It was another chilly morning here on the eastern shore of North Carolina. Hitting the road to run it was 15°F (-9°C). Today the weather was better than yesterday, not so much because of a warming trend, but the wind wasn’t nearly as bad.
The forecast is for a bit of snow beginning after lunch. We’re anticipating 1-3 inches. Properly dressed, cold can be dealt with and a lack of winter wind meant I’d shoot before the snowfall.
Dressed in my running attire I didn’t bother changing, really there wasn’t any point is changing clothes. The running gear had served me well for several miles and perhaps it would remain loyal against the cold.
Despite the heat hugging efforts of the winter run apparel I headed inside after only a couple of hours. The time outside included the hour spent running and hour shooting. The slower pace of archery helped me cool down from the run, which really wasn’t help. Once I’d cooled down cold soon followed and I was inside enjoying heat as only fossil fuel can produce.
During the past several months I have done zero triathlons. I still train for my next triathlon but haven’t decided in which race to compete. What has occurred to me is that I am getting my competitive fix through archery and archery is a lot less expensive.
When I write that archery is a lot less expensive than triathlons that isn’t an exaggeration. For example a top end bow, top stabilizers, best scope/sight, high-end arrow rest might cost $2500 – $3000 for everything (except arrows). That is essentially the price of a nice set of racing wheels for a triathlete’s bicycle. Seriously, a nice HED tri-spoke front wheel can cost $1694.00 and a HED Disk rear wheel is around $1849.00. That is $3543.00 for wheels. Add an $8000.00 bike and the ride can cost $11,543.00. (When I raced bicycles in the 1970’s, my bike did cost more than my car!)
There are less expensive bikes and wheels. A budget minded triathlete could get set-up to ride for around $2000.00. However, that is going to be a bike, which is a far cry from the top end racing models. An archer can get a lot of equipment for $11,543.00. And the bicycle price doesn’t include: wet suit, goggles, running shoes, cycling shoes, helmet and all the other bits and pieces needed to complete an Ironman. Next, there is the cost of an Ironman registration. The Lake Placid Ironman’s (one of my favorite events) entry fee is $750.00, if you are lucky enough to win a chance to pay the fee.
The way Ironman registration works begins with the limited size of the field that can compete in an Ironman, between 1400 and 2300 athletes per event. The way registration is awarded is first come first serve. Once, the quota is reached there are a few spots for community charities (price is over $1000 for one of these) then that’s it. For the record, my fee for the USA Indoor National Archery Championships was $75.00 – expensive as go archery tournaments. Less expensive triathlons are available. A sprint triathlon can be as inexpensive as $120.00 and a ½ Ironman is ‘just’ $325.00. * Less expensive archery tournaments are also available; the last 3D tournament I competed in cost me $12.00 (I got the senior price, regular fee was $20.00).
Testing oneself in athletic competition is exciting for a lot of people. Doing an Ironman, running a marathon, or completing an Ultra-distance event is a challenge to which many people aspire. Shorter distances are just as much fun and lots of athletes concentrate on speed making short distances their specialty.
Personally, it is the training and competition I enjoy most. I can still train by swimming, riding, and running. I believe those disciplines help with archery. But, the price to play in archery is truly a bargain and gives me my competitive fix.
*A full Ironman distance (140.6 miles) is 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike, and 26.2 mile run. A half Ironman is a 1.2-mile swim, 56-mile bike, and 13.1 mile run (70.3 miles).
River, my dog, and I began our day as usual with a run. Along the way we were joined by one of her friends. Once home, it would be archery practice.
Before I could shoot I needed to provide cookies to both of the furry runners. River’s friend decided she’d come in our house to visit Brenda, wag a bit, and depart with a Milk Bone.
The day was warmer than yesterday but the wind was still blowing. The wind was forecast to reach gusts of 25 mph. “Wind” is not a friend to archers.
The wind, at times, seems to be organic and with malicious focused intent bent on ruining every shot. With each draw of an arrow “Wind” appeared to increase its effort to push my bow and me. I’d have to let down then “Wind” would let down. I’d reach another draw and here would be “Wind” pushing me around.
From the very start “Wind” joyfully began efforts to remove my paper target. That plan of “Wind’s” was spoiled by adding extra roofing nails to secure the target. I, also, added a 2 X 6 board behind the target to help hold it in place. But, “Wind” would not be deterred and only increased its intensity to spoil the day.
Naturally as the struggle continued I became more frustrated and determined to overcome “Wind”. Sadly, in the end “Wind” was victorious.
The morning plan was a short 40-minute run then archery practice on a 3-spot. This is a light week on my training schedule. One look outside and confirmation of the temperature altered the plan.
A native Savannahian, and despite having lived and worked in very cold places, cold still hurts. While living in Cleveland I ran and rode my bike year round. I did the same in Pittsburgh. In prior years I’ve run during the coldest months in Boston, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, and Uppsala, Sweden. I’ve headed out for a snowy run in Nagano, Japan, Alta, Utah and ran the Tokyo Marathon is freezing rain. But, I’ve never really enjoyed the cold. As a matter of fact, I don’t like cold.
There are a lot of folks that seem to enjoy cold and snow. Great for them. Exclude me from that crowd. When I looked at the temperature and the white caps from wind blowing across the Sound I made a deep-rooted Southern blooded decision and didn’t head out for a run. Shooting can wait until it warms up.
My arctic loving brethren scoff at 19°F (-7°C) and laugh at gale force winter wind. The light dusting of snow across the Tar Heel State is a joke to the Patriots of Boston. My Viking friends consider the current weather here in North Carolina excellent for short pants and t-shirts. Well, all I can say is, “Bless their hearts.”
Living as far away as I do from an indoor gym means no easy access to a treadmill. It also means there is no indoor range on which to practice archery. Days like this become recovery days and I amend my training programs. I, also, look ahead to the continued cold in the forecast and make plans to temporarily move further South. I’ll be back in Georgia in just a few days to face a wintery warmth of 68°F (20°C).
Chrissie Wellington was an amazing triathlete. She won every Ironman event she entered. Just as incredible, she won her first Ironman within months of deciding she wanted to compete in the 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike ride, and 26.2 mile run race.
Along the way she became part of a team of professional athletes. She was the new girl on the team. Shortly after joining she was shunned by her fellow athletes. It hurt her, but not so badly that she didn’t go out and beat them in every attempt at the Ironman distance. She did however, eventually leave that team.
Standing next to Chrissie on the Big Island of Hawaii, I noted two things: how lean she was and how her smile never left. Eventually, having surpassed all of her rivals, their personal distance narrowed and friendships or at least respective admiration developed. Chrissie had passed her competition and in turn, her competition would never pass the smiling champion.
I had a similar experience with a petty player during cycling training about 20 years ago, I felt like I was being punished. The group I was training with included national triathlon champions from several countries: a world cycling champion, RAAM team victors, two Ironman World champions, elite mountain bikers (training on their road bikes) and a heap of other champions.
I’d been off my bike for years while I completed my doctorate and law school. Getting back into shape was now a priority. I’d bought a second hand bike and began riding to lose what I dubbed “academic” weight. But, as yet, I hadn’t bought the removable leg and arm warmers worn by the better-equipped riders. I’d been invited to train with the group by Gabe Stanley of South Africa, an amazing athlete, coach and friend. I was the new boy in the mix.
When I realized this group held at least one petty player, we were in Georgia. The day started cool and most people were wearing heavier gear that could be pulled off and tucked into back jersey pockets as the day warmed up. Everyone that is, except me. And as often is the case in Georgia, the day did indeed, warm up. When the group paused to remove their cold weather gear one of them said to me, “We haven’t even gotten off of our inner chain rings, yet.” It wasn’t said with concern for my well-being, or even in a joking manner…like “what are you thinking!” It was stated rudely and clearly meant to demoralize me.
It was my first training ride with these elite athletes as I eased myself back into regular training and competing. We’d been averaging 23 miles per hour and had ridden about 40 miles and I remained part of the pack. I knew the pace would pick up once the cold blocking apparel was removed, at which point the ride would become more difficult. I also knew most people were already on their outer chain rings. I was dropped after another 10 miles. I’ve never forgotten the discourteous, bullying comment, but oddly, I have forgotten who said it.
A year later, at the World 24-Hour Cycling Championship, I wrote taped that comment to my handlebars. It was with me when I marched in the parade of athletes as a member of Team USA for the World Championships where I competed in the long course duathlon, and it was with me at the World Ironman Championship on Kona, HI. I’d kept the unsportsmanlike statement with me as reminder petty individuals don’t belong and deserve less than victory. It reminds me that when training, winning or losing do it politely with good manners.
Since that experience, through decades of international competition and meeting all levels of coaches and athletes, I’ve learned to quickly spot the petty players. I’ve also learned to avoid them. Most of us have had experience with these types of people over the years, neighbors, teammates, work colleagues, even family members and in-laws for that matter. Most of them come and go in life, but when they are present, their barbs tend to be demeaning at best and maliciously hurtful at worst.
A recent example comes to mind. Let’s say you’ve found a group of shooters; you’ve introduced yourself and received an invitation to shoot with them, which you delightedly accepted. After a few times practicing with the group, you begin feel ill-at-ease, more of a sixth sense at first, like a smell in the air that you can’t quite identify. What you’re sensing is not necessarily overt rudeness but a lack of interaction, a profound sense that you are considered an outsider—possibly even an interloper—despite your best efforts to be friendly and integrate into the group.
If this happens, trust your instincts and move on. Find yourself a group where friendly competition, mutual respect and comradery exist. Let the petty players live on the weak side of sport. They’ll never be great, and they can’t have a negative impact on you if you don’t let them. Particularly in sports, the petty players seem to rise to a certain level but then they freeze at a point of mediocrity. Their attitude holds them back. I feel sorry for these folks, they truly miss out on the best of what sports have to offer. So if you happen to stumble into a mix of petty players, move on. Let them drag themselves down, not you.
The Downeast Archery Coalition’s 2015 3D schedule opened on February 7th with a tournament held by the Beaufort County Archery Club in Washington, NC. From my home in New Hope, near Hertford, North Carolina, the drive to the Washington competition was just under two hours. I made the scenic drive along the east coast of North Carolina to the tournament was pleased I did.
Despite being a magnet for hurricanes, the northeast corner of the Tar Heel State is a beautiful place to live. Along the drive to Washington from New Hope I’d crossed the Chowan River, viewed the Albemarle Sound, passed farmland, and went over the Pamilico River. The forested Beaufort County Archery Club’s 3D range was nearly as impressive.
When I arrived the first thing I did was to park in a restricted area. It looked like a good spot for my 2006 Ford f-150. Before I’d opened the door a marshal was shooing me away.
I get to compete on a lot of courses all over the US. This means I don’t know the local rules. What I do know is that there is always someone to offer instruction and for the most part politely corrects my faux pas. This parking blunder was not an exception. Finally making it to the correct parking area, about 30 yards away, I had two initial objectives: sign in and find and port-a-potty. (Not necessarily in that order).
The registration area was becoming crowded as other archers arrived. Following payment I worked my way over to the warm-up range. Aside from warming up, I use this area to try finding a group of two or three shooters willing to accept another. My first attempt failed but the second try worked out. The archers I ended up with consisted of a local teacher of agriculture and two of his students.
The three weren’t very experienced with 3D and we spend a lot of time looking for arrows. One of them lost all of his arrows. When we existed the course the club president asked if I thought the course was too easy, just right, or too hard I said, “It seemed like a fair course.” When all the scores were released I reviewed them. That review suggested the course may have been tougher than I’d originally judged.
Overall, I wasn’t crushed and finished the day with a 3rd place and all of the arrows in my quiver with which I’d entered the maze of foam animal. I’ll look forward to tackling this challenging course again.
This afternoon before I shot, we took a cruise in our Carolina Skiff. The temperature had reached 65°F (18°C) and it was too nice a day not to take a boat ride. We’d be back in plenty of time for me to waste another arrow.
Cruising Little River we can reach the Albemarle Sound or head west to explore swampy waterways. The wind was going to be a factor on the Sound so we took the boat into the tree-lined creeks.
Along the way we passed more boaters than we’ve ever seen on the water here. Quite than a few people, three boats (a lot for us – this is a very quiet river), took time to enjoy the weather, get on the water, and fish. We didn’t fish; we’d only wanted to enjoy the scenery.
When we returned I gathered my archery gear for the afternoon’s practice. I’d finished the morning shooting at 40 yards. Starting my afternoon practice at 20 yards, I discovered, again, I’d not adjusted my sight and sent another arrow into a leaf-covered abyss. On this occasion it didn’t take two shots to figure out my mistake.
It was great to get out on the water and despite wasting an arrow by the afternoon the wind had decreased and practice was good.
The weather here in North Carolina is warming up for a few days. It will turn cold again, but spring is just around the corner. My morning began early with a run and then archery practice. The warmth was great for running, but there was a bit of wind to frustrate me while shooting.
The run was wonderful with temperatures in the mid 40’s. River, my canine running partner, remained committed to sprinting through standing water and filled ditches that remain topped up because of the recent rains. We did pause while I tried to photograph swans in their flying pattern as they passed above us.
After running I shot for an hour then stopped when the wind became too much. I suppose the rapid warming of the air has brought with it the wind. Still, it wasn’t a bad morning for running and shooting.
Before heading out for a run in brisk 18°F (-8°C) temperature I stopped to check out the sunrise and see if any of the locals had been using my dock for their dining table.
Sure enough, a freshly killed duck was lying on the steps leading from the dock into the water. The meal’s owner wasn’t hanging around and was probably a bit put out that I’d interrupted breakfast. After take a picture or two I left the meal of duck to its owner. I also decided I could wait until it warmed up before I started running.
The weather is a factor when practicing and training outdoors. This morning the forecasters seemed to have gotten it right. It was cold and turning colder. Shortly after breakfast the wind was howling. The combination of the cold and wind will keep me off my range for a while. But, I did get in a nice run.