Wednesday, April 29, 2015


Yesterday was "bang." Today was "pow." I went to Twin Rivers and came within a dog's hair of backing out. It is very cool here and when I stepped out of my truck, I climbed back in. Then I remembered the article the Commonwealth ran on me Sunday. I have to train.

So I got into the pool and took a reading after my warm up. The water was 72 yesterday; it was 70 today. That might not sound like much if you are not a swimmer, or maybe if you are. But believe you me, two degrees makes a big difference. Add to that the cool air and lack of sun and it all drove my spirits down. 

But once swimming, I felt good and for the first time in a couple of months or more I felt like pushing it a little and had the confidence to do so. Mentally I am still a bit fragile. The left shoulder, however, that had me worried has not been an issue for several weeks. I feel pretty good about it. I still have a little phobia about the right pectoral although it is fine. I just have not totally lost all me fear of re-injury. I swam

1,200 23:39
10 X 50 @ 1:15
400 countdown 7:24
500 countdown 9:22
600 as every third 50 hard 11:17
100 easy
total: 3,300

The 600 gave me a really good feeling. It included enough easy swimming to work that all-day metabolism that I will be using for Chicot, but the hard 50s are long enough to work the heart rate and frequent enough to build a higher end endurance. This is a set I most likely will be doing a lot of between now and June 6. I only did one rep this time around, but that will change.

After taking nutrition, I headed out for a run. I did 8.75 miles in a multi-paced fashion. In total I ran 2.11 @ sub 8:00 pace and .5 @ 9:44. I have a good week started. I need to finish strong.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015


Monday was a bang start sort of day. This time of year, it has to be. I am five weeks out, not counting the week of the event, from the Chicot Challenge. This is prime time, time for big yards, time for major weeks. This is the time that the endurance is built. 

I went to Twin Rivers in the afternoon and waded in without a plan other than to swim a long time. Long is still relative and still limited since I work in the morning and at night on Mondays. I was hoping for two or two and a half hours. The question I had not answered was should I do a straight swim or some sets. The coaches I have trained under would never allow anything but sets, but I'm convinced that straight swims have their place. In a marathon swim that is what you do and we all are familiar with the training law of specificity. So that's what I did.

According to my thermometer, the water was 72. I was a bit surprised by that because it was noticeably warmer than Friday when John and I swam, and I guessed the temp then to be 71. No doubt it was much cooler. Since I got in at 2:30, two and a half hours was the maximum I could allow myself before I would have to go home and get ready for work. I swam 2:20 and covered 7,100 meters, a pretty good day especially if I can duplicate it or best it later in the week.

John was out because he took Patsy to Jackson. She has been ill and getting worse of late. We did lift weights and swim last Friday. He wanted to do the same thing today. 

After the swim, I went home, changed clothes, and took some nutrition. At work I had only one student, the other one, I was informed this morning, is in ICU. That made for an easy class because my surviving student is very bright and we were able to cover a lot in a little time. 

When class was over it was then time to run. I went out for an easy shuffle, kick training for the Chicot Challenge. I only ran 3.04 miles in the dark but should do some longer workouts later in the week. It was a good opening day for my training, a bang start. I slept like the outside world didn't exist. 

Monday, April 27, 2015

From K Town to Seldom Seen

Saturday, April 25th, was another one of those days. Like Wednesday past when I had a work day, an interview, a short swim, and I won a 5K, it was a day filled with activity and memorable success.

Our granddaughter from Cleveland, spent the night with us after she and her mom and I all shared a lovely meal at No Way Jose. Andrea, our daughter, stayed at her brother's house on Medallion Street and we swung by there to pick her up at 6:00 am before heading south to Koscuisko, K Town, for their annual Natchez Trace Festival and 5K. Andrea and I were to run, while Penny was to school Caitlin in the finer points of festival shopping.

Ksociusko is a nice town with some old picturesque homes and one of the neatest town squares I have ever seen. Not as neat as Oxford's but it is pretty and has a charm that I find ineffable. On festival day the square and a few side streets fill with the most amazing collection of vendors I have ever seen. My wife loves to shop there while I run the race, cool down, and wait through the awards ceremony.

Andrea and I registered for the run on race morning, and I felt a sense of nostalgia at paying my daughter's fee just like Dad always paid mine when we did these things together. I hope I pay for a lot of them.
Me n Baby Girl before the race

The race went well. Before the start, I took my Garmin off my wrist and held it in my hand because I wanted to look constantly at my pace. I was determined to beat my Wednesday time. Wednesday's 5K, however, was not really five kilometers but an even three miles. K Town not only would be a tenth of a mile longer, but it has hills. Maybe its hills aren't imposing to a hill dweller, but to a flat lander, they are pace breakers and pain makers. 

I did the first mile, which has a lot of downhills, in 8:18. Wednesday's first mile was 8:13. Was I in trouble? Mile two has some flats and a few uphills and I squeaked out an 8:25 dangerously close to what I did a few days earlier. Mile three in K Town is a real witch. With a couple of long, painful hills, I looked constantly at the Garmin and fought hard against the inevitable slowdown. I finished in 26:18 for a 8:28 pace and good enough for third in my age group.

Dude, that's a three second per mile improvement over earlier in the week! But, you ask, can you really improve inside of one week? Yes, when you are not in top shape you can, AND the three miles at 5K pace done on Wednesday is about as good of a workout as you can possibly do. That kind of running produces results, and it produces them quickly. So why not run like that all the time? you ask. The reason why not is that kind of running is too painful and too fraught with injury possibilities. Mostly I run for fun and for health, and a more relaxed pace is what I find most enjoyable. In fact, I am already scheming on some Buddy Bones Marathons for when the weather cools off in the fall.

After finishing, I did a quick turn around and started shuffling back to meet Andrea. The walkers had started one minute after the runners, and I told her as we stood on the starting line not to get caught by a walker. I passed several walkers coming in as I doubled back on the course looking for her yellow cap. 

I shuffled slowly until I met up with Andrea and turned around and ran back while she finished. I didn't say anything about the walkers, but after she crossed the line and we started cooling down she brought it up. 

"Well, you know there are some really good walkers out here. The main thing is you have something to think about all next year when you train."

She agreed and all was well.

Penny and I had plans for the afternoon to go to Seldom Seen. Wilson Carroll graciously invited us to meet him on his Carroll County piece of heaven to chat and take a swim in the lake named after the land, a sixty-something acre piece of flood control built sometimes in the late 50s or early 60s. Forgive me, Wilson, if I have the dates wrong because I have a forgeter that works overtime.

It was a lovely swim and I even captured some GoPro footage although it wasn't exactly what I wanted, the footage I mean. Wilson was too quick and thus too far ahead of me to be featured in the film. He was usually not visible and when he was in sight not as clear as I had hoped. 
Just before we started. That's Wilson's head
in the background.

Anyway, my wife and I had a great time. Wilson's place is lovely, talking with him was enjoyable, and the swim was a treat because the water was that perfect cool but not too cold. We went 2.61 miles for a nice but not exhausting workout. Thank you, Wilson.

All things considered, it was a good week of training. I 

ran 20.58 miles and raced two times,
swam 22,799 meters,
walked 9.58 miles, and
lifted weights two times.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Too Short

You've heard it before. Many times, too many times. Life is short. Life is too short. Life is too short for (fill in the blank). In fact you could say that life is too short to hear that life is too short. Life really is that short.

It is true, though, that life is short. And even if we didn't believe that or understand that as youths, we figure it out by the time we hit forty or so. Maybe younger. But I'm a slow learner. Experience teaches us and has taught even me that life sneaks up on us and then goes roaring by like a drag racing car leaving us scratching our heads and wondering where it went.

The other night while Penny and I were out with friends eating some of the fish I routinely swim with, I made the comment that life is too short to eat coconut. I was responding to the complaint that I don't eat that stuff. Why would that bother people? Why am I expected to like everything on planet earth when no one else does? when the truth is I probably like more food than just about everybody. But I do not like everything, and slowly I have realized that life really is too short to force feed myself disgusting substances like I've done as long as I can remember. 

For most of my life I have crammed things into my mouth and chewed things that I did not want, I did not like, and I did not ask for because somebody else told me I should. Under the influence of adults who grilled it into me that it was for my own good to eat so and so, I tortured myself with green beans, and green beans. Come to think of it, there is not a whole lot besides green beans I really dislike. But for long years, I have forced them down and sometimes still do because Mamma told me to, Daddy told me to, Aunts and Uncles told me to, and even my wife tells me to now. "You don't eat enough green stuff," my wife loves to scold. What?!?!?! And this to a guy who orders a salad at a Mexican Restaurant.

Besides green beans (I do like most vegetables) bread crust was the most common thing that I tortured myself with under the influence of lies told to me over and over by adults whom I think apparently didn't want me to enjoy food. "All the vitamins are in the crust," countless big people who should not have lied to me when I was a little person preached to me over and over. And the most incredible thing about that was that I only figured it out a few short years ago. 


Why would vitamins migrate to a certain part of the bread just because it was more cooked than the rest? If anything, the extra heat would kill off vitamins rather than add to them. By the way, I said something to this effect recently on Facebook and was told, "No, you are confused with fruit." The sad truth is, I am not confused, but was told both lies. Many times. By many people.

Finally, I stopped force feeding myself bread crust because I began to believe something else grown ups told me my whole life: life is too short. Wow, it finally backfired on them. It certainly is too short too ruin a good sandwich because all the vitamins are in the crust (NOT!) and people in other parts of the world don't have enough to eat. Incredibly, I still eat most of the crust just not all of it. My upbringing is still too powerful to completely escape its influence, so I consider it a great victory and a sign that I have grown up and become independent when I can leave a bite or two of bread crust on an otherwise empty plate.

And looking back I am amazed at how many times my dad played dirty when it came to food. Roger Hodge was a good man, a fine father, and an unending positive influence in my life. Though he is no longer in this land of the living, he impacts my life day by day. Yet as a child he routinely played the garbage man card to get me to eat stuff I didn't want. As a little guy, I idolized garbage men who in those days came around behind your house carrying big buckets that they dumped your garbage and trash into. The man who came to our house had huge rippling muscles and I wanted to grow up and be like that, be a garbage man with big biceps who rode on the big truck and manhandled trash cans.

"If a garbage man was here, he would eat that," Dad told me countless times. And it always worked because that was my life's ambition, my career goal, the most manly thing I knew at the time. Now I look back and see it as dirty pool. I would have been just fine without forcing squash into my mouth. And have I ever told you about my great-grandmother? She told us that if we ate squash we could fly. I remember my younger sister and me gagging on a bite of the yellow vegetable and then running up and down the hallway at 422 West Harding Street flapping our arms like wings trying in vain to fly.

And back to the fruit. Life really is too short to eat watermelon rind. Certainly you didn't really do that, you say to yourself as you read these words. Of course I did. At least I always ate it down until I gagged. Without that, I felt like I was being a bad citizen, disappointing my parents, and sinning against God, which was worse to me than the inevitable gag reflex and stomach ache that I always got form the otherwise enjoyable experience of eating watermelon. I quit that too. I'm a regular rebel now.

And then there is coconut. Even as a youth, I never caved on that one and my parents did not overly exert their considerable influence in trying to make me eat the stuff. I don't like it and unlike so many other things that I once hated and now love, I never outgrew my disaffection for it. I don't think its nasty, I just don't want it in my mouth. I don't want it in candy, I don't want it in cakes, I don't want it in anything. Did I mention I don't want it?

But besides all of that, life is not only too short to do some things, it is also too short NOT to do some things. Life is too short to not live our dreams, if at all possible, whatever those dreams may be. For me life is too short not to go on long runs with Buddy Bones. Life is too short not to swim in catfish ponds, to hug dogs, to pet cats, to take walks with Jeff. Life is to short not to trust God, to fellowship with believers, to sing for joy. Life is too short not to set goals, to take a dare, to seek adventure. I could go on and on, but I bet you get the point.

Life is even too short not to enjoy coffee. Amazingly my students constantly warn me of the dangers of the bean that God created to bless our mornings. 

"It's bad for you," they say.

"Says who?" I question.

They never have an answer but they are sure it must be bad, I suppose they think, because some people, namely I, enjoy it so much.

"I can't believe you drink that stuff," one or two of them will sometimes say.

And I defend myself again.

I've even been accused of being a hypocrite for making them write papers on diabetes and nutrition while I drink coffee.


Life is too short, however, to be talked out of the bean, the dream, the goal, whatever that goal may be. Therefore I keep drinking, keep swimming, and keep dreaming up new adventures, keep hanging out with the cats, keep going on Google Maps looking for unexplored roads.  

Life is too short for anything less.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

A Good Day, Yes

It was a good one, Wednesday April 22, 2015, and it following two fine swims at Twin Rivers that already had sent my spirits soaring before the glorious day that saw me get interviewed and photographed by a reporter, take a short swim in a cool pool, and win a 5K all in the same day.

Monday, I went to the pool and did 4,500 meters as

10 X 400 @ 9:00
1 X 300
1 X 200
total: 4,500

There was no sprinting, which I usually do, and not hard intervals. Just an easy swim with a moderate push and a moderate amount of volume. I had no issues with the shoulder. Thank God.

Tuesday, I went back and this time I swam

10 X 300 @ 6:30
5 X 200 @ 4:25
total 5,100 meters.

No problem with the shoulder. Thank you God.

Another nice thing happened Tuesday. Wilson Carroll, one of the few real open water swimmers I know in this state, invited my wife and me out to his place in Carroll County this Saturday for an open water swim and I think a meal. He even sent me a Google map of the lake and it looks a lot larger than the catfish ponds I've been swimming. Thank you God.

Wednesday morning, while in class, I received a call from a Greenwood Commonwealth reporter, Laura, a friend of my son's, an emigrant from Minnesota. She wanted to do a story on my swimming, so we set up a time to meet and talk at the public library and then had plans go to Twin Rivers where I would do some swimming. Also for the first time ever, the school sent some folks over to cook us hamburgers and dogs in the parking lot. It was nice and the burgers were good.

After lunch, the reporter and I met at the library and talked for about an hour and then went to Twin Rivers. The water was perfect, I'm guessing 76, and she took pictures while I swam. Then I had to leave after only 600 meters because I had to make it to campus for the 5K.

I barely made in time to get on the van that took us out Macon Lake Road where they dumped us, and sent us back to town on a "Go." There were only three runners and a handful of walkers. I meticulously checked out the other runners, school age girls. One of them looked like she could run, but looks really don't tell you much. When I glanced at her shoes I thought, I might win this thing. But, I worried myself, she might play soccer or basketball

When we started, soccer/basketball girl went straight to the front. She looked strong and smooth. Second place is not bad, I mused. The other girl was beside me, to my left, and matched my every stride. When I picked the pace up the smallest amount, she did too.

At least it was cloudy as we ran down the lonely road back towards town and glory. Soccer/basketball girl's lead stopped at about thirty meters. Maybe she will come back. After about four tenths of a mile, she placed both hands on her hips while continuing to run. 

There is hope

She is hurting

Be patient.

Stride matching girl began to breathe hard and fell back. Then I saw it. The gap between me and soccer/basketball girl narrowed ever so slightly. 

I'm going to get her.


Hold pace

Then it happened. The gap that was closing at a creep became a colossal collapse. I braced myself for the fight I was sure would come when I caught soccer/basketball girl but it didn't happen. She immediately slowed to a walk and was breathing so hard I genuinely worried she might die. I looked back as I went around and noticed that Chief Manuel had pulled his van along side of her. Apparently, he was worried too.

At eight tenths of a mile, I was in sole possession of first place and went through the first mile in a blistering 8:13. Wow! I tried to hold but slowly slowed until I finished with an 8:31 average. Not good, but it is what it is. It was a good workout, and I hope to piggyback this into a better run Saturday when we travel to Kosciusko. Last year there I averaged a little over a 9:00 minute pace. While I was running at Moorhead, I thought back to the come-to-Jesus meeting I had with myself after the 300 Oaks. If I keep training hard and smart and still bomb at the Oaks, I'll know my best running days are over. I think I already know. 

I then jogged back to soccer/basketball girl and ran in with her. After that I jogged back to stride-matching girl and finished with her. Then I shuffled all the way to the back of the pack, to the last walker, Stephen Brunson, and walked in with him. I finished with a hard 3.0 and a total of 4.75. Now I need to get fresh for the weekend.

So, I had a free lunch, got interviewed, photographed, swam, and won a 5K all in one day. 

And we are back on our four-day schedule. 


Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Gracie May

We heard about her at a family Christmas party. We were in Carroll County on Christmas Eve at that house I am always running to if you read this blog. She was homeless, we were told, and she needed help, a home, a family. Gina Robertson, whom I have known since she was a little girl having been good friends with her older brother, told my wife about an abandoned dog that slept against a fence wanting the company of the dog inside the yard. Someone, it seems, moved and left her like the piles of litter and trash in front of the empty house. 

She was shy, untouchable. Gina had been feeding her and persuaded the owner of the fence she slept against to stop shooting at her with a pellet gun. "I'll find her a home," she pleaded. And she did.

My wife and I decided late one drizzly, cold, grey afternoon to ride over and see if we could find her. There she was, just like Gina had described, curled up against the fence of one of Gina's neighbors wanting in, wanting a friend, wanting a place to belong. A knock on Gina's door brought her outside to help us try to capture the dog she called Chesty because of her white chest on her otherwise black coat. A slow move towards her by Gina sent Chesty retreating. We all backed across the street and watched while Chesty returned to her spot and once more lay down against the fence trying to touch the dog on the other side. 

Penny slowly made her way across the road to take a try at Chesty and this time the stray stayed put. She gently extended a hand towards the frightened dog who lowered her head but remained still. 

"What do I do now?" Penny asked while she kept one hand on the dog's head. 

"Pick her up," I suggested while I opened the back door of the truck.

And she did and we took her home and put her in our empty back yard, the one that has been empty since Lucky died and broke our hearts. 

She, Chesty, whom my wife renamed Gracie May, immediately made her way to the fence along the east property boundary and lay down, just like she was doing when we rescued her, against the fence trying desperately to get to Skokie, a huge Mastiff that belongs to our neighbor next door. In the coming days, the two dogs would wear out the grass along the fence as they quickly became best friends. 

We think Gracie May had been abused by her previous owners because despite picking her up that first time, neither one of us can put our hands on her anymore. I can touch her nose one time upon each entry into the back yard, but after that she quickly backs away. She likes us, however, and slowly she began to own the backyard just like we wanted her to. She gets excited when I drive up and yelps like a little baby when I leave the yard. But still, all I can do is touch the tip of her nose. She won't let me pet her the way I long to.

Maybe that's OK. We can't love others on our own terms. Life doesn't work well that way. That's why some people can't endure cats. Cats always have it their way, and that is too much for some people. I have a theory about people's responses to cats. I always tell my students, "Never trust a person who doesn't like cats." 

"But I don't like cats," someone in my classes always protests.

"Don't trust yourself," is my constant response.

People tend to like dogs because they think dogs are like us. The sad fact is that dogs are far more noble than most human beings. That's my opinion, but I'm right. Cats, on the other hand, mirror the human condition much more accurately. Like us, it is all about them, what they want, when they want it, and how they want it. When people can love such self-centered creatures, they can be far more forgiving of the same deficiencies in people. That's my opinion, but I'm right.

Gracie May is a flawed dog, at least from my selfish perspective. I want to pet her, hug her, make her my own, but that is not going to happen. She is a lot like a cat. It's going to be on her terms. I don't like that but I can accept it. She does love us, but she shows it in ways far different than dogs usually do. She is the first dog I have ever had to love like a cat. I have lots of experience at that, though. I can handle it.
Gracie May, the new owner of the back yard at 333 West Monroe Ave.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Seven Weeks Out

I wrote already about my first Twin Rivers swim of the year that I took last Monday. That night, after class, I shuffled for 2.37 miles. Tuesday I was back in the pool for 3,200 meters and back on the road for 4.55 miles. Wednesday I was still the only one in the water and swam 4,300 meters as 

5 X 500 @ 10:30
4 X 150 @ 3:15

My shuffle that day was 2.4 miles.

Thursday I did not swim, though memory fails me as to why. Most likely it was due to some rough weather of which we have been abundantly blessed with of late. I did, however, run 5.1 miles that afternoon.

Friday I had to work once more. This Friday crap has my cats in a tizzy. They expect me to stay home and hang out with them. Anyway, after class I went to the pond and took a 3.13 mile shuffle and then got in for some swimming. My motivation was lagging as low as my bank account and I stopped after one lap, a measly 1,335 meters. I am figuring out that running before swimming is not the way to do it. This happened last year a couple of times when I ran first. I had little energy afterwards for swimming.

Saturday I went out for my long run, which amounted to 8.61 miles. A long run now is around eight miles. I'm trying to keep it from getting too high for several reasons. One reason is it takes energy away from my Chicot training. Another reason is I build my running in the fall and winter because it is too cold to swim then and cool enough for me to go really long on foot. Buddy Bones and I will do a number of adventure runs after Swim the Suck. If you remember, last winter Buddy and I did six marathons. Six. We had a lot of fun, and I look forward to that again.

Not only do Buddy and I plan to do marathons, but my brother, Quinton Hodge, and I plan to do the Mississippi River Marathon in February. We hatched the idea to do one in 2016 to mark  the tenth anniversary of our first official marathon. We did one in Wynn, Arkansas then and decided to stay close to home for this one.

For the week, I

swam 12,935 meters,
walked 6.62 miles,
lifted weights three times, and
ran 26.16 miles.

It's time now to go crazy in the water. Pray for me please, for my health, energy, and safety.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

2014 Chicot Challenge 012

I am just now, after two and a half years of blogging, learning how to post a video. Wow. I'm a slow learner. This is Justin Nunnery, boat captain, TV commentator and pace swimmer, commenting near the end of Chicot Challenge III. Chicot Challenge IV is rapidly approaching. 

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Purse Addition

Last December, the 16th to be exact, I posted "The Future of Purses." In that essay, I attempted to describe and list all the things my wife carries around with her every day. Some of you thought I exaggerated. Some of you were sure I exaggerated. Some of you were wrong. This morning she actually showed me the latest addition to her purse. "I had time to shop at Walmart yesterday," she said, "and I'm always needing small tools," she beamed while proudly displaying her new mini tools.

See, I told you!

Monday, April 13, 2015

First Twin Rivers Swim

Monday, April 13th, I made my first swim of the year at Twin Rivers Recreational Center. I've been spying on that pool like a detective on a stakeout, watching, wondering, waiting for it to suddenly become full of water and thus be reborn like nature is every spring. Finally, last Thursday morning I drove over before work and saw that the fire department had hooked up a hose to a nearby fire hydrant and run it into the pool. It was Amazing how my spirits soared as I realized that not many days hence I would be swimming here.

I went back Friday after lunch and to my dismay the pool was still not full. I wanted to swim but there was not enough water to do a flip turn without scraping on the bottom. But it was getting there, and I relaxed in the certainty that it would not be long now. I even called John and informed him that our pool was being prepared for us. That made him happy. I decided against swimming Saturday because I had a number of things already on my itinerary such as an eight mile run, some weight lifting, the planting of flowers, and spending time with our grandchildren.
Some of the flowers Caitlin helped me plant.

So when Monday afternoon rolled around, I was chomping at the bits ready to swim, ready to get cold. First, however, I had to take our tax stuff down to the CPA's office. This was easier to do than last year when I became very emotional at going into that building where my dad worked for so many years. All those people in there were his friends. Bob Knight, one of Dad's buddies and the one who now does our taxes, told me again how much he misses Roger Hodge. I did get emotional on the way out, but it was a lot more controlled than my last trip to get the taxes done.

I walked inside Twin Rivers after driving over there and asked if it would be OK if I swam. The pool is far from being opened yet, but they always let the real swimmers, all two of us, go in whenever there is water there. I don't like to presume, so I asked first and was told to go ahead. Of course I had the whole pool to myself and I loved that. After I had pulled off my shirt, shorts, and shoes, I realized that I had left my thermometer in the truck, thus I was left to speculate at what the water temp was. My initial guess was 65. After I swam a while I figured it was 67. I enjoyed it, and it was not bad at all. I never got to the place where I felt like I was getting cold. A little cool maybe but never cold. I swam 4,100 straight and decided to stop. I am still a little bit leery of getting hurt. I felt my shoulder some and that made me call the swim off early.

Now the pool is ready and waiting on me. I plan to go back tomorrow. I don't know how far I'll swim but I hope it's a long one.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Wrap Up

I finished the week without hurting myself. Somewhere along the way, that became the goal, my obsession, my paranoia. Actually it was not somewhere but specifically Wednesday while swimming the pond that I grew consumed with thoughts of a mild but aggravating pectoral injury from a year ago that didn't stop but hindered my training for several weeks. It happened this same week last year. Wednesday, as I have already posted, I thought about that constantly while I swam and wound up stopping short for fear of the same thing happening again. 

For the rest of the week, I obsessively stretched my pecs on the door facing every time I walked into a room. Yes, many people thought that was a bit odd, some thought I must be crazy, and others became convinced of it. But I made it through Saturday without incident. I didn't swim much, but I am whole and what a difference that makes. In fact, Saturday I did a heavy bench press session without the hint of soreness. My confidence has returned. I think.

After my pond swim Wednesday, besides stretching, I focused on running with the climax coming Saturday when I ran 8.33 with some strides, a vVo2 minute, and two times one miles at current 5K pace with only two minutes of recovery between. It was a nice run. I took nutrition and rested then went to the garden center to purchase potting soil and flowers. Andrea and Paul brought the grandchildren by because they were in town to do their taxes. Caitlin helped me plant flowers. She is such a sweet child.

Sunday afternoon I took a leisurely walk with John Rose, Cameron Able, Anita Batman, and Ray Smithee. We met at Bankston School and went over the bridge and out Wade Road and then out the gravel road. It was relaxing and fun. I hope we do it again. And again. And again.

For the week, I 

swam 8,190 meters (lat year 6,900),
walked 15.15 miles,
lifted weights three times (once upper body, two times lower), and
ran 23.79 miles.

With the pool at Twin Rivers up and a good pond on the farm, I look forward to some big yardage next week.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Eight Weeks Out

I am eight weeks out from Chicot Challenge IV, not counting the event week, and things are going pretty well. Amazingly, however, yesterday I found myself gun shy from something that happened a solid year ago. I'll start at the beginning of the week.

Monday I did not swim because I had a meeting to attend on campus and a night class so swimming got squeezed out. I did get in a short run, but with Twin Rivers still down, there was no opportunity for a short, quick swim.

Tuesday, I decided I needed to redo the vVo2 max test that I did sometimes last year. This test provides some key training paces and is easy to conduct. Simply run as far as you can for six minutes and the average pace you can maintain is allegedly the slowest pace that produces your maximum oxygen uptake. The test itself is a good workout, so I did it with joy and then decided to take a peek at last year's training diary. Dude, I did the same test on the exact same day a year ago. Coincidence? While I was running, I was thinking about what else I needed to do for a quality running session this week. Yep, what I thought up was exactly what I did last year. I'm not sure what to make of that. Have I not grown intellectually/athletically, or did I get it right then? The revelation of the almost mirror image of last year's training with this year's produced an unexpected effect on me the next day.

I went to DSU because the weather looked like it might get bad. There I swam

5 X 50
200 50 easy  all X 3 on various breathing patterns
total: 4,200 meters.

I slipped away to the pond Wednesday afternoon and waded in unsure of what I was going to do. I had time to go pretty long, but I did not even bring my wet suit so I wasn't sure how long I could last, and I had felt a little discomfort in my shoulder, unexpectedly, Tuesday night in the pool. While I was swimming I found myself thinking constantly about last year when in this same week I developed an issue with my right pectoral muscle. I stopped after three laps, totally paranoid that I might do it again. Wow. A full year later and it was impacting me in a negative way. I just don't want to go through all of that again. The emotional turmoil of having such a big event on the near horizon and the inability to train unhindered was almost more than I could bear.

This morning I rode by Twin Rivers before I went to work. Yes! Finally they are pumping up the pool. It should be full by early night and swimmable by tomorrow or Saturday at the latest. That will help out training tremendously since I will have another avenue to swim and a very close one at that, the pool being only .9 of a mile from my front door. 

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Up the Road

I never met one who could run worth a durn. In fact, they don’t run at all except when they’re little. But when they get big, they just don’t do it. He was the only one I ever knew who even tried.

        He came trotting up the road like a big toad frog that had been bit too many times. It was pitiful, but at least he was trying. I came out in the road and at first he acted like he was afraid of me. I never understood them that way. How can they be afraid of me?

        His fear went away, but I could tell he didn’t want me along. I went anyway. I’m glad I did because not far up the road where all the trees start, I started having the best time. And the big hill, you should have seen him trying to run up that thing. I didn’t think he would make it. At the top, he was making a lot of mouth noise, and I thought he might fall down.

        When we got to the other road, I started feeling strange, out of place and far from home. I don’t know why, but I thought about Momma and how she might be worried about me. He even told me to go home, so I did. I turned around and ran all the way back to Momma’s box.

        It was a long time before I saw him again. Meanwhile, I had grown up, but he was about the same-- he still couldn’t run. This time when I came out in the road, he smiled a little. But he was afraid, only I could tell it was not me he feared; he feared something up the road. I could feel it. He feared going up the road in the dark.

        They are like that. My mom and dad fear the dark and never get out of their box at night unless it is to get in their running box. I think it’s because they can’t see. They are almost blind when the sun goes down, and they never go around without some kind of shine. He had a little shine coming out of his head, but it wasn’t much, not like a running box shine.

          I could feel his fear go down when I stayed with him a little while. Then we got to the tress where all the smells are, and we went up the hill. He was still pitiful on that hill. I was afraid he might fall down and roll to the bottom. Why did he do it? I guess he just didn’t have a running box.

        I also noticed how if I stayed out ahead of him very long, he would make that sound with his mouth. For some reason, when he made that sound, I would always come back, and I could feel his fear going down as I drew near. He even spoke words to me. “Stay close,” he said. I liked that, and I stayed close. He needed me. He was afraid when I was far and happy when I was close. That made me happy. We were a team.

        We went up the road together a long way until he turned in at another box. I stopped in the road and watched him. He stopped trying to run and walked up the little road to the box and he went inside. He looked back at me a long time before going inside. He was thankful, I could tell. He didn’t need me now that he was at the other box, so I went home.

        He came back a few days later still trying to run, but he had not gotten any better. He looked like he was trying to stomp flies, but even a sick fly could get out of his way. I was so happy to see him that I ran out fast and crashed into him and almost knocked him over. He didn’t even get mad at me, but he smiled real big and said, “Hey boy.” That made me feel good.

        We went up the road together.

        He was not afraid, maybe because the sun had not gone down. Since he was not afraid, I felt free to run off the road some when we got to all the trees where the smells are. I sniffed a lot. There are so many smells in the trees that it drives me crazy.

        He stomped up the hill.

        I sniffed and emptied and peed on stuff.

        On the other road, some running boxes came by. Now I knew to get out of the way and go into the trees. He liked that. We went further up the road, and I heard somebody like me warning us to stay away from their box. I felt uneasy, but he told me to stay close. I liked that. I protect him in the dark; he protects me in the light. We are a team.

        We went all the way to the other box. He went inside. I went home.

        He came by again and we went up the road. We went by the trees and I sniffed and peed on stuff. We went up the hill. I ran by him like he was a rock. I didn’t care if he couldn’t run. I hoped he knew I didn’t care that he couldn’t do nothing. I just liked being with him. We had fun.

        Then he quit coming by. It’s been a long time. Now, I mostly just lie around in the yard and wonder when he’s coming back. Why is he waiting? Is he ok? Does he think he has to run like me? Doesn’t he want to be a team anymore? I just want to see him and hear that clicking sound coming from his mouth. I spend my days being sad and looking down the road and wondering when he’s coming back. When he does, I’ll be here and we’ll be a team and we’ll go up the road together.
Photo by Andrea Turner

Monday, April 6, 2015

First 20/20 Week of 2015

For several years a 20/20 week has been my benchmark, what I considered the gateway to real fitness, or at least the kind of fitness I like and use. By 20/20 I mean 20 miles of running and 20,000 meters of swimming. To get them both in one week is a pretty nice training block for me. Last week I did it for the first, but I hope not the last, time of 2015. Actually I did a 23/23.

Besides total numbers, it was a nice time in several ways. First, spring is finally here and that always makes me happy. Not only that, but the new pond has proved to be a real bonus. It has everything I like: it is big (measuring .79 per lap), has good water, and is surrounded by lots of levee roads. Furthermore, it has a little spot for me to park when the levees are wet, which is a real plus. At my last pond, I was in a pinch when it had rained. Usually, there is a graveled center road between two rows of ponds. The sides and levees are left dirt. As a recreational visitor, I dare not block a road so I can swim, interfering with people trying to make a living. At the new pond, there is plenty of room for me to get out of the way after a rain.

Besides all of that, I did some work on Plate City Gym, making some much needed improvements. I fixed the leg press where I can get a greater range of motion, and I got all the dumb bells in one place which will help prevent John and me from tripping on them when we workout.

Another plus of the week was that I finally recovered from the Viking Half. It was not until Saturday before my legs felt like they had anything to give to the road. Speaking of Saturday, I ran 8.1 miles with some multi-pacing and then did some serious weight work at Plate City.

The highlight of the week, however, was my Sunday run with my daughter, Andrea. I don't normally exercise on Sunday, but we were going to Carroll County and she asked to make one. So we got out at the gravel road in the delta and shuffled in a relaxed fashion up the hill and to the house. We saw some pretty scenery, ran with the dog (I'll say more about him in a later post), and took a few photographs. At Memaw's we got to hang out with the grand kids and take naps. All in all it was a nice day.
My daughter taking a picture of me.
"Hey, I'm over here."

On the bad side, the pool at Twin Rivers is not up yet, but the director-- I saw her when I drove by the other day to check on its status-- told me that it is coming up in the next few days. Yehaa. That will increase my access to water tremendously. Also, this is Hell Week at work. Likely my numbers will plummet because I have a meeting in Moorhead, have to work registration everyday, and we have to work Friday. All of this will make training very difficult, but all I can do is all I can do.

For the week, I

ran 23.75 miles,
lifted weights two times,
walked 8.81 miles, and 
swam 23,779 meters.

When I can beat this week for three in a row, I think I will be ready for the Challenge.

Friday, April 3, 2015

The Return of Friday

I can't tell you how long it seems to have been since I was off on a Friday. We had to work two of them straight and have two more in a row starting next week. I know, you don't feel sorry for the poor baby who has to work almost to lunch time on a Friday. But think of it this way. What if you and your pets became used to you being on a four day schedule? And think about doing your whole week's labor in those four days. Now add in another day. See? It ain't easy, and I don't mean isn't.

I'm not the only one who's been suffering. Luvie is love starved, Baby Kitty has even been following me around, and Jeff acts like I have a biscuit in my pocket. Guess what we are all doing right now? That's right, Baby Kitty is cleaning his goober, Luvie is snoring, and Jeff is snuggling while I sip the coffee which is unusually good this morning. Kudos to my wife.

And since we are playing the guessing game, try to tag what I did yesterday afternoon. No, I didn't make a road trip to Lake Natoma and swim with Shawn C. Turner, although I hope to one day. No I didn't burn down a house with my friend Poot. No, I did not shoot a road sign. 
My longest swim of the year thus far


What I did do was go back to the catfish farm and swim my lovely new pond. Four days in a row now. Wow. Woa. WoeWhoa. I mean, wow! I read all the posts in Did You Swim Today? and sometimes I am envious because so many of the posters get to swim every day. Well, it is getting to be that time of year when I have a lot more access to water. The ponds are open, Delta State is still the ace up my sleeve, and soon Twin Rivers will be pumped up. 

My Thursday goal was to go a little longer than the two hours and twenty-one minutes I swam Monday, and that is what I did. I swam for two hours and forty-two minutes for 5.1 miles. Then I took a 2.8 mile shuffle after the swim.

Thursday morning, Austin Brewer bought in the first run of Chicot T-shirts to the Greenwood Center of Mississippi Delta Community College. Good service. If you want one, inbox me your info and I can mail it to you. Currently I am selling them for $20.00 with 100% of that amount going to the DFM. And did you know that 100% of funds donated to the DFM stays in the State of Mississippi where we have the highest diabetes rates in the world? I need one more sponsor or I may have to reimburse myself on the next run of shirts. By grace, that is not going to happen. 
This year's t-shirt

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Chicot Training

A light wind gently ruffled the water's surface on the north side of my latest pond when I drove up on Tackett Fish Farms Monday afternoon. The sun was high in the sky and so were my spirits. Since I have an evening class on the first day of the working week, I needed to get there early to have time for the approximately two and a half hours of swimming I hoped to achieve. I did. Eating lunch at work gave me a head start, and leaving town as soon as I could gather my equipment brought me to waters edge at about 1:00 pm. Perfect. 

Monday's watch and tape
After taping up and donning wet suit, I waded in and started swimming. The water felt good, just cool enough to be refreshing. Typical of this time of year, the temperatures varied from end to end, side to side, and sometimes from foot to foot. The suit gave me just enough warmth that allowed me to stay comfortable and in the water as long as I wanted despite the cold spots. I did six laps without stopping which gave me 4.82 miles in 2:21:58 at a 29:25 per mile pace. That is a little quicker than I usually swim, suit aided no doubt. I even had time to take a 2.06 mile shuffle after getting out, so it was a pretty productive afternoon.

Tuesday I went back with the idea of cutting the swim distance a little while adding some to the run. My legs were still pretty washed out from the Viking Half Saturday, but boy was it worth it. I had a blast as did my son, daughter, her friend, Amanda, and my wife who volunteered. I first waded out to my thermometer skins only, but it didn't feel good and I thought, "I'm not training for a cold water swim." So I went back to the truck and suited up again. This time I swan 2.49 miles and shuffled 2.56.

Wednesday, John and I were planning on lifting weights at Plate City Gym, but he cancelled so I beat a path to the pond. The weather was still nice and the water one degree cooler than the day before. The wind was blowing pretty hard across the width of the pond which usually caused the temps to drop. I suited up, swam 2.37, and ran 2.64 plus some walking.

Before leaving town, I took car of a few errands. First, I went by H & H Printing to pick up some receipts and order forms he fixed up for me gratis. I didn't ask anything from him, but Mr. Hill gave me the products, I assume because it is for a charity fundraiser. Thank you very much, sir. Then I left H & H and went by Barry Brewer's to check on the T-shirts. He was just starting the front and that afternoon we finalized some items on the back. Thus far, the Greenwood Legal Professionals is the only sponsor who has written a check, not payable to me, mind you, but to Barry Brewer. I can cover the first run of shirts, but I need another sponsor. I have a few in the bush, but none in the hand.

With the training ramping up, the T-shirt finalized and being printed, and a speaking engagement on the calendar, I am beginning to get a little excited. One thing that has me down, however, is the crew. Right now, it looks like there are going to be substantive changes in this year's support staff. I'll just have to deal with it.