Tuesday, June 25, 2013

No Phony Starter Gun Here

Here it is Tuesday and I have not posted since Monday a week ago. Oh well. Last week was a good one for training. Tuesday I did 41:00 minutes on the bike trainer, ran three miles, and swam at Masters. The Mad Swimming Scientist was in top form and lived up to his moniker. As usual, after we warmed up, he walked over and said, "OK, this is what we're going to do." He always says, "OK, this is what we're going to do." Then he added, "We're going to do eight 50s." Mark Blackwood and I were the only ones there that night, so we did our eight 50s. Then he came back over and said, "We're going to do eight 50s." So we did eight more 50s. Once more he came to deckside and mechanically announced, "We're going to do eight 50s." We did eight more 50s. He came back and said, "We're going to do eight 50s." Are you tired of reading this yet? You should try hearing it live and swimming it. He came back and said--you guessed it--"We're going to do eight 50s." We swam

8 X 50 as 4 @ 1:30/4 @ 1:15
8 X 50 as 4 @ 1:15/4 @ 1:00
8 X 50 as 4 @ 1:00/ 4 @ 1:15
8 X 50 as 4 @ 1:15/4 @ 1:30
400 pull with paddles breathing 3, 5, 7, choice by 25s
8 X 50 as 25 hard/25 easy @ 1:15
400 easy
Total: 3,600 meters.

Wednesday I had to work registration, but they fed us hot dogs and even had coffee available. Hey, that wasn't so bad. I managed 30:00 minutes on the bike trainer, 2.83 miles of running, some weightlifting, and 2,500 metes of swimming at Twin Rivers.

Thursday was only 21:00 minutes on the trainer followed by an easy 2.61 mile shuffle. At Masters, the Mad Swimming Scientist exploded my brain and my arms. I can't give all the details on this practice because it's way too complicated. In fact, I don't know how he expects us or anyone to count four things at once and swim every 100 meters several ways by 25s and keep up with all of that while alternating your breathing pattern every 25 meters, then 50 then 25, then 75, WHAT!? Oh heck, the headache is back. Anyway, in broad outline we swam

8 X 100
2 X 400 pull with paddles
4 X 50 progressive
Total: 4,000 meters and one blister on the brain.

Friday I only shuffled 2.41 miles because Saturday my son Forrest and I were up early and on our way to Leland, MS where we hopped aboard a shuttle bus loaded with ugly people to be commuted to Tribbett, MS where allegedly was the start of the Hotter Than Hades Half Marathon. Tribbett, MS is not really a town. From what I can tell, it's not even a ghost town. In fact, it's not even a crossroads. Tribbett, MS is a T in a lonely road surrounded by corn and soybean fields. People exited the buses and stood in line in a farm shop to use the bathroom. Then we were directed to walk down a dirt turnrow to "the start." Really. On the way some African-American gentleman, who was obviously not from around here, became nervous, almost agitated. "Is this really the way to the start?" he kept asking. "I don't see a starting line," he said suspiciously more than once. "Why are all these white people going into the cornfields?" he repeatedly inquired as if something sinister was going on.

When we got to the dead center of nowhere, a large man with a huge revolver stood to one side and used his Smith and Wesson as a pointer while he described the course. The whole crowd of three hundred runners would lean back and to one side and then the other as the .44 magnum with a ten-inch barrel pointed at us, then not at us, then at us again. The poor Black man looked like he was about to crap his pants. I'm sure he was thinking, I knew I shouldn't have come to Mississippi.

When our starter fired his gun to begin the race, it sounded like a World War II artillery piece going off. Everybody flinched and then began a slow jog down the dirt road towards the pavement of Tribbett. Then the starter said, "Y'all can run faster than that. Get off my place!" The whole crowd took off in a sprint. We made it to the pavement, and I looked back to see if the man with the gun was following us. When I didn't see him, I relaxed and tried to get my heart rate back down. My splits were


How do you spell crash and burn?

I got hot.

I got tired.

Those last miles were painful.

But I remember thinking, At least I'm getting a good workout. And Randy Beets never caught me, though I did look over my shoulder a time or two.

We finished that thing just like we started it: on a turnrow in a cornfield. I loved it. It was hot, primitive, unique. It's one of my all-time favorites already, and Forrest and I are coming back next year.

For the week, I
swam 12,600 meters
spent 132 minutes on the trainer
ran 27.03 miles
walked 3.92 miles and
lifted weights two times.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

The Little Guy Is Home

I finished last week with a 22:00 minute trainer ride, a 2.55 mile run, and 4,000 meters of swimming Thursday. Friday it was 22:30 on the trainer, 2.02 miles of running, and 1,000 meters of swimming at Twin Rivers. I did not swim Saturday but I did lift weights, build some more homemade exercise equipment, spend 34:00 minutes on the trainer, and run 2.09 miles. Usually I don't do anything on Sunday except preach and rest; however, since it was Father's Day and we were going to the in-laws, my son wanted to run part of the way. We got out on Humphrey Highway and ran the final 4.28 miles. I napped the rest of the day.

Besides the training, it was a very emotional week for me and my wife. Jeff, out little weenie-dog, was in the hospital from Tuesday until the following Monday. At one point it looked like he might not make it. We must have cried a thousand tears each. He is the sweetest little fellow I've ever known, and we love him like he was a child. Saturday was tough on us because we were expecting him to come home, but the vet said he wasn't ready. Then one of our cats, Alley, a fourteen-year-old rescue, died and our sorrow was compounded.

For the week, I
ran 26.41 miles
swam 11,200 meters
lifted weights two times
walked 6.45 miles and
spent 78.5 minutes on the bike trainer.

I finished a draft of the Chicot Challenge, but I want to do some more work on it and select some pictures. Speaking of pictures, I suppose I should start posting some of those now. Here is one:

The Fasttrack Fatties just before the start of the Challenge. On the advice
 of my wife, I wore pink instead of grey duct tape on my nose.
Monday, June 17, was a slow start day that consisted of a lot of coffee drinking and anxiety as we awaited word from the vet on the  fate of our little fellow. I finally called them and was told I could pick Jeff up just before noon. Now I owe the vet a new vacation home in Florida, but the dog is worth it. He's home, we're happy, and Jeff is once more the Chief of Security at 333 West Monroe Ave in Greenwood, MS.

I feel like I am finally recovered from the Challenge although I'm still enjoying the relaxed training schedule. Monday afternoon I swam 2,500 at Twin Rivers, and earlier in the day I put in a 40:00 minute trainer ride followed by a 3.17 mile shuffle. Then I did some weights, concentrating on my low back. The three-mile run will be the longest one until Saturday when Forrest and I are doing the Hotter n Hades Half Marathon in Leland, MS. My goal for that race is just to go run and see what happens. It will be very hot, and I have been informed that shade is pretty much non-existent on the course, so mostly this is a training run and an experience, some time to spend with my son.

As I type this, I sip some coffee and periodically reach over and pet Jefferson. He is a good napper, better than his owner even, and life is good with him and Luvie here to keep me company.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Not too Late to Donate

Monday began what is supposed to be my last week of summer school. I hope it is because I really need to recharge a bit. I did an easy 4.03 mile run, a little walking, and some swimming at Twin Rivers. At the pool I did a relaxed 1,600 meters and then got out. It's kind of nice not to have to obsess over the distance. The swim was refreshing, not tiring.

Tuesday I ran another 4.09 miles, did some more walking, and made my way to DSU where I swam

The Mad Swimming Scientist pondering our punishment
3 X 800 as 1st pull with paddles (12:14), 2nd pull no paddles (13:33), 3rd swim (14:02) :30 r on all
100 easy
8 X 50 as clear flags, 25 fast/25 easy @ 1:30
200 easy
Total: 4,600

Wednesday was the hottest day of the year thus far with the mercury at 94 when I ran. I did 7.35 in a multi-paced run that I made up as I went along. I did a 1.12 mile goal half marathon interval, and a couple of faster, shorter intervals. I was then reduced to a survival shuffle barely going as fast as a brisk walk. But I was satisfied because I got the distance in with some quality on a very hot day. After I cooled down and drank a recovery shake, I put my jammer on and drove to the pool. Dang it! It was closed for a private party so I went home, took a bath, and put on my night night clothes.

Now I face a stack of student papers and another pile tomorrow. But then I should have a little more time to train, work in the yard, and see the grandchildren. Life is good.

Luvie posted a PSA on Facebook this morning and someone responded with a donation. That cat is something. It's not to late to donate. Go to www.msdiabetes.org and give under the Chicot Challenge.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

We Bought It

By Wednesday I was starting to feel a little more like myself. Basically, all I have wanted to do since the Challenge is sleep. But Wednesday afternoon I did a 7.3 mile run with two tempo intervals and Thursday it was back to Masters where I swam

900 warm up and then the main set was
200 pull
2 X 150 as 50 easy/100 hard
4 X 20 kick with Zoomers
and then repeat main set with the 150s as 50 hard/50 easy/50 hard
300 easy cool down
Total: 3,200 meters.

Friday I drove to Twin Rivers only to see that "Adult Swim" was taken over by a busload of kids. Dang it. I drove away dry and went home for a 3.28 mile run and some more serious napping.

Saturday I did four workouts, and I think that's a record. I went back to Twin Rivers and no kids were in sight. However, I only swam 1,300 meters at a leisurely pace. I'm still in recovery mode. Later, around mid-day, I did an easy 21:00 minute bike trainer ride, then mid afternoon I went out for an 8.12 multi paced run. The temps were only in the mid-eighties and though warm, certainly better than normal. After another nap with Luvie, I went outside late in the afternoon for some weightlifting.

At Masters Thursday night, I could tell that my muscles, especially my deltoids are not recovered from the long swim. Looking back, the first Challenge taught me that I need to work and my wrist and upper back muscles. I spent a year lifting weights targeting those areas, and it seems that I solved the problems revealed in the 13.94 mile swim a year ago. Now it looks like my deltoids will get a lot of attention over the next twelve months as I seek to spend from now till then preparing for the next Challenge. One of my goals is to complete the swim with as little suffering as possible Once, a coworker of mine suggested that I had a pain-wish and that was my motivation for all the endurance stuff I do. Actually it is just the opposite. One of the things that drives me is that delicious euphoria that comes when I am hours into a run or swim or bike ride and feel like I can do it forever. That wonderful zone never lasts, of course, but I always train with the idea of extending that pleasure period as far as possible.

The day after the Challenge, my son asked me what was the distance goal for next year. I told him I couldn't even think about it yet. It was like eating a huge meal and being stuffed to the point of pain and then someone setting a big plate of food in front of you. It was just not the right time. But now, just a little over a week after, I am starting to think and scheme and plan. I found out after the fact that the crew was already talking about next year while we were out on the lake. That made me feel good because while I was in the water I did wonder a few times if this would be their last rodeo. Hey, it's not only a long, hard day for me, I can't even imagine spending ten hours in a kayak. But they are still down for another round. Great.

Robin told Forrest that she was going to pursue renting a pontoon boat from a friend for next year's Challenge. We could have one kayak and the crew could swap out so they could be more comfortable and the safety level would be raised even higher. That is a great idea and one that I had thought of last summer when I drove to Ross Barnett one day on a scouting mission. One can rent pontoon boats on the Rez, as they refer to it, so I explored the idea of doing the swim there. Several things, however, conspired to kill that notion. The distances didn't work out, the logistics were more complicated, and the local alligators didn't embrace the plan. I have a freind who had two frightening encounters with an gator right there at Old Trace Park where I wanted to start the swim. So I dropped that idea, and we went back to Chicot.

My wife and I have mentioned buying a pontoon boat several times in the past, and Robin's comments started the conversation anew. Then when Forrest told us of a friend who had one for sale at a price we could afford, we drove over for a look. We bought it. She's going to need some work, but the possibilities are endless. Next year the Chicot Challenge will be bigger and better and yes, longer. Yehaaa!

For the week I
swam 6,700 meters
walked 4.67 miles
spent 41:00 minutes on the bike trainer
ran 28.14 miles
and lifted weights two times.

Donate to the Diabetes Foundation of Mississippi at www.msdiabetes.org

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Challenge Met

Well, I did it. It  wasn't pretty and it wasn't too much fun, but it's over. The Chicot Challenge went down Saturday June 1, but not without a hitch. Currently I am in the process of doing a full write up of the swim which I will post here. However, for all two of my readers, I thought an abbreviated version was in order before the full story can be published.

By Friday I had made the decision to reverse the order of the swim because of the weather forecast which called for sixteen mile per hour winds out of the south. Not only would that have been a torture to me, but my kayakers would have suffered as well. Saturday morning Robin and Randy met Forrest and me at the County Park after they had left Robin's truck at the State Park. The reverse course entailed us heading south for about a mile before crossing the lake and then heading north. Robin and Randy, however, were adamant that we should head straight north because they said the water was like glass the other side of the causeway, and we could make up the lost distance there. I said, "Sounds good. Let's go." And we did.
Just before starting the Challenge

Even though the wind was quartering to our back, I found the swimming tough. Pretty much I am a rhythm swimmer, and I was constantly having my rhythm disrupted by the chop. But after three hours, we made it to downtown Lake Village, and the crew wanted to stop so we did. My wife and Paul Brown were there, and I took some real joy from that. We stayed about thirty minutes, and I crammed in all the food I could while I had the chance.

When we started back, I was determined not to look too much at the causeway because last year I found that highly discouraging because the bridge never seemed to get any closer. A mile or so into the swim from downtown Lake Village, Randy Beets asking me how I felt, and I responded: "I'm struggling." That was somewhere around mile seven. My mental distress at this point was through the roof.

Just as we made it to the causeway, a storm blew up and the wind went crazy. Randy and Robin and Forrest immediately took shelter under the bridge jamming their kayaks between the pilings and the bank. I found it strangely difficult to swim, and at one point I noticed that I wasn't getting any closer. The wind was blowing a current through the channel under the bridge and I had to swim like a madman to make it to Robin's kayak so I could grab it and pull myself out of the flow and onto the bank.

We sat there and watched the rain and wind and debated what to do. Robin pulled up a weather map that showed a dangerous looking storm sitting right over the State Park. We were at 8.45 miles and our options were to face the storm towards the State Park or turn back to the County Park. Honestly, I didn't think I could swim all the way back, but that was the choice we made, turn around and go back.

The water was flat and the rain falling as I started the swim back to the County Park. I enjoyed that and actually had a couple of good miles before I sort of came apart again. My muscles were tired, my shoulders hurt, and my mind screamed STOP. I plodded on and on as my pace deteriorated. My mental game was to make one mile at a time. The last couple of miles seemed to take forever. When Robin finally announced that I had made sixteen miles, she followed that with, "Grab the kayak and I'll pull you in." Then Randy took that job over and I held onto the handle at the back of his boat while he paddled furiously the mile or so back to the landing. It was dark when we got there and I was just relieved that the swim was over.

I'll write a longer piece later, and I'm still trying to figure what all went wrong. The swim was a success, but I thought it was way harder than it should have been. Sunday, I only got out of bed long enough to eat and use the bathroom. My cat loved that, and he napped with me all day. I had no trouble sleeping that night, and I really didn't want to get up the next morning. Monday after work all I did was mow the front lawn and do an easy 3.09 mile run.

Tuesday I was still feeling tired. I did another three-mile run and went to Masters for the first time in a week and a half. I got there a little late and chatted a while with the Mad Swimming Scientist so I missed most of the warm up. I did

8 X 50 as
   2 25 fast/25 easy
   2 25 easy/25 fast
   2 however
   2 fast
4 X 100 as
   1 50 fast/50 easy
   1 50 easy/50 fast
   1 however
   1 all out (1:23)
200 as 50 back kick/50 swim
4 X 150 @ 4:00 as 50 fast/50 easy/ 50 fast
200 breathing by 50s 9, 7, 5, and 3
300 easy
Total: 2,200 meters

Amazingly the 1:23 was a PR. All year I have been swimming 100s all out at around 1:30/1:32 with my PR being 1:28 (I did 1:24 off the blocks a year ago). To me, it is counter intuitive to swim my fastest after doing sixteen-miles just a few days before. When I checked my training diary, I found that my last 100 PR was also set the week after my big swim last year. I still don't know how that works because it sure doesn't go that way in running. If you run an ultra marathon, you aren't setting any running PRs for at least a month and probably not then.

For the week of the Challenge I

swam 29, 044 meters
ran 20.29 and
walked 3.11 miles.

It's not too late to make a donation. Go to www.msdiabetes.org

Thank you.