18' 1" Olympic Trials 2008

18' 1" Olympic Trials 2008

Friday, July 29, 2011

A "Full-time Athlete"

As a season progresses your training must taper off as an athlete in order to peak at the right time. When you practically compete year round, finding that peak point continues to be rather difficult. You have to decide when you think it should take place, months in advance. Then when it passes, for better or for worse, you are normally competing for several more weeks or even months. I tend to lose a great deal of weight during the tapering period, anywhere from 8 to 12 pounds. Losing that weight can give you confidence and take it away. "I'm ten pounds lighter so I should be able to get more pop out of the same poles." "I'm ten pounds lighter, so I must be weaker" These are just a few examples. But it is nice to be bigger. Not just the physical strength but the poise that comes along with it. You walk taller. I used to be 180-185 most of the year. Since I have been injured I have been between 170 and 175. When I returned from a training camp in South Africa in 2007 I was 195 lbs and 3% body fat. The biggest I have ever been, and it felt great. I felt so confident and powerful walking around, but the vault was not so great. I didn't know how to manage the strength. It only lasted a month anyway after my return home, as i quickly shed the pounds with the onslaught of work, coaching, and other life related stress that literally sucks the strength right out of you. Probably for the better though cause as the weight fell off, my results were higher as I jumped 5.55m by the end of the spring season before I tried to land on the standard and rip the insides of my left ankle and lower leg into fragments of what was once a beautifully operating piece of equipment. But I'm getting on a tangent again, and some misdirection, apologies. For 5.55m is meaningless when you think of 5.90m, which is what I thought I was capable of upon my return, and the size poles I was jumping on were big enough to do just that. The point I was getting at was, that when i was in Africa, I had no job, I had not a single responsibility outside of training and vaulting. I worked out twice a day, 7 days a week, including Christmas and new years. I ate right, and a lot, and I didn't have to pay for it. Eating healthy gets expensive.
 I remember asking myself, "is this how Olympic Athletes get so good? Is this the definition of a full-time athlete?" The light bulb was suddenly turned on. It made sense at the time, and I made a vow to myself to do my best to remain a full-time athlete upon my return to the US. Well, as you can guess, that never happened. Regular life took over once again, and the superior athlete, out of body experience, was soon over. Never again had I felt it, what I like to call  "full-time athlete". Recently I have decided to try and achieve this goal once again. I have no money coming in and hardly any money going out, my bank accounts are wiped clean and my credit card balance is evolving into something scarier than the monsters in your closet that made you pull your blanket over your head as a child and cower in fear. However, I still think I can pull it off (not the blanket, but the whole full-time athlete gig). I am making great sacrifices already and removing all unwanted drama and stress from my life, unnecessary expenses, and distractions. My commitment level jumped from like an 8 to a 10. 10 being a level that I never knew myself to be truly capable of. If you know me, you know I don't like commitment, in any way. It takes away a feeling of freedom that I hold very dear to my heart. After all these years, I'm finally ready to let that freedom go and this tells me a great deal.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Beyond a Turning Point

I feel like writing something. But I don’t know how to put it into words. It’s a feeling or recognition of sorts. I can’t tell you how it happened or why. It just did. It was like I’ve been asleep for so many years, and I finally woke up. Something has changed inside of me and it is powerful. I’ve felt it growing stronger for some time now as it has finally erupted. You’ve heard descriptive terms used over time, a moment of enlightenment, the breakout principle, a waking of the mind, etc. There are times in ones life where you have a glimpse of it, or more than just a glimpse. I am experiencing something extremely profound and I feel that it has forever changed me.
You may be reading this thinking that I am mad or confused. However, I have never felt so sane, and even the term sanity feels more variable then it used too. The path to the future I desire has always been in front of me, I just never truly could see it, or understand it until now. The blinders have been removed. The why is becoming clearer. It points to a chain of events in the past month, 6 months, year, decade, life. To write it and read it even now looks strange to the eye, but makes perfect sense in my mind.  
I had a term I used to write in my journals, notes, and even phones. It was a term I created for me, and for me alone. I didn’t often share it, or try to rationalize it with others. It was the part of me trying to get out, the part I have needed most. I have been in a constant battle with myself for so many years, and that battle has finally been won.
That term was, “be the person trapped in your mind.” I have finally become that person. 

Monday, July 25, 2011

The Power of the Little Things

It’s strange how something so small can be so meaningful. Holding your head up, who would of thought. I don’t mean the term “hold your head up” I mean the physical act of holding ones head up. Picking your chin up when you are down. If you are feeling mentally, emotionally or physically defeated you will notice that you are looking at the ground. You don’t pick your head up to speak to people, look forward, or have positive focus on the future. You have to catch yourself doing it. It could be a hard emotional day, it could be a workout that is kicking your ass, it could be your work, or your studies, you’ll notice now, you will be looking down. Pick your head up, it is a demonstration of confidence. It is an announcement to the world that you cannot be broken. It is the switch that flips your state of being from the path of defeat to the path of triumph.
Your head should be up, between intervals, before an exam, a business meeting, a date, an interview, after a race, a workout, a fight, or a loss, when you get out of bed, before you go to bed, when you walk out your front door, when you leave work, when you see yourself in the mirror, you get the idea. The term gets thrown around a lot but its roots have great meaning that we often forget, and its practice can help you accomplish amazing things.
If you read this, that is your homework. In any situation, pick your head up and stare at the moment with confidence and supremacy as if it were your enemy. You will radiate energy all around you that states, “I cannot be broken.” 
Such a small physical act, yet, so much power.

Monday, July 18, 2011

The Mountains Beckon

Day 5 in Idaho and I feel the end of my trip creeping up quickly. I haven't given pole vault a whole lot of thought since my arrival, leaving what little bit of emotional energy I have left to be put towards laughing, disc golfing, biking, hiking, and carrying on with my friends and family. The break could not have come at a better time. Clearing my head was becoming difficult without such a powerful stimulus. The people I left behind in my move to MN are so very special and supportive. It feels like I never left. The positive comments, and conversations have been endless. With each reunion I feel myself being super charged with the energy they all have to share. The confidence in my abilities is returning and my appetite for the vault is growing stronger. With 3 competitions remaining in this 2011 season I look forward to the opportunity to prove myself again.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Right-side up

I've been struggling a bit since my return to MN after this recent trip. My back is hurt pretty bad again, and I can't pinpoint a moment where or when it happened. My activity has become very limited and I am bordering content with disability. I'm really working hard on continuous forward thinking, but my mind demands on rebelling at times. I have 2 competitions coming up in 3 weeks, and am extremely thankful for the much needed break presented between. Yesterday I was questioning my physical ability to perform at these competitions, but today is a much better day. Spending this last week on rehab rather than training, which could be argued as a form of training I guess, I finally woke up with less pain and more energy. With light workouts gleaming in my future the smile has returned to face. I don't plan on jumping for 2 weeks, having 1 session, waiting 1 more week, than competing. It seems like a rational plan and I am positive now that it will pan out.
In the meantime I will travel to Idaho for a wedding and well deserved vacation. The bike trails, rock walls, disc golf courses, and friendly reunions will become a necessary therapy regiment for body, mind and soul. I plan on returning here with renewed vigor that will turn my world right-side up again.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

6 can be a small number

So after all that's gone on I looked back into my journal and realized that I haven't just No Heighted at 4 meets in a row including USA's and 3 money meets. I have NH'd at 6 meets in a row. Before we left for Eugene I tried to compete in our building opening at a very high bar in order to simulate the championship meet, and I attended a small meet at a nearby university where I failed as well.
I didn't give those 2 competitions much thought, as they were intended to be practices rather than something serious. But thinking about it, well, it stings the pride a bit. I mean 6 in a row, ouch.
So, with 3 meets remaining on my summer schedule the thought of competing could very well upset my stomach at this point. But it doesn't. After all the trials that have taken place I am still going forward. It would be so easy to quit right now, so easy. I could justify it with ease, and no one would judge or question it. I came back, I did what they told me I wouldn't, and I jumped pretty high. But i would know its BS. I would judge myself, I would feel guilt, and I would regret it for all time. It's still not enough. I can do more, I have to know what I am truly capable of. This question remains unanswered. Speculation and prediction are not enough, I have to experience the glory myself with all my senses. It's in me, and I refuse to fold until I find a way to let it out.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Don't Say Anything at All

Growing up you are always told, "if you don't have anything good to say, don't say anything at all." I do my best to live that way. But it is hard, and at times even harder.
I feel like I'm a cliche in a country music song. I was on top of the world, now I'm down in the gutter. First USA's, then my dog, now a pole vault trip i was so excited about for months is turning into a disaster as I have failed to clear a bar at the first two competitions. Shit.
So life seems grim. It's in these times where you have to step back and look at yourself from the outside. Sure some bad things have happened in your eyes, but how about in the eyes of another. To many times have I forgotten just how lucky I am and how amazing my life is. There are millions of people on the planet who would literally kill to have the opportunities we are given in the US, the talent we are given as athletes, the knowledge we are given in school, the love we feel around us. You could extend the list on and on but you get the point. Looking at it that way I almost feel ashamed of feeling even mildly sorry for myself. Life is good. When times seem hard, put yourself in someone else's shoes for a moment, someone who's life makes yours seem like a dream come true. Suddenly your problems may seem trivial and your day might look just a bit sunnier.