Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Weather Woes

The Chicot Challenge always challenges me in several ways. The training is something I enjoy but after a full buildup of the kind of preparation it takes to swim all day, to borrow a phrase from BB King, "The trill is gone." Not only that, but the planning, crew building, T-shirt design, ordering, fundraising, and endless social media updates tend to steal time and grind me down. I have a job. I have a wife. I have cats even that miss me and I them. I am not complaining, mind you, just explaining.

The part that gets me most, however, is having weather issues. Every year starting fourteen days out, I am watching weather forecasts like a bankrupt stock trader following the S&P 500. I think, pray, watch, and try to relax because why fret over what you can't change? Nevertheless I often fall prey to fretting. Lord forgive; Lord help.

Last year, with great reluctance I postponed the swim one week due to consistent predictions of 85% chance of thunderstorms. It didn't rain in Greenwood that day and according to the evening news out of Greenville, it didn't rain over there either. It did, however, rain the next week when we pulled off the swim on a 30% forecast. I enjoyed the rain. We had no lightening, and swimming in the rain is sort of like God showering you with honey but you don't get sticky. I know. That's a poor metaphor but that's as good as I can do right now. But get the takeaway. Swimming in the rain is a glorious experience for any open water stroker. The problem is we get little precipitation around here with an accompaniment of lightning bolts.

For the last three day, the forecast for June 3 has vacillated between 50 and 80% chance of rain. Right now it sits at 60. My gut says go for it. I don't know what I'm going to do, but I have to make a decision within 36 hours. Part of me wants to trust God and go for it. Part of me leans towards exercising restraint and thinking of the crew's safety. 

I am praying a lot. Last year God used the postponement to rebuild the crew and show me that His way is better than mine. What is He trying to show me now? Why do I have to go through with this? Maybe I won't know the answer to these questions until a week or two after the swim.


Praise the Lord anyway. Thank you for problems, Lord Jesus and help me to lean on you:

     Lean not unto thine own understanding.
     In all thy ways acknowledge him and he shall direct thy paths. 
     (Proverbs 3:5-6)

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Up the Road

        I never met one who could run worth a durn. In fact, they don’t run at all except when they’re little. But when they get big, they just don’t do it. He was the only one I ever knew who even tried.
        He came trotting up the road like a big toad frog that had been bit too many times. It was pitiful, but at least he was trying. I came out in the road and at first he acted like he was afraid of me. I never understood them that way. How can they be afraid of me?
        His fear went away, but I could tell he didn’t want me along. I went anyway. I’m glad I did because not far up the road where all the trees start, I started having the best time. And the big hill, you should have seen him trying to run up that thing. I didn’t think he would make it. At the top, he was making a lot of mouth noise, and I thought he might fall down.
        When we got to the other road, I started feeling strange, out of place and far from home. I don’t know why, but I thought about Momma and how she might be worried about me. He even told me to go home, so I did. I turned around and ran all the way back to Momma’s box.

        It was a long time before I saw him again. Meanwhile, I had grown up, but he was about the same-- he still couldn’t run. This time when I came out in the road, he smiled a little. But he was afraid, only I could tell it was not me he feared; he feared something up the road. I could feel it. He feared going up the road in the dark.
        They are like that. My mom and dad fear the dark and never get out of their box at night unless it is to get in their running box. I think it’s because they can’t see. They are almost blind when the sun goes down, and they never go around without some kind of shine. He had a little shine coming out of his head, but it wasn’t much, not like a running box shine.
          I could feel his fear go down when I stayed with him a little while. Then we got to the tress where all the smells are, and we went up the hill. He was still pitiful on that hill. I was afraid he might fall down and roll to the bottom. Why did he do it? I guess he just didn’t have a running box.
        I also noticed how if I stayed out ahead of him very long, he would make that sound with his mouth. For some reason, when he made that sound, I would always come back, and I could feel his fear going down as I drew near. He even spoke words to me. “Stay close,” he said. I liked that, and I stayed close. He needed me. He was afraid when I was far and happy when I was close. That made me happy. We were a team.
        We went up the road together a long way until he turned in at another box. I stopped in the road and watched him. He stopped trying to run and walked up the little road to the box and he went inside. He looked back at me a long time before going inside. He was thankful, I could tell. He didn’t need me now that he was at the other box, so I went home.
        He came back a few days later still trying to run, but he had not gotten any better. He looked like he was trying to stomp flies, but even a sick fly could get out of his way. I was so happy to see him that I ran out fast and crashed into him and almost knocked him over. He didn’t even get mad at me, but he smiled real big and said, “Hey boy.” That made me feel good.
        We went up the road together.
        He was not afraid, maybe because the sun had not gone down. Since he was not afraid, I felt free to run off the road some when we got to all the trees where the smells are. I sniffed a lot. There are so many smells in the trees that it drives me crazy.
        He stomped up the hill.
        I sniffed and emptied and peed on stuff.
        On the other road, some running boxes came by. Now I knew to get out of the way and go into the trees. He liked that. We went further up the road, and I heard somebody like me warning us to stay away from their box. I felt uneasy, but he told me to stay close. I liked that. I protect him in the dark; he protects me in the light. We are a team.
        We went all the way to the other box. He went inside. I went home.

        He came by again, and we went up the road. We went by the trees and I sniffed and peed on stuff. We went up the hill. I ran by him like he was a rock. I didn’t care if he couldn’t run. I hoped he knew I didn’t care that he couldn’t do nothing. I just liked being with him. We had fun.

        Then he quit coming by. It’s been a long time. Now, I mostly just lie around in the yard and wonder when he’s coming back. Why is he waiting? Is he ok? Does he think he has to run like me? Doesn’t he want to be a team anymore? I just want to see him and hear that clicking sound coming from his mouth. I spend my days being sad and looking down the road and wondering when he’s coming back. When he does, I’ll be here and we’ll be a team and we’ll go up the road together.

Monday, May 29, 2017

5/22 - 5/28

Another week of training has come and gone, and now we sit on the edge of the cliff. Chicot is scheduled for Saturday, June 3. Physically I should be ready. Mentally, well, I'm working on that. Weather wise, the forecast looks like doo doo. 

The biggest thing I am wrestling with is do we go ahead in the face of a high possibility of precipitation. Last year, I postponed the swim by one week because of the weather predictions. It didn't even rain that day, and I lost my all-star crew in the process. What we had left, crew-wise, was little Centerville, Team Centerville and I now call them. It turned out to be a sweet and blessed swim and our friends did an amazing job despite having little experience. 

So what is God telling me? He showed me He can build a better crew than me. OK, I get it. But what about this year? I am going with His crew, but do I reschedule if the weatherman says 80% chance of rain as he is now, or do I go ahead with the swim in faith? I really do not know.

Monday I did nothing, and I don't remember why. Tuesday I swam 3.32 miles. Wednesday, I passed another kidney stone. Yeah, just like the week before, I passed a huge stone and then went swimming. I got 2.35 miles. Thursday I made it back to the pond for 2.16 miles. I wasn't feeling it. I wasn't feeling it all week.

Friday, we went to Jackson so no training then. Saturday, however, I felt it was time for some real swimming so I did one of my benchmark swims: a four hour non-stop, non-feed effort. I did 7.23 miles in four hours and nine minutes. Now it is time for radical taper, but I do need to swim several times this week.

Please pray for good weather. One of my biggest concerns is MJ Staples who is coming in from Atlanta to be the Official Observer. Rescheduling throws a monkey wrench into everybody's plans. 

Oh well, praise the Lord anyway. Jesus said, "Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof."

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Benchmark Swim

I have several benchmark swims I try to do before Chicot each year. I did one today, one week before the swim. A good judge of my ability to swim all day is to swim for four hours, nonstop and without nutrition. Today, I checked that one off the list. I swam 7.23 miles in four hours and nine minutes. I did get a little tired and a little hungry, but according to what I've experienced in the past, I should be ready. Now to get the mind right. I am getting a little excited, but at the same time I feel like I am sleep walking.

Now to swim down a little next week. This week was a reduction of training from the week before and this long swim was shorter than my long swims of late. But next week will be a radical taper. The pool is still not open so I will have to drive to the pond every day for some short swims.

Praise God for that beautiful sky.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Countdown Begun

Yeah, I am getting nervous. I always do. Once inside the two week window, what I call the countdown phase, the nerves start rising. At this point, the fitness is either built or it is not built. The trick is not to de-train while resting and getting the mind right. Presently, my mind is not right. Yesterday I started doing some of the little things, like rigging up a new rope that will have my feeding bottle attached to it. Last year's apparatus was a little too short. I found an old strap that I thought would be perfect, so I added a float and some pink duct tape for style and visibility.

Oddly, I did not swim Monday. I think I am still traumatized from running over Pee Wee last Thursday. Monday was rainy and that always makes me lazy. Then after lunch, CC climbed up on the bed with me and took a nap. That did me in. I napped with her and then felt terribly guilty for not doing anything.

Tuesday, I did the work on the feeding rope and afterwards headed to the pond with the dogs. Pee Wee was not shy about getting out and running. He still gets in front of the truck and after running over two dogs, that makes me really nervous. Bear, however, has not been in front of the truck since our accident. He is an unusually smart dog, and I don't think you could run over him now if you tried. Pee Wee, on the other hand, is still as wild as ever and most of the time is out of sight running just ahead of the vehicle's front tires. We did make it to the pond and back without incident.

There I swam four laps plus and a little extra. On what I call the backside (the south levee), I did some pickups. On each lap I upshifted to 85% or higher for increasingly longer lengths on every trip around. I started with the first telephone pole on the backside and swam hard to the first aerator. On the second trip, once more starting at the first pole, I busted it to the second aerator. On the third trip, I burned it to the wildflowers that are just before the third aerator. The fourth time around, I just kept it easy. I finished with 3.32 miles.

Tuesday, I also contacted the Greenwood Commonwealth and WXVT about the swim. I hope they provide coverage because the Commonwealth article has always caused a spike in donations in the realm of $500 to $600. Charles Corder has not responded so I can only pray that I will receive a call from Bob Darden who usually writes the article. Woodrow Wilkins of WXVT only sent a thumbs up emoticon in response to my message. Oh well, the ball is in their court. If you pray, pray for this, pray for good weather on June 3rd, and pray for the swim's success and the crew's safety. 

Praise be to God.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

My Love Doth Wake

Cypress tees are sentinels
  who tell their tales to God.
Angels sit on their knees,
  clouds drift and block moon rays.
Frogs speak an unknown tongue,
  she warms with the rising sun.
The lengthening days break her sleep,
  the challenger returns to her beauty.
She gives him great favor.

Monday, May 22, 2017


lonely cat hunts bird 
that sings love for all to hear,
snow flakes lands on nose.

small mouse scampers fast,
acorn in his tiny mouth,
hides from falling snow.

cats nap without shame,
man enjoys his lazy pets,
sleet pelts house's roof.

5/15 - 5/21

It was another strange week. I have had lots of those this time around. The totals were pretty good but with only three days in the water I feel a little strange, untrained. It went like this.

Monday I got a big one in at D10 with 8.22 miles. Eight-milers are always good. Tuesday I was laid up with kidney stones. Wednesday I passed two stones and then went out for a short 3.33 afterwards. Thursday did another big one, 10.4 miles. That is my longest training swim ever and it popped me pretty hard.

I intended to swim Friday but I was tired and had things I needed to do around the house like mow the lawn and word on Plate City Gym. Believe it or not, I do like to do things other than swim, and I even need to do other of these other things. Saturday, I studied, did some work on Plate City, made some visitation for the church, and intended to go out for another short swim. But once home, I became lethargic and stayed in. Only three swims, but 35,315 meters. Strange as it may seem, I am nervous about my fitness. The scarcity of swims and the lack of running has cast a cloud of doubt into my mind. What else is new?

Chicot is less than two weeks away. 

Lord, I believe. Help thou mine unbelief. 

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Man, Boy, Child Again

child watches dad hunt,
boy wander big woods alone,
man dreams of young days.

boy wanders and hunts,
man pursues others interests,
old man remembers.

Friday, May 19, 2017


I don't even want to tell you about it. You will judge me I am sure. I took the dogs to the pond and we had a time, bad and good. Here's the story.

Pee Wee has become habituated to a barking fest with a lab that chases us as we drive by on our way to our pond. The little turd goes nuts and barks about 120 times per minute. Bear hates it, and I'm not too crazy about it myself.

I crack the back windows about six inches so the little beast can stick his head out and let the world know he owns the truck we travel in. Well, the lab met us early (did he know we were coming) and Pee Wee weaseled out the window and hit the pavement at I don't know what speed. The way I knew he was out was I heard him hit the asphalt. He rolled and rolled and rolled and rolled and came out of his last roll into a dead run. Amazing. He went straight for the lab who just froze. I've seen the little turd fight before. He can be aggressive. 

He did a quick stare down at the frightened bigger dog then bolted back into a wide open run. Me yelling his name at the top of my lungs didn't slow him a step. So I jumped back in and tore out to catch him. We were still miles from the pond and it was much too hot for him to run all the way. He was running all over the road, but to his credit, when a vehicle approached, he always moved to the shoulder on our side of the road.

I could see him getting hot so I pulled up onto a pond levee and he hit the water. Pee Wee can't stop. Usually he runs out into the water and gulps once or twice without ever stopping. This time he was really hot and dry but he can't stop. That's just the way he rolls. What does he do? He swims out into the pond and drinks while swimming in circles. That dog.

Back on the pavement we made another mile or two, and I once more became concerned for him so I hit another levee. This time the water level was low and there was a steep drop to the surface. Pee Wee can't stop so he kept running to the edge and peering over and then moving on and peering over. I suppose he wanted to see if there was water on the other side of the levee. That's when it happened. He ran in front of the truck. I was only going about five miles per hour but somehow I felt that bump bump and heard that sickening yelping. Yeah. I did it again. I have now run over both of my dogs.

He had blood in his mouth and that almost freaked me totally insane. I picked him up and put him in the back seat. What to do? The vet is closed. How bad is he injured? When we got to the pond, the blood was gone. I let him out, and he just limped off. He went all the way to the other side of the pond and waded in and stood there. That looks odd, I thought so I went over there but he didn't let me get close. I tried and tried but he wouldn't let me near him. I went back to the truck and cried.

I was as low as a tad pole's toe nail when I waded into the water and began to swim. I have several friends with problems. I hear bad new on social media. I ran over my dog. He won't let me touch him. I prayed and prayed and swam and swam. Finally, Pee Wee showed up on the south levee and followed along like he always does. But he only made one length and disappeared. 

I took a break after 3.75 miles. Pee Wee was nowhere in sight. Then I looked under the truck. He was there. At least I knew he hadn't run away. I swam some more and pushed the total up to 6.26. When I got out for a break, this time Pee Wee came out and spoke to me. He let me pet him, and he licked my hand. I sat in the cab of the truck and cried.

I swam again and again. The last mile, I stopped several times to adjust my goggles, check my Garmin, and ponder if I wanted to continue. When the watched buzzed ten miles at the upper end of the pond, I turned and swam back to the truck. I felt like I had been steamrolled and Pee Wee had been. Every muscle in my upper body was shot. Remember, I swam 8.22 Monday, passed two kidney stones Tuesday, and swam 3.33 Wednesday. I was done. Pee Wee loaded into the cab with no problem. He only barked a lot on the drive to Greenwood. I carried him in my arms like a little baby to the back yard when we got home. That dog.

Thank you Jesus creating this dog and saving him in this accident. Thank you for a good day of training; thank you for a good week of training.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Hodge Appeals

Hodge Appeals
By Jay Unver

(Lehrton, Mississippi) Attorneys representing Zane Hodge appeared before Dr. Timothy Nomann this morning at the Association's Training Center in downtown Lehrton, MS. The special called conference was part of an expected appeal of the star swimmer's suspension. In a surprise move, however, lead lawyer Tom Flanagan reiterated his and his client's acceptance of the Association's banishment. What he did ask for was not a repeal of the suspension, but a temporary dispensation allowing the Chicot Challenge VI to be an official swim carrying "full recognition by Big ASS Endurance." 

"After all," Flanagan argued, "this is a charity swim benefiting children and adults in Mississippi. To reduce the swim to unofficial status could result in lower levels of giving, and that could never be the Association's intent."

Furthermore, Flanagan noted that his client had already missed the Viking Half Marathon as well as the Natchez Trace Festival 5K. "We propose a one day exception to the suspension with the banishment resuming as soon as Chicot VI is completed. Hodge still pays a tremendous price, but his transgressions are not passed on to innocent children."

Dr. Nomann listened without comment. Lawyers representing the Association offered no counter argument. Nomann then promised a ruling within one week.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

More Gooder More Better

couple drives to church,
passing pasture full of lambs,
God is their shepherd.

leaves blow across road,
limbs hang over gravel path,
deer stands in shadows.

sun chases darkness,
two deer raise flags and flee,
hunter stalks the woods.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017


I got stoned Tuesday. 

Really, I did. 

So bad that I couldn't train, and I am plenty tired of missing workouts. It's a bit late for that.

It's been building for some time now. Actually about thee weeks ago or more. A dull pain is normally the start and that pain can last seven to ten days. Then the pain vanished for a week or so and I forgot all about it. But it returned for a more days. The stone dropped into my bladder and bounced around in there for almost a week until it began its slow trek from the bladder to freedom.

I mowed the front lawn this morning but after that things became more difficult. I've been lounging all afternoon and getting anxious about tomorrow. I have to train Wednesday. Even if it has not passed, I will be in the water. Moving about with a stone that low is sort of a two-edged sword. Activity normally reduces pain and that is a good thing. Sort of. It reduces pain because the body tightens and that slows or stops the stone's movement. That's a bad thing because the more it moves, the faster it passes. So pain is a good only it hurts. A lot.

This latest round of suffering has reminded me of a Bible verse: 

In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you (1 Thessalonians 5:18). 

So when the stone moves, I grit my teeth, groan, and say, "Thank you Jesus."

Now help me get this thing out. Please. I need to train. 

She feels my pain.

CC seems to know I don't feel well. She's been hanging out with me, and although she is always sweet, she has been more so today.

Thank you Lord.

Pec Says What?

     I went to the pond because I wished to swim deliberately, to front only the          essential facts of swim, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach,              and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not swum.

Monday morning I was free. I stayed in bed a little longer than normal but not much. After rising a drinking coffee, I took a couple of T-shirts by the office so donors could pick them up. I also mailed in some money to the Diabetes Foundation of Mississippi bringing the total thus far to $1,143. Last year at this time, I think it was around $700. I hope that means we will go beyond 2016's total. One goal for Chicot each year is not only to swim farther, but to raise more money for Mississippi's premier diabetes charity.

Then I went to the pond. I went with trepidation. Sunday I noticed a mild sore spot in my right pec. Did I bump something? My weight session Saturday was truncated. Surely that wasn't the problem. I did lots of stretching and some praying. Would it be a limiting factor at the pond? I was yearning for a long swim, maybe another ten-miler, beyond Thursday's even. After some reflection, I realized Thursday's swim was not my first ten mile training swim in years, but my first ten mile training swim ever.

I was a bit late, almost 10:30, getting started. I swam 3.32 miles before stopping for nutrition. During that first swim, I was as deep in doubt as I was in water, and a felt both pectorals during that four + laps of D10. The feelings came and went but the psychological impact came and stayed.

After the first break, I got in and swam another 2.85 miles bringing the total to 6.17. I drank some Gatorade and did some stretching, concentration of the pecs. I was most unsure of myself. I was pushing the envelope. The pec sensations came and went, came and went. Was I breaking down? Was I flirting with injury? This time of year I am a bit of a hypochondriac. How can I not be? So much is on the line, and I am pushing my body beyond hard.

I waded back in and swam 2.05 miles and climbed out to a watch that reak 8.22 miles. I sat in my little folding chair at the tailgate, prayed, and thought. Should I go some more. I really wanted a little over ten miles. The muscles were easily good for it, but would a pec pull? I did some self poking and did find a sore spot on my right pectoral muscle. With that discovery, and considering that 8.22 is a pretty good training stimulus, I decided to tap out. Better sorry than safe, as they say. So I went home early.

What's next? I have conceived a much shorter swim for today and tomorrow, somewhere around 4,000 or a tiny bit more. I may do some crossings at 85% between slow laps. But once more, I will be listening to what my body says and trying to obey.

That you Jesus for a good day at the pond. Pee Wee and Bear enjoyed themselves. That makes me happy. 

Monday, May 15, 2017

5/8 - 5/14

With Chicot rushing at me like a bad storm blowing in, I am beginning to suffer my typical oscillations between excitement and fear. Like preaching, I never feel prepared no matter how much I have swum, lifted, run, and dreamed. This year, I am without any running, I am carrying extra body weight, and I am facing the longest swim of my life. What's to be nervous about?

Monday I did nothing. I don't even remember why. As I glance at my training journal, I only see white paper without even a note explaining my lack of activity. And my lack of recall, what to make of that? Don't answer. I know my age.

Tuesday I went to the pond and swam 5.32 miles (6,950 meters). Why so little? I can't remember. Not that five miles is a bad outcome. I consider that the beginning of swim endurance and that one was my third five miler of the year. But this close to the big day and I am usually swimming myself into a deep ditch of fatigue.

Wednesday I did nothing but this time I wrote something in my journal: Exams and stayed at Mom's. Thursday, however, I had my grades entered into Banner and I went into the Witness Protection Program. I made it to the pond early, the dogs and I, and I swam 10.17 miles (16,363 meters). This allayed some of my fears and relaxed me considerably so much so that when I went back to the pond Friday, I only wanted to loosen up and little and get in some light work. That I did with 3,314 meters.

Saturday I was stricken with lazy. I didn't want to do anything but lounge. Several things were on my list. I needed to do some visitation, needed to swim, and needed to lift weights. All I did was do a truncated session at Plate City Gym. I did four sets of bench presses, three sets of Swim Pull, and a few other things. Then I went inside and lounged.

Still it was a pretty decent training week. I swam 26,267 meters. Not bad, but I need to got over 30,000 next week. I now have the time, motive, and opportunity. Let's see what happens when I am turned loose on D10 for an entire week. 

Praise be to God who hath given me hope and dreams and energy to pursue them.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Short Pond

We had graduation Friday so after that I went home, ate lunch, and tried to take a nap. Then you can probably guess what I did next. Yeah, I went to the pond, but I left the dogs at home. Time was a bit limited, I was tired, and I just wanted to simplify things some. Besides, I didn't plan on staying long. I only wanted a third swim and a chance to see how the muscles felt after the ten-miler.

I mixed things up some starting with one lap for a warm up. Then I got out my small paddles. The small Speedo Power Paddle is my favorite. Few people will swim with them because they always want to go larger. But bigger is not always better, however. I like them because they give me some resistance, but my stroke feels the same. With anything large, the stroke rate slows and it feels funny.

Not only that, but one night at Masters a few months back, I went to pull my paddles out only to find one missing. One paddle is worthless, like one shoe. You have a pair or you have nothing. I thought I must have left one on deck the Masters the week before, so one of the coaches and I made a diligent search of all the storage areas. We struck out. Then at home, I searched everywhere. No paddles.

To make things even worse, when I went online to buy a replacement pair, I could not find that particular paddle. What Speedo now calls their Power Paddle has been totally redesigned. Dude, I just want my paddle back, and I am willing to pay for it. To make a short story long, I was taking a small cooler out of the front of my truck the other day when I saw something peeking out from under the front seat. It was my long lost paddle!!! Hallelujah! HallelujahHallelujah!

The old Speedo small is my favorite.

It is getting a bit late to swim with paddles seeing how Chicot is drawing so near. But I wanted to feel that old feeling one more time. So like I did last week, I added some crossings with the pair of smalls. By the way, I worked out the math and found exactly how far it is across. The swimmable porting is 112.63 meters. I measured the crossing with my GPS watch several times and came up with .07th of a mile. Multiplied by 1609 yields 112 meters. Last week, I had guessed 120. Shoot me, I was wrong. I did four crossing with the paddles and rested about 30 seconds after each. Then I did another slow and easy lap. After that it was two crossing at about 85% effort.

I climbed out after that and stopped with 2.06 miles. Good enough for the day. This brings me to 26,000 and change for the week. Praise be to God. Up next: Monster Week coming to a catfish pond and blog near you. Stay tuned and help me us pray for Chicot Challenge VI. We need good weather, low winds, and protection. I need good training and full recovery from each workout.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Child, Boy, Man

child looks out window,
boy runs barefoot on clover,
man runs for five days.

child runs around yard,
boy runs through the neighborhood,
man does journey runs.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Triumphant Pond

Tuesday's pond swim left me a sadly shaken man and threw an atomic bomb of doubt into my already troubled mind. Wednesday's schedule left no time to train, but Thursday, however, was wide open. Would redemption rescue me Thursday? Does Chicot need to be postponed? Am I racing towards failure and disappointment? These are a few of the question swirling through my tired brain as I left Mom's and went home Thursday morning to begin preparing for a trip to my beloved D10.

I left the house a touch before 9:00 a.m. with Pee Wee and Bear in the truck. Also along for the ride was some determination. I often don't have enough of that, but the lack of Twin Rivers' pool, the extra week of work, and the fact that Chicot is less than three weeks away had me, well, maybe desperate is a better word.

It was almost 10:00 before I started stroking, and I can't even tell you why it takes me so long to get started. Maybe it's because I walk around the truck like a dog and pee few times before getting serious. Then I break out the duct tape and exfoliate the skin on my nose in preparation for a tape job to prevent the brain-eating amoeba from entering my nostrils and killing me. Slowly I change clothes, drop the tail gate of the truck, set a chair up by the tail-gate's table, and roll out the indoor/outdoor carpet that makes the pond levee feel like home. After all of that, I set up my coolers and swimming stuff and then sit down to check Facebook. These things take time.

My first set was less than encouraging. I did 2.64 miles before I got out to drink some water and eat several Snickers which my students gifted me yesterday. The second set was better, and I felt a bit like a swimmer. After the second set (another 2.66 miles), I only took a Gu and some more water. Then on the third set, my triceps felt like they wanted the run away like a disobedient dog. 

Between set three and four, I consumed a Little Debbie Peanut Butter Cream Pie. The next lap was tough; the lap after I grew strong. Dude, did I unbonk? After only a Gu preceding the previous set, I became fatigued, lethargic. Did the Little Debbie take the twenty plus minutes of one lap to begin putting sugar into my bloodstream. I have consumed these before during pond swims and with the exception of ice cream, they give me a bigger and longer kick than anything else I ever ate while training.

Concerning Little Debbie, I don't habitually eat this kind of junk. But when one runs or swims for hours and hours, bad carbs are good carbs. In short, the body needs easy energy and junk food is hard to beat. At Chicot last year, I swam for eight minutes shy of fourteen hours without stopping. I consumed a gallon and a half of Luvel ice cream with no weight gain after the swim. Easy calories with a medium glycemic index (yes, ice cream is NOT high glycemic; high in caloiries but not high glycemic). Apparently, that Little Debbie has a fairly low glycemic index also (the peanut butter, I presume). It takes a little while for it to kick in, but the energy boost is solid and long lasting, and it gives a real sense of satiety.

To make a short story long, I swam for five hours and forty two minutes (actual swim time) and even did a kick set across the pond and back with a set of fins. The watch was on the tail gate when I did the kick set so the total, which was a nice 10.17 miles, was all free styling. Now that's the kind of day at the pond I've been looking for.

Following Thursday's swim, my fragile mind feels fortified. My angst is relieved. My nerves are soothed. I think I can do this. The Bible says, "I can do all things through Christ who strengtheneth me." Thank you Jesus.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Tired Pond

I gave two exams Tuesday on two campuses. That was fun. I made it home, slammed down some food and went to the pond. Bear didn't want to go. That worries me a little. I think it is Pee Wee's barking that bothers him. He will be on the front seat with me while Pee Wee is in the back running from window to window barking like a dog possessed. Bear will look at me, glance to the back, then look back at me. Any question as to what he is saying?

I guess I should crack down on the barking, but the little mutt is so full of it. He wants to run, bite, bark, run, sniff, hunt, fight, and run. Did I mention he likes loves to run? I can't tire him out. I try to run him enough so that he will sleep on the journey home. I haven't been able to do that yet.

So Pee Wee and I showed up at the pond. I didn't even stick a toe in first. This time of year, the water will warm in a day. I made two swims totaling 4.32 miles. I got tired. That is worrisome. I should not get tired in 4.32 miles. Last week lacked a really long swim. My frequency has fallen off lately due to everything imaginable. Have I lost fitness? This is supposed to be THE week, but we are still working and the reason for this has never been explained to us. What else is new; they never explain anything to us. So I asked my students. They always know more about what is going on with the school than the teachers do. They told me it was due to some of the students hoping to graduate had not done everything they were supposed to and needed extra time. That sounds about right.

Today I will have no opportunity to even attempt a short swim. Twin Rivers is still under construction, I have three exams to give, and I have three sets of exams to grade and enter all grades into Banner. Then I stay with Mom on Wednesday so no training is possible. I have been telling all my students that I am entering the Witness Protection Program this afternoon. I have to work Friday. Thursday I am not going to hang around and wait on students to bring things in. I am going to the pond. I did my job and went beyond.

Sorry for the whining. Praise the Lord anyway.

Monday, May 8, 2017

5/1 - 5/7

This will be concise because I really don't want to whine too much. OK, I'll whine a bit. My goal for the week was to swim at least four times and have one long effort of more than eight miles. I swam four times, but my longest effort was only five miles. Sigh. And now, three weeks out which is what both science and experience has shown to be the critical week, when I am supposed to be off work and doing nothing but swimming, I am beginning Hades Week. Sigh.

Monday was my only longish swim of the week when I took the dogs and swam 5.09 miles at my beloved D10. Tuesday I was back with Pee Wee for a 3.27 mile effort. Then Wednesday, I was alone as I swam 4.21 miles and tapped out due to some twinges in my right pectoral muscle.

Thursday, I stayed home and rested for Friday, but as soon as I stepped out the front door, I knew a pond swim was not happening. Call me a sissy, but the 49 degree air sucked all the will out of me to climb into a pond and stay in there for hours. So I went to DSU instead for my first pool swim in I don't know how long. I managed to do

1,300 in 26:40
7 X 100 medium paddles @ 2:00
1,300 26:09
6 X 50 with new forearm paddles @ 1:30
1,300 24:59
total: 4,900 meters.

By the time I got out of the pool, the temps had warmed considerably, and I even thought about going by the pond for a lap or two. But thinking was as far as I made it on that.

Saturday, I did a pretty big weight session at Plate City Gym. On the bench, I did

38 X 76
15 X 105
4 X 135
4 X 135
4 X 135
7 X 125

On the Swim Pull, I got

20 X 25.5
22 X 25.5 + 1
25 X 25.5 + 2
26 X 25.5 + 3
27 X 25.5 + 4
10 X 25.5 + 5

I did a bunch of other stuff, especially a lot of external rotation exercises for my rotator cuff. Thank God, my shoulders are feeling really well. Now, Lord, help me make some lemonade out of this schedule I have been dealt. Thank you Jesus. 

Sunday, May 7, 2017

More Gooder Best Haikus

boy in woods scans limb
searching for quarry to shoot,
he leaves without score.

boy pulls cap over
ears, shotgun cradled in arms.
squirrel runs to hole.

boy pulls bogan down,
aims gun high and shoots,
squirrel falls from tree.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

PSA: Pool Fools

I talked to my cousin Shay the other day. Most of our conversation is top secret, classified. However, part of our talk needs to be revealed. He asked about the big swim next weekend. 


The prime players have already been notified, but I have not posted about Pool Fools. Chicot Challenge is slated for June 3rd and Pool Fools was originally to come off May 13th. That schedule, however, has changed.

Chicot's date remains the same, but the pool swim has been postponed until September (tentatively the 9th). Twin Rivers' pool is still under construction and will be for several more weeks. Debbie Oxnam, Twin Rivers Director, offered to set me up at the Greenwood Country Club pool, but I decided a later date would be preferable for several reasons. One reason is the longer semester we have at MDCC this time around. I will be working all week next week since we are going long this time and I'll be working Friday to boot. Three weeks out is THE peak training week for an endurance event. Now I will be lucky to get in a minimalist training cycle at best. This has me nervous and trying to juggle another swim right now is more than my mind can manage. 

Not only that, but due to the early date and the pool's repairs, some of the swimmers have not had a chance to prepare. The delay will give them the opportunity to get into the water and train. Furthermore, the refurbished pool at Twin Rivers will not have lane lines on the bottom and the the big ex on the wall. That might not seem like a bid deal, but last year I once tried swimming sideways in the pool (to avoid a crowd) and I found the lack of those marks a real hindrance. I actually thought I didn't pay attention to those, but when I approached each wall, I found my ability to judge distance to be off. Over and over I either flipped and had no wall to push off of or got too close and could not flip at all. Go figure. In short, I need practice in the new set up if I am going to swim all day in it.

So that's the long and short of it. The space between the two swims will give me a chance to recover, re-peak, and promote the swim. So stay tuned for more on Pool Fools later and praise God while you wait.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Truncated Pond

I had to attend Awards Day on the Moorhead campus, so you know what that means. After the ceremony, I ate my lunch while driving to my favorite swimming hole. Once more, the water was surprisingly cool, but my shorty came to the rescue. Again.

I missed the dogs as I once more struggled with the ubiquitous chop. While I swam I did some arithmetic in my brain and realized that I could possibly do a 10K or even farther. I stay with Mom on Wednesdays so that put a limit on how long I could stay.

As my watch buzzed for mile one, mile two, and then mile three, I became aware that this was a day I could go as long as I had the time. I got stronger and stronger and stronger and had that yearning to swim for hours. Then I started feeling a sensation in my left pectoral muscle. I have never had a problem with that muscle in my entire. A few years back, I did have a pull in my right pec, and it was problematic for weeks.

Therefore, although everything else felt fine, and I didn't know if the twinge I felt was something real or a phantom pain (things come and go in marathon swimming), I decided against pressing the issue and tapped out at 4.21 miles. It is too late, too close to the Chicot to get injured and that is what often happens when we get greedy and push the envelope. I did some dumbbell work after I got out of the water: 62 X 10 on the curls and 23 X 8 on the triceps kickback. It all felt good.

Wednesday's swim took me to just over 20,000 meters for the week. If I can have a big Friday, I will hit a new distance record for the year. Consequently, I am taking Thursday off to rest and gear up for my hallowed end of the week training session.

I don't know, however, how I will deal with the cold. May the 4th started off at 58 degrees with cloudy skies here in the Mississippi Delta. That follows a night of rain that always pushes the water temps down. The air temperature is supposed to drop throughout the day. Lovely. Praise God anyway. Thank you Jesus for some restraint and helping me to get in some good training.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

No Bear at the Pond

Tuesday I went returned home to pick up the dogs before heading to the pond. When we started to load, Bear trotted back to the fence. I followed him, opened the gate, and he gladly went back in. He didn't want to go. I think it is Pee Wee who gets on his nerves with his incessant barking and that is what made the sweetie rather stay home. I understand. Pee Wee gets on my nerves that way also.

I changed things up swimming to attempt to make this session more like a pool swim. I haven't been in a pool in several weeks, and normally I am swimming Twin Rivers, which is still under repairs, a lot this time of year. Even in the Chicot buildup, I do a lot of variety in the pool, thus I thought mixing things up a bit would be a good idea because physical change ups promote a more complete fitness.

The water was flat for the first time in weeks, and I felt fine, smooth like a silk hankie. With the calm and surprisingly chilly water, I swam well despite a five-miler Monday. On the back side, I did some surges, going telephone pole to telephone pole hard and easy. It was nice to push again for a change. The base of my training this time of year is as much volume as I can get at a moderate to easy pace. But at least every other pool swim, when I'm doing that, will involve some sort of faster swimming. 

Besides the pickups, I stopped and brought out a pair of paddles (medium) and did four times across the pond, about 120 meters each way, with a :30 rest after each. Then I did another lap with some more surges and got out for 22 X 8 on the triceps kick back. After that I did another two crossings with paddles. I got back in for one more short, easy swim to bring the total up to 3.27 miles (5,261 meters) in 1:33 for a fast-for-me 28:25 per mile pace. Nice.

Praise God for a good afternoon at the pond.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Another Gut

I took my gut and the dogs and went to the pond Monday after work. As usual, it was as windy as the countdown to a bad hurricane. What else is new. Since the water had dropped to 71, I squeezed my gut into the little shorty that I have so enjoyed this spring. On days like this one, it gives me just enough warmth to keep my from having to tap out due to losing body parts to the cold.

Little Pee Wee made all the laps with me and my gut. I love that. Last year, I became lonesome. My pond training partner has been gone three years now. My pool training partner was out of pocket all last spring during the Chicot buildup. 

Actually, I like being alone. As a child, I rarely felt the need for playmates and enjoyed entertaining myself then as I have all my life. I liked solitude and quiet. But for maybe the only time in my life, last year I became lonesome with the hours and hours of training day after day, week after week, without another human being in sight.

Not this year.

This time around I have the dogs. Pee Wee and Bear not only ride to the pond with me, but Pee Wee makes every single lap. Bear usually makes the first lap then lounges at the truck for the rest of the pond session. When I breath to my right, I see Pee Wee's energetic self running, lapping water, rolling in stinky stuff, disappearing over the levee to get after something. This gives me great joy, great comfort. I am not alone; I have a friend.

My gut and I swam 5.09 miles in 2:50 @ 33:29. This was a nice start to the week. For the last two, I have only swum three times each. A little slim. I did my usual weightlifting after the swim, then rode home with the satisfaction that I am on pace to be where I need to be by the first of June.

After I got home, had a little supper, and opened a package from, I read Facebook and noticed a post from a young woman who said: "You are stuck up. I saw you and another gut pushing a baby stroller in Kosciusko Saturday, and you did not speak." The other "gut" was Gerald Johnson, and I would have loved to chatted with her but I did not see her. 

Well, my gut and I are sitting in Comp I, and I am thinking about guts. My wife packed me a big lunch today so I can keep my gut up. She likes it too.

Praise be to God who hath blessed me with an abundance of gut. Here's to hoping you and your gut have a nice day.

Monday, May 1, 2017

4/24 - 4/30

I am starting to get a little excited. Somehow it seems that life has been a little busier than normal and I keep getting training sessions knocked out. But my endurance keeps inching upward so "What's big deal?" as my old seminary prof Paul Tashiro would say. 

Monday I did nothing but work and eat. I even ate restaurant food that night. Tuesday I went to the pond after work from the Moorhead campus and swam 3.59 miles (5,776 meters) @ 31:53. Wednesday I was back at the pond with the dogs and swam 3.38 miles (5,438 meters) @ 34:44.

Thursday I decided to stay home and lift weights and rest for Friday. On the bench press I did

37 X 76
10 X 105
10 X 110
10 X 115
8 X 120

That was lighter than I have been lifting, but since I lightened my weights a month or so back, my shoulders have been feeling more sound. Bingo! I am not going to Lake Chicot to lift weights; I am going to swim all day and maybe some of the night. On the Swim Pull machine, I only did

35 X 24.5
21 X 25.9

I did some other stuff, but those are the main two exercises that I believe impact me in the water.

Friday, I left the house with the dogs at 9:15 and swam 8.16 miles (13,129 meters in 4:24 @ 32:21). After swimming, I did a set of 60 X 10 dumbbell curls. I really think this has brought my biceps to a new level because since starting these curls after the swim, I have not felt fatigue in that muscle. Cha ching! Now I am working on the triceps which is a much more important muscle for swimming. I did 13 X 10 on the triceps kickback and 13 X 10 on lateral raises. Call me a sissy, but I can't knock out the big reps on the tri kickback. I need some lighter dumbbells because those high rep sets gorge the muscle with blood which aides vascularization, improves lactic acid buffering, and raises the total fitness level.

Saturday we went to Kosciusko with the Johnsons. I did a bit of walking, but it was all slow so I don't think I received a training effect from that. We did have fun and enjoyed some nice fellowship.

That was the whole of my week, only three swims and one big weight session at Plate City and some light lifting at the pond. For the week, I swam 24,343 meters. I need more now.

Praise God for good health, a good disposition, and a good pond. Thank you Jesus for nice dogs who share the time with me on the fish farm, give me company, and touch me with their joy of life and zest for living.