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

Wednesday, September 23, 2009



I guess I do a LITTLE visualization. LOL!! I would like to get one of these - ANY one!!

Off to my road trip for the day. I heard from John Aletndorf last night that they do give run throughs at Worlds. At least they did in France. AWESOME!! Bubba
PS - the poles will be on their way today and will arrive by the 28th and be at the stadium by the 8th.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Three Weeks From Today

I compete three weeks from today and leave two weeks from tomorrow so time is growing short - FINALLY!!

Well it's pouring rain here and is supposed to continue to do so for a few days. Of course in Texas that means nothing as it could be sunny by this afternoon. If it is I will go out and run. I was scheduled to run 4 X 100 and 4 X 50 with the sled up the slight hill I use for warm-up. In the grand scheme of things the "off day" doesn't really hurt anything. Maybe it helps keep me a little fresher. I did get in a nice long strecth in the garage. Tomorrow is a scheduled off day as it is my "travel" day to drive all over seeing local and regional clients and partners. I'm hoping to wait out a window to jump on Thursday but if it is still raining I'll skip it and just do my lifting. That's a tough one since I want to jump but it's more important not to get off of my schedule since it is a nice balance of work and rest.

Last night I had a dream that I was in the big meet in Sydney and I couldn't get my approach run right and nhd (no heighted) at 11' (3.35m) on my 13'/176/15.0. That's funny too because I would never take a pole that small to a meet, even though I cleared 12' on it on Sunday. Just another reason why I don't visualize - I always fail. As long as I can "feel" it I can jump, but to put the view outside of myself like a spectator, I have no grasp. If I see it from my point of view out of my eyes, I can match that up to a feeling that works.

I'm still feeling good and I'm optimistic I'll be fine physically. I have four more scheduled vault days - the next two Thursdays/Sundays. I'll ramp up the poles I use at these sessions and not force too many jumps. Last year's Olympic and this year's World Champion from Australia, Steve Hooker, has had several injury setbacks but credits his training focus to his success. He said in an interview that he knew he couldn't vault often and would only have a few vaults per session so they had to be right. I did this last year a few times where I literally had a number of vault sessions where I only took one to three jumps and quit. The jumps were exactly what I was trying to do and I didn't want to risk getting hurt or getting run down, so I stopped. Though I'm healthy now and not so afraid, there is still no reason to take unnecessary chances after I have accomplished my goals for the sessions. I'm guessing 6 - 8 jumps per sessions is sufficient.

That's all for today folks. Thanks for being here and thanks for the emails of support, especially my buddy Dan West. Dan I always appreciate your input, suggestions and friendship. I think you're probably the vaulter who I can most relate to as far as approach to training and competition. Thanks!! Bubba

Update - 4 PM - Got my running in on a rain break.

Monday, September 21, 2009

I Want it to Be Over

Well not really but this is the psychology of anything like this that is drawn out, and especially in the relative "off-season" when almost no one else is seriously training. It's like I used to tell my athletes before the Olympic Trials - you're the first athletes out to training in the summer and you will be the last ones training next summer until the Trials. Welcome to the top where the better you are the more you train alone and in anonymity. I actually kind of like that part.

If this event were not coming up I would be grinding away and feeling that I was gaining an advantage over someone who doesn't train all year round. I don't have the talent or athletic ability to get away with that plus I enjoy the process. I would be picturing myself in Canada at Worlds or Boston for USA Track & Field Indoor Nationals two weeks after World Indoors. But since this huge target meet is nearly right on top of me/us, I feel that I want it to be over. That's human nature to a degree.

I guess it is tied to that "fight or flight" thing. I know that soon I will have to face and live up to very high expectations. You can't be afraid of failure or success so it must be a little fear of the unknown. It's like that big meeting that you really don't want to go to but you know it's a good opportunity, you do very well but you're glad it's over. I know that once I get on the flight I'll be fine and really be able to enjoy the event. But right now I'm juggling a million things to get ready to go and I feel like I'm ready for it happen TODAY. But that's half the battle. It is NOT today and I have no guarantee I will feel ready that day. The only guarantee I have is that if I don't micromanage how I feel, and the details of my training between now and then, that I will not have done all I can do to be ready. OK, stupid rambling but that's the mish mash of thoughts that go through my day. Then I block them out and focus on each and every component of my training. At this point I've played and replayed all options so maybe that's why I'm just flat ready to go. OK, enough of that.

The "fun" part is that on my final ramp up I get to do things in a bigger way. Of course I'll remain safe but I use bigger poles, grip higher, try higher bars (relative to the poles I'm on), lift heavier, etc. It's not such a "conditioning" grind anymore as that has been done long ago. I still mix in some of the speed and strength endurance stuff to stay in touch but now it's about bigger, stronger and faster. The bottom line and why I say "fun" is that this type of training doesn't hurt much. There's not a lot of suffering. I'll look back on this in a little over a month when I'm grinding out hills in front of the beach house in Maine and cranking away on the weights and LifeCycle in the YMCA at Boothbay Harbor.

There I go again - why am I already looking forward to Maine when training will be harder but the tension of a big meet will be passed. Again, human nature. I promise you that I WILL be ready and will go all out and leave everything on the field in Sydney. But until then I have to stay focused as the teapot continues to gain steam and pressure. I'll keep the horses in the barn until it?s time to constructively use this pent up tension and energy - three weeks from tomorrow.

Thanks again for being there. Today is the perfect reminder of why I wanted to do this. I NEED to get this out there no matter how illogical it may seem because working it out with you keeps me sane! Thanks team!! Bubba

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Baseline Vaulting & Caution

Today I felt OK but during warm-up I felt like I was leaning more toward feeling flat than good so "caution" became the word of the day. I knew it was going to be my long day as far as running and lifting so basically I just wanted to survive it with a little lower intensity but a focus on quality. On this day I'm at the track nearly two hours and in the gym for an hour which includes stretching. It is definitely the long day of the week so I'm out at 7 AM on Sundays.

Because of this, vaulting today was held to my "baseline". Baseline for me is a 12' (3.66m) vault from a 33' (10m) run. I don't have to run hard enough to get hurt, yet can work on some technical things. Today I had six jumps on four poles with the last one being an easy clearance at my baseline, 12'. I "felt" like I could have easily taken more vaults but it didn't "feel" smart. I was getting little hints that my body was fatigued because this is my short rest cycle and I haven't been vaulting twice a week at this level. Better safe than sorry so I quit with four of the six jumps right on target for what I was trying to do - better arm pressure and no hip break.

Again I resisted the urge to incorporate some new lifting and running into my program. I really want to try the new stuff that Kris and DJ have planned for me for next year, but I can't. I tell myself it couldn't hurt but I actually have been hurt the week before a big meet by making similar changes. Any little change can throw your body off just enough that it may not adapt, recover, or remain sore for the next session. Any of these spell trouble.

SO, if I'm typing this I survived it. Had I been hurt I would have been bitching about it this whole entry. Instead I was careful again as I needed to be. I think the big difference is that I am healthy enough that being careful does not mean training scared like I was at the beginning of this blog. Now I can always do something safely and if I can just hit my baseline on a regular basis, I can easily ramp up the last steps before the big day.

I'm slowly ramping all of my components up and they will hit their highest point on the next to last cycle before I go. The last cycle will be the short one which will be my final recovery cycle. I feel reasonably in control of where we are right now, and pretty confident that we can stay on that track without issues. That's a good feeling. Staying there depends on patience.

All the best and thanks for your support this fine Sunday! Bubba

PS - got over 500,000 lbs. lifted since this blog started with 506,016 with 351 bar exercises.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Ho Hum, DJ, More World Indoors + Don Curry

Since I've switched back to lifting legs the day that I vault, I always have this dead/off day the day before I vault. Pretty boring as I feel like I'd like to be doing something but that is not in the cards as I get closer to the meet. I leave two weeks from Wednesday so I have another full two weeks of training before I go. I've really enjoyed being back on this schedule as I feel pretty good on most days. I need to remember that when I'm feeling like I am today - bored.

Yesterday I talked to my longtime friend and my former coach, Dave Johnston (DJ) in Florida. He wanted to fill me in on a few technical things he saw in my jumps and discuss some other training refinements for when I get back. DJ was my coach in 1997 when I won National Indoors in Boston and was 3rd at the World Masters Championships in South Africa. We both lived in Southern California at the time. He's worked with some of the top athletes in the world in many events so it's always good to hear his latest slant. He gave me a lot of good supporting information to go along with what Kris and I have planned.

World Indoors
Last night I booked a room at a ski resort in British Columbia for next year's World Indoor Championships in March. Normally I'd do this a little later but since Nancy isn't going to Australia I wanted to get the next trip planned that we both will go on. Actually that will be our annual vacation to Maine only 10 days after I get back from Oz. She has never had an interest in going to Oz and I think part of it is the long flight. But as I say, "that's where the big meet is so that's where we're going". You can't just phone these things in from your local training area. You have to show up and make it happen that day.

Starting to Feel Ready
As for the World Masters Games, I'm feeling more confident and less negative as I get closer to the event. I'm sure doubts will creep in but when you have a nice block of consistent training time like I'm having now, it sure makes you feel a little more in control of your destiny. Last night I mapped out the objectives for the final training sessions so I'll feel ready when I go to get on the plane. To me that's always the key; get on the plane knowing you have done all you can to be ready. That way you can relax and enjoy the event. Or like Kris says, "the hay is in the barn".

Tomorrow's vault day will be my short rest rotation so I will stay on small poles and try and push my technical efficiency. It's my longer running day with 8 X 100 and 8 X 50 with a sled and heavy pole. It is also my bigger lifting day with 18 reps instead of the 12 reps on the previous rotation. This should leave me healthy but pretty beat up until I jump again on Thursday.

Don Curry
I've been going out on Saturday mornings to watch my training partner, Don Curry, try to vault. I've known Don for the better part of 40 years as we grew up vaulting in each other's back yards. In 2007 we got 1st (him) and 2nd (me) in the National Senior Games in Louisville. Now we are in different age groups because I am older. I recruited him back in 2005 to help drive us both to higher levels.

Don has been plagued by over a year by what we now think is a double hernia. I had this in 1999 and wasted a year and a half with physicians trying to figure out what injury I had. Finally I went to a general surgeon and he diagnosed the hernias. Six weeks later I was 100%. The problem for Don is that the test the doctor does will not put enough stress on the area to show as a hernia. Mine did the same thing too for awhile until I finally blew it out enough that he could find it. I know he has been super frustrated with this problem so hopefully the end is near and we can get him back to regular training.

That's it for today guys and gals. Thanks for your support as always!! Bubba

Friday, September 18, 2009

Poles Catch 22, World Indoors & Final Training

I got an email from Bruce Caldwell that even though it costs only $184 to get my poles to Australia, the total bill to get them through customs both ways and back home is $1,900, or $900 more than the $1,000 I have already paid. I could almost leave them and buy new ones for the difference except that they were all specially made for me. I'm stuck. As much as I've spent I'll have to spend a little more in order to give me the best chance to succeed. The problem is Qantas will not fly poles as baggage yet my flight and hotel for six days is only $2,300, so I'm paying one way or the other. I could borrow poles but we have already committed the first $1,000 to the company so it's cheaper not to back out. Plus, who is to say the borrowed poles would be close to what I need? it's less stressful to pay the money and be done with it, so I did.

World Indoors
I have mentioned that Kamloops, British Columbia, Canada will host the World Indoors in March. We have had similar oddities there as they say that if you will be staying ANY day between March 1-4, then you must stay ALL of those days. That's just flat stupid as I don't vault until the 5th so why would I arrive or pay for the 1st? We're looking at a ski resort nearby as an alternative. It's less than half an hour away, cheaper and in nice surroundings. Could be fun.

Training Changes? Not Yet!!
I have resisted the urge to switch my lifting to next year's lifting. I'm really excited to swap out some lifts but I'm afraid I might get some type of weird soreness that might cause some little ding because of the change. Today is the third day I've had to remind myself of this fact. It takes usually 2-3 weeks to settle into a new program and that's all I have. A little ding can cost me 2-3 three weeks and that's all I have. So the verdict is to wait.

Vault Plans
I was briefly annoyed yesterday when I couldn't find my smallest 14' pole because that would mean I'm stuck at my 32' 6" run until I go. I did find it and put it back in my bag so that means I can run from 43'. In the meet I will start from 54'. I could move up to a bigger pole but what if I get a ding from trying to push my run to get on the pole? I can't risk that. If you remember from one of my earlier posts, I tend to jump high when I go to bigger poles after being on small ones because I benefit from a greater energy return and better positions. I'm counting on that. Yesterday I jumped 12' 6" from 32' 6". That should be good enough for a medal but you have to do it on that day and not during a leisurely practice.

In closing, yes its big hassle with the poles but an expense worth taking at this point. Yes I would like to get some higher level practice jumps but those poles are on their way to Oz and I can't risk injury by moving up to bigger poles. I would love to upgrade my training to the new plan but it's too late for an "experiment". So again, "patience" must be the operative attitude. As unfun as that thought is, I'll do it. Thanks for your support. Its days like these I'm really glad to be able to vent to you. This is one of the only times that I can say with joy, "at least I have my health", because I am health and injury free at the moment. Patience should keep it that way. Have a great day! Bubba

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Good Vault/Training Day, Phillip & Buddy

Pretty fun day jumping as I was able to get in 12 jumps on six poles from my 32' 6" run. I wanted to move back a little further but couldn't find my smallest 14' pole until after practice. I was able to correct some of the technical issues I have been struggling with. Basically, I dropped the hip break out of my swing and that caused the arc to stay in front longer rather than swing to the side. The longer you are behind the arc the more the pole can lift you. If it swings to the side it releases your energy forward rather than up. I got over 12' 6" (3.81m) a couple of times on my 13-180/13.5 so I was pleased as that ties my run PR.

Running bars and lifting sucked in a good way in that they were hard but not overly taxing. It feels good to be back on a schedule. It's also fun not worrying about getting hurt. I'm far enough past my injury now and I'm at a lower level which is very safe. Of course I still have to listen to my body but so far so good.

My next jump session is Sunday so I'll see what I feel like. Because it is my short rest rotation I'll stay at a lower level. It is also my longest running and lifting day. Hopefully next Thursday I'll get some jumps at 13' (3.97m) on my smallest 14' pole. I've never made 13' on that pole so that will be a good challenge. After shipping I only have one small 14' pole and my four biggest ones left at home.

Speaking of shipping, Bruce Caldwell sent me all of the stuff he has set up there. I paid him $1,000 deposit last month to make this happen after the meet organizers told me it would cost $2,300. Bruce is also the founder of XLogic Sports and the maker of my pole vault poles. Because of this he has some shipping restrictions waived so it makes is at least doable.

My Friend Phillip
As I have mentioned, Phillip is a masters vaulter who will compete in my age group. He lives in Sydney and has been a huge help in my planning. Well this morning I got an email from him that he and some other vaulters are giving me the grand tour of the Harbour area on Saturday. This is the only thing I really wanted to do and now I've got a local taking me around. I'm so grateful. I'll make up a few T-Shirts for him. BTW - that's a popular custom at world meets is to exchange T-shirts with those from other countries. At least the vaulters do it.

Final Thoughts on Buddy
This was posted yesterday on the Cleveland Plain Dealer's website by Bill Livingston, the great sports scribe. If Bill's name sounds familiar it's because he wrote the outstanding book, "Above and Beyond" about Tim Mack and rise from a kid in Cleveland to the Olympic Gold Medal. Outstanding read and two great people in Bill and Timmy! Bubba ... to_so.html

Book excerpt here - ... ovebeyond/

Patrick Swayze vaulted into some track fans' memories, too: Between The Lines blog
by Bill Livingston/Plain Dealer Reporter
Wednesday September 16, 2009, 4:50 PM

Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press
Patrick Swayze brought a dancing/acrobatic grace to his teenage years in the pole vault. CLEVELAND, Ohio -- When actor Patrick Swayze died Tuesday after a courageous fight against pancreatic cancer, movie fans, Hollywood co-workers and family friends mourned him.
So did the track and field community.

Swayze was one of several celebrities drawn to the daring sport of pole vaulting as young men. Among them were astronaut Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin; actor Robert Culp; the inventor of basketball's "triangle" offense, Tex Winter; and rock star Shannon Hoon.

"Buddy," as Swayze was called in high school in Houston, was an accomplished pole vaulter. He also ice skated, took ballet classes, and was a gymnast. All the physical grace that Swayze showed in "Ghost" and "Dirty Dancing" translated readily to sports. He was a fine athlete.

Doug "Bubba" Sparks, an elite Masters age-group competitor, was a five-time All American at Southwest Texas State (now Texas State) and a three-time national champion in the pole vault. He was also a junior high teammate of Swayze's in Houston. He wrote this tribute to the actor upon his death:

"I began vaulting at the age of 12 with the stud of our junior high school team, a future movie star, the one and only, Patrick (Buddy) Swayze. Of course we didn't know that at the time. We just knew that his mom ran "Patsy Swayze's School of Dance," that he was much more developed than us, and that he pointed his toes going over the bar. He was our hero! I mean this guy could vault like we could only dream, and looked great doing it.

"I remember that he had a bit of a temper when things didn't go exactly as he hoped. At first I was mystified but then I realized that was why he was truly better than we were. I tried to be like Buddy and promised that no matter what, I would never give up and that I would not accept failure as a permanent destination."

I feel so much better when I'm active on a daily basis so this is a nce return to normal. Thank you for being there! Bubba

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Off Day - Kind Of

Wednesdays are my "travel" days where I drive a big loop to visit face to face with clients and partners. A lot of my work is on the telephone and email around the country so today I get face to face with my local team. Because of this I make today my off day from training. Tomorrow is a long vault, run, bars and lift day so I will get a stretch in late this afternoon. Needless to say I'm pretty stiff after all of the driving and sitting.

Tomorrow I'm back to the ramp up as I return to small poles and try to get more vaults in. The running also increases and the lifting weights go up. Should be fun!! Enjoy your day! Bubba

PS - Yesterday my buddy Ken Stone at the posted about Buddy in a call to others to remember their first track heroes. Great idea Ken!! Bubba

Bubba Sparks takes mournful detour from Sydney to Swayze
By Ken Stone on September 16, 2009 1:22 AM No Comments
Yesterday's blog entry by Bubba "Heading Down Under" Sparks is a remembrance of his junior high teammate Buddy Swayze, better known as Patrick Swayze of "Ghost" and "Dirty Dancing" fame. Patrick died of cancer Sunday at age 58. Bubba writes: "I didn't know that Buddy's name was Patrick until I saw him in his first movie. Yep, THAT Patrick "Buddy" Swayze is the guy I learned how to pole vault with at Frank M. Black Jr. High School. I ran into him in Hollywood many years later by chance on the Paramount lot where I was with some friends who were actors in the Dynasty/Colby's series as they were taping the wedding show. . . . He was my first vault hero." Heroes are good. Who was your local track hero in school? Mine was hurdler Rhett Bray at Orange County's Valencia High School in 1970, my alma mater. Rhett was the Tigers' star hurdler when I was overcoming my fear of the highs. Watching him skim was a thrill.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

My First Vault Hero Dies - Buddy Swayze

I didn't know that Buddy's name was Patrick until I saw him in his first movie. Yep, THAT Patrick "Buddy" Swayze is the guy I learned how to pole vault with at Frank M. Black Jr. High School. I ran into him in Hollywood many years later by chance on the Paramount lot where I was with some friends who were actors in the Dynasty/Colby's series as they were taping the wedding show. I also saw Eddie Murphy and got to meet the nicest actor in Charlton Heston. But talking to Buddy about pole vaulting and our beginnings was pretty cool, since he was my first vault hero. Here is what I wrote on my website in 2000 about Buddy - He will be missed.

"I began vaulting at the age of 12 with the stud of our Jr. High School team, a future movie star, the one and only, Patrick (Buddy) Swayze. Of course we didn't know that at the time. We just knew that his mom ran "Patsy Swayze's School of Dance", that he was MUCH more developed than us, and that he pointed his toes going over the bar. He was our HERO! I mean this guy could vault like we could only dream, and looked great doing it. I remember that he had a bit of a temper when things didn't go exactly as he hoped. At first I was mystified but then I realized that was why he was truly better than we were. I tried to be like Buddy and promised that no matter what, I would never give up and that I would not accept failure as a permanent destination. "

Four Weeks From Today
Well, it's finally real. My emails are heating up with all types of final logistics from the event itself. You have visas and transportation, credentialing issues, etc. Fortunately our tour company handles most of this stuff for us but you have to keep a close eye on it. I've met some very nice people both here and in Oz that I'm trying to coordinate when and where we will meet. Basically I arrive Friday morning so that day will be shot with customs, hotel and credentialing. The next day I need a workout so I'll try to hit the practice track. I would also like to go to Sydney Harbour on Saturday which appears to be nearly an hour train ride. Sunday I hope to catch up with Phillip and watch his club kids vault. Monday I'm meeting Andrew to watch his coach vault and probably catching up with Alan Launder. Tuesday is the big day. Wednesday is getting packed again and getting my poles shipped out and Thursday I'm on my way home. Needless to say the advance planning is the only thing that will make this smooth enough to be fun.

Oh Yeah - My Workouts
Running today was good as is stretching. I'm bringing this up again to remind me that when I'm busy and thinking about what I might cut out it WILL NOT be stretching. Overall I feel very good and comfortable. Each practice is focused with purpose yet well within myself as far as effort goes.

I got my power adapter and compression socks yesterday and will get some new headphones today. Phillip will help me get lighter fluid if it rains so that's one less stressor as far as packing flammable liquids. Let's not forget that I work for a living so there is as much planning on what work I can do before I go and what I can do when I'm gone. Since most of my work is by email and telephone I can at least keep up with the email. Typically I plan a huge business project near a big competition so my mind is busy elsewhere.

That's it for today. Have a great day and thank you for being here!! Bubba

Monday, September 14, 2009

Strength vs. Conditioning + The Mirage

We have discussed this before but finalizing the plan for next year really broke down the training into what components are designed for strength and what components are meant for conditioning. There is a such a huge difference especially for an older athlete. If you aren't conditioned you get hurt and if you aren't strong you can't progress. I've spent a year on strength and that's what happened - I got stronger but I seemed to always be hurt. I spent a year on conditioning and made no progress. The past two years I've found a better balance but next year we're set with a complete balance in all aspects, including running and actual vaulting. I'm excited and relieved that all of this massive information exchange has finally come into focus.

The Mirage
Things are rarely as you see them and the view changes as your understanding does also. A great example is in viewing pole vault videos. I promise you that if you watch vault videos and then go out to vault that you will not do well. I don't really get it but there seems to be a disconnect between what you see and what you're trying to do. Watching video after the fact or even the day before is better. It's just too hard to go from mental to physical, for me anyway. Don visualizes everything but I do everything by feel. I've never made a bar in my life on a visualization. Something always happens and I crash badly in some extreme way. So for me, I plan for a feeling and THAT I can do pretty easily. Maybe that's why I can't watch vaulting video and then go do it. It's a mirage.

Another odd thing I've learned is that blogging is like watching video. I can't do it until my workout is done or I have no direct connect. I remember when I first started lifting again I would write down what weight I lifted after the set and then enter that into my computer later. A couple of times I wrote down the weight BEFORE I did it and that really bothered me. Strange as that seems I felt like I cheated and suddenly lost motivation to do the set I had already written down. I don't understand these feelings but I acknowledge the fact that I feel I have to earn it to write it down. That's exactly how I feel about this blog. I'm on a mission to compete well in the World Masters Games. As my buddy Ken Stone so eloquently put in the comments section of the first post, "keep your eye on the prize". The mission comes first and the writing comes second. I guess my point is I CAN'T write unless I've done the workout first. It wouldn't feel right and I would have no fresh thoughts to contribute.

Overall I'm feeling very good and looking forward to jumping Thursday. This will be my first complete week of regular training in a long time. First there was the rehab period, and then the back off period to try bigger poles, then another one before I went to see Kris on Friday. Now I'll have three full weeks of training stability. I'm very much a schedule person so I'm a lot happier and more comfortable in this training pattern. Not to mention that my body likes me better too.

That's it guys and gals. Thanks for being there. Every now and then I get a note from someone following and it reminds me that I'm being watched. There is nothing particularly special about my every day events but it does very much help me to express my thoughts and rationale during this ramp up time. So a sincere thanks again!! Bubba

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Ramping Up & the Importance of Rest

At breakfast I said to Nancy that if the meet were Saturday I'm very comfortable I would be ready. The problem is that I vault one month from today so how do I pass the time? That said, I train in cycles where I ramp up and down depending on my target meets. Vaulting with Kris Friday was a moderate target which means I backed off my training a little bit so I would feel a little more fresh. Now that is over I will go back down and ramp up again.

My point is that the training for the final month is predictable and not just going through the motions just because I'm ready today. But the fact that I am ready now makes it fun. I fully expect a big technical vault clean up, lots of sled running and PRs in all of my lifts. For example, before outdoor nationals my bench was 235 and I could do 205 X 4. Right now I'm back to easily benching 205 X 2 so I am ramping up. In another month I hope to be at 225 X 2 and 205 X 6. According to my phased ramp up I fully expect this to happen before I leave.

So I'll sit back and enjoy the process and the days will fly by faster than I expect. Speaking of which, I'm losing a day on the flight there so I need to calculate that into my rest schedule. I was thinking that I could hit a long but easy running session Wednesday before I fly out but since I arrive on Friday, I'll lose a day of what I thought would be rest. Since I vault the Tuesday after I arrive on Friday I'll need to revisit the plan for the last day and the few days before it.

Today I overcame the significant urge to go out and do something. A day off is planned or needed. I jumped at a very high level just the day before yesterday so why go out today and risk overwork when I should be getting a recovery day? Your body makes 100% of its progress during rest and sometimes it's a very difficult thing to make yourself do. I like to do something every day but this is not a smart thing today. One little flare and it will take me three weeks for it to go away. SO, I'll watch some football.

That's all for today. Have a great Sunday and thanks for your support. Bubba

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Back to the Grind With Joy

I'm comfortable in this phase because the weights go up and the reps come down so I can take a little more time between sets and focus on my stretching. Weight lifted today was 56,570 compared to 45,653 for the same day last week. My big lifts go to 3 X 5 on day one and 5,3,2 on the second day. The secondary lifts drop to 8,6 and I add 5 lb. ankle weights to all bar work. I also bump the sled up 5 lbs. and add more hundreds on the grass. I'll run three days a week going 8X100 + 8X50m/sled, 4X all and then 6 times all with the vaulting days being on the 8 and 6 rep days. This is really a very fun time because everything is quality and you're not always on the edge of exhaustion. Looking forward to it. Then when I rest for the better part of six days before the meet, I should feel magnificent on the competition day. That's typically how it breaks down.

When I met with Kris yesterday we finalized next year's game plan. I told him that I feel I'm stuck where I am until I make some physical changes so after Oz we will switch to a six days each per week running and lifting program. Basically two a days for four months. Sounds dumb but I love this part too. The hardest thing to do is to train year round if you're not excited about your training. So every year about May, Kris and I start laying out objectives and groundwork for the next year. By the time my last big meet is over I can't wait to start training for next year.

As far as big meets go I plan to jump at World Indoors in Kamloops, Canada on March 5, 2010 and then the USA Track & Field Indoor Nationals at the end of the same month in Boston. Then I will go into a 14 week high intensity sprint program. I'll skip outdoor Nationals and go on an Alaskan cruise with Nancy. In 2011 the World Outdoors will be in Sacramento and the National Senior Games will be in Houston. I will also be 58 and one of the older guys in my group, so if I don't upgrade my body to another level I may be left behind as the young bucks begin to turn 55. Long story short - I'll take a year from April to get me to the next level to be able to compete. That will also be my training base to get me ready for 2013 when I turn 60. Worlds that year are in Brazil.

This has been such a long road back but I have really enjoyed the transformation. Again, it could not happen without Kris. In 2005 after being out three years with Achilles issues, I got 3rd at Nationals with a jump of 11' 6" and won Texas Seniors with 11'. Last year I vaulted 13' 5 1/4" and won Texas Seniors with a State Record at 13' 1/4" (3.97m), so our plan is working - but we're out of bullets in that gun. Time to become a runner and a dynamic weightlifter. Should be fun.

Heading out to go buy extra cans of sticky spray for my grip. Nancy is out buying lighter fluid in case it rains. I need multiple cans hidden in my luggage because they can be confiscated because it says "Flammable" on the can. Well so is hair spray but they don't take that. I know - I have no hair but Nancy does. LOL! I use black friction tape and then spray it so my hand becomes black and sticky. In the rain that does not work so I use lighter fluid. Gotta be ready for all occasions.

The final game plan for the meet is to hit my normal meet start pole which is my first carbon fiber pole, the 16.2. It's big but a little forgiving because it has a medium slow bend. I got concerned yesterday that if I am allowed to finesse that I might be in trouble so we'll start at 55' on a pretty big pole so I will have to do some things right. I'm excited to have this decision made too.

That's it for today. Thanks for your support and have a great day!! Bubba

Friday, September 11, 2009

Safe & Sound

I guess when you're 56, get up at 4:30 AM to leave at 5:30 AM, drive 3 hours and have a bar up 1/2 hour later, you shouldn't expect to feel great. Actually I arrived at 8:40 AM and had a bar up at 9 AM. Somehow again, I felt pretty good. I vaulted at a high level but was pretty inconsistent due to being too careful on my run and moving through poles and runs real fast. Today that is an acceptable excuse as I did not want to get hurt.

I started with a good jump on a pretty good sized 14' meet start pole (17.2) from 43' at 12' but it was promptly too small. That was a surprise as it felt stiff during warm up. I couldn't quite get in enough on the next pole so I moved back to 53' and had a couple of very good jumps at 12' 6". Moved up another pole and raised the bar to 13' and took four hit and miss jumps. On the next to the last one I had about 8" of height and the video looked good so I'll take that one. Two of the four were very good. Overall I got in eight total jumps on four poles and was on my regular meet poles. I haven't used those poles since Nationals in Wisconsin on 8/8, over two months ago. Most important I did not get hurt nor feel at risk.

I'll get back to regular training now and will jump again starting at a low level next Thursday. I've got to start pushing the sled running and working on moving big poles from a close run and extending up the pole much longer. I have a lot of refinement work to do but the "heavy lifting" is done. I feel excited about the home stretch to getting ready to jump.

If the meet were today I would not have been happy with my performance. I was pleased that I could quickly make the needed adjustments from vault to vault. I think that it's actually a good thing because it is a wake up call to what might go wrong in Sydney. The run, plant and take off were very good and that's really the most important part. The top end clean up is really me just hitting the pole harder when I'm not holding back on my run. Remember when I first moved to bigger poles and had a similar day? The next day I moved in a stride and hit them harder and all was well. So back to that plan.

Whew!! Sigh! Relief!! Bubba

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Dress Rehearsal, The Jinx & Weight

It's a rainy day here so I'll be looking for a break to go load up the poles to take to my coach, Kris Allison's, tomorrow for a dress rehearsal of my game plan for the big day. Workout today is just a nice long stretch. It's about a 3.5 hour drive to his facility where I will have my last big pole session before he ships the poles to Australia. I'll vault indoors so I won't be assisted by the big tailwinds at his place since it is unlikely I will have that in Sydney.

I've said before that if I get out of tomorrow safely I'll probably be OK as far as injuries go before the big meet. This objective is easier said than done because big poles take considerably more energy to jump on. I feel comfortable that I'll stay well within my limits and not push it up too far. After all, I have vaulted on these same poles in nearly every meet this year so it's not like I have familiarity issues. At the advice of 40 year old teammate and 3 times National Masters Champ for his age group, Matt Kowalski, I will throw in the next biggest pole to the bag. I haven't vaulted on it but it's not much bigger than the one below it which I have used. Matt weighs 2 lbs. more than me and he jumped 14' (4.27m) on that pole with the grip I have taped for me, so he reasons that is the "money" pole for me if things are going well. NEVER would I have ever dreamed that at 56 years old I would be on a 14/183.

That said, the "jinx" sets in. Alan Launder emailed to remind me to get those compression socks for the flight. Nancy and I are looking for the right electrical adapters and it's been suggested that I try on the sweat suit for my USA uniform since I've never worn it. Don't have much need for a sweat suit during Texas summers but it's spring in Oz. All of these things will have to wait until I get back from Kris' tomorrow. Yep, it's a jinx. If I do all of that stuff today, sure enough, I'll strain a hamstring tomorrow and be relegated to constant worry about my health for the next month just HOPING I'll be OK.

After tomorrow my training becomes a sled and lifting grind with only minimal jumping and what jumping I do is at a very safe level. So survive tomorrow and I should be assured that I will leave healthy and strong. Folks that MUST happen. But again, it scares me. Funny that I don't take this approach in the meet itself except for warm-ups. The issue is that in a meet you are fresh and your body will let you do more, but in practice you are never really rested so high level stuff is a risk. I always hear the words of my former coach and longtime buddy and advisor, Dave Johnston (DJ), "never fails, a vaulter gets hurt within three weeks of a big meet by trying to do too much and push too hard. You will not get any stronger or faster in that time frame so focus on quality and be careful". And I will.

Because of the drive my post will be late tomorrow. I fully expect it to be a good and productive day without incident but I will report back when I get home. Have a great day! Bubba

Weight - This could be another post but I'll hit it here since I've been asked. My vault weight for meets is about 171-3, the same as when I vaulted 18' the first time. When I first started back I was out of shape so I took the weight thing too far, coming out between 162-65 in 2007. I felt weak and sometimes lightheaded. Then one day I went to vault after a huge breakfast because I could see I would get rained out if I waited. I was about five pounds heavier and I felt strong and powerful and had a great practice. At that point I decided feeling strong was more important than being a few pounds heavier than I "thought" I should be. That year I mainly jumped in the 173-75 range but this year it's dropped down to my present 171-73. I still have to watch what I eat as I approach vault days but I never feel weak. Strength to body ratio is important. Being a couple of pounds lighter puts less wear and tear on your body, makes you feel faster and the poles throw you harder. But there is always a fine balance you can work with. If I have to get on a big pole because I'm too heavy to make a certain height then I risk injury for preventable inefficiency. Hope this makes sense. Bubba

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Random Thoughts

JEEZ - seems like a lot of typing for something that's still a month away. Please don't confuse mental preparation with "paralysis by analysis". I don't just sit around and think about this competition all of the time, but I do bring up relevant concerns as they arise. The objective is to get on the plane and be able to enjoy the process and accept the results no matter what the outcome. If I do everything in my power along the way it's easier to be at peace. There have been so many disappointments at big competitions where top people inexplicably fell apart on the worst possible day and where underdogs charged forward and seized their moment in the sun. I'm all for both but it's also why I think things out so far in advance. No one likes surprises, but you will still have them no matter how well you prepare.

At the 1996 Olympic Games, my Australian buddy, Simon Arkell, arrived at the practice track in Atlanta for prelims to get on the bus to go to the Olympic track. When I arrived to see him off he was absolutely furious as someone had taken a couple of his poles out of his bag and left them out in the rain all night. We still don't know how this happened but what I saw was all of Simon's pent up energy was released over a five minute period rather than being directed to a positive performance. He told me afterward that he felt drained and it seemed like he was running through quicksand. Though he jumped very well, it was a struggle and he failed to make the Final.

You're going to get surprises so relax and let them go if you can. I've had about 15 people point out that I have the highest mark of those entered (not by much!!). That scares me because it means absolutely nothing today or on that day. I have to earn my stripes the day of the event like everyone else. Ask Sergey Bubka who nhd the 1992 Olympics, or Issy who nhd Worlds in Berlin last month, or Brad Walker, the US vaulter who was going to Berlin to defend his world title - a freak bad landing three weeks out forced him out of the Championships. HEY - I'm not even to the three week out mark yet. SO, my rule is to be afraid. Be VERY afraid and take nothing for granted. Believe it or not, it's not stressful to live this way. If anything it's comforting because I know I'm doing all I can. Then when the big day arrives we'll let the chips fall where they may.

As we approached Indoor Nationals in Landover, Maryland, there were three of us in the meet over 13' yet I won with a vault of 12'. HUH?! At Outdoor Nationals in Oshkosh, Wisconsin we had the exact same scenario and I got 3rd. Who knows why these things turn out the way they do but that's reality? I plan to hit the field with a clear mind, enjoy the experience with my fellow competitors and celebrate their success. If I have some success along the way, that would be nice but the bottom line is to be prepared so I can enjoy the experience. Have a fun day!! Bubba

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Thinking Metric

As I was running this morning I remembered that I don't have a tape measure in my gym bag that I usually take out when I vault. All places that we compete have a tape measure taped to the side of the runway so we know where our start marks are for our run down the runway. My marks starting in warm up are 22', 33', 44', 55' 66' and 77'. Most vaulters run from 80' to 100' but I don't feel I've progressed enough with my technique to control that length of run yet. Next year for sure.

The problem is in Australia these marks will be in metric and not English. SO, I'll make notes on my "Mechanical Checklist" for the conversion. To get to the next stride, (2 steps = 1 stride) I walk back 11 heel to toe steps and that seems to work. On days you feel flat or the conditions aren't good then it may be closer, and on days when conditions are good, you feel good or you're really pumped up, the mark will be back. For example, at this year's Drake Relays my 55' was at 57' meaning I was running better than usual. It is what it is on any given day so you just adjust. You train and hope to feel good but you never know. Sometimes you're just flat for no apparent reason but they still give out medals that day. Step up mentally and adjust.

The metric fun does not end there. In the US we go up 6" per height so I would start at 12', then go to 12' 6" and then 13' etc. Metrically this does not match up, nor do they go up 6" at a time, but rather 4". Here's an example; I had a girl tell me she had jumped 13' the weekend before at a pretty big meet. I told her that she actually did not and that the results would show that she vaulted 3.95m or 12' 11 1/2". What a bummer. Since there is no exact equivalent to 13' they round down to the lower height. HATE that. The solution is to request your heights in metric which is what I do. I've had three meets this year where I attempted a new American Record for my age group and each time I requested 4.14m (13' 7") rather than an English height. If there are only one or two jumpers left you can request where the bar goes next.

Just when you thought you were clear, the "standards", the uprights that hold up the crossbar, may be slid on a rail from 18" to 32" (actually 31.5") behind the stop board of the back on the plant box where you plant the pole. The best jumpers have the standards far back because that allows for the most energy to be built up.

The Math is Simple
15 cm is about 6" and 10 cm is about 4". I want my standards on 32" so 4" (10 cm) X 80 cm = 32". Again, they will raise the bar in 10 cm (4") increments instead of 15 cm (6") like we do. Because I will be sitting around for a while and may not get a run through, I will probably start at 3.60m or 11' 9 3/4". Here's the rest of my progression;
3.70m - 12' 1 1/2"
3.80m - 12' 5 1/2"
3.90m - 12' 9 1/4"
4.00m - 13' 1 1/2"
4.10m - 13' 5 1/4"
4.15m - 13' 7 1/4" (American Record is 4.13m or 13' 6 1/2")

I have all of this memorized except for my runway markers. Since I start in my warm-up very close to the box and walk back 11 heel to toe steps to my next run, then this is not so critical. I've gone to meets with no tape measure and been fine but you typically want to know where your run is so you can tell if you're in or back from normal. If I'm in I won't be so aggressive trying to get to bigger poles but if I'm back I need to be prepared that poles will be moving fast and feeling small.

That's it for today. Nothing special in my running. After my jump with Kris on Friday I'll move to using the 30 lb sled for all running. It's light enough on the dead grass that I can run a natural stride pattern but it helps me to be able to cover more ground with less effort. This equates to power on the runway where fast is not good enough. All the best and have a great day! Bubba

Monday, September 7, 2009

Lifting & Mystifying Injuries

My good friend and confidant, the late orthopedic surgeon, Glen Almquist used to tell me that if your training is injuring you and your event of choice is not, then you need to re-evaluate your training. If your event is hurting you maybe you're training is not specific enough. He also told me that you can work all body parts everyday if you do it differently. He had a way of putting it in simple terms, like "a drywaller doesn't just work two to three days a week, he finds different ways to lift the drywall so he can work every day". That's a lot how weightlifting is. Dr. Almquist would say that you have a finite ability to lift but you also have a finite need to be stronger. He said that you could pick up a calf from the day it was born and try to pick it up every day, but at some point you would no longer be able to pick up the cow. Then he would say that if you can vault 17' with a bench press of 185 and you went no higher when your bench got to 225, that you need to leave that alone and start looking for other deficits. I try to follow this advice daily.

As mentioned, vaulters are always on the edge of some little physical issue so we are constantly making training adjustments. Yesterday after lifting standing curls I felt a little back spasm as I walked away - not during the exercise itself. Weird. It was suddenly very sore and stiff to bend over and it made getting up and down difficult the rest of the day. Of course this morning it is almost gone or so I thought. I lay down to do my first bench press and clearly was alerted by a deep soreness in my lower back. So the question is, "do I lift hang cleans today as scheduled and risk further injury, or do I skip them and let the back feel better?" I chose to lift the cleans as scheduled because I felt that this was not an injury but rather a little tweak that would work itself out. Again, Dr. Almquist would say that we have to learn the difference between and injury, a ding and a tweak. If it's a tweak, the fastest way to make it better is to work the area so the muscle group can get involved in something else other than contracting uselessly and causing discomfort. The result was that my 2 set was at 155, decent for me, and it feels looser and better already.

Lifting is Love/Hate
When you vault you have no energy to lift, nor do you want to lift, nor do you think you need to. But within a week to 10 days of stopping, I'll find myself losing power on the runway and slowly moving down to smaller poles because I can no longer command the bigger poles. My buddy Dan West trains very similarly in his focus on building an overall fit and powerful body while taking the parallel course of applying the new strength and speed to pole vaulting. The only man over 60 to ever vault 13', John Altendorf only vaults. You have to figure out what works for you.

That said, I LOVE lifting. In the early and mid 80's I lifted six days a week with my great friend, Dean "The Machine" Gregory. All 5' 8" and 155 of Dean was/is intense. There were no easy days or off days. If you were Dean's training partner you were fully committed every minute of every session. A certified genius, he has the rare combination of excellent common sense as well as deeply analytical skills. When I first started vaulting again he was there and quickly became my coach because he picked up on even subtle details very quickly. My lifting right now is as close to balanced as the days I lifted with Dean. When I'm lifting I love lifting. When I'm not it's hard to go back but you have to.

In January of 2008 I had an ankle sprain and then a very disappointing performance at our indoor national meet. This made me commit to finding a way to refine my technique that would make me more efficient as I aged. The goal was to learn how to jump high on small poles since that IS the future for all of us as we age. During the process I made some discoveries that put and kept pressure on the pole rather than hitting and releasing to get into the next position. The first thing that happened was that I could jump higher on smaller poles. What also happened was I was suddenly able to use much bigger poles with very little effort. This is that leverage thing I was talking about awhile ago.

So what does this have to do with lifting? Bigger poles are like raising the weight in lifting. The first day I hit a bigger pole using this technique I strained my bicep and got some swelling and bruising. Not a good sign. Think about the sustained force when I go from a pole I use from 65' and now I can use it from 44'. The relative sustained force and return of energy, is much greater. About a month later I found myself on my 1st 14' pole from 34' and promptly blew up my tricep. After fooling around with it for four months I again strained the bicep. The writing (bruising) was on the wall, I had to start lifting arms, something I had not done since the days I lifted with Dean.

As if all of these variables weren't enough, you tend to get to a point where you can't lift certain exercises anymore. I had some back issues so I switched to a hack squat machine until I got too strong at that and it started causing patellar problems. I did tons of lunges so my toe started bothering me. I'm making major adjustments to the actual exercises 2-4 times a year.

The sets and reps are not as important as in the intensity. A very well known trainer of pro athletes who does clinics tells them stuff like, "the key to success is to do sets of 7s and 9s" and then laughs. NOTHING matters but intensity. That said, high reps to fatigue will build muscle density so I do that for my arms and hamstrings whereas less reps with more weight will build strength without bulk so that's what I do for bench, leg press, hang cleans and incline. I need strength and power in the big muscles and deep density in the smaller ones.

I get questions pretty often about my 1 RMs (one repetition max) and baselines. I'm 56 and weigh on the average of 172 each morning and my bench is 235, leg press is 345, hang clean is 175 and incline is 215. Dan West is much smaller than me yet much stronger. I wish I was as explosive as he is. Or as Gary Hunter's professor used to tell him in college, "whatever you want to do in sport, it's easier if you're stronger".

My final word about lifting and all training is "reversibility". That means how much will you fall off after what time frame? At my age it is estimated that if I do nothing for six weeks that I will lose 40% of the strength and endurance I have built. How's that for a negative motivation? It gets even worse as you age. So in our case, staying the same is actually improving. That's one way to look at it. As a result I train all year every year. It's a way of life and allows me to keep moving forward when others may be talking time off.

That's it for today. Everything I wrote today I learned the hard way. That's what I tell the kids at the high school, "I've already made every mistake you will ever make in your vaulitng career so that you don't have to". Hopefully you might be able to use a few of these things or even suggest some new ones to me. I know nothing but WE know everything. Thanks so much! Bubba

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Fear of Failure But Not of Success

As you will read later, the title says it all for the homestretch - with the addition of "DON'T get hurt".

I'm a little beat up from yesterday's vault day but not too bad. Well not as bad as the last time I jumped on bigger poles. I know it sounds dumb but my lifting and bars this morning actually help me to recover faster. I've got to get back to stretching right after I vault because I am too stiff today. Yesterday it just wasn't possible as I was dealing with the AC guy. Yep - it's in and working but the house got up to 89 before he switched it on at 4 PM, dropped to 78 by bedtime and 72 by the middle of the night. Back to normal finally.

I emailed Phillip in Sydney to get his take on conditions at 3 PM and he feels that is pretty favorable for us. He says the wind usually swings back around to the east by then and that is a tail wind. That would be nice. If they have us jump with the M60 group then I also have my longtime friend, Tom Rauscher, jumping with me so that we can help each other. We are the last group to vault for the whole meet.

The unknown question is whether we will get a "run through" before we start jumping. In USA Track & Field, if you have not entered the competition within an hour of the start, you can come down the runway and do a take off with no bar. This is called a "run through". I start at 12' and our competition will begin with the early vaulters attempting 8'. I will "pass" all heights until 12'. Each person gets three attempts at each height so by the time they get to 12' it may be two+ hours of sitting. OUCH!! Internationally they don't allow this but Phillip says he sees it happening for us old guys.

Why would this be important? If you have ever gone out and done any type of strenuous activity and then come in and sat down for awhile, chances are when you went to get up you were very stiff and sore. Well we feel like that or worse after sitting for a long time after our warm up, and now we have to make meaningful high level vaults. SO, if we get a run through I'll start on big poles and if we don't I'll start on small ones. I'm comfortable doing either but of course would prefer the run through. That one practice jump fires everything back up so you don't waste real vaults in the meet trying to get warmed up again. Strategically if two guys jump the same height and one makes it on his first attempt and the other makes it on his second attempt, the guy who made it first wins. A BIG reason a run through is helpful.

It's the Real Thing - Almost
I said that once it gets inside of four weeks that it would start feeling real. I leave three weeks from Wednesday and compete four weeks from Tuesday so after I jump with Kris next Friday it will be very real. Having gotten over 13' (3.97m) yesterday makes it easier to be patient. The American Record is only 6" higher and I'm still on small poles and short runs. The point is that there is no reason to push or rush anything. Going in where I am now is better than limping in because I was looking for some last minute edge. Clean up the technical issues on small poles and don't get hurt. I keep saying this to remind me that this is my only goal at this point.

At breakfast this morning I told Nancy that even though I had a very good high level day yesterday, that I have had at least 15 vivid thoughts of nh'ng or "no height", which means I didn't clear my opening height so I get a zero. I mentioned to you guys early on that this is a recurring theme for all vaulters - fear of failure. Warped is a group who follows a good day with many thoughts of failure. On the big day this will turn to sharp focus to avoid all of the scenarios I've envisioned. I simply make a "mechanical checklist", based on fears and tendencies, and make myself do one thing right per jump. When that happens twice I get to go to the next thing on the list. As dumb as that sounds, it takes a scattered and frightful mind and devotes that random energy on doing one thing right and THAT is a relief. Hard to worry about 10 things going wrong when your only focus is to do one thing right. It's very calming and liberating when you need it most. BTW - I will post my mechanical checklist here a day or two before the meet. Have a great day. Bubba

PS - Milestones
Since the start of this blog my total weight lifted went over 300,000 pounds (316,297) with today's workout. More important, since I returned to training on New Years Day of 2005, I have now gone over 13 million pounds lifted at 13,002,503. Two nice benchmarks in one session. If it's worth doing it's worth recording. I often go back to see what I was doing when things were going well or what I did to get out of ruts. All the best.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

This Just In - The Schedule - PM Addition

Sorry for two posts today but this one is an important addition. Tonight I also added the full vault schedule at the end.

The schedule is up and it appears I vault at 3 PM Sydney time on Tuesday, October 13. That's midnight in Texas. Oil well as we say. Here's the final, final list;

Bruce Arnold - Australia
Phil Carrero - Australia
Grant Chapman - Australia
Henry Charrois - Canada
Sergey Klimov - Kazakhstan
Jerry Moylan - United States Of America
Bubba Sparks - United States Of America
Richard Watson - United States Of America
Allan Williams - United Kingdom
Wills - Australia

I don't know who but it seems like 1 or 2 were added from the 8/31 list. Since entries closed that day I'm assuming this is the final field.

In a strange twist we are scheduled to vault with the M60-64. I don't know if they jump at the same time with us or on a different pit. If it's on our pit then we have these additions to give us 18 total vaulters;

Geoff Atkins - Canada
Tom Barber - Australia
Michael D'Lecki - Australia
Sven Donaldson - Canada
Tomlinson Rauscher - United States Of America
Francis Rosique - France
Normando Cesar - Brazil
Anders Tollstern - Sweden

Math Whiz?
Somebody noticed that my flex numbers went bigger when I went to my 14' poles from my 13' poles and wanted to know why, since earlier I stated that the bigger the number the weaker the pole. GREAT EYE!! For every 6" in pole length there is a relative difference of 2.1 flex point to be the same pole, so going from a 13' pole to a 14' pole is 4.2 flex points. Hence a 13', 13.5 flex is similar to a 14', 17.7 flex. My first 14' pole is a 17.5 so it is .2 stiffer than my biggest 13' pole. WOW!! Can't believe you guys caught that and figured that it had something to do with the scaling system for different lengths of poles. Impressive!! Bubba

Sunday – 10/11
9:00am Male 65-69
12:35pm Female 50+

Monday – 10/12
9:00am Male 70+
2:00pm Female 30-49

Tuesday – 10/13
9:00am Male 30-44
11:00am Male 45-49
1:00pm Male 50-54
3:00pm Male 55-64

Patience & Caution Rewarded

If you remember, I didn't vault on my last scheduled day because of an odd feeling in my right hamstring. As mentioned, right handed vaulters hurt their left hamstrings, not the right so I didn't think it was a big deal. I just didn't want to take the risk so I skipped the jump session. Today I came out and felt relatively good so I took a calculated risk and did no warm up. I know that sounds completely contrary but I was running late because I had to open the house up for the guys to install the new AC. Don was already there and then Gary Scheffe showed up so I needed to get going. I think my warm up consisted of jogging down and asking Don about what pole and run I should start on. We decided to start on my smallest 13' foot pole and warm up on the runway as opposed to the grass, which I rarely do. I don't know why but it sounded fun. Maybe it's because of the low pressure of a small pole plus the promise of more vaults. Whatever, it worked today.

In total I took 10 jumps on eight different poles. Normally I'll get through 4-6 poles in practice so this was really a different type of day. Technically, starting on the smaller poles also allowed me to work on the problem issues I was concerned about. I made 11' on the 4m/15.5/176, then 12' on the 14.7 and tried 12' 6" once on the 14.3 but it was too small, all from 32' 6". I moved to 42' 6" and went to my first 14' pole and had a decent jump but it was too small. This is the pole that I ended the last practice on. I moved up to the 17.2 and made it on the first jump. This is my short run start pole for a meet if the conditions are bad. I normally start at 12' so to make 12' 6" on it today at the same run I would use in a meet was a nice confidence builder. I moved the bar to 13', my run back to 53' and up to the 17.0. On the 2nd vault I brushed it a little on the way down after clearing with decent height. I stopped right there and was again very grateful to be uninjured.

The lesson of the day was patience. Take care of the technical aspects and don't get in a hurry. Don kept bugging me to extend a phase that I was rushing. He was exactly right but sometimes when you're doing it the timing lies to you. The feeling is that you are behind in getting to a position whereas in reality, I'm there too quick and lose a ton of energy. I had a great practice with no hints of pain or any type of injury or ding. I 100% credit Don for his guidance today from the warm up on small poles, to jumping on every pole rather than skipping poles, to executing each position completely rather than rushing to the next phase. Don was the man today. I'll take these lessons and reminders with me to Oz.

Physically I felt like I was jogging down the runway and then executing a sound technical jump. The intent was to not have to run hard, yet I kept moving to bigger and bigger poles. I'm still two poles down from my big meet start pole but that's OK for today. That's it for jump days until I see Kris on Friday.

Don also got with me to make the final decisions on what poles to ship to Oz. We made one change in adding the pole I got over 13' on today. Even though I normally skip that pole it may work out if the conditions are bad. So I have seven poles total - three glass poles and four carbon fiber poles. Basically it's a small pole series of three poles, a mid/transition pole, and three regular meet big poles. The bag is packed and everything fit. I have room for one more pole but I don't feel the need as I think I'm covered for all conditions.

I feel pleased for today and a little relieved. I had no intention of moving to bigger poles or longer runs but it was comfortable and well within my physical abilities minus maybe 10-15%. I'll hit the big poles with Kris and then back down to the small ones again for technical clean up and to avoid injury. When I walk away from Kris' I need to feel like I do today - healthy. That's my only goal. I'm writing that here and now as a reminder. NOTHING is more important than leaving that high level session uninjured, even if I don't have a good session. Then there will be a HUGE sigh of relief. At that point the hay is in the barn. There will be nothing I can do to get stronger or faster in the next 3.5 weeks that would be worth the risk or injury, so back off and enjoy the small pole stuff and some quality training. Think back to August and September of last year when I was grinding away think about Australia. The pages on the calendar keep flying by and in no time it will be over. For right now, pay attention to detail, stay focused and don't take risks. Thanks again everyone!! Have a great Labor Day weekend! Bubba

Friday, September 4, 2009

Pole Shipping & A Few Thanks

Today is a light stretch day as I'll jump tomorrow. Since I switched my leg lift day to my running/jumping day I've had a day off every three days. Normally I lift legs the day after I vault and then lift upper the next day and then repeat. I switched it to be a little more fresh on vault days but so far I can't see much difference. I'll switch back tomorrow as I will vault Saturday, lift legs Sunday, upper Monday, easy stride Wednesday and jump with Kris on Friday. The poles will be shipped to Australia from his place on that day. As a pole dealer he has a commercial account so he can ship much easier and cheaper than we ever could.

We always ship our poles to meets through Kris. They arrive right at the stadium and you don't have to hassle with them at the airport or when you arrive. We usually have 3-5 people's poles in two bags so we split it equally which is far less expensive than if you took them on the plane yourself. Typically we send them a week in advance so they arrive at the venue a few days before we get on the plane.

Shipping to Oz is different because of tariffs on the way back in. No wonder we can't compete globally when it's cheap to export but complicated and expensive to import. We were quoted $2,100 by the shipper to get my poles to Australia. Bruce Caldwell of Essx, my pole maker, ships poles around the world so he has some clout. I've got $321 on the way out and I think just under $600 to come back. Having your own poles is a big deal but of they don't make it I have back up through Alan Launder. Obviously if they don't make it we don't pay so it's a fair trade off.

It takes a team for every athlete to be successful whether it is little league or pro athletes. We are no different and it all starts at home. My wife Nancy, didn't grow up around athletes but is a huge sports fan and very supportive. I'm not one of those guys who has a bad day and brings it home. There will be bad days, injuries and disappointments and that's just part of the deal. I certainly have no right to burden someone else with these issues or ruin their day over something so trivial.

As stated I have been on the business side of healthcare for 22 years. During my eight years of working on Wall Street, my mentor, a man who represented companies for 45 years, who's brother in law was the head of CBS at the time, etc., gave me some great advice. Like the scene in Dustin Hoffman's breakout movie, "The Graduate", the magic word for the future was "plastics". For me it was "healthcare". My mentor told me in 1987 that between 2007-10 that there would be the largest demand for healthcare services in history as the baby boomers matured to Medicare age in what was to be called the "Graying of America". They would need skilled business people to help in those volatile times. I took his advice and got involved in the physical therapy business. That has evolved into owning, running, starting, managing many clinics for myself, partners, physicians and therapists around the country.

My partner, Sam Fontenot, has been a PT for 38 years and is the first person I go to when I have an injury or a ding. I also depend on Bruce Forsyth in College Station, Tom Dalonzo Baker in North Carolina and Randall Fukuji in Honolulu. My point man as a physician is Earl "Butch" Martin Jr., who is in constant contact with me about any and every little ding or sign of weakness that comes up. If he can't do it he directs me on to a specialist. THE man that figured out the calcifications and how to work around them without surgery is orthopedic specialist, Scott Rand, MD. I had a tricep strain and a horrible tendonitis cause by what looked like bone spurs. What it really was is bone growing within my tendon. He shot it with cortisone and then told me how to work around it but still get the same training results. I would be lost without these guys and I'm thrilled to also call them my friends.

The Woodlands High School has the #1 athletic program in the US according to ESPN. We have a great community and a super deep talent level of coaches in all sports at that school. Mark Schmid is the AD and the Principal is Greg Colschen. Mark is a great football coach but he also coached the school record vaulter at 16" 1 1/4". Those two allowed me to form a USA Track & Field club there. USATF provides liability insurance covering the high school so we can practice there. The school has an outstanding vault coach in Robbie Dueitt, one of my very best friends and favorite people. When he's in football I take over the kids and when he comes back I do whatever he needs me to do. It's a wonderful cooperative effort. Of course this could not have happened without the legend track and cross country coach, Dan Green, who just retired. Coach Green is an amazing individual and his success is untouched over the 30 years he was the coach. He allowed me to join his program as a volunteer when he knew he had a great coach already. He didn't have to do that and it turned out well since I'm so close to Robbie. Coach Green's son, Juris has just taken over the program and my initial reaction to watching him work with the kids is that we are in for another 30 years of success under the Green leadership.

The "unsung hero" of our group is Charlie Bier, the editor of our local paper, The Villager. He took an interest in the vault and began covering it himself rather than sending out his sports guy. He promotes our events and keeps the community up to speed on the progress of the vaulters and vault programs. It's hard to get that type of support from anyone, much less the top dog, the editor. We are greatly appreciative of his efforts as it draws in new kids and creates interest. He's also been known to get a photo or two in the paper of a kid with his medal from a big meet. Thanks Charlie!!

Finally, thanks again to you guys and gals who are along for the ride. I thought about yesterday how it would go if crash and burn in Australia after all of this build up. One thing you should know by now is that I will tell you exactly how I feel whether it's good or bad. In my mind I've been preparing for this for a year since I determined this would be my big target for 2009. All year long I have adjusted planning to keep in mind that I have to be at my best in October. That's pretty strange since our outdoor national meet is normally the first week of August. So far so good so thanks again. I'm sure I will tell you this may more times. I say it when I think it so I must think it often. It's good to be grateful and I am.

That's it for today. A little more behind the scenes than usual because it's basically an off day from training. Vault tomorrow - Yahooooooooo!! Bubba

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Optimism vs. Pessimism & Other Tangents

Funny how I always expect the best/most out of myself but sometimes have very little confidence in the dedication of certain others. Our AC went out and though we have a maintenance agreement with a contractor for the home warranty company, they can't find the part. Of course the AC company has it in stock but the home warranty company doesn't have an agreement with them for that. So I wait while they search and await delivery of this humongous AC unit when the people who are going to install it have a whole stack of them in their warehouse. BTW - I don't want to be out of my house until the Tuesday after Labor Day so both entities are getting a lesson in customer based logic from me. Of course I'm nice about it but the solution seems so obvious. What they are looking for is in the garage of the people who will install it.

This ranks right up there with the Houston Astros having an 8-1 lead in the 5th inning and both Nancy and I look at each other and say that isn't enough. The Astros are very capable of blowing that lead. Or the Texans who were ahead of Indianapolis 28-7 with just under five minutes left and lost. We expect them to blow it and we're surprised when they don't. They seem to do just enough to get us interested and then fall apart when it really matters.

I say this because it skews my own reality. I've got a huge competition and four weeks from today I will be in the air going to Australia and I feel totally comfortable that I will be healthy and perform well. Foolish!! I haven't been near my main meet poles since early August because of an injury and, as a precaution, I'm pretty afraid to do so. Yet in my mind I'll just show up and things will be fine - because they always are if I arrive healthy, which I almost always do.

I'll jump at Kris' in New Braunfels next Friday and there I'll hit the bottom end of my smallest meet poles. If I survive that I should be OK. If not I've got 3 1/2 weeks to recover and may not have small enough poles in the bag that I'm shipping. The bottom line is I will be more than careful and take the minimum number of jumps to feel ready, then it's back to the safety of smaller poles in training.

As you can see, I sure have no confidence in today's customer service, the Astros or the Texans. To me that's strange because if you look at this on paper, I am easily the one you should have no confidence in, yet I feel good about where I am at this stage of preparations. Seems stupid but that's my reality. Sorry for the ramble but this is the question that haunted me through today's lifting in the hot garage. BTW - It was great to have an extended stretching session again and I feel absolutely nothing from yesterday.

Still no schedule but at least now I have a link where we always know what time it is in Sydney.
Right now it's 11:03 AM Thursday here and 2:03 AM Friday there. I remember when Simon Arkell got his first 19' jump he called me from Oz and it was 1:30 in the morning for him yet early afternoon in California. That's why I want to see the schedule. I don't want to be calling Nancy at 3 AM her time with a meet report.

I'm just a schedule guy. I feel more productive if I know it and control it to the level that I can. Sure it changes all of the time but at least I started with some idea of what is was going to be. Any semblance of order has been totally gone this week yet I'm still getting my stuff done in all categories. It's just a little more STRESSFUL!! Thanks for being there. Bubba