Sunday, June 29, 2008

Getting Older

I hate to be a whiner about my physical ailments, but my body has been letting me down lately. I know I've asked a lot from it in the last 3 years since I've been doing triathlons. After the two half-marathons this past winter, I was excited about improving my running times at the summer triathlons. Thanks to a knee that would not cooperate, I had to take 3 weeks off from my running and the half-marathon endurance gains evaporated. My knee problem also caused me to miss the Memorial Day Weekend Annual Red Creek trip with ML and the river gang. Next, I had a blood pressure problem the week before the Heatwave Triathlon and worried that I wouldn't be able to participate, but my doctor changed my prescription and said, "if you've been training all this time and have that lifestyle, doing that event is where you need to be." Well, Heatwave was pretty tough for me this year with the knee not back to 100%, but I was happy just to be there.

Here's a success story: Fellow swim team member KE did her first complete tri, the Soak Up the Sun Triathlon and won her age group and beat the times in the age groups above and below. She did the bike leg on ML's 20 year old Peugeot, only having ridden about 30 miles on the bike before the race. (I will add that she can hang with anyone in our advanced spin class). The following weekend she does the swim leg on a relay team at Heatwave and her team wins the mixed relay. That was her second Heatwave relay victory. Her triathlon career stats - 4 races - 3 1st place finishes. Note the eager participants checking the results posted behind me.

Above is the complete Flounder team with Paul's daughter, who cruised through the swim leg at an amazing 10 minutes, 20 seconds , a top 30 finish in a field of over 300. KE was in the top 50 at 11:13, and I made the top 100 at 12:35. Paul rode the bike leg this time.

My next injury, a sciatic nerve flare-up has caused me to miss 2 weeks of workouts. I've had bouts with sciatica before but one morning the pain had me crawling back to the bed. Wifeunit built me a pallet in the back of my 4Runner, and I crawled in and laid out for the trip to the ER. They gave me a shot and some drugs and I'm almost 100% again. I'll see a Physical Therapist Tuesday and go from there.

One thing I did while resting was take another field trip with the Jackson Audubon guys to Harrell Prairie, a big open area in Bienville National Forest with some unique plants and good birding opportunities. The trip gave me a chance to practice with my new digital SLR. Now I don't have to tolerate the inconvenience of getting film processed at Walgreen's.

Also, several cyclists helped support a local Half Marathon yesterday. We just rode along with the runners, helping them be seen on the lonelier stretches of road and ready to call in medcal support on cell phones if needed.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Flounders Open Water Swim

Our glorious Flowood Fighting Flounders Masters Swim Team has once again challenged the waters of Lake St. John and emerged victorious. May 17th we rode to KE's family's house on Lake St. John and swam across and back. We're not sure of the distance, probably a little over a half mile across. We don't go straight across since the best building to sight on is up the lake a little from where we start. When you're in the water looking for a landmark a half mile away, bigger and brighter is better. It's an odd feeling being so far from shore just swimming and not seeming to get any closer to the other side, but persistence pays off and it's over in about 20 minutes. Then we explain to the somewhat shocked onlookers on the other side that we're just swimming across and "thanks for letting us rest at your pier", and we're off again for the return leg. Another 20 minute swim and it's over. After a cool lunch and fun conversation with the family, we're headed for home.

Red Creek Cleanup

April 26th was the annual DeSoto Ranger District Cleanup, a big effort by volunteers to pick up trash at the many recreational sites in DeSoto National Forest. Dozens of people organized into teams at different locations work together to restore the natural beauty that some have chosen to treat like a garbage dump. Niece Bethany was our team leader, and our group cleaned the boat launch area at City Bridge on Red Creek. We also canoed down the creek and picked up as much trash as practical, though cleanup from a canoe can be a precarious task at times. ML and I worked together and had a good time, but my knee injury decreased my mobility and made a lot of my efforts painful.
A misunderstanding about our canoe take-out point and some nasty thunderstorms in the area made the mission potentially miserable, but luck was on our side and Bethany used her local connections with camp owners on the creek to get us out of the storms and back to our cars safely. The canoes and johnboat had to be towed out of the forest for 3 miles over slick mud trails. This was quite an effort and may have been the only time I will ever be thankful for an ATV being on hand.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Natchez Trace Century Ride 2008

Saturday, April 12th, Paul and I and 300+ other cyclists participated in the annual Natchez Trace Century Ride. The ride is hosted by the City of Ridgeland and is very well supported by the local bike shops and other sponsors. Lots of snacks and water along the way, a good meal afterward and pretty nice T shirt make the entry fee worth while. A cyclist can ride north on the Trace to turnaround points to total a 10 mile, 25, 50, 100k or 100 mile out and back. Paul and I do the metric 100, or about 66 miles. This was my third ride since I began cycling, and it gets better every year. The experience of starting a ride with hundreds of other colorfully dressed cyclists is unique and exciting. On the down side, we continue to have groups of riders from out of the area who will not obey the rules, riding in 2 and 3 abreast groups, making it dangerous to pass and in clear violation of the parkway "single file" rule.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

End of Spring Update

I'm hoping to do a better job of updating this blog, at least for the next few days. There are some notable events that need to be documented, mostly for my benefit. I went to our kitchen calendar and made a list of the items we had marked to remind me of what has happened lately.
Late in April a major storm roared through the Jackson, Ms area. There were 5 tornadoes officially reported, causing extensive damage to many areas. The storms were not so strong to be deadly and devastating, but more widespread and destructive to property than usual.
We were not completely spared, as one of the many huge pine trees behind the house was blown toward the house but was caught in the upper limbs of other trees. The situation was dangerous, since a subsequent moderately windy storm could easily cause the tree to fall onto the house.
To the rescue comes my brother with his years of knowledge and cool equipment, climbing 60, 80 feet into the treetops, fastening ropes to trunks, over limbs, down to an anchor point, and the two of us lowered a huge tree to the ground in pieces, neat as sausage links.