18' 1" Olympic Trials 2008

18' 1" Olympic Trials 2008

Thursday, June 30, 2011

A Successful Day

So to be honest, the loss of my dog is still ripping me apart. What a pussy I am, I know. But I like to be honest and you may as well know how I really feel. It's funny how unimportant my failed performance at the US championships has become compared to his departure. 
I have been trying to find better way's of distracting myself than the traditional Irish methods that came so natural to me after it all happened. Bikes are good, disc golf is better, and pole vault, in the right atmosphere, perfect. So today i decided to jump. I have been keeping my regiment very constructive and precise. To be honest it was starting to get a little wearing. Now that USA's are over, I feel like I deserve to have a little more fun doing my favorite thing. So today my goal for the session, was not to have a goal. Which sounds contrary to the previously stated idea, but it makes sense in my minds strange form of reality. I wasn't going there to get a lot of work done, I was going to have a good time. I planned on it feeling like a day at the park, not a day at the office. It was something close to that, but was also a struggle at times. My body and mind are not near as sharp as they were 4 days ago. 
To some, this may sound silly, and it has been done by many. 
By having no goal in mind before the session started, I achieved a small lifetime goal anyway. I cleared a 17' bar jumping on a 15' pole. There are probably people out there that can do this any day of the week. But I've never had the opportunity or access to a 15' pole big enough to pop me over such a height, and maybe it's just that I'm not technically good enough. Today I was having a terrible session, and after reducing my pole size again and again in order to make the pit, I found myself on one of my favorite old 15' poles that I have had many a great session on in the past. After taking a few mediocre jumps on it, I threw a bar up at 17' thinking what the hell, I've probably taken over 100 attempts at this height in my career possibly on this same 15' pole and failed, but I just might make it today. First attempt, popped right over the bar. It was awesome. I needed a small victory like that so bad, so bad that it's hard to put into words, cause right now it seems like the universe has just decided to take a massive dump on me. But that's not forward thinking, and it's a waste of my time and energy. 

Another funny thing, and it's probably silly to you, but it put a big smile on my face. You know those weird metal puzzles that come in the form of hoops, horseshoes, rings, chains, etc.? Well I knock those things out like nobodies business. My girlfriend, who is so amazing, went out and found the level 8, 2010, hardest puzzle they have made to date. I sat down and solved that bad boy in 4 minutes tonight, and returned it to its original state mind you, which is half the battle sometimes. 
My body hurts, my heart aches, my mental health is lacking, and I was still capable of what I consider cool achievements in one day. Imagine what I can do without all this fucking adversity that keeps getting thrown at me. Just imagine that, cause I'm trying. And maybe it's the adversity that brings out the success, but that is a topic for another day.
So yes, today, it was a better day. Small victories lead too not only short term happiness, but the important addition of necessary confidence in the pursuit of long term goals and accomplishments. 

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

USA's Afterthoughts

So I'm still pretty upset about my dog being gone, but I feel bad leaving my last post on a negative note. Needless to say a no height at the US Championships doesn't sound real positive either, but I'd like to tell you why it was.
For starters, I qualified. That fact alone is very promising and meaningful. There are many athletes out there working there tails off everyday who did not make the cut and being able to go there and compete is something very special.
Second thing was, and I hope I don't offend any of my friends by saying this, but I didn't feel out classed that day. Sometimes when you go to these larger meet you look around and think, I can't compete with these guys. But I didn't feel that way at all. The only exceptions that were in mind, and this is just on the day mind you not based on anyone's entire career, Brad Walker and Jeremy Scott looked like they were on a whole different level than the rest of us. The results may not have shown it, but those guys looked impressive. Getting back to my point, I felt like I was right in the mix of that group and could have walked away in a great position. I didn't, but the feelings of confidence and belonging remain.
Its was also a learning day. I wish I could have learned at a competition with less stakes, but I still took a lot away from it that I plan to carry into my coming street meets and the Olympic Trials.
The meet also acted as a motivator. I was already motivated, so i guess a better way of putting it is that it made me hungry. I'm hungry to compete again, not just for height, but for the win. Before my dog left me I was very focused and excited about an opportunity to compete again. The feeling is fighting it's way back, but it may take a few more days. Regardless of that, I feel like I'm about to turn that corner in journey back, where I surpass my former self and become an even greater athlete than I ever was.

Upcoming events

River Vault, La Crosse WI
Gill Factory Vault, Champagne IL
PVX, St. Charles MO
Cave Vault, Crystal City MO
Jumping and Jammin, Henderson KY
Pueblo State Fair, Pueblo CO

Monday, June 27, 2011

USA's Ain't Shit

Well I had all kinds of great things to say about USA's. I came home this morning from the red eye and my dog was acting strange. Long story short, he's gone, and suddenly USA's doesn't mean shit. I love and miss that dog so much. He was my son. And an NH at the US championship means nothing. If your interested here is where i'm at. If your not interested I understand.

Mans best friend. That is what modern society calls the dog. Rocco always meant so much more to me than a friend. He was my son. I already miss him so much. Maybe sitting with him while his light went out was a mistake. But I wasn’t going to let him leave this world alone. Brittany and I held him tight and caressed his neck as his eyes slowly closed. Defiant to the bitter end, just like his friends and family. No words needed to be spoken; no words can describe our bond. He knew.
My Son, he had four legs, but he was blood to me. I would have jumped in front of bullet for that dog. I would have fought a mob to protect him, kicked, punched or maimed any man or animal that threatened him. But today, I was helpless. Nature decided that it was his time. Modern medicine was no match for the damage his body had acquired. A strong dog, he has most likely had cancer for some time, and at 8 years of age continued to run around like a 2 year old dog. Towing me on my long board, chasing me on my bike, running with me in the morning, and wrestling with me for hours, no one knew that he was dying on the inside.
A massive tumor in his stomach had spread to his lungs and around his heart. At some point this morning his spleen ruptured causing him great pain and pouring blood into his abdomen. At first he seemed sick, then he was paralyzed. We took him in and I would have paid any amount of money to keep him alive, but the vet said there was no hope. They could stabilize him for a few more days if we wanted to spend some more time with him. It sounded like a selfish act to me. Why keep a friend alive who is in pain and dying. Help them along on there journey, let him sleep. It was the hardest decision I have ever had to make, and I am so heartbroken I can’t describe.
Rocco lived an amazing life. He learned how to swim in the Colorado River. He could climb up rocks better than most people. Scaring many a friend and family member with his antics in The City of Rocks, Moab Utah, Red Rocks Nevada, Massacre Rocks Idaho, Logan Canyon UT, Little Cottonwood Ut, Donner Summit Ca, Bowman Lake CA, Grouse Ridge CA, the many walls of Pocatello and more that I’m forgetting, many more. I’m sure RD will have more to add, as his adventures with Rocco have been wild enough to scare the likes of most.
He ran down bike trails, in Idaho, Utah, California, Nevada and Minnesota.
As a young pup he chased and despised children, thinking they were some kind of threatening animal, and it wasn’t until he met my niece Cassidy Parrett that he learned to love the youth. She molded him into a better dog, and after that you could leave him alone with any child, anywhere. An amazing, trustworthy dog, he was loved by many. And will be greatly missed.
 The memories of his life are different for us all. An orphan at times because of my athletic career, his family was vast. All of you reading this probably have a great story to tell about Rocco. Please feel free to share and post.
I myself don’t have a favorite story that comes to mind. I have seen him do amazing things and I love him a great deal. Today is hard, and I hope to share more later. But for now, I leave it to you.
I miss and love you Rocco. A toast to you my son.
Tomorrow, Tuesday the 28th of June I will raise my glass in a moment of silence at 11pm Central time, 10 Mountain Time, and 9 Pacific time. Please join me in this toast to remember a dog who was more than a dog, he was family.  

More to come.........

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Focused on Eugene

Off to the show. My flight leaves in two hours and I'm feeling close to ill. It's been awhile since I have felt nerves this early before a competition. It feels good. In the past I have normally fed off it, and I intent to now. Physically I am having a few small issues, but mentally I feel extremely focused and confident.
My last session was not record breaking, but it told me everything I needed to know for when I set foot on historical Hayward Field. Technically 2 things need to be burned into my brain, as I have been visualizing them all day for the last week. Thinking, seeing, and feeling what I need to do. Eyes shut, eyes open, it's there. Emotionally I need to stay calm on the runway. Each clearance over a bar will bring me overwhelming joy and I need to keep it at bay. If I get too excited I struggle to stay focused. Become a robot, no thought, no feeling, no emotion, just purpose, direction, objective. Each moment that passes, as the meet grows closer, all shreds of doubt and fear are leaving my body with every breath.
I can....

Sunday, June 19, 2011

The Right Side of a Gamble

Thank you to everyone who donated to the t-shirt fund and helped spread the word. I got such an amazing response. I still have 55 shirts left but I have raised enough money to cover the cost of the shirts and my plane ticket. This is fantastic! I still have a hard time believing that it worked out so well.
Doing camps and clinics throughout my career, to try and raise money for travels and expenses, I always knocked the t-shirt idea. It seems like every time you attempt to bring t-shirts into the equation you lose money on them. To many of the wrong size, not enough people showed up, the price of the camp doesn't cover the cost, the shirts arrive after the clinic is over, etc. It's always such a pain. After we got such a great response from the shirts in Reno, that paid for a injection in my back, I was hoping that I could get it to work again. It was a gamble of $1,000, so I was sweating that part a great deal, but it paid off.
The shirts have arrived much earlier than expected and I will start mailing them out Monday. I'm hoping that they will reach people in time so they can where them the weekend of the US championships, whether they attend the meet or not, I just think it would be really awesome for a bunch of different reasons. 
Thank you again to everyone, for supporting me, and believing in me. This last year has seemed so surreal.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Fund Raising For USA's

So being an athlete in the US is rough. I guess this year USATF decided that they are only going to allocate travel funds to the top 4 qualifiers in each event and/or the top 4 finishers. Basically the people that can already afford the cost of the trip or will most likely be taken care of by someone else. That is the way of the world in track and field.
The great thing about Eugene is that you can't fly poles into there little airport and it is fortune to fly in there regardless. So I'm flying to Portland, renting a car, driving to Eugene, and shipping my poles separate.
Currently I have in my bank account
Checking:  $5.59
Savings:  $378.87
Credit Card Balance Outstanding: $4,501.35

I'm in big trouble for money and I don't like asking for help. I have heard people talk before about how if your not jumping high enough to win the meet its not worth the cost of going. I disagree, the memories and experience you gain from a USA Championship are priceless, and the debt of going may hang over your head for years to come, but its worth it. You have to try and think about the upcoming years of your life. Do you really think that you will look back and say, "good thing I saved that $2,000 dollars by not going to the USA Track and Field Championships, and passed up on the opportunity to possibly make the World Championship Team." Hell no your going to say that. Your going to say "I'm an idiot for not giving it my best shot when I had the chance." That's why I am going to borrow all the money I need to go compete in this meet. I'm going to rest and train my best so that I can go there fresh, take big risks, and hopefully walk away with a great memory that will last me a lifetime.

But I'm also trying to plan it out the best I can. Jamie Steffen with Fuzion Athletics is fronting me the travel funding out his personal account with the hope of getting it back in time. So I came up with a plan, it may fail, but its worth a shot. An awesome former track athlete with a t-shirt company is going to sell me 100 t-shirts at his cost of $10 per shirt supporting my cause. So I'm putting $1,000 more on the old credit card in hopes that people will buy them knowing the money will go directly into paying my travel to the USA Championships and cover the cost of the shirts.
Here is exactly what they will look like. I'm doing them in Blue, Orange, and Pink.
The order went out as follows
Small       10-Blue, 15-Pink
Medium   10-Blue, 15-Pink
Large       10-Blue, 15-Orange
XL           10-Blue, 15-Orange
That's all I'm getting for now. They will go out first come first serve. Donate $30 or more to my Donation button on the Blog, then email me at paullitchfieldisu@gmail.com your name and mailing address and I will autograph them and mail them out myself. My order is supposed to be in by next week sometime, so I will probably be mailing them all out after the US Championship upon my return to Minnesota. Thank you so much for your support whether you donate or not.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Video 18'1" 5.51m

Here is the video. Thanks to Jim and Brit for the footage.
You can pick apart this jump all day. I am far from the standard model of proper pole vault technique. I spent years trying to change my vault to look the way the vault community claims is the best and most efficient way, and nothing good ever came of it. Now I am just going to jump the way I know how, the way that has always put me the highest in the air. It may look funny to you, but it works best for me. I only have so many vaults left, and I'm going to use them to go as high as possible, not look pretty doing it.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

My Emotional Day 5.51m 18'1"

I've been trying to post the video over and over, but I have failed. All this technology is not so impressive at times. I will continue to try and get it posted.

Fuzion Spring Series Meet #9
5.51m 18'1"

What a crazy week. My body is telling me that it needs a vacation, but that rest period was unavailable. Skipping over the why, I must say that Wednesdays competition was more than satisfying. After making 5.51 I spent the next 24 hours fighting back tears. It is still an overwhelming feeling of joy knowing that I have been able to scrape my way back to a height that is admirable, after I was told to give up on the idea of vaulting ever again.
Growing up I was never very good at doing what I was told, and usually if I was told not do something, I wanted to do it even more. I'm glad a part of that personality characteristic has stood fast this far into my journey. Without it, none of this would have been possible.
Also something that you should probably know is that I haven't jumped a bar over 18' in competition since the  2008 Olympic Trials Prelim. So I was just shy of a full 3 years with no 18' jumps that counted.  Knowing that,  I still managed to press on, and I intend to jump much higher in the near future, all things considered.
Never give up on your dreams.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

A Personal Note

The previous week I was so thankful to have my good friends and former athletes in town to visit. Sam and Emmy. They didn't have the best week of vaulting, but we certainly had plenty of fun while they were here.
It made me remember that there are so many things I miss about Idaho. I miss the biking, the rock climbing, the mountains and the vast open spaces. But I can handle being away from all of that. What I'm still having a hard time with, is being away from my family and friends. It gets hard at times for Britney and I not to have that entire psychological and emotional support system at our full disposal. Phones and internet only get you so far in this accelerated age of telecommunication. Once you build a real network of positive energy and love like that, you don't understand how magical it really is until its gone.
As I grew older I don't know if it's me doing it, or some higher power. But I have always surrounded myself or been surrounded by the finest people, and I miss every single one of them when they are gone. Each time someone is removed from the dynamic it hurts in a way, and this time I removed myself. I can remember feeling similar to this when I moved to Idaho from California all alone, but I knew then that I had made the right decision no matter how hard it was, and i think that I have now as well. But that knowledge doesn't always make it easier.
That hole in my life drives me to succeed, but can sometimes make the rainy days seem a little gloomier.
The brighter side is, as always, I have already been surrounded by an extraordinary group of people out here. And they help remind me that everything in life always has a funny way of working out.

Another 5.41m

Fuzion Spring Series #8
5.41m 17'9"

Its nice to have another meet over 5.41m. I am being more consistent over a bar that seemed out of reach months ago. The down side is, I'm being more consistent at 5.51m, and it is poor consistency. I made the same mistakes in this meet that I made in the last one. This was quite a let down, but I'm hanging onto the positive note that I jumped another 5.41 and 5.51 should be easy as long as I pull my head out of my ..... Which I will. I actually felt something in my vault over 5.41 that I haven't felt in a long time. The strongest technical point in my jump in the past that somehow got lost or faded away as the years have all blended together. It was a great feeling and I intend to hang onto it. With that piece of the puzzle put back in its rightful place, I know I can jump a new lifetime best and perform at the high caliber level i'm working towards.
In the meantime I intend to rest. The last string of meets were in tight intervals, and my body aches. It will be nice to give it some down time for healing, and not just physically. 2 days off and a few in the pool, and I just might be able to give people something to talk about.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Slimming Results

Fuzion Meet#1
5.06m 16'7"
Fuzion Meet#2
5.30m 17'4.5"
Fuzion Meet#3
Fuzion Meet#4
5.32m 17'5"
Fuzion Meet #5
5.41m 17'9"
Fuzion Meet#6
5.31m 17'5"
Fuzion Meet #7
5.21m 17'1"

So my performances have been dropping off a bit. Mentally it's been difficult to get confidence coming into a competition with the amount of tightness I'm experiencing in the muscles in my lower back. Whatever it was that triggered this muscle spasm last Sunday, it has decided to stick around and give me hell this week. Standing for long periods and walking have become more problematic than normal.  I have been doing a lot of jumping in a short period and I was expecting problems so it's no surprise. After a day of rest, relaxation, heat, stretching, ice, etc, I am feeling more confident about the competition tonight with a plan in mind that will work. I'm off to the building in an hour to get some quality work done.
More to come soon.