Monday, August 13, 2018

8/6 - 8/12

Boy howdie was I getting it going. 

Was. 

Let me tell you about it.

Monday morning, I swam

1,200
600 cd (this is my old countdown set, a proven fitness builder)
700 cd
2 X 50 small paddles
total: 2,600 meters.

In the afternoon on the bench, I pressed

15 X 70
10 X 95
8 X 120
3 X 130
3 X 130
3 X 130
8 X 120
9 X 115

Tuesday morning I swam

1,300
800 cd
10 X 50 small paddles
100
total: 2,800 meters.

For reasons I can't remember, I did not lift weights in the afternoon.

Wednesday morning, I swam

1,400
6 X 100 @ 2:25
200 easy
4 X 100 @ 2:25 (I felt some tendon pain on the last two reps)
2 X 50
total: 2,700 meters.

Thursday I did nothing. Friday I exercised not. Saturday I did a touch of lifting but far too light and far too few sets.

For the week, I 

swam 8,100 meters,
lifted weights twice,
walked very little, and rode not at all.

What happened? 

I don't know. I do know the shoulder flaring up sort of threw a monkey wrench into my emotions, momentum, and drive. Maybe I will get it back next week. Help me, Jesus, help me.

Thursday, August 9, 2018

I Found Him!

He just stood there and looked at me. I kept calling his name over and over, and he didn't say a word for what seemed like forever, but really was probably only a minute or two. Finally he spoke.

"Hi."

The side of the old house at Hillbilly Heaven

"I've been looking for you. For years. After your house burned, I didn't know if you were dead or alive. Where have you been? For the past few months I have called, driven, thought, prayed, researched, investigated, done everything I could think of. Twice. I don't understand."

He looked over my shoulder and out the window like he was nervous. 

"Does Ellis know you're here?"

He shook his head 'no.'

"You ain't gunna tell are you?"

"No."

Then he looked at Zane.

"He won't tell. This is my grandson, Zane. How long you been here?"

He never answered the question. I finally got him to relax enough to sit down in the living room and we talked. Some. He gave up a little information, but not much and then grudgingly. Getting stuff out of Ray was always like pulling teeth.

He did confirm a lot of what Ezell had told me. They worked together until short wood went out. Then he bummed around awhile, doing carpentry work, roofing, breaking horses, driving a truck, but never staying anywhere very long. Now at night he hides out in the old house at Hillbilly Heaven. By day he drives a tractor for a farmer in the delta, but he never would tell me who although I asked several times.

I did get him to say that he walks through the woods to the highway and catches a ride to work every day. Attempts to get him to tell his age, talk about his parents, say where he came from, give any solid details about anything all failed. He never said, 'I don't want to talk about it,' he just didn't answer. After all these years and after finally finding him again, he remains a mystery. That seems to be the way he wants it, but it makes me a little suspicious. Is he wanted by the law? Is he immortal, never ageing? Is he an angel, a demon, a ghost? Most of the people who remember him are now dead. 

The only picture I was able to get was one I took by stealth. He flat out refused to let me take one. He never told me his plans; he didn't say how long he would hide out on Hillbilly Heaven. When I asked when we could talk again, all he said was "later." We stayed until I was afraid the rest of the family would get worried about Zane and me being gone so long. Then we left not knowing if I, we, would ever see him again or not.

The furtive photo I took while we were leaving.
As we walked back towards the house and away from Ray, Zane asked me if I was happy.


"I don't know how to feel, Zane. I don't know how to feel. But we have to keep this a secret. No one will ever believe us anyway."

"I always believed you, Poppy."

"I know you did, son. You were the only one."

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Bikes, Blues[,] & Bayous

Friday, downtown Greenwood was as busy as I have ever seen it with the exception of Band Festival Day back when I was a kid. Howard Street was hopping so hot that I was surprised when I found a parking place. 

I was headed to the Alluvian to register for the 2018 edition of Bikes, Blues[,] & Bayous. Besides the traffic, people on foot were everywhere. Couples walked hand it hand, exploring the glory that is one lovely street in Greenwood. I overheard someone asking for directions to Giardina's. Inside the motel, every available seat in the lobby was filled. I found my way to the registration table and did the deed. I payed the money and committed myself to ride miles the next day for which I was not prepared. What else is new?

Saturday morning I arose just in time to slip on cycling shorts, pump up two almost flat tires, and make my way to Front Street where I was greeted with the spectacle of 1,056 cyclists. What a sight. 

The starter's gun went off at 7:00 am. Although I did not time it, a solid three minutes must have passed before I began to push my bicycle with one foot while trying to stay balanced at 2.1 miles per hour. It took another three minutes to pass the Aluvian. Eventually we crossed turned west, then north, and finally crossed the bridge onto Grand Boulevard. By then we were up to almost seven miles per hour. I'm not complaining; I'm explaining that it takes awhile to get over 1,000 bicycles up to speed.

The morning was amazingly cool. I have always been aware of weather, but I do not remember an August that has ever rolled in so cool as this one. The temperature would rise to 93 by early afternoon, but at 7:00 am it was still a pleasant 67 degrees.

I was only riding to Money and back. Although I rode the 46 last year on minimal training, I didn't want to suffer the last 15 miles this year so I took the short option. It was fun out there on the road with scores of other cyclists. I bumped into people I knew and many I did not. A few miles out, I heard someone yell, "Dr. Hodge." I assumed it was a student because almost no one else calls me that. I tried to turn to look, but one sign of my advanced age is I can't look behind me while I am riding a bike anymore. My neck just won't make the bend. I yelled back, "Who is back there?" "McCoy," was the answer, so I slowed enough to get beside one of our city councilmen who is always a nice man wherever you meet him. We rode together for awhile before I decided to press on a little faster.
That building in the background is
Ben Roy's Service.


When I made it to Money, the place was jumping like a Saturday night dance on the Fourth of July. In my haste, I had not even put a water bottle on my bike so I needed something to drink. At first, all I could find was pickle juice and I drank it like cold water on a hot day.

I saw Tom Flanagan, the tall lawyer I used to ride with often. Later, I bumped into Wilson Carroll and his son Spencer, some of the saviors of this year's Chicot Challenge. Then I saw Jackie Blue and her husband, Jerry. Of course there were people everywhere I had never seen. The rest area, at Ben Roy's Service. was well furnished. Back when I was a kid, my did often stopped here for gas, beer, and bait when we fished the McIntyre Scatters a few miles up the road. Now the building has been refurbished and serves as the Money rest stop. Next door is the collapsing building where the Emmett Till incident took place. Unlike Ben Roy's, it is falling down a few brick per year, and vines cover much of what remains. As a young man, I ate lunch in that building one day. Now posted signs cover what little can be seen. The owners, like many Mississippians, just want it to go away, but our past can't be escaped that easily.

The lovely Jackie Blue. Unlike her name,
she is always happy and bubbling over.

On the way back, I passed David Pentecost who was headed north with three of his grandchildren, all the little ones on little bicycles. At the start he had come up to me and asked if I remembered when we made the ride to McIntyre Lake and back when we were kids. Dad had taken all the neighborhood children on the ride to the lake where we swam, are hot dogs, and jumped off the bridge. Now here we are, old men reliving our past, and he handing down bicycle memories to his grandchildren.

I hopped a few wheels on the trek back to Greenwood, but always managed to get dropped. But I made it. It was a nice ride, day, event. Maybe next year I can go all the way to Minter City. The rest stop there is over the top.

Monday, August 6, 2018

7/30 - 8/5

A big week it was, but I sit in horror as I ponder the fact that I will soon be back at work. I haven't had much free time this summer. Maybe next year.

Monday I hit 3,800 straight, my longest of the year, but the pace was a lousy 2:19. At the gym, I benched 

15 X 70
10 X 95
6 X 115
4 X 120
3 X 125
2 X 130
2 X 130
3 X 125
5 X 115
13 X 100

Tuesday, at the pool, I swam

1,300
12 X 100 @ 2:30 (with Tyron,; it was tough but a start)
200 eay
6 X 50 @ 1:30 small paddles
100 easy
total: 3,100

At the gym, I worked upper back.

Wednesday, I did

2,200
6 X 150 with Tyron (middle 50 fast)
total: 3,100

At Plate City, I worked traps and biceps.

Thursday, I swam

1,000
400 cd
500 cd
6 X 50 small paddles
total 2,200

Friday I just got in and swam. After 4,200, I stopped. My average pace was 2:08. Then I hit the weights at Plate City.

Saturday, I rode my 11th Bikes, Blues[,] & Bayous. I will do a separate post later. In the afternoon, I did some light and varied work at the gym.

For the week, I

lifted weights 5 X,
ambulated 2.94 miles,
cycled 23 miles, and
swam 16,400 meters. 

Thank you, Jesus.

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Plate City Upgrades



I have been pretty frustrated this summer at the speed, or lack thereof, that I have been able to make changes to Plate City. The summer started with lots of plans, but live happens. Little by little, however, I have made some startling upgrades to the best back yard gym in North America.

I love working out, and I love lifting in the back yard while mowing the lawn. I generally do a set or two or three and then mow some while I recover. The dogs, Bear and Pee Wee, go absolutely crazy when I come through the gate. They love me being out there and they play, fight for my attention, and watch my every move. Words can't express how much I delight in Plate City. 

Enjoy the video. It tells the story better than I ever could write it.

Monday, July 30, 2018

7/23 - 7/29

I almost felt like my old self during this training cycle. I started the week with a 3,500 meter straight swim Monday morning at Twin Rivers. My pace is still pretty slow. I averaged 2:14 per 100, but I swam with ease and enjoyed myself tremendously. Later in the day, I worked out at the newly refurbished Plate City Gym. On the bench, I pressed

15 X 70
10 X 95
6 X 115
3 X 120
2 X 125
1 X 130
2 X 125
3 X 120
12 X 95

In addition, I did a single set on the Swim Pull: 41 X 21.5.

I guess I was tired Tuesday morning from all the stuff I did Monday because all I got in the pool was 1,700. My new weight lifting split had me working upper back in the afternoon. I like the split because I can do more sets, hit the muscles harder, and finisher earlier. In addition to that, I hypothesize that recover should be better because fewer muscles are blasted and the body has less tissue to repair each day.

Wednesday morning, I swam with Tyron for the first time since we did the 700 and 1,000 together. I had done 500 when he showed up. I stopped and chatted with him. He was planning 4 X 500, so I swam with him to give me an additional 2,000. I was planning on doing a lot more, but a bus load of kids showed up so I stopped after an additional 300 for a total of 2,800. I worked biceps and traps in the afternoon. I also practiced on the speed bag that I recently installed. I can hit it fairly well, but look forward to improvement so I can exercise my upper body muscles in an aerobic fashion out of the water.

Thursday I was ready for something different. Last week I started the 100s @ 2:00 which is one of my old standbys. Since I am not fit enough to do that set in the long course pool, I decided to swim indoors and try to make an advancement on the set. Last week, I did six reps, then seven. For Thursday I hoped for eight or ten. I swam 

1,300 for a long warm up
6 X 25 build
10 X 100 @ 2:00 at about 85%, getting to the wall in about 1:34 to 1:36  
200 easy 
2 X 50 finger paddles
2 X 50 small paddles
6 X 50 medium paddles (first time since comeback)
200 easy
total: 4,000 yards = 3,656 meters.
Indoors for some interval training


After the big interval day, I wanted a longer, easier swim Friday. I swam 3,700 straight in 1:20:34 for an average of 2:10 per 100. This is my longest swim of the year. In the afternoon, I worked shoulders at Plate City.

Saturday I took a lot of naps. I also did some light stuff at Plate City: benches, speed bag, and cord work for the rotator cuffs.

For the week, I 

swam 15,356 meters,
ambulated 2.68 (huh?), and 
lifted weights five times.

Thank you, Jesus.

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Ray # Something

I headed out the back door of Hillbilly Heaven to take a walk. It was July 17th and we were out there to eat food and get fat. My mind was turning ever thing over and over-- pulpwood trucks, Ray, my family's belief that I just made it all up. Not far down the road, I heard footfalls behind me. Just what I thought: Zane spied me slipping out the door and followed. 

"Where ya goin', Poppy?"

"Just walking."

"Wanna look for Ray?"

His question brought tears to my eyes. He was the only one who believed me when I told the story of Ray.

"Sure," I responded. ""Let's check the old house," I said since we were already headed that way.

The old house is a log one that probably dates back to the 1800s. When I married Penny, it was the only house on the place and was the main hangout. Now it was slowly rotting down and no one came down here anymore except I like to walk there sometimes and just look around. This time I had to pretend we were looking for Ray. So when we got there, I peeked through one of the windows. Something inside moved, and it gave me a fright.

Crap, I thought. Somebody is inside.

We walked around to the back and I peeked through the clear window of what used to be the kitchen. Then something moved in the living room and I startled.

"What's wrong, Poppy?" my grandson asked seeing my reaction.

"Something moved inside."

"A person?"

"I'm not sure."

We walked back around to the front and I told Zane to stand by the gate. "If I holler, you run. You hear me?"

"Yes Sir," he answered and moved towards the gate, but not all the way.

The house had a dog trot, but Ellis Roberts closed in the walls years ago. So now the area between kitchen/living room on one side and bedrooms on the other was storage space. An ancient screen door gives access to the former dog trot. Nervously, I peeked through the rusty, dusty, screen into the dark space inside. I don't know why I didn't just go right in, but I was antsy, suspecting someone who wasn't supposed to be there was inside waiting on who knows what.

I saw an old couch, a coat rack, and then something else I couldn't make out. I gazed awhile and then looked elsewhere. I was able to discern saw horses with saddles on top, a pie safe against a wall, hoes and shovels in a corner. My eyes instinctively went back to the mysterious item I could not make out. I looked and looked and then slowly it came into focus. When it did, I almost jumped out of my skin because there was a face staring right back at me!