Book 1: The Old Man and the B.....70, that is
by, April 28th, 2009 at 10:57 PM (2027 Views)
And so now begins the epic trilogy of an old man, a possibly illegal swimming costume, a quest for immortality, and so very, very much more.
In today's preamble to the first 77-chapter volume of my planned trilogy, I will attempt to do a little scene setting and foreshadowing of themes that will, over the course of centuries, develop slowly but with the inexorability of truth itself.
Foreward: Who Are These People and Why Should I Care?
On Friday, April 24th, a somewhat frail man by the name of James Thornton left the Pittsburgh metropolitan area with a single destination in mind: Destiny.
James did not travel alone. His personal driver was the ever so comely adult-onset swimming sensation, Mermaid. He was also accompanied by the spirit of a heroic lawyer from Hood River, Oregon, by the name of Bill Sumerfield, Esquire, friend to honest men everywhere and champion of the even more numerous ranks of crooked fellows who need his help.
As Mermaid fiddled with her Sirius radio system hoping to find yet another 80s station to slake her thirst for the songs of her infancy, James thought back to his own teenage years when Tommy Dorsey and Ludwig Von Beethoven drove the hit parade on his family Victrola.
And so, onwards along the PA Turnpike to Breezewood, then south through a succession of increasingly crowded freeways towards Tyson's Corner, at first flying well beyond the speed limit, eventually slowing to a snails pace, the Mermaid ramrodded her pleasantly dreamy elder ward to the Compound in Vienna, Virginia, a Compound that is home to yet another character in our trilogy, the lovely Fortress herself, whose ownership of said Compound with her incredibly generous husband Scott has been diluted ever so slightly by several years of squatting by James, which has given him legal title to the guest house, though he (James) probably needs to talk to Bill Sumerfield about this in more detail and maybe get another favor from this legendary friend of the crooked (Bill, I can arrange some kickbacks, trust me, the deal I am thinking about here is really, really sweet.)
Then James woke up.
At this point, let me quickly provide some pictures of our story's early protagonists:
Mermaid and the Fortress: Magnificent Lasses the Both of Them, and what indefatigable providers of succour to an Old Man! Does there exist in all of Christendom a quartet of bluer eyes containing nearly so much kindness? I say, look at their eyes, man! Up! Up!
The Spirit of Bill Sumerfield, Esquire, debating the finer points of B70 legality and a squatter's real estate rights in a Virginia Commonwealth Court of Law. "My client and his suit," he appears to be pleading to an obvious sympathetic and converted to liberalism former hanging judge, "are every bit as legal as my client, Jim Thornton's, claim is to part ownership of the Livingston family home, Your Honor!"
And finally, James Thornton himself, albeit inhabited still by the wraithe-like specter of Mr. Sumerfield, the two of whom appear in their utter post-400 I.M. Zones Record Establishing Performance exhaustion (this is, I'll admit, a teasing dip into what professional writers call foreshadowing--wherein the ending itself [in this case, unmitigated triumph of every stripe] is never in question. The drama emerges, instead, as a result of the reader's overwhelming itch of curiosity about how such an unlikely protagonist could possibly defy his "three score minus 3 1/2 year" ancience to prove himself.) ] to be possibly coughing up a hairball.
I seem to have lost control of the previous sentence. Never mind! I shall soldier on like Dickens dim-witted twin, knowing as my smarter brother understood that stories emerge best when serialized over the course of eons and remunerated at a a satisfactory if not exactly handsome per-word rate...
Chapter 1: Comes A Zonesman.
In the events I planned to swim at this year's Zones, here were my best times in recent years and my age at which I performed them. For those of you who may have missed earlier mentions of my age, I am three score minus 3 1/2 years old, or 56 and 1/2, and will be FINA 57 for Long Course purposes this summer even though I do not officially become three score minus three until Sept. 24th of 2009, a date that present-minded vlog readers might want to jot down somewhere.
Anyhow, here are my old bests of late:
- 50 free 24.53 set at age 56 at the Sprint Classic last fall
- 100 free 52.90 set at age 55 at Colonies Zones last spring, establishin the new Zones record for my age group and becoming a Zonesman
- 200 free 1:57.44 at age 56, again at the Sprint Classic last fall
- 500 free 5:24.57 at age 55, set last spring at Clarion University and out local Y championships here in the Pittsburgh area
- 50 fly 27.67 at age 56, set this past season at some hard to remember mid season Y meet, albeit after not swimming butterfly for three years to prevent shoulder pain
- 400 IM 5:11.59, at age 56, ditto for hard to remember Y midseason meet, again, after having not swum the IM for years because of shoulder pain.
All the above swims were done either in a Fastskin 1 knee skin or one of those Tyr heavily discounted $56 suits that work pretty well as long as the Teflon-like coating remains in tact, that is to say, a few meets.
Here are the times Bill and I ended doing at this year's Colony Zones while wearing the borrowed suit. I say Bill and I because it was not only the suit that helped me, but the spirit of Bill inhabiting the suit.
Note: those hoping for endless analysis and dissection of the minutiae here shan't be disappointed! I plan to sautee the numbers every which way from here to CremePuff in vlogs stretching out over the remainder of my life.
But to very quickly sum up, the suit absolutely helped, but I did not do the miracle times I was secretly hoping for; Michael Phelps has absolutely no cause to look over his shoulder at the likes of me, but I can't say the same for, say, Ryan Lochtke style lesser swimming greats who remain closer to my league as evidenced perhaps by my inability to spell their names.
Anyhow, it's possible the suit did indeed promote absolutely miraculous improvements over a ruined Jim, but because my times seem to conceal from me the degree of this ruination, I might just assume I am pretty much as good as I was last year and thus modest improvements mean the suit contribute modestly.
I fully acknowledge the possibility, indeed the likelihood, that without the suit, my "true" times would have proven so abysmal that I would have checked myself into an assisted living facility.
Anyhow, for now, here are the times I swam this year along with any improvements over the previous best times of the recent era:
- 24.17 50 free (.36 improvement; I missed Zones record by .03)
- 52.86 100 (set new Zones record, breaking my own record from last year by .03)
- 1:56.07 200 (1.38 seconds improvement over earlier season time; this one set new Zones record and was my lowest 200 time in 5-6 years)
- 5:24.84 500 (set new Zones record, breaking my own Zones record by 2-3 seconds, though it was also .27 second slower than last year's Clarion time)
- 27.00 50 fly (best time for me since I did a 26.86 at age 50 six years ago)
- 4:57.85 400 IM (set new Zones record, my all-time best time)
Endless analysis to come. Tomorrow, the first of 34 short videos, most lasting no longer than 2 1/2 hours, will begin.
I hope you can sleep tonight! I know I am much too excited myself to find my way to the Land 'o Nod!