View RSS Feed

Most Popular Blogs

  1. Update from the Ward

    by , October 17th, 2009 at 11:30 PM (Vlog the Inhaler, or The Occasional Video Blog Musings of Jim Thornton)
    Not much news to report.

    I awoke this morning to note that the inflammatory striations appeared to have diminished.

    I scalded the area in the shower at 5 a.m., put more antibiotic cream on, went back to sleep till 10 a.m.

    I had coffee and an antibiotic pill and spent the rest of the morning getting my affairs in order.

    Another scalding, another goo application, and a nap so deep it was like being folded into the Kafka nut.

    When I awoke, striations appeared to be restriating.

    I ate a sandwich, watched Pineapple Express, took another antibiotic pill, wondered at how truly disgusting human flesh can quickly become, tried not to dwell too deeply on the etiology of arachnidism and the like.

    To be honest about it, so far no positive developments. It is possible that the rate of worsening is slowing, but that could be wishful thinking.

    Another scalding now, another application of goo that is supposedly good for impetigo and MRSA, then we shall see how the night goes.

    Since I didn't know what impetigo was, I just did a web search and found out it is a common skin infection among kids:

    here are two types of impetigo: bullous impetigo (large blisters) and non-bullous impetigo (crusted) impetigo. The non-bullous or crusted form is most common. This is usually caused by staphylococcus aureus but can also be caused by infection with group A streptococcus. Non-bullous begins as tiny blisters. These blisters eventually burst and leave small wet patches of red skin that may weep fluid. Gradually, a tan or yellowish-brown crust covers the affected area, making it look like it has been coated with honey or brown sugar.

    Bullous impetigo is nearly always caused by staphylococcus aureus, which triggers larger fluid-containing blisters that appear clear, then cloudy. These blisters are more likely to stay intact longer on the skin without bursting.

    My friend Jack Martin told me he had a staph infecion on his foot, and had to be treated in the hospital.

    I am really hoping this doesn't come to that.
  2. Seeing it through to the End

    by , October 18th, 2009 at 07:05 PM (Vlog the Inhaler, or The Occasional Video Blog Musings of Jim Thornton)
    First of all, I do appreciate the fast-dwindling number of you out there in vloglandia who remain willing to follow the zeniths and nadirs of my occasionally swimming-related life.

    As you diehards know by now, the vlog has taken on a particularly confessional tone since returning to the wilderness and finding myself afflicted by a small lesion, no bigger than a match head, that looked like a teeny tiny mouth that was watering ever so slightly.

    I am not sure why any lesion, big or small, would be mouth-watering. Perhaps--and I concede here this may be wishful thinking on my part--the reason was because of said lesions proximity to my manhood. Can there be such a thing as a small, lustful, female, mouthwatering and mouth-like lesion?

    Probably not, but this, at least, is how it first manifest itself to me a week or so after my return from the Wilderness. Tiny, itchy, perhaps lustful, but really nothing too terribly serious. Nothing to write home about.

    You can follow the transmogrification of said lesion, from miniature to bear trap-sized, by simply going back and reading, in the following order, any of these vlogs that you might inadvertently skipped over (or simply want to reread for fun and enlightenment.)

    Wilderness Update Plus News About My Fungus

    (Oct. 14th: first official vlog mention of the lesion, though I suspect I had been bravely keeping its existence to myself for at least a little while before)

    Groin Disaster!

    (Oct. 15th: back in the Halcyon days when I still believed the lesion was as benign as crotch rot)

    Worsening Groin Disaster, Rated XM for Mature Medical

    (Oct. 16th: written after I went to a doctor, who told me it wasn't crotch rot but perhaps a tic bite that was now infected; he sent out my blood tests to Mayo Clinic to check for Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and other possible arthropodial calamity; he also gave me antibiotic pills and an ointment, both of which I later discovered through internet research are used in the treatment of MRSA, or flesh-eating bacteria, as well)

    Update from the Ward

    (Oct. 17th: the most lugubrious entry yet, written after two full days of antibiotic treatment that had not seemed to help one bit; I did not even attempt to joke around in this vlog, for there was no jollity in Mudville that night, Mudville being my increasingly disgusting even-to-me groin region)

    Which bring us to today's entry:

    Seeing it through to the End

    (the first in what I hope will be a series of photographs documenting my return to health in the not impossible-to-imagine future. Since I am obviously biased by the fact that I am, well, me, and I variously think I see improvements, and think I see worsening catastrophe, depending on my mood and the pain level at the time, I am hoping that my readers and viewers can rate the lesion's nastiness in an objective way, thus helping me know--for real, not from hope or dread--if I am improving, staying the same, or slinking ever closer to perdition.

    For sake of consistency, I propose a scale of 1 to 100, with 100 being utterly perfect groin health of the sort one might imagine exists in the inner thighs of the most alluringly beautiful young chaste milky white and unblemished prepubescent nun that ever could live. 1, on the other hand, is for decomposing wretches for whom leprosy is only the icing of the cake for a 1,001 other syphilitic, acne'd, pustulent, flesh-eating, pruritic, and foul smelling dermatological murderers that have shared the same damned dermis.

    We shall, for simplicity's sake, judge today's lesion of mine a ranking of 50.

    Tomorrow, if I am ambulatory to take and post another snapshot, and you think I have improved, then perhaps I will deserve your vote of 51. Or if things have gone the other way, perhaps a 37.

    One other quick note before the picture. I received this warning from the ever caring Mermaid. In addition to rating my lesion, I am wondering if the carefully couched legalese in the warning actually applies to me. I am planning to continue swimming practice. I don't think my infection is waterborne. Let me know your thoughts on this matter, too: To Swim or Not to Swim with the Lesion.

    Oh, and when you do look at the picture, consider singing to the tune of George Harrison's wonderful, "While My Guitar Gently Weeps"--

    I look at my groin, which must surely be healing--
    Still my bu-
    boe gently weeps--

    With every unguent, it must surely be crusting--
    Still my bu-
    boe gently weeps--

    I don't know how-owow germs were inserted
    My flesh was inverted too
    I don't know how-owow skin got perverted
    No one alerted you.

    I look as it grows ever more like vaginas--
    Still my bu-boe gently seeps--

    Please rate the following
    on a 1-100 scale:

  3. Kona Wedding Bells--sans mention of unmentionable)

    by , October 19th, 2009 at 06:17 PM (Vlog the Inhaler, or The Occasional Video Blog Musings of Jim Thornton)
    Since there have been several requests that I take a break from my lesion's progress, today's vlog is taking a temporary verbal sabbatical from groin pathology to groin excellence.

    A number of you may have met my good friends and Sewickley YMCA Sea Dragons (Elderly Division) teammates, the former Mr. Jeremy Cornman and the former Miss Jocelyn Smith.

    Jeremy is the only swimmer on our team to still have his name up on the Big Board where the Quaker Valley High School record times are kept. He is a superb sprinter, particularly in butterfly, capable of swimming a 50 SCY fly in the 24.8 range.

    Jocelyn is an adult-onset swimmer and former college running star who became more serious about swimming after A) meeting Jeremy and B) swerving to miss a groundhog on her then new $3000 triathlon bike and ending up with metal pins in her collarbone.

    In recent years, Jeremy has made a name for himself in two sports: triathlons and steam bath endurance. He is great at the former, and legendary at the latter.

    Both he and Jocelyn qualified for the Boston Marathon this year, then Jeremy qualified at Lake Placid for the Iron Man in Hawaii. Jocelyn almost made it but not quite.

    In any event, the two just got back from Kona, where Jeremy did quite well.

    If you have ever wondered what this is like, I highly recommend you look at Jeremy's blog where he deconstructs his race and provides some great pictures. Fascinating:

    The day after his slightly over 10 hour triathlon performance, the two got married and became, officially, Mr. and Mrs. Jocelyn Smith.

    No, just joking.

    I think they are now both Cornmans. Or Smith-Cornmans. Or Cornman-Smiths.

    Or Smiths.

    In any event, I present to you the incredibly lovely couple, J & J--both of whom, I would venture to bet, score close to 100 on the groin scale (though I have nothing to go on here, just imagining what it would be like, especially Jocelyn, while trying to explain to them both the concept of droit de seigneur, so far without much luck):

    Note: I am pretty sure J & J had this wedding picture taken in black and white because they knew they were coming back to Pittsburgh and wanted to prepare themselves for the shock.
    As indicated in the title, there will be no verbal mention of the unmentionable here, however, I am going to add today's picture beneath yesterday's picture to see if you can detect any changes.

    'Nuff said about that.

    (Above photo taken on Sunday)

    (Above taken Monday)
  4. Anatomy of a Nutty

    by , October 20th, 2009 at 01:28 PM (Vlog the Inhaler, or The Occasional Video Blog Musings of Jim Thornton)
    Regular vlog readers may recall that I have long made a distinction between two forms of hypochondria:

    • the delusional form, wherein a sufferer imagines he or she has a serious illness, becomes obsessed with it, and eventually cannot be dissuaded out of this belief despite all medical evidence to the contrary

    • the non-delusional form, which is identical to the above with but one subtle distinction, i.e., that the sufferer knows full well his or her beliefs are irrational but nevertheless still can't shake their obsessive hold

    The Masters swimming world, I have learned, has no shortage of both forms of this disorder. For purposes of lively debate, let me just throw out Leslie "the Fortress" Livingston and Paul "the Hulk" Wolfe as prototypical exemplars of Type 1, and myself as a text book example of Type 2.

    Note: if either Leslie or Paul happen to read the above paragraph and take even minor offense at my suggestion, I think we can all agree that this proves, beyond doubt, the validity of my diagnosis.

    Call their rancor a positive Thornton Sign.

    We armchair clinicians have long understood that delusional hypochondriacs always express a positive Thornton Sign when confronted with an accurate diagnosis of their disorder. The condition is, alas, ego alien, and sufferers will do anything in their powers to spit the hook, so to speak.

    Non-delusional hypochondriacs, on the other hand, just as invariably express a negative Thornton sign. To us, hypochondria is hardly alien to our sense of self; it is, alas, all too ego syn-tonic. Thus we will not debate our diagnosis but rather acknowledge it via a kind of hopeless existential shrug with which both Sartre and Kafka were so intimately familiar.

    The following passage by Mr. Kafka, I think, perfectly captures the mindset of those of us in the non-delusional hypochondriacal world.

    It was very early in the morning, the streets clean and deserted, I was on my way to the station. As I compared the tower clock with my watch I realized it was much later than I had thought and that I had to hurry; the shock of this discovery made me feel uncertain of the way, I wasn't very well acquainted with the town as yet; fortunately, there was a policeman at hand, I ran to him and breathlessly asked him the way. He smiled and said: "You asking me the way?" "Yes," I said, "since I can't find it myself." "Give it up! Give it up!" said he, and turned with a sudden jerk, like someone who wants to be alone with his laughter.

    My non-delusional hypochondriacal twin brother, John, is good friends with the non-delusional hypochondriacal screen writer Jon Cohen (Jon's most famous screenplay was Minority Report). Jon, who could be our triplet psychiatrically speaking, coined a term for episodes of our form of the disease: nutties.

    I am slowly being sucked into a nutty right now, and I thought it might prove enlightening to those who have never suffered one to see the sequence--and perhaps reassuring to fellow travelers that you are not entirely alone in the murky world where "give it up! give it up!" is the best advice you will ever get.

    Step 1. An actual symptom appears somewhere on your body or within your mood. In this case, the actual symptom was the first tiny mottled skin lesion in, well, you know very well where the tiny mottled skin lesion was.

    Step 2. Attempt at John Wayning the thing away. Ignore, deny, and assume that the body is resilient, such buboes are temporary, the best cure for any medical problem is to ignore it.

    Step 3. Persistence of symptom, with or without worsening, though worsening does tend to get ones attention.

    Step 4. Attempts at self cure via over the counter products.

    Step 5. Asking friends about it; trying to corner a doctor on your swimming team into looking at the lesion and offering free medical advice.

    Step 6. Short-lived last attempt regression to Step 2.

    Step 7. Internet research

    Step 8. Go to a doctor and take his or her recommendation, expecting fairly quick improvement

    Step 9. When improvement fails to occur within 17 minutes, more Internet research.

    Step 10. Constant monitoring.

    Step 11. Attempts to clarify your thoughts on the nature of the buboe and its possible causes by writing these thoughts down.

    Step 12. Recruiting new technologies, like a Logitech QuikCapture webcam and blog capabilities, to contribute your thoughts to the Internet

    Step 13. Accidentally discover new possibilities for the buboe's cause, possibilities that actually have some plausible connection to your own case, such as a side effect to a drug you have taken for other reasons. Case-in-point:

    FDA issues warning for Provigil

    (Reuters) UPDATED 2007-10-24
    Provigil, a medication used to treat excessive sleepiness, may cause serious skin rashes and suicidal thoughts, according to a warning from the Food and Drug Administration. Rare incidents of life-threatening skin rashes and psychiatric symptoms in patients with a history of depression and mania have been reported with Provigil use. Patients with narcolepsy or obstructive sleep apnea who take the drug to help stay awake should stop taking the medication if they develop such reactions.

    Step 14. Follow up the new suspect with additional Internet research:

    Stevens-Johnson syndrome and toxic epidermal necrolysis are two forms of the same life-threatening skin disease that cause rash, skin peeling, and sores on the mucous membranes.

    • Stevens-Johnson syndrome and toxic epidermal necrolysis usually are caused by drugs or a bacterial infection.
    • Typical symptoms for both diseases include fever, body aches, a flat red rash, blisters that break out on the mucous membranes, and small areas of peeling skin (Stevens-Johnson syndrome) or large areas of peeling skin (toxic epidermal necrolysis).
    • Affected people are hospitalized in a burn unit, given fluids and sometimes corticosteroids and antibiotics and all suspected drugs are stopped.

    In Stevens-Johnson syndrome, a person has blistering of mucous membranes, typically in the mouth, eyes, and vagina, and patchy areas of rash. In toxic epidermal necrolysis, there is a similar blistering of mucous membranes, but in addition the entire top layer of the skin (the epidermis) peels off in sheets from large areas of the body. Both disorders can be life threatening.

    Step 15. Clammy dread begins to seep into ones pores, and the mind becomes increasingly hi-jacked with thoughts of ones dermis beginning to peel off in sheets, which leads to more frantic internet searches for photographs documenting this outcome

    Step 16. The word nonsense! echoes through the back eddies of the non-delusional hypochondriac's mind, often in close tandem with such worries are madness!

    From these early stages 1-16, of course, the nutty only begins to gain strength like a ligature being twisted with the help of an inserted stick to provide leverage and torque.

    How quickly the narrowing spiral tightens!

    Alas, it is only starting. And as much as we know what we must do, we cannot yet do it. We have not become sufficiently exhausted. The prospect of our flesh tearing off our bodies -- such worries are madness! --still seems a fate to be avoided. We remain too energetic to view flaying as salvation.

    Much further in the future still is the only mindset that ever ends one nutty and inaugurates the interlude of peace before the next one starts:

    "Give it up! Give it up!" said he, and turned with a sudden jerk, like someone who wants to be alone with his laughter.

    Pictorial groin update later today, after tennis.
  5. Balancing the advantages and disadvantages

    by , October 21st, 2009 at 10:22 PM (Elise's Fitness Fun)
    Ran 5k today. Had hoped to go at a faster pace, but just haven't felt good since the end of last week. I know that POTs thing is still kind of kicked up and the bottom line is that running is not the ideal thing for it.

    The way I felt today, I contemplated just giving running up. I think it is really wearing me out, particularly when the POTs is kicked up. At the same time, some running does actually seem to help keep it from acting up too much. It is also good for bone density, good HDL counts, slimming up, etc.

    I'm struggling though with the idea of not being very competitive anymore. There are a few local 5ks where I would love to beat a few people. Have to confess I used to love nothing more than to beat people who trained twice the mileage, especially those who were rumored to say, "All she can do is swim."

    Although I felt great a couple of weeks ago, I feel like I have now gone backwards. Not sure if this is because of the POTS or if because I've simply gotten out of shape on my running somehow. Maybe doing both running and swimming is wearing me out. Still, I don't think I'm doing either running or swimming that much to get so worn down.

    Surely that 75 butterfly set I did yesterday didn't take that much out of me! If so, I'm hurtin'!

    Updated October 21st, 2009 at 10:28 PM by elise526

  6. meet cancelled; plans disrupted

    This morning I was checking my LMSC's website and noticed that the meet that I had entered this coming Sunday was no longer listed on the events page, and the meeting that been scheduled after it was moved up to midmorning. Hmmm. When I went to the sponsoring teamís website, the meet was no longer there either. I emailed the meet director to ask whether the meet was still happening, and she promptly emailed me back to let me know that she had had to cancel it due to lack of participants. (She was in the midst of drafting an email to send out to everyone who had registered when she got mine).

    This really throws a wrench into my plans to swim all the SCM events this season in local meets. The original plan was to spread the 17 events over meets on November 8, November 21, and December 5-6. That was already cutting it a bit tight, with a maximum of 18 opportunities for individual swims, and 17 events I wanted to swim. Now the number of meets is reduced to 2, with the first of thoseóon 11/21óa sprint meet that only offers 50s and 100s, and an entry limit of 3 individual events and 2 relays. I need to regroup, and here are some of my options:

    1) I could add in a travel meet. A quick glance at the meet calendars of neighboring websites scares up a SCM meet in New Hampshire this coming Saturday that starts in the afternoon and allows on-deck entries (but itís a 4 hour drive away). Thereís also the NEM Zones meet in Boston the weekend after Colonies Zones. Thatís a well run meet that everyone raves about, and Iíd love to go, but that weekend is incredibly busy for me. However, itís possible I could go up for a day, especially if Amtrak has an early train that would get me there in time for warmups.

    2) With relay lead-off swims, it might be possible to cram all 17 events into the two remaining local SCM meets. When originally hatching my scheme, I didnít want to count on relay swims to reach my event total, because I was not sure if I would have sufficient willing teammates at these meets. But now I have a relay team lined up for the 11/21 sprint meet (where both 200 relays are offered), and one of my relay mates has very graciously assured me that I could swim lead-off for both relays if I need to count those swims. With the 3 individual events Iím swimming there, that would get me 5 events on that day. The Colonies Zones meet offers both 400 relays and the 800 FR relay, and I could probably convince my teammates and coach to let me lead off these if need be (I generally swim backstroke on relays anyway). With those three swims plus the 5-per-day individual swims Iím allowed at the meet, I think itís theoretically possible get in all the remaining events (I need to double-check the event order to make sure of this).
    But with this option I would have to swim all five 200s (strokes plus IM) plus the two 400s (FR and IM) AND the 1500 FR over the course of a single 2-day meet, since the first meet only offers the sprint events. It also makes for some tough back-to-back-to-back swims, like the 400 FR straight into a 100 BK relay lead-off right into the 200 breaststroke. Going into this every-event plan, I knew I would have to balance the demands of swimming multiple events each day with my goals for swimming fast in each event. I fear that squishing everything into 2 meets might mean sacrificing the latter entirely, making this endeavor more of a stunt than a challenge, and Iím not sure I want that.

    3) I could be more flexible about my definition of swimming all the events in 1 season, and count the 3 SCM swims I did back in May (200 BK, 100 IM, 50 BR) as part of this project. However, since that nets me just 1 of the 8 events that are 200 meters or longer, it doesnít help much with the difficulties laid out in option 2. Also, I also wasnít thrilled with the May IM and BR times, and was looking forward to another go at swimming those this year.

    4) It might simply be time to let go of this all-events-in-a-season project, at least for this season, and instead focus on some time goals for individual events. Itís my last metric year in the 40-44s, and I think Iím in good enough form to have a shot at some of my PRs for that age group, so I could simply redefine my season and go after more quality swims in fewer events. I still would like to swim all the events in one season, but maybe I need to pick a longer season with more meets, one with more leeway for the unexpected happening.

    Right now Iím feeling pretty disappointed that things didnít go the way I had planned them out, and I need to take some time to think over my options and reimagine what I would like my SCM season to look like.

    On a related note, some of the best advice I ever got about goal setting was in a masters clinic Jeff Rouse gave out at Rutgers many years ago. He explained that when you get stymied in a goal, itís important not just to start hacking away at that goal again, but to revisit emotionally why that goal was important to you and give yourself the opportunity to become reconnected with whatever excited you about achieving it in the first place. For instance, if you really wanted to swim under a minute for 100 FR, and ended up with a season best of 1:00.1, say, you could simply go into the next season determined to work even harder at your current training in order to reach your goal this time round. A better approach would be to step back a bit, look at your current training regimen, and ask yourself what things you might do differently this season in order to reach your goal. However, what is really is important is to take a step back and remember what made you so excited about swimming under a minute in the first place, and then, if and only if those things are still emotionally compelling to you, consider what lessons youíve learned from last seasonís experiences and map out how you plan to reach your goal. That way your path to achieving your goal is based on excitement and hope and positive emotional attachment, rather than a lingering sense of failure or frustration. (His explanation was much clearer and concise with mine, and I think he used the example of winning an Olympic gold medal rather than breaking a minute).

    So, Iíll spend today and tomorrow thinking through my options and possibilities for this SCM season, talking to the teammates who agreed to join me in my crazy all-events project and seeing what theyíre inclined to do, and figuring out what my goals and priorities are now.
  7. Red Letter Day...So far

    by , November 3rd, 2009 at 12:09 PM (Vlog the Inhaler, or The Occasional Video Blog Musings of Jim Thornton)
    I returned to the office of the beautiful blonde dermatologist sans merci and was escorted into her parlor by a brunette nurse. The nurse instructed me to remove my pants and underwear, the elastic in the latter of which she could not fail to see was exhausted. She gave me a paper drape with which to cover myself and then she briefly left the room, leaving my unguarded medical chart on the formica table.

    As soon as she was gone, I bounded over and looked at the results:

    Results negative for herpes simplex 1 and 2 and herpes zoster.

    Then the nurse reappeared, and I said, "So I don't have sexual leprosy?"

    And she said, "I don't know, I haven't looked at the test results yet. The doctor will be in to go over these in a minute."

    Despite this waffling, my heart was doing somersaults. The lesion was still idiopathic!

    The nurse snipped the stitch and pulled it out and left.

    A few minutes later, the beautiful blonde dermatologist knocked once and entered. Perhaps it is projection on my part, but she seemed to have found in the one week interlude a portion of merci for wretched minions like me.

    Wretched, albeit not incurably venereal, minions.

    She smiled and said the tests for herpes and shingles were negative.

    There is a certain obsessiveness in me that likes to narrow things down to the 10 to the minus 12th power of certainty.

    "So," I said, in hopes of clarification, "you are saying I don't have sexual leprosy?"

    She smiled again and said, "Leprosy was never one of the suspects." But then, perhaps having some familiarity with patients like me, she added, "You DON'T have sexual leprosy."

    So much for the swab test results.

    Unfortunately, however, the pathology lab results (cookie cutter biopsy) had not yet come back. The beautiful blonde dermatologist, who now seemed to kind of like me, promised to call my cell phone as soon as these did come in.

    I asked her if groin cancer had now emerged as the next likeliest suspect.

    "I don't think malignancy is very likely, given how suddenly the lesion appeared," she said. "Malignancies usually take a long time to develop."

    More likely agents, she thought, were some sort of fungus, bite, poison plant, or other cause of the inflammatory process. It could still theoretically be another form of bacteria, but that's unlikely given the fact that I already went through antibiotic treatment without benefits.

    I told her that the area, which is clearly healing, still itched like crazy. She asked if the steroid creme she gave me free samples of was helping. I told her I stopped using it because it didn't seem to be making any difference, and she replied that it can take up to a week for that to work. She recommended I resume auto-anointment (my phrase, not hers).

    She said whatever it was, it wasn't contagious anymore (if it had ever been), and that it was okay to resume swimming. I didn't have the heart to tell her that I had already done that.

    In any event, this whole episode has resulted in collateral damage of multiple stripes to the innocent. I will dedicate myself to making whatever amends are possible--and take the ongoing maddening itch in the spirit of much deserved punishment and penance for my sins.

  8. Core + Swim, Tuesday, Nov. 3

    by , November 3rd, 2009 at 05:15 PM (The FAF AFAP Digest)

    Played with my new power wheel today!

    power wheel roll outs on knees, 1 x 25, 2 x 15
    power wheel roll outs from pike, 2 x 10*
    power wheel crawls, just a few forward and back, seemed somewhat hard on shoulders
    power wheel pikes, 1 x 15, 2 x 10**

    3 x (25 long arm crunches + 25 bicycles + 25 dead bugs + 25 prone scapular scrunches + 25 butt kicker plyo)

    jumping jills, 3 x 50
    snowboarders, 3 x 10

    * The roll outs from a pike are much harder than from the knees and likely stress the shoulder more.

    ** I was showing off my power wheel to my son (who finally arose from the couch after a few days of piggy flu). He said (with bravado, though jokingly) "move over weak woman and let a real man show you how it's done." Then he promptly lost his balance on the pikes and couldn't do very many on his first try. lol. I think this exercise is the best one for the core from what I could tell. But I need to try the crawling some more.

    Videos for the power wheel exercises and other bodyweight exercises can be found at: This site looks somewhat like Cross Fit without the weights.

    Swim/SCY Solo:

    Used a workout super evilstroke sprinter Jim Corbeau was kind enough to send me. I made minor modifications.

    Warm up:

    700 variety swim, kick, drill

    10 x 25 twirling 4 point shooters

    Sprint Set:

    3 x through:

    4 x 75 backstroke w/ 10 SDKs @ 70% @ 1:30
    4 x 50 stroke w/fins @ 90% @ 1:30
    1 x 100 EZ @ 1:30

    I did the first set backstroke and held about 26.5-ish on the 50s.
    I did the second set evil b/c my legs were getting tired from the last few days of beating up on them and went 33s.
    I did the third set backstroke and held 25.5-26 ish, but missed the wall on the last 50

    Vertical Kicking:

    5 x vertical kicking, done as:

    1:00 vertical kicking with hands at shoulders + 15 seconds with arms in streamline + 15 pullouts + 15 seconds rest

    150 EZ

    Total: 3000

    150 EZ


    When I made my internet purchases the other day, I also ordered a sample of PureSport workout and recovery drink to try it out. Just finished off my endurox. I also had ordered a new Finis Shooter monofin. I had the longer Trainer monofin, and really disliked it b/c it didn't seem to work the core and glutes as much -- instead putting strain on the lower back.

    I went to vote today. Hubby is out of town and did not get an absentee ballot. So, for once, he didn't cancel out my vote.


    This article suggests that HIIT, not low or moderate interval training, significantly reduces the risk of heart disease.

    High-Intensity Interval Training to Maximize Cardiac Benefits of Exercise Training?
    WislÝff, Ulrik; Ellingsen, ōyvind; Kemi, Ole J.

    We hypothesized that high-intensity aerobic interval training results in a greater beneficial adaptation of the heart compared with that observed after low-to-moderate exercise intensity. This is supported by recent epidemiological, experimental, and clinical studies. Cellular and molecular mechanisms of myocardial adaptation to exercise training are discussed in this review.

    Updated November 3rd, 2009 at 06:02 PM by The Fortress

    Swim Workouts , Strength Training and Dryland Workouts
  9. Vids from Sprint Workout, Thurs., Nov. 5

    by , November 5th, 2009 at 08:15 PM (The FAF AFAP Digest)
    SCY @ GMU w/Speedo & Jazz:

    Warm up:

    700 variety

    1 x 25 medium fast back SDK + 25 EZ

    Pre-Sprint Set:

    6 x 25 dolphin free*

    4 x 25 burst kick**

    4 x 25 dolphin breast***

    * Dolphin free is where you use a dolphin kick instead of a flutter kick in free. The kick occurs when the hand enters the water. You can have a single frequency or double frequency kick. The first 3-4 I was not doing a dolphin kick but using a combo body undulation + flutter kick. This felt pretty natural, and may not be too far off my sprint freestyle, which I'm been told has some dolphin action. It certainly felt like I had more DPS. Might not be a bad way to swim a 100 free b/c I can't keep up a fast windmill for a 100.

    ** Burst kick = push off, streamline w/SDKs, then burst into huge overkick with feet coming completely out of the water, cruise the last 10 yards free.

    *** Dolphin breast = a drill where you do an evil pull with fins. We used the fins as a "grip," and didn't do a dolphin kick with them. This forces you to concentrate on and perfect your pull without having your hips drop.

    Collectively, these three mini-sets made for a great pre-sprinting warm up.

    Speed Work:

    2 x (25 medium fast SDK on back + 25 EZ)

    1 x 25 AFAP free + 25 EZ

    1 x 100 cruiser back SDK

    100 EZ

    Drill set:

    After Jazz & Speedo left, I did a short drill set.

    4 x (3 x 50 w/fins) @ 1:00
    #1 = dolphin kick on side
    #2 = single arm fly drill
    #3 = 25 easy speed fly + 25 DAB

    100 EZ

    Total: 2150

    10 minutes in hottub



    This was a super fun practice. We spent a lot of time chatting about technique and training and drills, so also very informative. We didn't do a lot of speed work, which was good for me b/c my legs were still absolutely fried from yesterday's effort. It was more of a recovery workout actually. I had considered doing the P90X plyo video tonight, but I think it's better to wait until tomorrow. We did see the GMU college and masters coach briefly. I tried to assure him that Pete was putting in the yards, but he didn't seem to believe me ...


    We took a 6 videos. The quality isn't great, but they're still informative. Here they are:

    Speedo & Jazz 25 AFAP free, 2x:

    [ame=""]YouTube- Speedo & Jazz 25 free[/ame]

    [ame=""]YouTube- Speedo & Jazz 25 free[/ame]

    Wolfy is the expert, but the things I quickly notice are: (1) Jazz is entering thumb first, especially with his left hand. (I think he's doing this intentionally to quicken his catch, but it can hurt the shoulders), (2) Pete's head position is a little high; (3) Jazz has the edge on kicking.

    Speedo & Fort 25 free AFAP
    (Battle of the Latent Loper and the Straight Arm/Windmiller)

    [ame=""]YouTube- Speedo & Fort 25 free[/ame]

    My head position is way too high. I need to work more on correcting this. Part of this may be the dolphin action.

    Fort SDK Shooter:

    Garden variety demo shooter. Everyone should work on these in practice.

    [ame=""]YouTube- Fort SDK Shooter[/ame]

    Speedo's Start:

    [ame=""]YouTube- Speedo Start[/ame]

    Think you need to keep your legs together on the start!

    Fort Cruising 100 Back Shooter:

    This is not a fast example; my legs were too cooked for that. This is a hypoxic 100 shooter. I came up at the flags after smashing my heels on the wall getting too close the first time. Jazz said I sounded like a whale with my big exhale and inhale at the third wall and that my hypoxic work was costing me brain cells. You can see how he gets the girls.

    I'd like to film a very fast 100 w/MF from underwater sometime.

    Oh, and I was surprised my feet/legs were apart more than I thought ... Looks like I took 12, 12, 13, 14 kicks (but then I didn't come up at the flags on the last 25).

    [ame=""]YouTube- Cruiser 100 Back Shooter[/ame]

    Food Blog:

    Breakfast: smoothie with kiwi, blackberries, strawberries, blueberries, 1/2 scoop of whey protein, flax seed oil and coconut water

    Snack on way to workout: balance bar and cliff shot blocks

    Lunch: large salad w/lettuce, grilled chicken, tomates, peppers, parmesan cheese and flax
    seeds; fruit salad with kiwi, blackberries and blueberries

    Dinner: homemade mac & cheese, steamed peas & carrots

    Drank Pure Sport during and after workouts again.

    Will have a snack later b/c I'm still hungry and don't have She Puffery's iron discipline. Plan on a glass of chard too, as my wine fast won't begin until Nov. 13. She Puff thinks this one will be tough. I'm slightly worried that I will have trouble falling asleep without my chard fix. It's almost become part of my bedtime routine. lol

    She Puff also did my hypoxic kick set from yesterday and thought it was easy, proving that she is a kick ass kicker. I have to go look at the refinements she made to my set. She really should just stop protesting and become a backstroker ...

    Updated November 6th, 2009 at 03:59 PM by The Fortress

    Swim Workouts
  10. Mental Health Day Swim

    I took a vacation day today, mainly because I seriously needed to get away from my office far a day to preserve what's left of my sanity. Also, my pool will be closed this weekend for a USA Swimming meet, and this gives me a chance to get a swim in. (The pool closes early on Friday nights and I generally can't get to the pool in time.)

    Anyway, I went to the pool around 1:30 and I was surprised to find that it closes on Fridays from 2:30 to 5, for the kids' team workout. This meant a short workout.

    But I also found (not for the first time) tha ti ave a lot more energy in daytime workouts than at night. I suppose this makes sense -- I'm not as tired (or worn out) from my job. It may not be totally physical fatigue, but the mental fatigue has an effect. Anyway, it was the best quality workout that I've had all week -- faster swims -- even if it was shorter.

    I should do this more often -- if I can.
  11. Core + Recovery Swim, Monday, Nov. 16

    by , November 16th, 2009 at 05:20 PM (The FAF AFAP Digest)

    This morning I was back and forth from my little one's school, so I didn't have time to hit the gym. So, I did the P90X Core Synergistic Workout (60 minutes) and the Ab Ripper (15 minutes). I was forced to take a break halfway through the first one.

    Core Synergistic:

    Here are the 20 exercises on the P90X Core Synergistic workout:

    I marked the ones I liked best with an *. However, the hardest exercises were the sphinx push ups, prison cell push ups, and the combo plank-chatarunga moves. These would be great exercises, but they're not so much for me with a creaky left shoulder. If you have no shoulder issues, they look fabulous. In general, the workout is pretty good because there are numerous exercises and all the core muscles are worked (mostly simultaneously with complex movements). The downside is that there is some injury potential for those with shoulder or lower back issues. I've seem comments on the internet that it is "very hard." Not so -- there are some tough moments, but it's not overwhelming.

    1. Stacked foot/Staggered Hands pushup*: One hand forward one back, one foot on top of the other--do 5 pushups and switch sides until you can't anymore

    2. BananaRoll: Start on back with legs and arms extended 6-12 inches off floor-hold for 5, roll onto side hold for 5, roll onto back hold for 5....Keep going!

    3. Leaning Crescent Lunges:Lunge forward at 45 degree angle while extending your arm in one straight line with your back leg holding dumbells.

    4. Squat run: Squat position with one leg in front, holding dumbells moving your arms back and forth like you are running--switch legs.

    5. Sphinx Pushups: Rest on forearms elbows under shoulders. Press up off forearms until arms are straight. Great lat exercise.

    6. Bow to Boat*: 5 seconds in bow flip over 5 seconds in Boat, repeat

    7. Plank to Chatarunga run: While in plank run your knees in for 10 seconds then go down to a chat positions and do a fast type of crawl while hovering!!

    8. Walking Pushups: I did this on the hardwood part of our basement. Get in plank with your toes on a towel and walk with your hands 4 counts forward and back keep repeating for a minute.

    9. Superman/Banana:* Alternating Superman and then roll onto your belly for arms and legs off floor position/ Go back and forth

    10. Low lateral skaters:* Slowly shifting side to side in a deep lunge while lifting your straight leg at the end of the movement

    Lunge and Reach*-With weight in hand reach down to front leg as if you are lifting something off of the floor, then reach up and twist as though you are putting it on a shelf. 30 seconds on each side. This is essentially a easier, lower weight, higher rep version of the twisting squat swing I do with a 25 pound plate.

    11. Lunge-Kickback-Curl and Press: 20 reps. Tough total body movement provided you use adequate weight.

    12. Reach High and Under Pushups:* Combine standard pushup then a sideplank from sideplank reach under like a pilates twist and repeat. Very tough. Oddly, side planks don't hurt my shoulders as much as regular planks.

    13. Prison Cell Pushup:
    From standing bend forward to plank do a pushup bring your right knee in and out, do another pushup, bring left knee in and out do another pushup, do third pushup and jump back to standing.

    14. Side hip raise:* Lying on sideresting on forearm. Lift hips up off of the floor and lower them. Do a bunch on each side.

    15. Squat X press: Holding weights do plie squats while you are performing a wide shoulder press to that your body forms and X. 30 reps. Pretty easy, would be harder with more weight.

    16. Steam Engine: Standing knee to elbow crunches-50 reps

    17. Dreya Roll:* From standing squat down, roll onto your back, kick legs straight up in the air, almost like a pilates control balance move, and roll forward coming to standing again. To make it harder, instead of just standing up do either: (1) a squat jump, (2) a split leg jump, (3) jump and twirl.

    18. Plank to Chaturanga Iso: Alternate 10 second counts between plank and chat position. Hard

    19. Halfback-Agility moves simulating going through football tire drills 60 sec. Easy.

    20. Table dip/Leg raise:* Get yourself into a yoga table. Raise one leg in the air keeping hips up, and do tricep dips changing after 5 reps. 60 seconds

    Ab Ripper:

    Still like this DVD with the exception of the Fifer Scissors. I used my ab wheel and did long arm crunches during these.


    Only swam for 40 minutes today. Went to the pool late and got kicked out by the high school swim team tryouts. That's OK, my legs were fried, so I just did the following recovery swim:

    Warm up:

    600 variety


    4 x 25 shooters
    4 x 25 easy speed fly
    4 x 25 shooters
    4 x 25 alternate fast evil & EZ swim
    4 x 25 shooters
    4 x 25 easy speed fly
    4 x 25 shooters
    4 x 25 alternate fast evil & EZ swim
    4 x 25 shooters
    4 x 25 alternate fast evil & EZ swim
    4 x 25 shooters

    I did belly, back and twirling shooters.

    Total: 1700 yards

    5 minutes in the hottub.



    Didn't feel all that bad after my exercise mania yesterday -- until I hopped in the pool and tried to kick. Thus, I did all the shooters on cruiser speed. I think I'll give the legs a break tomorrow in the pool if I can. I'm tentatively planning on hot yoga and my team practice tomorrow night.
  12. Ron Johnson Memorial Invitational and my brother

    by , November 23rd, 2009 at 12:44 PM (My non-workout blog and random thoughts)
    I swam at the Ron Johnson Invitational meet this weekend and achieved one of my goals for this year. I'm proud to report that my brother also achieved one of his goals at another meet held in Washington during this weekend.

    First, if you have never been to the Mona Plummer Aquatic Center in November, it is really a great time of year to visit Tempe. The weather is much cooler - in the 70's - as opposed to 100 - 120f in the summer. The pool is very fast - deep, great non-slip surfaces on the bulkhead, waveless gutters and lane lines. They have a new digital scoreboard that is easy to read and makes the venue more professional. The bulkhead splits the long course pool into two parts and there were plenty of lanes for warm up and cool down. Of course, the sunny skies and coolish temperatures makes a great environment for swimming fast.

    The meet is superbly run. My hat is off to Katy James - the meet director. The officials were real professionals who impressed me with their knowledge of the rules as well as their knowledge of swimming technique. All the timers were volunteers and I as well as my fellow masters swimmers thanked them for volunteering. I also had a chance to thank the starter and meet referee before leaving the meet. I highly recommend this meet to any swimmer.

    It was really good to see my fellow competitors and friends- Tall Paul and Laura Smith, Barry Roth, Bob DiTolla, Gail Roper, Robert Wilson, Patty Buffett and the Queen. I watched Jeff Commings and Dave Rollins smoke the water with some amazingly fast swims. I didn't get a chance to meet Mike Mann, but perhaps I will if he goes to Long Beach. I did see him swim and man (pun intended), is he fast!

    My goals for this year were to reset some backstroke SCM and LCM World Records. I didn't do so well at LCM, but I was able to reset the 50 meter backstroke record in the 55-59 age group - 29.07. In a previous post, I had dedicated this swim to the memory of Ron Johnson. He was a great swimmer and masters coach. And I think that the extra motivation help me. After the race was over, I meditated for a few moments and thought about Ron and hoped that he was racing in that big pool above us.

    On a more earthly level, I feel pretty good about this record because the previous record holder was encased in a B70 - much like I was. I missed the 200 record by 0.4 second, but was feeling rather weird before the race - something was missing. Perhaps at Long Beach? I was humbled in the 50 back by a wonderful swimmer - Sheri Hart of Denver. She won the heat in a time of 28.86 - not bad for a 38 year old. We had a chance to compare notes afterwards and like most masters swimmers - just a really nice person.

    While I was basking in the warmth of Tempe, my brother, Lincoln, was at a SCM swim meet in Washington. I got an email from a dear friend (and college team mate) telling me that the local paper had announced that he was coming up to the meet to break the 50-54 400 IM record. And sure enough, he did! But he was not very happy with his swim. In an email, he said he was on pace 3:44 at the 300, but died badly - finishing in 1:11 for the 100 free and with a final time of 4:55 (beating the old record by 2 seconds). As for myself, I would love to swim that fast. I'm really proud of my brother for his accomplishments - even though he wishes that he had a stronger freestyle leg.

    For a short time (as records will be broken in the near future), I am honored to be in the record books with my younger and much faster brother.

    It's off to Long Beach in two weeks!
  13. Sarasota Y Sharks Masters 5:30 Workout -11/24/09 -SCY

    by , November 23rd, 2009 at 02:22 PM (Sarasota Y Sharks Masters 5:30 a.m. Workout)

    WARM UP:
    6 X 50 free 1:00
    6 X 50 kick 1:15
    4 X 75 25 free/25 stroke/25 free 1:20
    3 X 100 free 1:40

    4 X 100 kick 2:15

    4 X 50 1:10
    4 X 25 :40
    Stroke*no free*
    Swim the set three times.
    Short break between rounds.

    10 X 200 Pull 3:00
    Descend in pairs

    WARM DOWN: 4 X 50 easy 1:00

    Swim Workouts
  14. Happy Thanksgiving One and All!

    by , November 25th, 2009 at 04:25 PM (Vlog the Inhaler, or The Occasional Video Blog Musings of Jim Thornton)
    Like Frank Sinatra's conspicuous absence of singing in the shower, or a busman's decision not to drive on holiday, or perhaps a harlot's avoidance of intimacy during rare leisure moments when the urge for vertical body postures must become overwhelming in its intensity--so has it been with this vlogger of late: the dictates of writing for a living have all but overwhelmed any time or inclination to indulge in tip-tap-tip-tapping of keystrokes for free.

    Even though I much prefer the latter, having not yet developed the "learned helplessness" that so frequently accompanies human endeavor in the paid environment.

    Sing this ditty, Frank! Contort your buttocks into this appealing lordosis configuration, harlot! Never again in the history of the world again utter the word Stetari, lackey!

    And so forth.

    I am sure everybody understands, with the possible exception of those who spend their days teaching 2nd graders how to draw finger turkeys, what I mean.

    On the other hand, it has been recently pointed out to me, by a person whose perspicacity is beyond dispute, that I have, of late, been inclined to a certain churlish sulkiness.

    Oh, how I wish not to be thusly inclined, not even for a moment!

    As one distantly former girlfriend once called me in apparent affection: Oh, Jim! My horrid little flower!

    Horrid, yes. Flower, true enough. Little, again, check! Especially if little is being directed at my generosity of spirit and not my guttage.

    But do not flowers, even little horrid ones, give back to the world a cheerfulness and color that brings only smiles to onlookers and ravenous pollinators, dusty with lemon-colored crumbs?

    In this spirit, that is to say, my flower side, and less my little horrid sulky side, I offer the following Thanksgiving greetings to my fellow swimmers the world over in the hopes you will find within this offering a smile, a cheerfulness, and a color--orange, as luck would have it--that might have otherwise gone unnoticed in this busy, busy time of Thanksgiving!

    It is a drawing by my step great nephew Cameron.

    I am not sure the Dramatis Personnae in his description of his drawing is super important, but to keep things straight:

    • I am Uncle Steppy.
    • Aunt Lizie is the beloved little sister of me (Uncle Steppy) and my twin brother John (Steppy)
    • Granny, AKA, Nancy, is the biological grandmother of Cameron and wife of my brother John (Steppy)
    • Daddy is Cameron's father and Nancy's son Darrin by her first marriage

    I am pretty sure that Cameron, after drawing the picture and getting John to scan it and email it to me, dictated verbatim his explanation for what is going on. I shall post this below the artwork.

    Hi Uncle Steppy and Aunt Lizie. The one in the orange is Uncle Steppy. And he has a hole in his underwear. Everybody is sticking out his tongue at him. Granny (middle) pulled down Uncle Steppy's pants. Granny has a silly hat. Daddy has a rotten nose. The cloud and the sun is sticking their tongue out at Uncle Steppy. The clouds are wearing sunglasses because the sun is shining right at the clouds.
    PS Happy Thanksgiving!

    Final note: in the original version of Cameron's email, my beloved brother John dropped the "Uncle" after its first reference. I think he did this to spare my feelings, to make it seem as if it were him and not me whose pants had been dropped down, earning him ridicule from every corner of the firmament. But it is quite clear upon whom such ridicule belongs, so I have restored it to the accurate state.

    On this note, it is back to my labors on the drawbacks to novel hypnotics, irresistible as they continue to prove to be to the sulky likes of me.
  15. Sewickley Swim, Wed., Nov. 25

    by , November 25th, 2009 at 09:55 PM (The FAF AFAP Digest)
    Had a nice long drive to Pittsburgh with only moments of sheer brain numbing traffic hell. Better than the usual Thanksgiving debacle getting out of metro DC. Then drove to Sewickley to swim with the Sewickley Masters, coached by speedster Bill White, with whom I shared a lane.

    SCY w/Sewickley Masters:

    Warm up:

    50 EZ (rather than my usual 700)

    12 x 50 swim @ :55, reverse IM order
    (I drilled the fly; I can't do fly w/o a proper warm up.)

    8 x 50 kick @ 1:00, IM order, no fins

    Main sets:

    8 x 50 @ 1:00, IM order
    (I did the fly, back & free as double shooters w/fins; the others were doing 1/2 of each 25 SDK.)

    8 x 50 @ 1:00, IM order
    25 DPS + 25 SDK build to sprint
    (I did the last 25 as a fast shooter)

    4 x 100 @ 2:00
    25 SDK, 50 choice EZ, 25 sprint (IM order)

    4 x 100 @ 2:00
    assigned: 75 choice, 25 sprint kick (IM order)
    did: 25 shooter on back, 50 back, 25 shooter on back fast

    50 EZ

    Total: 2700



    This was a perfect workout for me after many hours in the car. I was still tired from yesterday's fast kicking, so it was a nice maintenance workout with some hypoxic work, IM work, and a few sprints. Because they only get an hour to practice, SM have a very structured warm up, which of course I'm not used to. I like my leisurely warm ups.

    I was able to watch Jimby's SDK efforts from underwater. He has a very nice streamline, but no power coming from the core. There may be some hope. I had him to a few squats on deck, and he somewhat managed them without cantilevering his knees too far over his feet. Saturday I will show him the ropes a bit more.

    We adjourned to the coed steam room and whirlpool -- very nice for a Y -- where we discussed myriad things. Among those repeatable were the upcoming suit ban. Jimby is still quite defiant about men not getting equal coverage as women under the FINA committee proposal. He also predicts that my next new event will be the 200 fly -- done all kicking. I told Bill that this was perfectly legal according to Wolfy (as long as you don't violate the 15 meter rule). He was suspicious, but to my knowledge it is legal to kick the entire way in a streamline position. Might be a fun experiment. Much less painful than forcing the poor shoulders to do all that work!

    I plan to take tomorrow completely off. I will swim with the Sewickley Masters again on Friday and then with Jimby and BIll on Saturday. Even though this week will be a comparatively easy week without a gym visit, I'm still fairly tired. (Of course, it's only Wed.) I was fretting about possible overtraining and leg fatigue to Mr. Fort. He just scoffed since I have another 2+ weeks to rest. I guess he's likely right ...
    Swim Workouts
  16. Even More Thanksgiving Wishes

    by , November 26th, 2009 at 03:05 PM (Vlog the Inhaler, or The Occasional Video Blog Musings of Jim Thornton)
    My brother Johnny boy already posted this in the comments section of yesterday's blog, Happy Thanksgiving One and All, which regular readers will recall featured harlots in lordosis configurations and other things we can be happy about.

    As an antidote to the occasional snifter of impropriety that our DNA has taken via the Jim morph, I present to you the utter wholesome and unadulterated joi de vivre life view of my twin, one of the nicest people to ever grace the planet earth.

    I am still trying to find out if John wrote this song on Garage Band, but I am 99 percent sure he did, for it has all the hallmarks of a John Thornton song: stirring melody, Noel Cowardly lyrics exhilarating in their brevity and cleverness, and a middle 8 that makes one think of the Beatles at their best, all of this ladled over with the kind of charming cornpone quality that made Woodie Guthrie such a giant at Communist union organizing rallies.

    At the risk of biasing your opinion of this film, I strongly urge you to gather your loved ones around the computer, which you have stuck for this occasion into your fireplace so as to symbolically turn the Internet into the very hearth of modernity, and play this instant classic of a Thanksgiving song for the gathered multitude of relatives, singing along as soon as you get a knack for the lyrics.

    Then throw away your BMI scales and engorge happily.

    We are humans.

    This is what humans have for Thanksgiving!

    [ame=""]YouTube- What Humans Have For Thanksgiving![/ame]
  17. Leslie's Buttocks vs. Mine, plus Exercising on Dryland

    by , November 29th, 2009 at 12:07 AM (Vlog the Inhaler, or The Occasional Video Blog Musings of Jim Thornton)
    There is a school of thought in narrative tales that the easiest and arguably best way to present these is to start at the beginning and proceed, step by chronological step, to the end. Suspense in this standard form is built in a fairly straightforward manner: the reader, enraptured by event A, naturally begins to wonder, What oh what happens next? What is event B? Then C? And so forth?

    Such stories often begin like this:

    Once upon a time in Western Pennsylvania...


    In the Pleistocene era, a patch of primordial ooze with the original signature genomic code of the Thornton family...


    God so loved the world that he gave his only misbegotten son Jim to...

    In more recent times, perhaps because of earth's burgeoning population of story tellers, each trying to differentiate himself or herself from the other person's self, a new model has emerged, still a bit less common, but alas itself fast slouching towards cliche.

    In this model, pioneering narrators of the likes of Faulkner, Proust, Thornton, Joyce, Golgadkin, and so forth, purposely choose to begin their tales at the end, revealing the "denouement" or the "killer's identity" or the "money shot" or whatever else it might be that in earlier times would not be answered till the very last pages of the book or footage of film.

    Suspense here stems not from the reader's curiosity about what will happen, for we already know the final outcome. Instead, suspense depends on a growing rhetorically manipulated curiosity on the reader's part about how and why this ending has come to be.

    To reiterate: the author or auteur of such works, or in the case of a vlogger who combines the written word with the filmic art, the author-auteur, starts at the end, cuts back to the beginning, then leisurely fills in the intervening time.

    It is this secondary model I have chosen to embrace.

    Over this most Thanksgiving-worthy of Thanksgiving seasons, our Amish Mud hole-dappled region of the country was visited by none other than Leslie the Fortress Livingston, the single most beloved national champion that the USMS community has ever had the good fortune to grip to our collectively grateful bosom.

    Leslie, as some of you might know, is a strong advocate of weight lifting and the whole shooting match of other painful exercises conducted on dry land, from Bosu Balling to virtually anything you can imagine doing on a rack.

    During our precious several days with Leslie, she swam with our Sewickley SeaDragons, Geriatric Division, on Friday; then today, Saturday, after I had already done 68,000 lb. of Nautilus lifting (inspired by Leslie to give it a try), Leslie arrived fresh from her Seroquel-induced (off-label) beauty sleep at 2:05 p.m. sharp in the Y lobby, and the two of us proceeded back to the weight room. Here she showed me the elementary ropes of the non-machine strength training world.

    During the course of this, and I will be presenting many of her 1000s of demonstrated exercises over the coming days, weeks, months, years, and seeming centuries (in fact, no need to read Leslie's blog anymore--this vlog here, much more so than her own, has now become the one-stop official site for all things visually and auditorially Leslie), we also conducted the 25 cent piece "Quarter Test."

    By good fortune, Senor Haboush, the Spanish teacher at the local high school, was pumping iron at the Y, and he agreed to fire the quarter first at Leslie's buttocks and then at mine to see which set of glutei was firmer and therefore more bouncy to the quarter.

    The first of today's films features this long-awaited and much ballyhooed Quarter Buttocks test. In some ways, one could argue the test is really the end of the whole narrative. For the results here proved so unexpected, so paradoxical even, that the reader will--I am sure of it!--be seduced into unbearable, dumbfounding curiosity.

    Not about the "what happened?"--for it is indisputable that the quarter bounced much, much higher off my muscular buttocks than Leslie's firm but still somewhat squishy ones. Rather the dumbfounding stems from a seemingly unanswerable question: "How can this be?" After all, Leslie is obviously an amazing specimen of the weight lifting arts, and I am but a shlub.

    How oh how? Why oh why?

    I can't stand it! Help me see the reasons, Jim! I beg you!

    In time, my friends. Answers shall come your way in time.

    But first, the Quarters test...

    This first short film will be followed, in turn, by today's inaugural set of exercises Leslie has taught me. (Sadly for her, once I master just these two, my buttocksial advantage is sure to swell even further.)

    Please enjoy, especially now that the subtextual content is clear, and you don't need to think deeply or in an unguided way.

    [ame=""]YouTube- The Quarter Buttocks Test[/ame]

    Summary: Leslie loses convincingly to Jim in Quarters Buttocks Test and in a fit of pique refuses to continue with the moobs vs. boobs Coin Toss Test.

    [ame=""]YouTube- Getting Dry with Leslie Part 1: Shrug Dips and X Cross Squat[/ame]

    Summary: Leslie teaches Jim how to do dips safely by shrugging girlishly, then takes him into an area he has never ventured before to teach him the X-cross squat, AKA, Hot Crossed Buns.

    Updated November 29th, 2009 at 12:14 AM by jim thornton

  18. Two More Squats Visually Demonstrated by L & J

    by , November 30th, 2009 at 05:05 PM (Vlog the Inhaler, or The Occasional Video Blog Musings of Jim Thornton)
    Many people who know me well think I don't work.

    This isn't entirely true.

    The truth is that I rarely work.

    However, when I do engage in these rare episodes of work, or perhaps work-like endeavor is more accurate, it is like doing an unbelievably difficult distance and sprint set for the mind that goes on, week after week, until the entirety of my soul is as empty and dessicated as the ears that feed the Children of the Corn.

    Like all such exacting demands upon human performance, what I am expected to achieve, and what I can achieve, are often wildly disparate propositions.

    But since my livelihood depends upon delivering what I am incapable of producing on my own, I have, in recent years, been forced to increasingly rely on PEDs to get the job done.

    I am, for instance, now drinking my 14th cup of coffee of the day, and I must say, I am feeling a bit like an insect that has made the mistake of biting into a coffee bean 10,000 times his size. That is to say, I am feeling poisoned.

    On top of this, I have the degrogification effects of one 100 mg tablet of Provigil, a drug FDA approved only for narcoleptics, shift workers, and those of us able to mimic the symptoms of these first two conditions well enough to convince our physicians to write us a prescription.

    On top of my 14 cups of coffee, this Provigil tablet is working extremely well.

    I have no doubt that tonight's swim practice, wherein the main set is 5 x 500 on 6:45 followed by 5 x 100 on 1:15, will barely dent my degree of alertness, unless, of course, my heart happens to explode, dispatching me forthwith to the Great Resting Reward, a dispatch which just might be the best unintended medicinal side effect of all time.

    I kid. I am nothing but a raw ganglion these days, hoping for immortality!

    Tonight, the raw ganglion shall return to its office/sleep chamber, which sleep hygienists have long suggested should not be combined, but sometimes one has no other option; watch the second half or final quarter of House depending on when I get back from practice; maybe have another training dinner exactly like last night's--i.e., three pork chops and a bowl of ice cream; then prepare for bed. I have Sonata, which has been deemed almost entirely ineffective; and two bottles of NyQuil, which personal experience has shown to be highly effective. I may find a little more of this and that to add to the soporific brew.

    With these drowsy syrups of my own concoction, I shall -- with luck! -- slip into the sweet embrace of sister Morphine, perchance to dream of the squats Leslie has shown me and I have appendaged below, perchance to wake up again tomorrow morning, and brew some more coffee, and pop another Provigil, and begin once more the form of livelihood which will surely one day prove the death of me.

    On this note, here are the right and wrong ways to do two more forms of squats:

    [ame=""]YouTube- Overhead squatting and swing squatting with Leslie[/ame]
  19. More Dryland, Right and Wrong

    by , December 5th, 2009 at 02:08 PM (Vlog the Inhaler, or The Occasional Video Blog Musings of Jim Thornton)
    Slowly but surely, I hope to post all the exercises that Leslie tried to show me over Thanksgiving. As regular readers will recall, I got to the Y early, lifted 68,000 lb. as measured by the Fitlinxx computer system, and only then did Leslie arrive to put my shaking bulk through additional dryland paces.

    Pathetic as the first of these were, things got even worse as each new exercise began requiring more and more skill, coordination, balance, and flexibility, none of which I have. Brute strength? Sure. But these other things? Even with practice, they may be beyond me.

    In the attached video, Leslie looks sweet enough in her virgin white Nike attire, but she has a dark side. Think angry school marm with a ruler. She uses the ruler to measure her disobedient male students. When they fail to measure up, and we always do, she uses the ruler to beat us.

    Here is Leslie in her dark school marm Nike outfit. She is saying, "Okay Jim, it's your turn now. You may need to break your hips, but you will do a split by the day's end, so help me god! Oh, stop snivelling! Why oh why must you make me hurt you?"

    When she arrived at the Sewickley Y, she brought along a hand-scribbled document with the exercises she had decided to teach me. These ranged from the twisting medicine ball slam, to the superman banana.

    Careful scrutiny of this primary document shows evidence that Leslie has been practicing all this weight training stuff seriously for years. I ask that you give particular scrutiny to her lower case i's. Note how there is nary a single heart-shaped dot above any of them.

    I fear Leslie is slowly but surely lifting all the girl out of herself, but who am I to judge?

    Here is the primary document:

    I am hoping, by year's end, if I ever finish my new article on novel hypnotics and the mayhem they can cause, to post all Leslie's dry land lifting and related exercises in a well-labeled, one stop vlog. It has not escaped me that my vlog is not always the most pragmatically useful source of swimming-advice, that I more often than not have appropriated this space for purposes of jotting down and sharing with the wet world at large my seemingly always bubbling spring of [ame=""] [/ame]

    In this, I sometimes delude myself into believing I am doing my fellow swimmers a service of sorts. You know how our Christian brothers recommend praying for "those more miserable than ourselves"? I have, in my mind, put a palpable, if not punchable, face on such recipients of God's mercy.

    In any event, I do hope to contribute the complete Leslie dryland inventory soon, which I suspect might prove more helpful to most viewers than the certain knowledge you are better off than at least one wretch!

    For now, here are a few more bricks in the Sisyphusian wall.

    I hope you enjoy it.

    All my best,

    J I M M I E

    [ame=""]YouTube- 1-legged squats hip hinges dead lifts done right and wrong[/ame]
  20. I'm Late, I'm Late for a Very Important Date

    by , December 6th, 2009 at 10:34 PM (Meet Director's Path to Tranquility)
    "Never put off until tomorrow what you can do the day after tomorrow."
    -Mark Twain

    The meet deadline is about seven weeks away, and so far there are two entries. From past experience, one half of all entries will show up in the week before the meet. Since we make the best attempt to treat our swimmers to their benefit, we select a deadline as close to the meet as possible. Our deadline is determined by the deadline for tee shirt orders, which is Monday before our meet.

    If we did not have tee shirts, I would set the deadline for two days before the meet. It takes one minute to push the computer button to seed the meet, and half a day to copy the meet program at Office Depot. I never understood why local meets have a deadline two weeks before the meet.

    We send our tee shirt order in Monday before the meet. The shirts are ordered and delivered to the printers on Tuesday. The shirts are printed on Wednesday, and ready for pickup on Wednesday or Thursday. That leaves a day or two for unforeseen problems:
    1. Washington has seen some snow at that time of year. Everything shuts down here and people freak out at the thought of snow (from someone who grew up in upstate New York) And, there is a possibility that we could get a real storm.
    2. The printer could make a big goof and need additional time to make the shirts right.

    One year I sent in my entry to the local Albatross Open. I got a call from the meet director that went something like this:
    MD: We received your meet entry today, but the entry deadline was yesterday.
    ME: Sorry; it was mailed a day or two ago. Is it a problem?
    MD: Yes, it was a day late. You need to deck enter and pay an extra fee at the meet.
    ME: Did you do the seeding yet?
    MD: No.
    ME: So what is the problem? Why can't you enter me in the meet?
    MD: Because your entry was received past the deadline.
    ME: But if you haven't done anything yet with the entries, why is it a problem entering me in the meet?
    MD: It isn't, but you are a day past the deadline, so I can't.

    I did not attend the meet that year or the next. The MD returned my check. It was obvious that conforming to rules was more important than getting swimmers into the meet.

    I vowed not to repeat this attitude in our meet. Of course there are a few entires that trickle in after the deadline. I just enter them, and hope that if there is a tee shirt order in a late entry, we have an extra shirt ordered. Sometimes, a few people will contact me to ask if it is too late to enter. I tell them no, but don't order a tee shirt and I get an entry received WITH payment before Friday when I do the seeding.

    One year, I got a call from someone's mother pleading to let her son into the meet late. (CUBU swimmer, 18 y.o.) Sometimes I get overnight entries sent by Express Mail. Sometimes Santa (or the meet fairy) drops entries into my home mail box overnight (entries go to our team post office box.) I have also had entries personally delivered to my office during the day. In all, about five entires out of 150 arrive late. I can handle that.

    I enter swimmers into the meet database the day their entries arrive. There is too much to do days before the meet without becoming a hermit monk frantically holding and then copying all entries into the database at once. We also need to keep a daily tab on the number of entires in our 500-free, since we limit the entires and update the count daily on our web site meet page.

    Be real. Lose the attitude - it's easy to find one as the deadline approaches.

    Updated December 6th, 2009 at 10:40 PM by Rnovitske

Page 7 of 26 FirstFirst ... 3456789101117 ... LastLast