Friday, March 31, 2017

Mixing and Matching

I went back to DSU Thursday night. I really get good training there so it's temping to keep going. The contrast between what I do at DSU and what I do at the fish farm is one my swimming muscles like. Between pool, pond, and pushing the weights, I mix and match a lot of enegy systems and muscle fibers. But the ponds are right and going to them saves me fifty miles of driving per trip, a monthly payment, and gives me more time to swim and more time at home. Tough call. Last night we swam

800 warm up
Then the Mad Swimming Scientist gave us our choice of 8 X 200 or 10 X 200. Tabby and I went for the longer set. Rest was :20 - :30 with 2:00 between sets of four. It went like this:

1 - first 50 fast 3:39
2 - first 100 fast 3:37
3 - first 150 fast 3:27
4 - all fast 3:19
2:00 rest
1 - first 50 fast 3:38
2 - first 100 fast 3:33
3 - first 150 fast 3:28
4 - all fast 3:20
2:00 rest
1 - first and third 50 fast 3:36
2 - all fast 3:16
End of Masters. Then I swam

200 with medium paddles
1,200 23:22
300 medium paddles
total: 4,500 meters.

I had time on the clock, but I scored a big day Monday and plan to go to the pond today, Friday, so I tapped out. Three guesses as to what I'm doing right now. Yeah, the coffee is good and the cats are sweet, and God is gracious. Have a great day in the Lord.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Not Good Haikus

frost kills cotton bloom,
runner's footfalls breaks stillness,
hawk circles above

frost finishes fall,
winter comes to cotton land,
runner breathes deep, sweats

crow calls fill cold air,
coyote crosses gravel road,
sweating man runs past

Wednesday Pond

D 10 was looking like an angry ocean when I drove up and the dogs ran up Wednesday afternoon. But once in the water, this fat old man transformed into a porpoise, at least in my mind. My time in the water was one of my best swims in years at least in terms of how I felt. 

Smooth and strong. 

Although I wore the shorty, I left off the rash guard and probably could have done without the small wetsuit also. I didn't take a reading, but I guess the temp was 72-75. Refreshing, invigorating, delicious. 

On the choppy side where I always start, I couldn't feel the water much. But once I made the west end and crossed over to the south side, I could feel the water flow over my head (despite my cap), over my neck, down my arms, and twirl around the soles of my feet. My hands felt like they were gripping something solid, a basketball or a cat butt, as I pulled myself in a relaxing rhythm down the pond. I doubled the calm side before crossing back over to hit the chop again.

Both dogs followed me on my first lap. Like usual, Bear sat out the second go round while Pee Wee continued with me. Once, I stopped at the top of the smooth side and sat on the mud bottom, my head and shoulders barely above the water's surface, while I peed and looked at the waterfowl that filled the air. I took joy in being alive, in God's creation, in Pee Wee's pleasure at being free and being a dog. While I swim, he runs and rolls and sniffs and sometimes he even barks at the water's edge set off my the waves lapped at the levee.

Pee Wee joyed in running; I joyed in swimming; Bear joyed in being out there with us. When my watched buzzed the third time, I made a B-line for the truck. I stay with Mom on Wednesday nights, so I had to make some tracks back towards Greenwood. I finished with 3.3 miles (5,309 meters) in 1:30 @ 29:41 per mile. That's a pretty good pace for me especially considering I wasn't swimming too hard. Back at the truck, I didn't take the shorty off until I did a set of 45 reps with the ten pound dumbbells that ride in the back of my truck. That sort of finished the arms off. 

I ran the dogs back towards the blacktop but we stopped short so I could walk a ditch and retrieve some turtle shells which I am selling for the Diabetes Foundation of Mississippi. 

Life is good.

God is good.

Praise His Holy name.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

More Better Haikus

snow melts off brown hills,
bird music fills warming air,
trees green, flowers bloom

shadows take their posts,
night creatures roam with no fear,
eyes watch patio

Jesus came a lamb
without form or comeliness,
He died for us all.

Tepid Tuesday

Tuesday wasn't a big training day, but I got what I wanted. After a large Monday, I felt no pressure to do big yards again, and since I had a meeting after school on the Moorhead campus (I wrote thirteen haikus) I went to DSU instead of the pond. 

So I left the school after writing my haiku and went to see our grandchildren. Of course after some nice visitation, it was off the DSU. I have to hand it to the Mad Swimming Scientist. He dialed up a good one. I think Tabby, and I know Mark, weren't too thrilled with it, but it was the kind of swimming I most like doing in a pool. It went like this:

1,000 warm up
800 medium paddles, build by 25s, 4th 25 of each 100 fast (12:50)
100 easy
800 pull, same as above (13:13)
100 easy
800 swim, same as above (14:05)
100 easy
400 cool down
total: 4,100

I climbed out of the pool with over an hour left on the clock, but I got a good workout, ran the heart rate up, burned some lactic acid, and hit the endurance button. If this were late April or early May, I would have stayed the whole time, but I am swimming well, my shoulders felt great, and I thought a little moderation might be in order.

Now my dilemma is what to do today. I have been lifting on Wednesdays, but I am tempted to hit the pond. It's the weights that make my shoulders feel gimpy so I am leaning towards a swim. I stay with Mom on Wednesday nights, so I don't have time for a real big one, but I don't need a real big one. Maybe I can do that Friday.

Jesus is good. Jesus saves.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

More Gooder Haikus

loose soil grows green plants,
robin pulls worm, rabbit feeds,
gardener throws rock

bird music crowds air,
wind carries dandelions,
boy runs on fresh grass

sun chases darkness,
grass grows, trees green, flowers bloom,
birds sing long and loud

Pushing It Up

Bear, Pee Wee, and I went to the pond Monday just as fast as I could get us there after work. I didn't set my thermometer out, but I guessed the water temp to be 70. The wind was blowing like crazy, probably 25 mph or more, creating a terribly choppy surface. So what.

I have swum a lot of chop this year. I can tell the difference in terms of fatigue, compared to swimming flat water, but I think I am getting used to it a little. I no longer avoid it by staying below the levee where the wind is coming over giving a few feet of shelter. In the past, I did that. I think I should be prepared for whatever conditions I we may encounter, but I am praying for flat water on Chicot Challenge day. I did notice yesterday while swimming up the choppy side of the levee that I splay my fingers much wider in the rough water. Maybe that will help save the shoulders. I hope.

The dogs had a good time and so did I. I got in 5.03 miles (8,093) before I tapped out and headed home. Last year I could not do that on a Monday because I had a night class. This year has really been favorable to training in more ways than one. The lack of a night class is one help. The warmer spring is another. 

After I swam, I did a set of 35 X 10 pounds of curls. Really I don't know why I haven't been doing this because those dumbbells have been rattling around in the bed of my truck for a couple of years. The curls felt good and I left the pond feeling like I had a good workout, one that advances my fitness. I plan on a couple of days at the pool this week so I can get in some sprinting and breathing patterns. I love breathing patterns. NOT! By Friday, I hope to bust out another longish swim, Lord willing.

When we left the pond, I let the dogs run as I usually do. That string of ponds has a lot of drained or very low ones. I don't know why. Neither do I know why there are tons of birds where the water is only inches deep. Pee Wee runs off the road anyway, but Monday he took to running out in the bottoms of the drying up ponds. It was such a joy to see him chasing birds and having the time of his life. Watching him run gives me real joy. When I let them back inside the truck where the blacktop starts, he has taken to riding home with his head in my lap. I love it.

Praise God from whom all blessings flow.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Corey at Church

107 (37)
oohs and and abound,
Centerville takes its first look,
Corey's in the house

108 (38)
excitement rises
with the day's climbing sun. our
Corey comes to church

109 (39)
proud parents carry
bundle of God's blessed grace;
Corey in our midst

3/20 - 3/26

My distance dropped off a little last week but it was still a pretty good training cycle. Monday I went to the pond for a 3.55 miles swim. The dogs got to go and they had a good time. Tuesday I was back at the pond for 4.34 miles in a little better pace than Monday's. This time the dogs didn't get to go because I left for the fish farm from the Moorhead campus. The 6,983 is my longest open water swim of the year. They will have to get much longer.

Wednesday, I stayed home and lifted weights. On the bench press, I pushed

17 X 70
10 X 100
9 X 120
6 X 140
6 X 140
6 X 140
4 X 145

On the Swim Pull, I did

55 X 21.5 + 3 washers
33 X 26.5 + 3 washers
10 X 28 + 3 washers
11 X 28 + 3 washers
12 X 28 + 3 washers

Thursday I went to DSU for a change up and some speed work. I swam

1,100 warm up
8 X 50 @ 1:30
400 medium paddles 3, 5, 7, 3 by 25s in 6:48
6 X 50 @ 1:30 decline 1-3
300 pull
400 swim 6:57
200 cool down
total: 3,100 meters

I left instead of swimming more because I wanted to save something for Friday, pond day.

Friday I was at D 10 with the dogs, and we were accompanied by 25 mile per hour winds. Amazingly, the water temp had dropped to 68. It was 69 Monday, 72 Tuesday, and the weather was warm Wednesday and Thursday. !?!?!?!? I would not have been surprised because the strong winds straight out of the south often cools the ponds. But this one had been very low and I didn't think there was any cold water on the bottom for the south wind to push up. Maybe  there was some cold water down there or maybe the wind itself, although it was in the seventies, carried off warmth. I don't know, but I find it fascinating how the water temps can fool me when I think I have it all figured out.

I only swam 1.89 miles. I climbed out to get a snack and got smacked by that wind. It chilled me and sucked out the desire to bust it big. I sat for the longest time in my truck and tried to talk myself back into the water. It's OK. I'm ahead of last year by 37,884 meters before this week. I need to be for several reasons, but I don't yet feel the panic to swim my arms off. That will come.

Saturday I hit Plate City for a focus on the Swim Pull Machine. I did

65 X 21.5 + 3 washers
60 X 23 + 3 washers
50 X 24.5 + 3 washer
35 X 26 + 3 washers
30 X 27 + 3 washers
15 X 28 + 3 washers 

For the week, I swam 18,883 meters. I hope to bust out some good ones this week. It is rainy looking out there right now, but if I don't see lightning, I plan to release the hounds at the farm before the sun sets.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Two Corey Haikus

105 (35)
the Lord took care of
Centerville's precious baby,
little Corey's home

106 (36)
when will he come to
church? Centerville waits his face,
God's grace in diapers

Friday, March 24, 2017

Changes in Chicot

As I train up, gear up, planup, and prayup for Chicot Challenge VI, I thought it was time to let you know some of the changes and the reasons for them in this years event.

1. A new course. For the sixth straight year, I have a new course in mind. I really don't like change, and I have been thinking for several years about settling on a course and leaving it. I can't remember why all the course changes in the past other than each year I wanted to swim a little farther. Chicot I was a 13.94 swim. As soon as the pain from that swim began to dim in my memory, I started scheming on a longer swim for the next year. Another thing that has forced changes in the course has been the changing nature of the swim. As the swim got longer and required more support, the rental boat forced us to make South Shore Cottages the base of our operations. That has all changed.

I called South Shore in early January to reserve the pontoon boat only to be told they no longer rent them. !!!! They were nice enough to tell me the State Park has a pontoon for rent. After securing that water craft, obviously our starting point had move with the boat. So this year's swim will start and stop at the State Park. By the grace of God, I will swim from the park to Ditch Bayou and back. That makes a little over 23 miles so I get the extra distance I wanted. I had already planned the basic route thus the new boat just reversed the course.

2. New Distance and measuring method. I have just about reached the limits of what can be swum in one day. This new course and distance may be the final form of the swim for years to come, but that remains to be seen. But one really big change in the distance is the method of measuring it. For the first time, this year's course is pre measured and landmark based. This change is to bring the swim into full compliance with accepted open water swim practices. The Marathon Swimmers Federation ( wants the course to be landmark based so it is repeatable. I do a swim, and have it documented, then someone else can do the same swim. 

In the past, we set out an approximate course based on our knowledge of the lake and how far I wanted to go and then measure the actual distance I swam that day. With this new method of a landmark based course pre measured on Google Maps the shortest distance it could possibly be swum, I will most likely swim a mile or two farther than the named distance. This is a substantive change and has me a little nervous. More about that later.

3. Tracking capability. In the near future, I plan to purchase a Spot Tracker ( so anyone interested will be able to keep up with the swim in real time. We will have a link on Facebook that will go to a map of the lake. The tracker will update every ten minutes and place a dot on the map. Thus, besides relying solely on Facebook words, one can see exactly where we are and how long it took to get there. This also adds a level of documentation desired my the Marathon Swimmers Federation.

4. Official Observer. Marathon swims that are recognized by governing bodies of the sport require an official observer to watch the swim and take notes during the event. In the past, we just went out and did it. This year, MJ Staples ( of Atlanta, Georgia has agreed to serve as the observer for this swim. MJ is a marathon swimmer with a passion for and an understanding of the sport who has a desire to work "the other side of a swim." MJ has also graciously and bravely volunteered to swim with me if the event last past the daylight hours. I have always been a little afraid of the alligators at night. In the event she swims part of the way with me, Gerald Johnson will assume her duties as observer.

5. Marathon Swimmers Federation Documentation. Some of these changes, you may have figured out, are in an effort to have this swim documented by the MSF. Doing this will lend credibility to our efforts and my boast that I swam the longest swim ever on Lake Chicot and possibly in all of Arkansas.

6. Crew. Each year the crew changes. Some of these changes are planned while others are not. At this point, I don't know who the full crew will be. I am expecting Justin Nunnery, Gerald Johnson, Trevor McLain, Sheila Mitchel, MJ Staples, and my wife Penny Hodge. Possibly joining for the second year will be Debbie Johnson, and Kelsey McLain.

7. Faith. The Chicot Challenge has not only been an adventure over the years, but it has been a journey of faith. This time, I have approached things with more patience and trust in God than I have in the past. I hope to continue that, and I pray that God will in some way glorify Himself through this event that has so blessed my wife and me. 

Praise be to the God of heaven and earth.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

800th Post

EndangeredSwimmer will complete its fifth year in July. It has now become long enough that even though the blog provides a permanent record of my training, I usually look back at my hard copies when I want to see where I was a year ago. I do that a lot, compare this year with last year. Thus far, this year is looking really good on the training front.

On the writing front, things are looking even more prolific. I don't try to see how many times I can post although it may seem that way of late. I have been writing a lot because I have been having something to say and because I like to hear myself write. Some people like to hear themselves talk. Not me. But I do love to hear myself write.

I feel like I must. It is part of my job. If I am going to teach writing (and that is how I make my living) then I should practice it and model composition for my students. Plus, I have been enjoying writing on a whole new level lately. Many mornings I begin my Composition classes with some in-class writing. Sometimes I sit down to the computer with no plan but once I begin to peck at the keyboard, things just happen, thoughts comes, stories form, something is born. That is one thing I like about the process so much. Once the juices start flowing, you never know where the piece will end up. 

After 2015's 190 post, I speculated that my blog, like so many I have followed and carefully observed, would begin to retreat. Look for yourself: usually bloggers peak in their third year of writing and then, if they keep writing, they do so less and less each following year. To my own surprise, I posted not less but more in 216 with 2016 entries. That, I thought, was certainly my apex of productivity. Although 2017 is still a young year and could end in several scenarios, I am outpacing 2016 by a wide margin in terms of post numbers. Not only that, but I compose now much quicker than I did in 2012 which makes it much more possible for me to get my thoughts, feelings, records, and plans in black and white type. This 800th post makes my 41st of the month. I can't seem to stop or even slow down.

I am guessing that I will always blog as long as I have cats to love, ponds to swim, and adventures to plan for, experience, and share. So there. I hope you enjoy it. If not, just go to Facebook and look at pictures of our cats.

Bless God's Holy name.

Wednesday Weights

I chose not to go to the pond Wednesday. I am in the build stage but not yet to the point where I have to get every yard possible. I've had two consecutive good swims at the pond this week, and I surmised a change up, some strength work would be beneficial. Today, I will skip the pond agian, though it is the temp is right and the temptation high. Instead I plan to make it to DSU for some more change up, some sprinting and breathing drills, and long-course pool swimming. At Plate City, I benched

10 X 70
10 X 100
9 X 120
6 X 140
6 X 140
6 X 140
4 X 145 This is as high as I plan to go in weight. Soon I will start cutting days, then sets, then reps as the big swim draws nigh.

On the Swim Pull, I did

55 X 21.5 + 2 washers
33 X 26.5 + 3 washers
10 X 28 + 3 washers
11 X 28 + 3 washers
12 X 28 + 3 washers

lat raise

20 X 8
20 X 8
20 X 8
20 X 8


10/10 pink

That made for a pretty good workout. My strength is a little higher than this time last year, and I have swum more meters.I have not run, however, but that doesn't seem to be hurting my distance swimming. I think it is maybe hurting me some on things like a hard 400. I notice then I don't have the wind I think I need to have. 

Tonight I go to DSU because Tabby Cat wants a shot a whipping me in the water. I ain't going down easy girl.

This morning the birds were singing like a riot. Thank you, God. Bless the birds today. Keep them all from violent deaths. Protect every cat someone loves. And help all the people on my prayer list. Praise your name for what You did for Patsy Misterfeld.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Prayer for Birds

I feel like my heart is not good. I went to work then turned around to go home and pick up a book I forgot. Climbing out of the truck, I noticed a small bird feather in the short spring grass. Unthinkingly, I prayed, "Lord, take care of the birds today," and with that little sentiment I realized I had never before prayed for the birds. How could I have been so blind so unfeeling so unconcerned for so long?

I do notice birds. My mom is a fool for them. When she still had some health, she took pictures of birds and flowers constantly. In January of 2012 when she was in the hospital in grave condition, she noticed every bird that flew past her window. She would ask me what kind of bird was that. "What bird?" was my usual reaction because I never noticed most of them.

She keeps birds, cockatoos and a parrot. She has for years. In fact, she was in the hospital when Dad died feeding her birds. Even now, she has several. 

At the fish farm, I am amazed at the beauty the birds provide. I wish I knew more of their names. I see mallards, Canada Geese, Cormorants,
egrets, blackbirds, and many other types of ducks. They are stunning in their grace as they fly off the ponds sometimes chased by little Pee Wee. Bear pays them no mind.

I have thanked God for their music. God blesses us with free and soothing melodies almost anytime we step outdoors. But why have I never prayed for their protection? Jesus said of sparrows that they do not, "fall to the ground without your Father" (Matthew 10:29). God pays attention. So should we. We pray for people, why not birds? God forgive the hardness of my heart. Help me notice and pray for all of your creation. Amen. 

D 10

It's the name of a pond. D10 is. David Rutherford suggested this one to me a while back, and I mistakenly swam D 9. But it, the real D 10 and all the other D ponds, were low so I went back to Lee Watts 30 which is a really big pond and I like it over there. But it is now full of fish, and I knew my days there were limited.

Tuesday I contemplated doing a double dip, a swim in the pond and then a trip the DSU. Since I have access to Noble's, I left the Moorhead campus and drove over there. But the whole row of ponds where I swam in the past was very low or totally drained. So I headed for Tackett's.

D 10 is not far from 49 West so I went there to take a look. The pond was still low, but the pump was running so it is coming up. Also, I remembered David told me that this one is unstocked and recently rebuilt. That's always a plus because you can't get finned and the water and levees are a lot cleaner. I had left my full wetsuit at home. I had my rash guard and my shorty and I resolved that if I could stay in for four miles, I would skip DSU and go home.

The rash guard and shorty were just perfect with the 72 degree water. That was near the pump. It was a little warmer farther from where the cold ground water was coming in. On the west end, the cool end, the water was maybe 70 or 69 at the coldest. Perfecto.

This one, D 10, is a little smaller than Lee Watts 30 but is still pretty large. I averaged .718 per lap (a little over .8 at Lee Watts). I swam six laps for 4.34 miles (6,983 meters) in 2:19:18 at 32:07 per mile. It was a glorious swim.

Thank you, Jesus.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Comp I

Haiku Again

Lonely plum tree bears
red fruit covered with fresh dust,
hand reaches to pull

squirrel peaks from hole,
sun rises, woods come alive,
boy shivers, loads gun

squirrel eats acorn,
shells drop in rhythm from limb,
little boy looks up

Back to the Pond

Two weeks. 

Two weeks. 

That's how long it's been since I last swam the pond. I missed it and so did the dogs. Monday afternoon was warm and sunny so I loaded the hounds after work and headed for the fish farm. They were so excited I could hardly drive with them crawling all over me. I need to do something about that.

The water was warmer than I expected. Good thing because I busted the zipper on my wetsuit. That's the second one over the last few years that has done that. I buy an entry level suit so I got my money's worth this year alone. But I don't know what I will do for my next one. There is a pretty good jump from the price I pay to the next level suit, and I don't know if it is worth the extra or not. Usually you get what you pay for. One exception to this rule of thumb is goggles, but I have written about that before. If Speedo ever quits making the cheep pair I wear, I will likely have to retire from marathon swimming because I have not been able to find another model I can wear all day that doesn't leak on me or that I have to tighten too tight for comfort. Really, I have been on a search for a replacement. Seems that my face must be shaped funny because every other pair I try leaks.

I had a pretty nice swim but was surprised at the fatigue and discomfort in my shoulders. I guess I'm not recovered from last week. The 26,000 plus the weightlifting was a big load. The water was choppy and this was my first open water swim in two weeks. Choppy water is fatiguing because I balance on the palms of my hands and the chop is constantly changing my stroke, changing where my palms are.

The dogs had fun. Pee Wee followed me on all my laps as he always does. Bear sat one out. I took Pee Wee out into some water over his head and let him go to see if he could swim. I know what you are thinking, but it's not true. All dogs don't swim. I have had to teach dogs to swim before. I wanted to know if he could could do it and he did. Well. He swam back to shore like a muskrat outpacing a gator.

I made it 3.55 miles in 2:00:38 at 34:01. That pace is pretty slow, but remember, my wetsuit was catching water in the back. It was nice to on the farm again, to see the water fowl, the sinking sun, to experience the wide open spaces. The dogs and I love it out there and I feel like the luckiest man in the world to have access to all that space. And not having a night class on Mondays means I can stay at the pond as long as I need. Maybe next week I can bust out a five-miler. That's the kind of swimming I need.

Now I am in class and dreaming about this afternoon. I plan to stop at Noble's Fish Farm and retry one of his ponds. If I can last for four miles, I will drop DSU tonight. I did not bring my full wetsuit, but I do have my rash guard and my shorty. Jerry's ponds are shallower so they warm a little quicker. Add at least two degrees to what I experienced yesterday and I may be able to stay in over two hours. I was still in pretty good shape yesterday but one foot was beginning to go numb. I will have less protection today. We'll see. I'll let you know how it goes.

Praise be to God.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Corey Man

99 (32)
what child is this whose
sweetness brightens the day's light?
Corey is his name

100 (33)
light shines in darkness;
God gave a beautiful child:
little man Corey

101 (34)
love brightens the world;
God gave the gift of life
to Trevor and Kelsey

3/13 - 3/19

Although I fell short of my 31,000 meter goal, I had a really good Chicot training week. Monday, I swam 5,941 meters at DSU and lifted weights at Plate City.

Tuesday, I did a double by meeting Justin at Extreme Fitness for 2,650 yards and then going to DSU for 6,350 totaling 9,000 yards or 8,226 meters.

Wednesday, I swam double again for 3,000 and 5,500 giving me 8,500 yards or 7,769 meters.

Thursday was a simple 5,300 yards at DSU and then a Plate City lifting session.

Friday, DSU didn't open so I did a huge session at the gym. Saturday, I once again lifted weights focusing on back and legs. I love the new attachment

For the week, I 

swam 26,780 meters,
lifted weights four times, and 
walked 3.64 miles.

Overall, that's a pretty good week. If I can follow it up with another one, I should start coming around. I plan on going to the pond today, and I just called David Rutherford to find out what the water is running. He said 61 right now. That should be 64 or 65 by 3:00. I'll take the dogs and see what I can get.

Praise God.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Chicot Verses 2

In all labor there is profit,
But mere talk leads only to poverty.
Proverbs 14:23 (NASB)

This verse has in its sights our work ethic and how it impacts our pocket book. In short, work and you earn; talk without work and you get nowhere and nothing. I think, however, that its application is a little broader than that. Let's take the first line: "In all labor there is profit." I have wondered about that a time or two. When I was a termite man, there were days that I worked very hard and got nothing done. Working on a commission, I had days that despite a lot of sweat, I didn't make a dime. My frustration level on those days would be through the roof, and on more than one occasion, it caused me to question the veracity of this verse. But a little reflections revealed to me that although I did not make any money on those days, I did gain some experience and learned a few things not to do. Furthermore, in a fallen world we have to overcome many things and unproductivity that is not our fault is sometimes on of those things.

But the verse really points to the idea that you have to pull the trigger on action. This is stated in the second line: "But mere talk leads only to poverty." If you just jaw about things and don't do anything, you never make money and/or you never make your dreams come true. The Chicot Challenge, like many things, started with an idea. The idea led to talk. But if it had stopped at the talk stage, the swim would never have become a reality, and my soul and memories would be much impoverished compared to how they are now.

At some point each year, I have to begin training. I mark January 2nd as the opening of my Chicot training. Before that, I talk about it a lot, I think about it a lot, and I even plan for it a lot. But to make it come to pass, I have to start swimming a lot, lifting a lot, and doing anything else I think that will lead to a successful swim. 

Such is life. If you have a goal, a dream, a plan, at some point you have to start acting. Want to go back to school? Take a short trip over there and ask what hoops you have to jump through. Want a new job? Put in some applications, shake the bushes, ask around. After dreaming and thinking and praying there always has to be action. Take the step. Pull the trigger. Risk failure. There is no success without effort and risk.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Pool Foolish?

Last year I announced a new swim for 2017, Pool Fools. Also benefiting the Diabetes Foundation of Mississippi and set for May 13, this is scheduled to come off at Twin Rivers Recreation Center. I drove by last week as I am wont to do this time of year to see if they had started prepping the pool to be pumped up. I get really excited when I see them out there steam cleaning the bottom of the pool and knowing soon I'll be swimming in there.  I drove up to a pool with two large machines in the bottom of it and piles of broken tile and concrete here and there. 


I parked and went inside.

"What's going on, Stella?" I asked Ms Stella looking for some reassurance.

"They're redoing the pool."

"When is it going to be ready?"

"It has to be ready by the weekend of May 12th because we have lifeguard training scheduled for then."

"Lifeguard training? That's when I'm supposed to do my swim!" I blubbered in a near state of shock.

"You'll have to talk to Debbie," she said with a shrug.
A week after my first drive up.
Things look better, but . . . ?

Debbie walked in.

"I guess you see we're in the middle of some major work," she said as if it were no big deal.

"What is the time line on this?" I pleaded.

"We have no time line."

Just shoot me now, I thought.

"Stella said y'all have lifeguard training the day my swim is scheduled."

She just shrugged. "We'll work it out."

So I left and instead of shooting a road sign, I decided to relax and trust God. We could absorb a one week delay in Pool Fools, but two weeks is too close to Chicot and the Challenge has priority. Maybe even Ronnie would let us do it at DSU if needed. But those are bridges I can't cross until I get there. So in the meantime, I pray and train and hang out with the cats.

Praise be to God.

SB Day Five

You might not believe this, but I was not sad when Ronnie Mayers told me Thursday that the pool would not open Friday. Life is more than swimming. I love to swim, I love to train, and I need to bust it for Chicot. But the pace I've been keeping lately is a little tough. By the time I drive to Cleveland (about an hour), swim for two hours, and drive home, that is four hours of my day gone.  Put that in the middle of the day and there is only a little left on both ends. Not too mention a trip to Greenville here and there. I also like to do other things. I also need to do other things.

Not being able to swim Friday means my goal for 31,000 meters will go unmet. But I shot high and hit high just not quite as high as I had hoped. I will make up the lack of swimming with more weightlifting. Right now, I am slow-starting my day, hanging out with the cats, blogging, and drinking coffee. Nice. I have a list. It is one I made not my wife. I will do some of the things on the list, and I will record them in the next paragraph. But first I need more cowbell and more coffee.

Back in real time on Saturday morning, I am once more slow-starting my day. Yesterday, I ran errands, did some work on Plate City Gym, and worked out for my third weight session of the week. It was nice not to make that drive to DSU and to slow down for a day. At the gym, I worked biceps and shoulders with some work on the Swim Pull Machine. On the Swim Pull, I did

45 X 20 plus one washer (washer weights .155 of a pound)
32 X 26 plus two washers
26 X 28.5 plus three washers
10 X 28.5 plus three washers

It was a nice day and the dogs loved me being out there. With the cold, its been over a week since they got to go to the pond. We go back soon I hope. Penny and I had a nice evening out and I slept well. Now, where are those cats?

Praise be to God.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Hodge Sentenced

Hodge Sentencing Turns Chaotic
By Jay Unver

(Lehrton, MS) All of Lehrton was there. The conference room at the Big ASS Training Center overflowed as did the halls and the parking lot. The Barber Shop, the Sidewalk, the Lehrton County Coon Hunters Club, the Lehrton Snuff and Garden Club, and all the local pastors were on hand and threatening violence "If Hodge is treated harshly." The local high school even delayed the start of school so they could attend Hodge's sentencing. Consequently, the sheriff's department joined the police presence in an effort to prevent a riot from erupting. The local militia was present, but it was unclear in what capacity they attended. Would they help maintain order or help with its disruption. I presumed the latter.

Dr. Nomann took his seat and gaveled the proceedings into order. At counsel's orders, Hodge and his attorney, Tom Flanagan, both appeared nervous as they approached the bench. 

"As a result of your guilty plea to 116 counts of conduct unbecoming a Big ASS athlete and false reporting," Nomann spoke, "I hereby sentence you, Zane Hodge, to a fine of $20.00 and one can of potted meat; in addition, your World Triathlon Championship for the year 2016 is vacated as is your 2016 half Marathon Championship and your 2016 10K World Championship; furthermore, you are banished from the Association for a period of one year at which time you may petition for reinstatement. However, such reinstatement is not guaranteed.  

The courtroom erupted with old men trying to jump to their feet. Instead of jumping, many of them fell face down on the floor which apparently led some of the Barber Shop to think they were being attacked. More melee ensued while the old men tried to regain there feet amid cussing and coffee cup throwing. The Lehrton police moved in and began handcuffing and placing overalled octogenarians under arrest. Several member of the all female Snuff and Garden Club threw donuts towards Nomann. A couple of them fainted and more than one swallowed her snuff causing some vomiting on the floor where several old men were still swearing and trying to stand up. Flanagan and Hodge went behind the bench and through Nomann's office where they made it out a side door. I attempted to pursue as they climbed into a waiting pickup and fled out Jimmy Jack Road. But when Hodge's body guards pointed their .410s at my car from the back of their truck, I broke off the chase. As more information emerges, I will report.

Sam-beating Haikus

dead skunk in sunshine,
buzzards circle far above,
ants invaded below

trees cast long shadow,
windshield flickers dark and light,
closed eyes gently rest

dead rabbit on road,
weeds and tree limbs gently swing,
young squirrel east acorn

SB Day Four

No double dip Thursday. Since I stay with Mom on Wednesday nights, to get to Greenville by 5:30 would mean I leave Mom a tad after 4:00. Too early. I'm not sure I could hold up to swimming twice every day anyway. And Friday? Justin is out of pocket. So my double dips for Spring Break week are over.

Thursday, I made it to DSU for the noon opening and swam 

2,000 35:04
6 X 50 @ 1:12
400 for time in 5:47 (1:36)
1,000 17:08
500 medium paddles 7:50
22 X 50 @ 1:12
total: 5,300 yards - 4,844 meters.

On the way home, I stopped on Highway 8 and took some pictures of this beauty. I've been noticing this truck for years and finally said it's time. On the same highway, I took pictures of an old cabover Pete a couple of years ago after seeing it for two decades. On my very next journey past that spot the old Pete was gone.

After a nap with the cats, I decided since I couldn't get a double dip, I would get a double workout. At Plate City, I benched

26 X 70
17 X 100
12 X 120
10 X 125

On the Swim Pull I did

41 X 21.5
31 X 26

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Corey Haikus

93 (29)
Corey is a star,
a shinning light, his life a
gift from Holy God

94 (30)
a little bundle
of God's grace, His gift of life
is little Corey

95 (31)
a baby has come,
his name is Corey McClain,
a beauty is he

SB Day Three

I did it again. We did it again. Justin and I met at Extreme Fitness Wednesday morning at 5:30 for another swim. This time I swam

150 as 3 X 50 experimenting with Justin’s paddles.
200 Redneck IM
Justin and I at the end of our swim.
21 X 50 @ 1:12
Total: 3,000 yards.

Before leaving, I asked Justin if there was an old-fashioned cafe around. He told me about Jim’s downtown so I went to Washington Street and found it. Three eggs, grits, toast, sausage, and three cups of coffee later I had another favorite spot.

I had not planned on eating breakfast just like I had not planned it Tuesday. But Tuesday's experience at JL's had me in the mood for a cafe breakfast. Jim's is an old narrow building with the dark, dark paneling that has been out of style for thirty years. On the wall were a couple of fish mounts, large mouth bass, and pictures by the dozen one of which was of a man fishing from the deck of a bass boat. I'm sure Jim's has fed a lot of fishermen with Lake Ferguson scarcely a half mile away.

I left Greenville for Skene and once again had a good nap and a hug from the grandchildren before heading to DSU. Ronnie opened up a little early and he told me, “I was watching you swim yesterday. I noticed your hands and elbows. You have a good catch and stroke, unlike a lot of people who come here.”

Tabby Cat and I before our swim

It means something when a real swimmer tells you that. A couple of months back, one of the DSU dive team members told me about the same thing.

Tabatha, my fellow DAM swimmer, showed up. We mostly did our own thing but we swam one set together. In short, I totaled 5,500 yards giving me a 8,500 for the day which equals 7,769 meters. That brings me to 21,936 for the week. I’m on pace to meet my goal.

Praise be to God.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

SB Day Two

I ate my cereal Tuesday morning in the semi-darkness of my daughter's old bedroom trying not to disturb my long sufferingwife. A little after 4:00 am I slipped out the front door into the unseasonably cold spring air, loaded my stuff into the cab of my truck, and headed west towards Greenville.

Before leaving town, I stopped at McDonald's and purchased a large coffee which I drank slowly as I motored towards the port city and an appointment with Justin Nunnery. We met at Extreme Fitness and went through about an acre of weight machines and a series of doors to get to the 25-yard pool in the back. The water was warm, probably 87. I don't mind that. Really, I don't. I swam

20 X 50 @ 1:30
total: 2,650 yards.

I had time to swim a little more, but my shoulders felt a little funny so I tapped out.

I left the gym and drove over the river and into Arkansas. You don't even get off the bridge before you see my beloved. She is always there looking long, lovely, alluring. I remembered our intimate hours, our days we spent embracing each other.

Besides thinking of my beloved, during the drive I noticed how fatigued my muscles were. I swam 5,941 Monday, lifted weights, and ate mostly protein that night. Herein is the problem of trying to lose weight and train hard. Sometimes you bonk. I had two protein shakes with me and had consumed one, but I decided to try out a little cafe on the shores of my beloved. If I were to swim again today-- and I planned to-- I needed some fuel.

LJ's is a typical dumpy place you find scattered across the South. The waitress looked stereotypical and the patrons were good ole' boys in hunting caps, drinking coffee and solving the country's problems. I took a booth against the wall, alone, and listened. 

I asked the waitress if they took a debit card.


I nervously felt my pockets. "I have ten dollars in cash," I said in a pleading voice.

"You're alright," she answered.

I relaxed and placed my order. Two eggs over medium, grits, sausage, toast, and coffee. It came and I ate.

Leaving LJ's, I drove to the Lake Chicot State Park where I hoped to meet up with the Park Supervisor, Ocee Hunter. He was in and he saw me right away. We had a productive chat, and he seemed genuinely excited to have the swim based at the park. I told him that whomever I talked to on the phone to reserve the boat, said he might donate it since the swim is a fundraiser for a charity. He responded that I needed to submit a letter requesting that and he would pass it up the chain. He did tell me that we could probably get the boat early, keep it late, and come in after dark. That is big news and good news.

When I left the park, I headed first for Mississippi and then for Skene where I have two grandchildren. I had time only for a short nap and a quick hug before I was off to DSU and swim number two. I got there and thought they weren't going to open. Then at exactly 11:30, Ronnie drove up. Inside and in the pool, I swam a straight 6,350 yards in 1:54:24. That gave me 9,000 yards for the day which comes out to 8,226 meters. Now for the two days I have 14,167 meters. That puts me on pace to make my goal of beating last year's Spring Break total of 30,062 meters. Praise be to God's holy name.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Corey, Corey, Corey, Corey

90 (26)
we went to Jackson,
I held Corey and kissed him,
sweet as sugar, he

91 (27)
Trevor took me back,
first one from Centerville to
hold little Corey

92 (28)
You want to hold him?
Trevor asked of little man,
Darn tootin' I do.

SB Day One

That stands for Spring Break in case you're wondering. My plans are to bust out some huge training during my brief work hiatus since I have the time to get it done. I need the training so I have geared my mind to do as much as possible this week and lay the fitness foundation for the longer pond swims that I need to build Chicot fitness. Monday, I went to DSU during the noon swim time and I stroked

200 for time 2:40 (tied my PR)
600 easy 10:27
150 for time 1:59 (PR)
650 easy 11:10
100 for time 1:13
700 easy 12:03
50 for time :37
750 easy 13:02
1,400 24:59
total: 6,500 yards = 5,941 meters.

Back home and after some nutrition and a nap, I went to Plate City and bench pressed

18 X 70
12 X 100
10 X 120
6 X 140
6 X 140
6 X 140

On the Swim Pull, I did

40 X 21.5
30 X 26
25 X 28.5
20 X 31

I slept well. Praise be to God for His goodness to the sons of men.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Spring Break Plans

I have big plans for Spring Break. What else is new. Mostly they revolve around swimming. In short, I hope to swim as much as possible. Last year, I managed to get 30,062 meters, all in the pool. This year all the swimming will most likely also be in the pool since the temps are headed down to winter-like conditions.

I am facing some challenges this year that I did not face last year. One challenge is we are not having Masters practice Thursday night. I don't know why but Cagri told us no practice this Thursday. Another challenge is Ronnie said he might be gone Tuesday. In order to make up for those losses and try to ensure a full week, I even schemed on a couple of trips to Greenville to swim with Justin Nunnery a time or two. That will involve rising early and driving long. I had originally hoped to get a triple dip on Tuesday and Thursday but it look now like that won't happen. Further complicating matters is the fact that when we do have Masters, since it is Spring Break week, there will be no lifeguards so I will have to leave after practice. This will keep my Masters swim down to around 2,000 meters. Cagri can't stay away from home very long.

My goals are to swim 31,000 and lift weights two times. In addition to that, I need to do some sort of cardio outside of swimming. Either I can start back running or do a trainer ride or two or three on my bicycle. Furthermore, I need to do some work on Plate City. I have some nice recent additions I need to shoot a video on, and I have plans for more improvements. 

Other plans include logistical work for the Chicot Challenge. I need to go talk to the manager of the Lake Chicot State Park. The lady I talked with on the phone while I was securing the pontoon twice told me that he (the park manager) would probably donate the boat since this is a charity swim. That would be huge if that comes to pass. I hope to swim with Justin Tuesday morning, then ride over to Lake Village and talk to the park people. After that, I will motor to Cleveland and hope the pool is open at noon. If it is, I will be on track for a three dip day and some really big yardage.

Another thing, I need to get with Barry Brewer and work out a T-shirt design. Penny had some ideas I will modify a little. Besides all that, I need to order that Spot Tracker. I have no idea why I have put that off so long. I blame it on being busy, but I am always busy. 

The butterflies are starting to form. Praise be to God.