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?”

Then the page continues with me optimistically under-estimating this Paige Age for myself, and describing 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 getting 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.


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.




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 — plus dancing (swing & waltz, free & contra,...) and sports (as spectator & participant).


spectator sports:  I enjoy occasionally watching everything from X-Games & combat juggling & bike racing & Olympics (at least a little of every event, summer and winter) to bullriding & whitewater kayak & drone racing.  Some of my favorites are NBA basketball (+ March Madness for college hoops), college football for their whole season (+ NFL during playoffs), and baseball in October.  Plus listening to sports-talk shows on radio and TV.


participation sports:  Beginning with Little League Baseball in 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 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 the title),  flag football (defensive halfback for intramural champs at U.C. Irvine, with a Nobel laureate on our team, the Chem Grads);  slowpitch softball (left field & center field, intramurals at UC Irvine and U of WA, plus a City League in Seattle).     /     Individually:  2nd in tennis and 1st in high jump (*) for City of Anaheim in high school;  in college, I was 2nd in handball (it's like racketball without the racket) in UCI Intramurals, then 2nd in tennis and won 6 of 8 matches with 2nd-placers from other UC Campuses in Berkeley, Los Angeles (UCLA), San Diego,...;  and later won an octathlon (UCI's 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 dancing-while-juggling and two jumps onto a 30" table) 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.

* During college I high-jumped 6' 7", but have regrets about this because (as explained below) I should have jumped higher, and 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,  I can only hope to slow down the rate of slowdown.


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 the mid-1970s 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 straddle and 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 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 & ballroom dancing.  I've been a teacher of tennis, juggling, and ballroom dancing, and also enjoy many other sports.  This fascination with mental-and-physical skills and fitness (with nutrition, exercise,...) helps explain why-and-how I'm writing this page.



Currently I'm focusing on CONTINUAL GOALS for PHYSICAL FITNESS with very little of the training (20% or less, maybe only 1%) 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, for (as a friend once described it) just my own self-amazement.  Here are some of my personal goals from the past.

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.

In the summers of 2008 and 2009 (age 60 and 61), I ran a mile in under 7 minutes, and then a half-marathon at 10 minutes/mile pace until calf cramps after Mile 11 forced me to walk the remaining 2 miles;  at a much faster pace, I ran 200 meters in under 31 seconds, and 400 meters in 73 seconds;  and, for a change of pace, I began riding a unicycle, 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 of riding a friend's unicycle more than 50 meters (did it three times, 55-75 meters) and survived the experience with no broken bones,   :<)

MORE about my Occasional Goals, especially for running, with one inspired by a shirt given to me by an uncle, "a shirt with beautiful Seattle scenes (Space Needle, Mt Rainier,...) in bright colors, that said Seattle Half-Marathon Finisher so I decided to not wear it until I had finished a half-marathon."


In July 1993, visiting Seattle when I was 35, an uncle 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. }


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.   :<(


A few years later in 2001, I tried again but didn't have the foundation of endurance work, 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 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 around 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, and performance) and this — plus another 2 months of training while losing another 10 pounds, down to 145 pounds that I was 2 years later (now I'm back to 160) — 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 a mile going from 5 minutes to 7 minutes) and thought “maybe I can run a 5-minute mile again (as in my younger days) 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 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 year later, in September/October 2009, for some reason I was running faster (part of 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” for 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 through 2018.


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.  That 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 400m}


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 got 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 rotating my head while watching, and 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 getting 2nd place in UCI Intramurals a year later.  Although sloppy footwork can be overcome with skillful arm motions in tennis, good footwork is essential in handball, so my footwork improved for handball, and this footwork quality carried over into tennis a couple of months later.  With better footwork – developed for handball and transfering 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) 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, 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) 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. {the story – in the context of education for changing different kinds of "ecology" — and some results}   /   Our coach also recommended changing my serve in a way that would have improved it.  In fact, when I tried it my serve did improve, immediately.  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.   :<(


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 two weeks of light training, in the morning after 4 hours of sleep, on a cinder track, wearing hiking shoes with vibram soles, without performance-enhancing tempo music.  Much later, in my 50s & 60s, I realized the value of intensive training, and now I can only wonder "how much below 5:00 would my best time have been?" instead of knowing.

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

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