18' 1" Olympic Trials 2008

18' 1" Olympic Trials 2008

Monday, October 24, 2011

A Twist on Pain

I do like pole vault, well I love it. But I sure as hell don’t get to do it very often. Looking back in my journal, I can see that I attempted to piece together a session from a short run on October 4th, before experiencing a sharp pain in my Achilles. Then after a few weeks of therapy and recovery, the pain in my lower leg was nonexistent. I was feeling rather positive about being able to vault again. I even gave my self an extra few days to make sure. During one of those extra days, I bent over (like an idiot) to pick up a box, and I’m sure you have already guessed, hurt my lower back.  However sharp and sudden it may have been, the pain was not excruciating, directed to either side of my back, or ultimately debilitating. It was more like it spoke to me, in some sort of soft evil whisper, and said, “way to go genius, any bets on how long you’ll have to wait to jump now.” Then it laughed at me. It was something similar to a witches cackle actually, not fun laughter. The kind you hear that makes you hate the thing it resonates from. How rude I thought, way to rub salt in the wound.
 To state the obvious, I’m taking some more time off of jumping. I was a bit sad at first. But it dawned on me that it is October, and spending excess hours of vaulting, continuing to damage a back in need of some serious healing, is absolutely pointless for someone in my position. This is the perfect time of year to heal, by staying off of the runway, and carefully getting stronger and faster. Which is an interestingly challenging task in itself the majority of the time. Honestly I’ve probably gained more knowledge and skill through problem solving, by creating such unique training, than I have gained for actual vaulting. But that is beside the point I was trying to make. I don’t need to be vaulting right now, and all these little injuries and set backs keep reminding me of that. They are only taking time away from me on the runway and must be part of the plan, or they never would have happened. So I don’t see them as set backs, but necessities, reminders, and key learning points. Almost all of my regular physical training has been unaffected for the most part.  I am however, itching to be able to do real running workouts again, outside of a swimming pool that is, but all in good time I suppose. It is one of my training goals that continues too elude me.  I made it through an entire year without them and still managed to do pretty well, so I try not to dwell on it and still manage to work around it. Just another chapter in the story, the ending is already written. It’s the pages leading up to it that continue to keep me guessing. 

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

A High Stress Gamble

My girlfriend said it best, “you live, you learn, and you move again.”
I’m not sure why but I have been sort of keeping my move to Northern California under the radar, but the word is getting out. I guess it is because I do feel like a bit of a failure. I left so many great people behind in Idaho that counted on me. I was part of something very special out there, and now I’m sort of lost. Moving to Minnesota was supposed to be a place where I could train full time and work part time but mostly take advantage of a year round indoor training situation. But things didn’t work out the way they were supposed to. Long story short, being here has become a very bad fit for me, and I feel that it is important to remove myself from the dynamic. I ignored far too many things for too long, and as everything started coming to a head I have finally realized the smartest thing for me to do, is get out.

Sure I could go back to Idaho, and the thought had occurred to me. But I left there to have more opportunity as an athlete. Where my career has led me physically, it was just becoming too difficult for my broken body to have the proper conditions to continue on as an athlete there, plus this deal with all its sugar coating, sounded so much sweeter. As a coach, things were great at ISU. But that part of my life currently needs to come second to my athletic goals. So, California it is.

The idea of going back to my home town has been growing inside of me for quite some time. Worldwide the notion of California is beaches and surfers, but it’s a pretty large state, and has much more to offer than just that. I grew up in the Mountains, and I belong there. Being away from them has been more difficult for me than I could have ever imagined. Being surrounded by tall trees and having year round access to rivers, cliffs, trails, and kick ass disc golf courses is the norm for me. In this, most likely final, season of my career as a Pole Vaulter I am finding more and more out about the importance of overall psychological well being, happiness, and spiritual oneness. These things, though mystical or silly as they may sound, are a critical part of success on the runway, and off of it.

So my journey to the Olympic stage now takes me on another epic road trip, this time 1,900 miles. My starter is going out and I’m leaking oil profusely. My girlfriend’s car will jump to massive RPM’s for no particular reason. It took the combination of every penny we had left and a personal loan to get us out of our rental lease. We are still responsible for 2 months of rent.  All gas costs of two cars traveling across the country will more than likely have to go on my credit card as well as shipping our belongings that don’t fit in our two cars. I don’t know exactly where I will be able to vault yet, close by, once I get there. I don’t have access to a traction table, therapeutic, or chiropractic help yet. I don’t have any way to make money nor does my girlfriend. I’m sure the scary fact list goes on, and with all that being said, I am little nervous about it.

Amidst it all, the future still looks brighter, if you can imagine that, and I know things will be fine once we get settled in. I have already contacted as many vault folks as possible in the area and am getting good feedback from them. I’ll be in a place where I am surrounded by good people who I can trust, and that fact alone gives me hope. Things will work out, as they always do, thanks to my family, friends, and the Pole Vault Community.

With a few days of delay, some stress, some laughs, patience, and pain, I will be right back on track and continue down this insane path that ends in London, England

Thursday, October 13, 2011

"If it ain't broke don't fix it."

Having been in Jonesboro with Daniel and Mark has immersed me into a much greater rhythm. Instead of getting up in the morning and feeling like I am training alone all day, I can picture them hard at work hundreds of miles away, and feel like in a way, we are all training together. Mark said it best “like minded people, with a common goal”.  Hopefully this charge can last as long as possible. When it fades I will have to find a way to get back Jonesboro, or cross paths with my great friends again.  In the upcoming months it will become much more difficult to make such a meeting happen.
Meanwhile I am doing well. I’m growing stronger in mind and body each day, and the pain in my Achilles tendon is almost nonexistent. Thankfully I was around smarter athletes than myself when I injured it, and they talked me out of continuing to aggravate it through jumping. With the temptation of being in Jonesboro if front of some the greatest sets of eyes, it was extremely difficult to swallow my pride and sit on the sidelines. Now even with it feeling about 90% I still plan to give it another full week before I test it through some light running. There is no reason to push. The only change in my training it has created is that I haven’t been able to jump, nothing else has been interrupted. But honestly, I wasn’t getting much jumping done before it happened anyway. If it wasn’t the Achilles it was something else.
Although the season was a roller coaster, I was able to get through it and even end on a great note. My body was finally fed up, and has given me plenty of warnings to remain off the runway for a spell so that it can recover from the continuous   beatings I’m putting it through.  Vault sessions were becoming more strenuous. The effort I was forcing myself to put in was yielding lesser results and suddenly my poles had to be smaller and smaller so I could make it to the pit.
 My absence from the runway is already paying off. The chronic pain erupting from my left scapula has quieted down a great deal. The pain in the lower left side of my back and hip has decreased dramatically, and I have something close to 90-95% reflex response returned to my left leg as well as a complete lack of my normal numbing and tingling sensations it encounters throughout a normal day, meaning the pressure from the herniated discs on the sensory and motor portions of the nerve stems in question, are actually retracting. Is it my heel lift? The Spinal Distraction? The lack of vaulting? Therapy? Pool Work? The 20 different daily vitamins and minerals? Happiness? I don’t know, probably all of the above combined. What I do know is, I’m still training hard, the right way, I’m getting better, and I’m not going to change anything to disrupt it. Well maybe one thing in a few weeks, but we’ll get to that. I always tell my athletes “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it.” Now I’m taking my own advice, for once.  Imagine me healthy…….. Combined with who I have become. Scary. 

Friday, October 7, 2011

A Disconnect

Lately I've been questioning my immersion into technology. This is the reason for my absence in writing. Well one of many reasons. My journey has become crazier and more difficult than originally anticipated with this move to the Midwest. But that is life, unpredictable at all times. I'm here is Jonesboro, AR surrounded by the amazing group at Bell Athletics.
We traveled here together from Doctoberfest in Jamestown Kansas. A very special competition that raises funds for a club that doesn't charge fees to its members. What Doc does is very special and goes above how most clubs operate. I wish I could do more to support his efforts, he is an example we can all learn from.
 I come to Jonesboro to get what I call my pole vault recharge, as often as I can. Every time I'm able to stop in, I never want to leave. Being here always sets my mind at ease to all the stress thrown in my path both on and off the runway. When I leave I always feel like I have a little bit better plan, or rather a reinforcement of some my own ideas, with the addition of a few more, from people of whom I hold great respect. The conversations about pole vault and life that take place here go far beyond what you can read in a book or learn from a video. They are, to coin a catch phrase, "priceless".
Now with my new goals and direction I will head up north to continue training, and therapy. During my first vault session here a small tweak in my left Achilles has prevented me from jumping again. I will have to address this issue along with my back problems upon my return to the north lands. The good news is, both my lower and upper back issues have been under control for the past few days which is promising. Normally when i get in this situation of feeling good, I do too much and start moving backward again. As my achilles is flared up, it will prevent me from being over active and hopefully give my back the extra time it needs to continue to heal properly.
I would like to partially disconnect from all this technology. I know its a stretch as communication of all levels now fits neatly in your pocket and follows you all day long like a lost dog that won't stop crying. While I was here I told my friends, if I had it my way I would just jump in my car and drive deep into the mountains for an unknown period of time with no electronic devices or books. I would just train and train and train. Running workouts uphill and upstream, upper body and core workouts using ropes, rings, rocks and trees. Climbing and scrambling around on any surrounding rock formation and suitable tree, like a playground for an adult. If I was not training I would meditate, sitting still, or in motion, on walks, hikes, and climbs. When I returned from those hills, I would be a different kind of athlete.
Without commitment, these types of wild ideas are much more available to us. But you can always argue that its the commitments that teaches us both responsibility and direction.