Sunday, January 31, 2016

Forrest's 30-30-30 Run

When I looked at my daughter and saw a faint reflection of myself in her face, I almost melted and ran out on the floor like a Popsicle placed before a blazing fire. It was a powerful moment that touched me deeply and continues to capture my soul.

Fast-forward thirty six years. We were back lit by a car's headlights while thick darkness enveloped the world around us. A fierce and bitter headwind beat against our faces as we slowly made our way north on one of the state's most dangerous stretches of asphalt, Money Road. But I was happy because my image in some small way as once more making a faint impression on the world. This time, however, the image was not one of looks but of action, and the imager was not my daughter but my son.
Early in the run. Thanks, Candy.

It was January 23, 2016, and the time was the ungodly hour of 5:00 am. The event was my son's 30-30-30 Run for Diabetes, a combination birthday celebration run and a fundraiser for the Diabetes Foundation of Mississippi. The original plan was for Forrest to run thirty miles on his birthday and have thirty people donate thirty dollars to our state's premier diabetes charity. Things didn't go as planned, however. After an article in the Greenwood Commonwealth, the donations started pouring in and the $900 goal was quickly surpassed long before the run took place. Nice way for things to go astray.

Candy Hony, a friend and co-worker of my boy's, got up early and drove behind us until the darkness was driven fully away by a rising sun, which remained hidden by clouds depriving us of the glory of a sunrise. It was odd, running in the dark, back lit by a car's headlights, but comforting because normally deserted in the predawn hours, Money Road was busy with traffic. Over and over we were passed by a steady stream of pickup trucks pulling boats, some pulling trailers with off road vehicles, and some pulling nothing. Hunters. I didn't think about the hunters who would also be travelling north and Candy's presence was a real safety enhancement that I was glad we had. Thank you, Candy. 
At the half way point.

When we got to Craigside, I told Forrest I had to make a pit stop. I thought it was a good place since the gravel road to the right gave me the opportunity to get off the highway. I wasn't expecting the mud puddles, however, which I stepped in and got wet feet on a cold morning when getting wet can be dangerous. After doing my business, I caught up with Forrest who shortly later told me he needed to go off road. When he did, I slowed to a walk but kept moving forward. He seemed to be taking a long time, and I wondered what was the problem was. 

Later when another angel came to take care of us, he said, "You haven't lived until you've taken a $h+t on the railroad tracks in the dark." 

Dude, that's hard core. 

The angel answered, "I'm content not to live."

Bu we lived that day. We ran and walked until angel number two, Sherry Smith, drove out for the first time and found us abut 11 miles up the road. Our coolers were in the back of her car. Mine contained ice-cream, my top secret endurance food that I've been promoting for years. Despite me yelling from the housetop, my secret remains intact. 

We made it fifteen miles up the road, and then we stopped and took a selfie. After that, we turned and headed south and hoped the wind would hold. It had been in our face all morning. We weren't long going south before Sherry made her second appearance. Her hatchback Hyunda was perfect for a rolling aide station, and later I thanked her for considering us when we purchased her car.

Our music. God was the DJ.

On the way back (actually it started before) I was having a little difficulty keeping up with Forrest. Since we were doing a run/walk scheme, I would catch up after he started walking. Finally, it got to the point where I wasn't getting to walk at all. The last time we were together I told him to go ahead and not wait on me. "I know the way home," I said, "and I'll get there." So he did. For whatever reason, I didn't run well that day. I should have because I was tapered for the first time in months. But the juice wasn't working even though I had ice-cream in my cooler that Sherry ferried out to us three times.

To make a short story long, Forrest left me in his cold dust while I struggled to get in. When I got near the radio station, Sherry and my wife Penny drove up and asked if I wanted a ride. Although I was barely shuffling along, I said, "No." They seemed genuinely surprised at my answer, but I was coming in on my feet if any way possible.

Forrest finished strong in 6:18:46. I dragged in about thirty minutes later. I think my time was 6:48 and change. I cleared the history on my watch before I wrote the time down. Maybe I just wanted to hide the record, but though it was a tough day for me, I had a glow about having done it. I always do after completing a really long endurance event. 
Angel number two. Thanks, Sherry.

When I made it to Forrest's, Dr. Assini, a local diabetes activist, was there; Bethany Theilman of the DFM was present with her son, Evan; a reporter from the Greenwood Commonwealth sat on the couch and asked questions. Sherry, Penny, Claudia Henson, Paul Brown and maybe a few others finished out the crew. I found a seat after divesting myself of some of the excess clothing I had on because of the cold. Paul had cooked soup and Claudia brought a nice salad. I started with the soup and after a couple of bowls, I attacked the salad.

We didn't stay too long after the meal. When Penny and I got home, I took a bath and went to bed. That's pretty much where I stayed the rest of the day. The Commonwealth ran an article on the run the next day. Again, my heart swelled with pride as I read about my son's activism, the money raised, and the attention awakened to a real problem that we have the ability to positively impact.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Thursday Night Swim

My goal for Thursday night was to get into the pool at DSU as early as possible and swim every yard I could. 


You probably think I'm a whiner, but I am. This is my forum to moan and complain and get it out. You still don't read a fraction of my frustration.

I had to take my truck to the shop Wednesday and when they called Thursday, I literally ran the 2.73 miles to pick it up. Then I drove Mom's car back to her house and ran back to mine. I packed my stuff and made it to the highway before I realized I was out of gas. No early entry this time either.

To make a short story long, I started stroking around 6:15 and managed to make 1,300 before practice started. When I saw Cagri move to the starting blocks, I knew he was ready to begin so I stopped at the wall.

"This is what we're going to do," Coach said as he always does at the start of session. "We are going to start at the top and go down. Do 800, 600, 400, 200, 100 and rest 30 seconds between."

I did the math in my head and realized the total was shorter than usual. "That's only 2,100," I moaned. 

"But you already did 1,300."

"I have to be ready to swim 21 miles by June 4. I need more."

"You need to swim more often."

"What time can I get in tomorrow?" I asked, ready to start my Friday swims.

"You can't. Swim meet."

You are best not knowing what I did next. All I want is to have an honest shot at training for my charity swim. Why must every training cycle be the hero's journey? Why must I slay the dragon twice? thrice? four times or more? Last year it was two falls on the Yazoo River Trail and some weightlifting that hurt my shoulder three times. Dragons. The year before it was something else and something else and a couple of more things. The year before that it was whatever and whatever and whatever. Why can't I just train? Why the drama? I am not a drama queen or king. I am not. But it always finds me. Maybe I should just relax and take things as they come without stressing so much over circumstances I have no control over. By the way, I am NOT running on the Yazoo River Trail this year. I have been down there on the paved part, but I am avoiding the trail in the woods so I won't fall and land on my shoulder again.

To make a short story long, I didn't do the practice Cagri gave. I swam the first 800 and took the 30 seconds rest. I decided instead of dropping to 600 to do another 800. Then I did another. And another. My whole practice looked like this:

1,300 warm up (23:45; 1:49)
4 X 800 r :30
   1 - 13:39; 1:42
   2 - 13:18; 1:39
   3 - 13:38; 1:40
   4 - 14:22; 1:47
2 X 600 small paddles
   1 - 10:31; 1:42
   2 - 10:44; 1:47
700 cool down 13:19; 1:53
total - 6,400 yards = 5,849 meters.

Notice the drop off on the fourth 800. That shows my endurance is not there yet, and these numbers will serve as a standard in the upcoming months. I liked this practice, and my body told me this is what it needs. I will probably use this as a template for my training this spring. I think I'll consider 14:00 as failure. I need to build the 800s, as many as I can, aiming to keep them all under 14:00. That will be a good measure of my endurance. Next week, maybe I can do four under 14:00 and then five and so forth.

It was a good swim, the kind I need to lay the base I have to have to go crazy when the spring comes. But I sure wish I could swim today. The ponds are cold, and even with a wet suit, I am too much of a sissy to do it. The weather is supposed to warm for the next few days. Maybe by Monday the water will hit 60. I can do 60 in a wet suit.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Tuesday Night Swim

I sure was disappointed to miss last Thursday night's and Friday afternoon's swims due to people in positions of authority not being able to watch a weather report and have a clue what might happen. Just the mention, not the occurrence, but the mention of snow and a large part of Mississippi society ceases to operate. Enough, I've already ranted on that. But I was mighty happy to get back in the water Tuesday. I did not get in, however, as early as I did the Tuesday before when I was stroking at straight up 6:00. This time I was stroking at 6:15 which amounts to almost 1,000 yards lost forever. Our Masters practices are almost always 2,400 yards/meters. The extra distance I swim is done during the warm up and after practice, so if I miss yards before practice, I miss yards that can't be made up. When the pool closed, I have to leave so there is a finite amount of time I can stay in the water. All I can do, however, is all I can do.

What I did do was 1,050 before practice started, and then we swam some pretty good stuff with no breathing patterns. Praise God.

8 X 50 @ 1:30
4 X 100 @ 2:30
2 X 400 r :30 first with small paddles (5:58; 6:13)
4 X 100 @ 2:30
8 X 50 @ 1:15
In the midst of this, I did an easy 150 waiting for the others to finish sets.
End of Masters. Then I swam 
1,100 small paddles
1,100 free
End of arms.
total:5,800 yards = 5,301 meters.

Now if I can do something like this again Thursday and Friday I will be on my way.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

The Best Things in Life are Free

You've heard it before. 

It' true.

The best thing in life really are free.

They are also often overlooked.


Cats. They are everywhere, and the most affectionate one I ever had I rescued out of a tree. His name is Luvie and since I lately wrote about him, let's talk about some other free things.

Sunrises. Recently, Forrest and I did hi 30-30-30 Run. We left early. Very early. I thought, at least one benefit of getting up this early is we will get to see the sun come up. Three years ago for his 27th, we did 27 miles and started way way before daylight. At the time, I wasn't happy about rising at the ungodly hour of whenever thirty it was, but when the sun began to paint a bright orange picture on the canvass of the sky, I thought, wise choice, son, wise choice. The sight of that divine artwork alone was worth the price of admission so to speak. Fastforward to this year's birthday run and I once more grumbled when I rose from bed at 4:10 am. At least we will have a sunrise, I thought. But alas, the day was cloudy and instead of a gorgeous rising of Old Man Sol, there was only a slow melding of night into light. What a ripoff. Maybe next year.

Coffee. OK, coffee is not actually free, but God put it on earth freely to bless us and I have often thought that to not partake of this heavenly gift is to be unthankful, ungrateful, spurning a free gift from the universe's creator. I am thankful for the bean and I show God so everyday by drinking a quart or more of the magic bean elixir. I don't know what else I can do to show God how grateful I am for His creation.

Dogs. Specifically, I speak of dogs who don't know you but wag their tail when you run by their house. There are mean dogs and nice dogs. I like nice dogs, and I have noticed that there are more sweet ones than angry, aggressive ones. I have encountered some canines who were mean enough to bite themselves. But most representatives of man's best friend are happy, overjoyed even just to be around people. I like that. Even those who protest with some barking when you jog by their property, do so because it's their job not because they want to bite a human leg. I can appreciate that.

Good health. Although I am extremely health conscious, from time to time I realize that I take good health for granted. My dad was a health nut so naturally I absorbed that from him. As I have aged, my mom's failing health has made me even more aware that being well and fit and inestimable gifts we should bee thankful for and tell God that every day. Lord, if I missed any days (I know I have), forgive me.

Air. we don't even notice that it's free until we have have a low tire on our auto and have to fish quarters out of the ash tray to feed the machine. Air is no longer free at the gas station, but the invisible elixir of life that goes in and out of our lungs is free for us to live on. And we never even notice. Only when we become short on breath do we even become aware that we breath.

Bird music. I'm convinced that God's free music in the air is one of the most under appreciated of God's good gifts. The Bible says, "Every good gift and every perfect gift cometh from above and cometh down from the father of lights with whom is no variableness nor shadow of turning. Take a moment the next time you are outdoors and turn your radio on. You can almost always hear wild birds doing what God placed them on earth to do: add beauty to our world and music to our souls.

Imagination. Some people seem to have more of this that other people do, but I believe God gave us all a good dose of it. Unfortunately, the troubles and trials of life tend to kill out this blessed addition to our souls. With imagination, we can come up with games that make like interesting. Have you noticed that the people in America who make the most money play games. They get paid to play games. I don't earn pay from the games I play, but they add joy to my life and cause me to dream, scheme, and strive to fulfill the goals I imagine. Swimming, running, writing and just a few of the areas where imagination enriches life for me. Let it enrich life for you also.

Hope. The Bible says, "Now abideth faith, hope, love, but the greatest of these is love." I'll talk about love later. Maybe. But hope is another of the treasures God has placed within our hearts. It's not a thing, it can't be touched, held, felt, but it's absence is felt. I have had friends who were depressed because of a lack of hope.

Happiness. Is. A. Choice. That's what some people say. I'm not sure we can always be happy, but if we choose to be so, we are a lot better for it. For instance, some people make an effort to look on the dark side of everything. I learned long ago, that if I focused on my problems, I hit rock bottom in a hurry. There are a lot of things that go on around me everyday that I don't like. Some of them are infuriating even. But when I am tempted to set my gaze upon my problems, I do one of two things or both. First, I remember the problems I had before I made a career change. I'll take my current problems over my former ones any day of the week.

Adventure. It was an graduate English class. Chaucer I think but I have forgotten what brought the question on, what men want. Since I was the only male in the room, the prof turned to me and said, "We have a man right here. Let's ask him. What do men want?" 

I didn't hesitate but immediately answered, "Adventure."

Little boys dream of adventure. Grown men sometimes die for adventure. Someone literally did that recently somewhere down around the South Pole (Henry Worsley). I'm not sure what it is in us that drives us to seek out excitement, but we swim channels, climb mountains, jump out of airplanes, hunt dangerous game. Even the most sedentary of us at least do it vicariously through movies, sports, and reading. Women get in on the act too. One of my favorite blogs is Jill Outside Her lust for adventure keeps me coming back to read her posts week after week after week. Check her out. If you have that adventure gene, you may have just found your favorite reading spot.

Forgiveness. The Bible is pretty clear on this one. We have to give it to get it. But laying aside biblical truth, I think the people who study our brains and our behavior tell us that unforgiveness is pretty destructive to a happy, well-adjusted life. Someone[s] suggested that holding a grudge is like drinking poison and hoping the other person dies. Maybe it's unfortunate that we get multiple chances to test this out in real life. Somebody is going to do you wrong. But remember that you don't have to get anybody back. That's God's job: "Vengeance is mine, saith the LORD. I will repay." And He will. I've seen it.

Heaven. It's not free, but it's paid for. Jesus took care of the cost a long time ago. Thank Him for it. It's only polite.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Luvie's Report

It was a different kind of week. For the first time this year, I got on my bike trainer, and for the first time in I don't know when, I tapered. 

Monday I did a circuit of treadmill running and bike trainer work after lifting weights at Plate City. I ran a total of 1.25 and cycled for 20:30. Not much, but at least I was active.

Tuesday I again did some circuit work, three times through squats, bike trainer, and running on the treadmill. The totals were 2.65 of running and 46:00 on the trainer. Then I made it to DSY and swam a total of 6,550 yards.

Wednesday was more weightlifting and another easy circuit of 2.01 miles on the treadmill and 14:00 on the trainer.

I was determined Thursday to bust out a big one at DSU, but they closed the school and cancelled practice because it was raining and the word "snow" was mentioned in the weather forecast. This drives me nuts. How am I going to train if the people who control the institutions I am dependent upon can't intelligently watch a weather forecast? The cancellation threw a major monkey wrench into my mojo, and I wound up not only skipping swimming but not running and eating way too much for supper. I know, I know. I have no one to blame but myself.

I remained inactive Friday in the face of Saturday's big run scheduled with my son. I will do a separate post on it. We did his birthday run and ambulated 30 miles. Although I usually can tell you down to the hundredth of a mile what I ran and what I walked, this time I can not. I'll explain in the next post.


run - 26.91
swam - 5.986 meters
walk - 10.98
weights - three times
bike trainer - 1:20:30 

Thursday, January 21, 2016


I was gung ho for heading to DSU Thursday night (today), and even dug out my training journal from last year to see how many yards I swam on the same night 366 days ago. I even planned to start making my third trip to DSU this Friday. Last year I began the third trips to the indoor pool in mid-February.

Without doing Swim the Suck last October, I missed that second buildup and consequently I finished 2015 with more than 200,000 fewer meters of swimming than I did in 2014. That's a lot. And to make matters worse, I am already behind last year's pace for the calendar year. I know it's still only January, but I am starting to feel a little insecure. 

So when I received the text message that Masters was cancelled due to the weather, my heart sunk. Instead of catching up and getting maybe a little ahead, I now will fall even farther behind. What makes me really crazy about this is "the weather" that has everyone around here friggin out is nothing but rain with a predicted low of 37 degrees. I guess the laws of physics have changed because I know just a few years ago and for most of my life that ice began to thaw at 32 degrees. What the heck is going on? DSU is closed today and tomorrow. So is Mississippi Valley State. Yes, it is predicted to snow tomorrow. The projected temperature? Are you ready for this? The meteorologist say once more the temps will hover around the nightly low of 37. What's wrong with this picture?

If that is the way things are now, if schools close when it rains, I will not be able to train for the Chicot Challenge. I am really baffled over this. I have lived here for 59 years and I would bet the house that it won't snow more than a spit full. We get about one snow in ten that is forecast for us and we almost never hit the predicted lows. And it is not even supposed to freeze!!! So what is going on? Someone please inform me because I feel like I am living in a society of morbid stupidity, magnum sissies, and full blown ner-do-wells. Tell me I'm wrong, please, and tell me why because I don't get it.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

It Got Better. A Little

I went back to DSU Tuesday night determined to bust out another big one. A "big one" of course is a floating term at this point. Last Thursday I swam 5,400 and felt like my arms were going to fall off. Would that single effort add any endurance to my upper body. The short answer is yes, a little bit.

I hoped into the pool the earliest I have this year. Since our practice officially starts at 6:30 and Chet has a team practicing earlier, I always ask him if it is OK before I occupy a lane. He has always said "yes" and he is gracious enough to usually save three lanes on one end of the pool. Last night I jumped in at 6:04.

I  swam 1,800 and then saw Coach Cagri on deck and Ricky with him so I stopped and asked if we had time to warm up. Cagri and we did and I asked Ricky how much he was going to swim. He said 300, but he actually did 400 so I finished the warm up with 2,200 yards. Then it was Masters time. We swam

8 X 100 @ 2:30 breathing 3, 5 per 25
50 easy
2 X 400 breathing 3, 5 per 50, :30 rest
50 easy
1 X 800
end of Masters
2 x 25 no breath with Duke
1,000 small paddles
10 X 50 @ 1:00
total: 6,550 yards.

I was tired but not as tired as last week. It got better. A little bit. A little, bitty bit.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

"He ain't heavy. He's my kitty."

If you keep up with me on Facebook, you are familiar with Luvie. Many people who know him only through social media like him and lot and are not shy to telling me so. Thank you. It's kind of like someone bragging on your children or grand kids. I get that sometimes too, and I suppose I should write a post on them. But this one is about my fat cat, the one who is the face of my physical training, and the one I love to nap with.

We got him several years ago one Sunday morning when we exited church only to hear a desperate cat yelling to the top of his feline lungs. I found him alone in a tree, September 27, 2009, and since our church was over a mile from the nearest house, he looked pretty much like a dump. Immediately upon being pulled out of the branches and onto my shoulder, he began to purr with all the vigor of a diva soprano at the opera. I guessed him to be about twelve weeks old at the time, thin and hungry but not emaciated and neglected.

I asked everyone in our little congregation if they wanted him. They all, one by one, said, "No," so Penny and I put him in the truck and drove home.

"What are we going to call him?" she asked as I started the vehicle and pulled out of the church drive.

"Look at him," I said as he went back and forth between us ramming his head into us and purring so loud he drowned out the gospel music on the radio.
"He's lovie." 
So that's what we named him, Luvie, and everyday since he has lived up to that moniker. 

That little scrawny tuxedo kitty grew into a hulking fifteen pounder who loves to eat and nap and love. He really is lovie not only to us, especially me, but to Jeff the weenie dog and Baby Kitty the other cat. He loves Jeff and grooms him with an affection that is truly touching. And Baby Kitty (I'll write about him later), he treats like a baby although he no longer is. But it is to me to whom he shows the most tenderness.

When I get home at night, from the pool at DSU or from teaching a class, he always greets me. He doesn't walk, he runs to where I am and rubs up against me over and over, his tail quivering in excitement. He then follows me, like a dog, around the house until I settle somewhere and then he settles with me, in my lap, of course. Being the cat man that I am, I remain still while he usually re-positions himself from my lap to my chest. I remain dutifully unmoving because cats don't like people squirming around when they are trying to nap on top of them. I learned that long ago, and I hate to disappoint a cat.
Blogging and relaxing with Luvie.

Besides the affection and the beauty, I suppose one thing I like so much about cats is how they relax me. He, like all the cats I have loved, is a terrific napper and when he jumps up onto the bed with me, where I usually read and blog, it's not too long before we both are asleep or at least I can unwind, de-stress.

I sometimes wonder if he remembers that day I pulled him from the tree and gave him a home. I think he does, and consequently he has shown me his love and gratitude everyday of his life since. Although he focuses most of his attention on me, occasionally he climbs up on the couch where Penny naps and watches TV and spends time with her. 

"He hurts when he walks on me," she told me recently. "He's heavy."

"He ain't heavy," I answered. "He's my kitty."

Monday, January 18, 2016

Luvie's Report

The week of 1/11 - 1/17 was a pretty good training block, but I am becoming increasingly distressed by my inability to shed weight. I used to almost fall off me like leaves from a tree if I cut back just a little. Now not so much. Now not at all. I feel like going on a rant here, but that will do no good so I will just give the report.

For the first week of classes, I ran 4.2 and did a major weight session Monday.

Tuesday, I ran 6.33 with some multi-pacing and went to DSU for

4 X 200
4 X 100
400 build by 25s (6:18)
50 easy
8 X 50
1,000 (18:34 - 1:50)
12 X 50 @ 1:00 small paddles
total: 5,250 yards = 4,798 meters.

Wednesday I did another weightlifting session and ran 4.11 miles. I also started my Film as Literature class that night and things look good there. I have some bright students and the atmosphere appears like it will be fun.

Thursday I ran 4.06 and went back to DSU where I swam

6 X 50 @ 1:15
300 small paddles br 3, 5, 7
6 X 50 @ 1:15
300 small paddles br 5, 7, 3
6 X 50 @ 1:15
300 small paddles br 7, 3, 5
6 X 50 @ 1:15
300 no paddles br 3, 7, 5
1,700 (32:58 - 1:56)
total: 5,400 yards = 4,935 meters.

I went out Money Road Friday with the idea of running 17 miles, but I died and only ran 11.9.

To finish the week, I lifted weights Saturday, ran 2.1 miles on the treadmill, and did lots of napping with the cats.

run - 33.7
walk - 3.97
weights - 3 X
swim - 9.733 meters.

Friday, January 15, 2016

It Will Get Better

Right now on Tuesday and Thursday nights, I have more time than fitness. I went in Thursday determined to bust out a big one. I did, sort of. I only got 1,300 for a warm up which isn't bad but I wanted more. The Masters practice, however, was a tough one, or at least I thought it was. We started with 6 X 50 @ 1:15. Our instructions were to swim strong and hold pace. I let Mark set the tempo, and we swam these in :40 which is not all out but not lazy by any means. Then we swam 300 with paddles breathing 3, 5, 7 by 25s. The Mad Swimming Scientist has a fetish for breathing patterns.

After the 300, we did another round of 6 X 50 @ 1:15. Guess what came next. Right, 300 with paddles only this time the breathing pattern was 5, 7, 3. When we finished that 300, we did another round of 6 X 50 @ 1:15.

Our next 300 was on a 7, 3, 5 pattern followed, of course, by another round of 6 X 50. Only one more 300 remained. This one was done without paddles, and the breathing was on 3, 7. 5. That was the end of Masters. With the 1,300 I did in the warm up, I was at 3,700.

Fatigue had already set in, but I started back swimming after coach left, and I tried to think up some sets that would get me juiced up. Since I didn't come up with anything, I kept going until I felt like my arms were going to fall off. I did 1,700 in 32:58. I could have swum another thirty minutes, but I couldn't swim another thirty minutes.

I can definitely feel the absence of those 200,000 meters I did not swim in 2015 compared to 2014. "Fork ready" is how I would describe myself when I crawled out of the pool with 5,400 yards. It will get better, I told myself. It will get better.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Beginning to Build

With the new year here and the Chicot Challenge only five months away, maybe EndangeredSwimmer will once more begin to look like a swimming blog. Tuesday I made it to DSU full of enthusiasm because with classes having begun, I knew there would be lifeguards on duty which meant I could swim after practice. I got in a little early  and swam 1,600 nonstop as a warm up. Then for Masters we swam

4 X 200, 1st and 3rd with paddles
4 X 100
400 build 100 by 25s (6:18)
50 easy
8 X 50
end of Masters.

On my own, I swam 
1,000 straight
12 X 50 @ 1:00 with small paddles
total: 5,250 yards.

This was my longest swim of the young year, but shorter than last year's at this same date. I had plenty of time to keep going, but I fell off so much last fall without doing the Suck and finished the year -200,000 meters that I was a little apprehensive about pushing things too far. I didn't want to risk injury so I stopped. Thursday I will try to exceed Tuesday's swim a bit. 

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

A Brief Outline of Film History

A Brief Outline of Film History

I.  The Beginnings (1890s)
        A. one shot
        B. the camera didn’t move
        C. everyday life
                - people getting off a train
                - someone squirting someone else with a water hose       
II. The Silent Era (1900)
        A. cinematic techniques began to develop
                1. more than one shot
                2. moving camera
                3. The Great Train Robbery (1903)
                        Twelve minutes
        B. Nickelodeons
                1. etymology
                2. 1905 in Pittsburg
                3. sprang up in cities all over the country
III. The Coming of Sound (1927)
        A. story
        B. cinematic techniques
        C. The rise of Hollywood
1. 1913 the center of the American film industry was New York
2. W. D. Griffith (1875-1948)
        a. contributions
                1) close up
                2) flashback
                3) lighting
                4) emphasis on casting
                5) parallel action (cross-cutting)
                6) tracking/trucking shot
                7) shoot outdoors (Hollywood)
        b. Why Hollywood

IV. Classical Hollywood (1930-1945)
A.   The Studio System
1.   Defined
2.   Production: 476 films per year
B.   The Studios
  1.   Fox Film Corporation (Twentieth Century Fox)
  2.   Metro-Goldwyn=Mayer (MGM)
  3.   Paramount Pictures
  4.   RKO Radio Pictures
  5.   Warner Brothers
  6.   Universal Pictures
  7.   Columbia Pictures
  8.   United Artists
  9.   Disney
C.   The style
  1.   The centered subject
  2.   Lighted subject
  3.   Main object in the foreground
  4.   “The invisible style”
  5.   Subordination of style to story
D.  Thematic element: The Resolution of Incompatible Values
  1.   American exceptionalism- based on the idea that America is unique
    a.       Liberty
    b.       Capitalism
    c.       Individualism
    d.       Frontier spirit
    e.       Possibility
  2.   Dichotomies
    a.       Individual/community
    b.       Wilderness/civilization
    c.       The West/The East
    d.       Outlaw hero/official hero
          The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962)

V. The Postwar Period (1946-1966)

VI. The Modern Period (1967-1980)

VII. The Contemporary Period (1981-Present)

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

11/4 - 1/10

I feel really good about last week's training although the numbers weren't overly big. The main thing that boosted my glow was the fact that I made it past Wednesday and I'm still healthy. Last year, I broke down on the the first Wednesday of the first full week of 2015 after a hard and foolish treadmill run. I went to twin Rivers and some Cro-Magnon there was lifting weights and screaming like an idiot after ever set. That irritated me. Every time he yelled like a cave man, I hit the button on the treadmill and kicked it up a notch. Smart. I didn't reform him but I did injure myself.

Monday I ran 4.12 and did some upper body weightlifting. Tuesday I only ran 2.10 miles and then went to DSU where I swam

8 X 200
100 easy
4 X 50
100 easy
total: 3,100 meters. 

Wednesday it was more weights and another small run of 2.43 miles. The week was difficult in that I had to work every day and I worked all day, so I was tired and pressed for time. Thursday I was at DSU again where the pool had been changed back to short course. I swam

8 X 50
800 small paddles
50 easy
6 X 50
600 small paddles
50 easy
4 X 50
total: 4,000 SCYs.

I liked this workout and Cagri said if we had time, the pattern would have continued. I plan to use this model at Twin Rivers when spring time comes. The next step would have been 4 X 100 and then 400 with paddles. This one reminds me of practices Petya used to give us. Although I can remember very few specifics from her coaching, I do remember that she liked to work strength and endurance in the same workout. With the paddles and longer swims alternating with the sprints, this one worked strength, endurance, and speed.

Friday I ran short, 2.68, after working all day. We had dinner with John and Patsy at Mai Little China and then went home and crashed. Saturday, I thought I better get in a long one since Forrest's birthday run is exactly two weeds away. I ran 16.21 straight and threw in some 5K race pace intervals. 

For the week, I

ran 29.64 and walked 3.15 miles,
lifted weights three times, and
swam 6,756 meters.

Friday, January 8, 2016

The Year in Preview

I did a post reviewing 2015, but almost forgot to do 2016 in preview. Actually, I don't have a lot on my agenda, but the things there are important to me. Unlike a lot of runners and swimmers, I don't do a many events anymore. One reason is financial. The cost of entry fees, travel. lodging, and meals has become prohibitive to someone truly on a fixed income. I say "truly on a fixed income," because unlike people on Social Security, I don't get a cost of living increase every year. I now make about the same thing I made when I started this job twelve years ago. At only a two percent inflation rate, that is a reduction in spending power of 24%. I'd like to see my bosses take that kind of a cut, and yes, my former department once got an actual 10% pay cut. When I moved to the English Department, I was allowed to keep my pay cut. And then there is the war on our overloads the school has conducted, which has cost me up to $5,000 per year. Enough of that already. I just needed to vent a little. I didn't do and will most likely never do Swim the Suck again although I love the event because I can no longer afford the trip. But I completed four of those amazing swims in the Tennessee River, and I highly recommend anyone who can make registration and afford the trip to do it. No pay cut can ever take those memories away of beating Randal Beets down the river in one of the most gorgeous settings on earth. The memories are mine forever, paid for in training and money spent.

The first thing on the 2016 agenda is my son's birthday run (see my last post). If I can stay healthy for two more weeks and pull that one off, I will be way ahead of last year in terms of running condition. Next up is the Mississippi River Marathon, which is an event I can do without renting a motel room, although the event organizers do their best to force us to spend the night. They have packet pick up only on race morning, they close it hours before the race so you have to basically stay up all night to participate. I know why they do this, but I am not shelling out for a motel room. The dates are January 23 for the thirty-mile birthday run and February 13th for the marathon.

After that comes Greenwood's own Viking Half Marathon on March 26th. Last year I was only a few weeks into coming back from a stress fracture so if I can stay healthy from now until then, I should do way way better this time around. April 26 brings the Kosciusko 5K which my wife always likes to go to because the shopping is so good there. While I run she works the town square which is full of vendors selling everything you never needed but have to have. One year she saved so much money we almost couldn't get it all in the trunk of the car. Don't think I am complaining, however. My wife is a ten on a scale of one to ten when it comes to money. She manages well (much better than me) and I never complain about what she buys. And within weeks of Kosciusko comes the two MDCC 5Ks. Again, if I can just stay healthy, I should be running much better times than I did a year ago, and maybe I can win again.

Of course the biggie is my fifth annual Chicot Challenge set this year for June 4, two days after my 60th birthday. The goal of Chicot V is to swim 21 miles, the full English Channel distance. To pull that off, swimming, not running has to be the main thing between now and then. Already it is impacting my practices. Wednesday this week, I lifted weights first and then ran which is the opposite of what I was doing before the first of the year. By lifting first, my energy was saved for and spent on that leaving my run to suffer in both duration and intensity. But that's OK because the upper body weightlifting helps lay a base of strength and even some conditioning that will be invaluable when I can begin to swim the longer distances.

After the Challenge, I hope to shift to a heavy emphasis on cycling. If I can do that as well as continue my good health, I may be in line for a sub-three hour Heart O' Dixie Triathlon for the first time in I can't remember how many years. A week or two after the HOD, Greenwood has its Bikes, Blues, and Bayous which is not a race but a time for family and friends to enjoy a long ride and have some fun while attending to physical fitness. Last year I rode with my wife and daughter. This year I will ride with my wife and my daughter, unless they get a group up and then I can do the long ride. It doesn't matter because it's all about fun. 

The BBB, as we call it, precedes the  Oaks, Greenwood's 10K by about a month. Last year I finally reversed a trend of slowing times. This year I hope to do the same and knock even more time off. Once more, staying healthy is one of the keys. Another key is losing the weight I have been after for two plus years. After the Oaks, I revert to adventure run mode where I ambulate long distances while exploring my little area of geography. Between now and then I will dream up something that will challenge and inspire me to once more reach for the moon.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

30-30-30 Run for Diabetes

In a couple of weeks, my son, Forrest, and I will be doing his birthday run. A few years back we did 27 miles on his 27th birthday. Neither one of us was in the best of condition at the time, but we did it. We skipped his 28th and 29th birthdays, but this time around he is determined to pull off thirty miles this January 23rd. Once more, neither of us is in top form but we are way ahead of three years ago. Actually, I'm pretty fit but a bit overweight, and since we are planning a 3/1 walk/run ratio, I should be able to handle it. I really don't know how much Forrest has been running, but he told me he is better prepared than when we did this before.

To make all this even better, Forrest decided to turn the run into a fundraiser for the Diabetes Foundation of Mississippi. He dubbed the effort the 30-30-30 Run for Diabetes. The plan was to run thirty miles on his thirtieth birthday and get thirty people to donate thirty dollars to the DFM. That comes out as a goal to raise $900. The Greenwood Commonwealth ran an article on his plans in a Sunday edition and the donations came in quickly. I don't know what the current total is, but he was over $1,000 a couple of months back.

I am proud of my son. If you care to donate, you can search Facebook for the 30-30-30 Run for Diabetes. They, the DFM, set up an event page and you can find a link there to donate. If you live in the area and want to help, we are leaving early Saturday morning, (I think he said 5:30). The plan is an out-and-back on Money Road. Drive out and give us a yell. Bring us a coke or Gatorade, or if you really want to be nice, bring me some ice-cream. An ice-cream sandwich is the best endurance food there is.  

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

500th Post

I guess it's not a big deal, but it's a big deal. This is my 500th blog post and for some reason I feel like I need to celebrate. Maybe I'll open up a Snickers Bar in a little while and shoot a poetry video if my favorite poet, Samuel Lott, will show up. To celebrate in words, however, I chose to revisit a couple of things I hashed out earlier.

Thanks to Shawn C. Turner, I now cannot listen to anything on TV without hearing someone use the redundant term "moving forward." Shawn's comments on that phrase were that going forward is about the only way you can go when you talk about the future. I am paraphrasing from memory so I am not expressing that nearly as eloquently as he did. It really is nauseating to me now and one would think someone would have the good sense and concern for the people who have to listen to them to make them stop. But they just keep saying it. That is just one of the many unnecessary redundancies that repeat too much and say the same things over and over again. 

One I complained about in an earlier post is the now common description of wide receivers in football catching the ball at its "highest point." Where else can they catch the ball except where the ball is when it gets to them? Gary Danielson of CBS does this constantly, and I have heard other announcers do the same. Kirk Herbstreet has even turned the impossible expression into a verb. Now over and over he praises players who "highpoint the ball." Please, somebody make him stop. Make him stop. I looked for him on Facebook so I could tell him myself. All I found was an automatically generated picture. He apparently doesn't do Facebook. 

I also complained about people using subjective pronouns where objective ones are called for. This has become so pervasive that I have actually begun to hear English teachers talk this way. Make them stop, please. Whenever people say, "I and ______" they automatically go into the subjective case even if the objective case is called for. Example, "The linebacker is giving he and the running backs trouble." Please shut up and never talk again, if this is you. This error has become so pervasive that it is even taking over other cases, the possessive for instance. I am beginning to hear "I's" for the possessive when someone has the "and" which seems to cause so much confusion. "John and I's trip was a success." Think I'm kidding? Hang on to your butt and give a listen. It's coming to a TV screen and a conversation near you. I promise. How much farther can we slide down the hill of absurd speech before communication becomes impossible? Much attempted communication on social media already fails. It is as if the writer is composing in a foreign language. The words are English but I don't know what they are trying to say. I would give you some examples, but I'm afraid some of my acquaintances will read their posts and be terrible offended, but no joke, I see Facebook posts everyday that are totally unintelligible to me.

I have a proposal, a modest one. Until I say otherwise, I decree that no one in Amurica can write, speak, or think anything until I am appointed Language Czar of the United States. Then, when I get everyone reeducated, I will allow the country once more moving forward to begin the slow downward spiral into nonsense. Pass the word, don't say anything ever again until you hear from me.

Monday, January 4, 2016

Final Week of Freedom

My last week of freedom before going back to work was one of coffee, cats, and running. Monday, I tipped around for 4.11 miles and lifted weights. Tuesday, I did a 6.22 mile run with an embedded 3.02 mile time trial. I averaged 8:14 for the test which was four seconds per mile faster than my last test. After the run, I did some light squatting and then went to DSU. Unfortunately, I forgot to write down the practice, and I cleared my watch out. All I remember is I warmed up with 1,000 and the total was 2,400. 

Wednesday was mostly a day of leisure. I did shuffle 3.13 miles and do some bench pressing. Thursday, however, was another matter. Since it was New Year's Eve, plans were to go to Hillbilly Heaven. Last week, I ran out there two times. This week, only once. The HBH shuffle was a breakthrough run. This course is a killer and you know what they say about that which does not kill you. At 11.8 miles, I come to the bottom of that huge hill which I run (and a little on top to make a mile) as fast as I can manage. The rest of the run is always a survival shuffle. The last few times I did the course, I lapped my watch twice, giving me a time (and average pace) for the run to the bottom of the hill (11.8 miles), the Big Hill Mile (one mile), and then the shuffle in to the house (2.9 miles of small hills on a gravel road). The last three efforts look like this: The times are the average pace per mile.

To the bottom of the hill        The Big Hill Mile     The final shuffle

12:12                                   13:16                    15:04

12:12                                   12:27                    14:23

10:19                                   11:36                    13:22

I felt good after the run and was a bit temperate, though not perfect, in my eating.

Friday, I lifted more weights and shuffled 2.11 miles. Saturday, I lifted for both upper and lower body and ran 2.31. For the week, I

ran 33.58 miles
swam 2,400 meters
lifted weights three times, and
walked 4.25 miles.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Athletic Goals for 2016

I'm pretty good at setting goals but not always so good at achieving them. I remain undeterred at making resolutions, however, because if you shoot at nothing, you will hit it every time. Last year, I actually struck the bull's eye once or twice, so I am setting up a few new targets for 2016. 

  1. Weight. Lose it. This has been on my list for the last couple of years. I gained weight in the latter part of 2013 when I stress fractured my right tibia in my ill-fated Great Noxapater Journey Run. For some reason, I have repeatedly failed to shed the unwanted adipose tissue. Despite my shortcomings in this area, I have recently become more serious about this and have even started my efforts during this holiday season. I have refused to gain any extra weight during Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's and have actually lost almost a pound. If I can do that now, my prospects for success during the upcoming year look pretty good. Two things have helped motivate me. One is I now have ten months of unbroken running and with that kind of base, I know my weight is the only thing that is keeping me from running the kind of times I want to run. A second motivator is the videos of my last two Challenges. I watch those vids in horror as I climb out of the water with my big belly on display for all the world to see. I am determined I will not exit the lake as a fat man at Chicot V.
  2. Chicot Challenge. This year I have set the bar even higher and hope to swim 21 miles and raise more money than ever for the Diabetes Foundation of Mississippi. Last year's Chicot was a lifetime best of 19 miles. That will be a new record for me and equal the distance of the English Channel. To pull it off, I will have to train both hard and smart. That's the challenge I want, and already just the idea of a swim that long has forced me out the door and into the backyard gym after the darkness and cold had set in. That's what I'm talking about. 
  3. Heart O' Dixie Triathlon. For the last few years, I have set my goal to break three hours at the continental United States' oldest continuous triathlon. I have repeatedly failed to do this because I would not pay the price for success. I came fairly close last year, 3:05, but my Achilles heel was and remains the bicycle leg. I just don't ride enough miles and don't ride them hard enough to pull that part of my race up to where it needs to be. I will do the swimming (I always finish first in my AG in the swim), and if I stay healthy I should run well. Will I ride enough this year to make my goal? I can only resolve to try. If I can it could be a magical year for me. I move into an older age division in 2016, and if I train hard and smart maybe I can place at the HOD.
  4. 300 Oaks. After several straight years of slowing times, I finally ran my hometown 10K 2:50 faster in 2015 than I did in 2014. For 2016, I hope to knock another 2:50 off. It's not socket rience: lose weight, stay healthy, do speed work, raise Vo2Max, improve leg strength. Just do it. 
  5. Gateway to the Delta Ten Miler. Forrest and I did this one for the first time in November 2015. We liked it, I ran well, and I want to go back. Next year I will be in the 60-64 grouping, and if I can run just a little bit faster, maybe I can win my AG instead of getting second.
  6. Bench Press. Last year, I maxed out at 165 pounds. This year I aim to get up 170 at least once. Or twice. To succeed at this will lay a good strength base for my Chicot training. The weightlifting really does help my swimming.
  7. One Day Run. I want to break my all-time one day run distance which currently sits at 47.25 miles set several years ago. I just haven't come up with a course that gets me excited. 
  8. Big Hill Mile. Earlier this year, I set a personal challenge to run up the hill on Humphrey's Highway four times. Since I have run out of year, I will have to do it in 2016. It's a worthy goal, one that will make me stronger and more fit than I have been in years if I can pull it off.
  9. MDCC 5ks. Win them. I won three school 5Ks last year. We should have two this spring, one on the main campus and one here in Greenwood. If I train to accomplish my other goals, I will be fit enough to pull this one off also. This is my only chance to be the overall winner in a footrace so I want to hang on to my success as long as possible.
  10. Health. Stay well. This has been a sometimes stated sometimes not but always on my mind goal. If I can avoid running injuries, I will probably achieve all my running aims. Over the years, I have usually broken down after nine or ten months of steady training. Will I finally break this unfortunate cycle? I can only hope, and try to be smart about how I train. Currently, I am beginning my eleventh month of running. Strength training, stretching, good nutrition, good shoes, and common sense are all I know to do keep from singing the injury blues.
So there you have it. Nothing earth shattering. Maybe my goals aren't big enough. But if I can pull these off, athletically at least, 2016 will be a successful year.