Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Ask Coach Kris

**In the run up to Ironman Cozumel, I'm going to be asking my coach some questions, and publishing his answers here. If you have a question, enter it in the comments and we'll see if we can get the great and powerful Coach Kris to lend us his expertise!**

Dear Coach Kris:

When I am training in the heat, I notice that my heart rate gets higher and higher as the day goes on and as the temperature increases. I know sometimes "heart rate creep" happens when people are dehydrated and the heart has to work extra hard to pump thicker fluid. But this Saturday, I know I was super well hydrated because I . . . you see I was constantly needing to . . . well, trust me, I know.

But even when I'm well-hydrated, my heart rate really spikes when it is hot--like at Ironman Cozumel for example. Does my lactate threshold also go to the higher heart rate or does it remain the same? Specifically, assuming that my running threshold is 147, and I'm trying to keep it below threshold, does my threshold go up with the heat and "heart rate creep" or should I still stay below 147, even if my HR is 10 beats higher for the same pace?

Yours truly, Greyhound

Dear Greyhound: An excellent and very perceptive question my Iron Paduan. The answer is you'll have to run slower when it is hotter outside. DUH! (OK that was me writing, not Coach Kris).

Your Lactate Threshold remains constant. Your heart rate is increasing because your body is working harder to cool itself off. In the event you find yourself running in the marathon at Ironman Cozumel and you start to see your HR drift up while your pace remains the same, you should back your pace down to allow your HR to remain in it’s targeted area.

You can acclimate your body to work more efficiently by training in the conditions of your event, this will allow your HR to stay more in line. For you, Greyhound, it will be important that you do the majority of your training in the heat of the Houston daytime temps. This may be uncomfortable and against the vampire norms of H-Town, but it will allow you to adjust your body's response to the heat, and to practice HR control along with proper hydration technique.

Now get back out there and stop whining, Coach Kris

(OK, that last bit was mine, too.) If you have any thoughts or a question for Coach Kris, give us some love in the comment section.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Ride Like A Vehicle

OK, I'm as big a militant as anyone about how bikes are vehicles, but dude I saw riding his bike on the shoulder of the HARDY TOLL ROAD this morning needs to exercise some judgment. For those of you who don't know, the Hardy is Houston's answer to the Autobahn--six lanes wide, limited access, and no effective speed limit at rush hour.

That reflective vest you were wearing won't save you when the Yuppie in the BMW irons you out at 90 mph whilst fiddling with his Ipod.

Still the point is well taken: if you want to be treated like a vehicle, then ACT LIKE A VEHICLE. Obey the traffic laws, place yourself in the lane like a vehicle, signal, and keep your head on a swivel. Check it out:

Hat tip to Devin Wilson for posting the link on Facebook. Let's be careful out there.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Mullet Contest

***This is a contest. The fictional letter set out below is chock full of references to 70s and 80s bands, song titles and lyrics. Whoever identifies the most references wins some fabulous Greyhound Schwag. Contest rules are in the comment section.****

Dear Ironman:

It's been quite a journey these last three years of Ironman races. It seems funny to call you Ironman, for it is clear that you are an unforgiving mistress--more like an iron maiden if you ask me, cold as ice. All we do crumbles to the ground, though we refuse to see.

And poor Mrs. Greyhound an iron widow. She was just a small town girl. We were just two American kids doing the best they can. Those crazy nights, I do remember, in my youth. I close my eyes, only for a moment and the moment's gone. Sometimes, the best that you can do is fall in love.

Now its me out training, while she sits, alone, an empty stare, a mother's face she wears. Heartache to heartache we stand. People always told me, "Be careful what you do. Don't go around breaking young girls' hearts." I'll be lucky if she doesn't tcall the Police and tell me to "beat it," or at least "don't stand so close to me."

And no matter how much I train, you cry, "More, more more." You sink your teeth down to my bone. You make it hurt so good. You're a real tough cookie with a long history. But I've seen the toughest around.

Now I fear my body is going. Losing ground, I'm reaching for you. Oh, well. Nothing lasts forever but the earth and sky. Sure, I'd like to finish an Ironman in about 12 hours. Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy? 12 hours? Only in my dreams. Out of the blue. All my money won't another minute buy.

And yet I'm addicted to love. Caught in a landslide--no escape from reality. It ain't the way you move. It ain't the way you move me. I can't escape. I'm shot through the heart, and you're to blame. And very soon, I'll be a foreigner racing in Mexico. I imagine riding my bike through a flock of seagulls, a painted sign on the side of the road saying, "15 miles to the Love Shack," dancing the night away, going sailing and Mrs. Greyhound with a drink in her hand and her toes in the sand. Pretty maids all in a row. Come on set 'em up.

But that's after the race. Don't tell me you love me. Just bring it, Ironman. Any way the wind blows, doesn't really matter to me. Hit me with your best shot. Sometimes I think I'll lay it down, but I gotta keep on rocking. I just can't stop. (You can still rock in America, can't you?) I was born to run. I was born to dream. I keep my motor clean. I wanna be a man in motion. We all need new frontiers. So, I'll keep on running.

Forever yours,


Friday, September 25, 2009

Iron Kegger

What's on tap this weekend?

Well it depends upon who you ask. Walking around UT last week, all appearances indicate the answer would be "Old Milwaukee" or "Pabst Blue Ribbon" or "Bud," something cheap and plentiful.


Because even being old enough to have fathered those undergraduates, and even being slow and way below average triathlete, I could still kick most of their asses in any discipline at any distance.

Swim. Bike. Run.

Sprint to Ironman.

You pick it, junior, because you're a disgrace. Nineteen years old and pot bellied.

Are you kidding me?

And it wasn't just the rare "hefty" kid. It was everywhere. A majority of waddling, carbon based life forms that weren't even fully emancipated from mummy and daddy.

And not in the agriculture college town of College Station where they slaughter and eat their own pets for breakfast. No, in liberal tofu eating Austin.

Well, me and the "old" folks have a different kind of activity "on tap." Tomorrow is a wee brick workout--swim, bike and run back to back. All at Ironman pace. 30 minute swim, four hour bike, 40 minute run off the bike.

And Sunday, we aren't sleeping it off either. For me it's gonna be a couple hours running above Ironman pace and negative splitting a long run.

Tyler Durden (Fight Club) was heard to remark that he "didn't want to die without any scars." Well, me neither.

Wanna come, junior?


I didn't think so.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Punching the Clock

Well, it's been a quiet week in Spring, Texas, my home town, out on the edge of the Megalopolis.

Mother Nature cannot decide if she will show us some mercy and allow fall to begin, or whether she intends to strangle us like a woman scorned -- which I assume you have heard has furies of which hell hath never conceived.

The other day, I literally experienced July and October all in the same run. A mass of cooler air had entered the Megalopolis, and I thought I was in for a pleasant, pre-dawn run. But out on the bayou, pockets of stale, stagnant July still festered in the thickets and oozed up from the fetid water. One minute, you'd feel a fresh breath of football weather, and the next you ran into a movable sauna that tries to strangle you.

Whatever Mother Nature decides to do, I'm laying odds she switches course a dozen times, because changing the mind is a woman's prerogative.

But training waits for no man--or woman. The show must go on. Punch the clock and get it done.

This week was pretty solid. The speed and pace were nothing to write home about, but the time-in-saddle and overall volume is getting solid enough that I feel like there's an Ironman afoot.

This week involved 17 hours 15 minutes of total training. Involved in that was an 89 mile long bike with a 15 minute run off, an 11 mile long run, and 10 thousand meters of swimming.

Oh, and there was the small matter of a court appearance and about 50+ hours of "day job" to do.

Nothing to exceed what every age grouper out there does, but solid nonetheless.

Speaking of day job, tomorrow I have to report for jury duty--me with my suit and bow tie and "board certified appellate lawyer" persona. Yeah, I'm really popular with lawyers. I've been struck every time.

And that's the News from Spring, Texas, where all the schools are exemplary, all the food is fast, and all the commutes are below average.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

The Sexiest Man Alive

Last night I was wondering whether I still want to do this. It was "once more into the breach" and an hour of 30/30s on the trainer.

Check. Done.

This morning it was "once more into the breach" for an hour of running including 3x7 min. hard.

Check. Done.

Walk to the scale.


Notice some additional ribs and abs and muscly stuff in the mirror.

Step on the scale.

140 pounds.



I. Still. Want. To. Do. This.

That is worth getting up early and doing two workouts a day.

That is a reason why.

Damn near 43 years old and 140 pounds with 9% body fat.

My tapered shirts need more taper.

My skinny suit fits.

I just cinched up another loop on the belt.

And Day-uhm, I'm a sexy beast. Nothing like hitting your race weight to make you feel like the sexiest man alive. I may be slow, but I LOOK FAST!!!!!

And, to paraphrase Fernando, "it is better to look good than to be good."

Can't wait to work out tomorrow.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Pig Iron

Superpounce came home from her sleepover feeling all gimpy. Gimpy turned to fever. Fever turned to fever with a headache and sore throat. Definitive scientific testing confirms that she has the swine flu. Never fear, she's already on the mend with Tamiflu, and the recent cases don't seem to be any big deal for people her age.

So far it does not seem to be affecting the grownups in the house very much. Pauline went from gimpy to fever on Friday, but she survived the 70s, so she may have had some previous immunity to the disease.

I haven't had anything except gimpy, and that may have had something to do with the four and a half hour bike ride on Saturday and the 10 mile run on Sunday. I did both at what would have been a massive PR Ironman pace and all 10 beats or more below lactate threshhold. I'm gonna chew through 140.6 miles like a knife through hot butter.

Ain't no pig flu coming to live in this body. The environment is too hostile, what with nearly 13 hours of racing and training last week and seven or so hours of training in the last three days. Ironman has no time for pig flu. Hurdle the weak, trample the dead.

**furiously knocking on wood***

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Hot n' Sweaty Southern Fried Triathlete

So, it's Wednesday. Which means its time to start thinking about this weekend's bike. I may not be able to swim, but I can get efficiently from T1 to T2, especially when its flat like Cozumel. I want to get me some o' that bikey awesomeness this weekend. Liz and I are considering another hot Galveston ride on Saturday, but it would be better/safer if a few other folks came with us. Anybody in Houston wanna come out to play?

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

In Which I Bang My Head Against The Wall (But Do Not Stop)

I am seriously starting to wonder whether, having started this sport so late, I have reached the age that I will get no better, regardless of how I train.

Yesterday was my third Olympic-distance race--the second this season--and was by far the slowest. It was a putrid swim followed by a decent, hard bike, followed by a horrible run.

Looking at the numbers, the lion's share of the guys in my age group swim within 10 seconds of 2:00 per 100m--even the super fast runners that finish at the top of the age group. I swim those kinds of times EVERY DAY in the pool, easily and without knowing how to flip turn. I even swam 2:15 per 100 in my first Ironman. Then, I've proceeded to swim slower every race since.

It does me no good to warm up. I just wind up standing around for 35 minutes waiting for my wave to go off. And when it does, it's the largest wave of the day and I started by getting smacked upside the head, kicked, swallowing half the lake, and spending 3 to 5 minutes hyperventillating and making little or no forward progress. After getting my wits about me, I thought I swam pretty strong, and seemed to be making good progress. Then, towards the end, I'm all, "are we there yet? Are we there yet? Are we there yet?"

And what should have been a swim in the low 30s was FORTY FREAKING MINUTES. Gawd almighty I'm getting sick of this. It's like banging my head against a flippin' wall.

As always, I enjoyed the biking, especially pounding down hill at about 30 mph, but the drafting and crowing on the course was a problem.

Perhaps I biked too hard or drank too little, but by the time I got to the run I could not run with any tempo. I was cursed with a very uncomfortable breathless feeling and even tightness in the chest. (Not Good). I did not have the watch set to look at heart rate, but observing the data afterwards shows that I was holding a heart rate comparable to an interval workout even though I was only putzing along at 10 minute miles. Potentially dehydration or heart rate drift because of the heat.

So, the goal of running well was out the window and the secondary goal of Ironman Cozumel training was in. No walking between aid stations allowed. No matter how slow, keep on running.

And I did.

I banged my head against the wall, and I did not stop. That's about the only good to come of this race.

Friday, September 04, 2009


My ability to bound out of bed without an alarm clock at whatever ungodly hour is legendary. Today, the machinery did not fail me. At 0400 my eyes were open and at 0415 I was up and putting on the Speedo. By 0417 I had a cup of tea steeping.

But at 0418 there was a flash of far off thunder and at 0425 there was thunder, lightening and a light rain. By 0426 I had recalculated where I would fit this swim workout and the brick that was supposed to occur this afternoon.

And by 0430 I had turned in for 2.4 more hours of the best sleep ever to the sounds of a gentle rain.

I could pretend I was disappointed, but you know me too well for that.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Old School

This weekend is the Avia Austin Triathlon, an olympic distance race Coach Kris and I put on the schedule to keep me from getting sluggish and to get some practice "racing" (air quotes here) in the run up to Ironman Cozumel.

According the Austin peeps, it has been hot as balls all summer and they've had essentially no rain. According to the race organizer, this means that the Lady Bird Lake, the swim venue, is too warm to be wetsuit legal--i.e., roughly like swimming in your bath tub with a few hundred friends trying to beat you to death.

Of course, why you'd have a few hundred people in your bath tub trying to beat you to death, I wouldn't know. That's your business and I don't judge.

Well, that's perfect practice for Ironman Cozumel, which is also not wetsuit legal, but it also raises additional questions. I've lately shunned my square leg swimsuits and jammers in favor of the trusty, black Speedo briefs for my swim workouts. My belt is cinched one loop tighter. My skinny suit tapers nicely to the waist and is taut across the shoulders. I have ribs. I have some abs (at least a four pack). I even have that intriguing little crease that runs from the outside of the hip bones, tracing its erotic course . . . down . . . . to the . . . . well . . . just think Abercrombie & Fitch underwear model and that's TOTALLY what I look like, m'kay?

I can't prove it, but I can say it.

So, with no wetsuit involved, do I go old school with an homage to Ironman Dave Scott by rocking the Speedo on the race course? And maybe throw in some ginourmous sunglasses and dayglow gear and a Bud Light visor too?

Alas, that would risk Dave Scott old school looking a bit too much like Will Ferrell's Old School. SCS Multisport and Coach Kris, apparently believing that there's no such thing as bad publicity, have encouraged me to wear their gear. (I wonder what message this sends when a bedraggled looking athlete limps to the finish with a website URL on his kit?)

So, instead of potentially causing a riot with the Speedo briefs, this is what I'll be wearing the one piece tri suit pictured below:

Look for me and give some encouragement out there. I'll be the one at the back of my swim wave trying to make up at least a little time on the bike and run.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009


An article last year in the New England Journal of Medicine reported that obesity (and thinness) are socially contagious. Among other things, we redefine what "fat" means in relation to the people we hang around with. (Just try it: find the high school pictures from your era on Facebook and look back at the "fat" kids. They are shockingly normal seen with today's eyes, and not nearly as "fat" as you remember them. The fat man from church would not even raise an eyebrow today.)

I am hoping that fitness is contagious as well, because if one is infected with fitness, there is never any need to worry about weight or appearance. The experiment seems to be working at the Greyhound compound.

On Tuesday, Superounce was all keen to tell me about the girl's athletics class that is her first hour in junior high each morning. ("junior high"??!!) In particular, she wanted to make sure that Ironman-freak-show-dad knew about her running workout that day, what they had done, and that she was doing the same running drills that I do. Everything else about school is "fine," (**roll eyes and sigh extravagantly here**) but she had to give me the details about running.

I am loving that. I have heard it said that our values are "caught" not "taught." If so, maybe I have infected her.