Wednesday, January 18, 2017

MLK Day Swim

I'm loving this warm winter. Sunday the 8th of January, we woke to an 11 degree morning. All the water I saw, except the Yazoo River, was covered with a layer of ice. The temps, however, began to warm even Sunday afternoon and by Monday it was shirtsleeve weather. The mildness has stayed and it has been so nice that I called the fish farm late last week and inquired about the water temperature. David told me the ponds were running 58 degrees. Cha ching!

My cutoff point is 60, but I knew with the weather forecast we had that we were bound to get there. I didn't bother to call again but Monday I drove to the pond in faith sure the temps were high enough for me to manage with my wetsuit. I loaded Bear, our trusted dog, and headed for an afternoon at the pond.

As soon as we arrived the sky quickly clouded over and the wind picked up and had a touch of a bite to it. I had run Bear the final mile in and he was loving every minute of being out of the back yard and hanging out with me. I laboriously put on the wetsuit and waded into the chilly water. Bear looked at me with a definite expression of confusion. I didn't tarry long but began to swim.

At first, the bite of the water was tough on my face and caused my skull to ache. But it was not as bad and water in the 50s and I knew it would get better if I could hang in there for four minutes. I learned long ago that four minutes gets you passed the pain. I got passed and slowly adjusted to the cold water trickling inside the suit. For a while, my stroke was short, choppy, but as I warmed up and became comfortable my stroke lengthened and I felt smooth again.

Bear trotted along at the edge of the water and eyed me with concern. A few times he acted like he wanted to swim out. I don't know if he was afraid for me or if he just wanted to join the fun. When I made it to the end of the first levee and started my turn, he did wade into the water and began to swim towards me. I turned over on my back and spoke to him as he drew near. He swam well, but I was still confused as to whether he was trying to have fun or attempting to save me.

I rounded the end levee and began the long trek down the length of the pond. Over and over Bear waded out and swam to me then swam back to undry ground. He seemed to be having great fun. Then it began to rain. Lovely. Bear wasn't happy about that, however, despite already being wet. Even turtles on a log will go into the water if it begins to rain. 

I finished the lap and started back up the long levee. Bear disappeared and I was a little worried about him. I swam up the pond until the Garmin under my swim cap buzzed letting me know I had covered a mile. I turned back towards the truck, and when I got to the corner where I get in Bear came out from under the truck. He was happy to see me. I stood there a bit and pondered if I should swim some more. I decided to pack it in. It was raining hard and although I love swimming in the rain, Bear didn't. Besides, any outdoor swimming I do this time of year is a bonus. The Garmin read 1.12 miles in 35:02 @ 31:15.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Sunday at Centerville

Our time at Centerville Baptist Church this past Sunday was a nice and edifying. Brother Gary and Beth were out and he asked me to fill in for him. That was my first time to preach since October, and I enjoyed it immensely. I preached on "Faith in the Book of Psalms," one of my better ones if I were to judge, but I learned time ago not to trust my estimate on those types of things. The content was there and I felt a liberty to preach. But from my over two decades of pastoring at the Moorhead Church of God, the ones I thought were the best were seldom commented on. When I felt life I totally bombed, I had the most positive remarks. It could be that the congregation, on the difficult sermons, perceived my struggles and were just being nice. I don't know.

Besides preaching, it was Movie Day which we had not held since early November. When we have Movie Day, we always eat and who doesn't like to eat? Surprisingly, this come on the heels of Sheila Mitchell, the Sunday School teacher, asking me to teach on nutrition the week before. Normally on Movie Day we don't have Sunday School, but since I did not finish my presentation on nutrition, she asked us to come in thirty-minutes early so I could finish up.

To my pleasant surprise, everyone brought a healthier selection of food than normal. Sheila brought the spaghetti which was made with whole wheat pasta. She also had some zucchini spaghetti that was more than good. Gerald brought enough salad stuff to feel a junior high football team and he included eggs, mushrooms, and cheese for protein and tomatoes for taste. I don't know who bought the desert, but it was cottage cheese and fruit. For once I left without feeling guilty for eating too much and consuming way too many calories. I ate enough to be satisfied but I didn't overindulge. The food tasted good and was good for our bodies. That's a win win.

We couldn't find the movie we were scheduled to watch, but that was OK. Everyone was relaxed, and we just sat around and visited. We walked out of the church to crows cawing across the road in the warm winter air. This is turning out the be a winter after mine own heart, a typical winter that I was beginning to fear had left us for good. After six straight cold ones, I was believing our climate had changed permanently for the colder. If this weather holds, I will be swimming outdoors soon. Thank you, Lord.

Monday, January 16, 2017

1/9 - 1/15

It was an underwhelming week, in some ways, but still not a bad kickoff to the Chicot 2017 buildup. This time of year, I am always scratching and clawing for every yard I swim. Monday I did a pretty big benching session that went like this:

15 X 100
8 X 120
6 X 140
1 X 150
1 X 160
1 X 165
4 X 150
4 X 150
4 X 150
6 X 140

On the Swim Pull I repped

22 X 26
22 X 27.5
22 X 29

Tuesday was my first day with my new teaching schedule. I have three large Comp I classes on the Moorhead campus so everything changes this spring. The classes went well, and I drove to the kids after getting out. At DSU, I swam

4 X 50 @1:30
300 pull
8 X 50 @1:30
300 pull
6 X 50 @1:30
300 pull
4 X 50 @1:30
total: 4,100 SCYs = 3,742 meters.

I thought that wasn't a bad start for the year until I got home and checked my training diary and discovered that I was already behind last year. 

Wednesday I lifted more weights, and Thursday it was back at the kids for 4.48 miles of walking and then to DSU for

8 X 50 @1:30 decline 1 -4
4 X 50 @1:30 breathing every 9 (?!?!?!?)
8 X 50 @1:30 breathing every 7

Chary wasn't there and you know what they say? When the cats away the mice will play. He left us a practice and we were supposed to swim 800 breathing 3, 5, 7, and 9 per 100. I just couldn't wrap my head around that one so I simply swam with the determination to not stop until Ricky did. So I got in 1,000. Everybody else then cooled down and left, but since there were some lifeguards on duty, I started back swimming and did a straight 2,700 in 49:39 for a total of 6,250 yards which equals 5,712 meters.

I went back Friday for

4,250 1:14:47 (1:45)
20 X 50 @1:12 with small paddles
total 5,350 = 4,798 meters.

Saturday I hit Plate City Gym. On the SP (Swim Pull) I eked out

60 X 22
30 X 26
25 X 27.5
25 X 27.5

I also got in a little walking with the dogs at the recycle and at the gym.


I walked 7.21 miles,
lifted weights three times, and
swam 14,257 meters.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

43, 44

dead bug brushes skin
while the swimmer plies his craft
orange leaves drift down

swimmer is alone
no pumps clean the long-course pool
while leaves fall like snow

Fall swimming at Twin Rivers has ended. So have my haikus.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

1/2 - 1/8

The new year has begun and with it my training for the Chicot Challenge has officially opened. Already I am behind. Changes. Changes. Changes.

I am not longer able to get into the DSU pool early so I am losing yardage from the start. Somehow, I will make it up. There are always complications, I've learned that much, and too much is at stake to give up easily. Last week's training left a lot to be desired. Monday, I ran .26. That's right, .26. Tuesday I went to DSU. At the kids house, I went out for a whopping .36 run. At the pool, I did 2,600. I did not write the practice down as soon as I got home and I could not remember the details when I decided to put it to paper.

Wednesday was big weights day and on the bench I did

15 X 100
7 X 120
6 X 140
1 X 150
1 X 160
1 X 170
2 X 160
4 X 150
4 X 150
4 X 150

This currently is my one bright spot. I am stronger in my upper body than ever. I know that helps in the sprints we often do in the pool under the Mad Swimming Scientist, but I don't know how it impacts all-day swimming.

Thursday it was back to DSU for 

7 X 200 with breating patterns (why does he hate us?)
50 kwf + 100 + 50 kwf X 4
100 easy
total: 3,200 meters.

For the week, I 

ran .62
swam 5,800 meters
lifted weights one time.

Now, I have to get serious.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Oops! 12/26 - 1/1

Somehow I missed my obligatory post last week. Maybe it was that I did so little. Whatever. Here it is.

Monday I did some major lifting at Plate City. The bench went like this:

14 X 100
7 X 120
6 X 140
3 X 156
1 X 167
1 X 178
failed @ 183
4 X 150
4 X 150
4 X 150

Tuesday, Penny went with me to Cleveland and dropped me at the pool. She went on the the kids to visit with the grands. I swan

200 pull with paddles
150 as 100 hard/50 easy r:30
150 as 100 hard/50 easy
5 X through
total: 3,200
I think there was a breathing pattern in there. The Mad Swimming Scientist has been real pissy about breathing of late. What's up with that?

Wednesday, Penny and I went to Jackson. I purchased a neck harness from Play It Again Sports. I had issues with my neck last year in the really long stuff so I want to head that off at the pass. Each year, besides the normal conditioning stuff I do, I discover a new weakness to work on. This year, it is the neck.

Thursday I was back at DSU for both the am and pm swims. At lunch I did a straight 4,000 in 1:18:58 for a 1:58 average. At Masters I swam

9 X 200
100 total, 2,600; 6,600 for the day. 

Friday I went back to DSU for 

6 X 50 @ 1:30
400 small paddles
three X through
200 easy
total: 3,600 meters.

Sunday I usually only go to church and rest but this time I did another big session at Plate City.

For the week I swam 13, 400 meters, ran none, and lifted weights two times.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

2017 in Preview

I am entering the new year with high anticipation. Although my running currently is up in the air, I am attempting to look at that in a positive way. Last year, I went into my final phase of Chicot Challenge training doing a large volume (large here being a contextual term) of both running and swimming. My training diary reminds me that I was swimming in the 25,000 to 30,000 plus meters per week range and around 25 to 30 miles of running over each seven days. The result was I became very fit, but I also became very fatigued and there were times when I barely could make myself get into the pond and slog through a lap or two. Many times I sat in the truck for long minutes and thought, I don't want to swim today. Other times my volume at the pond was limited by my compulsion to get in a good number of miles on the levee roads instead of just swimming.

So with my forced slow down in running, I am choosing view this as an opportunity to focus my training more on swimming. By June, I hope to have returned to running, but this year my aim is to keep the running low (ten to fifteen miles per week) so that it adds to my overall cardiovascular fitness but does not compete with my swim training for energy and time. Running does not compete with muscle recovery of my swimming muscles, but it can and did become a drain in those other ways.

Besides running less and swimming more, 2017 looks favorable for my weightlifting. This is significant for overall health as well as swimming performance. For health, I mean at the age of sixty, resistance training is more important for me now than ever. I am experiencing both the successes and failures of my weight training. The muscles I have focused on are relatively strong and healthy. The muscles I have neglected, low back and neck, have given me some problems of late. As we age, unless we practice intervention, we naturally lose muscle mass. It is muscle that keeps us upright and ambulatory. 

Old people who are shaky and feeble for the most part are that way because they have lost too much of their muscle. I am attempting to rehabilitate my weakened and somewhat troubled lower back. I also recently purchased a neck harness to work on my underused neck muscles. Last year, I began to experience some irritation in my neck during my longer swims. This hit during the Challenge and a day or two after Chicot I pulled a muscle in the neck that cause me severe pain and limited my mobility for several days. I don't want to go through that again so I am now working on this neglected part of my body.

Besides working on the low back and neck, I have made some real improvements to Plate City Gym which is both motivating and commodious to working out. Not only have I done some major upgrades, but I have plans for further developments. At this very moment, Leflore Steel has the drawing of a project that will help me become healthier, happier, and more fit. I have visions of other gym improvement floating around in my mind. One goal of mine is to end 2017 stronger in every muscle group than I ended 2016. I will do another post on the gym, maybe several, along with some videos, but for now that is all on this subject.

Concerning swimming, I have two big events on the calendar with some other possibles on the radar screen. In May, some friends and I will do Pool Fools (look for a separate post or three). June of course brings Chicot which will undergo some major changes this year and I will post about those later. But for now I say only that the distance will change as will the course, measurement of the course, crew, and documentation of the swim. I have offered my services to some others but I don't know if these will come to pass or not, but I think at least one of these has a real shot of making. 

I am wanting to swim some new bodies of water just for the experience of it. The Tenn-Tom, Lake Martin in Alabama, Lake Sardis here at home, and Pickwick Lake are all calling my name. It is not that easy to pull off long swims in far locations. I am a little shy at asking for help because I am already the recipient of lots of crew care from people who gain nothing from giving me a day and part of a night of their lives. To Team Centerville, again I say, Thank you for your selfless help. I remain touched by it.