Sunday, October 31, 2010

Good Decisions?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Halloween Vault Today

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

The whole group of us.

Me talking with Jillian after a jump.

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

Friday, October 29, 2010

Now For Something Completely Different

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

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

Thursday, October 28, 2010

An Odd Surprise

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Have a great day and thanks for being here! Bubba

Wednesday, October 27, 2010


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

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

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

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Strong Day

I missed one lifting rotation last week because of the meet Sunday and the result was that I felt considerably stronger than usual. I once read that at age 60 if you do not train for three months that you lose 40% of your strength. I can believe that because it is so hard to get going again, even if you just miss a week. Still, nice to get a one rotation break every now and then.

Thursday I'll try to jump only on the 4.45m (14' 7") poles only. If it works it does. I figure even if I have to go 12, 14 or even 16 steps with a lower grip I can get the feel of them. I blew through the first two at a meet a few weeks ago so I'm nervously excited. I just don't want to have to run fast enough to hurt myself at first so that means I need to run further. Should be fun. Have a great day!! Bubba

Monday, October 25, 2010

Warning - This Will Seem "Out There"

Cycles of Life
Yesterday my intellectual cycle was way down according to my biorhythms. Those are the types of days you put your car keys in the refrigerator, or go to a big meet without your field bag, or to the gym this morning without my ankle weights. My physical and emotional were both peaking which explains feeling good and not being overly stressed that I would take only one jump. Though I don’t pay too much attention to this anymore, there was a time I was deeply into it and with great success.

After my senior year of college and my 2nd national championship, I was asked to give a lecture to a coaches association about application of biorhythms to athletic training. This theory says your physical cycle is 23 days, emotional is 28 (moon cycles/women periods) and the intellectual is 33. So when your body is consistently trashed it will go down, next it will agitate the emotions and finally the brain will give up trying to reason with the physical exhaustion, emotional frustration and the declining reasoning ability. Half of the cycle is above the "critical line" and half is below in the recharge. These are graphed in sine waves and you can see yours online by Googling "free biorhythm calculators". These cycles begin the day you are born and intersect each other in different patterns throughout life.

So is this hocus pocus, horoscope or just another crutch? Beginning in my junior year of college I began to assert that I would not accept a bad day just because my biorhythms said it should be. I would look ahead and label my training days with an "I" for intensity or a "Q" for quality so that I could get the most out of each day. Gradually I began having very good performances on what theoretically should have been a bad day. As my good days got better, my low days became consistently even with what used to be a good day.

Let’s take it a step further. I started studying dreams and working with a sports psychologist at the university who would hypnotize me and a discus thrower. We were asked to keep a dream journal where we woke up and immediately wrote what we had dreamed. We went over this with the psychologist and the hypnosis session addressed these issues.

The psychologist loved what I had done with biorhythms so he suggested that we try to use the same approach to make us mentally stronger. The result was he could take us under deep hypnosis and condition us to be highly focused even when our intellectual or emotional cycles were crashing. It got so far that we, as a team, could even influence what dreams we had. So we applied our technical goals through this process and then actually saw ourselves successfully complete perfect attempts both under hypnosis and in our dreams. Cool!!

Long story short, I knew as good as I felt yesterday, and as calm as I was, that my physical and emotional were peaking at the same time that my intellectual was crashing. Had I taken a few seconds to look this up I would have taken a little more care in my preparation for packing for the meet. If I see my physical would be down I would give myself a little more rest, and if my emotional was crashing I would take a little more time and make sure I diffused any distractions.
OR, I could just say, "I just had a bad day", except that I would know differently. Have a wonderful Monday! Bubba

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Strangest Meet of My Life

One jump for the win and I qualified for next year's National Senior Games. Huh?! I got a call from the meet director asking me if I could officiate the vault. Dangit!! I asked Don and he agreed. The meet director would officiate us at 7:30 AM and then we would run off the rest of the competitions for the other 32 vaulters. Here we go;
  • We arrived at 6:45 AM after meeting at 5:45 for the drive.
  • The pit was put out last night and not covered so it was soaked.
  • They had no crossbar but we had brought ours just in case.
  • We started our part of the meet before the sun came up, in very wet conditions and under the stadium lights.
  • Due to some shifting of stuff in the garage because of our bathroom remodels going on, I somehow got to the meet without my bag that contains my knee brace, tape, spray to make the pole sticky, etc.
  • I cannot jump without my knee brace because of a hyperextended knee condition that flares my hamstring.
  • I could not grip the pole without the spray, especially in the wet conditions.
  • The pit was set up too close to the box so my pole bend was hitting the pit and straightening out before I could complete the vault. It requires many people to move the pit and we had three so we dealt with it.
  • All of this wasted because I felt absolutely spectacular like this was going to be a huge day.
  • I took a jump at 12' (3.66m) and made it very easily and moved the bar to 13' 1" (3.99m). Running down the runway I felt my knee start to click (hence the brace) so I stopped. No pain, just the warning that I acknowledged.
  • When my group jumped at 11 AM it was warm and there was a massive tailwind and the pit had been moved back so the poles could roll through. So would my jump now hold up?
  • My friend Bob Crites started at 10' 6" (3.20m) and worked his way through before making 12' (3.66m) on his 3rd and last attempt. I win because I made it on my first. Had he made it on his first I still would have won because I had only one vault to that point and he had six.
So that was my day; one jump for the win and stop. Dang maturity. It was the smart and safe thing to do but very hard since I felt so great. Oil well as they say in Texas. On Thursday I'll move to my 14' 7" (4.45m) poles and then go back to my 14' 1" (4.30m) poles on Sundays. It was and remains the plan for after today. Tough to swallow but that's life. Thank you for being here and have a wonderful Sunday! Bubba

Saturday, October 23, 2010


When I go to Butler Stadium in Houston tomorrow for the Texas Senior Games, it will be the first time I have jumped there since 1978. I opened that day at 16' 6" (5.04m) and failed to make anything higher and was not happy. Later that year I cleared 18' 1" (5.51m) and retired at the end of the season. Contrast that to the fact that I also got my first 10' (3.05m) vault in that stadium and you can see a lot of history.

Bill Halverson told me that the Bell Curve of life is similar to the Bell Curve for vaulting. In life, if we live long enough we start and end drooling with no hair or teeth. In the pole vault you digress back through school. I vaulted 13' 10" (4.22m) as a junior in high school so I hope to exceed that this year. I vaulted 12' 9" as a sophmore so I certainly don't want to fall below that.

In any case, it will be fun to go back there 32 years later. Of course there will be a full report and hopefully I can get someone to video. have a wonderful Saturdy and thank you again for being here. Bubba

Friday, October 22, 2010

Taking It Easy

The same can be said for tomorrow as I get couple of easy stretch days in. This morning felt fine and I expect tomorrow will feel a little better.

Lots of vaulters entered Sunday as it is the qualifier for the National Senior Games. Of course that is always a busy year but with the Games being in Houston it's REAL crowded. Only the top four go to the big meet so some good jumpers will be left out. Have a great day!! Bubba

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Old Lesson Revisited

I believe that anyone who has ever done anything at a high level understands what it takes to do the same no matter what the event or goal. My wife, Nancy is a retired Principal of an elementary school. I relate well to her because I know what excellence it requires to reach and succeed at that level.

Today the kids got out early to vault because they had midterms. The first kid asked how long we would be and I said as long as it takes. He told me he was tired from class. I asked what he would have done had he been required to go the whole day today like every other day. Another said he was tired from his track class and another said he had already run sleds. To the group I told them that this is a club event, not a school event and therefore not required so if you aren't ready to be here please go home. I'm here to help only those who want to be the best. Not only do I do this for free but I actually pay to use the field in order to help them. So go away if you're not really into it. I asked where one guy was and they said he didn't want to come out today. I said great, tell him not to come out next week.

The reason I am telling this story is because there was a rather heavy kid in the middle of the football field and he was walking and banging a drum stick on a wood block in rhythm so that his friend, a little skinny band guy, could practice his marching routine with his horn. They went over and over this for nearly an hour. My first thought was my original point, that this is what it takes to be at the highest level of anything and this kid clearly gets it. His performance and improvement are so important to him that he is practicing alone on a field when everyone else has gone home. I liked this guy. Wonder if he would be interested in pole vaulting.

We have such a weird sport in that we would do it whether anyone ever came to see us in a meet or practice. We don't care who's there, where it is, etc. We just want to vault. Because I train almost always alone I know the fitness walkers pretty well. Don't know their names but we wave and speak to each other. I've seen them keep showing up and losing weight, listening to their music. I guess my point is that this is what it is all about; a lifetime activity that you can do forever that doesn't really require anyone else to be involved. I've got a lot in common with the band guy and those walkers and I like that. I bet they are really successful in other areas too.

That's it. Just random thinking out loud. Enjoy what you do or go home and find something else that you enjoy. Life's to short not to have fun every day. Have a great day and thank you for being here. Bubba

PS - ran my 5 X hill/sleds and felt pretty good. Big stretch tomorrow and Saturday. Texas Senior Games on Sunday morning. Top four go to National Senior Olympics next year at the University of Houston.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

A Half Day of Rest

Today is my travel day for business but I managed to get home about 2:30 expecting to catch a 30 minute nap before digging back into all of my emails from yesterday and today. No way - Nancy met me at the door with our little dog throwing up and needing the vet. Still I did get about an hour of rest after that adventure.

As I said, this would be a busy week for business, just like I like it the week before a big meet. I had an 11 hour meeting yesterday with some partners from Florida, and today I made my local drive to see partners. When I got home last night I had 96 emails. This morning it took me two hours to get through them and then came home to 46 new ones. I'm not complaining but it seems I can never be away or pay the price. I bring this up because this is the same I lesson I learned in training - you can't go away or you will pay the price when you return.

Tomorrow I will do five easy hill sleds and get a nice stretch in. I jump Sunday morning at 8 so I have that extra day of rest. Rest? At some point I need to get caught up on that. Thanks for being here! Bubba

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Busy Work Day

Got business guys in town today so I'll be buried until late tonight. The morning started with an email from the Texas Senior Games that there will be so many field event competitors that we will start at 8 AM rather than 9. Don was told this week by facilities management that they will be on overtime so they won't be there until 7:30 or 8. I'm hoping that changes now but we will see. More tomorrow. Have a great day! Bubba

Monday, October 18, 2010

Weather Watching

The weather yesterday said 80% chance of rain for Sunday and now they are saying 20% with the 80% coming Monday. All I can do is prepare as if it's Sunday and worry about the rest later.

Great lift and stretch today. Busy business week which I love the week before a big meet because it takes my mind off of the meet. Have a great day!! Bubba

Sunday, October 17, 2010

13' (3.96m) From 8 Steps - Moving On

I felt OK warming up so I decided to take a few jumps. My legs were a little tight because I didn't stretch yesterday so I was really careful. I started at my 8 step run of about 44' 6" (15m) and made 12' (3.66m) and 12' 6" (3.81m) on first jumps on the 14' 1" (4.30m)/17.5. Went to the 17.2 and had a ton of height on 13' (3.96m) on the first jump but didn't quite get in enough so I came down on the bar. Jump two was better but I caught it a little with my left elbow on the way down. Left it up on jump three so I can now move on to 10 steps in practice. This ties my run PR and is a new pole PR. When I made 13' from this run the one time before it was on one pole bigger. I took a total of 5 jumps today and they all felt pretty good technically so I stopped.

The rationale is that if I can make 13' from 8 steps then I can be consistent from there at 12' 6", which I have been. It also means that I should be able to make 13' 6" from 10 steps (consistent at 13') , so I will stay there until I do or have good jumps. Last year I was consistent at 13' from 12 steps but have made it several times from 10 steps so I'm closing in on a new baseline.

They are forecasting rain for the Texas Senior Games on Sunday so we will see what happens. I'll train like I always do and see where that puts us. It is what it is but I am reminded about the reality of big meets. We always picture a beautiful day with great conditions but almost always the conditions are average to crappy (winds) and the weather is marginal. I can't remember getting to a big meet and finding really good conditions like we had last week. Maybe twice a year we will have really good conditions.

All of this said, the place I train, The Woodlands High School, is what I consider to be a very average place so I can easily duplicate or exceed my performances that I make there in practice. That's it for today so I hope you have a great one. As always, thank you for being here. Bubba

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Thinking Out Loud

I went out to watch the kids early this morning and Don and Matt came at the end. Everyone looked pretty good. Don said he felt pretty good six days after our meet last week so it makes me wonder if I should try an easy jump session tomorrow morning. My gut says if I feel good during warm up then why not. I won't be using big poles - small 14' 1"s (4.30m). If I don't feel pretty perfect I won't bother. I'll play it by ear. Have a great day. Bubba

Friday, October 15, 2010

Beautiful Day

Like the rest of the country, we are enjoying beautiful Fall weather. Finally a workout where I didn't have to have the fan running. I lift in the gym on my jump/run days and in my garage the day after. I have some high parallel bars in my backyard and I also use a Smith Machine for my bench and inclines in order to gain strength but protect my shoulders. Too hard to get the only one free at the gym.

Nothing new to report. Still a little beat up but I'm feeling better. Have a great day and thanks for the support. Bubba

Thursday, October 14, 2010

I'm Not Worthy

Good day running and at the gym. My first sled pull felt like I had been hit by a truck, buy by my last tempo sprint I was feeling pretty good. Felt very strong in the gym. I really feel I'm getting back in the swing of full training again.

Don called me from Butler Stadium, the site of the Texas Senior Games just to see what the conditions are. Though still 10 days away, we like to know what we're looking at. Don is about to retire from the Houston Police Department after 30+ years of service so he can get on to the property and get the info we need even though the facility is "closed". The groundskeeper said that someone will be out between 7:30 and 8 AM on that day and that they would set up the pit for whatever direction a tailwind is predicted on the Friday before. Surprised and pleased he knew that. If it needs to be changed the day of they will have people to help.

A note on Butler Stadium, I got my first 10' (3.05m) vault there as well as my 2nd 16' 6" (5.04m) vault several years later.

Not Worthy?
At the gym today I see some of the regulars, mostly 40-70 years old grinding away like they always do. It dawned on me today that I've tried to do what they do and I failed. I could not make myself workout at that level with any kind of consistency unless I had a goal. Yet here they are, doing it to look and feel better. I really admire them and wish I was that strong.

Have a great day and thanks for the support! Bubba

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Travel Day + Answer to Pole ? & Blow Thru


My usual Wednesday drive around on business day. I thought I felt pretty good and may even consider vaulting tomorrow ....... then got out of the car and felt how bad my body still feels. Good - it will make me play it safe.

I've gotten several questions about my poles and grips. My competition poles are either 14' 1" or 14' 7" but they look like I'm holding near the top. That's because I cut the tops off of all of them. Reason #1 is because if you clear the bar and your pole hits the bar, it's a miss. I jump with my crossbar back 32" behind the plant box so I have some pretty good forward speed and the pole doesn't always go back toward the runway. I cut them off so they fall under the bar. Reason #2 is so that no one else can use them. These poles are expensive and nobody treats them like you would, especially high school kids. Solves both problems. Have a great day! Bubba

PS - In the 1968 Olympics, John Pennel, the first man to vault 17', got the silver medal but should have gotten the gold. His pole fell under the bar and that used to be a miss. Now it is not.

Pennel was in a meet in Houston when we were kids and tried to become the first man to vault 18'. Though very close he did not get it. Before his last jump my brother, a 7' 6" vaulter, told him that his run didn't look good enough today. When the meet was over and the reporters were asking him questions, he said, "it's like that boy said, my run just wasn't good enough today". A few years later my brother would have the Houston record for freshman and go onto get 2nd at the Texas State meet and later vault 17' 4 1/2" (5.30m).

Here is my 2nd attempt at 13' (3.96m) on my first new 14' 7" (4.45m) pole. BIG blow through as I almost roll off the back of the pit. The next pole was too small too. The run is 65' and the grip is about 13' 3" (4.04m). Not to mention that I'm about 6" (15 cm) out at take off.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Random Thoughts + 1 Year Ago Today - World Masters Games

* When you are away from lifting you really don't mind it. It seems like a nice break. In fact you dread starting back because you know you will be sore. But if you stay away more than two weeks you will start to lose power on the runway. It is very rare if I am ever out longer than about 10 days. That said, yesterday and today were my first days back to lifting and I can't believe how much I missed it. My breaks typically come when I back off the week before a meet, if my travel schedule becomes briefly unmanageable, or if I'm trying to vault more often. Anyway I'm back.

* With Texas Senior Games a week from Sunday, I'm going to just stick to my base training and not vault before the meet. I find that if I skip the vault when I am in this phase of my ramp up that I will feel more powerful and fast within two weeks. If I jump also I feel good but not quite as sharp. So I'll go with my gut an not vault.

* Speaking of jumping in practice, after the Texas Senior Games I have four weeks to train before I have a series of six meets where there are only two weeks between each of them. I probably will not be jumping between any of them so that means I have four weeks to get comfortable on my 14' 7" (4.45m) poles. Really looking forward to that. Hopefully it goes well and I will use them the rest of the year. If not I'll need a few bigger 14' 1" (4.30m) poles. Hear that Kris? I traded poles to get the 14' 7" series so it didn't actually cost me the $450 each for the eight poles in that series. But my gut tells me that I will be glad I stuck it out and made them work.

* I've not mentioned anything about it but I've been jumping at about 167-168 whereas last year I was about 171-173. I seem to be getting more out of my poles and still feel powerful. Many vaulters like to train a few pounds heavier than they compete in order to feel that extra snap. It can work but sometimes you could feel weaker than you should. That happened to me once and that was enough. Wasn't a big meet but it sucked to lose a meet for being stupid. On the flip side if you're light and come in heavy you feel sluggish. I'm really not concerned one way or the other as I have jumped 4m (13' 1 1/2") as heavy as 179. I just find it interesting that I seem to have settled out a little lighter than last year for whatever reason. It certainly is not an attempt to do so. OK, I told you these were random thoughts.

* The M55-59 state record at the Texas Senior Games is 3.97m (13' 1/4") which I vaulted in 2008. I was in Australia last year, but more on that in a minute. I'm hoping for 4m+ and then progress to 4.07m (13' 4 1/4") and then maybe even 4.14m (13' 7"). That's the bar progression I will be shooting for. I took out the first two 14' 7"s yesterday and put in my biggest 14' 1"s. I'm very familiar with them and comfortable no matter what the conditions. Well, within reason. Rain would not be helpful.

* Response to this blog continues to amaze me. People I have never met or heard of either email me or introduce themselves to me at meets and tell me how the read it every day and how it helps keep them in touch with their own plans. I absolutely love that and really enjoy meeting these vaulters. The first thing they always say is, "I feel like I've known you for a long time". That couldn't be a bigger compliment because I love pole vaulters and will enjoy knowing you for a long time. I have yet to meet one that I don't enjoy being around or being friends with, so thank you so much. NOW, the other side is people I know very well that don't ever read it. I'll have a relative stranger ask me how a certain plan came about but someone I know very well will say, "so have you been working out?" I guess they think since we know each other that we are connected and they would know what I'm doing. As you can see, I certainly have nothing to hide. One friend asked four Facebook friends how I've been jumping lately and he is one of my Facebook friends. Guess he forgot. BTW saw The Social Network today about the founder of Facebook. Very good movie. Anyway, thanks again for following me. This is a great outlet for thinking out loud and I tremendously appreciate your support. Bubba

ONE YEAR AGO TODAY - I called Nancy after a long day to tell her that I had just won the World Masters Games in Sydney, Australia and then went out to dinner with Alan Launder and his wife Jenny. Six hours later Nancy's mom, June had a stroke in the car on the way home from her doctor appointment which cleared her to go to Maine. She died three months and one day later. I was crushed and would have gladly traded my medal for her not to suffer.

When I went to see her in the hospital she was groggy but hugged me and clearly said, "World Champion". The next time she said something that clearly was when we brought her home and she met our new dog, Tuffy. We got Tuffy because my sister's husband committed suicide in their garage and he was his dog. June got a big smile and said, "cute". He jumped up on the bed with her and would not leave. She died about 2 AM the next morning under hospice care.

I'm am a better person and so grateful to have had her live with us for her last six years. We brought her down from Cleveland because we feared she would die alone within a year. It worked well for all of us.

Alan just had another heart issue, got a new stent and pacemaker and is home again after another scare. So the past year we have certainly seen tragedy but as always we remain hopeful and do the best we can with what we can control. Makes a blog about a pole vaulting fossil seem pretty silly but it's one of the very things that has gotten me through this year. So thank you again!! Let's all make next year a better one.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Upon Further Review

After studying the video of my attempts at 13' (3.96m) yesterday, the 14' 7" (4.45m) poles were clearly too small as I expected. What I didn't expect was that on one jump I was "out" on my take off 6+" (15 cm) and the last one was 8+" (20 cm) yet still blew the pole away. The one where my step was "on", I bailed mid extension because I thought I was going off of the back of the pit. When your biggest poles are too small in your first meet, that's usually a decent sign. That training stuff must work I guess.

I haven't heard back from Kris yet but I think we're going to drop the 14' 7" (4.45m) poles out until after the Texas Senior Games on 10/24, now less than two weeks away. Instead I'll use my two biggest 14' 1" (4.30m) poles for that meet and then afterwards I will probably ONLY jump on the 14' 7" poles. Our plan originally was to have my first two smallest 14' 7"s match up to my to biggest 14' 1" poles so that I wouldn't have to switch lengths in a meet. I think that is probably going to work awesome.

Speaking of Kris, he jumped really well yesterday but in an odd landing accident with the crossbar he got whacked on the bridge of the nose while laying in the pit after a miss. The bar was falling and he had his hands up to catch it, then his pole hit the bar and knocked it out of line and BAM. The situation was made a little worse because because the bar hit his sunglasses. That said, 15 minutes later, after cleaning up the blood and icing his nose, he took a really nice attempt. STUD!!

Another cool story from yesterday was my friend Larry Bonnett. He had seen me at the San Marcos River Vault this summer and told me that this blog was inspiring him to get off of his butt and get training again. Yesterday was his first day back out and it was a big one as I think he tied his best he has jumped since he entered his age group. Very neat to see him have that success.

Today was back in the gym for me which felt outstanding. Well actually it feels like crap but the inner feeling to get going again and be on a schedule is just fantastic. I'm not sure I will jump again before Texas Senior Games but if I do it will be on my small 14' 1" poles on Sunday. We will play it by ear but I don't feel compelled to do it. I think it's more important that I feel good and powerful. Unfortunately when you haven't been doing full training and return to it you feel a little more flat than usual so I may just wait for the meet to jump. We will see but you will be the 2nd to know.

Thanks so much for being here. Of course we know that I have been training hard for the past several months even though I haven't jumped in a meet. BUT recently I've had a few people say, "I heard you took the outdoor season off. How long do you think it will take you to feel like you're in shape to jump high again?" HUH? Just because I didn't compete doesn't mean I wasn't training hard. Yesterday I was on the biggest poles that I have jumped on since 1999 and they were too small yet I was only at 12 steps. I think there is a lot more in the tank but I need to learn this new quicker timing on the longer poles without losing hand pressure. Looking forward to the challenge. Thanks again! Bubba

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Long Strange Day

So I haven't jumped in a meet since late March at indoor nationals in Boston and sometimes it felt like it, and other times not. I put up a couple of videos here but the long story is that I boomed 12' (3.66m) from 54' on my first carbon pole. It was warm and we had a nice tailwind. Made 12' 6" (3.81m) on my first and then moved to my new 14' 7" poles from 65' for 13' (3.96m). The result? BOTH were way too small and they were the biggest poles I brought. Fortunately I have six more. All Essx of course.

I was disappointed not to jump higher because I easily could have made 13' on my start pole. I figured it was a nice day so why not move back a stride and hit the 14' 7" poles. Nobody home as they moved too fast for me to really complete a decent jump. The timing is a little different but not going to be a real factor. So I'm happy that I jumped well with what I had, and that I got on the two biggest poles I have used since 1999. Still, plenty of work to do. Have a great day. Bubba

12' or 3.66m - YouTube link -

12' 6" or 3.81m - YouTube link -

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Home Today - Meet Tomorrow

Appropriately our meet tomorrow is called "It's Not All About Football Track Meet". In Texas it is but that's a fun name. Going to download CBS Pro Football from the App Store so I can keep up with the Texans and other NFL scores.

They settled on three flights tomorrow. Group 1 starts at under 8' (8 vaulters), Group 2 starts at 8' (8 vaulters), and my group starts at 11' (11 vaulters). I'll start at 12' (3.66m) as usual and see how everything feels. Should get some photos and video no matter how ugly the first meet is.

I went to pick up the poles today and nothing says road trip more than throwing them up on the rack and strapping them on. Should be fun but I'll need some more sleep. This morning's wake up call in Maine was at 4:15 (3:15 Texas time) and I pick up Don at 6 AM. Looking forward to having some fun and remembering why I'm training. First meet since the end of March. More later. Thanks for being here. Bubba

Friday, October 8, 2010

Waiting to Leave

Don took this picture of the Sugarloaf Mountain Ski Resort. Click to enlarge.

We will leave the house about 10 this morning and head to Portland where we will spend the day before our 7 AM flight on Saturday. Portland is a very small airport so security takes forever unless you go real early. Also when you spend most of the day in transit to and from airports and up in the air, I'd rather do it first thing in the morning. I meet Don at 5 AM Sunday to head to our meet so it's even more important to get in early and get some rest. Not to mention that I need to go and load up the poles.

It's been a nice getaway and we've seen a lot of family and friends. Last night was the first night that Nancy and I had alone and it felt strange. That in itself is strange because almost every other trip we do it is just the two of us, so this trip is the exception.

We have done more traveling this year, in part, because we lost Nancy's mom, June, in January. June lived with us and therefore we never went anywhere unless she could go too. I hope that when/if I'm 93 I can and will do half of the stuff she did. Great lady and a joy to be around. It was tough for Nancy and her brother at times being here without her for the first time but they pulled together and made it work.

I personally can't wait to get home and get back into training. Sure I have been training but I mean a dependable schedule of training instead of the constant adjustments I've had to make for a constantly changing schedule.

The meet schedule looks pretty good so far with 9 meets before I take a break and ramp up again for the big summer championship series;
10/10 - Waterloo near Austin
10/24 - Texas Senior Games - Houston
11/20 - Lone Star PV Age Graded Meet - New Braunfels
12/4 - Lone Star Season Opener (2011 marks begin counting on 12/1)
12/18 - Alitus Seasons Greeter - Granbury (near Dallas)
1/1 - Texas Elite PV Explosion - Belton - (near Austin)
1/15 - Texas Round Up & Corral - Joshua - (near Dallas)
1/29 - National Pole Vault Summit - Reno
3/5 - USA Track & Field Masters Indoor Nationals - Albuquerque

Finally, our thoughts and prayers are with our friend, Alan Launder and his family as he has just arrived back home after further heart procedures. I met Alan at the 1996 Olympics when he was having trouble getting into watch Simon Arkell at practice because he was a "Private Coach" and not the "Country Coach". I got him in as my guest and we have been friends ever since. Coincidentally that is also the day that we saw Sergey Bubka attempt 20' 8" (6.30m) over a bungee 6-8 times. All the best Alan and Jenny.

Have a great day and I will catch up with you soon. Thanks for being here!! Bubba

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Last Full Day & Workout in Maine

You've been seeing shots of the beach from the house, so here is the back of the house. Click to enlarge.

We head back to Portland tomorrow for an early AM flight on Saturday so today is our last full day at the beach house. I'll get in 4 X 80m hills and then head to the YMCA for a long strecth. Our meet time for Sunday has been bumped up to 10 AM from 11 AM so I will be picking up Don at 5 AM for the drive. That's about 14 hours after I get home. Should be fun! Bubba

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Return of the Rain

Don took this photo to prove that Fall is here in Maine. Click to enlarge.

Don and I went to the YMCA to run and stretch as scheduled so the rain didn't really change our plans. That said, it's raining. We both feel like we are about one day away from feeling pretty good in the legs. That is good timing since our meet is Sunday.

Found out today that the Texas Senior Games will be at a different stadium than we thought. Should be a little better winds but I doubt that will be a factor at 8 AM.

Sunday I plan to start at 10 steps so I will wait and see how that goes before I determine my start pole. Pretty much it is a choice of two but I prefer the larger one. I'll be disappointed if it's not.

Don and Gayle go home tomorrow and we head home Saturday. Slow day today as you can tell. Have a great day! Bubba

LATE ADD - Please follow former elite female pole vaulter Katie Stoever as she attempts to make the US Bobsled team -

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Fight or Flight

Lobster traps on the rocks below the house in Maine. Click to enlarge.

Fight or Flight?
I remember I was a cross country runner and did pretty good. Track season started and we were running loops around this big field and part of it was around the track. I was in the 7th grade. Day after day, in severe pain, I would run past the pole vault pit and see the guys having fun. One day I stepped off and never came back. I found out that our team stud was Patrick Swayze. Yep, that one. Of course to us he was "Buddy". I think he was at the 10' level then and went on to jump 14' but he was far better than we were.

ANYWAY, we had a meet the next week and I was entered in the mile. I went and watched the pole vaulters and dreaded when they would call me for the mile. As it got closer I went and hid in the bathroom. I was in a stall hiding out and I remember them calling me THREE TIMES by name to come to the start line and I just stayed put. So I guess in the world of "Fight or Flight" I chose the latter. I wanted "flight" but not that type.

On the way home on the bus I was severely chastised by the coaches, and when I told them I wanted to vault they told me that not only can I not vault, but that I was off the team. Greatest day of my life. I went home and started finding bamboo poles that were inside carpet rolls for the new houses that were being built. I had my brother and Don Curry, who is here with me, and his brother and I started teaching them about this pole vaulting thing I saw at school and they too got hooked. We put out a step ladder and had a little piece of PVC for a crossbar and the peach tree branches on the other side. For awhile we landed on the ground and then we started putting carpet scraps down to land on.

I was at the same school in 8th grade so I didn't get to vault either but in 9th grade they built a new school and one of the track coaches, who used to be a vaulter, was looking for prospects and heard that I did it. He had jumped 12' 6" on a fibreglas pole and he put the bar up to show us how high that was and I became his willing student.

No real point to the story except that you never know where paths will lead. Sometimes a bad thing turns out to be good and visa versa. But pole vaulting has never been anything but good for me. Have a great day and thanks for being here. Bubba

Monday, October 4, 2010


Don and I got a nice lift and stretch in at the Boothbay Harbor, Maine YMCA. Nice 200m indoor Mondo track. Start to feel a little better.

Things happen for a reason, hence no leg lifting today. The leg press was broken and they only had a seated curl machine. I dropped seated curls a couple of years ago because they were causing groin irritations. I guess I wasn't supposed to lift legs today anyway.

Hope you have a great Monday! Bubba

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Off Day

Sunset from our deck tonight. Click to enlarge.

It's going to be a lazy day today. We take Joe and Kathleen to the airport (1.5 hours each way) and hang out and watch football. It will be an easy gym day tomorrow with bars and stretch. I'll lift light lower and heavier upper. It's been a couple of weeks since I've lifted legs so I don't want to still be sore for next Sunday. After that meet I'll get back to my regular training as I move up to the Texas Senior Games two weeks later. I'll report more as I progress through the week. Have a great Sunday! Bubba

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Glorious Morning in Maine

I think you can click to enlarge this. Last night it was raining and 70 and by the time we got back from dinner it was clearing and 57. This morning was about 45 and this afternoon will be 65. Humidity is nonexistent.

After breakfast Nancy, Joe and Kathleen went into the town of Boothbay Harbor for food and other shopping while I stayed out at the house on the Southport Island point of Newagen. Nancy and I got married at Joe and Kathleen's house on a New Years Eve because they are great friends and because another friend was going to be at the party and wanted to perform our ceremony. The other friend is a minister, Mike Robinson (with wife Karen) who also did my mom's funeral service. Small world.

This morning I got some work done and then did my 10 X 80m hills with a very long and relaxed stretch while I listened to music. I'm sure to many that Van Halen, ACDC, Judas Priest (Yeah Ryan) and Metallica don't match up to this serene beauty but even when there is peace on the outside, the fire to succeed rages from within. Absolutely perfect day and it's not even noon.

Don and Gayle get here about 2 and will stay until Thursday. Don and I started vaulting together in each other's backyards when I was 12. He's my vault training partner and is on the verge of finally coming back from some nagging injuries. My proudest moment as a team was at the National Senior Games (Olympics) in Louisville in 2007. I was over 12' (3.66m) on my first jump to take the lead and Don was in 4th. He makes 12' 6" (3.81m) on his first for the win and I got 2nd. The result was two training partners from Houston who grew up together got the gold and silver at a major championship. Awesome!

The plan now is to take tomorrow off, hit the YMCA for lifting and stretching on Monday/Wednesday and get more hills on Tuesday (8X80m) and Thursday (6X80m). Friday we head back to Portland for an early flight out Saturday AM. Sunday we will all drive to the Austin area for my first competition since I got the silver at indoor nationals in Boston in late March. Again, not a big meet but two weeks from Sunday is our Texas Senior Games in Houston.

This year's Texas Senior Games is the qualifying meet for the National Senior Games to be held next summer in Houston. Get in the top five or you're not going to the big show in your own hometown. That said, I am again wearing my Kamloops World Indoors T-Shirt to remind me to NOT GET HURT next week in Austin!!

Very pleased with my jumping and training right now. Haven't been feeling good but been jumping technically better with higher jumps on smaller poles from closer runs. I've had decent jumps at 13' (3.96m) from 6 steps and very close ones from 8 steps. To put it in perspective, I usually start at 10 steps in a meet (though this year will be 12) and have yet to jump on a big enough pole that I would even warm up on in a meet. That was part of the objective; try high bars on smaller poles to learn how to get more out of them and decrease the risk of injury in practice.

BIG indoor season coming up with seven meets. Indoor marks for next year don't count until 12/1 so I'll jump at Kris' opener on 12/4 and try to get a good start.

OK, I'm rambling and jumping all over so I'd better get cleaned up and ready for some football, relaxing and hanging out. YES I'm very appreciative but we do miss Nancy's mom, June. Have a great day! Bubba

Friday, October 1, 2010

Safe in Maine

Long day but arrived to rain. We're just behind what was left of that hurricane. Tomorrow on is supposed to be beautiful. Exhausted and need some sleep. Hills tomorrow. Have a great night! Bubba