Monday, August 22, 2016

8/15 - 8/21

It was another slow week but not totally slow. Somehow I managed to do no training until Wednesday when I swam a mere 2,000 meters at Twin Rivers. The practice looked like this:

1,500 30:59
5 X 100 @ 2:00

Thursday, John and I hit it a little harder with me doing this

1,600 33:06
12 X 100 @ 2:00
600 small paddles
200 for time in 3:29
800 small paddles
total: 4,200

Friday we busted out a good one. I did

2,500 50:14
200 for time in 3:17
1,000 20:24
150 for time in (not in my log) 
100 for time in 1:38
20 X 50 @ 1:12
1,600 small paddles 33:14
7 X 100 @ 2:30
total: 9,300 meters.

Now that's the kind of swimming that builds real endurance. I need to come up with a need for that type of lasting power. I keep thinking. In September, Forrest and I are going to the Tenn-Tom in Columbus, Mississippi. I want to do a real swim there sometimes. I am calling this September effort an exploratory swim. Getting used to the water and checking out a couple of landings is what this one is about.

So for the week, I swam 15,500 meters but did nothing else. Rats. Maybe this week I can get back on track.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

8/8 - 8/14

Training was an endangered species this week. I only swam two times, lifted weights once, and ate at every opportunity. Needless to say, I am a little heavy in body and spirit. On the bright side, I preached a revival in Claud, Alabama. I will talk about that, however, in another post.

Monday I swam

6 X 50 @ 1:00
2 X 250 @ 5:00
500 small paddles
total: 3,700
then 300 kick with fins

Wednesday I lifted weights and did two sets of 150 on the bench press. 

Thursday it was back to Twin Rivers for 2,800 straight. I wanted to do more, but when I finished my warm up, I noticed lightning in the sky so I climbed out. That was the end of my physical activity for the week, one of the worst weeks on record, I hope it is the low point of my calendar.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Fitness Defined and Wrestled with

People are always talking about getting in shape or being in shape. By "shape" they mean fitness. But what is fitness and how do you know when you have achieved it? Without resorting to a dictionary or an encyclopedia, I am attempting to define the concept from my own experiences and past readings.

Simply put, fitness is having the mental and physical capacity to do what needs to be done. What needs to be done can be as broad as painting the exterior of a house to mowing the lawn, to running a marathon, to . . , to . . , to . . . . I trust that you get the point.

Probably the most common thought that a lot of us have when we talk about getting in shape falls under the overly broad category of "cardio." I say overly broad because one can be in shape for running but not for swimming, or in shape for biking but not for running. Training is specific so if one runs and achieves what that person thinks is running fitness, it does not follow that the same person can then hop on a bicycle and pedal like someone who trains on a bike. Trust me, I know this.

It is true that if one has a cardio base in one endeavor, it is much easier to build a cardio base in another discipline. The runner will achieve biking fitness much faster than a couch potato could because the physiological changes that accompany cardio in general (heart strength, increased blood volume, increased capillary beds, mitochondrial changes in the muscles, etc) have already taken place. 

For some, strength is the chief component of being in shape. If one is a strength athlete, that goes without saying, but beyond that being able to generate muscular force beyond one's untrained ability is almost always important for sports success.

I suppose cardio and strength are, to a large part, the bookends of fitness. There is, however, a whole lot of ground in between those two. First, there are various combinations of the cardio and strength. Then there is flexibility, balance, and body control, all of which are important for total fitness and long term health even. There is also the ability to sit and be inactive for long periods of time. I find this kind of fitness to be very difficult, and I suppose my employers know this. So in order to get the teaching staff in shape for the new school year, we always have to report to work at least a week early and spend about forty hours doing nothing. It's one of the toughest things I have ever done in my life.

I am in one of these pre-semester training sessions now, and I'm about to die. Today alone, I have drunk two quarts of coffee, taken a nap on the floor, walked outside and sat in the heat, and considered going on a screaming spree. I just can't take it anymore. Bear in mind that this calendar year alone, I have run a marathon, done a 22.38 mile swim, completed a 35 mile triathlon, and cycled 62 miles in one day. But none of that gives me the fitness to get through this. I am ready to tap out. God help me. I. am. exhausted.

I keep telling myself that other people do this, that lots of people have done this that other people are doing this right now. That kind of thinking often gets me through a dental appointment, but it's efficacy is failing me now. My guess is one day this cruel hazing party or fitness cycle or whatever you want to call it will be deemed immoral, unuseful, and out of date. But in the meantime, I am struggling on. Please pray for me.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Bikes, Blues, and Butt-kicking

It would have been so easy to stay in bed Saturday morning instead of getting up and riding 62 miles in the oppressive Delta heat. But I had paid my money, and I am not yet ready to become that lazy and lapse into inactivity. So I dragged out of bed and began getting myself fed and dressed for the latest edition of Bikes, Blues and Bayous [sic], Greenwood's impressive ride which in nine years has grown into the best and biggest cycling event in Mississippi.

I made it to Front Street about a quarter till 7:00 and with cyclists covering almost every square foot of street along the river, it looked like the road has sprouted bikers the way a freshly plowed field sprouts weeds after a hard spring rain. Every type of bicycle, every type of human body, and every imaginable type and color of cycling jersey was on display among the 947 riders. 

I remember when all this started. Brian Waldrop had the idea to put on a triathlon in Greenwood. We, the Money Road Cycling Club, kicked the idea around for awhile but never came up with a suitable plan. Eventually, the idea morphed into a cycling event and the rest, as Jim Bob says, is history. 
A bad picture of a good beginning.

The air horn sounded and we, the 62-milers, slowly, like a mile-long freight train began to move. Only slower. It took awhile for the whole group to get rolling and when we did it was at a snail's pace. I didn't mind because I was a little worried about my fitness. I did the Heart O' Dixie Triathlon two weeks ago. I ran the following Monday and broke down. Basically, besides swimming, the last two weeks have been days of inactivity. Believe me, you can lose a lot of fitness in fourteen days.

But it wasn't too bad. I tried to pedal easily as the peloton made its way down Howard Street, left on Johnson to Main Street and then out Highway 49 South. I soon began to believe I could make it as we left the highway at Malouf Trailer Park and followed the old highway to the Yazoo River bridge between Greenwood and Sidon. There we crossed over and cycled to Highway 7 where we turned back north and headed for Itta Bena where we found a rest stop at the main intersection of Basket/Schley and Humphreys Streets. I was surprised by this and was amazed at the energetic and vivacious people serving the cyclists. I noticed Mayor Collins in the crowd and made a point to personally thank her for the hospitality.
Selfie at the start

When I left Itta Bena, I got stuck out on the road alone. Not to fear, someone would come along. About a mile from the stop, a couple of guys passed me so I jumped the wheel of the trail rider. I stayed on about another mile and dropped off. I was still leery of expending too much energy too early. Another fast group came by and I couldn't resist jumping on for a bit. But once again, prudence told me I had forty-five miles to go on legs that had done little the past two weeks. Swimming does not prepare the legs to ride. I knew that from past experience.

I crossed Highway 82 alone and eventually a small group came by and once more I jumped a wheel. I stayed with these folks until shortly before we came to the last turn before the highway at Schlater. Eventually I let them go and made the last turn to Schlater alone. Not long after that, McLeod Meeks and someone I did not know came along. I jumped their wheels and stayed with them all the way to the rest stop in Schlater. 
Minter City. Photograph by Jackie Blue.

I chowed a bit and then left alone again. Once more I was not alone long. I middle-thirties woman came by and asked her permission for a draft. She obliged and we stayed together almost to the next stop. Her name was Lee and she lives in Hernando. That is all I know about her other than the athletic plans she has for the upcoming months. We made a good team. At first she did the lion's share of the pulling, but eventually I started feeling strong, and I took the lead. We asked each other the usual questions like, "Have you ever done this before?" When she told me she did the 46 miler last year, I said, "Then you know what's coming up." A big smile flashed across her face. "Yeah," she answered, "Minter City." More on that in a bit.

When we got onto Highway 8, a strong group of eight or more riders came by and I couldn't resist the temptation to jump on. They were strong, but I stayed all the way the the next rest stop even though it hurt. At one point, I looked back and saw that Lee didn't get on. I felt bad about that, but I hung on all the way to the church and felt strong for the first time all day.
Part of the spread at Minter City.
Photograph by Jackie Blue.

The rest stop was jumping as usual. Bicycles were everywhere and cyclists were feeding, socializing, and enjoying the shade and the break. Someone greeted me with a huge silver tray of cookies. I ran into old friends like Davo Pittman and Justin Nunnery. I chatted and grazed and drank until I realized that if I didn't get going, I was in danger of becoming lethargic and lazy. 

I left alone and shortly found out that my aggressive wheel riding had sapped what little strength I had. The twelve miles from Minter City to Money were slow and less than fun. I never got on a good wheel, and I found myself regretting that I did not drop off when I saw Lee wasn't behind me anymore. We made a good team, and I needed someone.

Finally, however, I made it to Money and grazed on the food, listened to the music, and drank like a sailor on leave. When I decided to leave, I pushed my bike out into the road and there she was. 

Lee and me after the ride.
"Lee," I exclaimed.

"I'm done," she murmured.

"I am too. Let's be done together."

So we left. It's amazing how much easier it is to ride with someone. Although we did some drafting, mostly we rode side by side and chatted. I guestimate that I probably did four miles per hour faster than I would have alone. So we made it in. I only stopped shortly on Front Street to snap a selfie with Lee, to cool off, and take some liquids. I wanted to go home. I missed Luvie and Baby Kitty and was eager to get back to them. Next year, maybe I will cycle a little more and be better prepared. But it was a good experience and an event that is already on the 2017 calendar.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

8/1 -8/7

Almost no running and ten pounds of weight gain make Zane a mighty dull boy. But I look forward to a better week coming up. Monday I swam

10 X 50 @ 1:15
10 X 100 @ 1:59
1,600 with small paddles
4 X 100 medium paddles @ 2:30
total: 5,000 meters.

Then in the afternoon I lifted weight hitting 2 X 150 on the bench.; This year I plan to push the bench to a new record. In 2015, I hit 166 for my modern PR. Way back in the early '80s, I benched 185 for one rep. But that was when I had small children. For some reason, when your children get older you tend to become weaker and fatter.

Tuesday I swam

6 X 100 @ 1:59
3 X 100 @ 1:59
6 X 50 large paddles @ 1:15
6 X 50 medium paddles @ 1:15
1,000 small paddles
total: 5,200 meters.

Later I lifted weights and test drove my knee. I made it .27 before and had to stop and hobble home.

Wednesday I swam

11 X 100 @ 1:59
500 easy
8 X 200 @ 4:30
total: 5,200 meters plus 400 kick with fins.

Thursday I swam
5 X 200 @ 4:20
total: 3,100 meters plus 400 kick with fins.

Later I lifted weights.


pyramid of 
4 X 50 @ 1:00
4 X 100 @ 2:00
4 X 200 @ 4:00
4 X 100 @ 2:00
4 X 50 @ 1:00
then 1,000 small paddles
total: 4,000 plus 400 kick with fins.

Saturday I did the 62 miler at Bikes, Blues & Bayous. I will do a separate post on it soon. For the week, I

swam 22,500 meters
ran .27th of a mile
walked 1.34 miles
cycled 62 miles.

Friday, August 5, 2016

The New "Uh" and More

Spoiler alert! Warning!! Warning!!! Warning !!! If you wish not to be made aware of something you will never be able to forget and will bug you for the rest of your life, stop reading now. I repeat, stop reading now. This post is an essay about language, specifically about the new filler word. Chances are you may have never noticed it. But once you do, it will drive you nuts. Warning: proceed at your own risks.

The new filler word is --- drum roll ---  more drums --- "Yeah." Listen for it. It is everywhere, and I do mean everywhere. 

Uses of yeah:

1) Introductory word. For some reason, we often have the need to preface a sentence with a word that means absolutely nothing. For most of my life, in the deep South that word was "Naw." Example, "Naw, Zane. I was riding by your house and decided to stop." What does "naw" mean there? I can answer that. It means nothing, but instead of just saying what we wanted to say, we intuitively feel a need for a prefacing vocalization. Now the introductory word is "Yeah." Example, "Yeah, Zane. I was riding by your house and decided to stop." 

2) The new "Uh." Instead  of saying "Uh" here and there, speakers are now choosing "Yeah." Example: "I was driving along and, yeah, I decided to stop and your house."

3) ?

If you haven't noticed this, get ready to have your head exploded because it is everywhere and I do mean everywhere. Did I mention that it's everywhere? Not only is it everywhere, but it makes less sense every time I hear it.

I know what you're thinking. You think, despite my protestations, that it is just one of those red neck things in the deep South. But really, that's not the case. In fact, I haven't heard many people around here use it. One exception is Matt Wyatt of Head to Head on Super Talk Mississippi. He says it all the time. But I hear it on CNN, FOX, NBC, ABC, and CBS new. Recently, and much to my amazement, I watched hours and hours of the Tour de France coverage where I heard Spaniards, Frenchmen, Germans, Italians, Englishmen, and others speak in heavily accented English and using the same phrasing. Example (this is an approximation of MANY interviews I heard):

Reporter: Were you aware of the crash?

Cyclist: Yeah, I was in the chase group so, yeah, I didn't know anything about it until just now.

Exactly what does "yeah" mean in that sentence? It can't mean "yeah" because the answer is "no." Does this make any sense to you? Any? And just how did this word that doesn't mean what it means make its way into the speech of people from around the world?

I heard a Yankee game warden on North Woods Law use it. I hear it on reality TV. I heard Gus Malzahn (football coach for Auburn University) preface four out of seven answers with "yeah" in a recent interview telecast on the SEC Network. It's everywhere and it's driving me nuts. So what to do? I have an answer for that question, but going forward (see what I did there?) I will save that for another post. 

So, yeah, Shawn C. Turner, this is a post you should have written. Going forward I think, yeah, you should write on this. So, yeah, do it Shawn. 

Thursday, August 4, 2016

The Dream Is One

An old friend called yesterday. Don't you love old friends? And don't you love it when they call? William Moudy, who now resides in Arkansas, was a major player in our little church in Moorhead for about fifteen years of our pastorate there. He moved because of his employment (what else is new?) and although we have kept in touch, we don't see him often.

Before daylight on June 11th, he showed up at Ditch Bayou for the start of Chicot Challenge V. He purchased a T-shirt and made an additional donation to the DFM. Then nine days ago he texted Penny about me swimming Greer's Ferry Lake. I don't know how much was lost in translation, but she told me he said I could swim the Little Red River from near his home in Shirley, Arkansas to Heber Springs on Greer's Ferry Lake. My heart did a double flip. He also said he was mailing a package of materials for us to look over.

I immediately went to Google Maps. The fact is, I love Google Maps and I go there somewhere between three and fourteen times per day. Really. Sometimes I look at roads, but mostly I look at water. For the past year, I always wind up at the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway. More on that in a later post. But looking at the Little Red from Shirley, the Earth View revealed to me a river that is too shallow to swim, at least until you get close to the reservoir. The lake, however, offers over 400 miles of shoreline, a dozen or more islands (some pretty large, Sugar Loaf Mountain for instance), and recreational areas galore with boat landings at each. I even checked on boat rentals. They have two marinas that rent pontoons, but their prices are higher than the surrounding mountains. 

Meanwhile, William checked every other day to see if the package had arrived. I continued to gaze at the map via computer and even created a route of a potential swim. I estimate there are about 16,481 possible routes one could do, but I worked up one that looked long enough and interesting enough to give me butterflies in the stomach. Then after a week, William called and said he was in Lake Village and if I was going to be home, he would drive the stuff over since it had not arrived by mail. Instead, I agreed to meet him half way in Moorhead.

Of course it was good to see my old friend and to chat about doing a swim in his neck of the woods. We talked about some of the logistical issues which he vowed to begin working on right away. Then he brought out the map. I swanny to the good Lord, the route he had selected and the one I had marked on Google Maps were identical. Identical. 

I drove home with a glow in my heart and a new goal in my head. Then I checked the mail.  Wait for it, wait for it . . . . Eight days after being mailed, the package had arrived, and there inside were William's hand drawn notes on the map once more matching the map I created. I thought about the Book of Genesis when Pharaoh dreamed two dreams and Joseph interpreted. "The dream of Pharaoh is one: God hath showed Pharaoh what he is about to do" (Genesis 41:25, KJV).