Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

In the next year, plant your feet firmly on what has gone before, and start now to go boldly in the direction of your dreams.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

A Triathlete's Offseason Christmas Dream

Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a spouse.
The tri-bikes were hung in the man cave with care,
In hopes that warm temperatures soon would be there.

Compression socks nestled all snug on my legs,
While visions of carbon wheels danced in my head.
And mamma in her yoga fleece, and I in my heat wrap,
Had just settled our brains for a long winter’s nap.

When in the garage there arose such a clatter,
I gingerly rose, groaning "What is the matter?"
Away to the man cave I limped like a flash,
Tore open the door and so too my road rash.

The lamp on the carbon equipment did glow
For swim, bike and run it all stood in a row.
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a strength coach, with kettle bell, stop watch and snear.

With a Serbian accent so deep and so thick ,
I knew in a moment it must be Coach Mik.
More rapid than eagles his orders they came,
And he taunted, and shouted, and called me mean names!

note: this is the real Coach Miki

"Jor back and jor arms, and jor core aa-r-r-r-r like children,
Jorr booty and stomach aa-r-r-r-r like pregnant women!
To the top of the bar! Pullups! Weight vest and all!
Now dash away! Dash away! Dash away all!"

Like tifosi that before the pro peleton fly,
When they meet with the Pyranees, mount to the sky.
So up to the chin bar, my courses I flew,
With the vest full of weight, and Mik's kettlebells too.

And then, in a twinkling, I heard in the room
The clanging and thudding of each heavy tool.
As I drew in my head, and was turning around,
Right straight at me, Coach Mikilous came with a bound.

He was dressed all in black, from his head to his foot,
From his shirt to his pants to his big combat boots.
The tools of his trade he had flung on his back,
And he looked like the Spetsnaz, just opening his pack.

His eyes-how they twinkled! his smile was just scary!
His chuckle was frozen, his gaze made me wary!
His serious brow was all furrowed to show
That his plan was to see me PR, not go slow.

The stump of a pen he held tight in his teeth,
And training plans circled his head like a wreath.
He had a strong back, and a flat, washboard belly,
That's nothing resembling a bowlful of jelly!

He was wiry and lean, a right hardy old Serb,
And I gulped when I saw him, and knew that he heard!
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head,
Soon gave me to know I had something to dread.

He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
Wrote down all the programs, then turned with a jerk.
And laughing once more at my weakness and woes,
And giving a nod, from the man cave he road!

We sprang to our bikes, as he blasted his whistle,
And away we both flew like a Serbian missle.
But I heard him exclaim, ‘ere he rode out of sight,
"Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night!"

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

It Ain't Over . . .

Those of you who have been here awhile will recall back in April when a so-called law enforcement officer tried to bully me off the road. I stood my ground, complained to his superior, kept insisting on a proper response, received a back-dated ticket, got picked up in some papers and blogs, and beat the ticket in court.

But still, the officer is just as ignorant of the traffic laws and the rights of cyclists today as he was in April. Even more, he's suffered no adverse consequence, even to his pride, as a result of some abominable behavior. Anyone but a lawyer might have been too frightened of the system to do anything about it, and he'll doubtless keep on acting like an ass unless there is a price to be paid.

So, I have long intended to write the department and the officers involved another letter as a prelude to deciding whether to seek some type of sanction. But we had that whole "hurricane," natural disaster thingy, so I it seemed only sporting to let them deal with important stuff like that.

But now, just in time for the holidays, I got my final letter out. Set out on my law firm letterhead, it reads:

Constable Hill, Chief Deputy Constable Wood, and Deputy Constable Williams:

In the event you do not yet know, the District Attorney dismissed the traffic citation that Deputy Williams improperly backdated to April 19, as there was no legal basis for the citation nor for the manner in which Deputy Constable Williams acted on April 19.

On April 19, Deputy Williams executed an unsafe pass, intentionally tried to intimidate me with his vehicle, cut me off and then stopped in front of me, based upon his demand that I ride on the shoulder of FM149. Under Texas law, however, a cyclist is never required to ride on the shoulder, let alone the uneven two foot shoulder that exists on FM149. On the contrary, a cyclist is entitled to use the roadways, just like any other vehicle, unless some provision of the Transportation Code alters that right. Tex. Transp. Code § 551.101. Here there is no such provision.

The provision on which Deputy Constable Williams relied in his backdated citation requires cyclists to ride as near as practicable to the right edge of the roadway. Tex. Transp. Code. § 551.103(a). “Roadway,” however, is a defined term in the Transportation Code, and it does not include “the berm or shoulder.” Tex. Transp. Code § 541.302. Thus, cyclists are entitled to use the Roadway—the lane in which motorized vehicles travel. They may also use the shoulder, but are not required to do so.

The law also provides that a cyclist may take the lane when (as here) it is less than 14 feet wide, or it is not safe to share the lane with a car. Tex. Transp. Code § 551.103(a)(4). The lanes on FM149 are only 11 feet wide; thus, the law I was charged with violating does not even apply.
When a cyclist takes the lane as he or she is entitled to do, it is the responsibility of automobile traffic, including constables in pickup trucks, to wait for safe clearance to pass. Deputy Constable Williams clearly did not do so.

Even assuming I had violated the law, there is no set of facts that could have made Deputy Williams’ conduct on April 19 appropriate. He intentionally used his vehicle as a direct threat to my safety, and he fully intended and hoped that he would frighten me. That is not a traffic stop; that is a felony. His abusive and bullying attitude after I stood my ground is likewise not the type of conduct civilized societies tolerate. A bully with a badge is still only a bully. Indeed, a police officer in New York City has recently been indicted for assaulting a cyclist on the roadway.

This is your final opportunity to do the right thing. The Constable’s Office and Deputy Williams will apologize in writing, without equivocation and commit to enforcing the traffic laws as I have set them out. If so, I will excuse the whole affair. Absent that, I will pursue whatever remedies I feel are appropriate for Deputy Williams’ actions. You have 30 days.

Very Truly Yours,


Frankly, I'm not holding my breath.

Monday, December 15, 2008

I Need A Vacation

"Listen to your body."

That's what they always say. Of course, if we listened to our bodies, we would never run a lick, let alone race, because running and racing cannot be accomplished without ignoring discomfort. A certain amount of "mind over matter" is the cost of admission.

But yesterday, my body said, "enough with the running, already." Fatigue and aches that could be ignored suddenly turned into acute dysaesthesia of the distal tibialis anterior.

For all those readers who are not Iron Jane, M.D., the meaning, in plain English, roughly translates as follows:

The lower outside part of my shin hurt like a MoFo.

Suddenly, 18 miles in to a planned 20+ miler, the wheels came off: sharp pain associated with landing and toe-ing off. I walked, tried again, and again it happened. So, I walked it in.

It hurt all afternoon when I walked or flexed my foot, then without explanation it completely disappeared.

WTF? Anybody know an injury that hurts like a MoFo and then just evaporates? But for the "disappearing pain" it sounds like shin splints. But who gets shin splints after completing 4 marathons and two Ironmans? Honestly. Isn't that the injury you get as a beginner?

**Insert healthy dose of overinflated, fitter-than-thou ego here**

Could it be that I've run a bit too much on the horrible, hard, uneven surfaces of the marathon course?

Could it be that my program needed a bit more in the way of recovery for a "man my age?"

Could it be that I need some more padding and arch support for my freakishly high arches?

Could it be that when you switch from triathlon to marathon training, there's just SO MUCH MORE FREAKING RUNNING INVOLVED?

Could it be that I neglect my nutrition and recovery for simple running workouts in a way that I would never do while doing Ironman two-a-days?

Uhm. Yeah. Maybe.



Well, OK, yeah. Guilty.

But now, we are where we are. 33 days to the big dance and still more peak training to try to put hay in the barn. What to do?

Now that I feel ok, I am tempted to run ez this week and pick up where I left off next week. At the same time, if this is really an injury or a near injuyr, maybe a week of cross training is in order? I won't lose so much fitness that my goal is in doubt. Right?

And while I am obsessing in my self-absorbed little corner of hydrochondurbia, I should be just enjoying the life I still have. It is guaranteed beyond doubt that my mother will cite this article as precedent that I should not be running at all.

I hate reading stuff like that (or worse yet knowing people about whom such stuff is written). You can't help reading an article about a death at a marathon and without asking, "why?" And even as you ask it, you know there is no answer coming. Indeed, there are no words at all, and any attempt at an answer sounds cheap, sacharine, and empty. Why? I don't know. I can't know. But I do know this. Me and my mother--we both hurt when we get up out of bed in the morning, but mine's the good kind of hurt.

So. This week? I'll experiment with some ez running on controlled surfaces. If it hurts, time for cross-training. Beginning next week I try to get back on track with the program, substituting this week's harder distances for next week's easier ones. That said, no more running on uneven concrete. From here on in, it's crushed gravel Memorial Park, round and round like a gerble. No more marathon course for you.

Until . . . the day.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Running? Easy, right?

Sometimes you gotta take your victories where you find them.

And sometimes only three and a half minutes at a time.

I need a bit of recovery this week after a good, solid, marathon buildup. And, fortunately, I get a bit of recovery this week.

Only a bit.

Coach must seem to believe I can turn it up a notch from my last marathon effort, because today was scheduled to be 10 miles at an aerobic pace.

When I went out to do it, I could still feel last week in my legs, including Sunday's 21 mile long run. The thought of 10 miles more was more than my wee, canine brain could handle. It immediately started looking for the emergency exit or the ejection switch.

But, notwithstanding the aching in the tired chassis, I rambled through one mile and settled on a plan to keep me from bailing: the Ipod Fartleck workout--a/k/a the I-Fart.

OK, admittedly we need to work on the name.

The basic plan is you only have to run hard for one song--about 3 and a half minutes on average--and then you get to ez jog.

For one song.

Then you have to run hard again.

It's a devilishly clever workout, because by the time you're looking for a way out, you're into the last chorus of the song, and you can make yourself hold out a little longer.

And when it's time to go again, you have enough in the tank you can actually go.

So, instead of running 10 miles, I "I-Farted" one song at a time until 10 miles were done.

Because the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.

Now for a nap.

Friday, December 05, 2008

I Kick Jason Bourne's Ass

This just in: Trigreyhound Kicks Jason Bourne's Ass.

It's true.

I can't deny it.

And it's not just because I'm takin' my girl on a tropical ,20th anniversary vacation to make hot, sweet lovin' with my new marathon-running-weight-lifter body.

As if Matt Damon could survive that comparison . . .

Nope. I just happened to notice a little blurb in Runners' World where Matt Damon ran a 10K as part of losing weight he gained for a role.

Gained for a role? Yeah, right. Me too. I ate all those Kolaches to play the role of middle aged office worker.

And a 10K? Just a 10K? Phhht. PUH-LEEEEZE. You should hardly call it a race if you're done before the morning coffee break. What? You just run 6 miles? Cute.

And get this. He ran it in just a few seconds shy of one hour. Fifty Nine minutes and forty some-odd seconds.

Phhhht. Is that what they call running in Hollywood?

Three years ago, I ran a 48 minute 10K PR. This year, at 42 years old instead of 39 years old, my 800 meter track workouts are now 15 to 20 seconds faster than they were the year of my marathon PR. Are you trying to tell me that deskbound, 42 year old Greyhound could finish the race, go out for a coffee and a shower before Jason Bourne saw the finishing line?

Matt, just have your people call my people and I'll arrange some coaching sessions--for running or anything else in the "man department" that you might need help with.

**I probably kick J-Lo's Ass in triathlon, too, which is a notable Kadunkadunk to be kicking. I'm just sayin'. **


**I really needed that little boost because I have one more super long run before some recovery, and I'm feeling like Punky Brewster could mop the floor with me right about now.***

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Iron Turkeys--A Thanksgiving Tale


Thankful for another year of good health and plenty, 7000 Pilgrims met in Houston to trot---before consuming mass quantities of calories and watching obese men fight over an oblong ball on their high definition television sets.


Some of the Pilgrims were trotting for the first time ever--even though they had a sore knee and probably felt pressured by the Iron Patriarchy to suck it up buttercup and do it anyway because she had done all the training before taking her freak fall with the blown out flip flop.


But the Pilgrims also had support from friends and family.


And, like the first Thanksgiving, the Native Americans participated with their Anglo friends.


At first the Anglos were concerned that the Native Americans might be hostile.


But the Native Americans were friendly and helped the Pilgrims with their race gear and timing chips and such---before running a 37 minute 10K.

Yeah, those Indians are fast and used to run distance for the local U.


And Superpounce ran across the line with Mrs. Pilgrim just like it was an Ironman. Pilgrim ran all the way, all 5ks.