Monday, February 29, 2016

2/22 - 2/28

I started back training Monday after a week in bed and I could tell the flu, or whatever I had, really kicked my hinder parts pretty hard. In order to stay out of the wind and cold, I did a short 1.55 mile shuffle on the treadmill. Although I felt pretty bad all day, amazingly I felt better after the effort. That would be the pattern of the week. I didn't feel like doing anything, but when I did it seemed to boost my body up a notch or two.

Tuesday I didn't try to run but saved it all for the pool, which was cold, very cold. I swam 4,100 yards. I had time to do a lot more, but I was still in the fear mode of overdoing it and relapsing. 

Wednesday I again stayed out of the wind and shuffled 2.3 on the dreadmill. I'm not crazy about a treadmill, but it is really nice to have one for times of bad weather or coming back from an illness. The cold and wet, windy weather seemed to threaten further illness, promise it.

Thursday I once more had more time than energy and health at DSU. I swam 5,700 yards. Friday, I went out not really knowing how far I was going to run. I did 8.25 with some multi-pacing. My condition is off and I was wiped out after the run, but at least I stopped the slide.

Saturday I did a short 2.3 mile outdoor run and some light upper body weightlifting. I have been off the weights for two weeks, so the lead I had there is gone.

Since my running has been so bad, I decided on a rare Sunday shuffle. I only did 1.79 miles, but that is more than I usually do. I am even thinking about starting a streak. Even before I got sick, my running took a nose-dive. I want to get it back.

For the week, I

ran 16.19 miles,
swam 8,956 meters,
lifted weights once, and 
walked 2.08 miles.

Not too bad for coming off a fifteen year illness. What I mean by that is, that was the sickest I have been in fifteen years. And before that it was another fifteen years ago that I was so ill. Thus I am calling it a fifteen year sickness.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Thursday Practice

I'm still recovering from my illness and feeling a little better each day. I'm not yet back to full beast mode, but I did up the yardage Thursday over what I did Tuesday when I swam a paltry 4,100. I got in early enough to have a long warm up and then the set was 6 X 500. Thank you, Cagri. That's the kind of swimming I need. We were to do them by twos (pull and paddles, paddles, swim) with :20 rest. I started right away. The practice looked like this:

2,000 36:43 (1:49)
500 7:32 (1:30)
500 7:30 (1:31)
500 7:51 (1:33)
500 7:54 (1:34)
550 9:18 (1:41)
600 10:17 (1:42)
550 (Ricky's last one, number seven for me)
total: 5,700 yards.

Like Tuesday, I had plenty of time left on the clock, but I still suffer some fear of relapsing so I quit. It was only 7:42 when I got out. Maybe next week I can stay in at least until 8:30, and start back lifting weights. I lifted nothing the last two weeks but a fork and precious little of that. My appetite is slowly returning. That's pretty unusual for me not to eat heartily even when ill.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Tuesday Night Practice

I was on pins and needles all day. After looking back at last year's training diary and seeing that we missed this Tuesday a year ago after missing the whole week before that, I was afraid history would repeat itself. The weather was stormy, and I feared Cagri might cancel practice. Things are getting tight, and I really am worried about the Chicot Challenge. A week in bed has me week as water and wondering if I will be able to build the fitness I need to swim twenty-one miles.

I did not push to get in too early because I feared becoming too tired. I swam 1,100 for a warm up, which is a lot less than I normally do. Then we did 8 X 50 before starting the main set. It all looks like this:

8 X 50 @ 1:50 decline 1-4
100 (with Ricky)
600 cool down
total: 4,100 yards = 3,747 meters.

I left a lot of time on the clock. There was easily time enough to swim another 2,000, but it didn't seem wise to push that hard after being that sick, so I got out and went home. Maybe I can do more Thursday.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

The Diabetes Foundation of Mississippi

All my life I have been linked to the underdog, the overlooked, the un- or under appreciated. I had the fortune, or misfortune, of being raised in a Mississippi State household. A few years back, I attempted to divorce myself from the program. My degrees are from elsewhere. I don't have to pull for them. I'm an adult; I can make my own allegiances, I thought. But alas, the bond was too deep, too strong, too familial based and it held even against my will. We haven't an abundance of success on the football field. The five weeks we spent atop the college football rankings a couple of years back were like a dream, and I was glad then that the bond had been unbreakable. I wished over and over during that time that Dad were to walk on cloud nine with us.

When I started teaching, it was for a small, underdog school, North Sunflower Academy, situated in the midst of the blighted delta and whose football team had not won a game in a couple of years. The state I live in, Mississippi, is ranked last in all or most of the good things of American society and first in many of the bad. The part Mississippi where my wife and I reside is the poorest, fattest, least healthy and most violent of the state. The church I pastored for twenty-three years was also and underdog, invisible to our own denomination as was the denomination itself to the area I pastored. It's just my lot in life, I suppose, to be with the underdog, the unnoticed, the unappreciated. I can take it. I won't argue with God anymore. Not on this topic.

When I started the Chicot Challenge in 2012, I raised money for the American Diabetes Association, a charity well-respected, well-known, and many are willing to support. Between year one and year two of the Challenge, however, I switched allegiance to a charity more in line with the tenor of my life: the Diabetes Foundation of Mississippi.

As a composition teacher for a community college here in the Delta, I have my students write multiple papers on diabetes related topics. I always ask each class two questions. 1) Have you ever heard of the American Diabetes Association? 2) Have you ever heard of the Diabetes Foundation of Mississippi? The answer to the first question is always yes, 100% of the time. The answer to the second query is almost always no. What else is new?

I call them, the Diabetes Foundation of Mississippi, the best charity no one ever heard of. If you live in Mississippi and want to support an organization that does work on this disease, they are the best choice by far. Let me tell you a few of the reasons they are.

First, they are our charity and we have the greatest need right here at home. When I raised money for the ADA, I mailed the funds to Alexandria, Virginia. I doubt Mississippi ever saw a penny of that money. Mississippi has long been the fattest state in the nation, a major risk factor for the development of Type 2 Diabetes. We have severe health issues here in the Magnolia State and all of them, obesity, blood pressure, heart disease, kidney disease, and cancer, are worse here in the Delta than in the rest of our impoverished state. Our little piece of homeland lies in desperate need of a health intervention. 

Some of us have been attempting that intervention. John Pace, for instance, works tirelessly to promote healthy living and raise awareness of diabetes and funds for the DFM. He does this through his Team John Boy that promotes healthy living and raises funds for several charities one of which is the DFM. Dr. Joseph Assini, a podiatrist with the Greenwood Leflore Hospital has put tremendous effort into providing diabetes education programs at the hospital, going on a personal but public weight loss program on Good Morning Mississippi, and speaking each semester to my Comp I classes at MDCC. Forrest Hodge recently completed his 30-30-30 run for Diabetes, the concept which was to encourage thirty people to give thirty dollars each while he ran thirty miles to celebrate his thirtieth birthday. The effort succeed beyond his wildest hopes. And the Chicot Challenge, my solo charity swim, falls in line with these other efforts in seeking to draw attention to our diabetes problem, the people who are addressing it, and funds for our diabetes charity. But I do digress a bit.

As our charity, 100% of any funds donating to the DFM stay in the state of Mississippi. Not only that, but 84% of every donated dollar goes to the charitable purpose. That's pretty good, and if you don't believe it, check them out at CharityNavigators. In short, the DFM is efficient in addressing diabetes right here at home. But what do they do with those funds raised for them?

They work tirelessly in the area of education. Irena McClean, for instance, travels the state speaking to nurses and school officials teaching them about the disease and how to deal with diabetic students. Not only is education to schools a prime focus of theirs, but twice a year they hold Camp Kandu, which brings together the state's Type I kids to give then fellowship and education on how to live successfully with their condition. While the children are being taught, so are the parents. 

Diabetic supplies is another area of their service. When a child is diagnosed with diabetes in a Mississippi hospital, the DFM are the first-repsonders, showing up with a backpack full of educational materials and diabetic supplies. When a diabetic is having difficulty purchasing his or her needed medications, guess who will help. I actually know someone who asked them for assistance, and they came though for him.

Recently, this all-star organization has begun purchasing diabetic dogs for Type 1 kids. I went to high school with a girl whose niece received one of these potentially life-saving canines. These well-trained dogs can actually smell a drop in their owner's blood sugar and alert the patient to the need for medical action.

Research, you ask? Yes, they support ongoing research at the University Medical Center in Jackson, Mississippi. Go to their website: and see the many other ways they seek to educate, advocate, and assist people in Mississippi who suffer from this affliction at a rate disproportionate with the rest of the US.

Just this past Saturday, the DFM held their annual Super Conference, a gathering of diabetes activists, experts, and patients for more education. I'm not sure what all they do there since I have never been. I was invited this year as was my son Forrest. I was in bed, ill. Forrest attended. They honored him with an award of recognition. They sent me one too.
From left to right: Dr. Carlton, President of the DFM Board;
Forrest; Mary Fortune, Executive Vice President of the DFM.

Me, the award, and Buddy Bones.

Monday, February 22, 2016

1/15 - 1/21

Last week, 1/15 - 1/21, is the one I thought would get me caught up with last year because then we missed both Masters practices due to inclement weather and a swim meet at DSU. In fact, we even missed the next Tuesday also making it three straight practices that were cancelled.

Let me back up and give you a quick rundown on how I got to the week of hope only to see it come crashing down on my sore head. On Monday 15th, I donated blood. Five days later I ran the Mississippi River Marathon. My performance was dreadful. Scarcely forty-eight hours later, I was sick and in bed. Cause/effect? It's hard not to draw that conclusion, but the fact is I really do not know.

So one week after the blood donation and three days after the marathon, I shuffled 3.15 miles on the treadmill. An hour or so later, and I was running fever. I went to work Tuesday and met my classed, but left a little early and went to bed where I remained that day and night. I stayed in bed all day Wednesday. I stayed in bed all day Thursday. Friday afternoon, I walked 1.0 on the treadmill @ 20:00 per mile. Other than that, I was in bed all day. Saturday afternoon, I took Jeff to recycle. We walked 1.13 miles. Other than that, you guessed it, in bed all day long. Sunday, three guesses. I did walk a little bit on the treadmill and shuffled two tenths of a mile. Besides that, I stayed in bed almost all day. 

So for the week, I

ran 3.35 miles and
walked 3.45 miles. 

That's it. No weightlifting and no swimming.


Friday, February 19, 2016

I Could Care Less

I've been watching too much TV. That's what happens when you stay home sick. I flipped the channel yesterday just in time to catch Marcus Spears and Paul Finebaum talking about "I could care less" vs "I couldn't care less." I've been bumping into this too much lately.

Listen, no one is more attuned to correctness than I am. As an English major and a teacher who constantly tells his students not to major in English if they want to be happy, I know what it's like to gnash the teeth over rule-less speech. Seriously. Language abuses drive me crazy.

I honestly think I should be appointed Language Czar of the United States. I could straighten things up in a hurry. For one, I could settle the national dept in less than a year if the president would only give me the office and the power. To start with, I would fine any broadcaster $1,000 for any use of the useless phrase "going forward." Paul Finebaum alone would have to cough up a $100,000 per episode. That's just the beginning of what I would do. 

But rest assured, I possess the credentials to be America's first Language Czar. Having studying ten foreign languages, having earned four degrees, and making my living as a college English Instructor, I know the difference between a preposition and a proposition. 

Be that as it may, I'll cut straight to the chase. Concerning the "I could care less" vs "I couldn't care less," debate: what part of idiom do people not understand? Furthermore, what part of sarcasm do people not understand? What part of concision do people not understand? It takes less fewer syllables to say, "I could care less," that to say, "I could not care less" (See what I did there?).

So there you have it. It is not only OK to say I could care less, it is actually the preferable way to do it. So have fun caring less, and help me get appointed Language Czar. As Czar, I could prevent ahead of time before it happens a lot of things from coming to pass in the future going forward.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

The Mississippi River Marathon

Forrest and I on the shuttle bus
Someone had a good idea. We got off the bus in the middle of nowhere, due east of parts unknown, and directly south of nobody goes there. The wind was howling at a steady nineteen miles per hour and the temp was 34 degrees. But five fires graced the open field, lit who knows when because they were burned down to heaps of glowing coals that put out amazing heat even on the upwind side of the strong, cold wind.

We, the Mississippi River Marathon fullers (as opposed to the halfers), crawled out of the shuttle buses that had ported us from downtown Greenville, Mississippi, to somewhere near upper Lake Chicot north of Lake Village, Arkansas. We headed first for the ditch on the far side of the field where we peed without shame. Yes, there were porta-potties on site, but the lines were long and the guys used the freedom God gave us to add some sodium to the soil. Then we made our way to the fires to protect ourselves from the cold. I talked to a guy from Kansas, a dude from Missouri, and a young man from Florida.  

The day was Saturday, and the date was February 13, 2016. It was so cold and the wind so strong that comfort was a mere wish. We were about to run 26.2 miles back to downtown Greenville if the race director could convince us to leave the fires and make our way to the starting line. He asked, cajoled, and pleaded with us. Finally, with only minutes to spare, we braved the windy cold and toed the line and tenth of a mile away. When he said go, we went glad to be moving to generate some body heat.

We ran across the causeway bridge and then took a left turn beside the lake where we stayed for the next six miles. The race route then directed us to Highway 82 for the next seven miles which brought us to the foot of the Mississippi River Bridge. When we made that first turn, we had the wind to our backs, which made things much more comfortable. Gradually, however, the lake and the road that follows it turns and by mile nine, we were getting the wind straight into our teeth.

From the very start I was breathing harder than I should have been. Blood donation? I think. My pace held at 10:30 for three miles and then it gradually slowed. I knew pretty early that it was going to be a tough day. And thank God for all the porta-potties. I used them five times. Hear that people? Five times. And I got over this hydration mania years ago.
The Mississippi River from
the top of the bridge

I had early given up the idea of beating my son, Forrest. I just let him go and concentrated on finishing this thing. As the miles added up and the pace continued to slow I started looking for a fat lady. When I came out of the porta-potty at miles fifteen, I saw here. Or at least I thought I did.

She was about 6'2" and had a butt as wide as a car door. She had passed me when I was in the potty so I fixed my sight on her massive rear end and tried to real her in. Slowly I drew closer and closer until I was close enough to see she was not a fat lady but a fat man. He fought back when I tried to pass, so I just took my time and when he stopped at the sixteen-mile aid station, I went around as fast as a three-legged turtle. That'll show him.

We were on Highway 1 at this point and the course goes for miles straight up that highway and into that wind that ground us and ground us and challenged our wills. At nineteen miles I saw Forrest up ahead. When I drew near he said, "My leg is screwed up." My heart went out to him. I know what it is like to walk in with a damaged body when you just want to run.

At 20.5 the course turns off the highway and into a really nice neighborhood. There was a potty at mile twenty-one and I stopped. When I came out, my legs were screaming at me. I began to walk for the first time and guess what happened then. Yeah, the fat lady, I mean fat man passed me and I was so beaten down I didn't  even care. I shuffled and walked until I finally crossed the line in 5:42 (14:58). Forrest walked in later at 6:07. He was not happy. He did not want to talk. I understood.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Training Week 1/8 - 1/14

Since I gave blood Monday, I did no exercise at all. The last time I donated the red stuff, I ran that very day. My pace was two minutes per mile off its normal, so I decided to wait at least one day this time. When I ran Tuesday, I could tell the difference. My legs felt fresh, but I was breathing harder and deeper than I normally do at an easy tempo. At DSU I swan 7,750 yards, my longest of the year. The blood giving did not seem to impact me as much in the water, but I could tell a mild difference.

Wednesday I ran an easy 2.28 and lifted weights. I was shooting for a PR in the bench press, but on my set of 150, I knew I was in trouble. I got up 161 but failed at 167. Blood? I think. Although it should not affect the body as much doing anaerobic work as it does doing aerobic exercise, I took more time between sets because I was worried about recovery with less hemoglobin to pay back the oxygen debt.

Thursday was another leisurely 2.06 miles and another trip to DSU where I swam 6,250 yards. Friday I went to Jackson with Penny and did nothing physical since Forrest and I were to run a marathon the next day.

Saturday, my boy and I did the Mississippi River Marathon. I ran poorly, partly no doubt due to donating blood a mere five days before. Still, I got a good workout and I'm glad we did it. I'll write a separate post on the marathon later. 

For the week, I

ran 30.49 miles,
swam 12,795 meters,
lifted weights two times, and
walked 3.75 miles.

Not great, but not bad. Since I was injured for running at this time last year, I am now 161.15 miles ahead of last year's shuffling. I hope this will help me when it comes Viking Half Marathon time. I am still behind on the swimming by 5,630 meters. I made up some of the gap. I think I can get the rest of it this week.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Thursday Swim

Thursday, I did a little run, visited the grandchildren, and made it to DSU. I swam 2,350 before we, Ricky and me, started the practice. Cagri announced first 8 and then 6 X 400 to be swum 1-3 X 2. The first 400 was to be 75/25 (easy/hard). The second 400 was to be 50/50, and the third was our choice. All of that two times through. My plan at the start was to lap Ricky enough that we could start his sixth together with me on my seventh. I did it and on the last two I actually did 450. Then I finished up with small paddles and 1,000 straight. The practice looks like this.

2,350 42:42, 1:48
400 75/25 6:22
400 50/50 6:18; 1:34
400 all hard 6:09
400 75/25 6:25; 1:36
400 50/50 6:20; 1:34
450 all hard 7:20
450 all hard 7:19
1,000 small paddles, 18:02; 1:47
total: 6,250 yards = 5,712 meters.

It was a nice swim and I hate to admit it, but I tapped out with at least thirty minutes left on the clock. I had had enough. Those 400s hit me pretty hard. After I climbed up on deck, I got to chatting with Danielle. I can't remember her last name, but she is from South Africa, a former DSU swimmer, and was very interested in the Chicot Challenge. She says she will do some swimming with me at the Challenge. Hot dog! That will be a huge help. I don't know if Randy is coming this year or not, and I was feeling a little down about things, but the conversation with her gave me a boost I needed. It's all going to work out, the sponsorships, the training, the crew. Thank you, Lord. 

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Stupid is the New Smart

Yes, you read that right. Stupid is the new smart. 

I've been convinced of this for a long time. The evidence is everywhere. We are awash in it. Despite all my efforts to block it out, I can't get away from it. I've already written about "high-pointing" footballs and other forensics from the football field. Another one from that worl was unavoidable during the buildup to and aftermath of the Super Bowl.

Let me first say that I don't have an opinion on Cam Newton. A few years back, I came to the liberating conclusion that I don't have to have a view on every topic, and I don't have to judge every public or private person. I don't have to like or dislike a person or convince myself that I know him or her because I have seen her on television. But this latest one really hit the stupid button so hard that I can't not respond (yes, I know). Here it is:

We don't like Cam Newton because he is black.


We don't like Cam Newton because he is black, but we watch the National Football League. Listen to it again. We don't like Cam Newton because he is black, but we watch the National Football League. Do you need it again? We don't like Cam Newton because he is black, but we watch the NFL.

What am I missing?

Cam Newton is not the only one saying this. Other broadcasters announce it because they are cool and want to be on the right side. Paul Finebaum is one. To be fair, he didn't say it in so many words. Well, he did. According to Finebaum, it is like one prominent person running for president who is against a lot of things. "There are a couple of reasons they don't like Cam, and we know what those reasons are." I don't have any trouble interpreting that. I'm just the guy who wanted to grow up and have his own hoop-net fishing business, but I know enough English language and American culture to read that loud and clear.

OK. Maybe I chopped the charge off. Let's state it in its more full form. We don't like Cam Newton because he is a black quarterback, but we watch the NFL. Really? Why would anyone care? Listen, I have lived with rednecks my entire life. No one cares what color Cam Newton is and no one cares what position he plays. I know this. You can talk about rednecks and think you know what they think, but I live with them.

OK. Maybe I chopped it off again. We don't like Cam Newton because he his black and we never saw anything like him, but we watch the NFL. Is that full enough? We watch sports but we are afraid of athletic greatness? Really? That is why no one watches LeBron James play basketball. That is why Micheal Jordan retired from professional basketball in obscurity. We don't like athletic greatness. It intimidates us. It frightens us. It threatens us.

The one thing in all this that baffles me most is why people do this to themselves. I saw one Facebook posting likening the Bronco's victory in the Super Bowl to the Confederates winning the Civil War. Why would a person do this to himself? Society did not force that stupidity on anyone. Rednecks did not force that stupidity on anyone. No one forced that stupidity on anyone. One can only choose to do that to himself, to be so warped to think he knows what other groups are thinking and feeling. 

I could say more. I could talk about charges of photoshoping, conspiracies, and other nonsense that I see everyday. The people who make these ridiculous claims seem to think themselves very bright, much brighter than the rest of us. 

That's because stupid is the new smart.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Tuesday at DSU

Before I left town, I looked at last year's training diary and saw that on the same Tuesday a year ago I swam 7,200 yards. Dude, will I ever catch up? I also noticed something else. On that night, I finished the practice with a straight 3,000 yarder. What caught my eye was my average pace - 1:40. My longer swims this year have been around 1:46. I had thought I was doing pretty well, but after checking the diary, I realized that I not only was behind in distance for the year but fitness level also. That's why you write things down so you can go back and look and compare. Those longer swims are done at my all-day pace, but the slower one this year is an unmistakable sign that I really am behind. Those six seconds per 100 is no doubt the result of that -200,000 meters at the end of 2015.

I shuffled 2.1 miles before driving to Cleveland. I gave blood Monday and could tell it when I ran. My legs were fresh, but I was breathing more deeply and harder than normal for the same pace. I saw and hugged my grandchildren, Smu, and my duaghter and then was in the pool the earliest this year stroking away at 6:02. I did 2,700 before we started the practice. It was only Ricky and me and we started with 8 X 50 @ 1:15 progressive 1-4. Then we did 5 X 200 with a floating 50 on the first four and the last 200 was all hard. I slipped in a 150 easy yards while Ricky finished his 200s and then I just started swimming to finish the night. I went for 3,100 straight, my longest of the year, but my pace was 1:48. 


Put neatly on paper, the practice looks like this.

2,700 47:52; 1:46
8 X 50 progressive @ 1:15
200 3:02; 1:31
200 3:07; 1:33
200 3:08; 1:34
200 3:03; 1:31
100 easy
200 2:53; 1:26
50 easy
8 X 50 progressive, 1-4 @ 1:00; 5-8 @ 1:15
3,100 55:59; 1:48
total: 7,750 yards = 7,083 meters. 

Although I started the night thinking there was no way to make up any distance on last year, I did in fact make up a whole 500 meters. I'll catch up, and not only that, but by the grace of God I will even get ahead.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Luvie's Latest Report

Fat boy has been pretty tense about things lately, but after we sat down and looked at the  numbers, he settled down a little and perked up. I'll fill in the gaps later. First, let's look at what he did last week.

Monday he only ran 1.41 because the 17 miler from the Saturday before left him washed out. He lifted weights at Plate City and that session looked like this:

15 X 95
10 X 115
7 X 135
4 X 150
1 X 160
1 X 160.5
1 X 166
4 X 150 
4 X 150
4 X 145
5 X 140

This moved his peak strength up one pound and also slid it another week closer to the Challenge.

Tuesday he ran 2.92 miles and went to DSU and swam 6,352 meters. He wrote a post about that one so I won't say any more about that.

Wednesday he ran 3.05 and did some upper body weightlifting.

Thursday it was 3.12 miles of shuffling and back to DSU for 5,895 meters.

Friday he made his first three-time appearance of the year at DSU and did 5,392 meters worth of swimming and 2.11 miles of jogging before going home. 

Saturday he ran 8.02 miles in multi-pace fashion and did a little bit of weightlifting.

For the week, he

ran 20.63
walked 4.08
lifted weights 3 X and
swam 17,639 meters.

When we compared this to last year, he began to relax a little. Just a little. This year he is 130.66 miles ahead on his running. He is one pound over on his bench press and that strength is two weeks closer to his key event. Concerning swimming, he has swim 51,259 meters, but that leaves him 7,362 behind last year. He actually made up a little of his shortfall. When we looked back at last year's training diary and saw that he missed three straight swims in February due to weather cancellations, we feel certain that we can not only make up the short fall but get ahead. We need to be ahead.

This is Luvie, and I wrote and approved of this report.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

First Friday Swim

Finally, I made it to the pool on a Friday. After checking my old training diary, I found out that I went to DSU on Friday the same day last year. I am attempting to swim a lot more this year than last in part because my Chicot Challenge is longer. But it seems that no matter how hard I try, I can't get ahead. I started the day a bit over 9,000 meters behind the same time last year, and 2015 was over 200,000 meters under 2014. How do you spell "worried"?

I slipped into the natatorium a little early and was a bit nervous since I hadn't been there on Friday in ten months, and I saw no lifeguards on duty. Then I saw Don Smith in the locker room. He's a nice guy who used to swim with our group. He works for the university and does most of his swimming at noon. He said he talked to Dan'l who said it was OK to go ahead and start. Great, now I was comfortable.

I swam

2,600 45:33; 1:44 (This was my longest straight swim of the year)
12 X 100 @ 2:00 averaging 1:25/1:26 (20 X 100 @ 2:00 used to be my favorite set. It is good for speed and endurance)
700 medium paddles 11:07; 1:35 r 1:00
700 small paddles 11:42; 1:40 r 1:00
700 swim 12:46; 1:49
total: 5,900 yards = 5,392 meters.

After the swim, I did a little 2.1 mile run. I ran there because I knew once I got home, everything would be over.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Thursday Swim

I am in class and as we often do, we are writing. It's Thursday morning, Friday for us, and I'm about as happy as a dead pig in the sunshine. I get to run this afternoon, take a nap, and swim tonight, but right now I have the need to write and thanks be to God, my job affords me that opportunity.

Now it is 10:00 pm. I just arrived home from DSU where I knocked out another big swim. I opened up with a little over 2,000 and then Cagri had us do 50s alternating with longer swims. It went like this:

2,150 38:19; 1:46
6 X 50 @ 1:30 decline 1-3 (1:34 best)
800 small paddles 11:37
50 easy
6 X 50 @ 1:30 decline 1-3 (1:35 best)
600 pull 9:31; 1:34
50 easy
6 X 50 @ 1:30 decline 1-3 (1:36 best)
End of Masters
400 6:24
1,500 27:21; 1:49
total: 6,450 = 5,895 meters.

At the end of Masters, Cagri told me to keep the pattern up until I ran out of yards. I did the 400 at a pretty stiff pace, but when I finished I didn't have the drive to do the 50s alone so I just started swimming. 

This makes two good swims for the week. If I can get one tomorrow, it will be a cracker jack block of training.

If only I Could Count

I was so pissed off when I got home. I wrote the practice down and used the calculator on my phone to prove to myself once more that I can't count. Now I know I should not have daydreamed all those years in grade school when my mind wondered from one adventure to another. Tow plus tow really is important. Oh . . . that's two plus tow. I mean two plus two.

It absolutely amazes me that in the pool I can count and count and count and when I get home and use the machine that can count I am almost always 100 yards/meters short. Why not 150? Why not being over for a change? No, it's always 100 short.

That's not the only disappointment of the day. We have had a little warming trend of late and I had hoped to get to the fish. Alas, it was not to be. Life happened and a trip to the fish farm got knocked out.

Well, I did get to swim, and I got a good one in Tuesday night at DSU. Despite the fact that I took my truck to the shop (yes, again) and ran home and packed and ran to Mom's and called my sister and picked her up and went to get my truck, I was able to start stroking at 6:05:34. I was 2,000 in when Ricky started warming up and after a few more laps, I noticed that Coach was not on deck. I stopped after 2,400 and we, Ricky, Mark, Duke, and me, decided to go ahead and start with some 50s. "He's going to make us do them anyway." So we started 8 X 50 decline 1-4 @ 1:15. The practice looked like this.

2,400 warm up  42:46; 1:46
8 X 50 decline 1-4 @ 1:15
800 25 fast/25 not fast  12:52; 1:36
100 easy
8 X 100 small paddles breathing 5,7 by 25s r :20
150 easy
1,000 (He said 800 or choice) pull with paddles  16:15
End of Masters
1,300  24:24; 1:52
total: 6,950 yards (I thought I had 7,050 until I got home and used the calculator).

Not bad. I feel better. Now if I can only do this again Thursday and Friday.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

The Best Things in Life Are Free to a Good Home

The best things in life are free.

To a good home.
Jeff loving on the kitty the day we caught him.

I know a couple who researched dogs for months and then paid big bucks for what they were sure would be the perfect puppy. That's the meanest little leg-biting s.o.b. I ever knew. Lori Brown writes about a friend who could not pay rent but did pay $600 for a new dog. My wife and I have never paid for an animal, never had a pet who wasn't "Free to a good home." As a matter of fact, some weren't even "Free to a good home" but were homeless, picked up off the street. Literally. Recently, I wrote about one of them, Luvie. Let me tell you about another, the one we call Baby Kitty.

He became a member of the Hodge June 30, 2014 (See "New Kitty" 7/1/14). Since I wrote already about how we came upon him, I will be brief in reviewing that part. We heard him crying under our house one Saturday morning. I crawled under there and looked for him a long time and found nothing. We heard him outside in our yard a week later and rushed out and made a diligent search only once more to be frustrated in our efforts. A day later we came home, and I saw a tiny tabby bail off our front porch and scoot under the house. To make a short story long, we caught him in a live trap the next day.

Luvie, our indoor cat, at first hissed at him like he was a large, dangerous snake or something. So did Bubbie, our outdoor cat. It wasn't too long, however, before Luvie and the new cat became the best of friends. They nap together. Eat together. Groom one another, and rip and run through the house together. 

My wife wanted to call the little rascal Tiger. That's not a bad name because he looks like a Tiger I had when I was a little boy. I wanted to call him Tuffie, however, because he was/is a tremendous fighter. Luvie was about ten times his size, but the kitty gave him a handful in every scrap. We even thought about naming him Raymond because everybody loves him; Luvie, Jeff, Penny, me. Since we didn't agree on what to call him, we called him "that baby kitty" until he eventually he became Baby Kitty. Things have a way of working out.

His origin remains a mystery eighteen months later. We never saw another cat hanging around or slinking off in the night, another cat who might have been his mother. We never saw or heard other kittens. We looked. Do cats ever have just one kitty? We finally concluded that God gave us the little squirt. Yes, he grew up but not not very much up. He's a little cat with a big personality.
Baby Kitty is all growed up.

As my wife has said so many times, "He has his own personality." Of course he does; they all do. But he is such a little thing with so many idiosyncrasies. For one, he is vocal. More than any cat we ever had, he likes to talk to you. You can walk into a room and he may let out a huge "MEEOOWW." When he does that, he wants something. Usually attention. He will yell out, stand, and then reach out with his right paw, like he's trying to touch you. But he does not want to be picked up or petted about the head. He's funny like that. He wants you to draw close so he can sniff your face. Yes, you read that right. He has a thing about sniffing your face. Then he likes you to talk back, to call him pretty and poke his side while his tail goes straight in the air and he walks in circles. He likes his love this way and no other cat we've had did. 

Another one of his unique traits is his hunting instincts. All cats have them, of course, but this little fellow leaves no movement unchallenged. If a shadow crosses the room from a reflection coming through the window, he goes with it. This has caused some damage to the house because he will follow the shadow up a wall, onto furniture, in and through lamp shades.
Baby Kitty's handiwork

One of the most distinctive things he does, however, is open cabinets. He can and does open every cabinet in the house. How does he know? They latch tight, and close tighter. But somehow he gets them open and how he does it is a mystery to us.almost as big as his origin. He even breaks into one room to open the cabinets there. We have one bathroom with a gap of maybe three inches under the bottom of the door. For some reason, my wife has sought to banish Baby Kitty from that room. Luvie is too fat to crawl under. But Baby Kitty squeezed himself under the door until my wife put a round, foam, noodle under the bottom of the door in an attempt to keep him out. It didn't work. He pulls and snatches and digs until he opens a space of an inch or two and then in Houdini fashion he scoots under. Once inside he goes for the cabinets, opens them, and pull the contents out onto the floor and leaves them for a surprise for us. My wife gets really worked up over this one. Sometimes I tell her to come look, if I find it first. At other times she discovers the vandalism on her own. I hear her yell. I come running. She fumes. I laugh. She says its not funny. I laugh more. I catch her trying not to laugh. We can't stay mad at him. How does he do it? Why does he do it?

For whatever reason, God chose to bless our lives by putting that little turd into it. There is not a day that goes by that we don't laugh or fume or become exasperated at him and his actions. One thing is for sure: life is not dull with Baby Kitty in the house.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Luvie's Post on 1/25 - 1/31

I hit some pretty good numbers, but I wanted more, especially in the water. Day by day, it looked like this:

Monday - I ran 3.2 miles and lifted weights for the upper body. I tied last year's record for the bench press at 165. My bench session was

    15 X 95
    10 X 115
    7 X 135
    4 X 146
    2 X 157
    1 X 162.5
    1 X 165
    4 X 145
    4 X 145
    4 X 140

For me, that's a pretty good bench session. Last year, I peaked the week before this one and never exceeded 165. I hope to go up in weight over the next several weeks and bring my peak strength closer to my goal event, the Chicot Challenge. I don't know how much higher I can go or how much higher I should try to go. The lifting helps strengthen my shoulders but at the same time carries the risk of injuring them. In the past, as my swimming volume rose, my lifting by necessity had to decrease. This year, I want to bring that peak strength as close as possible to my big swim.

Tuesday I ran 3.3 and went to Delta State where I swam 5,800 yards. Since I already wrote about that, I will leave off the sets.

Wednesday I ran 3.84 miles, but got lazy and did not lift weights. I teach Film as Literature on Wednesday evening and I opted to spend more time prepping for class. I love that course and so do my students.

Thursday I ran 3.23 miles and swam 6,400 yards. I ran my numbers after I got home and found that for the year 2016, despite the fact that I am scratching and clawing for ever yard, I am 9,007 meters behind this same time in 2015. That might not bother me so much if I had not swum over 200,000 fewer meters in 2015 than 2016. That's a lot of swimming. Less.

Friday, I was disappointed that I could not go to DSU because of a swim meet there. Instead I took a short run (2.14) and did a long upper body weight workout.  

Saturday I took Jeff to the Yazoo River Trail and we covered 1.62 miles. Then at home, I did some more weightlifting before running to Hillbilly Heaven. I did not run straight in but took some detours to up the distance a bit. I hit the bottom of the Big Hill at 13.91 miles and did the hill mile in 12:02. After that it was survival shuffle until I tapped out at 17.65 miles in 3:37:19 for a 12:18 average.  

For the week, I

ran - 33.54 miles,
lifted weights - three times,
swam 11,150 meters, and
walked 5.37 miles.

Unfortunately I am 9,007 meters swimming behind this same time last year, and looking back at last year's numbers, I am likely to fall further behind this upcoming week.