Trying to Focus on 3D

The Governor has made it clear that Georgians can go outside and play so long as they social distance, wear a mask, and stay indoors if you are 65 years old or older or have an underlying health condition.  I fall into the 65 and older group that seems more susceptible to Covid-19.

Archery tournaments aren’t about to keep people 6 feet apart.  3D archery has a better chance that folks can remain 6 feet apart.

There’s a Georgia ASA State Championship qualifier minutes away from where I live in a week.  So, do I take a chance, go to the qualifier, qualify, catch Covid-19 and end up dead?  If I end up dead I won’t be able to compete in the Georgia ASA State Championship.  Dead people never get to compete in archery.

In the meantime, I have found a sliver lining – my current practice scores suck.  Today, at an average distance of 34.3 yards (range 25 yards to 40 yards) I scored 195 on the 20 targets. That’s 9.75 points per arrows.  With an average like that I might as well hang out in the back yard and practice.  Perhaps, when I can comfortably return to competitive archery I’ll have that average a tad higher.

Gait and Competitive Archery in the Elderly

In the elderly population there is an easy observation that, to me, is suggestive of ageing and fitness.  You might think by looking, and you would be correct, you can guess whether or not a person is old.  Certainly a 65 year old doesn’t have the same youthful appearance, as does a 25 year old.

What if you put a mask over the face of a 65 year old and a 25 year old – could you identify which was the older of the two if they were walking past?  Maybe and probably because you might be observant enough to note other changes of skin tone, posture or by using some other evocative surveillance techniques.

What if you covered the 25 year old and the 65 year old from head to ankle (leaving some space between the ankle and the floor to avoid a fall in this experiment) with a burlap bag and had them walk across a room. Both wearing the same brand and model shoes and socks so that all you see is a burlap bag held upright by two feet per bag with all four feet looking the same.  Might you still be able to pick out the younger stealth walker?

Maybe – maybe not.

Generally, watching their gait one can select the 65 year old if you know for what you are looking to find.  As people age gait changes.  Older people will have both feet planted before the lagging foot lifts into the next step.  Younger people lead into the forward step with trailing leg the moment the front foot strikes ground.  Next time you are at a grocery store or the Wal-Mart parking lot watch folks walking into the store.  After a few minutes you’ll recognize the difference between a youthful walk and that of many senior citizens.

You may further find that there is no absolute.  You will see old geezers prancing along eager to grab the best shopping deals and you’ll see worn out youngsters huffing a puffing to get the electric cart in order to cruise toward their purchases. Still as a rule older folks do have an identifiable foot plant while walking.

Gait is something I watch during archery tournaments or during a group practice.  Your initial thought is this is one of the dumbest things I’ve ever read.  (Over 40 years of health care work experience does take a toll.) Here’s where I let you know there’s more to the observation.

The individuals with an older gait lean toward lower relative archery perfromance score.  The statistical analysis comes a bit further along in this writing.

Can you increase your score by improving your gait if you are older?  Well,  that is a stretch – but in all likelihood, yes.

Ageing is characterized by a number of physical changes that contribute to a decline in the ability to perform daily tasks. (1) Archery is not a vigorous activity, however, archers do a lot of walking and a lot of standing for long periods of time.

If an archer’s ability to perform a solid walk diminishes then might the activity associated with that walking decline? I can’t say that is true, but it seems so. What I can further say is that generally there is an associated score difference with the groups exhibiting variance in gait.

Here are the numbers:  Over the past two years I’ve observed 12 archers placed into two groups of six. Group 1 is the group with a relatively youthful gait.  Group 2 are the archers with an older gait. The mean age for Group 1 is 63.2 years and Group 2 is 63.3 years. The difference is 0.14 years and is not statistically significant (p = 0.92, paired t-test).

Before I go further both groups practice archery roughly the same amount and have been performing archery for similar lengths of time.

Now the very interesting results: Group 1 out scored Group 2 by an average of 20 points.  The data includes indoor and outdoor tournaments over one and two days of scoring. Even so a Group 2 archer has beaten Group 1 archers but not as a rule (Once out of 8 matches).  So, I can somewhat rule out that Group 1 had better archers.  The single Group 2 win came during 1-day event.  Which suggests the Group 2 archers, as a set, with noticeably older gaits performed less well than more youthfully gait Group 1.  The results are statistically significance (p= 0.035, paired t-test).

From this I conclude that the Group 2 demonstrating an elderly gait was not as proficient at archery compared to Group 1 with the more youthful gait.

The elderly gaited group could improve their walking with exercise.  In a study of people, mean age 65.9, stretching was shown to reduce hip flexion contracture and increase hip and pelvis range of motion, thus improving gait performance. (1)

Over a twelve week program the test subjects were given supervised stretching designed to improve their range of motion. After 12 weeks they displayed gait parameters that were similar to those reported in young healthy adults. (1)

I believe that the gait observation, identifying an elderly walk, identified archers with a generally lower state of general fitness.  A simple exercise program may improve general fitness and this may reflect in higher archery scores. (2, 3) This might be more relevant in the older archer.

(Note: this is a small sample size.  A larger sample might change the results. I’ll go out on a limb and suggest this is accurate.)

References:

(1) Cristopoliski F1Barela JALeite NFowler NERodacki AL Stretching exercise program improves gait in the elderly. Gerontology. 2009;55(6):614-20. doi: 10.1159/000235863. Epub 2009 Aug 27

(2) https://www.topendsports.com/sport/archery/testing.htm

(3) https://www.bow-international.com/features/fitness-fix-for-archers/

Recovery Time: What Everyone Knows That I Don’t Understand

Chris McCormick is a world champion triathlete.  He wrote a book about his experiences as an athlete.  In that book he described a younger triathlete who McCormick felt could become great.  A problem McCormick noticed with the younger athlete was that the fellow was working too hard.

McCormick talked to him suggesting he might add some recovery time to his training.  McCormick at the time of their meeting and training together was mature for a professional triathlete being in his 30s. The younger man was in his early 20s.  McCormick warned him to ease up on occasion to allow for adequate recover without which could lead to burn out or injury.  The twenty year old ignored the advice and not too long after was injured and a bit burnt.

In a post here not too long ago I wrote about recovery.  In that post I described my training. I pointed out that I don’t maintain a level of cardio training today as an archer that I did in my youth.  Still, I do train at what I consider an age appropriate level.

Cardio training is a method to help prolong health and give me a longer runway for archery.  Archery satisfies my need to remain competitive.  Certainly, achieving competitive goals remains possible as an age grouper in other sports.

I have a friend that is 69 and runs ultra marathons.  He’s an amazing athlete.  I know a woman in her mid-80s that still does high-level triathlons.  Again, amazing.  Neither started at a early age both picking up endurance sports in their 50s.

I started endurance sports at 17 and stopped at 57.  Forty years seemed to have been a limit for me.  When I tried stopping I was very unsatisfied.  I needed to compete.  Archery is an outlet for that desire.  Of course I still run and ride but the primary goal is to maintain fitness and prolong my experience in archery.

Along with that sport experience comes decades of understanding recovery. I understand it but do not always follow my own advice or knowledge.  I am prone to over training.

In the prior article about recovery I pointed out that as we age recovery times are often required to be more often and longer.  A reader somehow got another message.

He sent me a note pointing out that everyone understands recovery.  That was news to me.  I am still trying to find the right balance.  He somehow believed I am still in my 50s.  He further suggested my training along with the aches and pains associated were typical for a 50 year old, with the luxury of time, however not realistic for someone approaching 70 as he is approaching 70.

I took that comment as a compliment. The older critic, approaching 70, is pretty close to my age as I approach 70.  He is older by a few years but within my age group. He seems to be fairly fit results of his foundation of years of hard work.  He suggested my life of luxury has afforded me at 50 to be able to train the way I train.

That’s not true.  I’ve been able to train the way I train because I have had great coaches that ensured I had adequate recover whether I wanted it or not.  The result was minimal injury and little burn out.  Sure it is unlikely I’ll do too much racing in the future but not entirely out of the picture.  It isn’t that I burnt out on it after four decades, it became too expensive.

Archery is a lot less expensive than triathletes, easier to find events compared to cycling, and a sport that is much less age dependent.  So long as I maintain the best level of activity and recovery I should last a pretty long time shooting arrows.

Here’s the thing, finding the best point where recovery is needed and just plain soreness needing to be worked through is a tough balancing act.  As the 60+ critic pointed out everyone understands recovery and aging.  So, everyone, of you have sound advice I’m listening.

Give Me A Break Facebook Hero

She is very proud.  So, proud she’s posted on Facebook, “Why are the doctors and nurses so surprised when I tell them my resting heart rate is 38?”  Here’s why, they don’t believe you and neither do I.

Certainly, the writer of the post is fit.  Being fit is good.  She’s fit at an age when most of her friends are waiting to be called Grandmother. Not that she’s singular in her Masters level fitness.  There are a lot of Grandmothers that can smoke me in a marathon.  I know, it has happened. However, this athlete, to be polite as possible, is over 50 years old and she’s full of crap.

A disclaimer here: some people have a resting heart rate that is between 30 and 40 beats per minute.  I just don’t believe the person I’m writing about is in that group. There’s a simple reason, she’s been exercising for years – seems counterintuitive. You’d expect an athlete with decades of training to have a low resting heart rate. She probably does compared to non-athletes, just it isn’t 38 bpm (beats per minute).

“While the normal resting heart rate for adults ranges from 60 to 100 beats per minute, conditioned athletes and other highly fit individuals might have normal resting heart rates of 40 to 60 beats per minute.”(1)

Why is it that every time I see a post by some athlete bragging about their low heart rate it is 38?  That’s because their heart rate isn’t 38.

It is like when I read in medical records containing a patient’s respiratory rate. It was almost always 16 breaths per minute as recorded by some caregiver.  No one’s respiratory rate is always 16.  That is especially true when the patient is in the back of an ambulance, in the emergency room, or asleep at night –for examples. Another common respiratory rate is written as 12.  In those cases, the patient was alive, so they were breathing (the two go together), and the person recording the number simple wrote done what seemed likely. I promise, they didn’t take the time to count respiratory rate.

Let’s look at 38 for a heart rate. Take your heart rate right now – I’ll wait.  What did you do?  Did you count your pulse for 15 seconds and multiple by 4? If you did you couldn’t get 38.  You could have counted your pulse for 30 seconds or a minute and gotten 38, but your heart rate wasn’t 38 unless you are one of those younger elite athletes or on a drug to lower your heart rate or have an bradycardia and living with a pacemaker.

If you’re an athlete, an older one, say over 50, and you have a heart rate that runs around 38 you might end up with a pacemaker. (2) “New research suggests that athletes with low resting heart rates may experience irregular heart patterns later in life.” (2,3) A number of my friends, all elite athletes ended up with heart problems.

These friends with heart conditions later in life included: One Olympian, two National Champions, and one winner of the Comrades Race in South Africa. (4) The Comrades athlete also held a World Record in endurance cycling. All are very close friends or were, one recently died from his heart problem.

The Facebook braggadocio seemed extreme. The author is a woman in her 50s. “Gender is another factor in resting heart rate norms because women at various fitness levels tend to have higher pulse rates on average than men of comparable fitness levels. For example, the average resting heart rate of an elite 30-year-old female athlete ranges from 54 to 59 beats per minute, while the resting heart rate for men of the same age and fitness level ranges from 49 to 54..”(1)

In a peer-review article, investigators looked at athletes near 50 (all men with a mean age of 48) and found, “Resting HR was significantly lower in athletes than in controls (62·8 ± 6·7 versus 74·0 ± 10·4 beats per minute (bpm), respectively; P<0·001).” That is a resting heart rate of 62.8 in male athletes – women run slightly faster when it comes to heart rate. (5)

Furthermore, the author with the low heart rate claims to be a life-long athlete.  That actually creates the opposite of what she’s claimed. “Long-term sport practice at a world class level causes an increase in resting heart rate, diastolic and mean blood pressure, and decrease of the parasympathetic dominance and this may result from decreasing adjustment to large training load.” (6)

Being fit is great.  Making statements about fitness that are scientifically invalid are wrong. The 38 beats per minute athlete runs one of those self-employed fitness programs where she’s the head (and only) coach. Her claim, the 38 thing, was a marketing piece to share with her followers suggesting how well her program works for her and hoping perspective clients will suppose they’ll get similar results.  Her claim is false.

I contacted a friend who is an ex-college cross country runner. She’s maintained an elite level of fitness now that she’s out of college.  I asked her,”Sarah, what is your resting heart rate?” She replied, “In the 50s.”

Reference:

Spend $4.99 On My Book

This website gets on average 24,220 visitors per month. You’re a visitor right now.  If you’re like most visitors you’ll read a couple of pages here before you move on.  Of the articles I write the most popular ones deal with health and fitness.

I’m retired.  Before I threw in the towel on my day job, that job had been in health and medicine; I learned a thing or two.  Over the course of a long career I published over 100 articles about health, medicine, and the science used to create better care.  Some of those works earned awards from medical congresses or science groups.  Along the way I earned a good many patents.  All that work was done in order to keep people safe and well.

What has always been an interest to me is how we age and why do some folks seem to live longer and age well?  Over years I observed 5 areas where people who seemed to be living longer and aging well exhibited common traits.

I’ve put those common life-style observations into a book.  The book is short less than 10,000 words.  I had a goal to keep it under 10,000 words.  Going over 10,000 words I felt might dilute the simplicity of those common traits.

If you’ve read much at this site you know I’m not a writer in the ballpark with Hemingway or Grisham. But, like this website, the ideas I’m trying to share do reach the reader. The book I’ve written is easy to read and gets the points across.

My book, Simple Ways to Add To Your Life, is available in Kindle format or paperback.  It is also inexpensive at $4.99.  You can purchase it on Amazon.  Here a link:

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Go Amazon and spend a few bucks on my book.  The ways to living longer and aging well aren’t too difficult. Who knows spending $4.99 and reading the book might add some more time to your visit on Earth.  If it does, it will be money well spent.

As We Age We Need Longer Recovery Times

When I was in my twenties I could go on an eighty training one day and hammer it out again the next day. In fact, 120 miles rides day after day weren’t uncommon.  When I turned 40 I began to notice my legs felt sluggish for a day or two following a hard training ride or race.  Since I turned 50 I can’t recall a day where I haven’t been sore.

In this photo I’m 4th from the front, aged 48

“Masters athletes completing two training sessions per day should maximize the duration of the recovery period (i.e., early morning and late afternoon). Alternatively, following exercise that results in muscle damage such as weights or hard training, it should be expected that exercise performance will be reduced for up to 24 hours.” (1)

Right now my legs are sore. I’ve been running a lot over the past few weeks.  Nearly every morning I head out for 30 to 90 minutes.  During the afternoons I’ve been on a bike for 30 to 90 minutes.  There isn’t a duathlon on the horizon.  There is a 5K I’ll be running but it isn’t serious. Nope, there isn’t a bike race looming in the near future.  I’ve been putting in those miles thinking about 2020. Even so, I might not compete in any of those sports.  Archery is the primary sport for 2020.  All the other exercise is part of a fitness plan I have in place for archery.

At 60 I’m still being chased

Archery practice includes 3 to 5 hours of shooting per day.  That is broken into two practice sessions, morning and afternoon.  All of this exercise is supplemented by 30 minutes every morning of stretching and balance.  It is a lot of training.  I’m sore.

It isn’t a painful soreness. It is the kind of physical effort that lends itself to a good night’s sleep.  It isn’t delayed onset muscle soreness, that awful pain that sometimes follows a particularly heavy effort that one might not be accustom.  No, it is a general soreness and eases once I start a run, ride or shooting session. This isn’t how I felt at twenty-one. I barely remember being sore during those youthful days.

Coaching Tip

As we age, I’ll be 65 soon, it take us longer to recover.  As part of recovery I plan one day a week or every 10 days were I don’t do more that the morning stretch and balance as far as training is concerned. Furthermore, I take a nap, 30 to 40 minutes, everyday after lunch.  That nap is part of my training plan.  During my bicycle racing days we had a set of rules that included:  Don’t stand when you can sit, don’t sit when you can lay down. I know that short nap helps with the afternoon training.

Nearly half of all competitive archers are over the age of 50

If you’re among the Masters athletes in any sport you might be envious of those kids in their 20s and 30s. In archery we can perform longer at a higher level than most other sports.  You will still need to plan recovery times.  Use your head, plan your practices and training, and you shoot as well as the kids.

At 64 using archery to fulfill my need to compete.
ITU World Championship, Long Course Duathlon, Team USA (age 53)

If you plan your recovery and taper before major events make sure you’ve practice that schedule before the event.  I find if I am too rested I tend to shoot a bit high.  I also know, that lifting weights on Monday screws up archery for Tuesday. (1)

Be aware, all you Masters archers and athletes, it will take you longer to recover. (Trying to ‘Will’ a faster recovery doesn’t seem to work.  I’m trying it right now.  No dice.)

Reference:

1.)  https://www.mastersathlete.com.au/2017/03/weve-proved-it-older-athletes-do-take-longer-to-recover/

There are different meanings to exercise and sport

We were at pizza joint with a group of my wife’s friends. They’re mostly her friends from yoga. Yoga folks are pretty cool and I enjoy hanging out with them.  As a rule they are all fit and health conscious. It never fails that one or two of them quiz me on the subject of my less passionate view of yoga. I don’t do yoga, but I stretch every morning for about half an hour plus or minus a few minutes here and there.

My daily run which begins in my backyard

Mixed in with the purest yoga students there are runners who practice yoga. While I never bring up the subject of running many of them know that I run or at least have completed many somewhat difficult runs. (Brenda told them) They are all younger and will at times ask for advice. (Often the advice relates to a medical concern. Brenda also told them of me medical background.)

Sooner to later, like the yoga inquiry, I get quizzed about my running, which is only about 2 miles a day.  That’s enough for me for the moment.

Trail running in North Georgia with River

When I mention 2 miles a day jaws may pop open as if I’ve uttered a severely unacceptable comment or committed some sacrilege. One fellow asked me if I missed it referring to running longer distances.  I said no, plainly and simply I don’t miss running long solo miles.  If I keep the mileage at three or less per run River, my nearly 9-year-old lab, is happy to run along with me.  Beyond 3 miles and she gets bored. At two miles she’s happy and I have company while running.

Another inquisitor asked me if I missed triathlons. (Brenda, again)  He’s training for a triathlon.  He’s heard I have completed lots of them.  As with running, “Nope,” I answered.  When I said “Nope” the yoga runners and yoga triathletes looked at me with saddened eyes as if I had nothing to live for.

“Look,” I said to the small audience watching to see if I was going to die on the spot, “I do a lot of exercise.”  I added, “ I stretch every morning, which is a lot like your yoga.  A number of the stretches are actually yoga moves.” The audience appear unimpressed.

Then, I pointed out that indeed I run only 2 miles a day. I also ride a bike by time rather than distance or some combination of time and distance everyday for an hour to 90 minutes.  So, I pointed out I get a lot of exercise. The additional cycling seemed to satisfy many that I was doing the correct amount of physical fitness training.

Some scenery is well worth the ride

I was going to mention that those exercise intervals are warm-ups sessions only.  That the 2 to 3 hours per day doing those workouts are, in fact, not my primary sport.  Further I didn’t mention that I head to the gym once or twice per week.  All of which are secondary activities to the 2 to 5 hours per day of archery practice.  It seemed to me, that in the setting of the conversation, bringing to light the nearly 8-hour day of work to be a decent archer would have been wasted breath.

Beyond our backyard fence is where 3D practice is the current primary focus
There’s always a dark target in a hole in 3D – gotta practice this shot

Everyone around Brenda and I eating pizza was a lot younger.  The top end age, outside of Brenda and I, was probably upper 30s to at most 42 years old. The majority of those in attendance were younger than our children. They all workout several times per week at yoga and a few do train to run or work toward completing an international distance triathlon. Most of them have jobs, not all, so working out or training  much more than they’re doing takes a certain frame of mind. The question becomes what it is you want and what are you willing to give up to get it.

What I learned is that what time most of them put toward exercise and fitness max’ed out at around 14 hours per week.  That’s good and overall for most people a lot of exercise.  None of them is working toward any specific sport goal beyond a completion of some target event.

Good to practice the shot, but it sucks to break an arrow

“I’m training to do a triathlon,” or “I’m training to run a 5K,” are great goals and eventual achievements. There is, however, a difference when your goals include breaking records, winning titles and championships, or  being ranked top in the world.  This difference in the meaning for the exercise or training in no way implies one set of priorities is more important than the other.  There’s just a difference.

Greater progression of athletic performance in older Masters athletes (2)

At the 2019 Georgia Field Archery Championship in the age group of athletes from 60 to 70 years old the prior State record was surpassed by three archers including the prior record holder having set the old record in 2017.  In the women’s over 50 group a new record was set.  That means two new records with four scores surpassing prior records were achieved. Outside of those Masters athletes only one other record was broken in the cub group. (1)

Record holding triathlete the “Iron Nun”
Yes that a pack of kids chasing a Master athlete

Looking at Masters athletes as a whole a group of investigators found that improvements among the Masters athletes is advancing more rapidly than among younger athletes.(2) The researchers stated that, “While younger athletes’ performance has stagnated, Masters athletes improved their athletic performance significantly and progressively over the years. The magnitude of improvements was greater in older age groups gradually closing the gap in athletic performance between younger and older participants.”(2)

We’re all getting older, we just don’t have to get old (George Burns)

If you have read my writing here you’ll know that I’ve been offering the opinion that Masters athletes are being overlooked by sports companies.  We, the older athletes, are indeed reaching new levels of skill not seen from past performances.  I remain steadfast in my belief that companies bypassing the recognition, particularly in the US, of Masters athletes are missing a major market opportunity. (Wake up -Nike, Elite, Hoyt, Mathews, UnderArmour, and you other sport companies and smell the sweat.)

Reference:

  1. http://gbaa.georgiaarchery.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/2019-GBAA-State-Field-Results.pdf
  2. Akkari A, Machin D, Tanaka H: Greater progression of athlete performance in older Masters athletes. Age Aging 2015 Jul;44(4): 683-6. Doi: 10.1093/ageing/afv023. Epub 2015 Mar 8.

Athens and Cycling

Some of the places I’ve lived and trained on a bike:

The flag tells it all for a cyclist.
Seriously, there’s some $$$ around here

Savannah, Georgia, Easton, Maryland, and New Hope, North Carolina, are all coastal cities. The cycling there is primarily flat. There’s wind, but there are no hills. In Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania there’s not much wind, there isn’t a level road in the city. In Pittsburgh you are screaming in pain on a climb or screaming in terror at 48 – 52 miles per hour going downhill. Cleveland, Ohio, where I lived near Lake Erie is flat. Kennesaw, Georgia has rolling hills and not much wind.  Augusta, Georgia and Statesboro, Georgia had some hills and were easy on the wind for cycling.

Athens is unique.  Athens has nice rolling hills with some decent climbs – nothing of the Pittsburgh caliber. What is unique is the wind.  There’s always wind. The wind here is practically coastal in nature.

On some rides, you just have to stop and smell the cow sh.t. We’re surrounded by cattle. (Better cows than cars)

Wind is an environmental element that anyone who plays outside must deal.  The only times, it seems, when the wind is calm are at times like these when I’m typing, glancing out the window, and see no limbs or leaves moving.  Of course!

Time-Trial Flop

If you read posting on this sight you know that I am keen on health and fitness. Everyday I do some form, often multiple forms, of exercise.  For example, aside from archery practice today, I stretched, ran, and did a time-trial on a bicycle. It’s that time-trial that flopped.

Now, I did get through the course I’d planned.  The idea was to break a prior personal best on the 11.7-mile course. No, 11.7 miles isn’t a long ride. It is the course that makes it tough.

For the first 3.6 miles the ride is all uphill.  Then, it levels, dips a little, and climbs some more.  The backside has a steep short downhill, then a gradual climb for the next several miles.  The final 2 miles intersects with the start of the course.  It is hard and I’ve been trying to break 30-minutes on the ride.

The plan was to use a triathlon bike.  On an easier try the day before I’d done the course in 32 minutes using a tri-bike. There was, along with the climbing, a heavy wind.  Usually, I’m on a road bike, the tri-bike using a tucked position helped in the wind. Without much effort I’d come close to the 30-minute time.

The bike I’d planned to use

When I picked up that Cannondale Slice tri-bike today the rear tire was flat.  Perfect.  I grabbed a road bike and planned to go for it anyway.

Let me say, I’m no meteorologist, but it seems unlikely that there can be a headwind at every turn and in every direction.  Yet, today it happened.  As hard as I pushed the wind pushed harder.

At 8 miles I thought there’d be a chance.  I thought I’d get out of the headwind and have a tailwind.  I was wrong. I didn’t get that sub-thirty minutes.