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  1. Book 1: The Old Man and the B.....70, that is

    by , April 28th, 2009 at 10:57 PM (Vlog the Inhaler, or The Occasional Video Blog Musings of Jim Thornton)
    And so now begins the epic trilogy of an old man, a possibly illegal swimming costume, a quest for immortality, and so very, very much more.

    In today's preamble to the first 77-chapter volume of my planned trilogy, I will attempt to do a little scene setting and foreshadowing of themes that will, over the course of centuries, develop slowly but with the inexorability of truth itself.

    Foreward: Who Are These People and Why Should I Care?

    On Friday, April 24th, a somewhat frail man by the name of James Thornton left the Pittsburgh metropolitan area with a single destination in mind: Destiny.

    James did not travel alone. His personal driver was the ever so comely adult-onset swimming sensation, Mermaid. He was also accompanied by the spirit of a heroic lawyer from Hood River, Oregon, by the name of Bill Sumerfield, Esquire, friend to honest men everywhere and champion of the even more numerous ranks of crooked fellows who need his help.

    As Mermaid fiddled with her Sirius radio system hoping to find yet another 80s station to slake her thirst for the songs of her infancy, James thought back to his own teenage years when Tommy Dorsey and Ludwig Von Beethoven drove the hit parade on his family Victrola.

    And so, onwards along the PA Turnpike to Breezewood, then south through a succession of increasingly crowded freeways towards Tyson's Corner, at first flying well beyond the speed limit, eventually slowing to a snails pace, the Mermaid ramrodded her pleasantly dreamy elder ward to the Compound in Vienna, Virginia, a Compound that is home to yet another character in our trilogy, the lovely Fortress herself, whose ownership of said Compound with her incredibly generous husband Scott has been diluted ever so slightly by several years of squatting by James, which has given him legal title to the guest house, though he (James) probably needs to talk to Bill Sumerfield about this in more detail and maybe get another favor from this legendary friend of the crooked (Bill, I can arrange some kickbacks, trust me, the deal I am thinking about here is really, really sweet.)

    Then James woke up.

    At this point, let me quickly provide some pictures of our story's early protagonists:

    Mermaid and the Fortress: Magnificent Lasses the Both of Them, and what indefatigable providers of succour to an Old Man! Does there exist in all of Christendom a quartet of bluer eyes containing nearly so much kindness? I say, look at their eyes, man! Up! Up!

    The Spirit of Bill Sumerfield, Esquire, debating the finer points of B70 legality and a squatter's real estate rights in a Virginia Commonwealth Court of Law. "My client and his suit," he appears to be pleading to an obvious sympathetic and converted to liberalism former hanging judge, "are every bit as legal as my client, Jim Thornton's, claim is to part ownership of the Livingston family home, Your Honor!"

    And finally, James Thornton himself, albeit inhabited still by the wraithe-like specter of Mr. Sumerfield, the two of whom appear in their utter post-400 I.M. Zones Record Establishing Performance exhaustion (this is, I'll admit, a teasing dip into what professional writers call foreshadowing--wherein the ending itself [in this case, unmitigated triumph of every stripe] is never in question. The drama emerges, instead, as a result of the reader's overwhelming itch of curiosity about how such an unlikely protagonist could possibly defy his "three score minus 3 1/2 year" ancience to prove himself.) ] to be possibly coughing up a hairball.

    I seem to have lost control of the previous sentence. Never mind! I shall soldier on like Dickens dim-witted twin, knowing as my smarter brother understood that stories emerge best when serialized over the course of eons and remunerated at a a satisfactory if not exactly handsome per-word rate...

    Chapter 1: Comes A Zonesman.

    In the events I planned to swim at this year's Zones, here were my best times in recent years and my age at which I performed them. For those of you who may have missed earlier mentions of my age, I am three score minus 3 1/2 years old, or 56 and 1/2, and will be FINA 57 for Long Course purposes this summer even though I do not officially become three score minus three until Sept. 24th of 2009, a date that present-minded vlog readers might want to jot down somewhere.

    Anyhow, here are my old bests of late:

    • 50 free 24.53 set at age 56 at the Sprint Classic last fall

    • 100 free 52.90 set at age 55 at Colonies Zones last spring, establishin the new Zones record for my age group and becoming a Zonesman

    • 200 free 1:57.44 at age 56, again at the Sprint Classic last fall

    • 500 free 5:24.57 at age 55, set last spring at Clarion University and out local Y championships here in the Pittsburgh area

    • 50 fly 27.67 at age 56, set this past season at some hard to remember mid season Y meet, albeit after not swimming butterfly for three years to prevent shoulder pain

    • 400 IM 5:11.59, at age 56, ditto for hard to remember Y midseason meet, again, after having not swum the IM for years because of shoulder pain.

    All the above swims were done either in a Fastskin 1 knee skin or one of those Tyr heavily discounted $56 suits that work pretty well as long as the Teflon-like coating remains in tact, that is to say, a few meets.

    Here are the times Bill and I ended doing at this year's Colony Zones while wearing the borrowed suit. I say Bill and I because it was not only the suit that helped me, but the spirit of Bill inhabiting the suit.

    Note: those hoping for endless analysis and dissection of the minutiae here shan't be disappointed! I plan to sautee the numbers every which way from here to CremePuff in vlogs stretching out over the remainder of my life.

    But to very quickly sum up, the suit absolutely helped, but I did not do the miracle times I was secretly hoping for; Michael Phelps has absolutely no cause to look over his shoulder at the likes of me, but I can't say the same for, say, Ryan Lochtke style lesser swimming greats who remain closer to my league as evidenced perhaps by my inability to spell their names.

    Anyhow, it's possible the suit did indeed promote absolutely miraculous improvements over a ruined Jim, but because my times seem to conceal from me the degree of this ruination, I might just assume I am pretty much as good as I was last year and thus modest improvements mean the suit contribute modestly.

    I fully acknowledge the possibility, indeed the likelihood, that without the suit, my "true" times would have proven so abysmal that I would have checked myself into an assisted living facility.

    Who knows?

    Anyhow, for now, here are the times I swam this year along with any improvements over the previous best times of the recent era:

    • 24.17 50 free (.36 improvement; I missed Zones record by .03)

    • 52.86 100 (set new Zones record, breaking my own record from last year by .03)

    • 1:56.07 200 (1.38 seconds improvement over earlier season time; this one set new Zones record and was my lowest 200 time in 5-6 years)

    • 5:24.84 500 (set new Zones record, breaking my own Zones record by 2-3 seconds, though it was also .27 second slower than last year's Clarion time)

    • 27.00 50 fly (best time for me since I did a 26.86 at age 50 six years ago)

    • 4:57.85 400 IM (set new Zones record, my all-time best time)

    Endless analysis to come. Tomorrow, the first of 34 short videos, most lasting no longer than 2 1/2 hours, will begin.

    I hope you can sleep tonight! I know I am much too excited myself to find my way to the Land 'o Nod!

    Updated April 29th, 2009 at 11:22 AM by jim thornton

  2. Sarasota Y Sharks Masters 5:30am Workout - 5/4/09 - SCY/LCM

    by , May 3rd, 2009 at 02:18 PM (Sarasota Y Sharks Masters 5:30 a.m. Workout)
    WARM UP: 3 X 200, 2 X 150 (All Choice)

    3 X 100 2:00
    1 X 200 Free 3:30
    Repeat set 4X through. For the 100s:
    Round 1: Fl/Ba by 50
    Round 2: Ba/Br
    Round 3: Br/Fr
    Round 4: IM
    (200 free is recovery)

    2 X 200 Kick 4:30
    2 X 100 Kick 2:15
    (All Choice)

    Kids are out - Move to long course pool

    1 X 600 10:00 (1:40 base)
    2 X 300 4:30 (1:30)
    (Freestyle, pull or swim)

    WARM DOWN: 4 X 50 1:00

    4900 Y/M

    Updated May 3rd, 2009 at 02:57 PM by RickMile

    Swim Workouts
  3. Sarasota Y Sharks Masters 5:30 a.m. Workout - 5/5/09 - LCM

    by , May 4th, 2009 at 01:04 PM (Sarasota Y Sharks Masters 5:30 a.m. Workout)
    WARM UP: 2 X 200, 2 X 150 (All Choice)

    5 X 400 Free 6:40
    Swims 1 & 2: Long and strong.
    Descend swims 3-4-5.

    4 X 100 Kick 2:30
    4 X 50 Kick 1:15

    2 X 100 2:00
    4 X 50 Descending 1:15
    Repeat set 3 times through.
    Fly, Back or Breast. IM'ers go 1 round of each.

    WARM DOWN: 4 X 50 1:00

    4700 M

    Updated May 4th, 2009 at 01:24 PM by RickMile

    Swim Workouts
  4. Aaaaalisonnnnnnn!

    by , May 5th, 2009 at 09:24 PM (Vlog the Inhaler, or The Occasional Video Blog Musings of Jim Thornton)
    The meaning of the name Alison is 'Noble kind; of the noble sort'.

    The rankings for 2007 for different spellings of Alison.


    Colony Zones was well represented by a mix-and-match assortment of lovely aaa liss son's (phonetic spelling given to prevent ire from the noble kind.)

    The women depictied in my filmic homage are, I am fairly sure:

    Aliswim [ame=""]U.S. Masters Swimming Discussion Forums[/ame]

    Swimmy [ame=""]U.S. Masters Swimming Discussion Forums[/ame]

    Swimshark [ame=""]U.S. Masters Swimming Discussion Forums[/ame]

    And possibly Swimalison [ame=""]U.S. Masters Swimming Discussion Forums[/ame]

    But I thought she said Swimali, but I can't find a link for Swimali, so maybe I misheard.

    Alison Lyrics

    (written by: Elvis Costello)

    Oh, it's so funny to be seeing you after so long, girl
    And with the way you look, I understand that you were not impressed
    But I heard you let that little friend of mine
    Take off your party dress
    I'm not gonna get too sentimental
    Like those other sticky valentines
    'Cause I don't know if you are loving some body
    I only know it isn't mine

    Allison, I know this world is killing you
    Oh, Allison, my aim is true

    Well, I see you've got a husband now
    Did he leave your pretty fingers lying in the wedding cake?
    You used to hold him right in your hand
    Ah, but he took all that he could take
    Sometimes I wish that I could stop you from talking
    When I hear the silly things that you say
    I think somebody better put out the big light
    'Cause I can't stand to see you this way

    Allison, I know this world is killing you
    Oh, Allison, my aim is true
    My aim is true
    My aim is true


    I am continuing to nurse myself back to health from Swine Flu Lite, mostly because I can find no one who will remotely consider nursing me anywhere whatsoever.

    God knows if I was capable of nursing, I would share my ample bosom with a sick boy like me in a heart beat, but--oh, well. Perhaps that is why God made men more naturally generous than women, knowing that if they shared our penchant for kindness, their gender would soon be dessicated to death by the world's sickly demands.

    The exception, of course, to the niggardly doling out of generosity to females will be very evident in tonight's short, palette-cleansing diversion from competitive highlites at the recent Colonies Zones Masters Championships, a meet about which I know the greater swimming community continues to buzz with the astonishing performances of various Zonesmen in general and one Zonesman in particular.

    Life is not all swimming. For the mentally balanced adult individual, a good 2 or 3 percent of life takes place outside a chlorinated environment. It is in this spirit of a break from the water that I present tonight's vlog:
    Four Allisons and Jim's Funeral.

    [ame=""]YouTube - Four Allison's and Jim's Funeral[/ame]
  5. Sarasota Y Sharks Masters 5:30 a.m. Workout - 5/8/09 - SCY

    by , May 7th, 2009 at 02:43 PM (Sarasota Y Sharks Masters 5:30 a.m. Workout)
    We will be going easy today, Hurricane Man Open Water event Saturday AM. No Saturday practice this week.

    WARM UP: 3 X 200, 2 X 150 (All Choice)

    4 X 200 Free 3:00
    4 X 200 IM 3:30
    4 X 100 Kick 2:15

    Hurricane Man swimmers warm down: 4 X 50 1:00


    400 6:00
    4 X 100 1:30
    Swim the set 2 times through, no break. Warm down as above.

    2900 Y/4500 Y
    Swim Workouts
  6. Sarasota Y Sharks Masters 5:30am Workout - 5/11/09 - SCY/LCM

    by , May 8th, 2009 at 02:26 PM (Sarasota Y Sharks Masters 5:30 a.m. Workout)
    WARM UP: 3X 250 (All Choice)

    1 X 300 Free 4:30
    2 X 150 50 fly/back/breast 2:45
    4 X 50 1 of each stroke 1:00
    Repeat the set 3 times. Short break between rounds.

    1 X 200 Kick 4:30
    1 X 100 Kick 2:15
    4 X 50 Kick 1:15

    Move to LC

    1 X 800 Pull
    Descend by 200's

    WARM DOWN: 4 X 50 easy 1:00
    Swim Workouts
  7. Sarasota Y Sharks Masters 5:30 a.m. Workout - 5/12/09 - LCM

    by , May 11th, 2009 at 12:40 PM (Sarasota Y Sharks Masters 5:30 a.m. Workout)
    WARM UP: 3 X 200, 2 X 150 (All Choice)

    2 X 400 6:40
    4 X 200 3:20
    4 X 100 1:40

    1 X 50 1:15
    1 X 100 2:15
    1 X 100 Kick 3:00
    Repeat 4 times through.
    Stroke of choice, no free

    10 X 50 1:15
    25 Fast/25 easy

    WARM DOWN: 4 X 50 easy 1:00

    Swim Workouts
  8. Sarasota Y Sharks Masters 5:30am Workout - 5/13/09 - SCY/LCM

    by , May 12th, 2009 at 01:52 PM (Sarasota Y Sharks Masters 5:30 a.m. Workout)
    WARM UP: 1 X 300, 1 X 200, 1 X 100 (All Choice)

    1 X 800 Free
    Swim or pull

    4 X 200 3:00
    2 X 50 moderate 1:00
    3 X 200 3:00
    4 X 50 build 1:00
    2 X 200 3:00
    6 X 50 fast 1:00
    1 X 200 fast
    All Freestyle


    8 X 100 2:20
    Odd swims: Kick
    Even swims: Choice stroke, no free

    WARM DOWN: 4 X 50 easy 1:00

    5000 Y/M
    Swim Workouts
  9. Help for Swimmer's Thumb!

    by , May 16th, 2009 at 12:20 PM (Vlog the Inhaler, or The Occasional Video Blog Musings of Jim Thornton)
    Today's belated vlog offers great hope and comfort to the estimated 97 percent of my fellow masters swimmers who suffer greatly, as I do, from the condition known as Swimmer's Thumb.

    In the video below, you will learn all you ever cared to know--and more--about the treatment of this condition.

    But first, a quick catching-up of my recent swimming and--brace yourselves--weight-lifiting activities. After being sidelined for 8 days with swine flu lite and Swimmers Thumb, I returned to the pool and gymnasium with a vengeance, determined to lose weight and pack on muscle.

    I am delighted to tell you that one of these goals is already paying off, at the illusory detriment to the other. To wit: I have gained 5 additional lb. ......
    of solid muscle!

    Here are my activities since getting off the sick bed and thumb ottoman (the numbers refer to yards; the word "weights" refers to Nautilus sessions; and tennis refers to a sport by which a yellow ball is smacked around with sticks with wickety heads attached to their ends):

    1. 3150
    2. 500 & weights
    3. 3200
    4. weights
    5. tennis
    6. 4500
    7. weights
    8. 3800
    9. weights
    10. 5000


    And now, as promised, Help for Swimmer's Thumb!

    [ame=""]YouTube - Untitled[/ame]
  10. 28, Weight Lifting & Swimming: Scientific Controversies

    by , May 17th, 2009 at 08:06 PM (Vlog the Inhaler, or The Occasional Video Blog Musings of Jim Thornton)
    I read somewhere that 28 is the number of times you must do something before it becomes a habit.

    Yesterday, I did the Nautilus circuit for the 5th time since May 7th, so 23more times and I may start doing it habitually.

    Mr. Meat #2 {for some reason, posted Mr. Meat #1 got removed, so I am replacing him with Mr. Meat #2. Is this what Cremepuff looks like underneathe her tight Nike?): Jimby after 23 more Nautilus sessions? (Note: I wonder what equipment I need to train my face to snarl this muscularly?)

    Right now, I am lifting Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays; swimming Monday, Wednesdays, and Fridays; and playing tennis, awfully, based on today, on Sundays.

    Another piece of lore that I read somewhere, and I believe is probably as true as the 28 times business, is that once you get up to speed, weight lifting wise, you can "maintain" strength gains by lifting at least once a week, though twice would probably be better.

    Ditto for those who prefer strength training but want to "maintain" aerobic conditioning. Once Mr. Meat (above) gets into decent aerobic swimming shape, in other words, he should be able to maintain this by swimming once (though preferably twice) a week. I don't think this is competition-worthy shape, but it's enough for "health purposes" shape.

    (Why do I feel I could bet this guy all the money I have now, and all the money I'm ever gonna get, on a 1650 race, and that this would be the smartest investment I ever made?)

    I have a number of questions/comments about weight lifting that I would like to hear answers to, preferably answers based on some kind of literature from the reasonably recent exercise physiology data world.

    If you Google "strength training for swimming performance," you get all kinds of recommendations, the gist of which is that it's going to help your performance.

    But if you do the same search through Google Scholar or Medline, the picture changes rather dramatically. I will paste in below some of the abstracts I was able to find from actual researchers, as opposed to muscleheaded aficionados.

    1. One of the arguments for masters swimmers to weight lift is to counter so-called sarcopenia of aging, the progressive loss of lean muscle mass, which begins around age 25 and proceeds at about a 1 percent per year rate in the sedentary.
    2. On the other hand, in his studies of masters swimmers, aged 22-88, from national competitions, Joel Stager told me that these tended to score in the 82 percentile for their age in terms of explosive strength as measured by vertical leaps, this despite not doing a land sport that requires jumping. Moreover, masters swimmers also seemed to measure much higher in lean muscle mass than age-matched individuals in the general population, this despite not doing weight training per se, but just swimming.
    3. Drs. Stager and David Costill, both very big names in the exercise physiology world, and both masters swimmers themselves, expressed doubt that weightlifting helps swimming performance because the muscles needed to swim fast are very, very specific and almost impossible to simulate with weights (though Dr. Costill suggested the VASA trainer might help somewhat.)
    4. Dr. Costill did indicate that sprint training works as a kind of aquatic strength training in and of itself, adding that "muscle does not know whether it's pushing against water or a piece of $8000 equipment."
    5. Another oft-cited rational for strength training is to help remedy muscle imbalances that can build up when a certain set of muscles are trained way out of proportion to their antagonists. Many of us with shoulder twinges, for instance, are taught to do external rotator cuff exercises with stretch bands, plus other stretch cord calisthenics to build up the scapula muscles, etc. The idea here is to give roughly equal strength to all the rotator cuffs and ancillary muscles mediating movement of the complex shoulder joint. Otherwise, you get a situation akin to a galley ship being rowed on one side by a bunch of Herculeses, and on the other side by a bunch of weaklings. Besides going in circles, the boat kind of breaks down after awhile.
    6. When I interviewed Dara Torres two years ago, she did an amazing array of dry land exercises. She told me that in her earliest incarnation as a sprinter, she did very heavy weights. But now she's having much more success with all this balance ball, core-related, swimming simulating, dry land training. I will try to post one picture now and some more in my next vlog in order to show some of the things she was doing after her stretch cord butterfly simulations (can't remember for sure, but it seemed like she would do sets of stretch cord pulls, much like swimming sets of 100s--all out for a minute or so, rest 30 seconds, repeat, and so forth; to the accompaniment of Golden Oldies music, like Baba OReilly, blasting on her boom box.)

    Anyhow, if you have any ideas about this, I would love to hear them. Let me paste in a few links to some articles I found from a literature search:
    1) Sports Med. 1998 Mar;25(3):191-200.Links
    Impact of resistance training on endurance performance. A new form of cross-training?

    Tanaka H, Swensen T.
    Department of Kinesiology, University of Colorado, Boulder, USA.
    In accordance with the principles of training specificity, resistance and endurance training induce distinct muscular adaptations. Endurance training, for example, decreases the activity of the glycolytic enzymes, but increases intramuscular substrate stores, oxidative enzyme activities, and capillary, as well as mitochondrial, density. In contrast, resistance or strength training reduces mitochondrial density, while marginally impacting capillary density, metabolic enzyme activities and intramuscular substrate stores (except muscle glycogen). The training modalities do induce one common muscular adaptation: they transform type IIb myofibres into IIa myofibres. This transformation is coupled with opposite changes in fibre size (resistance training increases, and endurance training decreases, fibre size), and, in general, myofibre contractile properties. As a result of these distinct muscular adaptations, endurance training facilitates aerobic processes, whereas resistance training increases muscular strength and anaerobic power. Exercise performance data do not fit this paradigm, however, as they indicate that resistance training or the addition of resistance training to an ongoing endurance exercise regimen, including running or cycling, increases both short and long term endurance capacity in sedentary and trained individuals. Resistance training also appears to improve lactate threshold in untrained individuals during cycling. These improvements may be linked to the capacity of resistance training to alter myofibre size and contractile properties, adaptations that may increase muscular force production. In contrast to running and cycling, traditional dry land resistance training or combined swim and resistance training does not appear to enhance swimming performance in untrained individuals or competitive swimmers, despite substantially increasing upper body strength. Combined swim and swim-specific 'in-water' resistance training programmes, however, increase a competitive swimmer's velocity over distances up to 200 m. Traditional resistance training may be a valuable adjunct to the exercise programmes followed by endurance runners or cyclists, but not swimmers; these latter athletes need more specific forms of resistance training to realise performance improvement.

    2. Effects of repeated days of intensified training on muscle glycogen and swimming performance.

    Original Investigations
    Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise. 20(3):249-254, June 1988.
    Costill, David L.; Flynn, Michael G.; Kirwan, John P.; Houmard, Joseph A.; Mitchell, Joel B.; Thomas, Robert; Han Park, Sung

    Excerpt from abstract:
    Nevertheless, their swimming power, sprinting (s-22.86 m-1), endurance (s-365.8 m-1) performance, aerobic capacity, and muscle (m. deltoid) citrate synthase were unchanged as a consequence of the 10-d training regimen. Four of the 12 swimmers were, however, unable to tolerate the heavier training demands, and were forced to swim at significantly slower (P<0.05) speeds during the training sessions.

    3. Dry-land resistance training for competitive swimming.
    Physical Fitness And Performance
    Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise. 25(8):952-959, August 1993.
    TANAKA, H., D. L. COSTILL, R. THOMAS, W. J. FINK, and J. J. WIDRICK. Dry-land resistance training for competitive swimming. Med. Sci. Sports Exerc., Vol. 25, No. 8, pp. 952-959, 1993. To determine the value of dry-land resistance training on front crawl swimming performance, two groups of 12 intercollegiate male swimmers were equated based upon preswimming performance, swim power values, and stroke specialities. Throughout the 14 wk of their competitve swimming season, both swim training group (SWIM, N = 12) and combined swim and resistance training group (COMBO, N = 12) swam together 6 d a week. In addition, the COMBO engaged in a 8-wk resistance training program 3 d a week. The resistance training was intended to simulate the muscle and swimming actions employed during front crawl swimming. Both COMBO and SWIM had significant (P < 0.05) but similar power gains as measured on the biokinetic swim bench and during a tethered swim over the 14-wk period. No change in distance per stroke was observed throughout the course of this investigation. No significant differences were found between the groups in any of the swim power and swimming performance tests. In this investigation, dry-land resistance training did not improve swimming performance despite the fact that the COMBO was able to increase the resistance used during strength training by 25-35%. The lack of a positive transfer between dry-land strength gains and swimming propulsive force may be due to the specificity of training.
    (C)1993The American College of Sports Medicine

    Updated May 18th, 2009 at 11:50 AM by jim thornton (post new picture)

  11. B70, We Hardly Knew Ye

    by , May 20th, 2009 at 03:48 PM (Vlog the Inhaler, or The Occasional Video Blog Musings of Jim Thornton)
    I was a little bit reticent to post this film before, given the chance that the B70 loaner might be used again.

    Do not get me wrong. I am not saying that I actually took the advice proffered here by Michelina "Bad Grrrrllllzzzzzz of Swimming" co-president (along with Imspoiled), two of the kindest princesses of the water you will ever want to meet.

    But just the suggestion that I might have taken her advice might have caused some dismay on the part of BillS, the most generous USMS member of all time and my personal nominee for this year's Arthur Ransom Award.

    In any event, if the suit were still legal, and if you owned your own, and if you are as cute as little Michilena herself, then you might want to have considered taking her advice (though most likely quickly rejecting it thereafter):

    [ame=""]YouTube - One of the Bad Grrrlzz Promotes a Bad Pra[/ame]
  12. 20 days of exercise sobriety

    by , May 25th, 2009 at 11:44 PM (Vlog the Inhaler, or The Occasional Video Blog Musings of Jim Thornton)
    Since semi-recovering from Swine Flu Lite on May 5th, I have launched on what has arguably been my longest unbroken streak of exercising in my life.

    This has consisted of:

    • swimming (Monday, Wednesday, and Friday) 39,450 yards
    • Nautilus weight lifting (Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday, with occasional exceptions for tennis)
    • Tennis (some Tuesdays, one Thursday, and every Sunday)
    • Stretch cord rotator cuff exercises (most nights)

    How have these past 3 weeks of unbroken daily exercise affected me? Physically speaking, I feel that I am slowly getting into better swimming shape, not good enough, mind you, to compensate for the recent loss of the B70 body boat, AKA, the HMS Good Times, may she rest in peace! But perhaps enough to slightly undercut the accelerating rate of decrepitude that might otherwise be greeting me with each passing week.

    I have found that the weight lifting and stretch cords have seemed to reduce shoulder pain, which was pretty uncomfortable upon first returning to the pool after my 8-10 day sickness layoff.

    Possibly, the weights and stretch cords are also offering some inoculation against shoulder and elbow pain from tennis (and water volley ball, which I played for the first time today after our noon-time Memorial Day Swim Practice that only Bill and I actually showed up for.)

    Other impacts, which may or may not be imaginary:

    • I definitely feel the need for more sleep, and if this keeps up, may have to double my use of amphetamine like drugs in order to coax any hours of non-exercise consciousness out of my typical day
    • There's a sense that my immune system is getting a little cranky without regular breaks in the daily exercise schedule. I have begun coughing lately, and feel the first faint pricklings of neuralgia here and there where neuralgia has long been in abeyance
    • My mood is perked up by the exercise, only to settle back into its ruts a couple hours later.

    Which brings me to the following questions, which I will throw out in the hopes that one or more of my fellow travelers might provide answers or at least a sense that I do, indeed, have fellow travelers on this road upon which I tread:

    • Am I the only person out here who thinks that the natural human lifespan is overly generous?
    • How many summer openings of the summer swim club pool, how many Christmas carols, how many fireworks displays, how many gourmet engorgements, how many libidinous blowouts, how many professions of religious rapture, how many celebrations of vicarious or personal sporting victories, how many bonus checks, and the like are necessary to live through before life begins to seem, even in its alleged high points, a grindingly monotonous proposition?
    • With what insult begins a lifeview riddled with mistrust of ones fellow apes and their schemings and larceny and generally lousy ways? At what point do dreams of glory transmogrify into lust for revenge, and at what point does even this turn to powder in a dry and bitter mouth like sugarless gum masticated for days on end?
    • I suspect our neuroscientists' current best understanding of the mind is as primitive in its way as Edward Jenner's observations about milkmaids and cowpox and the nature of immunology were in 1796 -- on the right track, perhaps, but not terribly far along. This said, and with pre-acknowledgment that the dopaminergic reward system is most likely not much more than a metaphor at this point, the question is this: can we become exhausted to the effects of the chemical broth that goads us onwards and pats us on the head when we succeed? Is this something that must, by its very nature, lose its hold upon us with enough repetition, just as the once delicious candy corn of youth becomes an emetic in old age? Or is the brain constructed is such a way that it is never immune to joy juice, if such can be naturally coaxed into lubricating our synapses in the right regions? So that the problem is not so much that nothing, after a time, can bring verve back into life--but that we have given up the search for what it is that can naturally generate this verve? And are there just too many moral impediments and causes for exhaustion blocking our way?

    I throw these questions out to my fellow swimmers and exercise nuts so that when your own doleful topics of rumination run out during your next bout with gravity and friction, you might have something fresh to consider.

    But even as I say this I know I am deluding myself! There is nothing new under the sun! Nothing! And these are the questions that we all ask ourselves, in perhaps slightly different ways, in words that begin in wails and end in demented grunts, all our days upon God's green earth!

    Tomorrow, if it rains, I will do Nautilus and play tennis on Thursday, unless it rains then, too.

    Students of Abraham Maslow: Is the pain of descent along his hierarchy of needs uniform? Or does it hurt more, for example, to fall from the next-to-bottom rung to the lowest one? Or perhaps the other way around--might falling from the top to the next-to-top rung be the most painful? Or is the most painful rung to fall from just the one you are, right now, losing your grip upon?
  13. How to know if you're trying enough

    by , May 28th, 2009 at 12:08 AM (Vlog the Inhaler, or The Occasional Video Blog Musings of Jim Thornton)
    Chris, I think most people need a schedule for periodization to work well for them, because their inner "I'm broken down" threshold is set too low. A schedule also gives them an end in sight, which can be a powerful motivational factor.

    Fort, June 14 is soon! The end is in sight!

    Mr. Qbrain in a comment on a recent Chris Stevenson blog
    On this, my 22nd consecutive day of daily hard exercise, I think I have begun to get some clues that might help my fellow swimmers decide if you are trying enough in practice--and not succumbing to that inner babyish voice that cries out, "Ease off! Pamper yourself! You have crossed the threshhold into the realm of being overly broken down!"

    At tonight's practice, I underwent not one, not two, but three separate specific and measurable characteristics that suggest I was trying enough.

    These are:

    1. Severe nausea of the sort where the stomach contents are storming the esophageal sphincter if not yet breaching same
    2. Cramps in the thighs and calves that made just finishing a final "sprint" 50 an epic adventure of the sort that Homer might have written a trilogy about
    3. And finally, the quote delivered to me, directly and with a look of "oh my god, I wish I'd paid more attention in that CPR class" anxiety, from a sophomore college swimming woman, "Are you okay?"

    I am not maintaining these three above characteristics, even in combination, are sufficient to prove beyond all doubt that I was trying in practice.

    I will, however, suggest they represent a sort of sine qua non triad the absence of which probably indicates you are not trying hard enough.

    Near vomiting, cramps throughout the entire span of the legs, and the concern of a coed who really thinks she is about to see her first corpse: these are necessary, if not absolutely sufficient, conditions for trying.

    I am not sure exactly could push one over the edge into absolute, definitive proof. After motorscootering home post-practice, I lay down on the couch to watch a few minutes of Countdown with Keith Oberman before lighting the grill and putting on my dinner of four Costco lamb chops.

    When I stood up from the couch, I suffered a blood rush from the head that all but blackened out my visual field entirely, if only momentarily, forcing me to remain standing based on no more than a lifetime of experience in what this requires.

    I could have fallen.

    I could have also actually vomited during practice, seized up with such cramps as to not be able to finish my sprint 50 at all, no matter how slow, and finally I could have expired right after answering the coed's concerned inquiry with a simple--heroic even--"No."

    Maybe this is what is sufficient to prove I tried hard enough in practice. I don't know. I guess when I get to that point where the question becomes moot, this vlog will have run its course.

    So, here are my last three practices, each one, in its way, emblematic of the new Costillian maxim I am trying to put into practice: i.e., intensity trumps volume. (Note: I do have a bit of volume here, too, usually at the beginning, but these lengthy warm ups tend to be done at a very leisurely and relaxing pace, which I find is increasingly necessary to cajole the creekiness out of my joints and alleged muscles...)

    Friday, May 24th, at Trees Pool (U. Pittsburgh)

    Pre warm up: 1,500

    Warm up 4 x 200 on 3:30 (2:30; 2:25: 2:25: 2:18)

    10 x 100 on 2:00 (ez, med, fast, repeat--from pushoffs)
    [fast ones for me were :59 1:01 :57]

    kick 200 rest; regroup

    Swim 8 x 50 on 1:15 (ez, fast, repeat-from pushoffs)
    [fast ones were :28, :28; :28’ :27]

    kick 200 rest; regroup

    12 x 50 karmic meditative --no breaths down, breathe ad libertam back, chant “peace” and “calm” throughout

    Total 4500; total arm-deadeningly hard yards for me: 500 yards

    Saturday, May 23rd at Sewickley YMCA

    lifted 53,000 lb.--see earlier vlog
    Sunday, May 24th at Sewickley YMCA

    3 hours, 15 minutes of doubles tennis; won 3 sets to one with hobbled partner Bill (suffering from gastrocnemius, also documented in previous vlog); a little water volleyball later
    Monday, Memorial Day, May 24th at Sewickley YMCA

    Bill White: present
    Jim Thornton: present
    Everybody else on our team: not present

    Pre Warm up: 1500 easy

    Warm up: swim kick pull on your own from 12:00-12:15

    Heart accelerating set: 8 x 100 on 1:30 (just a tad bit faster than you want to go)

    Main set (in homage to Jocelyn and with thanks to Jen at Pitt who invented this):

    5 sets of 8 x 50 on 1:15, EZ on the odds; fast on the evens; with regrouping between each set

    1.the fast ones are your 200 pace +2 seconds (for example: 32s if your 200 time is 2:00)

    2.the fast ones are your 200 pace +1 seconds (for example: 31s if your 200 time is 2:00)

    3.the fast ones are your 200 pace +0 seconds (for example: 30s if your 200 time is 2:00)

    4.the fact ones are your 200 pace -1 seconds (for example: 29s if your 200 time is 2:00)

    5.the fast ones are your 200 pace -2 seconds (for example: 28s if your 200 time is 2:00)

    recovery set: swim easy for 5 minutes

    Total 4600; total arm-deadeningly hard yards for me: 1000 yards

    Tuesday, May 26th at Sewickley YMCA
    lifted 66,000 pounds in lieu of tennis singles because of rain
    Wednesday, May 27th at Sewickley YMCA

    Pre warm up: 1200 easy

    16 x 50 on :55 moderate
    4 x 50 on 1:10 moderate
    5 x 100 on 1:30 odd ones fast (1;04, 1:04; 1:03)

    2:20 rest (swam slow 50 to recover)

    5 x 100 on 1:40 odd ones fast (1:02, 1:03; 1:02)

    2:40 rest (swam slow 50 to recover)

    4 x 100 on 1:50 odd ones fast (1:04, 1:05)

    [near vomiting and co-ed asks, “Are you okay?”]

    4 x 50 sprint odds

    [massive cramping on second sprint, almost unable to finish but force myself to waddle in, kicking with hip muscles alone]

    4 x 50 on :40 “cool down”--coach Bill’s idea of whimsy

    Total: 4100; total arm-deadeningly hard yards for me: 800 yards

    Tomorrow, if the weather is okay, I will be playing tennis; weight lifting if it rains. Friday out to Pitt again, hopefully for the first long course swim of the season, though that's still up in the air how the pool will be set up.

    Today, as suggested earlier, was my 22nd consecutive day of exercise, and I am not sure how long I can keep these up without a break. But it's been kind of rewarding to think that I might be slouching ever so slowly back into okay shape.

    Updated May 28th, 2009 at 12:18 AM by jim thornton

  14. OW swim off the coast of Cozumel Isle,Mexico

    The water is torquoise blue while beautiful, unusual fish swim twenty feet under me tempting a free dive down every so often. I slide and glide as I follow after their yellow and silver schools. Although the tourist season is slow due to no cruise ships as a result of the swine flu I must watchout for dive boats heading in and out to the protected coral reefs. I wave to a boat and the native driver acknowledges me and smiles back. Mostly I stay very close to the rocky shore where it is more than safe from boats. It is easy to keep my head down to watch creatures floating, soaring or asleep below me. I have a bad habit of keeping my head too high in the water. This is a great way to change that.
    The current is challenging as I swim south past my first goal, a stout white lighthouse on shore. Feeling good I scope out another destiny to reach. Just one more goal before heading home. I see a bouy in the distance and make that it. Its taking longer than expected as I go further into unknown territory . The water gets deeper and feels colder. My heart beats faster as I push onward against the current. I must do what I set out to do. The current is testing my will as well as my stamina. Stroke, kick, stroke, kick ...finally my index finger swipes the surface of the towering yellow bell shaped bouy. I then proceed to give it a good smack. My insides cheer hooray for me now lets get outta here. Heading home with the current going north I fly by the staypuff marshmellow man lighthouse with the current in my favor. The tempture is 77degrees. They say an octupus has a garden down there. I will have to look for him on my next trip to Cozumel.

    Updated May 29th, 2009 at 09:56 AM by flippergirl

  15. Human, or at least my, limits reached?

    by , May 29th, 2009 at 12:06 PM (Vlog the Inhaler, or The Occasional Video Blog Musings of Jim Thornton)
    Yesterday, my 23rd consecutive day of punishing physical exercise, almost, but not quite, marked the end of the streak.

    It was a dispiritedly humid day of the late spring, early summer gloom variety, the likes of which seems to promote so much depression and weltshmerz in the psychiatrically frail types like myself. I spent the morning showing our recently vacated rental properties to a prospective tenant, came back to the house in a state of exhaustion that had seeped like the cadence of a Poe poem into the core of me.

    I lay myself upon the couch, turned on the TV in the hopes of finding some cheerful news about healthcare reform ("In a surprise move, Republican obstructionists today pulled pistols from their attache cases and fired bullets en masse into their temples.") Soon I had moved into a very deep sleep of the sort celebrated by Heinrich Heine in Morphine:

    Sleep is good: and Death is better, yet
    Surely never to have been born is best.
    --Aus Der Matratzengruft

    With a name like Heine, he's gotta be good.
    uring the course of this nap, which was indeed restorative--who knows how many obstructionists cheerfully immolated themselves in my happy dreams?--a storm front moved through our area. I was awakened by thunder and hail, realized that the likelihood of my tennis match being canceled two hours hence was exceedingly high, then immediately nodded off for more sleep and more promise of GOP slaughter and blood bathery.

    I awoke again, so deep in sleep inertia I could barely move. I contemplated the rest of my day, for there was much remaining: it was, after all, only 4:20 p.m., a good eight hours before my bedtime. Perhaps, I thought, I could go to the Y and do some weight lifting to keep the exercise streak going.

    Or I could hit the On Demand button on my Comcast remote control and watch 14 consecutive episodes of True Blood.

    Then my tennis opponent called up and told me it hadn't rained at all where he lived, about 5 miles away. So I dragged my carcass down to the surprisingly dry high school courts--puddles at my house deep enough for sustaining koi or at the very least snakeheads--and played, remarkably well, for the next 2.5 hours, keeping the streak robustly alive.

    Did He who made the Newt make thee?

    I don't know why I played well, but it was altogether unexpected.

    Is it possible John and I are actually identical triplets?

    Anyhow, the streak as of now includes:

    1. 3150 yards
    2. 500 & weights
    3. 3200
    4. weights
    5. tennis
    6. 4500
    7. weights
    8. 3800
    9. weights
    10. 5000
    11. weights
    12. tennis
    13. 5300
    14. tennis
    15. 4900
    16. weights
    17. 4500
    18. weights
    19. tennis
    20. 4600
    21. weights
    22. 4100
    23. tennis

    I stayed up late last night, relishing my tennis triumph, slept late this morning, my throat raw with a sore throat that has materialized out of the night. Who knows what has brought this new round of sickness upon me? Perhaps in the sleep world, the self-imolated obstructionists all rose from the dead, their bullet wounds and copious amounts of blood still in place, but now plodding about hither and yon with a zombie-like determination to obstruct all hope for the solvency of the likes of me.

    Could this have caused a sore throat?

    I need to buy some kind of sleep firearms to take with me to the other side the next time I visit the land of nod. I need to protect myself there from the Omega Men that are out to get me.

    Zombie Youth Spawn: the future of Republicanism?

    Practice tonight at the University of Pittsburgh, perhaps with the pool set up for long course. Sickness: you will not keep me from my practice! You are nothing compared to the fiends I face in the other world.

  16. Germis (TM) for the Dermis

    by , June 2nd, 2009 at 01:14 PM (Vlog the Inhaler, or The Occasional Video Blog Musings of Jim Thornton)
    First, a quick recap of the attempt to exercise every day without a break for a month. The numbers refer to yards in the pool; weight and tennis refer to Nautilus circuits and either doubles or singles or both, for a minimum of 2 hours (though it's usually 3 hours 15 minutes, and on Sunday it was 4 hours).

    Here are where we are so far. If it doesn't rain, and I play tennis today, I will have technically satisfied my self-imposed challenge, having made a continuous month without a break, the month being a non-leap year February's 28 days.

    1. 3150 sickish
    2. 500 weights
    3. 3200
    4. weights
    5. tennis
    6. 4500
    7. weights
    8. 3800
    9. weights
    10. 5000
    11. weights
    12. tennis
    13. 5300
    14. tennis
    15. 4900
    16. weights
    17. 4500
    18. weights
    19. tennis
    20. 4600
    21. weights
    22. 4100
    23. tennis
    24. 3850
    25. weights
    26. 525 tennis
    27. 4400
    28. tennis if it doesn't rain?

    I began this quest by accident. After Colony Zones, I came home, swam the Monday practice, but by Wednesday was too sick too move. I didn't return to any form of exercise whatsoever until the following Wed., May 6th (note the adjective "sickish" above.)

    Leslie had by then convinced me to try weight lifting, plus tennis season was upon us, and my self-disgust was so high after 9 days of being a lallygagging layabout slugabed that I decided to try to catch up by exercising everyday for a while. After 11 days, I recognized I was on a streak.

    I continued onwards, almost like when I quit drinking: each new day of sobriety (or, in this case, abstinence from slugabedding) only inspiring me to keep it up.

    All went well until last week. On Thursday, my throat was sore, my lungs filled with sputum, and my muscles achy. I'd arranged to play singles at the high school with my friend John Delaney at 4:30. At 3, I fell asleep on the couch. At 3:30, I woke briefly to the sound of thunder, realized tennis would be canceled, told myself I could weight lift instead, fell back asleep.

    John called me at 4:15, waking me again, and asking if we were still on for tennis. I told him it had rained and the courts were drenched. He told me it hadn't rained where he lived, five miles away, and the high school courts were bone dry.

    I met him at the courts and played for 3 hours 15 minutes, and actually played the best I had all year, despite sickness.

    The next day, I felt much, much worse, and was ready to skip practice, but the streak wouldn't permit it.

    I went and swam slow. But Bill got me to race him on the fast push-off 100 (he'd just done a 1:57 on the fast push-off 200). I did a 59; he did a 52.9.

    Then, on the fast push-off 50, he did butterfly, which forced me to try. He did a 27 flat. I did a high 26 for freestyle.

    Saturday, I woke up at noon, feeling awful. I forced myself to go do Nautilus, came home, went back to sleep, spent the rest of the day watching True Blood reruns and the French Open.

    Sunday, I played tennis for four hours, which was very fun, though my shoulder is a bit sore now. Yesterday, I swam our "distance" practice:

    600 warm up
    8 x 100 on 1:20
    6 x 50 kick
    4 x 500 descend
    200 warm down
    4400 total

    I am a wreck today, and it's threatening to rain, but I am absolutely committed to playing tennis or doing Nautilus to keep the streak alive.


    Could this be my cure?

    Regular readers of this vlog may have noticed that I am sickly.

    Some have suggested hypochondria, the "some" here being pretty much everybody I have ever met since sliding out the abdominal C-section of my beloved mother in 1952.

    Finally, the reason for my regular bouts of illness have become clear. I refer your attention to a recent AP story, some of which I shall excerpt here for your edification:

    Scientists find bacterial zoo thrives in our skin

    May 28, 4:25 PM (ET)


    WASHINGTON (AP) - Eeeww. There's a zoo full of critters living on your skin - a bacterial zoo, that is. Consider your underarm a rain forest. Healthy skin is home to a much wider variety of bacteria than scientists ever knew, says the first big census of our co-inhabitants. And that's not a bad thing, said genetics specialist Julia Segre of the National Institutes of Health, who led the research.

    Sure they make your sneakers stinky, "but they also keep your skin moist and make sure if you get a wound that (dangerous) bacteria don't enter your bloodstream," she said. "We take a lot for granted in terms of how much they contribute to our health."

    The skin research, published in Friday's edition of the journal Science, is part of that project. Scientists decoded the genes of 112,000 bacteria in samples taken from a mere 20 spots on the skin of 10 people. Those numbers translated into roughly 1,000 strains, or species, of bacteria, Segre said, hundreds more than ever have been found on skin largely because the project used newer genetic techniques to locate them.

    Topography matters, a lot, the researchers reported. If a moist, hairy underarm is like a rain forest, the dry inside of the forearm is a desert. They harbor distinctly different bacteria suited to those distinctly different environments. In fact, the bacteria under two unrelated people's underarms are more similar than the bacteria that lives on one person's underarm and forearm.

    Mom's advice to wash behind your ears notwithstanding, that spot contained the least diverse bacteria - 19 species on average. The most diverse spot: the forearm, which averaged 44 species....

    ... Segre hopes knowing there are so many bacteria alters how people think about the relationship.

    "I'm a mother of two small children; I believe very strongly in sanitation, washing your hands," Segre said. But, "we have to understand that we live in harmony with bacteria and they are part of us as super-organisms ... and not just conceive of bacteria as bad and germs and smelly."


    You may suspect I am joking here, but I am not: swimming, I am convinced, is what is making me sick. (It's also making me healthy, and I don't plan to stop, but the sick-inducement part of it needs some sort of remedy. More on this in a moment.)

    Actually, it isn't swimming per se that makes me sick, but regular immersion in the chlorinated water. The delicate ecosystem of my germ-riddled skin is being thrown out of whack by the germ-killing powers of chlorine, allowing evil flora and fauna to attack me once the protective flora and fauna have been felled.

    For years, I have not "needed" to use soap or deodorant provided I swim every other day. To me, it seems impossible to believe that any dirt can survive on a body that thrashes about in water for 1.5 hours at a time. At this point, soap only dries out the skin and makes me itch. Good riddance.

    (Note: I have also avoided brushing my teeth for decades, fearing I might tamper with the delicate ecology of my mouth, but that's a different story and the topic of a future vlog.)

    But it looks like a complete lack of hygiene is not enough to keep me healthy. I need some way to re-infect myself with skin germs post-practice.

    You know those new types of yogurts that supposedly add "probiotics" to your digestive tract? Probiotics is a code word for health germs.

    I need a skin moisturizer containing all sorts of probiotics--a witch's brew of thriving bacteria evolved to live on my skin and protect me after practice. Perhaps I could trademark such a product myself:

    Germis (TM) --for whenever you are too clean for your own good: Germis for the Dermis!

    Alas, I will need seed money to pioneer Germis for the Dermis, which I imagine at this point will be a dirt-covered slathering salve filled with all manner of healthful E. coli and other strains we need to feel our best and smell our worst!

    Until then, I must come up with another solution.

    Along these lines, are there any filthy women out there that would be willing to give me a full body rub down apres workout to restore to my skin the pestilence I need to stay healthy?

    It's 1 o'clock--only three and a half hours to tennis...

    If there's one good thing about land sports in the summer, they do keep your skin nice and germ-riddled, provided, that is, you can resist the urge to shower afterward.

    Alas, if you can't resist such an urge, I urge you to slather yourself dun-colored with Germis for the Dermis (when it becomes available)--and until then, find a filthy member of the sex you are oriented towards and try to coax a germ exchange pronto.
  17. Streak Ends

    by , June 5th, 2009 at 01:29 PM (Vlog the Inhaler, or The Occasional Video Blog Musings of Jim Thornton)
    Greatest athletic streak since Joe DiMaggio ends with a migraine whimper

    Jun 5, 11:28 AM (ET)

    by Jim Thornton

    SEWICKLEY HEIGHTS, PA (AP) Not since Joltin' Joe's 56-game hitting streak in 1941, which the New York Times called "perhaps the most enduring record in sports", has so a serious contender for a new record emerged as Jim Thornton's "continuous daily exercise regimen."

    Thornton, a nondescript balding 56-year-old (FINA 57) swimmer from suburban Pittsburgh, was finally forced to end his amazing run yesterday, June 4, 2009, at 3 p.m.

    The cause: the first migraine he had suffered in years.

    [ame=""]YouTube - migraine art[/ame]

    Medical disorder or involuntary trip to an "outsider art" museum?

    "At least it indicates I must be in pretty good shape," said the ever jocular Thornton from his fainting couch the next day. "A headache specialist once explained to me that migraine frequency decreases with advancing years because the arteries supplying the brain tend to harden with atherosclerosis. To have a healthy headbanging migraine headache, you need flexible, youthful arteries that have the elasticity to spasm.

    "I guess all this exercise I've been doing recently has restored some flexibility to my carotids," Thornton concluded.

    His streak ended after 29 days of continuous daily exercise--arguably enough to meet his goal of a full month. Thornton technically achieved his own self-imposed goal a day earlier with a "normal February's 28 days worth of exercise." By making it to the 29th day, he guaranteed he'd exercised all permutations that February can throw at a person, both it's non Leap and Leap Year quantities of days.

    "It would have been nice to make it one more day to cover September, April, May, and November," says Thornton. "Two more days and I would have covered all the rest, including February."

    Ironically, Thornton had just recently made tentative arrangements to travel to Mexico to pick up medicinal drugs without a prescription and reimport these, hopefully legally and without any kind of bureaucratic rigmarole at the border. He was about to ride his Honda Metropolitan motor scooter to the YMCA and do weight lifting when the telltale "scintillating crescents" and tunnel blindness of a migraneur's early stage symptomatology began overtaking his visual field.

    As always, he hoped he was deluding himself and that these visual anomalies would pass. When they didn't, and he found himself unable to read, he knew what was coming.

    [ame=""]YouTube - Optical Migraine[/ame]

    The above might help you simulate what these scintillating crescents look like.

    He quickly went upstairs to his bedchamber, located a bottle of Roxicets, took a leak, dimmed the lights, turned on the radio to a very low volume to distract himself from woeful imaginings and other dire verbigeration that tends to run through the head of an active migraineur, popped a Roxicet, and launched into a body posture he'd developed as a much younger man as a way of coping with the intense one-sided agony of head pain to come.

    Thornton's technique, which he is trying to trademark under the name Body BloodLock (TM), is simple and may well provide relief to millions of other self-treating migraneurs across the country whose health insurance is inadequate (do not get him started!) to pay for actual treatment.

    Directions for Body BloodLock (TM):

    1. Lie down with head elevated (i.e., use several pillows)
    2. Do not move, not even the slightest twitch imaginable. Do not flex a toe nor point of finger.
    3. The only motion allowable is blood engorgement of the urogenital tract, if such can be facilitated by un-exciting thought alone (virtually impossible--Thornton, for his part, did not even try.)
    4. Once you have entered into the Body BloodLock (TM) posture of absolute muscular immobility (though movement through penile or vaginal blood engorgement, again, is allowable but only if achieved without any physical or mental stimulation whatsover), remain this way for the next four hours minimum, eight hours is preferable.

    • Explanation for the efficacy ofBody BloodLock (TM) migraine-ameliorating efficacy: As most of you will recall from high school biology, the venous blood system depends, in part, on the contraction of skeletal muscles to propel blood through veins back to the heart. Veins, of course, have one-way valves that prevent blood from moving backwards. There is usually enough blood pressure alone to ensure that circulation continues without muscular contractions, however, as fainting soldiers forced to stand for hours at attention will attest, immobility does cause a certain stagnation of blood in the circulatory system. TheBody BloodLock (TM) maneuver operates similarly. By remaining absolutely still, more of your total blood pools in the lower body and extremities, which means there is less available to be pumped to your brain where the crimson pressure would otherwise make the migraine pain even more unendurable that it already is.
    • That and the roxicet seem an excellent one-two punch.

    Despite his setback, Thornton hopes to start building a new streak soon, beginning as early as today.

    "I hope to swim at Trees Pool tonight," he says, massaging the eggplant colored blood clots that have appeared in his calves after 16 continuous hours of Body BloodLock (TM). "I'm not sure I can drive, and I know I can't walk. I will keep you posted."
  18. Running and HDL levels

    by , June 12th, 2009 at 04:31 PM (Elise's Fitness Fun)
    A year ago, I was just swimming, lifting weights, and doing a little bit of cycling. I had a physical done and my cholesterol counts were not optimal. My doc suggested that I cut the saturated fats out of my diet. I did so as much as possible and in October had another cholesterol test. My LDL level (the bad cholesterol) had dropped, but so had my HDL level (the good cholesterol). The HDL level had dropped to 50. At the beginning of 2009, I decided to start running on a consistent basis. I had a physical a little over two weeks ago, but before I started my new nutrition plan. My good cholesterol had skyrocketed to 66. Apparently, anything over 60 is supposed to be protective against heart disease and only 10% of the population over 40 has an HDL over 60.

    My bad cholesterol level is better than a year ago, but still not quite optimal. This is why having an outstanding good cholesterol level is so important for me. So, because of this, I have decided to keep my running up during the horrid heat and humidity. I'm convinced that running is the cause of the HDL boost.

    Today, I went out and ran 6 miles. I have decided that since I am running in less than optimal conditions, I will not worry about my time or pace this summer. Today I ran the first 3 miles at what felt like a pretty steady pace, but the last 3 miles I had to throw a little bit of walking in there.

    Updated June 12th, 2009 at 05:03 PM by elise526

  19. 13 ways of looking at catastrophe

    by , June 15th, 2009 at 09:20 PM (Vlog the Inhaler, or The Occasional Video Blog Musings of Jim Thornton)
    1. I can keep paying 33.16 percent of my pretax income for health insurance premiums until I have exhausted our home equity credit line, or I can go naked--no health insurance at all, since what I have is all I can get. In the case of the latter, I will be one medical catastrophe in the future away from bankruptcy. In the case of the former, I will undergo bankruptcy on the installment plan.

    2. Come and listen to a story about a man named Jim
    A one-time bourgeoisie, easily kept his family fed,
    Then one day he was shootin at some peasants,
    And up through the ground came a bubblin crude.

    Toxins, that is, black sludge, DDT.

    Well the first thing you know ol Jim's a thousandaire,
    Kinfolk said "Jim move away from there"
    Said "Mumbai is the place you ought to be"
    So they loaded up the boat and moved to India.

    Slums, that is. Dupont spills, slumdogs.

    Well now it's time to say good by to Jim and all his kin.
    And they would like to thank you folks fer kindly piling on.
    You're all invited back again to this locality
    To have a heapin helpin of their organs bodily.

    Livers, that is. Kidneys, too, Take your pick. It's all there's left to sell!

    Y'all come back now, y'hear?.

    A change to the living will of James S. Thornton:

    In case of medical catastrophe, I hereby decree that I want to be kept alive with every possible expensive high-tech gadget and drug now known and invented in the future, until the entire $25 million coverage I have paid for to Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota has been completely and utterly exhausted down to the final penny, at which point, I authorize plug-pulling from my exhausted remains. Moreover, I demand that even in the event that there is zero brain activity whatsoever measurable inside my ruined corpus during the decades that I am, quasi-posthumously, exerting my revenge, er, I mean, getting my financially obligated healthcare paid for by my usurious insurer, that I want the maximum sub lethal dose of morphine, Xanax, and (if legal) cocaine dripped intravenously through my system 24/7/365 till the $25 million is exhausted. (I want my estate to be provided with an exact accounting of every penny spent, too; no $4 aspirin tablets without justification for same in triplicate.) And finally, I would request that an ever-rotating squadron of Bible Thumping Palin-Supporter Abortion Clinic Bombing Evangelists be given access to my bed side during visiting hours to pray over me and do their best to stimulate my resurrection via the literal rhythmic thumping of their Bibles, not to mention a constant sneer of menace towards any doctor, nurse, orderly, or candy striper who even thinks of ending my so-called life before the $25 million is spent.

    4. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, of the estimated 50 million Americans currently without health insurance, only 1-2 percent are in the state voluntarily--i.e, they make enough money to pay for it, but just cavalierly choose not to pay for it

    5. Uwe Reinhardt of Princeton University told me that the current system is "cruel" and that the propagandists at the Wall Street Journal and the Murdoch Media Empire are reminiscent of infamous propagandists from his former country of Germany, but when I suggested the name Goebbels, he said, "You can't say that I said that."

    6. The little old lady that swallowed the fly is extremely familiar to me. Similarly, the sled dog that falls before its rapacious pack mates is a creature that I feel an almost Shirley McClain-like previous-life identification with. Between a hornet buzzing in my lungs, and scars on my jugulars, I am left to wonder: how many more incarnations before I get out of this hell hole?

    7. 13 ways is an awful lot of ways to look at something this revolting

    8. Who knows what combination of depression and sleep disorder throws cognition for a ringer? Who knows what causes these disorders? To make enough money to pay for their treatment, I asked my doctor about Provigil, a "wakefulness promoting agent" that is used by the military to keep our combat pilots awake and at peak mental functioning for days at a time. To prescribe it, he needed an FDA approved condition--take your pick, shift work disorder or narcolepsy. Alas, there was nothing on the form for "getting old, hard to think intensely hour after hour after hour, in the hope of eking out enough of a so-called living to pay for taxes and health insurance and social security I will never see, all the while crippled with sleepiness induced as a likely side effect of antidepressants." So he picked narcolepsy. Which I don't technically have, but nevertheless appears now to make me utterly uninsurable if I try to change health plans.

    9.As kids, my brother and I were once playing in a sewer pipe. I went in and got stuck. I could not back out. The only way out was forwards. But the more I tried to wriggle in this direction, the tighter the grip of the inside diameter. I can still remember that feeling of suffocation, a rat stuck, no exit. Somehow, miraculously, my brother managed to stick his legs in and push me out. I don't think I will get out this time.

    10. Most people, myself included, have felt some sympathy for the underclass--those who are stuck in horrible situations, in places where the nearest fresh vegetable, for instance, is three bus transfers away in the suburbs, and meanwhile they get criticized for eating junk food. I know my current situation is nothing like this. But I also suspect we are hardwired to feel worse about change for the worse than something bad that has been that way so long we are used to it. All I am saying is that when you feel things are rigged for the benefit of others, and when you furthermore feel that these other "beneficiaries" are cloaking their greed in virtue, wrapping themselves in platitudes like Freedom and The Unseen Hand of the Market, when in fact it is nothing but a license to grab for themselves not just an extra spot at the trough, but THE ENTIRE TROUGH, well it just makes you think how satisfying it might be to rise up and go berserk.

    O thin men of Haddam,
    Why do you imagine golden birds?
    Do you not see how the blackbird
    Walks around the feet
    Of the women about you?

    12. Prediction: depression, plague, World War, halcyon aftermath; repeat.

    13. Tonight's practice: 5000 yards.
    My fastest of our 14 x 200s was a mediocre 2:10. Must work and try harder. It is, I think, important that I keep my body in as close to age-adjusted superb shape as possible so that when the inevitable medical catastrophy strikes, the body will be able to survive long enough to exhaust the entire $25 million in lifetime benefits that my health insurer has promised is coming to me, and which I hope--with my last dying, brain-dead breath--to use to the final penny, out of nothing more than spite.
  20. Swim n Lift

    by , June 19th, 2009 at 09:49 PM (The Labours of SwimStud)
    5 x 100 w/u Snork, snork, paddles, paddles, swim.
    5 x 200 build by 50's each 200 3:30
    200 EZ
    12 x 25 K no fins :45 Mx3, Fx1
    4 thru did about :10-15 RI (clocks sucked)
    50Kick fins
    25Swim 1 & 2 FR 3&4 FL. Did a very zippy 25 FLY felt like I nailed the stroke.

    500 EZ

    Lifted at about 85% today.
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