18' 1" Olympic Trials 2008

18' 1" Olympic Trials 2008

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Video of my Christmas session

So I've been feeling good this week, and Christmas was a little dull sitting around at home alone while my girlfriend was at work. I decided that it was about time to try vaulting again. Also since the facility was most likely empty for the holiday, I figured, I could get away with an extravagant warm up. Didn't plan to jump on these things at first, but it just worked out that way. It was a lot of fun, and it was extremely easy  to swing upside down once I got the skates off. After cutting the session short yesterday, to be safe, I felt great last night and this morning. Hoping I will be able to do again soon and gradually push a bit more each week leading up to Reno and possibly make an athletic appearance.
Hope you enjoy the video. Merry Christmas.

Saturday, December 25, 2010


All i want for christmas are my two front teeth.....
Or a spine. Take your pick. It actually would have to be a few teeth in the back of my mouth. That's where the attention is needed these days.
But now I know how that kid without teeth feels. I'm a vaulter without the vault, and the jumps just haven't grown back, no matter how hard I try. Maybe I'll write a catchy song about it. That's probably a bad plan. However my back has been feeling rather good lately, extremely good actually. I've been testing it with strain that would normally leave its mark, and i have been coming out on top. The good christmas spirit of Old St. Nielsen left me the keys to the track. So guess who gets to jump for christmas. This guy. Merry Christmas everyone.

PS- I can vault over your christmas tree.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Benefiting from Insomnia

Insomnia is something that almost everyone gets the joy to experience at some point in there lives. I've often thought in athletes it comes from a lack of exercise. If you are resting or tapering your training for a meet, your body isn't worn down from the regular hard day of exertion. Sometimes I feel that athletes confuse this extra energy at night, with the nervousness associated with what one could call pre-competition jidders. And they very well could be right. I know I've spent countless nights staring at foreign ceilings anxious to see what the next days event had in store. Looking back now I always thought it was the unrelenting race of thoughts and ruckus of my mind that kept me awake. But maybe it was just a mere lack of exercise that allowed my brain to run wild. Whatever the case, with this injury i can only do so much training. I can only ride the bike so many days in a row before i want to pull my own hair out in handfuls. Those of you reading who have been condemned to the stationary bike know exactly what I mean. Some days you just can't force yourself onto that saddle. I sneak in my running days here and there, and even a quick vault session from time to time but its nothing close to what I used to be able to do. Therefore, lack of exercise, lack of sleep. I'm wired from years of hard training, to be tired at night from conditioning, without that conditioning, the sleep doesn't come so easy. Granted, I am up for other reasons at times. The pain in my back does keep me up some nights still, not my back so much anymore, but that dam sciatic nerve. Nights like tonight, a nice little fire in my upper glute. So i hang out in my cold living room alone stretching, strengthening, and attacking trigger points in my back and legs. Then I break out the ice pack, lay flat on the ground, prop my legs up on the old chair and meditate until the nerves settle down. Its a common routine, but it works, and sometimes I'm grateful for the pain, because without it, I wouldn't take the time to meditate. My mind drifts off to amazing places, some from the past and some for the future. As complicated as life gets, its in those moments I see how simple it really is. Just do what makes you happy. Pretty basic, very cliché, but ultimately true. If your not happy, your not alive, your just another robot. A machine programmed by society to go through the motions and standard procedures with a plastic smile. Don't let them tell you when to smile, go find it for yourself.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

That 50 Percent

After a tough year of vaulting, a serious injury, and a home meet scheduled on the same weekend as The Reno Pole Vault Summit, this looked to be the first year that I would not attend the event in the last decade. Sad to say, but it seemed only logical. Lat week an organizer called me and convinced me to come. I told him I would most likely not be competing, although the idea of being a part of an event with that much energy, possibly for the last time, is very appealing, regardless of the outcome. He then went on to tell me that I should represent myself there not only as an athlete but as a coach. I was very flattered by this and it made me realize that I do want to remain heavily involved in this sport after i retire the tuxedo. I feel like I can be a huge help to athletes of all ages but mostly those trying to make the taxing transition from college to professional vaulting. I would say over the years I've seen something like 50 percent of elite college vaulters slip through the cracks there first year out of school and then disappear never to be seen or heard from again. Its that 50 percent that I'll be going after. They need help on the journey, just like I did. I look back and can't believe how far I went with a measly personal best of 5.60m (18'4.5"). I got to compete at the Olympic trials, travel to Africa, Europe, Taiwan, meet amazing people, and go on crazy adventures. Part of it was luck, part of it was drive, and a huge part of it was the support I gained from people around me. I want to become that support system for someone else, even if its only 1 person. I look at my athletes at ISU who plan on continuing there careers out of college and see the many hardships that lie ahead of them. Money, insurance, injuries, travel issues, mark chasing, social pressures of conformity, slipping out of the job market with a college degree in your pocket. I'm constantly trying to think of ways i can help them when they are done, and I intend to implement as many as possible in the future.
Right now my life does revolve around an injury. And i intend to compete again someday. But I do constantly think about the next generation.
So yes I will be going to Reno this year, but not for me, for them. And hopefully I'm not completely full of shit, and have something to offer.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

A set back is a step forward

So after my burst of motivation and energy I find myself limping around the house, moaning and groaning when I sit down or stand up. Waking up to muscle soreness that......well you get the idea. Just because I could jump again I thought I could do all the stuff I stopped doing (all together in about 3 days). And now I'm paying for it. I thought I had it all figured out in the weight room as far as keeping my body sharp. Turns out, there are a lot of areas that you just can't train without some good old fashion hard sprinting. The back hurts a bit which was to be expected, but that shouldn't slow me down. However I'm experience a strange tingle in my left quad that is bordering numbness. Before I push it that far I decided to shut it down. Shut it all down. Not knowing exactly which returning exercise has irritated that particular nerve stem I have to back off of everything until it feels normal again. As hard as it is with the fresh taste of vaulting in my mouth, its the smart thing to do, and that's who I have to be now. When it returns to normal I can pick apart those days, splitting up the new training items, and if the problem returns it will be much easier to decipher the cause. Like I've said before, guess and check. Each week I learn something new that is ultimately helping me in the larger scheme of things. I've already got a dam good idea of what it was though, and I'm pretty sure its not from the vault. Obviously I'm biased, but we'll see. 

I realize now that I will never be the athlete that I once was. I will never be able to do heavy squats, cleans, jerks, snatch's, or lunges again. I will never be able to pound away at the ground with plyometric training like I once could. I will never be able to block my left leg into the ground at high speeds to launch over a high jump bar or to wing a javelin with a violent roar.
Well the list goes on. And i don't want you to think I'm rambling on about what I've lost or this is some weak aim at your sympathy. Because honestly, I got my chance to do all those things, and I went for it, and I enjoyed it. But none of those things hold a candle to the vault, and are not an absolute necessity for success in the event. And if I can find a way to continue to vault, that's all that matters.
Because I can't train like I did in the past, does that mean I will never jump as high? No it doesn't. I think that I can still have a lifetime best, its just going to be a little more difficult with what I have to work with now. Before I was getting by with athletic ability, the guts of a hard worker, and balls of steel. And that was fine. Now the game has changed. I have to train smarter than ever. I have to be more humble than ever. I have to become emotionally disconnected from all new obstacles thrown in my path. And most of all continue to learn and grow stronger from it.

Short term failure is just fuel for long term success.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Snap, Crackle, Jump. That's right, I jumped.

On July 31st 2010, my left leg went numb, graciously handing me a "No Height" at what could have possibly been my final competition as a professional pole vaulter. On Saturday December 4th 2010 I stepped on the runway for the first time since that crushing day. After a chiropractic adjustment Friday to my upper back the wave of pain relief was inspiring. Changes in therapy and training over the past few weeks have led me to believe that my lower back is now healthy and strong enough to plant a vaulting pole once again. I put a cap on my jumps, 3 was to be the maximum, then the assessment of pain levels throughout the next 24 hours would be the dynamic that guides me to the following week. 3 jumps I took, from 10 steps on 15' poles. They weren't the prettiest, or highest, or inspiring, but it was me in the air once again. The results are in, no change in pain, no sleepless night, no numbness in the leg. A serious overpowering hunger for more? Check.
I know what your thinking, he's going to hurt himself again. You may be right, but if you think that's the case because I'm going to push myself to hard, to soon, then you are wrong. I've invested far to much time, energy, resources, and emotion to throw it all away for one hint of success. I'm going to continue to take my time, listen to my body, and remain on task. Because my health is still more important than my height in the air. Yes there is a degree of peril, but there is for every vaulter. Those of us who minimize it, carry on. I know my body better than any doctor, and I plan to take care of it. But without great risk, there cannot be great reward.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Injury do to Injury

I've found in times in my career injuries tend to draw in more injuries. It's like the universe knows you have one, so its sends you a few more. Maybe its to get them all knocked out at once. Maybe its to kick you while your down. Maybe its to give a true test, pushing you into a greater depth of dedication. Far beyond what you knew you were capable of. Pass this test and future trials in life may seem minuscule. Fail and future obstacles may may become so overwhelming that giving up goes from being an option, to a normal occurrence.
How does this apply to me you might ask. Well about a month ago I felt a sharp pain at the top of my spine just below the neck. I've felt things like this before, so i ignored it, just as I ignored my lower back pain for several years. Being extremely upper body oriented in my training as of late, the new pain strengthened till one morning about a week ago, I woke up and realized it had become something I need to address. I'd rather not divulge all the details at the moment, honestly because I feel like a candy ass, but I'll just say it feels a lot like my lower back. Hoping that I'm overreacting, do to my sensitive nature on the subject of injuries lately, I'm adjusting my training once again. Extremely frustrated and angry I push forward. Not looking back and not looking ahead but taking every day as it comes.
There is a real son of a bitch attacking my thoughts, telling me that the injuries are related, and my spine may be done with this life. I fight him everyday and I'm still winning. The more limited I become, the stronger his voice gets. I keep telling him, sorry you cynical asshole, I'm not finished yet, so pipe down in there and let me do my thing.