Me versus the Power Washer

A few weeks before the IBO World Championships I decided to get my house power washed. Living on a river in the country means that bugs and spiders cover every outdoor surface. We had a lot of surface area that needed cleaning.

When we weren’t living full time in NC and had a nice cash flow we’d hired someone for the job. That job was always the same price: $500.00 for any specific surface. For example: power wash the house, $500.00, power wash the decks, $500.00, power wash the pier and dock, you guessed it – $500.00.

Since we do now live in the Tarheel State full time and no longer have cash flowing in (a matter of retirement) I decided to buy a nice power washer and do the cleaning myself. I found a nice one on sale at nearly ½ price – $500.00.

I’ll admit I’ve had some experience with a power washer. I’d borrowed one from my father-in-law that actually belonged to my brother-in-law. It wasn’t hard to operate and it didn’t do a great job. There wasn’t anything wrong with the device and it worked to specifications. The issue was that this borrowed power washer was an entry-level product with a low PSI and low GPM output. The one I purchased was double the output capacity of the one used on loan.

The force of the new power washer was dramatic. The wrong nozzle and it would peel paint from a house or etch wood. It did get the bugs, spider webs, dirt and environmental grime off the house and deck.

Power washing is addictive. Once the spray begins turning a dingy surface new it is hard to stop cleaning. I power washed for a week straight. The house and decking were good as new. The pier and dock looked like they’d just been built. All the outdoor furniture seemed as if it had just arrived from the assemble line. Heck, I power washed the kayaks, my Carolina Skiff, three vehicles, my tractor, and where I could reach the bulkhead.

What I learned is that a serious power washer is a beast to handle. The force and vibration will shake your teeth loose. It didn’t matter; I took the punishment for the sake of cleanliness. Man, everything looked great.

But, there was an unexpected price. What I noticed following a very satisfying few days of power washing was an ache in my elbow. The ache got worse. By the end of my power-washing extravaganza I could hardly bend my arm. To make things more serious, I could barely lift my bow.

It was with this condition I arrived in Ellicottsville for the IBO World Championships. I nearly skipped the tournament – frankly I couldn’t draw my bow without intense pain around my elbow. Once I had an arrow drawn the pain wasn’t as intense, so I decided to go to NY for the experience.

I got through the tournament knowing I’d need at a minimum of a couple of weeks to recover from what is commonly know as “tennis elbow.” In this case, brought on from a power washing frenzy.

Tennis elbow affects 1% to 3% of the population and as many as 50% of tennis players during their careers. Less than 5% of all tennis elbow diagnoses are related to actually playing tennis.1 In my case, I fell into the group of “scrubbers” that end up with the affliction.


Since shooting in NY I’ve rested that arm until two days ago. It is hard not to shoot. An incentive to rest was the inability to lift the bow – the pain was much worse after the tournament. Two weeks of rest seems to have helped. The elbow still hurts but now the pain is dull and seems to be receding.

I had less success keeping away from the breast of a power washer. The addiction was too great and my wood burning grill too tempting. I did crank up the monster and cleaned that grill – it hurt. But, the grill looks practically new.





Back at the Y

Since I was around 14 years old I’ve had a membership at the YMCA. That membership included an “Away” status that allowed me global access to Ys. On Thursday, I renewed my Y membership in Elizabeth City, NC.

YMCA Elizabeth City, NC

The move from Easton, MD to New Hope, NC meant saying goodbye to one of the best Ys in the world. I’d been going to the Y in Easton for nearly a decade. They had two pools – one of my main reasons for going.

I do lift weights, but only for muscle maintenance – not bulking up. As a triathlete, bulk means more body weight to carry. That is tough while running and worse when going uphill on a bicycle.

Swimming, however, is a different story for me. I am a horrible swimmer. Growing up in South Georgia, swimming was an activity associated with some floatation device and a 6-pack of beer tethered to that float. Competitive swimming is a totally other activity. I’ve spent many years working to finish in the middle of the pack during the swim leg of a triathlon. Despite the effort there were races where claiming a mid-pack finish was generous.

Working through a 2.4 mile swim

The Y in Elizabeth City has a nice pool. Before joining that Y I used my “Away” membership to train there and never needed to wait for a lane. In fact, using that “Away” membership I have swam at Ys from San Diego to Jerusalem. The Y in Jerusalem is particularly cool.

YMCA Jerusalem, Israel

While I have no burning desire to do another triathlon, I know the day will come when I am compelled to race. Having a pool in which to do laps means I can at least maintain my slow pace – maybe even improve a little. It also means year round swimming and getting out of river for a break. The water in the river here has been near 90°F throughout the summer. That is really hot for a long swim.

I’m looking forward to heading to the Y for a swim. The shoulder work may even prove beneficial over the long haul in archery.

Having a Blast On My Bike

Over the months I’ve mentioned that aside from archery other exercise is important. For decades I’ve enjoyed competing in cycling, running, duathlons and triathlons. Of those sports what I like most is cycling.


Cycling gives me a since of freedom. I’ve always felt it is the closest humans can come to flying under our own power. Then, there is the benefit of being able to see so much of the land and scenery while cursing on a bicycle.

Worth the stop for this picture

Today’s ride was no exception. I carry my cell phone with me in case of an emergency. That phone is also my camera. Using it I recorded a fun encounter from today’s ride.

Dogs are frequently running after me when I ride. Most of the time this  isn’t a problem since I can see or hear them well in advance of their approach. Dogs typically can’t run at a 30-mile per hour pace for long. When I see them, I crank it up and hope I can outlast their sprint. As a rule – I win.

Hey – Wait up!

Most of the dogs I met along my rides are friendly. Having be chased by them for decades I’ve learned to recognize the happy ‘I’m glad to see you’ bark versus the ‘here comes a bite’ bark.

I found a stick

Ten miles into this ride at a dead end road I heard the happy bark. Sure enough, this golden retriever was out for a sniff and offered to play. Naturally, I stopped to join the fun.

Of course, I stayed and played (and for those that know bikes that is an 11 – 19 cluster)

It is tough to beat a good bike ride topped off with meeting a nice dog along the route. The bonus is that cycling is a great form of exercise.

Back home on Little River

Starting a new week of training

Start of a new day

Frequently I write about sports other than archery. Archery is an individual sport as are the other sports where I competed since my teens. Mark McClusky wrote in his book, Faster, Higher, Stronger that athletes who competed in individual where better at picking up other sports than those that played team sports.

That makes since because as a runner, cyclist, and swimmer I focused on my training and was free of the constrains of team requirements. As a newly minted archer I’ve applied many of the training rules, and made up a few, to reduce my learning curve.  At the moment I am studying marginal gains that can help me.

Running the back roads of rural NC

Some of the small things I do as a percentage of the aggregate of marginal gains is maintain fitness. Because I have a foundation based on endurance sports, I continue to train, although with less intensity, in those areas that aid sustaining overall fitness: running, cycling, and swimming. It also happens I enjoy those sports too much to ever stop doing them.

Catch up, River

Today, like other Mondays I am coming off of a weekend of shooting. It began with a run followed by shooting. This morning was one of those epic runs where everything felt good.

Perfect cool down for a lab.

It is starting to warm up here in the South and I love running in the heat. River, my dog, doesn’t enjoy the higher temperatures and I keep an eye on her to make sure she’s not overheating.


River, does – no matter the temperature – finish every run with a swim. In fact, today I might add a short swim at some point if for nothing else but fun. Whether or not I get a swim in today, it did start right with a decent run. My morning shooting was a bit off, but there’s always the afternoon to work out the glitches.

Walking and shooting

I’ve been curious how far I walked during a typical hour of archery practice. I use a Garmin Forerunner 310XT to measure my runs. I’ve used it to record measurements during a 3D competition. Although I’d often thought about using the Garmin with its GPS to look at how far I’d walked during paper practice, I’d mostly thought about while I practiced.


Today, following my run I was still wearing the Forerunner as I gathered my gear for morning archery practice. I’d finished the prior day shooting at 3D targets and first on today’s plan was shooting paper at know distances. Noticing the Garmin on my wrist I reset it to zero and recorded my shooting walk distance.

During an hour of shooting I walked 0.60 miles. I shot at 20, 25, 30, 35, 40, 35, and 50 yards. At each interval I shot 5 arrows, I’d collected them and shot again sometimes at the same stake and at other times moving backward or forward as I felt necessary.IMG_3308

Tomorrow there’s a tournament in which I’ll compete so today is a relatively light practice – trying to save a few of the good shots for Saturday’s 3D event. It’s interesting to know my per hour walk rate and distance, it will help me with hydration and nutrition plans for future competition. Knowing a little about energy spent during competition (related to walking and shooting) and how that effects hydration and caloric needs will be valuable over the long haul.

If You’re Going to Play You’re Going to Pay

Archery is a safe sport. Rare accidents happen that involve cracked arrows or people poking themselves with their broadheads. But, for the most part archery is safe.

It is possible to injure a shoulder by pulling too much weight or over use. Lars Andersen’s archery acrobatics will catch up with him and he’ll take a tumble. And bow hunters will continue to fall out of tree stands. But, next to badminton archery is the safest sport.

Archery, however, isn’t the only sport where I compete or play at it. Five years of football left me minus a meniscus. Boating put me in surgery when I impaled my leg with a sharp pointed chunk of galvanized steel. But, those aren’t the most frequent type of injuries for me – the majority came from cycling.


In competitive cycling athletes are going to crash. I can’t recall the numbers of mornings, following a crash, when I’d awaken to find my road rash had sealed me to the sheets. Most of my crashes were near the finish line where things become chaotic. One particularly bad crash lost me a National Championship and landed me in the hospital. Another rough one was going downhill at 48 mph when my front tire went flat. I left a lot of skin on the road following that slide.

There are plenty of ways to get hurt when doing sports or playing hard. For example, bouncing through the woods on an ATV can leave wrists sore. Soreness isn’t a bad thing in my book. Crashing an ATV is worse. Jumping waves on a Yamaha Wave Runner will shake you up, but don’t lose control – ever. Crashing on water at 50 mph isn’t fun, and at 70+ mph can be real bad.

Running, as benign as that seems has hurt a lot of people. For me it has meant the lose of a number of toenails. Other folks complain of knee problems, foot problems, or hip problems. Once, while trail running I jumped onto a board to cross a small stream and landed on a nail. That was a shock. After a hard rain before the Ft. Yargo ½ Marathon trail run, the Georgia red clay was so slick I slipped and fell about 10 times. That only left the sore and frustrated.

Swimming has never been a burden to me – getting out of the water hasn’t been as forgiving. On three occasions I have been cut by something while getting out of the water and all three required stitches. The last time, I accepted the stitches in my hand and declined them on my foot. I had that glued closed. I was competing in an Ironman event within a week and didn’t want to bother having the stitches removed. I couldn’t reach the laceration on my foot to have removed the sutures. I took the ones in my hand out before the event. Actually, I got four of the out on my own. The fifth I couldn’t manage using my left hand. I was in a meeting with a group of business people and a physician. I asked the physician if he’d remove the remaining suture. When we took a break he took it out.

About two months ago I was playing hard with my dog. She’s a big girl and tackled me from behind. I knew she was coming, I thought I’d stop her. When she hit, I went up in the air and landed hard. On that landing I smacked my hip on a tree stump – it hurt. A few days later I was in an archery tournament. On downhill slopes, my left hip was uneven and excruciatingly painful. Each downhill shot was a distracting pain. I ended up a disappointing fourth.

To date, I can recall or have some account of 257 official sports events where I competed (excludes little league type events). This means that for every 51.4 events I end up at a world championship. The count doesn’t include the 2011 World Duathlon Championship in Switzerland where I gave up my spot or the 2015 IBO World’s since while I’ve qualified it hasn’t yet been held. If I added them now that is a World Championship every 36.7 events.

It has also meant: 43 stitches (8 separate occasions), two surgeries, three concussions, four broken bones, and too much road rash to remember with one exception. That time I crashed on my bike while on my honeymoon. The fall required an emergency room visit and subsequent mummy-like wrap on my face. Not good timing, not something close to being forgotten by my wife. To be fair to her it’s only been 35 years. However, just two injuries caused me to miss a competitive event. I missed my second Ironman Louisville and second Murrysville Classic Bicycle Race because of an injury.

What brings all of this to mind is the archery tournament in the morning. Why? Well, while playing hard in the yard I sliced my right thumb badly. It was a clean slice and although deep it will close at the expense of bleeding and leaking for a few days. The cut is just at the point where I hold the release while drawing. My guess is Sunday will be a bit bloody even if I’ll be in competing is a very safe sport.

Don’t Under Rate Rest

Rest may be under rated, but not by me. I do a lot of exercise. I always have enjoyed sports and typically found ways to compete and train throughout my “working” days. Now that I have retired from my medical career most of my attention stays on sports. Another way of look at it, most of my attention stays on playing outside.

Living where I do getting to a triathlon or run isn’t as easy as getting to an archery tournament. Whenever I can find a race, typically a run, that doesn’t include an overnight trip I sign up. Most of the events I did in the past were expensive. They included costly entry fees, travel, hotel, and food on the road. For the moment, I try to keep competitive events to day trips.

Runs are cheap and easy when I can find them. Short fast ones are my preference, like a 5K or a 10K. Marathons and ½ marathons are so crowded that they feel more like running in a herd. I’ve considered entering a 50-miler or a 100-miler but think I’d just get too bored.

C-Man Swim

Still, I run and bike a lot. Swimming is on the decline until the weather warms up. Living here in the sticks, there’s not a pool anywhere close by. The running, riding, and shooting takes up 6 – 8 hours of my time 4 – 6 days a week. Fitting in driving time to get to a pool 30 miles away isn’t a priority at the moment.

My typical day starts with a run. River, my dog, is my running partner. We’re frequently joined by a posse of dogs collected along the way. These runs vary in distance and speed.


Once home I shoot. I’ll practice for an hour or two before heading in to take a break and eat. Not eat breakfast, I had that by 0630. I’ll eat a light mid-morning snack. That often includes nuts or pretzels (salty stuff) and is washed down with a “Red Bull”. I’ve got great a sports drink, TriFuel, but I treat that like liquid gold and use it for serious training. The Red Bull gets me mentally alert so I can write.


When I’ve typed a bit it is time for lunch. Following lunch I always take a short nap. A short nap is 15 – 30 minutes where I doubt I go beyond Stage 1 sleep. (The lightest phase of sleep where one is easily aroused) Then, I regroup for the afternoon workouts.

In the afternoon I’ll ride, up to 50 miles now that the days are longer and warmer. I’ll also shoot again for for up to 3 hours (typically less). That means a lot of walking.


When I say a lot of walking, I am not kidding. My targets reach 60 yards and I’ll shoot 18 arrows into them at that distance (3 ends of 6). I’ll also shoot the same count of arrows per target from 20 to 60 yards at 5-yard increments. That amounts to a lot of walking. Which isn’t bad, except I’ve run and ridden, so my the time the sun has set I’ve got a lot of miles in my legs.

What I know is that my recovery isn’t the same as when I was 25. Then, I’d ride 60 miles in the morning and 80 in the afternoon. Some days we’d do 200 miles. In one ultra-distance race I rode 406 miles in a day. After that race, I drove home from Davenport, Iowa to Kennesaw, GA – non-stop. Those days are behind me.

Today, I appreciate rest. I’ll take one day and do very little physical activity. Honestly, it is mentally hard to take a break, but I listen to my body. Thursday was that day.

When my body says, “stop” I pay attention. My former cycling coach, a Belgian, Nestor Gernay, used to say, “Don’t stand when you can sit, don’t sit when you can lay down.” Believe me I listened and haven’t forgotten.


Since Sunday (Thursday when I wrote this), I’ve run 4 days, biked 4 days and shot twice per day. It breaks down like this: 4 hours running, 12 hours riding, and 20 hours shooting.   I have a race on Saturday and a tournament on Sunday. Thursday was a rest day I needed – even if I felt a little guilty.

Getting in a bike / run brick

The temperature here had cooled down a bit with a high of only 58° F. The wind wasn’t too bad at 9 mph. Those where the conditions as I headed out for a bike ride. So, I’d have a nice tailwind and not too tough of a headwind.


After the ride River and I took off for a run. The combination of a ride and an immediate run is called a “brick”.

This brick felt great. I didn’t push the ride or the run. Both felt calm and relaxing. There was plenty of daylight left so I could have shot. But, my shoulders needed the recovery and I resisted the temptation to shoot.

Another New Week

On Monday, following a competition, I reset my week in preparation for the next event. By starting early, I have less wind to content with during morning archery practice. My second session in the afternoon is almost always windy. That is also the time I train on my bike where I look forward to the tailwinds.

Getting out of bed early has its rewards

Winter is slowly giving way to spring and yesterday was a warm 70° F (21°C). My upcoming archery events are all 3D and practice during the calm morning was excellent. Because I’d ramped up to a shoot on Sunday, I only practiced an hour for each Monday session to promote active recovery. Wednesday is my long day where I’ll spend 5-6 hours shooting before tapering for the next event.

Three good at 50 yards – I’ll take these any day.

I don’t simply go out and shoot for same set amount of time on every day. Neither do I shoot a set amount of arrows. I have light days and heavy days. I’ve set up my archery training similar to how I’d set up a race-training plan. The archery plan includes other fitness activities.

This 1997 LiteSpeed remains my favorite road bike

The main non-archery fitness activity on Monday was a moderate bike ride with a few harder efforts. I didn’t get on the LiteSpeed until 4:30 PM and it was windy. Wanting to enjoy a moderate to fast effort I rode into the wind until my turn around at 15 miles. The ride was 15 miles of windy work followed by 15 miles of pure exhilaration pushing my biggest gears. The ride home was 12 minutes faster than the ride out to give some idea of the resistance I faced cycling out followed by the push during the return.

My afternoon archery session had been strictly for amusement. The wind blowing off the river meant shooting any other way than for entertainment would be a frustrating endeavor. I have one 3D target in the yard and I shot it from all sorts of distances and angles. My wife watching me shoot my foam deer at 40 yards challenged me to, “Shoot it in the eye.” The challenge was irresistible. I hit it about a centimeter high on the nose and nearly lost an arrow. I’ll ‘probably’ not try that a second time. But, it was fun.


Recalling Mondays when working the medical profession I recognize how my effort during that career paid off. Today, I work at archery and sports with the same determination and enjoyment. I’ve never dreaded Mondays. Monday is the day to reset and begin fresh.


General Training

I’ve mentioned that I ride a bike, run and swim. I do one or more of these activities as part of my training 5 days a week. Archery is practiced 6 days a week, including a day where I compete. I reserve one day for rest and recovery.

Rest is important

Exercising to stay in shape and promote health is a daily endeavor for me. I doubt I’ll race as often in the future as I did in the past. I’ll try to complete 5 to 10 races a year, which is plenty. These days, I race for the t-shirt. I’m frequently in the top 3 finishers in my age group and ahead of most in the overall. For, me at 60 years old, racing is more about the fun than the finish time. Archery is where I get my competitive fix. Archery isn’t as age dependent as many other sports.

Race bibs and 3rd place medal from a few weeks ago

In archery I train five days a week and compete on the sixth day. I leave one day for recovery. On many days I shoot, then either run, ride, swim, or a combination of those activities.

View along one of my training rides

Often, I run in the morning, then shoot, take a break, shoot some more then go for a bike ride. The result is I am outside a lot and stay in pretty good shape. Also being outside (versus sitting around indoors) and staying fit can help longevity in archery.

If you haven’t added a supplemental form of exercise to your archery training, give some consideration to incorporating a fitness program. In the long term you’ll be glad you did.