Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Christmas Week Training

Christmas week was a pretty good one on the training front. Last year at this same time, I was hobbling around on crutches so anytime I do anything now, anything, makes me feel like I am getting way ahead in my training. I
ran 35.38 miles,
lifted weights three times,
walked 7.73 miles, and
swam two hours and five minutes in the Endless Pool.
I don’t know how to convert the Endless Pool time to meters, but I will figure something out. In short, I feel good about where I am physically and I’m looking forward to big swimming starting around February.
Immediately ahead is the Mississippi River Marathon in February. I will pick up a few more running races along the way, but they are all for fun. After the marathon run, the next big thing is the Chicot Challenge.

Monday, December 29, 2014

The Buddy Bones Turkey Butt Marathon

After falling off the wagon with some deep fried turkey butt on Christmas day, Buddy Bones and I knew we had to hit the road for some serious mileage. We had another eating to attend for the evening of December 26th, my brother-in-law’s birthday party. So Buddy and I planned to leave the house around 11:00 am and make a long circuitous route to Carroll County. I lifted weights in the morning and got delayed resulting in skipped lunch and leaving an hour late. What could possibly go wrong?
We hit the road at 12:00 pm, crossed the Yazoo River, and headed out Grenada Blvd. As usual the boulevard was heavily trafficked and not a pleasant place to run. When we made it to Highway 7, we crossed over onto Grenada Blvd Extended and had a pleasant mile and a half until we had to get back on the highway. But we only had a half mile or less before we got on the Big Sand Creek Levee and headed east for the Carroll County hills. By then, I already knew it was going to be a tough day. My legs were tiring and we had a long, long way to go.

When we got on the levee, we were fewer than five miles from my front door and were seeing something totally new for us. I had never run, walked, or driven here before and that gave me a thrill. We crossed a couple of gates that made me a little uneasy. Eventually we could see some hunter orange way up ahead on top of the levee. Since I am nearsighted and don’t wear glasses, I couldn’t tell what it was until I was very close. It was a hunter.

We chatted a little and he must have said five times that he had never seen anyone run this levee top. I do a lot of things no one else around here does, especially since I started hanging out with Buddy Bones. I don’t know why I didn’t remember his name. He said he was the land owner and lived in Greenwood. I went on ahead and as I was nearing the end of the levee at the hill line, a truck came up from behind and stopped. He was also nice and I remembered his name, but told me it wasn’t a good idea to be running out. “We’ve had a lot of trouble in this area,” Justin Acey said. “I lot of people are going to be looking at you.”  I told him I was trying to get to that little road that ran along the foot of the hills to Highway 82. He pointed out a turn row I could have taken or the railroad tracks up ahead. We chose the tracks.
The abandoned C&G Railway line was grown up so thick we had to walk the ditch beside it, but we found the little road and started shuffling towards 82. We crossed the highway and headed towards Pelucia Creek and got on the levee there and headed west towards Humphrey Highway. Once more, when we got on the levee, we were in brand new territory and we ran and walked and walked and ran until we made the highway a little under six miles later.

On Humphrey Highway we headed south back towards the hills again. I was really tired now and was walking a lot. It was getting late. The birthday party was to start at 6:00, and I didn’t think we would make it. Surprisingly, I was able to shuffle up the big hill, a difficult feat even with fresh legs. It was dark now and once on top, it began to rain on us. I was ill-equipped for rain and the temp was dropping fast. That’s when my father and brother-in-law drove up. Buddy and I tapped out. We had only covered 23.5 miles, but we had fun, ran off some turkey butt, and saw some new territory. For us, that’s what it’s all about.
The time was terrible, but we had a good time.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Christmas Day Sin

I was winning the war in a valiant effort to make it through Christmas without eating myself into gluttony, sin, and self-loathing, until my brother tossed me that deep fried turkey butt. Battle over. I lost. Big time.
At mom’s, my little brother, Quinton, always cooks the turkey, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and any other time we as a family feel the need to commit one of the Bible’s Seven Deadly Sins. Gluttony is one of the seven, isn’t it? Well, if it’s not it ought to be.

Deep fried. Quinton deep fries the family turkeys, and believe me when I tell you the difference between that and the traditional oven job is like day and night. The new method seals in the moisture and renders a bird full of moist, flavorful meat that is light-years better than anything I grew up eating before some genius thought to drop a big bird in a pot of boiling oil. But before you go out and buy a turkey fryer, a few words of advice may be in order.

You can burn your house down deep frying a turkey. Easy. Not only that, but you can kill yourself, your entire family, and burn your whole neighborhood to the ground. Let me give you a few safety tips. First, get some bailing wire or some old clothes hangers and wire the pot to the cooker. If the pot tips over and the oil touches the open flame, the resulting explosion will be similar to tossing a burning match into an open container of gasoline. I am not exaggerating. Second, if you marinate the bird, make sure his chest cavity is empty of liquids before putting the turkey into the oil. This can cause a boil over and easily result in incinerating a small city. Third, unlight the fire before putting the turkey in. Heat the oil to 325, unlight the fire, put in turkey, then relight the fire. Cook one minute per pound of bird. Fourth, don’t throw the turkey away. It just looks ruined. I promise. Do not throw the turkey away. Underneath that blackness and charcoal is some of the best eating you have never had. Back to the story.

I made it through Christmas Eve without overeating. I even navigated the three Christmas Day breakfasts I was forced to eat without a major pigout. Then in the late afternoon I watched my brother fry the bird while we told “Dad” stories on the back patio of Mom’s house. It was great. We laughed and laughed and laughed telling about our favorite Roger Hodge fits. Our father threw the biggest fits over the smallest things you could ever imagine. No minor irritation was insignificant enough to stop him from going hysterical cussing, throwing, breaking anything within reach or sight. His children are filled with memories we can pull up at any time and get a good chuckle or a deep belly laugh even. I still cry from time to time thinking about him. But since he left us, I have laughed as much, if not more, than I’ve cried. 
The two turkeys were fried and cooled on the kitchen table when it finally came time to cut the meat off the bone, a job my brother loves. He keeps a large pan nearby and tosses the bones and skin and other delicacies in the big scrap pot. He threw me terrible looking deep-fried turkey butt which I caught in midair and immediately put into my mouth. Half in and half out, I bit down, and when I did grease ran out of the butt and dribbled down into my beard. I shook my head while my eyes rolled back in their sockets. Then I removed the butt, peeled back the skin and fat and began eating that thin little sliver of soft meat next to the bone like a mule eating briars through a fence. My nephew joined in the melee as we grabbed bits and pieces of fat, skin, and bone and ate like starving dogs. I had a piece of black, burnt turkey skin stuck to the side of my face and grease on my nose but I didn’t slow down as Harrison and I competed with each other over who could eat the most from the scrap pan.

Before long, I had grease running down each forearm to the elbows and bits of fat and skin stuck to my shirt which I periodically scrapped off and rammed into my mouth. We gnawed bones, growled, grunted, and burped. We ate until nothing was left but the pure meat set out on the plates for our meal which we didn’t want because we were not only full, we were overstuffed.

I went home that evening with the self-loathing I had tried so hard to avoid and slept fitfully while I passed gas and burped all the night long, my overfilled belly preventing me from sleeping face down. The morning would find me avoiding the scales and plotting my comeback. Hark, an idea! Buddy Bones and I planned to run it all away. That’s right. We would run and run until the weight and guilt of fried turkey butt, burnt fat, and slimy skin was all gone. Many miles would be needed and hours and hours to atone for such a deadly sin. But that was the plan, and we would stick to it.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Endless Pool

The week of 12/15-12/21 was another mixed bag. I

ran-37.85 miles
lifted weights-three times
walked- 8.25 miles
swam- 0.

Dude! For the second time this year, I did no swimming, and I was not a happy camper. This resulted in severe anxiety, frustration, anger, and thoughts of violence. However, I got hooked up with the Endless Pool this week and did my first session. And my second. John came over Monday afternoon, and we lifted weights till I thought my arms were going to fall off. Or I did. I gave him forty minutes after he said he was on the way and started warming up. I had done seven sets of bench presses by the time he got there. Then it started raining. Poor John.

After he left, I duct taped my arms on and drove to the Greenwood Leflore Wellness Center where I swam for one hour and twenty one minutes. It was good and bad experience. Let me explain.

The pool is wide open right now. I talked with the director Monday morning and she told me that no one was using it right now because the heater is broken and the water temperature is down to 86. No one will use the pool because the water is down to 86. No one will use the pool because the water is 86 degrees. No one will use the pool because the water is 86. I swear that is what she told me.
I can do 86. Yes, that is way hot for most swimmers, and many swimmers could not be forced at gunpoint into 86 degree water. But I deal well with heat and 86 is within my range. So I went to give it a try. Not only is the heater out, but the motor is not working well either. It would only get the current up to four miles per hour. When attempting to push beyond that, the motor simply shut down.

Four miles per hour sounds fast enough. I swim at two or slower. But in that pool, I had to stroke unnaturally slow to keep from hitting the front wall. That’s not good but it’s better than a poke in the eye. I needed some water time in the worst way, and I got 1:21 after a hard weight session. When I left, I could tell I had done something.
I went back the Tuesday morning and John Cooke told me they are getting the motor replaced after the first of the year. That is good news. Surprisingly, the water temp was 90. That is really warm, but I can even do 90. In fact, I can swim hard at higher than that although I prefer cooler water. This time I swam 1:46, and although the tempo was necessarily slow, I still got in some work.
Now I feel a lot better, like I am not a danger to myself or others, and I am no longer stressed about DSU being closed. Not only that, but I look to the future with a lot more hope than I have in the past. January and February have been, for the past several years, months of growing anxiety. With my big swim drawing nearer and my only real water access being Delta State, having a shot at this Endless Pool means I can build a better base in January, February, and March. Last year, I went wild on April the 1st swimming a 10K in a fish pond while wearing a wetsuit. That led to one of my very few swimming injuries that led to reduced training that led to a lot of stress that led to anxiety that led to scheduling the Challenge a week later than usual. I hope to do it all better this year.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Off the Divide

I am no longer at the crossroads or on top of the mountain ridge trying to decide which side to come down on. With the help of my old friend Daniel Collins, I made a decision. The Mississippi Trail 50 is out. Running for fun and training for the Chicot Challenge is in. I feel a giant relief.
Being pulled in more than one direction is nothing new for me. Athletically it has always been that way with running. Dad used to tell me I needed to focus on the 10 K. That is what he did and he ran times I have never touched. If I had followed his advice, I could have, no doubt, run some faster times at that distance. I even thought I might take his counsel for one year at least. But it never happened. Inevitably, I went out the door too many times just to have fun. I think that is important, however, having fun, because you (or I anyway) can only punish yourself so many times before you decide you are too busy, or too tired, or you just don’t want to do it anymore.

I also thought I would spend one year focusing on the triathlon and seeing if I could place at the Heart ‘O Dixie. I started in the triathlon sport in 1980, that’s right, 1980. At one point I was doing five or six per year, but now I am down to one per year, and I don’t think I will be doing very many more any time soon. It would be a real trick to pull that off a place at HOD. As the oldest continual triathlon in the continental United States, and as the state’s championship race, the HOD draws an unbelievably competitive field. Typically my age division will contain fourteen or fifteen men. My finish in the respective events within my age division will usually look something like this: Swim, 1st; Run, 6th; Bike, 14th. It doesn’t take a socket rientist to figure that that is a scenario for never placing.
I am simply not a good biker, I will not pay the price to get better, and I just don’t care anymore. I only want to have fun, and I do have fun finishing the HOD each year even though it is still frustrating to get passed by fat ladies on the bicycle or while running up a hot hill in Neshoba County. When push comes to shove, I like to do a lot of long slow running and when I bike I like to do it long and slow and see things and take pictures and eat a lot of food along the way. That’s just who I am.

And then there is the ever present tension between running and swimming. Slowly over the last few years, my athletic identity has changed, and I consider myself now a swimmer who runs rather than a runner who swims. If I have any natural athletic ability, this is where it lies. I did not swim in college. I did not swim on a high school swim team or even on a junior high one. I was given lessons as a child (thank you, Momma), and I splashed in the water like everyone else. As a young adult, I started triathlons, so I trained my swim a bit then. But that was all solo work and then I was off for eighteen years while I raised a family, went to school, and pastored a small church. I started back into fitness for fun and for health in 2004 in a very small way. That year I swim trained three times and did the Heart ‘O Dixie Triathlon. In short, I am an adult-onset swimmer with no competitive swimming background. I started serious swim training in my fifties.
In 2006 I became a little more serious about overall training because I was frustrated with the fat ladies beating me at the Heart ‘O Dixie, so I joined the Masters team at DSU. I did my first open water marathon in 2007, That Dam Swim Twelve Miler in Muscle Shoals, Alabama, because I was injured and could not run. There were no more marathon swims in my life until 2011 when I heard about, entered, and recruited Randy Beets to do Swim the Suck Ten Miler in the Tennessee River near Chattanooga. That is when I became a swimmer.

The following June, I did the first Chicot Challenge, my personal birthday swim (I was fifty-six) that I converted into a fundraiser. The Challenge started like this: I received a text message from Randy Beets.
Beets: I just did a thirteen mile kayak in Lake Chicot from the State Park to downtown Lake Village and back.

Me: That sounds like it would make a nice open water swim.

Beets: I’ll crew you if you want to do it.

The Challenge was born.
We set a date, I started training, and we did it with the additional help of Robin Bond. When it was all done, the swim was 13.94 miles, and the rush I got crawling out at the end was addicting. We raised over $1,250 for the American Diabetes Association, and I realized that I had some talent, maybe only a little, but some gift for long swimming.

Maybe the gift is mostly in the area of ‘want to.’ Endurance athletics, in my opinion, is as much a matter of personality as it is of muscle fiber composition. I am a Type E personality, i.e. the Type Endurance kind. You have to want to do this kind of thing and for some people this realm is the very height of insanity. I understand. I had a wise man once tell me, “If everybody liked the same thing, there wouldn’t be enough to go around.” Very true. God made us different for a reason, or two or three.
But though the gift may be in large measure a part of my personality, it is at least in small part physical as well. Not only do I have the want to, I respond rapidly to training stimuli, swim training stimuli that is. I can do a hard workout and two days later detect the difference in my body. I am certain an exercise physiologist would say that is utterly impossible, that science refutes my claim. However, I know that is not the case with me and swimming and will gladly submit to scientific examination. Any takers out there? That’s what I thought. I have lived in this body for fifty-eight years, I have used it a lot, and I know it well. So in some small way, though I am very late coming to the party, I feel like God has gifted me in the realm of swimming. Though the gift may be small, I don’t want to bury it. To do so is to dishonor God, among other things. So I am not going to gamble with the Challenge by putting the Mississippi Trail 50 on the calendar. It is just not wise. To sum up in a concise manner:

Reasons not to do the Mississippi Trail 50
  • It pushes the training window for the Chicot Challenge back a little farther than I am comfortable with.
  • It competes with Chicot base training for time and energy.
  • It risks severe fatigue from running fifty miles and traveling to and from south Mississippi.
  • It costs money in terms of an entrance fee and travel expense.
  • It dilutes the gift.
  • It makes life unnecessarily complex.
(Sorry about the spacing issues here. Sometimes the formatting just will not cooperate)
Reasons to focus on the Chicot Challenge
  • I can still do the Mississippi River Marathon in February without pushing my build phase back as I would with the Trail 50.
  • I won’t have to obsess with running mileage but can just run for fun, adventure, and fitness.
  • The risk of hangover fatigue is greatly reduced with a marathon in February as opposed to an ultra-marathon in March.
  • The Challenge IV is longer than ever (nineteen miles) and I will be older than ever so I really need to focus on it.
  • It honors and uses the gift.

And besides all that, the Challenge raises funds for a very worthy charity that supports a very important cause. Starting with Chicot II, I switched to the Diabetes Foundation of Mississippi (DFM) as my charity of choice. Check them out at Charity Navigator ( The DFM “is the state's premier nonprofit health organization providing diabetes research, information, patient services and advocacy. The mission of the Foundation is to provide hope through research, programs and service to the 372,500 Mississippians with diabetes. The Diabetes Foundation of Mississippi is the one diabetes organization totally dedicated to all Mississippians from our children to our seniors, who live with diabetes. Through our three locations in Jackson, Oxford and Hattiesburg, the DFM strives to better serve Mississippians with diabetes; provide more programs statewide; and increase research at the University of Mississippi Medical Center.” Find them at

Saturday, December 20, 2014

The Great Divide

I feel like I am sitting on the pinnacle of a mountain trying to decide which side to explore. I want both sides and everything in between. While my friend, Daniel Collins, ponders the Continuum Hypothesis, Set Theory, and Metaphysics, I am in a delimma over whether to do the Mississippi Trail 50 or not. An official fifty-mile run has been on my bucket list for a long time. But ever since I started the Chicot Challenge, it has been a bit more difficult to do some of the other crazy things that spurn me to dream. Chicot requires a major commitment of time, energy, and planning.

The Trail 50 is set for March 5th. That would give me time to do it and then shift my training for my June 6th Chicot Challenge. Although that leaves time, the window is just a little narrow. Ideally, I need to start ramping up my swimming in February. If I do the run, I will be shuffling like crazy and then have to start ramping up the swimming the second week in March. That is doable but it gives me a little pause.

Exacerbating my anxiety is the fact that I am finishing my second week this year of no swimming. The Challenge is still a long way off, but having a good base to build on is Endurance Training 101. The pool at DSU is drained for repairs, the outdoor pool here still has water but is very low, and my nerve for cold water swimming in the pond is simply nonexistent at the present time. A new factor in my confusion is the fact that I soon may be gaining access to an Endless Pool. That, believe it or not, just adds to my uncertainty. It will give me a little more access to water. It will temp me to swim more. I need to swim more. But basically, it will be the Endless Pool or the road.

Although I train daily, I do the lion's share of my endurance building on Fridays, my one true day off. My day. Fridays are the day I do the long run or the long swim, which is indispensable for a marathon. To train for the Trail 50, I need to exceed the twenty-six to twenty-seven mile efforts I have been putting in of late. And these take most of the day and all of my energy. There is no way I can do a thirty-mile run and a swim on the same day. There just isn't the time or the energy to train at that level.

Last year none of this wasn't an issue because I was recovering from a stress fracture of my right tibia, and swimming was one of the few things I could do.

So I sit at a fork in the road, on top of a great divide and I ponder what to do.


What if I alternate long runs with swims on Fridays? that is run long one Friday and swim the next? Maybe that could work, and I can pull off both. Now all I have to do is pull the trigger and register for the Trail 50.

I'll think about it while I drink one more cup of coffee.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

The Buddy Bones Tanglefoot Trail Marathon

A bright sun was lighting up a blue sky when me n Buddy Bones drove away from 333 West Monroe Avenue Tuesday morning December 16th. The excitement was palpable as the long awaited Buddy Bones Tanglefoot Trail Marathon was only a couple of hours away in driving distance and time.

Since I meet Buddy and started training with him, my running has taken a definite upturn. He is so easy to get along with, only talks when talked to, and is ever up for whatever I want to do. A perfect friend and training partner. Of course, I have John for the pool swimming and weightlifting, but for running, Buddy is the man.

We drove up to the Whistle Stop in Algoma about 10:00 am and were thankful for a place to park and use the bathroom before starting. Somewhere around 10:20 we were off with plans to go 13.11 one way and turn around. We headed north into what was for us unknown territory. The air was a brisk 48 degrees with a light wind blowing into our faces. A few birds chirped and occasionally the wind whisltled through the pines, but mostly the day was silent save for our footfalls and breathing sounds.
Despite the fact that it was a weekday and a winter one, we saw several cyclists, a few walkers, and a couple of runners. But pretty much we were alone the whole way.

We saw some lovley woods, a beaver pond, a shooting house, and bean fields. We crossed over a highway, ran past some ball fields, and saw houses hidden in the woods. Occasionally we crossed a road, until we came into Pontotoc. It took a long time to get through and out of that town. Oddly, there was no Whistle Stop there. There were signs on the Tanglefoot with arrows pointing into town announcing bathrooms and food, but nothing on the trail itself.

Finally north of Pontotoc, we were in the country once more. As we approached the thirteen mile mark, I could see up in the distance what looked like and proved to be a Whistle Stop. When we got there, 13.85 miles from Algoma, the sign on the building read Ecru.
When we made the turn and headed back south towards Algoma, I was surprised at the level of my fatigue. I had been hoping to hold up better on this one that the last two. For this one, I set out shuffling 3.25, shifting into marathon goal pace (9:30) for a mile, and then walking for a half mile. I only did two 9:30 miles before my legs just didn't have it in them anymore. On the way back it was all slow shuffling and some walking. The first Buddy Bones Marathon I finished in 5:57. I know that is pathetically slow, but bear in mind, except for Buddy, I am alone and I have to run the marathon as well as work the aide stations. The second Buddy Bones Marathon I did in 5:33. I was hoping to break 5:30 today.
By the time we had made it back through Pontotoc, somewhere around seventeen or eighteen miles, it was looking like I was going to have to ditch my run/walk strategy and shuffle all the way in. I walked one solid mile through town and when I started back, I determined to shuffle all the way to 26.2 and that is what I did although my pace kept getting slower and slower. 

We finished in 5:21 a new Buddy Bones world record. The drive home in the dark was tiring and when we finally made it and got out of the truck, I discovered I was the Tin Man. It felt like all my joints were rusted solid. Seriously, I could barely walk at all. Nothing hurt. I was just so still I could hardly move. Muscles and joints both had rusted everything shut while I drove home. But I did get inside, spent some time with Luvie, took a bath, and slept well.

Buddy wants to do another marathon next week. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

The Future of Purses

I have never been a prognosticator but here is a prediction: wheeled purses will be all the rave. You know, like suitcases or packs with wheels on them. My wife needs one. She carries the most amazing collection of supplies in her purse that you could ever imagine. Last summer, I helped her shop for a new one. She spend about an hour looking over a vast collection of the necessary accessories at a large department store on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. There were only three criteria for her new bag: 1) it had to be big, 2) heavy duty straps were a necessity, and 3) an outrageous price was a must.

Don't think I am complaining. If buying purses makes her happy, I am all for it. And I learned long ago that her obsession with never being unprepared is a plus. If I need something, my wife has it in her purse. Really, whatever I can possibly have a need for she can dig out of her bottomless handbag at the drop of a hat and sometimes she will even drop the hat. For example, at this very moment my wife's heavy-duty purse contains the following items: Besides her wallet and check book, she has

a forty-eight piece ratchet set
a box of screw drivers
twelve tubes of lipstick
a roll of duct tape
jumper cables
an adjustable wrench
a bag of boiled peanuts
a sack of hammers
hand lotion
a first-aide kit
a .38 snub nose revolver
an automobile tow strap
six packs of ketchup
a beach towel
four rolls of breath mints
a winter coat
a car jack
a can of hairspray
a sewing kit
a box of nails
finger nail clippers
a measuring tape
a twelve volt flashlight
two packs of Kleenex
a paint brush
a used hamburger
a can of tennis balls (and she doesn't even play)
three tubes of eyeliner
a shoe shine kit
two five hundred piece jigsaw puzzles
a carpenter's square
a ping pong paddle (leftover from beating our children, I think)
a rain coat
four pounds of ink pens
a can of cat food
every receipt she has ever received in her entire life
a nail file
an empty coke bottle
a roll of paper towels
a jar of peanut butter
fifteen packs of crackers
a change of address form from when we moved thirty-seven years ago
two extra pair of shoes
a wall mounted pencil sharpener
a coffee cup
a box of crayons
a coffee grinder
nail polish of every color ever created
a comb
a coloring book
half a hot dog
a bottle of car wax
a 2X4
drywall screws
an umbrella
thumb tacs
five mirrors
a change of clothes
a phone book
a coffee maker
thirty-six assorted music CDs
a set of dishes
one small dog (Jeff)
a sack of hard candy (before Jeff ate it)
several pounds of earrings and bracelets
band aides
a hair brush
a hair dryer
four door hinges
a duck caller
face power, flea powder, foot powder
a jar of Duke's Mayonnaise
a laptop computer
something she calls a Jay Pan Fan (Japan fan?)
a set of dishes
sticky notes
a barrel latch
the menu to a local restaurant (huh?)
a dog collar
construction paper
a portable electric heater
a three foot tall plastic Santa Claus
five bottles of water
a gallon of exterior latex house paint
a bottle of aspirin
our daughter's fifth grade report card
a twelve foot long extension cord
rolls and rolls of Christmas wrapping paper
a box of hamburger helper
spare keys to the last four cars she owned (but none to my truck)
a box of shotgun shells
a mouse trap
spare eye glasses
a quart of motor oil
a chair
a Bible
a quart of coins
the carburetor to a 1971 GMC pickup truck
a half-eaten hot tamale
a spare car tire
one rubber boot (did Jeff eat the other?)
a box of cookies
two handmade quilts
three kinds of sunscreen
four watches that don't work
a log chain

I know what you are thinking. Don't do it. Don't bring up a "partridge in a pear tree." If you do, she is subject to snap. She will go from passive-aggressive to aggressive-aggressive, and I will be the one who gets aggressed upon.

But you've gotta be proud of a woman like that. I am. She never goes off half cocked. Like the old boy scout motto, she is prepared. Always prepared. Recently, we were out and about in her truck doing I forget what when I wanted a pencil.

"May I borrow a pencil?" I asked as politely as I could.



"I don't have a pencil."

"You don't have a pencil!?!" I almost screamed.

"Don't raise your voice at me," she yelled back. "I can't keep everything in my purse."

"You can't keep everything in your purse? Really? Really?"

"No!" she screamed loud enough to hurt my feelings. "I have pens. You can borrow a pen," she said pulling out a quart baggie stuffed with one of every style pen ever manufactured in the United States and China over the past decade. She tossed the bag at me.

"I don't want a pen. I want a pencil."

"Well, we can't always get what we want, can we," she said real sassy.

I didn't talk for the rest of the trip.

I guess this means she'll have to get a bigger purse.

She needs one.

Monday, December 15, 2014

On the Brink of a Week Off

Last week was another good running cycle and a less than stellar swimming one. I have now run thirty or more miles in a seven day stretch for eight consecutive weeks. For me, thirty miles is pretty good mileage and forty is huge. I have done fifty a few times in my life, and once I ran sixty. The sixty mile week put me into over training mode which took several weeks to recover from.

Besides hitting some pretty good numbers, I have been mixing in some quality running also. In the past, that has introduced injury and recovery issues. Surprisingly, recovery has been good this time around, and I think I have a clue as to why. I wrote about the recovery aspect a few posts back. On the injury front, I credit Hoka shoes for at least some of that. In short, am having fun with my running and should have some PRs in the future if I can do two simple things: 1) stay healthy, and 2) lose some weight. I still have not lost all the poundage gained after stress fracturing my tibia exactly one year ago.

So I am a bit gun shy and do not plan to attack the Great Noxapater Journey Run again this break. What I do plan, however, is some more Buddy Bones Marathons. This week I hope to make it over to the the Tanglefoot Trail for at least 26.2 there. I also have a route mapped out in my head starting from my wife's driveway that will take me to places I have never been. That's right, I have lived here for fifty-eight years and have been obsessed with roads and knowing my world since I was a teenager, and there are still a few places I can make a loop, on foot, from my own front door and back and see new things. What will I do when I run them all? Probably I will sit down like Alexander the Great and weep because I have no more kingdoms to conquer.

But there is still water. I have another big swim coming up in June. That is why I am just a little antsy about the pool at DSU being closed for so long. Until recently, it had been years since I had missed a week of swimming. I just missed one two weeks ago and now I face another two to three consecutive weeks out of the water. What to do? I know the real training doesn't start until February, but I still like laying down a solid base for the big meters I will be swimming in the spring.

Last week, I

ran 34.39 and walked 2.27 miles,
swam 3,199 meters, and
lifted weights two times.

This week, I hope to run lots, lift much and, if I can muster the courage, get in the water at least once.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Me n Poot Ponder the Atomic Weight of Stupid

He was an old man who had spent his entire adult life trying to determine the atomic weight of stupid.

"A serious scientist," he used to tell us. "A serious scientist."

Large piles of "research"-- newspapers, magazines, and coverless books-- grew like thick, tall Johnsongrass on the floor of his living room while he spent the largest part of his time on the redwood deck attached to the rear of his trailer house. His blue eyes often cast an unfocused gaze into the lonely pine trees of his Carroll County twenty while his mind did mental gymnastics and pondered the mysteries of the universe. The thin white hair of his small head was a stranger to a comb although he did bathe on occasion. Special occasion.

Me 'n Poot met him in the summer of 1971. We had ridden our mopeds into the hills on a mission to find some new squirrel hunting territory for the fall when we found him. He we was on a semi-gravel path where we came upon him in the road trying to kill a snake. Having walked out to his mailbox and almost stepping on a copperhead, he had started a fight he was about to lose. We saved his life. Me 'n Poot was heroes.

That was the last summer we was still scooting around with our .22 rifles slung over our backs held in place with our homemade gun slings. We stopped and shot the snake then pried the creature's mouth open with a stick revealing the two fangs that had barely missed the old man's hairy bare leg. He wore cut off overalls and walked barefoot most of the time.

He invited us to "neighbor" with him, and we accepted, the beginning of a lot of neighboring. We were impressed most of all with the refrigerator and freezer on the back porch, and that is when we knew he was a genius. It wasn't the badly weathered Periodic Table taped to his back wall of his trailer that convinced us. It was the fridge and the freezer.

There wasn't much in either one, but just the fact that he was smart enough to have them on his porch let me know he was class above. I knew what my mom would say. 'You don't put a refrigerator or a freezer on a porch.' If I asked why, the answer would simply be, 'It's just not done.' But he did it and it worked and it made the porch feel real nice and inviting like a place you lived instead of a place you looked at. 

Besides the fridge, he had a grill, a picnic table, and a few chairs back there. There was also a dog but he lay around like a stick of firewood and we never payed no attention to him until he treed on day. But that's a whole nuther story.

We were most excited when we found out we could chew tobacco in front of him and didn't even have to be particular about how or where we spit. We tried to shoot it between the 2x6s, but it was no big deal if we missed. Since he was a grown up and we chewed tobacco in front of him, we felt grown up and free when we were there. We not only chewed, but we smoked cigars, cussed, and said nasty stuff about girls. It was all a boy could ever want.

He had a couple of acres of open land with a barn and a small pond that we quickly acquired permission to fish. Pines covered the rest of his twenty but his place joined eighty acres of hardwoods owned by a cousin of his who was a yankee and lived way off in yankeeville somewhere. He said we could hunt that all we wanted as long as we didn't burn the woods up with fire. Hot dog. That is why we rode up that way to begin with.

We quickly became regulars at Edward Smith's. At first we called him Mr. Smith, then Mr. Ed, then Ed Head. Eventually we just called him Head. He didn't mind, and he was the first adult me or Poot either one had ever called by his first name. We didn't tell our parents about Head. We knew what they would say. They would suspicion him of being a murderer or a molester or some sort of criminal. But all he wanted to do was neighbor, think, and try to get us to think. He used to ask us all sorts of questions and try to tell us stuff. Out of the blue he would ask us, "What is the square root of . . . ?" some ungodly number. Or he would say, "Did you know?" But he learned if he pushed us too hard we would leave, so he would stop when we started getting ready to go.

One day, after he had gone too far, he tried to get us to stay by saying he would cook any fish we caught in his pond. Since it was getting late in the afternoon, we left anyway but promised to come back the next day and take him up on his offer.

We showed up with a couple of cheap Zebcos and a little tackle box. Head laughed out loud when we borrowed his dip net and a number two wash tub which we drug to the pond along with our fising rods. We went to the levee on one end where the water was deep and some trees hid us from view of the porch. Poot had a single stick of dynamite in his tackle box. Although it has been forty-four years, we still can't tell you where we got it cause we crossed our hearts and hoped to die and stick a needle in our eye. 

Poot tied the dynamite to a window weight with a one foot long piece of bailing wire, lit it with his cigar, and tossed it into the deepest hole in the pond. Since it was late summer and the water was hot, we knew that's where the fish would be.

It didn't make a big noise cause the water was so deep. There was just a low rumble, the water lit up orange like some giant lights were turned on under there and it sort of bubbled up. Then fish like you never saw came floating to the top. There was bream by the double hand full, catfish like you wouldn't believe, and some bass one of which was ten pounds if he was an ounce. We quickly filled the wash tub and a good eight minutes after we parked our mopeds we was looking at Head's eyes about to pop out of his head.

"How . . . how?" he kept asking.

"What's the atomic weight of smart?" Poot asked.

Head's freezer was as full as our bellies when we motored off that day, and he never knowed how we got all them fishes although he asked about twenty-five hunderd times.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Epic Lazy

I never cease to amaze myself with my capacity for laziness. I really am good at nothing, a natural talent. All it takes is a monkey wrench thrown into my plans or a cat to crawl up into bed with me and the day is over. Once a cat gets close, I just want to lounge around and write, drink coffee, and talk cat with the cats. I am totally fluent in cat having studied and practiced for years. Baby Kitty is becoming more vocal so I now have someone to converse with. I like vocal cats. Luvie is not vocal, but he responds to my vocals. I see his ears move as he follows my voice, or his tail flip in response to me talking to him. Sometimes he will trun and look me in the eye or he will roll over on his back a peek at me between little slits in his eyelids while I tell him how pretty he is. He likes attention, and I like giving it to him.

Another factor in my laziness is the strange fact that staying in bed and drinking coffee is exhausting to me. It just wears me totally out, and then I need a nap. With too much caffeine in my system, however, sleep won't come so I try to nap awake. Napping awake involves closing the eyes and being very still with the hope that when the eyes open again I will feel like I have been asleep. The problem with napping awake is that it never has worked for me yet but it seems like a good idea so I keep attempting it over and over again. In fact, napping awake is highly inefficient and usually leaves me even more exhausted, so I need a nap even more. The cats like me to be exhausted because I don't move much and everyone knows that cats like you to be still.

So it is all just a vicious cycle, and then I feel guilty because I didn't get anything done on my list. I always have a list. A typical list reads something like this:

  1) hang out with cats
  2) run eight miles
  3) lift weights
  4) chop up the leaves in the backyard
  5) clean my truck
  6) go to the pond for a short swim
  7) wash dishes.

But what winds up actually happening is I get stuck and the list looks like this at the end of the day:

  1) hung out with cats
  2) hung out with cats
  3) attempted napping while awake
  4) hung out with cats
  5) rode around in turck and thought about what it would be like to ride around in a clean truck
  6) went back home and hung out with cats.

I did manage to get a few things done last week, sandwiched between bouts of epic nothing. I ran a total of 35.36 and walked 3.92 miles. Furthermore, I lifted weights twice and swam 6,900 meters (in a short course pool).

Right now I am in the bowels of the beast also known as final exams. Starting next week, however, I hope to nail some more lazy like a boxer nails his opponent. Or the cats and I will. If I get rested enough, Buddy Bones and I have some really big plans.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Poor Buddy Bones

Thursday ended my last day of regular classes at work for this semester. What lies ahead is the chaos of exam week. Then I think I will be off a little, but I am not sure. I did a very short run, 2.25 miles, and then went to DSU. Things are not sounding well there either. The Mad Swimming Scientist is talking about the pool being closed for several weeks during the break. Are you kidding me? I guess I will have to get my wetsuit and go to the pond if I want to maintain even a modicum of swim fitness.

Last night my muscles felt a lot better in the water. I got 1,300 in before we started the main set. This time I warmed up and my muscles relaxed and felt ready to go. We did 8 X 200 with a floating fast 50 in the first four. We rested :20 after each. Coach gave us the option of repeating that pattern for the next four or start with a fast 50 and add a 50 on each rep until we finished with a full 200 all out. I chose the more difficult option and was rewarded with some heavy breathing and hard heat beating, but my muscles felt good. What a difference a day makes. Tuesdays swim and Wednesday's weights tuned up my upper body muscles. I swear, I can get results in a single swim practice. Running is just not like that. After the 200s, I swam an easy 200 while my teammates finished up. Then it was 50 swim/50 back kick until we did 400. We did this with fins which means I got my butt handed to me. After that we did a hard 200 with fins. As usual, I go from dominator to dominated when fins are involved. That was the end of practice, and I cooled down with an easy 550 with small paddles. Total: 4,200 yards.

Me 'n Buddy Bones had big ideas for today, Friday, but they had to be cancelled. I'll spare you the details, and yes I am groaning a little. It it just the one day of the week that I often get to play as long as I want to. I still remember the joy I had when I was in the first grade and Mom dropped me off at Rob White's house and said I could play for an hour. An hour! The freedom and joy I felt that day as the world's greatest mom drove away leaving me free for an hour was addicting. An hour, a whole hour! I have been trying to recapture, recreate that feeling ever since. Sometimes I get it, and I always cherish it when it happens like a newborn baby that needs feeding and hugging and protecting. It is precious and should be defended, fought for at all costs. I sometimes get this freedom and joy when I do a long, long run or swim or bike ride, and don't have to worry about the time, to get back and take care of some sort of business. Me 'n Buddy Bones got it twice recently. It was super. But not today.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

What a Difference

Monday I went out the front door not knowing how far or how fast I would go. I wound up doing an eight mile multi-paced run. It was a superset shuffle, but I added another step. Superset runs are conducted at several known race paces with no rest interval in between the pace shifts. For example, warm up and then do .25 at current 5K race pace, then slip into .25 at current 10K race pace, and then go for 1.5 at goal marathon race pace. Run slow for four minutes and repeat. Jolly good fun. Really, jolly fun. I did my first one of these last week and enjoyed it so much I couldn't wait to do it again. Despite the fact that I'm still overweight, I hit my pace times and finished tired but not trashed.

Luvie has been very clingy of late and that has made it difficult to get anything done. I love it. I did get out the door Tuesday afternoon for a 4.34 mile shuffle. Then it was off to the grandchildren and after that Delta State.

Somebody said, "What a difference a day makes." I really don't remember where that comes from, but I found out what a difference a week off makes for swimming. During the Thanksgiving Break, I did not get in the water at all. Besides taking a bath. Last night, I went to DSU and was not surprised but shocked at how I felt. When I first got in I felt smooth and strong. But that old burn started and it was like I never warmed up, like my muscles were tight, hurting, and protesting the whole time. After a

600 warm up that didn't warm me up, I swam
2 X 800 first with medium paddles, 2nd swim; last 25 of each 100 fast,
16 X 50 @ 1:00 with fins,
4 X 50 @ 1:00 swim,
100 small paddles,
total: 3,300 yards.

Wednesday I did another multi-paced run. After warming up, I decided to do a mile for time. Enroute to the mile, I kept a check on my watch to see if I could go through six minutes (the vVo2 max test) at a pace faster than the 7:47 I did a week or two ago. At six minutes I was exactly at 7:47 pace and slowed to 7:51 at the mile. I did another hard .25 after a rest and then hit a tempo pace for a bit over two miles. When I got home, I lifted weights and found that although I did lift once last week, I had lost a bit on my bench. Dude, what a difference. I had hoped my week off would advance my fitness. 

Tonight it is back to DSU and I hope I notice a difference from Tuesday. Tomorrow, me 'n Buddy have plans. I saw him at work today, and he is eager for another long run.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

My Week Off

My off week came and went in a flash. Darn I wish I could do that again. The good news is I do get to do it again after a couple of more seven day stretches. Overall, I was incredibly energetic and lazy, lazy to the point of embarrassing myself and disgusting my momma's oldest son. I am an oxymoron. My wife thinks I'm just a moron. My cats and grandchildren love me anyway.

I wrote already about the good start to the week, how I got out to a wopping 4.31 miles of running on Monday and also did some walking and weight lifting. I ran again Tuesday, but unfortunately, I did no swimming all week. I think that was the only week of the year I did not swim at least once. DSU was closed for the whole Thanksgiving Break, and for some reason our coach, who has keys, said we couldn't swim. The outdoor pool at Twin Rivers is still up, and I thought about going there. Also, I continue to have access to thousands of acres of catfish ponds. However, for me I have to want to get into cold water and for the week, I just did not want to climb out of my comfort zone.

I ran instead.

And napped.

And trolled around on Facebook.

And ate lots of food.

I'm a terrible person.

I did do another marathon, which I wrote about already. That was on Wednesday. Buddy Bones and I covered a total of twenty-seven miles, and then for Thanksgiving I tried to eat it all away. Friday was another day of wasted time. I know some lounging around is good, but I never got out of my undershoes all day long.

Saturday I did go out for a 6.88 mile run, and I mixed it up with some stuff I have been reading about in a book by a man who has a PhD and says he has all the answers. He has some ideas and tons of research, but not all the answers I am certain. If the history of running has proved anything, and it has, it is that science is better used descriptively rather than prescriptively. 

For the week, I ran 37.48 and walked 7.82 miles. Also, I lifted weights once and failed to swim altogether.

This week I plan to tear it up on the road and at least get back in the water. It is still my off season for swimming, but the Chicot Challenge is still out there and the plan this year is for a nineteen mile swim. I think about that every time I lift weights and always do a few extra reps with my swim in mind.