Tuesday, July 31, 2007

. . . Before The Dawn

A pre-dawn trainer ride usually has a very high suck factor, especially if you're depressed.

Unless there is an HBO documentary on the tube about this event:

The fictional Herb Brooks is nowhere near the real deal, may he rest in peace, but these are Coach Brooks' words:

If the miracle on ice doesn't get you going, you better check your pulse.

Do you believe in miracles? This is your time. Go out there and take it.

Sunday, July 29, 2007


I like this blog to be a place people want to stop by--something funny or profound or creative. But I haven't been able to write anything like that in the past few days. At the risk of sounding way too self-absorbed, I'm going to risk a little honesty. If it starts to bum you out, just move on. I'll be better in a couple of days.

I'm writing about not being able to write, and it's weird. The rational part of me knows exactly what is happening, yet the other part of me is experiencing it for real, without analysis.

I'm very, very dark right now. At three o'clock in the afternoon, I wish it was night, and when it is night, I can' sleep. I'm down. Listless. Depressed. Lonely.

It's not hard for the analytical side to see why. I'm alone and probably flirting with overtraining. Combine those two and depression is close at hand.

I've gone from vacation, with family, surrounded by friends, to comparative isolation. Mrs. Greyhound and Superpounce are still away--and will be away for another two weeks. Because they're gone, I have to take care of the dogs, meaning I can't jump in the car at 0400 and go to the gym to see Maria Gratia and my friends. Instead, I'm on the trainer in the morning, alone in a silent house. Or I'm running alone in a darkened neighborhood. On the weekends, I've been riding and swimming alone.

I got to run twice this weekend and hang out with Coach T and her main squeeze Scuba Steve, and it was when I was again alone that I realized how starved for human contact I am. Now she's traveling for the next two weeks, and that outlet is gone as well.

Knowing why I am feeling what I'm feeling, however, does not avoid feeling it. I know that lots of other people live alone and manage quite nicely. I don't know how you do it.

I suppose covering the miles alone inside your head is part of Ironman, but I'll be glad when this part is over.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

A Good Run

Dark, still, quiet
Thick, humid air pooling in light under the street lamps
My heart was sluggish
My legs stiff and sore
My effort hard but my tempo slow
flailing myself because of the bad numbers

But my grandfather spent the night in a heart hospital
His heart tired from 90 years' hard work
legs not working, arteries hardened, pooling the blood

And I opened the door for our librarian this morning
She on her electric cart, legs taken by polio

I had a good run.
Very, very good.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Greyhound: This Is You

No need to be alarmed. No injuries. No crisis of confidence. I just got out of bed this morning for my bike ride--allegedly a tempo ride--and there was no tempo.

As Scotty was wont to say, **Scottish Accent Inserted Here*** "We've gaught na' power-r-r-r-r-r, cap'n."

And I think my massage therapist was heard to say, "Dammit, Jim. I'm a therapist, not a miracle worker."

The bike last weekend was no problem--been doing a bit of biking lately. The swim--no sweat.

But it's been awhile since I've tied on a 3 hour run. And it's been even longer since I could recover from a 3 hour run with just one day off.

So, it's off to the pool for tonight, and we'll see what the legs give me for a tempo run tomorrow.

Maybe I need some of those dilithium crystals or something. Beam me up.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Iron Weekend

I swam everybody out of the pool this afternoon.

Those of you who know me and my swimming might find that statement odd. But rest assured, there has been no jump in performance and I'm not on performance enhancing drugs (although it would be nice to be suspected at least once in a while).

I swam everybody out of the pool only in the sense that the length of my workout and my ponderous pace ensured that everyone who was there when I arrived had long since gone by the time that I finished.

You see, this is peak ironman training, and this was an Iron Weekend--a weekend where one approximates distances of an Ironman race over a multi-day period.

Right now, it is 90+ degrees outside and a million percent Houston humidity, but I am inside shivering and wearing a sweatshirt after a prodigious ice bath concocted with 40 pounds of ice. (So much is required because the tap in the master bath runs 80+ degrees because of the sun on the side of the house this time of year.)

Other odd behaviors this weekend included consuming an entire box of mac and cheese last night (along with four hot dogs mixed in) and still feeling hungry, consuming more "Boost" in two mornings than a rest home full of geriatrics, and falling asleep -- in a sub 50 degree ice bath.

So, uhm, yeah . . . Mrs. Greyhound is still out of town.

These strange behaviors were prompted by stranger still activities such as 101 miles on the bike in humidity that would drown a tropical fish, 18 miles running this morning through Houston air that smelled like a fish kill, and 4000 yards straight swimming.

I'm not iron ready yet . . . but I can see it from here.

Whiskey? Chocolates? You better believe it.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Descending (Triple Bypass Part II)

***Preface: The first 15 miles took two hours, so intense and extended was the climb, so thin was the air, and so wimpy was the sea level rider. The next 15 miles, which was the descent from Juniper Pass, and the screaming descent from Loveland Pass was a completely different kind of riding--and writing.***

Put on your jacket or your arm warmers and tip yourself over the edge of the world and the ground falls away from you.

Jump to the big ring and click click click click find the smallest sprocket in the cassette. Five strokes of the pedals and suddenly you have no chain. You can't pedal fast enough to power the wheels.

Every sense is white hot. You hear everything and nothing at all---the roar of the wind, the vibration of the road, the whir and then whine of a freewheel about to take flight. You see everything and nothing at all--the grit or gravel 2 seconds in front of you at the same time you predict the turns 30 seconds ahead and duck over your should to see the riders before and behind. You feel the wind, the bitter cold that makes your teeth chatter and your toes ache.

What is that taste? Salt? Bile? Fear? No, more like joy.

Here come the first turns. The body is entirely instictive because there is no time to think---shifting from side to side, banking in the turns, checking over the shoulder before you swing wide so you can dive back in and hit the apex of the turn with no loss of speed, lifting the inside pedal and flaring the inside knee out for balance, then dipping down behind the seat and dropping into a severe aero crouch, diving at 45 mph into a straightaway drop.

And yet, you are consumed with thought that never relies on instinct. everything is slow motion and the mind analyzes the road immediately under your tires as well as the rider 25 meters behind you, 25 meters in front, and the next two turns down the road.

Relax and you fly. Tense up, and you'll go down.

Detecting a slight slowing in the freewheel, you know just when to whip out 10 pedal strokes to keep your speed across a flat before you drop off the planet again.

And again.

And again.

And again.

For 40 minutes of adrenaline above 40 miles an hour on two narrow stips of rubber powered by the human heart.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Ascending (Triple Bypass, Part I)

Loveland Pass IV
(Loveland Pass View)

Nearly everyone wants to be on top of the world, right? But being there never happens if one waits to be taken. You have to work. You have to plan. You have to climb.

And the climbing starts long before that particular day when you are on top of the world. It starts long before, maybe when you go on that first "grownup" bike ride and swear that you might never ride again because of the pain. Or when you fall over with your new fancy clipped in pedals. There are lots of bikes gathering dust in lots of garages after things like that. But you want to be on top of the world. So, you climb.

Now, don't get me wrong. The people who travel with you and who inspire you along the way are key.

Bolder and Roman II
(Bolder, Trishannon and Roman at Georgetown)

The people who bike with us and the people who cheer for us are one of the things that keep us moving forward.

Trishannon and Greyhound
(Trishannon and Greyhound, courtesy of Bolder)

(Bolder and Greyhound stop to see Triamam and the Tribe cheering, courtesy of Stronger)

But in the end, it is you. No amount of cheering and cameraderie is going to make you ascend. You have to turn the pedals, one stroke at a time. You have to climb.

Greyhound Ascends
(Greyhound ascending, courtesy of Bolder)

And when you do that, there will be periods of time, sometimes long periods of time, when you are alone with you thoughts. It almost doesn't matter whether you are riding in a group or not. Eventually, you will be hearing the sound of your own heart beating and your own breathing, and you are all alone.

At times like that, there are choices to be made. Whose voice will fill your head? Whose baggage will you carry on your back? What's the use in dropping cash on ultra-light carbon bottle cages to shave a few grams if you're going to carry baggage on your ascent. Carry only the essentials--you, your equipment, your training . . .

And don't forget: love and confidence are weightless. In fact, they are lighter than air.

Along the way, you'll reach some summits that are beautiful to behold.

Juniper Pass View III
(Juniper Pass View)

But these are only way stations. Don't miss them, and don't forget to enjoy the view; but, if you have a destination, don't be satisfied by false summits or even by real ones. You can't stay here.

You'll know the real ascent when you get there. If you look at it, the switchbacks and the grades will threaten to rob the confidence right out of you.

Loveland Pass III
(Loveland Pass Climb)

Loveland Pass VI
(Loveland Pass Climb)

But if your goal is to be on top of the world, did you expect the road not to be steep.

This can be done. Everyone who tries this has to turn the pedals hundreds of times to get to the top. Why not you? Every goal has an obstacle, and the better the goal, the bigger the climb. The obstacle is not going anywhere. You might as well just go.

What awaits . . . is the top.

Loveland Pass II
(Loveland Pass View)

Bolder on Loveland Pass
(Bolder atop Loveland Pass)

Loveland Pass I
(Greyhound and Bolder atop Loveland Pass)

Triple Badasses

Greyhound's Game Face

Bolder's Game Face

Success. The Prairie Dawg Leader and I finished the Triple strong--a pace line screaming through roundabouts in Vail and Eagle Vail and Avon at 30+ mph like the freaking Tour. I came, I finished, I learned, and I'm getting stronger every day. More to come later.

Friday, July 13, 2007


Well, my peoples. My fine, fine peoples. Tomorrow we saddle up with the Prairie Dawg Leader (whose voice I have borrowed for this post) for a heaping triple helping of hypoxic lusciousness known as the Triple Bypass.

We'll do a little of this


on Juniper Pass.

Then we'll do a little of this


on Loveland Pass.

Lastly, we'll do a little of this
vail 2

Vail 1

on Vail Pass.

120 miles and over 10,000 feet of verticle gain.

But who's counting?

Of course, when you're riding with Prairie Dawg Leader, costuming and the concomittant statement of intent is everything. So, all the appropriate appendages are shaved smoothe (inappropriate appendages staying as they were intended to stay) and I gots myself a new cycling Jersey that looks like this:

Back in Black

At the end of tomorrow, I'll either be a slightly more refined form of iron, or I'll be a mushy puddle of canine doo doo alongside some Colorado byway.

Wish me luck!

Monday, July 09, 2007


Today, the Greyhound HATC was graced with blogosphere royalty. Trimama and the Tribe have arrived, and so has the Iron Kahuna. We took a little bit of a bike ride here are some family pics.

Instant Best Friends
Soapinator and Superpounce: penpals turned instant best friends.

Kahuna Arrives to His Adoring Public
Kahuna and Buttah arrive to their adoring public.

Kahuna Flats
Kahuna flats within 400 meters--but I think he just needed the rest.

The Dynamic Duo
The Dynamic Duo--Yes, Trimama broke out the m-dot gear on us.

Post Ride Trimama
Trimama after the ride--on the job with the tribe.

Soap and Urp
Soap and Urp in the Blue River.

Post Ride Kahuna
Kahuna after the ride--shortly before being doused with snow melt river water by the Soapinator.

Soap is still alive.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Copper Triangle

Last weekend was an 80 mile ride in Texas. This weekend was an 82 mile ride in Colorado. This weekend was quite a bit more difficult for three main reasons:


Vail Pass


Tennessee Passw

and This:

Fremont Pass

The highways we were riding had signs naming them "The Top Of The Rockies," and they weren't kidding. Our little jaunt took us 82 miles over three mountain passes, crossing the Continental Divide twice, and totalling 9468 feet of verticle gain on the ride.

The first pass, between Copper Mountain and Vail, is Vail Pass at 10,666 feet. Stronger rode up from the Vail side and joined us for the screaming descent down into Vail. She had to go back to her most important job (mom duty), so we continued on alone.

Vail Pass Summit
(John, Greyhound and Stronger atop Vail Pass)

The second pass, between Minturn and Leadville (the highest incorporated city in the U.S.) is Tennessee Pass; but, before you even get to the climb up the pass, you have to summit and descend Battle Mountain, which for me was four miles of pain in the smallest gear I could find.

Battle Mountain Summit
(John and Greyhound atop Battle Mountain)

Notch Mountain
(Notch Mountain as seen from Battle Mountain)

Then, after some more climbing, you reach the former site of Camp Hale, where the 10th Mountain Division trained during World War II. There are pictures of the valley filled with barracks, and you can still see some of the foundations. That division, which fought in Italy and elsewhere, produced leaders and innovators such as Bill Bowerman (who founded Nike and coached Steve Prefontaine and other olympians), and the men who created Colorado's ski tourism industry from scratch.

Camp Hale
(Former Site of Camp Hale)

More climbing and you finally reach the top of Tennessee Pass at 10,424 feet.

Tennessee Pass
(Greyhound and John atop Tennessee Pass)

You don't actually descend that much from the pass into Leadville, because Leadville itself is at 10,159 feet. In fact, it's a pretty long pull though a windy valley to reach Leaville, but the views of Mount Elbert and Mount Massive are worth the effort.

Mount Massive
(One of 3 or 4 dwellings that huddle in the valley beneath Mount Elbert and Mount Massive)

We were having some serious bonkage by the time we reached the climb (yes climb) into Leadville. So after some ideally engineered cycling nutrition (Fritos and Red Bull), we took on the last pass, Fremont Pass, between Leadville and Copper Mountain, at 11,318 feet.

After descending from Leadville to the bottom of the climb, the first 7 miles or so is usually a gradual ascent that is no big whoop. This time . . . whoop. As in kind of a big deal whoop.

Firm headwinds effectively made the climb start 7 miles earlier than usual. The last four miles are quite steep and difficult without the preceding 7 miles in the wind. Within sight of the top the wind from the other side of the pass nearly knocked me off my bike in the last 400 meters.

I have never fought so hard for altitude on a bike.


But those things that you have to fight for tend to give the most satisfaction.

Fremont Pass Summit
(Greyhound atop Fremont Pass)

With weather approaching, we had to pedal like mad into headwinds to get down off the pass.

Fremont Pass View
(Afternoon stormclouds gather atop the pass)

Finally, making it onto the descent proper, one could let go the brakes and fly. 43 miles per hour. That's living.

. . . . but I did not swim today, and barely was able to run 10 miles.

Next week--the Triple Bypass.

(Next weekend's ride)

Bring it.

Friday, July 06, 2007

The Photo Album

Cowgirl Poetry

A 1940 picture of Daddy
Holding his newborn babe.
Cradled in his strong hands, a daughter.
He cherishes the life that he’s made.

A lady, is how he’ll raise her,
All satin and laces and curls.
Dolls, ruffles, and tea sets,
Nothin’s too fine for his girl.

A 1942 picture of Daddy
Holdin' Miss Scally-Wag.
Little fingers in Daddy’s pocket,
Pullin' on the Bull Durham tag.

A 1946 picture of Daddy
Ridin' his big Walkin’ horse,
And taggin' along right behind him,
His darlin’ daughter, of course.
She’s ridin’ out hell bent for leather
Tall in the saddle like dad.
Old cowboy hat pulled down over her ears.
Best little partner he’s had.

A 1955 picture of Daddy
Watchin’ his little girl
Ridin’ like hell ‘round those barrels.
No satin, no lace and no curls.
He’s prouder than punch of this daughter,
More than he’ll ever say.
Sorry he never had a boy child?
Naw, look at her ridin’ that bay!

A 1960 picture of daughter,
Two years after dad died.
She’s ridin’ his Walker and workin’ the ranch.
She never broke down and cried.
‘Cause she knows her Daddy’s sittin’
On a spirit mount, right by her side.
No, she wasn’t Daddy’s fluffy , prissy girl.
She was his strength, his life and his pride!

--Rusty Calhoun

Hoosier Pass

So, Coach Book told me to ride at a high aerobic intensity for 1 hour 35 minutes today. But what does it mean when your high aerobic intensity only nets you about 6 mph?

It means you're climbing Hoosier pass from the Breckenridge side.


Starting at 9600 feet above sea level and traveling upward to 11,500 feet above sea level in the space of 10 miles.

Reaching the contintal divide on that steep, hairpin road is a lung searing event. The legs do not give out so much as the lungs.


But as is as often the case, discomfort, effort, and value go hand in hand.


I think we saw the mountains differently than the tourists waddling from their SUVs at the top of the climb.

They were photographed in front of the same sign we used for our background, but it can't have been the same.


And descending at 35 to 40 mph on a bicycle around the hairpin switchbacks --- well, you can't really be that alive in an automobile.


The rain chased us back down to the town. It doesn't have far to fall when you are riding in the sky.


We arrived cold, shivering, and completely, fully alive.

Epic is where you find it

As promised, July 5 was an awesome, epic day. Sure, there was the ultra-brick of the 3000 yard swim followed by 2+ hour ride over a 10,000 foot pass and a 30 minute runoff.

But what is more epic than hanging out by a rushing river of snow melt

Wading hand in hand with a friend

Learning new tricks
sk8tr gurl

Or being very very small in comparison to the world around you.

Don't miss the journey on your way to an iron destination.