Monday, December 10, 2018

12/3 - 12/9

I swam, I swimmed, and I swum. That's what I did last week. By the way, the declension of the verb "to swim" is swim/swam/swum. If you say, write, or think "I have swam," I will not be your friend and I might even throat punch you. You have been warned.

Monday I swam 2,787 meters in the little pool and bench pressed

10 X 95
9 X 115
15 X 120
5 X 142
5 X 142
5 X 142
Decline bench press 13 X whatever is on the bar. So it was a pretty good day.

Tuesday, I swam 3,107 meters and did some Plate City stuff on my own since Trevor was out. Wednesday I did more weights and more swimming, 3,153 meters worth. Thursday, Penny and I had a ministers' and wives' banquet so there was no Plate City for me, but I did get into the pool and do 3,199 meters.

Friday is my long day. I did lots of tough sets during the week trying to recapture what little speed I had. I did 

4,200 straight in 1:16 (1:49 per 100 yard)
9 X 100 @ 2:00
2 X 500 @ 9:552 X 500 small paddles @ 9:55 first was in 8:13
4 X 50 @ 1:12
50 for time (:39)  This is the first evidence I have that I am getting some of it back. The first time I broke :40 since my comeback.
50 easy
total: 6,400 yards = 5,849 meters. 

Saturday was one of those cold and rainy days that makes working out at Plate City something I am not going to do. So I went to the gym at Twin Rivers, which I do once or twice per year. I did the whole upper body then went to the pool. and swam a bunch of slow and short repeats until I made 2,300 yards. I then tapped out. So for the week, I

lifted weights four time and 
swam 20,197 meters. 

If I just had some running in there it would be a good week. Nevertheless, thank you, Jesus for some nice swimming.

Friday, December 7, 2018

Friday Morning

It is Friday morning, and the day lies before me like an open road waiting for me to come and drive. What will I make of this opportunity at life. Friday, everyday is a gift from from God and should be treated as such. I do have plans.

Right now, besides my computer, I have a cat on my left side and a hot mug of coffee on my right. This is how I like to begin a  day. There is a bill I need to pay and I have an appointment with a financial adviser. Dad used to  fill that role and this is just one of many ways I miss him. When it came to matters of money, his word was gold to me.

After the business, I plan to go to the:

  a) gym
  b) dentist office
  c) pool

Yeah, the plan is to bust out over 6,000 yards. It's been a good swimming week. Today should make it better.Thursday was a good one. I swam

50 (equipment adjustment)
then I did a set of the following all on a 2:00 base:
50  After that I swam
250 medium paddles followed by 50s @ 1:16 
4 X 50 large paddles
4 X 50 medium paddles
4 X 50 small paddles
total: 3,500 yards.

I am not sure what shape today's big swim will take. I might just make it up as I go. The key concept for my Friday swims is volume. During the rest of the week, I am striving to regain my lost speed. I'll let you know if I get it back.

Thursday, December 6, 2018


Trevor usually gets off work early on Wednesday, but for me it is one of my long days. He texted about 1:00 and wanted to know when we were working out. That meant I would not get to swim before the weights which is how I like to do it. So we hit the weights then I went inside for some nutrition and rest before going to the pool. At the pool, I swam

5 X 100 @ 2:05
250 medium paddles
3 X 100 @ 2:12
900 small paddles
total: 3,450 yards.

I am beginning to notice something about myself. I am consistently tapping out when the sets get tough. On the first 100s, I quit after five reps. Why? It's like I have no tolerance for swimming pain anymore. On the second set of 100s, I increased the interval to give myself more recovery time and still stopped at a mere three reps. What the heck?!?!?!  I remember training for Swim the Suck a few years back and wearing two Garmin watches and doing up the 26 X 100 at under 2:00 in the long course pool. I can't accept the possibility that I just can't do it anymore. Maybe I am so far removed from top form that I can't yet embrace the discomfort that comes with hard interval training. I had thought that the prospects of the Senior Olympics had filled my motivation tank to the top. But when it gets difficult in the pool, I am taking the easy way out.

Either I don't have the heart for hard swimming anymore, or I don't have the heart for hard swimming anymore. Sigh. Maybe it will return. I'll try again today and see what choice I make when I am gasping for air at the end of the lane. Maybe today I won't be a coward. Help me, Jesus.

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Start of the Week

I started the week with that new motivation i wrote about yesterday. The water was 90 degrees hot but what else is new? I have water. Monday I swam a total of 3,050. I wrote about that one already. Tuesday, I did 

100 (equipment adjustment)
5 X 50 @ 1:06
200 medium paddles
5 X 50 @ 1:09
200  medium paddles
5 X 50 @ 1:12
850 small paddles
total: 3,400 yards.

Notice the change in interval times. I am looking for the right interval, one that gives me plenty of rest but doesn't waste time. Later, when the speed is built (I hope), I will cut the rest time down to work on heart rate and lactic acid neutralization. 

Trevor texted and said he had to work late so he couldn't workout, but I was  already out of the pool or I would  have done another 1,000 or more. Anyway, I decided to do a swim session at Plate City. I did walking curls and the Swim Pull and lat pull downs, etc, stuff to target the swimming muscles. Now I am itching to get back into the water. My 50s were not any faster, but that is still the goal. Than you, Lord. Goals are fun.

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

New Motivation

I met someone in the pool the other day. She comes from Durant and swims with Linda Gail Fondren. She is an older lady, and she asked me if I knew about the Senior Olympics. I did not and really didn't think too much about her attempts to interest me in them. It seems there are State games and National games. Sometimes a seed someone sows requires the right time to germinate and sprout. This one sprouted several days later.

I was at home hanging out with the cats when what she said came to mind so I did what everyone does now: googled. The more I read, the more I became intrigued. Of course I looked up the swimming. The events, the individual ones, are all done in age groups. The longest swim they have is 500 yard short course. I looked up past results and almost jumped out of my seat. "I can beat those times!" I almost shouted out loud. I searched and searched and with the exception of the sprints (I am an endurance swimmer), I could have won them all last year.

Needless to say, I am planning on signing up and competing this year. And already, this has had a huge impact on my pool swimming. I have been swimming regularly but not particularly hard. I like the zone two stuff, the all-day pace that I am so adept at, but really hard intervals, the kind of swimming pool swimmers do, I have always shied away from. That is one thing I miss about swimming with the crew at DSU. Having a coach is like going to school. They make you do things you would not do on your own, like hit the hard intervals over and over. Yesterday I hit the pool with a zeal I have not had in years. I did the following:

500 for time (8:23, the fastest swum at the Senior Olympics was 9:55 by someone ten years younger than me)
200 small paddles
200 for time (3:09)
200 small paddles
100 for time (1:27)
500 small paddles
total: 3,050.

Now I can't wait to go back today. I am planning some 50s on a longer interval and lots of them. Since my shoulder injury, I have lost some speed, not that I ever had a lot. Under Coach Petya, we used to swim 20 X 100 @ 2:00 often. I would swim the first four under 1:20 and do them all under 1:25. Now, the best I can do is 1:27. Sigh. But I plan to get those seconds back. I have been thinking, planning, scheming on how to do it. My plan involves Plate City, of course, and the pool. The missing motivation is back with a vengeance. I always wanted to swim, just not swim too hard. Now I want to swim hard, to pay the price for speed so that I can compete not only in the "distance" events (500 is a long sprint for me), but the sprints as well. Follow the journey if you care to. The dates for this year's Olympics have not yet been set, but last year they were held in late April and early May on the coast. That gives me time, motive, and opportunity to get into much better form. Thank you, Jesus.

How will all of this pool training impact my training for that thing I don't mention until after the first of the year? It should help me and help a lot. Speed is always nice to have and I learned long ago that training like a pool swimmer most of the week, and reserving one day for volume is very effective at building endurance. In short, it will make me a more well-rounded athlete, and as one strength guy I watch on YouTube says, "Strength is never a weakness." That part of the training has always been a part of my all-day swimming program, only now I am already hitting the weights with an energy I never have had before. After my last two Plate City sessions, I came inside with my arms trembling. I never did that in the past. Thank you, Lord.

Monday, December 3, 2018

11/26 - 12/2

I had fun, but not as much fun as I would have if I could have run. I can, however, swim and lift and I did plenty of those. Monday I did not get to swim. I have already forgotten why, but something threw a monkie wrench into my plans. It might have been Over 60s. Yeah, that was it. Another chance to miss a workout and overeat. They are everywhere. I did lift. 

Tuesday, I swam 

2 X 50 small paddles
100 small paddles
2 X 125 small paddles 
total: 1,600 yards.

I also lifted weights.

Wednesday I swam again. This time I did

6 X 50 @ :55
700 small paddles
total: 2,100 yards, plus weight lifting.

Thursday I swam and lifted again. In the pool, I swam

7 X 50 @ 1:00
750 small paddles
total: 2,300 yards.

Friday will be long day from now on. I won't mention why. I only start using that word after the first of the year. I swam

7 X 100 @ 2:00
450 small paddles
6 X 75 @ 1:35
450 small paddles
12 X 50 @ 1:03
300 small paddles
total: 6,300 yards. 

This was my longest swim of the year and the kind that builds endurance. For some reason, Trevor and I did not lift. I remember now, it was the Christmas parade that knocked us out.

Saturday it was

3 X 50 @ :55
200 medium paddles
4 X 50 @ 1:00
200 medium paddles
5 X 50 @ 1:03
800 small paddles
total: 3,100 yards.

After watching Alabama beat Georgia for the SEC title, I went outside and hit it pretty hard, working shoulderes, and swim muscles. 

For the week I

swam 14,074 meters, and lifted weights four times. That is Beetsdown training. Thank you, Jesus.

Thursday I

Friday, November 30, 2018

RIP Jefferson Hodge

It is not in the Bible, but I truly believe all dogs go to heaven. Jeff, our fifteen-year-old weeny hound,made it there early Friday morning, November 23rd, the day after Thanksgiving. We had known he was going downhill. We had known he was sick. We had known this might be the last time. Over the past two years, he has been in and out of the hospital and near death over and over. And over and over, God and the vets have come through and the little man came home to give us another round of his indefatigable, unconditional love. This time, I was sure was the last, and my desire was to keep him home and let him die where he lived and loved. But I knew that would never satisfy my wife so when she asked me to take him to the vet, I didn't hesitate.

He was a good dog. He was special. He was my wife's little baby. I was in the bathtub fifteen years ago when I heard the fight. Our son, Forrest, came home with a young dog, Jeff. It got loud. It went on a while.Then it stopped all of a sudden, and the silence was pronounced. I later learned that Forrest sat the dog down, maybe so he could gesticulate more effectively as he argued his case. Jefferson, a six-month old Dachshund jumped up on the couch where my wife sat and made his way up into her lap. And that is pretty much where he stayed for the next dozen and three years. The argument was over. After a few moments of silence, she opened the bathroom door with a smile on her face and the tiny hound in her hands pulled tightly against her chest. No one had to tell me that we had a new dog, a new family member.

He really was a sweetie. It took a little time, but the cats eventually accepted him. He loved them and all cats with an affection I have never witnessed with a dog before. He loved all animals, but he was especially drawn to cats. Go figure. In fact, when he got older we developed a ritual. I would take him with me to the recycle bins on Saturday mornings. He ran loose while I dumped our stuff. Then we walked on the walking trail down n the river to get him and me some exercise. After that, it was time for a drive. He would hang his head out the window, and we drove the North Greenwood, sniffing the air, looking for cats. We knew where to search and always found some. His eyesight was already failing so they had to move before he could see them. When it all worked out and he saw a cat, he would whine like a little baby. It made him happy. I loved seeing him that way.

That was our Saturday ritual. On Fridays we had a different one. Since we went on a four-day schedule at school several years ago, he has liked to hang out with me while I drank coffee and studied after Penny went to work. Typically, I would have one to three cats, a hot mug of coffee, several books along with my Bible and Jeff on he bed. He loved it; so did I. He just wanted, always, to be close to someone he cared about, his family

Speaking of family, he loved the grandchildren and all you had to do was say, "The kids are coming," and he would hop off the couch and wait and whine at the front door. Although he understood a lot of English, he never got a handle on adverbs. So if you told him too early, you gave him a bad day. You could not call him off the door with the words "later" or "tomorrow." He looked for the now.

Over the years we have watched his transformation from a young dog to an old man, then a very old man. He slowly went blind, then deaf, then he had trouble walking. Trips to the vet became more frequent, more expensive, and more stressful. This time, Monday of the Thanksgiving Break, I knew was the last. Not that I am any expert on death. But after watching Mom pass, I saw all the same things in him. I wanted to keep him home and let him die with us. I hate that he passed in a cage at the vet's. But my wife wanted to give him ever chance of making it. I was too much of a coward to even state my position. So I took him on.
Jeff and I on a Friday morning. 

Jeff is one more in a long string of stressful losses. Loss has now become a major category in my thoughts. As an English teacher, I often use Ernest Hemingway's The Old Man and the Sea in Composition II. My students write papers on the novella. One of the topics I always offer them is loss and restoration. The old Cuban fisherman loses the boy as his fishing partner, his reputation as a champion fisherman, hooks, lines, leaders, a knife, a boat oar, a tiller handle, and even the great fish he finally hooked after going eighty-four days without a catch. None of my students over the past fifteen years has ever chosen that topic to write on. After doing my last few funerals, I finally figured out why. They have not lived long enough for loss to be a major issue in their lives so as a writing topic, it is not something they easily identify with. By the time you get into your 60s, loss becomes a big deal, an old friend, or more accurately, a dreaded enemy. Over the past few years, I have lost both my parents, our holiday traditions, several animals, my childhood home, land in Carroll County, a church we pastored for twenty-two years, church members, friends, my swimming, and my running. The swimming and running have come back only to see the running go again. I have seen elderly people I pastored go through loss after loss until they had only two things left: their life and Jesus. Then they lost their life. Jesus has to be enough. 

He is.
Jeff and I on one of our Saturday morning drives.

Another thing about all these losses is when they occur. They happen at a time in life when we dislike loss the most. I always heard that old people don't like change. Now I understand it. I hate change, but it keeps coming at a faster and faster rate. And the changes are having more and more of an impact. Changes in our bodies, in our country, in our world, in our homes. They not only irritate us, but they hurt. 
Jeff's final resting place.


We had a trip planned with Andrea and Caitlin for Friday, so I picked his body up Saturday morning. Penny bought a metal box, and we placed his body in there and drove to Carroll County. Although it had rained recently, the ground was only soft for about six inches. I labored hard to dig his grave. We placed him at the head of our tombstone, covered him up, and had prayer. His body will lie by ours until that great resurrection day. That is some comfort to us.

Losing Jeff has been difficult for me, but devastating for my wife, Penny. He chose her from the beginning, and he was always hers. And I know this will not be the last loss she or I suffer. These kinds of blows makes you want to insulate yourself so you will never go through that again. But pain is the price we pay for love, and love is worth the price.