Friday, May 30, 2014

Swimming in the Rain

It's one of my favorite activities, but I rarely get to do it. In fact, I've only experienced it a few times and only briefly then. No, I am not talking about Sasquatch hunting or catching a bald eagle or watching a solar eclipse. I'm writing about singing swimming in the rain.

You would think I have ample opportunity. You would be wrong. Though we do have aboundant rain here in the sunny South, our rain is most often associated with a phenomena that frightens me. Although friends have disputed this to my face, I am not a chance taker. At least not when it comes to my life. A thunderstorm by definition contains lightning and lightning by nature causes shock, bodily harm, even death. I don't like those three. Hence, opportunities to swim in the rain without risking one's life are a bit more rare than a good steak in this part of the country. Pun intended.

Gertrude Ederle, one of my heroes, loved the rain. In fact it was her favorite weather and swimming was her favorite activity and swimming in the rain was her most favoritest of all activities. Oh shut up, I like most favoritest.

Well, rain is not my favorite weather but I do enjoy it sometimes, and I do like swimming in it. During Chicot Challenge I, a cloud blew up about the time I was swimming under the causeway heading south towards Lake Village. I emerged from under the bridge into a flat lake being peppered with rain, and I found the experience delicious. The problem was, it didn't last very long.

Oddly, almost the same thing happened on Chicot Challenge II but the circumstances were a bit different. This time we were headed north and just about the time we were approaching the causeway, a big dark cloud came up. One difference was there was plenty of lightning and wind, so we took shelter under the bridge while we waiting for the storm to pass. When the lightning ceased, we decided to turn around and once again, I swam south from the causeway in a flat lake being pulverized by rain. I luxuriated in that for the short time it lasted.

The monsoon has stricken Mississippi this crucial week. I say crucial because two weeks is the minimum I need for a taper and the minimum that training can still affect fitness on D Day, which is June 14. My plan was to swim short and easy Monday, go crazy in the pool Tuesday, take it easy on Wednesday and Thursday, and go wild at the pond on Friday. Two long swims and some easy stuff.

Monday went off as planned with me swimming 2,300 meters. But the monsoon kept John and me out of the pool Tuesday, and a pool party at Twin Rivers kept us out Wednesday. Feeling desperate, I went to the pond Wednesday and did a very short .67 miles. The sky was terrible looking and I hate to admit it, but that impacted me in the worst way. There was no lightning that I saw, but alone in the dark water felt kind of creepy with that ominous-looking sky above. OK, I'm a sissy, but I just couldn't get comfortable in the water, so I left after only one lap.

John and I met Thursday afternoon at Twin Rivers a little before 6:00. It was raining, but the lightning had ceased a few minutes before. When we approached the pool, I was jealous to see Brent Bailey swimming in a full downpour. Lucky Dude, I want some of that. We got in and immediately the rain slackened but didn't stop. I wanted the heavy rain. I swam

6,000 straight in 2:03.05
20 X 50 @ 1:12
1,000 small paddles
300 easy
Total: 8,300 meters.

Now, what to do Friday? It is wet on the pond levees and with the dark sky I am afraid the weaker side of me will again take control and I'll get out far too early. Most likely I will go the the pool after 6:00. Usually that is not possible on a Friday as it is date night with my wife. But thanks be to a party she is attending without me, I am free to swim as long as I like. I think I will.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

I Liked That

A couple of weeks back, my wife and I made our first Sunday visit since our little church closed. We, she, had been invited long before to a small Baptist church in the small once-upon-a-time-town of Coila in Carroll County. I was excited about going. Every time I had prayed or thought about where we might go, this was the kind of place that always came to mind: small, Carroll County, Southern Baptist.
We drove up a little before 11:00 to a well-kept white frame building sitting on a lot  of fresh-looking, green grass surrounded by trees. I liked that. Across the gravel road, a pasture stretched up a hillside. Coila now is a gravel crossroad with three or four houses and a Baptist church. Any community in Mississippi that has a name has a Baptist church. At least one.
Several informally but neatly dressed men stood outside chatting. Only one of them wore a neck tie. I liked that. I guessed that the man wearing the tie was the pastor. I guessed right.
Birds sang in the sunlight as we stepped out of the truck, clutching our Bibles and holding our uncertainties close to our chests. The greetings were friendly. The people, though few, were not scarce. The names I mostly forgot. I am sure they forgot mine also.
One thing stood out. A dog, a brown sort of lab-looking canine, lay comfortably on the front porch in close proximity to the door. I liked that.
“Is that the associate pastor?” I asked Perry Irvin, the preacher wearing the necktie.
“That’s him,” Brother Irvin responded walking me closer to the dog. “We call him Tripod,” he added pointing to the creature’s missing left front leg. “He got hit by a car.”
I was amazed I had to get so near to notice that a reclining dog only had three legs. Upon closer inspection I saw the long scar across the side of his chest that silently testified to a painful past. How often do we overlook scars, I wondered to myself?
Penny and I went inside and felt comfortable enough to pick a pew. I liked that. The service started with prayer. Then we sang songs, old songs, songs my wife and I knew. I liked that.
An offering was taken. Children’s church was held. More songs were sung. Prayer requests were voiced. The pastor, Brother Irvin, preached. He took his text from the Book of Genesis. It was part of a series. I liked that.
He preached a good message. His sermon had a structure. It made a point and was to the point. Somewhere in his comments was a statement that could have come across as trite or cliché. He said, “Everyone is welcome here.” Usually those words just sound like words but I knew they were true. I thought about the three-legged dog that lay on the porch before the front door. No one had asked him to leave. No one had asked him to move. I like that. I think God does too.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014


I always felt a little out of place, like an outsider looking in. That’s what I was for a long time until I decided to join. When I did join, I didn’t look back, but decided this was a denomination I could commit to, raise my children in, be a part of.
When God called me to preach, however, it was the most frightening thing I had ever gone through in my entire life then or since. I was already preaching just not formally; I didn’t call myself a preacher. I dropped my wife and daughter off at church every Sunday morning and then drove first to the Care Inn Nursing Home and then to Pemberton Manor Nursing Home where I preached to a captive audience before returning to church to pick up my family. This lasted for three and a half years before I got the call from heaven.
I was under a house on South Blvd in Greenwood, Mississippi when God communicated to me in unmistakable ways. I was “called” and I couldn’t deny it. Since I was so different from the preachers in this denomination, it just didn’t make sense to me. But because I couldn’t deny the call, I jumped through the hoops, got my license, and became the Associate Pastor at our home church. This lasted for another three and a half years.
Then on March 12, 1991, I was appointed as pastor of the Moorhead Church of God. The first Sunday morning there we had thirteen souls in attendance, which included my wife, our two children, and me. We could not have been happier. The church needed us and wanted us. We needed them and wanted them. For once, I felt like I fit in, like I belonged.
It didn’t take a socket rientist to see that an ominous, dark shadow lay across the church’s prospects for long-term survival. The town was transitioning and the area has been economically depressed since the Civil War. Really. Driving home on Highway 82 one night after visiting some of our members, I began to reflect on our congregation’s prospects. I told God that if He wanted me to stay there and bury them one by one until the church closed, I would. The drive home that night was the most profound spiritual experience of my life as God confirmed in my soul His pleasure with my commitment to that little church.
That little church grew and blossomed and then plateaued, eventually beginning a slow, inexorable but predictable decline. Several times over the years it looked like things were over, like it was all about to unravel. People died and moved for jobs. In that area, people move out, but they don’t move in. Our attempts at evangelism all failed, over and over. But when things looked the most bleak, God always sent us some new people, people we had not visited, who had not been the objects of our attempted evangelism. A whole family walked in one Sunday morning and the husband told me after service that every time they drove by the church, “it did something to us.” Like all of our other young people, they stayed a couple of years then relocated for employment reasons.
We stayed. Once, in a trying time of life, I tried to leave. Things didn’t work out, and I repented of my efforts to leave and never attempted to go again. We just stayed through thick and thin and never questioned again if we were in God’s will. Over the years while serving there I earned a university degree. I also earned a seminary degree. Then I earned a PhD and started teaching and added one final degree in 2009.
I quit going to revivals meetings many years ago because I grew frustrated and weary at the anti-education rants I always heard. I knew my education had made me radioactive in the denomination, at least in Mississippi, but I didn’t know, until somewhere around the early 2000s, how I was really viewed. I had a brief period of favor in the denomination and was on the State Board of Ministerial Development. In that capacity, I taught young ministerial candidates, and I loved it. Also I was a District Overseer. At one of out DO meetings with our State Administrative Bishop, our General Overseer was there and as soon as we sat in the conference room to begin our meeting, he launched a red-faced rant. It went something like this:
“You mean you have a guy with a PhD who has been at a little church for fifteen years and the church is not growing! Somebody needs to talk to that man and find out if he really wants to be there. . . !”
He was talking about ME. He was very angry. He was very animated. He had a lot more to say, but I sort of zoned out, I suppose as my mind attempted to protect me. Probably I should have walked out, but I just sat there and took it. While I sat with burning face, no one came to my defense. In his defense, I think Paul Walker didn’t even know I was in the room.
I was shocked, embarrassed, and confused. I knew some people were suspicious of me because of my education, but I didn’t know I was looked at as a failure, as a scandal because I was committed to a church that was doomed to die.
I was replaced as a DO. I wasn’t reappointed to the Ministerial Development Board. It did bother me at first, but that was about the time I was beginning to swim more so I just swam it off and pastored my little church. Then over the last two years, we sort of shifted into survival mode. When Eldred Athey could no longer come to church due to health concerns, we knew someone else would have to walk in and say coming by this church “did something to us” or we were about to close.
On May 4 we met, all four of us, and decided it was time to shoot the gun and call the dog, so to speak. I attempted to contact our State Administrative Bishop. He never returned my calls. I attempted to contact the one friend I thought I still had in the church. He didn’t return my call. I attempted to contact the District Overseer. He did return my call.
We, my clerk, his wife, and I, met with District Overseer Keith Davis on Wednesday, May 25, to inventory the church. I turned in my keys. I no longer am a pastor. I was told the Administrative Bishop would call me. I don’t even have to write the sentence do I? He has not called. I guess I’m still radioactive, still a problem, a scandal.
My wife and I are now in an awkward transition. After twenty-three years and two months of ministry in one church, we are ecclesiastically homeless and have no future in the Church of God. I don’t think it speaks well of me that I don’t care.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Crucial Week

Three weeks out before a big endurance event is always a crucial time. Normally it is the peak week in terms of volume and intensity with the taper beginning immediately afterwards. I am pushing the taper back a week since my training has been so compromised, but I am delighted to say that three weeks out was a real monster training block for me, the kind my confidence and body needed.

Last post I outlined the first three training days of the week. Monday started with a 7,200 meter pool session followed by a 3,650 meter effort on Tuesday, and a 7,400 meter practice Wednesday. Thursday and Friday were easier workouts as I tried to freshen a little before Saturday's pond swim. Thursday I only swan 3,100 meters. I also tried to run some but quit after .61 miles because of a hamstring issue I developed in the 5K I did with my kids the Saturday before. Friday, John and I met up at Twin Rivers and I did a mere 2,200.

Normally I like to do my pond swims on Friday. My sister and I are my mother's primary cargivers, and she prepares the schedule each week, the one that details who spends the night what night and who takes Ollie home, etc. We recently had breakfast to discuss things, and she told me once more that she can make the schedule any way needed. "Let me know what you need [in terms of being off] and I will make it happen." For the first time ever and I made a simple request: "I need Fridays off."

I had duties Friday.

She wants me to do something this Friday also. For the first time EVER I said "No."

I thinks she's pissed.

I hate to sound like I'm complaining but I am, and I hate to say anything about my sister because she is a real hero. Our mother wouldn't be here without my sister's intelligence, care, and advocacy. But I sware, I think she is just not happy if she's not telling me what to do and wrecking any plans I make. I just want Fridays off. That's all.

So I left my wife alone Saturday morning and drove to the pond, my beloved D6, for what I hoped would be a monster swim. The water was a nice 79.5 degrees when I waded in a little before 8:00 am. The water was a nice 82 when I waded out four hours and seventeen minutes later. I got my big swim in. Yeeha.

Not a good time, but I had a good time.
I need this week to be another pretty big one. My plans are to do one long pool swim, instead of two like last week, and one pond swim even longer than Saturday's. Truth be told, I'm trying to have it both ways. By cutting the total volume but upping the two key workouts, I am trying to add endurance and start a bit of a taper at the same time. Maybe it is impossible to acually accomplish both goals at once. Not to fear. I still have fifteen days after Friday, so I should have enough time to be fresh for the Chicot Challenge.

Speaking of the Challenge, I am already getting butterflies. Last Wednesday, I was in Moorhead when I received a text from Robin Bond. To make a short story long, I wound up meeting her at Fratesi's in Leland to give her a copy of the Commonwealth article on the Challenge that Bob Darden wrote. She was bubbling over with energy, excitement, and smiles, and she had some ideas about getting banners made up for the boat. I had been thinking about signs also and had already contacted Claire Greene about painting some. I don't know yet what route we are going to take but we will do something.

Last week, I swam 35,826.67 meters with two 7,000+ pools swims and one 7.63 mile pond swim. That is the kind of training I need. One more big week, and then the taper.

I feel them now. The butterflies.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Looking Up

Things are looking up as far as the Chicot Challenge goes. The article that ran on the front page of Sunday's Greenwood Commonwealth is already paying off. For the last two days I have received checks in the mail made payable to the Diabetes Foundation of Mississippi. Anyone reading this who would like to donate, can do so in several ways:

  1. Go online to and give in honor of the Chicot Challenge

  2. Mail a check made payable to the Diabetes Foundation of Mississippi to me at
      Zane Hodge
      333 West Monroe Ave
      Greenwood, MS 38930

  3. Mail the check straight to them at
      Diabetes Foundation of Mississippi
      800 Avery Blvd, Suite 100
      Ridgeland, MS 39157

The DFM is a quality organization that helps people in the State of Mississippi. For every dollar donated to them, a mere eleven percent is used in overhead expenses and 100% of the funds stay here where we have some of the highest diabetic rates in the world. If a child is diagnosed with diabetes in a Mississippi hospital, the DFM shows up with free supplies and information. I like to call thenm the first responders. They have a camp each year, Camp Kandu, for diabetic children. They work with health care officials, civic clubs, schools, and other organizations in providing education on diabetes. Last year they gave away five diabetic alert dogs to Mississippi residents.

My concern with this disease stems from my mother's experience with it. Basically, it destroyed her health. She never abused her body in any way but was just a little overweight, a bit sedentary, and had a genetic predisposition to the condition. I would provide some details on her health problems, but I'm not sure she really wants everyone knowing her business. Let me just say she now has a terminal illness brought on by "a little sugar" as people around here call it. "A little sugar" sounds pretty innocuous. Diabetes is anything but. It is a heinous disease that works silently and steadily, like termites, in eating away at one's health. By the time one realizes how bad this disease is, it is too late. I call it a gateway disease because it is a fast track to several other conditions that kill or seriously downgrade one's quality of life. These conditions include heart disease, kidney disease, liver disease, blindness, amputations, and many more. There is nothing sweet about "a little sugar."

The good news is diabetes can be lived with successfully. One must, however, respect the condition, and do the right things. Diet of course is paramount, and it seems as if the typical American approach to food is tailor made to lead us into the valley of the shadow diabetes. We eat too much of everything, and we eat way too much of the wrong things, ie., high glycemic foods. High glycemic foods are those that raise blood sugar rapidly causing a strong insulin reaction and hence storing of excess calories (as fat) and lowering of blood sugar which results in hunger which results in eating which results in . . . . Well, I hope you get the picture. When you think high glycemic, think processed foods, that are easy tasty, fast. Not all easy, tasty, fast is bad but much of it is. Some specific examples are just about anything you take out of a wrapper. What's that you say? A candy bar, a Twinkie, an Oatmeal Cream Pie. I'm making myself hungry just writing about it. Yes, Britny Wiggins, I know you have seen me eat a candy bar. Okay, several candy bars. But I don't always eat them, and I when I do I don't give up and throw my standards and  goals away.

Besides diet, exercise is one of the strongest preventives to developing diabetes if you don't have it, or controlling it if you do. Exercise relieves stress, burns excess calories, stimulates the cardio vascular system, protects against muscle loss (one pound of muscle burns 100 calories a day doing NOTHING), and makes the muscle cells more sensitive to INSULIN. Insulin sensitivity, or the lack thereof, is a huge factor in developing Type 2 Diabetes.

One of the things I hope people notice as I do this challenge each year is that as I get older I am doing more not less. In the first Chicot Challenge, I swam 13.94 miles. I was 56 years old. For Chicot Challenge II, I swam 16 miles. This year I hope to swim 17. As I have grown older, I have more training and more experience with what my body is capable of. I am able to do more not less. The point is that the average couch tomato who begins exercising now can achieve amazing things in the future if he or she sticks with it and makes a commitment to his health.

My confidence is coming back and it was really boosted by two pool sessions this week. My old buddy, John Misterfeld, has been a real help to me. He prays for me and he stays with me as long as I want. Swimming for several hours can get a bit lonely and dreary when it gets dark and I am the only one in the pool. John, who has bad shoulders, treads water in the deep end as long as I want to stay. It really does help to have someone else there.

Monday I swam
  16 X 50 @ 1:13
  1,300 small paddles
  4 X 250 ending each 100 with a hard 25
  800 easy
  Total: 7,200 meters.

Tuesday I took it easy with
  100 hard
  100 easy
  50 easy
  Total: 3,650

Wednesday I was back to serious business. John and I crawled into the pool about 6:15 pm and out again at around 9:20. Thank God for John, my healed pectoral muscle, and a long-suffering wife. I did
  16 X 50 @ 1:13
  1,500 small paddles
  4 X 300 @ 6:30 with the first 25 of each 100 fast
  400 easy
  Total: 7,400 meters.

Please give to the Diabetes Foundation of Mississippi. Please educate yourself on this disease. And please take care of your health.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Raging against Hodge

Raging against Hodge
By Jay Unver

After months of training, suspense, and controversy, Randy Beets is a world champion. It was a tumultuous few days for the tall guy first having his suspension lifted and then suffering a surprising and stunning defeat at the hands of newcomer Justin Nunnery in the Pensacola Tri last Saturday, May 17th. Beets, however, came storming back to handily outpace Nunnery and win the inaugural Big ASS World Salt Water Championship Three Miler the next day.
Dr. Timothy Nomann himself was on hand to witness history and what many are calling Beets' finest hour. After his emergence from the water-- knocking an amazing twenty-three minutes off his best time-- and after receiving the championship medal from Nomann, I caught up with the first time champion and asked him the question that was on every one's mind.

Beets after his victory but before his tirade
I asked if he felt his victory was in some way tainted due to the absence of his chief rival, Zane Hodge. Beets response was, "#%$+ that little son of a *&#^%. That #@=&6ing little turd was too much of a coward to show up here. I would have whipped his a$$ and %$*^ed him up for good. I think he's a sorry #@%$ *^&& @#+^!"
At this point, several mothers covered their small children's ears and began to retreat to a safer location. Beets, whose fury was still not spent, resumed. "I think Hodge is a #!@$ *%^& $%#^ *@%#$ &^@$#% +_#^%@#$%."
Being a little nonplussed, I enquired about the upcoming charity swim, the Chicot Challenge, which the two men are slated to work together. Once more Beets went mental at the mere mention of Hodge's name. "That little %#$$ @*&& #@^% has got Justine [Randy's pronunciation] Nunnery coming to protect him from me. Bull $*##."
And with that, I eased away, fearing the unstable Beets might turn violent and attack me or an innocent bystander.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Two Weeks

Once again I have been offline far longer than I intended. There was a bunch of stuff I wanted to write, but my computer has the flu and is in the hospital. Now, I am on my wife’s laptop, and it is about as easy to borrow anything of hers as it is to get through the Wal-Mart Express Lane without waiting behind someone with a full buggy. Several people that is.
For the week of 5/5-5/11, I swam 22,518 meters, ran 9.82, and walked 4.85 miles. I don’t know what happened to my running motivation, but it just deserted me. My swim totals were pretty decent, but I lacked the long swim that I need. My longest water-work of the week was a 5,100 meter pool session. This is just starting to knock on the edge of endurance.
For the week of 5/12-5/18, I only swam17,826.3 meters, ran a mere 4.96 miles. My swimming numbers were low because I got run out of the pool once, due to lightning, and prevented from swimming the very next day for the same reason. I got in a couple of decent swims but they still left a bit to be desired. Thursday I swam 5,400 as
10 X 50 @ 1:15
600 small paddles
10 X 150 @ 3:15 with a floating hard 50
300 with fins.
Friday I went to the pond and the water temp had dropped all the way to 70. For me that’s barely doable. I only swam a little over one lap (1126.3 meters) and decided I didn’t want to be there anymore.
Saturday morning, my son and wife, and I met our daughter at Bear Pen Park in Cleveland, MS where we (wife excluded) ran a 5K. That afternoon after the lifeguards left and the kids were getting out, I went to Twin Rivers and swam
14 X 50 @ 1:14
800 small paddles
8 X 200 @ 4:25 with a hard floating 25
4 X 100 @ 2:20
Total: 6,500.
I wanted to do more, but I decided to play it safe and stop there. Now I have two weeks to develop 17 mile endurance. Two weeks. To put even more pressure on, Bob Darden of the Greenwood Commonwealth called and ran a story on the front page of Sunday’s paper. There is no hiding now. He started the conversation by apologizing for not covering last year’s Chicot Challenge. I appreciate him doing that, and I didn’t even ask him for a reason. Darden’s piece was pretty good, but he misquoted me at a crucial point. He wrote, “My training is going so well.” What I actually said was, “My training is not going so well.” There is a big difference.
Saturday’s swim did a lot to rebuild my confidence. I think my body is sound now which leads me to believe I can still pull this off if I can get in a big pool swim Monday, and a big pond swim Friday. The following week I need more than big swims. I need monster swims. I may even cut the taper from two weeks down to ten days.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Doomed to Suffer

You may be wondering where I have been, but the end of a semester is always a hectic and stressful time for me. I do more work the final three weeks of a school term than in the previous thirrteen. At least that is the way it feels. And once we had a president who would call special meetings (Yes, plural) during the last three weeks. We had to cancel classes and go to these meetings which were nothing  more than two hour pep-rallies for one of our off campus sites. The focus at that time was "academic quality." Cancel class during the final, busy, important last three weeks of a term, drive to another campus for a mandatory meeting (we had to sign in) and hear hours of dribble on moving dirt and fixing parking lots and how it is not going to take us sixteen years to implement new software that we paid millions for (in times of a budget crises) like it took another community college. I used to sit at these meeting and think, "This has got to be a hidden camera show. It must be."

No wonder administrators think teachers are stupid.

But things are better now. The focus is "customer service." Now we cancel classes,  remove them from the schedule, while registration is ongoing. Customers are so well served by this that sometimes, after learning that the schedule they thought they had painfully worked out is no longer available and that the financial aid they thought they had was adversely affected, walk out the door and vow never to return. "Customer service." Believe me, I can go on and on and on and on.

What's the point?

I just needed to vent a bit. Thanks for listening.

Training last week was once more very poor. I know you think I am a poor-mouther and maybe I am, but things really have not been going well in my preparations for the Chicot Challenge. A colleague asked me about it and my reply was, "I think I have about a one percent chance of being successful." Yes, I did exaggerate. In actuality, I think its more like a point one percent chance. But I still have hope, not much but some.

Last week was decent in terms of running (23.27 miles with three multi-paced efforts) and 4.81 miles of walking. However, my weight and appetite are still out of control (don't say anything, Britny Wiggins), and I only swam 11,400 meters.

The reason things have been bad on the training front has to do with a Facebook challenge I saw and took the bait on around the first of April. It was a Ten 10K Challenge for April and I thought,"I probably can't pull it off, but if I can get four or five, I will be way ahead of the game." Now I am way behind in the game. Usually I do my first 10K around the end of April. With a new wetsuit, water in the 60s, and the Ten 10K Challenge ringing in my mind, I did my first marathon swim of the year on April 1. It has been all down hill from there.

I know, I know, don't preach at me. You are yelling at me right now, aren't you Daniel Collins? But at the time it didn't seem reckless, just a little bold and adventurous, and I love bold adventure.

The right pec is the issue, and I never let it get bad. Whenever it would flareup, I just stopped and got out of the water. That has been the problem: I keep stopping way too early and getting out of the water.

Randy Beets loses his cell phone from time to time. A few weeks back I sent him a text to which he hasn't responded. It could be because we are mortal enemies and he hates me. If he had responded, I was going to use the "R" word with him. As it stands now, I think my chances for success in the Challenge have risen to about three percent. The "R" word will have to wait. I may can still pull this off, but it really is a long shot, and yes, I know what you are thinking, Shawn C. Turner, but seventeen miles ain't no joke. I am behind last year's swim training by over 100 miles and the sixteen then was a suffer-fest. I wanted to avoid another suffer-fest. That won't happen now.