Moving Back to Georgia

We were only supposed to be in Georgia for a couple of days. It turned out to be longer. See, there was this property near Athens and it looked right for a move back to Georgia. We bought the land.

Front of the land cleared and the house is going up

There are a number of valid reasons to leave our home in North Carolina. The combined needs to get back home warrant the relocation leaving behind a house where we’ve put in renovations intended for a lifetime. Someone will end up with a dream home. If the North Carolina property were closer to Athens, Georgia we’d keep it.  The distance is simply too great to make it worthwhile.

The new home, for me, includes: amazing archery ranges, great cycling roads, and phenomenal water access to rivers and lakes. Athens is the Southern Cycling Mecca.

Athens Twilight Criterium Bicycle Race

Georgia, from what I can glean from the Internet will offer more competitive archery than where we live in New Hope (near Hertford, NC). It’s not that North Carolina doesn’t have a fair share of archery events where one can compete. It’s that many of them are so far away from where we live that it requires an overnight trip. Certainly, Georgia is another one of those larger states, but in and around Athens there is an abundance of archery competitors and tournaments to meet their needs.

Georgia Archery Association, along with Field Archery and 3D seems creates a full calendar for shooting in the deep South

To top that off there are endurance sporting events, from running to triathlon, nearly every weekend – to supplement my completion fix provided by archery.

For Brenda, my wife – a professional Yogi instructor – being near Athens offers an abundance of Yoga opportunities.  There are a number of Yoga studios within minutes of our new property.

Another major benefit will be our proximity to UGA.  Since our move to New Hope I have worn out a search for continuing education classes.  There’s just too little here to be academically satisfying.

The property we ended up buying is  minutes outside of Athens. Its just far enough to be out of congestion and enough to get into the city at the drop of a hat. The “lot” we bought is just over three acres in rural “Good Hope” (Population – 289) meaning archery ranges can be affixed. Yes, that is “Good Hope, Georgia” and we are moving from “New Hope, North Carolina.”

If all goes well the relocation will impact athletic training, hopefully to a minimal. The long term benefit to be so close to other cyclists, runners, triathletes and archers has great potential.

About a mile away from our new property in Georgia

It will be cool to shoot over in Social Circle and Snellville, GA. Since Georgia is our home, we’ll be surrounded by family and one of our two daughters. We hope to be moved back to Georgia by February 2018.

Taking a Hike on the 3D Range

Just after sunrise River and I took a walk through the woods. We didn’t run this morning, today being a rest day from running. It is also an easy morning for archery practice with only an hour planned for shooting. Having some extra time on my hands and her paws we took to the leaf carpeted trails on the 3D range.

Since my archery focus has been 18-meters during the past several months I’ve not been in the woods to shoot 3D. Having the summer’s green canopy now brown and on the ground certainly made a difference in the appearance of the forest.

The morning break was nice. Later, archery practice was rough because the wind is seriously blowing off the river. It was a mildly frustrating experience. This afternoon’s practice is full throttle. Hopefully, the wind will have diminished.

Home After 14 Days on the Road

We’re back in New Hope, North Carolina after two weeks on the road living in our Winnebago Micro Minnie. The trip began as a three-day outing to Madison, NC to attend an indoor archery tournament. The adventure expanded to six campsites over three states: North Carolina, Georgia and South Carolina.

Our first stop. Although a lot of potential with the rustic barns and such if you see this cabin when looking for a campsite – move on

From the various campsites we took day trips. Among those was a drive to Wilmington, NC. Wilmington is a nice little town except for the traffic. I especially wanted to go there to see some of the sites where “The Hart of Dixie” was filmed. I have no idea how popular this show was when it ran. I watched it after it had been canceled. It is one of those rare series that had me laughing so hard at times I could barely catch my breath.

“Mayor Lavon Hayes'” home from the show The Hart of Dixie. This picture by no means does it justice.
“Dr. Brick Breeland’s” office

In Kinston, NC we stopped and for a second time had dinner at the Chef and the Farmer. Kinston has a nice first come first serve campground at a Nature Park on the Neuse River. It is one of the best deals going at $15.00 per night for a full hook up roomy campsite.

From our campsite in Kinston, NC

Our longest stay was near Tignal, Georgia at Hester’s Ferry campground. By far this ranks as the best campground we’ve used since we bought the RV. This was our longest stay on the trip because we were in Tignal for Thanksgiving.

Set-up at Hester’s Ferry

At all the campsites I found great running trails and got in some off road cycling several times. After the tournament in Madison, NC, I was able to continue archery practice in Tignal.

Little Pee Dee Campground near Dillon, SC

What I can say about two-weeks in a Winnebago Micro Minnie (the 2106 Model) – there was plenty room, we never ran out of hot water, and the heat at night (temperatures down to below freezing a time or two) was toasty. Nevertheless, it is good to be home.

River eager to hit the trails

Fitness and thinking about 2018

My fitness program is not exactly what I’d call an archery fitness program. It is different because I still consider endurance sports and try to stay in minimal shape to perhaps compete in other events. Of course, once I make a decision I’ll make a plan. This is the time of year I begin planning for the next year’s events.

What should we do next year?

In that plan will be a weight loss program. I am not overweight but since my last triathlon in 2013 my body fat percentage has increased from 4% to 11%. That is not racing weight. 2013 was a hard year of racing for me. I raced 12 times in 2013 and that wasn’t a big deal. From 2006 until 2013 I raced at least 12 times a year. However, in 2013  two of the races were Ironman events and one was the Mt. Evans Ascent.

The Mt. Evans Ascent was one of the hardest races of my life. Here’s what the race’s website says about that race:

Although the air will be noticeably thin at the starting line, Echo Lake’s 10,600 feet of elevation is just the beginning. The climb totals nearly 4,000 vertical feet – much of it above tree line – as you make your way 14.5 miles to the finish line located at the summit of one of the most recognizable peaks on Denver’s mountain skyline – 14,264 foot Mt. Evans.

For a guy that has lived most of his life at sea level – that race was a bear! To make it tougher a week prior to the Mt. Evans Ascent I raced in the Ironman Eagleman. The day after I raced in Boulder, but it was only a 5K.  It was actually on that week in Colorado that I became interested in archery.

I was in a sporting good store and noticed some bows in the shop.  I was killing time so I asked a salesperson about the bows.  It all sounded pretty interesting. A couple of months later I bought a compound bow. I’d never planned to compete at any level in archery. That changed.

I like running events, triathlons, cycling (time-trials only – no need to risk a crash because of some squirrelly rider) and duathlons. I’ve pretty much ruled out another triathlon anytime soon. Archery, running and riding are about all I can fit into my schedule. There’s no time to swim.

Not my best discipline

Running is easy. I do that nearly every day. Running races are also easy. They’re inexpensive and can be short or long. A 5K is a breeze. A marathon is a bit more effort. I have no idea how many 5Ks I’ve run. I also can’t recall how many 10Ks or half-marathons I’ve done. Half-marathons are nice because you can pace yourself and still not feel totally wasted after a race. A 10K hurts the entire race and a 5K hurts a lot and then its over.

I do remember exactly how many marathons I’ve run. They all hurt in a different way. After my 7th marathon I figured it was enough, but perhaps not.

Running – you can do it anywhere (I just replaced to blue Nikes I’m wearing in this photo) This raced was a 1/2 marathon in Maryland.

I also ride a bike nearly every day. I run in the morning and ride in the afternoon. But, archery practice twice a day eats away at time needed to drive to a pool. An hour in the pool means another hour of travel.

Aside from specific archery goals for 2018 I am considering some endurance sports competition. In that regard, off-road duathlons keep popping into my thoughts.

Running: That Was Gross

It was time to break down and purchase a new pair of running shoes. Generally, I keep a half dozen on hand and I rotate them. Plus, when they get really beaten down, they feel better to me. The rotating isn’t so much to prolong the life of the shoe as it is to prevent stink.  In addition, running in the morning my feet frequently get wet.  Wet shoes suck.

That’s probably not how you should treat shoes. That is, running the tread off. Shoe manufactures have all sorts of recommendations on the wear of the sole of a shoe and when to replace them. Those recommendations have not taken hold on me.

Once, back in the ‘80s I had a pair of Nike Pegasus that fell apart after about six weeks. I called Nike and complained. The product manager I spoke with asked how many miles I was running a week. When I told him he laughed and said be was surprised they lasted that long. The laughter was my only reward for the complaint. (I don’t run that much any longer)

Getting new running shoes is a treat. These new shoes are Newtons. I’ve been running in them as well as Nike, Asics and Zoots. To add to that list I have a pair of the Five-Finger running by Vibram. All of them are pretty much pounded to pulp. Hence, new shoes.

I selected the replacement pair, the Newtons, because I think they idea for archery. Whether they are or not is only a guess. But the toe box cushion on the shoe does, seemingly, help me feel my feet as I am preparing to shoot. Too much heel and I feel like I’m rocking backwards. But, as far as that goes, I’ve got work boots that seem to feel just as good.

At any rate, this rant isn’t so much about footwear and shooting. It’s about what happened while running this morning.

Running down the road, Coco (a Labrador retriever that joins the run nearly every morning) was headed out the door. Her owner was saying good morning to me and I was calling back the greeting. As such, I was not watching the road. While calling to Coco’s owner and waving I stepped on something. It felt unfamiliar.

Now, I run a good bit and do so nearly every day. As such, I’ve stepped into a lot of crap. (Crap in general, not necessarily specific, but that too is true) This foot contact was unusual and unknown.

When I looked back to see what it was I’d stepped on – it was a snake. My stepping on the snake had not immediately killed it; certainly it didn’t improve its health.

What are the odds? Thankfully, it was not poisonous and only about a foot long. But – damn.

A Good Day to Play

It was a good day to play. There was early morning running with River and Coco. Both have gotten over leg injuries and are nearly 100%.

The morning’s highlight, running with River and Coco

After running I drove into Elizabeth City to shoot indoor 18-meters with friends. Of all the fun things I did today, archery did not rank number one.

I shot all over the place, including a few tens. But, mostly nines and a couple of eights. It was just a royal pain.

Archery was so disappointing that after I got home I took my stabilizers and sight off my Elite and grabbed my Mathews Conquest Apex 7 and started from scratch. I’ve never done well with the Mathews bow. But, I really needed a change.

Cycling was the high point of the outdoor play. Seriously, riding a bicycle is such a source of freedom. I suppose some people feel that way about running. Sure, running is pretty good, but for me a bike is a tough act to follow.

About 2 miles from home I rode though all this glass. I didn’t notice it until I was in the middle of it. Made it home without a flat.

More archery followed the bike ride. It was not as much fun.

Feeling the Burn

Practice was rough, today. It started on a sour note. It soured while shooting a 5-spot. Since August 3, 2017 I have not hit a blueberry. Today, during the first round (60 arrows after a 5 arrow warm-up)) shooting a 5-spot I hit blue twice.

I ended up with only 42 Xs. The X count has been my primary metric for 5-spot practice. It was a sad day when I hit blue twice and scored 42 Xs. The second round of 5-spot practice nothing in the blue but could only manage 40 Xs.

Finally, 3-spot practice was just as weak. For this final round of work 60 arrows would be enough. No warm-up; I was plenty warm. That led to a conclusion with just 22 Xs and the rest of the shots nines leaving a final score of 562, eight points below my minimum-scoring objective.

Things started out promising

Archery practice is more difficult than most people realize. Physically, the effort to hold a 6.2 bow steady over and over can certainly build up a burn along deltoids, levator scapulae, splenius capitis, rhomboid, and to some extend trapezius muscles.

Not only do these muscles feel the burn, hand muscles and abdominals are not immune to long archery practice sessions.

But, it is not the muscles that wear out – it is the brain. Working to clear the head of everything and letting the shot happen becomes an effort. After hours of shooting any little distraction takes on significance. There is no choice, practice has to continue.

Why? Well, it makes you better in the long run.

So, today wasn’t great. Yesterday was better. Tomorrow could be worse, but down the line there will be that excellent day.

Another Long Road Trip

We’ve been on the road, again, for about two weeks. During this trip we camped at Dan Nicholas Park in Salisbury, NC, Elijah Clarke State Park in Georgia, Skidaway Island State Park, also Georgia and finally Cheraw State Park in South Carolina. It was a long haul. But, the little Winnebago did fine.

Campsite at Elijah Clarke State Park

When I say the Winnebago did fine, that is to say only a couple of pieces fell off during the trip. Fortunately, no major parts were lost. One of the bumper caps blew away during the last leg of the drive and we had a bolt that secures an electrical receptacle fall off. Both are replaceable.

Really neat place to run at Cheraw State Park in South Carolina

 

Trails out tat Skidaway Island

The primary reason for the trip was my nephew’s wedding. The wedding was nice and the reception was wonderful. It felt really good to be around so many “Lain” family members. Brenda and I were even included in the rehearsal dinner, were we only knew the other Lains. Heck, my brother, Chris and father of the groom knew only a few more people than did I. But, it wasn’t his wedding and that’s to be expected.

There are some very pretty placed to run off road. This at Cheraw State Park in South Carolina

Before we reached Savannah, where the wedding was held and were we camped on Skidaway Island we stopped for about a week at Elijah Clarke State Park. There we met up with our youngest daughter and her family. Our older daughter drove over from Watkinsville, GA and we had a nice little family get together for several days.

End of a trail at Skidaway Island.

Much of that time was, sadly, devoted to getting the A/C repaired on the truck.

Walking a trail with two of my grand children.

When I could find some free time I did get to practice archery, ride a bike a run. Running was the highlight of sports activities. The trails at the State Parks were simply astonishing.

Running over marsh land at Skidaway Island

It was a long trip. It is good to be home.

View at Elijah Clarke State Park

Running Partners’ Injuries

Coco trying to ask about River.

Coco, River’s good friend, has had a hurt rear leg.  So, I’ve kept River on a lease when we run past Coco’s house to keep both girls from going dog crazy playing.

Now, Coco is better and River has a hurt from leg.  As hard as it was for both of us, I had River stay home while I ran.

The girls when they’re feeling better.

Morning runs without the girls aren’t nearly as much fun.

What It Takes to Make an Olympic Team

A long time friend of mine asked me what it takes to make an Olympic Team. From experience, not in archery, I know what it takes to earn a spot on a World Championship Team. (USA Team World Championships, 2007, Long Course Duathlon.) The Olympics are another matter.

In the late 1970’s and up 1980 I dreamed of a spot on the Olympic.  I certainly gave it a try. I trained with a number of athletes that did make the Olympic Team.  On some days I was better than them, on most days I wasn’t. They weren’t physically superior to me, but they had something I didn’t. They were a different breed.

Participating in a Charity Event wearing my USA Team “Kit”. The hat is wrong, it is a South Carolina hat someone had given me.

My friend with the question is not an athlete. He’s a University Professor and Chair of the Department of Cardiopulmonary Science where he works. He’s a smart person. We’ve been friends for about 30 years. Together, we published many research papers (once I was smart, too.)

His question was a relay. He’d been asked by another smart guy, “What does it take to make an Olympic Team?”. The question eventually landed in my email. It is a tough question to answer by email. It’s a sorrowful question for me having blown so many great cycling opportunities. Being basically honest, I can say, if I had to do it all over again, I’d blow it all again. If I only had today’s brain in yesterday’s body, only then might things have changed.

I have, however, spent years studying athletes and athletics. So, at least from a sports science perspective I have some pearls of information to address my brainy friends.

Earning a spot on an Olympic team is not easy and neither is an explanation of how it is done. First, there’s the athlete. Those elites are simply not like the rest of us. Without writing a dissertation (one of those was enough for me) here’s an abridged description.

A short composite of the athlete is: years of practice, mental discipline and genetics. Genetics is easy to see: Tall people do well in rowing and basketball for example. Actually, rowing is one of the most genetic specific sports. Tall lightweight people with a huge VO2(max) do well in rowing. Gymnasts are at the other end of the spectrum. Small people have a greater capacity to rotate on an axis than larger people.

The process is expensive, which I didn’t mention up front (It just occurred to me). The price to train and compete excludes many people from the Olympic track. An athlete must compete at USOC Olympic trials and camps. The Olympic hopeful has to show up at National and World Championships. The travel alone is costly.  In many cases, earning a spot on an Olympic team is significantly self-funded exceptions being professionals.

Olympic level equipment is outlandishly pricey. At the elite level equipment does make a difference. The IOC has a rule at anyone is able to purchase that equipment used by athletes in the Olympics. So, if you’ve got the resources you too can have Olympic caliber gear.

Let’s say, for example, anyone can purchase a custom-made track (Velodrome) bicycle such as used by the British cycling team. The price is around $90,000. Most people are better off just training more often. The expensive bike, for an elite, will provide marginal gains. A marginal gain might mean a 0.5% increase in speed. Add enough of those small gains and it can mean the difference between a Gold and Silver medal.

There’s around $360,000 worth of bicycles in the picture

There is also a strategy to earning medals. Combat sports, like marital arts and boxing, have the greatest number of classes (light weight, to heavy weight) and the medals available are the greatest in number. So, countries often focus on finding fighters to train.

Finally, there is a political element to making a team. Chris McCormack, probably the greatest triathlete to have every competed, never made the Olympic Team for his country. He and the Olympic committee for his country, Australia, were frequently at odds. The members of the Olympic squads from Australia were never in his league.

Taiwan’s Tan Ya-ting celebrates after winning the bronze medal match at the women’s team archery competition at the Sambadrome venue during the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Sunday, Aug. 7, 2016. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)

In archery making an Olympic Team means, for now, shooting a recurve bow. If your dream is Olympic Gold in archery then a compound bow is currently not the ticket. But, archery has a great variance over the phenotypes that can compete and do well in an Olympics. It also means a lot of practice. By a lot, consider shooting 250 to 300 or even 400 arrows a day six days a week.

Making an Olympic Team is a tremendous achievement. It is certainly not for everyone. But, for those that earn a spot on the team it is a monumental. If making an Olympic Team is your dream, pick a venue that most matches your body type and where there are the greatest odds of success.  If you’re six feet five inches tall, gymnastics isn’t a good match. Be able to focus entirely on your sport of choice. Realize, you can’t make the team without traveling. And, it won’t be inexpensive. Finally, good timing and a bit of luck won’t hurt.