18' 1" Olympic Trials 2008

18' 1" Olympic Trials 2008

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

A Welcome Surprise + Video

This weekend was the 2011 Reno Pole Vault Summit. Easily the greatest pole vault event and gathering of like minded crazies in the world. Not having jumped for a few weeks, or run, or jogged. I decided to pack a random bag of poles, spikes, and uniform regardless. I told myself I would warm up and if I experienced too much pain, I would stop in my tracks. Not to mention the fact that I have only vaulted from a competition run 1 other time since mid-July. I had mixed predictions about it. I thought I could feed off the crowd and possibly be successful, but part of me kept saying, there is no way in hell you are physically able to compete. After a day of travel, a day of meetings and banquets, sitting, standing, talking and walking, my body was not exactly feeling up too the task. Sounds silly I know. Its not like I went out to the sierras and climbed a mountain, but it felt something like that. Friday evening finally came, and I had the honor to compete along side of some of the countries best.
This years summit format had what was called a Dark Horse section. A group of athletes that had the chance to compete in the main event, but needed to prove there worth. By making two heights, they would then be allowed to move 2 runways over to the main event, and compete against the best athletes attending the Summit. I was a Dark Horse.
I had a plan for the warm up that seemed logical. Do the least amount possible. I jogged for a few minutes, did a few strides, then stepped on the runway from a short approach (10 steps, skipping regular drills) took 2 jumps from there, moved back to a bit longer approach (14 steps) took a few jumps, then back to my full approach run (18 steps) and took a few jumps from there as well. Warm up over. I was already exhausted, but I was not experiencing much pain. I figured I came this far, so I might as well compete.
Now phase 2, don't make a complete fool of myself. Luckily I made 16'9" on my first attempt because I was breathing like I just ran the mile. I tried my best to stay relaxed and prepare for the next height, but I was beat and it showed. After missing my first 2 attempts at 17'1" I knew i had to muster up everything I had left to make it on my third attempt. And i did. That was the most exciting 17' bar I have made, since the first time I cleared the height to win the Big Sky Indoor Conference Championships at Idaho States own Holt arena in 2002.
Its hilarious even now, how much this bar meant to me, this weekend, because it is a height that used to be easy for me to clear from a run as short as 10 steps, and almost 8 steps. And I was jumping on a pole that I have used from 10steps, gripping a mere 15', and it still felt pretty big. (It was a 16' 195, 16.0 flex, for those of you pole buffs out there) Very small for an "elite" athlete. But it was the right tool for the job that day.
When I moved over to the Main Event pit, I was lucky to get some rest time, but it didn't help much. Normally I would keep moving around and do a good job of staying warm, but all I could do was lay down and try to recover. My legs were like Jello and it was all I could think about coming down the runway. I was basically being fueled by the crowd to jump, because my own internal sources of energy had been exhausted at this point. It's too bad I was unable to make 1 bar in the elite competition, but I got there, and that counted for something.
I can't remember the last time I was this sore from pole vault, maybe never. The next day when i woke up, i felt like someone pushed me down a flight of stairs. The good news is, my back didn't hurt any worse than the  week before, and sitting here now after a day of coaching and training, it feels better than it has since the turf incident.
Thank you to all the people behind the summit for another incredibly memorable and inspiring weekend. And thank you to Becca Gillespy Peter with Polevaultpower.com, Jamie Steffen with Fuzion Athletics and rentpoles.com, and Tri-Valley athletics, for all the continued support. I've said it before but I'll say it again. The Pole Vault community is something so special, standard words just can't really describe its pure awesomeness.

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