Good month down South, cold here in Maryland

During the past month I’ve completed two three 5K races and 2 archery tournaments. I raced in Georgia, North Carolina and Maryland and placed 3rd twice and 2nd once. The archery tournaments were in Georgia and North Carolina. The temperature during the race in Maryland was 29 degrees F.  Yuck!

Georgia’s shoot was a USA Archery event, 18 meters, indoors on a 3-spot and I was second in the masters’ class. In North Carolina the shoot was an indoor 3D event and I placed 2nd in the bow hunters’ group.

We also had some success hunts in Georgia and we are stocked on venison.

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Man, it is cold and windy here in Maryland

Currently, I am in Maryland. We’ll stay here until early December. After that Brenda, the dogs, and I will be heading to North Carolina to check the progress on our house renovations. Then, back to Georgia where I hope to thaw out, hunt and compete in a tournament in Conyers, GA.

Putting it on the line at Darleen’s Flamingo 5K

On November 1st,  I ran in the 5th Annual Darleen’s Flamingo 5K. The run is a charity event with proceeds and donations benefitting the Shepard Cancer Foundation. It is held in honor of Darleen Smith. It was a unique experience among 5K runs.

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Darleen fought a hard battle against Breast Cancer and lived by her favorite slogan, “Make Your Own Party”. The run took place in the waterfront community of Smithton, NC.

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View from the start finish line

The event was a scenic drive from my home  that took nearly two hours to complete. As I approached the race I recognized I was getting close because signs and Pink Flamingos were posted on roads and in yards. Nearing registration I was directed to a parking area some distance away. The weather was windy, wet and cold. I wasn’t looking forward to a hike or jog back and forth to my car to get ready for the run.

Pulling into the parking area I was saw dozens of ATVs. This caravan of ATVs was on hand to shuttle people back and forth to their cars. And, the caravan was in full operation.

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Shuttle service to registration then to the start line

I was amazed at the turn out for this 5K. It seemed the entire community showed up in support of Darleen’s Flamingo. Her motto, “Make you own party” appeared to have been adapted en masse. The start / finish line were in the community which had the atmosphere of a block party.

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Start line

The race started without delay and the wind did its best to remain forcefully in our faces. I drafted two ‘big’ guys; they looked like high school football players until there was a tail wind. The tail wind, short lived, was enough to help me gain a lead over the ‘big’ guys and I maintained it until the finish where I placed third in my age group.

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The 80 year old Winner of the 66 – 99 age group. He finished the 5K in around 30 minutes

After many races there is food for the runners. Food often means a bottle of water and perhaps a piece of fruit or cold bagel. Darleen’s Flamingo did it differently – they served breakfast. (The race started at 5 PM)

This wasn’t a half-hearted Hampton Inn breakfast. They served: grits, eggs, cheese biscuits, pancakes, bacon, sausage, a variety of desserts and fruit. It was incredible. I am going back next year if for nothing else the food!

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Post-race food line

It seemed hundreds of people turned out for this block party charity event. Each, in their way, “Put it on the Line” for a good cause. Darleen’s Flamingo stands out as one of the coolest 5Ks I’ve ever run.

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Running, shooting, and picking up poop.

When we drive back to Easton I look forward to seeing friends living there. It is also fun to shoot on familiar ranges and train on well-worn running courses. So far, this trip has played out pretty much as expected.

Shooting at Cypress Creek is always warm and friendly. So many harsh winter days were spent firing away on their range. Throughout the winter, Charlie and Harry gave me frequent tips and pointers. Both are experienced bow hunters and accomplished competitors.

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The range all to myself at Cypress Creek.

Shore Sportsmen was my second indoor range to visit. Much closer to my home in Maryland, about 2 miles, it is my choice to practice where “shooting short” is not going to matter. Their attic range distance is only about 16 yards.

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Kenny, Archery Manager at Shore Sportsmen in Easton, MD
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Fun times (expensive way to loose arrows) in the attic at Shore Sportsmen

Running our neighborhood offers it’s own adventure. Not so much for the run course, but for the interactions with people along the run. However, the backside of the 3 mile loop is adjacent to protected  land that has several miles of trails. Running the trails increases the distance from 5 to 10 miles depending on how I run it and where I exist.

The real entertainment comes from greeting the people that live here. We live in a “retirement” community in Maryland. Most, rather all but perhaps three, of the people that live in our community either don’t or can’t run. I can and do run. That causes suspicion among the people that live here.

Rarely do the neighborhood folk venture too far out and their travel is almost exclusive to where they can go while sitting – in their cars to someplace else where they can sit. Runners, those that live outside of our community, occasionally pass through the subdivision. The entrances are marked with “Private Property”, “No Trespassing”, “No Soliciting”, “You aren’t wanted here”, and other non-welcoming signs.

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River and I running the trails near our house in Maryland

When I run, I wave, smile, greet people and often run with my dog, River. This infuriates other residents. They are certain; I don’t belong anywhere within their boundaries.

I’ve been approached, as I near lawns of others here with questions like:

“Did you see the signs? Can you read?” a-hole neighbor.

“Yes, I did see them. I can read. Do you need me to help you read them?” me.

“Hey! Are you lost!” a grumpy old man yelled and hacked in my direction.

I couldn’t think of anything catchy to rebuke and only said, “Nope” and kept running. Looking as I turned the corner, “Nope” was perfect. The old man was clearly outraged I had not stopped for further redress.

Once, someone sic’d the community manager on me. She chased my down by golf cart to warn me off the property. As a resident, I assure you, I was no way pleasant or polite to her false claim against me. If she had asked whether I was a resident my attitude and manner would have been calm and polite. However, she accused and threatened – that has never worked against me.

Running with River pisses off the neighborhood. Especially when she poops. I clean it up, of course, I always carry poop bags. Poop happens, just pick it up and keep on going, is a dog owner’s mantra.

Once, River pooped on a strip of public land between the community and a road. A neighbor, unfamiliar with clandestine techniques, pulled her car over to observe whether or not I’d clean up the mess. Of course, I could see her.

I walked over to the pile of poop. Took the empty poop bag, bent over the poop, reached down next to the poop, and grabbed nothing into the bag. The old woman in her car was too far away to confirm or deny my retrieval of the feces.

As see watched, I straighten, reached my free hand into the empty poop bag, pulled my hand free of the bag, and acted as if I was consuming what might have been in the bag. Even from 40 yards, I could see her mouth fall into her lap and her eyes bug out. It was a performance I have laughed over many times.

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Heading home in Easton

Not everyone living in our Maryland subdivision is a jerk or acts self-entitled, but too many fit that bill. In NC, where it is extremely rural, on those rare times when I pass someone  while running they always smile and wave.

Running through the Easton neighborhood is always a treat one way or another. Shooting at Cypress Creek and Shore Sportsmen will forever be enjoyable and leave me with great memories if not some improvement in my shooting.

Augment your shooting with other forms of exercise

It is important to augment archery with other forms of exercise. Some people advocate weight lifting, swimming and running. All are good. In addition to these, cycling is a great way to improve fitness and see the countryside.

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Tough guy on the side of the road

Typically, I do cardiovascular workouts early in the day. I’ll practice archery afterwards, in the morning and again in the late afternoon. Cycling is my favorite of the major disciplines in which I participate. While I enjoy running and swimming, aside from archery, I am a cyclist at heart.

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This old girl always greets me when I ride past her. She never chases and is always eager for an ear scratch.

As we age, we lose muscle mass, so weight lifting can help slow or reduce that loss. Going to a gym can be social and is more fun when your friends are involved.

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5 Mile turn around point of a 10 mile run course

Regardless of what you chose to augment your fitness, additional exercise can help improve your health and performance as an archer.

 

More about fitness

Cameron Hanes is a bowhunter that runs a lot. I’d not heard of him until recently. It was by chance that I caught his name. I’d overheard a DVD of him talking about fitness and archery. Seriously, though, he runs a lot.

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Cam Hanes on a run

Mr. Hanes runs 100-mile races. That is a haul. Preparation for running in a 100-mile ultramarathon is about the same as training for a marathon.1 Running marathons has been plenty for me. A ½ marathon or 10K is even better. They take less time so I can still enjoy other activities after the run.

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Me trying to catch up on a run

Events that take all day or longer are taxing. For example, a full Ironman distance triathlon, 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike, 26.2 mile run, takes the fastest triathletes between 8 and 10 hours to complete. It is a workday; indeed it is their work. I finish them in more modest times, 12 – 15 hours.

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1/2 Marathons are a blast

 

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Recovery is an important part of training

For most people, running 100 miles or finishing a 140.3-mile triathlon sounds like a lot. That is because it is a lot. Training takes hours everyday (exceptions being recovery days – which is a part of training, even in archery). Neither type of ultra race is necessary to be fit or to become fit. Both types of endurance sports are activities that can become a major focal point for anyone. However,  other fitness goals are as meaningful and enjoyable.

Archery isn’t the most physically demanding sport. It is not without benefit. Upper shoulder strength is improved, walking back and forth to collect arrows is good, and the mental focus is paramount. But, as a sole physical activity, archery is unlikely to create the lean body of runners and triathletes.

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A very lean Ironman World Champion Craig Alexander speaking with a fan in Hawaii

It does not come as a surprise that the better physically fit someone is the more fit they are mentally.2 Mental fitness is critical for archery. As such, archers may be able to improve their shooting experience by adding a fitness program to their training.

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Inexpensive method of working the upper body

Fitness programs aren’t necessarily those requiring an archer training to run 100 miles or  to complete an Ironman. Setting goals like walking 30 minutes to an hour per day(or about 10,000 steps), running a 5K, losing weight and improving diets, cycling 20 miles or swimming a kilometer are activities that can enhance archery. The key is consistency.

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Swimming is a great workout

Once a fitness bug has bitten the results are hard to avoid. If you are new to aerobic or cardiovascular exercise see your health care provider before you start a program. Exercise does have an impact but will level off with consistent training.3

 

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Working to put form and focus together

Archers are athletes. Athletes run. Athletes also add other elements of fitness training to their primary sport. You don’t need to be an ultramarthoner or Ironman to be extremely fit. The more fit you become the better for your brain’s fitness – really important for archers. Improved fitness can further assist you in controlling your form. 4 Consider what you might enjoy as an ancillary sport and give it a shot.

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Runner and former cyclist Norman Gustafson shooting an X

References:

1)   Fred HL. The 100-mile run: preparation, performance, and recovery. A case report. Am J Sports Med. 1981 Jul-Aug; 9(4): 258-61

2)   Douw L, Nieboer D, van Dijk BW, Stam CJ, Twisk JW. A healthy brain in a healthy body: brain network correlates of physical and mental fitness. PLo One 2014 Feb 3;9(2):e88202. Doi: 10.1371/journal.pone. 0088202 eCollection 2014

3)   Awobajo FO, Olawale OA, Bassey S/ Changes in blood glucose, lipid profile and antioxidant activities in trained and untrained adult male subjects during programmed exercise on the treadmill. Niq Q Hosp Med 2013 Apr-Jun; 23(2):117-24

4)   Fitness for Archery. Topendsports The Sport + Science Resource. www.topendsports.com/sport/archery/fitness

General Fitness

The fellas at Cypress Creek Archery figured out how to make their DVD player operate. It was on while I was practicing at their indoor range. The video was of an archer testifying about his athletic abilities, the frequency of his workouts, and how fitness improves his performance as an archer. That caught my ear, I think fitness is important and complements archery. I’ve also noticed a lot of archers are a bit out of shape. They are not alone.

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A recent survey found that 160 million Americans are either obese or overweight. The US has 78 million obese adults, the highest of number of any country in the world. Nearly three-quarters of American men and more than 60 percent of women are obese or overweight. American is not alone; there are six countries with 20% or more of their population being obese. These countries are: Mexico, United Kingdom, Slovakia, Greece, Australia, and New Zealand. The World Health Organization states that by 2015 there will be 2.3 billion overweight people in the world, 700 million being obese. Look around the range next time you’re there – you’ll see a lot of big people shooting bows.

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If you need to lose weight, think, you did not gain it overnight. Give yourself time to lose it. Set reasonable goals for yourself. Find a diet that works and you can follow. When you start a diet and a fitness program, you may find the weight initially falls off faster than occurs as you near your goal. Be patient and go slowly, that will help you reduce the risk of rebounding.

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3D in North Carolina

If you want more aerobic fitness, find sports that you enjoy and do them. If you’re having fun you more apt to stick with it. Get your archery friends involved. There is a lot of truth to “the more the merrier.” Check around your club, you may find others that would be interested in running, cycling, or some other aerobic activity. Heck, y’all could get some t-shirts made and collectively support a charity.

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Swimming is great for archery. Shoulders get a nice workout

Being fit is important for more than becoming a better archer. Daily aerobic exercise is a life style than enhances overall well being. Running a 5K or a marathon is exciting and earns you bragging rights. If you are not already up and running or participating in another sport, give it some consideration. You may find that it becomes a life style and improves your fitness as an archer.

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Determined run following the bike segment of a triathlon

 

Red Bull In My Quiver

I race.  I compete in running races, cycling races and swimming events.  Going fast and far is fun, so I am never still for long.  During my training and during races, I ingest masses of caffeine and drink a large amount of Red Bull.  My caloric intake of caffeine and my archery maintain a tenuous collaboration.

Case in point: I had an intense training schedule and a serious archery competition on the same day. The archery event was last on my agenda.  First on the calendar was a 10K-morning run, then, in the afternoon, a 40-mile bike ride. The final activity of the day would be an archery tournament.

After breakfast I knocked out the run in under an hour and between the run and ride, I completed some work.  Within all that activity, I had lunch and took a short nap.  I think it is inhumane to ‘get busy’ while digesting.

The 40-mile ride was a few hours before the shoot, and I needed calories and a caffeine boost.  A windy day on the Eastern Shore, it was going to be a gut buster to complete the ride in the time before heading to the shoot. Plus, I was hungry, again. It is not good to start a ride with no fuel to burn. Bonking is not pleasant.  A pre-ride double espresso along with a PB&J on an English muffin did the caloric trick. Knowing my calorie count for the day remained low; I grabbed a 2X Caffeine GU and stuffed it in my jersey.  Now prepped for riding, I headed out on my Cannondale Slice.

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At mile 28 I’d burned about 800 calories so I sucked down the 2X Caffeine GU.  These GU gel food supplements taste awful, their consistency is gag worthy, but they provide fast energy. The 2X caffeine gives a real kick particularly when washed down with Red Bull. (Sometimes, that day in particular, I carry Red Bull in one of my water bottles) I’d finished the 40 miles in a tad more than 2 hours.  Back home I grabbed another Red Bull, drank it, doffed my riding kit, showered, dressed, hopped into my Mercedes SLK Super Sport and headed to archery competition.

During the 35-mile drive to the range, my iPhone linked to the car stereo for music, I cranked up my “running” play list.  That list of music is hardly sedate. Cruising in the SLK is always exhilarating, and I was really feeling pumped. I was headed to an archery shoot, Red Bull, coffee and 2X Caffeine GU coursing through my veins, driving in a sports car – living the dream.

I’d planned to arrive at the range a bit early for a good warm-up. If I’d been arriving for the start of a sprint triathlon I could not have been more warmed up. Hitting the parking lot, stereo booming, with 30 minutes to spare I was race ready. But, I needed to change gears and become archery ready.  Heading in, feeling charged, I put the sight and stabilizers on my bow, grabbed arrows and stepped up to practice.  Firing off a few practice arrows it was apparent I was race ready.

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Caffeine increases your mental alertness.  Only a few hours before shooting my bow I’d caffeine loaded.  My brain was alert.  The pre-shoot Red Bull was certainly working as a solid maintenance dose of caffeine.  Actually, I typically drink a Red Bull within 30 minutes of every archery competition.  In practice, I often drink one beforehand. My scores and practice seem unaffected by Red Bull.  It is unclear what this implies about those scores.

Archery isn’t like running a 40 K trail race in the freezing rain in February over ice slick red clay in Georgia. And it certainly doesn’t compare to a parachute jump from space.  But, archery has its own thrill.  The feel, the calm, the focus, and intensity under control, which apply in archery, also apply to more vigorously dynamic sports.  Archery does provide me calm and focus that I carry into other sports.  Once I hit that zone, my shooting becomes relaxing or my racing controlled.

My score for that Red Bull invigorated night was 294 with 11 X.  Not my best score, not my worst score. Whether or not it is advantageous having a heart rate of a hummingbird in archery is debatable.  Prior to the shoot I’d run, biked, and mega-dosed on caffeine and energy drinks. How that impacted my shooting I honestly don’t know. I suppose it is relative or relates to what one is accustomed to having in their bodies and how that body is used.  Frankly, the only times I am still are when I am asleep or putting it on the line, caffeine, Red Bull and all.

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Ironman World Championship Kona Hawaii