Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Cry Baby

One more time, listen to me whine.

I am near the breaking point. Last week, I lost another 10,000+ meters of training. Last night at DSU, I showed up in time to get into the water early. Those days are over. For a while, the swim teams that practice before us were absent. They were back last night. Two teams with the pool set up for long course means only eight lanes. Each lane was filled some with four swimmers. No early entry for me.

With all the blows I've been taking that was just one more. Sometimes it's not the hardest one that takes you down but the accumulation. I feel like I've already been knocked out, and I'm trying to get back to me feet. When I did get in at 6:30, I knew right away that I had lost fitness. I swam a slow 800 for a warm up and then had my butt handed to me by Mark Blackwood on a set of 4 X 150s with paddles. We did another set of 150s and I performed a bit better. After that we did 8 X 50, decline 1-4. Then practice was over. I swam 600 easy and then 100 with paddles and was done, exhausted, finished. After only 3,100 meters, I was used up. I had no more.

I drove home in tears and contemplated cancelling the Chicot Challenge. Besides the 10,000 meters lost three weeks ago and again last week, I buried a dog that afternoon, lost $200.00 in cash, and rode by Twin Rivers to find that the pool, which the director told four weeks ago would be up in three, was still empty. I also had to raid my fishing bait money that I was saving to pay for the pontoon boat for the Challenge in order to buy gas to get to DSU. Yes, my bank account is empty. Really empty. Furthermore, my and others efforts to secure sponsorship for the swim have gone without success. 

I began to talk to Jesus. The conversation went like this:

Me: I haven't always been this fragile have I?

Jesus: No.

Me: How did I get here?

Jesus: You've been walking alone.

Me: But I've asked others to pray for me. 

Jesus: Others.

Me: Can we walk together and You help me?

Jesus: I've been waiting on you.

Now for some more good news. I'm not yet throwing in the towel. I found my $200. The coffee tastes good this morning. Luvie was sweet. Luvie is always sweet. 

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Viking Half Marathon

I didn't drink any coffee. In its place I had one of those Five Hour Energy things. That way I received my caffeine without too much fluid. Last year I went over the rails and down the rocks to the river's edge to take a pee. I looked back up to the roadway only to see everyone who ran by looking down at me. I couldn't pee. I climbed back onto the road and ran to the Boulevard where I then jogged over the Tallahatchie Bridge where I could pee in peace. It must have cost me five minutes. The other twenty minutes improvement was pure running performance.

That's right. I ran the 2016 edition of the Viking Half Marathon twenty-five minutes faster than I did in 2015. That in spite of weighing the heaviest I have in three years. Mileage. It was all about mileage. This year I have run 217 miles more than at the same time last year. That makes a difference.

The weather was perfect. At forty-nine degrees when I left home walking towards the start, I knew I was overdressed by the time I made it to downtown Greenwood. Luckily, the race course goes right in front of our house, so when we went by, I tossed in a cap and two shirts. That made me both lighter and cooler.
Picture stolen from Rod's Racers.

My hopes for the day were to run under a 10:00 minute pace. Secretly I wished for a 9:30. My time in the Batesville Ten-Miler indicated that I should be able to do the 9:30, but nothing in my recent training performance indicated I was able to run that. But when the "Go" was given and the heard of runners went, I settled into an easy 10:00 minute pace than slowly but steadily went down. Happily for me, somewhere along the way I joined up with a guy named Will from Southhaven, a retired military man. We were about the same speed and ran together for most of the race, helping each other hold pace. He pulled away from me between miles eleven and twelve.

I manually lapped the Garmin at each mile. Below are the splits.

1 - 9:44
2 - 9:25
3 - 9:21
4 - 9:36
5 - 9:42
6 - 9:42
7 - 9:30
8 - 9:19
9 - 9:07
10 - 9:13
11 - 9:34
12 - 10:00
13 - 10:23
14 (.1) - 8:27

For me, it was a PR in 2:05:22. Next year I will be gunning for a sub 2:00, but for now I am very pleased with that performance. I was happy at the end, ate some good Larry's Fish House fish, and saw some old friends like Wilson Carroll. Once more, the Viking Half was a hit with locals and travelers as well. 

Later in the afternoon, I worked out at Plate City Gym where I focused on the bench press and the swim pull. Below are the numbers I hope to beat next year.

Bench Press
17 X 100
8 X 120
4 X 140
2 X 151
2 X 151
5 X 140
8 X 120 (drop set)

Swim Pull
50 X 26.5
25 X 31.5
15 X 34.5
12 X 36
10 X 37.5

I did other stuff too, but those two moves are the ones I am always anxious to track.

Chicot Verses 3

A bad week, a good week, and another bad week has me looking to the Scriptures. Psalm 5: 2-3 reads

Give ear to my words, O LORD,
Consider my groaning.
Heed the sound of my cry for 
help, my King and my God,
For to you I pray.
In the morning, O LORD, You
will hear my voice;
In the morning I will order my
prayer to You and eagerly

I am crying unto God for help, for weather, for water temperatures, for Twin Rivers to be pumped up. I ride by the local pool every day. They are working on it and preparing it for filling. It is being pressure washed and tiles are getting replaces. When it comes up, everything changes for the better.

Monday, March 28, 2016

3/21 - 3/27

Another disaster struck Greenwood, Mississippi last week. No, not more flooding. Not another unsolved crime. Not a murder or a kidnapping. Not even a fire. The disaster came back in the form of another bad week of Chicot training. 

I am fully aware that no one outside of me in Greenwood gives a hoot. Probably few people who read this blog care too much. Spring Break week was super, but it all came crashing down with the approach of Easter. That's right, Easter meant the pool was closed Friday. I get it. Easter meant the pool was closed Thursday night. I don't get it. The weather that was so warm has, well it's still been not too bad, but the night time temperatures have been outrageous. I drove to the pond twice last week and failed to get into the water once I got there. What I did do was 

run 28.67 miles,
lift weights three times,
swim 5,700 meters, and
walk 8.19 miles.

Another good running week. That was nice. Also, Saturday was the Viking Half Marathon, which I will write about in a separate post. But I need good swimming days and weeks and months. I have to get big yards this week or call the swim off. Prayers appreciated.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Raging Rant

It's Friday morning, and I am fit to be tied. I'm thinking about shooting a road sign today. Maybe two. 

I had so much rather write about how well things are going like I did in Monday's post when I gladly reported my Spring Break training. But it has happened some more. "It" being more pool closings, more practice cancellations, and more wimping out on my part.

"It has never been like this," I told my wife while I paced the floor in a state of near rage. I had just received word that Thursday's practice was cancelled due to Easter. What!?! Where is the nearest road sign I can shoot? Are you kidding me? Cancel Thursday night practice because Sunday is Easter? That make perfect sense, like when they closed the pool on Thursday a couple of weeks ago because the next week was Spring Break. Where is that road sign?

Either the world has gone crazy or I have, no other explanation works. I keep telling myself to remain calm, it will work out, it always does. But even if it works out, why does it have to be this way? Isn't the training stress enough. Why must I have to fight this other battle? And why does my sister have to go out of town every Friday and ruin my only real training day? the only day I have the remotest possibility of training for hours?

Maybe I should stay off Facebook where I see the reports from swimmers around the world who get into the water every day and swim their hearts' desire. WeSwimecauseWeCan, Did you swim today?, #swimstory, and Big Rick's Swim Team are just a few of the swimming sites I am a member of where I get to have my nose rubbed into the fact that everyone else can swim whenever they want, but me? No, not me, that would be too easy.

I drove out to the pond Thursday, sat in my truck, and tried to muster the courage up to get into the water. No big deal, you think. You try it. I know you can do it, Shawn C. Turner. Most likely you would complain about how hot the water is. But with the wind howling at thirty miles per hour, the water white capping like an angry ocean, and the water temp threatening to punish my body, I couldn't do it. That makes two times this week I drove to the pond and did not swim. I need a road sign.

If you are a praying person, please pray for me. I'm driving out to the pond again today, and I am packing a revolver. I will either swim or shoot something. If I get arrested, go my bail. If you have some water, let me know. Time is running out.

Rant over. Thanks for listening.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Tuesday Night Practice

Tuesday night at DSU was pretty good. I drove my truck over there for the first time in several weeks. Despite the fact that my auto is eleven years old, has over 200,000 miles on it, and is now wrecked in the front, I love that vehicle and had rather drive it than anything else. I took a short run then headed to Skene where I stopped in at my daughter's to see Smu and the grand kids. Then I skipped over to the pool to get started early.
The grand duke of Masters swimming; Duke Morgan.

I slipped in at 6:06 and swam 2,200 straight before practice began. Cagri had us swim 8 X 150 with :20 rest. The reps all had a floating 50 meaning it moved from first to third and we repeated the pattern before finishing with two reps that had breathing patterns. After the 150s, I swam an easy 100 and then we did 8 X 50 decline 1-4. That was the end of Masters. I swam 1,200 straight and then 600 with small paddles for a total of 5,700 meters. The practice looks like this:

8 X 150 as 50 fast floating through the reps 1-3. Repeat and then two with breathing patterns.
100 easy
8 X 50 @ 1:30 decline 1-4
600 small paddles
total - 5,700 meters.

I feel pretty good about where I am in my training. I have a long way to go, but I am on track and going that way.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

The Start Back after Break

What a difference a job makes. Last week, being off work, I was able to train like a mad man and nap like a bum. What a combo. The result was a rare 30/30 week. Now back on the job, I am doing what I can. Monday, I decided not to even try to swim. The ponds are there, but we had a cold last couple of days and the night temp hit near 32. I just did not want to deal with cold water. Instead, I took a short run of 3.32 miles and did a major weightlifting session at Plate City Gym. I benched 

16 X 100
10 X 120
5 X 140
3 X 145
1 X 150
3 X 145
5 X 140
10 X 120

That is the latest I have done 150 before one of my Challenges. I have anecdotal evidence that I swim better when my bench is going well. It is difficult to keep the weightlifting at a high level when the swimming volume goes through the roof, but I did it last week and started out right this one.

Saturday is the Viking Half Marathon, and I hope to run relatively well. I am beginning a pretty radical taper now. I will run a bit shorter every day and I should be nice and fresh by race time and still get a bit of volume in. A year ago, I took Thursday and Friday totally off. This time I plan to run every day. I have never been a streaker, but I now have 25 straight days of running. 

Last year during this week, I swam almost 15,000 meters. I hope to get in three swims and top that number by just a bit. If I can do that and hit two good weight sessions, it will be a good training cycle. 

Tonight I plan to hit the DSU pool for every stroke I can get in. Before I get there, however, I will go by and see the grands and their animals. That's always nice. If I can get over 5,000 on each swim this week, I will make up more meters of my deficit. By the grace of God, I'm getting there. Yehaa!

Monday, March 21, 2016

Spring Break Week

I got on track during our week out of school and trained like Rocky Balboa on steroids. Since I already wrote about much of the training, I'll spare you most of the details. I posted eight times from Monday through Sunday of my vacation, a record for me. Not that I was trying to set a record for writing, it was just that I had something to say and time to say it. I also had time to train, and time to nap. A good combination.

I had time to set a record for swimming, but I tried to exercise a little judgment and hold back some. I left the DSU pool after several practices with time on the clock, but each occasion I did leave early I felt like I had had enough. Friday, for instance, I swam only 4,400 at the pool, but that brought me to the most I ever swam in one week this early in the year.

For the week, I

lifted weights once
walked 7.97 and 
ran 30.20 miles, and 
swam 30,062 meters.

I have long considered at 20/20 week (20,000 meters swimming and 20 miles running) to be the gold standard for my personal training. Those numbers will get in in shape to do the final blitz needed for all-day swimming. Spring Break week was one of my few ever (or is it the only one?) 30/30 weeks. All the tension and frustration that had been building for several weeks is now gone. I hope to keep it at bay.

The big training cycle helped me erase the deficit from the week before that. My running continues to outpace last year's, and I caught back up on the bench press. Yehaa! 

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Chicot Verses 2

I ran across another passage that spoke to me. This one addresses my fear of large reptiles that eat almost anything and have enormous appetites. With the recent flooding, many animals have been moved out of their normal home ranges. Already I have seen evidence of this on Facebook from Arkansas no less. A huge alligator was removed by Arkansas Game and Fish officers from a roadside ditch. High water, no doubt, sent him exploring as it does other animals and fish.

I really don't worry too much about the alligators, but I do think about them from time to time. Before he swam the Amazon River, Martin Strel spent time in a cave several times per week meditating. He was convinced that would make him at one with nature and keep the caiman and piranha and anaconda from devouring him. I don't have a cave and probably wouldn't use it if I did. I rather trust God and this passage. Job 5:22b - 23, in the New American Standard Bible, reads:

And you will not be afraid of
wild beasts.
For you will be in league with the 
  stones of the field,
And the beast of the field will
  be at peace with you.

No mention of a cave here.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Friday of Spring Break

Friday, I made my fifth trip of the week to Delta State. Or was it six? I swam seven times, all at the university over five days. So that is five or six or seven trips, depending on how you define a trip. I decided against a straight swim Friday and thought it prudent to work on some sets. Intuitive. I warmed up with 1,600 meters and then did decided on some 100s. I did 4 X 100 @ 2:00 shooting for low 1:40s. I am not in shape for that kind of swimming yet and was breathing hard after three and very hard after four. Then it was an easy 400 with small paddles. I did this two time through and then added 4 X 50 @ 1:15 with medium paddles. I have not swum with medium paddles this year or even very much last year. In January of 2015, I tweeked a shoulder a bit by overdoing a paddle set. I've been a little gun shy since. In easy to read format, the practice looks like this:

4 X 100 @ 2:00
400 small paddles 
4 X 100 @ 2:00
400 small paddles
4 X 50 @ 1:15 medium paddles
1,000 easy
total - 4,400 meters.

I went home and shuffled an easy 3.12. 

Later, Penny and I went out to eat at Lo's Fish and Steaks. I ordered the Sweet and Sour Chicken and loved every bite. When we left, we took a drive through the country since it was still daylight. We rode up the hill and down skating Rink Road. Penny had not been on that road in years and was a bit awed by the beauty of the countryside and the homes that dot the landscape. When I did my Great Noxapater Journey Run, it took this route to reduce time on Highway 82. If you read the blog, this is where I picked up the dogs. We noticed when we got to the house where the dogs live that the owners had added a fence. Good for them.

It was a good day, and I enjoyed spending time with my wife. She is a good woman and rarely complains about me being gone training all the time. God bless her.


I woke up Saturday morning feeling no need, no desire to swim. Heck, I didn't even feel the need to get out of bed until around 8:00 am. Pretty late for me. It's not that I was tired of swimming, just that I had had enough. My body had had enough and my mind/psyche/emotions were filled to the brim. Like the Psalmist, "My cup runneth over."

That doesn't happen very often. Just a week ago I was crying the blues over pool closings, school meetings, and unforeseen calamities that kept knocking out needed training sessions. I can't complain now, not this week. Delightful is how I would describe it. Satisfying. Stress relieving.

Swimming does that for me, puts me into a state of happiness, wholeness, well-being. Shalom is what the Bible calls it, that state where all is well with self, with the world, and with God. Running used to get me there and sometimes it still does. The Great Noxapater Journey Run left me like that. "What's next?" people asked over and over after I finally successfully completed my epic run. "Rest," was all I ever answered. And I meant it.

I am struggling with how running fits into my life now. It seems to be becoming more of a contest with running itself and my body. Attempting to fight the slowing affects of age, my whole running program is currently an impossible campaign to turn back the hands of time, or at least put the brakes on the ageing process. I enjoy about one out of every five runs. Enjoyment used to be the main motivation.

Don't get me wrong. I still have some fun running. Look at my Facebook albums from this past fall and early winter. All those Buddy Bones runs were about having a good time, exploring this little area of the world God has placed me in, and testing my limits without being compared to anyone else. But the tension between that and racing is a constant. Sometimes I think I should just give up racing and run only for fun. I'll work it out.

My dad did that. He quit racing like a smoker stops smoking: cold turkey, all at once, never to be repeated. And he was much better runner than I ever was, could be, or will be. When he was 55 years old, he ran a 38:53 10K. He ran until he was 81 and stopped then only because arthritis in his right foot was too painful to continue. He took up walking and going to the gym, and he walked the day he died and he literally passed away with his running shoes on. I'll probably go the same way.   

I was really slow at realizing my dad's struggle with ageing. I guess truth be told, I am in the early stages of that struggle myself. Running has changed and continues to change. But I have swimming, a sport I am still improving in, experiencing new adventures, having new dreams. What happens when the water becomes a struggle? I don't have an answer for that. Maybe I can't have an answer for that. Some bridges, maybe all of them, can't be crossed until you get there. 

The Bible refers to itself as a lamp. A lamp differs from a light in that it gives the ability to see for only a few feet at a time. Walking, living, when you can only see a few feet at a time is not easy but it is how God designed things for us. The Bible has a term for the also. It's called living by faith. Living by faith is a lot better than living without it. And dying in faith is a lot better than dying out of it. I hope to go like that, in faith, with my running shoes on and a pair of swimming goggle nearby. I hope.

Friday, March 18, 2016

More Electricity

Things have been going well this week in the training department. Not a
The DSU pool set up for long course.
moment too soon, I might add. Wednesday I took it a bit easy since I hit it so hard Tuesday. All I did was go the DSU, swim, and take a short run.

At the pool I did a straight swim and stopped at 4,500 meters even though I had some time left on the clock and a little energy left in my body. One thing I don't need is an injury and I thought, better safe than sorry. I did the swim in 1:30:33 (2:00), not too bad for this early in the ramp up. I shuffled an easy 2.03 miles after the swim, then went home and got ready to go to Mom's. I stay with her on Wednesday nights.

Thursday presented another possibility for a double or even triple swim. I decided to scale back the running a bit and only swim twice. The first practice was at noon in the DSU pool. Once more, I did a straight swim this time of 5,100 meters in 1:41:23. I had some juice left at the end but slowed and stopped short of my goal of 1:45 because I felt a slight twinge in my left pectoral. A couple of years ago, I swam too far too early and developed a pectoral injury that caused me some serious problems. That is why I've had my foot on the brake just a little this week. I am trying to swim as much as I dare without getting to crazy and hurting myself.

After the swim, I drove to my daughter's, but the gravel road west of her house, where I was wanting to run, was still under water so I motored back to Bear Pen Park to do my running there. It started raining and turned cool and since my legs felt so dead, I only shuffled 3.26 miles. Then I went back to Andrea's to see Smu, hug our grandchildren, and take a nap.
Coach Cagri ready to bark some orders.

It sure is nice to go the DSU's Aquatic Center and not be tensed up over time or obsessed with getting every stroke possible. With 5,100 already in the bank, I was relaxed. I even lingered long enough to take a couple of photographs. I warmed up with 1,100 and then the practice started. The first set was 4 X 200 with paddles breathing 3, 5, 5, 3 by 50s, rest :30. Next was 8 X 50 @ 1:30 decline 1-4. On the second four I swam :51, :50, :46, :44. After that we did 4 X 100, rest :30, building by 25s. For a cool down I did an easy 400 for a total of 3,100 meters. I like to be able to review a practice at a glance, so below is the short hand account.

4 X 200 br 3, 5, 5, 3 r :30
8 X 50 @ 1:30, dec 1-4 (2nd = :51, :50, :46, :44)
4 X 100 build by 25s, r :30
400 easy
total = 3,100 LCMs.

Not a bad day with a total of 8,100 meters. My straight swims this week have progressed as below:

1:11 (short course)
1:16 (short course)
1:30 (long course)
1:41 (long course)

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Another Ride to Centerville

The Yazoo River is only seven tenths of a mile from our house and when we drove up onto West Claiborne Sunday morning on our way to church, we noticed the water was touching the base of the levee. It only gets this high once every three or four years. Was that an alligator down there or a log? I wondered as we drove by the out-of-bank river towards Highway 82.

"There's Frog," Penny said just before we turned onto the highway. Frog is a nice guy, but he is two cards short of a full deck. He rides a bicycle, the old fashioned, no speed, big tire kind, every where he goes. Now, probably in his mid sixties, he was dressed in a blue business suit, presumably on his way to church.

We motored under rain-threatening skies over the dis-repaired road on our way to Humphrey's Highway where four miles later we turned south and continued our leisurely drive towards the hills and all the delights we experience on this joyful weekly journey.

Five miles after that, we turned east onto a nondescript gravel road. This is where the drive gets really good because it is here we begin to see the signs of life God created and cares for. Often we see rabbits, deer, crow, squirrels, snakes, buzzards, and a dog or two. Always we see fields of crops, a horse or three in a pasture, the hills up ahead, trees and trees and trees. Bonnie Borkowski, one of my former church members, once told me, "God was having a good day when he created trees." Indeed He was.

On that gravel road, we first drive by an ancient white frame church that has two really neat-looking old bell towers that lean like that tower in Italy. Then we round a curve where the road is sandy and we pass a cane patch that is in the movie, The Reivers. Next we see the old Ben McCarty house and then our vet, Andy Johnson's, home. A little past that and we come to the sheep pasture, always a delight to us. On this day, a dog was working three of the babies while a man stood in the background watching. Training? I reckon.

Now the trees consume us and our path is a small slit in a vast ocean of woods. This Sunday, we saw no other animals. The drive is always peaceful, relaxing. We arrived at the church which sits across the road from a cemetery on a hill. The church building, like its people, is beautiful in its simplicity. We are here. We climb out of the truck and hear the Blue jays and Mockingbirds singing their praises to God. He is good. He is good all the time.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Shocking Day

I had a snocking day. 

I mean a shocking day.

I needed one. 

They, exercise physiologists, athletes, and coaches, say you need to shock your body from time to time. Not with electricity, but with movement, with volume, with new workouts. I did that Tuesday.

You know I have been whining a bit about all the monkey wrenches that keep getting tossed into the machine of my Chicot training. This week has been good so far and Tuesday was great.

Maybe the numbers aren't that big. Maybe they will be much larger later. They need to be. But Tuesday, after first hanging out with Luvie, drinking coffee, and blogging, I went out for a 5.2 mile run and a .19 mile walk. That was workout number one.

Workout number two happened when I drove to DSU for the lunch opening. As soon as I walked in I was shocked (see what I did there?) because the pool was still short course. Anyway, I swam

4,300 in 1:16:24 (1:46)
4 X 25 @ :45
600 small paddles
total - 5,000 yards = 4,570 meters.

Workout number three was at the pond, my current favorite. I now know that water is called Lee Watts #30. I did not swim, however, because the water was crazy choppy, and I knew workout four was coming so I just walked 3.41 miles.

Workout number four? You guessed it. I went back to DSU for Masters and was shocked (see what I did there?) when I walked in to a long course pool. Finally. And yes, I could tell the difference. Long course, 50 meters as opposed to short course, 25 yards, is better for endurance training. Meters are almost ten percent longer than yards. Not only that, but you double the distance, and add the ten percent before you flip and get a muscle break. That does NOT equal a ten percent increase in strokes for the same number of yards/meters. It equals about a thirty percent increase in stokes! That's right. If you don't believe it, get in the pool and count them yourself. You see, when the pool is set up for long course, you loose half the flip turns and all that gliding you do off the wall. My personal stroke count for 50 yards is 36; for 50 meters it is 51. And the yards are broken with a flip turn and glide in the middle. Now, which one of those do you think is better training for open water swimming where there are no walls at all? Yeah, it ain't socket rience.

I swam

1,200 in 23:25 (2:03)
8 X 50 @ 1:30
400 7:39 (1:54)
6 X 50 @ 1:30
300 in 5:14 (1:44)
4 X 50 @ 1:30
200 easy
total - 3,000 meters.

I did not do any extra. I was pretty much done. It was a good day, the kind that makes me relax a bit. I went home and watched a little of Moonshiners and then fell asleep and slept like I was drugged or something. 

I also got to talk to Danielle for the first time in a few weeks. I gave her some info on the swim, and she is still on board to do some support swimming for me. Thank you Lord.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Spring, Sprang, Sprung

It is spring here in Mississippi. Praise God. Spring sprang last week and Spring Break has sprung out this week. I traveled to DSU to see how much swimming I could get in. With a projected high of 80 degrees and lots of sun, the pond water most likely hit the mid 60s. But with all the rain we have had, it could be colder. Since I needed big distance, and I knew the pond was a gamble as to how long I could stay in the water, I went the safe route and opted for the pool.

To my surprise, to my shock, the pool was still set up for short course. Dude, I have been swimming there for ten years and it has never been short course this late in the year. What the heck? I really do need a long course pool, but short course is better than no course. I climbed in and started a long warm up that turned into 4,100 straight. There were several other guys there, and I was swimming my easy all-day pace. But when I would get close to lapping one of these guys, I would pour it one and swim hard while I caught, passed, and put distance between me and them. I could feel the burn in my muscles. It was nice, mostly an aerobic swim with some lactic acid thrown in here and there. 

After the long swim at the start, I did some 50s because you can't get away from your coaches. Even when I am swimming on my own, the influence of Petya and Cagri is never far away. Petya liked to combine endurance and strength, something I usually do. Cagri likes 50s and multi-paced swimming. As counter intuitive as it is, slowing down and speeding up within one set often seems more difficult than swimming the whole thing hard. Swimming all out when I lapped the other swimmers is a Cagri-like move. The 50s I did after the huge first set is another Cagri-like move. I did 10 X 50 @ 1:00. After the 4,100, that wasn't an easy set, but it made the fast twitch fibers work. I'm not sure I have any fast twitch fibers, but if I do they had to work on that set.

Next was a 500 moderate swim with small paddles. This was the influence of Petya: strength and endurance together. When I finished the paddle set, I did another set of 50s (Cagri), only this time I did only six 50s. I finished the practice with another 500 paddle swim (Petya).

The sunshine and the warmth outside were delicious when I burst out the doors of the natatorium after changing clothes. My legs were still feeling my Saturday run so I only shuffled an easy 3.58 miles about the residential areas near the university. Then I drove home and did a little yard work.

It was a nice first day of Spring Break, the kind I needed. It was not the first day of Spring Break, but the first day off that I would have been working. I wrote in my blog, swam pretty long, and ran some. For Tuesday? I have been rolling that over in my mind like a food addict rolls food on his tongue. Several possibilities tease me like waiting for a good movie. I am thinking about a double swim or maybe even a triple. I'll know what I'm going to do after I have done it. 

3/7 - 3/13

Last week was typical of what has been happening to me lately. Pool closings and other rage-causing events have knocked me another 10,000 meters behind last year's training pace. What else is new?

I do continue to get ahead on last year's running. I am now 206.99 miles over what I had run at this same time a year ago. That's worth something, but the Chicot Challenge is a swimming event not a running one.

Monday, I ran 4.52 miles and did my first open water swim of the year. Although it was a wetsuit affair and only 1.1 miles long, it was nevertheless and milestone as the first swim outdoors always is.

Tuesday, I ran 2.65 miles and made it to DSU for 3,900 yards (3,564 meters). I had to leave after Masters because the pool closed at 7:15. How does the whole world get together to conspire against me.?

Wednesday, I ran 3.7, and Thursday I ran 5.66. Rain prevented me from lifting weights and the DSU pool was closed Thursday. !!!! What can I do?

Friday, I buried an old friend. He was not a friend who was old, but someone I had known for thirty-seven years. It was my pleasure and privilege to preach his funeral. I performed the marriage ceremony for him and his wife and preached four previous funerals for that family. I didn't expect to preach another one. Edwin Moorman was only 51, gone too soon. After the funeral, after the graveside, at one of the niece's house, I heard one of his granddaughters, a little tot of about four say, "I miss my ____." I forget the word she used, Pops? That made me cry. Grandparents are special. I never knew either one of my granddads and I was always felt the absence, was always aware of the fact that I didn't have a grandfather, and was always looking for a surrogate. I remember when I was just a preschooler telling one of my uncles that he could be my granddad. My mom's mother died when I was twelve, so for years I just had the one grandmom.

Saturday, I ran 13.34 miles as a steady state run for the first eleven miles and then fell off to a shuffle. Later in the day I did my only real weightlifting session.

For the week, I  

ran 34.46
walked 2.42
lifted weights once, and
swam 5,333 meters.

For the year, I am 206.99 miles over in running this same time in 2015, but I am behind by 13,103 meters swimming. If you factor in my shortfalls at the end of 2015, I am behind by 213,000 meters. That't right, 213,000 meters. I can still make it, but I need some breaks to go my way.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Chicot Verses 1

I am starting a new series in the blog today called "Chicot Verses." These are Bible passages that I stumbled across in my devotional reading and made application to the Chicot Challenge and my preparation for it. You who regularly read this blog know I am prone to whine a bit this time of year. Try as I may, I can't seem to help myself. The tension always builds, my confidence always falters, and my nerves always fray. You may think I am a drama queen, but trust me, I'm not. I just want to train and do my swim. But every year I feel like I am reliving the The Book of Job with God letting the enemy cause pain in my body, the weather to work against me, and pool time to get cancelled over and over. All of this makes me mental. I just want to train and do my swim.

In an effort to have more faith and less fear, I started collecting verses that speak to me in this annual struggle. My plan is to post one per week and to make a few comments on the verse or verse, whichever the case may be. The first passage is Psalm 20 verses four and five (New American Standard Version):

     May he grant you your heart's
     And fulfill all you counsel!
     We will sing joy over your
     And in the name of our God we
          we will set up our banners.
     May the LORD fulfill all your

Bethany and Evan Thielman with my (their) banner.
Right now my chief desire is selfishly to be able to train well and complete the next big swim. I fell 10,000 meters off pace this week. Sigh. But I am on Spring Break for the next ten days and by the grace of God I can get some real training in. If you are a praying person, please lift me up to God. I need help.    

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Run out Early

I left in plenty of time. I hoped to get in the pool at DSU as early as possible. Thursday, I already know, is out. I even rode to the aquatic center before going to my daughter's to check if the pool had been set up for long course. If it had, that would mean fewer lanes and probably no chance of getting in early. It was still set up for short course.

At Andrea's I fell asleep on her couch so I was a bit late getting back to DSU and into the water. I was stroking by 6:15, fifteen minutes later than I hoped. Eventually Ricky got in and swam a few lengths and stopped. I only had 1,900 when he pulled up. I also stopped and Cagri said, "DAC is closing the pool at 7:15. Do what you need to do to get as many yards as you can." I put on my small paddles and swam 2,000 straight. That was all I could get done before I had to leave. 

Try as I may, I keep falling behind last year. This week one year ago, I swam almost 15,000 meters. I am probably looking at 5,000 this week. I need prayer and some breaks. I need prayer and some breaks. I need prayer and some breaks. Did I mention that I need prayer and some breaks?

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

First OW Swim of 2016

I drove out to the pond Monday afternoon convinced the water temps would be in the mid-60s. According to David, whom I texted before I left, the water was in fact around 60. According to Mike, a new guy I met out at my favorite pond, the water was more like 58. At any rate, it was a bit cool for me. I managed only 1.1 miles before I sissied out due to tired shoulders, a cold body, and an absence of fire in the belly.

Dude, I know I am a major disappointment to any real cold-water swimmers. But when I first started, the pain to the bones of my face and skull was almost too much. I knew if I could hang on, it would pass. I hung on. But my rotator cuffs were screaming at me from the get-go, and I was shocked at how difficult swimming was. After training exclusively in a short course pool for several months now, and not enough of that, having no wall proved, as it has in the past, to be a surprising challenge. I've been here before, though, and I know this too shall pass. Soon, DSU will be long course, which will help a lot. Then Twin Rivers will be pumped up. Then the ponds will be warm enough to stay in as long as my shoulders can take. I will get there. I think.

After the short swim, I took a run on the levees. Last Monday I did a VO2 Max workout so that's what I did this time also. I found myself much more fit (or well) than a week ago and I did 4.52 miles with six pickups that averaged a little under 8:00 per mile. That was a big stretch last week. I pulled it off much better this week. My blood donation is now far enough in the past that it should impact me little if at all. And getting over my illness has me feeling almost normal. With the Viking Half coming up, maybe I can turn in a good performance.

Things look tough this week as far as time to train goes. Tuesday I get to swim at DSU and the pool may be long course. I have a meeting Wednesday and a funeral Thursday. The weather looks threatening for Friday and Saturday. Maybe it will turn out sunny and warm. I hope. I keep getting knocked to the canvas over and over. I know they say just keep getting up. But if you get knocked down enough, you lose even if you get back up.

Monday, March 7, 2016

Weekly Report for 2/29 - 3/6

I did all I could do to swim all I could last week, but I only got in the water two times. I made some gains on last year's totals, but failed to erase my deficit because I had to leave after practice Thursday and the pool was closed Friday. Saturday would have been a good time to go to the pond, but Penny and I made a trip to Jackson to pick up my bicycle which had been there for two weeks. For the past seven days, I

swam - 8,637 meters,
ran 27.24 miles,
lifted weights three times, and
walked 6.91 miles. 

I started something new. In Jackson while Penny shopped, I walked. I was able to get in over four and a half miles in the parking lot. I don't know how many miles she walked indoors, but from now on I will redeem a little time by doing this. 

Another thing I started is a streak. I have never been a streaker, but my running has taken such a dive lately that I am trying different things to get it back on track. At the end of last week, I had run ten days in a row. I think it is helping, but that could just be me getting well and feeling better. I tried to do a test run Monday and I could not even make a quarter of a mile at an eight minute pace. Ouch!! I'll try again today. I hope to stretch the streak on and on and on. In the past, I always took at least one day per week off. In my desperation, however, I decided to do a short run on Sundays instead of being totally off. I still do a lot a resting on the Lord's Day, and with hours and hours in bed, I probably do need some activity.

I am ahead in my run totals over last year by some 190 miles, due to a stress fracture last winter. I am still behind in my swimming totals, and I lost the bench press lead I had. However, I can get the bench press lead back. As far as the swimming goes, I am getting in every stroke I can. The prospects for this week don't look too promising. With DSU on Spring Break, there will be little swimming there. I hope to go to the pond, but life is happening, and I am not sure how much of that I can do. A friend died, and I am preaching his funeral. This always occupies my time and thoughts. Not only that, but we allegedly have an English Department meeting this week. I'm not sure I can work it in.

Friday, March 4, 2016

Thursday's Disappointment

I keep getting knocked to the ground in my attempt to ramp up the training for this year's Chicot Challenge. After looking at my old training diary, I realized I could probably close the gap if I was determined enough. Well, you know what happened Tuesday. Last year, we were snowed out on Thursday, so there is where I will make up the difference, I thought. But I was thwarted once more as there were no lifeguards on duty so the pool closed last night right after Masters. Dang. And to make matters worse, it is closed today. Last year, I swam on Friday. What's the deal? Jake says it's due to Spring Break starting, but that didn't close the pool last year. 


We will get to practice Tuesday night next week, but with no lifeguards means no extra swimming. And then I really was floored when Cagri said we will probably cancel Thursday. I can't catch a break.

I did get in early last night and swam 2,450 before practice started. The main set was three times through 8 X 75. The first time the first 25 was all out. The second block we swam the second 25 all out. And, you guessed it, on the third group of 75s, we swam the third 25 all out. That my not sound tough, but it was. We started @ 1:15, but quickly had to change the interval to 1:30. For my  later viewing pleasure, the whole thing looked like this:

2,450 44:13 (1:47)
8 X 50 @ 1:15 decline 1-4
8 X 75 @ 1:30 first 25 fast
2:00 rest
8 X 75 @ 1:30 second 25 fast
rest 2:00
8 X 75 @ 1:30 third 25 fast
200 small paddles
total - 4,450 yards = 4,067 meters.

Now for today? I don't know. I could try the pond. It is supposed to hit 61 after lunch. I suspect the water temp is close to 60. It has been warm enough lately, but we have had lots of rain, which always cools the water. Also, the night temps have been a bit chilly. I just know I'm awful disappointed not to be able to swim today. I can run and lift weights, but that only takes you so far as a swimmer. To swim, one must swim. To swim all day, one must do some serious swimming.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

I Swam Anyway

Despite all odds, I made it to DSU. I was on my way early after doing a treadmill run of 2.5 miles, when disaster struck. On Highway 82 just before you come to Walmart, traffic stopped abruptly. It was raining and one lane was closed due to road construction. I hit the back of the vehicle in front of me. 

Dull city. 

Besides waiting forever, I had to pay a wrecker to deposit my truck behind my house. For several years, I have only carried liability insurance on it. It's payed for, and I'm just trying to make ends meet. Now I'm in a real pickle. 

To make a short story long, I walked to Mom's and borrowed her car to go to DSU. Because of delays, I didn't get to see the grandchildren and I didn't get in the water until 6:28. I swam

1,300 23:26 (1:47)
16 X 50 @ 1:30 declining by fours
  1-4 :42
  5-8 :39
  9-12 :38
  13-16 :36/:37
50 easy
4 X 100 r :20 as breathing 3, 5, 7 and all out by 25s
50 easy
4 X 100 r :20 50 easy/50 hard
1,500 small paddles 25:44 (1:42)
10 X 50 @ 1:00
total: 5,000 yards = 4,570 meters.