Monday, September 28, 2015

Luvie's Post

Zane Hodge is a lazy man. I know what you are thinking: he runs and lifts weights and swims. But what you don't know is how hard I have to work to keep him active. If not for me, his four-legged athletic and writing coach, Hodge would be hog fat and good for nothing. One good thing I can say about him is he likes to pet cats. Good for me. Otherwise, he is worthless.

Last week, I had to threaten fatso with bodily harm to get him out of the house on Monday. When he finally got out of bed in the afternoon, he went to the pool but only swam 2,500 meters. Later, after his night class, he went for a little 3.55 mile shuffle. 

Tuesday we once more had a battle of wills to see who would win. Thankfully, I did and I forced him to meet his friend, John, at the pool where he swam

11 loops, swimming pond style around the pool (1,300)
2 X 50 medium paddles
total: 3,400 meters.

After the swim, he went for a run out Money Road where he ran into his son, Forrest, and they shuffled together for several miles. He wound up doing 10.25 miles with some pick ups thrown in. I was pleased with that effort.

Wednesday was another one of those days where I had to pop his leg to get his attention and show him who was boss. Finally, he submitted and did his water work. He swam loop style for 52:00 minutes which I figured was about 2,400 meters. His run was only 3.21 miles, but after ten miles the day before, I was OK with that.  

You want to guess what happened Thursday? More conflict. At the pool, he got with the program and swam 

3 x 100 @ 2:00
300 small paddles
3 X 100 @ 2:15
300 small paddles
3 X 100 @ 2:20
300 small paddles
10:00 treading water
50 easy
total: 4,350

His run, however, was only 2.01 miles.

Friday was a day when I did not have to fight with fatty. Actually, he wanted to do more. He wanted to go out for one of those adventure runs, but I suggested he do something shorter and faster to prep him for his upcoming school 5 Ks. Thankfully, aster a short discussion, he decided I was right and did things my way and did a multi-paced 11.05 miles. In the later afternoon, he did a short and uninspiring 2,700 meters.

Saturday was all about walking and weightlifting. He lifted weights for the lower body that morning, and for the upper body in the afternoon. For the week, he

ran 30.07 and walked 4.9 miles,
swam 15,350 meters, and 
lifted weights two times.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Luvie's Post (written by Luvie himself)

My fat friend won his age group in the 300 Oaks Road Race en route to amassing 17.17 miles of shuffling for the week (yes, there is some sarcasm there). If my dumb butt human had a little self-control, he could have easily done much better. He weighed in this morning at 171.6 pounds. He is disgusting. Despite defeating all the fat, old men at the Oaks, he lost to his son and was highly depressed over his whipping. I tried to console him by taking a nap with him Saturday afternoon and we watched football together. I think it helped a little. 

He didn't swim much either, getting only 8,700 meters out of three swims with no speed work at all. He was afraid to swim hard because the pool water was so cloudy he feared he would strike the end of the pool with his head. That was his excuse and maybe it was true and maybe not.

He walked a whopping 7.08 miles and lifted weights one time hitting the whole body in that one workout. All in all, he didn't do much, but he has been going pretty strong lately and he needed a real drop-down week. 

So there, you've had it Fatso, get ready to rumble. This week we resume training for the Great Noxapater Journey Run.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

300 Oaks

I can't believe it's been a year since I last ran and wrote about Greenwood's famous 10K, the 300 Oaks. Last year, after several consecutive years of declining performance, I had a come-to-Jesus meeting with myself. For the second year in a row.
My wife and I before walking
to the start.

The prospects of me declining again were irritating, annoying, terrifying. I came up with a game plan (again) and vowed to turn my fortunes around or shuffle off into the sunset of ultra-marathons never more to be spotted on the starting lines of any race shorter than 26.2.

Did it work?

Last year, I ran a disappointing 57:08 for a 9:15 per mile average pace. Finishing 2nd in my age group was little consolation. Am I really that old? I asked myself over and over. Is it all down hill from here? Can a return to better runner happen if I train hard, train long, train smart?

I had a year to work on it, a year to answer that question.

My son and I just before the start.
To make a short story long, yes, and no. I ran a 54:11 this morning, an almost three minute improvement over last year. That was nice, but not all I wanted. I ran 315 more miles in 2015 than before the 2014 race. I did more tempo training, mutli-paced efforts, more long runs over the summer. I committed to strength work (a bit late). I did everything right. Almost.

What I did not do was lose weight. The scales said I weighed 169.8 this morning. What!?!?!?!?

I have no excuse other than my wife (I think she was bribed by my son) has been force feeding me ice-cream every night for the last few weeks. I worked and he won the battle for the family championship. I am disappointed, but I am proud of him. Next year, I'll lose the weight and kick his butt. Wait for it.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Luvie's Write Up

Luvie was so on edge that he had trouble composing this post. I might tell you about that later. Being the professional he is, however, he did manage to pull it off. Monday began with a 4.06 run but on swimming in part because I was too lazy to do it. Being Labor Day, I had the time but not the inclination to do too much. I did, however, go out for some upper body weightlifting after a lengthy nap.

Tuesday, John and I met up at the pool where I swam

8 X 100 @ 2:00 
4 X 200 @ 4:25
total: 3,000 meters.

After swimming, I went out for a 10.2 mile multi-paced effort on Money Road. All in all, not a bad day.

Wednesday we hit the pool again where I did

8 X 150 @ 3:14
1 X 200
300 small paddles
5 X 100 @ 2:00
300 small paddles
2 X 50 @ 1:15
200 small paddles
total: 4,500.

The subsequent run was a measly 3.31 miles.

Thursday I did 

1,000 as hard/easy by 100 (17:19)
total: 3,100.

No running.

Friday Buddy Bones and I did our 22.55 mile shike in the Holcomb area. You can read about that in the last post. Saturday, I took Jeff to the Yazoo River Trail for some exercise (.67) and then we rode around and looked for cats and dogs. We had success and you can check that out on YouTube at EndangeredSwimmer the Vlog. That afternoon I watched a lot of college football finally was able to muster the gumption to go outside and lift some weights.

For the week, I

ran 33.47 and walked 12.21 miles,
swam 10,600 meters, and 
lifted weights two times.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

I Ran to Heaven

Sixty-nine was what the Weather Channel App on my phone said as I left the parking lot of the Baptist Church in Holcomb at 8:21 a.m. and headed out for another day of rambling on the roads. That was better than last Friday by a few degrees and the prospects for a long enjoyable shuffle/hike had me feeling a deep-seated joy and mild anticipation on the inside. 

Like a week ago, the little town really did match the overused description of "sleepy" as not a dog spoke, not a door slammed, and not a human voice was to be heard as I once more started with a slow walk to warm up and set my metabolism in the fat-burning zone. This time I strolled a full mile before beginning my shuffle out Sparta Road. 

Unlike last week, however, I had a plan which was to go all the way to Highway 35, turn north on it back towards town, find Hillside Road and run it to Childs Road which would take me to Cross Road, then to the highway again. From there, I would go almost to town and then do an out-and-back on Holcomb-Sweethome Road, thus making a big loop and seeing sights I had never seen before.

Running for the third week in a row on Sparta was neat in that I had a familiar scenery but one I had only seen a couple of times. I also had the excitement of knowing I was headed for unexplored roads. My first shuffle was 4.05 miles and took me to the creek below Sparta Church. I walked up to the church, took a selfie in front of their sign, and then walked around looking for a water hydrant. I noticed they had electrical outlets in the covered slab which I assume is where they conduct eatings at the church. I could charge my phone here, I thought, and then I found a water hose. I did not need water, but it is nice to know I could get some there if I needed it on a future run.

I made it to Highway 35 after 8.85 miles. I had done the same thing last week, but this time, instead of doing a little out-and-back south and then heading back on Sparta, I turned north. I had ridden this highway in a truck. I had ridden this highway on a bicycle. But I had never traveled a single step of it on foot. That was changing today.

The weather was warm now and the forecast was for a high of 91. That meant my drinking rate would increase throughout the day. If I were to exceed last week's distance of 21.01 miles, I would have to be resupplied at some point. That is what the jaunt out Holcomb-Sweethome Road was about. When I got there, I would be within a mile of my truck and I would know exactly how far to go to get the added distance. I was thinking of at least 22 miles and maybe, if things went well, the full marathon distance.

I arrived at Hillside Road with 10.18 miles on the legs. I began a walk there and pulled an energy bar out of my Nathan Hydration Pack and ate. I wore a Camelbak Classic for my fluid needs and an empty Nathan over the top of that. I like the Nathan because of the mesh pockets on the front which I use to store a handkerchief, a notepad, and my phone. When I wear it over another pack, I take the bladder out of the Nathan and use that space for food and other supplies. At the bottom of the Nathan I had placed a partial roll of Kinesio tape and a pair of scissors. It is always nice to have the option of working on your feet if need be.

Most of Hillside Road was new to me. I had done a short stint on the other end of it last week, but now I was seeing totally new scenery which was mostly woods with an occasional house place. I ate and drank some, finished walking a mile, and then began to shuffle again until I came to the junction of Hillside/Childs where I stopped and took a picture of the road sign. Not everyone had a picture of that. But I do.

I shuffled Childs Road until I came to another road which I thought was Cross, but unlike all the other ones in this area, this one had no sign. So I took a left instead of a right and not too much farther, maybe a half mile, I came to Sparta Road and I knew where I was. I then turned around and made my way back to Highway 35.

Once back on 35, I knew for sure I was going to need some fluid. I began to look at every house I passed. I usually don't stop unless I see someone outdoors. I made it all the way to Holcomb-Sweethome Road with 17.24 miles on the legs. The road is on top of a ridge that overlooks Holcomb. I was not far from the truck, but I had to go out Sweetome to get the distance I wanted. I also need fluid. I was thirsty and my pack only had a few ounces left. A mile or so back I had tried to text Jessica who helped me out last week. She didn't answer right away. There was a house on both sides of the highway. I heard a four wheeler on my left. Then I broke my normal mode and crossed the highway to the house on my right despite not seeing anyone there.

Three cars outside and a running clothes dryer inside, but no one came to the door. What else is new? So I crossed back over 35, to the sound of the four wheeler like I should have done at first. An old man, mid-eighties I guessed, approached me on his machine and stopped. I extended my hand, told him my name and what I was doing. Then I asked for water. 

"You're just out walking?" he asked.

"And running. Seventeen miles," I added. "This is how I play."

He looked at me like I was the worst sort of crazy. I took no offense. He pointed to a shop that had one end open and a sink close to the open side.

I filled my Camelbak, the two bottles on my Fuelbelt, and then drank and drank and drank. I thanked him profusely and left, recrossed the highway, and headed out Sweethome Road.

It was hot now and shade was a stranger to this stretch of asphalt. Looks like I made a poor choice on this road, I thought. Then my right foot started feeling tender in more than one place. I began looking for any sort of shade where I could stop and tape my foot. Finally, I found one little patch under a tree and I sat, unloaded my packs, and pulled out the kinesio. I checked my phone and saw that Jessica had responded. 

"Where are you?" she asked.

"I stopped at a house and filled up," I answered. 

I taped three toes on the right foot. I had no issues last week. Why now? My mind found no answer to that question, but I was thankful I had the foresight to pack the tape. You never know.
No picture can give a clue to the
beauty I saw here.

I ate something, a Moon Pie I think, and didn't have to limit my water intake but drank all I wanted, having plenty now. When I started back shuffling, the tape had helped but I still felt discomfort in my foot. The full marathon distance was no longer an option for the day. A little farther down Sweethome, I rounded a bend and then BAM! I ran out of one world and into another.

Even the road changed. It went from a dull asphalt to a fresh chipseal that was so new and bright it almost glowed. On each side of the road, the woods gave way to fresh clipped, pretty pasture that stretched for as far as my eyes could see. To the right up ahead sat a house on the highest hill around. This must be what going to heaven is like, I thought.

I stopped and looked and marveled. One reason I do these runs is to have these experiences. I love to travel. I can't afford to go to Paris, but I can afford a rambling run on Holcomb-Sweethome Road. 

A tear drained down each cheek. I thought of the passage: Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. (I Corinthians 2:9)

I must come back on foot and yet again in my wife's truck with her in it to share this with her, I mused.

Then due to my sore foot, I turned and shuffled back to town, back to the truck with a renewed zeal to make at least one more run in this area.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

ATM Again

The FBI is involved. They are making progress on the case. They will solve the crime. 

When coon dogs drive trucks.

Two weeks ago our Commonwealth reported again that the FBI and the Greenwood Police are hot on the trail of the ATM thieves. Then the two agencies proceeded to disagree with one another over who was in charge of the investigation. 

This is no joke, and I am not making fun. OK, I am making fun. But I wanted to update those of you who have followed this case from afar. It is still unsolved, and if I were a betting man, I would lay down some serious cash that it will remain that way. 

That's all folks.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Luvie's Report

Luvie had me do a drop down week this past training cycle with the hopes of still running 30+ miles but getting a little fresher by reducing from last week's 36+. I started Monday with a 3.03 mile shuffle and then met John and the pool for:

4 X 100 @ 2:30
400 easy
4 X 100 @ 2:30
400 easy
total: 3,800 meters.

Tuesday I met John at the pool before I ran and swam 6,600 straight. The pace was slow but I really am not that swimming fit right now. After light nutrition, I was out for a 10.1 mile tempo run.

Wednesday, I finally got back to one of my old standby pool sessions. I swam

20 X 100 @ 2:00
300 easy
total: 3,500 meters.

Later I shuffled 2.1 miles.

John was out of pocked Thursday, so I took it easy with:

10 X 50 @ 1:15
300 easy
8 X 50 @ 1:15
300 easy
total: 2,800 meters.

Since the college football season started that night, and since I was tired, and since I was planning a long shike the next day, I went home and watched and rested for the next day. I wrote a separate post on Bubby's and my 21-mile outing that Friday. I ran 15 and walked 6, had a good time, and learned some new roads.

Saturday I moved slowly and only managed to get outdoors two times for some yard work and weightlifting. I worked lower body in the am and upper body in the pm.

For the week, I

ran 30.29 miles
lifted weights two times
walked 9.76 miles, and 
swam 16,700 meters.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Season's Second Shike

Buddy and I started getting ready Thursday afternoon. John was out of pocket, so I went to the Twin Rivers pool alone and swam a mere 2,800 meters. After the water, it was home to watch the South Carolina ball game that pitted the Gamecocks against the ACC's North Carolina Tarheels. During commercials, I started getting my stuff together for Friday's adventure run. I thought about taking a short shuffle, but decided to let my legs rest for the next day. 

I pulled out some gels from their storage spot in a sock drawer. I put some Endurolytes in a plastic baggie. At half time of the ball game, I went to the Exxon Station where I filled the truck up with gas, and bought Gatorade, peanuts, and Moon Pies. I put my Garmin watch on the charger. I got my hydration packs out. The excitement was building.

During another commercial, I got my Fuel Belt out and loaded it with the usual fare: folding knife, water bottles, debit card, energy gels. I chose my clothes and laid them out for ready access in the morning. Next, I packed my small soft cooler with post run recovery drink and fruit. One more thing: I dug up some kenisio tape and a small pair of scissors. Last week, I developed small abrasions on the top of each foot. I didn't want skin damage to shut me down. 

Now it was only time to rest. I watched football and soon slipped into the land of sleep with two teams battling on television. I never heard the TV click off.

As usual, I woke up groggy and two cups of coffee had me only minimally awake. I loaded, left, and Buddy and I parked at the Baptist Church in Holcomb from where we left at 9:00 am. It was already hot, and since I was still trying to wake up, we left walking instead of running for the first .75 of a mile. By then we were on the edge of town, and we began a slow shuffle out Sparta Road. 

Two main things impressed my consciousness as we trotted along: the heat and the quiet. For September, the temps are a little above average. That's OK because I get to keep my heat acclimation a little longer which may help me at the 300 Oaks Road Race. The quietness was soothing as all I heard were crickets and birds. For the whole outing, I only saw a handful of automobiles, and few dogs, and three deer.
A solo deer taking a noon-time drink.

Several times the quiet was shattered by dogs coming awake and roaring out to the road to challenge my presence. I became frightened a time or two but a little clicking of the mouth reduced all of these ferocious beasts to hand licking pups. I love dogs. Almost as much as cats.

At 5.62 miles, Buddy and I shuffled up to the Sparta Methodist Church, which was not quite as far as I expected after scoping the road out on Google Maps. It was close as I had guesstimated it a little over six miles from town. We shuffled on until we passed 16th Section Road where we had come upon Sparta last week. Then as we were nearing the last house we had run to a week ago, a vehicle pulled up and stopped.

"You out getting a little exercise?" an elderly woman with a chubby face and big white hair asked.

"Yes Ma'am," I answered not realizing at the time that I may have offended her. I do that a lot. People don't like to be called "Ma'am" and "Sir" by someone of my age. I do it because it is habit because that is how my momma raised me, and I do it because in my own mind I still view myself as a very young man although I am fifty-nine years old.

I offered her my hand and introduced myself, told her where I parked, and that besides exercise I was exploring roads and trying to have fun. She attempted to give me some directions on how to make a big loop and go back to Holcomb. I thanked her, and we parted ways.

A mile and a half later, Buddy and I had made it to Highway 35. I stopped in a spot of shade and texted Jessica who, last week, had offered to bring me water if I was up that way again. We swapped a couple of messages, a few of mine which I doubted went through because of spotty cell service. Buddy and I slowed to a walk and went down 35 a bit before turning back towards Sparta. 

We reentered Sparta Road and Jessica's message said she was on the way with some liquid life. I still had Gatorade in my hydration pack but I knew I would probably run out before my outing was done. I had last week and stopped at a house to refill my hydration bladder only to get water that tasted so bad I could not drink it.

About the time we were beginning to wonder if Jessica was coming, we heard an approaching automobile. It was Jessica and her boyfriend. She gave me a 16.9 ounce bottle of water and her boyfriend held up a tub of candy to the car window. The treats were those pumpkin-looking things that taste like candy corn. He must have thought I was a hog of the worst sort when I grabbed a whole handful.

"Calories," I said out loud as I stuffed my mouth full.

We chatted briefly, I thanked them much, and then they were gone. Once more the silence took over. We walked until the candy and water was gone and then resumed our shuffle back towards Holcomb. Having turned around on Highway 35 at 9.15 miles, I knew we needed to run some side roads to get our twenty. We came upon Hillside Road and did an out-and-back on it. Then we came upon Duncan Road and I became confused (what else is new?) because the numbers weren't adding up. On the way out, I had made a mental note that this road was 2.99 miles from town. Now I saw we were short. We headed out Duncan and I began to wonder if it was really 2.99 or was it 3.99 from the truck?

To make a short story long, it must have been 3.99 because we wound up finishing with 21.01 miles. I never do math on the run very well. In fact, I never do math at home very well either. Actually, I never do math at all very well. But we made it. We shiked our longest shike of the season in spite of the heat. We learned some new roads, saw some new sights, and I even met a chubby-faced, big-haired woman. Life is good.

Thursday, September 3, 2015


I don't really know how long it has been on my mind. In 2009, when I rode my bicycle from Greenwood to Louisville, Mississippi, one of the reasons for doing so was to scope out a route. I know the dream was not new even then. I made my initial plans, I think, somewhere around 2005 or 2006. Year after year, however, something, usually a running injury, prevented me from making the attempt. I did the bicycle ride once more in 2010, again checking out roads, stores, and potential overnight places. 

Then in December of 2013, I possessed my best prospects in several years to make the trip, so I set out for a planned four-day run to Noxapater, Mississippi. You can read all about my miserable failure on this blog at "Pulling the Trigger" (12/16/2013, "And Shooting Myself in the Leg" (12/19/2013). I knew then I was marginally trained and totally inexperienced at multi-day runs when I left the house that Tuesday morning almost two years ago. But 2013 was still the best running shape I had achieved in years. 

I tried. 

I failed. 

I want to try again.

Things have brightened since. For the entire year of 2014, I ran 934.35 miles. This year, I am currently at 690 which is 306 over this same time a year ago. Now, I am not only scheming of a rematch with The Great Noxapater Journey Run, as I have named it, but I have started specific training and planning for another attempt. My excitement is becoming palpable.

Maybe a little back story will help you see why this dream refuses to die.

In the summer of my fourteenth year, I packed a little handbag with some clothes, tied it to the handlebars of my red, high fender 90 cc Honda, and headed for Louisville, Mississippi. It was a grand adventure, permitted by reluctant parents, and one that set the tone for much of my subsequent life: rambling. I rode that little Honda over 8,000 miles that summer. The next year, I went a long way towards wearing out a pickup truck (we were licensed to drive at fifteen then). I wore out a homemade wooden boat just a few years ago, running it up and down the Yazoo and Tallahatchie Rivers. Ensuing years saw me slowly transform my rambling from motor powered to body powered. The year 2010 saw me complete 37 bicycle rides of 100 or more miles. My wife complained that I was "obsessed with seeing how far you can push yourself." 


It has become an obsession, a compulsion, one that comes as naturally to me as breathing air. Due to running injuries (I had four straight years of Achilles problems), I swore off running time after time. I could no longer endure the emotional turmoil of my physical limitations. But every time I quit, I found myself outdoors with running shoes on and attempting to do it again. Without even thinking about it, I would get home from work, redress, and head out the door. Finally, my health and fitness started coming back to me.  

I have a friend who is big into reenacting. You know-- or maybe you don't-- around here there is a dedicated band of grown men who dress up in Confederate and Union uniforms from the 1865 era, camp out in open fields, and play army. I get it, I think. They find it interesting, fun maybe, and they learn about history in the process. Not only that, but in a way they get to participate, to relive, to experience a past they find fascinating. War may be ugly, but it is full of drama, of bravery and cowardice, of the best and worst of humanity. I think there may be something else going on. I asked my buddy what percentage of the reenactors have an ancestor who was in the war. He said all of the Sons of the Confederacy and all the Sons of the Union do. It's a requirement. He told me that maybe half of the others just like to camp out and play army.

I have come to realize that at least part of my obsession with The Great Noxapater Journey Run is sort of like that. The GNJR is an adventure run, something I have grown to love; it is a goal and a physical challenge, something I seem to need for my physical and mental health; but beyond that, it is a reenactment of my great-grandfather's epic foot journey, something I became fascinated with many years ago (see "Wonder" 5/2/2015). When George Henry Quinton was twelve-years old, his family abandoned him in Utah and he walked from the Utah Territory to Mississippi. I can't go to Utah and spend six months walking back. I can, however, run and walk from my home to his hometown in Louisville and then beyond to the little hamlet of Noxapater. 
George Henry Quinton

I need to do this, and although I have attempted to put into words why, I am aware of the profundity of my failure to convey the power this idea has over me. There is an inner impulse that will not die and will not let me rest.

I wish I could locate his parents' home at the time of his return, but that information, like so much of his story, is lost to the past. What a fitting conclusion that would make for ending the journey. What I can do and plan to do is locate his grave site in Louisville before moving on to the next town. I know the cemetery where he is buried although I have never visited his grave. I want to change that after several days of foot travel, in some small, oblique way, redoing a tiny portion of the amazing journey he was tough enough to survive thus allowing my grandfather, my mother, and me to be born many years later. Maybe it is too late to honor him. But maybe not. Maybe God will allow him to look down from heaven and watch is great-grandson attempt a symbolic parallel, a stab at replicating, at reenacting his struggle. Maybe.