Friday, February 29, 2008

True Confessions--Things That Make My Head Explode

Some among you may have formed the impression that I am a decent guy who rides on a fairly even keel, and may even be considered patient or kind. If so, your mistake is due to two things:

1. The magic of the internet where you can pretty much create anyone you want to be; and

2. My status as a professionally trained wordsmith who can weave a tapestry, yea an entire world of fictional believability using only the English language.

Those who think they have met me are deceived. I am not the short and wiry, middle-aged man with a receding hairline. That is merely an actor who I have hired to make the online persona believable. I am actually a stunningly attractic and tall blond woman in her early 30s, a hard-bitten New Yorker who writes a gossip column and commiserates with my friends about the abysmal state of New York men while drinking Grey Goose martinis, moving from conquest to conquest and casting about witty banter with devil-may-care sophistication.

OK, so that's not actually true. And I kind of stole that from a TV show, so it's not even really a display of any ability at fiction writing.

What you see is pretty much what you get, except that I am a lot less kind or patient than you might have been led to believe. Patience and mercy are not my best qualities. I am not longsuffering and slow to anger. In the words of Lyle Lovett, "that's the difference between God and me."

Certain things bring out the feelings that I am about to go Krakatoa. One of them is airport security lines, which I have survived four times this week without committing a homicide, although sometimes only narrowly. She probably does not know it, but she came within an eyelash of death-by-Krakatoa. You know her. The morbidly obese, mouth-breathing lady who stood in the security line for 15 minutes, heard the verbal instructions from the TSA representative, saw the instructional signs with pictures for the illiterate, and yet still waited until reaching the x-ray conveyor to clue to the fact that she needed to put a large assortment of hopelessly futile beauty supplies into plastic baggies while seasoned business travelers stacked up behind her.

I think the TSA almost "offed" her right there pursuant to some new power granted in an executive order. No one would have blinked.

Ditto for the blinged out refugee from a Hip-Hop video who tried to walk through the metal detector with a four inch wide studded belt and various and sundry chains.

Seriously, DID YOU NOT KNOW that this funny little door tries to find metal things? Do you THINK that the Mr. T rejects around your neck, and wrist and ankle and waist might not make the funny little door beep? You do KNOW that the beep does not mean you get a prize, right?

It's time like these that I start thinking evil thoughts about travelers in strollers and wheelchairs and trying to make predictions about which x-ray line will be the fastest.


Then there is the training plan. I know that I have done enough workouts and can do enough on the weekend that I am going to continue to improve and not lose any fitness, but the integrity of the graphs and training log are now all screwed up and my head is going to explode. Plus all this life stuff, what with the parenting and the earning a living and the husbanding, is making me tired and interfering with the MY TRAINING!

CAN THE WORLD PLEASE GO AWAY AND LEAVE ME ALONE???!!! I've got a sub-15-hour Ironman, completely pathetic, non-podium, generic, back-of-the-pack finish to train for!!

Oh, did I mention that I have to suppress a really selfish streak from time to time. Shocking, yeah, I know. Who knew?

I'm getting on that plane over there in one hour and heading home from Orlando. I hope I find my daddy/husband self again before I pull my car in the garage.

**breathing deeply**

Oh gawd, that screaming toddler with the mouse is is probably on my flight.


I am a bad, bad man.
(Your own true confessions solicited for the comment section).

Monday, February 25, 2008

Suburban Moms Gone Wild or the Near Death Of A Former Ironman

Often times, my Sunday post to wrap up a training week will be entitled, "Whiskey and Chocolate," two rewards for a week well lived, or at least well-trained. This Sunday, I only had the energy to drink, not to post.

This weekend, some adjustments in the training schedule were necessary. Why? Because I was the officer of the watch, the only parent on deck.

Mrs. Greyhound was away with all of her mom friends at a scrap booking retreat. Supposedly, this involves a bunch of middle-aged suburban moms sitting around all weekend eating junk food, drinking wine, and "making memories" in their elaborate scrapbooks (read talking crap about their husbands).

I suspect it involves mojitos and naked pillow fights. She denies this, but methinks the lady doth protest too much.

Anyway, if you are officer of the watch, and your "men" are a solitary, ten-year-old daughter, you can't exactly take off all day to drive out and do a four hour bike ride in the country. And yet Coach Book said to ride four hours, and I try to meet or exceed the expectations of Coach Book.

So, on the most BEEEE YOUUUUUU TEEE FULLL cycling weekend ever in South Texas, I was forced to spend three hours of quality time with Coach Troy on the trainer in my garage, beginning at 0415, doing the "tough love" spinervals session.

Yeah. I know. Joy.

The production values were OK, I guess. The music sounded like a combination of the background music on the Weather Channel and what I imagine would be in high budget porn: unrecognizable, exciting in only an artificial way, nearly all electronic, and musically bereft of content. Would it kill you to get the rights to use some face melting pop or rock tunes?

Now I know why they have the option to turn off the music, an option that I will use next time and plug in my ipod to control my own tunage.

That said the workout was hard and effective and passed the time. By the middle of the second hour, I was starting to see things, and I'm pretty sure that Terri, the triathlete on the back row of the DVD cyclists, was making eye contact.

She was totally into me.

But by the end of three hours , I was afraid that Bruce, the triathlete in the front row, was also getting fresh.

Not that there's anything wrong with that.

So, I spent one manly hour of quality time with the "King Arthur" DVD, spinning out the legs at low zone two while watching hewn limbs and severed heads. And I'm certain by the end of hour four, Keira Knightly was totally giving me the look.

Maybe it was the caffeinated gels.

Coach Troy says that 3 hours on the trainer is equal to four hours on the road. Well, in order to do my dad duties, I spent four hours on the trainer, then added in a recovery run Saturday, 14 miles running Sunday and a long swim of 3100 yards.

By the time Mrs. Greyhound got home, I was unable to tell whether she gave me the look or not. I am still spent.

I am still not altogether sure that last year's Ironman still lives here.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

The Life

If I weren’t a triathlete, I would not know the musical whisper of chain and wheels and smooth pavement on a dark morning. I wouldn’t know the feeling of my thighs pumping up and down like pistons with the breeze swooshing past my face before the rest of the city even wakes up.

If I weren’t a triathlete, I wouldn’t know the new-found assurance of lifting weights at the gym--knowing that even as mediocre as I am, none of the bulky metal heads can use those big muscles to beat me to the line in any discipline at any distance.

If I weren’t a triathlete, I might be the average middle aged man. My largest feature would be my belly instead of my spirit.

If I weren’t a triathlete, I’d get a whole lot more sleep. I probably would not have been outside on Wednesday morning to see the iridescent peach, pink and purple in the dappled clouds announcing the coming of the sunrise. If, on the off-chance I had been outside, would it have even mattered. Would I have noticed the sunrise or felt the same sense of presence had I not just completed a swim?

If I weren’t a triathlete, I probably would not have been in the finishers chute for the Austin Half-Marathon on Sunday. And if I had been there to spectate, I wouldn’t have felt the fullness of air in my lungs and the honest pain of escaping the gravitational pull of being “like everybody else.”

If I weren’t a triathlete, I probably would not have discovered that encouragement is lighter than air. I saw Kathleen with about 5 miles to go and was bridging up to her. I reached her about the time we hit a stiff hill and told her to grab my wheel and I'd pull her up. I don't think I annoyed her, and I tried not to be a chatty Kathy. There were long periods where I just listened to her footsteps and breathing, but for the next four miles I talked her through climbing and descending about 200 yards at a time, and in the process focused on my own form. When you find your friend on the race course, and you make it your mission to fill her sails with encouragement, you get pulled along too. Who knew?

If I weren’t a triathlete, I might not have discovered that being first to the line is not nearly as delicious as watching a friend's eyes open to the whole new self that they never knew. I told her that I expected her to beat me to the line, and after the last hill, I accelerated. So did she. I pulled ahead. So did she. Faster I went. She went faster still. A couple more surges and she was gone. She finished her fastest 5k ever in the last 3.1 miles of a VERY hilly half-marathon. I took the finisher's medal given to me and put it around her neck with a smile that was almost as big as her own. That finish for her is just another beginning.

If I weren’t a triathlete, I would be poor indeed.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Where Did That Come From?

So, I could barely walk this week, and I was pretty sure I would not run this weekend. But this morning I felt good enough to give it a try, so I decided to treat the Austin half as a long run with a few thousand close friends. The results:

Avg pace 8:48
Avg HR 148 (!!!)

And the best part was coming up on Kathleen in the last 5 miles and poking her with a sharp stick every time she wanted to slow down! (Actually, I was nicer than that, but I'll let her tell the tale of how she beat me to the line).

It was a very, very good weekend.

More tomorrow.

Peace. Out.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Goals: I Haz Dem

funny pictures
moar humorous pics

So, this weekend is the Austin Marathon and Half-Marathon. I have the half-marathon in my sidebar race schedule, but my goal is a big fat question mark.

Literally, it says "????"

It's not as if I don't have goals, it just seems like the dang little birds won't come down out of the tree where I can reach them.

See, I originally signed up for the marathon. It feels like it has been so long since I ran a good road race and was able to run hard. I thought that after Ironman Wisconsin, I could take a break and then build up for a good marathon time. I've gone 3:53:41 for the marathon, and I had hopes of going faster, especially since my long run times were comfortably averaging better than 9 minutes per mile.

Then, I ran a 5 k and the running gods decided to rip my left hamstring out of my a$$ cheek and tear my calf muscle to boot.


So, I changed the goal. Maybe I can run a reasonable half-marathon time.

Then, I mixed in some strength training, including squats.


My 41-year-old hips don't lie. They told me, "dude, you're 41 years OLD--REPEAT IT WITH ME, OLD!!!


"Sure, you could leg press the whole stack on the weight machine when you played soccer, but that was 25 years ago. Your left hip flexors, gluteus minimus, psoras major and your general groinal area are now on strike.

"Oh, and you've got a cold, so all that respiration you were counting on doing, forget it."

So, I changed the goal again. Maybe, I can finish if I run really slowly and carefully, if my heart doesn't explode, if I don't start bleeding from my ears and eyeballs, and if my head doesn't start spinning 360s while projectile vomit spews out of my mouth. After all, it's only a flesh wound.



(all together now) "You're a looney."

I ran a little today, and I ran a little yesterday. Some of it was painful, and sometimes the offending areas loosened up OK. Doc says the joint is OK. It's just muscular soft tissue stuff. So, we'll just have to see, but if I go any slower, I feel like I'll be going backwards.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Being the Valentine

I wasn't planning on posting today, but then I read this. In a day when much of the entertainment media and the public are focused on "getting some," it was really nice to be reminded that love is more about giving and bearing burdens. Can you substitute your name in all these blanks where the word "love" once appeared:

________ is patient.
________ is kind.
________ does not envy.
________ does not boast.
________ is not proud.
________ is not rude, is not self-seeking, is not easily angered, and keeps no record of wrongs.
________ does not delight in evil but rejoices with truth.
________ always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
________ never fails.

She was being the Valentine.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

41 Year-Old Virgin

Do not be deceived, gentle reader. The Greyhound is not the Alan Alda-esque, sentimental softy that you might think. He is a cynic--a cold-blooded, dispassionate, jaded cynic who has no use for fakey Hallmark holidays like Valentine's Day. That's why I give you this present for Valentine's day from the bottom of the dark and empty pit where my heart would otherwise be:

[Video of "Love Stinks" removed to quieten down the blog again]

How'm I doin'?

Didja believe me?

Not buyin' it huh?

OK, so don't tell, but Superpounce and Mrs. Greyhound are getting Valentine's Day presents after all. They will each receive Pajamagrams with handwritten notes from the man of the house.

Uhm, that's me.

Then of course, there's a further gift that only Mrs. Greyhound will enjoy. The oh-so-smooth silkiness of Greyhound's new legs--sans hair pants. As racing season approaches here in the south, I decided to clean up my act and get smooth again, but not by stealing my wife's razor, like some triathletes. Indeed. Mrs. Greyhound is not down with shaving because of all the pricklies.

So, I went for a manly waxing. My first ever. Maybe my last. We'll see.

Legs only, mind you. I did not invoke the name of Kelly Clarkson even once, and I didn't cry.


I know, no pictures means it didn't happen, but you'll have to visit Steve in a Speedo if you're that kind of sicko. Believe me, it DID happen.

I hope she likes it . . . when the swelling goes down.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Below The Neck (SFW)

I have been accused of overtraining in the past, and occasionally the accusation may have been true. I do train a lot,as in consistently, day after day, but I really don't brutalize myself to any great extent. Indeed, I am a great lover of rest days, recovery food, naps, stretching, the foam roller, and most of all, I LURVES me a massage.

And if I am accused of overtaining recently, I would have to plead not-guilty. I have been bouncing back from workouts very well, taking it easy on my easy days, and recording good improvements.

Nevertheless, my body has decided to go on strike. I have a head cold, and my illiacus and psoas major issue loud complaints any time I try to run.


At least this is my working hypothesis, because I don't think I've been running enough volume to risk a stress fracture and the doctor's office will not call me back so that I can either see my primary care physician or skip that unnecessary step and go straight to the orthopod for a proper diagnosis. After said diagnosis, I hold out the vain hope that they will actually embark on a rehabilitation regime rather than the typical, sedentary, lazy medical practitioner approach, namely: don't exercise so much.

Well, gosh, Dr. Obvious. If I wanted to be a pudgy waste of carbon like you, I'd have done that long ago. Forgive me for thinking that the function of your profession was to get my body to function properly, even if my idea of "properly" is a bit more demanding than yours.

But I'm not bitter.

Really, I'm not.

At this rate I will have rehabbed myself before the doctor ever calls me back. It appears to be getting better and is a lot less painful than last Tuesday when I could hardly walk. The only worrisome feature is that there is now minor, cramping pain referring from the illiacus to a different region below the neck:


So, uhm. Yeah. The discomfort is very minor, but I feel it in a place that I consider to be very, VERY important, my left testicle. (By the way, this is just an illustration. Mine does not have those painful hooks and pins in it. And the genuine article is much much more impressive in real life. Really. I swear.)

Everything is improving steadily, but I hope I don't have a hernia or something that requires a total cessation of training. Yes, I'm stretching. Yes, I'm foam rollering. Yes, I've had a massage. Yes, yes, yes. Amateur medical opinions are welcomed, because I can't seem to get a professional physician to pay attention to me.

But no worries, because this weekend I was engaging in "best practices" for anyone coming down with a cold and suffering from a potential orthopedic injury. I was sleeping on the ground in damp, cool weather. You see, Friday and Saturday was a scheduled campout with Superpounce and the YMCA Trail Guides. And when it comes to dad duty, you just gotta rub some dirt on it and HTFU. No excuses. Get the job done. As a result, Superpounce thinks I am the master of all things native American because I was able to fashion a bow for her using only a hatchet, a green branch and some string.

Parenting is not for sissies. If it was easy, anyone could do it.

The weekend also worked out great due to tag-team parenting assist from Mrs. Greyhound. Friday and Saturday she got to watch Jane Austen to her heart's content. But, Sunday morning she met me at the campground driving my car with the bike on board. We tagged, traded kid duty, and I repaired to my favorite hills in Montgomery and Grimes Counties for a 60 mile ride with Jane and Kelly (who really needs to start blogging so I don't have to link to this silly and lame picture). I got to hammer some of my favorite hills, ride some nice tempo, and claw into some nice wind. By the way, this is totally an inside joke, but since Chau is currently so intoxicated with LURVE that she can't train, is the Chelly (i.e., Chau and Kelly) no more? Is it now the "Jelly" (i.e., Jane and Kelly)?

"But Greyhound," I can hear you saying, "you were getting sick. Why were you training?"

Overtraining? Not guilty. You know the rule, if your symptoms are above the neck, you are safe to train. Biking did not cause any pain, and my symptoms were above the neck . . . .

Until we were in the middle of the ride, and then I got a cough every time I stopped. So, my solution? Don't stop.

OK, so I'll have to plead nolo contendre with regard to the swim workout after the bike, but I took it easy. I promise.

And afterwards, it was pizza and beer for everyone chez greyhound. If you're in the area, you should come next time.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Enough With The Drama


TO: Lower Muscular-skeletal System

FROM: Management (Brain, Heart and Spirit)

RE: Persistent System Failures

DATE: February 8, 2008

As the Greyhound nears the end of base period, management feels the need to evaluate the performance of the various parts of this Ironman effort and to address what management feels are weak links in the chain. That evaluation has been performed and the purpose of this memorandum is to inform you of certain deficiencies that management feels must be remedied.

Management is of the opinion that the physical plant of the lower, left side has not been performing in a satisfactory manner. Management is of the considered opinion that demands upon the system have not be excessive. On the contrary, appropriate amounts of stress have been followed with appropriate amounts of rest, recovery and nutrition. Nevertheless, the lower left part of the Greyhound has been in a persistent state of complaint and now of failure.

Before the Ironman program began, it was the upper hamstring, otherwise known as the ass. Then, the hamstring proper and the calf on the left side. Now, perhaps as a result of strength training and quality run workouts, it is the connective tissue around the left hip that is refusing to perform as required. Such refusals can no longer be tolerated.

The vision of management is a youth-oriented program. As a result, spirit and heart are performing like that of a man in his mid-to-upper twenties. Not to be outdone, the mind appears to have regressed somewhat past the point of a college sophomore. (This is not altogether positive, in that such a mind dwells all to often on boobies and beer, but this shortcoming will be addressed by management at the proper time and place.)

The body, however, apparently did not receive the memo, because the left side in particular appears content with the standards one would expect of a senior citizen with a handicapped parking sticker. For the record, Greyhound likes to run, and it is the considered opinion of management that pool running and elliptical training sucks donkey balls.

Enough with the drama. There will be no prizes for overcoming injury, and the Greyhound does not seek to be considered as a "challenged" athlete. We expect all systems to perform with reasonable success when placed under reasonable demands.

And lest you be taking solace from the recent strike of unionized writers, please be reminded that this neither a democracy nor a union shop. Units of capital who chose to perform as expected will be rewarded. Those who do not, will receive the economic disincentives inherent in their free choices as market participants.

We are going to Ironman in June and you are coming. We can do this the easy way or the hard way. You have one recovery week to figure out which way it is going to be.

Monday, February 04, 2008

1s, 3s, 7s and Rest

I made the Masters coach smile this morning

He is a somewhat crumudeonly old guy who was present at the creation--that is the creation of the planet and the creation of Greyhound as a swimmer. He "knew me when" I could barely huff through a set of 10 hundreds on 2:30. Today he saw a different guy.

The main set was 5x200 descending. I am in the slow lane. (Remember, my masters group won the Long Course Nationals this year). So we were doing our 200s on 4:30. I touched at 3:50, 3:48, 3:45, 3:42 and 3:42.

He smiled and gave me a, "good job."

That's as good as it gets.

In running, I did my typical route for a middle distance foundation run last week, and realized with a little more than a mile left that I would average quicker than 8 minutes a mile, and with no great effort involved.

Swimming with a "1" in the 100 time, a "3" in the 200 time, and running with a "7" in the time for mile splits. Those kinds of changes are like pulling out your compass and finding true north to be exactly the opposite of where you thought it would be.

As much as I am surprised by needing to reorient my brain to what is "good," I suppose I shouldn't be. I have been trying to do the little things daily in terms of technique and training and quality efforts. Any physiologist would tell you that the little things add up to eventual improvement. Doing the right thing usually gets results, which is not to say that doing the right thing is easy.

Which brings me to Wednesday.

On Wednesday, my sidebar says, "rest." The reason for the odd spacing of the rest day is because a great man is now at rest. My grandfather, about whom I have written before, breathed his last at about 2:00 in the afternoon on Saturday. His funeral is Wednesday. He is at rest. And he is one who "did the right thing." In fact, he did the right thing so often and with so much predictable regularity that I often feel very inadequate by comparison.

He was married to the same woman for 65 years. They were with each other 24/7/365 because they worked together in the family business. They taught Sunday school together to three generations of kids and attended the same church beginning in 1946. He tended her on her sick bed for two years before she died. He persevered through his own failing health, through invalidity and suffering that basically scares me to death. Yet, he laughed with me in our last phone call together no more than a week ago. I never saw him lose his temper, never saw him lose hope, never saw him give up.

He made it seem so easy, the daily grind of goodness. Wasn't it ever hard for him? It sure is for me. I try to do the right thing, but I so often want to do something else, either out of laziness or just because the wrong thing is so much more exciting or inviting. Wrong would hardly be tempting if it wasn't attractive, right? I am sure I make some right choices out of habit, but I often feel like the right thing is a chore, and it does not seem to get any easier. Is it always this hard? Did he think so?

He never swam, or biked or ran for training purposes, but his quality numbers were very good. He seemed to know what to expect when he looked in the shaving mirror in the morning, or the eyes of his high school sweetheart every evening. Now, he is resting, and I am wondering whether his numbers are something I could ever match.