Monday, February 28, 2011

Winding Down & More Questions

Felt a little sore during the night from yesterday's leg lift since I skipped the previous rotation. I'm sure it's nothing. Typically I get a good idea of how I will feel for a meet on about Tuesday or Wednesday so we will see what happens. I'm optimistic that I have trained and tapered accordingly.

Though my workouts leading up to this meet were similar to what I did before Reno, there are a number of improvements and refinements. Overall I think I should be really ready, but again, you have to execute. So the new questions have to do more with my weight and the facility as it pertains to pole and run selection.

The plan was to be up one pole on every height but as of now it looks like I'm coming in 3-4 pounds (1.5-2kg) lighter than I was in Reno. It's a little harder to move a stiffer pole at a lighter weight but it's also a little easier to hold higher so that should cancel that problem out. The fact that the runway is really fast will help as I can really relax. Like Reno, most of these decisions will be made during warm up and early on in the meet. The only thing that really matters is to start the day with lot of poles speed. Then I can gradually slow it down and work my way more up the pole as the poles get stiffer.

Starting height is another issue. For the past few years I have been starting at around 12' (3.66m) but this year I have been starting at 11' 6" (3.51m) so I could work my way through to my bigger poles. If I start at 12' on the pole I expect to be on for that height I will need to be at 12 steps and I normally like to start my meet from 10 steps. In Reno I started at 10 steps and ended at 14 steps and I probably will here too. I think I will make my final decision after warm up and when I see the bar height progression. I'd LOVE to start at 12' from 10 steps but I don't think I can roll a pole that big from that run after sitting around for over an hour. When in doubt I'll play it safe at the start and get more aggressive as I go.

As you see, I do all of these "what if" scenarios now so that at the meet I just respond to the situation and don't have to think. Worse case I will go through my regular pole and run progression and best case I'll be up one pole per height as planned.

Why does this matter? It's going to take 13' 9 1/2" (4.20m) or 14' 1 1/4" (4.30m) to win so how many jumps will I need to get to that level? I took 13 meet jumps in Reno because I had a 2nd attempt make and two 3rd attempt makes. If I can go through clean and make most bars on my first jump as I usually do, then I'm fine. But I can't afford to get to a height that matters and have no jumps left in me. Or even worse, I can't start on too big of a pole too early that I don't make the earlier heights.

As much as it seems like it, this is not paralysis by analysis, but rather working through my options so that I feel comfortable with the plan. I'll run this by Kris and see what he thinks but my guess is that we will stick to the original plan of trying to be up one pole per height.

Thanks for being here. This is the hard part - waiting and thinking. Bubba

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Note to My Coach

I've got a great coach in Kris Allison. We plan, adjust, plan, and adjust a million times since I started back in January of 2005. So I thought today my blog could just be my thoughts as written to him this morning. Have a great day! Bubba
Heyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy Kris. Watched the webcast of the elite guys last night in Albuquerque and everyone was blowing through HUGE poles. Brad Walker blew through BAD on his very first jump at 5.66m and he was on the 5.20m/12.8 that he set the AR on. Jordan Scott blew through all three jumps on three different poles. Even the winner, Mark Hollis looked WAY under poled and I'm sure he was on big ones. I've already sent him (and Jordan) an email to find out about his thoughts on the facility and pole progression.

I've gotta think I'll get to my biggest pole with the standards at 80 cm, and right now I'm about 3-4 pounds down from Reno and I feel great. Should have a good day if I just pay attention to detail. BTW - pole pick up is tomorrow so please send me the return waybill.

In other news, your former kids did well yesterday when Jason Colwick (The San Martian) got 2nd to Holis at USAs with 5.40m, and Ari Inci jumped 4.10m for Rice to set a conference record.

That's it. Thanks for everything Dude! I'll talk to you before I fly out on Friday. Bubba

PS - This just in from NCAA Champion, Jordan Scott
Jordan Scott Yes sir! The runway is really fast and kinda tricky. I was focusing on being tall and maintaining my rhythm so I wouldnt be running too fast and outta control. It was great though. Just take some big sticks!

Saturday, February 26, 2011

The Plan Feels Right

Went out this morning before our high school invitational to watch Don jump and to get in my hill/sled/pole drills. Also had to pack and label the poles for shipment Monday morning. The loading dock was closed so I'll have to get there before 9 AM Monday. They should get to Albuquerque by Wednesday or Thursday and I jump on Saturday.

Again I felt remarkably good for being one week out. Not sure if this is from my activities, or lack of, for the last two days or from the way I've mixed in my sprint drills with a heavy pole in conjunction with my sled/hills. I've got to think it's a little of both.

My last gym day is tomorrow and it's a pretty snappy and easy one. The focus now is on more recovery and LOTS of stretching. All I can do is hope to show up feeling really good. I know I'm not injured or dinged in any way so that's nice, but feeling sharp would be a plus. At that point it's up to me to execute and of course anything can happen then. Today I saw two of our boys move through to the biggest poles they had ever used; one PRd and the other lost his timing. Mine could go either way too. Same thing for our girls as one moved her poles well and really executed nicely and the other didn't move up poles fast enough to get the height she deserved. I'm hoping to learn a little from what I saw.

Today the elites have their national meet at our same venue. It will be on ESPN tomorrow from 4:30 to 6. The runway is supposed be super fast but I'll query some of my friends afterwards to see what they thought. A week from right now and I will be done. Going to be an interesting week. Thanks for staying tuned! Bubba

Friday, February 25, 2011

Lots of Driving

A big loop of driving makes me sore and stiff so I hope to get that worked out tomorrow AM with sled/pole drills/hills and then a stretch. Felt good yesterday but beat up today. Home stretch for nationals begins as I will be in Albuquerque one week from now. More later. Bubba

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Voices in My Head

Got an email from my friend, Kirk Bentz last night about contact info for another vaulter. Kirk is the M55 Indoor American Record Holder. In the email Kirk said his body was feeling bad but he'd come to nationals and give it a shot. To me that means he will probably improve his AR. But of course it made me look at my own body condition.

Yesterday when I did my running/sleds/hills/pole drills I felt good but my legs were a little tight even though I have been stretching. So I show up to the gym this morning and one of the four Gauntlet Stairmasters is broken, two are occupied, and the last one had some idiot's towel and water on it in the "Pause" mode with no one near it. CRAP! OK, move to the next item, the seated leg press. A trainer is sitting there with a 60 year old lady and they are talking about her grand kids. For 10 minutes they do not move. I go to the next two and have some other similar ridiculous interference so I just walked out the door and left. No wonder I don't go this time of day.

My voices have been telling me to be super careful with everything since I'm now only nine days out. After all, I'm not getting any stronger or faster between now and nationals so don't risk it. So let's review;
  • Somewhat tight legs when running
  • Kirk's body hurting email
  • Can't get to my first four pieces of equipment in the gym
  • Have a four hour drive ahead of me this morning
All of these add up to the decision to do NOTHING. Of course this is very against my nature but I'm trying to turn "Nature" into "Mature" so we will see how it plays out. For now I feel it's the best decision or I wouldn't keep hearing these warning voices. I'll have to find other ways to try and feel better today.

All the best and have a great day! Bubba

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

New Team in Town

I found out a few days ago that Coach Dan Green just started a new track & field club sponsored by Adidas. Coach Green is in several coaching and athlete halls of fame and was the head coach at The Woodlands High School in The Woodlands, Texas, where I live. For those that don't know, last year ESPN rated The Woodlands High School as the top overall athletic program in the country. Coach Green won the very first Houston Marathon and has also been a USA team coach all over the place including a trip to China a few years ago. He retired after 30 years and his son is now the coach and carrying on the family tradition of excellence.

I was told last week that he wanted to see me about a "new project". Today I saw him at the track and he invited me to join his new club, Team Green/Adidas of The Woodlands, and of course I accepted. We will keep The Woodlands Pole Vault Club for our insurance and for the other guys but I'm happy to be on board with Coach Green and Adidas.

Found My Lucky Penny!!
As I was coming out of my guitar lesson yesterday and right outside the driver side door was a very nice heads up penny, so I grabbed it to take to Albuquerque. Of course I'll need far more than my lucky penny but you have to take every edge you can get.

Today was a Sprint/Pole Drill with ankle weights, alternated with hill/sled day. Everything felt very good for 10 days out. I'm out tomorrow but will lift before I go. Have a great evening. Bubba

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The Plan

A lot is going to happen as I approach the national indoor meet in 11 days but very little will have to do with vaulting. The big workouts and plan are done so I just have to show up and pay attention to detail and execute. As mentioned before, I stack up a lot of work stuff before these meets to keep me from dwelling on every detail. That way when it's time to jump my mind has been elsewhere for awhile. I'm out of town Wednesday as usual but this week I'm also out on Thursday and Friday though I will still get my training in as I will be home part of all three days.

The Plan - It's going to take at least 13' 9 1/2" (4.20m) or 14' 1 1/4" (4.30m) to win nationals. Both heights will be American Records so obviously I have not jumped that high. Charlie Brown and Gary Hunter are new to the age group and they did jump that high last year. So how do I hope to compete, or even get a medal? Kirk Bentz IS the American record holder and he is jumping too so right now it looks like I'm the 4th best vaulter so getting a medal would be a victory of sorts.

I'm going to have to be on my biggest two poles with the uprights between 28 - 32". That simple. I've done a ton of running, bars and strength stuff in order to try and get a little more pole speed. I'll grip up 2" per pole and we're thinking of being up one pole bigger per height than usual so I HAVE to do a few things right to be able to complete the jump. For some reason that works well for me. I think recently I have finessed the early heights and then when I have to hit a big pole I don't quite have the timing. I will still start on my smallest pole for warm up but will get off of it after 1-2 jumps.

The bottom line is that in need pole speed on a big pole. The pole MUST get well past vertical in order to convert forward energy upward. Like the maximum speed of a thrown ball is in front of your head and not over it, I have to get a big pole past vertical. The pole I jumped 13' 5 1/4" (4.10m) on in Reno needs to feel small. If it does I may be in business because I have one more bigger pole that I couldn't quite move there. So that's the plan and I hope for the best.

Thanks so much for being here. More soon. Bubba

Monday, February 21, 2011

The Taper Begins

Well as of Thursday the really hard days are behind me and now comes the gradual to rapid drop off in activity, depending on the training component. I'll stay focused but it's really harder as I have said before. When you're used to having to get geared up to "survive" a practice", and now they are all "easy", you tend to get sloppy and lethargic. Obviously I can't let that happen so I'll try to focus on clean reps and LOTS of disciplined stretching.

It's so easy at this point to start skipping things because they seem minimal but you just can't. Not only do you lose your physical edge but you lose the mental edge and with that some confidence because you felt like you cheated near the end.

I've got my regular rotation through Wednesday and then Thursday I am out of town for the night on business. I'll skip Friday's upper lift rotation and then do my normal pre big meet strength test for upper on Monday. Saturday is our big high school invitational so I'll have to get out there for my running very early, unless it rains, then I'll be alone. I'm used to that as I almost always train alone.

That's it from here. Less than two weeks now to nationals so time to start visualizing a game plan. Kris and I are in agreement on poles, runs and heights so that part is a go. Now I just need to come in focused and ready to execute. I'm very capable of that but you still have to make it happen when the time comes.

Thanks for being here and for all of your support. This is that "lonely" time when you're left with a ton of thoughts because the hard work is done, or "the hay is in the barn" as Kris says. Thanks again! Bubba

Sunday, February 20, 2011

What I Learned From Roland Carter

I bet most of you don't know that name but he's the first American to vault 18' indoors and it happened at Albuquerque. Hmmm. I'm going there soon.

Roland competed for the US Army and was a 16' 6" (5.04m) jumper. He came to train at Rice University with future World Recordholder and my lifelong friend, Dave Roberts. I knew Dave from high school so when he went to Rice we started training out there too.

At Texas Relays the next year Roland made a huge breakthrough and got a 1' (30cm) PR at 17' 6" (5.34m). Afterwards he told me that he found himself on the runway with these big name guys and everyone was gripping a foot higher than him so he just jacked his hand up 9". The first jump at a new PR of 17' he had a lot of height but crashed down badly on the bar. The next jump he fully extended his take off and swing and made it easily. The next vault he made 17' 6". Just like that, one bold move at the right time and suddenly everyone knew who he was, and not just because he trained with Dave.

Fast forward to the next indoor season. I noticed that when Dave jumped during the week that Roland did not. His explanation was that he was comfortable with his vault, and that at his "age", he felt worse in a meet if he had vaulted in practice. So he did lots of strides, drills etc. but did not vault. That very next weekend he vaulted 18'.

I try to learn something from everyone I meet, but it seems that almost 40 years later I'm still living off of Roland's advice. I think I will feel better in the meet if I don't jump first. I'll be more fresh and more focused on what I need to do. It worked for Reno so I'm hoping it works for nationals.

Lat week I got an email from a friend who said he was really impressed with the progress I've made since last year, especially since I haven't been jumping. Huh? I didn't jump in meets last outdoor season in an effort to clean up my technique and to raise my body to the next level. Just because I wasn't competing doesn't mean I'm not grinding away. Again, if you are old and you get behind physically it is VERY hard to make up. Heck, it's hard to stay where you are. There is nothing special about what I do. I just keep showing up to "class" each day.

I bring this up because Nancy asked me what big meets I had planned for next year, 2012, and my answer was NONE!! In 2013 I will turn 60 just before Worlds. I will devote ALL of next year getting ready for that and will jump in very few meets. For someone who loves to vault so much it doesn't seem to make sense. But the reality is that when I jump a lot I can't train a lot because then I'm too beat up to jump well at a high level. Thanks Roland. You have taught me which is more important.

A Word About the Penny
I'm not overly superstitious but if I see a heads up penny I will pick it up for good luck. If it's tails up I leave it. At the 1996 Olympic Games I put a heads up penny that I had found in both of the plant boxes in the Olympic Stadium in Atalanta. A security officer came over to check my credentials and ask me what I was doing. When I told him he said, "That's cool. Go ahead". I think there will be a penny in the box at Albuquerque because I will need all of the luck I can get. Have a great day! Bubba

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Good Run/Drill Day

My choice to bail on Thursday's workout proved to be a good one as today my legs felt pretty spectacular. I did a number of sprint drills with a heavy pole over the 50m hill and alternated them with a sled pull for a total of 15 reps. I also did a lot of plant drills with the big pole.

Two weeks from today I jump at indoor nationals in Albuquerque. Found out last night that we jump at 1 PM with a field of 15 vaulters listed below. "NM" means "No Mark" but there are 5-6 guys in the top 7 in the world in this field, including indoor American Recordholder, Kirk Bentz, who set that record at this meet last year. This is the strongest M55 field in history by far with four guys over 4.10m (13' 5 1/4" in red) and at no other meet has even 13' (3.97m) gotten 2nd place.

55-59 Men's Pole Vault
Michael Hogan - 12-6
Sid Hoff - 11-0
Charlie Bing - 10-6
Doug Sparks - 4.10
Russell Jacquet-Acea - 2.90
David Angel - NM
Kirk Bentz - NM
Charles Brown - NM
Bob Crites - NM
Stuart Hancock - NM
Mark Herman - NM
Gary Hunter - NM
Donald Keller - NM
Gerrod Smith - NM
Brad Winter - NM

I just have to take care of me. Pay attention to what I do, how I do it, stay on track and block out everything else. Sounds simple. I think I need another meet day distraction like Reno. Have a great day! Bubba

Friday, February 18, 2011

The REAL Tough Guys

Please Click to Enlarge - Gotta See This

Improvised Iron - Lance-Cpl. James Edward Orr, 20, from the 1st Battalion 8th Marines Alpha Company, lifts weights made from barbed wire at a makeshift gym at an outpost in Kunjak in southern Afghanistan's Helmand province on Feb. 17.
I had a good workout today, but I certainly salute these guys. Makes me feel very weak minded when I "don't quite feel like training". I'll put this up in my garage to remind what real determination is.
  • Felt weak to start with but got stronger as I went and finished on a high note.
  • I need to go remark my poles today as I noticed some things were hard to read and on two poles I need to re-mark the soft side.
  • Just finalized the shipping of our poles.
  • The final time schedule for nationals should be posted today according to the website.
  • Two weeks from today I will already be in Albuquerque.
  • Love life and those in it with me.
Have a great day and thank you so much for following me here. Bubba

Thursday, February 17, 2011

No Workout Today

Here’s a good example of how I have learned from my mistakes. I felt like crap running hill/sleds yesterday and today I feel really run down. My right Achilles was a little sore and I know the Gauntlet Stairmaster makes it a bit worse. Therefore I’m totally bailing out on working out today.

It does no good to build your body up only to tear it down. I don’t want to waste a week trying to feel better when I can just skip today and make it happen overnight. Hard decision but the right one considering.

A week from today is when I really need to start feeling good. If I’m dragging into next Thursday/Friday I won’t have time to freshen up again before nationals. Have a great day and thanks for being here. Bubba

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Last Hard Rotation

Did my last 10 X 50m hill/sleds today and it sucked royally, as expected. I guess rarely is sucking supposed to be good and that's a good thing because it felt terrible today. Tomorrow is my last hard cardio and leg lift day and Friday is my last hard garage day. That said, I still have three more rotations but they decrease in volume and raise a little but in intensity each time.

I was seriously considering trying to vault in practice on Saturday but decided against it with some input from several people close to me. I NEED my last hard rotation to come out where I want to physically so Saturday I would be too trashed to try and jump safely.

I feel I'm in a real good place on all fronts. I just need to continue to execute my plans and then show up in the right frame of mind. So far so good. Thanks for all of your support! Bubba

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Day Off

Today is an optional arms/shoulders lift day so I'm skipping it. The rear of my left shoulder is feeling good after several months of agitation and my right one flared up when I started lifting heavy before Reno. I feel very good and not beaten down so I'll take the day and catch up on work stuff and rest the body.

I figured out the rest of my training until nationals and the ramp up of intensity and reduction of volume starts this weekend. I like this time because I always feel pretty good but I have to stay in touch with what's important. Taper down doesn't mean less work it means shorter and harder work. More focus on stretching and bars as well.

Like everyone else, I'm being pulled in a lot of directions right now between work, play, life, etc., and I really enjoy that juggling. It keeps me from getting obsessed with one particular thing or another, though that seems to happen on it's own anyway, especially since Reno.

Taped all of my poles yesterday and found I still have 2-3" (5-7 cm) that I can raise my grip outside of my standard taped area. I don't think I need that but if I do it's there.

Not jumping for another month before a big meet is probably the oddest feeling thing I have ever done. It also feels the most right. Though the weather is nice now, we spent two weeks in the 20s. I'd rather train through than risk injury vaulting in the cold.

After nationals there seems to be a big window before I have a meet again so I'm sure we will have some All Comers meets at our high school. BTW - just got another new pit. Before you know it the big outdoor meets will be here so I think I will just keep grinding away and try to jump once every one to two weeks.

That's all I'm thinking for today. I hope you have a great one. Thank you for being here supporting me!! Bubba

Monday, February 14, 2011

No Jury Duty

As I read my notice to appear for jury duty over the weekend I noticed that they encouraged you to sign up and get a court assignment online. If you did not have that ability to go online then you could call in for recorded instructions. A funny thing told me not to go online but rather wait until Sunday afternoon and then call the recording. Sure enough, enough people had signed up online that my group was cancelled. YEAH!!

Beautiful day today. I went from 25 degrees and needing the heater to almost needing the fan today at 65. Another two months I will be pouring sweat again on the garage days. You just think you are getting into good shape until that heat hits and you basically start all over.

This afternoon I will go over early and re-tape my pole grips and measure them all so I don't get caught by surprise in Reno by gripping lower than I thought I was. Foolish of me not to write it down when I cut the bottoms off the poles. The grips felt a little low but I foolishly thought that was me just getting into better shape. Apparently not.

Happy Valentines Day to everyone. Hope you are lucky enough to have some special in your life and close to your heart like I do! Have a great day and thanks for being here! Bubba

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Gaining Momentum

Inside of three weeks until national indoors so my strength felt better today and I felt less rundown. I'll have to look at schedule detail but I think I will hit my peak thrust by a week from Thursday and then it's taper down quickly. Normally I know this but I have jury duty tomorrow and have to travel on business a week from Thursday so there will be some juggling. Should be able to lift that Thursday morning and then either do Friday's late in the day or on Saturday morning. Need to study the situation.

When I start to feel trashed I really just focus on each set and each individual rep like I did today. I used to kind of look around to what my next exercise was and that got me off track of what I was presently doing. I've also written my blog twice before I worked out and then didn't work out so I will save that for afterwards unless I'm running.

All and all I feel a lot better mentally and physically then I did on my Thursday rotation, as I suggested I might. I'll need to because national indoors is really a preview to this summer's World Championships as 4-5 of the top 5-6 guys in the world are jumping in my group. You could likely see a 13' jump not get a medal and I'm not sure a 13' has ever not gotten 2nd in the M55 group. There were three of us over that in Reno on adjacent pits. Should be fun.

Enjoy your Sunday. Beautiful day here with 65 and spring like weather. Bubba

Saturday, February 12, 2011

I Have A Lot to Cover or Uncover Today

More on this photo later in a technical discussion. Click to enlarge.

I am definitely in the grind right now. The first few sessions back you feel like Popeye, and by now I feel more like Olive Oil. What I really need is some oil rubbed on my aching body. I can tell how my training is going based on how long it takes me to get out of the bathtub soak. Tonight I finished the newspaper, Time magazine and the evening news on TV and still couldn't get out. It's funny because I am beat up but not yet overtrained. Overtrained feels dead and lifeless. Over the next week it will start turning around and quickly getting stronger. A week from tomorrow I will start my taper and back off the training for the final 10 days and then I will be revived. Hopefully!!

The photo above and the video below were taken by Dr. Peter McGinnis, USA Track & Field Biomechanist. The conversation is twofold; 1) is my plant late, and 2) why can't I roll this pole?
1) Everyone that watches me jump says my plant is late. I argue that for me it is perfectly timed. You see I spent an entire year trying to have my right arm locked when the pole hit the back of the box and found that I could not jump off the ground. Because I am not the fastest or tallest I DEPEND on jumping off the ground at take off. If you look closely I force my hands up as I jump up and then my body goes stiff. You couldn't throw a shot put with a straight arm nor do a clean and jerk without jumping as you thrust your arms up. Add to that the fact that if you were going to try and touch the basketball goal, at the top of your jump your body would automatically go stiff so my method accomplishes the same thing but at a later time. It's my way as I have tried all others. See below for #2.

You see I have good position and consistent arm pressure but can't get the pole to roll over enough to complete the jump. Below is the exact same pole with 3.5" (7 cm) cut off the bottom to effectively shorten the sailpiece just enough to roll the pole. ALL of my poles have now been cut 3.5" and I can use them, hence my PR in Reno.

Think of it this way - the pole is a 14' 7" (4.45m) with a 15' 1" (4.60m) sailpiece, cut to 13' 3" (4.05m) so that I can have my bottom hand deep in the sailpiece to give me a quicker return because the stiffness on my left hand pitches me up to the top hand for a faster transfer. Even though I am only gripping 13' 1" (3.99m), that same grip on a shorter pole will be a more sluggish jump with my style. So with 2" off it made it a 14' 11" (4.55m) sail and that's what I couldn't roll. Taking 3.5" off gave me just enough for it to roll and it is now effectively a 14' 8" (4.46m) pole. I cut the tops to keep the pole from hitting the bar.

Now for another great video, here is Dr. McGinnis. As a sports scientist he of course needs to have the best equipment and get to have all of the fun with it. So here is Pete taking a video of himself vaulting with the camera taped on the end of the pole. Enjoy and thanks for being here tonight! In the meantime - looking for a good massage!! Bubba

Friday, February 11, 2011

Cold But Better - Entered World Championships

I didn't go back in to the gym yesterday to finish my lift. I wanted to but it felt it would be too OCD to actually go through with it so I let it go. Had a better workout at home this morning. After having my coldest outdoor workout on Wednesday, it was 25 this morning with only a small space heater in my garage. My high parallel bars are outside so that was even colder. Fortunately the sun is out and there is no wind.

I'm in that melancholy mode right now where everything is great in my life and yet I'm too far away from nationals to do more than just grind through my workout. Knowing that I'm not going to jump is fine but it feels too much like working out to be working out and not enough like I'm training for an event. This doesn't change my focus or my efforts but there is little excitement in the workmanlike way I attack the details of the day. I guess I'm saying it's boring and more of a mental grind, though the physical also sucks right now. OK, I'll quit there because I'm sure this doesn't make sense.

Oh yeah, I entered the World Masters Athletics Championships in Sacramento last night. BTW - "Athletics" is what the rest of the world calls "Track & Field". Since I"m not having to move to Florida I don't see why I shouldn't be ready; knock on wood for injuries. My heart is already there so now I have to get my body ready, and July 13 is a long way away. Have a great day and thanks for being here. I'll continue to pursue my passion one day at a time. Bubba

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Harder Than It Has Been In a LONG Time!!

Let's start with my friend and masters vaulter from New Jersey, Carl Huff. He read my post about "The Brazilian", Fabiana Murer at the Milrose Games and sent me of a photo of him with her at that meet. Thanks Carl! Always great to hear from you my friend!

Yesterday I had written the day off. Then some weird spell came over me that said "if you can run today there will never be another day in Texas that you will skip, so go out and gain some mental strength". SO, it's 26 degrees, snow flurries, massive north wind I run my sled/hills into, and to make it worse, I forgot my music. BUT I did them. ALL 10 X 50m. Oh I really thought about stopping at 4,5,6,7 but after that I figured just finish the job so did all 10. Glad I did.

Today was a different story. I knew I would feel bad because I'm settling back into grind mode where you always feel pretty dead, but it was worse than expected. Did my cardio, bars and about half of my lifting very well before it hit me and I had to quit. The gym won the last half of the battle today I am sorry to say. I started feeling nauseous because of the intensity, then very dry mouthed and then I saw I was really up against the clock before a lunch meeting etc. If I would have just gone 30 minutes earlier as planned I would have gotten some water, regrouped and gotten through it. Hate leaving this way but I did get the most important parts done. Thinking about going back later and finishing the rest.

Win some lose some I suppose but I'm disappointed in my conditioning. Fortunately it comes back fast but it DOES suck along the way. It's a fine balance between speed, power and endurance. I used to read that the true test of both is being able to run a five minute mile and bench press 300 lbs. on the same day. It takes different types of training and one takes away form the other. Compound that with the ramp down for Reno followed by the week off afterwards and I should expect to have to climb back up a little. I'm sure it's not as bad as I feel about right now but I'll take the guilt for this moment. Thanks for being here and have a great day! Bubba

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Cold, Rain, Then Ice

Seems I'm always dripping lately but here we go again. I've got 10 X 50m hill/sleds and there's no way I will make it. I'm fine with that. I probably won't try and make it up but rather just stay on track with my regular schedule. Surprisingly when I adjust my schedule to accommodate weather I can throw off my work/rest ratio and get out of balance. It either compresses everything and I feel overtrained, or it spreads it out and I feel like I lose conditioning. Therefore I just skip it and take up with the next day's practice.

That's the end of the short story today. I've become quite a fan of short stories to the point when I'm busy but that does not change my commitment. If anything it's greater than ever. Thank you for being here. Bubba

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Pen Pals?

I was watching the other day as Regis Philbin was getting an explanation of computers, email, texting, Facebook, Twitter, etc.. Like me sometimes, he looked like a monkey trying to do a math problem. Then it occurred to me that a good way to describe the way we communicate now, to the generation before us, is that we are realtime "Pen Pals". In "the old days" people would correspond through letters and carry on conversations over years. We can do this in merely seconds. I'm certain we have only discovered yet another way to waste time, but I like having the option. If not, the only way you could read this would be in the newspaper, and who would publish that?

Back to reality. Our poles got back yesterday after being caught up in the storms. I couldn't wait to measure my grip to see what I was gripping in Reno. DEFLATE!! I thought I was gripping about 13' 3" - 4" (4.04-.07m) and I was only at 13' 1" (3.99m). It's good I can jump that well with a low grip but I have to grip higher and normally do. My fault for not writing down my own markings. No way I would have let myself grip that low. No arc to work with. I gripped 13' 3" a year ago and I'm in much better shape.

Talked to Kris about a meet this Saturday and he says I need to skip it and stick with the plan I'm on. He is very pleased with the technical aspects of my jumping but we have have to make those bigger poles feel smaller and that is just flat out grunt work. So as any decent athlete, I will listen to and trust my coach.

Out to the garage. Mid 30s with space heater going but have to get my butt out there. Thank you for being here. Bubba

Monday, February 7, 2011

The Brazilian

Fabiana Murer of Brazil had about one week to enjoy her world leading mark set at the Milrose Games last week. Yelena Isinbayeva took the lead coming out of retirement at a meet in Russia. So what's the big deal? Besides the fact that the Brazilian is strong and sleek, my coach Kris Allison, met her and her coach at the South American Pole Vault Summit in Argentina in 2008. At that point she hadn't even made 15' (4.57m) but Kris told me that she would be huge, and of course she is. So keep an eye on this slick Brazilian, and others to come. Bubba

Here is a video of Fabiana breaking the Bazil record of 4.82m (15' 9 1/2")

Here she is beating Arkanas school teacher, April Steiner Bennett in Rio to get her first 15' vault.

Oh yeah - my training - grind away in the cold garage.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

First Full Training Day

When I look at today's training compared to my first day after Belton on 1/1, I feel a lot stronger and better conditioned. If you remember I had a slight groin cramp I wanted to protect so I hit the cardio hard on the Gauntlet (actual stairs) and bike, as well as bumped my lifts up to 28 reps instead of 18 one day and 12 on another. I was surprised how far I came in such a short time and I got some reward in Reno when bigger poles started to feel smaller. I'm hoping for the same this time around.

Again I will train for four weeks and not jump. I will however do all kinds of drills gripping the end of a 16/175 including sprint drills with ankle weights combined with more sled/hill running. The objective is to cover more ground with less effort and have a very stiff body hitting the pole at take off. This results in a big pole feeling small and produces higher jumps.

I tell the kids all of the time that once you can get the pole past vertical, all jumps feel the same. To get a bigger pole past vertical requires better strength and technique as well as speed and power. So that's the mission; how big of a pole can I get past vertical so I can get launched?

Jumping in practice is fun but not when it's cold, so I'm fine with this. I remember when I was getting ready for the World Masters Games in Sydney that I would sometimes take between 1-3 jumps in practice and stop. I got this from World and Olympic Champion Steve Hooker. One year he was coming off of injuries and knew he could get hurt again so his jumps would be limited. Because of this he would stop when he hit 1-2 jumps correctly. He said that his focus was so much better that he really didn't need many jumps and that he would be better off getting in better condition. So that's where I am. If it were spring or summer I would jump at least once a week and sometimes twice. But since the weather is crap anyway, then why not just crank away? Hard to argue with an indoor PR in Reno after not jumping for four weeks.

Speaking of Reno, I finally got that jump on my computer so I can pause and advance frame by frame. I've posted it here but here is a direct link

PS - a special salute to the nutcases who joined me on the "Tell the Geico Woodchuck's story". I foolishly said to a few friends, "I wonder what their names are". From that came a back an forth story about who they are, where they came from, their families, prison records, girlfirends, etc. Too funny. Now - come up with your own "Most Interesting Man in the World" quotes.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Back in Action

When I woke up in our Clearwater, Florida hotel with the panoramic ocean view and 68 degrees, my computer said Houston was clear and 27. When we landed at 10:30 it was 33. After lunch is was 48. An hour later I was at the track and doing my 10 X 50m sled/hills and watching the masters guys practice, it was 55 and I was comfortable in my T-Shirt. Beautiful day and sleds felt great.

Four weeks from today is indoor nationals in Albuquerque. I had a four week ramp up to Reno where I began borderline injured. I feel in prefect health in heart, mind, body and spirits, so as long as I train consistently and don't do anything dumb, I should be able to roll into ABQ healthier than I arrived at Reno. Again I won't vault during this break as I feel confident in my jump. I just need to be faster and more powerful. That's the theory so we will see how it goes. But the main reason I'm not jumping is that it is too darned cold and not worth the injury risk. Have a great evening! Bubba

Friday, February 4, 2011


So, a week ago today I had a marvelous all around experience in Reno. As you have figured, I do everything with passion so doing NOTHING for a week is very hard yet sometimes needed. Being out of town makes it tougher in some ways and easier in others. I miss being able to play the guitar, head over to the track or gym, lounge around the house, etc. But most of all I miss being able to do the day to day stuff that makes me, me.

I get home tomorrow about 10:30 and it's supposed to get up to the low 50's. This of course means I will "get to do" my 10 X 50m sled/hills. OK, so I'm weird. When you have a breakthrough you're anxious to get back to what got you there. And I will, along with some new top secret training aids. Just kidding - I have no secrets, as I am an open book. You just may not always recognize the language I am speaking. Have a great day! Bubba

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Texas Here We Stay!!

I had my main meeting in Florida yesterday and we have determined that the scope of the work project is so large that we are going to attempt to do it in phases and along with inside management rather than one fell swoop with me leading the charge from here. This means we do not have to move and I can get ready for the World Masters Championships in Sacramento. Glad to have this resolved. It is actually the best for me but I was willing to do whatever it took to make deal work. Very pleased!

A week ago today I was in Reno and I am happy to say that I feel far better today than I did last week. I think the week off has been good to me, my mind and my body. Of course it's snowing at home and I'm in the mid 70s and on the beach in Florida. Fortunately I should get to come back here about once a month for the foreseeable future.

Future? I'm always a big short and long term planner but I have to say that developments over the past week have made me more excited about my future than I have been in many years. They say things happen for a reason and I'm sure they do. I'm always optimistic anyway but I have a new breath of fresh air now. It's like a piece of my spirit has been returned to me. Very excited about life. Have a great day and thank for being here for me! Bubba

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Pole Series

I'm asked all the time about my poles so I thought I would clear up some of that here today. Of course a man's pole is very personal and I am lucky to have the best. Since 1975 Bruce Caldwell has been behind what I use. First as the National Sales Manager for Skypole, then when he started FibreSport, and now with best poles I have ever used, Essx.

My meet series is made up of seven Essx custom carbons. I have 15' 1" (4.60m) sails on a 14' 7" (4.45M) body with 5.5" (12cm) cut off the bottoms so they roll. Then the tops are trimmed to between 13' 1" (4m) and 13' 7" (4.14m), with my current max grip at 13' 4" (4.07m). After all of this, my poles are flexed on a 14’ 1” (4.30m) scale so I can relate them to the poles I am most familiar with. They begin at 15.8 and end at 14.2, so that’s like 167 – 184 (76-84 kg) in lbs. I jump at about 167-68 (76-77 kg). I won World Masters Games in Sydney on a 15.7 and jumped 13’ 5 ¼” (4.10m) at Reno on a 14.4. These poles pick me up better and have more blow off the top. That’s what it will take to get me to 14’ (4.27m). Well, and getting in better shape.

I like to have a brief warm up and then do my real warm up in the meet so I have more energy when it counts. I typically start my run in a meet at 10 steps for two heights, then go to 12 steps for two heights, and then to 14 steps for the remainder. I’m always trying to get on each pole from one stride closer as that gives me 6” (15 cm) more height per pole. I can and will run from 16 steps if needed.

The poles took some getting used to because they are quicker and less forgiving. I’ve been getting lots of height on bars but haven’t really found the timing to leave up the high ones until Reno. My prep for that meet was really good as well as a lot of active rest activity at the hotel leading up to it. I felt really free mentally and loose physically. Looking forward to getting back to training. Thanks for being here! Bubba

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Florida Escape

I'm here on business and my phase break from training. It's four days after my Reno marathon of 13 jumps and my body is still trying to recover. My hip/glute does not hurt which thrills me, but I'm still sore and achy in the midsection which does too. I worked hard on my bars and that helped my swing and stiffness as I hit the pole.

All in all, I worked really hard in the past month and got a nice reward. Though we rarely get what we deserve, I felt like I was long overdue in getting that type of pleasure and it was very special. Now if I can just duplicate it at nationals. As I review the upcoming game plan, I feel certain I can do a few things better. That's it for tonight and thank you for your support!! Bubba