Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Slow Day at the Ranch

Today is my travel day and one of my partners needed to see me earlier so I got home at a reasonable hour. Tomorrow is my first regular training day in FOREVER and since my arm feels good I'm going to jump on this tiny cut off 13/162 (cut to 11' 8") from either two or four steps and work on a few little things. The next time (Sunday) out I'll go to the 12' 6"/165, then the next day (next Thursday) a 1365 and then I'm on to my 4m series. Jumping twice a week is something I really miss and at this low level I can do all components and still be able to vault. Can't wait. More tomorrow. Bubba

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Healing Nicely

Though my bicep was very sore yesterday it didn't hurt when tested by weighted positions. This morning I would say that 80% of that soreness is gone so of course this makes me even more optimistic that I can get back to reality. So what is reality?

My objective will be to resume all training components no matter how few the reps. Though I start training again Thursday, the following Thursday will be the first day to vault and do all bars. I'm not pressed to hit a certain meet at a certain time even though I have the Brazos Valley Senior Games on 4/22. I won't go if I don't feel I can jump 4m (13' 1 1/2") so that will be dependent on how my very few vault sessions go between now and then.

The first meet I will target is 5/23, then 5/30 and then 6/19. It's more important to complete a long string of training weeks than to cut it off just to jump at a meet. During this window Nancy and I will go to Hawaii in early May and then to bury her mom's ashes in Cleveland on the weekend of 6/12. There will be heavy training before these planned breaks. Ramp up, break; or ramp up, compete, break are the most normal training cycles. I can ramp up in as short as two weeks or can do a sustained 4-6 weeks in some cases.

Right now I'm thinking this will be a short season with a mark of at least 4.07m (13' 4 1/4") and hopefully 4.14m (13' 7") or higher. Why? Next year is a World Championship year. For the first time since 1995 they will be in the US in Sacramento. MANY good vaulters will move into my age group as I become one of the oldest so I will need a good 6-8 months of very limited competition and a ton of focused training to move myself up a level to even hope to compete for a medal. It may take 14' (4.27m) for a medal and as of today the highest by an American is 13' 6 1/2" (4.13m) so what does that tell you about who is coming up? Only one guy has ever made 14' in the M55.

Also the National Senior Games will be at home in Houston. I think it would be fair for a vaulter in my position to look past next year because the challenges to keep up with the depth and talent of new young guys in my group looks pretty hopeless. But I have to see it as a challenge but also as a launching base for my attack on 2013 when I become 60 and I am the youngest. That year the WMA (World Masters Athletics - Track & Field Only) will be in Brazil and the World Masters Games (Olympics for Masters) will be in Torino, Italy. So to hit my long term goal I will have to be able to make a serious run at the short term goal, no matter how overwhelming that task seems.

So there you go. This is the kind of stuff I think about when I'm not able to train. Can't wait to start back, especially since I feel healthy. Have a great day! Bubba

Monday, March 29, 2010

Things Happen for a Reason

I've had a few "saving me from me" postings but it seems to happen when most needed. After writing yesterday that I would skip the first rotation of the week I told Nancy I thought I would recover more quickly if I would stay on schedule and go to the gym but she stay at a low level. She reminded me that "normal" IS skipping the first rotation after a big meet; especially one where I feel fortunate to have even been able to jump.

Well sure enough my light schedule for work got hit with a bunch of stuff right in a row and it gave me the time to rethink the importance of training today. It's not important and in fact REST IS far more important.

I remember Simon Arkell of Australia would tell me, "I came up with a hamstring problem this morning", even though he felt nothing when he left the training session the day before. That's how our bodies are sometimes; they tell you they aren't quite fine a few days after you jump. So I will wait it out and see where I land. I still feel like I am uninjured though.

The game plan is to ramp up slow with meets scheduled for 4/22, 5/22, 6/19 and Outdoor Nationals in Sacramento on 7/24. There are several All Comer Meets at The Woodlands High School so I'm sure I will jump there a few times also. Right now I just want to take a ton of easy vaults and jump twice a week. Can't wait.

Here is a video on my miss at 3.85m (12' 7 1/2") jump off of Nancy's iphone. Bad quality and too far away but I forgot the other camera. Clearly had the height easily so that's why I passed to 4m (13' 1 1/2") once Kirk made it. Decent jump but needs a lot of clean up.

Have a great day! Bubba

Actually this may be a little better. Just hit pause and then use the cursor to go frame by frame.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Home Sweet Home ...

I always like getting back home after a big meet. This was such an incredibly stressful five weeks. I didn't jump that high, my normal opening height, but I survived it and can now return to training and that is priceless. Winning a medal at Nationals is always special so I feel very fortunate to have come out with one.

I'll skip this first rotation and pick it up on Thursday to make sure that everything really is OK. Of course on the way out of the hotel this morning I rolled and picked up our bags and slung them with my right hand and felt nothing in the bicep. Sure it's sore but what isn't? The vault is such a high impact sport if done correctly that it will beat you up, especially when your first session in five weeks is at such a relative high level.

The plan now is to ramp back up slowly through my smaller poles and by the time I'm back to the big ones I should have re-established my technical efficiency. I'm so glad I kept grinding when I couldn't jump because I would really be playing catch up physically right now. I only make this comment because of how hard it was to make myself show up every day and do the work when I knew there was no chance of jumping for five weeks. The most depressing part was not knowing if I would get hurt yesterday and have to restart the injury/rehab clock.

I met a ton of great people this weekend and didn't realize I had so many vaulters who follow this blog. Thanks so much for your encouragement and support. To the guys I just met, please shoot me an email and let's stay in touch.

Kirk Bentz! You are the man! Great job Buddy! Let me get well and challenge each other like we originally made a pact to do before you came into our group. As we discussed, it will only make us both better. Thanks for your friendship and CONGRATS!!

Have a great night and thanks to everyone for caring and supporting me and all vaulters! It takes a team and I'm thrilled to have you to lean on and depend on! Bubba

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Silver Medal & Unhurt

Different type of stressful day as the schedule was running about two hours behind. I did not turn up (go vertical) in warm up because I didn't know if my bicep would take it. I started very low at 11' 1 3/4" (3.40m) on my 17.5 and made it easy on the first jump to get the silver medal and thought about stopping. Moved up a pole to the 17.2 for 11' 7 3/4" (3.55m) and was being very cautious and scared so I got a miss. The next jump I hit it good and made it pretty far. I moved back to my 54' and up another pole (16.5) for 12' 1 1/2" (3.70m) and made it on my 1st jump. Had a very good jump at 12' 7 1/2" (3.85m) on my 15.9 carbon but when Kirk made it on his first I passed my next two jumps to 13' 1 1/2" (4m) and had one good jump. Kirk made it for the win and then got a new American Record of 13' 6 3/4" (4.13m). He had a very good day and I was in survival mode. Considering I've had several good attempts at the AR myself I think Kirk and I will have some great battles when I am totally healthy again.

All in all I was pleased and relieved not to get hurt and to still be able to be aggressive even though I hadn't touched a pole in five weeks. It was a very tough day mentally but I survived so I'm thrilled. I say aggressive but actually I was overcautious on my technique even though I was on big poles. The result is the best I could hope for at this point of my recovery. Next week it's back to regular training AND I will now get to vault twice a week, Hallelujah!!

Thanks for all of your support. It's been an incredibly unstable period but I kept on grinding on the things I could do. My biggest fear was that my arm would survive but I would strain a groin or hamstring. My other hard training kept that from happening. Thanks again! Bubba

Meet Day Reflections

Morning in Boston. Our hotel overlooks the Charles River.
When you go into the final stages of prep for a big meet you think back about all of the things it took to get this far. I remember training with this meet in mind in November. You tend to put yourself on the field MONTHS in advance so when it gets here you check your notes and see if it is what you expected. If not, then you readjust your future view as you prepare for the next big meet.
Of course I wish my arm would have been good as I have not had a high level vault since January 2. That said, today is the last day for the year that indoor marks will be accepted so this is it. Presently I have the highest vault by an M55 American and rank 2nd in the world at 3.99m (13' 1"). Worse case for me Kirk jumps 4m+ and it bumps me to #2 in the US and #3 in the world. Big deal. All three of my indoor meets this year were PRs (Personal Records) and my worst meet is still high enough to have me ranked #1 in the US and #2 in the world. My worse meet was 1 cm higher than the winning jump at Kamloops. So no matter what happens today it's been a great indoor season. I need to just get well and get back into regular vault training and hopefully that happens after today.
Boston has been a funny place for me. I won in 1997 and then proceeded to get a series of 2nds and 3rds before coming back in 2006 after my Achilles surgeries and racking up three consecutive 4ths. I HATE not getting a medal and sometimes it feels there is a curse for me at Boston. Get this, last year the meet was in DC and I won. Next year the meet is in Albuquerque and this year for Boston I'm questionable with an injury. I'd love to break the curse and get a medal here for the first time since 2001. Of course that requires that I am able to actually vault.
My morning for a big meet is to get up early and get some breakfast. Come back to the room and catch up on email and then take a bath while reading something mindless. After that I do a light little stretch and some skip drills so it doesn't take me long to warm up at the track. As I get closer to leaving I go to my music. Of course they are the same songs I hear when I'm grinding away on training so the music reminds me of the sacrifice and commitment I made that let me know I expect to do well. While listening to the music I only think of technical positions that I will need to be successful. Today I'm going to shorten my hand spread a bit in order to hit the pole hard with both hands instead of depending so much on my top hand. I will also make sure I am locked out with my entire body stiff as steel just before the pole hits the back of the box. I will not turn prematurely as this strains my bicep. I progress through my "mechanical checklist" and that keeps me relaxed and focused. Simple but it works.
Time to get to the bath so have a great day and I'll get back with you later. Thanks again for your support and just being here. Bubba

Friday, March 26, 2010

I Really Don't Know

That's the company line and I'm sticking to it. I'll wait and find out like everyone else if my body holds up. I'm not going to let it get in the way of my fun though. Had a nice lunch with Nancy and a leisurely afternoon in the hotel. We're staying at the Westin Copley so we're connected to the Prudential Center underground. Not that I am a shopping fan but it gives Nancy something to do before the big meet.

Flying in today there was light snow but it's perfectly clear right now. Of course this is "Indoor" Nationals so that's not such a factor. We're at the Reggie Lewis Athletic Center where the elites have their big meets as well as nationals.

Flying in today and seeing the coastal houses and cottages always reminds me of our summer trips to Maine. As an outsider I always see Boston as the gateway to New England. Nancy's brother is in Maine so we rent the same big house every year and friends and family to converge. It's in Newagen on the tip of the area where Boothbay Harbor is on the Central Coast. This year we go from October 1-8. Last year we were supposed to go but June's (Nancy's mom) health wasn't good. It will be our first trip without her and she will be missed but we know how much she loved sitting in the bay window watching the lobster boats come in to the cove. I really love this whole area and Boston has become one of my favorite cities. Here is the house in Maine -

I'll answer a few emails tomorrow after an early breakfast and head over to the meet around noon. Houston girl Helen Croskell (W35) just won Worlds in Kamloops and is jumping now. All of the guys jump tomorrow. More soon. Have a great evening. Bubba

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Leisure Day?

Borya Celentano sent me this photo of him practicing "take offs"

The day before I leave I schedule very little to do because I know that the last minute stuff will at some point overwhelm my schedule. Sure enough I have five business calls that weren't on my schedule yesterday, as well as some writing and emails to do.

A big storm came through overnight but I will get out to do my sprint drills and stretch this morning before starting to pack. Even though I am clueless about this meet I'm excited to be going because at least I will get to vault. How long and how high depends on any number of factors. The sled helps my power on the runway and should protect against groin or hamstring injuries so we'll see how the arm holds up.

I got an email last night from my former vaulter, Borya Celentano. I met Borya after his sophomore year of high school when he had vaulted 13'. Six years later his best was 18' 10 1/2" and I can say that I learned as much from him as he did from me. He's a true friend. He wanted to wish me luck in my meet and to show me the "Take Off" drills he has been working on. This is Borya in his F-18 jet that he flies off and onto aircraft carriers. Pretty cool.

I'll have a computer with me for the meet but posting will be late Saturday as I don't jump until 3:30 Boston time. I will make post tomorrow after I get settled in the hotel. Have a great day and thanks for your support Bubba

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Changing Seasons

As I did my stretching in the garage today I notice that when I stretch over my right leg when it's up on the workbench that my foot almost hits the fan, and my left almost hits the space heater. It reminded me that I'm in that window of time where I need neither.

We're also changing from indoor season to the outdoor season as this is officially the last week of the indoor season. I've talked to both of my main physical therapist partners and both assure me that after five weeks I should have no trouble with my bicep. You would think that would help but not really. Some things it feels great but then I will make some quick steering move or pick up the dog food wrong and I get a reminder that it probably still is not ready. I have resisted every possible urge to screw it up so if it is then I'm done for awhile. I would hate to miss the bulk of the summer meets but I have to get this thing totally well as all of the big meets are next year again. World Championships will be in the US (Sacramento) for the first time since 1995, and the National Senior Games will be in Houston.

That's all I can say for now. Frustrating but part of the deal with training and competing at a high level at any age. My goals are too big to cruise through the motions safely so I'll have to become a better judge of physical tolerance. I'll see how Saturday goes and deal with it from there. Have a great day! Bubba

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Stretching ... Alot

At this stage of big meet prep it comes down to hurry up and wait. All I have left between now and Saturday is stretching and one half-assed day of easy strides and rhythm drills tomorrow. I don't mind it but it's boring. I always try to schedule some big work project the week of a big meet to keep my mind off of it but I'm pretty much caught up at this point.

I'm pretty comfortable with my game plan which will be business as usual unless I start to feel something and then I will back off and wait for the meet. I will start on my own smallest pole rather than borrow a pole because I need to stay on my sponsor's, Essx poles. I thought about sending a couple of smaller poles with a friend who jumps in the M75 group but I really think I'll be fine at the lower levels. When I say "lower level" I'm talking about three poles smaller than I started on at Reno so I should be safe. BTW - I see my poles arrived in Boston a little over an hour ago.

We get in about 1 PM on Friday so I'll hang out at the hotel and Nancy will hit the Prudential Center underground. I like to be "quiet" the day before the meet. I'll head over fairly early on Saturday (I jump at 3:30) because I have a lot of friends jumping in the divisions before me and I need to get checked in and pick up my packet with my number, etc. Should be a fun meet if I keep it low key. The goal is to get a medal and get home uninjured. I'll see what I can do.

Thanks for your support. This blog is a great outlet when I'm frustrated or uncertain and I don't mind putting it out there when I am. This is as much a mental sport as a physical one and for me to enjoy the meet the mental work has to be done first. Prediction - Kirk wins it easy at 4m+ (13' 1 1/2") and I get 2nd or 3rd at 11' (3.35m) or 12' (3.66m) and stop before I'm hurt too bad. Thanks again! Bubba

Monday, March 22, 2010

Last Run Day

The sled felt good even though it was 42 degrees. Got my last massage at 11. Poles are in Newark on the way to Boston -

I'm all set on poles and my bars felt better than they have since I was hurt. Of course all of this means nothing. I just want it to hold up for a few jumps so I can get home and start over a slow ramp up beginning with tiny poles. Go in feeling good and come out unhurt. Not too much to ask is it? What's funny is that three weeks ago I felt like I could have jumped at Kamloops yet today at almost five weeks I'm still questioning my readiness. If nothing else that shows I made the right decision in Kamloops.

Gotta run but more later or tomorrow. Bubba

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Last Gym Lift

If you remember I lift one day in the gym followed by a day at home. Part of it is that I have a broader selection of machines and cables at the gym and at home I have a Smith Machine and high P-Bars. All of my lifts we up around PR levels which is normal as I approach a big meet. What's funny is that I felt very lethargic and absolutely dreaded going to the gym. Even my curl exercises were at high levels but that still means nothing. Run down the runway, slam a big pole and see if the bicep hangs on. That's really the only test. I again resisted the bar exercises at the gym. I should (hope) be OK since I am doing the high P-Bars in my backyard without issue.

Heard from Kirk Bentz, M55 World Champ from Kamloops, that he has a great start pole for me at Boston - 4.30m/18.0. I'll see how I feel on that morning but may need to take him up on that offer. Kirk should get an easy win on Saturday which would be great for him considering he just won Worlds but has not yet won Nationals. Looking forward to it.

I heard from Dave Johnston (DJ) this morning that he visited with former Rice Alum and World Recordholder, Dave Roberts in Florida. Dave was checking up on how other vaulters were doing and asked about me and my brother. We're going to try and get a big vaulters reunion done in Florida or maybe next year at Reno. I've known Dave since he vaulted at Conroe high school. In 1976 he was third at the Montreal Olympics. I haven't seen him since the last pole vaulter party in California in 1995. Should be fun.

Gotta run and do some work since I have a short week. Have a great Sunday! Bubba

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Back to Winter

I was out at the high school meet this morning when the leading edge of the front came through. By the time I got home 30 minutes later the temps had dropped 20 degrees. Welcome to Texas - 82 yesterday and it will be in the 30s in the morning. HATE that crap. If there were anyplace I could run indoors I would be OK with it but there's not and I run three days a week. Oil well as we say here.

Heavy lift in the garage today. Squats, bench and a lat pull superset. Felt my arm a little on the heavier lat pull superset but only on the first set. My gut says I'm four weeks a way from it being perfect and two weeks away from being able to ramp up my jumping from small poles. Oh yeah, I've got that Nationals thing next weekend. If they scheduled it when everyone was healthy they would never have it.

I put a note out on today to see if some friends have some smaller poles I could warm up on since I have already shipped mine. Not that I need them but it would probably be smarter. I think Kirk has a 1460 and my smallest is a 1470. Ideally I would like a 1375 or 1380 and I think Bob Banhagel (M60) may have one of those. We'll see. Since I'm so close to being well if I feel anything I'll stop. Based on the competition in my field I think I can get 2nd without killing myself. I may choose to do that and stop. Or it could be perfectly fine like Don and Kris say and I'll blow through my own small poles. That's what I'm hoping for.

I have another week of healing but I just don't want the healing clock to start over. I would rather take one jump on a small pole to get a medal and stop than to get hurt. Remember, other than last year when I won in DC, I have gotten 4th indoors three times all at Boston. I would like to break that curse.

That's all of the uncertainty I can handle for today. Hope you're having a great weekend. Thanks for following this roller coaster. Bubba

I just happened to notice that I had 87 posts in 2009 and today is my 87th post of 2010. I'm sure that means nothing but I'm going to pretend it's a good sign or I wouldn't have noticed it. HeeHee!! Whatever gets you through.

Friday, March 19, 2010

One Rotation Left

I got my next to the last running day done this morning and will see Ashley for my massage (torture) at noon. Feeling pretty good but of course still uncertain about the arm. Don keeps telling me that it will be fine and he's probably right. That said, I told Nancy yesterday that I feel 70% certain that I will clear a bar at Nationals and 60% sure I will be re-injured in some way, no matter how small. Of course I hope I'm wrong. Both Don and Kris say that 37 days of no jerking stress should be plenty and I'm sure they are right. They pointed out that I have been making progress even when I jumped after two weeks. We'll see.

Beautiful today bit some colder weather and rain coming into tomorrow. Should be gone by my last running day on Monday. Weight is back to normal finally. I remember Gary Hunter telling me it took him two weeks to get his down after a trip to Germany. I'm really pretty consistent and always in striking distance of vault weight but I intentionally put on a few pounds so I wouldn't jump at Kamloops. Though I don't mind and actually enjoy my training, I hate not being able to vault in practice. That's what makes all of the grind worth it. A week from tomorrow I will have some answers and one way or another I will be fine with it. Have a great day! Bubba

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Getting Ready

Had no rebound or problem with my arm from the adhesion release on Tuesday, even when I did the same stretch where I first felt it. I avoided the overwhelming desire to hop up on the high bar and low P-Bars today as I figure I've got nine full days left for healing. Why risk flaring something up that may be perfectly fine if left alone.

Packed up the poles yesterday and am dropping them off a the Houston Police Department for shipping. My training partner, Don Curry, is a lieutenant there (30 years) and since the high school is on spring break, HPD is a great back up for shipment pickups and delivers.

After talking to Kris I pulled out on big pole and put in one smaller pole as a warm up pole. Before I put it in the bag I did some running grass take offs and felt no pressure swinging on the pole. Of the poles in my bag I have jumped 4m (13' 1 1/2") on one and 4.10m (13' 5 1/4") on the other. I normally use these poles in every meet so the key will be to warm up on small ones as I move toward these.

I remain cautiously optimistic but if I have a problem at Boston I'll drop out for a couple of months and get completely well. It's been four weeks today since I've jumped and will be a little over five at Boston. Still, it would be nice to have a few more weeks to ramp back up. Of course I will continue to lift and run my butt off but vaulting will take a back seat for 2-3 months like a traditional off season.

That's it for now. Off to drop off the poles. Have a great day! Bubba

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Another Wednesday/Travel Day

Had a little "scare" yesterday when I was doing a cross legged stretch and pulling my knee up to my chest. I don't know if it was the position or what but I felt what I thought was a little muscle "release" in my bicep. Maybe it was a little adhesion as it bothered me more yesterday than today. I figure if THAT caused a problem then I certainly can't vault. Either way I will find out soon. Gotta hit the road. Bubba

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

This Just In

They finally posted the competition schedule for nationals and I jump at 3:30 on Saturday afternoon, March 27. Would rather go earlier but it is what it is. Bubba

Final Planning

At 11 days out I feel pretty good but want to remain cautious. The game plan will be to warm up and start the meet on my small 4.30/14'/17.2/169 from my 44' run. I will start at 11' 6" (3.51m) or 12' (3.65m) depending on how many are at that height. If there are several at 11' 6" I'll wait until 12'. Last year at Landover, MD I used the same pole and run for my starting height of 12' and it looked like this - BTW - This was my first time to vault in four weeks here too.

The only reason I would move back to 55' and go to the 16.5 would be if the 17.2 felt too small from 44'. The objective is to put very little tension on the arm during the warm up and initial jumps. This pole is small enough that I should be very safe.

Another good sled/hill day. Tomorrow is my travel day but I will get a long stretch when I get home. After that I have a Thursday/Friday and a Sunday/Monday rotation, followed by sled on Tuesday and I am done. Again, reasonably optimistic but nothing can be assured. At 11 days out I can only get better. Have a great day and than you for your continued support. Bubba

Monday, March 15, 2010

Another Good Lift Day

In 1997 as I prepared for World Outdoors in Durban, South Africa, my coach, Dave Johnston (DJ) told me that at some point I was going to have to start hitting the upper body weights harder in order to take the shock of jumping on bigger poles. This has become very true since I discovered my new technique to utilize more arm and hand pressure in 2008. That year I strained my bicep and then my tricep. The tricep was a problem off and on for four months but the bicep was pretty quick. Now I'm moving to bigger poles I'll need to really stay on top of the lifting.

I bring this up because lifting is something that vaulters like to skip. Kind of like running. It's hard and time consuming but it gives us muscle and bone density. Since I lift year round I never feel out of touch if I have a break. BUT, after vacation it was hard to make myself get started again. Of course now I have I love it. My upper body sometimes starts to resemble a small bodybuilder but I can feel a huge difference in the power I can deliver at the box. Looks can be deceiving since I'm jumping 3 - 4 lbs. (2 kg) lighter this year but in some ways look bigger. Whatever it takes.

Off to the track to watch the kids. Early jumping because of Spring Break. Then I head to see Ashley for my massage. I told her the other day that I couldn't decide who I fear more, her or my dentist. It HURTS and it SUCKS but it works. More later. Have a great day! Bubba

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Another Thud for Issy

The greatest women vaulter in the world proved to be fallible again today. After nh'ng the World Outdoors in Berlin last summer, it took her all three jumps Friday to make today's final in Doha. She got 4th. Tough to stay at the top. The week after Berlin she set a new world record and she promised one indoors. Reminds me a little of Bubka - wins the 1988 Olympics, NHs 1992 in Barcelona and then withdraws as injured during warm up in Atlanta. Again, tough mentally and physically to stay up for long time periods.

In my first post on my blog for Australia I said that we masters vaulters train for big meets like a fighter trains for a fight. We have a final preparation period of build up of 6 - 8 weeks to get to exactly where want to be. I know if I jump more than two meets in a row I start to "miss practice" where I can work on things. You have to rest before meets so you miss valuable practice time. But without meets you don't know if what you are doing is working. It's a fine balance. I'm happy jumping once every 3 - 4 weeks in a meet and train the rest. Last summer I did three meets in a row and it almost injured me.

I bring this up because Indoor Nationals in Boston is a mere three weeks after we just finished World Indoors. Mentally and physically this is a challenge so you see some of the big names are skipping nationals. Some are going but I can tell you first hand that 2 - 3 weeks after Sydney, jumping in a big meet was the last thing I felt like doing. I was physically and mentally drained. In fact, my first training session I almost lost my hamstring. For me nationals will be a "rehab assignment". Survive it and don't get hurt, then I can go back and ramp up for the big outdoor meets without much fear of injury.

Another great running and lifting session today. In a perfect world I would skip nationals and train myself back up the ladder from small poles to big poles. I don't have that time luxuary. If my arm holds up I'll have a great day because I'm running really well. If I feel it's a threat, I'll clear my opening height and stop and hope to get a medal. After five weeks of complete rehab with no setbacks, a hamstring is healed so I would expect no less of the bicep. Still, we won't know until that day.

Beautiful day here today. Have a great Sunday wherever you are and thanks for your support. Bubba

Saturday, March 13, 2010

GREAT New Poles!!

My "test dummy", Matt Kowalski, jumped on my new poles today. Except for being 17 years younger, he is about my height and weight and grips about where I do. He started on the pole I jumped 4m on in Sydney and quickly moved to my biggest 14' 1" (4.30m), and then on to the first 14' 7" (4.45M). As Kris had predicted when he flexed them on his high tech device, it was essentially the same pole except a bit more snappy on the extension. SO, that pole takes the place of the pole that was too small from 65' at Belton on January 2.

The next question was how big did the next pole feel since it was .3 bigger? Again, no problem for Matt. In fact he was able to jump on the first four 14' 7" poles before he had to move back a stride to the last three. Two of the three poles I got from Kris/Bruce/Essx were .2 apart but the unknown was the last one, a pole that our former athlete, Ryan Hodges gave me when he went to the University of Texas. Matt used that one last and it too was .2 bigger than the biggest new one. Seven poles, all .2 apart except .3 between poles 1 and 2.

Our biggest concern was that the longer/higher "sail piece" (reinforcement trapezoid shaped piece) would be harder to get to roll forward. The hope was that it would pick me up a little better off of the ground rather than allow me to travel forward before lifting me. Matt's jumping today proved that we called it perfectly. HUGE kudos to Bruce Caldwell of Essx and my coach, Kris Allison, for flexing and refining this new seven poles series. AND Matt of course.

NOW, I just have to get well enough to jump on them. I'm getting pretty optimistic about that as I packed the first 14' 7" on my bag to take to Boston. More as we get closer but today is two weeks out until Nationals and everything is progressing nicely. have a great weekend. Bubba

Friday, March 12, 2010


We are finally back to reality as far as weather goes which means I can start my outdoor training around 7 AM or 8 AM and have the rest of the day to work. I even had a sweat going in the garage as our temps yesterday got up to 82. Of course the other side of that is when it's near 100 degrees, but strangely your body adapts to that fairly quickly too. Kind of forces you to get in shape in a hurry.

Did some bars, cleans and lat pulls today with no issues. The weight wasn't heavy but it's not supposed to be. Feeling a little optimistic about jumping well again. Boston would be a nice place to start. I'll talk to Kris and figure out a pole and run progression. We ship the poles a week from Monday so I'll have some time to think about it. My gut feel is to start at 12' (3.66m) from 44' but maybe 55'. Depends on how the warm up goes. I'll take poles for all situations though.

Off to my massage/torture. I look forward to seeing Ashley and Steve about as much as I do the dentist. Catch ya later. Bubba

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Good 1st Day - Again

Good running day with 8 X 50m up the little hill with the sled. The gym felt easy as rest will make you feel stronger at first. SO, strong and fast on the first day back. I have my next massage/torture session tomorrow.

Our M40 guy, Matt Kowalski (3 time national champ), will jump Saturday morning on my new poles. He does this for me whenever I get new poles. He will go in the order I feel they go when I switch from 14' 1" (4.30m) to 14' 7" (4.45m). Kris' calculations show that the 1st 14' 7" should be .1 flex point weaker than my biggest 14' 1" pole. As you may remember, my biggest 14' 1" pole was too small in Belton on January 2. Matt will jump on each one in order and tell me what the relative difference in feel is. Before he has told me, "it's quite a jump to the next pole but the one after it is pretty easy to transition too". This is invaluable since I mainly use big poles in meets.

Another controversial technique is called "tapping" where the vaulter gets a quick push in the back right after leaving the ground. This allows you to get the feel of jumping on a bigger pole without the same injury risk of trying to run real hard. It is very much like "spotting" in gymnastics where Kris will "read" how much I need to be pushed to get in. If it's not much then I'm on my own for the rest of the jumps. Between Matt and a tap session I plan with Kris in mid April, I'll have a good feel for the new poles. Right now they are FAT, HEAVY and SCARY as all big poles are.

That's it for today. Have a great evening and thanks for hanging in here with me. I leave for Boston two weeks from tomorrow. Bubba

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Back to Work

Now we leave the snow, Canada & winter - Home tomorrow
The Fairmont Chateau at Lake Louise
A stream goes under a one lane bridge with no traffic

My plan on this trip was to get some running/striding in every other day and I did that through Kamloops where I did many strides while the guys warmed up and competed. My body feels very good so I have shut things down completely before resuming my training on Thursday - a complete rest for four days. I will have four complete three day rotations before I leave for Boston and also four deep tissue massages, which worked beautifully after one visit. Running will be hill/sled reps and all of my sprint drills will be with a long/heavy pole. TONS of stretching.

Like Nancy said this morning at breakfast, we left in winter and we're coming back to spring. Warmer weather gives me a more consistent time to train so I can plan my business around training. Very tough to plan a 9 AM session and have to go at 1 PM because it's cold and wet. Now the whole day gets juggled and it's hard to stay on track. That said, I had a great winter of training even though I didn't get to vault much.

USA Indoor Nationals in Boston has been a blessing and a curse for me. My very first trip there in 1997 I won and then was stuck with a chain of three 2nd place finishes. Since I returned after my Achilles surgeries I have gotten 4th there on all three attempts. The only year it has not been there, last year, I won in Landover, Maryland. Now we're back at Boston before going to Albuquerque for the next two years. Last chance in this age group and at Boston for awhile.

NOW, let's check out my chances of winning; NONE!! New World Champion, Kirk Bentz is there and I haven't competed in a meet since January 2, or 2.5 months. I will start on a small 14' pole at 11' 6" (3.51m) or 12' (3.66m) and see where it takes me. If I clear my opening height I should get 2nd or 3rd. All I really need is a meet under my belt to assure my arm is well. Oh it will be well because I will make no attempt to do anything to hinder it's healing until the meet. That will give me five weeks and two days of no agitation. As of today it feels great and I still have 2.5 weeks left.

The bottom line is to get a medal at Nationals while testing my "new body". I know that sounds funny but I have gotten faster and stronger. My rule when injured is to ALWAYS come back faster and stronger. It will be interesting to see how that feels after not jumping in so long. Optimally you don't want your very first vault session in 37 days to be at the national meet but that is the safest way to approach this. Thanks for listening. Bubba

Monday, March 8, 2010

Coming Home In Sight

On the Peak 2 Peak gondola
Nancy & Me in front of the "Safe Traveler" Olympic symbol
The Paralymic Torch about to board the gondola behind us

Today is our last night at the Four Seasons at Whistler. Our entire trip around Canada has been just beautiful and the people have been great. Today we took the gondolas around the peaks and saw the Paralympics torch relay. Beautiful day after 4" (10 cm) of snow last night.

You know how it goes; as the vacation winds down you start thinking of what you need to do when you get back home. Last week the first few days I only had my iphone with no wifi so I dumped a lot of extra work on my business partner. Over the past few days I have dug us both out of what I caused. Now I can start to think about what I need to do to get ready to jump at Indoor Nationals in Boston, two weeks from next Saturday. I feel pretty good about the plan and will share more details tomorrow. Thanks for following my blog! Back to training plans tomorrow. Bubba

Sunday, March 7, 2010

M55 & The Legend of Dan West

The M55 group at Kamloops was a different animal for me because I have never gone out to a big meet knowing I wasn't jumping. Oh I could have jumped, which is why I made the six hour drive back from Lake Louise that morning and gave no thought to my diet over the few days preceding the meet. I didn't want to be able to jump even though I could. When I saw that Bill Murray had dropped out and that Kristian from Iceland and USA's Steve Hardison hadn't come, I knew I could easily get a medal. STILL, I stuck to my guns and stayed out because I know I would have damaged my arm that is now almost well. The final challenge was when I saw DJ from The Netherlands had black friction tape for his poles. That was my missing link for me to be able to vault. It was the hardest decision I have ever made but I stayed out and that was the right thing to do.

They say when one door closes another opens and that door opened for Dan West. They strictly enforced the stupid "athletes can't coach each other" rule so after Dan's 2nd miss at his opener (3.55m - 11' 7 3/4") I went up in the stands so I could yell and cheer like the rest of the crowd. That was the beginning of Dan's luck change as he cleared the bar on his 3rd attempt to secure the bronze medal. I was so happy for Dan. Kirk I knew would win but Dan was a wild card who a few short years ago would have been the favorite.

For those of you who don't know Dan, he had a foot injury that seemingly cannot be solved. He vaulted 4.20m (13' 9 1/2") as an M50 - a BIG mark. What makes Dan special is his love for the vault and vaulters. You see, Dan won the bronze medal in a World Championship by taking off of the wrong foot. He taught himself to do this, after a year of failing as a left hander, so that he could continue to do the sport he loves. That puts him on the podium in my book no matter what. So many people who know and love Dan were overwhelmed with joy to see him get that medal. I personally was choked up for him as I told the story to Nancy in the stands. Congrats to all competiors but an extra Kudos for the lionhearted Dan West. I'm honored to be his friend and he is certainly my hero! Below, Kirk and Dan walk out front (Dan in black & white) with me and the others to the pit to get started. YouTube = Bubba

I just saw a great saying on a T-Shirt with a snowboarder going off a cliff. The same saying can easily be applied to pole vaulters - "Confidence is that feeling you have just before you fully understand your situation". Amen!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Oh Canada

On the Way to Whistler Today
We have really had a great time so far on our tour of Canada. After a short nap from 1 AM to 7 AM on Wednesday we took off on our 4.5 hour drive to Kamloops. The next day we went on a 6 hour drive to Lake Louise. We got up early and came back to watch the guys jump Friday. This morning we drove 4.5 hours to Whistler where we will stay for three nights before driving the 2 hours back to Vancouver and our flight on Wednesday. The driving, company, people and scenery have been outstanding. It's hard to describe how beautiful the mountains and water are. I'm posting a few things today that may be of interest. Have a great evening. Bubba
PS - videos below by Nancy Sparks. Our M55 group was up next so we were stuck in the call room and could not watch. We could sure hear the crowd though.

John Altendorf (63) clears a World Record 4.02m - 13' 2 1/4"

YouTube =

John Altendorf (63) clears a World Record 4.05m - 13' 3 1/2". Notice he forgot his trademark helmet on this jump.

YouTube =

Friday, March 5, 2010

News From World Championships

John Altendorf is waiting to pee for the drug tester after setting two World Records!! The guy in the left bottom corner, Howard Booth also won his division - M65.

I'll catch up more at Whistler tomorrow but today's summary is cool;

M60 John Altendorf of Corvallis,OR sets two WRs, 4.02m (13' 2 1/4") and 4.05m (13' 3 1/2"). He even forgot to put on his trademark helmet of two attempts. When last seen he was with his "companion" who sticks with him until he can pee for drug testing.
My group, the M55 was won by USA's Kirk Bentz as I predicted several months ago at 12' 7 1/2" (3.85m), 2nd was Erno Mako of Hungary at 11' 11 1/2" (3.65m) and the bronze went to my great friend, Dan West at 11' 7 3/4" (3.55m). More later. Bubba

Thursday, March 4, 2010


In front of the Olympic Rings ice sculpture at Lake Louise.

Finally got to a place where I have a connection. Flew into Vancouver and got to our hotel at 1 AM on Wednesday. Left for the four hour drive to Kamloops at 7 AM, which included a nice little blizzard. Checked into the new and very nice Best Western which happens to be just a mile or so from the event center.
Went over and registered, picked up my package and "declared" my intent to compete on Friday. Slept 10 hours and left our Kamloops hotel to drive the six hours to Lake Louise in Banff National Park in Alberta. A few spots with snow flurries but the roads were great. We're staying at the famous Fairmont Chateau Hotel, which Nancy visited with her parents as a teenager.

Tomorrow we will leave at 7 AM to drive back to Kamloops to watch my guys jump. Heard from Allan Williams that he won't make it. Got texts from Kirk Bentz on his way in with John Altendorf and Kirk B from PVP. Really looking forward to it. I'll post some photos later. Bubba

Monday, March 1, 2010

Travel Day

Since I leave tomorrow I'll do my work travel day today. I did a double of running and then lifting yesterday. Tomorrow will be my last training session where I will lift at home; mainly bench and deep squats. Still no pulling exercises or bars.

As much as I want to go and jump at Boston I'm a little concerned that having not jumped at a significant level in nearly two months that I could get a hamstring or groin strain. It's a "Catch 22" in that the day I get back from Kamloops will be three weeks off - not enough to be well. If I try to jump the next week, I'm only one week out from Boston, so why not just wait and give it a full five weeks so I know it WILL be well? That's the plan. In a perfect world I would skip Boston and start ramping back up slowly and get ready for the bigger poles and longer runs for outdoors. IF I can go to Boston and make it a low to mid level workout without getting hurt, it could certainly be a nice start. That is my plan.

Kris and I said that last year was about placing high in big meets and this year is about jumping higher. Technically I knew I was progressing last year but not really ready to apply it at a higher level. As far as big meets I won Indoor Nationals and the World Masters Games in Sydney, even though I got 3rd at Outdoor Nationals.

So this year the goal is to devote my time to higher grips, longer runs and bigger poles. The meets aren't as important as the higher heights. Sure I hate that I couldn't jump at Reno and will now miss Kamloops and possibly Boston. But in the big picture I can deal with it. Three of my last four meets were over 13' (3.97m) and I was jumping well. I have to remember that and BE PATIENT!! Have a great day! Bubba

PS - Next year is a BIG year with National Senior Games in Houston and World Championships in Sacramento. It also marks the year that some big time jumpers move into my age group. That's why the focus is to jump higher. Got a year to figure out my runs, poles and grips. That's why I'm not AS concerned about meets this year.