Thursday, December 27, 2007

Be Contagious

This time of year, with the furnaces fired up and people stuck indoors, we choose (sometimes against our better judgment) to travel across the country and close ourselves up with other travelers. Apparently the purpose of this exercise is to share germs. Even if everyone in your family is completely healthy, there is always that one outlier who acts as a host for some bacterial or viral plague. If you want to know who, just listen for the child with the loose cough and the stuffy nose. Odds are, the old and the infirm and the unlucky will sound like that within the week.

Wash your hands until they bleed and be afraid, be very afraid.

Even though we traveled through two homes in two states with probably two dozen different people in attendance, I think we have made it through the holidays without bringing any unwanted cooties to our home. I, on the other hand, have been the host for a different kind of contagious disorder, and I encourage you to be contagious as well.

This summer, you may have noticed news articles about a Harvard study appearing in the New England Journal of Medicine. The study purports to establish that obesity is socially contagious. The study -- the first to examine this phenomenon -- finds that if one person becomes obese, those closely connected to them have a greater chance of becoming obese themselves. If a person you consider a friend becomes obese, your own chances of becoming obese go up 57 percent. Among mutual friends, the effect is even stronger, with chances increasing 171 percent.

But that's only the bad news. The good news is that conquering obesity is also contagious. If you take on healthy habits and maintain a healthy weight, or if you help someone else do it, the effect extends beyond (perhaps far beyond) that one person.

Hopefully, I am becoming contagious in a good way. I mentioned that Mrs. Greyhound, having made friends of my triathlon friends, has caught the disease. My brother has gained a gym membership and lost some lbs. My secretary just joined the greatest health club on the planet for which I am a part time model. And this Christmas, I went to the gym with my dad--to his gym--for the first time ever.

Mom just rolled her eyes at us and generally bitched. She seems immune to the virus.

Who infected you? Who have you infected? Who are you going to infect this year?

Monday, December 24, 2007

Day One

Today is Day One. It is not yet New Year’s day, and I am not making any resolutions. I’ve come not to believe in them because I seldom see them through. Even so, today is Day One.

Today is the beginning. This is the first day of the 25 week Ironman training plan for Ironman Coeur d'Alene, the first week of which is in the sidebar. Day One, Week One, which will already have to be modified to fit around family and Christmas in the way that training always must be modified.

For the pessimist, beginning is a fearful thing. One looks at the goal and only sees all the effort involved and all the opportunities for discipline to flag and for the wheels to fall off en route. Such a person, me in my darker moments, has no use for beginning with grand resolutions. Most such grand designs die from neglect by mid January. Just thinking of all the hours and pain and effort between now and the finish line, I am sometimes unsure whether it is worth it. At other times, I know beyond any doubt that it is.

For the optimist, there is a love for all beginnings. “Today is the first day of the rest of your life.” The “journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” The optimistic sloganeer, me in my sunnier moments, holds resolute fingers in the air and even pounds a table or two, resolving that this time things will be different. This time bootstraps will be pulled up and all will be changed. Heady stuff to drink deeply of imaginary finish lines, especially without the sobriety inherent in counting the cost of all that it takes to get there.

I have enjoyed these past weeks of not logging workouts and treating my training time like uncharted play. With no goal, there is no risk of failure, yet no opportunity for success either. I guess a certain part of me needs an Ironman plan or an “A race” to put all the rest of life in some kind of order. It helps put my manic optimist and my depressive pessimist into balance. The optimist gets his grand resolution, but the grand sum of Ironman is made up of many smaller, daily choices that are much less grand and much more mundane.

Ironman is honest, almost brutally so. You can desire the finishing chute with every fiber of your being, but grand resolutions won’t get it done. You have to assemble all the smaller skills. You’ve got to swim. You’ve got to bike. You’ve got to run. You have to assemble the volume, bit by bit over a period of long months. You have to work. You have to rest. You have to eat.. You can’t cheat the training. Either train adequately or you will suffer the consequences. You can’t procrastinate. Either lay the base early or you will have no foundation on which to rely. You can’t cram. Either build the volume gradually or your body will betray you.

People who don’t do Ironman look at this and shake their heads in admiration (or pity), but if they only knew, they might admire quite a bit less than they do. Sure, there is some “iron will” in getting all this done. But when the “iron will” fails, there is also a cold, unrelenting fear of failure to get one out the door. All you have in your control is what you’re supposed to do today. If you waste enough of your todays, your dream dies a slow death. As if you could waste time and not injure eternity. (Thoreau).

What beginning is calling out for you? What small, mundane choice must be made today? It’s exciting, uncomfortable, scary, wonderful, awful. But, it is here. Day One. Let’s begin.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Auld Lang Syne

Again we come to the end of a year. This has been one of the best years of my life. The year included new friends, old friends, a marathon, three half-iron triathlons, an MS150, the triple bypass, and my very first Ironman. More important than the athletic finishes are the changes inside myself that come from the effort. I am different, and that is a good thing.

If I am even coming close to living my "best life," I do feel like it is none of my own doing; rather, it is the doing of the many friends who have encouraged me to go long and exceed my expectations and self-imposed limitations. Many of them are pictured in this slideshow, images of the year that was. To them, and to you, I am profoundly grateful.

Enjoy, and think on your year--both the one behind you and the one that is yet to be. Where will you be next December. Dream big. Go long. Exceed. Excel.

Go play.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Part Time Model

I've written here before how I belong to the best health club on the planet. Well, since Ironman and meeting all the triathlon peeps, Mrs. Greyhound has started working out with Maria Gratia, my first trainer from the club. Maria Gratia is an uber personal trainer who healed up my knee the fall before my fastest ever marathon. Beyond knowing physical therapy and anatomy, she knows the female mind, how it deals with food and what it sees in the mirror. She's had morbidly obese clients lose more than 150 pounds and change their lives.

Now, Mrs. Greyhound does not fall anywhere near that category, but with Maria Gratia's help, she's completely changed as well. Instead of excuses why she doesn't exercise, she's more likely to schedule her day around her exercise. Instead of rationalizing what goes in her mouth, she's more likely to treat her food as fuel. Much of this comes from the inside, but Maria Gratia is able to provide motivation that I cannot. All a spouse can do is cheerlead. If you try to motivate, it just sounds like nagging and actually has the opposite effect.

Well, the upshot of all this is that Mrs. Greyhound got on the club mailing list, which turned out to be kind of funny.

See the other day she received a flyer like this:


The purpose was to encourage her to join the club and get a spa certificate for her trouble. Now, the pictures on the outside are all well and good, but it was the inside that was really calculated to seal the deal. Because inside was this:


Don't you see it? Look closer:


It's the stud muffin she's been sleeping with for the last 18 years. If that doesn't get her in the door, nothing will.

I mean, you'd join, right?

Wait! Don't answer that.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

MWM ISO Flip Turn for a Good Time

This is the point where we return to our regularly scheduled blog and I bemoan (again) the pathetic state of my swim.

Granted, I've become less pathetic over time. When I first started, 25 meters left me winded. I improved my stroke, took some lessons, and worked until I could swim a mile.

Really slowly. Like 2:30 per 100 yds.

Then I joined a masters group and got in the slow lane. I couldn't keep up and had to drop an interval or two in the set just to be able to breathe.

Air is my friend.

Then I got faster and led the senior citizens' lane.

That's not a knock on senior citizens. My two lane buddies are actually in their 60s. One of them kind of gets lost in the complicated sets and has to be reminded what we're doing and how many are left. So, uhm . . . yeah.

Then I did my swim block this fall and got faster still. Today I was running up on the heels of my lane mates if I did not lead the set, and I was lapping them if I did.

So, I gets to thinking, (again with the thinking, will I never learn), "gee, I wonder if I'm ready to move up a lane. Does the coach do that, or do I just do it myself?"

We were swimming hundreds that got progressively harder and faster from some funky kicking, to pulling, to swimming like a house on fire. It was 2350 all told. The next to last set was 4x100 on 1:50. The last set was 2x100 as hard as possible, which I landed in 1:36. (Yay me. I'm not Michael Phelps, but he ain't 41 years old, 5'4" and working at a desk all day either.)

Then coach says, "you might be ready to move up a lane . . .


Ack. I cannot flip turn to save my life and my open turns aren't too spiffy either.

Has anyone out there learned to flip turn as an adult? You freakazoids who have been doing it since you were 6 don't count. I swear I've tried it a bit, and it seems a recipe for hypoxia and water in the schnoz if you ask me. How is it that waterboarding is supposed to make you faster?

I'm ready to move on up, but I gots to find me a flip turn.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

You like me!! You really like me!!!

I've been such a bad blogger in the last week, failing to post and leaving everyone hanging with the guessing game below. So, imagine my surprise when I received an e-mail that I had been selected as one of the top 10 blogs in Team Race Athlete.

Oh my gawd. You like me. You really like me!

Writers write, and I would probably do this whether or not anyone read it. But, you know for a fact that I'm a comment whore, and it really makes my day when someone lets me know that something I wrote was funny or inspirational or meaningful or enjoyable in some way.

It is even more of a treat to be included in the top 10 among bloggers that I love to read. Go and look at the list, subscribe to their blogs, and you won't be disappointed. And while you're there, VOTE FOR ME . . . well, actually vote for your three favorites. For real. Just being included in the number is a kick. So vote however you want.

Now, to reveal the answer to the contest. NOBODY won. Nobody got it exactly right, which is picking out the random fact that is false and the reason that it is false. Liz came the closest.

The false answer is number 6, but not for the reasons any of you assigned to it. Although it might shock some of you, I did have a date to the prom in both my junior and senior years. I don't remember their names (boo me) but they were not both taller than me. One was about my height or a little shorter and (ironically) the other played basketball on the vasity girls team, but was a guard and was way shorter than me (and cute as a bug's ear).

That is all. Hopefully I'll have some training related stuff tomorrow.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

A Few Of My Randomest Things

I should have known better than to pull her pigtails with a snarky comment. In return, she has tagged me. So, ever the respecter of the tag, here are five random things about me:

1. Unlike she who shall not be named, I have no piercings and yet am unafraid of needles. I took allergy shots every week when I was a kid and sold my plasma while in music school so I could buy more recordings.

2. I used to think piercings and tatoos were gross, but having since met some athletes with very comely features, I have modified my stance. It's all about context.

3. Bringing forward the Anne Frank theme from she who shall not be named, we named our first cat Audrey because we got her after a UNICEF tour in which Audrey Hepburn recited selections from The Diary of Anne Frank to music composed by our music director, Michael Tilson Thomas. (Every entry begins, "Dear, Kitty.")

4. Mrs. Greyhound had to wear flats at our wedding so as not to make me look like a total midget. She is 5'8". I am not.

5. I dated a girl in college, a former basketball player, who was 6'2". I am not.

6. I can no longer remember the names of the girls I took to the junior and senior prom, who were both taller than me as well.

What's that you say? That was six? Well, one of them is false. You get to pick which one is not true and and tell me what portion(s) is false in the comment section.

I tag Bigun and Momo, my CdA posse.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Thankful Heart

This Thanksgiving, his eyes fluttered open only at intervals when he had the energy to struggle for consciousness and for breath. Even when they were closed, one eye was only half closed, drooping and no longer controlled by his will, as his chest rose and fell with difficulty. Notwithstanding constant care, his lips were cracked and dry, his skin thinner and more fragile than the pages of his old bible. He is still there though, behind the eyes, trapped in a body that will no longer respond to his commands.

He knows this is the end, but he shows no fear, only peace. My brother, my cousin and I received telephone calls all that week as he gave away the remaining articles in the senior living apartment to which he knew he would never return. Then, earlier this week he met with his long-time pastor. The younger man, long retired now, took notes as my grandfather planned his funeral--the scriptures he wanted read and the old hymns of The Faith that he wanted sung.

I remember past Thanksgivings, when we would gather around the tables strung end-to-end. Before the meal, Grandaddy’s voice would say our collective prayer of thanks. Several years ago, my father took over the duties, not because Grandaddy stopped praying, but because his voice faltered and broke whenever a prayer was said over a holiday table. Grandaddy felt too keenly the empty chairs at each holiday. As my father would pray in his stead, Grandaddy’s shoulders would heave and shake beneath his bowed head as he sobbed, almost quietly enough that he could suppose we did not hear.

My grandfather feels the empty chairs because he is the kind of man to whom people flock as if to the warmth of the village fire on a cold night. There are three generations of kids in his church who have never known a fifth grade Sunday School teacher other than my grandparents. Child, parent and grandparent, they all learned, gently and sweetly, from the same tender man. In recent years, whenever he attended his church on his scooter, those three generations of people would all gravitate to him in the hallway, and even the little kids would hug his neck like he was their own grandfather. The Sunday School wing of that Church bears his name, permanent imprints to a lifetime of giving not only money but himself.

But there is a cost to be paid in giving oneself away. In 90 years of giving his heart away, my grandfather has lost all the friends who were his contemporaries. Of course he has buried his parents, but also his younger sister. He buried his wife more than 5 years ago, the girl that he met in the high school musical and eloped with when they were both teenagers. He has buried a teenage grandson, dead before his time after falling asleep at the wheel on Memorial Day weekend. He has buried 3 great grandchildren, my cousins, who were killed in a fit of domestic rage. That same day he buried their father, the murderer, my first cousin, who turned the gun on himself.

Grandaddy knows well the cost of love and life, and knows well the pain of continuing with each breath. Yet, he counted the cost and found it worth paying. In fact, it is the heart he always gives away that buoys and sustains him. He would tell you that all the giving is a bargain at twice the price. Once this week, his eyes fluttered open, and seeing the familiar face of my mother, his daughter and faithful caregiver, his lips moved. After several attempts, the words finally came out.

“I am so thankful to be alive.”

Sunday, November 18, 2007


I've spent nearly every morning the last month with a bunch of teenagers in their pajamas. Shocking you say? More awe-inspiring if you ask me.

You see, I've been trying to improve my swimming the last four weeks; showing up every morning to the Woodlands Athletic Center (known as "the WAC" to us locals) and standing in line, huddled against the morning chill, and waiting for the doors to open at 0530. All around me are teenagers, members of the three area high school swim teams. Inside, on the walls, are the momentos of championships they have won--district championships, state championships, and even national championships. Alongside those are the school records set by these kids and their predecessors. Those times are elite by any standard.

I see these kids up close every day for a few minutes before they become superheros in swimsuits. They stagger and shuffle up the steps to the WAC in their flannel pajama pants, their flip flops, their fuzzy slippers, girls with their hair all tied and piled high, boys with unruly bed heads. Look closer. You don't even have to see them swim to tell that these are not average, early-21st century teens.

Look around at the hoodies worn against the cold morning air. Written on the fronts and backs are things like "Long Course Championships" or "State Championships" or even "Olympic Traning Center." These are not ordinary kids.

Then look at the shape of the kids underneath the hoodies and pajama pants. An alarming percentage of American teens are overweight or obese, and statistics tell us that if one is obese at this age, it is almost certain you will be obese as an adult and will die or be disabled before your time. These swimmer kids may eat pizza and burgers like many of their classmates, but 0% of these kids are obese. Every inch of them bespeaks power and every movement is that of an athlete.

Then look even closer. Look at their behavior and you might see what I (as the father of a daughter) see. Sure, there is a certain amount of the normal teenage tomfoolery or flirtation. But there's something else going on. These swimmer girls aren't crawling into their shells or taking any crap off the boys like many of their classmates do. You can tell by their actions that these girls are not governing their every action and thought by worrying about what the boys will think. It may seem obvious, but they did not fix their hair before coming to swim practice and they do not appear to be concerned that a boy will see them in a swimsuit. Beyond the obvious, the very way they act communicates that they are confident with their power, their strength, and their shape. In this they are very unlike many of their peers.

And the boys, they too are different. I'm sure it is not lost on them that these creatures in the pajamas are girls. After all, the boys are not dead and they are teenage boys. But maybe they know these are not young women to be trifled with. At least their actions say that they know. They talk with each other across gender lines, sometimes about things that actually matter. They treat each other as team mates. There is a certain amount of common dignity between the genders that often doesn't exist in other places in the adolescent life or even afterwards.

Oh, but then watch them swim and you will be astounded. They swim like they were born to it, and indeed most of them have been doing this together since they were in first grade. They live and move and breathe in the water with an ease I cannot even imagine. And what's more, they do it every day, in the dark and in the cold. Through talent, but even more through dedication and practice, they have developed a level of excellence at this that probably exceeds the level of quality or effort that I have achieved at anything in my over-achieving life.

I will say it frankly. I admire them, these kids in the pajamas. I am in awe. Sometimes I wish I could tell them that, but I know that no one wants creepy old ironman guy walking up to one in one's pajamas and waxing poetic about something one does as a matter of routine. But if I can't tell them they are to be admired, I hope they hear it somewhere, especially from their parents. So, I just silently admired them nearly every morning this past month.

This Friday, it was particularly cold, about 35 degrees farenheit, and one of the younger swimmer-girls was hoping that the coach might let them swim inside with "the old people." She said something along the lines of how slow some of them are, but she "gives them their props" for showing up and working out.

She may or may not have been talking about me specifically. There are swimmers far older and far slower than me. But there is a strong possibility that, Ironman finisher's gear or not, I was just patronized by a 15-year-old girl.

Nice. Love that.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Speedo Pictures

OK, let it never be said that this blog isn't all about you, the reader. Also let it never be said that I'm not a sucker for female persuasion. By popular demand, I give you a red Speedo picture. Be forewarned: I'm not my usual 9% body fat self. It is the off season after all.

So, click here and enjoy, ladies.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Humility--Or The Tangled Tale Wherein I Make A Triathlon Related Purchase That May Never Be Used

I come from humble people.

Part of that humility was just the ethos of the family. Many's the time as children that my brother and I would receive the dire warnings concerning the wickedness of pride, about how the mighty would be humbled, and how the meek would inherit the earth.

Part of that humility was probably just self-preservation. You see, we are genetically tiny people. At 5'4" I tower over my mother, her mother, my dad's dad, and lots of the relatives on both sides of the stunted family tree. Like most hobbits and tiny prey animals, we rely upon the camoflage of humility to avoid being detected by the larger, predator animals like athenas, clydesdales, and Iron Superfreaks. (I have since come to find out that many of these larger animals are quite friendly and kind, but that was later.)

As a kid, this humble, camoflage-seeking behaviour was probably one of the reasons I never became involved in varsity team sports. In my high school in Oklahoma, it was all about the football and wrestling. A little guy like me would have been killed even trying to go out for a 5A football team, and while I probably would have been a formidable wrestler, there's this other barrier that humility throws in the way.


I was completely intimidated by athletes. The intimidation in the locker room was even worse. You footballers and uber athletic types may have no idea what this feels like, but when you are a hobbit, you have a deep, instinctive and abiding fear of situations like the locker room. Junior high and high school locker rooms are even worse because they are filled with junior high and high school boys in a giant tiled room with shower heads around the walls. Such places are filled with the large, scary alpha dogs. Hobbits and other prey animals lose all their camoflage when the clothing comes off. The more you will yourself to be invisible, the more you believe that everyone is looking at you.

Now that I am older, I know that I am not the only guy who worried about such things, but when you're a kid, you think you're the only one ever to experience adolescent angst. In that type of environment, I figured I had a lot to be humble about . . . or more precisely maybe, . . . a little to be humble about. I mean, I"m only 5'4" and . . . well. . . . never mind.

Such experiences imprint the instincts of the prey animal, and every step along the triathlon jounney involved some little battle.

Well, running came first, and that was not too bad. It was perfectly acceptable to run in baggy shorts that gave no clue concerning how "proud" or humble the wearer was or ought to be. And if I ran early in the morning, the showers were essentially empty.

But then, what of cycling? In cycling on must wear these skin tight shorts. If the color or the lighting is wrong, little is left to the imagination. Even the casual observer can tell one's state of "pride," and maybe even what religion one was born into:


The first time I put them on, it was a real "men in tights" kind of moment. But all the other men were in tights too, and at least I wasn't "rolly polly dude in tights". Besides, bike shorts with the right padding can be the equivalent of the wonder bra for guys. A little artificial help never hurt anyone.

Ah, but then there's the pool. There's no padding involved here, and the nylon is much thinner than bike shorts. I did not just jump in with the Speedo crowd. Before tri-swim lessons, I was definitely a board shorts or swim trunks kind of guy. I operated under the theory that humble people keep their trunks to themselves. Plus, I could only benefit if I left a little (or a lot) to the imagination.

But then there was TI swim lessons and learning about hydrodynamics and joining a masters swim group. As I got progressively more confident and progressively fitter, I went from jammers to square cut brief to a practice suit brief. I even had two black "brief" swimsuits made by TYR. VERY racey for a humble hobbit.

Then there was what has come to be known as "the purchase."

I've been doing a swim block in which I have swum every day for about the last three weeks. But in starting the block, I noticed that some of my old suits and jammers were getting too threadbare to continue being used with proper humility. So, I went to my favorite online swim store to order some new suits. I liked the price of the suits by "Club Swim" so I ordered four briefs and one jammer. But, I started thinking.

That's always the problem. I start thinking.

All my suits are black. "How about a little variety?" I says to myself. So I ordered two black briefs (no surprise), one navy brief (no big deal) and one . . .

wait for it . . . .


RED--Lifeguard red.

Then they arrived on Monday, and I guess I was generally pleased. The fabric of the briefs was nice, even nicer than the TYR or Speedo suits I have purchased. They are made of heavy nylon and lycra, not flimsy, see thru or too clingy when wet if you get my meaning. The 32 inch waist fit great and the leg holes aren't too tight for my cyclist quads. But I gotta say. They were very . . . .

Very . . .

uhm . . .


Not much fabric on the sides, sitting low, slightly below the hip bones, and only just covering the bum in back and the . . . uhm. . . . recreational equipment in front.


I managed to swim without embarassment or unseemly exposure in the black and navy suits this week. But there's something about that red suit. The color just asks people to look at it. And if they look at it, they might look at . . . . "it."

Humble people don't wear skimpy, red swimsuits. It may never come out of the drawer.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Chicks Dig It


Today it finally happened. A swimmer chick commented on my tatoo.

All in all you could tell it was going to be a great day. It was cool and clear this morning, and I was on the roads doing my long run by the time the sun was coming up. I loped easily through 8 miles and went immediately to the Woodlands Athletic Center to get a swim.

I was doing form work, bilateral breathing and drills today after a hard swim yesterday, and I was slicing through the water in my black Speedo with the efficiency and ease of an ocean predator.

Two lanes over, she was doing all four strokes and flip turning in her pink one piece swimsuit and pink goggles. She had a butterfly tatooed on her shoulder.

As she finished her set she asked about my tatoo.

"Is it real or did they put it on with water? Is it permanent?"

She is six.

She got her butterfly tatoo at a birthday party yesterday.

Her older sister, maybe an eigth grader, was being coached four lanes over and would have kicked my trash all over the pool.

Her mom has the 0% body fat, technical clothing, Ironman look about her and could undoubtedly break me in half, even if she was recovering from an injury.

Oh, well. Pink gurl thought my tat was da' bomb.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

That's Just Wrong

1. An elementary aged kid whose parents have permitted him or her to slide into obesity.

2. Elementary aged, obese kids begging for candy.

3. Answering the door and giving obese kids candy.

4. Trick-or-treating over the age of 14.

5. Parents who allow their 14+ year old girls to trick-or-treat in low-cut/short skirt costumes intended for adult (REALLY ADULT) parties.

6. Giving candy to a 15-year-old Naughty Nurse in fishnet stockings. (I kid you not. Very disturbing).

7. Giving candy to a 15-year-old French Maid in heels. (Again, very disturbing).

8. Turning trick-or-treating into a mechanized infantry assault by carting around the Naughty Nurse, the French Maid, several of their naughty friends and about a dozen younger children in the back of a pickup truck towing a trailer for more passengers. (Yo, dad. Do you think the 15 year old pimp and axe murdere and football player you are carrying around are interested in actually befriending your daughter, or perhaps are they more into the lady lumps? hmm? ya think?)

9. Eating nerds . . . again and again and again.

10. Waking from a sugar coma and trying to swim.

Maybe I can wash these images out of my head with a good sharp run this afternoon.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Word for a Special Occasion

I know you probably can't tell it from reading the blog, but I write for a living. In pursuing that craft, I have come to firmly believe that there is no such thing as good writing, only good rewriting. Careful planning and throrough editing (which never occurs here) are key.

The same is true for speaking. Winston Churchill, a great writer in his own right, overcame a speech impediment to become one of the greatest orators in our common language--one who was known in fact for his witty and seemingly extemporaneous remarks during question time in the Commons. The truth, however, is that each of his speeches was carefully written and then set down in what he called "psalm form"--large print with pauses coming at the end of the line and markings to show emphasis for how it should be delivered. He even planned ahead for question time, anticipating who in the opposition was likely to question him and planning a witty barb or parry for the occasion that, when delivered, would seem both spontaneous and effortless.

I say all that to say this. We, as a group, need to plan some words for a special occasion so that when we need to deliver them, we are not caught speechless. "What occasion?" you ask. Well, it is an occasion that we will all have if we ride long enough: that time when the idiot motorist who isn't paying attention or who is disobeying the traffic laws nearly maims or kills you through their own carelessness, ignorance, or stupidity.

Bolder had such an occasion recently, when a pickup failing to yield at a stop sign rolled out in front of him. He went with the tried and true "HEEYYYYYYYY!" and "STUPID FUCKER!"

Nytro also had such an occasion and went for the non-verbal communication approach: the patented: "What the fuck, dude? You coulda killed me! A plague on your house!" look, followed up by a "You're lucky your son is with you, or it would so. be. oneth. Fucker." look.

As charming as each of these are in their own way, it would behoove us to plan ahead so that we can make the most of these "teachable moments" with motorists. We need a statement to memorize and recall under stress that communicates that anyone who "didn't see" a cyclist clad in dayglo spandex in broad daylight is a loathesome waste of carbon and a disgrace to vertibrates everywhere who should lose their license and their right to walk around freely until they show proper contrition and mend their ways.

So, enter your suggestions in the comments and we'll collaborate on an appropriate statement to carry in our hip pockets. It needs to be something that fits nearly every occasion, that retorts to the "I didn't see you" excuse offered expressly or silently for each near miss, and might also include actions such as having the Sherrif's department on speed dial or casting a brass CO2 canister at the offending windshield. (OK, I doubt I would do that, but I have wanted to on several occasions.) While I generally try to keep it clean, sometimes nothing will suffice quite like a bit of profanity or a good old fashioned F-Bomb.

I leave it to you and can't wait to read the suggestions.

Friday, October 26, 2007

St. Greyhound's Day--Ode to a Cold Master's Swim Practice

**Editor's Note: It is a little known aspect of Christian history that St. Greyhound, who was martryed in an open water swim, is the patron saint of masters swimmers. This Ode is written in praise of the cold, thinly attended masters swim workout this morning. 44 degrees and steam billowing off the water in the outdoor pool at the Woodlands Atheltic Center. Brrrr.**

. . . O, do not wish one more.
Rather proclaim it presently through my host,
That he which hath no stomach to this swim,
Let him depart. His passport shall be made
And crowns for convoy put into his purse:
We would not swim in that man's company
That fears his fellowship to freeze with us.

This day is called the Feast of Greyhound:
He that outlives this day, and comes safe home,
Will stand a-tiptoe when the day is named,
And rouse him at the name of Greyhound.
He that shall see this day and live t'old age,
Will yearly on the vigil feast his neighbours,
And say "To-morrow is Saint Greyhound":
Then will he strip his sleeve and show his m-dot
And say "These wounds I had on Greyhound's day."
Old men forget: yet all shall be forgot,
But he'll remember with advantages
What feats he did that day. Then shall our names,
Familiar in his mouth as household words
Greyound the swimmer, Tac Boy and Trimama,
Bigun and TriDummy, Bolder and Kahuna,
Be in their flowing cups freshly remembered.
This story shall the good man teach his son;
And Greyhound Greyhoundian shall ne'er go by,
From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be remember'd;

We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he today that sheds his swim parka with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne'er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition:
And office workers in cubicles now abed
Shall think themselves accursed they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That swam with us upon Saint Greyhound's day.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Visual Race Report

Well, I couldn't get Superpounce to sit still long enough to let me type a race report for her. So rather than press the issue and clog up her weekend, I thought I'd give you a little sumpin' sumpin'

After all, it's all about you.

This was the first kid's triathlon I've ever spectated. As any good teacher will tell you, you can't fail to learn something if you look at the world through the eyes of a kid.

"I'm a little bit scared." That's what she told me the night before the race. She found out, from me and from the experience, that we all feel that way. Maybe that's the one thing that makes triathlon really work. We all face that fear, we toe the line, we overcome it, we have fun, and we want to do it again.


Of course when she had to get up early and ride an hour to the race site before dawn, she was not quite so sure this was going to be a good experience.

Love this--just like Ironman, except there are bikes for 5 year olds, reflectors, no aero bars, and the comptitors are playing tag in the dark instead of shuffling to body marking with a 1000 yard stare of impending doom.

You may have heard that obesity is socially "contagious" -- i.e., we eat like our friends and cut ourselves slack if we're not as fat and sloppy as Herb in the next cubicle. Well, maybe triathlon and fitness can be contagious too. When 'Pounce signed up for the triathlon, two of her friends heard about it and wanted to race too. This is Beach Girl with 'Pounce, showing off their body-marked guns.

Beach Girl ready to race.

Here's 'Pounce waiting her turn in the water. Her other friend, Mini-TriShannon, is to her left in the blue suit.

Superpounce takes a running leap into the water. Like most kids (and adult first-timers) she went out hard with each discipline and kinda figured out later that maybe pacing was a good idea.

Superpounce in T1. She apparently thought the race was being held in Minnesota, because she could not be talked out of bundling up in a sweatshirt for after the swim. We also suspect she had dinner and a movie in T1. But I kinda felt a little bit sorry for the kids with the Kona parents. No one needs a dad critiquing their pre-race warmup, their transition plan, or showing a kid how to use Yanks. I wore my IM MOO garb (of course) but I tried really hard to let the kids run and have fun. I think I succeeded.

'Pounce hammers out of T1 and is off on the bike.

Mini-TriShannon motoring back into transition.

Beach Girl bringing it home.

Superounce in supercool shades and sweatshirt.

Beach Girl running in the home stretch with her finishing kick.

Superpounce motors for home.

The three champions and their medals.

Their own podium.


Post race nutrition with Mrs. Greyhound and Grampa Greyhound.

One little five year old boy finished his mini-sprint race and immediately asked his mom, "CAN I GO AGAIN!!??" -- like it was Splash Mountain at Disneyworld or something. Another turned to her mom and said, "OK, Mom! Now it's YOUR TURN to do a triathlon!"

'Pounce wants to do it again, and I wouldn't be surprised if this fitness thing infects some more moms and dads. So I consider the whole event an unbridled success.

Thursday, October 18, 2007


So, after racing 140.6 miles (if you really want to call what I do "racing"), I have destroyed myself with the following:

1. One 5k race in 23:47.

2. One "speed" workout three days later consisting of 8x400 in about 1:40 ea.

3. One 5 mile fartlek run yesterday (7 days after the "speed") when I thought I was feeling better.

I know. Not terribly impressive. Lots of people can go way faster. But it was fun, and felt good . . . mostly. . . .

Now, my biceps femoris, (aka the my hamstring) is in complete rebellion. I groan when I bend over or need help getting up from a chair. I even woke in my sleep because it hurt last night.

In short, I am now 82 years old and have somehow skipped the 41 years between my post-Ironman birthday and the rest home.


I really had been enjoying running, my first love, and I REALLY wanted to try to run fast. I had signed up for a February marathon and I was going to give my all to achieve a PR. Now? All is in doubt. If I'm going to run fast in February, I need to be putting in time on my feet now.

Anybody have any magical cures for the bad hamstring that don't involve giving up speed work?

Maybe this is my body's way of telling me it's time to do that swim block or get on the bike trainer.


Saturday, October 13, 2007


So, you see, I made it through all my Ironman training and the race itself without missing even a day due to injury. Now, I've tweaked my hammy running a 5k and some 400 repeats.

Seriously. 5 whole K's did me in.

Now, just a little PSA, FYI. If you apply Icy Hot on your high hamstring, . . . say . . . WAY up high at the junction of legs, hindquarters and naughty bits, your medicinal salve of choice may migrate to said adjacent areas creating more heat than you anticipated or even wanted.

I'm just sayin'

Consider yourself warned.

Friday, October 12, 2007


That's the question I had occasion to ask myself last night. "What would Nytro do?"

Memo to self: if you find yourself asking that question, be afraid. Be very afraid.

You see, because of the nature of the type of law that I practice, I don't have occasion to travel that much or to engage in client/business-related boondoggles. In fact, I am pretty much confined to my office where I wear an ankle bracelet and am rarely permitted any human contact.

But, this week, the firm had a retreat for the group of partners of which I am a part, involving two days at a resort with free food of the decadent and heavy variety, free drinks of the premium alcohol variety, and a hospitality suite.




Don't get me wrong; it wasn't all debauchery. I rolled out for a hilly six mile run yesterday morning, and rode a very hilly 30 mile ride with colleagues in the afternoon heat. I was also in bed by 11 o'clock.

HOWEVAH, there was that interval between 6 and 11 in which I consumed more free alcohol in a day than I typically consume in a lightweight, former teetotaller fortnight.

I was having fun, making business connections, and after all, "what would Nytro do?" Nytro would raise the flag high and get her mojito on.

But then this morning I tried to roll out to go to the gym for a strength workout.


Is this what they call an offseason?

I hate everyone.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007


One of my studly, Texas team mates (who shall remain nameless) has a problem. Even though her body is a highly tuned triathlon MACHEEN, she has a penchant for filling her nutritional needs with **gasp** fast food and vending machine fare.


Having no shame whatsoever, she even posts photographs of herself ordering death wrapped in paper, eating heart disease on a plate, drinking stroke in a cup.



Recently, she sank to an all-time low. She blogged about getting into a fistfight with a vending machine over snack food.

I could take it no longer. The triathlon gods spoke to me. I had a prophetic mission. Oh sweet baby Jesus of the vending machine, put a hedge between our friend (who shall remain nameless) from the satanic temptation of garbage, processed food.


So, I commented on her blog, and she replied, "Ok, greyhound... pressure's on. What is YOUR advice for fueling before & during a long bike ride? Gels & fruit aren't enough for me!"


Well, when it comes to nutrition, Bolder might be a better source of info. He is the king of all things Paleo as well as the backslider concerning all things Ben & Jerry. Many is the hawt tri-chica who has consulted Sir Abs-a-lot, all with rave reviews.

As for me, I would observe that on matters relating to nutrition, your mileage may vary. Take Perpetuem, for example.



Perpetuem has carbohydrates, protein and a little bit of fat, supposedly to encourage your body to release fat for fuel. All it encouraged my body to do was store a gigantic Perpetuem burrito in my large intestine that released gaseous Perpetuem fumes during and after the race.


The point is, different strokes for different folks. That said, there are some basic principles that work well for most people engaging in a long workout or endurance event.

Before going out for a long training session, fuel up and top off your hydration. This means somewhere between 600 to 900 calories at least a couple hours before go time so that you have time to absorb the nutrients and (hopefully) do your business before you are on the road. What kind of calories? Something that burns clean--high quality carbohydrates with some protein in the mix as well. Complex carbohydrates will cause less of a glycemic reaction and will stick to your ribs better, but if you are racing, you want to avoid excess fiber.

Some things I have eaten to fuel up? Museli and soy milk or yogurt, cottage cheese, toast, waffles with peanut butter, peanut butter and jelly, or on race day, Ensure. Just before kicking off, I often will have an energy gell just to top off the tank.

What I take during exercise depends upon whether I am biking or running. On the bike, most people can only absorb about 1 g of carbohydrate per kilogram of body weight per hour (if I am remembering my math correctly). That works out to about 280 to 350 calories per hour. For me that works out to about 300 calories per hour. Running, it is less, because of all the jostling. For me, about 200 calories per hour.

Of course, you expend much more than that if you are using any effort at all, but it does no good to consume more than you can absorb. That just leads to Delayed Gastric Emptying, cramps, stomach aches, barfing and other unpleasantness. You make up the deficit between what you expend and what you take on through muscle glycogen and fat. That's why we do all that moderate intensity training--to train the body to burn fat as fuel efficiently and to push out the threshold at which we will deplete all the muscle glycogen.

But how do you get the 300 calories per hour? Not through anything served under a heat lamp. A lot of folks I know mix up a bottle of carbo pro (or maltodextrin) and add some electrolytes like Nuun. I prefer to have my fuel and my hydration separated. Depending upon the conditions, I might need more hydration or less, more fuel or less, more electrolytes or less. So, I use Powergels for calories and electrolytes, salt tablets if it is hot and additional electrolytes are needed, and good ole plain water for hydration.


Powergels are 100 calories per packet, meaning if I take one every 20 minutes, I get 300 calories per hour and plent of electrolytes in a dose that I take often enough that I don't feel peckish in between hits like I did with my 150 calorie gels.

I know you say gels and fruit aren't enough, but two things. First, fruit sugars like sucrose tend not to mix an absorb well with other sugars and can actually make one ill. It just took one grape at IM Wisconsin and I was done with the fruit. In addition, I would hazard a guess you weren't fueling often enough, probably one gel every half our or even further apart. If you take one every 20 minutes, you can't possibly absorb any more calories.

After the ride, the general rule I have heard is to try for 1.2 grams of carbohydrate per kilogram of body weight per hour after the ride. The glycogen receptors to replace muscle glycogen are most . . . uhm . . . receptive . . . in the first 30 minutes. And, they absorb carbohydrates better and in higher quantities if they are coupled with protein in a 4:1, carbs to protein ratio.

I love the salty sour goodness of Orange Flavored Powerbar Recovery Drink.


Endurox is also pretty effective, but I don't like the taste as much.

But I also like to eat real food as soon as possible. As far as that goes, nothing has been proved a more effective recovery beverage than Chocolate Milk.

And alas, as much as I like my beer after a ride, alcohol is actually counterproductive. Your body recognizes beverage alcohol as a poison, and it turns its energy to detoxifying the poison at the expense of replacing muscle glycogen and recovering.

So, there you have it. Some general nutritional advice that will keep you well-fueled without having to use the words "Supersize me" or having to answer the question, "Do you want fries with that?"

Monday, October 01, 2007



Gentle reader, should consider this post to be a public service, in more ways than one. First, as remarkable as it may seem, this space you are reading now has been nominated as a top feminist blog by someone who should know her feminism. I was also tagged by a pirate to write on feminism. Because I'm all about the feminism, I would be remiss if I neglected to mention that October is "Breast Cancer Awareness Month."

Second, don't be fooled by the bow tie and the show tunes. I am ALL guy. I'm feminist in a sort of misogynistic, men are pigs kind of way. Because I have a y chromosome and all the recreational equipment that goes along with that combo, breasts are many splendored things for me. They are a wonder of nature that defy physical laws like gravity and the confound the ability of any man to string together two rational thoughts. I mean, many's the time I have been overcome by . . . . uhm . . .

I'm sorry. What were we talking about?

Thus, you can put me very much in the "pro-boob" camp. Once and for all, I categorically take my stand as a breast supporter.

I come by this honestly and from a very young age.


But long after these amazing and captivating features of female beauty ceased to be a source of nutrition, they continued to be a source of fascination. Indeed as early as the 1970s, I had a heck of a time trying to play GI Joe with my elementary school friend because this was on the wall:


I was focused like a laser beam, but not on her eye, non on her smile and certainly not on GI Joe. Ah, the 1970s.


The 1980s saw no let up in my . . . . er, . . . support of all things boobie.


After all, I was a teenager in the 1980s.

SI cover

Sad to say, not much has changed in my fascination concerning the female form into what is now my fourth decade on the planet. Now, in my defense, any man who tells you he has grown up and is no longer 13-years-old in this regard is simply lying to you.

As I've gotten more athletic, I've been mesmerized by the athletic female who could undoubtedly break me in half.



But I digress. Let us not forget the ostensible purpose behind this post.

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, with all kinds of events including Races for the Cure all over the country. If you have never done one of these events, you should. The cancer survivors run or walk in pink, and for them, 5k truly is an iron victory.


I daresay, there is not one among us who has escaped being touched by cancer. Many have lost moms or sisters or (God forbid) daughters to breast cancer. An estimated 178,480 new cases of invasive breast cancer are expected to occur among women in the United States during 2007. An estimated 40,460 women will die from breast cancer. It is estimated that 2,030 men will be diagnosed and 450 men will die of breast cancer during 2007. In addition to invasive breast cancer, 62,030 new cases of in situ breast cancer are expected to occur among women in 2007. Of these, approximately 85 percent will be ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS).

But if caught early, breast cancer is one of the most treatable of all cancers. So, take charge of your boobies and get informed.

The Susan G. Komen Foundation is a great place to start in searching for solid information concerning breast cancer. There a great collection of information about the disease, including downloadable cards for questions you should ask your doctor on everything from finding a lump in your breast to receiving a cancer diagnosis. There is a collection of all the recommendations for early detection and screening from various sources. The Komen Foundation's particular recommendations for women without additional risk factors are:

From Age 20: MONTHLY (i.e., every month without fail) Breat Self-Exam

Ages 20-39: Clinical Breast Examination at least every 3 years.

Age 40 and Up: Mammography and Clinical Breast Examination every (EVERY) year.


If you don't know how to do a self-exam, there are downloadable cards with ez-to-follow directions. If it gives you the willies, get over yourself! It's your body, and who should touch it if not you? Certainly not me. Even though I am totally pro-boob, I'm not permitted to offer "hands on" assistance.


So, there you have it. One . . . or two of the most beautiful things on the planet are right there on your body, and you have the power . . . nay, the obligation, to protect beauty wherever you find it. Raise your awareness! Tell your friends! Guys, assist (er . . . . insist) upon a proper breast examination for your partners. Take up the call!



No need to thank me, gentlemen. I'm just here to help.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Declaration Of Intent


Team Greyhound released a statement from its headquarters in Houston, Texas late today, announcing the addition of a new member to its triathlete development program.
Picture 002
Superpounce Warming Up With Her Triathlon Coach
The extreme sports superstar known as Superpounce has joined Team Greyhound to train for the First Annual Sugar Tri Kidz Triathlon to be held on October 20, 2007.

sk8tr gurl
Extreme Sports Superstar "Superpounce"

Mysterious and highly secretive, the athlete development and coaching program at Team Greyhound is a residential program in which athletes live under one roof, pursuing training methods that are said to involve such old-school techniques as "fun" and "play."
Picture 004
Late Afternoon Tempo Session At Team Greyhound Headquarters
It had long been rumored that Superpounce, also known simply as 'Pounce, would join the compound and turn her considerable talents for play toward the sport of triathlon.Picture 007
Superpounce Pushes The Tempo On The Bike
In a late afternoon press conference, TriGreyhound, head play-er and director of fun, stated, "We are extremely pleased to have an athlete of the caliber of Superpounce involved in our program. In my view, she is the type of superstar that causes everyone around her to play to a higher level. We expect new and higher levels of fun in our program now that she is involved. She truly does treat training like recess, and she is training like mad for this event."

Picture 003
Superpounce Opens Up A Gap On Her Coach
When asked whether the Tri Kidz Triathlon would get sufficient attention, coming as it does a week after the Ironman World Championships, TriGreyhound responded, "I don't see the problem. I mean, who would want to watch Chris McCormack for 8 hours on a computer screen when you can ring cowbells for first time triathletes racing their hearts out on a Saturday morning? THIS is the climax of the triathlon season.

Picture 001
My New Training Partner