Saturday, November 28, 2009


"The man who has no imagination has no wings."*

So, here we are again, the night before another Ironman race. It is at this point that you start to wonder why it is you do this for "fun" and how it is that you will complete a 2.4 mile seas swim, 112 miles of cycling in the Caribbean sun, and a marathon on the Cozumel sea wall.

In the end, those types of things are completed with the same power that causes one to push "Register" on the race's internet site.

It's imagination.

That inner eye that let's you see history before it happens, to see what can be, to dare to do things, "not because they are easy, but because they are hard."**

You watch a race, and you do your first triathlon, and you watch an Ironman, and you begin to imagine that you can do this.

And you can.

Not all at once, but one bouy at a time.

Not all 112 miles, but the 10 minutes until your next drink.

Not all 26 miles, but 1 kilometer to the next aid station.

As long as you can imagine just that far into the future, just around the corner where only the mind can see, you have wings.

And when you have wings, anything is possible.

*Muhammad Ali

**John F. Kennedy

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Rules

Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.”*

Two more sleeps and I will be taking off for Cozumel. The trip is the fulfillment of a goal to compete in Ironman Cozumel. I signed up for the event over a year ago, and I have been following a triathlon training plan from Coach Kris since January. And I will be only one of a couple thousand people who have been training steadily for most of the year to complete that race.

But that process began long before January. And it began long before I ever signed up for an Ironman race. The process began over a decade ago and with very different goals.

First it was a gym membership and jogging three times a week. Off and on exercise. Off and on weight loss. Then suffering through a road race. Off and on running. Then suffering through a marathon. Then quitting.

Then starting again. Joining a gym with staff who encouraged me. A faster marathon. MS150 bicycling tours. The first short course triathlon. The first half-iron triathlon. Watching an Ironman swim start and swearing I would never do such a thing. 24 hours later signing up for an Ironman and one year later doing it. Now it's time for Ironman Number three.

So, if you read about Ironman triathlons or other endurance events--here or elsewhere--and you say, "I could never do that," you are wrong. That is simply an excuse to make you feel better for choosing NOT to do it. Assuming that Ironman and marathons are never your thing--which is totally fine--you can duplicate the process of becoming active and healthy.

But if you go against "The Rules" you are doomed to failure. You might as well repeal the law of gravity. Ask Wylie Coyote how that works out. Follow the rules and you can succeed.

Rule One: Start where you are.

You have no choice but to start where you are. It's no use bitching about being slow or being fat or being old or being achy or having bad knees or what have you. You are where you are and you have to move forward from here. If you bite off more than you can chew, you'll get hurt and discouraged and quit.

And if you have quit before. So be it. Start now again. Start where you are. It takes the average person 5 attempts to quit smoking, and I think it took me at least that many attempted programs over three or more years before exercise became automatic.

So, no more head talk about can't. Start where you are.

Rule Two: Use what you have.

Just like you are where you are, you only have what you have. Don't waste breath or mental energy on what you don't have. Is your time limited by a full time job? OK, so you cant' train 40 hours a week. No surprise there. But I bet you can roll out 30 minutes early and walk the neighborhood. I bet you can turn off the television and play soccer with your kid.

Don't have money for a gym membership? Use the playground.

Don't have motivation and discipline? I bet you have shame and laziness. Use those instead. Sleep in your running clothes. Set the alarm. Make a date to meet someone more disciplined than you are. The embarrassment and the shame of not showing on time will get you going. (Watch this space for more later).

The point: even things that hold you back can be used as tools if you are creative enough. Use what you have--whatever you have.

Rule Three: Do what you can.

I've already alluded to this in the prior rules. It does not matter how fit or how woeful your current condition is. You have to start with your current abilities and build from there. And there is no profit in being judgmental about what you ought to be able to do.

In fact, I might even add to this rule--do LESS than what you can while you're building the habit. Set the coffee maker the night before, go to sleep in your workout clothes, set the alarm 30 minutes early, and walk around the block or the neighborhood with a cup of coffee every morning for the next two weeks.

When this becomes a habit, you are ready . . . . to walk faster . . . to run a little . . . to play.

(More later).

The point is this: going forward, you are not responsible for failing to accomplish the impossible. But the flip side of the coin is that you are very responsible for failing to see and do the possible -- where you are right now, using what you have, and doing what you can.

*Arthur Ashe

Friday, November 20, 2009

Coach Kris: The Man With The Plan

Dear Coach Kris:

I have this little race thingy coming up. I'm told there's a 2.4 mile swim, a bike segment of 112 miles, and then a marathon, 26 miles 385 yards. I suppose one should have a plan for such as this.

My first time at this distance my plan was: finish. If you wonder whether you're going to hard, you probably are.

My second time my plan was: don't die in the frigid swim, bike too strong, and then run just fast enough to get a "13" in the finish time.

I am unimpressed with my planning ability.

So, how do I make a plan for this race, and what should it be? One lap swim, the home stretch of which is downhill with the current. Three lap bike. Three lap run. I hear it's hot, flat and windy.

Your most obedient and humble servant,


P.S. Does Tequila make an appropriate recovery beverage?


Re: Ask Coach KrisGreyhound,

I hope the 13 in your finisher time was in the hour column not the seconds one. Here is a sure fire Ironman strategy that has work for many athletes of all abilities. It comes in a three stage format.

Plan A

solid, but not too hard. You can’t win the race in the swim, but you sure can tank your race. Stick to steady pace. Current does not matter, everyone has it, so it doesn’t give you a pass to lollygag it on the return.

Bike CONSERVATIVELY! Every Ironman race I have seen implode has been due to over doing it on the bike. Start off moderate and get settled in. Bike inside a box, don’t let others influence you. This is your race and your day, don’t blow it by chasing some guy who is going to blow up later. Eat and drink according to what you practiced in your training and goal for peeing at least two times. If you have gone too soft on the bike, prove it on the run.

Run according to your pacing plan you have been practicing. Start off easy and be sure to drink, drink, drink! Monitor your effort and shoot for consistency. If all this goes as planned, you will be set for a great finish.

Plan B

Something goes wrong, whether it is you lost your salt tablets or blew two flats. Before you leave for your race, think about what can go wrong and plan that it will. Pack your special needs bags as if your life depended on it.

If your issue becomes more biological, think what has worked for you in the past. A good rule of thumb is when in doubt cut the simple sugars like Gatorade or gels. Drink lots of water, the more the better. If you throw up, don’t force it, back things down and try to reset your inner clock. Don’t try to over eat to make up for what you lost, just keep up with what your doing. On the run Coke can be your best friend or worst enemy. It can give you that added bit of energy you need on the run, but hit it too soon and get ready to ride the sugar roller coaster for 26.2 miles. Broth is great if they have it, but not all races do.

Plan C

Everything is going wrong!

Wipe the tears and dig deep for what motivated you to get to where you are. Slow down and just walk it out. At the end of the day, only you and a very few tri geeks really give a crap about your time. The fact that you did it plain and simple is the big win. Don’t believe me? Ask any kid if their dad/mom does Ironman and they will brag all day about everything but your PR (they don’t care). Your co-workers think you're crazy, they don’t care, they are just amazed you are alive.

Plan ahead and your day will go better than planned. Stay calm and don’t panic. You don’t want to look like Norman Stadler in 2005 at Kona, swearing in German and blaming everyone but himself for not doing things the right way.

Coach Kris

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

But I Hate Exercise!!!

This is the fourth in a series of posts, primarily intended for folks who are not yet where they want to be in terms of being active and healthy. You can go back and read of
the concrete benefits of exercise, encouragement that everyone can participate, a sermon to the effect that everyone should be participating, and a court room argument dispensing with most of the excuses why people do not. This, I hope is the first in a series of posts on how to get started and stick with it.

OK, OK! I hear you. You would exercise but you HATE exercise. Not so, says I. You don't hate exercise, you just suck at it. If you were good at it, you'd enjoy it. Don't you usually enjoy things you're good at? We just need to get you "good" at this.

And if exercise is drudgery along the lines of eating your vegetables or taking your cod liver oil, you are seriously doing it wrong. When it is done right, exercise is play--the best part of your day, the one thing you look forward to, the one thing that you refuse to do without and that dictates all the rest of your schedule.

Think I'm nuts? Ever heard of the runner's high? All those endorphins and oxytocin and stuff that athletes experience in the wake of a good workout are the same chemicals that course through your body in response to sex and orgasm.

(That ought to increase my google search optimization).

So what I'm saying is that exercise is as good as sex! Just like it!

OK, so that was a lie.

Great sex is still way better than exercise. If not, you've taken that whole Ironman compression socks look way to far. You need to find a balance. Make a little friend or text your spouse or something.

But I would say that great exercise overlaps mediocre sex. The point is this: when done right, exercise is way more like making love than eating Brussels sprouts.

So how do we get you from where you are now, to daily whoopie (i.e., exercise)? Well, Dr. Greyhound, your own personal Dr. of Sweet Lovin' has the prescription. I think there are three parts to this game plan, each of which has lots of ways to approach it. They are:

1. Developing The Habit
2. Increasing The Challenge
3. Celebrating Successes

Watch this space. More to come.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

HTFU Greyhound

Enough of this taper-induced wussification.

Game Faces!!!!

Monday, November 16, 2009

It's Time

We interrupt this blog to bring you a very special news bulletin. It is time:

Friday, November 13, 2009

Greyhound For The Prosecution

This is the fourth in a series of annoying, kick in the ass posts. At this point in the sermon, the faithful reader has been presented with the undeniable benefits of the active and adventurous life, been cajoled with the encouragement that everyone can participate, and then confronted with my proposition that everyone, as a moral imperative, should be participating.

Now, anticipating the affirmative defenses and mitigating proofs of readers so accused, Greyhound, esq., rises in rebuttal with closing argument for the Crown. But fear not, gentle reader. There is mercy to be had at the bench and bar, and that will be the next post. Read on!

My Lords and may it please the court, Greyhound, esquire, for the Crown.

My right honorable friend hath propounded to the Court many and illustrious proofs wherein he claims the Defendant ought to escape the consequence of the charge wherein he stands accused, to wit, that he did knowingly and and voluntarily choose, both by neglect and by willing sabotage, to despoil the fleshly vessel given him. But, the Bard hath said, and methinks 'tis true here, that "oftentimes excusing of a fault doth make the fault the worse by such excuse."*

We, here gathered, have heard it said, "I don't have time to exercise." No time? Are we to be given to understand that the Defendant has time to be dead--that is to die five years hence of his self-induced corpulence and be prematurely committed to the earth 20 years before his time? Defendant would trade 20 years of life for five hours each week of exercise and the consumption of some greenery?

Nay, my Lords. Defendant most certainly does have the time for exercise. He simply chooses not to do as he ought. Why his very wife and children took the stand as hostile witnesses for the Crown and most reluctantly admitted that the Defendant doth spend two or three hours each evening of the week on his most prodigious hindquarters consuming televised entertainment. Moreover, he does this so far into the night, whilst consuming such alarming quantities of delicacies not even seen on the King's table, that he is quite unable to rise in the morning. Why the common tradesman or laborer, with none of the Defendant's advantages, is most commonly about with the tools and accoutrements of his trade long before the Defendant so much as stirs an eyelid.

Indeed, my Lords, we have before us a cloud of witnesses, those objectively having much less time than the Defendant, who nevertheless complete extraordinary feats of daring do -- marathons, century rides, triathlons, ultra-marathon trail runs -- all whilst conducting demanding professions, raising children and contributing to the communities in which they find themselves. The law does not demand this of the Defendant, but only regular activity and perhaps the odd fun run. Yet, he refuses.

Time, my Lords? No. That is not the issue. "The future is something which everyone reaches at the rate of 60 minutes an hour, whatever he does, whoever he is."** This Defendant has simply made the choice to expend time in neglect and hostility to his own flesh--the very crime wherein he stands accused.

But then we hear, "Have pity on me, my Lords, for I am unable to comply with the law in that my mortal frame will not bear it." The Defendant then proceeds to complain of bad knees, or a bad back, or various and sundry injuries.

Injury? My Lords, the Defendant's plea is silenced in shame, or should be if ever he had any shame. The injuries of which he complains are not excuse for his crime of neglect. Nay, they are the very product and evidence of that crime. Had he been about his business many of those injuries would not exist. Moreover, we see before us the tales of Team Hoyt, Sarah Rheinertsen, Rudy Garcia-Tolson and any number of challenged athletes who, though they be missing limbs or the ability to make them move, are nevertheless in the arena, braced for the fight.

And I need not remind this Court that the Defendant does not stand accused of failing to be Michael Phelps. The charge is only that the Defendant failed to use what he had. In that he stands guilty.

Finally, my Lords, the Defendant doth protest, "but I don't like exercise. I don't like to run." Are we then to understand that the law may be avoided by those who find its duties distasteful? Surely not. And who among us has ever known a child who did not like to play tag on the playground at recess? Nay, my Lords. Properly understood, the Defendant's plea is just as nonsensical. In protesting that exercise is dreary, the Defendant would have us believe that play and recreation are toil. May it never be so.

Which, my Lords, brings me to the matter of sentence for these crimes, here proved and not avoided. Defendant should be sentenced to a lifetime of vigorous activity, without opportunity for parole. And it would the recommendation of the Crown that such sentence be carried out under the direction of the Warden, Trigreyhound, who has been known to say, "Training is recess. Go play."

Which will be the subject of my next post . . . .

*William Shakespear, King John, Act IV, Sc. ii (1594-96).
**C.S. Lewis

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Sinners in the Hands of an Angry Coach

With apologies to Johnathan Edwards.

This is the third in a series of posts. The first is here. The second is here. But this is the part of the show where you probably start not to like me so much--if you like me at all. Even some of you in the choir (those already engaging in an active lifestyle) will probably think I am taking this a little far. But having grown up Southern Baptist, I know no other way. I'm about to serve up some o' that "come to Jesus" luciousness. If you can hang in there, I'll issue an alter call and will help you down the aisle.

But if that is not your particular brand of vodka, there's a little red "x" in the upper right hand corner. Use it. You have been warned.

In the last two posts, I tried to lay out an inspiring case that "anyone can do this," that is, anyone can create their own healthier outcomes and participate in a vigorous sport. Now, I'm switching gears. Anyone and everyone can do this, but more, anyone and everyone should be doing this. And there is a moral component if you are not.

Now, bear in mind, I'm not talking to everyone. There are people who cannot participate in an active lifestyle and who suffer from debilitating chronic diseases that cripple and kill due solely to genetic factors. I'm just talking to the 99.99% of people who were born with two arms, two legs and sufficient ambulatory gifts to move themselves across the face of the planet.

So, yeah, brothers and sisters. I'm probably talking to you. And I'm talking about moral and ethical duties.

If you are Roman Catholic, I would point out that gluttony and sloth are both included in the list of seven deadly sins. In fact, between these two, you've got almost 29% of the list covered.

If you grew up in Baptist Sunday School like me, I'd roll out the parable of the talents and liken thee unto the man who received one talent and who, instead of investing that talent on his master's behalf, buried it in the ground. "Thou slothful and wicked servant . . . cast him into outer darkness where there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth."

Wow, that was cheery, huh?

If you believe in any kind of supreme being at all, I would simply ask how one can squander and dishonor the temple of a perfectly adequate body, especially when many don't have those blessings. How can we not live lives of thanksgiving in motion?

If you are a complete atheist, I would point out that you are a marvel of millions of years of evolution. Your very body was evolved to run. You are the hairless mammal of the steppes who is adapted to dissipate heat through sweat rather than respiration like the mammals you hunt. You are evolved to run four and five hours with your tribe at a time at a 10 minute pace until the antelope or deer drops of heat exhaustion and the protein and calories from its meat feed the ginourmous brain that sets you apart from Australopithecus. You, my friend, were born to run.

It's so easy, even a cave man can do it. Why are you sitting on your ass?

"OK, preacher," I can hear you saying, "Now you've left off preaching and gone to meddling. You ain't better 'n me just because you exercise, and if I don't wanna, that's my business."

True, friend, it is your business--if you alone suffered the consequences. But now I'm going to get really personal (as if I had not already). I want to talk about the people who count on you.

If you are putting yourself slowly to death with your plate and your inactivity, are not just an island nation having no effect on anyone else. The message you are sending by your choices to those who count on you is that they are less important to you than your cheeseburger or your reality TV.

You'd rather have Cheesie Poofs and put your feet up while watching electronic sedatives every evening than walk down the aisle at a future wedding.

You'd rather sleep an extra hour than grow old with a spouse.

You prefer fried Twinkies to playing with grandchildren.

And, prepare yourself, all you sedentary conservatives, for I am about to drop the conservative equivalent of the nuclear weapon ----------

No matter what your words say, your actions say that you expect and demand your offspring or your government to take care of you as if you were a helpless and incapacitated ward of the state rather than exercise personal responsibility by being a grown up and taking care of yourself.


Gone too far have I?

Do we not think some of the same things about people who harm and prematurely abandon their families through abuse of drugs, alcohol and tobacco?

How is abuse of food and leisure any different?

So, I've probably pissed you off or touched a nerve or at least prompted a moment of thought. I hope so.

If you're human, you are looking for a way out, a way to mitigate or avoid altogether the moral charge I've leveled.

Well, watch this space because there's more on that later.

In the mean time, can I get an "AMEN" from the choir.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

The Triathlete Next Door

This is the second in a series beginning with my last post in which I wrote concerning the blessings of my own good health and made the claim that anyone could find themselves in the same place.

At the end of this post, I'm going to tell you a dirty little secret about Ironman. But let's start at the beginning. The starting place is that it takes a very special kind of person to be a triathlete--or does it?

Look around you carefully, and I bet you can start to pick out the triathletes from amongst your neighbors. We have things in common, we triathletes.

If you see him in your neighborhood, he's probably a middle aged guy like me having a temper tantrum with Father Time and wanting to feel like he's immortal and forever young and vigorous.

Or maybe not. He could just as easily be a she--a brave, confident and headstrong girl (i.e., woman) in her late 20s who has been stewed in post-Title IX sports participation and told by her parents that she can do and be anything she wants. And when she's at her best, she believes them.

Or maybe she's over 50 and started road racing back before marathons had 30,000 participants, and she runs fast because that's the way it was done back in the day. Or she might even be a nun who is 75+.

Or the former governor of South Dakota.

But he probably has 2 or 3 $10,000 custom bike in the garage with power meters and carbon everything that he rides every weekend out in the Hill Country or on Peak to Peak Highway.

Or maybe not. He/she could just as easily be on a road bike with clip on handlebars in a group ride on weekends and spin classes during the week.

He/she might even be doing brick workouts by riding loops around and through the neighborhood to avoid drive times to the country that would take more time away from family.

But certainly he's shaved down and wicked fast and vainly gazes at his perfect body in the mirror while eating his organic free range everything and downing supplements.

Or maybe not. He/she could just as easily be fond of the occasional pizza and beer and hasn't touched anything other than a multivitamin. The significant other seems pleased with the appearance, and that is counted as good enough.

His/her body might not be perfect at all. She might have one leg.

Or he might have no legs.

Or he might be blind and unable to gaze into a mirror at all, let alone race without a sighted companion.

But you can count on this type of person to be independently wealthy or voluntarily poverty stricken in order to train 30 hours a week at the expense of family, friends and relationships of all kinds.

Or maybe not. He/she could just as easily be an early riser or figures out some other way to train when it is hard and inconvenient so that family life goes on.

So, yeah. These triathletes all have something in common. They have lots of time to train, or are very busy. They have perfect bodies or are (to borrow an pejorative term) "crippled." They diet strictly or not really at all. They are consumed by the sport or do it as a hobby. They are fast slow and middle of the pack. They have lots of money and flash equipment, or just an entry level bike and borrowed wetsuit.

And yet they are the same in one crucial respect. They have made a choice.

Whatever barriers to participation exist, and all of them have barriers, they have made a choice to push through. They choose to do and choose to be.

And the dirty little secret of Ironman? Anyone can do it. That's good news.

Or is it? Watch this space for more later.

Friday, November 06, 2009

You Gotta Have Heart

Only a few of you that I know personally have been aware that this fall I have been a little worried about my health. At the Austin Triathlon I experienced some pressure in my chest and higher than normal heart rates.

All I could think of was Steve Larsen, an elite former pro that died of a heart attack during an interval session on the track. Am I having a heart attack? Is this just indigestion?

Of course it was hot as balls and I'd had a wee bit of stimulants that morning.

Then in the Houston heat, I was doing an evening run and I felt a blip in my torso followed by a jump of my heart rate from 130 to 180+ with no change in my effort or pace. Again, all I could think of was Steve Larsen.

Of course, the job had been stressful that day, and I'd had a little bit more than my normal level of caffeine.

Then, as the training volume maxed out, I felt pressure in my chest and fatigue when I tried to get going in the morning or rose from my chair to go up the stairs. And all I could think of was Steve Larsen.

Rather than be the typical man and avoid going to the doctor -- especially in the run up to Ironman Cozumel -- I decided that it was a little bit stupid to risk sudden cardiac death in pursuit of a hobby. Ironman, for all the grandiloquence and purple prose expended in its praise, some of it here, is (at the end of the day) just a hobby. Call it extreme stamp collecting or model railroading on steroids.

So, I went to the doctor and went my way through the American Health Care System in search of an answer.

There was the Primary Care Physician visit with normal heart rate, normal blood pressure and normal resting EKG. Check. OK, but that did not really test my heart at stress, even though I was experiencing that icky feeling in my chest.

Then there was the referral to get a Holter Monitor to wear for 24 hours and while exercising. Check.

Then there was the referral to have blood drawn for lab work. Check.

Then there was the referral to (and selecting a) cardiologist to poke me and Check.

Then Dr. Cardiology though he might hear a heart murmur through his stethoscope; so, there was the cardiology referral to get an echo cariogram (essentially an ultrasound of the heart instead of a uterus, which would be an interesting search in my case).


And at the end of the day all the tests were normal. Indeed, they were way better than normal. I just needed to mix in some decaff and some tums.


Four years of triathlon and three years of Ironman have made me healthy beyond my wildest dreams.

I am 43 years old and take no medications -- save for some acid reflux. No blood pressure medication. No cholesterol medication. No Viagra (**wink**). No diabetes medication. Not bad for a 50+ hour per week lawyer at an AmLaw200 firm.

At 43, I have no injuries or knee problems or back problems in spite of (or because of) hours and hours of training and physical training every week.

At 43, my resting heart rate is 51 beats per minute.

At 43, my total cholesterol is 169, "good" cholesterol of 71. Most people have to take drugs or pursue Veganism to get numbers like that.

At 43, my weight is 139 pounds and my body mass index is 23.1 -- while 2/3 of my fellow citizens are overweight or obese.

I am healthy and blessed beyond my wildest expectations. But here's the dirty little secret: t

There is nothing special about me.

If you are a person of normal health, even normal "bad" health for a person of your age, this could be you. Over time, within limits, slow and steady, this could be you.

This is good news. Or is it? Watch this space. More later.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

LonghornTriathlon in 8000 Words (8 Pictures)

Beautiful morning.

Before the gun

That's not so scary, is it?

Love how this makes me look like I'm first out of the water. Not so much.
Note the studly SCS Multisport gear.

Early in the bike. Note how the shorter crank size that Phil put on there means my knees don't have to come way up into my chest. Allows a lower and yet more comfortable bike position.

Better position. Thanks Phil.

Finish Time: 6:04:09
Again with the SCS Multisport Stud In Training Gear.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Greyhound's California Adventure

Hey, peeps! I know from the website info that I have at least a few readers in Southern California from time to time. Well, I'm coming your way the latter part of this week.

And there was much rejoicing.

I know that's not exactly "stop the presses" material, especially since the LA Times is hardly in the "press" business any more, but I will be doing some training whilst in the area, balanced around full days of law nerd conferencing and business getting.

I am staying in La Jolla and thinking of bringing my wetsuit in the event that some folks with local knowledge might show me a safe place for an open water group swim.

I hear there's a relatively big body of open water immediately west of my hotel. I'm all over the local intelligence that way.

So, if there are any geeky tri-blogger types out there, maybe someone affiliated with the San Diego Triathlon Club, who could get me in on a group run or group open water swim or the slow lane of a masters work out, leave me a comment or e-mail me at trigreyhound at yahoo dot com.

On the other hand, I hear Macca is in Southern California right now, and we're totally tight Facebook friends, so maybe I'll "poke" him as well. Surely he's lost so much fitness in three weeks that I can hang with him, right?