“You can’t help getting older, we just don’t have to get old, “ George Burns.
I’ve signed up to compete in the Georgia Golden Olympics. In Georgia there are many excellent archers over 50. No matter how much one practices there is no way to guess at who might win in a competition among the more mature archers here. It really comes down to who makes the least number of mistakes.
I nearly doubled-up and entered the bicycling time trials. Then I looked at the most recent winners’ time at a distance where I was considering competing. I can’t beat that time.
The most recent winners are amazing. There speeds are equal to those put out by Professional Cyclists for the same distance. I would have never guessed a 67 year old could compete against a 30 year old Professional Cyclist. Heck, when I was 30 years old those current Golden boys would have beaten me over the same distance time trial.
At the peak of my cycling racing I trained with and raced against Olympians, World Champions and Professionals that competed in the Tour de France. I raced all over the US and in Europe. So, I was pretty fit. Still, I would not have beaten the top 65+ Golden Olympic cyclists in the time trial I was considering.
Now, I was never the greatest time trialist. But, I won a lot of time trials. Once I was even the USA Cycling Georgia State Time Trial Champion. I even broke the top 10 in a Velodrome Time Trial when I was 50 racing on a cheap $500.00 bicycle.
Reviewing some of the older longer Tour de France Prologue times these Golden boys would have done themselves proud against the top cyclists in the World. As much as I’d enjoy racing my bike there simply no way I can compete against such supernatural Golden power.
From the National Senior Games Rule Book:
“The NSGA does not currently test for banned or performance enhancing drugs. If an athlete is found to be using drugs by any other agency or governing body, they will also be banned from NSGA competitions until the sanction or banned is removed. The NSGA will communicate with NGB’s for a current list of athletes.”
Occasionally, it is nice to switch up training schedules. Over the past week I’ve made some alterations in my training plans. So far, it seems like a nice change.
Prior to the change my training went like this: run/archery mornings, cycling/archery afternoons. Essentially this was it without the detail. Last week I changed to: Run/cycling morning, archery afternoons. Still without the details.
So far it has been fun. It is like doing 2/3 of a duathlon. That got me thinking about doing a duathlon. If I could find one that started at 0900 that was nearby I’d probably enter. I did find one that nearby that started at 0700. Transition and packet pick-up opened at 0500 on race day. Transition closed at 0630. Start of the race is at 0700.
Even a local event with these start times means getting out of bed at 0430 to prepare to race. I can do it; I’ve done it countless times. But, do I want to do it again?
One really nice thing about archery is the start times. Local events start during humane hours. It is one of my favorite things about archery. You can’t start too early for outdoor events because you can’t see the targets. A built in cushion for decent start times.
Over decades I did get up at those puke of dawn hours to race. I miss the racing; I do not miss the early mornings. Even training meant my typical wake up time of 0530 including the weekends.
I will say I do get out to run nearly every morning by 0800. Now with the added cycling that follows I won’t finish until 1030. For two and a half hours I admit it is really nice. Knock several hours off that 0800 run time and it becomes less appealing.
The afternoon archery exclusive is also nice. I can shoot without thinking about cycling. So far, a pretty nice switch.
The restrictions on travel haven’t been as imposing on activities out here in the sticks. Certainly, there’s no heading into Athens for dinner. That’s not a huge sacrifice since we don’t go out for a meal all that often. We had tickets to a several events that have been canceled or postponed and that’s a shame. But, I can still trail run, practice archery, and go cycling. The trail running is just out my back door as is my archery range. Cycling is done on back roads where traffic has been nearly absent.
Aside from the physical play I’ve been completing continuing education (CEU) courses to reinstate my respiratory care practitioner (RCP) license. While I have licenses in other medical areas those aren’t as pertinent as the RCP. There are lots of sleep disorders and people that suffer with them but another sleep specialist is low on the priority list of needed help. The need for medical forensics is even less useful for the moment.
Each day I start with the physical activities. When those are done I sit down for continuing education brought to me via the Internet. Country life is nice however there is a limit to the available Internet. Going through programs takes some patience. There will be at least one lost connection per session.
For the some of the lectures I’ve been bored, angered, or left considering whether or not the presenter really understood what they were presenting. Today, I was lucky to have found a real gem. I listened to a respiratory therapist give one of the most relevant lectures I’ve heard in a long time!
Anytime I hear a lecture that gets me thinking I am happy. This presenter got me thinking and seeing the applications of the subject matter. In fact, 9 years ago, two years before I retired a friend of mine and I presented a plan to do exactly what she was describing. We were looking for $3 million dollars to fund our project. We’d offered to build a system to do what the lecture danced around then sale it back to the larger organization after we got it established for $7 million dollars.
You might wonder way would any company pay out essentially $10 million dollars for this deal? Because the deal is worth billions and we are experts in the area. Plus, we had two patents unique to the process. It was looking good until a bigger fish purchased the company we’d approached.
After todays lecture it is apparent that our plan remains viable. In fact, we’d won a year to test out ideas and the outcomes were positive. We were in the next phase of funding when the big fish took the smaller company. By small I mean a $12 billion dollar company acquired by an even bigger company.
Pockets of our initial plan have grown. One major hospital, where my friend was an administrator, incorporates much of our process today and is extremely successful for their patients.
Sport is fun and a way of life. Admittedly, sport is second when it comes to the science of health care. I can’t wait to have this CEU and reinstatement documentation process complete.
Yes, it is snowing up north and the temperatures are low. In Boston it is 30°F. It is 32°F in Pittsburgh. I picked these two examples because I’ve lived and worked in those two cities. In Cleveland, Ohio, another northern city I am acquainted with it is 35°F. All those cities currently have cold temperatures. It isn’t that cold here near Athens, Georgia.
It is chilly enough here near Athens. The high today was 43°F. Not too bad compared to those northern towns. Of course, the wind is blowing here. The wind is always blowing here or so it seems. The breeze is flowing at 11 mph with gusts up to 22 mph. The final leaves, those last dried up survivors of fall, are now few and far between – excluding my lawn, which is blanketed.
Fifteen years ago in Cleveland I was outside before and after work. I’d run in morning and ride in the evening. I lived downtown at 12th and Euclid Street in the Theater district. I’d run before the migration of workers from the suburbs arrived and bicycle once the herd departed. Downtown Cleveland was pretty empty outside of normal working hours other than around the medical centers. During the winter Cleveland is really cold. I don’t care where you live the North Coast is cold in the winter by anyone’s standards.
I’d put every piece of clothing I owned before heading out in January and February there on the shores of Lake Eire. I’d stay comfortable enough to enjoy the fresh frigid air. By frigid I do mean those blasts from the Canadian territories.
By those standards 43°F seems mild. Even adding the wind chill here in Georgia it was still above freezing at 37°F. In fact, the weather was just fine while trail running this morning. It was less fine while practicing archery.
Doing archery it is awkward to shoot while wearing 30 pounds of layered apparel. For the hour or so spent shooting outside I wore only long pants, a short sleeved t-shirt, a long sleeved t-shirt, a fleece sleeveless vest, and of course socks, shoes, at hat, etc. I also stood next to an outdoor propane heater and stuffed my pockets with hand warmers. It really wasn’t too bad. I didn’t shoot all that well; neither did I embarrass myself in front of dogs or squirrels – spectators who seemed oblivious to the lower temperatures.
Cycling, after archery, too wasn’t all that bad. It was bad enough. Lycra is a poor insulator and half way into the ride I sensed my error in layers. (Too few –for those who are not fond of guessing)
Training in any sport isn’t always easy. Well, for me it is rarely easy. There is work involved. There will be times with the elements, the weather specifically, isn’t ideal. The weather isn’t always going the idea during competition. But, hey, it least here today it wasn’t as bad as the weather during the San Francisco 49’ers and Baltimore Ravens played in this past weekend. We have pretty much the same conditions here today as yesterday in Baltimore except it wasn’t raining. I mention that since I lived in Baltimore for 5 years as well.
“I’m fixin’ to go for a ride,” I called to my wife, Brenda. “Take your phone,” was her instruction. She wasn’t looking at me her attention on some word game played on an iPad. “I hope no one throws anything at me,” I added.
It has happened. Once while riding in Maryland someone tossed a full can of Mountain Dew at me and missed. The can landed in soft bushes and didn’t rupture. I picked it up, took it home and drank it later.
Another time, during a hot summer ride, a lady’s bathing suit top was flung toward me. It happened while cycling toward Savannah, Georgia on Highway 80 leading away from Tybee Island, Georgia. The lady who tossed the top was a passenger. There was no doubt it was her top. Aside from those two times spanning 36 years nothing else has flown my way aside from bugs.
“I hope no one throws anything at you either,” said Brenda still not looking. So, I asked her, “Look at what I’m wearing.” She looked then seriously warned, “Oh, be careful.”
Where we live is essentially Athens, Georgia. The SEC is a near religion and the University of Georgia Bulldogs practical deities.
I am a Graduate of the University of Tennessee among other schools. There I studied art and earned a ‘Professional Certificate’ in Cartooning – really. There is no ‘degree’ in cartooning. Although, many degrees are jokes. (The last sentence is a gift for proofreaders.)
The cartoon program was completed decades ago. I don’t believe the program remains in operation. It wasn’t likely to have been a moneymaker for the University. It was a fun program. There’s more money to be made teaching art and illustration pricing it out over 4 years with loads of electives and fees. It was a simpler time when cartooning was meant to be fun.
In 2010 at the Ironman World Championship Mirinda Carfrae won setting a new course record. In 2009 she’d set a new marathon record for the course. In 2009 she lost the Ironman World Championship to Chrissie Wellington. In 2010 Wellington didn’t race.
During an interview Carfrae was asked whether her 2010 victory seemed less meaningful because Wellington hadn’t raced. She replied, “You can only race against those who show up.”
Recently, I won a State field championship. I knew whom I was shooting against having competed against them a number of times. Some of the guys I’d shot against in the past showed up, some didn’t.
Overall, the event was not well attended and for some champions they were alone in their division. “You can only shoot against those who show up.”
A friend of mine just won a State championship. He was solo in his division. He shot well and deserved the win compared to past scores. He loves to shoot. Seemingly the shooting is more important than the winning. He often doesn’t stick around for his award after a tournament. He pretty much shoots then hits the road before the awards ceremony. He never brags about his victories. It is more likely he’d complain we’d not performed as well as he’d hoped. The tournament isn’t a matter of winning, it is a matter of shooting.
Competing in a tournament where you are the only athlete in your class has got to be a let down. Nevertheless, you compete by doing your best; next time you might not be alone in the field.
In my division the field is never empty in my experience. In fact, if doesn’t matter if I’m competing in archery, running, cycling, duathlon or triathlons. There are always others who have shown up to win. There is always someone else to push. Sometimes I win, sometimes I don’t.
There’s also someone that says, “We’ll you had fun.” If I earned a second or third, it really wasn’t as much fun as a first. Overall, I have not won more times than I have won. Winner is hard.
In general, I compete to better my results. (And to win) That can be done simply by shooting in the backyard. There are incredible archers that won’t compete because they refuse to pay the price to play.
I had a friend, a cyclist, who in his 60s could train with and do well against younger athletes of a national and international caliber. I asked him why he didn’t race. He said, “I don’t have time for that.” Sadly, this athlete expired in his 80s. He was still riding his bike days before he kicked the bucket. His position on not having time for a ‘race’ makes a bit of sense to me now that I’m in my 60s. Racing is fun, but it is expensive and takes a lot of time.
Archery is expensive. The major tournaments can be very pricey. Archery, however, costs a lot less than a triathlon. Archery prices for competitions are about the same as running events. Some of the local events cost about the same as a 5K. The bigger events cost about the same as a marathon. Regional or State level tournaments are in the ballpark of a 10K or half-marathon.
On the other hand I know athletes new to a sport competing where frequently contests have low turn outs for minor events. They, the new folks, have won such contests. Some, when they do win, they pronounce themselves heroes. Sure they’re proud of their victory. But, no one else showed up. Worse their results are often made available for everyone to admire. Seriously, too often such data should be held in silence.
There are, too, athletes that fall way short of the prize and should be celebrated. A friend recently lost at the IBO World Championship. He didn’t even make the top 10. However, his performance was so close. If you are a competitive athlete you know that a few points or a few tenths of a second can be the difference between 1stand 10th. Once, at a National Championship I ended up in 8th place, less than a second out of first place.
In the case of the IBO archer he was proud and shared his results. They were impressive. There was no braggadocio. I was proud for him and felt his happiness. There was nothing hollow about it.
Then, there’s the fellow who won an archery target tournament where he was the single shooter who’d earned a low score. He was proud and even a little arrogant. His attitude and smug conceit were appalling.
You can only compete against those who show up in an athletic event. When it comes down to it you can only improve yourself. Should you win when there isn’t any one to compete against there’s no need to get a swollen head. If you lose in a great field and perform well congratulations are in order.
In sanctioned events where you end up the only person in your division know this – records can still be broken. Don’t compete half assed knowing you’ve got that $2.00 medal in the bag. Perform to win. Everyday that winning attitude will pay dividends.
In 2011 Carfrae and Wellington went head to head at the Ironman World Championship. Wellington won.
This morning I spoke with my long time friend and former USA Cycling World Team Coach. He’s been in involved with competitive cycling for over 55 years. He’s never doped or had any of his athletes dope. He’s lived in a clean athletic world at a time with doping was unchecked.
The phone call was among other things a friendly chat. We hadn’t spoken in over a year although we stay in touch on social media. Social media is okay but a call or seeing someone face to face is much better.
He is a great coach and has won a number of National Cycling Championships as an athlete. He knows how to ride a bike and to inspire other riders to excel. There’s even a race series named in his honor, The Nestor Cup.
The call was initiated by a question I sent to him. I’d been looking at time trial results for a few riders in my age group. I noticed a number of them held speeds matching individual time trial speeds of professional cyclists reported during the Tour de France. Those data seemed very unlikely without some form of artificial support.
I wanted to know if those speeds were natural. I didn’t suspect they were and the former coach immediately called a foul. He added he’s observed a lot of riders today picked up the sport in their 40s. They missed those early youthful years of development. They wanted speed, had money, and were doping. He estimated as high as 60% of older cyclists may be doping.
I think the number is high but lower than 60%. There’s a lot of attention being paid to doping. Doping regardless there is still a problem with doping cycling. (1) Amateur athletes don’t seem too worried about getting caught. Many don’t need the sport to support them financially and have nothing to lose if they get caught. Furthermore, the current opinion on doping seems to lean heavily toward to older athletes. (2-4). In the past I’ve written at the rate is probably around 25% of older athletes are doping based on research I’ve read. (5)
According to my former coach, “These older guys have the money and they want to win, so they’re doping.” He added, “If it were less expensive to test riders, we’d catch more.”
No matter, I’ll probably race bikes again. I do miss it. It would only be in a time trial – less chance of a crash that might mess me up in archery. Don’t even get me started about the doping in archery. Well, I’m started….
If you’re on a beta-blocker, over 50, and don’t have a therapeutic use exemption and compete in archery you are cheating. I doubt you’ll get caught. You’re over 50 and no one seems to care whether or not you’re taking a beta-blocker for hypertension or other problem or if you get eat some of your buddy’s drugs before a tournament. The sport organizations would rather have your annual dues and registrations fees than worry with sportsmanship. Heck, you can get your dope online. (6)
Over the next several weekends I have a State 3D Championship (Georgia Bowhunter and Archery Association), a race (5K) and finally the Georgia State Outdoor Championship (Georgia Archery Association). Getting ready for all of them means a lot of training and practice.
When I go to the gym to lift weight the week of an archery tournament I dial it back. Pushing it lifting weights before a major archery event can leave my arms wobbly. Neither will I crank up the repetitions or weight on my legs with a 5K coming up. A 5K isn’t a long race, but I know I’m going to hurt for the entire race. I prefer my legs feeling fresh.
Each week I have a plan with a peak and taper based on the next competition. Last week was a heavy week with some taper this week in archery. Last week there was this one day where things went a bit crazy.
That was a day when I trained a maximum load schedule for that week. This meant, fortunately not on a gym day, 30 minutes of stretching and balance, and hour and a half long trail run, 50 arrows in the morning and 60 in the afternoon and an hour and fifteen minutes on the bike. What did me in was the bike.
Now 75 minutes on a bike isn’t hard. It can be an easy ride depending on the course. This course on this day was not an easy one.
The ride is extremely hilly. Still, 75 minutes means the course is ridden at a comfortable pace which was my intention when I got on the bike. I didn’t stick with the plan.
Starting out on the ride I had a rare day with a light wind. The course usually provides a not so light wind that feels like it is always in my face. Not that day – the course seemed to have very little wind and what it did have felt like it was pushing me along rather that trying to stop me.
I tried to hold an easy pace at 17 mile per hour. About half way into the ride reading at my bike computer for the current mileage and time lapsed I started thinking, “I bet I can break an hour on this ride.”
I’d done the ride in less than an hour once before. I tried to stop thinking about it remembering I already had 90 minutes of running in my legs and another 60 arrows to shoot. Then, I lost my mind.
If I’d intended on trying to ride the course with a sub-hour time I should have started the ride trying to hold the pace at 20 miles per hour. I hadn’t done that. Having 6 miles to go I started really pushing it. Because I’d began the ride at a more leisurely pace the final 6 miles would need to be fast.
Fast is fine on a flat course, but the final six miles of this course are rolling hills, long uphill grades and 3 tough climbs over the last 2 miles. It would be hard to complete the distance under an hour with six miles remaining on a flat course. On this course it was just a stupid idea.
Turning right onto Georgia State Highway 186, which leads home, the distance is 2 miles. That’s where the three tough climbs lay ahead. (There are no pictures of those climbs. If I tried to snap a photo while riding a bicycle I’d probably start rolling backwards or fall over) There was also wind blowing fast and furious right into my face.
I looked at my bike computer and decided to keep pushing. Days of bygone glory drifted through my head. I was out of my saddle climbing and determined to break an hour or bust a lung.
I got home just as my wife was driving up from a yoga class. Her first words were, “Look at your face, it’s so red.” I bet it was red. The temperature was 92°F. My bike computer read 58 minutes and 32 seconds.
On the Internet I found a sight that suggests an Olympic sport for people who enter certain requested data. (1) It wasn’t what I was looking to find on the electronic quest. Nevertheless, it got my attention the way a squirrel grabs a dog’s attention. I had to chase it down.
I’ve often felt that everyone has an ideal sport they’d enjoy and perform better than other sports. Someone might enjoy basketball but not be successful because they are short. On the other hand someone six feet seven inches tall might be physically suited for basketball but hate the game. Then, there’s the six feet and seven inches individual that loves basketball and works at it for years. There’s an increased likelihood that person has found a sport for which they are suited.
The ‘Olympize Me’ sight I visited is based in the United Kingdom. The data it called for included metric system measurements. If you’ll not literate in the metric system you’ll need to make some conversions to get your ideal sport recommendation if you decide to chase it down.
The data entry takes only a few minutes and doesn’t ask you questions that might reveal your identity, passwords, and locations to send you fake news.
Granted, this was a game for me. Not like the video games people play, more like a brain game to see what the results yielded. The suggestions that came from the sight were interesting. Their results suggested the sports for me are: archery, cycling, kayaking, taekwondo, and fencing.
This wasn’t my first time trying an analysis similar to this one. However, this one did ask a few more specific questions than the others. What is interesting is how it matched other similar questionnaires and exactly what it is I’ve done or still do in sports.
Growing up in Savannah from the mid-1950s until early 1970s many of the sports the sight suggested weren’t popular. Cycling for example was not popular as a competitive sport in Georgia in the early 70s. Yet, I found a way, without the help of the Internet to become a cyclist. In cycling I was a particularly good sprinter and the UK site recommended sprint style cycling 46 years after I’d won a major cycling sprint championship.
The British also thought I might like kayaking. In fact, I kayak often and own six boats. Additionally, decades ago I practiced and competed in taekwondo . Although I’ve never done fencing a fellow that understood that sport once told me I was built for it. On that call I believe at five foot eight inches tall my reach might be a limiting factor. Then, I know nothing about fencing.
What is somewhat reassuring is that archery continues to rank top or near the top on every survey.
When I think about an Olympic team I wonder about the missed opportunity to have gone as a cyclist. When I had a serious chance no one from the US went to the summer games because of a boycott. Whether or not I’d have actually made it – the odds say no – I’ll never know.
What crawls in the back of my head is missing again any chance in archery because I shoot a compound bow. Wait a minute, you’re 64, there’s no way. Perhaps. I also took on of the surveys that suggested my real age is 36. (2)
There are fields where I am an expert.(1) As many of you too are experts at something. It might be that you are an expert electrician, builder, surgeon or athlete. Don’t you find it odd when someone that has never done what it is where you are an expert and that someone decides to provide advice to you at your job?
Before I go further I am removing archery from my areas of expertise. I’m good at shooting a bow and I’m a USA Level 3 NTS Coach but compared to other endeavors archery doesn’t come close to sections of my life where I remain an expert. By expert I mean one the top in the World.
When I worked I considered myself the best in the World at what I did. On occasions I received unsolicited awards for my work. Not a one is on display in my home. I have a friend that won a number of Academy Awards; he keeps a few on display in his basement. The other Oscars are stored in a box. He’s certainly an expert at his job. It would never occur to me to give him advance on his work.
The Global Awards have a division for the type of work where I was involved. Once I thought I might earn a Global. I was a runner up. They gave me a nice framed award for not winning. But, I did come close with only a $10,000 budget from which to work. (2) So, I find it amazing when people feel the need to educate me with their business acumen, especially when they’ve never worked in business. I also find it amazing when some bike shop technician tries to educate me on cycling.
There’s a local bike shop I visit for parts and repairs. They employ a bike tech that in his mind is an expert on a variety of topics from cycling to business to science. Yesterday he tried to sale me tires I didn’t want. I needed new tires, which is why I was in the shop. My choice didn’t meet his opinion of what he thought I should be riding.
I explained the tires I selected from the wall display were ideal for the bike and my riding. He offered the tires he would rather I purchase which would make me go faster. I suggested that my legs were in fact what might make me go faster. Further, I pointed out I ride a bike for fun and had no intention of racing in the near future if ever again. In addition if I did race it wouldn’t be on that bike. He couldn’t leave it alone and claimed I was ignoring science.
First, I never ignore science. I’m a bona fide scientist and science fueled my career along with law and business. Secondly, I doubt the bike tech has ever gone as fast or as far on a bike I have in the past.(3) I wanted to puff up at the tech and explain I’ve raced for a living, raced in Europe, and placed as high as 4thin a cycling world championship.(4) Additionally, I’ve been a member of a USA Team that included cycling and raced at the Ironman World Championship in Hawaii. (5,6) Yet, I said nothing.
I did get the tires I wanted and the bike tech put them on the bike while I left to purchase another blueberry tree to plant. The bike was ready when I returned with the tree sitting in my truck. While checking me out he asked if I was following the Tour, as in Tour de France for non-cycling readers.
I told him no I wasn’t explaining I didn’t know any of the guys racing any longer and wasn’t interested. I am interested enough that I’ll purchase the DVD of the race when it is complete. But, since I don’t know of the riders I’ll watch it later.
I didn’t add that when I raced for Trek and trained sometimes in Kennett, MO I’d share my training route with Lance Armstrong so that he could ride the route while he was visiting Sheryl Crow. Sharing that with the bike tech might have meant I’d need to hear his lecture on doping.
As I left the bike shop with my newly installed tires not once did I consider racing a bicycle beyond a possible time trial. The bike tech was shaking his head as he considered the old fool leaving with non-recommended tires.
Best of 2011 Respiratory Care RT: Rode Decision Makers in Respiratory Care, October 2011, 24 – 26
Finalist Award, The “Global Awards” for Marketing Communication- Quantum Launch, Oct. 1997