Thursday, October 31, 2013

The Tanglefoot Trail

Saturday, my wife and I made a trip to Houston, Mississippi to ride bicycles on the Tanglefoot Trail, a Rails-to-Trails project recently opened which offers riders 43 miles of safe cycling. I haven't ridden much this year, and Penny hasn't been on her bike for two full years, but we have been yearning for the Tanglefoot to open and give it a whirl. It was great.

Cycling is dangerous and right here in our state, several adults are killed on Mississippi roads every year. Not only that, but at home on one of our main riding roads we often face a hostile group of car drivers who become enraged by our mere presence. All over America, abandoned railroads are being turned into trails and they are extremely popular everywhere they come into being. They offer the rider, runner, walker a safe place to get out of traffic, exercise, and commune with nature. This particular one runs from Houston to New Albany, Mississippi.

We parked at the trail head in Houston and headed north. Since Penny isn't that fit right now, we rode to the first rest stop at New Houlka. That's another feature of these sorts of trails. Approximately every 10 miles are the rest stops that offer clean bathrooms, water, some shade and shelter, and even some power outlets to charge your cell phone.
Penny taking a break at the whistle stop in New Houlka.

On the way we saw cyclists of all sorts. A group of six serious dudes from Memphis all wearing a team jersey passed like they were riding the Tour de France. We spotted an old man wearing bib overalls and riding a balloon tire bike. He had a huge smile on his face, and a woman, I presumed to be his wife, followed closely behind. Several times we sighted what I thought were dads out with a brood of kids on small bicycles. We spotted some Menonite women with their long dresses. Everyone we met looked happy.

The day was beautiful and the landscape was lovely. For a mile in Houston, we were in what seemed to be an old industrial park. We quickly reached the country, however, and rode through dark flat woods, pastures, and bean fields. We crossed over creeks, and hills, but as a former rail line the hills weren't really hills but only long grades. We heard jay birds and crickets and crows. We were alone much, but saw many other riders. We got a good workout and enjoyed ourselves without fear of being killed or harrassed. It was great. We plan to go again as soon as possible.

For the week, I only
ran 5.7 and walked .68 miles,
swam 7,300 meters, and
cycled 22.4 miles.

It was a very light week of training, but I've had some knee issues not to mention a lot of papers to grade at work.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

That's How I See It

I spoke too soon. About the perpetual beating of Beets' hinder parts. With the pool being open all winter, I thought my swimming fitness would soar over the top. What I had forgotten is that though I have a more convenient access to the water, I'm still a cold water sissy and can't stay in long enough now to get a real workout.

Tuesday I ran 3.1 miles and went to Twin Rivers. The water was 66 degrees, and I only lasted 1,600 meter before I couldn't take it anymore. Wednesday I didn't do anything physical. My knee was sore, I was tired, and I had a night class. Besides that, my cool water partner, Big John Misterfeld, canceled on me. So I got to thinking about Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, our selection for the evening, and I would up re-watching the movie not once but twice. That's right, I watched the film two times that afternoon, went to class and we watched there, then I went home and re-watched the ending. That's three full viewings and one partial for the day.

I got it!

Finally, I got it!

I have long been fascinated by this piece of cinema, and it is the only one I am showing this semester that I don't hold the analytical key to. But on my drive home from class Wednesday night, a light bulb went off in my head.

It's a love story.

If you have ever watched this movie, you no doubt think I am seriously misguided, but I'm not. It's a love story. George and Martha fight like enraged MMA combatants. They fight verbally. They fight physically. They fight drunkenly. She flirts with another man, belittles George (skillfully, brutally, constantly), and even commits adultery on him all in one inebriated night. He dishes out to her in return. In one scene, he pulls a rifle on her; in another he begins to strangle her and has to be physically restrained by another man. They fight in a parking lot. She almost runs him over with a car.

It's a love story. That's all I'm going to say about that for now. If you want to know more, you will have to meet me for coffee, and we can discuss it.

Thursday, Big John and I met up at the pool. This was the first time he had been in the water in about a week, and the temps had fallen a lot. I thought, he's not going to be able to handle this. The water was 65. I had to get out after only 1,600. He got out because I did. Geez, anybody can beat me at this. I guess I really am a cold water sissy.

We were back Friday. The air was 56, the water 64. I wore a rash guard and a pair of socks, but I only managed 2,000 before I crawled out because I was losing my right leg. Really, it was going away on me. Oddly, my hands were still good. Last year, it was always the hands that went away. But the water is still 60-something. It seems that at 60 and below, the water is a different animal. It is. My body reacts differently. I'm also beginning to think that a pool is more difficult to swim cold that open water. The reason being that the walls cause a cessation (however momentarily) of stroking, hence heat production, and the push off the wall blasts one with a tremendous flow of water over the body. Moving water takes heat away very efficiently. Think of your car engine. If the water quits circulating from the radiator through the engine block, what happens? But flowing water pulls heat out of the engine so that you can drive and drive and drive. When you flip and come off the wall, you are going as fast as you ever will in water under your own power. Heat goes away.

Those are my thoughts on it. I am still very inexperienced at this stuff so my views may change, but that's how I see Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? and cold water swimming, pool vs open water. I'll be getting back in the water next week. I will also be discussing the movie with my class. Can't wait.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Shakin' But Not Bakin'

I thought I was doing well, I really did. I swam 19,000 meters last week all of it outdoors in progressively cooler water. I thought, I'm kicking butt compared to a year ago. Then I looked in my 2012 training diary. This week a year ago I swam 19,000 and one swim was in 60 degree water for 1.13 miles. DO WHAT!?!

Today, Monday, after my 2.6 mile shuffle, I went to Twin Rivers. Big John and I had planned to meet, but he had to cancel, so I was all alone. The water was 67.5, the sky was overcast, but the air temp was warm, around 70. Although I did swim and it didn't take me minutes to get started, I was never comfortable and only managed 2,100 meters before I crawled out. I was cold the whole time, felt every variation in the water temperature, and even noticed that the top three inches were warmer than the deeper water. I had never experienced that before in a pool although it is common in the fish ponds. I didn't get the shakes until I went home and was there for a few minutes. Odd how that works. They weren't bad, but still to real cold water swimmers 67 is pretty warm. Not for me.

I wonder if I will ever be able to just handle it the way so many people do. On the bright side, if I will/can develop the ability, this is the year to do it because I have an outdoor long course pool not a mile from my house that is scheduled to stay open all winter. I hate to admit it, but this cold water stuff is one area where Randal Beets gets the best of me. He is "the man" when it comes to ice swimming or any swimming below indoor pool temps. Around here anyway. Not only can he endure colder water and endure it longer, he has always beaten me back to the truck when we swam a pond last winter. Not this year. By golly, if I have to get up every morning and go soak in the pool, so be it. Randy Beets cannot win. He just can't. It ain't right for AquaMan to lose to Spongeboy. Good must prevail in the end. If it does not, people lose hope, the earth is off kilter, the universe is not right. I can't let that happen. It's beneath the dignity of a superhero.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Sunday Sum Up

I went back to Twin Rivers Saturday and Brent Baily was getting out when I walked up. I had my rash guard in my swimming bag since it has a tad of neoprene on it and offers some protection against the cold. But when I saw Brent without a wetsuit, I knew I had to go skin.

Although Brent told me the water was 72, it felt colder to me, more like 70 or less. I threw my thermometer in and started warming up. I swam

4 X 300 @ 6:00
100 easy
2 X 250 @ 5:00
100 easy
200 medium paddle
200 small paddle right arm only
Total: 3,600 meters.

I checked my thermometer and it said 69.5. I knew it.

I've been doing some thinking on my training. Basically, I have been doing a lot of low intensity endurance work when I train alone and a lot of short sprint work when I go to Delta State (where I have not been in a while). I think I need a lot more of the kind of sets I did this week if I am to swim the Suck faster next year than I just did. When I push those 250s and 300s, after several reps I get the same burn in my rear deltoids and triceps muscles that I get when I hammer at the Suck. This year, it was so bad I had to roll over on my back, stretch, and pray. I really wondered at one point if I would be able to complete the swim because my right rear delt almost went on total strike. There is nothing wrong with doing sprints. There is nothing wrong with doing long endurance work. But I need to add something in between, the higher intensities in the longer pool sets. Those things hurt, but I am convinced they will pay off if I don't wimp out and go the easy route.

Later in the afternoon, Penny wanted to go to her mom's to help out some there. I got out at the Pelucia Creek bridge and shuffled the 6.22 miles in. I was shocked at how much running fitness I have lost in the short time I have taken off. I am even questioning if I can continue to run. With the issues I am having, it looks like swimming is the only sport in which I can maintain any real quantity and quality.

For the week, I

ran only 10.52 and walked 4.03 miles, and
swam 19,775.44 meters. This is a pretty good swim total for me this time of year.

For the year, I have

swum 688,329.59 meters, and
run 1,058.15 miles.

Despite all the miles, my running is not good but my swimming is. Consequently, I am scheming on the Chicot Challenge and the Swim the Suck although these events are a long way off. The Great Noxapater Journey Run is in real jeopardy.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Beets' Butt Is Forever Beaten Now

The water was 72 at Twin Rivers again Thursday when Big John and I met up there. But it was sunny and the air temp was a nice 71. I swam

10 X 250 @ 5:00
100 easy
600 medium paddles
400 pull, small paddle right hand only
Total: 4,800 meters.

By the time John and I were getting out, Brent Baily had come, swum, and was getting out also. He said to me, "You know MS Debbie is keeping the pool up this year?"

My response was, "For how long?" Usually they drain it about this time. Last year, I drove up on a sunny, warm October day only to find half the water gone and the other half going.

His answer was, "All winter."


Are you kidding me? I thought I was going to launch into orbit. Dude, Beets' butt is forever beat now.
Getting ready for a cool dip.

She had told me earlier that she was keeping the pool up this year, but in my mind that meant 'up a little longer.' I never dreamed she would leave it up all winter. I thought we would be lucky to have the whole month of October. Ideas have been exploding in my brain since I received the news.

Friday I decided it was time to go back to the fish farm for some wall-less swimming. The water there was 69.5 and the well was dumping 65 degree fresh water into the still not fully filled pond.

I got in, alone, and made one lap and kept swimming. However, this time when I got to the far end, I turned around and headed back up the side I had just swum down. One side was colder that the other, and I just didn't feel like freezing. It has always amazed me at how much the temp varies in a twenty-acre pond. I made 2.16 miles in 1:06 before I crawled out. I didn't go into the shakes afterwards although I was cold for a long time.

Thursday, October 17, 2013


Light rain fell from an overcast sky as I stepped out of the 60 degree air and into the clear, crisp 72 degree water. I can remember when this was torture. Now I find it strangely delightful. Funny how things change. I don't know for how much longer Twin Rivers will keep the pool open, but I intend to avail myself of it every opportunity I get.

This was Wednesday, and I had time to go long, so I thought I would. After a 2,100 meter warm up, I swam 300 with medium paddles and then decided to try out some 100s on 1:57 since I had just put that workout into my watch. That set was Dead On Arrival. I had trouble making the interval. WHAT ?!?!?! I don't know why, but I couldn't swing it, so I ended the set and put on my small paddles. I only swam 300 with the small paddles and by then I was beginning to get cold. I got my pull buoy and took the paddle off my left hand. I am determined at next year's Suck I won't have the same arm/shoulder issues that could get me beaten by Beets. After only 300, however, I was tired and more cold, so I did 100 easy and got out. My total for the day was 3,400 meters, and I shivered a little as I dried off under the outdoor canopy and put my damp clothes on.

At school for my night class, we discussed Whatever Happend to Baby Jane?  The film, which we watched the Wednesday before, delivered a huge emotional impact to the entire class. We discussed why it hit hard the way it did. More than one student said it is a WOW! film.

We watched DOA (1950), and although it is an interesting movie, a film noir classic, and a quest of an interesting kind, it was Dead on Arrival. I exaggerate, but I could tell the impact that Baby Jane had was absent, although one student had red, teary eyes. But she always does. I think I could show the local weather and she would cry. I can't wait, though, for next week. On tap is Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? I have almost nothing analytically to say about this one, but it hits as hard a Baby Jane does and always leaves me in stunned silence.

Today, I plan on meeting Big John at the pool. My guess is the water will be 71 or lower, but it is supposed to be sunny and 71, so I should be able to last for maybe 4,000. That's the goal anyway.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Mo Is Back and so Is Joe

The Suck is only a few days old, and already I am thinking about next year. Earlier, Randy and I had been considering an Ironman for next fall. A new one is opening in Chattanooga of all places. Several things have transpired that are making that less and less of a probability. One is the incredible fact that the Chattanooga race sold out in three minutes. No, that is not a typo. THREE minutes and two thousand spots are gone. How is that possible when our govenment can't operate a website they had years to prepare for?

Another factor is the return of my swimming partners Mo and Joe. For a while, they were out of town, and the prospects of cold water swimming this winter were more than I could bear even to think about. Lately, however, the slowly cooling outdoor pool coupled with spending almost five hours in 75 degree water Saturday has helped me get my mind right. Now I have the proper attitude and am actually looking forward to some colder water.

Monday I spent the afternoon mowing the back lawn and lifting weights. I really hammered my upper body, and the shoulder I injured in June gave nary a trace of any lingering affects. I also managed to shuffle 2.15 miles. Since MDCC is holding a 5K this Wednesday, I am tapering for what I hope is a good time.

Tuesday I did a little 2.16 mile shuffle and then got back in the water. Big John and I met at Twin Rivers. The water was 74 and it never felt better. I swam

6 X 200 @ 4:00
200 easy
200 medium paddles
300 pull with small paddle on right hand only
Total: 3,900 meters.

Paddle on right hand only? you ask. Yep. Seems I have a strength imbalance between my left and right sides and this is a major limiter in my ability to knock off a long swim in a really good time. It has surfaced in all three Sucks and it must be fixed if I'm going to beat Beets a fourth year in a row. I have a year to get it rectified and the process has already begun.

Now I am scheming on the Chicot Challenge and the Swim the Suck. I think I am going to try to slip away and get into the water today for a cool swim. But before I can get back to the Challenge and the Suck, there is still The Great Noxapater Journey Run that I have dreamed about for the last five years.
One problem looms on the horizon, however. Lately both my right knee and hip have been gimpy. I took Friday off. I took Saturday off. I took Sunday off. I ran short and easy on Monday with no issues. I ran short and easy on Tuesday with no issues. Today I am hobbling. What the heck?

Despite the fact that until lately my running has been almost back to normal, I realized again this week that my athletic identity has forever changed. I used to be a runner who swam some and did triathlons. Now I am a swimmer who runs some and does one thriathlon per year. Quite a shift.

I really do want the journey run in the worst way, and as I type this I am agonizing on whether or not to run today. Will the knee get worse if I do? Will I detrain if I don't? Decisions, decisions. Hey Mo, what do you think?

Monday, October 14, 2013

Suck Week

I really don't know why I didn't post much last week because I certainly intended to. I did write already about what I did last Monday which included 2,800 meters of swimming as I began the final taper week for the Suck. Tuesday I ran more, 6.21 miles but swam less, 2,400 meters as

6 X 50 @ 1:00
400 as 75 easy/25 hard
400 as 25 hard/75 easy
I like the hard/easy swimming as it makes my rear deltoids burn for 50 meters after slowing down. This is the kind of thing the Mad Swimming Scientist has us do, and I find that his influence is ever with me even when I swim alone.

Wednesday I only shuffled 4.12 miles and swam a mere 2,000 as

600 as 25 hard/75 easy

Thursday I ran another 7.05 miles on a knee that has been getting increasingly sore and then went to Twin Rivers for my final pre-race swim, and easy 1,000 meters. Then I went home and packed for the trip to Tennessee.

Forrest and I left Friday morning at 7:00 am, and for the first time we had time to find our motel and rest a little before the pre-race meeting. The swim was great and I finished in my best time. I plan a full write up on the race. Let me now just say, if you are looking for a destination marathon swim, Swim the Suck is a good choice. Chattanooga is surrounded by some of the most beautiful scenery  on earth, the city is big enough to have loads of things to do but small enough not to overwhelm a small town Mississippi boy, and the swim down the Tennessee River is awesome, literally awesome. Karah Nazor and company do a first class job in organizing one of the greatest events I've ever been a part of.

For the week, I swam 24,290 meters, and
ran 21.49 miles.

Because my knee was sore, I decided against running Friday and Saturday. Last year after the Suck, I ran from the finish to the after race party, about four and a half miles. This year I took the shuttle like everyone else. It was a glorious swim, I got to spend some quality time with my son and some good friends, and I beat Beets' butt. Yeehaa!

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Race Week Has Arrived

Finally, the Swim the Suck race week has arrived and with it my long lost excitement has returned. Admittedly, my training has fallen off over the last month in large part due to some declining motivation. I think, in part, the motivational issues have been related to my increase in running which has left me with little energy to attack the water as I needed to. Also, Randy Beets has been unavailable much of the time as a training partner, so I have just been floundering of late. Now, the training is done, the taper has begun, and the packing is starts soon.

Today, Monday, I ran 4.11 miles, cleaned my truck out some, and made it to the pool for what will be my longest swim of the week, not counting Saturday. I took my thermometer and guessed the water to be 75 when I waded in. I took a reading and it said 76. Later, I looked again and the temp was 75. I've gotten pretty good at being able to tell the temp by the feel and if the thermometer had said anything else, I would have thrown it away and bought another one. While there, I swam

2 X 500
10 X 100 @ 2:00
200 easy
2 X 75 @ 1:30
300 easy
Total: 2,800 meters.

Last year, I swam on Tuesday and was not in the water at all until Saturday. At the race, I didn't perform the way I thought I should have been able to. My Coach, the Mad Swimming Scientist, said I was out of the water too much. So this year I am going to swim through Thursday, maybe Friday, but a little less each day. Tomorrow I will shoot for 2,400.


Sunday, October 6, 2013

Friday Hill Run and More

Thursday I did a little 4.21 mile run and met Big John at Twin Rivers where I swam

6 X 50 @ 1:15
300 easy
400 for time (6:23)- raced Brent Bailey. He beat me about two seconds, but it got me a PR,
11 X 100 @ 2:00 pull with small paddles
Total: 3,300 meters.

Friday I did a hill run. I went to the cabin and ran one of my old loops. On the long hill on the highway, I pushed it just a little, and I tried to maintain a decent pace which I did for about six miles and then I began to fall off. Anyway, I did a straight 11.01 miles with a little quality in there on the first big hill. In the afternoon, I went to Twin Rivers but only did 2,100 straight and went home. I was just tired. I'm finding that pushing the running and the swimming at the same time is just a bit too much for me. They work different muscles, except one: the heart.

Saturday, I only did 2,500 meters at the pool, and later I ran to Mom's to watch MSU play LSU. My dad is 84, but he is still passionate about MSU football. It's almost hard to fathom when you consider how much losing our Bulldogs have done and how old and declining he is in so many ways. Yet he still pitches fits, yells, curses, and second guesses every coaching decision. Saturday night he threw more fits than a dump dog has flees despite that for three quarters State played pretty well. Finally, I decided to record some of his antics. I only got a little, but here is one of his lesser ones before my phone lost power.

[I tried to upload the sixteen second video, but for some reason, it never works for me. If you really want to see it, however, you can find it on my facebook page.]

For the week, I
ran 29.74 miles and
swam 15,500 meters.

For the year, I am at
1,026.18 miles running and
644,864.15 miles swimming.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Beat-Beets'-Butt Workout

I mowed part of the back lawn Monday, picked the boat up from the shop (again), and did a little 2.14 miles shuffle. With all that and a night class on Monday, there was no time left for the pool. However, John Misterfeld wanted to swim Tuesday and he even called and wanted to meet early, so we were in the water at Twin Rivers at about 4:15. I figured this would be my last chance to impact my beat-Beets'-butt condition, so I wanted to go long and hard. I swam

400 (6:49)
400 (6:55)
300 (5:16)
300 (5:30)
200 (3:39)
Total: 7,600

That, my friend, is a beat-Beets'-butt workout.

Wednesday I decided to forgo the pool again and just run. I did a light set of squats and then ran 6.05 miles with two miles at marathon goal race pace thrown in. I've decided that I want to try for a good marathon time at the Mississippi River Marathon in February. A good time for me would be anything in the low four hour range. Ideally, I would be giddy at breaking the four hour barrier.

After the run and cool down, it was then time for some nutrition, a bath, and my night class. We had a nice discussion of last week's film, The Journey of August King, which features the most developed Christ-figure I have ever seen. The symbolism of that film, its message, and imagery just blow me away, and I think this is the class's favorite until this point in the semester. We watched American Beauty, a film I love in part because of its interesting compositions and the unexpected Christ-figure. To my knowledge it is the only movie I know of, besides Sunset Blvd, that is narrated by a dead man (no, DOA is not). To  my great delight, they are getting it, and three students brought me Snickers Bars. Life is good.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

The Week of 9/23-9/29

When I say I finally made the journey run, I don’t mean THE journey run but just ONE that has been on my mind for a long time. The Great Noxapater Journey Run still awaits me and Friday’s one day run was a good trainer for it. Anyway, I just realized that I haven’t posted my last week’s training. Our internet was out for a few days and that impacted my ability to update the way I wanted to.

Monday I only ran 1.91 miles and didn’t even make it to the pool. I spent some time working on the boat which I will post about later. Tuesday I did a 6,400 meter straight swim at the pool and ran 4.35 miles. Wednesday I ran 4.52 miles, and Thursday I swam
400 (6:42)
400 (6:27)
6 X 100 @ 2:00 medium paddles
600 small paddles
Total: 5,700 meters.
Friday I did the journey run and Saturday I just did a little yard work, napped with my cat, and watched a lot of college football.
For the week I
ran 29.54 miles,
swam 14,300 meters,
walked 16.98 miles, and
lifted weights one time.
For the year I have
swum 629,364.15 meters and
run 996.44 miles.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

I Made the Run

I did it. After all these years, I finally made that journey run from the house that has been floating around in my head just waiting for the opportunity to come to fruition. There are a couple more routes in there, and I hope to get them out soon.

Besides being off work, my wife was out of town, so Friday I finally felt free enough and fit enough to go really long just for the fun of it. I left the house at 7:20 am with two packs on and an eagerness matched only by my naiveté. Since my legs didn’t feel well from the previous days training and I already knew the trip would take lots of walking, I began the day with a slow walk to allow for a gradual warm up and to put my muscles into a fat burning metabolism from the beginning.

I went west to Grand Blvd, then south to Claiborne, onto the levee, and I crossed the bridge while cars zipped past driven by people headed to work, I suppose. Grenada Blvd was a bit dicey with heavy traffic, no shoulder, and seemingly no speed limit. Relief is what I felt when I made my way to Highway 7, crossed it onto Grenada Blvd Extended and ran traffic free for a while. Now I was getting away from home and the morning was beginning to seep into my being. For the first time, I heard the birds sing, felt the temperature of the air, and noticed the pleasant sky above.

Shortly after running out of Grenada Blvd Extended and back onto Highway 7, I crossed the Big Sand Creek Bridge and then turned left onto a nondescript county road. There, I ran on gravel past a tupelo gum break, a lake, and then straight as an arrow down the Big Sand levee which is as high and wide as the Mississippi river levee. The gravel road, at the end of the levee, turns onto the old Highway 7 and then meanders through the delta leaving Leflore County and crossing into Carroll before finally rejoining the new highway several miles later.

About two miles north on Highway 7 brought me to Whaley Road where I turned west. I crossed two bridges within the first half mile, the second of which spanned the Yalobusha River. The road is gravel there and parallels a swampy area locally known as the Tippo Run. As I trotted along I saw an old black man with a rake doing something under some pecan trees. “How far to Money?” I asked. He paused and seemed to be in deep thought. “About four miles,” he answered coming back from a long way away. After about one of those four, I stopped on a bridge and taped my feet with some kinesio, and then peed into the water below. They, the feet, felt a lot better when I resumed running.

After another one of the four, Steele Henderson, one of my Comp I students drove up. “You need some Gatorade?” he asked after first inquiring about my distance which was a little over nineteen miles at this point. He works on an area farm and was on his way to town for lunch. “Heck yeah,” I answered and tried without success to give him money. Nice kid. I told him I would be at the fire station in Money, one of my stops.

I finally came to the big bend on Whaley Road where you can see Money off in the distance just beyond the railroad tracks. I heard a train coming from the south and figured it was going to be close. I didn’t want to be delayed by the train when Steele made it back, so I picked the pace up. Then I heard another train, this one from the north. I ran even harder. The northbound train stopped while the southbound train chugged across the intersection I was headed towards. When the last of the train cleared the crossing, I went into a sprint, or at least what I call a sprint, knowing the other train would be plowing ahead immediately. As I ran over the crossing, I looked south and saw the northbound train closing the gap on me.

Over the crossing, I slowed to a shuffle and tried to catch my breath as I made the last quarter of a mile to the Money Volunteer Fire Department Building. Once there, I took my packs off, my shoes off, my shirt off, my hat off. I was very tired and so stiff it felt like I was breaking in two when I sank to the concrete.  I groaned a little then I lay down and could have gone to sleep except for the mosquitoes which dive bombed me without regard for their own lives. I was a bit over twenty-miles in with another ten to go, and I was pretty much spent. Why do I do this?

I got out the sardines I had saved all morning, and the peanut butter crackers. From the back of my Nathan I retrieved the little pink kiddy spoon I had found months before on Money Road. I had picked it up and saved it for such a moment as this. I ate my meal slowly, listening to the traffic for a northbound truck, for Steele to make it back with my cold drink. The sardines were excellent and filling but it was then that I realized I had forgotten my peanuts. Peanuts are a great addition to any journey run meal and I missed them terribly and regretted my lack of practical memory.

Steele drove up and handed me a cold thirty-two ounce Lime flavored PowerAde. Only the peanuts could have made it better. A few minutes after my long suffering student left, I put on my dry shirt that I had packed for this occasion, strapped on my refilled packs, and headed south down Money Road towards Greenwood, Mississippi. I had traveled this road many, many times in automobiles, on bicycles, on foot, but this was the first time I had over twenty foot miles on my legs and was trying to get home from here.

I walked a mile or so and let my food settle some before I resumed my old-man-survival shuffle. When I did start back running, I remember thinking I should try not to stop because I wasn’t sure I could resume a jog again. I also remember thinking that if anyone offered me a ride, I would take it.

Well, I got my chance. About the time I was drawing near the radio station, approximately two and a half miles from the house, two old men in a jeep looking vehicle stopped dead on Money Road and asked me if I wanted a ride. I instantly said, “Yes,” but then I had second thoughts. I knew I would regret it if I took the ride so I hesitated and then said, “No, I’ll make it on in on foot.”

“We’re not going to hurt ya,” the old man behind the wheel said.

“I know, I know,” I answered. And then they drove away.

I even managed to shuffle a little more and then somewhere on the Blvd. I slowed to a walk for the rest of the way home. Once there, I wasted no time in getting out of my wet clothes and lying down. The total distance was 30.68 miles.  

Then the phone rang. It was John Misterfeld. He wanted to swim.