Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Race Report--Intermezzo & Act II

Intermezzo: T-1

I continue my barefoot, bandy-legged joggy wobble to transition. It is a good 150 yards all the way round to the entrance and through to my bike. Along the way, my vertigo and my leg strength do not improve. I really don’t feel like going for a bike ride.

But my hands and mind have something to do that leaves no room for self-pity. I strip out of the wetsuit, and in an instant I have race belt, glasses, helmet, drink ---but I need to get those bike shoes on. (I was not about to try the shoes-in-clips peddle while you dress nonsense. I don’t need extra help falling on my @$$.) I am still so dizzy I wonder whether I can bend over to reach the shoes without falling over. I nevertheless manage it, and Carmen Tequilo and I are on the run toward the sign “Bike Out.”

Except that the exit is 100+ yards away and then there is another 100+ yards up a hill before one is allowed to mount. It may not have been that far, but there may well have been 400 yards of running between the swim exit and the start line for the bike. To do it in bike shoes was less than optimal. CRAMPAGE.

But for all the running, it would have been a fast transition. T-1: 4:16.2

Act II: The Bike
I mount Carmen Tequilo, who is already in a low gear, waiting to run. Her rider, however, is no. I have done bike/run bricks before. But I realize that this is the first time I have ever gotten directly up from a swim and tried to bike. My head is still swimming, my stomach feels way below average, and the dorky bike shoe track workout I just completed sucked any thought of freshness right out of my legs. 15 mph feels really hard, and my quads are really complaining.

Again that voice tries to tell me it is OK to quit. “Why are you here? Who are you trying to fool? You are a short, wimpy, middle-aged, overly-educated white guy with a desk job. Get over yourself.” I involuntarily return to a vivid mental picture from T-1, a soft, middle-aged man in his bifocals smearing sunscreen on his pooch, completely red in the face, and sitting awkwardly on the ground. He is unprepared to continue.

Here, the voice of doubt has made a mistake, because whatever caused me to sign up for my swim lessons snaps and rebels. “I am NOT that guy. I will NEVER be that guy.” I moderate my expectations on the first climb, but I keep moving forward. About halfway to the Capitol Building, I take a gel and some water, hoping to get a little spring in my step. I hear a sound behind me like an electrical generator. It gets louder and louder until a pro with his single digit race number and solid race wheel whir by me as if he was powered by an internal combustion engine.

That is so COOL.

There is no way I am stopping. Rhythm is almost there. I stand in the pedals and hammer up to San Jacinto and I am starting to feel better. Take a drink at the top while coasting to the bottom of the course at 18th street. Make the turn, and finally, it is time to race. Power back over the top of the hill and take the hairpin back onto Congress street, downhill all the way to the river.

That hairpin took its victims. A few of the competitors (age groupers) were less than polite and less than safe in the turns. Screaming out directions to everyone around them, they apparently thought everyone should stay the hell out of their way. The triathlon gods took their vengeance. Hot shot loud mouth age grouper laid his bike over and slid all the way to the curb. One of his buddies needed an ambulance.

Carmen and I are content to take the turns in the cow horns. But, on the way down Congress, she invites me to embrace the aero bars and throw in that highest gear--the one we save for special occasions. It is an effortless flight all the way down to Cesar Chavez. Half way down a motorcycle cop is standing with his radar gun out and clocking the fastest descenders. I almost hit my brakes from instinct, but instead only laugh. He stays for all four laps, and I blow through his speed trap every time.

Be forewarned, this is going to sound really stupid. Remember when you were little, and you emulated your favorite sports heroes--copying the batting stance of Pete Rose or Jeff Bagwell. On the long flats, I was nine years old again--except this time I really acted like a nine year old instead of a miniature adult. Instead of copying Pete Rose, I was Lance Armstrong. My pedals turned at an unrelenting 100 rpm, an unchanging cadence in aggressive aero form, passing Jan Ulrich in the time trial. I don’t know how many people I passed, and they probably weren’t actually going very fast, but when I passed someone, I shifted and lifted the cadence and passed them fast. 31 years completely disappeared. I played.

Four laps and 25 miles of pure fun. 1:16:26.5 19.5 mph. Avg HR 146.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Race Report: Prologue & Act I

It is 0220 in Austin and my eyes are open. The strange bed, the extra hydration, and the events that I anticipate for this day have made it impossible to stay asleep. I obsess about my transition bag, but every thing is there. It was packed, checked and systematically rechecked hours ago. I think about the course. I think about not being able to sleep. I worry about worrying about worrying.

I try to turn my mind off in my typical geeky fashion by listening to the BBC World Service. It works for several 10 minute micro-naps up until I had planned to get up anyway.

I rummage through the breakfast treats I had acquired from Whole Foods Market and simultaneously eat, brew coffee, and don my Houston Racing and Triathlon Club uniform. The BBC plays in the background. At some point, there is nothing left to do except shoulder the transition bag and steal out of the sleeping hotel into the dark like a ghost.

In typical, anal fashion, I am five minutes early and one of the first to the parking area. A 20 something girl is going to scrawl my numbers on my body, and that voice of doubt insinuates that the numbers are for purposes of identifying my corpse. She asks my age, and a voice similar to my own says, "40."

Did I really say that? 40? Holy crap. I was a 23 year old orchestra musician only yesterday. Was that even me? Who was that guy?

I move and find my bike in transtion where the mercury lights provide little assistance in seeing through the blanket of darkness. Note to self: flahslight in transition bag.

I put on my mp3 player and settle into the familiar workout mix while laying out my gear: swim, bike, run. I am so early that I now have time just to sit back and people watch. It is a moveable feast.

I see everyone from hottie hardbody, to fireplug man encasing his 300+ pounds in a wetsuit like a mustachioed bratwurst. 40 year old racers who will contend with the pros. 40 year old newbies who will not. Teenage athletes who have the confidence of being immortal. 65 year old athletes who are racing against father time. We are all here, different and yet the same. The course will be hard for each of us, and how much we give to the course is between each individual and his or her conscience.

Eventually, we all go out to the edge of Town Lake. Amid the smiles and jovial conversation, one cannot miss it. Most of us are looking nervously at the water and the distance between the bouys.

But time waits for no man. The horn sounds and the elites are off, gliding effortlessly like porpoises along the water. My group is wearing day glow green swim caps and are the last wave of men before a six minute break and the first women's wave. I hold out hopes that this break will decrease the likelihood that 30 amazon women will swim over me and pummel my lifeless frame.

I place myself at the back of the queue and drop into the water, which is unexpectedly cool. My plan is to minimize the combat swimming by starting at the back and on the outside. Before I know it, the starter has called 45 seconds remaining, 30 seconds, 15 seconds and the horn sounds.

And so it begins.

I did not feel like I took off too fast, but very quickly I am hyperventalating and struggling. I try all my tricks, but none seem to be working. Someone's body or feet or chop is always interfering with getting my wits about me. I am only about one third of the way to the first turn, and I really want to call the whole thing off.

"Who the hell are you kidding. You're no athlete. You're the band geek and the bookworm. Your little brother is the athlete. All the girls like him. Just go practice. You've got an audition and the calculus exam is soon."

"You are not in high school any more. The popular kids are fat and divorced. You are healthy and married. You have been training for nearly two years solid, and I will hear no more excuses. You are not allowed to quit."


"Shut up and swim."

I flip on my back, and take a few breaths to slow my breathing. This is nuts. I can do this. I squash down the anxiety and focus: twelve strokes, site, twelve strokes, site.

Before long, the first turn comes and goes. A little crowding around the turn, but I manage.

Don't look all the way downstream. It is too far. Just look to the next bouy. One buoy at a time. One stroke at a time.

Down near the third turn, I totally get chicked by the swim champ at the start of the first wave of women. I try to stay out of her way.

One stroke at a time. Now we're swimming up stream to the finish and I am dodging feet of someone in front of me trying to backstroke 1500 meters.

I should probably get credit for swimming a mile and a half with the zig-zagging I did around the outside of the course. Nevertheless, I finish the swim--a distance that surely would have drowned me not four months ago. I am not last out of the water. In fact there are 14 people in my age group more wretched than I.

As the volunteers hoist me out of the water, the whole world lurches on its side and my stomach with it. No loss of nutrition is involved, but the confidence of finishing the swim is immediately replaced by doubts about getting on a bike. The world lurches back the other way as two more volunteers are helping to peel the wetsuit from my shoulders. But I am out of the water and doing the barefoot bandy-legged joggy wobble to T-1.

Time: 34:53.6. Pace 2:20. Average HR: 138.

Monday, May 29, 2006

I am a Triathlete

Eighteen months ago, I could not swim 100 yards without struggle. I had not done an MS150. The furthest I had ever ridden a bike was 36 miles--actually 34 because I had to be rescued by a friend after I bonked.

Today, I completed my first triathlon--an olympic distance triathlon. I wanted to quit for the first 400 yards of the swim. I did not quit. Cramps and nausea made me want to stop the first 10 minutes of the bike. I did not stop. I averaged 19.5 miles per hour. Brutal heat made me wonder if I could persevere on the run. I wonder no longer. I ran a 10k only about a minute slower than last year's PR in an open race. I finished my first triathlon, my first olympic distance race, in less than three hours.

I intend to post a race report and a few self-indulgent (maybe even maudlin) reflections over the next few days. As for now, I'm tired and Mrs. Greyhound wants (deserves) my time. Until the next post this one thought will have to suffice.

The process of getting from nonswimmer to triathlete has changed me. People who look at me can see some of the changes, the physical ones. But the changes one can see pale in comparison to those invisible changes that are fully known only to me. If you are on this path, keep putting your feet one in front of the other. If you are on the sidelines wondering whether to get in the game, step out. You never know where your feet might take you.

The road goes ever on and on.

Sunday, May 28, 2006


The sun is now up and the heat is on the way. Heat and wind--high and gusty. Think convection oven on performance enhancing drugs. Course recon is complete.

Gulp, that first swim buoy is . . . really small . . . out their . . . upstream. Long and strong, skinny dog. Swim for the bridge.

Bike course is awesome. The surface and profile are great. After racing across a smooth and level bridge, we bank quickly right onto Cesar Chavez and left onto Congress with the State Capitol Building at the top of the Avenue. (Dear Yankee reader, you should not fail to take note that the Texas Capitol Dome is bigger than the U.S. Capitol Dome, and that the state flag flies at the same height as the stars and stripes.)

It is a steady but relatively gradual climb to the Capitol Building, but that is a false summit. At the top of Congress it is quick right and hammer a two block climb to the top of the course at 11th and San Jacinto before screaming down seven blocks to the turn around. (Dear Yankee reader, you should not fail to recall that the Plains of San Jacinto is where the forces of General Sam Houston surprised the numerically superior force of Generalissimo Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna during their afternoon siesta and captured the Mexican General trying to escape in women's clothing). 11th and San Jacinto is a good place to drop anyone who is sleeping.

After turning around and hammering back over the high point, the course is generally downhill and smooooooooooothe to the turnaround at the bottom of the course, a descent on which one can maintain some tempo and recover at the same time. Do that four times, and then you only have to run a 10K.

Only a 10K?? The Greyhound of five years ago would have found that combination of words ludicrous.


It is still dark here in Austin. Other than my room, there are only three rectangles of light visible in the entire hotel. I am unable to sleep. Dawn is approaching, and I am waiting for it.

Tomorrow is my first race, the Capital of Texas Triathlon, in which I will compete in the Olympic Distance event. Today, when there is enough light, Carmen Tequilo and I will recon one loop around the four loop bike course. Tomorrow we race. Tomorrow, dawn will come and questions will be answered.

I will plunge into Town Lake, prepared but fearful. That anxiety may float along for the ride, but it will not master me. This vessle does my bidding. Dawn is approaching, and I am waiting for it.

Carmen Tequilo and I will race together for the first time through the streets of Austin. The anxiety and apprehension of the strong and experienced racers will not cow me. We belong here. Dawn is approaching, and I am waiting for it.

I will split the Texas heat listen to the tempo of my feet. I have trained hard and hot. I will race hard and hot. I have been here before. Dawn is approaching, and I am waiting for it.

I will be a triathlete, instead of just someone who does triathlon training. Dawn is approaching, and I am waiting for it.

Two years ago, having played at and abandoned endurance sport several times, having gone to work and come home the same way every day, having gone a decade with no friends closer than business colleagues, something in me said, "things have got to change, and it starts now." It has changed. Many will race faster than me tomorrow, but none will race stronger. Tomorrow, I will become someone who finishes what he starts, even when it is hard. Indeed, I will be someone who picks challenges because they are hard, and makes them serve him.

Dawn is approaching. I can't wait.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Triathlon is a pain in the @**

Being 39 apparently means never really being fully recovered. At the end of a recovery week, I have a literal pain in my @** in addition to the figurative pain in my @** that is known as my job.

It feels like a pinch right where my hamstring and right cheek would come together, and seems to flare if I rotate my knee/femur either inward or outward. I've had the normal overuse injuries before, but never something like this.

Anybody ever have this or have any suggestions (other than the rest I am taking) concerning what to do?

Thursday, May 25, 2006

. . . a few of my favorite things . . .

. . . the unbroken serenity before the morning training session-- actually tasting my coffee, listening to the sound of my breathing, and becoming part of the morning.

. . . the release that happens when the initial fatigue and soreness roll away and I find my rhythm on a tempo run.

. . . the cold air rushing to the bottom of my lungs as I summit Tennessee Pass--only to see the broad valley, the ranch, and the next snow capped range beyond.

. . . that first ten minutes in the office after showering off, when all is still quiet and the endorphins tell me everything is going to be OK.

. . . that point in a hard ride where I know, even at my slowest pace, I am less than an hour from the finish.

. . . the communion of toiling with a partner, hearing their breathing, encouraging each other just by your shared presence, borrowing rhythm and power from a friend, talking without words.

. . . having friends that don't want something professional from you, they simply want you.

. . . the "now-ness" of being and breathing in one single stroke at a time.

. . . seeing the moon and the morning fog that a sleeping city will miss.

. . . the whisper of tire and chain while flying over good, good road.

. . . feeling that honest fatigue at the end of the day, watching my daughter sleep, and listening to her breathe.

. . . the memory of holding her body in the palm of my hand and feeling life, that very first breath.

. . . cold, crisp water to break the heat, in my mouth, down my throat, over my head.

. . . the way you can taste cold beer on your tongue and even in your limbs after a long, hot ride.

. . . the sound of my wife's sleep in the 30 seconds before I rise to do it all again.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

You Might Be A Triathlete (Part Deux)

The blogosphere is filled with positive affirmations about the benefits of multisport training and racing. I, too, have touted those benefits and experienced them myself. Even so, gentle reader, there are physical and psychological dangers involved. Be warned and look for the telltale signs of Accute Agregrouper Triathlonitis ("AAT").

You might have AAT if:

1. You go to bed, falling dead asleep, at the same time as a small child, often in the middle of a sentence spoken to or by your spouse.

2. You rise before any dairy farmer would accept being roused from his bed.

3. You find neoprene irresistably sexy (i.e., neoprene fetishism disorder).

4. You have been trying to improve on your change from athletic gear into business attire at your gym (i.e., T3 Compulsive Disorder)

5. Your blog life is so active that your spouse believes that you are either in a dungeons and dragons online friends community, or have taken up "lifestyle" pursuits (i.e., "WAYDD", or "'What Are You Doing' Disorder").

6. Moderate to severe marital strife has developed over your ability to consume mass quantities of beer and oreos, and yet still lose weight ("I hate you, get out of my face, you suck" yaddah yaddah).

7. Your increased confidence induces irrational feats of daring do (e.g., Xterra Mountain Biking) to impress the tri-chicas (e.g., a pro tri-Diva who calls you by your online name, ahem, Kahuna).

8. Moderate to severe marital strife periodically occurs over gender- atypical, two-day razor stubble.

9. It seems rational to you that your car is paid for, but your endurox, tri-bike, wetsuit, and Garmin monitor are bought on credit.

10. You have Garmin charts of your work day, the better to calculate your calorie load in conjunction with your resting metabolic rate.

I'm sure there are others. Assist your brothers and sisters in identifying and protecting yourselves from the dangers of AAT.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

First Star To The Right And Straight On 'Til Morning

Second open water swim today--this time in a wetsuit.

I think if one studies the ancient biblical autographs carefully, one would find that wetsuits are the one thing that Adam and Eve were permitted to take with them when they were banished from paradise after the fall of man. It was damn near as good as forbidden fruit.

Out of the water, in the blazing Texas sun, I was like a huge solar collector. The radiant energy roasting me alive in my black rubber skin could have powered every refinery on the Houston Ship Channel. But in the water, it was all pixie dust and weightlessness. Rotating my core, stacking my shoulders, and gliding around Twin Lakes was like flying in Peter Pan's wake, all the way to Neverland. It was not a huge training event in terms of effort, but it was a big deposit of confidence for my first wetsuit race on memorial day.

. . . and I sure as hell don't want to grow up.

Weekend Totals: Swim 1500 yards, Bike 60 (hot, hilly and hard), and Run 15. Recess is fun.

Friday, May 19, 2006

A Cry For Help

Don't panic. The title is probably a little melodramatic. OK, a lot melodramatic. The problem is, . . . well, . . . this is kind of awkward for a guy to talk about, . . . you see, . . . . I've got . . .


BD! There, I said it. I've got Blogger Dysfunction. I'm not going to suffer in silence any longer. I know it's nothing to be ashamed of, but I'm tired of always pretending it's all right. I spent some time improving the side bars, adding some of the links to other blogs that I read and admire, but I still have a huge case of blog envy.

OK, not a huge case. Just average. . . . well maybe a little better than average . . . well, I've had no complaints, really . . . But I would like to enhance my performance and improve the overall satisfaction. I want to put up the race schedule, the training log, the wickedly cool looking quotes like you guys do, but I . . . I just need some help.


Technically adroit readers, can you spare me some HTML short cuts? Send me some cut and paste code?


Thursday, May 18, 2006


I wish I were a poet, but I'm not. Sometimes poetry happens to me, however, usually before the world wakes up. Sometimes I even notice it, if I pay attention.

When poetry happens, I try to write it down, but I seldom succeed. It happened the other morning on the tempo run. You hit that perfect rhythm where you feel like you can glide on forever, fast and silent through the dark, so quiet and invisible that even the trees don't know you're there. The hills along the bayou melted under my feet. Gravity ceased to be and the Houston humidity disappeared, to be replaced by the supernatural caress of cool breezes on my face.

I tried to write a rhythmical poem about the run, but it sounded too much like a middle aged WASP trying to rap. In real life, the runner on the bayou left the middle aged WASP behind. The legs were spingy and warm by the time I crossed the bridge at the bayou, right outside Maria Gratia's loft. All the lights were off--a building full of people still asleep and missing the best part of the day--

--missing the ghost runner outside who increased the cadence as the path snaked down the hill in the bayou park proper. No sounds save the breathing of the breeze and of the runner. I am totally alone and totally ephemeral. I am a phantom, pure, incorporeal and invisible power that I can direct at will, slicing swiftly through the dark. I can see the cars on the parkway, but they cannot see me, down by the bayou whispering past the moving water. Their eyes are blinded--glued to headlinghts drawing them unwillingly toward offices, jobs, desks, responsibilities.

My eyes are open. Every sense is seeing, hearing, tasting and feeling, as if someone found the volume switch on life and turned it up. I can see every ripple in the water, hear each footfall of the the animals darting for cover, almost taste the sillouhette of a leaf swaying, and feel the tincture of the merest idea of dawn, there, on the edge . . .

For this small interval of time, the world revolves around me. A small outpost of nature within the concrete jungle unwraps its beauty for me alone. I turn the entire globe under my feet, by my power alone, as miles evaporate.


Wednesday, May 17, 2006


I hope to do a real post of my own later tonight, but check out TriBoomer's multi-part race report on Ironman 70.3 in St. Croix. Huge race and a huge comeback for the Boomer. Leave him some TNT comment love.

IronWil and Kahuna, how 'bout a little love for my fellow Texan?

Monday, May 15, 2006

You Are Here

"If you have time to whine and complain about something then you have the time to do something about it."

--Anthony J. D'Angelo

Yesterday's run was tough and slow.

So what? It was supposed to be.

The legs are heavy for today's rest day.

So what? They're supposed to be.

I'm switching the rest week to next week so that I'm more rested for the race on Memorial Day. That means this week will be a grind.

So what? Grinding is what you do.

It won't be pretty.

So what? If you want pretty, take up figure skating.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Do You Believe In Miracles??!!

Yesterday I said it would be a freaking miracle if I completed my brick today. DO YOU BELIEVE IN MIRACLES??!!
According to TriMama's Bike Shop Guy, one's neck and shoulders ache in the aero bars because our heads are so freakishly huge. Mine are killing me and hopefully Mrs. Greyhound has a cure. To the left, gentle reader, is an actual picture of my freakishly huge head of stone. I attribute the size, at least in part, to completing today's brick, which gave me a big shot of confidence for Buffalo Springs Lake 70.3.
50 hot, windy and hilly miles followed by a very hot 10k while the roadies (non-triathlete folk) looked on in horror. One even shouted, "YOU'RE CRAZY." The triathletes, however, gave the handlebar wave or the thumbs up while rolling past. Nothing an ironman would write home about, but for a former paperman, it counts as serious progress.
Long run tomorrow. We meet . . . at dawn. BRING IT!

Friday, May 12, 2006

Running on Empty

"Running on empty, running blind, running into the sun but I'm running behind."


Oh, sorry. Didn't see you there. Is it possible to sleep in zone 3. I think I did this morning. I'm like a cycling vampire, riding in the dark at the picnic loop to get in the miles before work and the rise of the sun.

True confessions: I have been exceeding the training schedule on my long runs. I mean if 8 is good, 11 is better, right? And why not an extra swim? I'm not OCD'ing on whether I'll have enough in the tank on race day in six weeks. Really, Wil, I'm not. I can stop any time I want.

At the end of three weeks of building volume, my simple 1.75 hour foundation ride at moderate aerobic effort was almost more than the legs could handle. If I complete my brick tomorrow and my long run on Sunday, it will be a freaking miracle. But Robo would never anger the training schedule gods by dropping a workout, or taking some rest. What would Robo-Stu do?

Woozy in the shower, light-headed in the elevator, that bowl of oatmeal just wasn't going to cut it this morning. "I'll be having a bacon egg and cheese breakfast taco," I heard a voice say, which sounded remarkably like my own. "Actually, I'll have three."


I don't remember eating them, let alone what they tasted like.

Monday. Rest day. Next week, recovery week. z-z-z-z-z-z-z-z-z-z-z

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Costume Change

"All the world's a stage,
And all the men and women merely players:
They have their exits and their entrances;
And one man in his time plays many parts, . . . "

The greyhound puppy does not walk around the house quoting Shakespeare, but she made me think about my multiple roles yesterday. I came home from my day job wearing my work clothes--an uberconservative dark suit, white shirt, tie, dress shoes, pocket square, cuff links, etc. Her best friend from down the block wondered where I had been in all this finery, and the puppy noted my profession and called me a "Cog" -- as in one of the lawyer villains in Disney's online "Toon Town" game.
"I'm not a cog," I thought. "I'm a triathlete." The truth is I'm a lot of different things. I'm a lawyer, a cog, a dad, husband, an introvert, a teacher, a friend, a recluse, a crumudgeon, a musician, and a triathlete. I began to wonder, are all these just costumes I put on, parts I play, or is there some "me-ness" that persists no matter which costume I don.
I don't think I have solved this question, but as I thought about it, I noticed something Ironic. The roles in which I have shown some level of excellence have been less than fulfilling and I tend not to define myself by them.
For example, notwithstanding freakishly high grades, bar exam scores and success in my profesison, I do not like to define myself as a lawyer when I look in the mirror. There is no joy in that role. In fact, it often alienates me from others. None of the suburban YMCA dads are lawyers, and their eyes glaze over when I proceed to answer questions about what I do. My academic prowess is (and was) similarly joyless. Something about being called "Dr. Spock" and "brainiac" from age 7 will suck the joy out of something you're good at.
In contrast, I am no better (and often worse) than middle of the pack when it comes to endurance sport; yet here, there is joy. Real, running-on-the-playground-last-man-standing-in-dodgeball joy. Why? Perhaps the personal autonomy felt in shaping one's own physical destiny? Perhaps the positive feedback and admiration of athletic friends? Perahps knowing the secret world that exists during pre-dawn workouts while the roads are quiet and the truly average sleep.
A large part is undoubtedly that a relatively introverted law nerd like me has made young and athletic friends at a time in life where middle-aged relationships become suffocatingly routine, professional, mercinary and predictable. It is like being young again--or for someone like me that was essentially "born old," like being young for the first time. If this is all it is, however, I am in trouble.
Who am I trying to please with all this training? Myself? Training partners? Friends? If I lost these new friends, the hole would be huge. But, would the hole that remained be too large? Would I keep going? Is the triathlete really "me"? If no one is watching but me, will I still train? If I am the only one on the course and no one but me is putting my feet one in front of the other, do I keep going? Or is this, too, just a costume, a role, and a farce?

Sunday, May 07, 2006


OK, I'm tired of the freeway warning sign ("NON-SWIMMER") that flashes at each end of the pool every time I do one of my wussy open turns rather than gracefully flipping and gliding back the other way. HELP.

Any grown-up who successfully mastered the flip turn at some time other than when you were swimming competitively as a toddler is kindly requested to weigh in on the best way to learn and the tricks of the trade. Persons offering general commentary in the nature of "practice" will be systematically hunted down.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

. . . And Sometimes It Rains

Just like "Crash" Davis said, "Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, and sometimes it rains." No kidding.

The monumental first tri that was to occur today was a total wash. The pre-dawn drive toward the race site was like being a storm chaser. The thunder, lightening and rain grew more and more intense the closer to the course I got. Shortly before arrival, I know I saw animals lined up two by two next to a huge boat. Too much lightening for a swim, too much water on the road for a bike, and no need to run the mere 5k that they held out for when the weather broke.

M&M and I could have given up. That would have been the easy way.


When the skies cleared, we did a brick to mimic the olympic distance event coming up. Bike: 2 mile warmup, 4x6 mile lactate intervals (max 26 mph), 2 mile cool down (1:21:00); Run: 10k long slow distance in the muggy heat (55:52).

The neighborhood pool opens today--f-ing cold after the rain. Perfect for my first wetsuit swim while the soft suburbanites stay home.

Lemons = Lemonade (or whiskey sours)

First Race: Capital of Texas Tri Olympic Distance May 29 (insert woofing sound here).

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Mile Markers

I read a really wonderful post the other day by Iron Wil, and since that time my thoughts have been wandering about where I have been since starting this journey, and why I keep traveling this road. I have not yet found the proper words to do a post on that topic, but there are some stats that show some of the mileposts along the way. I do not set them out for bragging rights. Most of them, especially the race times, are pretty unremarkable. When measured by who I once was, however, they are perhaps a clue as to what is inside me, and how far I can go.

2001?: 160 lbs., 35 years old. Did "The Half" in Dallas. 13.1 miles. Time: unknown. Walked and suffered and swore I would never do a marathon because I could not have turned around and gone back to the start if someone had pulled a gun on me.

2003: 155 lbs., 37 years old. Marine Corps Marathon (in the middle of two weeks of trial). 5:05:--. Finished but only barely. Very little good running after 18 miles. Completely detrained and became inactive again.

Summer 2004: Injury halts run training. Balloon to 169 lbs. At 5'4.5", that's pretty portly.

January 2005: 38 years old, 152 lbs. Houston Marathon. 4:35:-- Kept training this time. MS150, cycling vacation in Colorado, run training in the fall with Coach T, grown up swim lessons because I have begun to wonder, can I tri?

January 2006: 39 years old, 145 lbs. Houston Marathon. 3:53:-- After recovery, began first season of organized tri training.

Today: 39 years old, 136.7 lbs. First triathlon this weekend.

Thank you Maria Gratia, Coach T and Mrs. Greyhound.

The road goes ever on and on.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Flotsam and Jetsam

Summer Season

It is already hot and sticky in H-town. In these conditions, sometimes the only thing to motivate me outside instead of staying on the treadmill is . . . dare I say it . . . the scenery. There is nothing quite so fetching as runner chicks in sports bras with bare midriffs and pony tails haulin' a** in a pair of Nikes.

There, I said it. I'm a bad person, but I bet I'm not the only runner admiring the view.

How Not To Die: Some Observations To Quell The Panic

1. I swam 4x500 in the pool this morning with almost no effort. I am, therefore, beyond a shadow of a doubt, physically capable of swimming 1x500 in the lake this weekend. I will not drown.

2. In the pool, I can "rest" with my head down simply by slowing my stroke and rotating for a good long breath. Lifting my head stops momentum, causes my feet to sink, and wastes energy. I will, therefore, beyond a shadow of a doubt, rest with my head down during the race rather than dog paddling like a wus in search of a kayak.

3. In the pool, I practiced switching from 18 strokes freestyle, two breastroke to check my course, and back to freestyle. It is effortless. I will, therefore, beyond a shadow of a doubt, perform this maneuver successfully in the race, swim on course, and arrive at T1 fresh for the bike.

4. Carmen awaits in T1. 'Nuff said.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006


I awoke. There was no alarm save the constricted feeling in my chest. It was 3:30. The dream of ten seconds before was dissolving and I had no idea where I was.

My breathing steadied and I realized that I was at home, in my own bed, next to Mrs. Greyhound. But I was thinking of her. The weight of secrets heavy on my shoulders, I was sneaking out in the dark, for her.

Carmen was already in the car, but not from anticipation. She was there because she was there--doing me a favor--bored, unmoving, and yet full of inner power that drew me like moth to flame. We did not talk while driving to the city. We seldom talk. Words cannot contain her. She is raw physical and sensual energy. Words cannot reach her, for my words fail in her presence.

We finally reached the place set for our rendezvous, the darkened and silent park. As if she needed anything from my hands, I help Carmen Tequilo from the car, placing her upright, taut and quivering in the heavy morning air, thick with moisture and the smell of the moment. I run my hand lightly down her flank. Did I hear an intake of breath? Does she need this too?

As quickly as it was there, it evaporates. She treats me coldly and matter of factly, but I will not be denied. I will warm her. I will have her. Carmen Tequilo, I am consumed.

All is in readiness. She is underneath me and her slender shoulders are pinned by my arms. I mount her and we move together, slowly at first, silently in the dark. No sounds. No words. Just ever increasing speed and power--two bodies joined at the core and indistinguishable from one another.

My weight on my elbows, I see her beneath me. Is that pleasure in her visage, sensual delight in her sleek torso? Does she like the speed too? Blood rushes and my pulse quickens. Sweat is dripping from my forehead and running down my chest in rivers of exertion. Ever faster, ever stronger, stroke after powerful stroke, until I can wait no longer. It is time . . .

to take off her front wheel, put her in the trunk and go to the office.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Greyhound v. The Head: Open Water Swim Practice

"Wow, look at that first wave go. They look so smooth and effortless."

"Why are you here? You can always just leave."

"Shut up."

"And you--just bought a bike and everything. What a moron."

"I said shut up. I've been training. I swim OK. Everything is going to be fine."

"Look pretty slick there, veet boy."

"We're getting in the water; I need to concentrate now."


"This isn't so bad. Not too cold. I'll just get towards the back and take this easy, maybe swim the course a couple of times."

"You do that. Get back here with the fat guy. He's about your speed."

"I'm not listening."

"Here we go. Get a rhythm. Pretty good. Oops, 'scuse me. Crap someone just knocked my feet. Sorry, just elbowed someone. Why am I catching people?"

"Cause you went out too fast, loser. You can't swim this fast for 500 yards."

"Shh. I'm kind of on course. Correct a little bit."

"You know that first bouy is not getting any closer."

Labored breathing, "rhythm, rhythm"

"You can't do this. Too fast. There's no air. Pick your head up."


"Pick your head up, you're going to die"

"rotate, rotate, breathe"



"You loser. Flipping on your back and breast stroking like some wussy boy."

"I am going to swim 10 strokes."

"You with your fancy new bike. This isn't even a third of the distance of your olympic distance swim and you're already thinking about waving down a kayak."

"I am going to swim 10 more strokes."

"Go ahead. Get pulled from the water. The kayak is just there."

"10 more strokes."

"You are now at the end of your wave. Go home. Just quit."

"10 more strokes."

"You don't belong here."

"No, you don't belong here. 10 more strokes."

"Maybe you should just leave before M&M sees your pathetic self."

"10 more strokes. No, you were just leaving."

"I'm not leaving."

"10 more strokes. Leave or die."

"But you can't kill me . . . "

"I'm killing you right now. 10 more strokes."

"I'm not dead yet."

"Your death is inevitable. I will it so. 10 more strokes."