Friday, February 27, 2009


If you take up triathlon, you will find that the sport has a way of regularly humbling you. With three sports involved, hardly anyone starts the sport being stellar at all three, and no matter how much you improve, there is always something to work on. Yesterday was a day of humility at Trigreyhound training central. To explain:

The picture set out above shows what a good triathlon coach and a nagging spouse have in common: both will zero in on your weaknesses ( a coach may call them "limiters") and they'll just pick pick pick pick pick. I can already tell that Coach Kris is going to be a good triathlon coach for me because he's been picking on my swimming.

Good swimmers are tall, lithe people with looooooonnnnng arms and legs, ginourmous hands and feet, broad shoulders, with power and muscle memory born of staring for long hours at the black line on the bottom of the pool from the time they were 6 or 7 years old. I am the opposite of all these things. I am a short, stiff person with stocky arms and legs, tiny hands and feet, narrow shoulders and a lack of power and muscle memory born of neglecting pool practice until I was 39 years old.

As a result I swim the opposite of fast--that is slow, or maybe half-fast. And in the past, I have typically avoided sets and time trials that put a stopwatch on exactly how half-fast I am swimming, because swimming fast is hard. It is anaerobic and it makes the whole body burn. Pain might be just weakness leaving the body, but I am pretty comfortable in my weakness.

But Coach Kris dislikes comfort and abhors weakness--at least that is what I gather from the pick pick pick pick pick pick at my swimming. Having completed three seasons of triathlon races and two Ironmans, I have never EVER put myself through a time trial in the pool. Coach Kris, however, has put me through two sets of time trials in the last four weeks. The second set of time trials was the evil surprise he had for me on Thursday: 800m TT and 400m TT

So, Thursday morning I girded my loins, ate a good breakfast, channeled my inner-Michael-Phelps (sans bong) and did my best. I thought I could be slightly faster than twice the time for the world record at each distance, even swimming short course without a flip turn, and I was. But you swimmers would be shocked at how much effort it took to go even that half-fast. Suffice it to say that there was much weakness leaving the body during that effort.

And then, just to add a side of indignity with my sadness bowl, Miki--the Serbian Strength Coach--decided he wanted to take the calipers to me to measure my body composition. He was grabbing horrifying amounts of adipose tissue to measure with the calipers, and it is sad to say that I am no longer the fat free salad dressing that I was three years and six pounds ago. Sure, I probably have some more muscle mass too, but according to the numbers, my midriff has been injected with four pounds of Baconnaise. According to John Stewart of the Daily Show, this is a uniquely American combination of bacon and mayo for the slacker who wants heart disease but is just too lazy to make his own bacon.


I can't wait to sign onto training peaks and get my program from Coach Kris for the next four weeks, because this has got to stop.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The Bro Code

I went running with one of my bros this morning.

Actually, I went running with my only bro. Not a bro in the Barney-Stinson-Suit-Up-slam-two-red-bulls-and-let's-play-laser-tag-this-is-going-to-be-legendary kind of way. But in the biological sort of way.

Yes, it is true. Trigreyhound is not a genetic anomaly, a lone visitor from another planet. There is another who comes from the same shallow and slow end of the genetic pool as I do. I have a brother who shares both parents with me. This only goes to prove that human beings are capable of asexual reproduction because my parents certainly never got jiggy with it--especially not twice.

Anyway, if all works out in bro's career path, he will be moving to H-Town in the coming months to take a huge promotion that will assure his financial security well into the future. He is already working here regularly, while his family is still in the DFW Metroplex.

Bro has been competing in a "biggest loser" competition at work, so, being the kind an helpful person that I am, I offered to show him the near-town running trail along the bayou this morning.

**Dr. Evil Laugh Here**

Did I mention that bro used to be the "athletic one" in school, the one with all the social graces, the winning smile, the blond hair, and the girls? Not the solitary band geek? And that he has since become less athletic? Much less? That he hasn't done so much as a road race in years?

**More Evil Laughter**

So, yeah, a lesser man would have taken him out in the dark, put the hurt on him, and dropped him like third period French class.

But I am not a lesser man. At least not that lesser. This was the first time we had run together since we were children. (I don't count the Dallas Half, my first road race years ago, because we were not in any sense "together." He and his friends finished way before me.) The Bro Code says you never leave a fallen comrade behind. You don't drop a bro.

So I didn't. And we ran together for the first time since the Carter Administration in the dark of the morning, with a city around us stirring itself from sleep.

And it was good.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Progress Report--Tip of the Hat, Wag of the Finger.

Ahhhhhhh. Recovery week. The first three weeks of training from Coach Kris are in the books, and today the Training Peaks God e-mailed that I'm supposed to recover--no exercise, maybe get a massage, put my feet up.

Let it be written. Let it be done.

The Training Peaks God has something awful planned on Thursday, but I'm trying hard not to think about that today. I'm just going to glory in the late-sleeping, fully hydrated luxuriousness of no two-a-day workouts, and super easy training throughout the week . . .

With the exception of the workout that shall not be named on Thursday morning.

But that's not today.

In the last three weeks, Coach Kris had me switch out of post-marathon recovery and into three-sport training. The running has continued to be light, with only one quality workout per week. The swimming has mostly kicked my butt--awesome sets that really targeted my weakest discipline. And the cycling has gone from ez spinning up to a 50 mile ride this past Saturday. Coach took me safely from zero up to 13 hours of training this past week.

I've completed all the workouts with the exception of two that were scrubbed the day I did some VO2 Max testing. And I mostly hit the training goals and levels of effort prescribed by the Almighty Training Peaks. And it all happened during a very busy work season, including an all day court hearing with no break for lunch. So, I give myself somewhere between an B+ and an A-.

But while I'm giving out grades I have to single out two persons seen "on the road" in Houston for a special edition of "Tip of the Hat, Wag of the Finger."

Hall Of Fame

For this training cycle, my nomination to the Hall Of Fame goes out to Grampa Grocery Rider, seen yesterday at the HEB on I-45 and Rayford Road. I don't know his name, but this dude makes the hall of fame easily. Grampa walks with a cane and must be 70 years old if he's a day, but he rode his three-wheeled pedal cruiser to the grocery store and put his shopping in the back basket where the two American Flags were attached. (Meanwhile the parking lot was filled to capacity with SUVs driven by people who obviously need the extra horsepower to cart around their prodigious girth.) Gramps had a bike helmet for safety, but his kids need to get him some proper kit. He wore a red, windbreaker jacket with the word "STOP" stenciled on the back in black, magic marker. But he's in the game. Good on you, G-man. Tip 'o the Greyhound's chapeau.

Hall Of Shame

This training cycle, my nomination to the Hall Of Shame goes to the worst, post-race bling violation I have ever seen. It was one of those moments, out running one Sunday morning, when I did a double take and wondered, "Did I really just see what I think I just saw?"

I did.

There is much discussion about the written and unwritten rules for proper usage, time, place and manner for finisher's medals and other post-race bling. There are some things that are black and white (e.g., "Thou Shalt Not Wear A Finisher's Shirt For A Race In Which Thou Didst Not Participate Or In Which Thou Didst Not Finish Unless You Are Homeless And Said Shirt Was A Donation") and there are some that are shades of grey (e.g., "Do you wear your finisher's medal from the Disney Marathon in the park to exchange knowing glances from the other participants, or does that make you a git? Only the day of the race? What about the next day? Only if it's your first marathon? hmmmmm.") What I saw, however, falls outside the lines.

I was running in a swanky neighborhood, early on a Sunday morning, when I saw a portly man riding a mountain bike approaching me on the road. "Fine," I'm thinking. "At least the sedentary man is out moving, even if he is spinning a mountain bike on the streets around his neighborhood at 10 mph. Good for him. Don't be an elitest jerk."

But then I see that below his visored helmet, his facial hair and his double chins, he's wearing

A Finisher's Medal.

I kid you not. The elitest jerk in me wanted to blow a whistle and throw the flag for flagrant race bling violation.

He was wearing his post race bling--not a technical fabric finisher's shirt, but a finisher's medal, which has no training purpose.

Not after a race.

Not at the race site.

Not even at the post-race feed during which mandatory war stories and tales of daring do are customarily exhanged.

But wearing a finisher's medal. On Sunday morning. In the neighborhood. On a mountain bike, which was not being ridden on trails, but on a suburban street at 10 mph. This is the suburban equivalent of beginning every casual conversation with the words, "Hey, baby. Did I ever tell you that I did an Ironman? Wanna see my tattoo?"

Not that I would ever do such a thing. That would be wrong.

Wag of the finger.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Clap Your Hands!!

If you looked at my training log or surveyed the 590 posts that make up this blog, you could very easily come to the conclusion that I, like Peter Pan, don't want to grow up, that I'm running a futile race against Father Time and old age.

You'd probably be right. If you think I'm infected with a wee touch of the Peter Pan syndrome, I might have to plead guilty. Strike that. I know I'd have to plead guilty. I am not exactly "old" and I know a lot of accomplished athletes much older than I am who regularly ridicule me when I talk about feeling old. But it stung a bit when Coach Kris was interviewed on Episode 18 of the Tac Boy and Bigun Podcast. He described me several times with a variety of euphemisms that connote "aging man trying to recapture the athleticism of his youth, which never really existed in full flower except in his mind."

OK, it wasn't that bad, but I genuinely loathe being 42 years old. Well, that's not exactly true. I love having a 42 year old's job and income and station in life. It rocks not having to work in a warehouse or bus tables, both of which I have done. And I love being stable and established and having an 11 year old daughter who's as cool as the day is long.

But I wish I had more time. I wish I'd been doing triathlon in my 20s and 30s. I missed out. And I prefer hanging around with younger people rather than losers my age who waddle around the golf course and talk about the miserable state of their 401k's. I want it all--youth and fun and time to live it up combined with maturity and experience and money to live it up with. Is that asking too much? Apparently.

So, Peter Pan? Yes. Guilty. But that's not the reason I put Peter Pan at the top of this post. I chose the picture because of what's in his hand: Tinker Bell.

I thought of Tinker Bell during Coach Kris' interview on the podcast, not because Coach Kris is a fairie--not that there's anything wrong with that. The podcast interview kept talking about how an athlete has to believe in the coach, have faith that the coach knows what he's doing and that he'll get you to the goal. All I could think of was that portion of the Broadway musical, Peter Pan, where Tinkerbell is dying because no one believes in fairies anymore. Peter coaxes the audience to bring her back to life by "clapping if you believe in fairies."

Well, I believe. I question and needle and probe and make sure that I understand what's going on, but I'm clapping while I do it. I believe. If Coach Kris says 1 hour in zone 2, Coach Kris gets one hour. If he says 30 minute ez run, and time runs out six blocks from home, I'm walking the rest of the way.

Coach Kris writes it down. I do it.

Makes the whole Ironman thing a lot simpler and less stressful. Now if I could get my rapidly-approaching-teenage-years daughter to fully appreciate the beauty of "because I said so."

Well, just every once in a while. She wouldn't be any fun without the spirit.

Anyway, I've done it on my own before, and it ain't all that special. I know my body, but Coach Kris knows Ironman. So, I am clapping. Because I believe.

Sunday, February 15, 2009


There's no denying it. Mrs. Greyhound is a lucky woman. After 20 years of marriage, she's received a "major award."



Uhm, yeah. And I must be Italian because I come in a box marked "FRAH-JEEEL-AAAY."

Oh, wait. That's "Fragile."

Which means on Valentine's Day, instead of emitting my typical romantic glow, I was gimping around with a shredded back from the most inconsequential of long rides after the most unremarkable bike wreck ever.

But I literally couldn't reach down and get my paper on the driveway this morning because of the condition of my lower back.

Because I am "Frah-jeeel-aaaaay."

So, yeah. I'm quite the reward, aren't I?

Friday, February 13, 2009

Celestial Navigation

Superpounce and I went for a run the other night.

I have started doing some of my secondary running workouts from home in the evening. Every once in a while, she joins me on my warm up, jogging around the block with me before she returns to the house and I go out to do my thing.

This night, she was more enthusiastic than usual. Sometimes, I confess, persuasion to run may have felt like nagging, though I know if I nag, she will never discover her own love for running or exercise. But this night, I just asked and she immediately said yes and added, "Don't leave, DON'T LEAVE. I have to get my running shoes on."

Just after we began to run, she spilled the beans on her big piece of news, one which she obviously knew I would approve of.

"Dad! Guess what!"


"I'm going to be in athletics at school!"

In her school, "Athletics" is the physical education prerequisite to school sports participation, and it involves actual conditioning and working out, in contrast to the rather silly games in regular P.E. that she disparaged in describing the two programs.

I tried not to bust my buttons while showing enthusiastic approval.

She went back to the house while I took the path less traveled by--30 more minutes around the neighborhood, into the new streets and dirt roads that have yet to be developed, while the gathering twilight became a blanket of warm evening. I almost became lost while turning over her conversation in my head--dreams of a small, skinny child to play basketball or volleyball or run track. While I had a Garmin on my wrist, I thought I might have to navigate by the stars just to make it home.

Considering it further, I concluded that starlight is best. I knew of no better navigating method for my child than looking to the stars.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Slippery When Wet and Reader Poll

When I woke up this morning I thought I had the flu.

Or maybe I had been in a prize fight and had been pummeled so convincingly that I had no memory of the event.

I had noticed a little stiffness in my neck when I lay down last night, but upon waking, it was seriously one of those "WTF?" moments.

(For those readers of a more refined and gentle nature, "whiskey tango foxtrot" or "wow, the flubber")

I didn't have any of that awful disc pain referring to arms and legs etc. from when she who shall not be named sabotaged our SOMA bet by goading me into over training and rupturing my widdow neck disckies. But all the stability muscles that hold up my gigantic brain-filled dome, along with the lower back, were in painful seizure and rebellion. It was half-way through my swim this morning before I even figured out why. The puniest, most inconsequential little bike topple had given me a mild case of the whiplash.

Yesterday morning, doing an easy spin around the park, I forgot to keep the rubber side down. Actually, there was a very thin sheen of water on the road, enough to bring the oil to the surface, so that the smoothest parts of the pavement had the friction coefficient of black ice. Combine that with some fairly slick, high mileage tires and an effort to slow prudently at a stop sign, and there was nothing to be done.

I was slowing and probably moving at less than 10 mph when the back tire came around, cut in line, and decided it would like to proceed first down the road--sideways. The bike, Jessi S. Cannondale, and I slid down in a delicate heap. I landed on my bum and side, pretty well kept my chin tucked, and skidded along the slick roadway for a bit. No cars were behind me (thankfully) and if my head hit the pavement at all, I don't remember feeling the blow through my helmet. In fact, it was so inconsequential, I just picked myself up, remounted, finished the ride, and thought nothing more of it.

Until this morning, halfway through the swim when I finally went, "DUH. Neck hurts. Bike wreck. Nobel prize for medecine."

But I finished my swim.

And I hit my splits.

Because Coach Kris wrote it down in the plan; let it be written, let it be done.

Because that's the Ironman way.

Or at least it's the highly anal, lawyer-guy way.

To be completely safe (and to keep doing my bit for the economy) I should probably replace my skid lid, just in case it did whack the pavement as my head snapped back. So, again, if you ride a bike, it's time to weigh in:

What's the awesomest, iron-worthy, most legendary, bitchin' bike helmet on the planet? High viz is a plus because many of my rides during the week are before dawn.

Friday, February 06, 2009

Reader Poll: Greyhound ISO Cycling Shorts

Well, after reading my last post, Coach Kris brought his keen insight, experience, and professional knowledge to bear on my arse problem.

Four words:

cycling shorts
chamois butter

OK, so that's five words, but I had gotten into the habit of riding only in tri-shorts in part to "toughen up" and in part because I don't like the cycling shorts that I have. It is probably long past time to spring for some new bike shorts. In fact, doing so is probably patriotic: doing my part for the economy.

So, here's the question to you, gentle reader. What are the best, most comfortable cycling shorts in the known universe and the best chamois butter to go along with them? If you ride a bike, weigh in. But, that said, as much as I respect the "woohah," "bajingo" and "vajayjay," I'd especially prize the opinions of those readers who have "junk" that needs to fit down in all that lycra, chamois and butter.

I'm just sayin.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Iron? Pfffft.

So, yeah. There's a bike leg in Ironman. And I haven't ridden since, oooooohhhh, October. So I got out on the bike for the first time in the last couple of days, and although they say "you never forget," my legs were not down with the whole bike thing. It wasn't so much that they hurt, but more like they had a "Scotty" moment.

"Scotty, we need more power."

"I cannaugh dooooit, Cap'n. Thah't's uhllll she's goht. The dilythium c-r-r-r-r-r-rystal-l-l-l-ls r-r-r-r-r-r dooon."

The pain involved with biking this week was not "Peter Pain," but you're in the right zip code. After biking Wednesday morning, Coach Kris had me on the trainer this morning, and my arse did NOT like it one bit.


I used to be a hardass. I rode both my Ironman races in tri-shorts. You could say that ALL of THIS MAN was made of Iron.

Now? Not. So. Much.

So, yeah, the MS150 is in 72 days, and I've ridden a fraction of the distance with no great comfort. This is going to leave a mark.

Monday, February 02, 2009


What? Was there a sporting event of some kind yesterday?

Oh, that.

The end of the football season with some kind of contest with a ball. Yeah. I remember. I think I saw some of that.

But when you live in a house with two girls, neither of whom are football fans, sitting alone in your living room with your light beer and teams you don't follow in a sport you generally don't watch loses some of its allure. Great game, sure. But for tri-geek-hound, this weekend was the beginning of preseason, not the end of football season.

Ironman Cozumel is now 299 days away. And this time it's going to be different.

This time, I want more than just to survive the distance. I want to race, if only myself. I want to be in the fat part of the bell curve, not a tail end Charlie. And I want to maximize my potential in all three disciplines, swim, bike and run.

So, I've gone and hired me a coach and volunteered to be the lab rabbit on the Tac Boy and Bigun Podcast. And already its changed things. Why? Well I'm glad you asked.

Things have changed because I hired Kris Swarthout of SCS Multisport, which you can find at (You can find a link to his website and for his e-mail in the sidebar)

And let me tell you, Coach Kris at is a freakin' genius. My workouts started on February 1, and just look how Coach Kris from was able to improve my swimming with just one swim workout.

Here is actual video of me at the natatorium before being coached by Coach Kris from SCSMULTISPORT.COM:

Greyhound Before

And here is video taken this morning after completing just one, remarkable swim set from . . . .

(wait for it)


(subtle, non?)

Greyhound After

I mean, just look at me go! I totally rock now, thanks to Coach Kris at He has guaranteed that I will PR my Ironman, and shoot, I'll probably qualify for Kona on minimal training.

'Cause I totally rock now that I have a coach.

OK, so actually, most of that is not true.

I have to train.

And actually, I still only rock when compared to the long-trunk-wearing-one-length-at-a-time-wildly-kicking-morbidly-obese-New-Year's-resolutionists who are currently visiting the pool for the first time.

But I have hired Coach Kris, and I do think he rocks. This is the first triathlon coach I've ever had, and even in two workouts, I've already noticed a difference. The difference is significant enough that I'd already recommend a coach to anyone doing an Ironman. I'm no longer working out in a vacuum. I feel more accountable for hitting my marks and doing my sets. The details are important, and good enough isn't good enough.

With Ironman as with many other things, the devil is in the details. You don't get to the start line of an Ironman by making a resolution or a leap of faith, but in the daily grind, one stroke at a time. I'm glad to have someone else planning those strokes and holding me accountable.