Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Top Ten List

And now, from the home office in Spring, Texas, top 10 reasons every middle-aged man should run (add your own in the comments):

10. Because the God of Training Peaks and his holy prophet Coach Kris said so, praise be to him.

9. Because you can't be young at heart unless you skip, and running drills are the only way to do skipping with any kind of plausible deniability.

8. Because if you weren't a runner, your fascination with Kara Goucher would be way too creepy.

7. Because a running playlist on your ipod is about the only legitimate way for a middle aged man to enjoy Justin Timberlake in a public setting--and no, you're not bringing sexy back.

6. Because you still love Guns n' Roses and Van Halen, but need something to do while you rock out. (And no, not the post-David-Lee-Roth Van Halen, the real stuff. Rock on.)

5. Because if your circle of friends is restricted to other 40 year old men, you're a bore.

4. Because if you're not an runner/triathlete and your circle of friends is still highly populated by fit women in spandex, you're a creep.

3. Because beer is a good thing, but love handles are not.

2. Because beer in a state of exhaustion is a foretaste of heaven.

1. Because when father time catches you, you hope he's clutching his chest and wheezing.

And now, yours?

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Man On Wire

"This is your life, and it's ending -- one minute at at time."
--Fight Club

What a whirlwind the last couple of weeks have been. I'm usually pretty good at balancing training and working and family, keeping all the plates spinning and keeping all the balls in the air. But the thing is, when you live like that, there is very little margin for error. If the work creeps up ever so slightly, you start not to eat quite right or you lose a little sleep, and you miss a snack, and all of life starts to feel anaerobic. You never quite recover before the next interval. Everything starts to hurt a little more, you lose all intensity, your hobby starts to feel like a job and your job starts to feel like a sentence.

My job ramped up--in a massive way. One court hearing before the MS150 (brought about by bush league, chicken shit lawyering on the other side of the case) resulted in them spilling their guts on the courtroom floor when they realized the supposedly damaging document they were using as a prop was actually the wrong contract.

Then race home to fix quinoa and black beans for the peeps who were riding the MS150 with me.

Then watch a horrible looking storm front roll through and wonder whether Saturday was going to be rideable.

Then get up at o'dark thirty to fix breakfast for the peeps and see if we can ride.

Then drag them out to a ride start that did not occur because the lightening started just when we arrived--and I'm stressing about getting everyone out of bed and not showing them a good time (as if I can control the weather).

Then drive to Bastrop and settle for mere trainer rides when I wanted to ride across Texas with the peeps.

Then have the awesomest time ever with Terra Castro who came out to provide massages for the peeps. Best dinner conversation and smiles all around. Peeps are happy. Greyhound host is very happy.

Then ride through some of the toughtest wind ever on Sunday to finish up the ride.

Then race back to Houston so I could prepare to fly out on Monday morning to San Antonio for ANOTHER court hearing

Then two days of preparation and more bloodletting on the courtroom floor with the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals actually laughing at the other side's argument.

Then back to Houston where I missed my swim workout. (But thank God its a recovery week)

Then got three more appellate cases to put on the docket.

And I've got another brief due this week and two next week.

And all the while trying to be helpful (or at least not unhelpful) as Superpounce prepares for a very stressful piano performance

And looking at a full calendar of things to come

And it starts to feel that I'm not only a man on a hire wire doing a balancing act, but that I'm joined with a squad of ADD Spartan Cheeleaders bouncing up and down on my balancing pole while looking for their next hit of methamphetamine.

But at least I haven't spiraled into a multiple personality alter-ego bent on "project mayhem" or some other such stunt aimed at sticking it to the man and finding that primal man-ness that my generation has lost as nature's "middle children."

Oh. Wait.

Who is this guy who's life feels incomplete if he doesn't do 3 swims, 3 runs, 3 bikes and 2 strength sessions every week? What's that all about, Mr. Tyler Durden?

OK, so maybe I am a little "Fight Clubby" if you peel back enough layers on this triathlon thing. But you know what is not adding to the stress? This is the first year that I have someone doing the thinking for me. Someone else is watching the numbers and charting the workouts, and it is so much easier just to open the e-mail or sign onto Training Peaks, see what Coach Kris has on tap for the day, and just do it.

I used to think age group coaching was oh-so pretentious, or only for the fast kids, or not worth the money. Boy was I wrong.

If you really want to enjoy this sport to the fullest, get a coach.


Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Please Stand By

There's been so much to blog about, but no time to do it. For that, I apologize and hope that I don't forget it all before I have a chance to get back to it. For now, I've had an MS150 sandwich--that is a weekend event sandwiched between two hearty slices of court hearings and appellate arguments that required lots of prep time and left me with no energy or time for writing. Boooooooooo. It also slammed me with work that stacked up while I was in court, so I can't even write now. I need a clone to get all this done.

Coach Kris probably thinks I'm dead because I haven't been on training peaks, but I've only missed one workout, Coach, and that in a week where I probably need more recovery anyway.

So, bear with me and please stand by.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

She Told Me Her Name


She finally told me her name.

She shall be called, "Delilah."

She is the nubile, young object of the songwriter's obsession. "Oh, what you do to me." When you love her, you don't mind the laughter of your friends because you know that "none of them has felt this way" and "a thousand miles seems pretty far, but they've got planes and trains and cars; I'd walk to you if I had no other way."


But she's more than that--more than just a willowy, young thing.


She is a temptress of Biblical proportions who will have her way. Sampson, shorn of his locks, will become as weak as any other man if he abandons himself fully to her wiles. It matters not if you can slay thousands of Philistines with the jaw bone of an ass. Delilah will empty you.


She is Delilah.


Let it be written.

Let it be done.

Get On Your Bike And Ride

It is that time again, time to get on our bikes and ride from Houston to Austin with 14,000 of our closest friends, the largest charity cycling event in the nation, in order to raise $17 million to wipe out multiple sclerosis. The chronic, currently incurable, and potentially crippling disease affects millions of people, but it is important to me because it is in our house. Mrs. Greyhound has it.

We have been very lucky, both because her course of the disease in the past 10 years has been remarkably benign, and because we can afford the treatments that can help stave off disability--treatments that did not exist 15 years ago, and would not exist now but for research that is funded in part by the MS150. But even there, our co-pays for these expensive drugs have risen dramatically. If I were not blessed with a good job, we'd be in a bad situation. And many MS patients lose their jobs due to disability. Part of what the MS150 does is provide services and treatments to people like that.

The other part is funding research. Houston, where we live, has premiere research being conducted to develop new drugs. One of the biotechnology companies in the Woodlands is responsible for a drug that has shown remarkable promise in Stage II clinical trials in halting the progress of the disease and restoring lost function. And the Baylor MS Center in Houston's Medical Center is developing an MS vaccine in which material from a patient's immune system is removed from the body, modified, and then reintroduced in order to alter and shut down the immune response that causes the body's immune system to improperly attack the central nervous system as if it were an invader. If and when that is perfected, a cure will have been achieved.

I have not been as aggressive in fund raising for the ride this year, and I'm working on a vehicle to fund raise directly for the Baylor MS Center through Ironman, but I do hope you'll consider donating by clicking HERE or on the widget in my sidebar. This year is my fifth year to do the ride, and as always, we'll be doing up the ride in style.

I will be joined by three triathlete friends, and we will be doing the ride m-dot style. My posse includes Houston blogger and Ironman veteran Coach Liz, Austin blogger, super fast marathoner and Ironman veteran Carrie from Tri-to-be-Funny, and lastly, the non-blogger doctor/triathlete Carrie is currently shacking up and sleeping with . . . her husband Shawn. Rather than stop at La Grange about 100 miles into the ride, we'll be riding on to the Lost Pines Resort in Bastrop, which oughta be about 130 or so miles. We'll probably run off the bike, break our arms patting ourselves on the back, and then top off the day with massages by professional triathlete and massage therapist, Terra Castro.

So, yeah. When you're on Team Greyhound, we take care of you. We do it up right. If you see us on the road, ride with us. And whether or not you're riding this weekend, click on the fund raising link and be generous.

Monday, April 13, 2009


I can't swim 10x100m @ 1:55.

I can't. Not possible.

I can't follow that up with 6x 25m @35 and a 500m time trial.

Training Peaks can say it all day long, but it might as well say:

"Remove your own spleen and describe the procedure in the blue book that has been provided for you. You will find rubbing alcohol and a scalpel under your chair."

I tried my hardest. I can't.
I can't.
I can't.I can't.I can't.I can't.I can't.I can't.I can't.I can't.I can't.I can't.I can't.I can't.I can't.I can't.I can't.I can't.I can't.I can't.I can't.I can't.I can't.I can't.I can't.I can't.

I'm condemned to the ignominy of greater than 2:00 per 100m and a transition area devoid of bikes.


And all you swimmer kids can just STFU with your turning up your noses at a mere 2:00 per 100m. You people who warm up at 2:00 per hundred and swim an Ironman in an hour. PTUI!

I find it startlingly easy to play Chopin nocturnes or Beethoven slow movements on the piano. What's so hard about that? Didn't you take piano from your mummy from the age of 5?

And writing a 50 page brief with a 100 or so citations to authorities in a couple of days? Piece 'o cake. What? You find this complicated?

I guess you mighta' missed something staring at the black line on the bottom of the pool.


And enough with the "technique technique technique"


I TOOK lessons from Total Immersion. I glide. I float fine. I drill. But apparently I'M JUST FREAKIN' SLOW.

And I'm getting slower

And I gained a pound

And I fell asleep at my desk like an octegenarian

And I want to be 6'4" and look like Tom Selleck.


Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Rule No. 1

1st RULE: You do not talk about FIGHT CLUB.

2nd RULE: You DO NOT talk about FIGHT CLUB.

In the midst of all the work craziness this week, I confess that I have felt a little like someone who got beat up at fight club but couldn't talk about it.

I really don't want to be "that guy." You know the one--the guy who tells everyone in the office about his sprint triathlon or his charity ride or his marathon. I make allowances for "that guy" if folks are new to sport, because it's neat that they're excited about they're newly found health and fitness. Heck I probably was "that guy" not long ago.

But if you're four or five years in, it starts to get a bit unseemly if you talk as if you're the second coming of Dave Scott every time you do a 5k fun run or a 10 lap pool workout.

So, I very rarely tell people at work if I'm racing, especially a normal, build up race. It's a "need to know" kind of thing. If you "need to know" why I'm not available, you'll get told. If you don't know, you don't need to know.

But then, I'm sure that there are some people who wonder why I've been gimping around this week like I can't walk--sort of like the office worker who comes in with the shiner and can't talk about fight club. But you guys are in fight club--so I can talk, right?

Well, to tell the truth, I've got blisters that are all the more painful in my lawyer shoes, the result of trying to be a sockless tri-geek on race day. That was the end of the race. Going backwards in time, I ran the last 3 miles with a decent stride, but the first three and a half miles were severely hampered by a back spasm off the bike. The bike rocked -- nearly 20 mph average speed. Passed lots of people like they were tied to posts. Great fun--until the back started to get tight. Gotta get that bike fit looked at again.

Of course, I had a lot of people available for me to pass. That huge sucking sound you heard to your south on Sunday was me sucking in the water--literally and figuatively. It was overcast, I couldn't see, the wind kicked up some chop, I swam or got blown off course, and mostly I just had my typical beginning of the season freak out. I swam a better pace for all 4k of my two Ironman swims than I swam on Sunday for 1k. Which is why there were HUNDREDS of people in front of me on the road.

And I'm starting to get pissed off at this problem of the transition area being devoid of bikes when I get out of the water.

And the pissed-offedness state is usually about the time that I start to solve problems. I don't have to be Andy Potts for crying out loud, but this swimming like Mr. McGoo has got to stop.

So, there. That's why I've got a shiner and can't walk too well. Next up, the MS150.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

You Must Do This

"Nothing in life is so exhilarating as to be shot at without result."*

I learned something again yesterday from a bunch of kids. By that, I mean not only that I learned again from kids, which will repeatedly happen if you wear a little humility, but also that I learned the something that I already knew again--this time from kids.

You see I went to Superpounce's school, where Superpounce and a group of her classmates were performing a mini-recital of their solo pieces during band class. Since I play piano (the permanent side-effect of growing up in a house where your mom is a piano teacher) I am Superpounce's accompanist. So, I was there not only to listen, but also to perform.

It was funny remembering back to days when I was in band, remembering the feelings of nervousness before the performance, wrestling with an instrument that did not always want to obey your commands, feet tapping madly to try and hold the elusive pulse of the music, and fingers stiff and unresponsive on foreign-feeling keys. The kids were so nervous that the row of them, all seated in chairs, looked as if they were about to be admitted to the principal's office for corporal punishment rather than simply playing a 2 or 3 minute piece for parents who adored every imperfect note coming from their instruments. You could not have found a sorrier looking lot if you had announced that summer vacation had been canceled.

But they all gave it a try, mostly because the grownups made them, and they all felt the "flight or fight" response--bullets whizzing by figuratively--and they all survived. And as a result, they all grew. They all learned. They all expanded. They all felt something and knew for a fact that they were really alive.

You must do this too. Not band necessarily, but pushing yourself out there where your fight or flight instinct kicks in, where you risk failure, where you hear the buzz of bullets whipping by your ears, and where you discover the exhileration of "being shot at without result." You must. This place is where the growth happens. This place is where you find out that you are so much more than you thought. This place is where you find out that limits weren't really limits at all--in hindsight they look like rationalizations or even excuses.

This place is where the living happens.

And what's more, there's no grownup to push you off the chair in the band hall and make you do it. YOU are the grownup now. If you don't push yourself off the chair, you're liable to rot there. No growth. No discovery. Self-imposed limits. No living. Not really.

Where is this place? What is "THIS?"

Only you can tell. For me, at least right now, its Ironman. There is something about plunging into an open water swim at dawn with 2000 people, something that would have ended my life not 4 years ago, that makes you pay attention and notice the life that's happening in front of you. One date every year where I risk utter failure doing something hard focuses all the rest of the year--not only the training that must occur to survive the day, but also every thing else in life that must co-exist with the training.

But it doesn't have to be Ironman--even if you've done one before and even if you want to do one again. There's not always time, and you can't betray who you are as a parent or spouse or professional. It doesn't even have to be athletic. It just has to involve bullets--that risk of failure.

You just have to look in the mirror and find something that lights your fire--and where you risk failure. The bigger the risk, the bigger the reward.

Then you have to go. After all, "Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts."*

But you must do this.

If you are to grow and to live, you must.

*Sir Winston Spencer Churchill