18' 1" Olympic Trials 2008

18' 1" Olympic Trials 2008

Monday, May 30, 2011

Deviation Born of Hesitation

After a long 4 hour day of coaching solo on Sunday, my lower back locked up significantly. Climbing on and off the pit, putting up bars and bungees, and demonstrating technique, took its toll. For our competition, the runway opened for warm ups at and I finished coaching at . I hopped in my car and raced home to change clothes and put on my game face, then raced back. There was some false hope in the back of my mind that after my warm up I would be able to relax on the sidelines while other athletes jumped at lower heights, put my feet up and the pain and tension in my back would subside, but like I said, false hope.
 I managed to get off the ground a few times in warm ups and even pieced one or two jumps together that looked encouraging. But I was all over the place. Maintaining confidence I still had my sights set on clearing an 18'1" bar that would most likely be enough height to ensure me a spot on the runway at this years USA Outdoor Track and Field Championships. After making 17'1" with ease I still struggled to find some kind of rhythm and had to take 3 attempts in order to clear 17'5". Breathing heavily, and trying to revert my focus away from the group of muscles in my lower back, that felt something like quick drying cement, I passed the next height of 17’9”. This is a height that I have already cleared this season, and with a healthy body I wouldn’t mind popping over it again, but in my current state, at that particular moment, it didn’t seem logical. As results will show, I did not manage to get over 18’, and didn’t even get to have 1 good attempt at it. This was extremely frustrating to me but I only have myself to blame. I had 2 fantastic approaches and takeoffs only to be followed up by a cowards finish, in the act of preventing myself from swinging upside down. Dammit! It just didn’t feel right too me, but it was right. So Wednesday, before the competition starts, I’m going to peek in the front of my pants, make sure my balls are still there and turn every jump up that I plant. I will not walk out of that facility with regret. I hate regret, I don’t normally do it, and I felt it Sunday night. It pierces me now, like it pierced me then. Piss on regret, it’s not my style, and it shouldn't be yours. It's a word and feeling that should be stricken from existence.
Up to this point in the series, I have learned from every meet, and brought new knowledge and confidence to the following. This one felt different from the rest, but I still feel as if I learned something important. The previous competitions left me calm, focused and confident. This competition has left me pissed off, super focused, overly confident, and even more pissed off as this sentence goes on. I’m out for blood Wednesday and failure is my enemy.  

Friday, May 27, 2011

Getting Closer

Thursday 5/26 Fuzion Springs Series
5.41m (17'9")

Thursday I got out of bed tired, and remained that way all day. Tired, lathargic, and unmotivated. As crappy as I felt I still knew that I could preform well in the meet that coming evening. How you feel all day or even in warm ups has nothing to do with the way you are capable of performing. Every meet has taught me something different, something constructive to use for the following. I carry the knowledge with confidence for the few days between, knowing my plan for my next opportunity is sound. This meet was no different. I jumped higher once more, but not quite as high as I need. However, I walked away with another small scrap of invaluable knowledge that I feel can push me over that next height on Sunday.
I started the meet at 5.21m (17'1) and made the bar with ease on a first attempt, doing the same at 5.31m (17'5") and 5.41m (17'9"). 5.41 was a bar that had meaning to me, but I still stayed relaxed and treated it like any other height, this is why I cruised over it with ease. At 5.51m (18'1") I was overly excited and many things started changing, suddenly I was making errors and moves that were probably unnecessary and this is where I failed. The relaxed approach and jump from the previous bars, was the same jump I needed at this height, but my body and mind thought otherwise. Clouded by exiheration, barrelling down the runway like a freight trane, I was unsuccessful at clearing the bar. But I learned, and I retained, and I will be ready sunday.
The noteable thing about this competition is that the last time I cleared a competition bar over 5.40m was on the beach, in Seattle Washington, in July of 2008. Seems like a long time, but also seems silly. It's not that high, and it wasn't hard. So what was I doing for all those years? That question doesn't bother me at all, because whatever it was that held me back, I'm not doing it anymore, and that is what's important.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Hanging with the Champ

Thank you to Mark Hollis for the massive burst of inspiration.

What an awesome weekend. Having a bunch of great athletes and friends in town got me pretty excited. On Saturday everyone wanted to take a few jumps from a short run to get a feel for the facility and work out some kinks. I figured I would join in since it had been a week since I last jumped and I didn't want to pass up the opportunity to share a runway with 2-time US champ Mark Hollis. Seeing him smack the box with poles from a short run, that most vaulters couldn't handle from a competition run, was inspiring. It got me fired up and I decided to push things a little bit. Without being to technical, I was crushing poles from 10 steps (5 lefts) that I was using from my competition run a few months ago. It was exciting.
On Sunday we competed. Warm ups were a little shaky, but I don't invest a whole lot in that. Some of my best competition results came after some of the scariest warm ups ever. I started the meet on the pole that I finished the last meet on. I decided to open higher than normal because to be honest I was a little tired and sore from the previous day. So I started at 5.22m (17'1.5"). It took 3 attempts to figure it out but I managed to make the bar and continued on to make 5.32m (17'5"). At 5.42m I needed a bigger pole, which was great, and had one huge attempt height wise but still came down on the bar.
The result itself does not look all that great on paper but to me the day was a huge success. It's a 2011 and post diagnosis PR, I was on 2 poles bigger than I have jumped on this year, I was confident, I'm learning more with each session, and I was way the hell up in the air on one jump.
It's so inspiring to me, and the idea that I am capable of jumping a lifetime best after all that's happened is actually growing into more than just hope but reality.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Standing Tall

It' not something that I normally complain about, or even address. But sometimes ignoring things only amplifies them. I do have other injuries, some as old and as chronic as the one that was the catalyst for this blog. However none in my mind are near as serious. One of these injuries left to spoil, has become an issue. The great treatment and exercises laid out by my trainer and friend Alex have kept the beast at bay, but my other training keeps lighting it on fire. After a trip to the good Doc Smith on Tuesday of this week he viewed it as far enough gone to require an injection.
So the needle slid under the skin and muscle of my back once again, only this time about 12 inches higher. The instant relief I felt was border line euphoric, but the pain that followed within the short hours of the passing day was not so pleasing. The medicine is doing what it is supposed to do, and in order to allow it room to complete its job, I had to put my excitement aside for the Wednesday Fuzion competition and humbly admire my peers from the sidelines.
Each day that has flown by since the Friday the 13th competition a growing hunger and confidence has been radiating inside of me like a wild animal in a cage. I'm dying to let that monster out. I can't remember the last time I carried this kind of confidence. An indescribable energy that knows no bounds.
Until Sunday.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

What About Bob

Friday night I had the opportunity to jump once again. After competing in the meet Wednesday I had a much better idea what I was capable of doing, and walked into the Fuzion facility with a plan I was much more confident in. Only having jumped once since March my goal was to make a mere 17', and that would allow me to leave the competition happy and confident in the upcoming events. To my surprise I managed to make 17'4.5" instead. 
Now I'm not trying to brag about the height as it is lower than I have opened at many meets in the past. But its the highest bar I have made in a meet since my injury was diagnosed. So this is great progress and something to celebrate. There have been many days and nights during the past 9 months where I have started to lose hope, only for a moment of course, and doubt what I'm doing. Never the why, I never doubt the why, only the what. But small victories like these make it more than worth it. To quote the wise words of Bill Murry in What About Bob, "Baby Steps".
Something else that is for the pole vault minds out there. I started the meet on a 16.0 flex (190lb) 5m (16'4.5") pole and finished on a 15.4 flex (195lb) from a 14 step (7-left) approach. I haven't jumped on poles this size since July of 2010, and I was about 10 lbs heavier back then. So yet another exciting piece to the puzzle.
Its odd to me that I have been able to manage all this without any running or real lifting workouts in weeks as I had to put all that to rest for returning back pain and nerve issues. Spending my days running in a pool, sprinting on an elliptical, spinning full speed on a stationary bike, and only working out my upper body on the rings. I'm appalled at how well that regiment is actually carrying over. So to all you injured athletes listening, there is hope, and regardless of what others may say, there is more than one way to train and become a successful athlete. I will produce more evidence to support my argument soon.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

An 8 week Silence Creates an Hour of Noise

After 8 weeks off the runway I decided to step back on last night. We set up these spring series meets to help all us post collegiate poor folk out, and they crept up on me quick. I told myself, I may not be ready, but I can always warm up and see. I can't believe the series has started, which means the count down to The USA Championship has already begun. Wouldn't that be something, if I managed to qualify, after all that has gone on. I honestly don't believe its out of my reach to be there, and be a player. I haven't jumped in roughly 2 months and I figured, what the hell, I'll give it a shot. Not knowing what poles, grip, or approach I should go from. It was a fun guessing game, and I error-ed on the side of too soft of poles! This was a fantastic feeling. In warm ups I crushed poles from 12 steps that were too big for me from 14 steps in Reno back in January. and were about right from 18 steps in March! So I have to say HOLY SHIT! I'm excited. I only managed to make a humble opening bar of 16' then struggled from there on. But I learned a great deal about where I am at, and Friday in the Fuzion meet #2 I will have a far better prepared plan of attack that I am guessing will yield much greater results. Either way, I'm just ecstatic to be jumping again. Rock and Roll!