Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Tagged: Twenty-Five Random Things About Me

Rules: Once you've been tagged, you are supposed to write a note with 25 random things, facts, habits, or goals about you. At the end, choose 25 people to be tagged. You have to tag the person who tagged you. If I tagged you, it's because I want to know more about you.
  1. I generally like being tagged. It gives me a topic on which to write, even if it's random.
  2. I've been playing with Fit Day, the online food diary, and it's starting to become addictive.
  3. I'm wondering what the heck I need to eat to get enough potassium. Sersly? How many bananas? Do I look like a chimp to you? Don't answer that.
  4. I find it amusing that Fit Day includes "sexual activity" among the things you can do to burn calories, above and beyond your general lifestyle activities.
  5. I'm convinced that men who would chart this as an excuse to eat wildly exaggerate the frequency, vigor, and especially the D-U-R-A-T-I-O-N of their "activities." And they probably drive Corvettes or Hummers.
  6. I am generally quiet and withdrawn in real life, especially with people I do not know well. I'm shy, and would be much more comfortable addressing a joint session of Congress on 15 minutes' notice than suffering through a cocktail party with 15 strangers. This has caused people who meet me for the first time to think I'm aloof and arrogant.
  7. This impression also struck Mrs. Greyhound the first time we met. She thought I hated her. We were married two years later, some 20 years ago. The fact that a 5'8" blond flute hottie married me demonstrates that, at least for one brief shining moment, I had game.
  8. I showed so little emotion as a child, my classmates--my friends--called me "Mr. Spock."
  9. I used to be a professional French Horn player in a symphony orchestra.
  10. I started taking horn lessons at age 10.
  11. If you had to ride a school bus with a French Horn, you'd be shy and keep to yourself too.
  12. I have played my horn on the stages of Symphony Hall in Chicago, The Academy of Music in Philadelphia, Carnegie Hall in New York, as well as in Norway, Sweden and Denmark.
  13. The jocks on the bus have not.
  14. I'm a recovering band geek. Yeah, I know it's hard to tell.
  15. My daughter, although she plays the flute, does not want to participate in marching band when she gets to High School. She's high fashion, and can't abide the thought of wearing a feather on her head.
  16. I'm a good test taker. Really good. No, sersly. Really, really good. I always considered it a contest--not with my class mates--but with the professor. I wanted to freak them out by finishing an hour early and getting a score that they'd have to disregard in computing the curve. The year after taking the board certification exam, they asked me to help write and grade it.
  17. Other nicknames that have followed me through life, including into my law firm, are "The Brain," and "The Professor." Can't imagine why.
  18. After feeling like I might die during my first half marathon, I thought I'd never NEVER be able to finish a marathon.
  19. I've now done seven marathons. Still not screaming fast, the first being about 5:05 and the fastest being 3:49:21. Two of those came after the wee little 2.4 mile swim and 112 mile bike warm up. Slow or not, I am an Ironman.
  20. The jocks on the bus are not. (Yeah, we had issues.)
  21. Pre-triathlon and when I was in school, part of the reason I did not participate in sports was mortal fear of the locker room and all that nekkidness. Post-Ironman I have gone to a nude beach.
  22. It was fun. No, it was AWESOME.
  23. No pictures were taken. None.
  24. I have never done a race that I was completely satisfied with. As much as it hurts at the time, I always wind up feeling like a bit of a wuss and question whether I truly pushed myself.
  25. Even though I respect and enjoy the tag, I know some people don't like being the taggee, so I seldom tag back. If you like being tagged, you're it.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Pour Youself A Great Big Bowl Of Victory!

In these trying times we need to go back to basics. Find the honest goodness of the best things in life. Basic elemental thing, like barley, oats, flax, nuts and fruit.

Forsake those fancy, foreign breakfast foods that have expanded the waist lines and clogged the arteries of the baby boomers. Who needs breakfast tacos and scones and triple shot, vanilla lattes?

You need the food of the Greatest Generation, not Generation X! The food that powered America from the depths of the great depression, and launched Liberty Ships full of men and supplies to defeat the Axis Powers! Take that, Tojo! Same to ya, Mussolini! We eat the food that made America great! Because we eat:

Trigreyhound's Miracle Muesli

Trigreyhound's Miracle Muesli is a wholesome blend of whole grains, fruit and nuts that will stick to your ribs all morning long after a tough pool workout or a pre-dawn trainer session. Trigreyhound's Miracle Muesli has the complex carbohydrates and protein to speed recovery during an Ironman buildup. It has the healthy fats to keep your ticker ticking. And it has all the fiber you need to stay regular.

Very regular.

Get a large, tupperware cereal container.

Fill 2/3 full with equal parts organic oats from the bulk aisle, Grape Nuts and a hearty, whole grain flake cereal such as Nature's Path Organic Flax Plus Multibran.

Throw in a handfull of dried fruit like dried cranberries, blueberries, or raisins. 'Cause the blueberries are freakin' awesome.

Thow in a half handfull each of unsalted sunflower kernels and almonds and you'll eat like a Mouseketeer on Prozac!

Put the lid on the container and adjutate or spin until well-mixed.

Serve with some ice-cold vanilla soy milk and what do you have? A big chilled bowl of Americanism--mmmmmmmm. Tastes like freedom!!


The bowl might even play "Pocketful of Sunshine" as you eat it in your sunlit office at 7:30 in the morning. :)

Make up a batch and take it to the office. It will last you all week. You won't need sugary snacks or greasy breakfast tacos. Miracle Muesli will power you through your morning and your lunch time workout. It will cure whatever ails you.

It's up to you. Pour yourself a great big bowl of victory, or be like everyone else and settle for a failure pile in a sadness bowl.

America has spoken.

Friday, January 23, 2009

A Modest Proposal

***Author's Note: This is non-tri-related, but it is also non-political. So, whatever your politics, never fear. I encourage you to read all the way to the end, even if (like me) you did not give your vote to President Obama.***

"As we consider the road that unfolds before us, we remember with humble gratitude those brave Americans who, at this very hour, patrol far-off deserts and distant mountains. * * * [A]t this moment - a moment that will define a generation - it is precisely this spirit that must inhabit us all. For as much as government can do and must do, it is ultimately the faith and determination of the American people upon which this nation relies.

* * *
"What is required of us now is a new era of responsibility - a recognition, on the part of every American, that we have duties to ourselves, our nation, and the world . . . ."

Recognize these words? High minded words, no doubt. And given that words are the tools I use daily for my job, I have a good deal of admiration for the craft in how they were put together, the structure, rhythm, and tone calculated to elicit some response in the hearer.

That appreciation, however, can lead me to be really cynical about rhetoric. If you are able to look behind the stagecraft, the "suspension of disbelief" required to enjoy the theater falls away. Sometimes all you can see -- all I can see -- is scenery--very cleverly designed and beautifully executed scenery, but paint and wood and lighting nonetheless.

And as high-minded as good words can be, words without concrete action are just that--really pretty scenery. But, I came across something the other day on NPR that could provide a very concrete way to put hands and feet and actions on the stage to make something real. I offer this modest proposal to you and encourage you to consider whether you might make it a part of your "responsibility" or sense of "duty."

We all know and have heard about the needs of injured veterans and the manner in which the Veterans Administration and military hospitals fall short of meeting those needs. Whatever our politics, we bemoan those shortcomings, and we all say we "support the troops." Again, nice words. Pretty scenery. What do we do?

NPR did a story concerning a website,, where veterans' requests for assistance are vetted and posted. You can go online, and instead of giving money to an organization that then decides how to spend it, you meet the real needs of a real person whom you select. Many of these needs are quite humble and easily met for those of us fortunate to have employment--replacing groceries when the refrigerator breaks, a new washing machine, a sofabed, a rent payment. Even if they required more money than you can individually sacrifice, one could easily combine with coworkers and periodically commit to meet the need of one person on the site. Think of it as "the kindness to take in a stranger when the levees break."

Team Greyhound is making this our particular mission. At least once each quarter, we will go online as a family, and together we will pick one veteran in need. We will meet that need, and we will do so in honor of Lt. Manda Rogers, U.S.M. C., our closest acquaintance who receives our letters and care packages and who serves our nation in Iraq and in Afghanistan.

Would you join us, however often and in whatever way you can? It's pretty easy. And it's real, both for you and for the veterans who have put themselves in harm's way for the country. Please, give it your honest consideration, and jump in with some of your friends if you feel called to respond.

"Let it be told to the future world...
that in the depth of winter, when nothing but hope and virtue could survive...
that the city and the country, alarmed at one common danger, came forth to meet [it]."

We now return you to our regularly scheduled triathlon blog.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Day One

Today is day one.

Nope. Not day one of the new administration getting to work.

It is day one of Trigreyhound 4.0, a version that the developers say will be better, faster, and more powerful. But there's nothing like "day one" of a new project to make you feel like you've got your work cut out for you. Your desired result is "here" . . . . and you . . . . . are waaaaaaaaay . . . . . . . .

over . . . . .

. . . . wait for it . . .


Athletic? Funny? Intelligent? Not. So. Much.

Like today--the first day back in the pool. It didn't feel as foreign as the first day of grown up swim lessons four years ago, but I sure didn't start out feeling fishlike. Skinny chick pace girl even haunted the swim because everything still hurt so much. But, I committed to an hour in the water, and an hour is what I did. Then, I ingored the sweet, smokey smell of bacon, and instead of the breakfast tacos I so wanted to consume, I opted for two cups of Trigreyhound's Miracle Museli (TM). (Go ahead, ask for the recipe). There will be no skimping on nutrition this time.

At least on day one.

There are all kinds of new things I'll be rolling out over the next couple of weeks to help make that journey. And I hope to be blogging all the way through to entertain you as well as myself. In the mean time, time will tell whether version 4.0 will have the hip design and ease of use of a Mac, or whether it runs like a pirated Vista knock-off. We'll know on November 29, the day of the Big Dance, Ironman Cozumel. As painful as that last marathon was, my next marathon will include a weeeee bit of a warmup act.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Post Mortem: or Don't Run With The Skinny Chick (She'll Hurt You)

I couldn't stop thinking of her last night.

All night. She trouble my sleep. The trim, athletic girl with the beguiling pony tail who drifted in and then out of my marathon day.

Don't get me wrong. I wasn't consumed with fevered desire for the leader of my pace group. I think a team of Swedish lingerie models with a supply of Cialis would have found me unresponsive last night.

No. It definitely wasn't desire. I was overcome with pain from trying to keep up with her. She went out at 3:35 pace when I would have been lucky to finish in 3:40 with all the stars aligned. Every time I moved in my sleep, the pain woke me.

Post mortem means, "after death." That's a good title. I'm dead. I.Can't.Walk. I managed to PR the marathon and the Houston course by about 4 minutes and 20 seconds, but once again I used my patented negative-negative split method. (TM) Run stupid and then die for the last hour of the race. Specifically, if your goal pace is 8:23, run 8:17 in the hillier first 10k, 8:15 from 10K to the half-marathon point, then slow to 8:52 from 21k to 30k, and 9:31 through to the end.

Then again, I had always envisioned death as being the end of pain. If so, this hurts way too much to be death. That was the most painful race of any type that I have ever done.

The pain or injury that I experienced in my legs back in November/December never totally went away. I babied it in training so that it was never acute and I could fool myself that the problem was healed, but it was there hiding. At the race, I started having pain in my calf and some in my hip flexors associated with uphill running approaching mile 7. That's a bit early in the race to start worrying if your chassis is going to go the distance. I think I altered my stride to deal with it, and by mile 18 I had no stride left. I was pounding along on stiff stumps rather than gliding with an efficient stride. If I tried to lift my heel and pull my knee through, both calves would cramp and threaten to end running altogether.

Essentially, I think the nature of the program and the quasi-injury caused me to peak early. I could have run faster and better back in December or November when I was running times consistent with a 3:40 marathon. I had to ease off, resulting in a taper that was too long, and lost some fitness, which I then squandered on race day by not racing smart.

So, I survived. I'm pleased with the PR, but already thinking how I could have done better. For my own benefit, and for those who are slaying their own marathon demons, here is my version of "If I had it to do all over again," beginning in training and going through race day.

1. Train Harder (kind of): How can I possibly say "train harder" when I hovered on the brink of injury? Well, I'll get to that. On race day, I felt like I had enough aerobic capacity for my pace until the very very end. The problem was muscular endurance sufficient to maintain pace without pain. If I were coaching me, I'd prescribe more muscular endurance training: long tempo runs above race pace, more extended runs at marathon pace, and generally increasing my long run pace by running more of my long runs with groups of runners faster than me rather than lollygagging through long runs listening to my Ipod.

2. Train Smarter (recovery): The reason I started to break down, I think, is inadequate recovery for my age and station. When doing run-focused training, my body was telling me I need a genuine recovery week, with dramatically reduced training, every third week. I think this would allow me to absorb more intense training without getting hurt and continue raising the peak instead of peaking 6-8 weeks before the race and feeling chronically tired and achy into race day. So, I needed to go harder when training, and rest/recover more effectively when not training.

3. Train for Efficiency: On my last marathon PR, I think my stride was much more efficient, in part because of running drills that I included in the program. I didn't do those faithfully this time. I need to be able to start with an efficient stride and then maintain that stride for longer. So, running drills, maybe the Striding On program, and work on core strength, such as with the "Pedastal" program.

4. Run Your Own Race: I don't think I'll rely upon a pace group again. This one went out too fast. Since the first 7 miles of the race have most of the grade changes, that was even more costly than simply running a few seconds per mile too fast. That said, I should have just realized what skinny chick was doing and cut her loose. I didn't. I hung with them for more or less through the half-way mark, and the damage had been done. Even when hanging with them, it did not feel natural to alter my stride or tempo over grade changes to maintain spacing rather than just do my own thing and keep even splits from mile to mile. So, the hard pace felt even harder. Especially on the Houston course, it would work better for me to go out easy through the first hills, gradually come back to the goal pace during the middle miles, and hopefully place myself in the position to run harder from 20 miles on in.

So, there it is. Live and learn.

Now it is triathlon season. I wonder if I can still swim?

Sunday, January 18, 2009


Finishing time of 3:49:21.

Not what I was hoping for, but still a PR, beyotch. And I qualified for Boston*

*if I were a chick my age or a 60 year old man.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

One Day: Why

"I wish to preach, not the doctrine of ignoble ease, but the doctrine of the strenuous life."

----Theodore Roosevelt

Friday, January 16, 2009

Two Days: Food! Glorious Food!

So, yeah. Carbs made their reappearance into the pre-race diet in the last 24 hours. I lurves my quinoa and my rice and my spaghetti. And I immediately felt better physically. But also gained about 2.5 pounds overnight, after having maintained a constant weight during Christmas, the subsequent vacation, and even during the marathon taper. How is it possible to eat one wafer thin mint weighing a mere ounce and balloon up more than a kilo.

OK, so that was an exaggeration. I had Chinese food.

And red beans and rice.

And Quinoa and black beans.


Next to the marathon expo to get my number and gorge on all the toys and trinkets, like a sugar-highed kid in a candy store.


Thursday, January 15, 2009

Three Days: Dress Rehearsal

This morning was my final run before the Houston Marathon, so I thought it would be a good day to do a dress rehearsal.

The first part of the dress rehearsal was just the running part. I ran from the gym out onto the course and then traced it back all the way to the finish line at the George R. Brown Convention Center, a route I never run during the prep for the race. I was able to notice some physical cues that will help on race day about my rhythm, breathing, and (strangely) relaxing my feet to smooth out the gait. Knowing the way my little brain works when it is under stress, I also picked out my 200 yard goals that I can achieve in the last 2 miles of the course (run to the top of the rise, . . . to the traffic light . . . to the Hyatt sky bridge and turn left . . . down past the Shell building to Pennzoil and turn right, . . . to the crane . . . to the parking garage . . . to the finish line). It was kinda fun to visualize the day of the race, where I hope to pick up the pace, refuse to let anyone else pass, and kick for home. Mental practice.

The other part of the dress rehearsal was actually doing the "dress" part, and I found out "what not to wear." I'm trying to come up with a plan of how to deal with a really cold start line, the chance for warming during the race, and yet "don't do anything new on race day." I like the way tights feel on my legs, and they don't get too hot, but after 2o miles they have a tendency to chafe some very odd places on the . . . on my . . . well, on the wobbly bits. So I experimented with going Speedo under the tights, thinking this would preserve, protect and defend said wobbly bits.


So help me, God.

Dave Scott and Mark Allen notwithstanding, men were not intended to run in Speedos--even Speedos concealed under running tights. I'll just leave it at that.

So, the plan--especially if you are local and might try to spot me on the course--is to go to the start gate with a long sleeve to discard and loose running pants that I can chuck just before the gun or leave on as conditions dictate. If I keep the pants, I'll have running shorts I have used on long runs. Up top, short sleeve red top that will be high viz in the crowd. For warmth: arm warmers, black skull cap and black gloves I can chuck or hand off when it gets warmer.

Oh, and plenty of Body Glide, especially on the chestal area. With temps in the 40s, it is going to be Nipperific.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009


You know these two--Bob and Jillian, light and dark, sensitive and coarse, good and evil, yin and yang, matter and anti-matter. They are the two halves of the guilty pleasure that is The Biggest Loser.

But last night, we risked the creation of a black hole sufficient to suck down the known universe when matter and anti-matter collided. Bob, in his words, was possessed by Jillian Michaels. He melted down and went "China Syndrome" on Joelle, a contestant that was faking positive outward talk to cover up that she was really quitting on the team.

Check it out:

Bob's meltdown is now my mantra.

Like everyone, I've got my own negative head talk that tempts me to pull back before giving it my all. I can cover it with words, or try to rationalize. But on Sunday, it's time to





THREE . . . TWO . . . ONE . . . GO.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Five Days: Conditions Are Perfect

So, my last marathon, in Florida, was a hot and humid, Equatorial Guinean death march over four hours twenty minutes long.

Thirty minutes slower than my PR.

And then the next week they ran the Houston Marathon in perfect conditions where I KNOW I could have PR'd, had I not just flogged myself in Disneyworld.

But I haven't been obsessing about the weather.


Or long.

Sersly. I only checked it 8 days before.

And seven.

And six.

And I only checked here.

And here.

And here.

Looks like the consensus is for cold temps at the gun, right about 40 degrees, with highs no more than the lower 60s.

Meaning it should be no warmer than the mid 50s when I finish.

By 10:40 a.m. or earlier.

Conditions are perfect. It's Business Time.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Six Days: You Might Be Tapering If . . .

You might be tapering if:
  1. Everything hurts. Everything. Feet--from the little bony parts to the stiff plantar fascia parts. Shins. Knees. Quads. Ass. Groin. . . . . Teeth. . . . . Eyelashes.
  2. Your hypochondria knows no bounds--to the extent that you can't tell what part of the pain is real, what is psychosomatic, and you think you feel a sinus infection coming on but refuse to go to the doctor for fear that he'll confirm your worst fears.
  3. It could be a tumor.
  4. You feel like a cripple getting out of bed every morning and groan so loud you get "shushed" by your spouse.
  5. It takes you 40 minutes of running before you even warm up enough to feel like you have a stride and can breathe normally. You wonder why anyone would run six miles and then order a side of 20 to go with it.
  6. Doing your pre-load scrub of carbs from your diet makes you crave them even more--you want a carb so bad it would be justifiable homicide to shove a child into traffic for their bag of pretzels.
  8. You keep track of your pee color and your salt intake.
  9. You're not crying, you just got something in your eye.
  10. You dream of running someone down and ripping their legs off in the last 400 meters of a 42 kilometer race.
This is healthy, non?

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Seven Days

One week from right now, I'll be experiencing some reality--finding out if my training was true, or just truthiness.

Seven days, and I'll be running the goal race that has guided my recreational hours since August.

I will look myself in the face at the starting line and inquire, "are you really willing? Are you able? Did you train with integrity, or did you just get by?"

Seven days and there will be no faking, no cramming, no room for equivocation.

The training was either enough, or it was not.

I either did it with sufficient faithfulness, or I didn't.

I will either push myself past my limits, or I will accept some perceived limit along the way.

I will either race wisely, or I will make a costly mistake.

I will either focus, or listen to voices in my head that belong to a doubting desk jockey who must be slain every time I do this type of race.

Seven days from now, the Houston Marathon will be run, and I will be one in the crowd, running alone against myself, and I'll be running together with the support of thousands, and best of all a few friends.

On paper I should be able to run about 3:40:00. Some of the speed work would indicate a faster potential, but the endurance workouts negate that. And again, we don't run the races on paper. I've never run anywhere near 26 miles maintaining an 8:24 per mile pace. So, what gets you off the paper and onto the roads? What gets your feet moving in the direction of the unknown?

Faith--But not leap in the dark faith. Faith built on workouts, past performances and pace charts, kind of like a kissing cousin of being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. (Hebrews 11:1)

So, I intend to line up with the 3:40 pace group, discipline my pace through the first 20 miles or so, and see who gets dropped.


Or the group.

We'll see. In seven days.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

100 Days

OK, we have entered the "100 days" period. No, not HIS 100 days. This blog is all about me.

It is 100 days until the 25th running -- or riding -- of the MS150 from Houston to Austin. I am doing it this year just like I always do. So this means several things for you.

First, it means I'm going to start asking for donations. You'll just have to bear with me, because I ride this every year, and I do it because Mrs. Greyhound has Multiple Sclerosis, so this is kind of a big deal for us.

Donate HERE.

Subtle, non?

Second, the freaking event sold out in 7 hours, so many of the people I was trying to get in the event to ride with me as a team were shut out. If, however, you did get registered, and you would like to ride with the Greyhound group, go HERE and click on the appropriate tab and also leave me a comment. I'll be needing to work out lodging and transport logistics for whomever wants in.

Third, and before you join up, you should be advised, that this team is a little bit different from the average team full of Freds on expensive bikes. We will be riding from Houston, past the overnight in La Grange, and on to Bastrop on the first day, 120-ish or so miles. And if lodging cannot be arranged in Bastrop, we may just have to go all 150+ miles to Austin in one day.

And then run off the bike.

Because that's how we roll.

Because that's the Ironman way.

Dot the M, Baby.