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.