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USATF 2018 Cheney – great results!

For only having been in two competitions this summer, it was nice to peak at USATF Outdoor National Masters in Cheney.  We had family and friends supporting us so, similar to last year’s Senior Games in Birmingham, we had a big cheering section.  The weather was HOT, so that was a negative factor, but it probably kept us from aggrevating potential injuries.

Some of our cheering faithful!! Note the exceptional excitement!!!

Chuck and I had high jump on Friday.   Chuck is still fighting his hip injury, so wasn’t as competitive as usual, but hung in there and was able to place in a tie for second at 2-11.5.  He was disappointed but, hey, he cleared some heights and didn’t aggrevate his injury.

Chuck clearing 2-11

I was not sure how I would do, but it was exciting to be in such a crowd of great high jumpers.  A number of these jumpers in my jump group were national champions in their youth.  I benefited from having high jumped the previous week at Washington State Senior Games and made all my early jumps on the first attempt, which in the jumps is critical.  I missed twice at 4-7 and just was following my rule — do my best every jump no matter what and just slipped over the third try for fourth place.  For not being my main event, I was very pleased.

My first attempt at 4-7

Saturday was our big day: Chuck had both pole vault and 100 meter dash, and I had the pole vault. 

First, Chuck vaulted, and I was having some trouble figuring out which of the other vaulters was his competition.  He looked competitive, but clearly his injury was keeping him about a foot lower than normal.  I saw an older gentleman go out earlier and one hang on longer than Chuck, so I wasn’t sure how he did until he came over at the end and announced he had won the gold!  He was disappointed about his performance of 4-11, but at least he cleared a height, which was a concern coming in.

Chuck clearing 4-11

He then ran the 100 meter dash.  It was clear he was struggling to run normally, but he gutted it out and came in 5th at 30 seconds. Of special note, a 100 year old runner, Orville Rogers, ran the 100 in 40 seconds, which was very inspiring.  Hopefully Chuck will still be in there at 100 years.

Don Leis and Chuck Milliman in 100 meters
Chuck finishing 100 meters

After waiting through two days of events, it was finally my turn to do the pole vault.  The temperatures were brutal – in the mid 90’s.  I don’t like vaulting in very high heat, but everyone else has to endure the same conditions, so it evens out.  I really had no clue how I would do, it being only the second competition of the summer, and I hadn’t vaulted in practice very much because of conflicting activities and personal health issues.  I was pretty sure I could reach 10 feet, but not sure.  I did OK in warm-ups over a bungy.  There was a huge controversy over whether to change the pit direction because of the way the gusty wind was blowing.  I don’t really get involved in those because I feel we’re all vaulting in the same conditions, so what is the big deal.  Some folks felt it might be a safety issue for people not used to adjusting to vaulting into the wind.  In Sequim we get lots of practice in variable conditions, so in a way it gives me an advantage, I guess.

Russell Jacquet-Acea (from our state) once again had a fairly good day.  Larry Bonnett, who has vaulted with me at the National Senior Games a couple of times did well, but not as good as he wanted and is capable of.  It was clear to me there were several quite good vaulters who were capable of over 10 feet, so I would have to have an exceptional day to place in the top three, which was my goal — I wanted a medal, not just a ribbon at USATF Masters!  I’m usually quite reliable as I work up to my top height and today was no different.  I started at 8’6, a little lower than usual, just to get some practice during competition.  I cleared every height up to 10 feet on first attempts.  McKane Lee was helpful with coaching advice.  I was trying to hydrate and sit in the shade as much as possible due to the heat.  McKane’s advice was that I could rock back further each vault, so I just kept trying to rock back more and more with each vault.  After two misses at 10-4, I just cleared it and got a third place finish!  My hamstring was getting tired and I knew I had very few vaults left.  My second attempt at 10-8 I pulled my right hamstring and had to exit competition.  Same thing happened last year, so I’m going to have to train better and manage better to quit injuring it.  Right now it appears I have about 8 vaults at my fitness level in competition.  Not good for days where I have several misses, so I have to find a better way of conditioning my hamstrings.  It was not a major injury, which was better than last year.  When I crashed into the pit after pulling my hamstring I knocked down the crossbar and it hit right on the top of my nose, luckily not breaking it.

I had accomplished my goal of getting a medal at USATF!  After viewing photos after the fact, I was deeply embarrassed.  My form had regressed badly this year, not rocking back nearly as much as I though I was and not using both arms to bend and stay away from the pole on take-off.  I had made progress in the spring, but somehow had regressed badly.

Phil clearing 10’4″ — what if I could actually invert????

Sunday was the last event, Chuck’s long jump.  He is amazing to me, still competing with a nagging injury.  He didn’t jump far, but he jumped, and came in second in the long jump at 5-4.75.

Chuck in long jump

Soooo, Chuck and I got medals or ribbons in every event we competed in, quite an accomplishment!  We had great support from family and friends, and the weather, while brutally hot, didn’t hurt us too much.

Lineup of Pole Vault greats: First row – unknown, Charles Milliman, John Altendorf, Don Isett back row – Dave Butler, Fred Zapf