Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Diplomatic Crisis

I'm a lover, not a fighter. So, with all the chaos and conflict on our blue planet, who would have thought that I'd spark hostility? And from all places, who would have thought it would come from our little sibling to the north? Since when does Canada lob missles over the border at us? Well, it has, and it has sparked a diplomatic crisis of blogospheric proportions.

A certain person has recently posted how she's going to "kick greyhound's a$$," at a certain, harmless little 70.3 event coming up. Prior to this, that certain person has signaled her availability on the instant messenger with the tag that she's going to "kick" or "beat" or "whip" greyhound or his "butt" or "a$$" or some other anatomical region.

Like I say, I'm a lover, not a fighter. I don't have a history of picking on girls or pulling pigtails. I have no idea what would have prompted this act of aggression. This is not to say that my hindquarters have not, in the past, been the subject of female attention and admiration, but that is an entirely different post.

This certain person's agresssion is all the more confusing because her aspirations clearly ought to be much higher than beating on lil' ol' me. I'm what Bolder calls, "an endurance toddler." I only have a few years of training to layer on the aerobic base needed for long course triathlon. This certain person, however, is older than me. Much MUCH older.

I don't mean that kind of older, I mean this kind of older--that certain person has more years of endurance training.

Well, OK, she is older than me, but that's beside the point.

Beyond mere endurance training, I'm an untouched, innocent, naive Ironman virgin. This certain person is experienced--really REALLY experienced.

I don't mean that kind of experienced, I mean this kind of experienced--this certain person has multiple Ironman finishes to her credit. Me, not so much.

Just on the raw numbers, this certain person has done an HIM 12 minutes faster than I ever have.

So, you see, it's really not fair to lil' ol' me if I race this certain person straight up.

Perhaps the fairest, and most diplomatic compromise would be to see who manages the best percentage of their HIM PR time--whether or not we are able to improve those times on this relatively difficult course. Then, in the true sense of triathlon, we would be racing ourselves.

If I lose, I am willing sing "O Canada," bedecked in maple leaf garb, in my finest voice, for the entire blogosphere. If I win, I think that certain person ought to favor us with a respectful rendition of the "Star Spangled Banner" or perhaps "Deep In The Heart Of Texas."

That's fair, right?

Monday, May 28, 2007

Sleeping Superstar

Nine hours. That was my goal, and I made it.

Not my Ironman goal. Gawd no. That kind of time will never happen without the aid of a motor launch and an internal combustion engine.

Not my HIM goal. Even I can go a bit quicker than that.

It was my sleep goal. I slept nine hourse in a row last night. Nine hours on the Tempurpedic including lazy dozing this morning. I even went to sleep earlier than Superpounce, who is only nine. Yay me.

I may have had a bit of an overtraining habit in the past. Um, yeah. Just a bit. Henceforth, I will continue hard training, but in training I am a mere pauper. I am going to make myself the king of recovery. I will never be the fastest nor the strongest, but when it comes to resting and absorbing training, all others shall be pretenders to my throne, mere usurpers.

I will fuel properly after training. I will hit my vitamins. I will ice bath after the key run/bike sessions. I will nap on the weekends. I will make sleep an olympic event. I will rule recoveryland.

Actually, I'd be very interested to hear from experienced Iron athletes out there what you do to ensure and enhance recovery. Put your collective wisdom in the comments.

Sunday, May 27, 2007


Even if others have been further and faster, there is a special feeling when you go further than you ever have before.

Today. Me. In the water.


4 Thousand Meters.

2.4 miles.

Sound familiar?

Whiskey and chocolates for everyone.

Saturday, May 26, 2007


The clouds started to roll in during the last portion of the bike in my bike/run brick. Wind kicked up as well. Temperature alternated between subtropical swelter and the cool that was still mostly hidden behind the front.

The rain started just as I went out on the run. not the hot misting rain we usually get on summer afternoons. That type of rain only makes things hotter, stickier and more miserable. These were heavy cold drops that promised relief.

Rank after rank of black clouds marched across the sky, never quite living up to it's full potential, until this afternoon, when everything in the house had come to a stop. Thuder pealed and it rained hard for two hours--during which time I was drugged by the leftover endorphins and the lullaby of water pouring down off the house.

I slept.

During the dayling.

For two hours.


Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Totally Cool

The miracle of the couch cushions. I pestered you yesterday for $42.94 to make my fundraising goal, and the bogosphere came through. The way it came through is totally cool.

Nine people made donations yesterday. Some were from friends who have contacted me or commented before, but some of the friendly lurkers came out of the shadows and made themselves known. In fact, within 3 minutes of posting yesterday, someone I did not recognize made a donation that put us over the top. Two people made donations of $42.94. Another triathlete who drops by the blog made a donation and sent me a personal e-mail telling me about the MS story in her family and how much she enjoys the blog.

The final total this year:

Wait for it----------


**Insert wild applause here***

I am very very grateful for the donations, and even more grateful when people reach out and react to whatever I'm doing here. THIS is the highest and best use of technology--using ones and zeros and electrons to form connections between people. Thanks for reading, and most importantly, thanks for connecting.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Help A Brother Out . . .

OK, I promise. This is the last time I'll bring this up . . . until next year when I'm raising money for the MS Society through the Janus Charity Challenge. I am $42.94 short and this is the LAST DAY!!

I set a goal of raising $9000 in this year's MS 150. Including my own biggish donation (just so you know I'm not totally mooching off you) I have raised $8957.06. Sure, I could pony up another $42.94, but where's the fun in that??

No I'm like the paper boy in "Better off Dead." "I WANT MY 2 DOLLARS!!"" Search the couch cushions, folks. It's $42.94 or bust. Hit the MS150 fundraising link in the sidebar and I'll leave you alone until next year.
(Except when you're raising money, and then you know that I'm a giver.)

Sunday, May 20, 2007

"Individual" Sport?

In it's original form, triathlon was supposed to be an individual time trial in three sports. There are even penalties for drafting or receiving "outside assistance" during a race. Supposedly it is the quintessential, individual sport.

But does anyone get to the finish of an Ironman race alone, completely under his or her own mental and physical power?

I suppose there could be some stud out there who never doubted his own ability, never struggled, never turned outside himself in need of assistance or encouragement. Show me that person, and even if it is true I'll show you an insufferable egotist. More likely, it is not true, and he's either self-deceived or ignoring the elephant in the living room--his own shortcomings.

Can someone reach the finish line of an Ironman alone? I don't know, but who would want to?

This weekend, I did not take to the open water alone. Who would want to?

I did not sweat on the bike alone? What's the fun in that?

I followed someone who had been there before, someone who has taken any number of TNT trainees through their first open water swims.

I followed in the tracks of an Ironman.

Who better to show the way than a pathfinder?

I had to be in Dallas this weekend on family business, and Boomer took me to Lake Grapevine, the same place the Team In Training swims on Thursday nights. 2400 meters later, I had again learned more about how to be successful in open water--what to do with my brain in the middle of the swim when it feels like no progress is being made as well as how to balance the body, breathe, and swim effectively in some chop kicked up from the wakes of boats.

Then, on Sunday it was off to White Rock Lake on a top 10 weather day of the year for a moderate four hour ride. I got to test the new gearing on Carmen Tequilo, and she was totally sweet, smoothe a silk. 38/53 in the front and 12/27 in the back--it was like having half a dozen more options than before. Wildflower would have been somewhat less disasterous with that kind of setup.

And no trip to the Metroplex would be complete without dropping some cash with Lance Armstrong's original sponsor--the Richardson Bike Mart.

Yeah, I supposed I could have gone solo riding and swimming this weekend, and I suppose the physical benefits would have been about the same. But I do an individual sport, not a solo journey.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Bonita. Muy Bonita.

Oh, my Carmen. I have been so hard, so cold to you. You deserved much, much better.

Will you take me back, dearest one? I arranged a spa vacation for you and you are so beautiful, I can resist you no longer.

The bike spa guy lovingly cleaned and massaged your body with exotic, scented solvents and polish. So shiny you are. So hot.

Man it's a hot one
Like seven inches from the midday sun
I hear you whisper and the words melt everyone
But you stay so cool


He expertly caressed down here, and replaced your old cassette with a shiny new one--27 teeth on that new cassette so that my climbing will have more teeth.

My munequita,
my Spanish Harlem Mona Lisa
Your my reason for reason
The step in my groove


He even shined and cleaned your sexy, red and black Michelin, Ironman tires. Rubber is so sexy.

And if you say this life ain't good enough
I would give my world to lift you up
I could change my life to better suit your mood
Cause you're so smooth

He gave you a gleaming new chain, and down in front, a new small ring with 38 teeth. R-r-r-r-r-r-r-r--r-r-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-w--w--w--w!

And just like the ocean under the moon
Well that's the same emotion that I get from you
You got the kind of lovin that can be so smooth
Gimme your heart, make it real

Or else forget about it


And that part where we touch each other is so smoothe and comfy.

I'll tell you one thing
If you would leave it would be a crying shame
In every breath and every word I hear your name calling me out
Out from the barrio, you hear my rhythm from your radio
You feel the turning of the world so soft and slow
Turning you round and round

Tu es bonita. Muy bonita.

And if you say this life ain't good enough
I would give my world to lift you up
I could change my life to better suit your mood
Cause you're so smooth

And just like the ocean under the moon
Well that's the same emotion that I get from you
You got the kind of lovin that can be so smooth
Gimme your heart, make it real
Or else forget about it

Thursday, May 17, 2007

New Beginnings

"He has the deed half done who has made a beginning."
Wildflower was a crisis of confidence for me. Frankly, I had started to get cocky about being able to finish this Ironman thing, and the triathlon gods decided to teach me a lesson.
At first, the lesson resulted in that "I don't belong here" feeling that most of us have experienced at one time or another. Then I tried to listen. I know what I need to do in befriending the open water. I'll be there every chance I get. I know what my 40 year old frame needs by way of recovery. I will be cutting volume even further during recovery weeks because I know I need it.
But then there is the whole "beginning again" thing. I had to start training again.
So, I did. Some swimming, some biking, some running--all strictly in conformity with the plan set out by Coach Book. Man it felt good to have fresh legs again. I guess I had been so tired for so long that I had forgotten what normal felt like.
But it was weird. These were some of the same basic workouts I had done before, the distances were not appreciably greater, but I had an intruder along for the ride.
Every time I started a workout this week, I had a strange feeling in my stomach. Wednesday, for example, I did my swim workout in the lap pool in my neighborhood. I was the only one there after hours on a beautiful evening. Perfect setting. Sun going down. Slight breeze. Lights coming on. But when I began the 200 meter base intervals, my stomach gnawed at me. What was that feeling?
It was fear.
Can I do this? Can I complete the workout that I start? Do I have it in me to swim these intervals hard and complete every one?
It wasn't just the swim. I felt the same on my familiar run and bike workouts as well.
But I began. And I finished. One interval at a time. One workout at a time.
Not because I'm anything unusual. I'm sure you did the same thing. All I did was start. We all have to start.
Someone planted a seed in me today. A dear friend wrote the words to me on the instant messenger, "You're meant to be an Ironman."
Her confidence is planted in me. I will water it, tend it, protect it, and hopefully, September will be the harvest.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

My Perfect Weekend

Hey, guys. I have posted what few photos I was able to snap and a few purple prose thoughts here, on the group blog that the Kahuna set up. I hope you enjoy them.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Gittin' Back On That Horse

You see, I'm from Texas.

As if you couldn't tell.

And when a little Texan falls learning how to ride a bike, or takes a line drive to the chin, or fails at just about anything, he's liable to hear a homily about, "gittin' right back up there on the horse."

Those homilies stick.

The swim bucked me off at Wildflower, much more than I expected. So today, I got back up on that horse.

Today, I met Mishele K, my triclub homie at Twin Lakes, the local swimmin' hole for triathlete types.

Twin Lakes
Twin Lakes

Besides being a top engineer, Mishele is a four time Ironman finisher and uber swimmer chica. Mishele can do an Ironman swim in 1:04. Did you get that number---One Oh Freaking FOUR!

I will proclaim myself to be aquaman if I finish in an hour and a half.

Anyway, my goal was to swim two easy loops of the lake bouys, which totals just under 2k. I reached the goal, practicing a new form of siting. Even with general lollygagging, my time was quicker than the Lone Star Half-Iron swim. I learned some things about my stroke, how my wetsuit keep me from breathing (and did so at Wildflower) when the sleeves are not pulled tight to the armpits, and I even had some fun in the open water. That really doesn't happen with me.

Mishele swam circles around me, of course, swam out and back, and generally fished it up all over the place sans wetsuit. But that's just another reason to admire her. She'll pass the patent bar this summer and will be a much-sought-after law school grad three years from now. Um yeah, Engineer Girl has game.

Anyway, I intend to gradually add distance every week until I can do five loops comfortably. Then, it is hoped, I will be Iron-Ready and I can ride that horse.

Friday, May 11, 2007


Kahuna may have gone overboard with that whole "giving" mantra about me.

Did you know that if you google "mother's day" from an airport terminal on your WiFi enabled laptop, FTD florists is one of the first hits, and they can still deliver in time for mother's day?

I'm just saying.

I'm a bad, bad son.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Sweeps Week

Is this sweeps week in triathlon or something? You know, that time when the local TV news and all the TV shows pull out all the raciest stuff to entice us to watch? I think I see a trend:

Runners world has two super hotties on the cover, AND they happen to be mother and daughter.

Triathlete Magazine is out with the swimsuit issue and a hottie of its own on the cover.

And to top it all off, Inside Triathlon has a nearly naked picture of uber hottie Desiree Ficker on the cover. (Did I ever mention that I had my picture made while embracing Desiree?)

Well, thankfully, the Triblogger Alliance kept to the pure spirit of triathlon while at Wildflower. There was no unseemly and wanton nakedness or skin in our group.

Carrie and Me
No sireee. Not one bit.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Pride and Shame

(Photo courtesy of Iron Wil)

They say, character is what we do when nobody is watching. If so, that is why I was so disappointed in my race day at Wildflower. If I had been by myself, if no one had been watching, I would have quit. I am not pleased with that feature of my character.

This picture, however, shows something else about character. We are not alone. I was not alone. I knew that people were watching and I did not quit. I was a member of a community, and one of the creators of that community is right there in the picture, looking on as I struggled to the finish of my worst race ever. The other is behind the camera taking the picture and cheering my name.

Worst race, I say, but one that may turn out to be a key foundation in any future Ironman finish. The race revealed my true self, my errors, my weaknesses, and how to attack and correct those shortcomings.

My day started with a LOUSY swim. Part of this was because I should have warmed up more thoroughly (like I did at the Lone Star HIM) rather than standing around worrying about the swim. But the swim is not a physical limitation. I have easily swum 3k at a time and completed 2 prior HIMs, but Saturday I could not find my freestyle stroke, and it was almost entirely mental.

My breathing was restricted from lack of a warmup. I swallowed a lot of water in chop and boat wakes that I was not prepared for and suffered panic that was not rational. I had to resort to breast stroke because I could not bring myself to keep my face in the water. Then, I allowed my self-disgust at breast stroking to effect the rest of the day. I was ashamed of my swim and overall performance, but too proud to quit with people looking on.

Mental weakness then led to self-mortification for being so weak. (Isn't it great being complex and introspective? Arrrrrgggghhh!!!!) Add this to an extremely overtrained state and a bike setup that was not conducive to all the climbing required on the course and all the times after the swim came down as well. I cracked with 10 miles left on the bike. Obviously, riding 150 miles two weeks ago and attempting this mountainous course with no compact crank and an 12-25 rear cassette was disregarding my own limits by several orders of magnitude.

After the bike crackup, I basically could not run unless I had a gravity assist on a downhill. Even so, I did not run to my physical abilities because my mind was weak. I actuall made good tempo with a nice stride in the last 2 miles. I should have done that for much of the middle miles. I just didn't.

The key, for me, is attacking my mental game, principally by becoming confident as an open water swimmer. Courses will always be hard, and every race has things that will go wrong. I cannot control conditions, but I can control how I react to them. From this day forward, I will do so.

I am taking a week off of training and hopefully will return to health. Then, the gameplan between now and Wisconsin includes:

1. Sign up for every tri, no matter what the length, within ez driving distance in order to complete as many open water swims in traffic as possible. I don't care if I DNF the rest of the race in order to pursue Ironman focused training. I just want the swims.

2. Swim with the tri-club at Twin Lakes every Friday if possible. Hopefully I can find someplace closer to do a weekend open water swim as well.

3. Go to Galveston as many weekends as possible and swim in the Gulf of Mexico until I am comfortable swimming in waves and chop.

4. Read and absorb "Mental Training for Triathletes" which was ordered from Amazon today and arrives tomorrow.

***Full Stop****

Enough narcissism about me. Again, if I had been alone, I would have failed. I would have quit. But I was not alone. I was surrounded by a community of friends, all of us on our own adventures, all of us discovering something new about ourselves. I guess character is what we do when nobody is watching, but we were not meant to exercise "character" all by ourselves. We were meant to exceed the limitations of our character within communities. I will not end this post without a note of thanks to those who helped create our community.

Iron Wil, Kahuna, who would have thought that a couple of blogs and an amateur podcast had the power to build connections among talented and yet ordinary people, and even go on to motivate them to do extraordinary things? Of all the pride on display this weekend, that should be first on the list. All of us who toe'd the line, crossed the finish line, or even watched and started dreaming our own Tri Geek Dreams owe you a debt of thanks. Consider this payment number one.

Thank you.


I had the best time.

I had the worst time.

Friends: great.

My race: opposite of great.

I am better and stronger than I allowed myself to be on the day. I don't know what my time was, and I don't ever want to know. I would consider it an act of friendship if you did not look it up.

This is not my race report. That will follow when I have more time to write, and when I have had more time to process the experience. I am already learning--already planning. Until then:

"Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm."*

"Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts."*
*Lord Winston Spencer Churchill

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Da Family

Limited connectivity, but the fastest triathletes are chillin' in an RV with a lake view under the stars--Curly Su, The Iron Kahuna, Iron Jenny. Trimama, Tac Boy and me. Da Family.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Wildflower: IRL

With apologies to Bolder, my uber friend and Iron role model, I borrow a paraphrase of his post for today as the starting place for my own. For it is off to Wildflower I fly tomorrow morning for the second HIM of the year.

"Well sportsfans, it's getting close to race day again, I'm about to jet out, and I feel myself winding up, like a tightly coiled spring---a compact titanium coil in the pit of my stomach. Preparing to unleash my preparation onto my opportunity on race day--or maybe getting ready to throw up a little bit in my mouth."

I don't think I lack preparation. According to my log, since the begining of the year, the numbers are:

Swim: 102,000 yards, 42 hours of training.

Bike: 1100 miles, plus trainer time, 103 hours of training.

Run: 200 miles, for 37 hours of training

Strength: Almost 26 hours of training.

That ought to get me to the line in reasonable shape if I just start at the beginning and proceed to the end by way of the middle.

Then why am I so nervous? Why do I feel like I'm 13 and I am the only jr. high student at the party for the high school band. (That actually happened, and notwithstanding my angst, a first kiss was involved, but that is a whole different story.)

I don't think it is embarassment over finishing times. I'm in it for the cameraderie. I have raced before with friends, and it is well known that I have no studly racing expectations. I am decidedly average. Not one bit better. But I have never raced with the tribloggers, and every time you meet a blogger in real life (IRL), there is always that gap between who you are and who they think you are based upon what you write.

I write for a living, so that gap might be pretty big.

Of course, I have already met many of the bloggers and podcasters in real life, yet, with me, it's always back to junior high school. "What if they don't like me?" and more importantly, "What if I make a fool of myself?"

But then you get to the spirit of triathlon. No one comes to this sport uniformly excellent in all three disciplines--and some of us come struggling at all three. Everyone is alternatively foolish and heroic, sometimes all at the same time. So there's room for everyone.

And unlike when we were 13, no one cards us when we purchase the alcohol to lubricate the social graces.

My bags are packed, I'm ready to go.

Caution. Epic weekend ahead.