Saturday, November 30, 2013

Still I Dream

It's been the best of times and the worst of times. I refer to my week off. It's been off.

Monday started with me lounging around the house, sore and exhausted from Sunday's journey run, and getting absolutely nothing done. I felt like a bum. But I did need some rest. I got it.

Tuesday, however, started with a kidney stone attack which kept me in bed most of the day. I did feel better in the afternoon and went to DSU that night where I swam

800 decline 1-4 by 25s
4 X 50 @ 1:00 all out
600 breathing 3, 5, 7 by 50s
8 X 50 @ 1:00 all out
Total: 3,750 yards = 3,427.5 meters.

Wednesday was more kidney stone agony. I have had many of these over the years and consider myself an expert at passing them. This one, however, was worrying me. I was trying to avoid a trip to the emergency room which carries a price tag of over $10,000. Yes, I have insurance, but I know from the experience of my wife how expensive that still is and how aggravating it is trying to find out what you really owe. One group threatened to turn us over to a collection agency. We paid then several hundred dollars only to find out the insurance company had paid them in full. Now they "don't do refunds." I could go on and on. It's a living nightmare. So are kidney stones.

Thursday, Thanksgiving, we always go to the in-laws in Carroll County. I had planned to run all the way, about 15 miles. Unfortunately, I was on the bathroom floor most of the morning, dry heaving over the commode. I missed my run. I missed the Thanksgiving meal. I missed my grandchildren. I was all alone except for Jeff and Luvie who both knew something was wrong with me. Luvie followed me everywhere I went and rubbed his head against me incessantly. It made me cry, and I thanked God for his affection.

That night I did feel good enough to go to Mom's and watch the Egg Bowl with my brother, his family, and my children. We won! For four of the past five years, Mississippi State has beaten Ole Miss. Let me honestly report that Ole Miss fans are the worst losers on earth. Really they are. Maybe it's just that State fans have more experience at getting beat than our instate rivals do. Long-time Mississippi State fans are not fair weather cheerers and are unusually humble. Ole Miss fans, on the other hand, are often obnoxious, arrogant, and sore losers. I'm sure this offends some genuinely good people who cheer for Ole Miss. If you are one of those rare Rebels, I sincerely apologize to you, but not to those whom this description accurately summarizes.

By Friday I had gained weight and could feel myself growing soft. But since I had no symptoms, I went out for a little run in the evening and shuffled 3.13 miles. Once again, I was amazed at how much fitness I had lost. I still have a shot, however, at The Great Noxapater Journey Run during the Christmas break. If I can find a span of warm weather, I will take a stab at it. I wish I could nail down a date, but this time of year that is an impossibility for me. Sunday's run left me with a sore patella in my left knee. It wasn't the distance (a few weeks back I did a 30-miler with no problem) so much as the weather. My body does not like cold weather and my knees absolutley hate it. I wore a pair of tights that day and a pair of leg warmers over that, not to stay warm but in an attempt to keep the knees protected from the chill. It wasn't enough. There is simply no way I could do a multi-day journey run in cold weather with cold weather being defined as anything 50 or below. It won't work.

But still I dream.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Mom Is Home

Thursday I ran 5.15 miles and made it to Masters where I swam

8 X 50
4 X 200 breathing 3 odd, 5 even
8 X 100 pull with medium paddles @ 1:45 breathing 3 odd, 5 even
8 X 50 @ 1:00 decline 1-4
Total: 5,050 yards = 4,615.7 meters.

Friday we got Mom out of the hospital. We were a bit apprehensive about her emotional response to entering the house for the first time since Dad passed, but she seemed OK and was happy to be home and happy to see her birds. I stayed around with my sister at Mom's all day and did nothing on the exercise front. Saturday I hung out with my wife. The weather was bad, cold and raining, and I just stayed in all day and watched some football.
I saw this cross in the woods just off
the road while I ran beside the
 Tallahatchie River.

Sunday, however, we were off church and the weather turned out cold but sunny, so I packed my Camelbak Mule and hit the road for a journey/adventrure run. I went west from home to Highway 49, then turned north and ran to Bledsoe Plantation where I got off the highway and followed the river along a gravel road until I got to Money. I crossed the bridge at Money where I stopped and had my sit down meal. Then I headed south down Money Road towards home. The trip was 24 miles of which I ran 15.9 and walked 8.1. I had a good time and got to be alone and think and sometimes not think which is something I enjoy about endurance athletics. I laughed a few times but never cried. I think this means I'm coming to terms with Dad's death.

One thing I did figure out on this journey was the reason his death was so shocking to me. Part of the reason I already knew. His health and acitivity level did not nothing to signal his mortality. But I came to realize it just seemed self-evident that he would outlive mother. Therefore, in my mind, as long as we had Mom, Dad's death was somewhere off in the distant future, something we wouldn't even have to ponder until she passed. I guess this is almost too obvious and cliche sounding to write, but we really can't take anything or anybody for granted.

For the week, I
ran 37.25 miles,
swam 9,048.6 meters, and
walked 10.12 miles.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Mom Set to Come Home

Mom is supposed to get out of the hospital Friday, which is very good news, and I am not nearly as nervous about her homecoming as I was. I do worry about her emotional reaction. Every time I go into their house, I feel shocked, sad, and something else, I'm not sure what. It is still hard for me to believe he's gone, that he's not there, that he won't be coming back. But though I worry about her emotional reaction, I am not as concerned as I was about her physicality. Tuesday afternoon she was able to stand easily and walk herself, using her walker of course, to the bathroom. Amazing. I have a resounding respect for physical therapists. I have now seen them twice do this for Mom, seen them take her from nothing back to standing, walking, and more.

Work has been crazy. I have had to stay all afternoon for registration, even though it is an established fact that students don't register until the week before and the week that classes resume. Besides registration, when you add in my night classes, I have been here ten plus hours per day. This is ruining my credit, my physical health, and my emotional well-being. My bills aren't paid, my lawn in not mowed, and my swimming is rusting out once again. The only way I have been able to run is to do it when I would be sleeping. Seriously, I feel like I am becoming dangerous, like I might snap and shoot a road sign or something. But relief is on the way. Next week I am off. Yeehaaa!

Monday I ran 4.51 miles but missed lifting weights because I couldn't work it in. In fact, I did the running after my night class. Actually, I am enjoying my late night running. I feel totally anonymous out there in the dark with very little car traffic, and the run doubles as some alone time which I have always needed in copious doses. My mind doesn't idle as much as it used to, however, as I am constantly thinking of Dad often chuckling out loud when I remember something he did, something that has made the list of Do Not Forget moments. I have a lot of those.

Tuesday I went out for a mid-long run and ran it multi-paced fashion. After a slow 2.6 miles and inserted 3 X 1 mile at a 9:30 pace with a .2 mile shuffle between. Then I finished the run with a mile and a half of easy tipping along. In short, I got in 7.55 miles with three miles of almost tempo pace. I'm thinking a 9:30 would be a nice pace to try to hold for a marathon. If I did, it would in fact be a PR for me which currently stands at 4:11 set at St Jude in 2008. I haven't run an official marathon in since that year. I hope to do the Mississippi River this February. Last year I did the half and am hoping to beat Randy Beets in the full.

I made it to DSU, Tuesday, where the Mad swimming Scientist had us swim

6 X 150 as 50 easy, 50 kick on back, 50 fast
2 X 100 easy
12 X 50 @ 1:30 as 2 fast, 1 drill, 1 fast, 3 X through
400 easy
700 pull with small paddles
Total: 4,850 yards = 4,432.9 meters.

Wednesday I worked again all day and into the night. We watched Unforgiven in Film as Lit and it was a big hit with the students, especially the resurrection scene. After class I shuffled 4.12 miles. Since I did pace work the day before, and since it is dark out when I run now, I felt comfortable shuffling as slow as needed in order to get in some volume and recover at the same time. Right now that means I just tipped around at slower than an 11:00 pace but that's OK. It's work, it's gentle, and I do need some safe miles to achieve the goals I've set for myself.

One of those goals was The Great Noxapater Journey Run which I had hoped to do this weekend and into next week. With Mother just getting out of the hospital, however, and with the amount of care she will need still undetermined, it is most likely not going to happen. I may try for an intermediary run, something shorter, maybe to the in-laws' and back. This would only have me gone two days instead of four and also I would be much closer to home if I need to abandon the run. Since I'm not as fit as I wanted to be, a two day journey run would be a good trainer for Noxapater which I still hope to do maybe during the Christmas break. With the next break coming up in only a few weeks, I don't really feel like I'm sacrificing anything by not tackling Noxapater now. The chief problem with waiting, however, is the weather. The later we get into the year, the colder it is likely to be which requires more clothing and makes staying dry a necessity.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Last Week

I tried to maintain some training last week despite the fact that the craziness of my Dad's death and my Mom's hospitalization has shifted the whole world off kilter. Monday after work, I waded into the Twin Rivers pool wearing a cheap shorty I bought several years ago. It was better than a poke in the eye but not much. Mostly it just made starting a little easier, less shocking to go flat into the water. I swam 1,200 meters in 62 degree chlorine, and then decided I wanted to be somewhere else. After my night class, I shuffled 4.36 miles alone under the cover of darkness. More and more I have been enjoying the dark, the anonymity, the touch of a wilderness experience that I get even in town.

Tuesday I ran 7.07 miles and then drove my poorly repaired truck to DSU for Masters Swim with the Mad Swimming Scientist, the first time in months. There I stroked

800 breathing 3, 5, 7, choice by 50s four times through
50 easy
4 X 100 @ 3:00
50 easy
4 X 100 @ 3:00
4 X 125 medium paddles
100 easy
Total: 3,850 yards = 3,518.9 meters.
I was pretty gassed. It's amazing how much fitness I lost in the last two weeks.

Wednesday I ran 3.51 miles, and Thursday it was back to DSU for

8 X 100 @ 2:00 middle 50 fast
100 easy
6 X 100 @ 2:00 last 50 fast
4 X 100 @ 2:00 fist 50 fast
300 easy
Total: 4,200 yards = 3,838.8 meters.

Friday I had to attend a conference in Goodman, MS at Holmes Community College. I carpooled with Anita Horn and Emily Riser. The campus I found to be surprisingly really pretty, and to borrow a phrase from Jerry Clower, it "flung a cravin' on me." I thought how wonderful it would be to work in such an atmosphere. While I waited for Niter Horn to finish her session, I walked around and got in 3.24 miles. That's all I did exercise-wise that day.

Saturday started with breakfast at Huddle House with my old friend, Daniel Collins. We do this about once per month, and he was the first person I told about the insecurity I experienced at my dad's death. I left home thirty-six years ago and was unaware that his mere presence in my life made me feel safe, surrounded, protected. He understood, having lost his parents a few years ago, and said he felt the same way when his dad died. It's nice to have someone knows what you are going through.

Later that morning, I took my new wetsuit to Twin Rivers and swam 3,600 meters in 56 degree water. Afterwards I felt sick, nauseous, shaky. I don't know why, but often I feel ill after a wetsuit swim. That night, in the dark I went out for a run and didn't stop until I had done 9.35 miles with three tempo intervals thrown in (1.02, .63, and .52). I am enjoying running in the dark and for the first time in a long time I felt fit despite having put on a few pounds of late.

For the week, I

ran 24.29 miles
lifted weights two times
walked 4.84 miles, and
swam 12,154.7 meters.

For the year, I have
swum 714,284.29 meters and
run 1,138.17 miles.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

A Little Catch Up

Endangeredswimmer hasn't been updated much lately due to some pretty severe events in my family. This is my attempt at a catchup. I did post a couple of days ago, a piece about my dad, but I never did my totals for the week of 10/28-11/4, and I wrote nothing about the following week. Now I will attempt to document my training or lack thereof. For two weeks ago, my totals were:

swim - 6,500 meters
walk - 2.08
weights - one time
run - 21.43

For the year that brought me to

702,129.59 meters of swimming and
1,085.28 miles of running.

We had both parents in the hospital that weekend, and then Dad died unexpectedly the following Monday, Nov. 4, wiping out swimming for that week. I never knew so much was involved in burying someone. I did, however, run everyday, or every night to be precise. I put my shoes on each night after work or whatever and went out for a run thinking about my dad with each step. For the week  of 11/4-11/10, I

ran - 28.6 miles,
lifted weights once,
walked - 5.63 miles, but for the first time this year I
swam - nothing.

Now a new week and a new life has started. It is still hard for me to believe he is gone. A void exists in my heart now, a place that only he filled, and anytime I have done anything physical since his passing, he has been constantly in my thoughts. Usually I break out in laughter more often than tears when I remember him, his life, his stories, his fits. My dad pitched the biggest fits of anybody who ever lived, but he was not mean, he never directed his anger towards us only towards the things that irritated him. Once when I was a boy, he was in the backyard and a blue jay flew down and pecked him on top of his head causing some pretty amazing wounds. He became so enraged that he went inside, retrieved his shotgun, and began to shoot up the back yard, the trees, the sky. Really, you can't make this stuff up. The police came out and had a little discussion with Pop, but he didn't go to jail. There was nobody like him, ever, and I am full of those kinds of stories, stories of him going ballistic over the minutest of aggravations. Those kind of things bothered my mother and my sister, but I enjoyed them, especially as I got older. Now I can pull up his memory any time, any place and get a chuckle, even a deep belly laugh by rembering one of his tantrums. God bless you, Roger Hodge.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

AquaMan Runs into the Night and Remembers His Dad

Although he was very old, his passing was as big a shock to me as the bombing of the World Trade Center and the collapse of the Berlin Wall all rolled into one. How could he die? How could he? He was too tough, too stubborn, too busy.
My younger sister, Carol, called me just as I was departing my Comp II class at MDCC’s Greenwood Center. In fact, a couple of my students had asked about him shortly before, and we spent a few minutes chatting about Roger Hodge. When I answered my phone, I heard my sister, hysterical and unintelligible, trying to say something. After several attempts to speak, someone else talked over her phone: “Come to your mom’s house right now!”
I was frightened and confused. Why was she there and not at the hospital? Mom must have died and they called the house. When I got to Harding Street, I saw an ambulance in front of Mom's and my confusion deepened. I walked, ran through the front door and someone I didn’t know pointed towards the den. “He’s back there.”
I remember the paramedics working on him, and I’m not sure how I feel about that, about seeing it. He lay on the floor while strangers did chest compressions. It was not a pleasant sight, and I am thankful to God my mother did not witness that. I was in a bit of a shock while my sister wept hysterically in another room. I dropped to my knees beginning to pray but was interrupted by someone asking for help, for another entrance or exit from the house. They put him on a spine board and carried him out to a gurney.
I remember the doctor at the hospital coming into the room where my sister and I and Mom and Dad’s next door neighbors sat in anxiety. We were joined at some point by Bro. Brad Hodges but I don’t remember when. Neither do I remember what the doctor said, but whatever the words may have been, his meaning was unmistakable. Dad was gone. In a moment, without warning, the man who took life by the throat, turned it upside down, and shook it until the pennies fell out of its pockets was dead.
I had to notify our siblings, an older sister, Helen, and a younger brother, Quinton. Words were hard to come by and get out and for my brother, difficult to process. “What do you mean he didn’t make it?” he asked in confusion or disbelief. “He’s gone, Quinton.” “What do you mean he’s gone? I just talked to him.” My silence and soft sobbing finally cleared his confusion.
I had to tell Mom, who lay ill in a hospital room upstairs, unaware that her husband of sixty-one years had departed for the other side ahead of her. I had to comfort my sister, or try to. I had to tell a nurse downstairs what funeral home to take the body. I had to call some of Dad’s friends, some of whom I didn’t want to hear this news from a second or third hand source. I had to find a way to wrap my head around his passing.
Later that evening, I went to work, to teach my night class because I thought I would manage better there, busy, not just sitting at home being sad. I also thought it was what my dad would have wanted. He was kind of big on work. Back when Mom was so sick and my sister and I spent a few months in hospitals, he told us both that he appreciated everything we had done, but we needed to go to work. “Work is important,” he said. Those weren’t hollow words, but actions he had modeled for us our entire lives. He modeled a lot of things for me, for us, and he left a legacy I will always cherish, a legacy of health, activity, and work that I hope in some way to emulate.  
People didn’t run in those days. Not many people, but Dad did. By “those days,” I haven’t even done the math, but I’m fifty-seven and when I was eight years old Dad got me up every morning and we ran. He would spot me to the stop sign at Harding and Taylor Drive, a distance of about a quarter of a mile. He always caught me, passed me, but finished only a little before me. He had it worked out that way. Someone may have called the police one time after becoming alarmed at a little boy running from a grown man early in the morning. Like I said, people didn’t run in those days. Not around Greenwood, Mississippi anyway.
I thought about that when I got off work from my night class, changed into my running shoes, booted my Garmin watch and headed out the door after first hugging my forlorn wife. I crossed over to Cherokee Street, ran up Cleveland, then over to Taylor Drive. Taylor ends in a cul-de-sac so the traffic is always light there and in the dark I was free to be taken captive by my thoughts. The anonymity the darkness provided made me feel free to tear up, wipe my face, sob if need be.

He was always fit and when people did run, when the running boom hit in the 80s, he was ready. We, my brother, my dad, and I, ran road races all over the northern and central part of the state. Dad dominated his age division for about a decade and a half. When he was fifty-five years old, he ran a 38:55 10K, a time I have never approached. He was just tough, fit, and unafraid to leave it all on the road.
He also skipped rope, but not the store bought kind with handles on it but the sort you tie something up with. I remember him carrying that rope sometimes when we ran at night. We usually ran in the morning, but for some reason when we ran at night he had the rope.
He played tennis for years and years and years. I used to tease him that he and his buddies would be out on the tennis court one day with their rackets duct taped to their walkers. That almost came to pass. His group played at least twice per week until they weren’t a group anymore, until death took them one by one, until they were all gone. Dad was the last one alive, and through this process of dealing with my emotions after his passing, I came to realize that deep down I believed he would never die, that he would live forever.
He hunted quail, “birds” around here, always having well-trained dogs, and he killed around 250 to 300 a year for decades until the declining bird population and the affects of age gradually took their toll. But he kept going. He just kept going. Somewhere along the way, I quit asking him how many he killed. The question became first, “How many did you see?” and then, “Did you see one?” Eventually, his yearly harvest of birds came down to single digits, to being countable on one hand. But he kept loading his dog in his truck and going. He just kept going. He hunted so often and walked so much that he wore the toes out of RedWing boots and his dogs looked like starving strays, their tails bloody from wagging through the bush.

He bought land in Carroll County when I was just a little boy and built a cabin. Before that we camped, but with the cabin we spent the night under a roof and then got up early to squirrel hunt before cutting firewood after the hunt and listening to Jack Cristil call the Mississippi State games over the radio. He never lost his passion for State, and I really thought that if he ever did die it would happen while watching one of those games. I’ve never seen anyone get so wound up over football. The passing of years following his graduation from State in 1950 and season after season of losing did little, nothing, to quell his passion for his school.
I shuffled my way down and back on Taylor Drive and then to Grand Blvd. I turned left on “the boulevard,” as we call it here, and headed north. Usually I can’t think very well when I run. This night was different and my mind never idled but kept pace with my feet as I ran the road’s median.
He planted gardens, way more than needed to supplement his family’s food. He was the last of a generation of people who farmed with mules and picked cotton by hand and lived the old way. That never left him and the acreage in Carroll County provided him the opportunity to extend his youth and expose his children to the rigors of his boyhood. I hated the hoeing and picking and shelling, but he seemed to revel in it. As he got older, he kept doing that too, planting way more than needed and then calling his family in to help him put up corn “to get ready for winter.” Last year, he bought another freezer to have more room to put up more corn and peas that he and Mom could never eat. There was plenty of corn already in the freezer, but he had to “get ready for winter.” He just kept doing it.
At the north end of the boulevard, I turned east and then zigged and zagged through the dark streets of North Greenwood. I heard a few crickets chirping and occasionally a dog barked, but mostly I heard voices, or a voice, my father’s.
He loved to fish but when I was a little, a fishing trip was always preceded by a trip to the place to “check on the garden.” Only after a good dose of hand blisters, sunburn, and dehydration did he feel free to have some fun. Then we would go to a hill pond and fly fish or bass fish for the rest of the day. Although those trips were grand fun and made great memories, I always wondered why we couldn’t just fish. Maybe he was trying to teach me the valuable lesson of 'duty before pleasure,’ but in that regard I am poorly learned.
When I grew up and left home, fishing became trips to Louisiana where he eventually kept a little camper and fished the surf and marshes and blessed his family and friends with the harvest of his hobby, with speckled trout. He kept a record of every fish he ever caught except for the rare occasion when someone caught more than he. Once, I got lucky and beat him at Grand Isle, and he never could remember how many fish we took that day. He was competitive like that. He got old, but he just kept going. He kept making trips to Louisiana well into his 80s. I think it was just two years ago that he decided that was no longer a part of his life. I remember thinking how mature and sensible that was of him.
Still the shadow of his legacy began to cast its shade over me long before he left us. Like him, I am no good with moderation: too much is not enough. When it comes to athletics, unlike him, I am a poor performer, but like him I am driven to try and try and try. I can’t seem to slow down even when it is in my best interest to do so. I battled Achilles tendon problems for a little over four years, but like him I kept heading out the door, I just kept doing it.
I inherited not only his desire for life but also his insatiable appetite for food. Unlike him, however, my metabolism eventually slowed enough that I could no longer eat whatever whenever and not suffer the consequences. If he ever slowed in that regard, I failed to notice. He just kept doing it. He was a snacker always munching on something: peanuts, chips, cheese and crackers, smoked sardines, something. But if he ever failed to eat a big meal after snacking, I didn’t notice. Once he had an ulcer and the doctors scoped his digestive tract. They were shocked to find the largest stomach they had ever examined housed within that small-statured, aging man. Didn’t surprise me at all.
Not only did he work hard, play hard, eat hard, but he cooked hard as well. Like many men, he loved to grill, to cook outdoors. Fish, steaks, ribs, and chicken were his specialties, but I think chicken was his best. No fancy grill for him, though. He laid out a little rectangle of 8 X 8 X 16 inch concrete blocks, draped a piece of dog wire over it and cooked on the ground using a #2 wash tub as a covering. No joke, I not only have the memories, but photographic evidence exists that this is actually true.
He did everything in huge measure and squeezed every day for all the experience he could ring from it. He hunted and gardened and fished and cooked and ate. He also loved. I think that part of him gets overlooked, overshadowed by his tremendous temper which was never turned towards people but only towards inanimate objects and situations. Like his mother, he was not affectionate, but he loved. He loved to cook for his family. He loved to have us around. He loved to help us anyway he could. He just loved.

And then he died. I really didn’t believe it would ever happen, but I guess as someone said, “God is right nine times out of ten.” The Bible says, “It is appointed unto man once to die and after that the judgment.” To my surprise, I see now that applies even to Roger Hodge.
I made my way back across the boulevard to West Monroe Street and slowed to a walk when I got within a quarter of a mile from the house. It was quiet out, besides the chirping crickets and barking dogs, but I’m not sure I could have heard much else anyway. My heart rate and respiration steadily dropped as I slowly strolled towards home. My run was over, but my thoughts were not. I realized my memories and meditation on his life, on life, were not over but just beginning. That, I think, is a good thing.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Strange Week

The week started with, "Are you kidding me?" It was a strange seven days.

My light last couple of weeks has resulted not in a fresher, stronger body, but rather in the disappearance of my hard-fought-for fitness. Where did it go? It hasn't had time to wander away too far. Monday I went out for a little shuffle. I did 2.24 miles and was shocked at my pace (or lack thereof) and huffing and weakness of the thigh. *Sighs with tear filled eyes. It was not much better at the pool where I swam 1,800 in 64 degree water, but was sucking air the whole way. *Sighs more and contemplates bodily harm to self.

I guess I've reached the advanced age where I have to keep this body in perpetual motion or my fitness evaporates like the morning dew.

Tuesday I shuffled 3.39 miles and my legs were pretty much toast. At the pool, the water had warmed to 66, so I was able to stay in long enough for 3,200 straight. The pace, though, was horrendous. It was only a few weeks ago that I set a PR at 400 meters, and a little before that, I destroyed my adversary, Randy Beets, at Swim the Suck Ten Miler. *Sighs and contemplates shooting road signs.

Wednesday, I shuffled another 2.28 miles and met Big John at the pool. Although the water was still 66, I got cold quickly and got out after only 1,500 meters. *Sighs and considers life in a mental institution.

Thursday morning while I as at work, Dad called and told me Mom had fallen the night before. She broke her hip, and was scheduled for surgery that day. A few minutes later, my sister called. Both of us teach for MDCC, and both of us were in class at that time. She wanted someone at the hospital because Mom has lots of chronic health problems and narrowly survived several repeated mal-practices two years ago (long, long story that must sounds too shocking to be true to anyone who had the patience to listen or read). I gave my class their marching orders and left.

To make a short story long, I was at the hospital all day until my sister, who is a real American hero, relieved me sometimes that night. I really can't remember what time. It is amazing how cloudy my thinking becomes and how large my belly gets while hanging out at hospitals. I have learned to write down everything. I also have learned that I lose all control over what I shove into my mouth, and I gain weight by the minute. Anyway, when I went home, I put on shoes, fired up the Garmin watch, and headed my recently acquired huge belly out the door not for fitness but for stress relief.

I made it 5.05 very slow miles before my legs tapped out. It looked like just a little bit of my long lost fitness was starting to coming back to me. Just a little bit. Then I fixed up a day bag and went to bed because I had to have Dad at the same hospital at 6:30 am Friday morning for his TURP. That's right, we had Mom and Dad both in the hospital at the same time. Luckily, Mom was in 470, and Dad was straight across the hall in 471. My sister and I were both there until I went to Mom's house for lunch. Dad had bought and cooked food for us before he went in, and I could tell it made him happy when I said I was going there to eat. Before eating, however, I took a little 3.12 mile shuffle

Saturday, I relieved my sister at 8:00 am and was there until about 6:30 pm. Dad got to go home, and Mom was moved upstairs to 5th floor for rehab. I must say they both have received good care at the Greenwood Leflore Hospital. Our bad experiences with health care two years ago occurred in the LTAC unit within the Greenwood Hospital. There they seem to manage death not life. I have had three church members die there and despite having someone in the room 24/7, writing down everything, and asking questions and challenging things like the cessation of necessary-for-life medications, my mom almost didn't survive her stay in what I call the Death Ward. The way she survived is she had an appointment with a specialist in Jackson. He was horrified at what he saw and immediately admitted her to St. Dominic where they saved her life.

Once home, I went out for a run with no plan. I just started running and slowed to a walk after 5.35 miles. Although the run was slow, it was quicker that Thursday's shuffle. If I were in good form now, I might have gone for twenty miles, but that presently is not within my reach.

I will post again soon, like tomorrow.