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.

Pirates, Running, Wildcat Archery, and Hunting: Pirates and Running

Brenda and I drove to Savannah to spend time with out oldest daughter, her husband, and our grandson, Heather, Bill and Sean, respectively. Sean is 4 years old, and loves pirates. Tybee (Savannah Beach to some) was the host of a Pirate Festival. Heather and Bill booked a rental house on Tybee Island, where I’d spend my childhood, for the duration of the Festival. They invited Brenda and me. This was going to be an adventure. We’d enjoy a pirate festival with Sean; I’d race, shoot indoors, and go hunting over ten days.

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Sean checking out the treasure

I’ve never attended a Pirate Festival. Sean planned to dress the part of a pirate, so all the adults would be required to become appropriately attired pirates. I stressed the importance of dressing true to current pirate practice observing the Somali pirates as my example. I pointed out that modern pirates wear running shoes, shorts and t-shirts. I failed to gain a consensus for that apparel. The opponent in this pirate dress debate proved to be unbeatable despite his youth.

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Penalty for grumbling about the costume.

Prior to the main pirate event we spent time on the beach. Sean and I are runners. In fact, Brenda found me a race in Savannah for Saturday. As part of my pre-race preparation Sean had me doing wind sprints on the beach.

Sean would have me run a nice tempo pace, one that kept him at my side and able to coach. His coaching demanded I sprint to observed points along the beach.

“There granddaddy, speed for that!” he’d shout while pointing to the object. If my increased pace was unsatisfactory Sean offered further instruction, “Speed faster granddaddy!” It would not have been bad except the ‘ad lib’ beach training occurred immediately following dinner.

Saturday’s race was well planned and organized. Initially, I’d intended to simply enjoy the run. But, as often is the case with a 5K, as soon as the gun sounds, I run hard. I had forgotten about the heat in Savannah and paid the price toward the finish. I fell back three places ending up 12th overall and taking 3rd in my age group. Actually, the guy that won the race was in my age group.

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Putting it on the line is in part about being alive and finding challenges that are outside of your comfort zone. Wearing a pirate costume is weird, but grandchildren make adults do weird things. Pushing hard in a 5K isn’t comfortable, but the effort is transient and the reward, regardless of place of the finish, is lasting.

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Some days it is hard to stop shooting.

Some days it is hard to stop shooting. Mornings are particularly tough. There is little wind off the river. The light is just right. It is a good time to be outside and practicing. Training, however, has to be done smart.

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A run starts the day. River enjoys the workout as much as I do

Each week I set a plan for practice sessions. These sessions include archery and endurance sports. All my training has a plan with specific short-term and long-term goals. I also know that over training can lead to problems.

images Shooting a heavy target bow can fatigue shoulders, arms, and hands. Next week I’ll be hunting so current practice is mostly using significantly lighter equipment. My hunting bow, a Mathews ZXT,  weights  4.2 pounds, is shorter axle to axle, and has 80% let off versus 65% let of the target bow. During this morning’s practice, using my hunting bow, it felt like I could have shot for another hour.

Repetitive motion under stain can lead to injuries. What I’ve experienced training and competing in endurance sports is that minor aches and pains if not monitored closely can lead to problems.

A case in point is the Jones fracture of my right foot (fifth metatarsal). Sir Robert Jones an orthopedic surgeon first described the injury in 1902. A friend that is an orthopedic surgeon confirmed my injury. Mine was a Zone II injury that often resolves with limited restriction of activity. I took it easy for a while, but not long enough and the injury has taken years to resolve. Surgery and an internal screw fixation would have helped but I elected to run through it.

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Shooting a heavy bow for hours a day can lead to a number of shoulder injuries. I’ve described these under Archery Research section of this website. Some archers advocate use of analgesia prior to practice. I disagree  since the analgesia could mask pain. If it is going to hurt, I want to know about the pain before it becomes serious.

A more prudent system, in my opinion, is to work up to a certain level of archery endurance and not over do it. A year ago I was shooting 30 – 60 arrows a day. Today, I’ll shoot up to 200 (+/- a few) arrows over two practice sessions. On rest days, I don’t shoot a single arrow and on easy days I’ll fire around 30 shots. Each session has a mental plan, a form plan, and the actual arrow count is secondary.

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Today is a long day. That means I’ll shoot somewhere between 120 and 200 arrows. It will take several hours. But, the hunting bow is so light, easy to draw, and the let off so amazing it was tough to end the session even though my training goals may be accomplished.

The number of arrows is never an exact count. I work it like this on long days: yardage, marked by tape measured stakes,  is 20 to 60 in 5-yard increments, 5 to 6 arrows per end. If I feel I am having a problem at some distance I’ll take extra time on that position or come back to it. Because I am practicing for hunting, I’ll shoot unknown yardage from various levels on my deck and poach. I’ll add these unknown distances by moving the target and walking to random spots on my property then shoot.

Today shooting felt good.  Sunday had been a light day, morning practice only. (Sunday is a football day, after all.) My arms, shoulders, and hands were rested. There was little fatigue following a couple of hours of practice this morning. Regardless, I put down my bow and counted the holes I’d placed into a new target. There were 75. That was enough for the moment.

Racing a Stinky Dog, Shooting and Kayaking with Brenda

This has been a great day. Nice sunrise and perfect temperature. Plus, we, Brenda and I, did not need to drive anywhere so we would enjoy the entire day.

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Sunrise and off for a run

We’ve been organizing to remodel our home in Hertford. That has meant spending a lot of time looking at stuff for the house. There is not a room that will be untouched by the work. We are spending a bundle to renovate; it will be worth it in the end.

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Something to roll on!

When we do get a day free of renovation work and travel it is used to the maximum. Like always the day starts with a run. River, my lab, and I head out early, sometimes – especially during the winter – it is still dark when we run. There are essentially no cars on the roads where we run. If a car does approach it can be heard long before it nears. I make certain neither of us is close to the road when it passes. Today, there were no cars. There were, as always, ditches with water to splash and carcasses to taste.

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Racing against River it is impossible to take a clear picture

I don’t run in the ditches but River can’t avoid them. Yes, she gets stinky. She often enhances her aroma by rolling in a tasty carcass. If she finds something wonderfully rotted I sprint toward her saying, “No, No!, NO!” to prevent the taste and roll. It was a mad race.

Today, I succeeded in preventing a taste and roll, to her remorse. I will add that River jumps into the Little River after every run. Not a soap bath, however, a vigorous post-swim rub with a ‘dog’ towel followed by a brushing  helps abate the stench.

After running it was time to shoot. Morning archery practice takes 1 to 3 hours. Mornings typically have less wind so it is a great time to sight and shoot from long distance (up to 60 yards). Today, practice was an hour and a half. It was dedicated to release work. It was also working from 20 meters as I prepare for the indoor season. Long shots would come in the afternoon despite the potential of wind. It was a very good session.

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Still in my running apparel, I look like a nerd.

I take a break mid-day for lunch then do some other activity like ride a bike. The weather was so nice and the water so calm bike riding was going to be replaced with either a long swim, paddle boarding or kayaking. I asked Brenda if she wanted to go kayaking. She agreed and was ready in minutes. We were both eager to enjoy the water.

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From where we live, across the Little River, there is a small creek we’d not yet explored and we chose it for our destination. We launched two of our Necky boats onto water that was totally flat and without breeze. At least those were the conditions when we departed from our bulkhead. Wind can come up fast off the Albemarle Sound.

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We were only paddling 1.5 miles to the other side of the river.  Less than midway conditions changed as if someone had thrown a switch. Flat water changed to whitecaps on top of two-foot to three-foot fast rolling swells. There aren’t any rocks or obstructions in the water but we were rocking and rolling. ( Sorry, no pictures, it was too rough and I was afraid I’d drop my camera in the water. I wished my GoPro was onboard)

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Brenda – Calm after the storm

Two to three-foot waves don’t seem like much and aren’t unless only a few feet separate them. In a boat where you are sitting at water level and the cockpit is only a few inches above the surface – two feet is plenty. We’d slide down the side of one swell and get splashed by the next as we rode up. Both of us got soaked. It was wonderful.

Neither of us was in great danger of flipping. We frequently head out into similar chop. However, we are usually paddling into the wave so we can turn and surf them. Today we were paddling parallel with the swells.

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Heading into that creek on the left which ended up a dead end

Once on the far side of the river the trees blocked the wind. We tested the creek that ended in a swamp after a short distance. There are some massive homes on that side of the river so we paddled past and admired them before heading back into the wind.

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On the way back the chop wasn’t as severe but seemed to come from all directions. Brenda hooped and hollered as she bounced her boat on the water. Getting out of the boats was a small challenge but we managed it without getting anything other than our feet wet. Not that it mattered, we were already soaked.

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The water was still churning a bit following the heavy wind

Soon after we cleared the boats, the wind returned so I canceled my afternoon archery practice. The range felt like a wind tunnel. Instead, I finished the day following baseball, writing, and waiting for Thursday night football – Vikings vs. Packers. The perfect end to a great day.

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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.

Running and Shooting with a dog

Most of my days begin with a run. There is one loyal companion that joins me each morning to traverse trails and roads, River, my dog. Running is not her only form of exercise; she is an avid swimmer and is devoted to archery.

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Heading into the woods here in NC

Today, we headed out from our home in North Carolina to run trails, cut down a quiet road, then circle back to the trails before returning home. The woods behind my house have a number of paths or trails, which are clear enough to run uninhibited. These eventually open onto a road that experiences extremely limited traffic.

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Waiting for me to catch up

Corn, cotton and soybean fields bank either side of the road. Ditches parallel the road. After a rain these ditches are great fun for River to splash through at her fastest pace. They are also her source of hydration.

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On long runs I carry water or Tri-Fuel. For River ditch water serves her need. Gels and sports bars are my source of calories while running. For extra calories River relies on hope and a carcass.IMG_0582

We didn’t run far today, however, she apparently found something dead to munch and roll on. Her post run stench meant a bath under the hose. Thankfully, she’s easy to wash – she loves water any time and anyway she can get into it.

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3D tournaments are the best, Archers share their food with dogs

After running I shoot and she monitors my progress. In the yard, she sits or lies in the grass never moving her critical gaze from me. On 3D ranges, which are her favorite, she sniffs the foam animals, gets aggressive with faux wolves or coyote, and is ever present in stands.

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Training alone, whether running or shooting, can be relaxing. There are times when I need no interruptions. Except when River feels the need to play she is understanding and respects my effort and concentration. When we’re done there is always a treat waiting her back at the house.

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Returning from the run

Carlita’s Toes

Today, while running, my brain cleared – it didn’t take long, there wasn’t a lot of clutter floating around upstairs.  When my head opens thoughts and ideas pop into mental view.  On this run what popped in to my consciousness was Carlita’s foot apparel worn during Sunday’s 3D Tournament at Mid-Del Archery in Harrington, Delaware. (This isn’t weird in the way you might think)

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Running and “Trying” to think

The 3D tournament was an IBO Qualifier held at the Mid-Del Archers’ range.  It had been raining for weeks and the course was a mud hole.  Carlita is married to Wes and both are archers.  They were shooting during the tournament and grouped with a couple friends, John and Paul.  All four are excellent archers.

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Carlita

The tournament was a major event and as such the course was crowded.  There were assemblies of four or five archers weaving and crisscrossing the range to avoid the mire and standing water.  The soaked course could not be circumnavigated so some folks were shooting the front 15 targets then retracing their steps to the back 15 and vica-versa.  Sloshing about, I’d started on the back 15; I crossed paths with Carlita’s assembly on the front 15.  I hadn’t seen the four of them since we’d finished the Indoor League Competition at Cypress Creek.

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Wes

They are a wholesome group of people.  All of them are friendly, helpful, encouraging and quick to laugh.  I was pleased to see them.  The guys were ready for the potential of a muddy day having worn rugged footwear.  (Among all the competitors I noticed an abundance of work boots and knee high rubber boots.)  I’d chosen incorrectly and worn running shoes.  Having stopped to say hello to the quartet, I happened to glance down and noticed Carlita’s feet.

Carlita was wearing white, slight, flat, girly-strapped sandals.  They and her feet we mud free.  My mental conclusion was that someone, perhaps Wes, had been giving her piggyback rides.  What I’d tactlessly blurted out was, “You are wearing those!” Rather than a comment from anyone in the crowd in agreement with the obvious sandal blunder, Paul immediately focused onto Carlita’s possible need to have her toenails painted. Paul had initiated a toenail painting controversy!

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John

As argument and pontification on proper toenail artistry elevated it was suggested that: 1) She could have her toenails painted professionally, 2) she should paint them, or 3) Wes could paint them.  It was observed that since Wes was shooting so well, exemplifying steady hands, that he could certainly paint Carlita’s toenails.  The choices being debated, each with merits and detriment, heads bobbed from feet to speakers, the cluster of compadres centered on toes and painting. Meanwhile, their ignored arrows protruded from a headless coyote target 30 yards away. The conversation seemed mismatched to the mud, the guys, the bows, the targets, arrows and the swampy outdoors.  All I could do was listen and wonder. Paul smiled with satisfaction having ignited a fuse that threw vocal flame toward silent toes.

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Paul

Eventually, the debate floundered so that arrows and scores could be collected and recorded.   We moved away in oppose directions allowing more stoic archers’ to approach the headless canine. While I slopped along in mud I glanced back to see if Carlita was indeed being carried or if she was somehow levitating above the muck.  She was on her own, skillfully ambulating the high ground.

The shoot in Delaware was fun and aside from the muddy course a nice day.  I will have to ask, when I next see Carlita, how did her feet and shoes fare over the back 15. Such are the thoughts that float through my head while I run.

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