Saturday, November 29, 2014

Strong Women

Daddy always told me to marry a strong woman. It is long tradition in our family that the Hodge men wed wives who are above average in terms of physicality and energy. When my Uncle Alfred was sick, nearing death, and could no longer walk, his wife used to pick him up and physically carry him across the road they lived on to a pond so he could fish. Aunt Edress, bless her heart, was strong.

My grandmother, Elsie Hodge, once responded to the idea of men doing domestic duties by saying, "I had six brothers and six sons and I never asked a man to do anything around the house." She was strong.

Last Christmas at Mom's, my brother's wife, Rebecca, toted firewood, a lot of it, so we could build a fire and feed it the whole holiday. Rebecca is strong.
My brother and his strong wife, Rebecca.

When we were younger, my wife once owned a three-wheeled lawn mower. That's right, one of the wheels got broken off from over use. And it was not a self-propelled kind either. Sweet Penny could mow the lawn with that thing that had only one front wheel. She was strong in those days, strong.

About my momma, Dad says that though she was not physically strong, she was indeed headstrong. She built cabinets in our home. She built a bathroom in the cabin in Carroll County. She built shelves in the storage room. She could do just about anything and she did it because she was strong.

 Life is better, Dad used to say, if your wife is as strong as you are. You don't have to help move as much stuff and pick up heavy objects if your wife can do it herself.

My wife, even today, can take a fifty pound bag of dog food out of a grocery cart and load it into the back of her truck. She can do the same with a case of drinking water. She can even push real good if the truck runs out of gas. She is strong.

My sister is strong too. When I was in the seventh grade, she beat me up. I was bloodied and broken. After a trip to the doctor, I had the middle finger on my right hand splinted to give me a six week perpetual bird.

Over and over people asked, "What happened?"

"My sister beat me up," I would embarrassingly answer. "In our family, the women are strong."

My cousin, Roger Dale Hodge, used to visit us (back when I lived with Mom and Dad) with his wife. She unloaded all the luggage while Roger Dale began visiting. She was tall and strong and could womanhandle a heavy suitcase.

Joe Joe Hodge had two wives-- not at the same time-- both of them strong ladies who could work a garden, kill a snake with a rake, and tote watermelons wherever they needed toting. His father taught him to marry strong.

My cousin Clark Hodge had a wife once. I didn't know her but someone told me she was good-looking and strong.

My uncle Durant Hodge was visiting Dad once when he saw this thing, I don't know what it is called, but it is a heavy piece of cloth with handles on each end. We use it to carry firewood from the back yard into the house.

"What's that?' he asked after spying it lying innocently on the floor.

"It's a wood-toter," Dad answered.

"I need to get Pearl one of those," was his reply.

Aunt Pearl was strong.

My cousin, Roy Ray Hodge, had a wife who could move all the furniture that needed moving when the family gathered at Mamaw's on Christmas. She could move couches, set up tables, and direct parking in the back yard. She was strong.

My Uncle C. D. had a lovely wife. I always wondered how he got her because I thought she was way too pretty for him. Aunt Mary once said, "Not a single Hodge man deserved the wife he got. Not a one of them." C.D. (His full name was C. D. Hodge before the military forced him to make those letters stand for something) certainly didn't. Not only was Aunt Doris nice looking, but she could help him launch a boat, load a three-wheeler, move a picnic table, scale fish. She was strong.

Time and space forbids me to tell of Hodge wives who changed flat tires, bore babies, roofed houses, skinned deer, hoed gardens, shelled peas, repaired porches, set the timing on the tractor, mowed lawns with three-wheel mowers, pushed trucks out of ditches, shoveled gravel, fixed bicycle flats, baited trot lines, cut down trees, and wore high-heels to church on Sunday. I just want y'all to know how proud I am of all of you. Aunt Mary was right: not a one of us has ever deserved you. God bless you, and may a Hodge man fix your plate and bring you a cup of tea. And Rebecca, I'm proud of my brother for buying you that nice lawn mower. I helped raise that boy, and when he did that he made me proud.

Friday, November 28, 2014

The Buddy Bones Bridge Marathon

Oops, we did it again. Me 'n Buddy Bones, for the second time in five days, ran a marathon. That Buddy is one heck of a running dude and his imagination and lust for adventure matches my own. Now that I have a training buddy to run with, there is no telling what I might accomplish or how much fun I might have. Let the games begin.

The bridge between Greeenwood and Sidon
Wednesday morning I knew when we left the house that 26.2 was the goal, and we left about the same time as we did five days ago, 9:45 am. Originally we had planned to drive to the Tanglefoot Trail and run there, but sometime during the night before or early morning, I woke up and remembered that my inspection sticker was very expired. I will get a ticket for sure, I thought, so I began to scheme on Plan B.

Plan B turned out to be a lot like the Buddy Bones River Marathon. We shuffled to Highway 82 and like last time we crossed the bridge headed south and went out into the inustrial park. When we got to the old Highway 49, however, instead of running straight out as far as you can to the levee, we took the little side road to the new highway and ran over the Pelucia Creek Bridge and then ventured into Malouf Trailer Park which led us back to the old 49. This was my third time running this stretch of road and I liked it. When we exited the old highway half was between Greewood and Sidon and went west over the Yazoo River Bridge, we were on roads I had never run. I like that.

The only irritable thing of the day was the wind which I had to battle all the way from Greenwood. We crossed the bridge at 8.65 miles and when we turned north, finally we had the strong wind to our backs. I changed the run/walk pattern to 4.0/.65. When we started back running north of the river bridge, our pace was the fastest we had run all day. I was starting to get stoked about beating last week's time.
Finally in the country
Basically, from crossing the bridge until we got back to Greenwood, we followed the river along a lonely gravel road. At one point, the river became the French Bend Cutoff and then the Yazoo River again, but we were always beside a body of water. When we crossed over the bridge at Fort Pemberton and entered the island of north Greenwood, I saw we were going to have to do some additions to get our 26.2 in, so we went behind Walmart, out John Pittman Drive and crossed the Tallahatchie River and ran out Wade Road and then back into Greenwood and to the house.

We beat our first marathon by twenty-three minutes then decided to cool down for a total of twenty-seven miles. Inside, the cats stalked me knowing I was about to crash. When I did crash, they crashed with me and we had us one heck of a nice nap.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Good First Day

Monday, the first day of my break, was a good one. I drank plenty of coffee, of course, and then took a nice run, 4.31 miles with one main change of pace. I didn't have a plan when I left the house, but by the time I reached the Tallahatchie Bridge, I had decided to retest for my vVo2max pace. The testing protocol I read is extremely obfuscated, but the bottom line is you run for 6:00 minutes as fast as you can and your average pace is your vVo2max, which means the minimum velocity to produce your maximum aerobic capacity. I have been reading Owen Anderson's Running Science with great interest and enjoyment, which is where I ran across this and a whole lot of other stuff.. The last time I tested a few months back, it came out as 8:16 per mile. This time it was 7:47 per mile. That means I am somewhat more fit than I was, which is good news considering I am still way overweight. The test provides more than just a gauge of progress, but those tempo numbers factor into training paces for several kinds of run workouts.

After lunch, I did some yard work and lifted weights. That's how I like to lift. I do a circuit on the weights, then do a few laps mowing or weeding or something. This gives my heart rate a chance to come down and my muscles the opportunity to recover before the next round of weights. I wear my Garmin while I lift and mow, and I write my ambulating numbers in my workout journal. Today, I walked 1.96 miles while lifting and working the lawn. No, we don't have a large yard. We do have a large Magnolia tree in the front and it requires huge amounts of work or we would literally be buried in leaves. We have been here thirty-seven years. The tree was large when we moved in. If I could afford it, I would have it cut down in a heart beat, and it is way too large for me to take down by myself. It could crush our house or fall across the street blocking it and most likely do severe damage to the roadbed. In short, it is just not a do-it-yourself job.

On the weights, I did both upper and lower body with the focus on the upper. I am slowly working my bench up, and although I have not hit the legs hard, I have been consistent in giving them the strength work they need. For years I under worked my legs because it added a recovery issue that competed with my ability to run the mileage I wanted to run. Strictly by accident, however, I have stumbled upon a method that allows me to lift with the legs and recover better than if I had not.

The method involves splitting the run and the weights, doing one and then several hours later doing the other. It doesn't seem to matter if I run first or lift first. If I lift first, I take a recovery shake after the weights. Then, typically, I go to work and run several hours later when I get off. The legs have recovered some and after the run I take another protein shake. Probably it is the added protein that is supercharging my recovery. I also speculate that it has something to do with insulin sensitivity in addition to the added protein. Exercise makes the muscle cells extremely sensitive to insulin. Normally, people think of insulin and sugar, but insulin is the key that unlocks the cells to receive not only carbohydrates, but protein as well. In fact, muscleheads will tell you that insulin is the body's most powerful anabolic hormone, more efficacious even than testosterone. By lifting and running several hours apart, I am giving my leg muscles TWO insulin sensitive windows per day and then providing the bio-available whey protein immediately after each workout. The results have been that I am working harder and recovering better. BINGO!

For years, recovery was my biggest issue. Whenever I ramped up my mileage, I inevitably crashed after a few weeks. Now, despite being older than I have ever been, I am tolerating more training than previously I was able. I often think if I knew as a young man what I know now about my body and how to care for it, I could have been a bad man, I could have been a contender.

Now I am wondering how to apply this to my swimming. It seems simple enough, right? Well, I have not had the same success with swimming and lifting on the same day unless the swimming comes first. But that presents issues with my training partner who only wants to train in the afternoons. Maybe I will experiment with getting up early and lifting in the morning and then seeing how an afternoon swim goes. Training for the Chicot Challenge doesn't allow room for a bunch of sub par swim practices.

Speaking of the next Chicot Challenge, the date has been set for June 6th, and the course is already laid out. I plan once more to start at Ditch Bayou but this time head south for a bit to make up the needed distance before turning up lake and swimming towards the State Park. That will keep us out of Conerly Bayou, which I found during last year's swim to be a bit creepy. It was fun but spooky for me and when we made it back to the main lake, I had a huge relief. The Diabetes Foundation of Mississippi has already set up an event page on Facebook. This makes me very happy, and it causes me to push a little harder when training in the back yard. The weights I lift now will help my muscles to be strong then. Not only that, but they will enable my upper body to have the capacity for the voluminous training needed this spring. Oh yeah, the distance for the 2015 swim is a planned nineteen miles. Prayers appreciated.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Just a Note

Another week of training play is in the books, and I had a good time. I did have to get up this morning and pick up my mom's help and then go to the grocery store for her, but I am home now, in bed, and Jeff is napping with me. Where are those cats? I want my cats.

Last week I swam twice for 7,357 meters, ran for 31.34 miles, rode my bike to work once, lifted weights twice, and walked 7.97 miles. On tap for this week is big mileage on the feet. Now that I have hit the marathon mark, I am planning another one this week. That may sound reckless but it is not. Last Friday I did not run hard, and thus I should be mostly recovered by then, and my hope is to do the distance a little faster than Friday. I am thinking of a trip to the Tanglefoot Trail, Wednesday, for another 26.2. It is a really nice place to get out of the traffic and run and walk and walk and run until I get enough.

My weight is still out of control because I continue to fall prey to late night mayonnaise and cracker binges. Why do I have so little will power? And this is Thanksgiving week the law of the land being to eat as much as possible this Thursday. Noon and night. And we did that Sunday at church. Nevertheless, I am coming out of this week lighter than last week. Watch and see.

DSU is closed until after the break, so I am thinking of getting into the Twin Rivers pool at least once. It still has water and the water looks pretty clean. Not one to waste good water, I should reward them for a job well done.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

The Buddy Bones River Marathon

Friday was a very enjoyable and exciting day. I left the house on an adventure run and wound up running a whole official marathon. Even more surprising was I won! It was the dangdest thing. Let me tell you about it.
A prison off in the distance

Me 'n my new friend, Buddy Bones, hatched a plot to do an adventure run Friday, November 21. We left the house at 9:47 a.m., and I was loaded down with two packs, 68 ounces of Gatorade, four gels, and a few other edibles. Buddy doesn't eat or drink so he was travelling light. We headed for the Greenwood, Mississippi Industrial Park and when we got out there, the traffic fell off and although there were buildings in sight, on our right the land opened up into vast tracks of farmland. Way off in the distance I could see the tree line that marked the river where we dreamed we might be running in an hour or two.

The plan was loose but we thought we would run out 49 and get on the creek levee and run it to the river levee. We got on the old Highway 49, and when it came time to turn to go out to the new highway, we decided to stay on the old road and go straight to the river levee. That would cut out the highway, which I have never been fond of running, and the creek levee, which looked like it might be a little rough on top.

We got to the Yazoo River levee at 5.45 miles, and on top the surface was flat, lightly gravelled and soft. Perfect. I had never been here and that made it all the more gooder. We started shuffling north, back towards town, but the river makes a huge loop west, and I didn't know how far it would be to get back to town. in a mile or two we made it to the pumping station. I had been here, way back in 1971 when I started hanging out with the Pine Street Gang. At the station, I sat down and taped up the fourth toe on my left foot. It was still a bit sore from last Thursday's run and I knew if I did not attend to it early, it would get bad. After the kinesio tape job, I felt it no more.
Just onto River Road Extended.

Running the levee was nice. Every now and then we shuffled past a patch of woods that made me think of my .22 rifle. Sometimes we could see the river. Sometimes not. Eventually, about ten miles in, we made to to an giant old house at a place where two gravel roads met. I thought about getting off on the roads but decided to stay on the levee. Bad choice. The road on top of the levee disappeared and in its place was tall grass, uneven dirt. and armadillo holes every foot or two. It was a wonderful place to twist an ankle or even break a leg. Luckily after only a hundred meters or so, we came upon the C & G Railroad line which gave us a chance to follow the tracks back to the gravel road.

From the road, we could see the end of River Road Extended way off in the distance. Between us and it were wide open harvested cotton fields and clear air. I felt free. I didn't ask Buddy how he felt. I guess I like him a lot because we don't need to talk to stay friends.

Eventually we made it there and were headed back into town. River Road Extended is a very pretty street lined one house deep with giant old mansions on its south side with the Yazoo River on its north. Decades old oak trees provide and peaceful shade and a family cemetery in one yard reminded me of the vast local history that most of us never know. The road led us to the Yazoo River Bridge on Highway 82 which we crossed at thirteen miles into our journey and then turned left on the levee road of West Claiborne Extended. We were still running the levee only we were on the other sided of the river now headed west instead of east.

The levee road on the Tallahatchie.
After a couple of miles, West Claiborne Extended ends and one has to get on Highway 82 or turn on the frontage road. We crossed the highway and got on another levee road but this one was on the Tallahatchie River not the Yazoo. At this point we took a long walk, a bit over a mile, to take in some calories and fluids. This levee road ends in a field which we had to negotiate through mud and tractor tracks until we made it to  the levee road off Riverside Drive where we re-entered Greenwood this time on the north side of town. We shuffled Riverside Drive to Grand Blvd and then crossed the Tallahatchie Bridge. After crossing the bridge we ran out Wade Road  and then turned north onto a turnrow which we followed back to Money Road. At Money Road we were nearing nineteen miles so we headed north to get some more distance.

We turned back towards town when we were far enough from home to finish with about twenty-three miles, but when we got to the foot of the bridge, Buddy said, "Let's run out here a bit," as he turned left onto the gravel road. When we did get back into town, we were only one block south of Bankston School when Buddy spoke up again. "Let's run this way," he said turning off the boulevard.

"You know we are doing a full marathon," he added.

At the trail head and back on the river.
"I was beginning to suspect that," I answered.

"Not only are we running a full marathon, we are doing an official one."

We shuffled along in silence for a while. Then I said, "An official marathon has to have a name."

A minute or two later he said, "The Buddy Bones Marathon. Or the Buddy Bones Yazoo River Levee Marathon. Or the Buddy Bones Yazoo and Tallahatchie Self-supported Levee Marathon."

We were on Lidell Street now and our distance was approaching twenty-four miles. Then Buddy added, "You know you are in the lead?"



"How many are back there?" I said referring to the runners behind us.

"Tens," he answered.

I gave him a look.


I gave him another look.

"At least a hundred."

That made me happy. In fact, I almost cried.

When we got to East Monroe, I knew we were seven tenths of a mile from home so we kept heading south, and I did the math in my head as we got further and farther from home. We made to to the Yazoo River levee, got on top, and then I saw it, the entrance to the Yazoo River Trail. It ain't much, only about a half a mile, but it is a nice trail, and I love to run it so we did. I stopped to pee when we were just inside the trail. The air was cool and the tree leaves fell in the autumn breeze. I felt great. I was running a marathon and about to win it. Then I remembered. "How close are they?" I asked Buddy.

"They stopped to pee too," he told me.

Then we started back shuffling. My legs were very tired but I was very happy. We made twenty-five miles while still in the woods. I knew we were a mile from home at the bridge so we were going to be a little long. "What about that?" I asked Buddy.

"Don't worry. We will stop at 26.2 and take a picture of your watch. From there we just walk home."

The time may have been slow, but it was
good enough for first place.
So we did. We took the picture at 26.22 and then walked the .17 mile to the house. When I stooped to pick the newspaper up out of the driveway, I audibly grunted. I was stiff, so stiff it was like I was bones or something. Then I went inside, drank a recovery shake, and talked to the cats.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Not Posting Today

I usually post on Friday morning but not this time. First, I am in a bit of a hurry with some special plans to go out a play all day. I have a new friend, Buddy Bones, and he vows he can run as far as I can, as fast as I can, and do anything else I can. I want to see for myself if he is telling the truth. Second, the cats, instead of being on the bed with me (which always slows me down) are tearing the house up. I feel so left out.

So I thought I would tell you why I'm not posting. Tomorrow I will most likely do a write up of me 'n Buddy's exploits. Heck, I don't even know where we are going. I have a couple of ideas. One thing is for sure: it will be long.

While I am not talking to you, I might as well not tell you what we did at Masters last night. First off, I went by the Lehrton Cemetery. This was not my first or second or tenth stop, but it was my first stop since Dad's headstone has been installed. I never dreamed I would be stopping by Dad's grave on the way to DSU, never thinking he would be buried in Lehrton, but that is the way things have turned out. Now I have more incentive than ever to go that way, with the grave, grandchildren, the granddogs, and the pool. I got in 1,050 warm up before Cagri stopped us for the main set. It went something like this: sixteen 50s then two 50s; twelve 50s then two 50s; eight 50s then two 50s; four 50s then two 50s. Are you confused? Good. I sure was.

Me 'n my new friend, Buddy Bones.
We were to do the large number of 50s @ 1:00 and then two 50s @ :50. What could possibly go wrong counting that set? I was sure I could never get it right so I asked Mark if he could keep up with the numbers. He was confident he could. Turned out he couldn't, not the @ :50s. That confused him terribly and we reverted to @ 1:00 after the two 50s. That's a whole lot of 50s and if you can keep all of that straight, don't tell me about because you are not my friend anymore. Mark and I didn't have much time to argue about it at the wall and when we tried we missed a couple of intervals because the turn around was so quick. Finally, I convinced him to actually swim the two 50s @ :50 after the group of eight 50s. We did, but he got confused on when to start the second of the two 50s. Then he miscounted and started the set of four 50s one early. He did believe me when I told him so we swam all our 50s. I think. To make a short story long, we swam forty-eight 50s, more or less, on various sendoffs. A few of them we even got right. I think. That was the end of practice, but I swam another 650 with small paddles for a total of 4,100 yards.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Tuesday's Swim and Sorrows

Tuesday was a very emotional day, and the sorrow of losing Lucky will last for a long time. Instead of leaving early for my grandchildren and DSU, I waited until Penny got off work so we could chat and cry some together. Maybe I should have stayed home but I needed a swim. It was a good one and seldom am I not amazed at how much a physical effort can make my emotions feel better.

I got 1,450 yards before we started the main set. There were only three of us at practice, and I heard Cagri tell the other two to do six 150s. He turned to me and said, "Twleve 150s, twenty seconds rest. First four do the first 50 fast; second four do the second 50 fast; last four do the third 50 fast."

I liked the set and it felt good and kept my mind off sorrow. I rarely think anything when I swim which may be one reason I enjoy it so much. It's not that I don't enjoy life out of the water. I do. It's just that from time to time I enjoy a different mode of existence. In the water, I can just be for a while. When not running or swimming, I can rarely stop my mind from bouncing to and fro from one worthless thought to the next. Sometimes the thoughts are worthwhile but even then a mind that won't stop, can't stop becomes tiring, exhausting. You could say I exercise to the extreme to get some rest. But that is only one reason.

After the set, I drove home in the darkness, and as usual I became reflective not just about Lucky but on all the losses my wife and I have suffered over the last year. Two pets, two parents, and a church. Besides the loses, however, there have been gains, gifts from God that have helped our lives stay full. I have learned that one must think on these things also.

We have a new church home. I am no longer a pastor but God may open that door again or maybe not. Meanwhile we are happy in the little church we attend. And then there is Baby Kitty the cat we rescued from under our house. He is a joy in his newness of life and not only do Penny and I delight in him, but so does Luvie. Speaking of Luvie, he was insatiable this morning crawling all over me and ramming his head into me over and over. That is why we named him Luvie, because he is. Then there is the empty back yard. To put another dog there now doesn't seem right. It is too soon. Lucky can't just be replaced. But one day, sooner or one day later, we will cross paths with a stray or a reject or a rescue that needs a home. The back yard will be ready for him or her and by then our hearts will be too.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

All She Wanted Was to Be a Baby

I don't know the details. My son was living in Clarksdale, Mississippi at the time and was friends with some people who rescued dogs. Jeff, our weeny dog, comes from that time as does Lucky our outside dog.

She was a pit mix, Lucky, rescued from a dog fighting ring. That's what I was told and that is about all I know. She had terrible scars from being used as a bait dog, to train the fighters, and she came to our house to stay while her adoptive family got things worked out. That was ten or twelve years ago. For some reason I can't remember, the family we were keeping her for decided they didn't want her. My wife did.

To be honest, I didn't really want her either. She was a big dog and big dogs crap big and big dogs dig big holes in the yard. That aggravates me bigly. But I agreed to having her because my wife fell for her. I did too, it just took a little longer for me.

I quickly became used to her and she was a fixture in our back yard. Like all dogs I have known, she didn't want much. She just wanted a little attention, and she wanted it all the time. What she yearned  for most, however, was to be a baby, to climb up in my or my wife's lap and be held. Sometimes I sat in a chair in the back yard and let her climb aboard. It was most uncomfortable for me, but she enjoyed it so I endured it.

Like a pit, she didn't bark much and when she did she was either looking at something or I was in the front mowing the grass. That drove her crazy, me mowing the front lawn. She wanted to be out there with me and she would stick her head under the wooden fence and woof and woof and woof until I around to the back, into her part of the yard.

She was always happy when I was in the back yard. She would run and jump and bark at anything that moved then cut a glance at me to see if I was watching. We had a pear tree in the back and she guarded that tree and made sure I knew it always running up to that tree and looking up it then back at me as if to say, "See, I'm on the job. No squirrels will eat pairs without being barked at."

She spent her entire life in that yard but that didn't stop her from having a litter of puppies. A neighbor had a lab who could climb fences, and he climbed ours one night when she was in season. We kept one of the pups who grew to be a huge lab who died last January. She seemed lonesome without him, and I tried to spend more time with her. All she wanted was to be a baby.

She and her son, Jake, escaped the confines of the yard a few times and that caused some conflict with someone living nearby. All they did was run and ramble and they would return on their own if you gave them thirty minutes. But once, one of my "neighbors" called the police and cause quite a stink about our "dangerous dogs." All Lucky wanted was to run around and be a baby.

I had to take off work. I had to go to court. That was just one in a long series of troubles with some problems makers whom our lawyer and the police both told us "Don't even acknowledge their presence." I really don't like living that way. We have been in the same house for thirty-seven years and never had trouble with anyone except these people. They always hated our dogs and described them as "viscous" and "dangerous." All Lucky wanted, however, was to be a lap baby.

A few weeks back Penny told me, "Something is wrong with Lucky." She stopped eating. She was just lying around. I took her to the vet. Cancer. Wow. She took medicine and rebounded a bit. But her rebound was short lived. Yesterday I went out back to lift weights. She loved it when I lifted weights because I was with her. She was lying in the yard shivering from the cold. I tried to get her up only to discover she couldn't walk. I picked her up and carried her inside and put her on the back porch where the cats sleep at night. There I put one of my wool sweaters under her head and covered her with blankets. I lay beside her on the floor and wept. I felt her nose touch me. I think she was trying to comfort me. All she ever wanted was to be a baby.

Then the guilt started. I felt guilty for not taking her to the vet right then. But I knew how guilty I would feel if I didn't let my wife say goodbye. I said I would take her in the morning before work. But when the morning came, I knew I couldn't do that and work also. "I'll do it after lunch," I told Penny. And I called the vet from school and made an appointment.
Lucky, shortly after being diagnosed.

I didn't seem right to take her to her death. I didn't seem right to let her suffer. It just didn't seem right. None of it. Death doesn't seem right. It seems all wrong. She didn't deserve this. She was always just a sweet dog who wanted to be a baby.

Putting her in the truck and driving her to the vet was one of the most difficult things I have ever done. I cried a bucketful. Andy Johnson came into the waiting room and asked me where I wanted to do it. Not wanting to move her and unable to speak, I pointed towards the truck.

When Andy put the needle in, she wagged her tail. She just wanted to be a baby and he was giving her some attention. I held her head while she lay on the front seat. She relaxed and went to sleep. Then her suffering was over.

We, Lucky and I, drove to Carroll County, and I dug a hole in the woods by the little pond where I buried Missy a few years back. There are lots of trees and squirrels there. I wrapped her in the blanket she slept under last night and after covering her I made her a headstone out of a concrete pad I brought with us from town. I cried one last time and drove away.

I miss you, Lucky. You were a good dog, and you will always be my baby.

Friday, November 14, 2014

The Coyotes Called and I Was Not Afraid

I didn't go to Masters Swim Thursday night. Cagri sent out a text asking if we wanted to go out to eat after practice at Hey Joe's with Petya, our former coach. She is visiting from Canada and was there Tuesday night. It was really nice to see her. The invite was very tempting, but I opted instead for a long run out my old standby, Money Road.

Penny is off work and wants to go to Jackson Friday so my play day is gone. I could do a long run Saturday, but if I do my wife will think all I do is train. She has a very selective memory. I do almost all of my training when she is either asleep or at work. I swam ONE Saturday training for the Suck and it was, "I am so sick of this. All you do is train!"

I train when my wife is at work or asleep.

On Saturdays I will only do short, sissy runs and maybe lift weights in the backyard. On Sundays, we go to church and I nap.

So I had to skip Masters Swim and work out some other logistical problems. I didn't want to get caught in "the Chute," as we call it, after dark. In fact, for the last year or so I have not been able to force myself over the Tallahatchie Bridge after the last light of day is gone. Call me a sissy, but I loose my nerve when I get to the crest of the bridge and all I see is black nothing on the other side. I don't mind getting caught in the dark on Money Road as long as I am not in the Chute, a huge, spooky patch of dark woods that is the site of numerous Bigfoot sightings that also hosts the ubiquitous coyotes and wild hogs. The way I had it figured, if I could crest the bridge at 2:00 or earlier, I would be OK.

Penny telling me that she wasn't coming home for lunch solved another problem. That meant I could pick up lunch at Honest Abe's (an eatery next door to the MDCC Greenwood Center) and eat during my office hour. Thus, I could get home at 12:00, take a short nap, and head out on the road for a run.

I bought Gatorade after my 9:25 class and the nerves began. I get nervous before a long run, not scared nervous just nervous. To make a short story long, I was over the bridge a tad before 2:00 with 64 ounces of Gatorade in my Camelbak and a smile on my face. Though the weather was cold and windy, I was layered and comfortable.

I began an immediate run/walk schedule. One can be very precise about these things when the road is pancake flat as it is on Money Road. I ran three and walked a half. Walking is something I need to work on if I am to  do the Mississippi Trail 50 fifty miler. Currently, I am not a good walker.

My legs still felt flat from yesterday's weights and short run. The wind was strong enough out of the north to be a real impediment. At least I would have it to my back on the return trip. I made the turn around (10.78) with the toes on my left foot feeling blistered. I had thought briefly about packing some tape and a pair of scissors. In my haste I left them. Now I wanted them. I also opted not to wear my Injinji toe socks. Saving wear on them, I thought. Smart choices both of them.

I didn't stop at the fire station in Money like I often do but I did do a short out-and-back on the road beside it to add a little distance since I knew now I would clear the chute in some level of daylight. When I did get to the chute, the sun dipped below the trees and almost instantly the temperature noticeably dropped as well as the light level. But it was still daylight.

Darkness did find me about four miles out the road and when the lack of daylight was total, a pack of coyotes opened up in their hideous crying and calling. I smiled because I was not afraid. They were behind me, between me and the chute. If I had been in the chute, however, when they let loose, I most likely would have crapped my pants.

I made it home a little after 6:30 pm, tired but feeling fully alive after completing my second twenty-miler of the year. Winter running makes me feel like that, alive. Specifically, I ran 18.59 and walked 3.24 for a total of 21.83. Last night I slept like a nurse gave me some sort of strong shot and I woke up stiff but satisfied. I can't wait to do it again.

Monday, November 10, 2014

The Week

The week of 11/3-11/9 was a good one. Pretty good. As a planned drop down week, I intentionally missed a couple of days of running. I did, however, keep my key workouts at a good distance and pace. Monday I ran 10.03 miles with some stiff intervals thrown in. Tuesday I did not run, but for the first time since April I went to Cleveland where I hugged my daughter and granddaughter and granddog and then travelled to DSU to train under The Mad Swimming Scientist. It was nice to swim with the guys again and, believe it or not, I enjoyed the short course pool. In the past, I have done more than my fair share of complaining about the twenty-five yard setup at DSU's sixty meter pool. I wish they would leave it at long course year round. But short course makes me feel strong and fast, although I am well aware that the feeling is at least in part an illusion. Sometimes, though, it's nice to pretend. We did

8 X 50 kick with fins
200 negative split
50 easy
400 negative split
100 easy
600 negative split
8 X 50
100 easy
total: 3,050 SCYs.

Wednesday night my film class got truncated due to failing power. Too bad because we were in the middle of Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? Thankfully, earlier in the semester I got us a week ahead so we will be OK. Unfortunately I had hoped I could squeeze in Big River Man. Not to be. Although Big River Man is a documentary, a genre I never cover, it has some artistic and thematic elements that I try to teach my film students each semester. In addition, I also find it interesting because of the subject matter, swimming, and the star, Martin Strel who I have met and swum with. Maybe I can still find a way.

After work, I went out in the drizzle and ran 6.03 miles. Before I finished, however, the drizzle became a downpour. Neat. Running in the rain. Not as neat as swimming in the rain, but not bad.  The temp was still high enough that I was not uncomfortable. Thursday after class I was tired so I napped until time to travel back to DSU where we did a ladder set. I asked Cagri how he wanted the ladder swum. "Twenty seconds rest, make your own focus," was all he said. So I did the first three reps easy and then put the hammer down on the 400s. For some reason, I love to swim a hard 400. That particular discomfort is one I embrace. I swam

1,250 warmup
100 r :20 on all
350 small paddles
4 X 25
50 easy
total: 3,750 SCYs.

I wrote about Friday in my last post. Saturday I was still pretty pooped from Friday so I did not do much. Ideally, I would have liked to have lifted weights, run, and maybe swum some. The Twin Rivers pool is still up. I did take Jeff to the recycle bins and we did some walking. We ambled down to the boat landing, and I stuck my hand in. I was expecting the water to be 65 or colder. My hand said 68. Wow! We have has some pretty cold nights so that really surpised me. It may, however, have been a couple of degrees colder out in the flowing water. My hand was in the shallow still stuff over the conrete ramp.

For the week, I

ran 35.06 miles,
lifted weights one time,
swam 6,214 meters, and
walked 5.79 miles.
Also, I did my first twenty-miler and am getting a bit excited about my running.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

First Twenty Miler of 2014

Friday mornings are the best. My cats like them, Jeff the weenie dog likes them, and of course I do too. They offer the hope of a long run or ride or swim, the solace of rest and reflection, the promise of adventure. And there is, of course, the pleasure of coffee and the ease of leisure.

You, all two of you, may be wondering where my Friday morning post was. Don't I usually post on Friday mornings? Yes, normally, but I became consumed with preparing a funeral sermon and then it was time to be out the door. Funeral sermon?

Although I no longer have a church, a few people still call me Pastor. I don't mind. In fact it flatters me beyond measure. It is one of my favorite titles. Of all the things I am called, Pastor is at or near the top. Some of my other favorites are: Poppy and Doctor. I also like my name, Zane. As a child in the first grade, with tears I begged my parents to change my name because I got teased at school. One boy, Sanford Thomas, made up a little jingle he sang every day on the bus that took us from Little Red School House to Bankston Elementary where we ate lunch. It went like this:

   Zane, Zane I know you shame,
   Yo face looks like Jesse James.
   Zane, Zane born in Spain,
   His face looks like Jesse James.

Not only did Sanford give me fits, but every year on the first day of school when the teacher called role the first time, she (they were always shes) called out "Jane Hodge." I can think back on that and still hear the roar of the class and feel the burn of my face as it turned red and hot at my embarrassment. As I aged, I developed a like for Zane and wore the name with pride. But over the last twenty years or so, "Zane" has gone from very rare to almost common. I am not happy about this. Every time I hear that name I get a little ticked and think, That's my name. Start swimming or change your name.

No one died. Someone is in the hospital, though, and she is very old and very sick. By the grace of God, I have a good start on her service. Funerals have always been difficult for me. I feel the pressure to get every word perfect. It is the last thing you do for somebody. There is never enough time. Life doesn't stop for the preacher to prepare. For this one, I have a head start.

I went back to the cabin and decided to run over to Highway 17. I remembered a long, long hill that climbs out of the bottom Pelucia Creek is in. It was 6.8 miles to the pavement and then I ran to the bridge on Pelucia Creek and back to the cabin. I did 20.46 miles as 17.27 shuffling and 3.19 walking. I saw several squirrels, heard some crows, and breathed a lot of fresh air. This was my first twenty miler in almost a year. I was not overly tired at the end. That is a good sign.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Writes Well, Writes Often, Is Interesting

I have been thinking over my blogging experience and decided I would put some of those cogitations on paper. By "blogging experience" I mean my discovery and reading of blogs, how that has changed over the years, the genesis of my own blog as well as my current favorites and why they make my list.

As recently eleven years ago, I didn't even know what a blog was. Somehow, after I went to work for Mississippi Delta Community College, by happy accident, I stumbled into the blogging world. It didn't take long to learn that every blogger had his or her own list of Favorites, and I spent time surfing from one blog to the next. My first Favorites, the ones I saved on my computer, were triathlon blogs, and once I had over twenty saved. Slowly, I deleted these one at a time until only one of the initial group remains today: Elizabeth Waterstraat. She writes well, she writes often, and she is interesting, three qualities that secure an audience in my world.

Most of my early reads were women triathloners who quickly tired me with their excessive machismo. Really, I kid you not. They all had titles with "tri" in it somewhere (how original), names like, Trimommy, BigGirlsTri, Tri-ingtomakeit, and on and on and on. But the thing that led to my abandonment of this cyber-genre was their constant machoistic referral to pain, and pain, and pain, and pain. Did I mention pain? And suffering and blood and pain, and sweat. And pain. (By the way, the titles I just mentioned are from memory and they may or may not have been offenders in this area.)

I know. Many of these ladies grew up nonathletic girly girls and their transformation into an athlete with goals and blisters and training programs was a whole new exciting way of life for them. Pushing themselves into physical discomfort was exciting, and they wanted to share their experiences with others. I get it. But come on. If you suffer THAT much and go through THAT much pain on every ride and every run and every swim, why do you keep doing it? No sane person would. And don't let one fall off a bicycle because you get pictures of the BLOOD and descriptions of the PAIN and the PAIN and the PAIN and the near-death experience and the PAIN. STOP IT!!! So Phase One of my blogging experience was reading about women triathloners and their pain until I couldn't take it any more. Then came Phase Two.

Phase Two was discovering the vast world of running blogs and stumbling into the neat subculture of ultrarunning. Really, I didn't even know that community existed. I read their blogs with my jaw on my chest and, consequently, I began to push my own running farther and farther. Their exploits fascinated me and fueled my imagination. Also, they seemed different from the tri crowd. They didn't have the aura of elitism that surrounds the triathlon world and they weren't obsessed with writing about their experience with pain, although I can tell you from first hand experience that if you run far enough you will enter the pain cave. Their descriptions were more about the joy and the sights and the sounds and the people and the places and the experiences and pushing personal boundaries and helping others do the same. I liked this community, I still do and consider myself a part of it.

It was during this phase that I discovered "Relentless Forward Motion: Training, racing, and living like an ultrarunner" by Rhonda Sundermeier. She is a petite woman who lives and trains in the Pacific Northwest completing races from the 10K to 100 miles. And the accounts of her races and the pictures of her training in the mountains set my soul on fire. After discovering her site, I daily read her work until I had consumed the whole of her literary output. Her exploits were extreme enough to make me dream but her times (at the shorter distances) were close enough to my own that I could relate and think maybe one day I may be able to emulate her. Like Elizabeth Waterstraat, she wrote well, she wrote often, and I was interested in what she was doing.

Then Rhonda went on a mountain biking craze and although I like biking, I just didn't find that interesting. I wanted to read about running. She conquered the bicycle, but then disappeared from cyber space, and her lack of posts put my reading into a serious crimp. After a long absence (I checked her blog site almost daily) she returned, as if by magic, and told us of falling prey to a mysterious illness and her subsequent recovery. She began once more to post regularly and about running even. Balance was restored to the universe. Then poof-- once more she was gone. Her last post was on February 26, 2013. !!! Her second absence led to Phase Three in my blogging experience.

Phase Three was the discovery of swimming blogs which closely coincided with the start of my own internet writing. Like the other two phases, I saved numerous writers on my Favorites list and developed a real affection for a few. The one I liked most, however, was "Gord's Swim Log." Gordon Grindly was a swimmer who wrote well, wrote often, and was interesting. I checked his site almost daily. Lately, however, he too has almost disappeared. Gord, a triple crowner, has suffered and come back from a serious shoulder injury in the past and is once more facing fierce problems with a swimmers most important joint. From what he has written, his career as an open water swimmer may be over. I hope that is not the case.

In the mean time, I started my own blog which I call EndangeredSwimmer because open water swimmers are an endangered species in the State of Mississippi where I live. I know two, besides myself. Or maybe one and a half. By the way, Shawn C. Turner, one title I seriously considered was ColdWaterSissy. No joke. I tried the cold water stuff with very limited success. I also thought about the name RaceswithFatLadies because so many of my competitions in running and triathlon always wound up as struggles with large women. But I settled on the name EndangeredSwimmer and made my first post on July 21, 2012.

My blog is mostly an athletic journal and mostly about swimming although running is a pretty big part of my life and writing. Though I don't do it often, I sometimes even write essays. For instance, when my dad died, I wrote "AquaMan Runs into the Night and Remembers His Dad" (Nov 9, 2013). When my mother-in-law passed, I wrote a tribute to her life and about the emotional aftermath of losing her ("RIP Louise Roberts," Feb 18, 2014). The one on my mother-in-law is my all time most read post. And sometimes, just sometimes, I even write a little fiction, e.g. "My Friend Poot" (April 13, 2014) and "Me 'N Poot Get Mopeds" (April 18, 2014). Speaking of Poot, I need to revisit him. He is a rich vein of ideas running through my twisted mind.

About the time I started blogging myself, I opened a Facebook account and over a short span made friends with swimmers all over the world. Swimmers are THE friendliest group there is and they genuinely applaud every success of every swimmer they hear about no matter how big or how small that accomplishment may be. I have done triathlons since 1980, and I have never made a single friend in that sport. In a few short months of swimming, I had swimmer friends literally around the globe. But they are not "real" friends, you say. Well, they are really better than my triathlon friends, I answer.

Back to the reading front. With Gord rarely writing now, I have been searching for another blog, another writer who makes me anticipate the next post, who keeps me on the edge of my seat. I searched and searched and searched. Finally I found one. After surfing though dozens of bloggers Favorites Lists, I stumbled upon "Davy Crockett's Running Frontier." Oh. My. Goodness. He writes often, he writes well, and he is interesting.

Davy is an ultrarunner from Utah, a state I find fascinating. I want to visit the West sometimes and that state in particular. I yearn to run and hike and swim maybe in the Great Salt Lake, with Gordon Grindly, I hope. He, Davy, runs mountain trails, canyons, and sometimes even a road. His blog is a rich mine of ultrarunning knowledge and just plain fun. When I found his site I thought, "A man after mine own heart." He does adventure runs and so do I. The difference is his are much longer and in much more interesting places. But, I am where I am, and I remain committed to exploring my little piece of the world no matter how mundane it may appear in comparison to other exotic places of our country.

So to sum up, I intend to keep reading, keep training, and keep writing. I hope, like the others I have read, to write well, write often, and be interesting. Maybe I can inspire others with my simple experiences. Be that as it may, I will keep scribling because ultimately I do it for myself, for my own enjoyment.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Civil Disobedience

Civil Disobedience
By Jay Unver
(Lehrton, MS) After weeks of mounting tension, civil disobedience erupted in downtown Lehrton this morning in the wake of Randy Beets' no-show at Swim the Suck on October 11th. Disgruntled fans, clamoring for a Hodge/Beets match race, burned tires in the streets, pelted the Big ASS Training Center with rocks, and burned a figure of Beets in effigy. Amid the chaos, some protestors called for Dr. Timothy Nomann’s resignation as president of “The Association” as many fans call it. Others yelled obscenities about Beets. A few even blamed Hodge for poisoning his tall opponent and preventing the long awaited showdown.
Since “The Letdown,” as some have taken to calling it, there has been a flurry of accusations, suspicions, and a host of videos posted to the Facebook page “Vicarious Butt Beets” while tensions have steadily mounted. One video reveals a Caucasian man, face hid behind a piece of paper which has “conspiracy” written on it. Speaking through a voice distorter, the man claims to confess being paid by the Hodge camp to poison Beets the night before the championship race.

A subsequent video shows its subject pull down the paper to reveal an obviously African-American female who claims to be the subject of the previous video. She contends that Betty Ryan Beets gave her money to make the first confession video.

When challenged on the obvious discrepancies in the subjects of the vids who claim to be the same person, a spokesman for the Hodge camp released this statement:

The subject of the first video only appears to be a Caucasian man. She is wearing a wig, and has makeup on her hands in order to appear white. The second video is the truth. As usual, the Beets group has tried to spin the circumstances, make excuses, and release false information. Hodge has repeatedly maintained his innocence. Dr. Nomann’s investigation revealed, “No credible evidence” to show any Hodge culpability. In short, this matter is over.
Only it wasn’t over. Rioters took to the streets and demanded an immediate race between Hodge and Beets. Lehrton’s police were caught flat footed and failed to respond until the fires started. Then, outmanned, they proved ineffective in clearing the streets and restoring order. An estimated 350 citizens, some carrying signs and shouting obscenities, threatened “To shut this city down if we have to wait a year,” for a resolution.
When asked to comment, Hodge simply said, “I will race Randy whenever he is ready. The problem is he moved to North Carolina. I really want to satisfy the fans, but it is not in my power to make this happen. These rioters need to go the Morganton, North Carolina and tear that town apart. Then maybe he will do something. I am not responsible for this civil disobedience. He is.”
Randy Beets could not be reached for comment.
Dave Elmore, legal counsel for Beets, said, "This is all a product of Hodge's cheating."

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Week of 10/27-11/2

Two posts ago I already covered much of last week. I ran a lot. For me anyway. In fact, EndangeredSwimmer is not looking too much like a swimming blog right now. Instead it looks a lot like a running blog. That's OK, with me at least, and that is how it will look for most, if not all, of the winter. Probably I will start back to DSU soon and resume swimming twice per week for the rest of the year and the beginning of 2015 with an occasional outdoor swim thrown in.

For the week, I

ran 44.14 and walked 7.2 miles,
lifted weights two times,
swam 2,500 meters, and
rode 5.2 miles on the bike.

My running is coming back. Finally. Not only am I starting to wrack up some distance, but I am doing it with some intensity thrown in. Not on every run, but two times a week I have been doing some sort of multi-paced work, and I seem to be holding up pretty well to that. My recovery has been well, and I am not overly sore from the faster runs. In fact, they seem to make my legs feel better. I think at my age and personal inclinations, it is too easy to idle down to a shuffle. And a shuffle after shuffle can be stifling on improvement, and in my case at least, seems to lead to staleness.

For me, big mileage starts at thirty. Forty is really big, and fifty is huge. I have done fifty mile weeks maybe four or five times in my life. I think a few are on the horizon as I prepare to knock some items off my bucket list before I get too old to accomplish them. I plan to drop back this week and train in a block fashion building for three or four weeks before dropping down for a recovery week.

My mind is spinning like a top searching for a one or two-day adventure run that really excites me. I will come up with something. The Thanksgiving Break is approaching and I want to do a big mileage week with some fun runs thrown in. I thought a bit about running to Winona. That was my first day's destination on my three day journey run I started last December  but physically broke down before making Day One's goal. Without the weight of a three day trip, I should be able to strike out pretty light, liquids and gels enough to get me to Carrollton. which is about half way. There I can eat lunch, like last time, restock my travelling food, and hopefully make the rest of the journey. That, at least, would be a measure of redemption and preparation for the real deal that I may try again next December.

Dude, I just thouught of something. I could run to Winona, stay the night, go out 407 and then over to Vaiden where I could overnight and then amble home the next day. Or I could go from Winona to my father-in-law's in Carroll County and then home. That is three days, a little less extreme than what I had hoped for last year. The ideas are starting to come. I feel a whole lot of fun coming on.

Monday, November 3, 2014

The DFM Oxford Walk

My wife and I left Greenwood Sunday morning about 10:30 and had a pleasant drive to Oxford, Mississippi. The weather was nice and my wife was happy. We parked on University Avenue and walked to the Lyceum to register for the Diabetes Foundation of Mississippi Oxford Walk. This was a first for the two of us. They had invited me and I was glad to go.

The DFM is an organization I believe in because they are dedicated to addressing a major problem that threatens to engulf the entire industrialized world. Diabetes, in my estimation, seems to be exacerbated by our modern lifestyle, a lifestyle that involves too much food and too little exercise. I have long been of the opinion that everyone should eat and exercise as if he or she is a diabetic whether one does or does not have the condition. The results, I think, would be fewer cases of diabetes and better sugar control for those who are diabetic. The walks raise needed funds for the DFM who is actively involved in treating, educating, and advocating for diabetics in Mississippi. Not only that, the walks get people outdoors and moving, something all of us need to do.

We met several DFM employees, and we had a really nice time. We met Irena McClain, for one. I have known her through Facebook for about a year or more. She introduced us to several people always referencing my Chicot Challenge. This made me feel special, and it made my wife happy. We met John Pace, the fundraiser extraordinaire. We met Chris, the Oxford Walk Director. We met Colonel Reb. We met others.

Before the walk started, I asked someone if it would be OK if I did some running instead of just walking. I did not want to be inappropriate in any way. I was told it was OK, so I ran the course, kept going around the Lyceum Circle, and shuffled back to my wife. We walked in together.
Yes, that is me with Colonel Reb
and John Pace. I think the
shadow over my face
symbolizes my
dark thoughts.
We left soon after the walk and went to Brenda Mansel's house who then took us to Newk's  where we had our supper. Penny ate a pizza and I had white bean and kale soup plus a sandwich. Super. Penny and Brenda visited while I managed to get on Facebook and enrage some Ole Miss fans. It was incredibly easy to do, the enraging part, and it flings a real temptation on me to be an instigator.

All in all, it was a good day and as Penny said, "A nice break from our routine."

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Friday Fun

Friday’s adventure run was fun and long and satisfying. I went to the cabin Dad built way back in the day and did one of my old routes, only I added some distance with a long out-and-back over on the highway. Instead of turning off the pavement at my usual spot, I stayed on the main road and ran to Mount Olive Baptist Church an addition of 2.75 miles one way.

On the return trip, I visited the track that sits in a flat field in a creek bottom. There is small set of bleachers overlooking an oval 200 meter asphalt track. If I had to guess, I would say most likely it is a go-cart course. I did a sub 8:00 minute 200 and then headed back to the road to continue my journey.
When I got back to the gravel road where I always turn, I had travelled over nine miles and consumed just a single gel. This time, however, I was drinking Gatorade instead of water and that seemed to help as I never bonked. I wasn’t strong, my legs never had any pep, and I shuffled slowly. But I enjoyed myself all the way and never had that I-just-want-it-to-be-over feeling. My feet are toughening and they never got sore although they did hurt a little late in the outing. There are twenty-six bones in the human foot and if you stay on yours long enough you will feel every one of them as well as the joint between each.
My course after turning off the highway was a maze of gravel roads that I have been intimate with since my youth. When we were in high school, my best friend and I used to ride the roads and run coon hounds and do all sorts of legal and illegal stuff. On one of them, I heard a big truck up ahead but out of my sight. It sounded like he was heavy loaded and blowing black smoke. Odd, I thought, because all I ever see or hear on this road is coyote crap and the wind blowing through the trees. Just before a major turn, however, I saw a new dirt road to my right with eighteen-wheeler tracks coming out. Was the county building a new one? Is there a gravel pit recently opened down there? The road was smooth and hard packed but dirt, not a rock on it, and it split a forest of pine trees winding its was into the back forty of who knows what.
I had to run it.
I felt a little wicked. I was possibly a trespasser and subject to arrest. With close to thirteen miles on my legs now, I couldn’t outrun Granny on her walker if I were to be challenged and chased. Thankfully I wasn’t challenged or chased and didn’t go too far before the mystery was solved. It was a logging operation, so I turned around and made my way, unscathed, back to the main road.
At 13.2 I took my first walk and went a bit over 1.3 miles before I came to the next big hill. I had to run it, of course, although shuffle is a more apt description of what I did up that long gravel incline that in the past had a huge, dead pine tree at the top where a buzzard often perched and peered down at me with suspicious eyes. The spirit was willing but the flesh was weak, though I did make it to the top and beyond. I shuffled another 2.51 miles before I walked it in for a total of 18.07 miles, feeling tired but terrific.
Now my mind is racing around the world and back searching for new adventure. Finally I am fit enough to have some real fun.