Last night, when Rafael Nadal won the US Open against Novak Djokovic, I had an overwhelming sense of deja vu.
Not only had I seen this movie before, I had lived it.
Lithely muscular Spanish tennis sensation, Jim Thornton, I mean Rafael Nadal, reminds me of exactly how I once looked during the Golden Boy phase of my life, which lasted from September, 1952 till late July, 2010. Throughout this period, I was frequently asked by admiring female fans, "Jim, could you please slow down just for a second to talk to us?"
To which I invariably had to reply, "I would love to, girls! But I can't! I am just too magnificent in motion."
Over the past number of days, maybe weeks, possibly months, however, things have ever so slightly changed.
At first, it was extremely subtle: the merest hint of a zaftig quality filling out my musculature, a softening of definition that lent to my physique a Muhammad Ali-like quality (as opposed to the more musclebound body type of, say, Ken Norton,) This, I told myself at first, is not necessarily a bad thing.
Muscle definition is not the same as muscle effectiveness. If anything, a tiny bit of leavening fat appears to be an advantage in many sports.
But zaftig, alas, was not content with staying zaftig.
About a month ago, I graduated to what in girls dress sizes was once called "chubby" and in boys coveralls "husky."
From chubby-husky, the fat tide rolled me on onwards--like a sickeningly rich mound of sticky bun dough over a bed of grated pecans and granulated sugar--towards pudgy, then chunky, then corpulent, before really picking up momentum and steam rolling me into the ranks of the porcine, the blimpish, the abdominally abominable, and the "constantly mistaken for Fatty Arbuckle" realm.
For weeks now, I have sensed if not completely conceded that the only thing Rafa and I currently have in common are our magnificently unbridled stallion-like Spanish passion and indominatability!
For Rafa in his current body, such qualities are a magnet for girly action.
For me in my current body, they are a virtual guarantee of restraining orders.
Still, knowing you are fat, and accepting same, are two different matters.
Just as I only accepted that I was bald in late 2009 (before then, I would have told you I was balding, not bald), so did full gut-level acknowledgment of my grotesque body weight problem require a bit more proof to sink in.
Of all the recent epiphanies about my weight gain--the appearance of an old man gut cleavage line, for instance, and the tipping of the scale close to 190 lb. for the first time since my 'grossest fathood' 1976 weekend of engorgement and water drinking record attempt--the one thing that finally convinced me something was very, very wrong was the sudden appearance--just yesterday-- of double chins under my manatee-like moobs.
In the wake of this epiphany, the idea of doing something to lose weight finally took hold in me, and I posted the concept on Facebook.
James Scott Thornton Having recently noted that I have 1) old man gut cleavage, and 2) a double chin of sorts under both of my pecs (oh, who am I fooling? my breasts), I am about to begin work on DIEt: an Inhaler Attempts to Redefine Himself. This should generate some peepers.
This, in turn, prompted a lively exchange from some of our frequent and beloved fellow forumites.
A sample of their replies:
Leslie Livingston can't wait for this!
Paul Wolf Let me know how it goes
Leslie Livingston Do you have a plan of attack?
Kirsten Thompson Will be following this closely as I have breasts too
James Scott Thornton I doubt yours have double chins where bacteria can hide and putrefy, making one wonder if something has died outside his house, and then later making one wonder if something has died inside the library, and then later making one wonder if something has died by the Jacuzzi at the YMCA, before at last one realizes that the stench of death he smells is not external but internal, portable, and ineradicable.
This I doubt is the case with your breasts.
I could be wrong though.
Amanda Hunt nipples standing at attention with anticipation here.
Please indulge one more Facebook-purloined, on-topic, digression, this one posted by none other than Eney Jones, a non-chubby swimming legend who can't beat me in the 50 or 100 despite her best attempts to do so.
Yesterday, Eney posted a link to a TED talk (eye-opening, often paradigm-shifting speeches given by various experts on different scientific topics). This particular TED talk was on the dangers of announcing your intentions and goals before you achieve them--
TED Talks: After hitting on a brilliant new life plan, our first instinct is to tell someone, but Derek Sivers says it's better to keep goals secret. He presents research stretching as far back as the 1920s to show why people who talk about their ambitions may be less likely to achieve them.
For more on this, I refer you to http://www.ted.com/talks/derek_siver..._yourself.html
Of course, experts on the other side of the equation have suggested that when it comes to things like exercise programs and weight loss regimens, it can be helpful to tell your friends what you plan to do so they can support your efforts and hold you accountable.
Who knows which approach is more viable?
At the risk of dooming myself to failure at the outset, I will nevertheless tell you readers exactly how I intend to recapture my Rafael Nadal-like Golden Boy magnificence.
To wit, here is what I have achieved so far and what I intend to continue to do well at least until Thursday if necessary.
Step 1. Acknowledge you have a problem.
Step 2. Lose weight by Method A. Now I know there are no shortage of strategies for losing weight, from forced vomiting to amputation of less important body appendages. I plan to start with Method A, which--I'll be frank, has not always worked that well on a general population level. Still, Method A is probably the simplest weight loss strategy that doesn't involve a finger or a knife. All one must do: Stop eating.
Semi-check! I stopped eating this morning after breakfast, and I plan to continue to stop eating until I pass out, at which case, continued attempts to stop eating should become relatively easy until I am revived.
Step 3. With luck, there will be no need for a Step 3, and I will be back to a healthy weight later this afternoon or by early evening. However, should Method A fail to provide the intended pound shedding necessary, or I fail to adhere to Method A long term enough, then I will without hesitation move on to Step 3. Look for and implement Method B. (I wish I had thought this out a little better in advance. The Steps and the Methods are off by one numeral-digit--Step 2, Method A; Step 3, Method B; Step 17, Method P, and so forth. Oh, well. Nobody ever said weight loss was easy.)
Check to come only if needed. As already indicated, I hope we will not need to move to Step 3, Method B. I just walked--somewhat dizzily--to the scale for a late afternoon weigh-in. Since not eating anything post-breakfast, I have gained a mere 2 lb., indicating that the rate of fathood ascent appears to be slowing.
I will keep you posted until I slip into a hypoglycemic coma (one reason many doctors do not recommend Method A for longer than several hours at a time).
Updated September 14th, 2010 at 04:09 PM by jim thornton
1 X 300 5:00 4:30
1 X 200 3:20 3:00
1 X 100 1:40 1:30
Three times through.
Round 1 interval left, rounds 2/3 right.
1 X 200 kick 4:15
2 X 100 kick 2:10
4 X 50 kick descend 1:05
1 X 200 IM 3:30
2 X 100 choice stroke 2:00
Three times through.
10 X 100 2;00
#10 is easy
8 X 25 sprint :45
WARM DOWN: 4 X 50 easy 1:00
1 X 200 3:20
3 X 100 1:40
2 X 100 kick 2:10
4 X 50 kick 1:10
4 X 50 kick 1:00
3 X 100 1:30
1 X 200 fast
1 X 150 2:15
2 X 150 2:20
3 X 150 2:25
3 X 150 2:05
2 X 150 2:00
1 X 150 fast
12 X 50 1:05
1 X 800 Pull
Descend by 200's
WARM DOWN: 4 X 50 easy 1:00
1 X 200 3:20 3:00
3 X 100 1:40 1:30
4 X 75 1:20 1:10
Two times. Round 1 left, round 2 right.
4 X 100 free
1 X 100 easy 2:00
Round 1 intervals 1:30
Round 2: 1:25
Round 3: 1:15 or 1:20
2 X 150 kick 3:15
8 X 50 kick 4 on 1:00 4 on :55
1 X 200 stroke/free by 50 3:30
2 X 100 2:10
4 X 50 1:00
Twice through. Short break between rounds.
Round 1: back
Round 2: breast
WARM DOWN: 4 X 50 easy 1:00
I'll be at the Aquatics convention for a few days so I will post some workouts through the 21st.
6 X 50 :50 :45
5 X 100 1;40 1:30
Twice through. round 1 intervals left, round 2 right.
4 X 100 kick 2:10
6 X 50 kick 1:10
8 X 25 sprint kick :40
2 X 100 moderate 1:45
1 X 50 @ 100% 1:00
1 X 100 easy 2:00
4 X 25 sprint :30
Three times through, short break between rounds.
4 X 250 3:30
#1 moderate, descend 2-3-4
WARM DOWN: 4 X 50 easy 1:00
1 X 200 3:20 3:00
2 X 100 1:40 1:30
4 X 50 :50 :45
Three rounds. Round 1 intervals left, rounds 2/3 right.
3 X 100 kick 2:15
6 X 50 kick 1:00
Descend 50's 1-3/4-6
1 X 100 easy 2:00
3 X 50 fast 1:15
Four times through, all choice.
1 X 150 2:30 or 2:45
1 X 200 2:30 or 2:45
Four times through.
WARM DOWN: 4 X 50 easy 1:00
This was just a show up and swim day. No real motivation today. Swimming to swim.
500 free kick w/fins alt rt side/lt side
500 Free kick w/fins build thru the 500
2x[4x100@1:30 Free w/paddles & bouy
....[200@:3:30 Back w/paddles & bouy
200 Free Easy
Total 3600 yards
Updated September 15th, 2010 at 07:25 AM by Donna
I think this is the first time I've really sat down all day ... hoping to survive this excruciatingly busy week. All kids activities and sports are now in high gear.
Took my wrecked body to Oak Marr late this am for a slow aerobic swim, which I rationalized by remembering that Rich Abrahams says this is good for us 1x week. Did the following, (although I went so slow I'm having trouble remembering exactly what I did):
5 x (3 x 50) @ :15 RI
1 = free
2 = kick
3 = stroke
5 x 100 @ 1:50, done as:
25 (10 UW belly SDKs + cruise to wall) + 50 breast w/long pullouts + 25 free w/long streamlines
(got this idea from Speedo's blog)
5 x 100 free w/overkick @ 1:50
8 x 100 w/fins @ :20 RI
odds = smooth free (can't really remember though)
evens = 50 flutter kick w/board + 50 free
8 x 25 easy free, sighting 2x per 25
Still feeling sore from overdoing the drylands on Saturday. But, thank Zeus, I got in for a deep tissue massage today b/c there was a cancellation. So now I figure I may feel decent by Thursday or so. This is my relative rest week, so I will attempt to keep yardage up, but intensity down. No drylands until after the event on Sunday.
I'm feeling a bit of a hot mess after having to give up being Aunty Histamine and still sleeping like crap. I am attempting to partially remedy the latter with Silenor, a new sleep maintenance aid for which Jimslie is already up in arms about the marketing strategy. After I am tested for food allergies tomorrow afternoon, no one will be able to wrest my allegy meds from my hands.
I haven't looked at the Savageman details yet. But, according to my running relay mate, whom I chatted with at our girls' first swim practice tonight, I'm in wave 2 again with the 25-29 year old guys. Woohoo! No matter what, I am starting off more slowly this time. I may still want to crawl out at 500 yards, but perhaps I won't be in complete lactic acid shock. Patrick has me concerned about needing swim booties now. I should probably check the temp at Deep Creek.
I have been ridiculously obsessing about FortSon's senior ad for the yearbook. I had no idea this was such a big deal. Since I refuse to say something prosaic like "we're so (or so very very) proud of you," I have to come up with something better. I scoured The Perfect Mile for some good quotes, and may have a couple. I have found an appropriately humiliating baby picture and other good sports shots. Now I can turn my attention to obsessing over something actually important like having FortSon finalize his list of colleges and figure out where he wants to use his early decision. What fun, no? And then, of course, there's shopping for the perfect Homecoming dress coming soon.
Updated September 14th, 2010 at 09:54 AM by The Fortress
This morning I went to the early AGUA workout. Hereís how it went:
600 scy warmup
6 x 125 (75 K, 50 D), odds short-axis, evens long-axis
600 swim, doing 1 UDK off each wall on 1st 100, 2 on 2nd 200, etc [I did this all BK and started at 2 UDKs and worked up to 7.]
4 x 400 swim @ 7:30: 1st = FR; 2nd = 100 FR / 200 BK / 100 FR; 3rd = BK; 4th = long-axis choice [BK for me]
I did so much backstroke partly because I was leading a slower lane, and didnít want to lap anybody, and partly because I just like it. It was a very calm and meditative workout, which was what I needed this morning.
Over the weekend I had been battling a cold. I was disappointed on Sunday not to be able to go out to Brighton Beach to swim, but I felt really lousy and knew I wasnít up to both swimming out there and enduring an hour subway ride each way in my achy sniffly state. I am concerned about getting in some OW swimming before I go down to Florida at the end of this week, as the water here is rapidly getting colder and my goal is to keep myself acclimatized to the ocean temps until the race I have signed up for on 11/6.
I am also toying with the idea of doing the Little Red Lighthouse Swim in the Hudson on 9/25. Pros: Itís very close by, it will give me some experience swimming in cooler water, lots of my friends will be doing it, and I walk along that stretch of water a lot and know the landmarks, so it would be neat to swim there. Cons: Mostly the race lengthóitís nearly 6 miles. There is current assist, but itís hard to know how much until race day. In 2008 folks at about my speed in other OW events finished the race in the 1:12-1:15 range; last year those same swimmersí times were in the low 2-hour range. It makes me a little nervous to sign up for a race with no idea how long Iíll be swimming, especially when no food or drink stations are available mid-swim. The longest OW race Iíve swum to date is 5 miles (Lake Minnetonka); the longest Iíve been happy swimming 5K.
The deadline for signing up for LRL is 9/23. Since Iíve already passed the early deadlines when entry fees are cheaper, I figure I might as well wait until closer in to decide for sureóthat way I can factor the weather into the equation as well as all these other concerns.
I did take advantage of the downtime on Sunday to decorate my new Speedo paddles. Several AGUA swimmers have these, so I didnít want to take mine to the pool until I personalized them. Hereís how they look now:
(Polka dots require very little skill to draw!)
When I first started decorating my pool toys back in the mid-90s, it was hard to find waterproof pens that would show up easily on dark rubber fins. I finally happened upon the Uni-Paint brand at an art supply store, and have been using them ever since. Hereís some of my past Uni-Paint projects:
When I went to the store today replenish my supply, I found out that they no longer carry the brand. It has been replaced with 2 linesóSharpie paint pens, and a brand called ďZig Painty.Ē I bought a couple of each (they both have more colors than the Uni-Paint brand ever did), and will report back on them as soon as I test them out. Itís good to know that there are enough swimmers out there drawing pictures on their fins to make oil-based paint pens go mainstream!
Swam with the Sharks (SCY)
8 x 75 IM Rotate :15 or so Rest
8 x 100 on a interval that will only give
you 5 secs rest on a good hard pace.
We did them on 1:20 Lane next to us did them
on 1:15 (Ouch)
8 x 50
Odd Kick, Even drill/Swim :10r
4 x 200 We only had time for 2 (Yeah!!)
I tried for a 2:40 on the 1st one I did 2:39
I tried for anything faster than that on #2 and went 2:30
I was a little tired after that workout for breakfast.
- 300 swim
- 300 kick
- 300 back
- 3x100 drill swim
Main Set (1:30 base)
- 3x100 kick
- 300 free (3:42)
- 3x100 back
- 3x100 free (1:07, 1:05, 1:01)
- 300 back
- 3x100 kick
- 300 ez
At the beginning of practice felt like it might be another brown bag practice. The frees were good, but not great, and I dodged embarrassment.
Not every practice can be great, but only practicing 3x/week, I think every practice can be at least good. This practice would be at the low end of good.
4 X 100 1:40
1 X 200 3:20
4 X 100 1:30
1 X 300 4:30
4 X 50 descend 1:00
2 X 200 kick 4:15
4 X 50 kick :55
1 X 200 IM 3:30
1 X 100
Swim 100's 1 of each in IM order.
1 X 300 4:15
3 X 200 2:45
1 X 300 4:15
3 X 100 1:15 or 1:20
WARM DOWN: 4 X 50 easy 1:00
Well after my weekend I was naturally a little worse for wear. I didn't give in to temptation and blow off a workout though. So I got to the pool and hopped in around 7:15. Swimming felt a bit off today, possibly due to the fatigue and stiffness from running.
Main 5 x Through
200 Snorkel Pull 3:20/25
200 FR 3:30
I was hoping to find this a very challenging swim after a oxygen depleted pull. It wasn't a harsh difference but more a piling on of discomfort over the entire 200 yards. Last 200 Swim felt a bit choppy and I was glad to be done.
10 x 100 1:45 1,3,6,8 1st 25 fast; 2,4,7,9 4th 25 fast; 5 & 10 1st and 4th fast.
This set is tougher than you think. Do it on your interval plus :05
Went for some weight lifting this afternoon. I am going to try just 2 sets of everything this season and see how that works.
Today I managed to do some breaststroke. I will be swimming both the 400 IM and 200 Breast this weekend at my next meet, along with all the other 200's and the 500 Free.
My knees are holding. It actually helped loosen my lefty ankle up a llittle.
400,300,200,100@:15R Free kick w/fins
10x50@1:00 Breast pull w/paddles & fins
20x25@:45 Breast kick
500 Free every 3rd lap breast skull drill
Total 3500 yards
To quote Stud, "everything hurts ... waah." This is definitely why I enjoyed shirking on strength training this summer ... I didn't swim today, as I wasn't sure I could get my arms out of the water. Instead, I did:
60 minutes of light stretching and yoga
(and didn't really feel any better after)
I finally watched my TRX DVD. The Basic Training DVD has a workout that consists of the following exercise sequences. The exercise groups are in increasing intensity/difficulty. You can also increase or decrease difficulty by changing your body or foot position.
1 legged squat
1 legged squat jump
sprinter's start with hop
back row with feet on stability ball against wall
single arm row
chest press push up
T deltoid fly
T + Y deltoid fly
standing roll outs
kneeling roll outs
(forearm or ahnds)
(forearm or hands)
(forearms or hands)
single knee ins
atomic push ups or oblique push ups
More advanced exercises include:
push ups or tricep press with kettleballs
oblique wipers (love this one)
skater straddle push up (ouch)
inverted shoulder press (ouch)
extreme leg extension
[nomedia="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3MJUYCwy4-g"]YouTube - TRX & FUNCTIONAL TRAINING: 50 exercises by Coach Miletto[/nomedia].
[nomedia="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kDdt6uIUfog"]YouTube - Unique TRX Drills For Advanced Personal Training Clients[/nomedia].
Having watched the DVDs and vids, I still think TRX is a great system for masters swimmers. It helps develop many key swim specific fitness elements: balance, core & shoulder stability, power, strength. However, like Chris, my initial reaction is that I think it's a supplement to, not a replacement for, strength training. But it seems like a great way to get a quick core workout or conditioning circuit in at home without a big gym.
I am sorry to report I "bagged it" this year at Big Shoulder's 5K swim.
I had lots of doubts all week long when the water temp dipped into the low 60's and storms were predicted for Friday night and Saturday morning. I took a wetsuit with me but I'll admit I've only done about 500 meters in one and I didn't like it at all!
We got a late start driving up friday night and unfortunately around 11 p.m. ran out of gas on I-95 somewhere around the south-side of Chicago. This is not a good situation for 3 females in a white BMW suv. Luckily one of my passengers belonged to Triple A and was able to summons delivery of 1.5 gallons of gas in 75 minutes. The difficult part was finding a gas station still open and knowing you only had a gallon of gas in the tank. We eventually found gasoline in time and got back on track for a late arrival to the Knickerbocker Millenium Hotel.
While waiting for our gasoline to arrive I received a text from Chicken of the Sea announcing that the water had warmed up to 66 degrees Friday afternoon! This information gave me hope to possibly swim sans wetsuit and possibly do well in my new 55-59 age-group!
Little did I know that wind and turbulence would blow in later Friday night and cause a very choppy, windy, rainy and cold 62 degree swim.
I him-hawed around the beach before the swim. I visited the water a couple times trying to decide what to do. When it was announced the water was 62 I knew a wetsuit was in order for me.
I reported to the water for my start wave. I "took-off "on the start signal but after 20 strokes or so I stood up and looked around and decided I didn't want to swim 3.1 miles in the wetsuit feeling like a bobber with limited shoulder flexibility.
At first I felt just fine about my decision to quit. As I made my exit the water I found plenty of team mates and assorted swimmers' I knew who quit or totally scratched the race due to the conditions. A few of us took pics and stood at the shoreline with blankets and towels to help frozen swimmers as they finished their swims.
The rest of the day was spent with team mates (see pics above if they exported) eating and commiserating their miserable swims.
By the time I got home Saturday night I felt
disappointed in myself for just giving up without putting up a fight.
I wish I'd at least struggled through one 2.5K lap! I was totally trained for the event, felt fine the morning of the swim but I let the conditions get the best of me and psyched myself before I even really tried. Disappointing, really miserably disappointing.
We last left me one week ago today (at pretty close to exactly the same time of the day as I am right now penning these words), emerging victorious from the 2 x 5K swim in the chill air of Monroeville, PA.
(If this municipality has a faintly familiar ring to you movie buffs in vlogland, it is almost assuredly due to the work of Pittsburgh film director, George Romaro, who staged the second of his Dead trilogy --Night of the Living Dead, Dawn of the Dead, and Day of the Dead -- at the Monroeville Mall.
Your humble narrator was actually a zombie Extra in this wonderful gem of a film, and moreover, I actually received some personal direction from Mr. Romaro himself, or as friends call him, Mr. Romaro, Sir! Specifically, he instructed me to "bump into that stop sign, find out what it's about." I could go on at very great length about my experiences in the film industry, but for now, I think it best to return to the topic at hand and save my critically acclaimed acting as a zombie for future discussion.)
My film mentor, George Romaro, Pittsburgh-based auteur whose signature work, Night of the Living Dead, provoked an orgasm of contempt by Reader's Digest writer, O.K. Armstrong. If only I could come close to such execration by the nation's leading moral arbiters!
Just to refresh your memory, Bill and I decisively won the 2 x 5k, humbling--oh, what a weak word this is for what we did to them!--castrating?--perhaps this is too much, particularly for the distaff member of the losing team--anyhow, somewhere in between humbling and castrating the competition in what would inaugurate a still uninterrupted string of victories in any and all sports with no end in sight.
After winning, Jim signals the local press photographers where to shoot next. Contrary to a rumor that circulated widely in the immediate aftermath of this photo's publication, Jim is not indicating he needs Cialis.
He does, but that's not really the point.
Note the bandaged-by-duct-tape fourth digit of Jim's left foot. This conceals a truly hideous injury (really, so much more than a garden variety boo boo) that makes his and Bill's swimming victory all the more remarkable.
If you could peel off the duct tape now--and I would recommend adopting some kind of mask to prevent yourself from being overwhelmed by the gasses of decomposition should you choose such an unwise maneuver--you would find a blister of the most advanced condition imaginable. I have wracked my mind for just the right way to describe this blister and have concluded that it is impossible to do it justice. The closest I have come is this:
Accidentally hit a pregnant opossum with your car. Exit your car, make sure the mother opossum is dead and not just playing opossum (you may well have to run over it again to make sure), then scoop up one of the mewling fetal Easter-candy like pink creatures that have spilled out on the highway. Brush off any road detritus that has managed to gather on its inflamed skin. If grime is deeply ingrained, use a little turpentine or mineral spirits to thoroughly clean the area.Put on noise-canceling ear phones if the mewling becomes too disturbing. And finally--this is the important part--spank it gently but repeatedly till the thin skin begins to sweat blood. This is as close as I have managed to come to describing the flesh of my own blister after the callous had fallen off.
You may recall from the previous posting that Bill and my chief adversaries in the world of tennis doubles are two fellows named Mark and John. Mark is a hulking Wall Streeter who stands just under 9' and has a wingspan of 14' and a vertical leap of nearly two inches. He is the only Republican in our foursome. He understands that his well-heeled bread is buttered by the same tax cuts that would so greatly benefit the infamous Koch brothers, those rapacious billionaires from Texas who have secretly funded the "grass roots" tea party movement.
Mark is, in other words, not a true Koch Sucker, i.e., one of those redneck dupes tricked into voting against his self interest by the Plutocratic class. Mark is a Plutocrat Lite, and you have to admire him for it: pure, naked, unadulterated, fiscal Darwinistic greed!
Just joking, Mark!
John, on the other hand, is an Irish immigrant to our fair shores, a liberal Democratic enthusiast like myself, and the most frugal person (other than my twin brother, the pathological miser) that I know.
John can afford to be frugal, in part, because he can fix anything. He is the only amateur tinkerer I have ever met who can, for example, take the screen off an iPod and fix whatever is wrong with its internal workings, put everything back together, and have it actually work as good as new.
I mention all this partly to paint a picture of our doubles adversaries, and partly to explain how they operate. To wit, John--the frugal Irishman--told me about a great deal on tennis shoes: a brand new pair of Head shoes, on sale at TennisWarehouse, for only $39.99. They had one small flaw in the way the shoelaces are constructed, but other than that, these shoes--which once sold for nearly $100 a pair--were a great bargain, he assured me.
Mark even offered to loan me money to buy a pair.
Here is the bargain Head tennis shoe that has figured prominently in my undoing.
Like a poor man's Travis McGee, a rangy, muscular Jim bids The Deep Blue Good-by to the JCC pool as he heads towards a rendezvous with destiny on the tennis courts the next day. His crouched and hunched over gait, meant at the time to simulate the pre-pouncing posture of a magnificent carnivorous jungle cat, prefigures a different kind of hunched over gait soon to come.
On Labor Day Monday, September 6th, Jimbo and Billbo arose early at their respective abodes and scootered and Stealth-Dodged, respectively, their way to the Sewickley YMCA tennis courts.
Bill was in fine shape; Jim thought he was too, the twinges of back pain experienced towards the end of the 2 x 5K having all but disappeared during the healing rest of the previous night.
John, the affable Irishman, was not so lucky. He had some kind of wound on his tennis gripping hand, ostensibly caused by a drill bit but quite possibly caused by a stigmata. He gamely tried to warm up, but you could hear him mewling ever so slightly under his breath, like a fetal opossum when you have noise-canceling ear phones on. Since I live precisely six-tenths of a mile from the Sewickley YMCA tennis courts, and since I wanted to have no asterisks on today's avenging match, I offered to scooter home and get John a bandaid and some duct tape for his modest gouge wound, which I must say was no match whatsoever for the Geneva-Convention-Outlawed kind of blister I was suffering from on my left fourth toe digit.
I raced home on the scooter, bounded the steps two at a time, dug through my medicine drawer where I keep band-aids, 17-year-old Flexerils, and the like, bounded down the stairs again, scootered full-throttle back to the courts, handed the stuff over to John. It was time to start this revenge beat-down!
As he played around with the band aid, I leaned forward to search through my swim and tennis bolsa for some Gu.
Note: the Bolsa--a reusable plastic Mexican shopping bag after which they named their Stock Market--is the absolutely perfect swimming tote bag for guys who are confident enough in their masculinity that they do not mind being mistaken for bag ladies.
This is when it happened: a massive seizing up of my lower back muscles that drove me to my knees and caused moisture of some sort to leak from my eyes.
It was horrible!
Somehow, I managed to right myself and gingerly moved around the court, mewling involuntarily.
Mew! Mew-mew-mew! ****! Mew!
Over the next 3 hours and 45 minutes, we played the series of sequential matches outlined earlier. The results:
Indicator point: Jim and Bill.Jr. Misses match: Jim and Bill.Women's Championship: Jim and Bill.Men's Championship: Jim and Bill.Supermen's Championship: Jim and Bill.
Somewhere between 3 and 4 and 5, my toe began to throb. It was but one of many discomforts in a symphony of pain that included the throbbing spasms of my lower back and the hard-to-describe agonies that come from a vagina sealing itself off and sprouting first a normal then a frighteningly robust XYY, Scottish-prison-caliber penis in its evacuated wake.
If there is one good thing about these Head tennis shoes, it's that the blisters they induce can serve as a de facto timing device to tell you when it's time to quit.
But in the exuberance of such a victory, which leaves the victor with only rapacious hunger for more, more, more victory (not unlike a Koch brother and his mountain of gilt), I ignored my toe timer and played longer than I should have.
A close-up of the blister. Note how earlier layers of skin have peeled away, been replaced by fetal opossum-like pinked tissues, which themselves have been peeled away, over and over again, in a process of such frequent multiple cell replication that one wonders if toe cancer might be triggered by all this sloughing and rebuilding, rebuilding and soughing?
That afternoon, I could not walk.
That night, I could not move in my beddy bye.
The next morning, I could not feed the pugs.
A friend of my brothers recommended surgery, which he said had helped his neck vertebrae. He sent me a picture to reassure me that the cosmetic results of modern surgery are remarkable.
Joco Cohen's post surgical neck. My lower back, he assured me, could look every bit as handsome after the knife.
Instead of therapeutic blood letting, I decided to take the advice of a kindly reader, SCYFreestyler, who in the previous vlog left me the following sagacious advice:
"As an experienced back spasm patient, I've found the best remedy is activity. Rest provides me no benefit. Chiropractic or DO adjustments provide me no benefit. Prescription muscle relaxers provide me no benefit. Full disclosure, I'm not a physician. Hell, I didn't even stay in a Holiday Inn Express last night. Best of luck with your recovery."
His advice was not entirely unfamiliar to me. In a Men's Health article of mine, which I must sheepishly admit was a finalist for the National Magazine Awards, I had examined the trend by sports medicine practitioners towards an "active recovery" mindset when treating sports injuries--one whereby yesteryear's namby pamby exhortations for lengthy bed rest and the like are now recognized as chief hindrances to recovery.
You can learn more about the "rest is rust" philosophy by reading my entire article, The Indestructible Man, by clicking here: http://www.menshealth.com/men/fitnes...100000cfe793cd
So anyhoo, Tuesday afternoon, I scootered down to the Y, took a Jacuzzi, swam 225 yards with open turns, took another Jacuzzi, went home and continued on the regimen of generic Naproxen and 17-year-old Flexeril that I started popping like Skittles the day before.
On Wednesday, I forced myself to go to swimming practice and went last in B lane, doing all open turns but actually swimming the whole 2750 yards.
On Friday, our normal practice was canceled because of Pirate Night at the pool, so I went to swim by myself before this started. By the time I managed to hobble over, I had only had 30 minutes to swim before the little mateys and assorted blackguards were using the diving board to walk the plank, their corpulent young bodies no doubt targeted like missiles at the lower backs of unsuspecting swimmers like me.
I did 2100 yards continuously, using old-man-decrepitude flip turns the whole way. Not great, but on the road to recovery. I got out before any little blackguard could jump on me.
This morning, I was able to reach down and get the pugs' dog food bowls off the ground and feed them.
I am still a pathetic husk of my former uninterruptedly undefeated glory.
But I have survived worse conditions than this in the past.
After you've had the experience of being dead, you come to realize that blisters and a bad back don't have to hold you back. All I need do now is find somebody's mother to munch on, and I will be good as new.
My back will be back!
broomstick twists, 25
windshield wipers, 25
burpees with air squat, 10
reverse scoop w/25 lb plate, 1 x 15, & w/30 lb DB, 1 x 15
sieber squats, 25, every 5th one airborne
supine superman streamline ("SSS") on bosu, 2 x 1:00*
[nomedia="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RdUVq_T8DpE"]YouTube - Bosu Streamline on the Back[/nomedia].
box jumps, 2 x 10
lower back/tricep exercise, 2 x 25**
skull crushers, 50 x 1 x 10, 60 x 1 x 10
back squat, 100 x 2 x 8 on power rack
standing straight arm lat pulldown, 150 x 2 x 8
lunges, 50 x 1 x 10, 60 x 1 x 10
* This seems like a very effective core exercise. And I could definitely have held it longer. It hits the same areas as planks, moreover, without any shoulder stress. Nice.
** A trainer showed me this exercise. It's hard to describe. I used the lat pulldown machine, a pole and the wall. You kneel on the lat pulldown bench and hook your feet under, grab a long pole about mid way down, plant the pole in the intersection of the wall and floor, then lower body down and then back up. Seemed to really hit the lower back and triceps. Would probably work even better with a weight belt
25-30 minutes of stretching, light yoga and foam roller work
15 minutes in steam room and whirlpool
I thought about all the comments, all very insightful, on my blog from a couple days ago. I've tentatively concluded:
1. My dryland sessions are too long and I need to leave when appropriate and resist the urge to do more. I did less today, I believe, and cut back on the number of reps and on some core work.
2. Do less core work in the gym, but make sure the work I do "counts" and is hard. Plus, if I don't do some core work behind hard strength work, what will I do -- talk to myself?
3. Keep doing some plyos in a moderate amount. I don't think there's any need to go crazy on these anyway.
4. Focus more on pure strength and less on fitness. This one is hard for me, and somewhat contrary to my nature. It might result in faster swimming, but less fun in my dryland workouts. I have been shirking raw strength work lately, probably over the last year. I'm not sure how much this has negatively effected me though. My times from Atlanta were fairly comparable to the year before. Perhaps a very slight drop off in the 50s. On the other hand, I was wearing a Jaked instead of a B70, so theoretically they should have been faster.
5. I hate back and front squats though. Tried back squats again today. I just can't stand having the bar on my back/shoulder area. So I think I either have to do overhead squats or those bulgarian single leg squats. Any other suggestions? Carry on with goblet squats?
6. I like deadlifting much more than back squats. Not sure this is a substitute for all squats though. And, apart from front and back squats, I've surprisingly grown rather fond of other forms of squats and squat plyos.
7. I still want a sled ... I hope you're using that, Geek!
Today, I saw something I'd never seen before. At FortSon's CC race, for which it was almost 80 degrees as the varsity goes last, I saw a kid projectile vomiting the last 200-300 yards of the race. No idea how he could even manage to keep running! FortSon did OK, got a wicked cramp that killed his last 1K or so (which is usually his strength), but still started out faster than he did last year.
Updated September 11th, 2010 at 08:40 PM by The Fortress
Did not feel particularly healthy today but still going to swim as best I can. The coaching really takes alot out of me.
400 IM as drill fly, pull back, kick breast, swim free
2x50 from dive breakouts
100 Back 1:21.42
100 Free 1:07.59
Not too great today but I lost my voice from yelling for everyone and was standing around all morning long.
The team did great too. Coach opened a few eyes for her new swimmers by showing them she can swim and not come in last.