Thursday, April 27, 2017

Superior to Sam Haikus

they look as we stop,
their beauty rules the morning,
the sheep know my voice

muddy road slices
crowds of trees bright with color,
windows down while truck rolls

sheep sit far from road,
crow caws filter through bare tree,
people file from church

Dogs and Pond

Wednesday the dogs and I went to D 10. I ran the snot out of Pee Wee, and although Bear enjoyed watching, he wanted out after gazing at his buddy for a bit so he did some running of his own.

Even though the water temp was 73 Tuesday and the sun shone most of the day and we hit 80 Wednesday, as soon as I waded in I noticed the difference. The temps had fallen some more. When the wind blows straight out of the south, the temps fall in these ponds that are oriented east/west. My guess is they are even lower today.

The wind was once more howling like a storm was coming. That's because a storm was coming. I only swam one length of the northern side and then spent the rest of my time going up and down the southern side of the pond where there was calmer but not calm water. Bear made the first lap, as he always does and Pee Wee made them all.

I enjoyed the swim but tapped out after about two hours because the clouds were building and the sky looked threatening. I got 3.38 miles in 1:57:44 @ 34:44. After exiting the water, I did a set of 58 X 10 dumbbell  curls, 13 X 10 triceps kick backs, and 13 X 10 lateral raises.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Dogless Pond Trip

I feel guilty going to the pond without the dogs. I didn't do anything Monday. Tuesdays I am on the Moorhead campus so for the second time this year, to save time I left there and went straight to my lovely D 10. One of my nights with Mom was swapped this week to Tuesday. That meant that although the days are now long, my time was relatively short. I had to get back to town and get to Mom's.

The wind was whipping things up pretty good and some earlier news was doing the same thing to my thoughts. I received a phone call at the tail end of my 8:00 o'clock class. A glance at my cell phone showed a Lake Village, Arkansas listing so I answered immediately. A woman from the Lake Chicot State Park Marina had some bad news for me. Since I wrote about that yesterday, I'll save the keystrokes.

My thermometer read 73 on the warm side when I waded in. The weekend's cold snap had brought the temps down a lot. I wore my shorty and began to stroke and think. I swam three plus and took a break to check my phone and see if an answer had arrived. A lot of people were sharing my Facebook post which was a simple prayer for help in replacing the lost boat.

After my break, I swam another one plus and finished for the day with 3.59 miles (5,776 meters) in 1:53 @ 31:33 per mile. I then grabbed my dumbbells and hit a 57 rep set of curls, a 12 rep set of lateral raised, and a 12 rep set of triceps kickbacks. I rode home in silence. Pee Wee barks all the way to and from the pond. I missed him but not his yapping.

At Mom's I checked my phone to find that Wesley McGaugh texted me and asked me to call him. He had us a boat. Praise God. Thank you Wesley. And thank you Kenny Wilson. God is good. God is good all the time.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Help Needed

Dude. I knew something had to happen. Things were going pretty smoothly in the buildup to Chicot Challenge VI. The first fright I had with this swim was when I called South Shore Cottages to reserve one of their pontoon boats. They politely informed me that they were no longer in the boat renting business.


They did let me know that the Lake Chicot State Park had one so I called them immediately and secured that boat. Then this morning I received a phone call from Lake Village. I answered. It was the State Park Marina. There is a problem with their pontoon. It was being loaded onto a trailer for a trip to a shop for repairs when if fell off and did additional damage. "Now we have to get three estimates and we haven't even started that yet. Thought you ought to know." 

Maybe it will be ready. Maybe not.

In short, I have to find a boat.

The Bible says: 

     My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations.
     Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. 
     But let patience have her perfect work that ye may be perfect and entire             wanting nothing. (James 1:2-4 KJV)

The Bible also says:

     And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God,         to them who are called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28)

I love God. I am called according to His purpose. This swim has seen God's ownership so I am expecting to find a boat and expecting good things to happen out of this complication.

If you are a praying person, please add this to your list. We could do the swim without a big boat, but that would put serious stress on the kayakers and force them to be in a tiny water craft for a long, long, time. It also would reduce our visibility, safety, and the number of people who can participate. 

Mystery Solved

Mystery Solved
By Jay Unver

(Lehrton, MS). The mystery of Zane Hodge's location has been solved. This reporter, clad in a ghillie suit and operating on a tip from a confidential source, hid his car and walked through the woods to the Lehrton County Coon Hunters' Association club house located deep in the woods off Jimmy Jack Road. From a safe distance and using a pair of high power, high resolution binoculars, I spied through an open window what looked like a despondent Hodge sitting inside. He appeared to be weeping while Junior Jones cooked steaks on grill on the porch. Around him was a gaggle of people, one petting him on the shoulder, another backwards-collar-wearing preacher praying, and a fat man who appeared to be a stand-up comic telling jokes. Their efforts seemed to have little positive impact on the distraught star swimmer.

Speculation as to Hodge's whereabouts and mental condition has been rampant of late and many have sought to track down the fallen and disgraced athlete. My latest intell said Hodge has been under constant supervision and on suicide watch since his plea and sentencing. From what I could tell looking through my binoculars, Hodge is in fact in a sad state indeed. 

One rumor had Hodge taking a submarine to Brazil where he allegedly was living in the jungle and surviving by hunting wild pigs and monkeys by day and hanging out at a bordello by night. Another rumor was sure he had fled to Mexico and was a short order cook in the tiny town of Guadalosta hid away in the mountains of southwest Jalisco. A third theory said Hodge had moved to Canada, undergone plastic surgery, and was surviving by picking up aluminum cans along Quebec's busy highways. But the old men at the barber shop were fully convinced that Hodge would never leave his cats. "He has a wife and cats in this town. Trust me, he ain't far away," said Smiley Bob Boggan.

I finally received a phone call from a trustworthy source that advised me to try the Coon Hunters clubhouse. "But don't be seen out there. They love Hodge and will shoot you at the drop of a hat because they think they are protecting him." I took the warning, secured the ghillie suit, and made the trip. 


There sat Hodge inside the club house and surrounded by people attempting to help him cope. Besides the group who was attempting to cheer him up, someone brought him a bowl of ice cream, but even without the benefit of sound, I could clearly see Hodge was unmoved. At least now we know he is alive, and locally located, but he obviously needs more help than he is getting. If anyone can offer Hodge counseling, contact the Lehrton County Coon Hunters' Association at 662-897-0020.


chilly wind on face,
birds sing about falling leaves,
runner plods along.

sky full of feathers,
circling, looking, swooping down,
swimmer braves the cold

feathers fill gray sky,
green heads turn while wings circle,
swimmer spoils the plan

Monday, April 24, 2017

4/17 - 4/23

Some week, heavy and light at the same time. I only swam three times for a little under 20,000 meters, but I had one long swim and one monster weight session. It went like this.

Monday I attended to errands and business. Tuesday, I did the MDCC Greenwood Center 5K, but I was reduced to walking not running. After that, I went to DSU and swam 4,400 meters at Masters.

Wednesday I went to the pond and swam only 2.36 miles. I had one of those days when I didn't feel like training and couldn't make myself do it. Thursday, I went home and stayed in bed, napping, and getting my stuff together for Friday.

Friday was my big swim day and I hit 7.08 miles which is getting up there where I need to be. Saturday, I spent time with the cats, drank lots of coffee, and lifted weights. On the bench,  I pushed

36 X 76
18 X 105
9 X 125
6 X 135
4 X 140
4 X 140 

On the swim pull, I did

35 X 24.5 + 3
40 X 24.5 + 3
41 X 24.5 + 3
42 X 24.5 + 3
10 X 26 + 3
10 X 26 + 3

For the first time I did some triceps push downs. I have come to the conclusion that my pressing is not adequately working those muscles. The benches help the pecs. The swim pull help the lats. Curls have helped bring my biceps to a whole new level. The tris are lagging behind and are one muscle I really feel during and after a long swim. So now I am adding some isolation work for them.

For the week, I 

walked four miles,
swam 19,573 meters, and 
lifted weights only once.

Barry finished the T-shirts Friday and the sales are going pretty well. That you, Jesus.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Friday Big One

Despite my sinking spell this past week, the dogs and I went to the pond Friday and had a big time and a long swim. Finally, I am getting into the kind of distance it takes to swim all day.

Pee Wee taking a drink after his run to the pond.

We left the house about 10:00 a.m. but I still didn't get into the water until about 11:15. I can't figure that one out myself. It takes time to throw out my thermometer, tape my nose, and pee on the levee. And then there is the radio. I have to listen to the radio and watch the waves for a while before getting in.

Between the waterfowl and the flowers,
I always get blessed with beauty.

The water was a nice 78 but a bit choppy with 11 to 14 mph winds. I felt rested after staying home Thursday night and going to bed early. My thinking at the time was the one long swim, at this point in my Chicot buildup, was better than two mediocre ones. I think I made the right decision. I felt good from the start. My energy was adequate, my shoulders felt solid, and my muscles were ready to work. I started with a four lap set before getting out and taking nutrition. That gave me 3.01 miles. My pace was pretty slow, but I didn't really care much. The goal for the day was at least a little over a 10K. Next, I moved to a three lap set which put me over five miles, but I don't remember exactly how far. I drank a small bottle of Gatorade and took a Gu.

Then I waded in for set number three. Two laps would give me my longest swim of the year. I did two and pulled my watch out before getting out of the pond. I was at 6.93 miles so I swam across the pond and back to finish with 7.08. That is the earliest in the year I have ever swum seven miles so I feel pretty good about the day. Before I left, Barry Brewer sent a text that the T-shirts were ready. Yeeha.

Thanks be to God for a good day at the pond and hope for the swim.

Thursday, April 20, 2017


The dogs and I went to the pond. Untypically, I had plenty of time and told Penny I would be in late, that I was swimming as long as I could. I got in around 3:00 p.m. and swam three straight laps. My shoulders and muscles felt good. I was hoping for around six miles, and I could tell that my body was ready for it. I got out to check my phone, and sat in the truck to drink some Gatorade. Then it hit.

That sinking spell.
Pee Wee running the edge of a pond.
He always has a big time.

I suppose it's just fatigue, but as I sat in the truck, I slowly realized I was not going to get back in. We are now in prime time for training, but I just could not make myself wade once more into the water.

Go figure.

I am not panicking. It happened a lot last year. But I thought this time around would be different. After my running breakdown in November, my thinking was I would have more time, and more energy when that 25 - 30 miles per week of running were no longer draining down my vigor. 


I have had a little more time and a touch more energy. But it hasn't been the bonanza I was expecting. It can't be my age, so what is going on? One thing is for sure. The dogs are having a blast and that always makes me happy. 

Right now, I am praying about and thinking about this afternoon. Should I go to DSU? How about heading to the pond after work without the dogs. Or maybe I should go home, get the hounds, and head for the fish farm. I am even contemplating going home and getting in bed, maybe some weights first. I could use some study time, and the rest would help set me up for Friday. I do need a big day, well over six miles. But then there is the weather. What to do?
Training partner, Pee Wee.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Monday and Tuesday

I missed my Monday training swim. Next year, I will not be taking care of this kind of business this time of year. You'd think I'd know by now. This year I started plenty early, what should have been plenty early, but was held up waiting on people. If you will wait, you will wait. That's one thing life has taught me. I've been waiting on several electricians for over twenty years. I've been waiting for an apology for over thirty years from what was an inappropriately irate customer. The only way to beat waiting is to reduce as much as possible the number of people you have to wait on. 

The missed training swim had another reason besides taking care of business. The weather was threatening also. If Twin Rivers was in operation, I would still have been able to go there and swim a few thousand before the storm hit. But it is out of commission for all of spring and who knows for how much of summer. This time of year I am usually tearing the pool up and enjoying the close proximity of my training place to home. This time around, however, I have had to rely exclusively on the pond. I like the pond, love it even. Even when Twin Rivers is up and open to only real swimmers, I make at least one trip per week to the fish farm. Now I have to make the twenty-mile drive to the pond for every training session and as a result, Monday got knocked out for the second week in a row.

Today is up in the air. The MDCC Greenwood Center is holding its 5K today at 2:00. I need to participate even though I can't run. I can walk. The weather is threatening again, so I will almost surely forego the pond and make the trip to DSU where I will at least get to see the crew and do some speed work to boot. Wednesday, I am off from Mom's because Sis and I swapped one night this week. Thus I plan to hit the pond for what I hope is a big swim with the dogs. Weather permitting. The forecast doesn't look inviting. Scratch that. I just checked and the weatherman is prediction sun and sun and more sun for Wednesday. Yeeha.

Fast forward. I did the 5K even though I was reduced to walking. That was a bit embarrassing to me but I did it anyway. We loaded up and were bused to the linear park in front of Crystal Grill. I was surprised at how nice the park is. I made the walk at a 14:35 pace and it gave me a real workout. I suppose I need to start walking regularly.

Since the 5K knocked a hole in the afternoon, I commuted to DSU for my first swim there in a couple weeks. I swam

800 warm up
4 X 200 with medium paddles r:30
8 X 100 with medium paddles @ 2:30, descend one to four
4 X 200 swim, descend one to four
 1 - 3:43
 2 - 3:38
 3 - 3:23
 4 - 3:12 This one had me breathing really hard.
1,200 easy
total: 4,400 meters.

I had almost an hour left on the clock, and it is crunch time for training. However, I got out and went home. I'm glad I did because the wife and I had some business to attend. Praise be to God who directs the affairs of men.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Better than Sam Haikus

clear air fills with birds
like rivers flowing above,
below, boy loads gun

large-eyed doe stops still,
standing in grass besides tall trees,
red-tailed hawk swoops down

crow caws and air moves,
wind whistles through crowds of limbs,
boy walks on pine straw

Monday, April 17, 2017

4/10 - 4/17

I bounced back a little last week even though I only swam three times. Monday, I ran over Bear and that ended any swimming for the day. Tuesday, I swam seven straight laps in D 10 for 5.36 miles. Wednesday, I attended to some business and lifted weights, which I have already written about. Thursday, I swam 3.25 miles at the pond with Pee Wee while Bear stayed home. 

Friday, Penny told me she thought Bear was depressed because I left him at home the day before, so I took him Friday with the idea that he would stay in the truck when I let Pee Wee out, and that's what I did. But when we started up and Bear saw his little buddy out there running, he started whining. I gave in and let him out. 

I noticed he was watching the truck and never got in front. My guess is, I won't run over him again. He's a smart dog, and I think he is a bit wiser now. He seemed to enjoy himself, but he didn't run fast. When we got to the pond and I started swimming, he did the first lap with us, but he stayed at the truck after that. I swam 4 X 2 laps for 6.15 miles or 9,895 meters, my longest of the year. Only three swims, but that took me to 23,478 meters.

Saturday I stayed around the house and lifted weights. On the bench, I did

35 X 76
17 X 105
8 X 125
6 X 135
4 X 140

On the Swim Pull, I did

20 X 24.5 + 3
25 X 24.5 + 3
30 X 24.5 + 3
31 X 24.5 + 3
10 X 26 + 3

All in all, not a bad week, but I need more cowbell and more meters this week.

Praise be to God for His blessings to the sons of men.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Thursday Swim

I made the choice to go back to town after work, Thursday, so I could pick up Pee Wee and take him with me to the pond. I missed the dogs when I swam without them Tuesday. Bear is grounded until he more fully recovers. Yesterday, he was moving a little better. He came out when I lifted weights and we hung out. 

At the pond, I was feeling the effects of the week, of four days teaching, of running errands, of lifting weights twice in three days, of swimming 5.36 miles Tuesday. My muscles were tight and my mind was tired. But I did have a good time once more enjoying the beauty of the birds, the deliciousness of the sense of space, the solace of the solitude. The water had risen to 76 degrees, and I wore no suit other than my jammer. The temps were cool and refreshing. 

I swam one lap and stopped long enough to stretch some. After my second lap I got out and rested in the truck. I didn't even take nutrition, I just sat there. I had time to get a pretty substantial swim in, but I let time flitter away. I didn't even beat myself up over it, though. After many years, I am finally listening to my body and it was saying, "Not so hard, not so far today." With only a little over four laps, I tapped out giving me 3.25 miles.  

I climbed out of the pond to a missed call from an old friend, James. I called him back fearing some bad news. He has a terminal illness and needs a lung transplant to survive more than five years. Please pray for James. "These signs shall follow them that believe . . . ."

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Wednesday's Stuff

Wednesday was another lost day of swimming. But I had things that needed to be done last month. I promise, every year I start earlier and get later on logistical needs for the swim. One thing I had to do was the finalization of the T-shirt design. I went to see Barry Brewer after school, and we finished up the shirt. It took maybe an hour. Then I went home and started working on a flyer. I spent a lot of time getting nothing done, but I finally got a flyer made. After that, I sent out an email that needed to go out three weeks ago. There is a lot involved in putting on the Chicot Challenge. Sometimes I wish I could just train and swim, but things are not like that. By then it was too late to go to the pond because I stay with Mom on Wednesday. I did, however, have time to lift weights, and since I was so week Monday and since it would give me time to hang out with Bear, I thought a good lift would help recapture some of my waning strength.

On the bench, I did

31 X 76
15 X 105
10 X 125
8 X 130

Incline dumbbell
10 X 30

Swim Pull
25 X 23 + 3
26 X 24 + 3
27 X 24.5 + 3
10 X 24.5 + 3
10 X 24.5 + 3

I did some other stuff too. The plan now is to get back to the pond for the next two days. We have now entered the critical period of the buildup. Chicot is about six weeks away. Every stroke counts. Help me Lord to stay healthy, to stay motivated, and the to stay faithful to you.

Real Haikus

suffering Servant,
man despised and rejected,
died for our sins

the Word memorized 
flies through the mind like a bird
rejoicing the heart

a smile on each face,
a new day for Centerville,
the birds sing with us

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

A Day without the Dogs

Tuesday, I made it to the pond but I was all alone except for God, the angels, and birds. Birds are everywhere on the fish farm. I missed the dogs as soon as I drove up. Bear will not be out here for a week or two and that itself will present some issues. How will he feel/react when I take with Pee Wee and leave him at home? Oh well, I can't bridge that cross until I get there.

Unlike so often of late when I get to the farm, I had good weather (cloudy and a tad cool but no real threat of rain and no wind to speak of) and plenty of time. I was taping my nose at 2:00 o'clock. I started swimming at about 2:15.

Surprisingly, the water was 70 degrees where I wade in. I expected a little warmer, but it was nice, actually perfect, refreshing. I started swimming easily. One lap and then two. This year I have not swum over three straight without taking a break to drink and to feed. I swam three and then decided to go for four straight. On the fourth lap I saw something red at the edge of the water. I got closer and held my head up a little longer when I took a breath on that side. It was a red-winged blackbird. She was in the water at the pond's edge, then hopped out onto the bank and flew away. I always experience beauty and edification at the fish farm.

After four laps, I decided to go for five. Since the water was as flat as glass, the pond was extra pretty, and I was able to get into my all-day rhythm. At the end of five I kept stroking. My goal was to swim a little over the 5.19 that was my longest of the year which I did two weeks ago. After six, I knew I only had one lap and maybe a little more to go. When I rounded the western corner of the pond, my watched buzzed, and I stopped long enough to see if it had lost the signal or if that was indeed five miles. It was five miles and I had almost half a lap to go to get back to the truck. Swimming straight in would give my what I wanted for the day.

At the thermometer (my starting and stopping place), I checked my watch and it registered 3.36 miles in 2:48 at a pace of 31:32 per mile. I climbed out, but the dogs were not there to greet me as they usually are. After getting out, I did a set of dumbbell curls with the ten pounders I carry in the back of the truck. I did 52 reps and it was then time to go home. Praise God for a nice swim and an abundance of beauty.

Bear Scare

I left work on the Moorhead campus, Tuesday, and headed straight for the pond. Because that meant the dogs would not be with me, I had some funny feelings about that, like I was cheating on them or something. Furthermore, I had felt bad all day because of what happened the day before. 

Monday, I took the dogs like I always do. When we got near the pond, I let the them out of the truck like I always do. They were excited like they always are. We re-started towards the pond like we always do. I ran over one of the dogs like we never do.

Yeah, it happened. 

We had gone a little way, fifty yards, a hundred, so he had to be moving. I felt the front tire of the truck go over something, heard a dog yelp, and saw Bear get off the asphalt and limp three-legged to the side of the road and lie down. 

There are no words for how I felt. 

I jumped out, ran to him, looked him over. His back left leg was the one he didn't put down. Nothing was obviously broken but he had some road rash. I picked him up, carried him to the truck, and placed him on the back seat. I got Pee Wee and we headed towards the vet's. 

On the way, I thought about the ending of the Gospel of Mark. "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature." That means Bear is included. "And these signs shall follow them that believe . . . they shall lay hands on the sick and they shall recover." I reached back and laid my right hand on Bear's head and began to quote this passage while I prayed. After a minute or two, Bear stood up in the back seat and put weight on his left leg. Don't tell me God is not real.

The plan was to take Pee Wee home and then get Bear to the hospital. Since Bear started perking up as we got closer to home, and since we already owe the vet a huge sum of money, I said to myself, If he gets out of the truck and walks to the back yard, I will take it that God has truly touched him.

He climbed out and walked, slowly, but he walked with all four legs, to the back yard. I thanked God, but had little desire to swim so I stayed home and hung out in the back yard so I could keep and eye on him. He was obviously sore and stiff but apparently OK.

Tuesday I thought about him all day. I toggled back and forth between rejoicing and feeling terrible. He was under the outbuilding before I went to work so we don't know how he was. Even though it was an accident, I felt guilty while feeling thankful to God at the same time. Penny texted me at lunch and said he was out and moving gingerly. 

I lifted weights, which I needed to do anyway, and it also kept me in the back yard. Bear was looking at me suspiciously. That tears my heart. Surely he doesn't think I hurt him. Will he ever want to get in the truck with me again? I had a little feist once that went with me almost everywhere. One fall day, we took a long run in Carroll County when the temperature was high. She got a bit overheated and barely made it in. The next time I cranked my auto, instead of running for the fence to go with me, she ran and hid. The pain that caused me was immense. She never went with me again.

Having missed lifting last week, I noticed a discernible drop in my strength. I couldn't hold the six reps at 140 on the bench. I need to turn that around. There is time.

Thank you, Jesus for touching Bear. Thank you for putting him into our lives. We love him and want his best. Continue to bless him and keep us safe when we go to the pond. Amen.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Most Bestest Haikus

To the reader: no less of an expert as Samuel Lott has told me it is OK to break the strict 5/7/5 format. So there.

her beauty awakes,
the challenger prepares,
their rendezvous comes

lengthening days
wake his loving memory,
he seeks her return

his lover waits 
while he sits in a classroom,
walls can't hold his mind

Another Cancelled Training Session

I missed another training day, and I don't know if I want to talk about it or not. I had several important errands to run before I could shake lose. First I had to pay the utility bill. Then I went by Barry Brewer's to check on the T-shirts, but he wasn't in. After that, I thought it prudent and the adult thing to do to take our tax stuff over to the CPA. I am a champion procrastinator and should have done this long ago.

Once past all of this, I loaded the dogs and headed to the pond. Then something happened, and I had to turn around and head back home. I'll tell you about it later, but right now it is too intense for me even to write. Anyway, I am not going to DSU tonight. At least that is the plan now. Instead, I hope to go the the pond and bust out a big swim.

Monday, April 10, 2017

4/3 - 4/16

I had a truncated training week due to a shoulder flair up that hit Thursday night while at DSU. I'm not too upset, but I need smooth sailing from here to the Challenge, which, as it does every year, is flying towards us at what seems the speed of light. Monday I had my lazy day at the pond where I swam only 2.05 miles. I had time but not the fire inside to do more. But I did something, the dogs had fun, and on the drive home I spotted two bald eagles.

Tuesday I went to DSU and busted out 6,000 meters. Wednesday I went back to the pond with the dogs and faced the toughest swimming conditions of my life. I wonder if that set me up for what happened Thursday. In the waves I swam, my shoulders became as tired as they ever have although I only swam 2.2 miles.

Thursday I went to DSU and swam

16 X 50 It was on the fast 50s that I started having difficulties.
100 easy I tapped out.
Total: 1,900 meters.

I took the rest of the week off and only totaled 14,831 meters. I pray that is enough and that I can resume heavy training this week. After last week, I was 96,314 meters ahead of 2016. Unfortunately, I gave some of those meters back last week. Be that as it may, God is still good, we had a nice day at church, and I have hope for the future. Bless His holy name.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Church Haikus

Suffering servant,
despised by man, rejected,
died for our sins

people bow their heads,
pastor prays the word in faith,
car passes outside

crows break silence,
songbirds join the Lord's chorus,
church sings hymns to God

Troubled Waters

Pee Wee, Bear, and I went to the pond Wednesday afternoon. The wind was allegedly blowing 24 miles per hour. I say "allegedly" because I have been out there before when it was supposed to be blowing that hard and it was nothing like it was this week. When I drove up to D 10 and looked at the raging water, I thought that looks crazy. But then again, I like crazy so I might fit right in.

I did sit in the truck a long time and tried to get my courage up. Finally, I waded in and stood there for minutes while the dogs barked at me. Why do they do that? The wind was blowing straight out of the west and the pond runs long way east and west. I get in on the east side and swim west, so I was looking straight into one foot waves.

When I started swimming, it was like riding a bicycle into a strong wind only worse. Breathing was difficult because of the waves. I had to lift my head higher and wait a split second to see if I was clear or not. Sometimes a wave would cover me up. 

It seemed to take forever to make it to the west end where I did get some shelter. The water there was basically flat, a light chop, but flat. I doubled that end to enjoy some normal water then headed east down the long northern levee. At first the push I got from the wind and water moving with me was exhilarating. I felt like I was smoking with speed. But about a third of the way down, the chop turned back into waves and then it was truly tough again. The waves lifted me up and down and threatened my breathing. At one point, I thought this is dangerous. You could easily drown in conditions like that. There were times when I rolled to breath and my head stayed under water because a wave covered it. 

When I made it to the east end and turned sideways to the wind, it was a whole new set of challenges. I had to fight to keep from getting driven to the bank and slammed on shore. My mind was going back and forth between this is crappy and this is neat. I sort of liked it while I sort of hated it.

I did one more lap, once again doubling the west end. By the time I got back to the east end, my shoulders were exhausted. In those conditions, every stroke is different. The hands are constantly readjusting, trying to return the body to the correct position.

I arrived at work on the Moorhead campus Thursday morning only to open the back door of my truck and find no computer there. What?!?!?!?!? That means I could not blog while my students were revising their papers. I have become almost addicted to writing and my job allows me to do a lot of it. It was a long tough day that ended with me at the DSU pool where I had hopes of busting out big yards, but alas it was not to be. My right shoulder started hurting a little and I thought it better to tap out and cause any real problems. Before I climbed out, I swam

800 warm up
16 X 50 
100 easy

It was one the fast 50s that I started having trouble. The next set was 3 X 150. I would have loved to have done that, but better sorry than safe. Now I lie here and peck at the keyboard and ponder what to do. Normally, Friday is my big training day, but I am thinking of taking off. The cats miss me, and I have lots of studying to do.

Praise God for all the meters I got and the opportunity to hang out with the cats and prepare to preach.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Tuesday Pool

I'm keeping the mix going, the contrast between the pond and the pool. At DSU, we started with

800 warm up 15:53 (1:58)

Then we were assigned a pyramid set (ladder really) of 100, 200, 300, 400, 400, 300, 200, 100. On the way up, we swam with buoy and medium paddles. On the way down, we swam with buoy only. Each 100 was swum as breathing 3, 5, 7, fast per 25. Twenty seconds rest on all.

100 1:30
200 3:05
300 4:36
400 6:07
400 6:48
300 5:01
200 3:18
100 1:40

Then I swam 200 (3:26) with medium paddles while the other swimmers finished. After that, I caught Ricky at the wall and asked him how much he had left. He had a 200 and a 100 to go so I swam those with him.

200 3:38
100 1:45

That was the end of Masters Practice. On my own, I swam

2,000 39:38
5 X 100 medium paddles @ 2:15
200 easy
total: 6,000 meters.

God is good. Bless His name.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Civil Disobedience

Civil Disobedience
By Jay Unver

(Lehrton, MS) Downtown Lehrton erupted into a full-scale riot Monday night. The violence and ferocity of the protesters caught the Lehrton police as well as the sheriff's department off guard, understaffed, and unprepared.

Ever since Zane Hodge, the locally popular athlete, was sentenced to a massive fine, stripped of several world titles, and banished from Big ASS Endurance for a period of not less than one year, protests have been constant but peaceful. That all changed when one of the members of the Barber Shop tossed a rock through the window of the Lehrton Police Department. It was like a great dam burst, but instead of sending water downstream, rioting, fighting, burning, and destruction ensued.

In short order, the streets, already full of protesters carrying signs that read things like, "Hodge Was Framed," "The Russians Hacked Hodge," and "Hang Randy Beets," were set ablaze. A small group of masked men rolled some eighteen-wheeler tires onto the east end of Greasy Street and set them on fire. Within minutes, the west end of Lehrton's most trafficked thoroughfare was similarly set ablaze. 

Firearms were pulled from pickup trucks and blast after shotgun blast went off, many into the air, but I witnessed one of the Barber Shop crew shoot out the plate glass window of City Hall. Several stop signs were also rudely treated by the Barber Shop. The confused police watched in fear as trash cans were toppled from the sidewalks onto the streets, advertising billboards shot, and a squad car keyed.

When the highway patrol showed up to try to restore order, James Smootie released a caged raccoon onto Greasy Street and not long after that several pickup tailgates dropped and the coon hounds were set free. At least thirty dogs bawled and tracked the frightened coon, knocking over pedestrians and causing panic to an already wild setting.

The cheerleaders from the Lehrton High were on the sidewalks cheering and chanting for Hodge to be freed. When asked why they thought Hodge, who was not in jail, needed to be free, their reply was: "Because Beets is a jerk."

The Barber Shop, being mostly creeping-old men, soon wore themselves out and sat down to listen to the dogs run. The violence ended when the hounds treed the coon in City Park and the Barber Shop hobbled over along with the Lehrton County Coon Hunters Club, leaving the streets littered and burning but abandoned, save the cheerleaders who were by then cheering, "What do we want? Beets' death; when do we want it? Right now."

As of Tuesday morning, smoke was still rising from the streets of Lehrton. Downtown is closed to all traffic and business until further notice from the police department, said Chief of Police Jim Bob Duggin.

Haikus Wrote on Drive

sheep lying in field,
babies suckle gentle moms,
large dog guards the flock

leaves flicker, some fall,
green, orange, yellow, red,
air cools and birds sing

as a tender plant
He grew, suffered, died and rose,
my Lord and my God

Monday Pond

The dogs and I went to the pond. We had a good time. On the way, I saw David Rutherford, my pond guide and friend, so I stopped and we chatted a bit. He took me to Tackett's second hatchery and showed me around some. This is a huge building behind their offices where they grow fish. He told me that they hatched 46 million fish out of there last year and he thought they could do 60 million this year. Thank God for the fish business because it provides me good places to swim and run the dogs and good food to nourish myself and my wife.

The wind was crazy again when Pee Wee, Bear, and I arrived at the pond. D 10 looked wild, like a small sea during a strong storm. Why does that impact me emotionally in a negative way? I dragged and dragged. I stretched, slowly changed clothes, booted my watch, listened to the radio. Finally I duct-taped my nose and waded into the water. Once standing in the pond, I stood there a long time and tried to get my courage up. Bear and Pee Wee looked and barked and whined. Why do they do that? What do they think? Bear will actually swim with me a little bit sometimes. Is he trying to save me or does he just want to be with me? I wish I knew. 

The wind was strong from the southwest so when I began swimming to the west, I was pounded in the head by four to six inch waves. One wave hit so hard that my ears started ringing. Slowly I stroked westward bobbing like a fishing cork on a bream bed.

I made my way around to the smoother side of the pond. Going east on the south side of the pond was like riding a bicycle with the wind to my back. I felt like I was flying, like the old days when I was swimming with Randy Beets and passing him. I didn't really want that rough chop anymore, so I turned around and headed back west on the more sheltered side. There was some resistance, but not a bunch. When I got to the west end, I did a lollipop loop around the pole that marks the drain and headed back east. I stayed on that side until my watched buzzed at what I knew was the wrong time. That meant it lost the satellite signal. I stopped and reset the watch. Seeing I was not too far from two miles, I headed for the truck.

I got out with 2.05 miles (3,298 meters). I thought I'd take a break, but as I sat in the truck and watched the water's waves, I became lazy and just didn't want to get back into the pond. A failure for sure. So I drove home with the hopes of knocking off some big distance later in the week.

Praise God who has provided play for an old boy who needs it. Thank you, Jesus. 

Monday, April 3, 2017

3/27 - 4/2

The Lord gave me another good training cycle. Monday, I took the dogs to the pond and did my longest swim of the year, 5.03 miles in 2:47:23 at a 33:18 pace.

Tuesday I went the DSU for 4,100 meters which included some middle distance quality (800 with some push).

Wednesday I was back with the dogs at D 10 for 3.3 miles. The pace was quick (for me - 29:41) even though the water was choppy. I am getting used to swimming chop.

Thursday it was back to DSU for 4,500 meters and some pretty tough sets. I did 11 X 200 and some other stuff.

Friday is big pond day from now 'till Chicot VI. I swam 5.19 miles, now my longest of the year, in a 29:18 pace. The water was flat, the dogs were happy, and I felt free, smooth, and strong in the water.

Saturday, I lifted at Plate City Gym. On the bench press, I pushed

28 X 75
8 X 105
7 X 125
6 X 140
6 X 140
6 X 140 

From now until Chicot, I am reducing to one big lift day per week and I'm simply trying to maintain the strength I have now on the bench and Swim Pull.

On the Swim Pull, I did

15 X 21.5 + 3 washers
20 X 21.5 + 3
25 X 23 + 3
26 X 24.5 + 3
10 X 26 + 3
10 X 27 + 3
12 X 27 + 3

For the week, I swam 30,352 meters. That was my first 30,000 meter week. Although not the earliest I have hit the big 30, this year's weeks have been consistently higher than my last build up for the big swim. Last year this week, I hit a little over 16,000. I pulled that number out of my memory from looking at my old training diary last week. Since I don't have last year's with me now, I don't know exactly how far ahead I am, but I think it is a bit over 40,000 meters. 

Thank you, Jesus.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Friday Pond Trip

I started to title this "Day at the Pond" but I'm not spending full days there yet. Friday was a half day at the pond. Next week, I hope to stay a little longer. The dogs and I got there around 12:00 pm, and I began my routine of setting out my thermometer, stretching, and taping my nose. I began to stroke at about 12:30.

The water was 72 degrees where my thermometer was, but it was much cooler on the west end. Surprisingly, the water was stratified. I could feel much colder water when my hands dig deep to pull me along. A couple of weeks ago and I couldn't feel any coldness under the surface. Funny how the ponds change, up and down in terms of temp. Just Wednesday the water was at least 75. Friday I could even feel that the water was cooler on my nose and lips than on the exposed skin closer to the surface. I was surprised that the ponds lost that much warmth with only one rain and one cloudy day. But that's OK with me because it was still warm enough to stay in as long as I wanted and pretty soon the water will start getting uncomfortably hot. Right now they are perfect, but perfections doesn't last long in Mississippi.

I went with the purpose to swim easy but try to out distance Monday's swim by just a little. I took it by laps and swam three, three, and one consuming only two gels and ten ounces of Gatorade. I felt good and got what I wanted. I could have swum more, but I am ahead of last year, and I don't want to peak too early.

After the swim, I did a set of dumbbell curls, 50 X 10, and a squat set of 10 X 30. The dogs and I then took a walk and I tried to shuffle a little. I went .11 on the jog and the knee didn't like it. I am losing hope that I will ever run again.

Besides the weights, I swam 5.19 miles (8,350 meters) which brought my week's total to 30,352 meters., my highest of the year. If experience is any guide, 30,000 is where I start building Chicot endurance.

Praise God for good health, a good pond, and good dogs.