Thursday, August 17, 2017


I left my lunch at home. Dude, I drove off to Moorhead without bringing the meal my sweet wife dutifully prepared for me. Jimmy Guiles used to say, "I have a forgetter that works overtime." He was speaking of himself, but I stole that sentence from him and unfortunately, I stole the problem also. Or maybe I inherited it.

So I am stuck here all day with anything to eat. Not to worry because I need to unfat a little bit anyway. OK. Stop it already. I need to unfat a lot. Actually, I began in earnest this week and have already dropped a couple of pounds. But, you protest, I thought you started a few weeks back. I thought so too, but somehow I didn't. I am on it now, however, and the motivation has finally arrived, mailed by God in answer to prayer, longing, and yearning. Thank you Jesus.

The motivation may be tied to a resurgence of hope. With a little swimming and a little walking and a very little shuffling, hope has risen in my heart like the July sun on a hot, clear delta day. Running, even a small amount, has always had an immediate impact on how I eat. I don't know why but I just become more picky about what and how much I eat when I am running. There is a huge correlation, of course, between body weight and running ability. The brain, I think, is aware of this subconsciously even when it is not floating around in our awareness. 

On forgetting my lunch, it was my wife's fault. Everything is. She parked behind me so when I looked out the front door this morning, I saw that had to move her truck in order to get out of the drive way. When I did that, I noticed all the trash cans on the side of the road and realized that I had to move ours from the back to the front so our garbage would get picked up. After I got the truck moved and the garbage can deposited on the side of the road, it was then time to find my keys. I have spent years looking for keys. Really, I wish I had all the time I have spent looking for keys. If I could roll that clock back, I would be a young man. To make a short story long, I left home in a huff and a hurry with narry a thought of my lovingly-packed lunch. My lunch, my lunch, oh how I miss thee.

To make matters worse, I am here today until 4:00 pm. Normally, I don't work that long, but I volunteered for some extra duty today. Why? you ask. I did it because I get the time back off next week and I figure I can use the time to swim at Twin Rivers. Speaking of swimming, I did it Monday for 1,300 meters, and Tuesday for 1,400 meters. After taking yesterday off to do a long walk, I hope to swim again tonight. Yeah, the plan is for 1,500 easy meters. Praise the Lord.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Sam Can't Touch These

we turn off highway,
we cross bridge and gator dives,
sheep feed close to fence.

flock gathers at fence,
pilgrims stop and sweet talk them,
they all are God's sheep

sheep stand in the rain,
they chew cud and graze over fence,
God is the shepherd.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Dreaming of Dreams

Beginning a semester is always a particularly difficult time for training. A lot of time requirements are placed upon us by the administration making big training a challenge. My advantage now is that I am not fit enough for really big stuff. The most time consuming workout I am currently doing is my longer walks. Still, I am undone with being fat and unfit. I want to be in shape, and I want if now.

So I hit a big Monday on our first week of classes. The morning, however, started as if the day were doomed. I had planned to go in for a swim before work, but while still in bed, I heard the thunder roar. We have had a lot of rain lately, and I am lusting to swim in a downpour. But I draw the line with lightning and refuse to tempt God in that way. Thus one planned workout was already cancelled before the day began. But as soon as I got home from work in the afternoon, I hit Money Road for a 6.69 mile walk. Embedded in that was a .1 mile shuffle and a 490 foot shuffle. Just listen to how wimpy that sounds. But right now to me it signals hope that I will run again one day. 

When I got home from my stroll on the open road, Penny asked if I was going swimming. Naturally I said, "Heck yeah," and then headed for Twin Rivers. When I got there, the pool was empty of kids. Wow. Now that school is in session, I guess the moms are getting their children home earlier than during the summer break. Plus I don't have any night classes this semester so as long as the weather and shoulder permit, I can hit the pool every night.

I started with a 100 and felt some sensations, not pain or discomfort, but something in the shoulder. So I went back to 50s until I started warming up at 400. That is where I always began to warm, 400 meters. Then I upped it to 100s for two, then 150s for two, and finally 200s for two. That gave me 1,300, the longest swim of my comeback thus far. Maybe I can swim four or five times this week. The upper biceps tendons are still not well, but they pain me less and less frequently. Now I have hope for swimming in the future as well as running. 

Hope is the soil where dreams grow. But hope needs health. Hope needs imagination. Hope needs excitement for the seed of a dream to sprout. God plants a seed in hope and imagination and His Spirit waters, nourishes, weeds. Right now, I am trying-- through time, prayer, gently exercise and even medical science-- to regain health enough to begin once more to dream. You could say I am dreaming of dreaming. I have not had that kind of dream since I climbed out of the water late Saturday night on June 3rd. Actually, I have not dreamed since that distance and course and challenge were conceived within me months before. I have done some thinking but no dreaming. I love to dream, to plan, to set goals. Dreams put a fire inside and carry one through fatigue and obstacles and discouragement. Dreams lead to hard work, hard work with joy and purpose. Dreams are God's gift, His blessing to fragile humans He loves. But one must be ready to receive, prepared for God to pour thoughts and challenges into the willing soul. I'm trying to get ready, to be like a monk who fasts and prays and receives from above the gift of his challenge. I want a dream. I want that dream. I want my dream, the one prepared for me before the foundation of the world.

Oh Lord, create in me the health of body, purity of soul, and vision of mind to receive the next Chicot Challenge. 

Monday, August 14, 2017

8/7 - 8/13

I actually call this one a training week. It still wasn't much compared to weeks of bygone days, but I am sure what I did will advance my fitness a little. One of the things that has been circling around in my mind is some long walks and mountain bike rides this fall and winter. If I can't run, at least I can walk and if I train and dedicate a full day to walking, I could probably hike a marathon or more one Friday or three. Plus with the new leg press machine, I am really juiced up about lower body lifting. Maybe I can set up the trainer in the back yard and do some monster leg stuff.

Monday I hopped on the trainer for 43:00 minutes and walked one mile on the treadmill. Tuesday I walked 6.47 miles, and Wednesday I slowed it down to 1.23 miles of walking.

Thursday I was in the pool for the first time in many weeks. I slowly stroked 500 meters a paltry 50 meters at a time. I would have been embarrassed had anyone been there but thankfully no one was since I went in before work and all the pool help are high school students who have started back to class. After work, I did some leg work at Plate City Gym.

Friday I was back at the pool before work for 700 meters. Later, I snuk in 1.3 miles of walking.

Saturday was such a big day that I wrote a whole post on it already. I did 6.51 miles of walking with just a little bit of shuffling embedded in the stroll. I also did some major leg work with the new leg press as well as going back to the pool for a whopping 1,200 meters.

For the week, I lifted weights two times, walked 20.59 miles, cycled 43:00 minutes on the trainer, and swam 1,200 meters. Now let the training begin. Thank you, Jesus.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

I Came, I Swam, I Cried

Saturday I had myself a day. Coffee and sermon prep took up the first comfortable couple of hours before I hit the road for a walk. Going out Money and Wade Roads, I did 6.51 with a full minute of shuffling embedded in that, thus bolstering my hope to run again one day.

We have had a lot of rain of late so the lawn was in serious need of attention. I mowed the front three times to smooth it out and chop and scatter all the clippings. That added to my foot miles for the day.

Later in the afternoon, I reinstalled the new leg press. Donny had the attachment part redone and it is great. I mowed the back lawn and did some leg presses and leg extensions. It went something like this:

Leg extension
   10 X 50
   10 X 57.5
   10 X 65
   10 X 72.5

Leg press
   10 X 50
   10 X 75
   10 X 95
   10 X 115
    8 X 130

I was pretty satisfied with that, but then I remembered the pool and decided to ride over to Twin Rivers. I got in at 7:00 pm and swam 1,200 meters. I was a little faster, a little smoother, and felt a little more confident about the shoulder. I am not well but better. I so enjoyed this swim and was so encouraged by it that when I climbed into the truck to drive home, I began to weep. Thank you, Jesus for giving me a swim and the joy of the water. I truly love it and have missed swimming like crazy. All the activity gave my mental health a huge boost. 

Friday, August 11, 2017

Swummed Agin

I almost didn't get out of bed. My shoulder pained just a bit, enough to give me pause. Lying in bed and then discomfort invaded my wounded part. "Maybe that's God telling me to stay home," I thought. But then I got up anyway.

Yesterday, Thursday, I swam for the first time in weeks. It was only 400 meters, but the water felt great and being up kind of early and doing something always fives me a boost. Thursday afternoon, I did some work on Plate City Gym and yelped a few times. Not good. So as I lay thinking, I was wondering if I had set things back by my afternoon activities. To make a short story long, I dragged out of bed and went to the pool. I'm glad I did.

The swim was short, but the shoulder felt a little better than it did yesterday. Although I only totaled 700 meters, that almost doubled Thursday's output and the pace was a touch faster. Not that I am trying to swim fast. I am not. But swimming faster without effort shows I am on the road back. The pool time felt good, and I was content to take baby steps. On the ride back home I thought, "You better learn patience before God has to teach it to you." My aunt used to say that about humility. Humility and patience are tough lessons to learn. Maybe I haven't learned but at least I have a clue now.

John was supposed to meet me there at 6:30. he's been pushing me for a six-hour swim in September. Ain't gunna happen. Not this year. And yeah, you guessed it. When I left Twin Rivers he was not even in sight.

Thank you Jesus for a nice dip and a dash of new hope.

New Leg Press

The old leg press: wooden, rotten, bulky.
Thursday after work, I picked up the new leg press machine. When I got there, Donny told me he hadn't worked up the ticket yet so just "take it home and try it out." I was about to pee in my pants I was so excited. I have been missing weight training and my legs are naturally week and need lots of work anyway. Wednesday I had done a little of the preparation, but I still had some wood work to do so I changed clothes, didn't turn the TV on, then went straight outside to work. 

The first thing I did was cut two pieces of 2 X 6 to mount the upright attachment on. After I did that and hooked it all to the power rack, I found out that my upright attachment piece was too wide for the leg press to bolt up to. That was my fault because I used a piece of non-standard wood that Trevor gave me. Trevor's piece was good wood, treated, and no doubt would have lasted for a decade or more. But I never thought to measure it ahead of time.
Trevor's piece was 5/8ths wider
than a standard 4 X 4.
So I took the Trevor piece down, redid it with a standard 4 X 4 and remounted everything. I hate redoing things, but sometimes it's simply necessary. Then I found that the metal fabricator had drilled the attachment holes too close to the structure of the press so that although I could bolt the machine to the power rack, I could not put the nut on the end of the bolt. I looked, scratched my head, and wondered if it really mattered. I decided to do what Donny said, hook it up and try it out. That meant I got the mower out. I love to lift weights and mow grass between sets. That may or may not sound weird to you, but it works for me.

Too close.
So I started doing sets and cutting grass. I did notice that the bolt would turn a little meaning it would eventually work its way out possibly causing a dangerous situation. That's when I decided I really needed to take it back because once it is right, I don't intend to take it down anymore. The plan is to use the machine to strengthen my legs possibly aiding in getting my running back. I did four sets and each time I added weight, the feeling got better.

The new machine. Ain't she pretty?
I had a good workout and mowed the whole back yard. I hate to take it down, but I'll run it back first thing in the morning. Maybe Donny can turn it around by tomorrow afternoon. Thank you Jesus for giving me a good day and putting excitement back into my soul.