Saturday, October 31, 2015

The Agenda

It is Saturday morning and things have finally slowed down a bit. We had revival at church the last three nights, and I was privileged to preach. I enjoyed the job tremendously, and it served me as a spiritual tune up, so to speak. But now, with the rain hitting the awnings outside our bedroom window, I am pecked at the computer, sipping coffee that tastes like it was made for a king, and wondering why my cats aren't relaxing with me.

Training wise, it's been a slack week, but that is OK because I needed a drop down cycle anyway. Starting Monday, however, I plan to see how many miles I can run in my last big training week before The Great Noxapater Journey Run, which is scheduled to begin November 19th. That is a Thursday, and I have to work that day, but I plan to leave a little early and hit the road by noon. For the first day, I have the modest goal of making it to Carrollton, MS. The plan, the agenda is as follows:

Day One: Greewood to Carrollton (approximately 25 miles)
Day Two: Carrollton to Winona (approximately 17 miles)
Day Three: Winona to French Camp (approximately 27 miles)
Day Four: French Camp to Ackerman (? 22-25 miles ?)
Day Five: Ackerman to Noxapater with a stop at George's grave in Louisville (25 miles)

Total: 117 miles, give or take ten.

I don't know all the distances, but I know roughly how far is is from town to town. The roads I run won't necessarily be the ones I travel by truck, so Google Maps is of no value here. I will know how far the trip is when I finish, unless I make another drive between now and then just to measure things.

I've worked out a couple of my logistical issues. One issue I had was where to stay in Ackerman. There is a motel there, but I once dropped in to get a phone number. The lobby was dimly lit and literally filled with furniture parts from floor to ceiling. Literally. The proprietor came from a back room and seemed irritated, agitated, and suspicious of me. His big brown bug eyes were frightening, and I glanced at his hands half expecting to see blood dripping from his fingers. I got the distinct impression that I had interrupted him from dismembering a human body in the back room from whence he came. When I left, he glared out at me from a window. He was so creepy that I became frightened while I drove away in my truck, and no I am not exaggerating, and no I am not writing this for Halloween. 

For two years I have tried unsuccessfully to secure lodging in the area from someplace other than the Ackerman Motel. Recently, I passed and noticed the place had been painted on the outside, and for the first time in over fifty years I saw they had guests. A family of ordinary-looking people were unpacking their car getting ready for a stay in downtown Ackerman. I decided then I might make it two in fifty plus years. I will still, however, be praying and looking for another way.

The second logistical issue that is solved is the ride home. In the past, I would have called Dad. The run ends at his sister's house. Since he passed, the issue of whom to call for help has come up several times. When my truck broke down a few months back, I pulled my phone out to call my old standby, Roger Hodge. To make a short story long, I cried the rest of the day. My go-to guy now is my brother-in-law, RT. He helped me cut the magnolia tree in our front yard and he has agreed to drive over and pick me up. He's a good man, and Luvie just climbed up on the bed with me. Let the relaxing begin.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Last Week, a post by Baby Kitty

While Luvie plans next week's training, fat boy let me, Baby Kitty, write last week's wrap up. He started Monday off with a bang by running 4.12 miles on what is an easy day. Tuesday, he did 10.56 miles with three of those miles being at 10K race pace. He followed that with some walking and some squatting at Plate City Gym.
Baby Kitty the author of this post.

Wednesday was another 4.63 miles of shuffling and some upper body weight lifting, which set up the following day at DSU perfectly. Fat boy has always liked to swim with stiff, sore muscles, and that is exactly what he got to do Thursday night after Wednesday's bench press session. For his first time in the pool in two and a half weeks, he swam

900 warm up
8 X 300 alternating paddles with swim and breathing patterns with no paddles
50 easy
total: 3,350 SCYs.

Friday he busted it out Money Road for a full marathon (see "The Buddy Bones Money Road Marathon, 10/25/2015 for details). His totals were 19.2 running and 7.12 walking for a total of 26.32.

Saturday he and his wife had to go to Carroll County so he got out of the truck on the way and ran 3.53 and walked 1.04 miles.

All in all, this was a good week of training for him, and he was pleased to find that he could still shuffle some after a full marathon. For the week he ran 46.27 miles, the biggest running week of the year. He also walked 11.02 miles, swam 3,250 SCYs, and lifted weights two times. This upcoming week is a planned drop back cycle, but he still intends to log over thirty miles of running. The seven days following next week should be one of massive volume in a final dash at journey run fitness. The Great Noxapater Journey Run is coming fast and he thinks about it constantly. Between me and Luvie, we should have him ready.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

The Buddy Bones Money Road Marathon

It's been a few weeks since Buddy and I did an adventure run. Friday, October 23, we didn't do one then either, but we did do a marathon. I figured I needed a full marathon distance at least once before The Great Noxapater Journey Run which is rapidly approaching. After this week, I have two more weeks of heavy training and then a two week taper period before I plan to launch on Thursday afternoon, November 19th. Since I was in save time mode, I decided not to make the drive to Carroll County, but launched instead from my front door, giving me more coffee and cat time before the long physical effort. Luvie loves Friday, and I hate leaving him before I give him enough affection to make him happy.

The weather was pretty much perfect, a tad warm, but I had rather have that than too cool anytime. The temp peaked at 83, but with a dew point of 62, an overcast sky coupled with a steady breeze, I felt as good as James Brown all day. Almost. I began with the idea of a three to one ratio, that is running three miles and walking one. I did this because I am not in full marathon condition yet and during the journey run I will need the physical and mental ability to start back running over and over after the legs have long lost their vigor.

As usual, a slow and steady decline marked my progress as I shuffled to Money, Mississippi and beyond by several miles, then turned and made my way back home. On the way, with the wind to my back, my shirt soaked with perspiration and I often daubed sweat off my face with a handkerchief. When I made the turn around at 13.15 miles and faced the wind, my shirt dried and my handkerchief stayed in my pocked. 

Ambulating home, I enjoyed the wind blowing leaves off the trees which are just now showing some real fall color. I stopped in Money long enough to snap some photos and pit stop at the fire department where I ate a Snickers, refilled my hydration pack, and lay down for a few minutes. 

The breakdown of the shuffle/hike went like this:
run- 3.02
walk- 1.0
run- 3.03
walk- 1.0
run- 3.11
walk- 1.0
run- 3.31
walk- 2.0
run- 3.36
walk- 1.0
run- 1.25
walk- 1.0
run- 2.27
total: 26.22 in  5:55:37 @13:33.

Not good, but not too bad for an old man out by himself. I did a marathon and no traffic was diverted, nobody had to give up a day volunteering, and no race director lost a year of life due to stress. And to make it all even better, I did not pay an entry fee. That's a win win; Buddy and I will do it again.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Pool Time

At the pool, it had been so long since I had been there, I didn't know what to do. I looked around, not seeing any of my fellow Masters swimmers, and didn't know which end to get in. Then I saw Mark come in a set his bag down at a lane at the front. I beat it down there, chatted with him a minute, and then jumped in.

I was surprised at how good the water felt and how much I enjoyed swimming. Mark told me Cagri, our coach, was not going to be there, but he had the practice: 8 X 300 with all sorts of diabolical breathing patterns. I hate breathing patterns. I started warming up, waited on Mark to get in, and then noticed Ricky Smith arrive and jump into Mark's lane. I prepared my muscles with 900 yards, and then we started the main set together.

Every other set was with paddles and fins. Since I did not have fins, I dropped the breathing and just tried to keep up with Mark and Ricky. I thought that was plenty since I am out of swimming condition and have a weak kick even if I have fins on. I did do the breathing patterns on the 300s without equipment. It was a pretty challenging workout, but it hurt so good. I did not realize how much I missed the water. I cooled down with an easy 50 for a total of 3,350 SCYs.

Friday, October 23, 2015

"I'm your biggest fan."

I'm a lazy man. Swimming for twelve hours straight, running all day, and lifting weights has nothing to do with it. Neither does earning a PhD and two master's degrees. I can loaf with the best of them.

Like a lot of people, I'm energetic to the extreme when it comes to doing things l like. But just the thought of fixing things around the house, cleaning up inside, even washing my truck leaves me yawning and looking for a napping spot.

I hate paperwork at school. Textbook Requisition Forms are my favorite form to loathe. How do I know how many students I'm going to have? And why do I have to look up the ISBN? Isn't the bookstore in the book business? And why should I fill out a separate form for every book? Smacks of busy work to me.

I hate busy work so bad I don't even make my students do it. Once, in grad school, I was assigned to produce a bibliography on every thing written on hermenuetics for a decade. The "paper" was in excess of forty pages and what I learned from those hours and hours and hours can be encapsulated in one short sentence: Everybody is writing about hermenuetics. The prof could have just told me that and made me do something worthwhile, something actually educational.

I haven't been driving to Cleveland of late even though our local pool in Greenwood is unswimmable and has been for a few weeks. Besides a pool, my dad's grave is on the way, and better than that, I have grandchildren over there. Thursday I finally made the trip and my grandkids were as happy to see me as I them, and Smu, as usual, was beside herself.

Not only did I get to see the children and pet the dog and talk to my daughter, I was surprised to hear Zane say, "I'm your biggest fan, Poppy. I'm your biggest fan." I didn't know what he was taking about. Usually, he is aloof and busy and pays me little attention, unlike Caitlin who clings to me and tells me constantly, "I love you, Poppy."

My daughter filled me in. "We've been watching your videos," she said. "Zane loves them. We watch them at work too. The women there love them. Marcus looks so innocent." 

In case you don't know, I have a YouTube Channel, EndangeredSwimmer the Vlog. Check it out if you haven't already. At last count, I had 142 vids spread out over several playlists. One playlist titled "School" contains on a number of short clips of one of my students, Marcus, pulling pranks on me. I'm not sure why I stated all that to begin with. I do know that it beats busy work any day of the week, especially Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. After that, I'm off and on the road for some sort of adventure.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Pilgrimage II

I don't remember how I found out he died in Crenshaw, Mississippi. It hasn't even been that long since my discovery, and I didn't even know where Crenshaw was despite having spent my entire life in this state and despite the fact that map gazing is one of my favorite pastimes. I looked the town up on Google Maps.

To my surprise, Crenshaw lies in the Delta. It seemed odd to me for him to move to the flat lands after living in the hills. Few people do that, especially folks born in this state but raised elsewhere.

Maybe the alluvial plain that has been my home for fifty-nine years has impacted my psyche more than most people's. But I exaggerate not one bit to say that for me I feel like a visitor, and traveler, whenever I leave this little area of flat earth that measures 200 miles from south to north and is barely seventy miles across at its widest point. That widest point, by the way, is along Highway 82 where I live and which some people say is the best thing to ever come out of the Delta. The fact that Greenwood, my lifelong home, is a mere eight miles from the Carroll County hills, doesn't change the fact that when I leave the Delta I feel like I enter not a different state but a different country. Simply put, there is the Delta and then there is everywhere else.

I'm not bragging nor am I complaining, it's just that I have trouble understanding it myself, understanding how this topography can have had such an enduring influence on my thinking and feeling and outlook. To learn that George Henry Quinton moved from the Louisville area to the Delta and died here caused me to sit open mouthed and amazed. I drank coffee (closing my mouth long enough to swallow) cup after cup after cup, and pondered how it could have happened. Would anyone else respond the way I did? 

Basically, people born in the Delta leave as soon as they can. This has been going on for decades and all counties in our little subarea of the state are losing population. Few people move here although I know some who have. My dad was one who did, but of a brood of six boys, and a few girls he was the only one to move here doing so for a job. One of his sisters moved here with her husband, but when they got the chance, they left and now live in the great town of Noxapater where my upcoming journey run will end if I am successful. As soon as he could afford it, however, Dad purchased land in the nearby hills where the country boy in him, the hill boy, could find solace through hunting, gardening, fishing, and using an outdoor toilet.

One of my current friends was born in South Carolina and came here for a job with Viking Range Corporation. Viking brought in a lot of outsiders into the Delta, people who otherwise would have never even driven through this unique country. We, my friend and I, have never discussed this strange land we live in although I think I will broach the topic at my earliest opportunity.

After my discovery, I knew I had to go to Crenshaw. Since he died in 1951, the town no doubt has changed in ways I can never discover. It was one of the places Penny and I thought about going last Friday. But instead, we visited Louisville and found his, my great-grandfather's, grave. This Saturday, October 17th, we made the trip to his final town.

On the way, we drove over some of my old biking range where I pedaled literally hundreds of miles during my cycling craze of 2009-2010. We drove out Money Road, went east on Highway 8 and then north on Tippo Road to Highway 32 where we turned west and made our way to Highway 49. At Tutwiller, we hit Highway 3 and continued our journey north. When we drove through the town of Marks, we were on a road I had never ridden. It was typical Delta and it really does all look the same. Nevertheless, I still get a thrill out of seeing new sights even if they do look like ones I have seen before.

Penny asked my why he came to Crenshaw. I has no answer to her query only a couple of guesses. His second wife was a Pentecostal preacher. Maybe she took  church there. Another possibility is she had people in the area. Like so much of his story, all I have is the barest of an outline without the supporting details.

We drove through Sledge, the hometown of Country Music star Charlie Pride. When we approached Crenshaw, I saw something that made my new knowledge less puzzling. On our right, the hill line suddenly appeared and it looked like the hills and the Delta were on a collision course somewhere near the rusty water tower up ahead which signaled our destination. We drove into and through the tiny town ,which took only a minute or so to go all the way through and out the other side. We took special note of the old downtown buildings that would have been extant when George was here. The town, I learned from the Internet, has a current population of approximately 900 people. In George's day that was almost 800. 

We turned around, came back, and this time noted that the row of old downtown buildings was only about three blocks long. We turned onto Highway 310 which goes through all three blocks of the residential section and then enters the hills and makes a bee line to Como, another small town. The last street in Crenshaw runs at the very foot of the hills. My great-grandfather never left the hills after all. Now things made more sense.

I wish I had parked the truck and walked around a bit before driving out of town on 310. We should have strolled the sidewalk and looked more closely at the old buildings. If I am not mistaken, a few of them had occupants and a few of them were empty. The town, according to the Internet, hit its peak, in terms of population, during the early 1960s and, like most Delta towns, has been in slow decline ever since. Still the little hamlet had a little charm and I thought, I could be happy here. I hope George was.

I still don't know why he came here, but it doesn't seem so strange anymore. I'd like to see if I could get an address and find his last house. Maybe it still stands. To do that, I would have to find the Panola County Courthouse and ask questions. Be that as it may, in the last two weeks I have visited the last town he lived in, and I have visited his grave. Now it remains for me to reenact his epic journey which I plan to do in November. 

The training continues.

The planning proceeds. 

The dreaming never stops.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Luvie's Look Back

By Luvie

Monday, fatso shuffled 4.03 miles and did three bench jumps afterwards. Due to a meeting at work, that's all he had time to do and the weight lifting session had to be cancelled.

Tuesday he did a pretty good 10.03 mile run that included a couple of intervals, one at 5K race pace and the other at 10K race pace. He didn't feel like driving the DSU, so he did no swimming.

Wednesday, he got out and shuffled another easy 4.05 miles that was broken up with some walking due to his extremely tired legs, and Thursday he did the same and shuffled 4.04 miles. Once more, he was too tired or too lazy to drive to DSU for a swim. 

Friday, he went to Hodge Ski Lodge where he ran 14.31 and walked 3.69 for a total of 18.0 foot miles. Saturday, he did the most extensive squat workout of his life, which may be why he has chicken legs. He did a total of 90 reps before an easy 1.8 mile shuffled.

For the week, he

ran 38.26 and walked 6.22 miles,
swam nothing, and 
lifted weights (lower body) one time.

This was his biggest run week of the year and should be a nice endurance installment for The Great Noxapater Journey Run. 

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Friday Run/Walk

Friday, Buddy Bones and I drove to the Ski Lodge to run the hills of Carroll County. Initially, I thought we would run over to the highway and do several repeats on a half-mile long hill that has about a 10% grade. Then the idea was to do a long out-and-back over a big drainage, stopping on the way back to do some speed work on the old go-cart track. At the last minute, we scrapped all that.

Instead, we opted to leave the Ski Lodge and run Steen Hill Road, a 2.5 miles stretch of dirt trail that traverses vasts forests of mostly hardwoods. It was just a long slow run/walk which is what I need now. Steen Hill dumps into the delta on the opposite end of where we started running it. From there we turned back towards the hills and wend out way through a maze of mostly gravel roads on a cool and lovely day.

To make a short story long, we did this:

1- 11.2
2- walk 1.0
3- 2.01
4- walk .51
5- 1.1
6- walk 2.18

total foot miles = 18.0 as 14.31/3.69 in 4:02 (13:20 per mile).

This was our first long foray in several weeks due to the training and taper for the two school 5Ks. I only have a few weeks left to prepare for The Great Noxapater Journey Run. It is now all about volume and supplies. I have already started a bag of things to go in my pack, which will be much lighter this time around. The plan is to leave Greenwood around noon time on November 19th.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Latest Plans with Buddy

Buddy and I made a decision this afternoon while we lounged around and rested. We are going to Carroll County for a long run in the hills that will include a bit of quality. The goal is to build endurance and strength while also stressing the aerobic system. I plan to do some repeats on several long hills, and add some fast 220s on an old abandoned go-cart track.  

Me n Poot Shoot the Water Tower

The campfire was going strong, keeping the mosquitoes off and the cool October air at bay while me n Poot drank beer and talked about new stuff we could do. We had burned down all the empty shotgun houses in Leflore County, and we needed a fresh challenge, something fun. That's when we, he, come up with the thought of us shooting the water tower in north Greenwood. I don't know how he thought of it, but Poot always had the best ideas.

This one was special. The tower sat then, as it sits now, in a residential neighborhood not far off Park Avenue, the busiest street in town. To get away with that would be legendary, make us stars, heroes, only nobody could know or we would get caught for sure. 

The goal we set was not only to shoot the tower, but to punctuate its structure so that it leaked water like a Gulliver peeing on the Lilliputians below. In order to shoot a hole through the steel side, we needed a big rifle, and we knew a little bit about big rifles now that our dads were taking us deer hunting. But getting caught shooting a high-powered rifle at public property in town would land us in jail for sure.

We had grown up enough to know that if we got nabbed having fun would not get us the death penalty or get us sent to Parchman for life. But we was also old enough to know we would get in pretty serious trouble and maybe go to jail for a little while besides our dads beating our butts.

After school that Friday-- our first year at Greenwood High-- we loaded the truck, Dad's yellow 1969 Chevy short wheel base with three on the tree, and hit the road. We could drive then because at that time the law in Mississippi was you could get driver's license at fifteen. A license gave us the ability to carry more guns and gear than our mopeds could. That meant camping in style and sleeping in a real tent, and even a Coleman Stove for cooking breakfast and coolers full of stuff to eat. And drink. We learned early on about the benefits of proper hydration. 

We was on a ridge above the little pond on Dad's place in Carroll County when we come up with the idea. We liked to spend time in the country. That's one way we stayed out of jail all those years. That afternoon we had put some lines out in the water, pitched the tent, and gathered firewood. Our plan was to squirrel hunt first thing in the morning and then run our lines and cook what he killed and caught for lunch. After a supper of fire-burnt hot dogs and a bag of partially melted Snickers Bars, we started on the beer. The more we drunk, the better our ideas got. 

We thought about shooting road signs and vowed to do it. We talked about shooting houses, ones people lived in and vowed to do it. We discussed shooting cars, ones people still drove and vowed to do that also. But when the water tower come up, we knew we was onto a proper project worthy of our time and attention. We got serious and done some heavy thinking. Poot was gung ho from the start, but I had my doubts. I told him we could never get away with it. He said there had to be a way, we just didn't have enough beer to figure it out. Poot thought if you drank enough beer, you could solve any problem.

What we did figure out was we needed to get out our deer hunting rifles. Poot had a 30'06, and I had a 7mm Magnum. Either one of those guns was big enough to do the job, but we wasn't sure about the bullet. We read Guns and Ammo every month, enough to have an idea that our deer loads might not penetrate the tower's hull because they was expanding bullets and would likely expend their energy upon impact and not punch through. But who could we ask? We actually knew who we could ask, but Poot was smart about stuff like that and said we couldn't never be associated in anybody's mind with anything connected with the water tower. We could ask Mr. Glover at the gun store, but to do that would leave a clue. We couldn't leave no clue, Poot said. If we went in and started asking about steel-penetrating bullets and then the water tower got shot, well, he might call the police. Poot always connected the dots, another way we stayed out of jail. Whatever we did was gunna to be well planned.

Me n Poot went to Glover's after school one day the week after we camped out and got the water tower idea. We went in acting like we was looking at deer rifles. We got to looking at ammo and found some 7 mag solids. When we went to buy them, Mr. Glover asked if we knowed they wasn't no good for deer hunting. "Punch right through," he said. "You'll have to trail him forever." We told he we knowed. Poot said we was shooting stuff at an old junkyard and we wanted to play with shooing some engine blocks. We had heard that a 7mm mag would shoot clear through an engine block. We wanted to see for ourselves. So we got our ammo and left.

After that I knowed Poot would never rest until we pulled it off. I tried and tried to talk him out of it, but you never could talk Poot out of nothin'. I told him over and over how we would get caught for sure, we would wake up the whole town if we shot the tower, and the police would never stop looking for us. The FBI would come out. Columbo would move to town. The whole world would be after us. But he just said he'd figure out a way.

The Friday night after our camping trip, me n Poot was riding around in town and we drove by the water tower. We stopped on Walnut Street which runs about a block away from the tower. We had a clear view of our prey. 

"We could pop it right here," Poot mused.

"And get caught," I responded.

"Not at three of four in the morning."

"We would wake up the whole neighborhood."

"We'll be gone by the time folks look out their windows."

We drove a block farther and stopped at Clarico Park and talked some more. The night was warm for October, warm enough for us to have the windows down and the radio on. Loretta Lynn was singing over the speakers and in the background, the tree frogs and katydids were singing one of their last songs before summer disappeared the last time for the year.

Poot popped a top and seemed lost in thought. It was an Old Milwaukee, our drink of choice at the time. 

"One person looking out and getting our tag number and we are done."

Poot was silent for a long time, long enough for Loretta to finish and somebody else to sing.

"This is how we do it. One of us gets in the truck bed. We stop where we were right back there on Walnut and we shoot it. Then the driver slowly motors away."

"One person," I protested. "Just one person looking out and we are caught."

"We daub some mud over that little light that lights up the tag. And we daub some mud over the tag. Even if somebody sees us, we will be gone long before the police come."

"They'll have a description of the truck."

The other singer finished, then Johnny Russell started singing about "rednecks, white socks, and blue ribbon beer."

"A different truck."

"We can't get another truck, Poot."

"A different description," Poot spoke from somewhere far away. His eyes were unfocused and we hadn't even drunk that many beers.


He didn't answer, but Johnny Russell finished his song. 

"I got it!" he said several songs later

"Got what?"

"Camper top."


"We get an old camper top from Hank O'Donald. You know, that old junk yard on the outskirts of Carrollton."

"That takes money, Poot."

"Then if somebody looks out the window, they can't see our tag number, and they see a pickup with a camper top. We'll dump the camper top and we get away with it."

"Money. Who's gunna pay?"

"I'll buy the camper top," Poot yelled. "By golly, we can do this."

"Just cause we got a camper top don't mean the cops won't stop us."

"Dang it. You in or out"?

I didn't know I had a choice.

"We'll camp out in Carroll County," he started back. "We make the shot and then drive over the bridge. We dump the camper top and we did it."

I didn't say anything for a long time. Some commercial on the radio came on for a hemorrhoid medication. I thought I might need some.

"How do we get back to Carroll County?" I finally asked.

"You dumb doo doo head. That's the easy part. God created maps on the eighth day. Ain't you got no sense of religion?"

I drank the last of my beer and opened a new can of Skoal and filling my bottom lip full. "What if the highway patrol stop us? They'll want to know what we're doing out at four in the morning," I said while spilling some smokeless tobacco on my clean, white T-shirt.

"I'll figure something out," he said, and I knew he would.

So we done it the next Friday night, or I guess it was Saturday morning. Poot had bought a piece of a camper shell and hidden it off Steen Hill Road. We camped on the ridge above the little pond, put on the camper shell and waited for 3:00 am when we drove into town. I was in the bed of the truck with my 7mm. The driver's side window had been removed from the camper shell so I could shoot out that side. Why did I have to do the shooting? Poot didn't trust me to drive slow after the shot was fired. He said I would get scared and drive too fast and that might get us stopped. He was right. I would have stomped it and peeled out and run every stop sign and driven 100 miles per hour over the bridge.

Anyway, we drove into town, stopped on Walnut Street, and I shot the water tower. What happened next is another story.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Interval Writing and Running

Interval writing. It's all the rave. In my classroom. 

As far as I know, I am the only English Composition teacher in the country, in the world, who teaches hoopnet fishing, pulpwooding, and interval writing. My students hate it, the interval writing, which I figure means I must be doing something right. Like in the world of physical training, if you hate a certain exercise then there is a better than 90% chance that you need to do that one. Often.

It works in the world of endurance athletics, running and swimming and cycling, interval training that is. Logically, it should work in the intellectual world also. I am determined to find out. So I have been busily plotting in-class writing activities that force my students to modulate between writing at 65% of maximum brain wave activity (MBA) and writing at 85% MBA. I hypothesize that this should make my students at least as smart an an MBA (see what I did there?).

We did our first interval writing session in all my Comp I classes this week. The workout went like this:

5:00 warm up (listing topics they could grab and go with)
1:00 hard (writing like they were mad at the paper)
2:00 easy (slower but steady pace writing)
1:00 hard
2:00 easy
1:00 hard
2:00 easy
1:00 hard
2:00 cool down.

My students were sweating, groaning, and clutching their wrists as if they were on the verge of cramping and collapse. I loved it. 

To make it all better, I went for a run that afternoon (Tuesday) and did a simplified version of some intervals. After a long warm up of 3.2 miles, I did a sub 8:00 half mile. That had me huffing pretty hard so I shuffled along another 2.31 miles before I hit 1.17 miles at current 10K race pace. Amazingly, the 10K pace was not too difficult. I believe the two 5Ks last week tuned me up a bit. After the 1.17, I slowed to a mere shoe scoot for 2.86 more miles, finishing with 10.03. Then it was to Plate City Gym and some light squatting. Afterwards I went inside for a bath, some easy TV viewing, and some pondering over Friday's plans. I have my Friday unencumbered this week. What to do? I have not yet decided.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Luvie's Lament

He's sorry. Lazy. No good. Zane Hodge I mean. He did not swim at all last week. Not one stroke. One reason for that was his commitment to doing two 5Ks. Let's start at the beginning.

Monday he took it easy in an attempt to get fresh for Tuesday's race and he ran a miserly 2.02 miles. Tuesday he ran MDCC's Greenwood 5K and won in a time of 25:22. Wednesday he was on the Moorhead campus for the 5K there and won again in 24:55. I was happy with that.

Thursday, John was too tired from his doctor's appointment Wednesday to swim so Zane went out for a semi-long run, but because he was so fatigued, he only shuffled 6.34 miles. 

Friday, he and his wife went on their pilgrimage to Louisville so he didn't do anything physical. Saturday, however, was a slightly different story. He nailed an 11.77 mile shuffle that included some multi-pacing. When he finished his run he even did a few sets of squats.

For the week,  he

ran 27.74 miles, 
swam 0 meters,
lifted weights two times, and
walked 9.19 miles.

Now that the races are over, one thing is in view: The Great Noxapater Journey Run.

Friday, October 9, 2015


Penny was off work Friday. That meant Buddy Bones and I would have to postpone our next adventure run at least one more week. Last Friday I was working on that tree.

We discussed several things we might do. One was to drive to Crenshaw, MS. That is the last town my great-grandfather lived in, and I have never been there. She also mention going to Louisville. My cousin's wife has a shop there she enjoys frequenting. Three guesses what we did.

I didn't mind because there are a number of reasons I like going to Louisville. I still have family in the area, and visiting aged kin is becoming more important to me the older I grow. It also gives me another reconnaissance trip to scout out things for the Great Noxapater Journey Run. On my first attempt, I was pretty much flying by the seat of my pants. Not this time. Another reason I like to make that trip is I recently found out where George Henry Quinton is buried in Louisville, and I have been wanting to visit his grave ever since. George, if you remember, is the great-grandfather who died in Crenshaw and whose tragic life inspires the long desired journey run I feel compelled to make.
Picnic at Choctaw Lake

I slept until 9:00 am Friday morning, and I believe that is the latest I have lounged in bed for maybe twenty-five years or more. Wow. We finally dragged out of the house sometime around 10:00 and began our journey east. When we got to Carrollton, we exited Highway 82 and went through the old town and out Winona Road the scene of so much suffering in December of 2013 when I hobbled along with a stress fracture. On this drive, I measured the distance from Four K store, where I will sup on the first evening of the journey run, to Seldom Seen, where I will sleep on the first evening of that run. Only two miles. Nice. I can walk that on a full stomach provided my bones remain unbroken.

After we drove to McCarley, the scene of my surrender in 2013, we left the pavement and began to wind our way through a maze of gravel paths seeking a route to Winona that will give me the freedom to stay off Highway 82. We found one. Yee hah!
Choctaw Lake, the scene of my
paternal grandfather's death

We then made our way through Winona, on to and through French Camp, and then to Ackerman. Just outside Ackerman, we turned off Highway 15 and into the Choctaw Lake Recreation Area where we looked around and enjoyed our noon meal.

We stopped at a nondescript picnic table and dined on bologna sandwiches, bottle water, and Snickers bars. The weather was mild and just being there was relaxing as we gazed out over the graceful waters while sitting under a canopy of oaks and hickory trees that housed hungry squirrels. This lake was where my dad's dad died while in a boat trying to catch fish. A fitting finish for a Hodge: died trying to catch a fish. All Hodges are fishermen. I no longer catch fish myself, but I think about fishing often and I swim frequently with my aquatic cousins.

After our meal, we headed on to Louisville and there we found the cemetery by the library. That's how it was described to me: "the cemetery by the library." Since Louisville is not that large, we found it with relative ease, but once there finding the grave so not so easy. I was sure I had looked at every tombstone there. Some were buried in the mid-1800s. There were two rows of "Unknown Solder CSA." 

After our failure to find, I walked over to a nearby funeral home to seek some intel. The elderly lady there told me to try city hall. I did. At city hall, they found George's grave on a plot map, and made me a copy of the map. Penny and I went back and found the tombstones marking George's and Lou Ella's (my Great-great grandmother) graves. It was a moving moment for me. On the journey run, I plan to return to that spot with more leisure and the freedom of solitude so my emotions can be unhindered. 

We left the cemetery and drove to Noxapater where I dropped Penny at Lisa's shop, and I went to Mary Darby's and visited with my favorite aunt. I shared with her the plans for the next attempt. Then I went to Uncle Paul's place, a sort of a store where he sometimes sells stuff and often times works on broken down clothes dryers. He and his partner were working on one while I was there. We visited until Penny finished her business next door and joined us.

Before we left town, we went by the boys' (Paul and John) place of business and chatted a few minutes. Then we went back to Louisville and found a little place called Market Cafe where we stopped and had our date night meal. It was nice. I had blackened catfish over a pile of grits. Penny had some sort of chicken dish. While there, Forrest texted his mom that it was raining in Greenwood. I was incredulous. When we drove home, we found he had told the truth. Life is good. 

Opps, I Did It Again!

For the first time in my life, I raced on consecutive days. Of course I have run on back to back days and a few times run long, but racing, running really hard, I never have. I did not know what to expect, how my body would perform. I feared dying in the last mile as my legs went weak. Didn't happen.

When I arrived at the flagpole on the Moorhead campus, Chief Manuel was there and hardly anyone else. Turns out we had to wait for the handful of faculty who showed up one by one. Late. But better never than late, right? Stephen Brunson was the only student who had the nerve to take on us old folks. God bless him.

Finally, our driver bused us out Macon Lake Road and unceremoniously dumped us on the tarmac and then drove himself back to town. Out there with us were Chief and a couple of other Campus Police, one in a squad car and another in one of those bad boy buggy things or whatever they are called.

I faced two runners and the rest, four or five more, were walkers. It was hot, 91 degrees, which made my determination to pace myself better than yesterday even more important. This time I had no one sprinting out in front of me. Only one other runner, Amy the science teacher, stayed with me for 100 meters or so. But still I started faster than planned. I went past the first mile marker in 8:14 as apposed to 8:08 the day before. Believe it or not, those six seconds made a difference. The two race paces went like this:

Mile one- 8:08/8:14

Mile two- 8:25/8:21

Mile three- 8:46/8:18

As you can clearly see those six seconds did make a difference. This was not a negative split, but way closer and certainly not the collapse I feared. My intention was to go out in 8:20, another six seconds slower than I did. I think that would have been perfect. 

Well, I won and it was fun. Now it's time to shift back to The Great Noxapater Journey Run Training. By the way, I have reservations at Seldom Seen, the Carroll County slice of heaven situated just outside the metropolis of Carrollton and owned by a friend of mine. Thank you Wilson Carroll. This shortens my first day a bit and takes some pressure off me. I plan to leave on a Thursday after school. I may shuffle into Seldom Seen after dark, but that is OK. I'm getting excited. 

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

The Greenwood Campus 5K

Thee excitement was palpable as I stopped my truck, parked it, and slid out of cab. I walked across the parking lot Tuesday morning headed for a day of teaching and athletics. THE day had arrived.  

Thanks to some advance notice from Chief Manuel and a lot of promotion and bribery from Anita Horn and me, we had an all-time record number of participants registered for the 5K Walk/Run at the Greenwood Center of Mississippi Delta Community College.

Having an all-time record number wasn't too big of a trick seeing how this was only our second time-- last spring being our first--  and we had a whopping three participants then. But I think this may even be an all-time record for the main campus as well. We were set for a shindig.

The weather was predicted to be a bit warm but far from hot as summer has really shifted into fall here in the deep South. The course was improved over last spring. This time there would be no turn off Wade Road but a simplified out-and-back would make things easier for Chief and give us ambulators a smidgen of shade on the upper end. 

It was difficult for me to keep my mind on task throughout the morning. Next door, I could hear Mrs. Horn explaining the extra-credit her students were promised if they "beat Dr. Hodge." I now had a target on my back. Bring it on!

After school, I went home and tried to rest but I found myself as nervous as I had been in a long long time. Finally, I put on my shoes and shorts and headed back to the Center.

Chief checking everybody in.
Yeah, he's a big guy.
When I arrived, Chief was already there getting people signed in. We had registered over thirty, but only sixteen showed up. Not bad still, and I was excited as was everyone else.

Chief Manuel loaded us into the van, drove us to Wade Road, and then motored us over the course. Then back at the start, we unloaded and prepared for the send off. Last year, I faced only one other runner. This year, there were seven runners and nine walkers. I had competition.

Chief gave us the start and the kids were off like Jason was after them with a machete. I was the last runner for at least three tenths of a mile until I passed Sam, one of my American Literature and Creative Writing students, who probably has not run a day in his life. 

The leader was Jason who looked like he was running the 400 meters in the Olympics. Could he hold that? If he could, I was not only beaten, but whipped, stomped, embarrassed. Our new counselor, Katy Jones was ahead of me, and she was one of the ones I feared the most. At the last 300 Oaks she was ahead of me for 4.2 miles, so I knew she could go out harder than me and maybe hold for three miles. Also Jaleel, the young, lean, athletic weightlifter I beat last year, was running well and he had several months to actually train.

Next, I caught and passed Chelsea, a diminutive girl who ran with what looked like an efficient gait, but most likely she had not trained at all. Slowly, I reeled in and passed Mary who had run track in high school, but now is a big time barrel racer.

Up ahead, Jason was still running strong, or so it seemed, until he slowed to a walk. He can't hold, I thought as I saw his hands go to his hips. We were about a mile in, or I was, and I did the first one in 8:08. I had hoped for an 8:25 average for the day. I got sucked out too fast. Again. It's almost impossible not to.

I slowed over the next mile, but not as much as the other runners. Before the turnaround at half way, I passed Jason who was taking his second walk by then. Only Kay and Jaleel were ahead of me and the gap between the three of us was slowly shrinking. Still I had little confidence I could beat either of them. 

At the turnaround, there was maybe three to five seconds between us and over the next .25 that disappeared until we three ran side by side. That didn't last long, however, before I pushed a little and saw Katy was not going to fight back. Jaleel did fight back and stayed by my side a few second before falling in behind me on my heels.

By mile two, (8:25) I was all alone and running scared. I was fading like the summer sun at the end of a long day. I watched my watch almost constantly and tried to hold pace but failed to do so. At 2.25 I looked back and Jaleel was about 100 meters behind. Even then I was not overly confident. At 2.5 I looked back once more and saw that the gap was about the same. I got this, I thought as I shuffled in the last half and crossed the line feeling a bit ill and relieved all at the same time.

To my mild surprise, a minute later it was Katy, not Jaleel, who came in second and after another minute Jaleel strode in strongly looking a thousand times better than he had last spring.

My time was 25:22 for an average of 8:23 per mile, which is about what I thought I should be able to do. I am a little heavier but with many more miles of training than when I ran 8:31 last spring. That last mile this time was in a pitiful 8:46. Jaleel and I then walked back and ran the last .25 or so with all the other runners. I totaled 3.9 of running for the day, and 2.7 miles of walking. After the runners were all in, Jaleel and Sam and I walked back to Stephen who was the last walker and we accompanied him to the finish and then back to campus.

It was a good day and I think everyone enjoyed herself and himself. What could I have done if I had paced myself more wisely? I get a chance to answer that question this afternoon as I plan to drive to the main campus and compete in their 5K. If I can go out at 8:15, maybe I can hold that all the way through. We'll see.
Part of the group at the starting line

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Hodge Discusses Annabel Lavers and the 2015 Swim the Suck

By Jay Unver

With world champion Zane Hodge absent from this year's Swim the Suck, the aquatic world is ablaze with chatter, consternation, and speculation as to why Hodge dropped out and who will ascend the throne left vacant by the dominant world champion. The contenders are: Justin Nunnery, who piloted Hodge for the 2014 Suck, Randy Beets, who abandoned Facebook to free himself from the torments of his nemesis, and Wilson Carroll, the newest Fasttrack Fattie and Big ASS Endurance athlete.

I recently contacted Hodge and met with him in his office at the Greenwood Center of Mississippi Delta Community College where I took the opportunity to pick his brains and get his thoughts on Anabel Lavers, Randy Beets, and who he believes would take his crown this year in Chattanooga. 

Me: Good morning, Dr. Hodge. How are you feeling and what are you training for now that the weight of the Suck is off your solid shoulders?

Hodge: I am feeling well. Mostly I have been shuffling, training for the Great Noxapater Journey Run. You know I attempted the run in December of 2013 and failed on the first day. This time there are many more miles on my legs, and I think I have a real shot at success.

Me: So if you are successful, you will set yet another Big ASS world record. Is that the goal?

Hodge: Yes and no. I always get a charge out of establishing world records, but this run is about a lot more than that. I am approaching the GNJR as a reenactment of my great-grandfather's epic journey from Utah when he was twelve years old (see "Reenacting" 9/3/2015).

Me: Speaking of records, Big ASS ruled that you are still the world record holder for the longest swim ever. In fresh water.

Hodge: Yes. I must admit that really did make my day when I received the news. I was happy that Annabel Lavers was successful in her English Channel attempt. She is the first of our organization to do so. But I thought my record was gone and that was a little sad. The ruling that she is the world record holder in salt water, and I remain as the record holder in fresh water takes a lot of pressure off of me. Without that decision, I would have been tempted to go for over twenty-one miles on the next Chicot Challenge to get the record back.

Me: So the plan is still for you to go for twenty next June.

Hodge: Yes, still twenty. I want to leave room to continue upping the distance each year as long as I can.

Me: As long as you can. And how long do you think that will be?

Hodge: I really have no idea. I think most likely I can up it for another three years, maybe four. But that is mere speculation. Swimmers usually age well in respect to their sport. As a runner, my best days have been behind me for a couple of decades already. I'm still climbing as a swimmer, which is one reason I love it so, I think.

Me: And the Suck? What do you think will happen at this year's Suck.

Hodge: First, I think Randy will show up now that I will not be there to humiliate him again.

Me: Will he take the Big ASS title?

Hodge: Probably not. If I were a betting man, I would place my money on Wilson Carroll. I think he will take the gold, and it will be a dog fight for the silver medal between Beets and Nunnery.

Me: Any second thoughts about being there?

Hodge: No, really there are not. Physically and mentally I wasn't feeling it and I'm still not.

Me: Were you burned out from the Chicot Challenge in June?

Hodge: I won't say burned out, but I was definitely burned down. Wisdom told me I needed to take some time off and make sure I recovered so I can continue the Chicot Challenge next June. That swim is about more than me. It's about a message, a lifestyle, and a disease. I don't want it to fall by the wayside because I live in the epicenter of the world-wide diabetes epidemic. Plus I am running pretty well right now, and I want a rematch with the Great Noxapater Journey Run before I get too old.

Me: Speaking of too old, when will that be?

Hodge: Like swimming, I really don't know. My speed is gone, although I am working feverishly to get as much of that back as I can. My endurance still builds well, maybe better than when I was young. But I can tell the difference in a number of ways, speed being one and recovery being another. I want adventure, now, I yearn for it, and I have a need to do this run.

Me: What about next year? Will the Suck return to your calendar?

Hodge: I'm not sure, but maybe not. I am thinking of swimming some new water around here in my home state. If I do another public event, I may choose another one. I love the Suck, but I have done it four times, and I crave some new experiences. That is how I feel about that now. My attitude may change later, but right now I am looking ahead to different things.

Me: Thank you very much, Dr. Hodge. I will do a write up on your journey run when you make it.

Hodge: Thank you. I look forward to it.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Fat Boy's Week (by Luvie)

He really did it last week. Or maybe I should say he didn't do it. In essence (pretty good word for a cat, huh?) he fell off the face of the earth in terms of training. It's not all his fault because much of Thursday and all of Friday and Saturday he spent working on a tree, and I mean working. Even his wife worked all day Saturday loading limbs and raking leaves. But as we all know, working is not the same as working out.

Monday he met John at the Twin Rivers pool and he swam

2 X 250
200 small paddles
total: 1,700 meters.

When is the last time he swam only 1,700? After his night class he only shuffled 3.62 miles. Pitiful.

Tuesday he went back to the pool and swam

2 X 400 @ 9:00
800 small paddles
total: 3,100 meters.

He shuffled a lousy 3.7 miles that day, but at least he trained a tad.

Wednesday he did not swim at all, and he tried to do a serious run but only racked up 4.58 miles and failed at all his attempted pace pick ups. I don't know what was wrong but he fell miserably short of achieving what he left the house to achieve.

Thursday he did a 4.17 mile run after it became dark and he could no longer work on the tree. That was the end of training for the week and his totals are a paltry

16.07 running,
4,800 swimming,
3.0 walking, and 
no weight lifting at all.

If he does not have a better week coming up, there are going to be serious problems between him and me. It is now time to go full out for volume and take a serious shot at achieving journey run fitness.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Channel 13 News

Channel 13 News has recently become my all-time favorite television program. Like many of you, I first heard of this now famous channel via Facebook. Dozens of people on America's favorite time waster, copied and pasted those statements to prevent FB from taking ownership of their pictures and posts and likes. The incredible thing is that this concern has been around the block already. 

Several times. 

I marvel that otherwise sane and intelligent people go nuts over the idea that someone they don't know is going to either

   a) publish in a book all of their poorly written political rants
   b) sell their photos to a fashion magazine and make millions
   c) refuse to let them read what they wrote last month
   d) make big bucks by trading their cat photos for cash


People are getting seriously worked up over this, or if not seriously worked up, they figure it is "better safe than sorry." Safe from what? As if all of that were not enough, another similar scare circulated on the heels of the latest Channel 13 report. This one claimed that Facebook was going to charge $5.99 per year for you to keep your public posts private. Does anyone see a problem here? Social media and privacy is sort of like that long word my high school English teacher attempted to teach me, long ago. What was that? Oh yeah, oxymoron. O-x-y-M-O-R-O-N.

Pardon me for feeling superior, but I feel superior. Facebook does that for me which is reason I will never, ever leave it, her, or whatever it or her is. She makes me feel a certain way.

Now to get to my real point. I have started a playlist on EndangeredSwimmer the Vlog named: (drum roll) Channel 13 News. I am shooting and posting short videos on all the really neat and important stuff I am learning by watching my favorite new show. Tune in and then don't touch that dial. With Randy Beets off Facebook, finally something good has happened to make it fun again. 

I needed that.