Sunday, January 31, 2010

Working Out the Plan

Hello All. Got home a little bit ago and think I have my game plan figured out. I'll sleep on it and walk through it tomorrow after I get input from Kris and Don. I originally called it a 10% setback but it's more like 40% so I'm a little concerned. Some things don't hurt at all and some things do. A month ago everything hurt so there is some hope.

The question now becomes, what will I do different over the next four weeks that I didn't this last four weeks? I guess because I'm not starting from square one and because it didn't bother me at all until I got on a really big pole. Not to mention that this time I have five weeks and not four. I'll think it through and report back tomorrow. Now I need some sleep. Thanks for hanging with me!! Bubba

Saturday, January 30, 2010

BIG Win & PR for Max!!

Our 9th grader, Max Cosculleula jumped 12' 2" on a pole he has never seen (1360). He made it on the first jump and was the only vaulter to clear that height. He won his pit of 21 vaulters. Video at bottom.

Last night in a moving moment, 2004 Olympic Silver Medal winner Toby Stevenson called it a career. He told the crowd that his dad told him to never give up but that he had made up his mind that he wanted to retire in Reno on a make. So he cleared the bar on his first jump, took off his shoes and trademark helmet, laid them on the pit and walked away to the huge roar of the crowd. He was choked up saying goodbye to the event he has done so much for. But like all vaulters, he will be around. His best was 6m (19' 8 1/4").
Last night we got a photo of me, Wolfie and Pat Manson (22 years over 18') but it came out blurry. Working on converting a video - above. Today Pat tries to get 23 years over 18'. Have a great day! Bubba

Friday, January 29, 2010

Gotta Be Careful!!

I had a very clean warm up with three attempts with hip height over a 13' 6" (4.12m) bungee. On jump two I started feeling my biceps strain and on jump three I felt it even more so I made the decision to stop rather than risk an injury that could knock me out of World Indoors on March 5. If anything I set myself back maybe 10%. I couldn't afford to make it worse.

Probably both the toughest yet easiest decision I have ever made. It was tough because I was jumping really well. It was easy because Kamloops is five weeks from today. It took me four weeks to make this much progress so an injury would put me back at square one. So I quietly went and sat down by Nancy and thought it out. When I saw the official come out with the list I went out and withdrew.

The other Americans did not jump as well as they came with one making 12' 1 1/2" (3.70m) and two others clearing no height - nh, missing at 3.85m (12' 7 1/2"). Wolfgang Ritte on the other hand cleared 14' 1 1/4" (4.30m) and had a couple of nice jumps at what have been a new WR of 14' 7 1/4" (4.45m). I really enjoyed meeting him. Before we started I told him that we really hoped he got a WR here and that one of us got an American Record. He came close to pulling his weight and we did not.

When we met Wolfie at the opening he opened his arms real big and said "Bubba, I'm so happy to get to meet you". He was a very nice breath of fresh air. All vaulters are nice and supportive but he had a room full of friends in no time flat. He's the kind of guy you want to cheer for and we certainly did.

Looking forward I think I have made the decision to skip Albuquerque and the Masters Exhibition at the USATF Elites meet. I've been worried all along about jumping at that high level within five days anyway. The reality is that if I got a ding like I did today when I'm at Albuquerque then I would be done for Kamloops. Even if I got a slight irritation I run the risk of it going out during the world championships and that makes it a risk I can't take.

OK, in four weeks I went from not being able to pull up my gym shorts with my right hand to being able to vault on a big pole. Because of my running and lifting my timing was on and I lost nothing by not being able to jump. With a full five weeks more to recover and maybe a 10% setback at worse, I should be 100% at Kamloops without the stress of the Russian Roulette that is Albuquerque. If I continue my running and conditioning, and vault each Friday at a low level progressing to a higher level but within my tolerance, I should be right where I need to be.

Just because the guys didn't jump great tonight doesn't mean that they won't be on fire at Kamloops because they will. They had plenty of height but they just couldn't leave the bar up. I've had days like that too. They will be at their best and I need to be also. So that's the game plan. Have a great night and thanks so much for the support. Bubba

Live Updates Here

Live From Reno

Where to start? I swapped my Palm Pre with Nancy and got my Blackberry back so that kept me from having to get my computer set up as quickly as I normally do. Hence no post yesterday. The Pre is OK but it's harder to type longer emails. Now I'm back online with my computer I can post.

The flights were easy as we went through Denver. Pat Manson was on my flight so we talked for awhile before we boarded. Pat still holds the high school indoor record of 17' 6 1/2" (5.35m) set in 1986. More importantly, at 42 years old, he made 17' 7" last week and hopes that tonight he will be able to accomplish his 23rd consecutive year over 18' (5.50m). That is just beyond amazing.

Got checked into the hotel and the event in the afternoon an had a good early dinner. It was the calm before the storm as last night when I went down to find a diet drink for my room the zoo had begun. Of the friends I saw and spoke to were Billy Olson (11 time world record holder - 19' 5 1/2" - 5.94m), Doug Fraley (19' 1/4" -5.80m), Greg Duplantis (19' 2 1/2" - 5.85m) and his son Mondo (9 years old WR of 11' - 3.35m), Tim Bright (19' 2 1/2" - 5.85m), Brad Pursley (18' 10 1/2" - 5.75m), etc.

This morning Becca from was hosting tonight's elite field in her room for those who had donated to their expenses. All guys between 18' 6" and 19' 2" and the girls were 14' 5" to 15' 4". I got to take our freshman, Max up with me to meet them and get his shirt autographed. Very cool.

This morning at the opening ceremony there were 2,000+ vaulters, coaches and family members in the room as all of the important people were introduced. They have now broken out into sessions for the day so I have come up to the room to start getting ready for tonight.

I found out yesterday that the Masters are going to compete at 5:30 and the elites will go at 7:30. I met Wolfgang (Wolfie) Ritte from Germany this morning. He is the world record holder in my division. Very nice and welcoming guy. He congratulated me for my win in Sydney and I did the same for him for his win in Finland. Those were the two BIG meets of last year. I chose Sydney because the weather would be better and some other top level people who had been to Finland said that the conditions would be better in Australia. Obviously Germany is closer to Finland so that was an easy decision for Wolfie.

Also saw my buddy Kirk Bentz, who just entered my group this summer. You may remember that he came out to LAX and hung out with me for a couple of hours as I awaited my flight to Sydney. John Altendorf from Oregon arrived last night too so we hung out a bit. John is he only 60 year old in history to clear 13' (3.97m).

SO, the gang's all here at all ages and all levels. Time to start thinking about jumping. More later. Bubba

PS - Saw Kris this morning and he said he took my poles over from the airport last night.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Off to the Airport

It's 4:35 AM and we will be leaving in a few minutes. Got a stop in Denver for nearly two hours so we get to go to this great restaurant, although I can never remember the name. Great breakfast!!

I got an email from the Summit last night with a link to all of the events as they happen, including results. So stay tuned here -
I will take photos and cover the event like I did in Sydney. Should be fun. Gotta fly - literally. Bubba

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

New Photos

Click to enlarge

Just got these two photos sent to me from the meet in Belton on January 2. The bar is at 13' 7" or 4.14m where I had a close miss at what would have been a new American Record for M55. Nice reminder to clean up the technique and grab a bigger pole. Bubba

Poles Arrive in Reno

Though I don't leave until Thursday morning, my poles have arrived in Reno. That's always a great feeling. One less thing to stress over.

I'll get a long stretch in today and go out and watch the kids vault this afternoon and help out the coach, and great friend Robbie Dueitt. We practiced all fall when Robbie was in football but this will be the first school practice. My favorite time of the year is working with the kids and Robbie. I've been around tons of good coaches but Robbie can take a kid who has never touched a pole and have them safely over a bungee in the pit in 20 minutes flat. I've watched him do it many times and it still amazes me.

We got a new box put in last week as the other one was rusted. When we opened the other it it had ants. So between those two setbacks we're ready to go on both ends. I expect today we will have nearly 20 vaulters on both ends. Then after that practice Robbie stays over for the junior high kids to come over.

Been lucky on the weather lately with most days in the high 60s and low 70s. Very pleasant. I'm not lulled into this sense of luxury since we have cold temps again by the end of the week. Of course we will be in Reno where it's colder. At least we are inside.

Have a great day today! Bubba

Monday, January 25, 2010

Tracking Santa

Much like tracking Santa Claus, I always track my poles when they are shipped off to a competition. There is a great peace of mind when you know your poles are there safely before you even leave. The last I checked they had left San Francisco and were on their way to Sacramento. The tracking # is 52858481 and you can check it out here -

Why do I ship poles? Since 9/11 many airlines no longer take poles or are limited in what they can and will take. Even if you can take them, unless you have a rental car you can't get them to and from the facility. It's just a HUGE hassle and shipping is maybe 20% more and you never see them come and go. They arrive at the stadium and come back to the school.

I had a friend a few years ago who was told at the Delta counter that they could not take his poles. So now what? He can't leave them at the airport yet he has no time to even put them back on his truck. He also has no poles at the meet. How good does that feel right when you're heading out to a big event?

Typically we will send two bags with poles in them for 3-6 vaulters so when the bill comes, we split it, making it far cheaper than taking them on your own without the hassles. I understand that not everyone can do this but we are fortunate enough that we regularly have club members going to these meets.

Have a great day! Bubba

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Sprint to the Finish

I looked at my work schedule tomorrow and it will be impossible to get a workout in. I travel on Wednesdays and I'll be in Reno for the rest of the week as we leave early Thursday morning. It was a bit of a risk since I jumped Friday and lifted legs yesterday but I did tomorrow's running workout today before I lifted in my garage. Doing a "double" wasn't in my plans when I woke up this morning but I can't afford to miss it. Surprisingly I felt pretty good but I didn't push the pace too much even though the running was 3X30 + 30, 40, 40 + 30, 20, 20. I got a nice long stretch in afterwards between my lifts. Happy to say that all of my lifts are back up to my regular maxes from before me bicep strain as I lift without caution.

All of this means I'm ready for Reno. The only thing that matters now is to execute my technical goals like I did in Belton, but even better. If I do those things right I will be on poles big enough to do some damage without a big risk to my legs, caused by trying to run too hard. Though the competition will be huge I don't really think of it that way. I just have to take care of me and then it is what it is. All of us guys are good friends so there is no real edge to winning as one of us will win the next time if not this time. The meet that matters is Kamloops but this is a great dress rehearsal for the pole/run strategy.

I'm still a little concerned and not quite sure how I will handle Albuquerque. I'm thrilled to be competing in this historic event but it IS only five days before Worlds. I'm thinking of making it a brief but high level practice by staying at 54' and not pressing poles but rather trying to get super clean technique. It's a funny dynamic because my biggest fear is that I will feel flat in Kamloops but reality is that I train my ASS off (vault, run, bars, lift) with NO rest and jump three or four days later in practice all of the time with no issues. My gut tells me it will go well but that doesn't keep me from being cautious.

Time to start watching my weight. I vault and train 3-4 pounds heavier so I feel quicker and the pole picks me up better at meets. I'll be right at 170 for the meet and I was 176 after breakfast today. I was 173 when I jumped Friday. Pretty easy for me to control as I drink a ton of fluids.

I'm excited for the meet but it still feels a long way away. On top of that this will be a long week since all of my real training is done with only strides and stretching left. Jumping at 7 PM at night REALLY drags out the day too but the crowd, the noise and the music get you pumped up as well. Looking forward to seeing all of the guys as that's always the best.

Thanks for being here and keeping me sane. It's about to be a very long 6-7 weeks as we go Reno, Albuquerque, Kamloops and Boston during that time frame. Gotta get fresh mentally and physically while keeping the technique sharp. Should be fun! Bubba

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Winding Down

I had my last hard gym lift and bars this morning and will have my last hard garage lift and bars tomorrow. I have four different bar exercises that I do - two on the gym day and two on the home day. THEN, it's hurry up and wait. Basically after I run on Monday it's jog/stretch/stride for a few days until Friday night. Fortunately I have tons of business stuff to do and I travel on Wednesdays before getting on the plane this Thursday.

My body feels good but I'm more focused on being technically correct on Friday. I wasn't thrilled with yesterday's jumps but it's really hard if you're holding back on your run and worried about your bicep. Nothing hurt so I know I will be able to let loose and be business as usual Friday night. Still, focusing on technical aspects takes the pressure off of worrying about poles, runs and heights.

Reno usually has 30ish vaulters per runway and goes up in 8" (20 cm) increments instead of 6" (15 cm) at other meets and 4" (10 cm) at Worlds. I'm sure they are aware that we need to go through a height that allows us to try the American record and also a height that M60 star, John Altendorf can get a new World Record. It is what is is and they always do a good job so I won't sweat it.

Took my poles back to the track today. I took almost every big pole to Kris' yesterday to either measure, flex , trade, jump or ship. I sent one bag and brought back two bags of poles. Over the years since 2005 I have probably accumulated 22-24 poles (all Essx) that I either practice or compete on from small 13' 1" (4m) to large 14' 7"s (4.45m). The only size I no longer have are 13' 7"s (4.15m) as I traded those in to get 14' 1"s (4.30m) because they pick me up better at take off. I can tell that I will have a massive re-taping job before New Mexico and Worlds because I will have four new 14' 7"s in my series. As mentioned before I color code the poles with tape so I don't have to read the little numbers they are marked with.

That's it for today. Hope you have a great Saturday! Bubba

Friday, January 22, 2010

Reno - One Week From Today

I learned this morning that we will vault in the big show on Friday night at Reno. This is also when the elite men and women jump so there is a huge crowd and a lot of excitement. The top five vaulters in the world in my age group, M55, will be competing together for the first time. Should be very challenging and fun. It would be amazing to see five M55 people over 13' (3.97m) but I think that is probably what will happen.

Jumped with Kris today and got about as far as I wanted to. I was mainly checking my bicep and a little grab I have had in my right hamstring. I started with a 33' (10m) run on a small 13' 1" (4m) pole at 12' (3.66m) and had a good jump then moved up to a bigger 13' 1" pole and had a better jump. My hope was to get on my smallest 14' 1" pole (4.30m) from 43' and I was able to do that but the pole was too small. Went up to the next one which is my meet warm up pole and made the bar by quite a lot and stopped. Mission accomplished - no pain and nothing injured with one week left to prepare.

I did my bars and went over my game plan with Kris and my training partner, Don Curry during lunch. I'll lift legs and do bars tomorrow, lift upper in my garage on Sunday, run on Monday, stretch of Tuesday and Wednesday, jog/stretch/stride on Thursday and be ready for the big night Friday.

My poles were packed and shipped to Reno today from Kris' place. I taped up my new 14' 7" (4.45m) pole. Of course you can't really tell much about it until you jump on it but it felt good to carry and plant in the box. If anything it feels a little smaller than my biggest 14' 1" pole but the longer reinforcement piece will make it a bit more of a challenge to get in on. If things go well I'll make 13' on the big 14' 1" like Belton and then go to the new pole for what will be a new American Record. That will give me three jumps to adapt. All five guys could make this height.

I would love to jump well at Reno and I expect to, but the competition will be seriously strong. I will use the time to refine my pole strategy for Canada. If the new pole doesn't work I want to know now rather than then so I'll "live by the sword and die by the sword". Go big or go home.

I feel pretty good for being a week out and know I will feel great on that night. If I jump a PR and get 5th I'll be happy. I just need to execute my game plan like everyone else will. Looking forward to the opportunity to be in that type of stellar environment. Whether I deserve to be in that company remains to be seen. Stay tuned and we will find out together. Have a great night. Bubba

Thursday, January 21, 2010


I'm packing up today to go vault with Kris tomorrow. I'm taking my poles to ship to Reno and my poles to trade. I am picking up my new 14' 7" (4.45m) pole and getting it ready to use in Reno. The goal is to make 4m (13' 1 1/2") on my biggest 4.30m (14' 1 1/4") pole and then move on to the new one. Looking forward to it.

These poles were made specially for Kris' kids. Because they are small and the poles felt heavy to carry, they moved the reinforcement piece up the pole to give it more balance. It also makes it a little quicker on the return and a little harder to get started bending. For a bigger guy like me who depends on a lot of constant hand pressure it isn't such a big deal. IF this works for me he has one 14' 7" pole that is smaller that I may switch to as a transition from my start pole.

The objective is to get over 14' (4.27m) so I have to set my series up so that I can get to the bigger poles sooner, yet have a forgiving start pole since I've usually been sitting around for awhile. Kris has a 14' that was made this same way so if my new one works, I will have a new 14, and new 14' 7" to start the series, and then get to the one I for sure am taking tomorrow. We will see how it works at Reno.

Have a great day and thanks for your interest and support. It is greatly appreciated. Bubba

PS - I almost knocked the garage door off of its tracks trying to back the Honda CRV into the garage. I have three big bags full of poles with another bundle strapped beside them. I think it was the pyramid stacking of the three bags that missed the height. Glad Nancy saw me doing it because I didn't even notice it was happening.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

I forgot to mention yesterday that we got our plane tickets to go to Boston for USATF Indoors -
I jump Saturday 3/27, two weeks and a day after World Indoors in Canada. We're shipping poles straight to Boston from Oregon, where my friend an M60 WR holder John Altendorf will ship them after driving them home from Canada.

My poles for Reno will be shipped out from Kris ' on Friday after I jump. We're sending the new one but the jury is out on that pole is it was made with a higher reinforcement (sail piece) panel. They think it will make it harder for me to get in on but I don't think so. I can always move my grip up a few inches and that should work. If not they will build new ones for me after Reno.

Got a nice stretch in today and will again tomorrow after I load up all of the poles to take to Kris. He trades poles for me so I don't always have to buy new ones. At $450 each that comes in handy. Gotta run but have a great day! Bubba

PS - After this indoor campaign Nancy and I will take a break and go to Hawaii for a little break. We promised we would do this when June passed as it has really been taxing on Nancy. Then we'll get back and look around for some good local outdoor meets. It will be nice not to travel for awhile.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010


A few things going on today of general interest;

The decision was made that I would move up to 14' 7" (4.45m) poles. In fact, one that Bruce Caldwell of Essx made last week by mistake is the dead on perfect flex number to be my first in the new three pole series. AWESOME!!

Our new plant box was installed today so we can't jump on that end until Monday. I wasn't thrilled about that but then when they opened up the other pit they found it infested with ants, so it too is out until Monday. This means I'm driving to Kris' place 170 miles from here on Friday to get my last vault session in before leaving for Reno next Thursday. I'll tape up my new pole and stick it in my bag to ship, and then I will jump on my little pole series. Should be fun.

Today at the dentist I worked with a lady who I had not met before, Peggy Goodwin. She greets me with, "I hear you are a pole vaulter. My son was a pole vaulter". It turns out he was Kirk Goodwin, who went to Abilene Christian University at a time when Billy Olsen and other great vaulters were there. Kirk was a 17' 1" vaulter before he lost his life tragically in a car accident on his way home from school to visit his parents in 1984.

So I guess I've got a new pole vault mom. She told me that she could tell when her son walked on the field whether he was going to have a good day or not. I told her my mom used to say the same thing to me but I put a stop to it by telling her that if she saw I was going to have a bad day to let me know immediately so I could try and fix it. She got a good laugh out of that.

Of course I'm a little nervous about my bicep on Friday. The plan is to jump on my 13' (4m) 17.7, 14.3 and my smallest 14' pole. I can easily make 12' on each of those poles from 33'. So not too much stress on my arm but enough to stretch it out and break the little healing adhesions. I'm 100% sure it's fine because I can do all of my other bars/lifting with no limitation or caution. I've had this a couple of times before and it's a quick fix. Since I'm on bigger poles I gave it a lot longer to get well than I normally would. Still I'm a little nervous.

Just saw the the age 56 AR is 13' 3" or 4.04m. Though I'm trying to get 13' 7"+ (4.14m), I'll take this along the way if I can.

That's the news for today. No workout. Tomorrow is an easy stride/stretch after my road trip. I'll have a long stretch Thursday then go to Kris Friday. More soon. Thanks for being here! Bubba

Monday, January 18, 2010

Pole Decisions

I've sent an email to Kris and to my pole guy Bruce Caldwell at Essx asking them to make 4.45m (14' 7") poles for me. Whether they agree with that strategy remains to be seen and I will do whatever they suggest. I've been thinking about it lately anyway but last week Bruce accidentally made some 14' 7s for me thinking they were 14' 1s. Then today I talked to Brad Winter, who too uses 14' 7s and he just reinforced what I was already thinking. So what's the big deal?

My smallest 14' pole is roughly the same stiffness as my biggest 13' pole and I can make 13' on it but I can't make 13' on any of my 13' poles. The "sail piece" or reinforcement piece of the pole is longer on a longer pole so it tends to "pick you up" more at the take off instead of letting you travel so much forward before lifting you. If you have an active take off like I do where you jump a lot then this is something that makes sense. Or at least I think it does. I'll see what Kris and Bruce say.

My reasoning is that I feel I can easily clear 13' 6" (4.12m) on my biggest 14' pole I have but to be consistent over that and have a real shot at 14' then I need a longer sail piece which means moving to 14' 7" poles. We will find out what my experts think tomorrow. Bubba

Thinking About Reno

A week from Thursday we leave for the 20th USA Track & Field Pole Vault Summit, since named the National Pole Vault Summit. I went to #s 2-14 and then skipped until 2008 so I'm looking forward to going back. There will be over 2,000 vaulters from around the world, at all levels, competing on 14 or so pits on the floor of the Reno Livestock Center. Here is the link -

I've always told my kids that if you aren't ready to PR at Reno then you are behind in your training and the same goes for me. I've had three meets and three PRs thus far but I'm going into Reno with the idea that I need to step it up another notch in preparation for the World Indoor Championships on March 5, in Kamloops, BC, Canada. Here is that link -

I don't know what time I jump at either place but the bottom line is to be ready for my checkpoints. All of the big guys will be in Reno so I want to be ready. That said, the REAL meet is on March 5th. So the plan is to get ready for Reno and then get a month of quality training in between Reno and Kamloops. During that month I will run and lift my butt off and drop down the level of my vaulting practices. This should bring me in fast, strong and healthy with a little better technique. It worked for Sydney.

The big difference is my run up to Sydney started with an injury and hopefully I will come out of Reno healthy. I had better because I won't have enough time to rehab if not. Another BIG difference so far is that I'm already consistently on bigger poles than I was at Sydney and I have also run from further runs.

Coming off of the biceps strain doesn't concern me so much. I'll also have two new poles to add to my order so I need to get to them in Reno if possible. We're close enough to start planning anyway so that makes it exciting. Nancy is going and she has never seen the Reno extravaganza nor met many of my friends so that too will be fun.

That's it for now. Have a great day! Bubba

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Great Weather Wasted

It was near 70 degrees today and I had the top down on the car on the way back from the gym. Absolutely beautiful. Unfortunately I was unable to do much with it. I don't think I have felt this flat since my first practice after Sydney. I think mainly from not stretching, though I also didn't warm up at all either. I'll explain that in a minute. Over all I felt good but just not loose or snappy and it's my fault. Easy fix. I knew five days off would not be good but I had no real choice with a death in the family and Nancy needing my help with everything.

Like I mentioned before, the main pit is out of order and this time of year the other pit goes right into a big headwind. I wanted to get a few jumps in on some small poles to see where my arm is. I figured I would just warm up as I went on small poles but I was so flat and the headwind was not helping. On a 13/167 I tried 10' from 32' and it took me three times to be able to complete the jump and when I did the pole was so tiny I thought I was going off the back of the pit.

The good news is that my arm didn't hurt at all and I was also able to do all of my bars normally without really having to be careful. Actually the original plan was to have a clean bar day before attempting to jump but I just combined them today since I was at such a low level.

My poles are being shipped to Reno Thursday so I packed and re-taped all of them today. I'll jump on some bigger poles in practice Thursday and then I'll be set for Reno. They are putting a new box in on the main end on Tuesday so I'll be back on that pit Thursday. I'll end with a few jumps on my smallest 14' (4.30m) pole.

Right now I'll be cautious going into Reno and if things feel normal, which I expect, I'll crank it up to where I was in Belton as far as what pole I use on each height. If I'm a little off I can still easily make those heights on one pole down. I'll expect the best and adapt if I have to.

What's funny to me is how bad I hurt when I have extended time off. I had two days off and then June died and that added three more. Everything heals short so I'm limping around bent over. I feel far worse resting than I do training. I only missed one two day rotation so the issue isn't the activity; it's that I did not stretch. That's easily fixable. Have a great day! Bubba

PS - brother Bill got out of Afghanistan from his 3rd tour and should be in Houston by Friday.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Last Day Off

I went to a local indoor meet at the University of Houston this morning to watch our high school girls. More importantly I got to hang out with my coach, Kris Allison, to go over some of our plans. They had 36 girls entered to be followed by 31 guys. Pretty wild seeing that many on the runway. I say that but Reno will be the same numbers or more but on 14 runways.

Got Nancy booked to join me for the Kamloops trip. We're flying in and out of Vancouver and this will be just days after the Winter Olympics ends. Depending on when I jump on Friday, 3/5, we will then spend 3-4 nights at Whistler Mountain where the Olympic skiing events will take place. Should be an awesome experience.

I decided to do nothing again today as we are in for a week of sun and near 70 degree weather. I may or may not vault tomorrow. I'm leaning away from it but if I feel good in warm up I will get in a few jumps before I run, do bars and lift. I'll go hard through the following Monday and then back off for Reno.

Tons more logistics stuff for all trips being decided now so I'll report when I'm done. Have a great day. Bubba

Friday, January 15, 2010

Moving On

Thanks to everyone for the kind comments and wishes regarding the passing of Nancy's mom, June. Family and friend support has been HUGE and a great comfort to Nancy!

Just like that - life has changed. Now I am reworking the trip to Kamloops to take Nancy along and we will go to Whistler Mountain for a few days of R&R afterwards.

Looking like the first good day for jumping will be Sunday so I will wait until then. That will give me a little phase break of five straight days off. That's not so bad every now and then. I REALLY want a jump day and the other training has gone well so I want to feel good for it. Sure I could do yesterday's lift and run in the light rain but then I would feel like crap on Sunday so I'll wait it out.

Thanks again and have a great day! Bubba

Thursday, January 14, 2010

June Harper 12/3/1916 - 1/14/2010

My mother in law, June Harper, quietly passed away in her sleep at our home early this morning with Nancy and the hospice care nurse Marrissa by her side. Three months and one day ago she had the stroke that ultimately took her life. A great spirit and a wonderful woman who never knew a bad mood, June was a pleasure to be around.

In the early Fall of 2003 I told Nancy that I felt June would die alone in Cleveland and that she seemed to be more depressed as the weather grew worse. We found a new house that gave her a private little wing of her her own and brought her down for a "visit" on a one way ticket. She never went back and The Woodlands became home. Our thoughts were that coming down with us would give her maybe five more years of a great quality of life. She got six and it was truly a blessing for mother and daughter to have this special time together. As the son in law I had no problem growing to love her. There's really no way you couldn't as she was such a positive force. She never quit acting as a grateful guest even though this was her home too.

We're sorry she's gone but happy that the suffering is over. She will always be with us and for that I too am thankful. Thank you June, not only for being you, but for raising a wonderful daughter who I will love and honor for the rest of my life. Besides Nancy she is survived by her brother Bud, Nancy's brother J, and her grandchildren Dannielle and Devin. Bubba

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Protecting Me From Me Again

Circumstances always seem to protect me from being me. I thought about jumping today because the weather is nice and Kris thought it would be good. In the back of my mind I was wondering if 10 days is enough on my bicep to hit 14' poles. Then the high school coach called and said that the new box will be installed Tuesday morning so they put the front of the pit away. Not that I land there anyway but I don't want to be a bad example.

SO tomorrow is my scheduled jump day. IF it's not raining I could jump on the other end but this time of year that's a big headwind so forget that. My next day is Sunday so same thing - big headwind, jump with no front buns (leaning toward) or wait until Thursday (probably the smartest). We will see tomorrow. In any case I will continue my running and lifting which is going very well. Bubba

On the Road Again

It's time for Wednesday's road trip so no real training. I'm trying to decide whether to vault tomorrow or just run and wait for Sunday. The weather will probably make that decision for me as we are expecting rain tomorrow but sunny on Sunday. It's probably smarter to give my arm until Sunday and go on my smallest 14' (4.30m) poles rather than go 13' (4m) poles tomorrow. The bicep feels normal at the 10 day point but I would rather jump at a higher level than a lower one. I guess I just answered my own question - I'll wait for Sunday and then jump the following Thursday before the poles are shipped to Reno that afternoon. This is why I blog - I spelled out the issues and the answer was sitting right there.

Reno is in question because of June's situation. The hospice nurse does not expect her to live much longer which is a great blessing for her. I'm fine but Nancy will need the break and is looking forward to the trip. However, if June is still alive I will not go as I won't leave Nancy here alone as her mother dies.

You have to understand that this is not cold or callous or misplaced priorities. Both of our mothers (mine died in April) are/were in great distress before they died so the actual death is almost cause for celebration because they can get free of their misery. We're trying to do everything to make June comfortable at home but nothing works. That's part of the deal unfortunately. So if she dies, we're going to Reno and if not by then, we won't. I'm guessing we will be at Reno and have to train that way even of we don't.

Off to the rat race. Have a great day! Bubba

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Odd Off Day

This blog is about the LIFE of a masters pole vaulter. We got thrown a little curve yesterday when the doctor at the hospital where Nancy's 93 year old mom, June, is being treated for pneumonia, told us that she has anywhere from a few days to a couple of weeks to live. Not really that surprising. SO the decision was made to bring her home and put her under hospice care and let her die in peace around those she loves and love her.

She just got home an hour ago and was resting peacefully. She woke up and realized she was home, saw us, had the dogs jump up in bed with her, etc. She is so overjoyed that she has tears in her eyes. For the past three months since her stroke she has begged Nancy to take her home. At that point we couldn't care for her but at this low activity level and with hospice care, we can do as much for her here as they do at the nursing home.

So no stretching or any other activity today for me as I needed to get the room ready for the hospital bed, equipment, nurses, etc. It feels like a such more humane way for her to have her last days and that gives us some peace as well. Thanks for being there. Bubba

Monday, January 11, 2010

Six Decades Over 13'

I just posted this on I don't know what made me think of it but here's the story.

I have had several vaulters give me different years that they have done different things. Dan West has a number of cool things like that. I came up with one of my own last night and would also like to hear about yours.

I have now vaulted 13' or higher in six decades. I first made it in 1969, of course the 70s, I started back in masters in 1989 and made 13' in my 3rd meet. No problem in the 90s or 2000, then on January 2, 2010 I cleared 13' 1" (3.99m) to give me that height in my 6th decade. Since I'm 56 I got lucky by catching the end of the decade on the first one and the first of the decade on this one. I certainly doubt there will be a 7th but we can dream. Bubba

Good lift session as the bicep continues to recover well. I was able to do all of my bars and lifting with normal weights.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Coming Around

Whenever I can have a full week or so with all of my training components I can feel the momentum starting to gather. As much as I love vaulting it's very demanding as it affects both what you should do before a vault session and what you are able to do after it. Because of the light biceps strain I got last week, I have been able to just run, lift and stretch.

Today is the 8th day of my strain and I'm at about 90%+. Last Saturday I couldn't do anything without getting a stinging reminder. By midweek I could carry the little dogs with my right arm and today I was able to do my bars for the first time. All of my curls and other arm lifts are back to their original weights. I'll try my other set of bars and cleans tomorrow and if that works I'm free to start jumping again. Basically I got a ding from being under too far at take off on a big pole. Not being a guy who likes to be under, even 2-3" feels like I'm getting my arm ripped off.

Pretty funny how your body talks to you and your mind buys into it. When I was driving to the gym today I was thinking that I may not even vault again before Reno because of my arm. Twenty minutes later I'm powering myself to vertical on high parallel bars with 5 lb. ankle weights on. Now I'm thinking I may jump at a mid level next Thursday and then a hit a day on my 14' poles the following Thursday and be done for Reno.

My body feels great but I need some solid training without meets so I'm really enjoying this little break. I have had three meets and three PRs so I feel pretty good about getting back to work. That's it for today. Thanks for being here. Bubba

Weather - I've made the observation that 32 degrees in the sun is better than 44 with clouds. We're supposed to get back in the high 60s this next week but the cold wasn't nearly as bad as I expected this week because the sun was out. If you're not from the south you already know these things. DUH!!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Running Day

I skipped the meet in Joshua (Dallas) today as a precaution for my bicep, which continues to improve. I don't want anything to risk my fitness for Reno in three weeks. I'll get a good running day in today and then attempt some bars. May be too early to put that type of stress on the arm but that's fine. I'm really trying to focus on running, lifting and stretching as I feel comfortable with my vault right now. Only a week ago today I made 13' 1" easy and had a decent jump at 13' 7" so what could I have lost? New Essx poles on the way is also a good reason to wait it out.

I just entered yesterday's lift numbers in my training log and did in fact go over 14 million pounds lifted since I started my come back on January 1, 2005. Since I began my prep for Sydney I've lifted 1.3 million. I'll go over 10,000 high bar drills sometime within the next month. I keep track of this because it just blows me away how this all adds up over time if I will just keep showing up.

All the best and have a wonderful Saturday! Bubba

NOTE - I've had a few questions about the running I'm currently doing. I'm on week 6 of this 14 week program and I ran it twice this week - When I finish this 14 weeks I will start over at week 1 with a sled. I run on a grass area that is about 60m with a 3-5% incline depending on where you are in the run. The peak of the "hill" is about 40m so I try to come off of that accelerating. My warm up is over 40m as follows;

  1. crossover/carioca
  2. 40m stride
  3. high knees
  4. 40m stride
  5. straight legs
  6. 40m stride
  7. high skip
  8. 40m stride
  9. power skip
  10. 40m stride
  11. butt kicks
  12. 40m stride

Today's running was;

  • 5X20m
  • 2X40m, 1X50m
  • 2X30m, 1X40m

SO 23 total reps today and Tuesday. Have a great day. Bubba

Friday, January 8, 2010


We are at the high for the day right now at 30 degrees. Shockingly between my space heater and the radiant heat from the house the garage wasn't too bad at all. Had a very nice lift. My weights are starting to go back up and my right bicep, after only six days from the strain, is back to 80-85%. On lat pulls I could do 120 and the other day I had to stop at 80 and be very careful. I could also do cleans today (95) and that was out of the question on Monday with only the bar (45 lbs).

Going to get a big running day in tomorrow as it will be three weeks from Reno. Reno is the National Pole Vault Summit - where over 2,000 vaulters will compete on 15+ pits from 4' to 19'+. Five of the top six M55 guys in the world will be jumping and of course the goal is to get the American Record of 4.12m (13' 6 1/4"). Since last week I had a close jump at 13' 7" and I have new Essx poles on the way, I'm hoping it will happen there. Of course so are the others guys jumping. Bubba

Thursday, January 7, 2010

To Blog or NOT to Blog

Though this is a good outlet for my thought process, and certainly no one is being forced to read it, do you want to see it continue after World Indoors in Kamloops? I've received a lot of info and had considerable reflection and revelations from the writing. In that way it IS self serving. On the other hand I have friends who like the behind the scenes stuff and fellow athletes who like to share training insights. Shoot me a line and let me know either way. Thanks! Bubba

PS - this comes up because an esteemed masters athlete, non-vaulter, suggested that, though he loves it, the blog could appear over the top and self serving to others. That the videos may also seem too much. He's a friend and encourages me to continue. I'm just seeking your opinion. I think that if I had gotten the American Record people would have wanted to see it. If I'm trying to explain a vaulting concept I can point it out via video. I'm honest enough that if I absolutely suck at something or have a bad day you're going to hear about. I also don't believe I am as good or as bad as others may think. I guess you could say I'm "keeping it real".

I use the blog to voice my ideas, concepts and strategies. Do they make sense after I've said them and live with them? What do my friends and family think and contribute? I get GREAT advice from you guys in all areas. Again, just thinking out loud.

What's the Use?

Sometimes that's how I feel when I look at my effort vs. minuscule progress while constantly watching and managing dings and injuries. I'm looking in the mirror today while doing lateral flys to protect my shoulders, and I look pretty big, like a weightlifter. That said my vaulting weight is about 168-170 or about 3-4 pounds lighter than last year.

Your mind tells you that enough may be enough but you can't let that mentality spread to other areas of your training. Besides, what do I have to lose by being in better shape? Like Gary Hunter's college professor used to say, "whatever you want to do in sport will be easier if you're stronger", and Gary makes me look little. BTW - in almost every picture of vaulters I'm the smallest at 5' 11" and 170.

Am I embarrassed that I don't take an off season and regularly lift and do bars four days a week? If I crank and crank and crank will I really jump higher? Would this time be better spent in other area like running or would that create a new set of training balance issues or overuse injuries?

I think the answer is that I just have to stick true to what has worked. I'm jumping well, getting injured less, and feeling overall more healthy. I think what sticks in my mind is the amount of measurable return for effort is so far out at this level. I could lift 100 sessions to maybe safely move up 10 pounds in my lifting maxes. So what's the use?

In short, I'd rather have this habit than one that makes it harder to re-engage in workouts like after Sydney. I need to be happy and embrace this focus as a "good" thing. Thanks for listening. This is exactly why I blog. I'm throwing it out there and hoping that the voice of reason shouts, or even whispers, back to me.

TOUGH field at Worlds for the Americans but I LOVE those guys and think we should make a good showing. I couldn't think of a better US group I'd want to go to a big meet with. Sorry my buddy Jeff Kingstad can't make it but I will see him at Reno and USATF Elite Nationals.

Have a fun day! Bubba

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

World Indoor Entries - Americans

55-59 Men's Pole Vault
Kirk Bentz
Steve Hardison
Doug Sparks
William Murray
Dan West
Russell Jacquet-Acea

Road Day

Heading out for the business drive day loop to see clients/partners. Always a relaxing getaway.

Finalizing the field for the USATF Elite meet in New Mexico where they will for the first time have a masters pole vault. I'm helping event coordinator, Brad Winter, tie up the last loose ends. This will be a historic and fun event.

The biceps is doing better but I'll remain cautious. GREAT running workout yesterday. The first running or vaulting workout after a meet always starts BAD - you feel crippled and out of sync. BUT, it usually comes around like it did yesterday. Sleet tonight and tomorrow so I'm glad to have gotten it in.

Gotta run. Have a great day! Bubba

Tuesday, January 5, 2010


The official entries are now closed for World Masters Indoors yet you can still sign up and pay a late fee. My friend Kirk Bentz and I have been entered a long time but I see our buddy, Bill Murray, is also entered now. Bill was 2nd at US Indoors, Outdoors and World Masters in Lahti, Finland last year, but more importantly, he won the decathlon in Finland is well. He is a tremendous athlete. Bill's best vault is 3.95m (12' 11 1/2") so there could be a realistic argument that we could possibly sweep the medals. We're a long way from there but it's nice to have three M55 guys over 13'.

Back to reality - my biceps seems to be getting better pretty fast which I expected. I'll still take it easy with no bars and reduced weights for the rest of the week. Today will be 50 and tomorrow will be 56 so I will run one or both days since the next three days will be between 22 and 32.

To clarify about the cold, I hate the cold but it doesn't bother me to run. What I dislike the most about it is that I can't vault at a high level without risking injury so it almost feels like a wasted day. Just so you understand that I'm not complaining about the weather like a whiner; just how it limits what I can do.

That's it for now. I'll report back when I figure out my adjusted schedule. Have a fun day! Bubba

Monday, January 4, 2010


My little biceps strain is certainly there but not too bad as I could do all my lifts; just some with less weight. I won't attempt any bars until next week and I figure a week after that and I'll be safe to go. As mentioned, I've had this before and it's not a big deal. Plus it will force me back into speed and strength for a few weeks which can't be bad.

My travel day for work just got switched back from Tuesday to Wednesday so I'll have to do some work tonight and see what that means. Probably jump days will go to Sunday/Thursday but I'll look at other options as well.

This week I should go over 14 million pounds lifted since I started back in January of 2005. Sure adds up over time, especially when you don't have an off season. Why would I take a break? Vaulting is too fun so I wouldn't have it any other way. Have a great week! Bubba

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Grind Baby, Grind

Great lift session today as I have renewed vigor because I won't vault for 10 days to two weeks. In other words I can destroy my body training because I don't have to feel good if I'm not going to be jumping anyway.

I didn't do bars today because I didn't want to risk making my biceps strain worse with my full body weight and ankle weights. I was able to do my curls and other arm stuff with not much reduction in weight.

The focus now will be to crank away at lifting, running and stretching since I don't have to be fresh to jump. I'm right on the edge of a breakthrough so I want that extra strength and speed.

Just heard from Bruce Caldwell of Essx and he's going to get going on two bigger poles for me. Because it was my biggest pole, yet too small, I almost grabbed a pole from another manufacturer for my second jump at the AR but I only have confidence in Essx.

VERY comfortable with where I am right now, two months from Worlds. Time to physically raise another level while further refining technique. Have a great Sunday! Bubba

Saturday, January 2, 2010

13' 1" - 3.99m - One Close @ New AR 13' 7" (4.14m)

Good day as I followed Kris' plan to hit big poles early. In warm up I cleared 12' twice, 12' 6" and 13' from 55'. In the meet I made 12' (3.66m), 12' 6" (3.81m) and 13' 1" (3.99m) all on first attempts before having one pretty good jump at what would have been a new American Record (AR) 13' 7" (4.14m). The American Record for M55 currently is 13' 6 1/4" (4.12m).

On the second attempt I got a little biceps ding and stopped. Pretty sore but not a huge deal. I've had it before and it goes away in about a week. I was under on my step all day because my run was pretty good and I think that's why it got jerked. That said I will skip Joshua (Dallas area) next week and train for Reno.

GOOD NEWS - I got photos and video so I'll post them later when I can sit down and convert them. Both 13' 1" and 13' 7" were on my biggest pole (14'/4.30/178.3/15.4) from 65' whereas last week I needed 75' to use it. I think I'm about to have a breakthrough as you will see from the video. Technically I'm a little sloppy from getting knocked around by missing my step at take off, but I'll take the high level jumps. More soon. Bubba

I put up weblinks below so you can see a bigger version, hit pause, and advance frame by frame with the cursor.

This is 13' 7" - 4.14m - Attempt at New M55 American Record

This 13' 1" - 3.99m

This is 12' 6" - 3.81m

This is 12' - 3.66m

Friday, January 1, 2010

Happy New Year!!

Another year begins with hope and grace. I feel very fortunate for the blessings in my life and accept the setbacks dealt my way as part of life. I hope to defy age old wisdom and vault higher than I did when I was younger in 2009. When all else fails we have hope and faith. I'm most appreciative of you guys and gals and your friendship and support. Wishing you the very best for 2010!!

I'm re-taping the rest of my poles today as I picked them up and brought them home yesterday. I'm picking up Don at 4:30 AM tomorrow to head to our meet, a little less than three hours away. Looking forward to the opportunity to see where I am. I find it funny that less than two weeks ago I had a meet yet it feels like a long time ago.

I'm not as nervous about starting on big poles as I am about going to huge ones at heights before I normally would. But Kris is right, I have more room for error so this gives me the most experience on bigger poles. I'm not nervous about injury because I know when I go to big poles I try to run slower at first, not faster. This allows me to set up a better take off position and to put more efficient pressure on the pole rather than just relying on speed. I had a dream last night that I nh'd tomorrow's meet at 12'. It felt very real and unpleasant. The last time I failed to clear a height in a meet was April of 1974, but anything is possible.

All the best to you in 2010 and beyond!! Enjoy the long weekend! Bubba