Saturday, August 30, 2008

More Greyhound To Love (Or Not)

This post contains some news and an explanation.

The news is that I am starting a new blog. But don’t worry. It’s not going to take the place of this blog. Hopefully, it will just be an addition to it.

But why start a new blog? Especially in the age of the creeping Facebook, the lazy man’s, one sentence solution to blogging.

I enjoy the act of writing for writing's sake, when I have something worth writing about. These little blurbs I throw out once or twice or three times a week nourish the creative writer that lives inside me, especially when I do so much analytical writing for my job. The blog allows me to hone my craft, and the feedback I get from the comments is a motivation to write more—a motivation that writers from the past did not have.

But, again, why a new blog?

Well, primarily because it will have a different type of tone and content, and potentially a different audience that will only partially overlap with Trigreyhound.

Those of you who regularly read and enjoy this blog know that I sometimes write about the internal aspects of training and its impact on life, love and faith. Lately, I have been feeling the need to be truer to my spiritual lineage and calling.

(Speak plainly, dude—that’s way too pompous.)

OK, OK. Here it is. I need to find my moral compass. I need to write some stuff that is way more Jesussy than you have ever read here.

Sure, I could just wax Jesussy here in this blog; but, I know that some who enjoy stopping by here are not the Jesussy type. In fact, some of you that I enjoy most and for whom I care most are not Jeussy types. And you know what?


Requiring you to be all Jesussy here in this space would be the same as saying you have to go to my particular church with me on Sunday if you want to be my friend. THAT, alone, would be very un-Jesus-like.

On the other hand, having an additional blog that is focused explicitly on spiritual matters allows me to have a sacred space into which everyone here is invited, but no one is compelled, sort of like meeting you for Sunday brunch with the invitation to attend church with the family if you'd like to. You can stop by occasionally, often, or not at all. Meanwhile, we all remain friends in the common triathlon experience that we share.

For that is what I consider you, my friends. And friendship, for me, is serious business. To quote Saint Thomas Aquinas, “There is nothing on this earth more to be prized than true friendship.

You’re invited to share as much of my spiritual journey as you want (or as much as you can stand), and you’re invited to come and see what I have found to be true. At the same time, I will not prize you any less if you decide that’s not your cup of tea.

For a description and explanation of the new blog, visit The Confessing Runner.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Tattoo Stories--Passing the Hat

The real reason to get a tattoo, especially an m-dot tattoo, is because the chicks really dig it. It's sort of like playing lead guitar or singing lead in "the band." You get into all kinds of random conversations with chicks who are digging your bad boy style. You regular readers will recall the tattoo conversation I had with the girl at the pool when she asked about my tattoo and told me about hers . . .

the goldfish . . .

that was put on with water at a birthday party with a jumpy thing.

OK she was six. But she was digging my ink.

I had another encounter this past spring with a girl (er, woman) more my own age, again at the pool. I was going in for a masters workout and "the new girl" saw my tattoo and asked, "hey, did you do an Ironman."

"Why, yes I did." (Actually, standing as I was in my state of speedo-near-nakedness, preparing to drop into the slow lane while she was justifiably preparing to swim four lanes faster, it was more like a sheepish, "uh-huh").

"Which one?"

"Ironman Wisconsin."

"Wow, I'm going to be doing that race this fall. I need to talk to you."

And so was born a friendship with Iron KT and her husband Dutch and their two smart, athletic , empathetic, and fascinating kids. Iron KT and Dutch have both done triathlon for years, their kids do triathlon, and it has been a true blessing to have such a family move in so close to us. In particular, Superpounce and Mini-KT are so sympatico you'd think they were separated at birth.

Now, however, it's almost game time for Iron KT. A week from this Sunday she will toe the line with a couple thousand of her closest friends to do her first Ironman. Like many of us, she is not doing it alone or only for herself. She is racing for the Miracles of Mitch Foundation to fight pediatric cancer.

I know that many of my friends from the upper Midwest have raised money for MOMF and several of your kids, like Mini-KT and Mini-Dutch, have raced for kids who can't. And even if you don't know this particular charity, who can imagine a parental helplessness and pain worse than watching your child suffering with cancer. This is a noble purpose and Iron KT needs help to get to her fund raising goal. And because I don't believe in "do as I say, not as I do," I have chipped my bit into the hat.

Because we are all friends here, and because many of you know I have contributed to your causes too, I am going to exercise a little bit of license and personal privilege to directly appeal to you on Iron KT's behalf. If you think cancer sucks, and if you have any change at all in your couch cushions (or 401k or trust fund or stock option plan) hit Iron KT's fund raising link and tell 'em that Greyhound sent 'ya.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Does This Outfit Make Me Look Fat?

I think I'm a woman trapped in a man's body.

OK, wait. That didn't come out right.

Not that there's anything wrong with that. But, let me explain.

No, let me sum up.

As you know, I haven't been feeling very iron-y lately, when I groan upon being asked to perform some physical chore around the house, I am often met with my wife's question:

"Are you an Ironman, or a noodleman?"

In fact, a better question is whether I'm a man at all. I'm beginning to wonder whether all this triathlon metrosexualness might have given me estrogen poisoning in the brain.

You see, when I look in the mirror, I don't see the non-reality that most men see. I don't imagine a life guard physique complete with a full head of hair, broad shoulders, washboard stomach, ripped abductors, tight buns, and awe-inspiring (*ahem*) "male definition." Indeed, I don't even see reality, a reasonably fit, 41-year-old man with a healthy body mass index who can run 13 miles in the heat without undue stress and who can easily swim a mile on a recovery day. Nope.
  • I only see the 8 pounds above my peak fitness weight that I imagine is all a gooey spare tire where my waist should be.
  • I only see the hair and the pasty whiteness of the middle aged office worker and crave a good wax.
  • I start to weigh myself all too frequently and rejoice in the difference between a fully hydrated 148.5 pounds and a dehydrated 147 pounds.
  • I wonder whether I need a food journal on fitday.
  • I wonder if the cake that I ate at the partner's lunch does not "count" because it was not recorded in the food journal.
Now don't get me wrong. I don't want testosterone poisoning, and along with it the risk of inappropriate Speedo moments or too-much-information-too-little-towel-modesty conduct in the locker room. That said, being a girl is too hard for me. I don't know how you do it. I'd like not to see an optical illusion of goo and fatness when I look in the mirror. How about a little reality, for me and all the rest of us, guys and girls?

Hopefully, I'm beginning to feel the end of the psycho triathlete guy-ness. The running is becoming lighter and faster and easier. The swimming is becoming enjoyable again. Unplug the scales and let's go play.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Olympics. Seriously?

Well, it’s been a quiet week in Spring, Texas, my home, out on the edge of the Megalopolis. We don’t often receive personal direction from The Almighty, but we think it might have happened this week.

We were in the last weeks before the start of school, and instead of speeding up into that “finish your summer” kick, everything delightfully slowed down. Between the torrential thunderstorms and the debilitating heat, The Almighty made it clear in no uncertain terms that we would be staying inside. Together.

Whilst staying inside, we did have the Olympics to keep us occupied. And that can be both fun and addictive--don’t get me wrong. We've really enjoyed seeing athletes accomplishing their dreams and getting the payoff for lots of hard work. But after awhile, there’s only so much jibber jabber one can take, especially in the “judged” events where there is no clock or finish line to declare the winner. Especially when a totalitarian, host government is willing to exploit underage children in the name of national “pride” by lying about their age. Make no mistake. You only get a passport saying you're 16 in China if the government is involved.

Cheating in the name of pride?



Even in the objective competitions, there are any number of “things that make you go, ‘hmmmmm.’” For example, how many tens of thousands of members does USAT have to have, and how many hundreds of thousands of competitors have to turn out for triathlons before the Olympic triathlon gets some TV time in this country? We televise skeet shooting, synchronized diving, equestrian and rhythmic gymnastics, but not triathlon?



Yeah, I know, the Americans (including our Kiwi competitor Matt Reed) didn’t medal, but is that the standard for what we televise? Do we really need NBC to make us more jingoistic than we already are? I was stoked to see Emma Snowsill run away from the women in the field, even though I’m not an Aussie. And the final rundown between a German, a Canadian, a Kiwi and a Spaniard was one of the most exciting things I’ve ever seen, even though it would be long minutes before the Americans reached the line.

And, while I wish it weren’t true, I exercised my “inner jingo” last night while watching the women’s 200 meter final. Plainly speaking, Veronica Campbell-Brown, when standing still, had the same appearance and body type as Marion Jones, a known doper, or even female body builders who use both testosterone and steroids to create muscle mass that cannot exist on even the most athletic female. In fact, she exceeded Marion Jones in the musculature of her shoulders, neck and thighs, and in the disappearance of anything resembling breasts. Place her next to the thin frames of American sprinters like Allyson Felix, who was taunted with the nickname “chickenlegs” as a child, and the difference is even more striking. Add to this the performance of Usain Bolt, especially in the 100 meters, running away from the fastest men in the world, intentionally slowing, and still shattering the world record.

Call me a nationalist pig, but it could not be clearer to me that jerk chicken and rice is not the only fare served on the Jamaican training table. And not to pick on the Jamaicans, they are certainly not the only ones in the Olympic village with pharmaceutical enhancement. Moreover, we Americans have certainly had more than our share of cheats and dopers. Given that history, have we not learned from Barry Bonds and Mark McGuire and Marion Jones (and, dare I say it, fellow-Texan Roger Clemens)? If it looks too good to be true, it probably is.

And just like the chase for Roger Maris’ home run record, the commentators make no mention of what we ought to be seeing with our own eyes. We will all be “shocked” when we “discover” within the next four to eight years that the Jamaican sprinters had a really fantastic pharmacist, probably with the collusion of their sport's national governing body and (likely as not) their national government. All in the name of winning for national “pride.”

This is pride? Seriously?


So, last night, when we’d had enough of the jibber jabber and athlete profiles and sponsored PR on behalf of the totalitarian host state, we turned off the television. We did what book nerds do. Mom, Dad and daughter all curled up on Mom and Dad’s bed with our favorite books and the dogs took their place on the floor for a nap. I flipped through a magazine while my mind wandered to the six mile run I planned for the next morning. Six decidedly non-Olympian miles in a park containing other people with unremarkable bodies, all of us sweating and trying to become what we were intended to be.

That is pride.


Friday, August 15, 2008

Reality Bites

Well, it's been a quiet week in Spring, Texas, my home, out on the edge of the megalopolis. The Groundhog Day commuters managed their sweating, waddling trip to work day after day like they did last week and the week before that since the mind of man runneth not to the contrary. And I was with them. Sort of.

I'm straining against the gravitational pull of normal, and it's kind of painful. I have visions of growing older like the man in the picture above. It's not normal. Nothing desirable ever is. And it requires work. From what my body is telling me this week, it requires constant work, because there is nothing Iron-like remaining in this 41 year old body. I see pictures of someone who looks like me finishing the Ironman in June, but my body is telling me that someone has been playing with photoshop, putting my head on the body of someone with more muscle mass than me. That must have been someone else.

"So . . . . [long pause] . . . yoo gaht phat." That was the observation given me yesterday by Miki, the Serbian drill sergeant that my gym calls a personal trainer. Miki is real subtle that way. A real nurturing presence, that one. "How long since yooo doo r-r-r-r-r-resistance t-r-r-r-rain-ink?"

"Uhm, yeah, since like, I guess in May I did some."

"OK, so vee stahrt ez vit som full body verk, naht tooo hefffy. Vee do kettle bells. Mehbee tvice in week? Ja?"

And yesterday we did. The workout was challenging, but not impossible. "Great," I thought. This is a good, moderate, start. Except this morning, instead of moderate, I feel like I've been interrogated in various stress positions.

And I managed to get myself down to the pool for my first swimming since Ironman. I had sketched out a plan to begin a swimming block this fall, but I could tell from the first few laps that the plan was too ambitious. When you're 41 years old and you haven't swum for two months, you need remedial fitness swimming before you start doing intervals at speed. I wonder if there is room in the senior center's water aerobics class later today? From all appearances, I would fit right in. All I need is the flowerty swim cap and some heavy perfume.

And then there is the running. This is where the fitness stuff all began for me. And this is where I go when I need to start again. Where did my easy 8:30 pace go? I hope it returns when it gets cooler, because right now I'm running on some planet with unbreathable air and 1.8 times the gravity of earth.

So, the constant work begins again. It begins because I hate sinking under the gravitational force of normal. It begins because I have a date with the marathon in January and I will toe the Ironman start line in Mexico one year from November.

And somewhere along the line I'll remember that this constant work isn't work at all. It's play. It's not just about looking much better than normal. It's about living much better than normal. It's about abundance in every waking moment.

Training is recess.

Go play.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Get Up, Stand Up

Just a quick update on the traffic law Mensa candidate from Montgomery County and the post-dated traffic ticket. I now have pretrial setting on September 3, 2009 and I have managed to get the case transferred from Precinct 5 where Officer Williams works to Precinct 1 where the supposed violation took place. We'll see if the prosecutor actually wants to try this case. If so, we'll go. If not, the next step will be pressing charges against the officer and throwing him into the disciplinary system for bad law enforcement. If I had done to him what he did to me, I would still be in jail.

Alas, Officer Williams isn't the only Mensa candidate among the rank and file of Texas law enforcement. I was recently interviewed by the local paper along with another cyclist who actually was harassed and received a ticket from a rural sheriff while competing in the Texas Time Trial Championships. Check it out.

Imagine that Roscoe P. Coltrane pulls you over during the bike leg of your next triathlon. Unbelievable.

****Breaking News Update****

The story has now been picked up by one of my favorite cycling blogs. Check it out here.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Who's In?

So is you is, or is you ain't? I'm in a pickle.

OK, so knowing that my race next year needed to be in November, I had signed up to volunteer at Florida and at IMAZ. At the time, I also knew that I probably would not have to race alone because lots of the local athletes and bloggy peeps were making noises about doing one of those two races.

NOW, howevah, everyone is downing tequila and talking about a Mexican vacation with the new Ironman Cozumel race. While I don't relish a 2.4 mile ocean swim or winding up in a Mexican hospital after being run over by a Mexican pickup truck, I also don't relish swimming Tempe Town Lake and riding/running a multiloop desert course by myself.



So Cozumel's registration appears to be open. What's it going to to be? Who's going? Anybody ready to commit?
Come on, all the cool kids are doing it. Who cares what mom says?

Friday, August 08, 2008

Limp and Wilted

Well, it's been a quiet week in Spring, Texas, my home, out here on the edge of the Megalopolis where the coastal plain meets the piney woods.

These are what they call the "dog days" of summer, that time in August where life becomes like an old scratchy, vinyl record--what little you hear is obscured by noise and seems to keep repeating itself, never moving forward.

seems to keep repeat


seems to keep repeating itse--

never moving for--


Sort of like the movie Groundhog day, only without Bill Murray, romance, humor or popcorn.

Every day starts the same. Even before you get up, the city has started to sweat. It's nearly 80 degrees in the dark, with humidity so high the windows on the houses and the skyscrapers downtown are sweating condensation. Your car sweats as you make your way from the kid friendly zone into the money making zone--i.e., from the suburbs where it is possible to have a yard and a non-lethal school to the central business district where it is possible to have a job capable paying for yard and school. As it happens, these two zones, which are needed by at least a couple million people in the megalopolis, are situated at least 20 or 30 miles away from each other and are designed to be traveled only by internal combustion engine.

I usually do the trek between 4 and 5, and right now, I'm trying to run. There's a bit of a breeze between the buildings downtown, but as soon as you exit the city, every flag is limp and wilted on the flag poles, looking like they've been soaked by a downpour and then baked into place. With no race on the horizon, and no friends to meet, even five miles feels like a chore. A watched Garmin never turns over the next mile. I feel like I'm running the same quarter mile over and over

the same quarter mile over

quarter mile over and

mile over and over

and over.

But even this black hole has little bits of light that escapes. Mother nature reminded us this past week that things are subject to change without notice. One morning on the commute, the freeway signs flashed



Tropical Storm Edouard (that's Edward for you Anglo readers who live in those portions of the United States where English is still the common tongue) decided to form off the Cajun Coast and take a sight seeing trip to Houston. Edward turned out to be more like "little Eddie" or maybe Edouarlito, but at least it was variety. It gave the local news something to do other than car wrecks and shootings, and enabled at least one evening walk in temperatures that were marginally survivable.

And there were other milestones to break the monotony of the dog days. Superpounce, newly home from her 2008 World Tour, turned 11 today. She's still a tiny thing, but no longer so tiny that I can hold her entire frame in one arm to feel her first breath of the day---or her first breath ever. She's free of her cast and her ears are newly pierced. She reasoned, "if I can take a broken arm and an IV, then I can stand getting my ears pierced."

And like a Russian trying to weather the endless winter on the featureless steppes, I am managing to anesthetize myself from the sameness of it all with an addiction. With no race goal on the horizon, I've become addicted to Chain Love and Ebay for purposes of pimping out my road bike. Every time I see something new and shiny and carbony, I have to instant my bike adviser, discuss the merits of the new toy, and likely as not, pay for a new "hit" like a junkie in a back alley littered with syringes--or in this case seat posts, saddles, bar tape and handle bars.

And possibly later cranks and shifters and wheels.

If I switch from my triple front chain ring to a double, do I need to change out my shifters, and deraillures too? Should I just go for a whole new gruppo? Wow, that top-of-the-line SRAM Red looks pretty sweet.


And like a true addict, the trip I'm on always fails to satisfy--like when Chain Love bitch slapped me with carbon handle bars that were 104 grams lighter than the carbon handle bars I had just purchased barely 4 days before. Sure they were way more expensive, but what's $1 per gram as compared to the unequaled rush of having the carboniest handle bars ever and casting aside that 104 gram anchor that you haven't even installed on your bike yet?

OMG, I so need a training group or a race or a program to shake me from this sweaty-hit-the-snooze-button-and-roll-over-and-have-another-pizza-and-beer-commuter-desk- job-hell that I've fallen into.

Feel free to stage your intervention in the comments.

Friday, August 01, 2008