End of a scheduled break

Today is the end of a rest period. That means I haven’t picked up my bow in four days. Frankly, I needed the break. In all sports athletes need to make certain that rest periods are included in training.

I do the same for running, swimming and cycling. With a race on Saturday I am tapering a little for that event. As part of that taper I’ll run 3 easy miles this afternoon. On Tuesday I won’t run, Wednesday will be speed work in the form of intervals, then short easy running on Thursday and Friday. But, for archery – I truly needed the break.

Shooting twice a day for months on end can wear down joints and muscles. Granted, I make sure I have rest days throughout my training. However, four days in a row was the longest break I’ve had in months. Believe me, it wasn’t easy.

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1st shot a little too high, 2nd a little too low, 3rd just right

By the end of my scheduled break I was more than eager to get out shoot. I was a little off, but not much. We have a storm off the coast and the winds have been steady at 25 mph. In order to shoot I had to ‘hide’ behind a shed. I still got pushed around a bit but did fair at 35 yards. Any closer or further from the target and I was standing in a wind tunnel.

Riding the Computrainer

images-1A close friend of mine is Savannah, who isn’t a competitive cyclist, asked me, ‘What is a Computrainer?” I’d mentioned my Computrainer in a post and she wanted to know more about it. While she isn’t a bicycle ‘racer’ she does ride for fun. So, Cathy – here is a bit about a Computrainer:

Computrainer is a product by Racermate, Inc. located in Seattle, Washington. It is a ‘trainer’ whereon you can attach your bicycle. This allows you to train indoors when going outside isn’t an option.

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Looking down while training, control display on my handle bars, Ironman Texas on the Computer

Riding a trainer for hours is a mental bore. However, Racermate has designed a system that creates a entertaining interface for your bicycle and a variety of computer enhancements.

Their software displays many sports physiological bits of data, such as power, revolution per minute, average torque angle, caloric output, heart rate and other useful information. There are methods to evaluate each legs performance, set training course, set an avatar, race others and my favorite ride an actual course while viewing it.

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View of the some of the data provided during a training session

Of all the training tools I’ve ever owned the Computrainer is the best. In fact, some triathletes train exclusively on the Computrainer and leave outside riding for race day.

Recently, I converted a shed to house my training set-up along with some of my other bikes, archery equipment, swimming gear, and ham radio. Personally, I appreciate riding the Computrainer while watching other races. Sometimes, I’ll watch the DVD of Ironman Kona, another Ironman event, or Tour de France stage  while racing the course. Or I can watch a movie while data is displaced on the   controller attached to my bike’s handle bars.

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Some of my bikes and my Computrainer set-up

If you’re a cyclist or triathlete you probably already know about this product. If you’re an archer – believe me there is nothing in our sport that matches what a Computrainer can do to improve your performance.

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This is a tough workout

Solo Morning Practice / Afternoon Practice

Shooting practice is often a solo activity. That can be good, but there are times it would be nice to practice with company. Livings in very rural North Carolina odds are that nearly all my practice is solo.

An advantage I have is I never need to what for range time. I can step outside and shoot at paper targets or 3D. During the winter or when there is bad weather having somewhere to practice indoors is nice.

In Elizabeth City, NC a new indoor range has opened. Brenda, my wife, was heading to the Y for an extra workout. I wasn’t, my workouts were up to par, and so I headed to the new indoor range.

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One lonely bow on an empty (well nearly empty) range

Cost for an hour of shooting is $6.00. The range is marked at 20 and 25 yards. I paid my fee and decided on 20 yards. I had the range all to myself. Another solo day and this day I was glad to be alone.

Shooting a 5-spot indoors, no wind, no pressure, I shot like crap. I don’t think I ever shot five Xs in a row. Lately, that’s how my shooting has been running.

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This cat is always hard to see in the afternoon.

Back at home; in the afternoon I shot 3D. I’ll admit, there are some days that are better than others, and some months that are better as well. I think shooting with other folks adds another dimension to archery that makes me take it up a notch. For now, the best I can do to find other folks to shot with is head to as many tournaments as possible.

Another Good Day in the South

It was a great day to be outside. The high temperature was 76°F and the humidity was low. It won’t last and winter will be here soon enough. In the meantime, I’ll enjoy fall and plan for winter.

When I awoke this morning there was no wind coming off the river. I made a breakfast of waffles and bacon then took this as opportunity to shoot holes into paper targets.   I saved my run for later in the morning.

That run would follow a swim and weight lifting. The swim was a bit of a bust. All the lanes were filled with folks whose vibe and thrashing style swim stay make sharing a lane unlikely. There were only four lanes being used. One third of the pool was reserved for “Family Swim.” With school in session not too many families are at the pool. Actually, there were no families at the pool.

There was one elderly lady floating in the third of the pool reserved for “Family Swim.” The Y had this portion of the pool blocked so that there was no possible way to swim more than 12.5 yard before swimming into a lane divider.

The elderly lady was sort of bobbing around in an area no more that a couple of yards circumference. She had 1/3 of the pool to bob up and down but needed only a few yards. When she finally completed her bobbing the lifeguard removed the lane divider and I was free to swim. Still, I’d lost 20 minutes waiting so my time was cut short leaving only enough for a kilometer swim before I needed to meet Brenda to lift weights.

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After we finished lifting weight we both got on treadmills. This was my delayed morning run. I don’t enjoy treadmills, but they allow me to set a pace and hold it. Running outside is more fun, however I  daydream and before I know it my pace has slowed. You can’t do that on a treadmill.

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Once Brenda and I got back to our home on the river we took our Carolina Skiff out for a spin. There are many little creeks that feed into Little River and they’re always fun to explore. We spent over an hour heading up one creek before returning to the main river and heading home.

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I’d wanted to get back with plenty of time to shoot 3D. I got in another two hours of shooting before it was time to head in and start preparing dinner. Before I called it quits outside there was a shot I’d wanted to take and today I took it.

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There’s a bear in them woods
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This is cropped from the above photo. If you look real hard you can just imagine seeing that bear target

I’d noticed that I could clearly see my cinnamon bear from the back yard. At 80 yards there was a shot. The worst that would happen is I’d lose an arrow. In fact, I didn’t lose the arrow and popped a 10. Like I said, it was a great day to be outside.

 

 

 

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80 yards and on the line for a 10.

Running With the Dogs

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The girls taking a break in a water filled ditch

Prior to shooting this morning I ran. River, my dog, ran with me. After about a mile we were joined by Coco. Coco (the light coat Lab) is a good friend and joins us on nearly every run. For the most part River and Coco sprint and chase one another while I plod along for the next mile or so. Then, as they get hot, winded, and begin to slow I plod past them. By mile three they are inline and running at my pace. In fact, they often take breaks in water filled ditches to cool down. When it comes to running long distances in the heat it is good to be human.

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At the turn around point – my running partners ready to head home

Time to Review Goals and Plans

Throughout my life in sports when I trained there were goals.  Whether the goals are personal or professional it is good to have them set.

Once a goal has been reached the question becomes – what now? I manage goals and the “what now” dilemma by setting short-term, intermediate, and long term-goals. My ultimate goal is to have my cremated remains shot out of a cannon across the river where I live. In the meantime, there is a lot to be done.

A short-term goal I had was to compete as a professional archer at a World Championship. By qualifying as a professional I was able to accomplish that this August. Yes, that was a “short-term” goal.

In archery, many of my goals were established to create a forward momentum and to learn. Part of the learning is to gain a ‘feel’ for the various levels of competition and an understanding of tournaments. That is, to become comfortable shooting despite the conditions.

Becoming comfortable during an archery tournament is more important that many people might consider. If you’ve been competition for decades, you’re probably comfortable. You probably have a group of your friends that you shoot with during a tournament. Your arrangement is social, easy, relaxed and supportive.

When I land at an event I never know whom I’ll end up shooting with or against. Where I’ve shot multiple times, I do better. I am more comfortable there. However, for the most part, it is always a little awkward.

For that reason, one of my goals was to shoot at least 2 competitions per month in the 2015 3D season. That activity and that goal would help in the mid-term when I arrived to qualify for a spot to compete at the IBO World Championships. On that day, I would be shooting with guys I knew in Delaware and Maryland. I’d also be shooting further away from the target and didn’t want to embarrass myself in front of my friends. At times, it can be more difficult to shoot with friends that you haven’t seen in a few months than when shooting against strangers. When the shoot was over, I wasn’t embarrassed.

I didn’t win the World Championship –it wasn’t a goal for 2015. Being realistic and having first picked up a compound bow 23 months and a week prior to the IBO event my plan was a bit more realistic. The plan was to shoot against the best in the world and to become more comfortable during that level of competition. My goal to win isn’t until 2017.

In the meantime there are goals and milestones. Along the way, experimenting and learning there have been some humiliating moments. Those times are when I shot a 5 or, as happened 3 times this year, missing the target entirely.

Thus far, in 2015 I have shot 500 arrows during competition. Since January I’ve competed 19 times or just over 2 tournaments per month. Of those I took 1st four times. That means that 21% of the time – I win.

There were also some rather sad days where I didn’t perform to par. Fifty-three percent of the time I ended up 4th place or lower. My second worst shooting of the year came at the 2015 IBO World Championship. During practice, on the Defense Range, I shot great. Apparently, I left all my good shots there. When shooting for the money, I shot badly.

That is one of the reasons I went to the tournament. Not to shoot poorly but to get the feel for the level of competition. I was uncomfortable which was entirely a mental error. One of the goals is to overcome mental stress during competitions. That comes, in part, with competition at all levels.

As I review the upcoming fall and winter tournaments, I’ll be looking at the tactics involved in achieving my goals and the plan itself. During this phase I may realign goals or completely change some of them. As with all sports, athletes should set goals, have tactics to help achieve the goals and evaluate performance. During the process adjustments will be necessary. Don’t be afraid to change things up a bit.

Good luck with your plan.

Me versus the Power Washer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Reference:

1) www.webmd.com/ostearthritis/guide/tennis-elbow.

 

 

Back at the Y

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

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YMCA Elizabeth City, NC

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

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

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

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Working through a 2.4 mile swim

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

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YMCA Jerusalem, Israel

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

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

Score Analysis Heading into the IBO World Championships and Post Tournament

Prior to the IBO World Championship, I paused to evaluate my scores for the year in 3D. The distance I have been shooting in competition was a maximum of 45 yards while using a bow with fixed pins and a short stabilizer. That bow set up meets the requirements for the IBO Professional Hunter Class.

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Since the 2015 3D season began I’ve averaged 9.1 points per target. The score per shot improved as the season progressed with the ‘better’ scores averaging 10.35 points per target. The worst performance (the first 3D tournament of the year) the average was 7.65 points per target, which included a miss and a mess of fives.

It takes a lot of numbers to make a good database. The sample set used here isn’t large enough to be definitive. But, it did give me an idea of my likely score at the tournament in New York. That score should have been around 364 which would have landed me in 12th position.  In fact, I shot worse, ending up 13th place. The distance didn’t turn out to be my major downfall, it was my lack of experience shooting at steep uphill and downhill angles.

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This sort of analysis is beneficial to help determine areas of weakness and topics for shooting improvement.

Day One Shooting at the IBO World Championships

I went into this shoot feeling really good. It didn’t last long. There is a lot so say about shooting uphill and downhill. Living on the coast nearly all my shots are on level or nearly level ground. Mountains and hills within mountains certainly add a new dimension to archery.

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Wes sizing up what was truly the easiest shot of the day.

These archers that live in areas where they can practice on ranges with steep slopes have a practiced ability to find a foothold and stand steady were in their element. Some of these guys were like mountain goats the way they could hang on a steep incline. For me, I was mostly hoping, on many shots, not to slip down while taking aim.

There are two pro classes here: those shooting with a fixed pin hunting rig and those with long stabilizers and adjustable scopes. We shot on the same range; so all the stakes were either a max distance of 45 yards or 50 yards. The hunting rigs have a max distance of 45 yards.

On more than one occasion the group using the pro hunting setup ( 45 yard max) was placed further back than the pros using the ‘unlimited’ arrangement. This was seriously one difficult range and the IBO really setup challenging targets. More than once I’d get to a stake and need a minute or two to find the foam critter. Seriously, a brown turkey, partially exposed behind a log with a tree behind it, up a hill, surrounded by smaller trees, 36 yards away – that’s tough. (And for me an 8, off a bit to the right)

The group I shot with were all veteran pro archers. By that I mean none had been shooting less than 7 years with me as the exception. In fact, one of the scorekeeper’s IBO number was in the very low 8000s. Mine, I was the other scorekeeper, is over 91,000.

These guys shot better than me today. On the level or nearly level targets I definitely held my own. But, every target that required a major bend at the waist, well I was taken to school.

Despite their efforts to school me, the other guys had a day of managing tough shots. Our group had at least one very high score (probably in the top 3 at the end of the day) and even though there were 5 in our group we didn’t create a backup. I think the hike through the woods was so difficult that it was taking enough time to trek from stake to stake that crowding wasn’t a problem. Honestly, on some walks between stakes our group stopped and took a break.

It was a long hard day on the range. Looking for some redemption tomorrow.