Sunday, October 18, 2009

Cool Video

Here's a neat video of our opening ceremonies -

I've also started a new blog called "A Day in the Life of a Masters Pole Vaulter" if you are interested. All the best!


Friday, October 16, 2009

The End - For Now

Well I made it home after about 28 hours after leaving my hotel in Sydney. I told Nancy at dinner last night that this is the least beat up that I have been after a big meet. I'm not sure what that means but I like it. I do know that the 4m (13' 1 1/2") jump was on the biggest pole I have used since my return in 2005 (14'/178/15.7)and I can't wait to get back on it and try it's bigger brothers. Normally bigger poles beat you up more so I'm pleased I feel good.

I dropped by and saw June at the hospital and they will move her to a rehab hospital for three weeks today. That's a very good sign that things are moving that fast.

I wanted to clarify the explanation on the "Doping Control". Because of the size of this event it had been rumored that the doping tests would be more of a threat than a reality in order to "look good" in their efforts. A bark with no bite. Normally this would be a non-story or factor except that it was very visible, whereas at our own National meets you know it's there, but unless you got selected, you don't really see it. At these Games we even had to sign documents agreeing to be tested twice, once upon entry and another time upon declaration. I guess we'll wait and see how many positives come up to see if it worked. The difference and reason for the mention is how visible the testing efforts were as we just aren't used to actually "seeing" it even though it's always there.

OK, this will sound stupid but I'm a realist to I can tell you that within the next month my mind will go into the mode, "that was nice, congrats, but what have you done lately". That is why I'm going to end this chapter of the story here. I'm not quite certain what is next and I want to start with a clean goal. What I THINK will happen is that I will vault on March 5, at the World Masters Athletics Indoor Championships in Kamloops, BC, Canada, followed by USA Track & Field Indoor Championships in Boston on the third week of March. So two HUGE meets within two weeks of each other. That will really take some planning and coordination. Not to mention that I will be another year older and some stiff new competition enters my age group.

After these meets the next big things are World Outdoor Athletics in 2011 in Sacramento and the National Senior Games in the same year right here in Houston. These meets may be nearly impossible to medal at because I will then be the oldest in my group with a very deep field of young studs coming in. But that's exactly why I will train my butt off to defy those odds. Besides, that just sets me up for my next big goals.

All of this said, my true next goals are in 2013 when I will have two huge meets the same summer that I turn 60 and become the youngest in my group. The meet I just left in Sydney will be in Italy and the World Masters Athletics will be in Brazil. That year I will hit both.

In closing I want to again express my sincere thanks for coming along on this ride with me. I truly hope you felt like part of the team because that's how I feel about you. You were such a great outlet and support through this very trying process and I want you to feel the joy of our victory because it couldn't have happened without all of us. So thanks again and I'll let you know when I'm ready to start blogging for Kamloops/Boston, probably right after the first of the year - even though I start training for it this Sunday. All the best!! Looking forward to working with you again!! Bubba

PS - or local paper is doing an interview with me this morning for an article on the meet so I will make one more post of that link when it comes out.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Just When You Thought it Was Over

Hello again. I'm sitting in the Sydney airport waiting to board my flight to LA and then later on to Houston. I blogged to you more when I felt more stress and now maybe because of my concern for Nancy and her mom. I'm not overly worried about her because she's always been in excellent health and strong for 93 years old. I few years ago she got pneumonia and fully recovered in about three weeks. Most older people don't do that. Anyway, I can't call because there are no cell phones in the hospital and then I have a 14 hour flight. So fortunately I still have you guys. Thanks so much for that.

A couple of things I have been asked I wanted to answer for the group. First is the "Doping Control". Just to let everyone know, this was not a cosmetic scare tactic. ALL medalists have to pass through Doping Control on their way to receive their awards. As Warren Hill, an official (and vaulter) led us through he said, "unless one of you gets stopped for drug testing we should be to the podium in about five minutes". He hands in the results and they select you or not. If they do, everyone else in your group waits while you go through the procedures. I'm glad no one was chosen in our group because it had already been a marathon day, was starting to get dark and I had not even packed up my poles or bags so I could walk back to the hotel. So, YES, Doping Control was present and used.

The wind. All vaulters have their wind horror stories but this was the worst I have seen. Tom and I noticed that there would be a brief drop to about 10 mph for about 3-5 seconds that would be followed by a cross tail, to cross, to head cross, to direct head (like a clock) over the next 10 seconds while gaining speed at each angle. This only happened every 10-15 minutes so unless you got this when you had your one minute on the runway, then your best option was to wait for the 15-20 mph cross from the right as that was as good as it was going to get. Since I was jumping alone with five minutes between jumps I actually got the dead to cross progression twice. Now remember - dead is 10 mph.

Here's my two big wind stories. At Round Rock High School outside of Austin last November it was cold and very windy, mostly tail. As the day went on it quartered over your right shoulder a little. When I came in to do my run through, it came totally across in a huge gust and blew my pole so hard I missed the box and planted into the left wedge where the front buns meet the pit. The pole bent totally sideways and I got shot to the front corner of the right bun where I let go with one hand and dropped. After I regained my heart in my chest, or official, the great Briam Elmore told it I was up for my first meet jump. I made it on my first jump but you can imagine that this was in my mind as a possibility as I ran down the runway for my first jump in Sydney.
The other time was at Worlds in 1997 in South Africa. We had a 40 mph headwind and they wouldn't turn the pit around to the other end because the standards on that end were not bolted down so that would cause an unsafe environment. HUH?! Like running into a 40 mph is the "safer" alternative. Well that's what we did and it worked for me because I was coming off of a strained hamstring. I ended up getting the bronze medal whereas if we had gone the other way I may have pulled during warm up or gotten a much lower place because everyone could use a big pole but me.

I'm sure you guys have good stories too. Gotta run as we're about to board. All the best and thanks again! Bubba

Back to Earth & Reality

This is going to be my final post before I head to the airport early in the morning. I found out this afternoon when I couldn't get in touch with Nancy that her mom apparently had a mini stroke. The ambulance took her to the hospital and they are trying to get her back out and home soon rather than allow her to be exposed to all of the flu in the ER. My dad has had a few of these so I'm sure it's a minor setback from lack of sleep and overstress. Older people tend to be more fearful even though everything is done to simplify their lives. I've got the perfect mother-in-law in that she is a very nice person and very easy to get along with. I'm sure she will be fine but at 93 you never know. The bad part is that I can't make the plane go any faster so I'll just have to feel helpless a little longer. I'm obviously in touch with Nancy and my dad is also around if she needs anything, plus we have some really good friends in the area. Update - at 5 AM Thursday morning Nancy says her mom is worse so they will be holding her for an undetermined time frame. I leave for the airport in an hour in will be home in about 26 hours.

Back to the observations, here they call McDonalds "Maccas". I mean they call it that on the commercials. It's still McDonalds but it's also Maccas.

On TV many of the channels are called Fox 1, Fox 2, Fox Sports 1, Fox Sports 2, etc., because Australian Billionaire, Rupert Murdoch owns Fox. I bet there are 8-10 Fox channels. That said, they have two FM radio channels on TV and also an all Yoga channel. Yep - all yoga all of the time. Nancy loves that but it's an easy pass for me. I don't have the grace, flexibility or patience. Probably the reasons I SHOULD look into it.

OK gang, I'm signing off until a get home and then I'll decide what's next. All I know is that Monday is day one toward next year's goals with a completely new program that I have been really excited to start. I guess the Maine trip is up in the air as we wait to see how June is doing. Also it's my hope that my poles will get home soon as they were to be picked up today. I'll keep you posted. Thanks again and million times!! Bubba

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Wednesday Post #3 - More Videos

This is 3.90m or 12' 9 1/2"

This is 3.80m or 12' 5 1/2"

This is 3.70m or 12' 1 1/2"

This is my opening height of 3.60m or 11' 9 3/4"

Wednesday Post #2 - Videos

We'll try this out with my first warm up jump with a bungee at 16' 6" and my meet vault of 13' 1 1/2". If we can get it to work I'll post the rest of them. Thanks! Bubba

Warm up with bungee at 16' 6"

My highest jump of the day - 4m (13' 1 1/2")

Wednesday Post #1 - Thoughts, Reflections & Thanks!

Good Morning. I didn't get much sleep last night but will make up for it today. After dinner with Alan, posting for the blog and talking to Nancy and Kris it was nearly 1 AM. Of course I got up at 5 AM as usual so I'll get a nap in today. The gravity of this still accomplishment hasn't set in for me but every time a walk past where my gold medal is hanging I'm reminded that it's very real. I am honored, grateful and humbled and so appreciative of your support and friendship.

Another factor in the conditions yesterday was that s the meet went on the sun was coming down behind the pit so it shaded the plant box and made it tough to see. Then when you completed your take off and looked up toward the bar, the sun blasted your view so you were going totally off of feel with no real concept of where you were in space. Very spooky.

A quick note to last night's thanks - Phil Raschker is a great and true friend from Georgia. She is the most decorated athlete in our sport often winning 10 gold medals at these events. I got to know her in the mid 1990s when she took up the vault. She knew I was ready for a breakthrough and kept up with me every day, throughout the day, including hanging out for most of my competition yesterday after she finished winning the 400m. I'm not a dot in her universe as far as performance results but she's encouraged me like it was her first gold medal too. She is the kind of person that cheers for everyone and sincerely shares the joy of other's accomplishments. She and Tom Rauscher are staying in the same hotel pretty far away from me so my commitment to Alan kept me from getting together with them for dinner. I just wanted to acknowledge my appreciation for her here.

Also blogger and friend for many years, Ken Stone, is constantly on the move trying to improve our sport. There is not an issue that he won't get involved in if he thinks it needs attention. He is a great ambassador and activist for our sport and I'm honored to say he's my friend. Ken, I was told for results to Google New South Wales (NSW) Athletics as that is where ours are posted.

Next I absolutely would not be here without my training partner, Don Curry. Don had had some injury issues but appears near cleaning those up. We learned to vault together as kids and even vaulted in each other's backyards before we really knew what we were doing. So I've been with Don for over 40 years. A great vaulter himself, he won the National Senior Games in Louisville in 2007 and I got 2nd.

Coach Dan Green recently retired and his son has taken over the program at The Woodlands High School where I train. Our school was named the #1 high school athletic program in the US by ESPN. Coach Green has a phenomenal awards list and is a master motivator. Being able to talk to him and get his insights on many topics has been a true blessing. His son, Juris, is beyond impressive in the way he goes about his business so I'll looking forward to developing more of a relationship with him too. Shawn Hamilton is our strength & conditioning coach and he too is a huge resource for me. He has the highest USA Track & Field certification offered and is a walking reference manual and all around terrific guy. Our pole vault coach is probably the nicest and most sincere man I have ever met in Robbie Dueitt. There is not a better coach when it comes to getting a brand new kid effective in a very short time - 20 minutes and they are clearing a crossbar. When he is in football I run the program for the off season and report to him. When he comes back out I serve as his volunteer assistant. Two other big names that make it possible for me and our pole vault club to succeed are Athletic Director, Mark Schmid. Not only is he a GREAT football coach he also coached the kid to our school record of 16' 1 1/4" before Robbie or me were involved. Finally the Principal, Greg Colschen, is an ardent supporter of the track program and he too has blessed me being able to practice and help out there. Without these guys I wouldn't have near the success I have had. They are a second family for me for which I am very thankful.

I'll post others as they come up but now here are a few "funny" things I've seen. On the way in from the airport I saw a logo that looked just like the Burger King logo but it said "Burger Giant". It advertised on a billboard, "Brekky at 6 AM". Though they do have Snickers candy bars, they also have a knock off brand with the exact same packaging and color/graphic scheme called "More Nuts". They also have warnings on their freeway signs that they "Ticket Drink Drivers". Here it is called "Drink Driving" instead of "Drunk Driving". I should have kept a list because there are many funny sayings and descriptions. I have never met an Ozzie who was not friendly and funny. Not a bad way to be known.

Thanks again for your interest and support. I head home tomorrow and will be so happy to get there. I've had a great time but I'm certainly mentally and physically drained. Im sure I'll have some other closing thoughts. Thanks for tuning in and caring. It means the world to me. Bubba

World Champion!!

The Gold Medal - Click on Any Photo to Enlarge
The M55 & M60 Medal Winners

The M55 Winners, Allen Williams, Me & Phil Carrero

We did it!! Congratulations and thank you so much!! I don't think you have any idea how much support you have been just by being here. I feel grateful and more blessed than any person deserves to be. My humblest gratitude goes out to you all. So how did it go today? The bottom line is that I won the gold medal at the World Masters Games to earn the title of World Champion and set a new World Masters Games meet record in the process. Since this competition is every four years I am at least assured the record for that long. I vaulted 4m (13' 1 1/2") and stopped because I felt I might be risking injury as my body was starting to break down from the long and exhausting day. The 2nd place mark was 3.50m (11' 5 1/2") by Allen Williams of Great Britain who looked fantastic at 12' 1 1/2" but the wind got the better of him too. Third place was my friend Phil Carrero of Australia at 3m (9'10 1/2").

JEEZ - this was by far the most stressful and challenging competition of my entire pole vault career. Let's start with the constant 20-40 mph winds that were all over the place but never a tail. The marks for the day showed it too except for mine. The wind was mainly a headwind or cross wind or some blend of each. When I post the 4m video tomorrow you will be able to hear the wind HOWLING. Next, we knew I would get no run throughs and I would have to wait around. It was two hours before my first vault and I missed my first jump because I was too close to the box with my take off foot. Allen started at 11' 5 1/2" and made it the first jump and then passed 3.60m (11' 9 3/4") where I started. I missed my first jump so he's in the lead. I made it on the 2nd with huge sigh of relief because I had just secured at least the silver medal.
At 3.70m (12' 1 1/2") Allen was up first and he missed whereas I made it on the first jump to take the lead. Allen looked just super on all three attempts but couldn't find a way to leave the bar up. I felt bad for him and let him know it because he looked so much better than the mark he got credit for. We'll stay in touch as I really enjoyed hanging out and talking with him.

So at this point I've won the meet so I need to switch to vaulter mode to let my vault buddies know what took place. Warm up went great. My mission was to send a message to the group and myself a powerful statement considering the conditions - I simply said to myself and acted upon the statement, "WHAT WIND? I don't feel any wind". I bought into it and made myself believe it and that was the difference. I made 12' 2" in warm easy and had a very close jump at 13' 2" at a time when the other guys were just starting to get on the runway for their warm ups. I felt fantastic as all of our plans leading up to today were perfect as I could have, or have ever done them.

After 3.70m I decided to stay on track and work through some poles and runs. I'm now the only vaulter remaining so I'm jumping alone. I had made 3.60m and 3.70m from 55' so Alan Launder said I should move back and move up poles to set me up for later. I did as I was advised and moved back to 65' and skipped my 4.30/16.2 and went to the 15.9 and made 3.80m (12' 5 1/2") on the first vault. Alan wanted me to stay on the pole for the next height so I did and cleared 3.90m (12' 9 1/2") on my first attempt. Comfortable that my technique was back on, Alan had me move up to the next pole for 4m (13' 1 1/2"). Surprisingly the pole was too small so we moved up again to the biggest pole I brought, the 4.30m/15.7 and I just bombed over the bar with close to 9" of height. At this point I've been the only one vaulting for four of my last five clearances so I stopped. I had them raise the bar to 4.10m (13' 5 1/4") but stopped as I didn't want to risk injury. By this point it was 5:40 PM and I did my warm up at 2 PM, sat for two hours and then jumped almost by myself for 40 minutes. I was starting to feel a little crampy and dehydrated so I did the smart thing and quit while i was ahead and uninjured. I used six of the seven poles I brought having skipped one in the middle of the order (16.2), my normal start pole.

My buddy Tom Rauscher got 2nd in the M60, who jumped with us. It was really funny in warm up because he asked this huge guy from Sweden when he was coming in and Anders told him "whenever you go out". I told Tom congratulations that Anders thinks he will get the silver. It turned out that Anders beat him by a miss and had Tom made 3.20 (10' 5 1/2") he would have won. Nice group for the Americans.

OK gang, it's nearly 11 PM and I'm dead but still want to go down and post this info and photos. I went to dinner with Alan and a good friend of his that was a longtime throws coach. Of course I picked his brain on lifting but it was a long evening after an extremely long day. So thanks again!! Words cannot describe my appreciation. Bruce Caldwell of Essx - you are the man - you make the best poles and you got them here safely for me. I'm thrilled to give you and Essx another World Champion. Kris Allison is my coach, confidant and great friend. All year long we've talked about this day and our plan has been modified a thousand times as we went. There is no way this happens without you!! Deano - today was an all AC/DC day for music. It reminds me of the grinds we used to do in the weight room. Dan West, John Altendorf and Kirk Benz - thanks for throwing in your two cents over this blog and for all of the years you have been so supportive. Your friendship is invaluable. My medical team for piecing me back together and helping we to work around dings and annoyances. Charlie Bier of our local paper who brings attention to our sport so we can recruit and help young kids in the community. Andrew Custodio for takig videos today. It was a very long day for him too. I certainly have other thanks but I'm too exhausted tonight. But last for tonight and every night is the love of my life, my wife Nancy!! She continues to amaze me with her grace and patience. She is my everything and tireless supporter. I can't wait to get home and see her and the rest of you. Thanks again and

I'll have another wrap up or two as I'll have some other thoughts plus I want to share with you some of the funny cultural differences and terms/sayings that I found humorous. For example - Tiger Woods is coming in November. We have that stupid guy you always here who thinks he's Bill Murray in Caddyshack who screams "get in the hole". Well they say "Yabadado" like Fred Flintstone after the tee shot. Great people these Ozzies. Thank you, thank you, thank you!! Good night. Bubba

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Tired of Waiting

A Gentleman From Germany Wins the Silver in the M70.
Alan Launder, Me & Andrew Custodio

Not much new here. Had lunch with Alan and Jenny today and then we walked over and watched the girls. On the way out I saw a guy from Germany walk in the hotel door caring his pole and wearing a silver medal he had won in the M70 group. He was absolutely beaming so I asked if I could take a photo with him, in part to share his excitement, but also in hopes some of his good fortune might rub off. I saw him tell three hotel employees that he had won a medal. I was truly excited for him and appreciative for the photo op.

Later at the track I found out from Warren Hill that the top guy said there will be no run throughs so that becomes the plan. LOOK, if I have a pole that feels really easy in warm up this is NOT a big deal. Once or twice a year I come out to practice or a meet and just put the bar up with no warm up to prepare for just such an occasions. Yes it would be nice but it won't ruin my day. Start on a small pole, play it safe and then get on with my normal routine. The only difference is that you warm up mainly during the meet instead of before it. BTW - the head meet official said we could have a run through as long as the head guy at the pole vault pit says it's OK. Now we know where that stands. It ain't happening.

I also found out when I picked up my number and "Declared" with my signature that I would compete, that my poles will be brought out to the track for me before I even get there. Then later in the stands I found out that Warren is bringing them out for me. All the better.

I also got a chance to meet "Andrew_C" from PVP ( our community message board up for all pole vaulters. A very nice guy, his coach won the girls meet today. That is pretty cool to meet someone more than half way around the world who I met online on PVP. He and Ben Browder gave me tons of great advice in preparation for this trip and I followed every bit of it. Andrew has also been nice enough to video my jumps tomorrow.

Tomorrow is the big day and I jump at 3 PM, or 11 PM at night at home in Texas. I'm going to have breakfast by 7 AM, get a bath and stretch and then settle into some music and relaxation. I'll walk over to the track about 1 and hand off my camera and then head to the "Call Room" by 1:30. Tomorrow is a busy vault day with divisions scheduled for 9 AM, 11AM, 1 PM and then ours, the final vaulting of these Games, at 3 PM. As we say - practice like you compete and compete like you practice. That means there is no rocket science to my approach to warm up and jumping. Just do it exactly like I do every other day.

Thanks again for all of your interest and support. I'm scared as hell but also quite confident I'll be OK. The warm up will answer any lingering questions I may have and I will have Alan there for me too so I should be set. Thanks again!! I'll report back as soon as I can. In 1997, to Worlds in South Africa, I wore a T-Shirt with Bart Simpson pole vaulting on a bent pencil. The caption said "Shut Up & Vault!!" And I will. Bubba

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Sunday - Post 3

A Race From My Window

I see a trend here. I have predicted times that I am available to reflect on thoughts for the day, throughout the day. I just got back from watching the W50+ vault. Of course Phil Raschker won and stopped so she could get off to her next event. That said she looked much better vaulting than I have seen her in years. She said she was on a small pole where she felt confident and it showed. I was sitting next to Warren Hill who coached the runner up, so when she went out Phil stopped. The highlight was a Japanese lady in the W75 setting a world record (WR) at 1.91m and then 2m (6' 6 3/4"). American Becky Sisley also looked very good in winning her division.

Talking to Warren, who will officiate the women tomorrow, he says they will follow IAAF rules so there will be no run throughs. A run through is a warm up jump without the bar given to an athlete who has passed previous heights for more than one hour. It's hard enough to get going again period much less to go from sitting to all out in one jump. To do this I will have to start at a lower height and on a smaller pole, and in essence, warm up during the meet. I can do it but it's not optimal.

Here's how the competition goes for us. Tomorrow we must sign in and "Declare" our intent to compete and pick up our number that goes on our back to identify us to the officials. No earlier than 90 minutes and no later than 70 minutes before our scheduled start time we have to report to the "Call Room". In this holding area they count you as present, check the contents of your gym bag and make sure that your equipment is compliant. Then they walk the group in front of the stands and everyone cheers as you walk by like warriors taking the field. Pretty cool actually. I'm guessing my poles will already be on the field but I'll find out tomorrow. On the field we are given a 45 minute warm up and then the competition starts at a height that the lowest vaulter selects. You may vault or "Pass" these attempts. There are 18 vaulters in our group - 10 in my group (M55) and 8 in the M60 group. Medals are awarded by your age group only but sometimes they consolidate groups together to save time. SO, the bar may start as low as 8' and it will go up 4" (10 cm) at a time. Each vaulter has three attempts at each height. Three consecutive misses and your out. So with 18 vaulters, if everyone no heights (nhs) then that took 48 jumps already so you can see this will be a long day. I start at 12' so it could easily be two hours before I vault after I have warmed up - hence the desire for a run through. We'll see because I WILL plead my case. My point is that they are combining groups and that makes the top jumpers wait too long so either break us up or give us a run through.

Alan Launder Has Arrived
I talked to Alan Launder today and we will go to lunch tomorrow and then over to watch the top girls. I'm sure we will strategize my situation but if I had to guess I will start from my 54' run on my 17.0 at 11' 6" or 11' 10" and just jog down the runway and not risk jerking something without the warm up run through. Alan is one of the world's best known coaches and the author of the pole vaulters bible, "From Beginner to Bubka". He visits The Woodlands once or twice a year and teaches our kids and works with me. He also goes to my coach, Kris Allison's place in New Braunfels. Between Kris and Alan I've got two of the top minds keeping me on track and eliminating the need for second guessing - hence less stress. So by the time lunch is over tomorrow I'll be dialed in.

Today I was watching a video special with a band called "Wolfmother". They are a young Australian band that really rocks it old school style. Check them out Dean. Anyway they had a song picked up for the world famous game, "Guitar Hero". During the promo for that edition I saw about six of their songs live. I'm always looking for music to help me survive and drive may way through training. So, remember the name, "Woflmother". I say this half in jest because on my way to the track I could hear the rehearsals going on for the Opening Ceremonies. They were playing some rock songs by Kiss and others and then here comes Wolfmother's song "Woman". I'm thinking that's pretty cool since I had never heard of them a hour ago. Fifteen minutes later I walk in the track stadium and over the speaker, here comes Wolfmother. Can't get away from these guys. NONE of them is particularly special but the way they play together reminds me of the way it used to be done with rocking simplicity. Very cool new find for me from downunder.

Warren, who lives in Melbourne, was telling me today that there is no Ozone level over most of Australia so even on overcast days you have no protection. That's good to know. My buddy Tom Rauscher immediately got out his sunscreen since he is a little fair skinned. I only bring it up because I noticed yesterday that I looked more tan all of the sudden and knew I hadn't really been in the sun. Well I guess I have. The sun produces a super intense heat but when the clouds come over it feels 10 degrees cooler. Even when it feels hit the breeze is cool so its a little misleading. In any case, it was another beautiful day.

That's it for today. I know you are all sleeping but wanted to get these thoughts out before I get too busy. All the best! Bubba

Sunday #2

My home away from home - Novotel Olympic Park

Another very nice day out this morning with temps in the low 60s. Though the Opening Ceremonies are tonight, activities are going on everywhere. I walked over to the track and the M65 group was warming up to vault. They have a nice atmosphere with music playing over the stadium speakers with announcements breaking in. I have questions remaining but I'll get those when I meet Tom Rausher over later for the W50+ group. We want to watch Phil Racshker and get the lowdown on how the vault is run.

What I did see when I went down there was that there is a metric measuring tape on the left side of the runway. I'm guessing they will allow us an English one on the right but I've got my conversions in my head anyway. They provide runway markers so you cannot use your own or put tape on the runway. They have a box of these markers and I haven't decided if you get to pick your own or if they assign them to you. In either case, they all look somewhat similar so I can see confusion coming for many. Most right handed vaulters have their marks on the left side of the runway, and since each vaulter is allowed two markers you can imagine the line up of these funky markers. "Funky" you say? These markers are wooden with square bottoms and what is built up above the base to a height of maybe 4" looks like tinker toys. Just a rambling of attached other wooden pieces, some with color and some not. Fortunately for me, since I've had two Achilles surgeries, I start on my right foot so had I been jumping this morning I would have been the only markers on the right side of the runway. In either case I have a very good feeling that I will decorate my marker with bright blue and orange duct tape.

Other questions are when and where do you check in to get your number? I saw they have a bungee up for warm up so probably that means no crossbars. The big question for me is will I get a run through before I start jumping if I've had to sit around for an hour plus waiting for the bar to get to my starting height. I figure I'll find that out today as there should be plenty of girls in the field so someone will have to wait around to start jumping.

I finally broke down and got some Australian money. I have just been using my debit card but I've located a convenience store and a few other places to make minor purchases of fruit, Power Bars, drinks, etc. The AU dollar is worth only slightly less than the US dollar. For example, I got US $40 changed and after the exchange fee I still got AU $41.58. No wonder the hotel people like being tipped with American dollars.

WAIT - I'm sitting in my room and I just heard an announcement at the track that the pole vault bar is going to ___ height with two vaulters remaining. You've gotta be kidding - play by play from my room? I can also hear when the starting gun goes off. I'm on the 8th floor with the windows closed. The track is about 600m away. Gotta love the view. I can even see the vaulters vault. You're right Nancy - I should have brought the binocs!

I haven't given my impression of the event and people yet so I thought I would weigh in. In an event this size there will always be issues but from the deluge of credentialing lines on day one to be almost none on day two, you can tell these people come up with solutions fast. I have yet to meet a person who was not overly helpful and friendly. They seem to take it personally if they feel like they are failing you, which I have rarely seen before. It's people like this, with winning attitudes that I am always going to give the benefit of the doubt. I've yet to see someone angry or even act frustrated. They just calmly address the complaint and make every effort to immediately solve it. I've read on Ken's blog about some miscues but I'm not seeing them. I'm sure they are there but I'm also sure they will be soon resolved. Love this country and the people!!

I'm hanging out in my room waiting to hear from Alan about lunch. I see we are having a little rain shower all of the sudden but the skies are pretty blue around it. Hopefully it will clear completely soon. Actually in the time it took me to come downstairs to post this, the sun is back out.

I am going to get in another longstrecth this afternoon after we watch the girls. Thanks again for being here everyone!! More later. Bubba

Sunday Looks VERY Busy

Yes - that is the Olympic flame. It has a misty water spray that comes out the sides of the platform. Looks AWESOME at night!!
View of the track from my room.
View of the main stadium from my room.

The post below was written yesterday. It seems my day is broken up into two parts because of my time here and when Nancy and you guys are awake and asleep. I didn't post it because I just didn't feel like going to the lobby and setting up the wireless again as it was such a zoo there was no place to sit. Now that events are going on every day people are busy and coming and going rather than everyone hanging out. The Homebush Brewery and Tavern downstairs is beer garden central. Homebush is the name of the area where Olympic Park is located. WOW - tons of athletes and families ending their afternoons outside with a beer. Since there is no iced tea here I seem to be stuck with water or Diet Coke. Small price to pay to spend some time in paradise.

Just saw they started some big road race down the main street by the stadium. Activity EVERYWHERE!! It's 6:45 AM and they have already uncovered the vault pit. Heading over soon. Opening Ceremonies tonight. Bubba

Post #2 for Saturday - Changes
The hotel called and offered to change my room so I would have broadband by cable in my room instead of having to go down to the lobby to pay for wireless. Well, it didn't work, BUT - the view is great as I'm on the other side of the hotel so I look right over at the track and Olympic Stadium. I can actually see the vault runway and pit. Also I have a deep bathtub whereas before I only had a shower. A very nice change. The hotel staff is "instant" when they tell you they will do something. I've had people at my door less than two minutes from when they say that someone will come up. The beds are also super comfortable. A really nice home away from home.

Of course I'll be watching out my window at the new view all of the time but right now the track has a very nice tailwind. Phillip said that would happen as it continues to warm up. There isn't anyone vaulting now but there was when we went over earlier. I didn't stay around long enough but they looked pretty young. One guy had some big old fat Pacer IIIs from the 70s that looked like they had been cut off to about 14'. Tomorrow at 9 is the first vault competition (M65) so I'll go check it out. At 12:35 the Women over 50 vault. BTW - the event has started so I can hear the PA announcers at the different stadiums. This reminds me of when I was in Atlanta for the 1996 Olympics. We were at the practice track almost a 1/2 mile away and could hear the cheers and announcements.

My friend, the famous coach/author, Alan Launder is coming to coach me from Adelaide, in Western Australia. We will have lunch together tomorrow and walk through a plan. I'm real comfortable with whatever happens with the weather at this point. That's why I brought seven poles. Still, we will discuss the different plans and then just wait for the event.
Today I did some strides and a long stretch and that felt very good. I've walked so much that it really help to shake me out from the long flight, but now it's time to conserve and stay off of my feet. I like that I felt good because many times too much walking makes you flat. So game on for Tuesday. Daily stretching to my music will keep my head in the right place. I'll go watch the other vault comps and keep looking out the window. What a powerful reminder for why I'm here - right out my window.

One follow up I forgot to mention - I went with Phillip to pick up his credentials and he was out in less than 10 minutes as there was hardly any line. Go figure. Phillip is a very accomplished artist and had several pieces on display at the track. I'll look for his website art link and post it for you. I also met his wife and young daughter. He's just a super guy and they make a very nice family.

Also as I look out my window, to the right of the Athletic Center where the track and field events are held, is a large trapeze set up that people are practicing on right now. I'll check that out up close tomorrow. Maybe on Wednesday I can get in there with someone.

That's it - just a short addition from this morning's post. Bubba

Friday, October 9, 2009

Getting Acclimated

Ben Browder told me that when I arrive early Friday to resist the urge to stay in. He said to get out and start moving around as it would be easier to acclimate. I did what he suggested and it did in fact play a huge role in how I almost feel normal today. I slept a lot last night and ate and drank a lot this morning. I noticed I was getting some cramping from dehydration so I think I've reversed that. Another example of the great advice I've gotten from all of you.

What a beautiful day we have today in Sydney. This morning it was cool with a light breeze and bright sunshine. Looking toward the bridge and city it was covered in clouds earlier but now it too is clear. I talked to Phillip last night on the phone and we're heading to the harbor this morning. I should get some great photos and enjoy hearing all about Sydney from a
resident pole vaulter. BTW - Phillip said he strained a hamstring three weeks ago and is hoping to be able to compete beyond a basic level. Its that dangerous "three weeks out" period that just KILLS you every time.

I need some down time between activites and TV is my mindless escape. They only have about six channels at the hotel yet I saw all three baseball games, golf, Oprah, Dr. Phill, The View, etc. Of course they have Australian programing but a lot of American content. The great news is that the NFL games are on here early. I think Atlanta plays somebody at 7 AM our time. Pretty funny but it fits my schedule.

As mentioned yesterday the credentialing was a zoo so I talked to Nancy about 6:30 AM and headed over to beat the 7 AM opening time. When I got there I was maybe number 60 in line and they said the doors would not open until 8. I heard one lady tell a man she had waited in line for two hours yesterday only to move 100 feet. Anyway, they let us in about 7:20 and
I was credentialed by 7:35. I think they are not doing photos now so that will make it go faster. You have to present an acceptance letter from the Games along with you passport to get credentialed. Without either you stood in line for nothing. I was really impressed that they came out and told us they would open early and told us what page and area of our letters
needed to be shown to the agent. I have a feeling this process will go much faster today.

The next challenge was to get merchandise. Well of course it didn't open until 8 and since we were let in to register early, then there was a huge line waiting for merchandise to open. I had looked at what I wanted online so I just spotted it from the line and hit it the second they opened the ropes. I was out of there within 10 minutes and relieved of $245. Still, I knew if I left and came back the lines would be longer and I would have less selection. This way I was the first out of one of the six checkout lines. Mission accomplished - now stay away from that zoo. There system is good but you still have to credential 28,000+ athletes, one by one, over the last couple of days.

The track is open to competitors this morning between 10-2. I'll meet Phillip over there while we check out the facility and then we will head to the harbor area. I don't necessarily need anything special at the track but rather want to size up the lay of the land and get a better mental picture of where I'll warm up, hang out until I jump, check the runway and winds,
etc. I find myself thinking a lot about the competition and it is all very strong and positive. I'm walking through my mechanical checklist and mentally preparing. URGENT - Dan West - please resend me that list you gave me to I emailed it to myself from my account but it didn't get here. Thanks! Anyway, I feel
very good and in a very good place mentally. I feel calm and confident yet excited for the opportunity to jump here.

This is a BIG DEAL event. I'm overwhelmed by the sheer numbers of uniformed athletes from around the world with their support teams of family and friends in tow. The regular Olympics have about 10,000 competitors and we are nearly three times that number, hailing from 95 countries. At Worlds for Athletics (Track & Field), everyone looks at everybody trying to
determine what they do, who they are, etc. Here you can't do that because there are so many athletes in so many sports. Everyone here is somebody and obviously somebody pretty darn good in their sport or they wouldn't be here. That's pretty cool to see this magnitude of commitment at our ages. We compete in five year age groups beginning at 30 through 100+. I'm seeing all age ranges and many in their sports know each other like we do. Speaking of which, I don't want to say that I'm laying low but I've yet to see anyone that I know. Thank goodness I've got you guys and gals!!

As you prepare to enjoy your Friday evening I'm heading out to get a jump on my Saturday morning. I'm sure I will post photos later. All the best and thanks for your support. It's very comforting in this far away land where I know no one and most of the people I see and hear don't speak English. Funny as this may sound, I'm very comfortable on this little solitary
planet I have created for myself to remain focused and not be allowed to be caught up in too much peripheral stuff. I feel very confident that I can execute the game plan. WOW - how different is that from fearing the nh when I was at home? The difference is that I'm here now and HERE is where it happens or doesn't. It's up to me and the preparation that's been done.
It takes an army to get ready for one of these things and I think I've got the best one. For that I salute you! We'll find out Tuesday. Bubba

Hello From Busy Sydney

Me & Kirk Benz at LAX
My Poles Arrive Safely
My hotel in the back on the left. My pit in front. My poles are under the stands 50m to the left.

Too much to talk about so let's get started. I'll have to put up photos tomorrow as I have the wrong AC adapter for my computer so I'm stuck with battery power. Also it's 50 cents per minute up to $27.50 per day for the Internet so my time needs to be limited until I find another access. Warning - this will be probably jump around and be rambling so I cover the stuff I wanted to.

The flight was great and long as you would expect. My good friend and fellow M55 pole vaulter, Kirk Benz, came out and met me at LA and we hung out talking for nearly two hours before my flight to Sydney. What a great guy, great vaulter and great friend. I appreciate his insights into helping each other get better.

Qantas started off by giving us dinner at nearly 1 AM because that was dinner time in Syndey. After that it was nap time and they woke us up again about 5:30 to get ready for breakfast. I figure I got about six hours of sleep. We landed at 8:25, got through customs and quarantine to meet my group. There are SO MANY uniforms from all over the world as the airport was a zoo. On our flight I quit counting T-shirts I saw for the different sports at 12. Everything from water polo, volleyball, weightlifting, track cycling, boxing, gymnastic, rowing, etc.

Rather than wait for everyone to go to together, I took a cab out to the Olympic Park where my hotel is and beat the check in crowd. It was just dragging on and on as they waited for more people so I had to get out if there. That luck did not carry over to the credentialing where the line is literally more than 1,000 athletes waiting to get photo IDs. I'll go back first thing in the morning. BTW - today was drizzly and in the low to mid 50s but this afternoon is nice and sunny but breezy. I can see the big bridge and downtown from my hotel window as well as most of the Olympic Park venues. Pretty awesome. The only negative is no bath tub. I like to soak and read to relax so I guess I'll have to find the Jacuzzi. BTW - they sit and drive on the right side of their cars and drive on the left side of the road.

Speaking of first thing, the very second I walked into my hotel I called Nancy to catch up with her. We set up our schedule to talk from this point forward. Speaking of calls - I took a short nap and was shocked back to this millineum by the telephone ringing. I knew it was too late for Nancy so I thought maybe it was Phillip about tomorrow. NO - It was the lady telling me that my poles had arrived. I got directions and the contact person's name and walked the seven minutes over to the Athletic Center where they arrived in PERFECT CONDITION. Kris and Bruce did such an incredible taping and labeling job that appranently no on wanted to mess with because the grips and tape were just as I left them.

I walked out to the place I will vault and maybe it's 50 meters from where my poles are stored. WOW - could not be a better situation. The wind for our pit looked pretty much of a crosswind from the left but everybody will have to deal with it. One minor concern is that at 3:30 the sun was still pretty high but will come down behind the pit and could shade or shield my ability to see the plant box so vision later in the competition could be an issue. This happened to Don at Worlds in Italy in 2007. He had to wear sunglasses and a hat to be able to see the box. I don't think it will be that bad.

Tomorrow from 10 AM to 2 PM the track and pit will be open to practice. I really want to check that out before I go sightseeing with Phillip. Well, gotta run and save my battery while I look for the right adapter. Plenty more to come. Thank you all for your support!! Bubba

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Outta Here! + Late Post

I'm wrapping up at warp speed around here this morning. There is too much to do and too little time. I woke up and 4 AM and started the mental list again. Counting the chores must have been like counting sheep because I managed to get back to sleep until 6. The good news is that I'm finished packing so now it's just wrapping up the business stuff.

I'll miss Nancy. She is my heart and soul and my daily light so being without her on this trip will certainly feel like a great loss. We're trying to set times to talk now since the time difference is so much. For the past year she has heard every detail and has offered her opinion every time I ask her about specific turns in the plot to getting ready for this trip. Of course I offered to take her but she says she's never really had the interest to go to Oz and especially isn't fond of the long flight. She's been with me to Hawaii on business twice this year and that's an eight hour flight, plus we just got back from California. I think she will enjoy staying home on this one. Besides, we go to Maine for our annual vacation less than two weeks after I return.

So, I'm off on my "business trip" and will check in where and when I can until I get settled. Thanks again for being here. Please consider yourselves on call as I'm certain I know I'll need you. Have a great day! Bubba

PS - I forgot to mention that my flight IS the flight for the World Masters Games. The tour company with the exclusive rights says that everyone flying with them from the USA for these Games will be on this flight. All from Canada are leaving out of Vancouver - also today I think. That means I should recognize quite a few people, at least from our sport. Less boring that way.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Almost Time to Go

My last chance to get hurt was today and I carefully avoided it. I was scheduled to run 6 X 50m hills with my sled but Kris and I decided that I may need to do a little small pole vault session also. My thinking was that since the meet is a week from today that I may come in TOO rested and maybe feel a little flat. After my sleds I was pretty sure that wouldn't be the case. What I forgot was that I had a very hard leg lifting session just two days ago so I felt like crap. I didn't feel injured or in danger. I just felt like I was running in cement shoes. I warmed up on the runway and took one jump on my smallest 13' pole and stopped. It felt tiny and I felt useless on the runway so it wasn't worth pushing.

Now I'm seriously packing and finishing up on business. The good news is that I don't leave until 6 tomorrow so I don't feel so rushed. The bad news is that I have over four hours in LA before the long flight starts. That's after the 3.5 hours to get to LA. I'll just take it easy and enjoy the trip and try to arrive rested. The total time from take off from Houston to landing in Sydney is 22 hours. When I went to South Africa is was 26 and I survived that.

So thanks for all of your support and best wishes!! That said, as this chapter closes the next one opens. The heat will rise once I get to Sydney and I promise that you will feel it in my posts. For better or worse, I'll let you in. Let's make it a good trip!! Bubba

Here is the link for current local time and weather. So far they are calling for 61 to 75 and rain for next Tuesday. We?ll see.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Poles Arrive in Oz + End of the Grind

Both of these are joyous topics since I leave on Wednesday. I have a run/bars/stretch tomorrow and a stretch on Wednesday before I go. Today I did a "Strength Test" to see how I have progressed in the past nearly eight weeks since we started this little journey. My weight this morning was 171.5 which is where I want it on the competition day. My bench press improved 20+ lbs. to 250. I say 20+ lbs. because I made 250 quite easily but didn't see the point in trying 260 and risking injury. I also moved up 10 lbs. on my hang clean to 185. Of course these numbers are relative as some guys smaller than me lift much more (Dan West) and some bigger guys lift less. So relative to me these are very good marks. SO, the grind is officially over. It's time to think rest, refresh the mind and prepare to focus on the upcoming tasks. Total weight lifted for this blog is 717,995 and exactly 500 weighted high bar exercises.

The Poles Arrived!!
If you have been tracking the shipping as I have you see that they arrived at 11 AM on 10/3, even though that didn't show up until this morning. Bruce Caldwell says that they will be taken to the venue on the 7th, the day I leave. Since I lose a day by crossing the International Dateline, I leave Wednesday and arrive Friday. Even funnier, when I come back I arrive at LA only two hours after I left Sydney. Since I arrive at 8:25 AM and can't get into my hotel until 2 PM, I'll get credentialed and go find the poles and make sure they aren't broken or need to be re-taped because of any fumigation stuff they sprayed in the tube.

Ben Browder gave me tons of invaluable info for this trip and especially eating choices. It's not like there will be an Outback on every corner. Although I did eat at one last night for my dad's 78th birthday. Sounds like it will be pretty easy as far as nutritional needs and desires go. I'll be staying at the Novatel - Olympic Park which is literally right across the street from the stadium. If you watch their website photos under dining they show a view of the stadium from one of the restaurants. That's awesome to be so close. Not only that, but credentialed athletes also get free use of the train systems. Not that I will be doing much wandering around but it's nice to have options. I'm very much a "hang out in the room" and watch TV, read, work on the computer, etc. type guy. I'm there to take care of business but I'll enjoy looking around on Saturday when I go to the harbor area with Phillip.

That's it for today. Got mostly packed yesterday and will do some more today. We're getting to that point where there's nothing left to do but to do it - my favorite part. As always, thanks for being here! Bubba

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Destiney, Random Thoughts & Video at Bottom

Today when I entered my local 24 Hour Fitness where I lift legs and do some of my bars, I was invited to place a goal on a big board for everyone to see. Of course there were many goals on this board but for the first time I wrote - "World Champion, World Masters Games M55 Pole Vault, Sydney, Australia - 10/13/09". I thought, "There, I said it". This felt odd and is even harder to explain. Why would I spend the better part of a year targeting this one day and yet feel strange about actually saying what my goal is? Yes I am very capable of winning but we know that means absolutely nothing. You have to do it that day in that place and weird things always happen. So YES I hope to win but I can't say I expect to win. That type of attitude lands you right on your butt and in the stands. Ask the world's greatest women vaulter who did not clear her opening height at the recent World Championships for the elites. All I can say is that if things go great I expect to medal and hope to win. But still, writing an absolute goal felt strange even though I think it all of the time. In fact I'm driven by it. WHY? I've worked my but off so why should I feel so unsure? Because I've been there and seen it firsthand. It's a 100% crapshoot. My first collegiate championship I was ranked 10th and I repeated the following year after having only the 6th highest jump. I saw Sergey Bubka fail to clear his opening height in Barcelona at the 1992 Olympics and I saw him withdraw during warm up for the 1996 Olympics where a few days earlier I saw him trying 20' 8" with a bungee and looking great. You never know so just be prepared, pay attention and focus.

I was reading Track & Field News magazine yesterday and saw where Australia's Steve Hooker came into the World Championships in Berlin only eight days after straining his groin in practice. The defending World Champion, Brad Walker withdrew because he partially missed the pit 12 days out from the big meet. I'm nine days out today. Then I was looking at YouTube video and saw a team of guys all nearly fail to clear their opening heights even though they had tons of height. They all managed on their third attempts but what a nightmare start. It was these thoughts that had me reconsider my workout this morning when I saw that we have nothing but rain between now and when I leave on Wednesday.

First, vaulting was not an option so I'm done there. Last year when I strained my left triceps I went 2-4 weeks without vaulting on a regular basis and would show up at a meet and still vault well, so I don't see that as a big factor. Remember, less than two months ago I was in California watching the National Senior Games with a strained groin. When I came back and started this blog I hoped to be able to get back over 12' before I left for Oz. Since then I've vaulted 12 days and made 13' on two of those days, 12' 6" on three others and 12' on five more. All of this with no run further than 43' (usually 33') on small poles. In meets I start from 54' on much bigger poles. So I'm cool not jumping anymore.

The rain made me unsure about running with the sled because a hard slip could twinge a hamstring or overstretch an Achilles. So out of the blue I decided to flop things and go lift legs first and then come back and run some hill/sled reps in the rain. The purpose was that my legs would be too tired to try and be too powerful. It worked perfectly as I had some very nice and rhythmical sled pulls after a great lifting session. That was my last gym session before I go. I'll do a strength test in the garage tomorrow and then run again on Tuesday morning - in the rain because suddenly we're the new Seattle.

I started getting my stuff together last night and Nancy got out the suitcase this morning. The weather there has been showing low 50s to low 60s with a lot of rain. Two weeks ago it was nice and warm. Needless to say I have to take more clothes options and consider more stuff to make sure my grip on the pole works in the rain.

OK, I'm done for today. In closing I want to make an observation about expectations. No matter what goes through my head when I am approaching a meet, when it's "GO TIME", I shift into a highly focused and accountable athlete. I will not vault to stay alive but will compete to win. It's hard to explain but there is a certain expectation, not only of myself, but of others who know me (including you) that I do my best, and that's what saves me at big meets. That switch hits and the doubts are gone. Until then I'll continue to be afraid so I don't make careless mistakes or oversights. I've done everything within my power to be ready, I am, and I will give everything I have. The great motivational speaker, Tony Robbins, says that people will do more to avoid pain than to gain pleasure. I guess this is why we obsess over clearing that first height as that represents the greatest pain we can experience. Once you're past that then it's off to the races. With that said, I have nh'd (no heighted - did not clear my opening height) only one time in my career - my sophomore year in college at conference. I don't plan on this being number two but if I'm not afraid of it, it could happen.

Thanks a ton for being here!! MUCH appreciated! Bubba

PS - I will blog from the plane and airports but I won't be able to post it until I get to my hotel unless I can pick up a WiFi at LAX.
For fun I thought I would try and post a video here since I will from Sydney. This is 12' 6" (3.81m) at the Quintana Beach Vault.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

A Quiet Day Off

I'm cool with this off day as it's pretty gloomy out. If it rains tomorrow I'll wait and try to go Monday since I have the luxury of a little extra time. Also my legs are still a little sore from the high level session I had on Thursday. Overall I feel great but rest is very important right now as your body makes 100% of its progress during rest. The objective is to ramp up your program to its highest intensity and then somewhere between 7-9 days out you pull the rug out from under the training load. Your body responds by coming back fast and hard because it thinks you will keep demanding training sessions. When you don't, it keeps building in anticipation that you will again shock it with more hard training. The result is that I should feel really good and refreshed on my jump day. Sometimes I do this a little too good. I've had a couple of big meets where I came out feeling so good that I almost got a strain in warm up. That's a good problem. I just have to remember to take it easy and start slow in the warm-up.

Warm-up for me is usually very early. I like to be the first on the runway about an hour out from the start time. This way I'm not rushed and few vaulters are on the runway yet. I feel better the second time around anyway - more quick, so sitting afterward warm-up is actually pretty good for me. I also stop my warm-up one two jumps before I feel I am actually really warmed up. This saves the bigger jumps for later. Because I will have to wait around awhile to vault, I will actually do my real warm-up during the meet. I tend to start on a medium sized pole that I don't have to push my run to get in on. Each vault I move up a pole, back a stride or both as I warm up and progress through poles during the meet.

I'm comfortable and confident to the degree that I can be right now. I'm trying to load up on work stuff to keep my mind away from the trip as it helps quell the anxiety. I heard from Tom Rauscher (M60) that he too is healthy so that was our main goal. He is scheduled to jump on our pit with our group. When this happens the results are split out and reported separately after the fact. This will give us 18 guys in our group which is quite a lot. They will probably start around 8' and I will start at 12' so I will be sitting around for awhile and I have planned accordingly. Phillip says we could start with one wind condition and end with a totally different direction as the day goes by. I HATE to warm-up with a tailwind and then come in two hours later into a headwind. If it happens I'll be fine but MAN would that suck. As they say, everyone else has to deal with it too.

That's it for now. Thanks for being here and have a great Saturday! Bubba

Friday, October 2, 2009

Thanks Again!!

I got an email from my buddy Dan West yesterday telling me that he thinks he hit his training too hard last week and now he's starting to feel rundown and like he may be coming down with something. Today I suddenly felt exactly the same way. I didn't sleep well last night and even though I felt fairly strong (not Dan strong) I too was feeling rundown and still have somewhat of an upset stomach. Then I remembered my joke about the Swine Flu yesterday. I can't afford to ignore the little things at this point. This is a perfect example of why I'm writing this blog. I promise you that had I not gotten that email from Dan that I would have attempted to power through the scheduled workout and risked injury or sickness. I dropped my last two sets and skipped the ab work though I did all of my stretching and bars. Thanks Dan! A great reminder to listen to our bodies.

With all of this said I still am somewhat lethargic about these last few sessions but I can't allow myself to be. I'm supposed to vault the last time Sunday but we're showing an 80% chance of rain. If that happens I'll just skip the rotation and hit the gym. I have three more workouts before I catch the plane - Sunday - vault, run hills w/sled, bars, lift lower, Monday - lift upper + long stretch, and Tuesday - 6 X 50m hill with sled and stretch. I'll run hills in the rain but that would screw up some of the bars. Like DJ says, at this point I can't do anything to get stronger or faster so just let it go and don't sweat it. Of course I'll report back here whatever happens.

Hey Ben - what can you tell me about eating in Oz? It's never crossed my mind before today but I guess I had better consider what the locals eat. I know that Vegimite is out of the question. When I had Aussie's Simon Arkell and Adam Steinhardt staying with me before the 1992 Olympics Games, Adam would eat cereal with orange juice on it instead of milk. I don't know what other food mysteries or options will be available. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

I haven't got the suitcase out but I have started thinking about packing. It shouldn't be too hard since the weather is pretty comfortable. I think I'll take one pair of pants to hide my special socks for the flight. No need looking older or more like a tourist than I already do. I remember living at the beach in Southern California that the tourists really stand out. I'm sure I will too.

That's it from here. Thanks again for being there and supporting me! Bubba

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Good & Safe Day - Poles/Tracking

Well today was my last best chance to get hurt as I was to vault on my only 14' pole left in my bag as the rest have been sent to Australia. I've jumped on the 14/169/17.5 several times over the past few weeks but not from 33' since about this time last year. I need to be in a position where if I don't hit my positions I won't penetrate enough to complete the vault. Since you can't run very fast from 33' it comes down to technique and timing of forces. If I push the run too hard I get a hamstring strain and it's over - don't even bother going on the trip because you can't jump 12 days after a hamstring strain. So there was HUGE fear and caution going into today.

That said I made 12' on my second attempt, 12' 6" on my first and had one really nice vault at 13' before stopping. So four jumps total to meet the goals I had set out for the day. I've made 12' 6" from 33' several times but have never tried 13' from there. Today I only took one jump at 13' but had about 4" of height and hit it on the way down. At that point I decided to leave well enough alone and stop while healthy. WHEW!!!!!

Sunday will be my last vault day as I'll start on my smaller 13' poles and work my way through a bunch of "fun" low intensity jumps trying to refine my technique. I will still need to lift upper on Monday and run on Tuesday before I fly out on Wednesday, but at this point the hard and risky stuff is over. I'm very pleased with the ramp up and also relieved to remain very healthy with no dings or annoyances.

Pole Tracking
The poles are in transit and are supposed to be received on 10/3. The website to track their progress is here - and the tracking number is 52056587. Why not? We'll find out together if they actually make it. I understand there are a few levels of "made it". One is to the airport in Sydney, then through customs and then to the stadium. I'm sure we will all learn about this process as we go. They have to be through customs by 10/8 so we should be fine. Since I leave on 10/7 it would be great if they are through all of this by then. I am assured they will be. We'll see.

To Blog or Not to Blog From Oz
My friend of nearly 30 years, Dean "The Machine" Gregory asked me yesterday if I will go to "radio silence" until after I vault or if I will continue this blog. Great question. I assured him that as soon as I get my Internet connection at my hotel that I will resume my daily reports. If anything I will need the outlet more then so you're along for the whole bumpy ride.

I'm starting to feel reasonably confident that our plan should culiminate in me arriving healthy and fresh. That being the case I can only fail if I get the Swine Flu on the plane or get hurt during the warm-up or meet, OR have a big lapse in mental focus. Of course I'm hoping and planning that these are not factors. Success is relative but the main goal is to get a medal in these World Championships. I got the bronze in South Africa in 1997 so it's been a long time in between and I don't want to waste this opportunity. I told Nancy this morning that as of today, this is the best I have ever been prepared physically, technically and mentally for a competition. Again, this means absolutely nothing. The ONLY thing that matters is what happens on that day. I told my partner at lunch today that the moment you step on that runway in a huge meet like this, that the feeling is nearly heart stopping. The nerves are wild and it's no longer six months, six weeks or six days away - IT IS NOW and that urgency just slams all of your senses. It's at this time that my focus on only doing one thing per jump and doing it perfectly will help me off that hook with the nerves. Then it's like football - you get that first big hit and now you're in the game. So I'm scared yet excited but at this point the plan has been excellent as have the tests along the way.

Thanks again for your invaluable support! Bubba

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

I Leave in One Week

This is my business travel day so nothing is going on but a nice stretch this afternoon before I head over to officiate the high schools September All Comers Meet. Long story short? Another boring off day!

I leave one week from today yet I feel ages away from being able to pack or get other stuff ready. I have a ton of business stuff to do before I go so that I will be able to let go and enjoy. That said, my poles should arrive tomorrow. I'd better get that tracking number.

Big jump day tomorrow. I'll be careful but I'm looking forward to it. More soon. Bubba

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

"Two Weeks From Today"

That's what Nancy said to me within five minutes of waking up. I had thought the same thing about one minute earlier. I leave a week from tomorrow. My flight leaves Houston around 6:30 in the evening and I sit around LA until almost midnight before heading out on the 14 hour leg to Sydney on Qantas. The objective is to not sleep until that leg and then try and sleep most of the way with the help of Excedrin PMs. I arrive at 8:25 AM on Friday morning so I want to get on their time right away. I've found that oversleeping in advance helps make it easier to jump right into their day. I'm going to the harbor sightseeing on Saturday morning but need to have my running workout done before Phillip picks me up at 10:30. Here's another Games promo with the harbor view.

Thursday is my last high level vault session and I'm a little afraid since it's only 12 days out. If I get hurt then it's over. My plan is to start on a big pole from a close run on so I'll have to be very warmed up and careful. I've done it a bunch of times but not recently so I'm very wary and cautious. It's right in line with the progression that I have been following so it's not like I'm taking a real gamble. I just have to be careful and a little more alert to any signs of weakness. I should be fine, BUT ....

It rained most of the night so it was pretty wet when I went out to run my six hills with the sled this morning. My body felt decent but I decided to stop at four rather than do the planned six, since that just felt like the right amount for today. It's hard to explain. My body got a signal that said, "if you want to feel good on Thursday you need to stop here because two more won't make a beneficial difference at this stage". Considering I ran eight on Thursday and 10 on Sunday (two days ago), I'm good with that decision.

The sled is also the reason my run is moving back again. I went comfortably from 42' 6" to almost 44' in one practice. This means I'm covering more ground with the same number of steps which equates to slightly more speed and power. The effort feels the same, I just cover more ground and gain more momentum. I've been in a situation before that, for example, if I wasn't running from 45' I can't get in on that pole enough to complete the vault. So this is a good and expected result from the training. NOTE - I've got a close friend, DJ, who says he thinks I overtrain but actually I don't as I vary my effort to keep from being rundown. In fact, it's rare that I ever feel trashed and overtrained. This is part of the labeling of "Quality" or "Intensity". This also is how I feel motivated to train all year around. Again, it's just listening to the body so it doesn't have to yell at you.

Not a day goes by that I'm not grateful that you guys and gals are here. This isn't a narcissistic vent but rather a true expression of what I'm going through. I feel like I'm sharing this privately with my close confidants and it is a big benefit and provides reasonable relief. I say reasonable because gang, the heat WILL rise as we get on the move to the actual Games. I'm excited in a good way but will lean on you more than ever. Thanks again for being there! Bubba

Monday, September 28, 2009

Quality vs. Intensity

I always ask this question as I get going on my workout. Before I discovered this approach I would just walk out of the gym if the weights felt too heavy or it felt like it would be a struggle. You know how it is, you lifted "X" last time and today "X" is out of the question so it's going to be a bad day. That's when I changed to the "no miss rule" that made me dumb it down rather than walk out. Today I felt OK but I think both my body and my brain needed a break so I labeled today a "Quality" day and backed off my weights a little and really watched the details of each set and rep.

Compound to this that my friend and partner from Hawaii, Randall Fukuji, emailed yesterday that he would have a long layover in Houston on his way to Peru so we're meeting for lunch. That said I was able to knock out a high quality workout in about an hour and fifteen minutes including my stretch. I feel refreshed mentally and physically. Speaking of physical, I was surprised that I wasn't more beat up from yesterday but maybe it will be delayed and I'll feel like crap tomorrow or the next day.

OK - I leave in nine days and compete two weeks from tomorrow. Yahoooooooooo! It's like I said in the first post, we train for big meets like a fighter gets ready for a fight - about an eight week ramp up. So far so good. I'm on schedule and feel good and healthy. It's mine to keep as long as I don't do anything stupid. I will vault big pole Thursday and small poles Sunday and that's that. I will still lift on Monday and run on Tuesday so a week from tomorrow my "training" is over. Until then it's business as usual. Big focus to detail while remaining cautious.

Thanks again for always being here and have a great day! Bubba

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Decent Jump Day + Still Learning Stuff

Here's the commemorative coin they have for the event.

I never seem to know what to expect in training these days. I didn't vault Thursday but did my running and lifting so I thought I would feel pretty bad today as it is my short cycle of the weekly rotation. Suprisingly I felt pretty good. I only took seven jumps but I started on a little bigger pole to start getting used to being hit right from the start. Made 12' (3.66m) and 12' 6" (3.81m) pretty easy on my 13' poles - 14.7 and 14.3 from 33'. I haven't made 12' 6" on the 14.3 but one other time so I figure it must be the technical focus on not allowing my hips to break during the swing. I've been doing all of my bars with 5 lb. ankle weights on to aid this a little more. I ended the day with a "gimme" and a make at 13' (3.97m) on my smallest 14' pole - the 17.5 from my 43' run. A gimme is where you easily have the height but something brushes it off. These usually stay up in the meets so I move on because you learn more by jumping at a level just out of your reach. For example I've never made 13' on that pole before so again this tells me that my efficiency is improving. But I wouldn't know this had I not tried to get out of my comfort zone.

In the book, "Never Let Go" by Dan John, he speaks of the warm-up being the workout. In other words, don't screw around on stuff that doesn't matter but rather get into workout and do your warm up there. With that in mind I dropped the 100m grass strides and added on two 50m hills with the sled. Today I had 10. Also in Dan's book he talks about if something is important you should do it every day, so I brought home some small squat stands to learn some new exercises that will definitely help my runway speed and power.

Speaking of lifting - today it sucks beyond recognition. I'm so ready for the new program because of the improved function I'm expecting that its very difficult to make myself continue on with a plan that I feel is now inferior. Today was the worst as I walked through the doors of the gym feeling like I was marching into torture. I cranked my music, lowered the weights a little and went into a heavy focus/trance to make sure that I did every single repetition perfect. The end result was I LOVED it. Isn't that always true of the gym in that you hate it going in but love what you accomplished when you come out? Don't get me wrong as I have made huge progress in my lifting this year but next year should translate directly to the runway and my vault. I have five more lift sessions of which two will be similar to today's. I actually really enjoy the two days I lift in my home gym in the garage and the new program will ALL be in my garage but with a bunch of new dynamic lifts. My favorite quote from reading Dan's book yesterday was, "I don't use machines because, how do I put this nicely, I have testicles". I've had to use quite a few machines this year to isolate or protect injured areas so I'm looking forward to the switch.

Practice Like You Compete & Compete Like You Practice
In my last four jump sessions I have been jumping like it's a meet. I get three jumps at each height and I have to move on. When I have three consecutive misses I'm out. So far with this plan I've gotten 13' on my longer run and 12' 6" twice on my shorter run day and then 13' today on my shorter run day. The pole I finished on today is one pole smaller than the smallest pole going to Sydney. If things go well I will start on five poles bigger from the one I was on today. We'll see what it looks like that day but right now I feel pretty well covered as far as pole and run options.

So it was a pretty good day and my focus to detail made it efficient and survivable. For the record I left the house at 7:15 and got back from the gym at 10:45. Today is definitely the LONG day of the week. All the best and have a great Sunday! Bubba
PS - Went over 600, 000 lbs. lifted today with 617,031 and over 400 bar drills with 421.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

All Comers Meet
As the name indicates, an "All Comers" meet is just that - anyone can participate regardless of age and ability. I have had a long tradition of having one on the last Saturday of the month during the off season as it gives athletes a chance to see where they are. If things go well it's a vote of confidence and if not, then you know what to work on for the next month.

We had our first All Comers meet this morning and had a nice turn out of about 10 vaulters. For the most part everyone looked pretty good considering we have not run further than six total steps in the first month. Our 8th grader Kara got a new PR at 8' 6" and looked good at 9'. The event was won by Seth Arnold who cleared 13' 6" from a very short run. Seth was last year's state champion as a junior and has a 16' vault to his credit. His dad, Don, vaulted with me in college so we have been friends for years. A "new old guy", Charlie, came out and cleanly made 12' at 48 years old. Next month is the "Halloween Vault" where all vaulters must wear costumes. Should be fun.

Poles - Leaving On a Jet Plane
Mr. Dependable, Bruce Caldwell dropped my poles off at DFW airport yesterday and they will leave Monday night and arrive Thursday in Sydney. Event management will get them out to the field for my competition and then back to the airport. Monday I'll have a tracking number for all of us to watch their progress. Why not? I'll be watching it anyway so you might as well have the same access.

Talking to Gary Scheffe today, in his first year back in the M50 group, he says he can tell that my blog is therapeutic for me. Gary's a super guy and we're thrilled to have him out with us, and he could not be more correct with his assessment. Today is another "off day" so that is the toughest. My buddy in Minnesota, Mike Soule would say, "well at least you got to do something "vaulty" by going to the All Comers meet. He's right as that helps a lot.

I cheated yesterday and did one set and one rep of a new exercise from next year's program. I may do the same on a couple of other exercise when I stretch today. I've decided that as long as the weight is negligible then it can't hurt.

I'm reading a book by the strength legend, Dan John ("Never Let Go") where he states some baseline benchmarks based on your bodyweight - mine is 172. He says you need to at least be able to your bodyweight in bench (235), hang cleans (185) and twice your body in deadlift, which I have never done. What's funny is that every time I get this little hamstring ding I feel it when I bend down to pick something up. That's what a deadlift is - bend down and pick the bar up and then stand up straight. There are several variations that I'm looking forward to. Dan's basic theory is that you must pick things up and you must lift things over your head. He also says if it is that important you should do it every day. That's the rule I'll start with for deadlifts and front squats.

That's it today. I leave in 10 days and my last vault session will be a week from tomorrow. I'll be careful, have fun and report back to you here. Have a fun Saturday and thank you again for your support!! Bubba

Friday, September 25, 2009

Depending On Power & Focus

At 11 days out I hit my lifting PRs (Personal Record) on everything today leaving me some time to move ahead a bit more. Since my big poles have been gone for awhile I've simulated that experience by vaulting on smaller poles with a shorter run as that makes them feel much stiffer. My game plan is to come in fresh, focused on my technical goals and to be as physical as I can be. Big poles require you to be explosive but you also have less room for technical error. My smallest pole will feel big to me in warm-up so I'll need to overpower it immediately so I can move through safely to bigger poles. I have intentionally been holding back on my runway speed to prevent injury but also to become more dependent upon my technique to move the bigger poles.

Today's lifting indicates I will be where I need to be. Rest is easy when you're traveling and the technical focus comes naturally when you haven't vaulted in over a week like I plan. I used to vault the week of big meets but it seemed to zap some snap in my legs and left me overconfident in my technical skills. Now I come in a little fresher and maybe a little more scared of making sure my technique is perfect. I like the plan and so does Kris.

Golf & Pole Vaulting Again - Like Vaulters, They Help Each Other

ATLANTA - Sean O'Hair knew he would need some help from Tiger Woods to win the FedEx Cup. He got more than he expected. And it was about putting, not points. Woods and O'Hair practiced together on the back nine at East Lake on the eve of the Tour Championship, and O'Hair sought some advice on his putting from the world's No. 1 player, regarded as among the best in golf with the putter. Woods suggested that O'Hair open the face of the club on the way back so that he could release the blade through the ball.

It paid off Thursday when O'Hair made enough putts for a 4-under 66 and a one-shot lead over three players, including Woods. "I'm going to go chew him out right now," Woods said. Woods was joking, for it is typical in this sport for players to help each other even as they're trying to beat each other. O'Hair is the first to concede that his putting has held him back in his five years on tour.

“It's very simple,” said Woods, the FedEx Cup's No. 1 seed. “You always help your friends.”


In closing I feel great and would like to vault today, tomorrow and Sunday but of course I will wait until Sunday for my next scheduled day. The end of training for a big goal is hard because you know the main work is done so you tend to want to coast in. The problem is that if you pull back too soon (or too late) you won't feel good on the day that counts. So I keep grinding it out and pretending that I'm getting ready for World Indoors. It doesn't help that I have just read two great books on training that Kris referred me to and I can't wait to try the new stuff but can't. You just don't make changes at this late date. So I will stay the course and remain patient. Once I hit the plane it becomes easy until the time to perform arrives. And then if I have planned and executed properly, that part goes well too. Right now it's just "get me to the plane" so I can get out of this "no man's land" of halfway training - really hard but short with too much time to think. As my dad used to say, "There you go thinking again - working without tools". Thanks for being here!! Bubba

Thursday, September 24, 2009

It's Hard Acting Mature!

Well, I got my running and warm up done this morning and the sprinkles started. I thought, "It might rain in Sydney so I might as well jump". The closer I got to getting the pit and poles ready the harder it rained. Finally I blew off my jumping and finished my running and sled and headed home. My decision then was do I go about my regular training or do I back off and wait to vault tomorrow or in our little end of the month meet on Saturday? I called Kris to ask him but I knew what he would say and I agreed - blow off the vault component of this rotation and stay on schedule with the rest of my training. Tough as it was, that means going to the gym to lift legs and do bars. Walking through the gym doors today was very difficult because here I am fresh and ready to jump, yet I am about to destroy that feeling in the next hour. "Oil well", I did what I needed to do. Sometimes I hate growing up but it's not worth the risk to get off of schedule at this point.

I'm sure on the surface this looks like a "no big deal" moment but the fact is that I love to pole vault so I HATE it when I have to miss a rotation. I've had three hernias and two Achilles surgically repaired so I can continue to vault. My buddy Dan West has a bad take off foot so he has learned to vault off of the other foot as well as left handed because he too loves to vault. So when it's your day and you can't it SUCKS!! Fortunately I have a good balance of work and rest right now so jacking with the schedule is not a good idea as it would risk injury or a loss of sharpness.

With today's miss I have three vault days left of which only one will be at what I consider an intermediate to high level. After that its hit the plane and let the rest begin. When I vault at the meet it will be nine days since I have vaulted and that's about right for me. I like to come in a little more focused but also more fresh. I'm starting to get excited, but it's too early to register much more than a blip. Stay patient - that's the rule and today was a good test!!

More on Poles
We got an email today from the World Masters Games telling us that we have to bring or provide our own poles and that if we needed help that DB Schenker would be the freight contractor. That's the same company that originally told me it would be $2,300. Going through Bruce Caldwell and them I got $1,900 but that's still a lot. Apparently since Australia is an island country they are very serious about what disease come in and out of their country. I don't blame them but that really adds to the expense of sending poles. My poles are being fumigated before they are sent to save money off this end and to keep me from having to re-tape all seven poles if they were to use some type of soapy stuff. I can get them to Oz for $184 but it takes nearly $500 for them to clear customs, and then they must be transported to and from the stadium, back through customs and then come home. Fortunately I paid for the rest of the trip many months ago so it makes this necessity a little easier to swallow. If I don't do this then I have to show up and hope to borrow poles that I have never seen before. That's too big of a crap shoot for such a big event.

That's it for today. Many thanks to you all for your support and interest. Two weeks from today I will be there. Bubba