Monday, May 30, 2016

5/23 - 5/29

The week before event week is always the beginning of the taper but with one long swim. This year, I made the long swim my longest of the year, and since I couldn't do it ten days out, I did it eleven days out. I went to the pond and swam and ran for 9.03 in the water and 6.06 on land. The week went like this.

Monday - 1,700 meters at Twin Rivers (first swim with John this year) and 4.06 miles of shuffling

Tuesday - 9.03 miles of swimming and 6.06 miles of running

Wednesday - I preached Gene's funeral and later ran 3.31 miles.

Thursday - 2,200 meters at Twin Rivers and 11.5 miles of running

Friday - Penny and I went to Jackson. While Penny was shopping, I ran 2.4 miles.

Saturday - I ran 5.26 miles and did some lower body weight lifting.

Sunday - I usually don't do anything but a walk or a light run on Sunday, but since I was out of the water two straight days, I swam 1.71 miles at the pond (2,751 meters) and shuffled  2.12 miles.


ran - 34.71
swam - 21,180
walked - 4.09 
lifted weights one time (lower body).

This was a pretty decent week, a drop back from the 36,000 meters of swimming I had done the previous two weeks, but with that one big swim. Now, to pray up some good weather. Right now, the forecast is not looking good. If you read this and believe in prayer, give me and the crew some prayer support. We need an absence of lightning (I don't mind if it rains) and some light wind or no wind at all.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Eight Days Out

Eight days.

The weather forecast changes a couple of times per day, but I have been praying, imploring everyone I know to pray, and I'm looking at that sucker three times an hour. A few minutes ago the Weather Channel app on my phone said 20% chance of rain Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Yesterday it showed a 60% chance of thundershowers on June 4th. I like 20% better.

True story. In 1998, to reward myself for graduating from seminary, I took a trip up the Tallahatchie River in my homemade wooden boat. The weather forecast was a 20% chance of rain that night. I made my way upstream to Arkabutla Reservoir, as far north as one can navigate in that river system. It rained that night. Not one, not two, not four, not six, not eight, but it rained ten inches. Twenty percent chance of rain and it rained ten inches. I was out there. Be that as it may, 20% is still a pretty good forecast.

I haven't checked with Justin in a couple of weeks, but last time I asked, the lake was still muddy. I suppose that is more of an aesthetic issue than anything else. The lake has always been so pristine and clear that being in it was a pleasure. But there is no reason I can't swim muddy water. I swim in catfish ponds.

The crew is set, the boat is full, and the nerves started a week ago for me. Already I wonder if I am taking it too easy. I swam nine miles just this past Tuesday, but I missed Wednesday, swam only a little Thursday, and will likely not be in the water again until Monday.

I have sent out some emails trying to gain publicity for the swim. I reached out to SuperTalk Radio. If I could get some coverage from them, I feel like the fundraising would go through the roof. I called them last year, emailed them this year, and have heard nothing in return. The Greenwood Commonwealth say they want to cover it, but I am pretty much outdone with them. Don't get me started. The DFM even has someone working on publicity, but I can see no results. When Samuel Dickinson was with the DFM, he worked tirelessly to promote the event with little success that I could see. He sent out dozens of press releases. The Commonwealth even skipped a write up that year. Dude, I'm trying to raise money for a charity.

Oh well, all I can do is all I can do. Tom Flanagan told me that a few years back when I was fretting about the swim. I'm always fretting about the swim. I think about that simple truth from time to time. Thanks, Tom.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Dragon Down

I slew the dragon, but now I have to do it again. You always have to kill the dragon twice. Tuesday I did my last monster workout before Chicot Challenge V. From now until Chicot time, it will all be downhill. Until I face the beast on June 4th.

I arrived at the pond around 9:30 a.m. and was swimming by 10:00. Despite the fact that I wanted a big swim, I was determined to go only as far as my body didn't protest too much. I am at that fearful stage. Better to get into the water June 4th under trained rather than injured even in the mildest way. I started with five straight laps then got out and did my two-mile run. 

After the run, I put on a base layer top to protect myself from the sun and swam three laps with it on. I could tell right away that the drag was slowing me down. I even almost stopped after the first lap to take it off but kept going. The watch later confirmed what I felt in the water. My pace for those three laps were a dismal 37+ per mile. But it didn't mater. It was all about the work and the drag made the work even better.

To make a short story long, I swam and ran for some pretty good totals: 9.03 in the water and 6.06 on land. All of this eleven days before the big event should be perfect. I have now done what I can to prepare. All that remains is tapering, light swimming, and tying up all the loose ends. If you are a praying person, please pray for good weather on swim day. Besides an absence of storms, we need light winds. No wind would even be better.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Taper Jitters and Bad Dreams

Wondering if I'm in shape.

Praying about the weather.

Checking the Weather Channel app on my phone daily. 

Trying to figure how to run twenty miles that week and take off Friday, Saturday, Sunday.

Fretting over the last order of T-shirts.

Fuming over no returned calls from people I reached out to in an attempt to publicize the swim. What else is new?

Wondering what surprises await me, us on that fateful day.

If you recognize this, you have either been on this journey with me before or you also have trained and planned for an endurance event over a long period of time and know the frustrations and terrors a taper and the impending big day brings. I am there. Almost. I have one more long training swim planned and then it is full on taper. But all the other stuff has hit full-bloom like a big patch of algae in a fish pond. I am covered up in nerves, anxiety, and well, I don't know, I'm just covered up.

I'm also having weird dreams. I don't know if that means anything or not. I guess truth be told, I always have weird dreams. But it seems they have reached a new level of lunacy lately. To make a short story long, I have two types of dreams. One is the amorphous type where everything is unclear and people don't look like themselves. Settings are wrong but I know what the setting is supposed to be and who the people are supposed to be even though they look nothing like they should. The other kind I have is full of detail and color and people look exactly like they do in my waking hours. It's the latter type I have had the last three nights running.

These dreams not only have been full of detail, but in the last two, I saw people who have passed on already. In both cases they were younger than they were when they died, but not young. WK Goss was about sixty in my dream. He was mid-eighties at his departure. Carrie Coats, likewise was a good twenty years younger when I ate a meal with her the other night than she was when I preached her funeral. What does this mean? Does it mean anything? And often these dreams contain a level of violence that leaves me shocked, stunned, and saddened. Why does my mind go there?

Last night a dark-skinned man in a light suit-- so light it was almost white but not quite-- spoke with a foreign accent and behaved in ways that made it obvious he was not socialized in America. His suit had very small brown up an down lines in it, maybe one for every six square inches and they were only a thread or two wide. The man who beat him up in church wore a dark green suit. His offense, the white-suited man's, was to shoo away with his hand and voice a little girl who was moving from one side of a pew to the other like children are apt to do. "Away, girl, away from here and back to your people," the man said to the shock of everyone around.

Not exactly cool, but nothing calling for strokes. But strokes is what he received. 

After the shooing, one woman's jaw almost hit the floor. Then a tall (maybe 6'3') man who must have been 85 came around the pews in front of the raised platform and headed toward the pew where the offense had occurred. A woman, much shorter and younger, had a hand on his chest and wasn't trying so much to stop him it seemed as to hold him up and prevent him from falling. The old man, I presumed the girl;s great-grandfather, walked on an aluminum walking stick. His face was a mixture of horror and rage. He made his way down the pew and pushed the white-suited man down. A lot of ugliness ensued and nobody did anything. I remember thinking, "Somebody ought to stop this," but I was one of the ones who just watched in horror. 

These dreams always leave me a bit unsettled. What would I do if this happened in real life? Like everyone else there, I did not want to get involved and I certainly didn't want to escalate the situation.

Enough of dreaming and back to reality. The Chicot Challenge is now ten days out. I did my last monster workout yesterday. I'll write about it soon.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Boy Howdy, I Done Good

The week of 5/16 - 5/22 was the largest training block of my life, just edging out the record I set one week before that. The totals are:

swim - 36,666
run - 36.87
walk - 1.53
weights - upper body once.

The breakdown looks like this:

Monday - swam 4,000 meters and ran 4.05 miles
Tuesday - swam 8.25 miles at the pond (13,274) and ran 6.0
Wednesday - swam 3,100 and ran 5.12
Thursday - swan 8.51 at the pond (13,692) and ran 2.0
Friday - swam 2,600 and ran 11.22
Saturday - ran 6.32
Sunday - lifted weights upper body and ran 2.16
   BP - 15 X 100
          10 X 120
            4 X 142
            4 X 142

That weight lifting moved my last session one day closer to the Challenge and upped the weights by two pounds over last year and a rep each on the last two sets. My running totals are now 284 miles over 2015. How much will that help on the big day? I don't know, but the fact that I have swum 27,037 meters more this year should make a real difference. The two eight milers in one week is something I have never done before and that also should aide my fitness. I plan now to do one more big pond swim, hopefully tomorrow, and then it is taper time.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Oh Happy Day. . .

When I went to the pond Thursday, the plan was to just test drive my body in the water and see what happened. If things felt well, I would swim long; if not, I would tap out early. Well, things felt well. Remember, I swam the pool Monday. Tuesday I did my year-high 8.25 miles of stroking and six miles of running. Wednesday I did an easy pool swim. How would my body perform Thursday? Better than hoped for.

They were seining when I showed up Tuesday morning. Thursday, however, all was quiet on the western front. I don't know a lot about the ins-and-outs of the fish business, but David told me there are still some fish left in Lee Watts 30. But nothing like it was. I started swimming this pond last spring, and then I couldn't even tell it had fish in it. This spring, however, I knew. Not that it was a problem, but I figured my days of swimming here were numbered in the months. The fact that my pond now has very few fish made wading in a renewed joy. It's nice to know that getting finned is almost an impossibility. And the fewer the fish, the higher the water quality. And now it is like the lease on my all-time favorite pond has been renewed. Yeehaa. 

I began with a four-lap effort and everything felt loose. Sometimes I am very tight after a long swim. After getting out of the water, I became cold so I took a two-mile run to rewarm my body. Imagine that, getting cold on May 19th.
After warming up and taking nutrition, I climbed back into the water for three laps. To make a short story long, I did not run anymore, but swam a total of 8.51 miles. That's a first, two eight-milers in one week. And Thursday I was stronger than Tuesday. That has always amazed me about swimming, how I can improve fitness in days. Maybe not speed, but I can build endurance pretty quickly.

So how do I feel now? Better, much better. My confidence is coming up and now I hope to get in one more long swim next week and then it will be taper time.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

How to Get Along with Your Cat

They don't care.

They are aloof.

They are not jealous. 

They only care about themselves.

You've heard these? People believe this is the gospel concerning cats, but I beg to differ. Cats APPEAR aloof, and APPEAR not to care, and APPEAR not to be jealous. But the truth is, all of that is an act. If you establish a relationship with a cat-- and that takes time and effort-- they care a lot. Cats have a need to be cool, but the truth is, they are jealous and they are extremely sensitive.

Recently Luvie has been aloof. He been refusing to come inside from the back porch a lot. When he does come in, he lounges around in the living room instead of getting on the bed with me as he almost always does. He doesn't follow me into the bathroom and hang out while I bathe and shave. I got to pondering, what I had done?

I finally came up with an idea. Baby Kitty is very vocal and it's impossible not to respond to his meows with some high pitched baby talk. Yes, cats and dogs really do like a high pitched voice. They respond positively to it. So I concluded that maybe I am sweet talking Baby Kitty too much and then dropping my pitch with Luvie. It's not that I care more about Baby Kitty, he just starts talking to you and I can't help but respond. Maybe Luvie got his feelings hurt.

To test my hypothesis, I began to make a conscious effort to speak to Luvie in the same tone I speak to Baby Kitty. 


In nothing flat, Luvie started coming back inside, following me around the house, and hanging out with me in the bathroom and on the bed. I know what you are thinking. That really wasn't the reason. Oh, but you err. Let me say again, that although cats at times appear aloof, they are always cognizant of your behavior and they are extremely sensitive, way more sensitive than dogs. When I swim at DSU and drive home late at night, I always stop on Money Road to urinate so I will not come into the house, have Luvie greet me only to walk away to the bathroom leaving him standing there alone. That's the kind of thing that offends a cat enormously, walking away.

The bottom line: always talk sweet to your kitty. Always respond positively when you feline approaches you. Never leave a room a cat has followed you into with touching him and speaking to him. Never talk to one animal with a higher pitch than you do to your number one kitty squeeze. Be aware of their sensitivity and your cat will reward you with an affection that has to be experienced to be believed.

Chicot Verses 9

My reason for choosing to reflect on this passage, Proverbs 6:6-11, should be obvious enough. For many years, I had a recurring dream. The incidentals of the dream changed, but the elements were always the same. In short, there was a special service scheduled at my church. Car loads of people began to drive up, and then I realized I had not studied and had no message. Once, the situation was exacerbated by me having muddy shoes. A sense of dread and sorrow always came over me. Why had I not prepared? How did I get caught off base?

I am lounging around the house at this very moment trying to get my mind right to go to the pond and knock out another big swim. I am tired. It is way cool outdoors and the thought of wading into water right now is not pleasant. June 4th cometh. At times like this, I turn to God's Word, to past experience, to anything that can light a fire under my hinder parts. Lord help me.

6 Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise:
Which having no guide, overseer, or ruler,

8 Provideth her meat in the summer, and gathereth her food in the harvest.

9 How long wilt thou sleep, O sluggard? when wilt thou arise out of thy sleep?

10 Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep:

11 So shall thy poverty come as one that travelleth, and thy want as an armed man. (KJV)

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Big Day, OK

Well, I did it Tuesday. I finally had the big training day at the pond that I have been seeking all spring. Am I confident and satisfied now? No. I want at least one more long swim. But Tuesday's pond trip and activities was the kind of stuff fitness is made of.

I arrived earlier than I had all year, and was shooting a short video when I noticed something. A tractor on one side of the pond. A tractor on the other side. A boat. Huh? They were seining my pond. What?!?

That left me in a tizzy. I didn't want to get in on the fish side of that, and the other side didn't leave much room to swim. What to do? I pondered while I finished my coffee and decided to get in one of the E ponds (they all have names), but as I was stepping in I noticed a shad. The farm puts shad in some of the ponds to feed the larger fish during the cooler months when they won't eat the commercial fish food. Then I noticed the aerators going. The shad meant big fish; the aerators meant a lot of big fish. That's a hazardous combination for a swimmer. 

So I packed up my stuff, drove to the pond on the north side of Lee Watts 30 (# 30 is my current favorite swimming hole), and set up everything one more time. There is a row of three ponds that are all large and were rebuilt and pumped up last spring. The one next door to # 30 was low, but I remembered they had dug these pond out pretty deep so I got in and started swimming. Immediately I was stuck hard in the buttocks by a fish. How does one get struck in the buttocks by a fish while swimming the front crawl? Athleticism. On the fish's part. Not long after, I got whacked in the side of the head. That made me nervous. I swam to the far end of the pond, rounded the western side, and headed back east. About halfway back up the pond, it happened. 

Imagine, if you can, a giant oven big enough for King Kong to cook on with a huge pot on the eye filled with popcorn kernels the size of basketballs. Imagine lying across the kernels when they begin to pop. That's what it felt like when suddenly the water beneath me erupted with fish bursting everywhere under and into me. I was bombarded on the legs, stomach, groin, chest, arms. I feared being struck in the face and maybe losing a tooth, but somehow I avoided that. To make a short story long, I swam as fast as possible back to the truck and climbed out. No more in there, I thought, and repacked my truck. 

I drove back to Lee Watts 30 and saw that the seining crew had made it about halfway up the pond. I had no idea how long it would take. Then, while I drove along slowly, watching, thinking, I saw a farm truck headed my way. It was David and he stopped and chatted with me. I recounted to him what had just happened next door. He told me he had seined the outside pond, the one on the other side of the once I had just swum, yesterday. Bingo I drove over there and set up again. I swam one lap in what is either Lee Watts 33 or Lee Watts 28. It was OK, no fish, no mishaps. But then I learned that Dorothy was right all along: "There's no place like home." Lee Watts 30 is home. I feel as comfortable in that pond as I do my own bathtub.

I packed up again and drove over to-- you guessed it-- Lee Watts 30. The crew had the fish hemmed up on one end of the pond, the end where I always parked and waded in. So I drove to the other end, the west side, and parked there. This was a better set up anyway, I realized. I am out of the workers' way, and parked on grass with no need to walk barefoot across a gravel road to get to the water. I unpacked once more: unrolled my strip of outdoor carpet, set up my chair, and covered the tailgate with cooler, towels, swimming goggles and gear. With running shoes and socks waiting, it was now time to start in earnest. I began the process of swimming and running and swimming and running. To make a short story long, I swam 8.25 miles and ran six. My swim time was four hours and fifty minutes, a bit slow, and I shuffled for an hour and six minutes. That too was slow. But that was a six hour workout. Not bad for a man who will turn sixty in a couple of weeks.

Now back to where this post started. Where is my confidence? I suppose I never have been fully confident going into one of these swims. Certainly, however, I am more confident than I was. Last week, my long pond swim was 7.43 miles. I tapped out that day due to some niggles in one shoulder and soreness in a pectoral muscle. After 8.25 Tuesday, my body felt sound. That's a good sign. Ideally, the last big swim is exactly two weeks before the event. I am preaching a funeral this Saturday so that is out. I am preaching anther funeral in Memphis next Wednesday, ten days before D Day, the day I like a shorter but still long swim. Consequently the calendar is thrown off because of life. That's OK. With all of that in mind, maybe I can ride back out to the pond Thursday and just see what happens. I will listen to my body and if it lets me go long, I will go long. I'd be delighted with a nine or ten mile swim.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Peak Week Review: 36/36

Three weeks out is normally the peak training week for endurance athletes in terms of volume and intensity. In my experience, recovery is faster with swimming than running, so I extend the peak into Week Two. Usually I drop the volume slightly, but shoot for my longest swims of the macro-cycle during Week Two. That is my plan this year.

For Week Three, I busted out what I think is the biggest seven days of my life. I have run more miles in a week, I have swum more meters in a week, but I never run and swum more together. I have already written about several of the days. Monday, I reported on already. I ran 4.02 miles and did a straight swim at Twin Rivers for 9,100 meters. I don't remember now why I called that swim off, but I stopped at 3:14, short of the 4:00 hour threshold I am always anxious to cross.

Tuesday I hammered 7.21 miles on the road and swam 5,400 meters that contained some quality sets. Wednesday was the double dip day when I swam 4,038 meters in the pond practicing with Tristan and did another 2,000 meters at the pool, besides the 3.15 miles I ran. Thursday I wanted to cram in all the swimming I could, but the predicted rain with its attendant lightning came early forcing me out of the pool after a mere 2,600 meters. But Friday, that special day of the week, I had reserved for the fish farm.

I arrived at the pond Friday morning somewhere around 9:30, my earliest of the year. The plan was to swim and run and swim and run mostly all day. It took awhile to get my stuff set up. I dropped the truck's tailgate, rolled out my outdoor carpet beneath and behind it, and set up my chair. Then I placed two towels on the tailgate, set up my running shoes, and placed the soft cooler in the bed of the truck. For me, this is like being at the beach. I love it out on the fish farm. I have the best training set up in the world, and I have it all to myself.

At 10 am I waded into the cool water of Lee Watts 30 and started stroking away. I did three plus laps and then crawled out to meet my waiting running shoes. I shuffled an easy two miles once running the center road between two ponds that both had six aerators going, only the road separating the two groups of machines. The sound the aerators made and the slight scent of the fish water they put into the wind added an extra layer of ambiance to an already great environment. I love this place, I thought as I shuffled past.

To make a short story long, I swam and ran and swam and ran until I had swum 7.43 miles and run four. It wasn't the monster I had hoped for but a pretty solid day nonetheless. Date night with Penny meant I needed to get home and wash the fish slime off.

Saturday I took a long run of 11.02 miles with three half-marathon race pace intervals thrown in. Later in the day, I worked in the yard and lifted some weights. I looked up my lifting from last year and found that I am just a bit stronger now than then. Sunday, of course, is always a super easy day. Besides church and nap, I shuffled a slow and easy 2.02 miles.

For the week, I

ran 36.63 and walked 4.86 miles,
lifted weights once, and 
swam 36,092 meters.

I need two big swims for Week Two. One in the pool of over four hours and one in the pond of over eight miles. Anything else is a bonus. 

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Day Four: Swim Some More

On the fourth day of Christmas, I mean of my freedom, I did a 5.21 mile multi-paced run the in morning and then retired to the house to feed, rest, and ready myself for an afternoon swim. I thought John was going to make his debut for the year but not to be. He has some issues at home so was out again.

According to the Weather Channel app on my phone, there was a 100% chance of rain starting at 4:00 pm. Consequently, I jumped into the pool around 1:30 thinking I had two and a half hours. But it was not to be. I did a long warm up of 2,600 and had in mind some 100s on 2:00 to follow, but when I stopped I heard thunder. The sky to the west was growing dark. Then I saw a flash of lightning. I don't take chances with lightning. Swim done.

I was a bit disappointed that I didn't get a long swim done, but since Friday was coming up and the weather was supposed to be clear all day, I went home, rested, and began packing my stuff for a long one at the pond. As of Thursday, I had 24,138 meters swum in four days. I don't know it that is a personal record or not, but it has to be close. My hope now is for a monster swim Friday. I'll let you know.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Third Day: Double Dip

I woke up at home again but did not tarry long in bed as I had lots to do. I performed my roadwork early, 3,15 miles, and then began to make preparations for workout number two. Actually, I started preparations the day before by hooking up to the pontoon and backing it into the yard where I hope soon to begin the process of re-decking and other upgrades. If I can get this vessel seaworthy, then the Tenn-Tom dream can become a reality. I need my own boat and lots of help to pull off a swim there.

To make a short story long, I had to get things ready to take the kayak out for a swim/practice session with a new crew member, Tristan Wiggins. That meant getting the pontoon out of the way, pumping up a flat tire on the small trailer, getting the aluminum boat off it, and loading and strapping the kayak to the trailer. A lot of work. But I got it done, and then Tristan Wiggins and I went to the pond to practice. I had secured permission to swim McIntyre, but somehow the alligators took over my imagination again and I thought, Why be nervous my whole swim. Pond. Problem solved.

So we went to the pond. I swam 2.51 miles (4,038 meters), and we practiced feeding once. I think Tristan will be OK if I can get him to the lake on event day. He just applied for a life-guarding job at the Greenwood Country Club. I implored him over and over to check with his current boss and his potential new boss to get June 4th off. I fear he will have to work on that day. Oh well, I will just have to deal with whatever.

I went home and took a nap. Then I got up and packed my overnight bag, called Mom, stuffed something to eat in my face, and headed to the pool for workout three. I swam

300 kick with fins
300 kick with fins
total swim: 3,000 meters.

For the day, I swam 7,038 meters. Not bad. In three days, I sit at 21,538 for the week, a pretty good cycle in and of itself. But this is peak week and I need more, much more.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Second Day

I got to wake up at home on my second day off, drink more coffee, and hang out with the cats. Super. I went out for a 7.21 mile multi-paced run in the morning and my pickups were at just a tad under current 5K race pace. Last week, I did a similar run but felt much stronger this time around and got in a greater volume at my 5K goal race pace.

John has been out of pocket lately so I swam alone at Twin Rivers once more. Maybe that is a good thing because I have been left to my thoughts and my own devices for staying in the pool. I really never get bored swimming but it does take some patience when one starts out to swim several hours straight and no one is there with you. At the pool I swam

1,500 warm up in 31:19
8 X 100 @ 2:00
500 easy
1,600 countdown in 30:40
400 kick with fins
1,000 easy in 21:06
Total (not counting kick set) 5,400 meters.

After swimming, I hooked up to the pontoon and backed it into the yard. I hope to begin working on it soon and maybe I can use it next summer and save some money. I want to swim the Tenn-Tom and every time I go onto Google Maps, I wind up there lusting after that water. Penny and I rode over to Columbus one day last summer. She did not like it, and every time I bring it up she says I will get killed my an alligator there. But she only saw the lake at Columbus and not the channel, which looks like a great place to swim. To pull off a marathon swim there, however, I need my own boat and a lot of help. Logistically, it would be much more difficult than Chicot, but I don't want to wind up an old man in a nursing home wishing I had found a way to swim there. The Tenn-Tomm is at the top of my bucket list.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

First Day

Monday was my first day of freedom. Well, I call it that. Actually Saturday would have been since we finished the semester last Friday. But Monday was the first day that I did not have to go to work when I normally would have. It was nice. It was busy. It was nice and busy.

The day started at Mom's as Mondays usually do since I stay with her on Sunday nights. I was up early and then to Ollie's who comes on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. She never came out so I went home and ran an errand before going back to Mom's to get her up, get her fed, and administer her meds. The errand, by the way, was to make a trip to the post office and mail some funds to the Diabetes Foundation of Mississippi. I enjoy that and wish I had to do a lot more of it. The fundraising is going a little slow this year. At present I have raised $595. Maybe things will pick up.

Not only did I go to the post office, but I made a trip to Barry Brewer's Screen Printing to put in the next order of shirts, which primarily consists of crew shirts and a couple of special orders. The crew will work fourteen hours protecting and taking care of me and for their efforts they receive a free T-shirt. How can you get in on this? Inbox me on Facebook or post a reply to this post.

After Brewer's, it was home to take a run before lunch, four miles. Then I had to make a trip to the vets to pick up Jeff's meds. We could make a car payment for what that hound costs us. Only after all of that was I able to get to the pool where I swam 9,100 meters straight in a little over 3:14. Penny cooked hamburgers for supper, and I ate three then fell asleep watching TV.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Week Four Review

I survived Week Four. Now I come back for more.

By Week Four, I mean four full weeks before Chicot not counting Event Week. Why do I capitalize these weeks? I do that because in my mind, due to their importance, they are proper nouns. Week Four is always as big as I can make it, which is never huge on account of me finishing a school year. Week Three is peak week in terms of the science of exercise physiology and also in terms of my personal practice. For the upcoming six days, I plan to train like a maniac. But first let me offer this abbreviated review of Week  Four:

Monday I ran 4.01 miles and swam 3,400 meters at Twin Rivers. The practice was simple. I warmed up with 2,400 and then did my 1,000 countdown set.

Tuesday I swam 8,500 straight at the local pool. My time was a bit slow, averaging 2:07 per 100. I told myself it didn't matter, but it did bother me some and it reveals that my condition is far from where it needs to be. After the swim, I ran 7.05 miles with some multi-pacing.

Wednesday I only swam 2,100. After 1,300 as a warmup, I did 4 X 100 @ 2:00. I haven't done hard 100s on a short turn around in a long time which may be why my pace has been so slow. I found the 100s difficult and then cooled down with an easy 400. I added a 200 kick with fins but from now on, I am not counting kick sets in my total distance. I did the kicking because my legs have been feeling week and crampy in the water. Furthermore, I may have to use them at Chicot. They are in good running shape, but running is running and swimming is swimming.

Thursday I swan 3,300 as 1,400 warmup. 5 X 100 @ 2:00, 200 easy, and then 1,200 countdown. I could tell a big difference from yesterday on the 100s. I was faster and stronger, and it showed up on the 200 easy, which was under a 2:00 pace and then 1,200 countdown was done in 22:06. After the swim, I ran 5.01 with some multi-pacing.

Friday I swam 5,325 meters in the pond. Twin Rivers started their lifeguard training so I was banished. I need to swim the pond at least once per week anyway. After swimming, I ran the levee roads for 2.2 miles. That night, Penny and I went out to eat with John and Patsy at Lo's.

Saturday I ran 10.5 miles and did 3 X 1 mile inside the run at marathon goal pace (which is the same as my current half marathon pace). Post nap, I worked in the yard and lifted some weights. On the bench I did:
16 X 100
10 X 120
4 X 140
4 X 140
4 X 140

I am stronger closer to the swim than I have ever been. I don't know it that will help or not, but I like the old motto, "You never go wrong with strong."

Sunday I rested a lot, as usual, and took a short, easy 2.3 mile shuffle. For the week, I

ran 34.1 and walked 3.21 miles,
lifted weights once, and 
swam 22,625 meters. 

Saturday, May 7, 2016

A Few Thoughts

School is finally out, for a little while, and not a moment too soon. For the next couple of weeks, I will train like I'm trying to kill myself. That's what it takes. The goal this year is to swim 21 miles, the distance of an English Channel crossing. Those kinds of distances are not to be taken lightly. I've had a pretty good week, hitting a three-hour pool swim Monday, a couple of shorter but intense swims that seemed to help my subsequent swims. Friday I went to the pond and swam not as long as I wanted to or needed, but I Friday is date night with my wife and I had to work Friday morning. Thus, I swam as long as I thought I could and still be good company with my wife. 

Monday morning, however, I go wild. "Swimmer gone wild" is the theme for the next two training cycles, and then I start the taper. After that is event week. I'm both excited and nervous. The crew has changed a lot. I plan to try to practice with one of the new kayakers. Also, Danielle wants to get together for a swim. From what she told me, Lake Chicot is still muddy and that bothers her a bit. I have never seen the lake look anything but pristine. Maybe it will clear. 

My body feels sound. Last year, I fell twice and tweeked one of my shoulders. I have purposely avoided the Yazoo River Trail to avoid another such catastrophe. With each swim I feel a little more sound and a little more fit. I need to make some dig jumps in the upcoming fourteen days. It can happen. It will happen.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Thursday Morning Blues

I am sitting in my office waiting for a student to bring me a paper. Two papers. Why do I do it? All my colleagues are sleeping in, playing golf, or who knows what while I wait on a straggler. It always happens.

To make it worse, I vow at the beginning of each semester, "Not this time." I struggle hard enough with the huge paper crush that comes at the end of a school year. English teachers have it the worst. I takes time to wade through essay after essay and not become irate, mean, or despondent. I don't always succeed. On top of that, the school is always desperate to get the grades. They are due at 4:00 pm today. That's what they say. Actually, any moment now and an email will go out to anyone who has ever heard of MDCC. It will be a list of teachers who don't have their grades in.

I wonder out loud this time each spring as to why I care more than the students. I shouldn't, it seems to me, be more concerned than them about their grades, but apparently I am. It's not enough to vow I won't and promise myself and the students that Thursday of exam week I will be swimming or running or doing anything else besides trying to contact a couple of them and hoping maybe one or two show up with a paper. Always I sit here on Thursday morning like the Maytag repair man and place calls that students don't answer and send emails that they don't read until at last I can delay no longer. Do I give a W or I or an F? They all deserve an F, and I deserve to play. 

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Chicot Verses 8

As the time draws inexorably nearer, I find myself thinking, swimming, and praying more and more. I keep looking back at last year's training journal and comparing my progress now versus then. I am a little ahead of 2015 if you count from January until now. 

Lately, I find myself not only looking back at my old training journal but also at the Bible seeking encouragement. Look at the word "encouragement." Look at its parts: en (in) + courage. To encourage someone is to put courage inside them. Early spring is always stressful for me as I attempt to ramp up my training but have to fight against forces that are more powerful than me. My courage literally falters at times and fear begins to creep in. The kind of distances I swim in the Chicot Challenge are not to be trifled with. I respect any marathon or ultra-marathon be in on water or land as should anyone. In the Bible I find food for my soul, encouragement in my spiritual walk, and even courage for my swimming efforts. Today's verse speaks directly to me and what I am attempting to accomplish:

Delight yourself in the LORD:
And He will give you the desires
of your heart. 
(Psalm 37:4)

I think no commentary is needed.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Week Five Training

Week Five and come and gone. It was a pretty good one, one that gives hope for the future. Monday I swam 6,800 meters. Tuesday I knocked off 7,200. Wednesday I slowed to 4,400, but jumped back up to 7,600 Thursday. Unfortunately, Thursday ended my swimming for the week. Friday was full of lightning and Saturday we went to Kosciusko. I could have swum Saturday, but I lifted weights and took naps in the afternoon.

For the week, I totaled 26,000 meters in the water which beat last year by a mere 100 meters. It's just very difficult to train more than I am. The spirit is willing and even when the flesh is strong, I can't control the weather. 

Running went well last week also. I got in 30.23 miles, besting last year's 28.46. I also ran the Kosciusko 5K and beat my 2015 time by 52 seconds but didn't place in my age group. That was disappointing, but also motivating. Next year I will be in the 60-64 bracket, and if I can improve another 52 seconds, I should not only place, but win the group. Believe it or not, I thought about that today when I did my road work during my lunch break. That has been different this year. In the past couple, I just enjoyed a lot of easy shuffling. Now I am thinking about workouts and improving for the next time around. It's starting to pay off with better times.

This week we hold exams at school which means things are crazy, and I will just do the best I can. By the grace of God, I hope to get in at least one really long swim while I attempt to survive my busiest week of the year. Then I will be totally off work, and it is to be hoped that I have the energy to go  crazy in the water and on the road. Chicot is coming like a run away train.