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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Interesting afternoon

Many of you are in the woods hunting. For me, I’ll be there next week. For now, I am preparing for a race in Belhaven, NC and an archery tournament in Madison, GA.

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Hard to pass on a race that involves a pink flamingo

We leave to hunt in Georgia on Tuesday. I’ve sorted my arrows for hunting and those for targets. In both cases, I am getting low. For a tournament I need matching arrows, I have five. I’ll only need three. I’ve been too busy to get new arrows or have the fletching repaired on five others. Those five sit four sit feet away in an embarrassed state of fletch. These ten are the remains of my most recent dozen. Of that dozen two were lost to a Robin Hood.

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Bow, sight, and arrows for next week

Typically when I practice, I aim at paper targets with multiple faces. The most for one target is a 5-spot. Because I want to get more shots in, I frequently shoot 2 arrows per X. Occasionally, this leads to torn fletching and the infrequent Robin Hood.

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This morning I selected the five functional arrows, checked them closely for any cracks, numbered them, and wrote my name on each shaft – a rule that some indoor tournaments enforce. Then, I took to my range to double check their flight patterns.

On the first shot, my arrow sailed in to the woods. It was way high. I’d been shooting at 60 yards yesterday and forgotten to raise my sight. Luckily, I found the undamaged arrow, a small miracle in the underbrush. The Georgia tournament is 18 meters, as was the target I’d just missed; I raised my sight to the appropriate level and continued to practice.

Here on Little River we get a lot of wind.  As I practiced the breeze picked up and was getting worse. By the afternoon, weathermen and weather women have forecasted gusts to 50 mph and rain. Such conditions aren’t ideal for archery or a running race. However, they are ideal for the weather forecasters who excitedly pronounce a localized climatic apocalypse for the afternoon.

I am, of course, running in a race at 5 PM. According to my bubbly weather woman, if I “risk” going outside, there is “concern” upon which she “urges caution” so that I am not blown away.

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This photo taken around noon. It is suppose to be rough by 5PM

I checked with the race officials and they are having the run rain or shine. This is going to be an interesting afternoon.

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Thanks for reading

I reviewed October’s stats for Puttingitontheline from GoDaddy.com.  During the month of October there were just under 10,000 visitors who read over 16,000 pages.  Since I started writing about this adventure in archery, 8 months ago, this site has had  50,000 visits, nearly 90,000 pages read and almost 750,000 hits. Really, very cool.

Race day tomorrow. Forecast is cold and rainy.

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River and I enjoying a break

Rules for indoor competition

One of the tournament officials sent me an update on the rules for an indoor competition being held in Georgia. There are so many rules and so many archery governances it is hard to keep it straight. In fact, I hadn’t yet reviewed the rules for the upcoming event. When the correction came my way it got me thinking.

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When I worked in health care Dr. Speir (retired – Professor Emeritus), the head of the Section for Chest Diseases, at the Medical College of Georgia taught me a set of rules I’ve never forgotten. These are the Cardinal Rules of Critical Care:

  • The Air Goes in and Out
  • The Blood Goes Round and Round
  • Oxygen is Good

That set of rules has been part of many of my medical lectures given work wide for over a quarter of a century. These rules, wherein the violation of just one is serious, led me to create other rule sets for different situations.

For Triathlons I have a set of rules. These came about when I was asked what I try to do during a triathlon. The question gave me pause. There is a lot I do in preparation for a triathlon. During the event I am on autopilot, enjoying myself trying not to think too much.

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What do I think about during a triathlon?

The triathlon question got me considering what is most important for the race and I answered:

  • Get out of the water under my own power
  • Don’t crash on my bike
  • Don’t come in last on the run

The archery tournament email regarding a rule update leant me to ponder three rules I think are applicable for indoor tournaments:

  • Don’t shoot the ceiling
  • Don’t bounce an arrow off the floor
  • Shoot my own target.
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Relaxed is good

These archery rules are simple. They are a bit “relaxed” but I think “relaxed” is a good frame of mind for an archery tournament. Besides, it is supposed to be fun.

Keeping Score

The opinions offered to me regarding keeping score during practice are mixed. There is a camp that advocates never keeping score. There is another camp that promotes keeping score. Something, not all the time,  I record practice scores and for a number of reasons.

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Collecting scores

The primary reason is so that in competition, I am accustom to having a score in my head. The score needs to become a number that doesn’t lead to pressure. What I don’t want is to be in competition and worry about the score. By practicing scoring, I teach myself to record the number after each end, and then forget about it. In this effort, I record the number for each end and don’t look at the total. I’ll total the score once I have completed the session. In this manner, I am teaching myself to not focus on the score.

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There are even apps for tracking your score

The second reason is to see where I set against other archers. For major indoor tournaments, scores are posted. At the moment, I am preparing for an indoor tournament and it is nice to have an idea of where I’d place today, and to set a goal for the competition.

In competition, I know to set a realistic goal. For example, if I am not shooting 60 X’s in practice, it is unlikely I will do so in near competition. At this point, that doesn’t cause me to worry. I go into each match to shoot my best to hit the X on every shot.

When I began shooting I shot below 460, today I shoot on average 560 (without adding a point for each X, 600 is max score). By watching my score I can evaluate progress. What my data reveals is that there has been an 18% improvement of my shooting scores on a FITA 3-spot over the past 12 months. The scores are collected about once a week.

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Practice is 5 to 6 days a week. As such, my scoring sessions represent 20% of my practice days. The other days I work on form, distance shooting, judging yardage, and when possible shooting 3D targets rather than paper. The primary objective with taking score is the first reason, to become accustom to tracking score while in competition. Duplicating, as close as possible to an actual event helps during a tournament. It is also reassuring to monitor progress and have an objective measure of where I’ve been and where I need to improve.

Horses on my range

When I practice I draw a unique crowd. River, my lab, feels it is her duty to supervise each shot. There are times she’ll climb a stand to coach 3D practice. Honestly, a dog and archery seem well suited. Two other observers of my practice are likely better suited and have a rich history in archery.

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River on her way to a foam animal to measure my shot.

In the country we have many free-range animals. The primary domestic varieties are chickens, dogs and cats. Wild animals are vast and plentiful. Because we are so remote we have free-range horses.

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The girls enjoying the river

Two, Imperious and Constance, very social mares are frequent visitors. Their stable and small pasture is few hundred yards away. They often escape for better grazing. If I am out shooting both walk over to watch.

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These two girls will come over, sniff my arrows, always disappointed they are inedible, and hang out. Today, while shooting mid-morning, Imperious spotted me. She made a beeline over and was immediately followed by Constance. This happens several times a week.

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Horses and archers have a rich history. These mares seem to enjoy watching archery. While they observe they always stand behind me to my left. When I take a break I’ll speak with them and give them a pat or rub. They stay as long as I am out or until someone comes to retrieve them. I don’t exactly understand this relationship and neither horse has ever offered an explanation.

Finally, getting my bow right.

thSeveral months ago I replaced the string on my Mathews Apex 7. Since then it has never ‘felt’ exactly right. My anchor ‘felt’ off, my head didn’t feel right, the bow vibrated more, and my shots weren’t as tight. The bow had been looked at by a number of shops, none were Mathews dealerships. Because the shops weren’t Mathews dealers none of them wanted to do anything to the bow that might void the warranty. But, they all agreed something was off.  Yesterday, I made the two hour drive to Ernal, NC, to meet with Terry Lewis at Terry’s Archery Plus, who is a Mathews dealer.

Not only is Terry a Mathews dealer he is truly a bow expert. He made measurements and verified angles. Then, from his assessment, he made adjustments to the string. He solved the vibration problem and worked with my peep.

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Terry adjusting the string on my Apex 7

I took the bow home and tried it out on my range. The difference was significant. Whereas before I’d given up on the Apex 7 and gone to exclusively shooting my Mathews ZXT in tournaments it was obvious the Apex 7 will once again be my tournament bow. Thanks, Terry

Running, shooting and a dog in a tree stand

At times I write about fitness. Aside from archery I’ve enjoyed sports competition and been successful in running, cycling, duathon and triathlon. Triathlons are really exciting and fun. The main problem is the expense. An Ironman entry fee is $650.00 or more. An archery 3D tournament is much less expensive. Duathlon and cycling events are also pricy. Running is a bargain by comparison.

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Charity event in Delaware, wearing my Team USA (World Championship) gear

During the winter, I search for runs to race. That means spending time on Active.com. I try to get a race per month. In 2014, with all the archery tournaments I missed racing every month. At my current pace by the end of 2014 I’ll have competed in about 10 races and 20 archery tournaments. As the temperatures drop, running becomes by focus, along with hunting and indoor archery competition.

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This means a lot of training. My days typically begin with a run. My dog River runs with me. She also comes with me on 3D practice ranges when I have them to myself.

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River sprinting to catch up

Hunting, at times, can demand physical labor. When I was young, a hunt was a lot more work. Today, with ATVs to bring us closer to our blinds or stands, and to haul out what we might shoot, physical labor is reduced. Still, fitness remains important.

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ATVs make it easier to get into and out of the woods

Being unfit and trying to climb a tree stand can be a risk for some people. I have a friend that is in his 70s. He is really out of shape but loves to hunt. Recently, he started a program toward achieving fitness. He has lost 50 pound by walking and eating less.

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Relaxing in a tree stand

Another friend I have once weighed over 300 pounds. He is a serious archer. Last week, he ran his first half-marathon. Today, he has lost over 100 pounds by changing his diet, running and cycling.

In older posts, I’ve paid attention to archers that are serious about their fitness. Really, it isn’t difficult to maintain and promote your health. Take some time out of your day to workout. If you are out of shape add a quick trip to your physician to make certain nothing has run amok with your heart before you start. If you have no one to work out with, go it alone. Eventually, you will find other people with whom to work out.

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Seriously, she will not stay out of a tree stand

Running solo gives you time to think. Music is nice on long runs as are books on tape. I break it up; some runs I have music or a book on tape. On other runs I leave my iPod off to think and enjoy the scenery.

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Fields of cotton, nice scenery

Start slow, find an event, sign up and make it a goal. A 5K run costs between $18.00 and $25.00. You can find one in your town or nearby. Plus, you’ll get a nice T-shirt for your effort.

One deer being processed

When we took the deer to the  processor  he showed us his logbook. Only 21 deer since Friday. He said there was a group of about 30 hunters that were at a large hunt club of some sort. The group had been there  four days and not a single shot had been fired. We’d seen deer everywhere while driving or when a shot wasn’t available.

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Ray next to his Bad Boy Buggie

Ray and I hunted for a few days. He’d shot one deer the week before and we hoped one of us would get another.  On Sunday Ray got in a shot and killed a small buck.   He gave me this deer so I could have the meat. I am also tanning the pelt. We’ll be back out the week of November 4th. Until then, practice for the tournament in Georgia on November 8th and stay sharp with my hunting bow.