18' 1" Olympic Trials 2008

18' 1" Olympic Trials 2008

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Problem Solving

Today I leave Minnesota for my last competition of the season. Outdoors has proven to be quite a challenge. Not knowing what to expect in the beginning, I was happy just to be able to compete at all. After some moderate success indoors, I was unable to match even my third best performance. Looking back I need to understand where I went wrong. Searching my journal for a pattern I'm hoping to find the key. Before I left Idaho I achieved health to a point where I had little to no back pain, no numbness in my leg, and full reflex response returned. Without too much detail, this is no longer the case. I'm actually feeling closer to where I was this time last summer. Did I get greedy with jumping? Most likely. I love to vault, and when you start, it's hard to stop. "Just one more" that is a common term among vaulters. One more, generally turns into 5-10 more in a session, and when you have a cap on your jumps for injury reasons, one more should probably be one less. No one likes to end a workout on a bad note. But that is the nature of the sport. A pole vault competition ends in failure every time, for every athlete including the winner. You end on a miss, or you quit. It does take its toll on the psyche regardless of whether you admit it or not. In some ways you can argue that you never really win, you may have beaten every competitor, but the event itself beats you every time. Maybe that's what makes it so addictive, well one of many reasons. But I'll leave that topic for another day.
I have been greedy, i'll admit it. After this most recent injury I gave myself enough time to feel functional again, but not pain free, or numb free, if that makes sense. The other night I did a warm up and took a few jumps to see where I was at. The session actually went pretty well. Jumping from 6 and 8 total steps, I wound up on a 15' 9" 185 without the aid of spikes. This was a welcome surprise. My plan was to jump the following day from a competition run and prepare for Colorado. The next day I came in and had a mediocre session from an 18 step approach. It was less than ideal. I think that right now I can jump the same height from 10 steps as I can from 18 steps. Doesn't make sense, but I will still compete from 18 steps on Saturday, giving myself the best chance I have of catching a big jump. Since that session i have been unable to walk for more than 100m meters without having to stop. My leg goes numb and the sharp nerve pain travelling down my back and leg creates an uncontrollable limp that I know will only create more problems if I continue to walk. So I stop and do some goofy therapy to take tension off the nerve so I can walk another 100m or so until I reach my destination. How is it possible that i can't go for a long walk to clear my mind, but I can sprint down a runway  at speed, with a 16'5 or 16'9 pole in my hands and rep vaults for up to an hour at a time? It really doesn't make a whole lot of sense logically. But that is who I am now. A strange place in my life, I am confused on where to go from here. Some days get so hard, part of me screams for relief, just give this up. It would be so easy, to quit. So much free time, so many possibilities. Then I remember, there is nothing else I would rather be doing than this. The greatest challenge in my life to date and possibly of all time, has been laid before me. I can't walk away from it now. I have to win, I will succeed. In order to do so, I have to constantly change. This transformation is ongoing and each week presents new obstacles and problems to solve. I must continue to adapt in body and mind. I don't consider myself to be a genius by any means, but even as a child I have always been an exceptional problem solver. Big or small, I always find a way. The equation or puzzle that was once on paper or laid in front of me, is now my life, and I will eventually cross paths with its solution as long as I remain on the journey.
Colorado is a enormous challenge all its own. I have taken the job as MC for the entire day. It's a paid job, and I can't turn down the money. I was happy to do it last summer as I could not compete, and I had a great time being on the other side of the microphone. I did my best to fill in the gaps where I felt other MC's failed in the past. It was draining and a task. After being on the Mic for 5-6 hours this year, I will attempt to jump and continue to ramble on the mic while running a music playlist that I prepared. I feel like this could go 1 of 2 ways. I will be completely drained and unable to clear a bar, or I will be so tired with such low expectations that I will remain relaxed and care free enough to yield an outstanding and unexpected performance. Either way, with the MC gig, or without it, the odds are still against me. So why not take some guaranteed money, roll the dice, and have some fun. So I leave today to begin an 1,100 mile drive, knowing all that. I'm a huge underdog, still with the confidence that anything can happen, and I am going there with the mind set that i can win.

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