Personal Sports-History of Craig Rusbult:


A related page begins with a question,

What is your Satchel Paige Age?  To define this, Satchel Paige asked, “If you woke in the morning and didn't know how old you were, how old would you be?”     {  Who was Satchel Paige?  He was one of the all-time best pitchers, but due to racial discrimination he wasn't allowed to play in the Major Leagues until 1948 when he was 42, and ended his MLB career in 1953.  At age 59, he was honored with a "Satchel Paige Night" and pitched 3 scoreless mlb-innings against the Boston Red Sox. }

In the "related page" I optimistically under-estimate a Paige Age for myself (it's 39, is 34 younger than my Actual Age) and describe my current goals for physical fitness, because I'm trying to Slow Down My Rate of Slowdown.

Basically, general information (hopefully useful for others) is in the "related page" (about developing a younger Satchel Paige Age) and my personal information (re: sports, etc) is in this page, to supplement my main bio-page about life on a road less traveled.




my hobbies:  learning and thinking!  also juggling, music — listening to a wide variety (rock and jazz, country and classical,...) and also playing some, plus writing about musical improv — and dancing (swing & waltz, free & contra,...) and sports (as a spectator & participant).


spectator sports:  I enjoy occasionally watching a wide range of competitions:  X-Games, combat juggling, bike racing, Olympics (at least a little of most events, summer & winter, including whitewater slalom & rhythmic gymnastics & many others), juggling (individual, cooperative, combat), frisbee (team, dog, ultimate), bullriding, drone racing, and more.  Some of my favorites are basketball (especially NBA Play-Ins & Playoffs, but also March Madness for college hoops), football (college thru their whole season, NFL during playoffs), and baseball in October.  Plus listening to sports-talk shows on radio & TV, and watching a wide variety of “highlights” on youtube, plus a variety of sport-competitions that are interesting - unconventional - unusual - strange - bizarre.   {soon, in late 2021, I'll make links to specific unusual events}

also:  I've written more — about barefoot water skiing, combat juggling (+ headis), Tour de France (Soap Opera of 1980's, plus Lance & Floyd), bullriding, whitewater canoe racing — at the end of this page and (eventually) in my page about true-life stories.


participation sports:  Beginning with Little League Baseball (as an All Star in small-town Iowa), in many sports I've played skillfully although never close to world-class level.  Usually I've been a medium-big fish in medium-small ponds.  My sports have included baseball & basketball & volleyball, and I've been a productive teammate on championship teams...  in tennis (for all medium-sized high schools [with under 2100 students for grades 10-12] in most of Southern California with my partner and I winning the doubles match that clinched our title) although I should have been better;  and flag football (defensive cornerback for intramural champs at U.C. Irvine, with a Nobel laureate on our team, the Chem Grads, learning respect for elite-level defensive backs);  and slowpitch softball (left field & center field for intramural champs at UC Irvine and U of WA, plus a City League in Seattle).     /     And individually:  2nd in tennis and 1st in high jump (*) for the city of Anaheim in high school;  in college, 2nd in handball (it's like racketball without the racket) in UCI Intramurals, then 2nd in tennis and after being flown to Berkeley I won 6 of 8 matches with second-placers from other UC Campuses in Berkeley, Los Angeles (UCLA), San Francisco, Davis, Riverside, San Diego, Santa Barbara, Santa Cruz;  and in 1973 won an octathlon (UCI Anteater Olympiad) by a wide margin, with high scores in two runs (50m & 400m), two jumps (long & high), shot put, and sport-skills in baseball, tennis, football, basketball.   /   I still do juggling (as in a video from 2009 with balls & clubs, dancing-while-juggling, and two jumps onto a 30" table at age 60) although I can no longer juggle 7 balls (as in 1983),* and social dancing (contra, swing, ballroom).  But now I mainly do exercises to stay in shape (to slow down my rate of slowdown) and avoid injuries.  But I was fortunate to avoid injuries twice, first during my dangerous first day of skiing (with dismal morning failures followed by glorious afternoon success), and (unusual at age 61) unicycling.     {* juggling 7 is more difficult than you might expect – e.g. "Juggling for the Complete Klutz" jokingly says “on a difficulty scale of 1-10, if learning to juggle three balls is 2, four is a 5, and five balls is a 32,” but this off-the-scale ratio of 32/5 is actually much too low regarding the skills required, because every time the number of balls increases by 1, the difficulty increases exponentially.}

* During grad school at my first UW, I high-jumped 6' 7" (= 2.0 m), but have regrets about this because two years earlier I could have – and should have (because it was prevented only by my ignorance) – jumped higher and also could have (should have) played better in tennis & basketball & other sports.  But now I'll never know how much higher and better.  And (sigh) I'll never be able to physically surpass my younger self, so there will be no more lifetime-PR's, instead I can only hope to decrease the rate of my slowing down that's caused by growing old.


sport science:  Throughout my life I've been fascinated by a wide range of subjects.  One of my favorites has been sports and fitness.  Here is what I wrote in another page:

    Many people think art, sport, and science are inherently interesting, and I have found them especially interesting.  In May 1974 I began preparing to work with professors in the Kinesiology Dept at the University of Washington (at that time it was one of the best science-based research “sport science” programs in the world) and seriously considered becoming a kinesiology major, planning to study three aspects of high jumping:  especially biomechanical analysis {re: how much "jumping force" goes into rotation and vertical uplift, how to generate more uplift, and so on, at a time when athletes & coaches & scientists were still comparing old and new styles – the classic straddle and new flop (the eventual winner) – to determine which was best, and why};   but also muscle physiology (inspired by a hitchhiker who asked “why is there never a superhorse that runs twice as fast?”, I asked “what limits the jumping ability of humans?” at a time when the detailed physiology-and-energetics of muscles was unknown, was more of a mystery than it is now);   and strategies for learning & teaching physical skills (as in using visualization and mental rehearsal to modify split-second actions in mid-air during a high jump).   I've been a teacher of tennis, juggling, and ballroom dancing, and a fan of many other sports.  This fascination with mental-and-physical skills and fitness (with nutrition, exercise, sleep, attitude,...) helps explain why I'm writing this page.



Currently I'm focusing on CONTINUAL GOALS for PHYSICAL FITNESS with very little of the training (20% or less) that would be needed to reach my peak performance.  But in the past, occasionally I've had goals for “personal records” performance.  These goals required moving into "the other 80%" (or more) although not very far compared with athletes who are truly dedicated and disciplined.  When I was young, until about age 25, most of my goals were in competitive sports.  Since then my goals have been mostly personal, done for (as a friend once described it) just my own self-amazement.  In the past, I've achieved some of my personal goals:

In the summer of 1997, at age 49, I rowed a marathon on a Concept2 machine, did 42.2 km (26.2 miles) in less than 3 hours (at 2:07 pace) not counting four 5-minute rest periods;   and rode a mountain bike 104 miles (average 16 mph, not counting two 20-minute rest-and-relaxation periods) throughout Madison, WI;  and then would have run a 6-minute mile,* but after my first attempt (a little over 6:00) I pulled a hamstring by stupidly doing wind sprints without proper stretching, and this ended my running season.   So achieving goals was {yes yes} for rowing a marathon in under 3 hours and riding 100 miles, but {no} for a 6-minute mile.

In the summer of 2008 (age 60) I ran a mile in under 7 minutes {yes}, and then {semi-yes} a half-marathon at my goal-pace of 10 minutes/mile until calf cramps after Mile 11 forced me to walk the remaining 2 miles;   at a much faster pace, a year later I ran 200 meters in under 31 seconds, and 400 meters in 73 seconds, both fast for 61 – so {yes yes ?} – but slow compared with a younger me;   and for a change of pace I began riding a unicycle in 2009, and after 5 hours of practice over 2 weeks — learning was more difficult than expected (it takes a long time and is dangerous)* — I achieved my goal {yes} of riding a friend's unicycle more than 50 meters (did it three times, 55-70-75 meters) and {yes!} survived the experience with no broken bones,    :<)

* By contrast, juggling is quicker and safer.  {so why did it take me 12 years and 45 minutes?}  {my juggling video}


some PERSONAL REGRETS about Missed Opportunities


Higher ?

My best high jump, 6'7" (2.0 m), could have been several inches higher.  Why wasn't it?  Unfortunately, as a young adult in my early-to-mid 20s, I didn't have some opportunities — because my college, UC Irvine, didn't have a track team — and I didn't take advantage of other opportunities (at local track events) to measure how high (in jumping) and how fast (for 100m, 200m, 400m, mile) I was in my prime, before the inevitable decline.

At a crucial time in my jumping life, during the summer when I turned 21, twice a week I exercised both legs (but especially the left, because it was my takeoff leg for high jumping) by hopping up the steps of a football stadium (at Anaheim High School) on one leg at a time, and did intensive one-leg toe raises for my calf muscles.  With this heavy-duty dynamic weight training, my jumping improved a lot, and I could touch the rim almost up to my elbow, despite being only 5'11".  But... during that summer I didn't know about the local All Comers Meet, held every week, so I never competed in these events.  Because I "didn't know" this was "ignorance" because it would have been intentional stupidity — not just my unintentional stupidity of ignorance, which was stupid because it would have been easy to discover the weekly AC Meets with a quick phone call to Anaheim Parks & Recreation.  That summer would have been the “maximum height” time of my life,* but now I'll never know how high I could have jumped during the summer of '69.     {or how fast I could run 100m & 200m, or maybe even 400m}   /   * Or maybe my max-jumping could have been later, at age 23 when I was a grad student at U of Washington.  Or at 26 – although by then I may have passed my peak – when in 1974 I studied high jumping at U of WA and could have done intensive strength training again, along with learning better technique.  But I didn't do this at 23 or 26.


Better ?

Until age 19, I never realized that playing tennis with eyeglasses is a disadvantage.  I discovered this during my sophomore year at UC Irvine when I played unusually well, much better than expected for how little I had played in the two years after high school.  I won 2nd place in the UC Irvine Intramurals, and this got me an all-expenses paid trip to UC Berkeley for a "UC Intramurals Weekend" where I won 6 of 8 matches with 2nd-place finishers from other UC campuses, with 2 easy wins, 4 close wins, 2 close losses.  I think this surprising success happened for two reasons:

    First, wearing contact lenses eliminated the vision-distortions caused by eyeglasses.  That year, my first with contacts, I did “experiments” by moving my head (left-right & up-down) while observing “how things looked” and discovering that with eyeglasses (but not with contact lenses) what I was looking at “shifted around” in strange ways in situations (as would occur when a tennis ball approached my racket) when my dynamic vision (for depth perception and directionality) shifted while I changed from looking at an oncoming ball that quickly changed from a faraway ball to a closeup ball.  With better vision (using contact lenses), I played better.
    Second, I began playing handball during freshman year, rapidly improving and (as a sophomore) getting 2nd place in UCI Intramurals.  Although sloppy footwork can be overcome with skillful shoulder-arm-wrist motions in tennis, good footwork is essential in handball, so my footwork improved for handball, and (with transfer-of-skills) I continued using better footwork when I was playing tennis a couple of months later.  With better footwork – developed for handball, then transferred to tennis – I played better.

In high school, I hindered myself in two ways, by playing tennis with eyeglasses AND without the discipline (and thus the better footwork, etc) that would have helped me become a better player.  With better discipline — to intelligently invest time in productive practice, to focus on and improve every aspect of my game, including all details (footwork & upper body & more) for every stroke, for serving and baseline play (forehand & backhand,* crosscourt & down the line, for serve returns, skim-the-net passing shots, lobs with & without topspin, and no-mistake long rallies) plus net play — and with contact lenses, how much better would I have played in high school?  I'll never know.

* During 10th grade, my new coach (William Baca) had wise insights about my tennis technique & psychology, so he forced me to change my backhand — it had to be forced because I was resisting the change to avoid a short-term loss of skill, but he was thinking long-term and said “you will never play on my team until you change your backhand grip” so I changed — and this external discipline (by him, not me) made my tennis better. {you can read the story – in the context of education for changing different kinds of “ecology” – and some results}   /   He also recommended changing my serve in a way that would have improved it.  In fact, when I tried what he suggested, my serve immediately improved.  But for some reason — basically just a lack of self-discipline to maintain the new serve technique (which instantly worked better than before, and later a re-optimizing of its “physical ecology” would have made it even better) — I didn't continue using the new way of serving.  My coach only recommended a change of serve — instead of demanding it (as he did with my backhand, as explained in "the story...") to provide external discipline — and my internal discipline wasn't sufficient to maintain the new technique.  Sigh.   :<(


performing & teaching – in tennis and juggling:  [iou - this will be developed more fully later, but here are the basic ideas]  

tennis performing:  Despite my failures (described above) in maximizing my potential for playing tennis, I was a very good performer mentally, almost always winning when I was capable, rarely losing when I should have won, losing mainly because the other player was (at least in that particular match) more skilled than me.

juggling performing:  When juggling I performed well in TECHNICAL skill with rapid improving that came easily (without long practice times) but...  I've never developed high-quality ENTERTAINING skill in public performing (on stage or street) due to a lack of discipline in developing short routines (and practicing until I could do each routine smoothly, and consistently without dropping) and in developing an entertaining show (with creative designing of what I said-and-did by using drama & humor & actions).

tennis teaching:  The Park & Recreations Dept for the City of Anaheim, probably impressed by "credentials" during my junior year of high school — being co-MVP of our tennis team, and "top chemistry student" for all high schools of Orange County — hired me to be a tennis instructor for their summer program.  But during three summers I could have done it much better in several important ways, especially by just making it more fun for students with attitude-and-actions and by providing structures (with drills, games,...) for the fun, along with offering helpful tips for improving their skills, and also (in one class) with effective discipline for a couple of ornery “problem students”.

juggling teaching:  By contrast, in almost all ways I was an excellent teacher of juggling, for beginners (learning how to juggle 3 balls) and intermediates (improving their skills, learning new tricks).

So... when comparing tennis and juggling, my performing was better with tennis, and my teaching was better with juggling.

more – I've written another section (that overall is better than this section) about these experiences in my page with stories.


Also, I could have been a much better basketball player.  But I only played every other year — in 8th, 10th and 12th grades, but not 7th, 9th, 11th when I didn't play much at all — and when I was playing, I failed (as with tennis) to have "the discipline that would have helped me become a better player... [with] productive practice, to focus on and improve every aspect of my game, including all details."

And I could have run a much faster mile.  My best time (5:04) came after only two weeks of light training, in the morning after 4 hours of sleep, on a cinder track, wearing lightweight hiking shoes with vibram soles, without performance-enhancing synchronous running with tempo-music.  And that summer I never again tried for a PR, when I could have run faster after more training (and more sleep) with better shoes on a better track, with better competition (and motivation) at a city All-Comer's Meet.  Much later, in my 50s & 60s, I realized the value of intensive training and of running with music, but then I was past my peak, so now I can only wonder “how much below 5:00 would my best time have been?” instead of knowing.  And because I never did it while I could have done it, I'll never run a mile in less than 5 minutes.    {also, I'll never know how fast I could have run the shorter distances of 400m, 200m, and 100m}

Similarly, there have been missed opportunities for “doing it better” in other sports, and (more important) in other areas of life.


Spectator Sports  (Part 2)

I watched the first X-Games in 1995 on TV, continue to be amazed by what these athletes are able to do in a wide variety of x-game sports, and also in the x-type sport of Barefoot Water Skiing with a friend who wrote articles (for Athleta) about overcoming injuries while performing at a world-class level with skills in slalom & tricks & jump;

I saw combat juggling in its early days, with informal multi-person battles (if you drop you're out, until one still juggles) at festivals of the International Juggling Association that I attended six times from 1979 to 1986, and again in 2000 when it was conveniently in my hometown of Madison;  since then Combat Juggling has become highly developed, along with other sports, e.g. at SkillCon where in Moxie Games my favorite is Headis (see its best with top 10 plays and an awesome point);  also top 10 plays in spikeball & pickle ball & racketball rallies & .    {my adventures with do-it-yourself juggling as a learner and teacher - youtube videos of my juggling & cute dog}

My favorite bicycle racing event, the biggest and best, was the Tour de France (especially during its Soap Opera of the 1980's that included my bike-racing hero, Greg LeMond, plus Bernard Hinault & Laurent Fignon and others).  But I must say "my favorite... WAS" (not IS) because I became disillusioned after the tragic drama (thrilling yet sad) of Floyd Landis in 1986.  And I have mixed feelings about Lance Armstrong, a courageous hero who was flawed, especially in his less-than-loving treatment of other people.  He was heroic in winning his epic battle with a strong cancer (spread throughout his body) that would have killed most people, but not Lance.  Then even after cancer he would have been among the best in a “fair contest” with nobody using drugs.  Well, he might have been the best, but we'll never know, because a “fair contest, without drugs” never happened, was impossible, instead we got the pseudo-fair contests that began in the early-1990s, when everybody was forced to use drugs (especially EPO) if they wanted to win.   /   a mixed legacy:  Lance Armstrong deserves our respect because he was one of the best riders of all time, and was a heroic survivor of cancer, despite his clearly-observed (and eventually self-acknowledged) character flaws.

Once when my father and I were watching a bullriding championship, with skillful actions by bulls & riders, we both simultaneously laughed when a bull-athlete did an unusually amazing move (maybe it “stumble-hopped” sideways? or something like that) as in amusing bullriding.

The first time I saw whitewater Canoe Slalom at the 1996 Olympics, my feeling was “wow” for their sport that, like most other things in life, requires (to do it well) skillful planning that includes planning to improvise.


I.O.U. –  In 2018 this page was revised by combining information from "younger Satchel Paige Age" with the original content of this page.  Due to this combining, currently there are some duplications that eventually (iou) will be eliminated by removing them from one of the pages.


Doing Distance

In July 1993, visiting Seattle when I was 35, an uncle (who was a long-distance runner) showed me his drawer of “running event” shirts, and he said I could take any I wanted.  I chose a shirt with beautiful Seattle scenes (Space Needle, Mt Rainier,...) in bright colors.  But it said "Seattle Half-Marathon Finisher" and I decided to not wear it until I had finished a half-marathon, so (after a couple of 5-mile training runs) I ran the 13.1 miles in December 1993 (in Madison with 118 laps around the 1/9 mile indoor track of my second UW) and it was fairly easy (at 8:24-mile pace, with plenty of energy left at the end, running the last mile in 7 minutes) and then I could wear the shirt without being a liar.     { My second half-marathon, and probably my last, was in 2008 and was more difficult. }


In 1997 when I was 49, a friend ran the Madison Marathon, and I thought “probably I will never RUN that far,”* but wondered if I could “ROW” a marathon on the rowing machines (Concept2) at U of Wisconsin.  After a couple of weeks with extra training I did this in less than 3 hours (pace = 2:07), not counting four 5-minute breaks, one after each 10 k.     {* I'm fairly sure I'll never run 26.2 miles, or even 13.1 again, unless I must travel that long distance and my only option is running. }

A couple of weeks later I rode a 104-miler on bicycle, averaging 16 miles/hour on my mountain bike, not counting two 20-minute rest breaks.

Due to this training I had excellent endurance so I thought “why not try for a 6-minute mile again” (my last had been in 1992 without any training except running up Bascom Hill three times a week for a class, I just went to the track and ran it) and I would have made this goal (my first try was 6:14 and with a little running practice plus more effort during the mile, I'm sure it would have been easy to cut 14 seconds).  But the same day I continued running with a few fast 50m intervals for speedwork, and I was stupid (sitting down between runs, instead of walking & stretching) and my legs were in good shape for rowing and biking but not for fast running with cooled-down un-stretched muscles, and I pulled a hamstring muscle.   :<(


Four years later in 2001, I tried again but didn't have a solid foundation of endurance work (as in 1997), was older, and I couldn't do it.  Sigh.  Within a couple of weeks I was down to 6:31 and was continually getting faster, but I decided it would be difficult (maybe impossible) to cut 32 seconds, and I wasn't motivated to pursue it further.

I tried again in 2004, just to see how low I could go (I knew it wouldn't be under 6 minutes) and after two weeks of training it was below 7:00, then the next few runs (after I began running speed-miles) got faster & faster down to 6:35, but then I took a trip and this put an end to the training.


[ note: between 1989 and 2007, all of my timed runs were on indoor tracks, either banked 1/9 mile (1992-93) or unbanked 1/8 mile (200m, 1997 & later)] and this automatically reduces speed because the same muscles must be used for running and for changing direction while running the curves.  This is why indoor small-track speeds are always slower, for all runners at all distances that require running curves, which is anything more than 60m. ]

Later, my goals were for...

everyday running:  In summer 2007 my goals were practical — to make it through a 4-week trip in Europe with lots of walking and running, without injury or a loss of physical & mental energy — and pre-trip training (by riding fast up hills on bike, along with running, ankle strengthening exercises,...) helped make the trip a great adventure.  Then for awhile I had goals for...


running far:  In summer 2008, when I was 60 (an ending-with-zero birthday, and thus more symbolic) two non-practical goals — just “why not see if I can do it” — were a 7-minute mile and my second half marathon.  After some training and losing weight (15 pounds) and learning techniques to improve efficiency (like running smoothly at a faster step-tempo to avoid overstriding), I gradually increased speed and (with a few 3-mile runs) endurance.  3 months later I had achieved both goals, running a 6:57 mile plus a half marathon — which was much more difficult than in 1993, even though my pace was much slower (8:24 in 1993, versus 9:59 in 2008 until a calf cramp after 11 miles → walking to the finish) and in 2008 it was on UW's 400m outdoor track, instead of the slower 195m indoor track used in 1993.

Unfortunately, I had not yet begun running with tempo-music (which helps improve running technique, efficiency, psychology, and performance) and this absence — plus (more important) not doing another 2 months of training!  and not losing another 10 pounds, down to 145 pounds that I was 2 years later — would have made the half-marathon run easier & more fun & faster, and it might have dropped my mile-time by 30 seconds.


running fast, with speed:  Then I got bored with running far, and in the long run it's tough on the body, on joints-back-etc.  So in 2009, I began to focus on the joy of running fast.  I was sad about my slowdown (like my best mile going from 5 minutes to 7 minutes) and thought “maybe I can run a 5-minute mile again (as in my younger days - potentially, and almost in reality) if I do it in parts.”  So I decided to cheat (by running a mile in “wind sprints” of 200 m, with 5-minute rests between each part) and train for speed & endurance, both on the track and (with cross-training) by riding a bicycle in fast sprints up the Monroe Street Hill.  May 1, my first attempt at running .994 mile in 8 sprints (each 200m, on UW's 200m indoor track) was 4:55, achieving my goal.  A week later I was faster, running 200m in 34 seconds — well, it feels fast for my age, and I would finish only 70m behind Usain Bolt! (and 35m behind myself at age 25)   Then I thought “maybe I can run a 6-minute mile in quarters (4 x 400m, plus 9m) with resting” and a week later I ran 5:30 on the same indoor track, with the first 400m in 78 seconds.  In mid-May, after the “mile in parts” runs, my goals became practical again;  because I would be visiting hot places (4 weeks in Southern California and Southern Texas) I mainly trained for heat tolerance by working out (with rowing & running & uphill biking) in hot weather while wearing 3-5 nylon windbreakers (and drinking plenty of water), continuing the annual heat training I began in May 1995 for a summer that became (in July & August) the hottest-ever in Madison.

running faster, with more speed:  A couple of months after my trips (to CA, TX, MA), in September-October 2009 for some reason I was running faster (mostly it was just trying to run faster for a single all-out sprint, instead of pacing myself for 8 sprints) and my times dropped to under 31 s (for 200m on UW's outdoor 400-m track) and 73 s (for 400m on UW's indoor 200m track).


And then a goal-shift to basic health:  In 2010, I returned to training for physical fitness — by stretching, lifting, rowing, biking, and “mixed runs” that were less intensive (i.e. not aiming for PR's) to maintain speed & endurance, plus good nutrition and sleeping — with a goal of being healthy and energetic, prepared for continuing to live with vigor.  This focus on health has continued thru 2022.


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