18' 1" Olympic Trials 2008

18' 1" Olympic Trials 2008

Sunday, August 28, 2011


I am dying for a fix. A fix of fear that is. Putting myself into situations of peril has always been a part of my life. Calculated risk keeps you on your toes, and it makes life taste just a little sweeter every time you walk away with it. I have given these things up in pursuit of a dream, my last big push. Given up them all, except vaulting of course, which was recently taken away from me, but I've almost got it back as well. I meant the other things, the outlets as I like to call them. Throughout my career I have argued that without these outlets I would have never of made it this far as a pole vaulter, and I may still have been right. But I'm taking the other route. The one I never was willing to take before. Now in the "twilight" of my physical gifts, I feel that it is an action worth taking, removing all unnecessary risk of physical harm to my body. A wise decision, maybe. Boring, indeed, so boring.
My list of outlets is extensive, but they usually involved a defiance of gravity and/or a great deal of speed. Common bonds between my favorite thing in life, and its close relatives. I love being up in the air, off the ground, at high elevations, and even higher speeds. The aversion to gravity awarded me many injuries and a few broken bones, the draw to speed honored me with a few visits with some honorable judges. Yet none of that has ever been enough to push me away from them. They are who I am, and part of how I came to be. Giving them up will prove to be more and more difficult as the months go on. Times of stress and even seasonal depression have been easily curable on the cliffs, slopes, jumps, roads and more. Now my outlets must be mild, limited, and that fact alone scares me more than any of them ever could. I know deep down, the time is right and the sacrifice will be justified.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Day 4 of Eternity

I woke up this morning feeling close to normal. The term normal for me does not mean healthy, or healed, it means able. I don't expect to feel completely healed for the rest of my days. I made a choice to pursue what I love with a great many sacrifices, feeling healthy is one of those sacrifices. So I felt close to normal this morning, able, functional. I envy those post collegiate athletes that feel healthy. The two terms used together seem to be somewhat of an enigma, healthy athlete and elite athlete. I'm not sure that many exist. Everyone works around a physical problem or more, not to mention the psychological ones, but that is a discussion you could write a book about. What was the point I was trying to make initially? Sometimes I think the coffee takes over the writing for me. Oh yes, so normal, for me, is waking up with pain that subsides as the morning goes on, some numbness in my left leg that comes and goes throughout the day. But I work around it, and I do pretty dam good still if you ask me. Regardless of how I feel today. Impact is still not an option. I may be able to get away with it, but that's a gamble and could set me back even further. Kind of like the idiotic move I made on Friday by vaulting after I couldn't bend forward for 2 days to tie my shoes. I lost the smart athlete inside, and the younger, dumber, yet crazier side came out to play. Now the smart one has to deal with the boring, tedious aftermath. But my upper body will pay a small toll today at least.
These 4 days in chains have taken forever. Getting hurt right in the middle of a turning point in my season, or career really, is beyond frustrating and maintaining that momentum, and power of mind has been a most unwanted but manageable challenge. I'm ready to hop off these metaphoric dreary side roads with 25mph, school zone, speed limits, and take the on ramp to my highway of glory where I just recently removed all speed limits.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Fit and Bored

So i'm starting day 3 of no activity, and last night, I realized how fit I really am. Each night its gets harder to fall asleep. With each day of rest, my body heals and recovers, and the excess energy has been building up like a nuclear reactor, and I honestly want to explode. I am dying to train again. It's only been 3 days??? In the past I would welcome the free time and time off. But I'm different now. The training and jumping is everything to me, and I want it back right away. I'm not rushing into it, and I won't make the mistake of too much too soon. Time has become a much more important factor in my life. The following is an excerpt from an email I recently wrote to a friend.

"My newest conundrum in meditation is that I perceive time differently than i have in the past. Time is no longer just a chronological measurement for me, its a unit of energy. When I look at the months in front of me I don't just see the short amount of time leading up to the trials, I see the limited amount of energy available. I am the battery and my life is the system. How much energy can the system create to store in the battery, and how much of that energy can I use for the end game, the trials? There is only so much energy available in those 11 months. How much gets wasted on unnecessary action? Too much. Energy lost to injury, drinking, late nights, stress, work, drama, etc. I'm attempting to steal all this wasted energy back from now on. It will be used for, training harder, recovering, getting proper rest, buying better food, cooking healthier, an overall healthier diet, hours of meditation, hours of therapy and more.
This is a large part of the transformation i'm experiencing and it's difficult to share with people. Honestly some of the things I'm feeling, I can't describe yet. But I'm working on understanding them better myself.

With this said, you can see why locking myself inside my house has become the driving force towards insanity over the past few days. I am making progress and feel I will be back on my feet within a week. But until then, keeping my motivation at bay creates a whole new challenge all its own. 

Saturday, August 20, 2011

A Brief Rest

I have been in go mode for about a month now and have been making amazing gains both physically and mentally. Charged and ready to jump again I may have gotten carried away. Something happened in my back last night that I chose to ignore and brush it off so that I could have my normal day of training today, taking me one step closer to my goals. However, my back pain did not allow for that, and find myself struggling to sit down, stand up, or bend any direction. Spending the rest of the evening laying on the floor of my living room, with my legs up on the couch, my hips and knees properly placed at 90 degree angles, I assumed the position. The only position I know that can get me as close to pain free as possible. I did not turn the TV on, or the stereo. I felt sick to my stomach with thoughts of what lay ahead. How many days will this take? Will I be ok to compete in Colorado? Will I lose the feeling I just recaptured when I pole vault? It didn't take me long to realize that dwelling on these questions was meaningless, but answering them briefly and moving on could prove quite productive. I've been in this situation before, and it just takes some time. With major injuries there are always small relapses, and that's all this is. I can hang onto to the technical and psychological breakthroughs i've made in the past month as long as I remain focused and positive. With down time I will be able to spend even more hours meditating and visualizing where I would like to see myself, during the vault, healing my body, and walking through life.

Monday, August 15, 2011

A Blur of Consciousness

Where do I begin......
I could write 100 pages about the past 11 days. This trip was exactly what I needed. I'm going to have to split this up a bit. To be honest my thoughts are extremely scattered. This is probably because I recently woke up from over 20 hours of slumber.
When I left my home in Minnesota (home? more like, place of residence) on Wednesday Aug 3rd I drove 600 miles to Crystal City, MO for 2 days of camp and one day of competition.
Then on Aug 7th I departed on a 200 mile drive to Jonesboro, AR.
After a day of rest and a day of training, we hopped in the subi and headed 600 miles to Concordia, KS. for 2 days of camp.
From there we headed to Henderson, KY 640 miles away on a friday, competed Saturday, then I left there alone at midnight after the competition to drive 750 miles back to Burnsville, MN where i arrived 13 hours later, unpacked, ate some food, and went into a coma for about 22 hours I think.
I'm awake now, and super motivated. Close to 2790 miles of travel (without counting all the short daily trips in between) upwards of 49 hours in the driver seat of my car gave me all kinds of time to think and reflect on the ongoing journey of my life. Everything that took place, happened exactly the way it should have. I learned and experienced a great deal, and in the midst of it all, I realized that I'm going to jump 19 feet, and that's not even the end of the story.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Vaulting in a Cave.

The past few days has been an amazing experience. The Cave Vault was the most unique pole vault event I have ever had the pleasure of taking part in. Hats off to the Motley Crew Vault Club, and Andrew Amsden for putting together such a remarkable venue. I can't imagine the time, and commitment it took to make such a thing possible, and I can't wait to get back there. The Cave environment was awesome. From photos you can only catch a glimpse of it. The truth is, when we were in there we barely scratched the surface of it. That Cave is 6,000,000 square feet, and 200 acres, 180 of those acres being an underground lake. I'll say again, amazing. Being in such a wonderful atmosphere around true pole vault fans is hard to describe and a delight for the senses. I drove right on down when i arrived, set up camp and lived there for almost 5 days, with the occasional outing to shower and play disc golf of course.The temperature of the cave was a chilly 58-62 degrees. A bit cold if you were sitting, not bad if you were standing or walking, and perfect if you were being active. They had very large pits, but the feeling of running down a tunnel surrounded by the earth gave me a strange sensation of being safe, like being held. I felt beyond comfortable taking jumps there. A truly magical place.
Another notable item was that I broke my streak, my No Height streak is over. The previous 6 events I had attended ended for me in the failure to clear a bar. This meet was different. I was able to make 16', 16'6", 17' , and 17'4". My goal for the competition was to relax, really relax. And I did, and it worked. I felt like i could have jumped much higher than the numbers show, but it was high enough on the day, and I was extremely happy to make some bars.
I couldn't resist the temptation to drive 200 miles south, after the meet, to hang out at Bell Athletics and spend a few extra days with one of my favorite people in the world, Daniel Ryland. The pole vault energy here is unparalleled, and if you've been here, you understand. After a few days of pole vault recharge, I plan to head back to Missouri and do some climbing (body, mind, and soul therapy) then off to Kentucky to put on a great show at the Jumpin and Jammin street vault, now that I've got my head screwed back on straight and held up high.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Everything You Can

I am not one to think backward, but sometimes it can have a useful purpose. If you think back on your career as an athlete can you say “I did everything I possible could to be the best I could possible be.” I don’t think many people can say that honestly. Somewhere along the timeline you made a compromise, or many. You did something you knew wasn't in the best interest of your career. It could have been one occasion, it could have been several occasions, it could be something you are doing right now, yesterday, 10 years ago. Without that compromise, could you have……..
The idea is not to dwell on the thing you know held you back in the past, it’s to learn from it. If you plan to press on in your career you know now that you can choose not to compromise, not to conform. You can remove that crutch from your life, or you can continue to try and work around it without the outcome you so desire. If you are not willing to give it up, you are not truly dedicated to your dream.
That dream, the one that has always been your ultimate fantasy. When you close your eyes and see yourself there, it’s magical, amazing, but far away, and bordering impossible. The sacrifices that must be made along the way are what make the impossible dream a very possible reality. Imagine, living your dream. It’s a cliché heard regularly in normal conversation, but what does that really feel like. It must be so overwhelming and beautiful. Like the warmth of the sun on your face after a cold hard winter. This is a feeble metaphor, for words and phrases are likely not enough to describe the bliss of it. To really know it, you are the only one who can understand it, by closing your eyes and being there.
You can live your dream. But you must let go of everything holding you back. Everything.