Friday, December 31, 2010

Last Day of the Year

Hope everyone has a safe and Happy New Year. For my last day I got over to the track early and packed up the poles for tomorrow as it is supposed to rain soon. Gary will meet me at 5:30 AM and we will pick up Don at 6 and be on the runway for warm-up by 9.

This morning was 71 again but we're expecting more rain and some cooler weather. Nice long stretch again. Sweating during the stretch session on New Years Eve is a great way to spend the winter. I know many of you are buried in snow, but most of you also have indoor places to train. For the next few months we expect the usual mid 30' to mid 40's and rain or 20s and clear with high winds. Not very fun for vaulting.

I bring this up because I have not jumped in practice except for once since this little chain of meets that started on November 20. It's been too cold or wet outside to practice yet these are all indoor meets. The fact that they are all spaced two weeks apart is the other reason. Of course I would rather jump once in between but it won't kill my technique not to.

PLEASE be careful and enjoy your weekend. Four weeks from today we are in Reno!! Bubba

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Weird Weather

Supposed to clear up but it never did. The overcast left it wet but the hills weren't flooded. Ran 4 X 50m sleds and felt decent considering I'm a day late. Built up slow and was at a decent speed on the last one. Long stretch felt good too. I think the high today was 70 with a low of 64 so I'm digging that for nearly January 1.

I know a lot of people have this as a pretty easy week but I work with a lot of doctors and financial people in my business and this week they actually have time to talk so I've been a little swamped. Sorry for my delays posting here but I should get back to reality.

Hope you have a safe and happy new years eve. More soon. Bubba

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

I'm Trying

I've waited the entire day out to try and get my 6 X 50m hill/sleds in but the rain won't stop. Hate to do it tomorrow but I have no choice or I will come into Saturday's meet flat. I guess I'll run 4-5 at a slower pace and do a real long stretch. I sat out there for a long time waiting for a break but right before I would get out of the car there would be a huge crack of thunder. Oh well. Have a great day!! Bubba

Monday, December 27, 2010

Preparation Continues

I saw the start list today for the masters division at Belton (near Austin) this Saturday. We have 10 guys and we start at 10 AM. The good news is that I don't have to get on the road to driving there until about 5:30 AM. Some of these meets closer to Dallas we have gone up on the night before because we would have to leave at 2 AM for a 9 AM start. SO, it's not as bad as it sounds.

Good lift and stretch this morning. Supposed to have rain for part of the next three days. Of course I only care about Wednesday when I need to run my hill/sleds. Hopefully it will be warm and dry in the afternoon when I get back from my local/regional travel day.

Not much else to report. I feel good so that's a good sign. I'm working through what I need to change technically and feel I will be able to do that too. More as we go. Thanks for being here! Bubba

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Tough Lift Day - Crossed 17 Million Pounds Lifted

Since January 1, 2005 through today I have lifted 17,032,599 and done 11,413 high bar exercises with ankle weights. WOW - apparently the days you just show up will add up just like the days we miss.

Being five weeks out from Reno I'm cycling back around to strength endurance and MAN that sucks more than a little after you have gotten away from it. On my long day I lift 18 reps and on my short day I lift 12. So at this stage that can be 1 X 18 (like today) or 1 X 12 + 1 X 6. In the heavier days I'll go 8,6,4 and maybe before that I was at 3 X 6. In any case it sucked on one hand but felt good to be working that way on the other.

My legs feels pretty fresh and I was strong on my lifts. After 8 X 50m hill/sleds on Wednesday I skipped yesterday because I didn't want a relapse of my cold. I feel better today and will hit 6 X 50m hill/sled on Wednesday and be ready for Belton on Saturday. When I'm in the middle of hardcore training I still feel pretty beat up through Wednesday before the meet so I'm happy to feel decent today. NOW - STRETCH and don't skimp on it!!

It's 29 this morning and tomorrow is supposed to be a little colder. This year I've figured out the garage heating situation so it's tolerable. Good thing because that's where I am in the morning.

Hope you have a great Sunday. I sincerely want to thank you so much for your support. It means a lot to have you here and as my sounding board. All the best to you!! Bubba

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas!!

I hope you have all had a great day with your families!! Be happy, warm and safe!!

WOW!! Got a lot of feedback yesterday about my health situation. Thanks so much!! YES, it's VERY hard to train this hard knowing it only goes so far and it will only get worse. I'm fine with it. You get what you come with and do the best with what you have.

In a rare strike of maturity I decided not to work out today. I was supposed to do 10 X 50m hill/sleds and an upper lift in my garage. I was really torn but came to the conclusion I didn't need to get sick again. I was just telling Nancy how run down I have been this whole week from jumping sick last weekend, and then sure enough, I started coughing again and feeling my throat. It was 40 and drizzling so I decided to bail. HATE that but I think it's in my best short term interest with a meet next Saturday.

Have a great Christmas evening and thanks for being here! Bubba

Friday, December 24, 2010

Mini Rant!! My Health Problem

At the awards introduction at my last meet, a masters vaulter asked me something about drug testing. Then he asked me if they drug tested in Sydney. Then he asked if I was drug tested in Sydney. It didn't really bother me at the time because it wasn't like an attack but more of a question about competing in big meets. As the questions went along I understood he was basically accusing me of cheating. You will read below how preposterous that is. I was a little baffled by this but I explained the best I could;
  • As reported on my blog, the World Masters Games in Sydney required your consent to drug test as a condition of entry. All big meets do and everyone knows it. I've been in a ton of big meets and have been drug tested four times. Not a big deal.
  • When you picked up your package in Sydney you signed again saying that you agreed to be drug tested.
  • When you checked in at the venue you signed yet another form saying you agreed to be tested.
  • As you left the field you passed through drug testing where they pulled random athletes who had earned medals. I was not selected but certainly would be happy to be tested.
After I explained this I said that I more consider myself to be "desire tested". When he asked what that meant I told him that starting on January 1, 2005, I had been training 5-7 days, including 4-6 lifting days, each and every week with no off season because I wanted to be a better pole vaulter. This morning I just crossed over 17 million pounds lifted in that time frame, almost six years. I told him that even that was no guarantee I would get better but it certainly would make me look like I work out. So maybe the drug testing question is really a compliment? I doubt it. The funny thing is when I saw him I thought how good he looked; like he had really been working out. Never crossed my mind HE might be on drugs, plus I really don't care, I just take care of me.

Here's the irony and only a very few people (Nancy, Kris, Don & Dean) know this before I'm telling you. I have a low testosterone problem. The acceptable range for a total testosterone reading is 500-800 and the average for a 55 year old is 550. In 2008 I was tested at 175 and today I am at 135. So if I DON'T train they way I do, I can't even stay where I am. If I had a 550 I'd probably look like a bodybuilder and jump 15' (4.60m) but I don't and can't. That's life.

I'm currently seeking a Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUE) to supplement my testosterone to put me on a level playing field with everyone else because right now I am severely handicapped. I doubt it will be approved. A 41 year old on the PGA tour just had a suspension overturned and he was given a TUE for a similar issue. If it is approved we hope to get me to 350, still far below average, but better than where I am now. My physician team says that it is unlikely I could get above 350 and as time goes by it will continue to decrease no matter what we do. My point is that even if I was approved I can't test positive because I can't even get close to normal levels with or without help.

So think about that when you hear that I'm grinding away training. Don't think for a second that in the back of my mind I'm not being told that no matter what I do will eventually do me no good as I will be stopped by the lack of ability to grow or maintain muscle mass. I can't possibly express to you how demoralizing and hard that is to get past as I attempt to put forth my best effort each day.

I thought long and hard about bringing this up but I thought this is a good time to get it out there. The deck is truly stacked against me and getting worse, but I continue to do the best I can. Hey, it's severe male menopause; not death. I have no idea how my mind allows me to train like I do because from time to time it flat out kills my spirit. Have a great day and thanks for being here! Bubba

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Goals & Mixed Signals

I had a friend a few years ago who I was helping at a meet at Texas A&M University. Huge tailwind, feels great, big pole, ties his PR of 17' 8 1/2" (5.40m) and moves to 18' 1/2" (5.50m) and up a pole. Sounds good but his year is over. Why? His standards were already at 40cm (16") and now they need to come in again. He's at the end of his present ability. He can't get in enough on the next pole to turn up to complete a jump yet everything else is perfect. Sorry but that's it for this year. Go back to work and come back next year with an upgraded body and technique because this is the end of the road for this year. Present potential reached.

I felt this way a little bit when I looked at my video from last weekend. But then it hit me, this is my 2nd meet on these poles and I have already jumped higher on smaller ones in the same series than I have in those two meets. I have tons of height on every jump and with a little clean up I will move through to the next bigger poles and start leaving higher bars up. My standards are on 80cm (31.5") and two weeks before that pole was a little too small. Basically I'm way ahead of myself by feeling discouraged. I have three more poles and another stride or two to get through, and my little technique clean ups will give me even more blow off the top of the pole.

My goal is to jump 14' (4.27m) this year. To do that I have to clear the lower heights by more as I progress through poles far more quickly than I do in practice. I've made 13' (3.97m) on pole #2 from 10 steps yet I was on pole #4 attempting it in the meet. Lots of height but nicked it on the way down on my best jump not on video. That means 13' 6" from 12 steps, which is clearly going to happen from the video. That gives me 14' from 14 steps but my plan is to get to 16 steps.

So, I need to show patience. I'm on track. I'm not at the end of my year in December. Back to work - I can get much more powerful and faster over the next seven months. Thanks for being here. Another odd topic for tomorrow. Bubba

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

First Day Back to Training

I finally felt good enough to exercise so I went to the track and did my 8 X 50m sled/hill runs. I didn't take my gym bag because I didn't want to talk myself into vaulting. I guess it is more like I didn't want to have to try and talk myself OUT of vaulting. Everything feels good and healthy but having been sick and had no activity since the meet Saturday, I thought I might be at risk trying to jump from 8 steps on the 14' 7s (4.45m), which would be my only reason to vault.

The technical things I want to change are more a state of mind and are a one session fix so I've decided that I will just do that at the meet in Belton (near Austin) on January 1. The important thing is to feel good that day. Surprisingly I was able to run the sled/hills pretty hard today without much effort. Well, except for the shortness of breath that comes with an 80 degree December day. Yep, weird weather. On Christmas, my next big running day, it will be 39-52, but this morning it was already 77 by 9 AM. I'll take that all winter but of course it will soon change to cold and wet.

More stuff soon. Have a great day and thanks for being here! Bubba

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Coming Around - Entered NSG

The jury will be out on jumping tomorrow until I get warmed up. My guess is 50/50 since I have been sick and have not done one thing since my meet on Saturday. I won't take a chance if it doesn't feel right.

I entered the National Senior Games today. I jump here in Houston on June 20, 2011. That will be my main target meet at this point. I have the World Masters Championships a few weeks later in Sacramento and I'm hoping for the best there. The fact is that I am in the middle of a couple of big work projects that could possibly cause a relocation about that time. I'll train like I'm going and figure it out when I get closer. These things drag out so it could be never or it could be in a month. Nevertheless, it takes up a lot of my time right now so the only one I'm positive of is the one in my own hometown.

Got a meet in Belton (near Austin) on 1/1/11 that I'm looking forward to. Last year I jumped 13' 1" (3.99m) and had a good attempt at the American Record of 13' 7" (4.14m). I feel I'm ready so it's important to be safe tomorrow and feel good for that meet.

I'll report back tomorrow and have some more info on other things that have been on my mind. Thank you for being here with me! Bubba

Monday, December 20, 2010


I knew it the night before I jumped but what are you going to do? They still have the meet and the results page doesn't say that you were weak and sick. I battled through it but I paid the price with this raging cold. Slept most of the day yesterday and feel maybe 20% better today. I sure expected to feel better than that by now.

I was going to stretch this morning just to shake off the meet but have decided that rolling around on a mat on my cold garage is probably not a wise decision so I'll pass. The plan right now is to go out Wednesday and warm up and see if I feel like vaulting. If not I'll just resume normal training and wait until me meet on January 1.

Looking back, the pole I was coming up a little short on at 13' was too small for me two weeks before, so like it or not, I guess I was weaker from the cold. Dang it! I thought I had blocked that out.

Looking at the video I can see I'm right on the edge of a breakthrough. I hate jumping under 13' and how will I get to 14' if I'm having this issue? Well, it's all in the timing. The answer is jumping on the poles one stride closer. Now that I know how they all feel that will be my mission. That's exactly how I made my last breakthrough when I got to 14' 1" (4.30m) poles. We will see how it goes but I'm real optimistic that if I can jump on Wednesday I will close the gap between where I am and where I am going. How?

Technically, I need to put more solid and dynamic pressure on my hands earlier. Next, I need to force my hands forward while NOT breaking at the hips is order to make the pole roll away. That is a one practice fix and once I have it, I can call on it any time. What I have done is depended more on a longer run and my speed, which I needed to incorporate anyway. Getting the best of both worlds will happen soon.

Thanks for being here and have a great day! Bubba

Sunday, December 19, 2010


Paying the price for jumping yesterday as I am very sick with a horrible cold. I pretty much figured that would be the case. Obviously I'm not training today so that changes my week. I think I'll do some easy sleds tomorrow and then try and jump Wednesday. If I can start jumping on smallest 14' 7 (4.45m) poles from eight steps instead of 10, I think I will get my timing down quicker to get more out of the poles. No injuries or dings from yesterday so I'm comfortable jumping a practice this week. Plus our weather is supposed to be warm mid-week.

Another thing different for me is that I have been starting at 11' 6" (3.51m) rather than 12' (3.66m). I'm doing this so that I have a chance to work my way through some poles and run approaches before the jumps really count much. So right now I go at 11' 6" from 10 steps on the 15.8; 12' from the same run on the 15.4; 12' 6" (3.81m) from 12 steps on the 15.1 and then 13' (3.96m) on the 14.9 or 14.8. That leaves me two more poles to get to from 14 steps. I think I'm set.

A couple of years ago I got tired of not jumping 12' and having my result be 11' 6" so I decided the best way to make that go away was to never jump at 11' 6", so I just pass until 12'. The problem with that is that I have been sitting around a really long time and it's hard to get going again at a high level that quickly. Even worse, the next height, 12' 6" requires an even bigger pole so I think this is a better plan for my body and a way to progress though poles and runs. Let me correct that - I could make the next height easily on almost any pole, yet I like to move up poles one height before I need to as it gives me a margin of error. In warm up yesterday I jumped 13' on my smallest pole but when I got to that height in the meet I was five poles bigger. That's OK as it is part of the fine tuning process. I can't worry about the height I am on as I need to know I can make the next height too - so I move up early.

Flex numbers on the 14' 7"s have been measured also as 14' 1" (4.30m) poles so I can equate them to the poles I jumped on before. So in Sydney I won World Masters Games on a 15.7 and in Belton I jumped 13' 1" on a 15.4. Now when I get to 13'+ I'm on at least a 14.9 or 14.8 which is a much bigger pole. Once I have the timing a little better I should start putting up bigger heights. Clearly I'm higher in the air on these poles but harnessing that energy and directing it where I want is the immediate goal.

I'm not happy being under 13' but on the other hand, it's not because I don't have the height. I just need to dial in my jump on these poles. All the best and have a fun day! Thanks for being here! Bubba

Saturday, December 18, 2010

OK Day

I'm sick as a dog with this cold but tried to block it out and jump. Physically I felt good but my head was miserable and I was a little short of breath and dizzy. I cleared 12' 6" / 3.81m as you see below. Starting to come together with the pole timing. I would like to get a practice day in this next week since nothing is hurt or dinged. I'll play it by ear but not jumping was a good plan to this meet.

A couple of jumps here but you can see four clean videos which you can pause and advance frame by frame here -
Heights are 11' 6" (3.51m), 12' (3.66m), 12' 6" (3.81m) & 13' 1/4" (3.97m)

Here's is my worst attempt at 13' 1/4" / 3.97m. Missing the top a bit but once I get in a little deeper on that pole I think I will get launched. The poles react very good so I just need to get used to them.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Meet Tomorrow

Our indoor meet tomorrow in Granbury, Texas, near Dallas-Fort Worth, is put on by Club Altius. It's a great event and this year will have three runways with the vaulting starting at 8 AM tomorrow and probably will go until about 10 PM. Tonight there is a clinic featuring two Olympians, Erica Bartolina and April Steiner-Bennett. Super girls and athletes.

I started getting a little bit of a cold and through the night was fairly miserable through sinus and throat. I don't feel physically weak so I'm going on the assumption I'll be fine tomorrow.

It's about 4.5 hours driving and we will all see each other at the meet hotel, drop poles at the facility and get some rest. That area of Texas has a few facilities like this that are indoor football training facilities complete with padded AstroTurf. Really an awesome set up to jump at. More from the scene when we get there. Have a great day and thank you for hanging here with me. Bubba

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Heading Out Tomorrow

Good stretch day today, got the poles, halfway packed and heading out in the morning. More soon. Bubba

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

OUCH!! Maybe!

Yesterday I lifted arms and shoulders and it KILLED. I've just added this back in to protect against injuries as I hit bigger poles. OK strength but ZERO endurance.

And if that is not enough, I carried my guitar amp in its box from the back of Best Buy to my car, over 100 yards, and all night I could feel the throbbing in the glute/hip thing. Hopefully that passes but it certainly woke up the nerve pain.

My physician says I just need to do the stuff I do and ignore it. Last time I did that I was on big poles and it actually jerked the hip free and it was a great relief. Hoping that happens on Saturday.

Today is my road day but I will do sled/hills this afternoon and then get a big stretch in. More soon. Thank you for being here! Bubba

Late Add - This morning I had pretty bad nerve pain putting on my right sock. By the middle of the day I feel pretty normal. Never felt it on my sled/hills. Don't get it but I like it.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Top of This Ramp Up

Since I had that little groin deal and the glute flare I decided not to jump this week. Two weeks between jump sessions/meets is really no big deal for me as I am real comfortable with my technique. It's more important to feel good and be able to hit bigger poles while not turning a small little ding into something bigger. Because of all of this I got more sled/hill running days in as well as all of my lift sessions. Today was the strongest I have been in a while though I just told a friend yesterday that I was starting to feel beat up. That's about right - 2 to 3 weeks of the grind usually merits a break. I try to time it so my break comes before a meet. Do the meet and start over.

Nothing really new beyond that for today. Hope you have a great one! Bubba

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Busy Weekend

Once a month we do a big mailing project for the company and it is this weekend. Well, what used to be an easy weekend now starts Thursday and ends Monday. It doesn't change my workout schedule but just my ability to communicate much more than the basic.

Don had a good day at practice yesterday, getting on some poles he hasn't been on for two years. It's been a long slow process back for him as several physicians have spent the better part of those two years guessing what is going on with his groin pain. I still think it's a hernia as I have had three. Unfortunately, it takes a lot of stress to make it pop out for the doctor so they don't think it is that. STUPID!! We've all had it, just fix it. Nothing else they have tried has worked either and that would be far cheaper and a quicker recovery than this simple injection followed by a month of nothing. Anyway, the 2007 National Senior Olympics Champion is on the way back up.

We jump at 8 AM next Saturday outside of Dallas. I really like this meet and hope to come in feeling well. Yesterday's 10 X 50m sled/hills felt good and this morning I go lift legs for the last time. Hoping for the best.

Have a great day and thanks so much for your support. You are very important to me!! Bubba

Saturday, December 11, 2010


I missed a day yesterday somehow. It was a very nice garage lift. This morning was 10 X 50m hill/sleds. The only other thing to report is I have a hint of that hip/glute thing again. I think I got it from seated overhead press, but it could be from the way I brake when I sprint. I'll be more careful. It did not affect my ability to run today.

Today we're warm again at 75 but it's supposed to get cold again tonight. This was going to be the first indoor vault day at U of H but they have a meet so it's not available. I'd hate to drive all of that way to be inside on such a nice day, but I think in a week or two we will be thrilled to have the option.

That's it for now. Have a fun day and thanks for being here! Bubba

Thursday, December 9, 2010

New Stuff

  • Good strong gym lift today and a nice afternoon to go watch the kids.

  • Need to get my hotel for next Friday before the Granbury meet.

  • Ray Boyd and his daughter, Alana, from Australia are visiting and may come out on Saturday morning to vault. Ray was a two time Olympic Vaulter and three time Commonwealth Games Champion. His daughter is Australia's best vaulter. Looking forward to seeing them.

  • Got a new guitar ordered today. Talking with Rusty I'm a little limited with my "beginner" one so I stepped up a notch to an Ibanez RGD2120Z Prestige. Swamped on work stuff but thanks for being here today and every day! Bubba

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Another Cold Travel Day

No workout today. Decided not to skip this rotation as I won't vault again until Granbury next week. More important to feel fast and powerful on the runway than to get in a jump day with a slightly tender groin. Leave it alone. Sled/hills don't hurt it so let's run!! Have a great day!! Bubba

Tuesday, December 7, 2010


I've read a few things this week that really apply. The first is that Australian Olympic and World Champion, Steve Hooker says he hasn't been vaulting, not because he is hurt, but because he wants to start the year completely healthy. If that means missing some meets then fine. I missed all of last year's outdoor meets for that very reason. I wasn't hurt but needed to get everything well and I did. My goal was to be able to have all practices on 14' 1" (4.30m) poles and I never got close - 10%. This year so far, I have been only on 14' 1" or 14' 7" (4.45m) poles for the past nearly three months, so the plan is working. Now if I can just not get hurt.

That is the other thing I've been thinking about. My training is a series of ramp ups and ramp downs. I train very consistently until I start to feel really run down (3-4 weeks) and then I skip a rotation (3 days of training) as a phase break. For a meet I miss another rotation so that brings me back to fresh. Instead of starting where I left off on my lifting/bars/running, I ramp back up again. At least so far this is proving to be an effective way to manage my training load and how I feel.

Finally I am not really running on the runway. I'm trying to come in well under control and load the pole with my body and swing. As a result I'm not having the number of leg issues yet I'm on much bigger poles - 15.7 in Sydney and a 14.8 so far this year. All of these things are, so far, knock on wood, allowing me to creep forward. I just need to keep creeping and not get in a hurry. It's much better than a long series of dings, and it has me at a much higher consistent level of training.

Have a great day and thanks for being here with me. it really does help a lot! Bubba

Monday, December 6, 2010

A Day Late This Week

Since I'm jumping one day a week during this streak of meets I will only do one rotation of all other training components. Because of that I skipped yesterday and will run a day late which I am fine with. So I lifted legs today and will run sled Wedenesday in order to feel good again on Saturday. After Reno I've got five weeks to national indoors and will ramp back up to twice a week. Everything feels good with no hint of the groin thing. I will remain cautious. Have a great day! Bubba

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Got a Pole Back

Well, Kris jumped on my "twister" pole I gave him yesterday and in five jumps it never twisted once. This means that I was holding it slightly off center on the one jump I took on it. He insists that I take it back in my series because it is such a great feeling pole. This simplifies my series because I can either stay at 12 steps on that pole, or move back a stride to the two biggest poles. I like to have the option.

My right groin is pretty sore today. Remember it bothered me a little after the last meet? That said, it is not injured and did not bother me during or after the meet yesterday. I'll go through my regular training this week and keep an eye on it but don't expect it to be an issue. It's more the result of a continued raise in pole size and intensity that my body is trying to adapt to. Saturday at the University of Houston (U of H) I will warm up and if I feel it at all I will stop and wait for the meet the following weekend.

Have a great Sunday and thanks for being here with me! Bubba

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Busy Days & A Nice First Meet

LATE ADD - On my first jump of the meet I got about six steps down the runway before I realized I still had my ankle weights on. Pretty funny. I took them off and made it but it created a little laughter and comments. I wear ankle weights between jumps because it helps me warm up more quickly after sitting around.

REPORT - Swamped on Thursday as Nancy and I went to Kris' place early Friday to have all of my poles flexed. I started with nine 14' 7"/4.45m poles, cut 5.5"/13 cm off of the bottom, and some more cut from the top so they don't hit the lower crossbars. At the end of today I have a six pole series I can count on. I gave three to Kris. Why?

When flexing the poles we found out that for the most part we only lost .1 flex points by the 3.5" cut I made last weekend. Upon re-flexing we found that two poles were identical with one being skinny and one being fat, so I gave Kris the fat one. On the top end of the scale, my biggest pole proved not only too short when cut, but it too was identical in flex to my 2nd biggest ones, so I also gave that to Kris. Down to seven poles.

At the meet today we had 16 vaulters in my division and I got 3rd overall. The second oldest guy was a college freshman so I was easily three times older than most of the field. The opening height was to be 10' 2"(3.17m) but a girl needed it start a foot lower. It was about an hour before I came in at 11' 8" 1/4 (3.57m). I made that easy on my first jump on pole #1/15.8, from 10 steps. Moved up to the 15.4 and made 12' 2 1/4"(3.72m) from the same run. Moved to 12 steps and the 15.1 and made 12' 8 1/4" (3.87m) on the first also. From the same run at 13' 2 1/2" (4.02m), I had a really good jump and the bar almost stayed up. The pole felt a bit too small so I moved up to the 14.9 and had a huge jump but brushed it on the way up. I then moved to the 14.8 for my 3rd attempt and it twisted in my hand a little at take off. I had easy height but once it twisted I lost my control a little on the top and came down on it. Since it is only .1 bigger than the one before it I gave that one to Kris also. And now there are six poles.

Considering I haven't ever jumped in a meet on any of these poles, and I vaulted on six of them today, I feel really good about where things are. Quick poles with much bigger height. I have two bigger poles I have yet to jump on and I'm about to go to a few places that are great to jump at. In the end I gave Kris back three poles which will be trade credit should I need one more bigger pole to top my series. No lose situation.

I'm tired but pleased with the progress. The more I can jump on these poles the better I will have the timing and should get more height out of each one. For tonight, I'm not hurt and I feel positive about where things are going. In Australia at Worlds I was on a 15.7 and today I was on a 14.8 - that is a MUCH bigger pole from the same run. Looking for bigger things but I will remain cautious with my body.

Thanks for hanging in here with me and sorry I was without my computer for a couple of days. have a nice Saturday night! Bubba

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Travel Day

Heading out pretty soon but will come back this afternoon and do 6 X 50m hill/sleds and have a long stretch. I told Nancy that I already felt pretty good by Monday/Tuesday so that's a good sign. Normally I'm just starting to come around on Thursday. I'm cautiously optimistic I can move through some bigger poles and put up a decent jump at Saturday's meet. Have a fun day! Bubba

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Busy Work Day

I got my lift and stretch in the this morning so it's off to work. Out of town people in today and I'm out all day tomorrow.

I've added lifts for arms and shoulders back in for stability and power at the take off. I remember in 1997, my coach, Dave Johnston, told me I needed to get to my upper body lifting if I wanted to be able to handle the bigger poles when I get to them. He was right then and I keep hearing his voice telling me this; so I have started those lifts again. Considering that I have had two tricep injuries and three biceps injuries over the past few years, I don't know why I got away from it anyway.

Have a great day and thanks for being here. Bubba

Monday, November 29, 2010

More Weather Changes

After 29 on Saturday it was 69 this morning. I had to unplug the space heater and plug in the fan. Another good lift and stretch. Off to the dentist then will figure out tomorrow. I have a lift and sled/hills or just a lift depending when I have to be where for business meetings. Have a great day! Bubba

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Let the Week Begin!

Just to be careful with that little right groin thing, I chose not to attempt to vault today. Since I felt it during warm up on Wednesday, yet it didn't stop me from having a good day, I figured it wasn't much too worry about. BUT, certainly this is not the time of year to guess wrong so I skipped vaulting. That said, I never even felt or noticed it during my 8 X 50m hill/sleds.

As I mentioned earlier in the week, I went back to sled running and away from the raw speed stuff I have been doing for the past six weeks. I used the sled + 10 lbs. (4.5 kg) like I did last year and quickly noticed that I had lost a lot of power and conditioning for this type of running. I was surprised to be getting out of breath, which normally only happens in the summer when it's hot. Sounds dumb but that actually made me feel very optimistic. By about #4 I was starting to step up to the power I needed to keep a powerful and quick stride going. History tells me that will appear on the runway very quickly in the form of more power and covering more ground with less effort. COOL!! I'll do 6 X 50 hills/sleds on Tuesday or Wednesday. Today I also continued to feel very good on my lifting bars and stretching.

It's going to be a strange week for work but it shouldn't change my training. I have a guy coming to town to see me and my partner on Tuesday, but I may also have to go to Dallas on the same day to see another partner. I still have my travel responsibilities on Wednesday and then on Friday Nancy and I will head to Kris for the Saturday morning meet.

Kris has a huge metal building so it can be cold in the morning. So warming up at 8 AM to compete at 9 AM will almost always be cold this time of year. Actually it will probably be 10:30-11 before it's my turn to jump. As luck would have it, the forecast for Saturday is a low of 61 and a high of 74. Not bad considering this meet last year it was 25. Although I have jumped a few times recently this is considered the first meet of the season as indoor rankings begin on 12/1. Hoping for a good start.

Have a great Sunday and thanks for your support. Bubba

Saturday, November 27, 2010

COLD Off Day!!

I went out to watch the kids this morning and the pit had ice all over the cover. Fortunately there was no wind so it warmed up pretty quickly. I decided to wait until my regular scheduled running day for sleds which is tomorrow. It will be warmer and then I will hit the gym for my lifting.

I cut off my biggest 14' 7" (4.45m) today. I wasn't sure it would be long enough after I cut it so I left it out of the eight poles I cut last week. Today I took the time to compare it to the others and it worked out as expected so I cut it too.

I won't vault again until the meet at Kris' this weekend. December 1, begins the indoor rankings season so I'd like to put up a decent mark. His facility can be pretty cold early in the day but the next several meets will all be warm with elevated wood runways with rubber on top - FAST!! So if I can get a good mark at Kris' and then just hope to improve on it as I progress through the new poles.

On Friday Nancy and I will drive up early and I'll spend the afternoon with Kris flex testing my poles. We will flex them on a 14' 1" (4.30m) span so I can get a relative comparison to the poles I have jumped on for the past two years. I really need to know those numbers so we can mark the poles.

Hope you all had a great Thanksgiving. Thank you for staying tuned with me! Bubba

Friday, November 26, 2010


I've quoted Tony Robbins before when he says that a plane on the way to Hawaii is off course 99% of the time but still gets there safely because of a series of many small adjustments. I'm evaluating my present program and how it may blend into my goals for next year's off season and decided that I will change some lifts and add some cardio two days a week. Nothing major but these are things that always make me feel faster after a hamstring rehab so why not do them now? I'll work on it today and get it in front of Kris. Have a great day! Bubba

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!!

Just finished a nice lift and stretch and will now start to help Nancy get stuff ready for dinner later today. My dad, brother Bill (5.30m/17' 4 1/2" in the late 70s), and his wife, Lauren are coming.

As far as vaulting goes I think I'm done until Kris' meet on 12/4. I'm comfortable with my poles and would like to focus on getting back in the swing with my sled/hills, etc. Have a little right groin soreness but not enough to be worried about. I felt it yesterday during warm up and though it never bothered me jumping, it was in the back of my mind so I'll leave it alone. I want to clean up my tiny hamstring catches with some extended stretches and maybe a visit to Ashley or Sakina next week. Overall everything is a go and I'm really healthy. I'm being overcautious but I think that may be how I stay out of trouble a little bit.

Hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving! Thank you for being here with me on this journey!! Bubba

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

A PERFECT 12 Hours!!

Last night I got a call from masters studette, Dinah Anderson, telling me that an assistant coach at the University of Houston was going to open up the indoor facility for a few hours on one weekend day over the winter for masters vaulters. Unbelievably AWESOME!!

Today's Vaulting - This morning I got up and it was 73 degrees and dry so I headed over to jump about 7:45. Warming up I felt like I always do on the first jump session after a meet - CRAPPY. On top of that the wind was in your face one jump, across on the next, etc., so I really needed to take it easy on the runway. Not ideal but let's go.

Still I took out my bag with all of my "new" cut 14' 7" (4.45m) poles and pulled out the smallest one marked, 167.8. It was thin and light with a good pre-bend, but as I expected, STIFF. I was able to start getting some bend from 6 steps but not much. At 8 steps it felt stiff but real quick so I started getting nervous that my experiment would fail. I got Don's tape measure and saw that I was only gripping about 12' (3.66m) so of course it's stiff and quick. At 10 steps I had a real pole in my hands but still felt a little quick so I moved my grip up to about 12' 9" (3.90m) and put a bar up at 12'.

After that jump I looked at Don and asked what just happened. I knew I hit it right and got launched but I kind of bailed out to see where I was. Don looked stunned and said, "you cleared that by 2' (60 cm) and you quit on the jump". WOW!! That is my new start pole from 10 steps and I bet that soon I can use it from 8. Moved to 12' 6" (3.81m) and made that easy. Don said the pole was too small, and though I had a foot (30 cm) of height with my hips, I almost hit it on the way up with my chest. So two BIG clearances on my first new pole. More importantly, it was easy. No struggle to get the pole moving.

I moved up a pole and stayed at 10 steps and cleared 13' (3.97m) quite easily. I decided that I would move back to 12 steps and go up a pole, to the one that had rejected my timing in the last two meets. BOOM, cleared 13' again easily.

At this point I'm starting to feel a little dead and didn't want to risk injury by continuing. BUT, I took the bar down and took that infamous "one more jump" anyway. My reasoning was that without a bar I would run easier and I really needed to know if the next pole would twist in my hands like it did in Austin last month. It did not and it felt great so I stopped right there and finished up my sleds before heading to the gym. FANTASTIC day!! Could not be happier!! The poles feel great and I can easily transition from one to the next.

Before I answer the pole questions I keep getting, I want to say that we changed my running away from the raw sprint stuff and back to the sled. We decided to do this partly because I was getting too many reps after I jumped and my feet were starting to hurt. The other part is the sled helps you cover more ground on the runway with less effort. Glad to be back to that.

POLES - Bruce Caldwell at Essx first told me this summer that he thought I should move up lengths because of my jump style. We've known each other for 35 years so he knows my jump well. He told me that he would make me a 15' 1" (4.60m) pole in a 14' 7" (4.45m) body. I'm not the fastest nor tallest guy. If you look at the photo from Sydney, or any other big meet of me with the other vaulters, I'm almost always the smallest one or two guys. BUT, I jump up really well at the take off, so a longer sailpiece/reinforcement piece, "picks me up" at the take off. So many people move forward at the take off, I am also rising almost immediately and this helps me get on bigger poles.

Caldwell's reasoning was that if I got 14' 7"s and they didn't work and had to be cut down, then I would be where I am right now, on a 14' 1" (4.30m) pole. But with my angle off the ground, IF I could roll a 15' 1" sail, then great; but if not, cutting it would still give me a greater benefit. NOTE - Bruce does not cut my poles but he knows that I'm going to, if needed, until they are perfect for me. Manufacturers HATE it when their poles are cut, but what am I going to do, train real hard and hope I can get on them when I'm 60? NO!!

So me and Kris cut 2" (4 cm) off of all of my poles on day one. Sunday I cut another 3.5" (6 cm) off for a total of 5.5" (13 cm). So right now my poles are on a 14' 7" sail and YES, the pick me up AND roll so I can time up the top. I could not be happier with these poles. Today I used four of the eight in my bag, and had I felt better I could have used maybe two more. PERFECT!

So here's the catch, I felt crappy yet jumped higher with less effort because of the longer sail picking me up at take off. I didn't have to work nearly as hard as I do to hit a bigger shorter pole yet I'm getting much more explosive lift off of the top of the jump.

Pretty awesome if you ask me. I may or may not jump Sunday but I will get to Kris early and have all of the poles re-flexed on his flex machine on a 14' 1" span, so I can make a relative comparison as to where they fit in against my 14' 1"s. This will provide me an invaluable point of reference as I move to still bigger poles. But consider this; today I was four steps closer at 13' than I was at the meet Saturday yet it was too small. Better energy transfer on to a bigger pole that is matched to my jumping style. My guess is that this will allow me to jump on much bigger poles and hence go higher.

For today, I'm thrilled. My start pole can be used in any conditions. Next time I will try to use it from 8 steps. If I can do that, I can probably make 13' on it from there. That means 13' 6" (4.12m) from 10, 14' (4.27m) from 12 steps and so on back to 16 steps. Enough for today. VERY excited with this breakthrough. Thanks for being here and supporting me!! Bubba

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Vault Tomorrow

The monumental experiment day for me is tomorrow as I had hoped. My partner 90 miles from here said to wait until next Wednesday to get in a meeting with him and another guy so I'm free to jump tomorrow. Nervous but excited to see how the poles feel. I'll probably try to get 2-3 on the first one and then move through them two jumps at a time so I can see what's going on. With any luck I will get through 4-5 poles off of 3-4 run lengths. Can't wait. Better go stretch. Bubba

Monday, November 22, 2010

Tomorrow is the Day .. Or Maybe Wednesday

We've got some cold weather moving in on Thanksgiving, plus the gym will be closed, so I will try and jump Wednesday if I can bail on my business travel this week. There is a possibility that I will have a lunch meeting that I can't get out of Wednesday, and if so then I will jump tomorrow.

Leaving the meet, driving home and walking around Saturday night I felt like I had been beaten up badly. Yesterday I felt pretty good and today I felt better. It would be great to wait for Wednesday but I'll be fine if it's tomorrow. Excited to try the and improved cut 14' 7" (4.45m) pole series.

I lift legs, some bars and machines at the gym so I can isolate areas that have been injured or dinged in the past. I always do this on my jump day so Thursday is out because they will be closed. The other lift days I do at home. Last week I had the space heater on and today I had the fan on and was sweating. I'll always take the sweat.

Have a great day and thanks for being here. Bubba

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Rebirth!! GREAT Pole News!!

I cut off six of my 14' 7" (4.45m) poles by 3.5" (8cm) this morning as planned. They felt more balanced to handle and I was very pleased with the result. The grips did not have to be moved because the pole being shorter requires a slightly lower grip anyway. BTW - cutting the poles is done from the bottom. I also cut the tops so they don't hit the bar, but only cutting the bottom changes the bending properties of the pole. For every inch (2.54cm) the pole is cut, it becomes about 1.1 lbs (.5 kg) weaker, or easier to bend. It also lowers the sailpiece/reinforcement piece, thus making it easier to roll. Again, these were 15' 1" (4.60m) sails and not 14' 7"s so it's a real big jump.

So I get the six poles cut off and I'm thrilled, and then I go into the shed to get the biggest pole to cut it. What do I find but TWO EVEN SMALLER POLES that I forgot we ordered. They were thinner because they were originally made for Kris' high school kid. So I cut them off too and all of my pole problems are solved. I can now switch exclusively to my cut 14' 7" series no matter what the conditions or how I feel. AWESOME!!

It is so frustrating to know that I easily make 13' (3.97m) every day in practice but haven't in the past two meets because I can't adjust to the different feel on the 14' 7"s. Now I start on them and there will be no need to switch lengths at critical spots. I intentionally skipped lifting legs today so that I will be fresh enough to vault on Thursday/Sunday. Yep, Thursday is Thanksgiving, but it is also Thursday, my vault, run and lift day.

Had a great time catching up with the other fossils at the meet yesterday. Met a great guy, Bill, who follows this blog, saw Larry McIntrye and got a visit from USA Track & Field Biomechanist, Pete McGinness. He does velocity and physics studies of vaulters from around the world for USATF besides being a university professor. Pete was in San Antoinio for a conference and came by to jump. He showed me the coolest video on his computer where he taped a camera on the end of his pole and it shows the whole vault from an incredible angle. You see his face and upper body at the take off, and then see him ascend toward the sun. Super cool. Pete was Kris' college coach at SUNY, Cortland.

I'm asked fairly often about all of my metric notations. Well, the rest of the world is metric and I have several friends around the world who were emailing me questions about conversions since they don't understand imperial measures. In California everything was metric, even at the high school level, but Texas it is predominately imperial. In any case, I want to provide the info for the metric world.

That's it. The most fun non-training day I have had in years! SO excited about this new pole situation. Have a great Sunday! Bubba

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Let the Cutting Begin + Today's Video

I won the Age Graded (AG) meet today with an AG mark of 17' 7" (5.37) and a real jump of 12' 6" (3.81m). AGAIN I went to my 14' 7" (4.45m) poles, and again I couldn't time them up at 13' (3.97m) after making 12' 6" easily on the 14' 1" pole.

This same thing happened when I first moved to 14' 1" (4.30m) poles so I cut them all off by 3-4" to make them slightly weaker but easier to roll the arc. I'll do this tomorrow so I can start and finish on these poles 14' 7" poles only at meets from now on. Since they are 15' 1" (4.60m) sailpiece/reinforcement piece, they are just a touch too quick for me. In 20+ jumps I have been able to go at the bar three times on the smallest one and that's unacceptable. So let the cutting begin.

You may remember that I have 9 X 14' 7" poles that I did not spend a cent on. Kris allowed me to trade in 2 for 1 of older poles so I could build this series. My point is that I have nothing to lose and everything to gain by doing this. Some of my very best poles in my career have been cut off. I'm really excited about this. Finally a solution!!

Have great evening and thanks for your support. Bubba

This is the 12' 6"/3.81m jump from 12 steps - pole too small from that run.

Don at 10'. He went on to make 11' (3.35m) for the first time in 18 months due to injuries. He's coming back strong!

This just in from Steve Warr - all videos from Steve - me at 12'/3.66m

Friday, November 19, 2010

Age Graded Meets

Tomorrow is and age graded meet and that is a form of handicapping like a golfer has. It takes the mark you make today and compares that to what it would equate to as if you were an open/elite athlete. Very detailed and complicated formulas are used to calculate how much strength, speed and power are lost as you age. Then those factors are measured against world records and other data to give you a mark today, and then tells you what it would be in your prime.

So for me, a 57 year old man to vault 4m (13' 1 1/2") equates to a 5.63m (18' 5 3/4') vault in my prime. Since my lifetime PR was 5.51m (18' 1"), then I am currently winning the aging game. Here is the link to check out your own marks.

So for tomorrow's meet, the winner will have the highest age graded mark. If 70 year old Don Islet vaults 3.20m (10' 6") he will get 5.69m or 18' 8" and his mark would beat my 5.63m at 4m. Fun change of pace. Have a fun day! Bubba

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Beautiful Day Again

Going out to watch the kids jump. Light stretch later. Have a great day! Bubba

Tomorrow - All About Age Grading

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Changes in the Air

Been working on a business adjunct for the company and it may require a change of scenery to Florida. I've know this is a possibility for a month or so but I should know in a few days. On my last visit I checked with the university in this city and was invited to vault there. We'll see if, when, and whether, it is short term or long term in the coming month. Until then, go with my normal routine and plan.

I was thinking in the garage yesterday that I am such a contradiction on this blog. Or am I? Motivational speaker, Tony Robbins, points out that a plane on the way to Hawaii is off course 99% of the time but makes a constant series of small corrections and safely lands there. This blog allows me to lay out ideas and then see how they play out. Many times the result completely changes my mind about what I was certain would work. But, that's fine as long as the results are there. So thank you for your tolerance.

Speaking of my garage, at my guitar lesson yesterday, my teacher told me that he too lifts in his garage. Obviously the main topic then was not the training, but the change in the weather and what fans and space heaters have worked in the past. Pretty funny.

Have a great day and thanks for hanging with me! Bubba

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Coming Around

Nice long stretch day today. Starting to feel refreshed, and for this early the week of a meet that's a decent sign. I'll do some easy sled/hills when I get home tomorrow from the road, as well as another stretch.

Kris' facility is indoors but not much for heat or air. That said, the weather looks like we will get lucky with a fairly warm day. Our December 5, meet last year was 25 degrees outside and tough to jump in. A little nervous but looking forward to getting underway.

Have a great evening and thanks for following this blog! Bubba

Monday, November 15, 2010

Weird Lift Day

The painters finish up today so again the garage is cluttered with their crap so I can't lift there. I went to the gym and WOW, I guess that Monday is the day that everybody goes to the gym. What a zoo. I did my best but mainly focused on stretching. I do bench/incline/overhead press in a Smith Machine at home to protect my shoulders. The gym has only one and of course it was busy. Free bench and machines just feel weird and that's not something I want to push right now.

Every year I say I'm going to switch from the garage to the gym for those two days but I always end up staying. I have some bars in my backyard that I use those days, plus I like the mental discipline of surviving both the heat and the cold. Actually I hate it when I do it but it reminds me that I can succeed no matter what the conditions. Today is cold and rainy but in a month or two this will feel warm.

The gym may feel too cushy but next year I will in fact move everything to the gym because I will do a lot more Gauntlet (StairMaster with actual stairs) and bike as I will also run intervals three days at the track. I'll also lift heavier with fewer lifts. But for this year I will stay where I am.

I know it sounds strange with a championship year coming up but I am already working on my 2012 program. Why? This next year I will be 58 and near the top of my age group. In 2013 I will be 60 and the youngest. This year and next is to set me up for 2013. Our plan is very good for this year/next but it is really only a checkpoint on the way to 2013. I will enjoy it one day at a time. Have a great day! Bubba

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Didn't Jump

I felt OK warming up but it was cold and windy and not worth the risk. I think I may have if things weren't going well but it's more important to stay healthy. My choice was 14' 7" (4.45m) pole only or work through the smaller ones. I wasn't excited about either, and neither one will happen next Saturday, and I feel like I've done enough of both for right now.

Good running, lifting and stretching. Have a great Sunday!!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

The Jury Is Out On Tomorrow

Well, I'm feeling better having done nothing for the past two days so I'll see if I feel like jumping a little after warm up tomorrow. It's now not supposed to rain until later so if I feel good I may get a few jumps in.

Here's what I need over the next two meets at Kris' place - find out what height and what poles I need to be on to get efficiently to my 14' 7" (4.45m) series. The whole reason we got these was so that I would already be on the by 13' (3.97m). If that's the case I'll be on the first one at 12' 6"-7" (3.80-85m) from 64' (12 steps). If that works I'll be set for the indoor season I think. Of course I'll still need to jump on some bigger 14' 7"s but if I can find a consistent place to get started on them that will help.

Historically I don't get on huge poles at Kris' place for whatever reason, but the two meets after that I do, so I really need to open up and be aggressive with that. Move back to 14 steps and start moving up poles and grips if I need to. Should be fun.

More after tomorrow's practice. Have a great Saturday evening and thanks for being here! Bubba

Friday, November 12, 2010

Phase Break?

I'm skipping today's rotation as workers are back at the house and have stuff scattered all over the garage where I lift. These things seem to happen for a reason and I guess it's because if I was that trashed yesterday, what makes me think I'm significantly better today? Beginning next Saturday I have six meets all two weeks apart so it probably makes sense to skip the rotation and start getting fresh. My gut doesn't like that but unfortunately I DO know better so I will see this as a sign to take the break today. Hope you have a great day and thanks for following me on this journey! Bubba

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Trash Day

Jeez my body felt like trash today for the first time in a real long time. I wasn't going to try and jump at all but it looked like rain was on the horizon and it is supposed to also rain Sunday. Not attempting to vault would leave me without jumping until the meet on the 20th.

Today (Thursdays) is my day to start at 10 steps but I felt so bad I went at 8 on my smallest 14' 1" (4.30m)/17.5. Made 12' (3.66m) on my first jump and 12' 6" (3.81m) on my 2nd and then the rain hit. So three jumps total but they felt like good technical jumps considering how bad I felt. As it turned out the rain only lasted five minutes so Don continued jumping and I got on to my running.

Next I got to the gym and did my first lifts and one set of my bars and walked out the door and went home. Sometimes you just have to call it a day rather than further trashing yourself. Best case I'll have decent weather early so I can get a few more jumps in Sunday.

In retrospect I'm really not surprised at how I felt today considering that I took 11 or 12 high level jumps Sunday AND pushed all of my weights up. I guess my point is that it's OK to walk away on a day like this. I may have 2-3 days like this a year. Not worth the risk or beat down.

Thanks for your support and have a great day! Bubba

PS - 25th vault day since I started back on 6/13.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Travel Day

Nothing to report. Hope to vault before the rain tomorrow morning. Almost 90 degrees today and will be 65 in the AM. Not bad for November. If only it could last .....

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Stretch Day

My body seems to be recovering a little more quickly as I adjust to the higher level of jumping. I think the other training stuff is at about the same level but it's the vaulting that really beats you up. We will see how Thursday feels.

Got some great feedback from yesterday's video. Here's a shot of me over 18' 1" in 1978. Nice pit and steel standards. Have a great day. Bubba

My body seems to be recovering a little more quickly as I adjust to the higher level of jumping. I think the other training stuff is at about the same level but it's the vaulting that really beats you up. We will see how Thursday feels.

Got some great feedback from yesterday's video. Here's a shot of me over 18' 1" in 1978. Nice pit and steel standards. Have a great day. Bubba

Monday, November 8, 2010

Good Lift Day / GREAT Video

I keep just checking off the days. That's another way of saying "another brick in the wall". Nothing special, just did the work. Have a great day! Bubba

Got this today from masters vaulter Carlton Huff - US PV Legends from 1927 - 1976. AWESOME!! The first scene alone will blow you away!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Good But Very Hard Training Day

It was 36 degrees when we got up but 56 as I drove to the track at 9 AM. For the past two days I've occasionally felt a weird little left hamstring twinge when bending over in certain ways. After reading my post about taking a chance and getting away with it, plus Allan Williams' booklet warning of the same, I almost didn't bother to take my gym bag so I would not have the option to vault.

I said to myself, "oh well, I'll just take it out and see how I feel after I warm up". After all, after three straight sessions on the 4.45m (14' 7") poles I was planning to go easy starting on my smallest 4.30m (14' 1"). As I warmed up I got looser but was still really on guard. I decided to just jog in and complete some jumps even if I had to run a stride further to avoid pressing on the runway. Turned out to be a good formula for today.

I made 12' (3.66m) on my first jump from 44' and promptly move back to 54' and up one pole and the bar to 12' 6" (3.81m). The pole I started on is really too small for that run and I have never used it from there. Still, I figured it would make me careful on the runway yet still get some jumps in. After three attempts, one very close, I moved up to the 17.0 and cleared it very easily on my first attempt.

I tried 13' (3.97m) twice on the 17.0 but the pole was too small and I started to finesse, and that's never good. Moved back a stride to 64' and up to the 16.5 where I made 13' on my 2nd attempt. IF I jump on the 16.5 in a meet it is only at 12' and from a stride closer at 54', so that tells you how small it really is for me. But jogging in I could time it up and catch a ride to make 13'. Next I moved to the carbon 15.9, my normal start pole for 12', and on my 2nd attempt made 13' very easily. I toyed with the idea of moving to the 14' 7" pole and/or going to 13' 6" (4.12m) but decided to stop. After all, I have just had 11 high level jumps and wasn't hurting.

This will be my normal practice style now, but I'll hit the bigger poles from where I normally do rather than baby my legs like today. Sakina beat me up pretty good the other day so I figure it's not an injury but a carryover from that. Glad I was careful. Kris and I had talked this week about getting to my longer runs sooner so I could get more high level jumps, so that fit in with today's plan. What's funny is the last time I used the 15.9 in practice was in 2008 and I made 13' 6". I really think that will become common place with this progression.

When I jump well I have practice poles and meet poles. I use the smaller glas poles in practice and the lighter yet quicker return carbons in meets. Looks like that is setting up pretty well. Less chance of getting hurt too when I use smaller poles in practice yet try to technically get more out of them.

The gym was a challenge because I felt strong so I pushed all of my weights up. So a very long, hard and good day of training. If I can be instinctive and string together more sessions like this then I'll feel pretty good about my chance to advance. You've gotta figure at some point in the near future that the 14' 7" poles will be worked into the rotation in practice. When that happens I will be starting to get near where I need to be. Until then I'm a pretender rather than a contender.

Thanks for all of your support. Have a beautiful Sunday! Bubba

Saturday, November 6, 2010

GREAT Training Booklet Here

On the awards stand in Sydney, Australia at the World Masters Games with elite athlete/coach, friend and now author from Great Britain, Allan Williams (left). Click to enlarge.

After many years of seeing Allan's name at the top of international results, I had the honor and pleasure to get to meet and compete with him in Sydney. What a super intelligent and really nice guy, not to mention great vaulter!! Meeting and hanging out with Alan was truly one of the highlights of my trip.

Below is the link he sent me about "Are You Training for Purpose?" This is a must read for all athletes, coaches and parents. You're going to love it. Thanks Allan and can't wait to see you at Worlds in Sacramento next year! Bubba

COLD Off Day

It was 36 this morning so I'm glad we changed the kids to a 10 AM start time. It will get up to 70 today and 74 tomorrow so I'm looking forward to trying to jump tomorrow. Light stretch later today. Have a great day. Bubba

Friday, November 5, 2010

Ouch!! Saw Sakina Today

I haven't been worked over by Ashley or Sakina for quite awhile because I haven't been injured. Ashley was working with pro golfer, Roland Thatcher (who Nancy taught in the first grade) so it was Sakina's turn to destroy me. It amazes me these girls hit hot spots where you had zero pain or limitation, AND it frees up areas that have been nagging for a while.

For example I've had this little glute flare again since Leander. I feel the nerve and muscular catch but never feel it when I run or vault. It takes it about three days to go away and then I get it back when I run or vault. Well today I don't have it. All I can think is that hitting the big pole yesterday jerked the jammed hip back out where it's supposed to be. Whatever - nice to be nerve pain free.

So back to my pain. Sakina is just ripping into my back and the back of my and lower leg when she starts attacking the back of my left shoulder. I hadn't mentioned it but I got a little strain in it a few weeks ago doing bar stuff. So how the feeling of my back and lower leg told her I have a shoulder problem is a mystery to me but she found it and addressed it. Then she blasts into my left IT band (outside of my left leg) and tells me it's to get the catch out of my right hamstring. I didn't tell her that I had a recurrence of that catch nor did she even work it today. But it went away after she finished the outside of the left leg. Again, whatever. No reasonable explanation from me.

Their massage treatments are always painful but especially since I vaulted/ran/lifted legs yesterday, and then arrived within 30 minutes of my upper lift and bars this morning. It just reminds me that I need to make the time to get in there rather than wait until I'm hurt.

Hope you all have a great day. Thanks for being here! Bubba

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Took a Chance ...

... and got away with it.

I just got in from the gym and my car says it is 56 degrees at 10 AM, so what do you think it was at 7:30? Not very nice. I was committed to trying to use only my smallest 14' 7" (4.45m) for one more day but today did not like like a smart day to try it. So I did anyway.

I actually had much better timing with my hands and felt better at the 64' (20m) run, and one time moved the pole really nicely; easily better than I have so far. I put the bar up at 12' (3.66m) as a reference point and bailed out because I wasn't quite in enough. Don said my butt was already a foot over the bar when I bailed. Not wishing to risk it by trying to run harder, I stopped.

I have three pole bags; 1 for 4m (13' 1") poles, 1 for 4.30m (14' 1") poles and 1 for 4.45m (14' 7") poles. Today I mixed in three 14' 1" poles in with three 14' 7" poles so I have the choice to short run jump on small poles, and/or use the smaller ones to warm up on to get to the 14' 7"s. I'm really comfortable with this from now on. For the next three months the weather will be too hit and miss to come out and take the chance I got away with today.

The meet on 11/13 will not have the vault so that gives me an extra week of training before I hit the meet at Kris' place on 11/20. From that point forward I will have six consecutive meets all two weeks a part. That's a real nice and consistent training spread. Too hard to have a meet every week at this level/age. Like I always tell people, masters vaulters train for meets like a boxer gets ready for a fight - peak in 8 weeks.

That's it for today so thank you again for hanging around with me. Always great to hear from you. Thanks so much for your support. It really means the world! Bubba

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Travel Day

We had rain Monday night, part of yesterday and this morning but it will be nice tomorrow. Don and I will jump about 8 AM. I'll talk to Kris today to see if the plan is to start on the 14' 7"s (4.45s) or to ramp up to them in a warm up process.

I'm starting to think that is the best way since I have figured out exactly where it fits in my pole series. I like to clear a bar on a pole before putting it in a rotation. That way I know what you expect when I get to it in my series. I made 12' (3.66m) by a lot last time so I think I will move on to my rotation. Safer on my body then just cranking it up right off the bat. As mentioned yesterday, this is how I will use them in meets anyway.

I would love to just start on 14' 7"s and stay on them and maybe at some point I can. But with my average wait time in a meet between warm up to first competition vault being close to two hours, I think it's risky to go 0-80 in one jump. Therefore I'll ramp up as fast as I can during the meet. I'll work that out with Kris today.

Had my first guitar lesson yesterday and it was great. LOVE the guy, Rusty Cooley - Super teacher and low key guy who really wants to help you understand and learn. He really likes working with athletes because we value the need for practice. He says many of kids think that "practice" is an evil word, but that we love it. It's really going to be a good match and I feel fortunate he's right in my neighborhood.

Have a great day and thanks for being here. Bubba

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

New Distraction

Got a nice long stretch in this morning. Also put a call into Kris about meet pole progressions. My problem is that I warm up and then wait while the bar goes from about 6' 6" (2m) up to my start height of 12' (3.66m). Sometimes this wait is a couple of hours. I don't think it's a great idea to sit around that long and then start on a huge pole. I think the plan is to start down one or two poles for the first height or two and then move to the 14' 7"s (4.45s). That said, I will only jump on 4.45s until a meet since I am already warmed up at practice.

New Distraction
Today is my first guitar lesson from a real pro, Rusty Cooley. What you probably don't know is that I originally got to California as the production manager and concert soundman for a Texas band who got a contract with Capitol Records. We moved there and then got a deal and traveled the US and Canada and fronted for bands like Eddie Money, Eric Clapton, Rush and The Cars. Everyone in the band was a college graduate and it was their/our two year fling before becoming lawyers, professors, businessmen, etc. Sometimes at club dates I would play rhythm guitar on a few songs just for the fun of it. So I'm picking it up in an effort to learn lead rock guitar just for the heck of it. I also think it will improve my focus and my patience. And it will probably be real fun. As I told Nancy I have no aspirations to play in a band, in public, etc. Just for me at home.

Hope you have a great day!! Bubba

Monday, November 1, 2010

Staying Home This Week

This photo of me clearing 12' 6" (3.81m) was up on the meet website from the Leander meet from 10/10. Click to enlarge.

We had planned to go jump with Kris because Don wanted to check out some bigger poles. After Saturday's session he doesn't feel he's quite ready to hit those poles yet so we will stay home. Of course I would like to see Kris but I'll see him on 11/13 and 11/20 so I will jump at home on Thursday.

I've been getting all of my normal training in for awhile now so I'm feeling in decent shape. I just need to hit bigger poles from longer runs with higher grips. I'll give that a try again Thursday.

I intentionality didn't jump in a meet this outdoor season because I didn't want to risk rushing in for a meet just to get a mark. Our rankings end on August 31, each year or so I thought. I looked this morning and saw that my Leander jump on 10/10 is listed. Indoor listings start on 12/1 so Kris on 12/4 will be the first there.

That's it for today. Hope you have a great day and thanks for being here. Bubba

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Good Decisions?

At some point I need to get back to vaulting twice a week, but I have decided until I can use my 14' 7" (4.45m) poles effectively, I will only jump on them, even if that is only once a week. It's more important that I feel good on that day then to get a second day on the 14' 1" (4.30m) poles.

I was talking to Nancy about this on our way home from breakfast with my dad. At some point I will feel good enough to do both effectively. As it turned out I felt good enough to jump today on the 14' 1"s but that would risk not feeling good for the 14' 7"s on Thursday when I go to Kris' place. I actually felt pretty fast today but fortunately, I intentionally did not put my gym bag in the car so I couldn't even attempt to jump. A very good decision.

Another thing is that when you have a technique day on a "smaller" pole, you typically don't hit it as hard as you should, so it starts to feel stiff and then you wonder what's wrong. I'd rather jump one time a week and have to be perfect for awhile. I think that is a better mindset for me in order to make the transition to taking only 14' 7" poles to meets.

Though the poles are 14' 7" the sailpiece (reinforcement piece) is for a 15' 1" (4.60m) pole so they are quicker and there is less room for error but the return is better. They have been cut off at the top a little above my grips so they will fall under the crossbar rather than hitting it and causing me a miss. These poles pick you up off the ground better at take off. But there is no getting around the fact that you need more horsepower to make this happen. But ultimately you can jump higher on the longer sailpiece if you can roll it past vertical so that is my commitment - MAN UP physically and only jump on the 14' 7's.

What does this really mean. I'm jumping at a meet in Austin on 11/13 and at Kris' place on 11/20. I will only take 14' 7"s and if I can't get in enough to complete the jump then I no height (nh), which means I don't clear my start height in the three allotted attempts. I have only done this once in my entire career. Live or die. Go big or go home. I really believe my mind and my body can handle this just fine as long as I come in fresh. That means for now that I skip days like today where I could have vaulted but saved it for Thursday. At some point the first 14' 7" pole will feel small and when that happens, I have a chance to move up a level. Until then I'll be stuck in the 13' (3.96m) to 13' 6" (4.12m) range on 124' 1" poles.

That's all for today. Hope you have a great Halloween! Bubba

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Halloween Vault Today

Another beautiful day for this meet. We have been so fortunate that the weather has been perfect since we started this in 2005. Thanks to everyone for coming out. Click to enlarge any photo. Bubba
Don, as the blind official, catches Max's step with a real leg/foot.

The whole group of us.

Me talking with Jillian after a jump.

Two time Texas State High School Champ, Seth Arnold.
M60 vaulter Robert Duncan waits to vault with the kids.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Now For Something Completely Different

Track & Field News just did a great two part interview with the great US vaulter, Jeff Hartwig, who retired after the 2008 Olympic Games. In part two here they talk about Aussie, Steve Hooker. There is a link to part one at the end. Enjoy!

Here's me with Jeff (left) during introductions at the 1ooth Drake Relays last year. On the right is masters legend, Gary Hunter, who jumped with me at Drake.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

An Odd Surprise

When I took my pole bag out with all of my 14' 7" (4.45m) poles the first thing I noticed was a white spiraled taped pole. I color my poles so I can tell what size they are without having to read the little numbers etched on them. I started this in college after I broke a pole at the national meet and then promptly grabbed a smaller one thinking it was a bigger one.

The system is simple, blue is 1st place so it is the biggest pole, red is second, yellow 3rd, green 4th. If I have more than four poles in the series I'll add colors. So orange (University of Texas) will be the biggest and purple will be the smallest, before I get to my normal green, yellow, red, blue series. So where did white come from? I ran out of colors so it was the smallest pole.

Big deal huh? Kind of. When I said I blew through the two smallest two 14' 7" poles at Leander outside of Austin, it was actually the 2nd and 3rd pole because I didn't realize had a smaller pole, the white one.

So today I'm warming up and feel fairly crappy because I haven't run a step since Sunday. Even as I warm up I'm not sure this is such a good idea. Then I see and solve the mystery of the white pole. By flex number it is the equivalent of a 14' 1" (4.30m)/15.5, or .1 smaller than my biggest 14' 1" pole. Great - feel like crap yet I'm starting on a big pole that won't move very easy because the sailpiece is longer. Oil well - getting to know you time.

The pole felt like a log as it was fat and heavy. I did three take offs at 2 steps and then 4 steps and I knew that at 6 steps I would be in no man's land and the pole would probably still not bend - but it did - a little - enough to get in to the pit. Moved the grip up another hand width and it bent a little more. I'm bending it from 33' so I guess I'll be alright.

From 44' it was OK and from 54' I could almost complete a jump. I put the bar up at 12' from 65' and took off. ALMOST in enough to complete the jump but the pole felt a little quick because of the longer sailpiece. Next time I was closer but not quite in enough. On the 3rd jump I hit my take off right and really punched my left hand up and cleared it by a foot and a half (45 cm). Moved it to 13' (3.96m) and took two more but I couldn't quite time it up.

I'm sure it will be better next time but I'm excited to at least be in the ballpark of being able to go to a meet only on these poles. As they say, the definition of insanity is expecting a different result from the same approach. This one will be as drastic as when I first moved to 14' 1" poles. I just have to stay after it and get better with the timing.

The plan is to go one day a week on the 14' 7" poles and the other on the 14' 1"s. I'm expecting to really feel bad on Sunday and if I do I won't jump on the 14' 1"s. I'm going to Kris on Thursday so I want to be rested for that.

So I'm cautiously optimistic that I might be just outside the door to the next level. Having blown through poles 2 and 3 in Austin, and today being able to jump on pole 1 even though I felt bad, and had a huge crosswind, makes me feel I have a shot at moving up. Obviously this forces me to run from at least 65', which I haven't done in practice in two years. My experience is that I'll get better at that run fast. All of this said, just keep going on about my business and don't put myself at risk. Better to miss a jump session or two rather than risk it when I know it's an issue.

Sorry for the rambling but sometimes this is how I figure things out. Happy but not thrilled with today. It bothers me I couldn't quite get the timing but if I held a few inches higher I could. But if I held a few inches higher I may not get in enough to complete the jump. It's day one of a practice. I'm sure I will be fine unless I try to do too much too soon. That said, I've now been on three of my seven 14' 7" poles. If I can just get physical enough that #1 feels small, I've really got a shot at a breakthrough.

Have a great day and thanks for being here! Bubba

Wednesday, October 27, 2010


I'm a little concerned about the project of only jumping on 14' 7" (4.45m) poles tomorrow just because I don't know what to expect. The first one should be fine from 12 or even 14 steps if needed, but we will see. I play this game called "getting to know you" where I start at 2 steps and move my hand up one grip at a time until I am at a grip I can vault with. If the pole isn't moving fast enough I move back another stride. The scary part is that at some point I will be in "no man's land" where the grip is pretty high, but the pole doesn't really bend. I just have to use all of the tools I know to make the pole move, big angle, reach out of socket, stiff body, etc. Once I'm past that I will be fine.

When I was in high school we got a new coach who had a kid who had jumped 15' 6" so he brought me over my NEW pole - a 1665. I had been on a 1555 so this is a MASSIVE pole for me. He says that we are going to play this little game called "getting to know you", and that he would be standing there with his paddle and that if I failed to leave the ground I should just come over to him, and bend over for my reward for being a coward. Not surprisingly he was also the head football coach. Not being afraid to be called a coward, but afraid of getting swatted, I took off no matter where I was. I think I climbed down the pole about 15 times that day and made the pit three times. Three days later at a meet at Rice University I vaulted 14' 6" by a foot. My PR had been 13' 10" so now I'm a believer that I could always do more than I thought I could. Thanks Coach Hart!! Ended up loving that guy. He was tough but he would never ask me to do something he didn't know I could do. It was then MY job to believe in me.

I've always done this game when I get a new key pole in a series. In the meet a few weeks ago I felt that the first 14' 7" twisted a little so with a low grip I can isolate and mark that pole properly. I also NEED to warm up by HAVING to jump up and reach up so I see nothing bad that can happen from these efforts. Oh, except for that mentally weak thing. I don't really have that issue but it will certainly be challenged tomorrow. I'll report back afterwards. Have a great day! Bubba