler, or Faris Al Sultan).

13. You comfortably use words like "Butt Butter" or "Frozen Beaver" in every day conversation without embarassment.

14. You have a tan line across your back from a heart monitor strap.

15. Your online friends have names that include terms like "Iron" or "Tri" or "Geek" (Give yourself two points if you already knew Iron Wil was a "girl").

16. When you leave the house, you not only have a briefcase, but also a transition bag and a food bag. (Give yourself 2 points if you also have a "special needs" bag and an additional point if you shower at home less than twice each week).

17. You know what GYGO stands for and pine for it at the end of every week.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Middle Aged Superhero

Remember that debate you had when you were a kid? Something along the lines of, "my dad's tougher than your dad"? Remember? The Greyhound Puppy showed her competitive side this weekend and played the "my dad's tougher than your dad" card.

I took her and another family's puppy on a ride around the neighborhood on some of the trails. I took up the rear, and there in the front was the Greyhound pup. Little more than a year ago she could not ride at all, now there she is, her blond pony tale hanging out of the pink skater girl helmet, pedaling like she's Mel McQuaid or Alison Dunlap tearing up the trails. "I know where this goes. Follow me."

When we finish our little loop and get back to the house, the guest puppy is impressed with her first ever trail ride. "How far did we go?" she asks.

"Oh, about two and half miles, probably," I answer.

That's when Greyhound Puppy goes nuclear. "My dad's riding all the way to Austin." (Translation: "my dad's tougher than your dad.")

Guest Puppy: "All the way to Austin???!! How far is that??!!"

Me: "Oh, about 180 or 185 miles depending upon the route."

Guest Puppy: "Oh my gosh, . . . "

I gotta say, it puffed me up a bit to have the puppy brag on her old man. It's all relative, however. We're just lucky we live in a soft, suburban neighborhood, and not next door to Iron Wil's kids or the Kahuna's pack of wild dogs. Otherwise, the guest puppy might have retorted with:

"Oh yeah? My Mom's doing Ironman Wisconsin."


"Oh yeah? My Dad's done Wildflower and Alcatraz and is doing Ironman Florida."

For now, anyway--until junior high and boys if I'm lucky-- the Greyhound Puppy can think I'm a superhero.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Mr. Lucky

Warning, this is only partially a naked plug for props and support. Only five days left until one of those yearly events that reminds me how lucky I am--check that--how lucky we are, Mrs. Greyhound and me.

Over Saturday and Sunday, 13,000 of my closest friends and I will ride from Houston to Austin for the 2006 BP MS150. Several of the group have been injured in accidents during the training rides leading up to the event this year--including Brother Bart who is a monster runner/cyclist. His 25 mph pace line was cut off by a negligent driver just this past week and he was hospitalized. Two riders, that I know of, have been killed while on their bicycles. My continued safety, I guess, is my first good fortune, and I invite the blogger-prayers to hover along for the ride. Even 13,000 cyclists are not much of a match for Bubbah in a pickup.

I'm also lucky because there are 13,000 people along on the ride. While the crowds don't feel like luck sometimes, each of the 13,000 people has committed to raising at least $400 to support the Lone Star Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. By ride's end, this group of cyclists--many of them newbies--in all shapes and sizes--will have raised in excess of $10 million for MS research and patient support services. Mrs. Greyhound is an MS patient, and this outpouring of support makes us feel very lucky.

The fact that Mrs. Greyhound is my "pedal partner," the MS patient in whose honor I ride, is of course a huge stroke of good fotune. The success of her therapy and continued good health with minimal complications is a blessing that I take for granted all too often. During the ride, we will see hundreds of pedal partners who are not so lucky. They come out to the break points, to the roadside, to the finish line. They brave the heat (which aggravates MS symptoms) and cheer for us from their wheelchairs, on their canes, and in their walkers. They cheer for us! How backwards is that?

The final piece of luck is one we probably share. If you are a triathlete--no matter if you win your age group or are the last finisher before the course closes--you have a body that lets you train and play every day. Imagine losing that part of your life. Now, perform some act of thanksgiving for your very good fortune. Maybe, turn your good health outward and ride for a charity. If you want, you can support mine through the link on the sidebar of this page.

Just remember, the next time you wake up achy after a weekend brick, or next time you suffer booty lock as you hammer away a hill repeat, that is your very good fortune you are feeling.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Do You Hear What I Hear?

What does your playlist say about you? Today's workout prompted that question. I really hope Curly Su reads this post and blogs back because I'm pretty sure that she, with her musical education, is the only person with any chance of topping my bizarro playlist.

For today's workout, Jessi S. Cannondale was at the bike doctor for her final checkup before the ride from Houston to Austin for the 2006 BP MS150. (Yes, Bolder, this does involve lube.) As a result, today's brick involved 2 hours on a spin bike. Coach T let me use the spin studio and I patched my mp3 pleayer into the sound system so it played over the speakers.

Having my playlist audible to the outside world convinced me that I probably need counseling. The selection of songs is probably shows my past as a classically trained orchestral musician who went to high school in the '80s and downloads new post-grunge and punk as part of his midlife crisis. Either that, or else Greyhound has multiple personality disorder.

For example, taking the list in alphabetical order, A is for Green Day's "American Idiot" and "Attack" by 30 Seconds to Mars. A, however, is also for "Attack on the Death Star" from the original Star Wars soundtrack composed by John Williams and performed by the London Symphony. Already, we see signs of an ubergeek going through midlife crisis.

B is for the Bond Theme (007 music) followed closely by Nickelback's "Breathe" but also "Buckbeak's Flight" from Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.

C would not only find the opening chorus from Carmina Burana ("O Fortuna"), but also "Cowboys from Hell" by Pantera. WTF??

D not only includes "Doesn't Remind Me Of Anything" performed by Audioslave, but also "Duel of the Fates" from the soundtrack to Star Wars Episode I. It's not getting any more normal, is it?

I dare not take you through the entire alphabet, but go as long as you want and you would find selections from Boston, Van Halen, Queen, and also Wagner's Ring Cycle, Holst's Planets ("Mars, Bringer of War") and the "Band of Brothers" soundtrack. I even have the music composed for televised olympic coverage and used on the Steve Prefontaine movie. (The poor, deluded, old man has a rich fantasy life).

In my list, "Fat Bottomed Girls" and "Flight of the Valkeries" are literally adjacent to one another.

What have you got? Top that, Curly Su.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Clark Kent and the Puppy

I went cycling in my own neighborhood last night, but I think my secret identity is safe. (Apologies to Kahuna. I am shamelessly adapting one of his own ideas). I looked nothing like the sleek and sinewed "man-of-steel" triathlete that exists in my minds eye, nor even like the new and improved middle-of-the-packer that exists in reality. I was Clark Kent, the mild-mannered suburban dad.

Instead of the Canondale road bike, Clark rode Mrs. Greyhound's Raleigh hybrid--big knobby tires, squooshy suspension system, and big comfy saddle. Instead of skin-tight cycling shorts, Clark wore cotton, knee length, khaki, Bermuda shorts. (Clark noted with satisfaction that the waist band of said shorts, bought three years ago, was three inches too big and required a belt). Instead of tri-specific cycling shoes with the single velcro strap, Clark tied up an old pair of trainers. Clark even wore socks; however, (unlike his father) he refuses to wear black dress socks with his Bermuda shorts out of principle.

Clark did wear his bitchin' Oakley shades, though.

There was a cyclist in front of me, spinning furiously on skinny little legs in a low gear. She rode a purple mountain bike and wore a pink skate boarding helmet with heart stickers on it. Clark did not call out, "on your left" in order to pass. Hiding his secret identity, he shifted to a lower gear and fell in behind. The cyclist was, after all, the Greyhound puppy, and she had called dibs on being the "leader." So she led---past the new park, to the end of the neighborhood, onto the dirt trails, and all the way back. She even raced me to the street sign.

She won.

What a great secret. What a great evening.


Sometimes a fella has to know when to quit. In the words of the west coast philosopher, Clint Eastwood, "A man's got to know his limitations." This was one of those days.

Based upon what happened, this day has the potential to be dead solid perfect, or if I take a wrong turn, we will see signs of the appocalypse. So far, I think I have held the appocalypse at bay. You can thank me later.

It started perfectly. Eyes drift open at the appropriate time without the alarm. Don the cycling gear, grab the food bag and the gear bag and head out the door to meet M&M at the park for a brick workout.

Weather conditions? Perfect. The air is cool and foggy. A full moon makes my front yard look as enchanted as Hobbiton of the Shire. The air is perfumed by moist, cedar mulch. Absolutely perfect.

The drive in? perfect. No traffic. Good coffee. Good music. Park deserted. Assemble the bike, drink coffee and listen to my own heartbeat until M&M arrives. Absolutely perfect.

Fog and mist shroud the streelights on the cycling loop. Its like cycling on another planet and we slice silently through the quiet morning--strong legs, no wind, zone 2, one hour, perfect.

Jump off the bikes and transition to a good, solid 10K run twice around the park. Decent stride, good tempo, strong performance. Great workout. Perfect.

Off to the gym for a final stretch and a shower. Joke around with Maria Gratia and more coffee. Nothing better. Then the omen happened.

In my bag are two shoes--identical brand and style, one for the right foot and one for the left, same size. Absolutely identical except for the fact that one is brown and one is black. This, my friends, is an omen. A fork in the road of the space time continuum.

The day before a three day weekend, do you dare tempt fate by forcing yourself into the office, either with mismatched shoes or after the 1.3 hour round trip to the house to fetch the mate? After the absolutely perfect morning you have started? Do this only if you want to be single-handedly responsible for the fall of Western Civilization.

It was my choice to make. Perfection or cataclysm. If this ever happens to you, and if you have the power to do so, simply stop. shrug and accept your fate. Do not shake your fist at the triathlon gods like Ahab in quest of the white whale. I grabbed the laptop and headed for the safety of my home office. Now, if the GYGO podcast comes out a day early, I will know beyond doubt that I made the right decision.

You can thank me later.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Testosterone Poisoning

I'm not a doctor. I don't even play one on the internet. But, I've noticed an alarming condition that is infecting men in gyms and health clubs all over the nation. I think it is infectious, and but for the tendency of American men to be completely sedentary, it would be a pandemic. This post is humbly offered as a public service.

Men, beware the dangers of testosterone poisoning. This is not a condition involving excess levels of the male sex hormone, but a mental illness whereby you start to think of yourself as a "real" man or at least more of a "man" than "that guy" and thus God's gift to everyone around you, especially that hot trainer.

My working hypothesis is that the condition may be caused or at least exacerbated by spending too much time exercising indoors, especially when the environment involves too many mirrors and the exercise consists almost entirely of free weights. Watch for the tell tale signs. You might have this condition if:

1. You spend 10 minutes walking on an inclined treadmill and you call that "cardio."

2. Your core strength training consists of lying on your back, jerking your head quickly up and down 50 or 60 times while you grunt and sweat profusely on the mat--which you don't clean up.

3. You think Pilates is a type of food.

4. You wonder what sport is played with the stability balls in the corner.

5. You move heavy pieces of iron four or more days a week.

6. You lift large quantities of food the other three days.

7. When you move your heavy pieces of iron, a "good" set invovles jerking your body back and forth and grunting like a female tennis pro in the middle of her serve.

8. You are sure the hot trainer at the gym is really into you.

9. It feels normal to walk around the locker room au naturel, sans towel.

10. While you are strutting with your junk in the breeze, you carry on conversations in which the most frequent words contain four letters or are eumphemistic references to the hot trainer.

11. You spend more time with the blow dryer and mirror than your teenage daughter.

12. The appropriate amount of cologne is that which can be smelled across the locker room.

13. Your elbows do not brush your sides when you walk.

14. You have one or more gold chains of any size around your neck.

15. You think that tight golf shirt looks good.

Men, don't let this happen to you. If you have a gym membership, you must use protection to avoid transmission of this contagion. If you want to prevent infection or cure yourself of a full blown case of testosterone poisoning, take the following measures:

1. Get married--Nothing will suck the inflated image of your manliness out of you quite like a spouse.

2. If you are married, actually spend time with your spouse. (See number 1).

3. Exercise outside--Swim, bike, run, repeat.

4. Race--Getting dropped by a girl and whimpering through a 5k while the skinny chess nerds make you eat dust will cure you of any illusions that your past glories on the gridiron count any more.

5. Eat vegetables--French fries don't count. At least a couple of meals each day ought not to come in polystyrene.

6. Hire that hot trainer to actually use her professional knowledge. When you can't walk the next day, you'll know where you really stand.

7. Stay with the trainer, and don't look into the mirror again your spouse tells you you look good.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Wow, that one's hard.

What have I done? What possessed me to sign up for a half-iron in my first season of multisport training. . . in Lubbock of all places?

I guess my psyche is a wee bit less cocky given the last 24 hours. I mean, we find training partners, join clubs, and go to meetings to get encouragement, right? On every occasion, however, in the last 24 hours, that I have revealed my racing plans, the reaction has not been encouragement. At best, it was, "wow, that one's hard." The worst was during my introduction at the club meeting last night. There was an audible gasp when I stated my intention to complete the Buffalo Springs Lake 70.3.

Gee, thanks for that.

To be fair, they might have thought I was coming straight from sedentary middle-age to half-iron rather than from three marathons and two double century bike tours. Still, "that one's hard" is not what I wanted to hear.

Or is it? The new greyhound likes a challenge. I just need to find that fat old dog that inhabits my self-image so that I can bind him, gag him, lock him up and throw away the key.

Coach T thinks I can do it, and the best way to get a middle-aged guy to run pel mel through his perceived limitations is to tell him a girl just might be watching. (We are, after all, unbelievably simple schmucks).

OK, I can do this, . . . probably . . . perhaps . . . I mean yes, I can.

P.S. If anyone in the blogosphere has done Buffalo Springs Lake, pointers and race reports would be greatly appreciated.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Confessions of an Addict

Hi, my name is Greyhound, and I'm a train-o-holic.

("Hi, Greyhound.")

The puppy and I went camping this weekend with the YMCA, and it was pretty much the father/daughter event that it was supposed to be. I don't think she noticed my withdrawal symptoms.

I mean, sure, I took my bike, but she did too. It wasn't like I was going to get in a four hour training ride or anything . . . in the Texas hill country . . . in the most beautifully perfect, dry, sunny, meterological nirvana that has ever . . . but I digress.

West of Burnet, we start to see the hills, the rock outcroppings, the lake. I tried not to notice, but it was hardly fair. They talk, those hills.

"Come on, Greyhound. This is perfect. The weather's perfect."

"Shut up and leave me alone."

" The grade of the hills is perfect. The length is perfect."

"I'm not listening. You have no power here."

"You can hammer up one hill and jam in the big ring down the other side. The road goes ever on and on . . . ."

"please . . . leave me alone."

"Just a little bit won't hurt. Just a little ride. It will be our secret. You know you want to."

We pull into the campground, and I recognize a camper from our group--with three high-end road and triathlon bikes leaned against the trees outside. I should have gone far, far away. But I did not. We set up right next door, and the night finished uneventfully--me and the new issue of Triathlete magazine by flashlight, as if it were . . . well . . . a different magazine.

Morning light. Coffee. Steam coming off the glass surface of the lake. "Come on, Greyhound. How far can it be out to those bouys? 250 yards, max."

"Doesn't matter. I can't leave the puppy."

"You could be there and back twice before the puppy even wakes up."

"I don't have my wetsuit."

"You're not soft. You don't need it."

"But . . ."

"You know you want to."

Breakfast, more coffee. Talking with the biker dads. They talk a good game; but, they're awfully big. I suspect they are not real addicts. Probably just recreational users.

Wow, the park has offered the group a guided tour of the cavern and the dad of puppy's best friend will take both girls so I'll watch them later while he cooks. This is my chance. Puppy is safe. She won't miss me; she's with her best friend. I've got 2.5 hours. The biker dads are jumping on their bikes.

And they're off . . . .

Gosh we're going kinda slow. I was right. These guys have fancy paraphenalia, but they just use on weekends and parties and stuff. Don't want to make them think I'm showing off. I'll just grab this wheel up the hard climb.

What? 15 minute break? Five miles and one serious climb? Dude, I'm just getting my buzz. Relax, Greyhound. Don't show off. Be cool. They'll think you're a tri-geek. OK we're riding again.

It would be OK if I open a little gap and then wait for them right? OK, that's not a little gap, but this is fun. Look at this hill. I can stand and hammmer. Bang, bang, bang, bang, . . . . Shift and fly.

Weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee. Wooo hoooooooooooo.

Just one more. One more. One. Another. Another. . . .

Pull up and stop. The skinniest recreational user is coming up now. I smile and ask, "Wow, this is awesome. How long does this road go on?"

"Uh," (furtive look), "I'm not sure. I don't think we've ever been this far before."

"Oh," (slightly embarassed), "well, . . . . I guess we . . .should probably go back?"

"Yeah. Probably."

Back in time for dad duty . . . after a 3 mile transition run.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Dogs and Technology

I think . . . I think this dog about to have some of the kinks worked out. The sidebar almost looks how I want it, almost says what I want it to say, and the blogosphere should now accept any comments. How ironic that there are so many triathletes online when the best side effect of the triathlete life is forcing one (in the words of Henry David Thoreau) to "Simplify, simplify, simplify." There is no room for excess baggage while you swim, bike, run, eat, sleep and repeat. (Iron Wil wrote a great post on this topic about two weeks ago, and if I were knowledgable enough to link you to it I would.)

On that note, I am posting some tri-life lessons learned from the simplicity of the canine. These are not original to me. They were authored by "anonymous." So I will shamelessly pirate an excerpt from "Lessons I Learned From My Dog." The canine code and the ideal Tri-life are remarkably similar:

Run, romp and play every day.

Don't be afraid to snuggle up to someone you love.

Never pretend to be something you're not.

When loved ones come home, always run to greet them.

If what you want lies buried, dig until you find it.

When someone is having a bad day, be silent, sit close by, and nuzzle them gently.

Never pass up an opportunity to go for a joy ride.

Kisses are good, especially wet ones.

Stop and smell the roses . . . and the dirt, and the grass, and the trees.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple Sclerosis is one of the reasons I train, and it is a very personal reason. MS strikes healthy people in the prime of life and changes their prospects forever. I know someone with MS. It is Mrs. Greyhound.

We are very lucky in a lot of ways. 75% of persons diagnosed with MS are unable to work after 5 years. Mrs. Greyhound still can, most of the time. If we had come down the road 15 years ago, there were essentially no drugs to help modify the course of the disease. Now, there are three such drugs, along with more promising research in the pipelline that really and truly has the potential to end the suffering.

I help fund the research and care to MS patients with my own contributions and by riding the the BP MS150, a charity bicycle tour from Houston to Austin. I ride today so that, someday, everyone might ride. If MS has touched you, or if you are touched by the cause, there is a secure donation link on the sidebar of this page. It will stay there until this year's effort ends.

Almost Like Sleeping

No detached observer of my swimming will ever confuse me with a "real" swimmer. In fact, I think there is a freeway warning sign ("NON-SWIMMER") that starts blinking at each end of the pool when I resort to my candy ass open turns instead of doing a manly flip turn. That said, one of the beauties of age-group endurance sport is that we each get to measure current selves by our past selves. By that measure, I'm freaking Michael Phelps.

A little over a year ago, before I took my grownup swim lessons, I dropped into the pool and tried to swim a workout. It was written down on a card and everything. I had no reservations. I was a two time marathoner, after all. I was reasonably fit. I was in training to ride a 180 mile tour.

That card is in a landfill somewhere, along with what should have been my first season of multi-sport training. I did not make 100 yards. Indeed, my heart rate and breathing could not have been more ragged and panicked if I were swimming through chum during a shark feeding frenzy while being strafed by the U.S. Navy. FIGHT OR FLIGHT!!!

A little more than a year later, it feels like Zen and the Art of Swimming. I dropped into the water intending just to see if I could swim for an hour, any distance, good form, zone 2, nothing special. It was so meditative that I essentially lost count of some of the laps in the middle of the hour. The goggles fogged over. So what? Just close the eyes and occasionally check the black line on the bottom of the pool. Keep the rhythm . . .

Blow bubbles. . . breathe in . . . bubbles . . . in . . . bubbles . . . in . . . z-z-z-z-z

The swim was longer than the half-iron I intend to do in June, but I could have continued indefinitely, or jumped up and cycled without feeling worn out. No real triathlete would have been impressed with my current self, but my former self sure was. He will have to wait until some other day to tell me I don't belong here.

It was almost as good as sleeping. Really, even better.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Iron Sharpens Iron

Hanging around ironman triathletes can be dangerous. I do not mean dangerous in the sense of overuse injuries, bicycle wrecks and open water swim accidents, although I am sure that is also part of the deal. I am talking about the danger of befriending people who dream big--people who see visions.

Nothing dangerous about a friendly little brick session among friends, right? M&M discloses this morning that her real "A" race this season is not a half-iron, as I supposed. Noooooooooo. IRONMAN WESTERN AUSTRALIA. (Incidentally, M&M needs a new internet pseudonym--something with a warrior-goddess connotation). I get fired up about this huge dream and start talking about all the ways I can help with training and cheerleading to make it happen for her. Then . . .

. . . it comes down to my goal. I had contemplated doing the Buffalo Springs Lake Triathlon, a half-iron, but no one was available to play cheering section and help with the logistics of getting "there and back again." M&M puts on the "no excuses" mentality, commits to going to the race with me, and immediately puts together the pit crew of her friends that will see me though.

So, now I have to quit procrastinating and sign up.

So, now I have to really train with conviction, otherwise M&M and her tough triathlete friends will see me cry like a baby.

"As iron sharpens iron, so one man [or irongirl] sharpens another." Proverbs 27:17

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Ever Feel Like You're Being Watched?

So I'm watching the Tour of Flanders like the wigged out cycle-geek that I have become, and I hear:


So screamed the greyhound puppy, an 8-year-old girl who just learned how to ride her own bike last year. She shouted downstairs because she knew I would want to see Lance. She new I would want to see Lance because she has seen Mr. and Mrs. Greyhound watch the Tour since she can remember. She new I would want to see Lance because she knows I ride a bike too (much MUCH slower than Lance) with my friends.

She does not miss much, that pup. Hopefully, she's picking up the love for activity and play that is around her. Hopefully she makes it a part of her life as we play together. Hopefully, I don't show off my selfish, surly pack leader side more than I should Nevertheless, for good or for ill, dads are being watched. God, help me not to screw this up.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

I wonder

Am I for real? Not in that existential philosopher sort of way, but more along the lines of who is the real me?

Sometimes the guy that goes out for training rides on the weekend or hangs out at the gym feels authentic. He has friends, he is relatively confident, he enjoys his training and he thrives on encouraging his colleagues to play like children. And yet . . .

This is my first season of multisport training. No matter how many hours a week you swim, bike or run, can you really be a triathlete if you have yet to complete a race? My mind envisions the triathlete I want to be, but since when are visions real?

More solid than the visions is the withdrawn, flabby bookworm of five years ago. He's still down there, inside, occasionally tapping my shoulder when the swim or ride or run is not going well, insinuating that I should be satisfied with the "real me," the one that does not belong here. "What are you doing here with all these outgoing, athletic, good-looking people? Who are you trying to fool? You are the same frumpy guy with bad hair, glasses and baggy jeans. It's only a matter of time before you are discovered. Grow up."

Am I really the guy who treats a six mile run as a recovery day? Or, is that temporary? Will I wake up and put my glasses back on, grunt as I roll out of bed, and go back to the office? Which one is real, the guy I left behind, the guy I am now, or the guy that is in my mind's eye who has yet to arrive?

I guess I decide.