Thursday, June 21, 2018

Back in the Saddle

I'm back in the saddle again,
out where a friend is a friend,
where the long horn cattle feed
on the lonesome gypsum weed,
I'm back in the saddle again.

Brian texted me Sunday afternoon. Want to ride Monday? Want to ride Thursday? I answered yes to both questions, only to realize later that I had a previous engagement Thursday. It had been two weeks since we rode. He had a health issue, and during our sabbatical I wracked up a whopping two miles on my mountain bike. But now we are back in the saddle again. We rode Monday, parking at Money and riding first McIntyre Lake Road and then the one that goes out east from downtown Money. We pulled thirty seconds each and rode pretty hard for two fat guys who had been off for a couple of weeks.

When we got to the end of our last road, about four plus miles from the truck, we called a truce and did a gentleman's ride back. That felt good and we finished the ride happy, having a good workout without totally wasting ourselves.

Total ride: 19.48 miles. Thank you, Jesus.

Ray 8

But he didn't call. After three full days, I knew Roy Blackmon was not going to contact me. And I didn't even get a number for him when I was at his house. I just assumed, thinking for sure he would call that very day, but he didn't. What to do?

I decided to make a trip to Louisville and Noxapater. I have kinfolk over there and it is prime timber/pulpwood territory. In the past, there were pulpwood trucks all over Winston and Neshoba Counties. A few weeks back, I had called my Uncle Paul in Noxapater and asked him to be on the lookout for a truck. He spread the word, had one guy working on it, and had a lead on a truck. I was still counting on a twofer. Find a truck, find Ray.

So I left out Wednesday morning. On the way, a memory surfaced of when I used to hang out at the wood yard in Terry and take pictures. One of the pulpwooders mentioned a yard in or near Brandon that had a lot of old, raggedy trucks rolling in and out everyday. I pulled over on the side of the road on Highway 407 just outside of French Camp, and did a Google search for the Chamber of Commerce in Brandon, Mississippi. I found a number and called. From the Chamber of Commerce, I secured numbers for wood yards and timber companies all over central and south Mississippi, one even in Louisiana. I called Rollins Pulpwood and Timber Co., Donald Timber, Soterra Timber, Plumb Creek Timber, Scott Penn, Armstrong Timber, Forrest South, and a bunch more. Those are just the ones I still have notes on. 

I phoned them all. After the last call, I knew one thing for a fact: no one buys short wood anymore. No one. That means my search for Ray had hit a dead end. I had counted on Ezell Lowery being right that somebody out there still bought it and that is where I would find Ray. Now, I didn't know what the next move should be. This made me feel really sad, despondent even, and I teared up as I drove on slowly. Not only did no one buy short wood, but none of the wood yards I spoke with had a clue where to find an old fashioned pulpwood truck. "They've all been scraped," I was told over and over. 

But instead of scrapping my trip to Louisville, I decided to call a cousin of mine, Elizabeth Ann Wyatt, and maybe take her to lunch. She lives in Louisville, and I had been wanting to spend some time with her since Mom passed. I knew she was upset at Mom's death, and I sensed she needed some attention.

I made contact with Elizabeth Ann and we made plans for lunch. When I arrived at her house, I met her husband for the first time. He was outside working on some stuff. I shared with him my search for a truck and he told me what I already knew. They used to be all over the place around here. He also showed me a stump in their yard and said the people who cut and hauled off the tree had one, a ragged one ton! He vowed it was true and said he would be on the lookout for it or another one. I also asked him if he knew anybody named Ray Azal. He didn't but vowed to look for him also.

Elizabeth and I had a nice lunch at Lake Tiak O Kahta (pronounced tee uh katuh). After I took her home, I drove down to Noxapater and stopped at D & D Tire where two of my cousins work. We talked about pulpwood trucks and Ray Azal. They didn't know Ray nor where any trucks were. John Walter Darby broke my heart when he told me that he was instrumental in cleaning out that part of the country when he bought and sold for scrap dozens of them after steel prices went through the roof.

I left the tire place and drove to Aunt Mary's. Uncle Paul was there, and I got to ask him directly about the lead he had on a truck. He told me the guy he had on the lookout for one had found one and got in the truck while the owner drove it. He said it was smoking really bad and that just as they pulled back into the owner's yard, the truck engine exploded (his word, "exploded"). Awe shucks. "But he's still looking," Uncle Paul told me, and if anyone can find one he can. I asked about Ray whom he had never heard of, and I asked him to set his truck-searcher on Ray's trail too.

Then I left and drove around in the country side some. I went east out of Noxapter onto a road I had never been on before A few miles out there I came upon a Cowboy Baptist Church. That was a first for me. I drove all the way until the road ran into Highway 19. The drive was enjoyable, but it produced on pulpwood trucks, so I turned around and headed home with my head and heart slightly bowed.

Monday, June 18, 2018

6/11 - 6/17

I have already written about swimming 1,500 yards in the little pool Monday. I also did some bench pressing:

16 X 55
10 X 75
  8 X 85
  6 X 95
  2 X 100

Considering where I started, this is looking good to me. Not only that, but it is feeling good, like I am really lifting weights again. There is still a touch of tightness and discomfort at the bottom, when I lower the bar to my chest. But it is getting better.

Tuesday I went back to the little pool for 1,825 yards and then did some walking in the yard and some rotator cuff exercises.

Wednesday I hit it for 1,025 yards and little else.

Thursday I started an improvement campaign on Plate City gym. I will have pictures and a write up later. I did some leg work at home and at the pool did:

8 X 50 @ 1:15

This was the first time this year I have done X anything. I also did a 2.21 mile walk with .12 miles of shuffling thrown in.

Friday I met someone in Oxford and purchased a seated calf machine from him. Back home, I set the machine up and did some more work on Plate City.

Saturday, I had the privilege of preaching Sue McNeer's funeral. Then I did some real work at Plate City that included both upper and lower body. On the bench I

17 X 55
11 X 75
  9 X 85
  6 X 95
  2 X 100

I walked 2.67 miles with .14 of shuffling. I must lose some weight. If I do, I will be able to resume some light running. I need it terribly. 

For the week, I

ambulated 7.11 miles,
shuffled .26,
lifted weights three times, and 
swam 6,200 yards (5,666 meters)

Thank you, Jesus.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Tiny Pool Again

So I went back. 

To the tiny pool.

I was goofy glad to be able to get in and have my watch set to catch everything accurately unlike Monday when I had to get out a slide rule, a calculator, and call a mathematician to try to figure out how far I actually swam. I'm still not sure, but I put it into my training diary and on here as 1,500 yards. 

This time when I called Stela to send someone to let me in, a girl and a guy came my way. The girl had the key and the guy had a big bag of what looked like fertilizer over his shoulder. Was he going to put that in the pool? 

He was going to put that in the pool.

"You mind if I put this acid in the water before you swim?" he asked.

Yes, I'm kidding. 

What he really said was, "You mind if I put this salt in before you swim?" I didn't mind. So it's a salt water pool. I figured that already. What I don't know is does that impact performance? If you know, please leave me a comment below.

I swam a little farther than yesterday. I warmed up with 600 straight which is the farthest I have swum this year not counting the .75 of a mile I swam at Chicot. Then I did 700, 200, 200, and finally 125 for a total of 1825 yards. My muscles let me know afterwards that I am still not in shape, but I keep inching up. My 100 average was 1:55. Since I mostly swim long course, I really don't remember how far off that is from my good swimming, and I am too lazy to go snooping around in my old training logs to find out.

At home I began some long dreamed of upgrades on Plate City. I mowed, lifted weights, and got tools out and started the remodeling job. The lifting is coming back, and it always gives me a boost to add something, change something, or upgrade something. I have some ideas, and I finally pulled the trigger and began the work. For me, getting started is at least 60% of the job. I and putting up one of the attachments Leflore Steel built for me that I had taken down because of room issues. The more I stand around out there and look and think, the more ideas I come up with. I may do a whole post on Plate City, so I'll drop that for now.

God is good. Thank you, Jesus for restoring my imagination, my dreams, my goals, my desire to do stuff. When those were gone, life was like eating fish without salt, pepper, and anything to drink. Now I understand why Mom, long past her ability to do much of anything continued to buy things she should have know she could never use. She was still dreaming and scheming. It kept her waking up each day.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Tiny Pool

Last summer/fall/winter, Twin Rivers built an indoor pool. For a couple of reasons, this did not get me too excited. The main reason I wasn't wetting my pants in anticipation is I could not swim at all so the pool was a physician of little value to me. Another reason I was disinterested concerned pool itself. I was told by the director, it was to be 60 feet by 20 feet. That is a really small body of water, and I wondered how I could possibly get a training effect in something that small.

Nevertheless, as I recently began to swim again, I felt I ought to give the tiny thing a try, at least once. My sometimes training partner, John, was all against it the last time we talked. But since he does physical therapy on Monday, I decided to see if I could get in and swim test the new facilities. Miss Stela, whom I called after my summer school class let out, told me I had to get a reservation. I got one from 1:30 to 2:30.

The way it works is you drive up and then call her and she sends someone over to open the door for you. Once the door was opened, I was surprised to see first that the pool has the lane lines on the bottom. All two of them. Then I was shocked at how long the pool looked. Just gazing it appeared as long as a short course pool. My next surprise was at how cool the water was. Without the sun to heat it up, it must have been over twenty degrees cooler than the outdoor pool.

Notice the lane lines and the roof over head.
Now I'm a believer, an excited one.

Another surprise came when I attempted to set my Garmin watch to a custom distance of 20 yards only to find that it would only go as short as 22.5. That meant my numbers and averages would be off. Not to worry. I could deal with that later. First, I wanted to swim. That's when I received yet one more surprise. The pool not only looked like a short course pool, but it felt like it when I swam it. After a few laps, I even counted my strokes, and I got the same number I do when I swim at DSU when the bulkhead is set for 25 yards. But, I thought, maybe it is because I am not in shape, and if I were really in a short course pool, my numbers would be higher.

To make a short story long, I stopped when my watch said I had swum 1342 yards. At home, I tried to convert that to what it really was, but I could not shake the idea that I was swimming a full 25 yards per length instead of 20. So I sent the director a text asking her how long the pool was. Her reply: "75 feet." 

I knew it. 

Now I can set my watch and get the numbers correct. Twenty-five yards is sufficient for real training. And now I can have more access to water even this winter, I think. I short, I am one step closer to getting back into shape. I am in no hurry, however. I am, and no doubt will remain, gun shy for a long time. One step, one swim at a time. Thank you, Jesus.

Monday, June 11, 2018

6/4 - 6/10

Monday was a pretty full day. I did a Money Road shike (shuffle/hike) that led to to Twin Rivers after 6.0 miles. At the pool I only swam 500 meters, but I am swimming, and I am thankful. Then I ambulated home for a total foot mileage of 6.88 miles of which .62 was shuffling.

Tuesday I did not do much, but on the bench press I did

16 X 50
12 X 70
10 X 80
  8 X 90

When I lift, I always get a little walking in between sets. This time it was .51 in addition to the .2 I did at work.

I wrote about Wednesday already when the dogs and I went to the pond for the first time in over a year. I cycled 2.04, walked/shuffled 1.09, and swam 1,000 meters.

Thursday and Friday are a blank in my training diary. I had a funeral to officiate Friday so when I got off work Thursday, I first went in search of a Dallas Cowboy necktie and then I went home to prepare. When the funeral was over Friday and I began to drive home, I felt almost as fatigued as I do after completing a Chicot Challenge. It always does me that way.

Saturday I was pretty washed out. I finally dragged out of bed and did some more benching:

16 X 50
13 X 70
10 X 80
  6 X 90
  3 X 95

Hot dog! It feels like I am lifting weights again. The shoulder keeps improving. I can now lower the bar all the way to my chest without pain, as long as I do it slowly. I used to warm up with 100, but from now on I think I will cap out eventually at 140. Why that weight? One reason is that is the weight where I could feel myself getting stronger every session so I know I can get strong on 140 pounds. Another reason is with my injury and the lightness of my bone structure, 160 and up now seems a little extreme to me. In the future, I plan to do more reps and sets at 140 when I build up to there. That is enough to be sufficiently strong to do all the swimming I want. 

Later in the evening, I went to the pool and swam 1,000 meters.

For the week, I 

swam 2,500 meters, 
cycled 2.04 miles, and 
ambulated 9.03 miles.

Thank you, Jesus.

Thursday, June 7, 2018

A Return

It was as much for the dogs as for me. They haven't been out of the backyard since squirrel season ended. Last year, training for the Chicot Challenge, Bear, Pee Wee, and me traveled often to the fish farm where I swam and they ran, sniffed, drank pond water, rolled in dead stuff, and chased birds. They love it out there and were so eager to go back that recently every time I climbed in or out of my truck, they cried like little babies begging to "go to the pond." They know that phrase. Wednesday when I asked if they wanted to "go to the pond," Bear started howling and Pee Wee began to run in circles. So we loaded into the truck and left. 

Bear trotting along while I ride the mountain bike.

As soon as we got to the fish farm, Pee Wee wanted out to run, but since we were going to a new pond, I made him stay in the cab. I had called David and asked him about a new pond. He told me to go to the ND ponds. To get there, just cross one ditch on Steelman Road past D10 which was my training pond last year. Before going there, however, I drove though the D ponds. Many of them are being re-pumped right now so my prospects of good swimming are sky high. He told me to swim any of the ND ponds except number 5. So when we got to the ND ponds, the first thing I did was drive around and look them over. I chose one, ND 9, parked, and let the dogs out. 

Who let the dogs out? I let the dogs outs.

Pee Wee out ahead running the
edge and chasing birds.

They were so very happy that it made me smile so wide I got bugs in my teeth. After unloading my mountain bike, I did some more looking around on it. The dogs, of course, followed along. Bear trotted at my side while Pee Wee ran ahead, ran from side to side, chased birds, sniffed, and just generally went wild. After a bicycle ride, we took a walk. On our walk, Pee Wee got so excited chasing birds that be began that desperate bark of his that literally made me laugh out loud. 

After the walk, we did another bike ride, then another walk, and finally I decided to swim test the pond. I always like to swim test potential ponds before I commit to one. You can tell a lot about a pond by swimming a single lap in it. You find the hot spots. In the spring you can find the cold spots. There are no cold spots in June. You can tell the fish load. You can even tell the turtle load. And of course, you can get an accurate measurement of the lap distance. All of that is important. I found out that this new pond candidate has a light turtle/fish load, and measure .61 per lap swimming. Not bad. I felt OK swimming, and I even think I picked up a gear.

By "gear" I mean the ability to swim at different speeds. When I first started getting coaching, Petya would mention gears. You swim the practice by gears. At the time, I only had one. Later, Cagri, our current Masters coach, loves the concept of gears. According to him, we are to consider ourselves five speeds, and he has us to swim in the various gears. When Cagri came along, I had all the gears. However, when I started back swimming last week after a ten month absence from the water, I only had one gear. Seriously. I swam five times last week, and yesterday in the pond, I discovered that I now have a second gear to go along with my first. There is a pretty tight gap between first and second, but at least I have a second gear now. The others will come back.

The dogs followed me as I swam. One time Bear even got in a swam a bit. He does that sometimes. Pee Wee doesn't seem to like to swim. He likes to wade, but he rarely swims though he do it well. I only swam a single lap (1,000 meters) but I am overjoyed to be able to do that. Thank you, Jesus.

When it came time to leave, Pee Wee wasn't ready to give it up. Bear couldn't wait to get into the truck and curl up on the back seat and sleep. I had to drive off with Pee Wee running wild. That dog. Once I finally did get the little turd into the truck, he cozied up to me and napped all the way home.

Driving home

We had a good time, and my shoulder is doing well. It is far from fully recovered. I still don't have my full range of motion, and I still have to stretch it a lot. But thanks be to God that I can swim.