Sunday, March 30, 2014

Not a Bad Water Week

I managed to sneak in another pretty decent week in the water. Wednesday I ran 3.3 miles and Thursday it was back to DSU where I started swimming at 6:06 and got in an even 2,000 before Masters. As a group, we swam

6 X 50
4 X 50
100 easy (end of Masters).

Alone, I put on my small paddles and just started. I quit after 2,800 straight for a total of 6,600 meters.

Friday I did a little 1.76 mile shuffle and then went to the pond. Since we had a big rain Thursday night, I couldn't get to my beloved D 6. It is a recently repaired pond and in the repairing they dug it deeper and deposited the excess dirt on the pond levees which now have no gravel. They are lovely to run on, but unless you have a four-wheel drive and like mud, it is a no-go after a rain. So instead of D 6, I went to the B ponds, to B 12 a pond that has a good gravel levee and is lightly stocked. I like lightly stocked. I had a goal to swim nonstop for a little over two hour. I made eight laps, it took 2:18, and I racked up 4.56 miles. It felt really good. The water was 66 when I got in and I loved it.

Saturday was the Viking Half Marathon and 5K. Regretfully, I'm not fit enough for a half right now, but unregretfully I ran with my son and daughter. They both beat me which must mean I really am old.

My daughter and I running the Viking 5K
Naw, I can't accept it.

It was a nice workout, considering my current level of fitness and how fat I am. For my daughter, it was a PR and the first time we have all done a race together. Maybe for the Oaks, we can get Mary Hodge involved.

Caitlin, our granddaughter, spent the night with us Friday while Andrea, our daughter, spent the night with our son Forrest. She, Caitlin, loves to come to Nana and Poppy's. When she was younger, she called our place "we's" house. After the race, Caitlin and I went riding, ate lunch at Sonic, and played at the park. It is always a joy to have her and Zane, but he stayed home with his dad.

After Caitlin left and I took a nap, I went to Plate City Gym and did an upper body workout. Then I began to feel terrible. I spent Sunday in bed, hoping its just a passing sinus/allergies flareup. I can't afford an illness. If I were to miss a week or two of training, the Challenge would be in serious jeopardy.

For the week, I

swam 19,346.04 meters
ran 12.15
lifted weights once, and
walked 5.49 miles.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Postal Swim

Spoiler alert: if you are signed up for Billy-Bigge Yyards Postal Swim and don't want to know my results until they are posted, then stop reading now. I did my swim last night. Good. Tough. Good and tough.

For the uninitiated, a postal swim is a friendly competition where you swim on your own and then mail in your results (in this case email). The host (or hostess of the event) then posts the results so, I suppose, you can compare yourself to all the other swimmers you have been reading about for months. In my case that would be some pretty serious Brits whom I have never met in the flesh, but I enjoy reading their blogs and Facebook posts. I have learned that our foreign friends are extremely dedicated to their aquatic proclivities. Some of them swim outdoors (in England!) year round, some blast up and down the pool like Olympians, and some swim rivers and lakes just for the fun of it paying little attention to distance and times, ranking a swim rather by its enjoyment. I find them all interesting and motivating for my own efforts in the water.

The rules of this particular postal swim (yes it is spelled correctly above) are to swim one hour for distance anytime between March 21 and April 10 and send in the results. I did mine last night at the DSU pool during Masters practice. I hope my coach doesn't get offended at me as I have done my own thing several times lately. Anyway, I thought one hour hard would be a really good workout and I'm convinced it was. I found it pretty difficult to swim a full hour straight while really pushing the pace. I can swim many hours nonstop at a leisurely effort, but to push hard is another story. I was tired when I finished my hour, and I felt the effort in my arms and pectoral muscles even when I arose this morning.

When I got to the DSU pool about 6:00 o'clock, I found Felix Shipp sitting deckside waiting for a lane. Lately we have been showing up with all the swim teams absent. One of them came back last night, and I was reminded that one of the disadvantages of long course is there are a whole bunch fewer lanes. We chatted a bit and then lane four opened up so we got in. While doing my 1,000 meter warm up, I noticed a couple of things that fired me up for my swim. One, the pace clocks- one on each end of the pool- were synchronized. The second thing I noticed was that as I neared my tenth lap, the pace clocks were getting very close to flipping over back to zero. The clocks are digital, but they zero out at one hour and start over. Cha-ching!

I stopped after my warm up and had two and a half minutes to rest. I called Cagri over and told him I was doing a one hour postal swim and was going at zero. He asked, "What is a postal swim?" and I thought, You know what one is because you told us about one a few years back.

At 0.00 on the deck clock, I punched my Garmin and pushed off the wall. I went as hard as I dared and did the first hundred in about 1:40, a pretty good pace for me. I didn't think I could hold that, but I was not afraid to try. Starting at zero made it easy for me to track my progress and my Garmin was set for the big screen to record distance. After a few laps, I was able to determine that I was doing most of them in 1:45. Occasionally, I would find myself flipping when the masters were leaving the wall. Ricky Smith was in lane three, and I am just a little bit faster than him, so I raced him down the pool several times when they were doing 50s. When that happened, I came in around 1:40. When I didn't have Ricky pushing me, it was 1:45 or even as slow as 1:50. A few times they were leaving when I was approaching the wall so they had a head start on me. I really did those laps at a high level as I usually managed to catch and pass them after they went from 50s to 100s.

To make a short story long, I did 3,404 meters in my one hour, and when I finished I knew I had done something. I drank some water and rested a couple of minutes before swimming a very slow 200. Then I did 3 X 100 with small paddles @ 2:00. I stopped at three because I was having trouble making the interval.

Yeah, I was that wasted.

I put on my medium paddles and did 2 X 50 @ 1:00. I couldn't handle that either, so I put on my large paddles and swam a steady but slow 400 and then called it a night. In all, I did 5,400 meters, not big numbers with a seventeen mile swim coming up, but a good workout nonetheless.

From now on, though, I have to chase the big numbers. Raw endurance it what I need for my Chicot Challenge. Although it is cold right now, the ten day forecast for our area looks good, looks normal. I can handle normal. Normal will give me a chance to do plenty of swimming. Last year I suffered a lot on my Challenge. I trained all I could, but the weather was so crazy that I was hampered from the really long swims I needed. Just the other day, I was looking back at last year's training diary. Over and over I read that I went to Twin Rivers to lift weights during the month of April because it was cold and raining. I remember one of those days talking to Tom Flanagan, a super nice man and very bright fellow. I was complaining to him about my training frustrations at the time. He told me then that all I could do was all I could do. True enough and it did help me feel better at the time. But when the Challenge was on, Robin Bond hadn't gotten the memo that all I could do was all I could do. She would not let me quit. I thank her for that now. I hope I don't need her determination this year. In fact, I hope when seventeen miles are done that I ask them if they are willing to go a little farther. That can only happen if I pay the price now.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Good Week, Jolly Good Week

I had some of the most enjoyable swims of my life this past week, and like most humans I want more. Like my dad, too much has never been enough for me. Oddly, he was a little critical of my swimming. Not that I minded. In fact, I found it amusing. I am just like him with the only difference being that swimming was not one of his excesses. He did swim. I remember growing up when we spent a day in the country he would get in the pond and swim, not splash and soak but swim. But he did it to cool off and for fun. He never made swimming a part of his exercise routine until a few years ago when he would meet me at Twin Rivers in the early mornings and we swam. By this time, he was pretty slow and mostly did heads up breaststroke, although when he was younger he had been pretty quick at the front crawl.

Maybe I overstated the enjoyment part a bit, but they were nice swims, my best of the year. I can think back on some as enjoyable, even more so. For instance, Mary Hodge and I used to go the Hot Springs, Arkansas and stay on Long Island, which is situated in Lake Hamilton. While there it was my morning ritual to rise early and circumnavigate the island all alone, just me and the water. Those were great swims and I want to go back and break my old speed records for circling the island.

Another good thing about the week is for the first time this year I cracked the 20,000 meter barrier, the level of swimming I have long felt I needed in order to approach top form in terms of both endurance and speed. Without swimming Monday (I think it was a bit chilly), I racked up 25,784.29 meters. That's the kind of training I need for the Chicot Challenge. Unfortunately, I am not likely to get anywhere near that in the next seven days because of the cold front that just assaulted us like the Russian military hitting the Ukraine. I only hope spring is typical following this cold front. Last year April was like a bad dream that wouldn't end.

Friday, we had to make up one of the days we were off school when the temperature got all the way down to 33, so I didn't get to the pond until around 3:00 o'clock. My goal was simply to do a non-stop swim that was a little longer than the 3.21 that was my longest of 2014. I noticed early in the swim that my right pectoral muscle had a sore spot in it, and this caused me to go easy on the pace and to constantly question how long I should go. I swam six laps and loved every minute. Crawling out of the pond, I felt refreshed after swimming 3.66 miles in 1:58:15.

Saturday afternoon I went back to D 6 where I found the water all the way up to 64 degrees. My thermometer was in the intermediate zone so the pond was 63 in places and 65 in other areas. The 65 felt wonderful. I only swam an even two miles and stopped because although the soreness in my pec was slightly improved, it was still there. I could have kept going both then and Friday, but I thought it prudent not to risk injury. Twenty-five thousand is a pretty big jump up from last week's 5,000. If I did that sort of thing running, I would be back on crutches.

For the week, I

ran 7.21 miles (huh?),
swam 25,784.29 meters,
walked 3.72 miles, and
lifted weights once.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Double Dip

The week has been lovely, my mood upbeat, and the swimming good. The weather is beginning to break off a little warmer than this time last year, which was a nightmare that still haunts me. We may have some nightmares yet, but this week has been glorious.

I got my first double-dip of the year, and it was really an enjoyable experience. I went back to the fish farm in the afternoon, to the one I used to call the Pond of Perpetual Pumpitude. I now know it is officially labeled D 6. I swam Coleman 1 a couple of times recently, a large pond near Schlater, MS that sits on the banks of the Quiver River. I like it over there and the pond measures .78 per lap in the water. Randy and I always like swimming the big ponds. But it has a lot of fish, and I really get nervous now when I get bumped a lot.

I even swam one of my old favorites, J 7, a while back, but I got hit by fish there also. A lot. I walked down the levee road of the J ponds and saw huge dead fish in all of them. One day I even asked one of the workers about big ponds with small fish, Arthur Burt, whom I stopped as he patrolled the levee roads. He sent me to the B ponds where I tested two in one afternoon. One is a reject, but the other I may revisit. Thursday, however, I went back the D 6 where there are no weeds on the bank and the pond is so recently stocked that I have never even been touched in it, not once. It's like swimming in a pool. Nice.

That afternoon was sunny and sunny all day. Ducks were everywhere and even the gumbo dirt of the levee felt good under my bare feet. I do believe this was the first day of full sunshine we have had all year. We've had some sun, half a day once or twice. But the sky was clear all night and all day. Also, technically this was the first day of spring and the weather played along with the high actually exceeding the prediction. I think it topped out at 69, and the water was 63 when I got there and 66 when I climbed out one hour and twenty-two minutes after getting in. As I swam I could see waterfowl circling overhead, wanting to relight upon the pond but apparently thinking I was some sort of large crocodile or other predator. The water flet good even though I was clad in neoprene. Soon, I can lose that and be at one with the aqua vita, I thought.

I didn't try to swim hard, knowing I would be going to Masters that evening. I just cruised along and feeling strong and comfortable in the water. When I stopped, I climbed onto the levee refreshed and eager to drive to Cleveland, MS for my second swim. I did 2.92 miles for 4,698.28 meters.

At DSU I warmed up a little ahead of the other guys which included Ricky Smith, Mark Blackwood, and Duke Morgan. I swam

10 X 50 @ 1:30 1st 25 fast
8 X 50 @ 1:30 2nd 25 fast
100 easy
6 X 50 @ 1:30 1st 25 fast
100 easy
4 X 50 @ 1:30 2nd 25 fast
600 pull with small paddles
Total: 3,600 LCM.

I decided to end there since this was my biggest training day of the year. Better safe than sorry. Part of me wanted to keep pushing because I never know what the weather is going to do. But I decided the 8,298.35 meters was enough to produce a training effect, to put a little endurance into my muscles. You can't get it all in one swim.

I went home and slept like I was a world champion snoozer. Life is good, except I am sitting in an empty classroom on a Friday because our brilliant leaders cancelled school on days when I would have allowed my mom on the street walking on her walker. I swear, administrators think we, teachers, are stupid. I suppose they think, why else would they be teaching if they weren't mentally challenged? Some things you just can't fix.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

A Better State of Mind

If you read my last post, you may be wondering if I am writing to you from a mental institution. Not  yet. Actually I am in a much better state of mind now than I was just a two days ago. Amazing what a little sunshine can do.

For the first time in thirteen days, the weatherman was right. By the way, I am not a weatherman basher. For the most part I think they do a wonderful job and are amazingly accurate. However, we just went twelve straight days where our local weatherman, the National Weather Service, and the Weather Channel have missed our daily high not by a little but by a lot. A whole lot. Every day. It hurt my feelings. It made my fish ponds cold. I don't like my fish ponds cold.

Not only did the temperature rise nicely and the sun shine, but I arrived at Delta State to find the pool set up for long course. Dude! I like long course. Actually, I love long course. Long course is much better for endurance training. The difference between the two in distance is only a little under 10%. The difference in stroke count, however, is a full 30%. What? That's right. Swim it yourself, count your strokes, and do the math. For me, at least, there is a solid 30% difference between the two, and that is why long course seems so much harder than short course: it is.

I decided to do my own thing at the pool, and I started with 1,000 meter warm up, and then decided on 2,000 for time which I did in 35:58, a new PR. I stopped on the wall and Mark Blackwood was there so I asked what they, the Masters, were doing. Since they had two 400s and an 800 coming up, I opted for the rest of the Masters practice. We did the 400s with paddles pushing the first 25 of each 50. When we did the 800, they got to use fins. My fins were stolen about a year ago, so Ricky Smith and Mark handed me my butt. I tried to keep Mark from lapping me, and I help him off for seven hundred meters before he overtook and passed me. We pushed the second 25 of each 50, and then warmed down with an easy 200 to end the Masters practice. On my own, I swam a straight 1,300 with small paddles and then 300 with finger paddles. I was pretty much done, but that is exactly what I needed. I finished with 6,400 LCMs. This was a good training swim for the Challenge, a good start. I need more of these and they need to grow longer, much longer. But I feel like finally I am on my way.

The DSU pool is set up for long course, the weather is warming, and my grandchildren get better looking every day. Life is good.

Monday, March 17, 2014

The Grinch Who Stole Spring

It's happening again and I'm not sure what to do about it. Already, I have pushed the date of my Chicot Challenge back by two weeks, but I fear that may not be enough. Last spring, I pretty much lost my mind over the coldness of the weather which seriously hampered my training. This year I've pretty much lost my mind over the coldness of the weather which is seriously hampering my training. It has been just as bad this time around. I haven't run the numbers, but most likely I am behind last year's training pace by 50 or more miles of swimming, and last year I was ill prepared for the sixteen miles I suffered through on June 1.

Not only have the forecasts been cool, but the weather has failed to meet the predicted highs every single day since and including March 6th. The temperature shortfalls have been anywhere from seven to sixteen degrees. Today's high was supposed to be a way too cold 52. Right now the actual temp is 37, and most likely we have topped out for the day.


And unsustainable.

I cannot train for a seventeen mile swim in water as cold as we have now. Unlike other parts of he country where the water temps slowly rise and fall with the seasons, the water temperature here is like a yo-yo. A week ago it was in the mid-forties. Yesterday it was 62. My guess is right now we are back in the low fifties and headed downward. My head is about to explode, I no longer trust the weathermen/women (local, national or otherwise), and I am in the untenable position of being angry at the weather.

I know that missing plane is important because it contains people, people other people know and love. I just wish someone would go on the search for spring, find it, and bring it back where it belongs, back to the region formerly known as the sunny South.

OK, I'm through ranting about the weather.

No I'm not. I can't take it any more. Really, I can't take it any more!!! I was born in June back before most homes had an air-conditioner. Really, I remember when our house didn't have one. My momma brought me home from the Greenwood Leflore Hospital to an un-air-conditioned upstairs apartment. I was born sweating and I'm most happy now when I sweat. I hate cold. I hate it. I can't take it!!! I want my spring to come back. I want it now!

OK, I'm through ranting about the weather.

Dang, I can't BELIEVE how cold it is. When in the doo doo is it going to warm up?!?!?!? It can't do this to me again. It can't! Crap, if it doesn't warm up soon, I'm going to do something drastic. I am. I'm going to -- I'm not saying what, but I am going to do, but it won't be polite.

OK, I'm through ranting about the weather.

I feel like I am about to break down mentally. All I want is some normal temps. That's all. Just some normal temps. If I don't get it soon, I'm going to punish something, maybe a road sign or an old car, but something will feel my wrath.

Friday, I did some running. I had planned on going to the pond to swim, but the weather was WAY colder than the prediction for the day, and mentally I just couldn't make myself do it. Saturday I did drive to the pond only to find that the water had once again dipped under 60 degrees and the weather was colder than predicted. I ran first to warm my body and then swam without taping my nose because as cold as the water was, I didn't think it had too much bacteria in it. I must have been right, because I didn't even stop up afterwards.

Sunday I drove back to the fish farm. The temp was supposed to be above 70. It maxed out and 64 and then started falling like a duck blasted with a ten gauge shotgun. The wind whipped up to about thirty miles per hour like Mother Nature was saying, "Oh heck no you can't swim today." I made it a little ways down the pond with the wind to my back then turned around and sighted on my truck. I swam hard but the truck didn't seem to get any closer. I swam harder and was breathing on every stroke. Finally, I began to draw nearer to my ride and the end of a short but strenuous swim. When I made it back to the truck, I climbed out, shed my suit, and drove home confused and forlorn.

For the week, I

swam 5,068.31 meters,
ran 20.11 miles,
did 33:00 minutes on the bike trainer,
lifted weights once, and
walked 8.30 miles.

Maybe next week. That's what I've been saying since February. Maybe next week.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Not Even Dad

I made a list at the beginning of the week to make sure I did everything I needed to do while on Spring Break. I lost my list and well enough because number one was: grade student papers. Yeah, right.

I was hoping to swim a lot and I've fought really hard to make that happen but alas, it's been too dang cold. The weather has been running five to sixteen degrees below the weatherman's projections. Monday I drove out to Coleman (a part of Tacket Fish Farm) and swam in my latest pond. The water was 60. For Shawn Turner that would necessitate an ice drink at the end and some quality air-conditioning to keep from overheating. But my wetsuited, cold-water sissy self only did one lap (.78 miles) before I didn't want to be cold anymore. Did I mention that I shuffled 4.1 miles before the swim? The whole time I was running, I was trying to get my mind right to stay in the water a really long time. Did you figure out that I failed? Socket rientist.

Tuesday I went back to Coleman. I like the pond, and I love the levees for running before and after swimming, which I did that day. However, the fish are very aggressive in there. Monday I was repeatedly torpedoed by fish who all had very hard heads. How are they making fish these days? I wasn't injured, but I did become nervous thinking about the time I got finned in the palm, paralyzing my right hand or forty-five minutes.

I took a 3.1 mile run first, and I saw something that looked like an alligator swimming in one corner of the pond. I waded in anyway. Actually, I think it might have been a muskrat, but it was definitely some being who does not pay membership dues. Coleman is on the banks of the Quiver River which means all sorts of creatures can sneak in such as alligators, Sasquatch, and giant snapping turtles. When I made it to that part of the pond, something smashed into my right forearm with enough force to knock it upward a foot or more. I about crapped my wetsuit. I think I'm going back to my old new pond, the one I call the Pond of Perpetual Pumpitude. In it the fish are small, the water is deep, and I've never been touched by an unknown, non-dues paying creature while swimming there.

Once again, the temperature failed to get anywhere near its projected high, Wednesday, so I stayed home lifted weights and did a couple of varieties of cardio. Specifically, I performed several rounds of bike trainer/treadmill work. This is the kind of workout that can pay dividends this July when I do the Heart O' Dixie Triathlon if I repeat this often enough. I did eleven minutes on the trainer, spinning up to a shortness of breath and six minutes on the treadmill three times trough for a total of  thirty-three minutes of pedalling and eighteen minutes of running.

After Mary Hodge got off work, we loaded Jeff up and headed to the recycle bins. These huge repositories of our recyclable stuff are located near the banks of the Yazoo River and adjacent to a couple of trails the city built over the last year. One trail is rock, tear-shaped, track-like thing suitable for committing suicide on. But in the woods along the river is a delightful path worthy of running, walking, or just sitting. We took Jeff down there and let him pee on every tree within three feet of the trail. Poor thing must have dehydrated himself, and as we strolled along the river, I started to hatch ideas about swimming.

I'm a coward, but while the cool air blew in our faces, and a chorus of songbirds announced peace to the world, I thought I just might have the moxie to jump in those muddy, swift waters and swim downstream. It was, at least, a nice thought. Heck. I even hatched a plan. I could park at the boat ramp and then walk up the trail carrying my wetsuit. I have tons of old running shoes, so I could just abandon a pair when I got ready to get into the water. If you go to the end of the trail and bit more beyond, there is a ditch that empties into the river and this, I thought, would be the perfect place to suit up and swim. I could go downstream to the boat ramp and climb out there.

Before Mary Hodge and I left, we stopped at the ramp, and I walked down to stick my hand into the water. I left it there a few seconds and surmised the temp to be 58. I can do this, I thought, and I got that slight butteryfly feeling in my stomach, a mixture of nervousness and excitement.

The next day, Thursday, I headed to Carroll County for a run and to check on the place. Since Dad died, I haven't really checked on things because our Carroll County trips have been to Hillbilly Heaven after Mary's mother, Louise, passed. The first thing I did was drive over to Dad's shooting house. I climbed the steps and noticed one of them was rotting. He built this thing when he was in his mid-sixties and over the years has repaired and modified it. Now it has carpeting on the steps, and large carpeted porch on the back, and camouflage netting from the bottom of the front all the way to the ground. He could get in and out without spooking deer if there were any are in his field. The floor is fourteen feet off the ground and it overlooks an acre and a half of a food plot he planted every year. I climbed down and walked the plot and headed up some paths he kept bush hogged. For the fist time in weeks, I cried. I felt so close to him yet so far away.

From the time of his passing, I have laughed as much as I've wept. We had a good relationship, and I have nothing but nice memories of him. He was eccentric and lived life like nobody I ever knew. He believed in filling every day as full as he could fill it. So when I think about him, I often end up smiling or chuckling, or even laughing out loud. But I miss him terribly and that is the part that makes me sad. And even though he was almost eighty-five, I still have this strange feeling that he died before his time. Maybe that comes from his health and activity level. I think it also comes from my mom's health struggles. It just seemed self-evident that he would outlive her so as long as she was alive, his death wasn't even a thought. Now he is gone and she is doing better than she has in years. You just never know about life. Or death.

Everything about the place reminded me of him: his food plot, his shooting house, his gardens, the paths he bush hogged, his tractor. I cranked the tractor. The battery was weak, but it fired up and I drove it around a bit. Then I drove my truck down to the cabin and changed into my running attire. I had planned on running the gravel roads but instead I shuffled the fields and paths of my dad. A Garmin watch is nice like that. You can run anywhere and change plans on the go and still know exactly how far you went. I went 5.03 miles. I went home.

After a brief rest, I decided to drive over to the boat landing to see if I really had the nerve to jump into that river. I squatted and soaked my hand in the water which told me the river had cooled overnight and was at that moment 57 degrees. I looked out at the churning, brown river as it rolled past the boat ramp. I knew how I would feel if I pulled it off: exhilarated. I've felt that before; you get it when you swim something that makes you a little nervous to try. I think it's what the ocean swimmers feel and why they go back and back. But to have that feeling, you must first have the nerve to take the plunge, to put yourself on the line, to try something that is a little bit uncomfortable, frightening even. I wondered if I was strong enough to swim out of the current and into the boat shoot or would the power of the river sweep me downstream and past safety. Then I had a loss of nerve, stood and said out loud, "No way. Dad wouldn't even do that."

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Unver Interview Part II

Jay Unver Interviews Zane Hodge (Part II)
Unver: O.K. Obviously you are uncomfortable talking about that. We’ll drop it. I had a second purpose in talking with you today. I want to announce a new athletic organization: The Association of Sports Strikers. This is going to be an MMA league for multi-sport athletes, like you and your fellow Fatties, who have no previous combat sport experience.
Hodge:  Wow! Sounds interesting.
Unver: Yes. This is going to be huge. The new group, like the other ASS groups, will be a subsidiary of Big Ass Endurance. I am not only the reporter for Big ASS, but I’ve been hired as matchmaker for the new fight league. You interested?
Hodge: As a fan, heck yeah, as a fighter, no.
Unver: Come on now, this league is going to be unbelievable. We are going to have a website like Facebook with a listing of all the local multisport athletes. Each athlete will have his or her own page with a profile picture and athletic resume. After you join, you will be able to make a fight request, just like you make a friend request on Facebook. If the person you requested to fight confirms, then we, The Association of Sports Strikers, spring into action and begin negotiations with both participants and try to set up a card.
Hodge: Neat idea. Wish this had come along thirty-years ago.
Unver: Don’t tell me you’re too old. I don’t want to hear it.
Hodge: You know I hate it when I hear someone say, “I’m too old.” But really, there are a couple of things I am too old for: crashing a bicycle and fighting.
Unver: I understand the bicycle part, but the fighting part I can’t accept. I’ve seen you working on the heavy bag at the Big ASS Training Center in Lehrton. You throw a pretty good punch. Obviously you can fight.
Hodge: Well, maybe I can box a little. Probably whip most people near my size. But MMA is a different beast. My knees are too loose for that. I can do inline movements like running and biking. But lateral movements kill my knees. I just couldn’t do it.
Unver: Don’t be so quick to say no. We are renting the old go-cart track off Coila Creek Road. It has room to park cars; it has stands that will seat a couple of hundred fans; it has a concession stand. We can hold fights and have runs and bike races all right there. Big ASS Endurance is about to explode. Be a part of it.
Hodge: I am a part of it. I’m a swimmer, runner, triathlete, but I ain’t no fighter. Look, I agree, this is going to be a winner. And I’ll help. I’ll work the concession stand, I’ll park cars, I’ll sell tickets, whatever. But fighting? It ain’t gunna happen.
Unver: Come on now.
Hodge: It ain’t gunna happen. Ever. Trust me.
Unver: You know we are going to pay. Minimum pay for fighters will be $200.00 per match. We are also considering bonuses for wins, maybe an extra $5.00 and even bonuses for knockouts and submissions. Maybe as much as an extra $4.00. It is conceivable that you could make as much as $209.00 before taxes.
Hodge: Two-hundred and nine dollars won’t buy a knee.
Unver: Why do you think MMA is bad for the knees?
Hodge: Because it is. You have to transfer core strength through your knees or you get tossed around and submitted. I just can’t do that.
Unver: I bet you could.
Hodge: I’m not going to. Listen. I love the idea. I’ll help in every way possible. I’ll promote it. I’ll help, I will. I’m just not going to fight.
Unver: You know, we not only will make matches through requests from the athletes, but the Association of Sports Strikers will initiate some fights. We will send certain athletes fight suggestions. This is going to be the UFC and Facebook combined for the local endurance athlete. Who knows where this could go.
Hodge: I believe you. I never heard a better idea. It’s going to work. But it’s going to work without me as a fighter.
Unver: When Dr. Nomann and I came up with this idea, the first fight suggestion we had in mind was a catch-weight bout between you and Randy Beets. At this point Hodge jumped out of his chair, spilling his coffee. He stood dumbfounded. His eyes grew large like tennis balls.
Hodge: Dude! Really? You’re not kidding?
Unver: No, we’re not kidding.
Hodge: I’m in! How do I sign up?

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Jay Unver Interview from 2011

My week is going well so far, but today I thought I would post an earlier writing that would help bring my readers up to speed on the complex relationship between Randy Beets and me. Following is Part I of an interview Jay Unver did on me in December of 2011. Tomorrow, or the next day, I will post Part II of the same interview. Besides attempting an explanation on Randy Beets and why he is so difficult to get along  with, Big ASS Endurance is once again contemplating the launching of an amateur MMA league for endurance athletes. Earlier attempts at a fight league failed to gain traction. Dr. Timothy Nomann, President and CEO of Big ASS Endurance, believes now is the time for a new ASS group.

Jay Unver Interviews Zane Hodge (Part I)
I conducted this interview with Zane Hodge on Thursday morning, December 22, 2011. The purpose of our chat was two-fold, one of which was to discuss the Fasttrack Fatties Athletic Club along with the new Association of Sports Strikers. We sat in his living room talking and drinking coffee while outside the December rain watered the earth.
Unver: Good morning. Should I call you Dr. Hodge?
Hodge: No. Call me Zane, please.
Unver: Zane, the first thing I wanted to ask you about is The Fasttrack Fatties Athletic Club. And by the way, is it The Fast Track Fatties or The Fasttrack Fatties?
Hodge: Both, either or. You find it in our literature both ways. As informal as we are, I don’t think it really matters. Personally, I like Fasttrack better, but Fast Track has better initials. That way we are FTF athletes.
Unver: I understand you founded this organization?
Hodge: I did, several years age. I was overweight and trying to get back into shape. We are a very loose-knit group. It started with a relay triathlon team. We were looking for a name, and since I was the one who registered us, I came up with the name The Fasttrack Fatties.
Unver: So it’s just a name, it’s not a real group.
Hodge: Oh no, we are a real group. I expanded the idea after the triathlon to garner support for my weight loss and general fitness goals. We became a group, mostly of former fat people, who control their weight and improve their health through endurance athletics.
Unver: So what do y’all do?
Hodge: We meet up and have eating contests. No, just kidding. We encourage one another through e-mails, phone calls, text messages, and Facebook. Not only that but we get together and train. An e-mail might go out calling for a Fattie bike ride or a Fattie swim or a Fattie run. We even lift weights sometimes.
Unver: How fat do you have to be to join?
Hodge: Actually, you don’t have to be fat at all. If you’re even concerned about the possibility of getting fat you can become a member. My son falls into that latter category. He’s never been fat, but he doesn’t want to become another porky man. So he joined and is an active, loyal member.
Unver: That’s interesting. How many members do y’all have?
Hodge: Oh gee, I don’t know. I never made a list. I guess I need to, but like I said we are very informal. There are no dues, you just say you want to be a Fattie and we claim you as one of our own. Off the top of my head, besides me and my son, there is Randal Beets, Petya Petrova, Robin Bond, and Harris Powers. Maybe there are some more. I suppose I should work on our membership this summer and maybe come up with a few rules.
Unver: What have y’all been doing lately?
Hodge:  Running and a lot of weight lifting. We have our own gym.
Unver: Really?
Hodge: Yes. It’s called Plate City Gym and it’s located in my back yard.
Unver: Wonderful. I find it interesting that endurance athletes now more than ever include resistance training in their workouts.
Hodge: I think strength work is very important. We have a super time doing whatever we do together. Almost all of us get along really well.
Unver: Almost all of you?
Hodge: Well you know how it is. You get a group of people together and there will often be tensions and bad blood.
Unver: Bad blood?
Hodge: Maybe I overstated that a little.
Unver: So you have an issue with somebody in the club?
Hodge: I didn’t say that.
Unver: Who is it?
Hodge: Nobody, really.
Unver: You can tell me.
Hodge: Stop, please.
Unver: Is it Beets? At this point Hodge looked uncomfortable, squirmed a little in his chair, and took a long sip from his coffee mug.
Hodge: Who?
Unver: Randal Beets. Hodge turned slightly red and didn’t say anything for a moment.
Hodge: You mean that tall guy?
Unver: Yeah that tall guy. The one you raced in Chattanooga. The one you have a match race with this June. Hodge looked most distressed, squirmed some more, and his eyes shifted from side to side.
Hodge: No comment.
To be continued.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Spring Break Week Has Begun

Spring Break week just started, and all I can think about is training to beat Beets' butt. He's been taunting me on Facebook and swimming way more yards in the pool than me. Since he moved to North Carolina, he's picked up some attitude to go along with his altitude. I hate to admit it, but he has me a bit rattled right now, and to make things worse, last week was another disapointing one with only

9,916.0 meters of swimming,
8.45 and 6.91 miles running and walking,
and no weight lifting for the second week in a row.

This is unaccceptable.

I am still fat.

My finger nails are bitten down.

Oh, my.

At this very moment, I am hanging out with my cat, drinking coffee, and trying to come up with a plan for the day. I think I will drive out to the pond and try to get in some distance there. It is supposed to be pretty warm this afternoon with lots of sunshine, which should warm the water nicely. Unfortunately, of late, the temps have fallen far below the weatherman's word with last Thursday's high being 16 degrees below the predicition. I don't know what the water is running at the pond, but my guess is mid-50s at best. If we get the temp and the sun Christopher Mathis promised us, the water could hit 60 today.

I plan to post often this week. Stay tuned.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Five PRs

My last post ended with the week of 2/17-2/23. Lately I've had trouble keeping up. I hope that changes starting with today. Being off work next week, one thing I hope to do is revise and post some of the narratives I've written in the past. I'm thinking I'll do more of that in the future. Now, I just need to bring the training log up to date.

For the week of 2/24-3/2, I

swam 10,916.0 meters,
ran 10.67 miles,
lifted weights none, and
walked .81 miles.

Not much training, as you can see, but I'm still coming back from a pretty substantial injury. Nevertheless, my motivation has been lagging a bit. I don't know what is wrong.

I did have one really interesting swim that week. Our coach told us ahead of time that he would be out Thursday, February 28th. He assured us that someone would be there to coach us. Usually, however, when the coach is out I opt to do my own thing. When the cat's away as they say. So I got to looking through my swim records and noticed two things: I noticed that some of my PRs were set in 2010. I'm thinking anything I did in 2010 (in water, not on land) I can beat. My 2010 times were the 1,800 and the 600. I also noticed a couple of blanks. I didn't even have a 250 or 150 time. Once, I remember mentioning this to Cagri thinking he would write those distances into our practices. Instead, he told me I didn't need to have a time at those distances. "It's enough," he told me, "to know what you should swim because you have a 100 and a 400 time."

Well color me crazy, but what in the heck does need have to do with anything I do outside of my job? I swim because I want to (well, maybe there is an inner need), I run because I want to, I eat ice-cream because I want to. Nobody needs ice-cream. Need has nothing to do with most of what I occupy myself with. Why should it?

To make a short story long, that Thursday I did a 1,000 warm up and then swam 1,800 for time. My old record was 31:40. My record now is 27:15. After swimming an easy 200, it was time to go for my 600 PR. The old record was 9:44. I knocked this one off in 8:55. I swam another easy 200, drank some water, and reset my watch. It was then time for an assault on the 250. Actually, since I didn't have a time for that distance, I was guaranteed a PR. Still, I swam it as hard as I could and set my mark at 3:41. Another gentle 200 had me ready for an all out 150 which I did in 2:10. While I swam the 200 recovery, I hatched upon the idea of doing a 125 and a 75. For reasons I can't explain, I somehow forgot the 125 and swam 75 instead. Not only that, but when I swam the 75 I didn't start my watch so I had to do it over. I set that mark at 1:03.

All in all, five PRs in one night is not bad for a fifty-seven year old man.