18' 1" Olympic Trials 2008

18' 1" Olympic Trials 2008

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Sun in December

           It’s been awhile since I took the time to post something on this site. I do feel a little guilty about it. Honestly, I have been writing, and most of the articles or blogs, or whatever the proper terminology is to describe such, were started with the intention of being posted to this site. But as the words crept down the page they continued to be borderline insulting to others, and sometimes too negative or personal. After rereading, editing and revising I decided not to post any of them. I tried changing them for the better, but I couldn’t force myself to remove large pieces of material, and I enjoyed the writing too much to destroy it. So I think this is something like attempt number four in the past month. There have been a lot of great things worth talking about.  
            Living in California is pretty awesome when it comes to weather. I’ve pole vaulted outdoors twice this month, in the warm sun, with a tailwind, both times being in my backyard. Earlier in the month 2-time USA Champion Mark Hollis came out, and we had a few short days to train together and put on a pole vault clinic. It is always inspiring to hang around Mark. He is such a powerful athlete, and a positive person. A few years back, him, Daniel Ryland and I had one of my favorite training camps of my career down in Jonesboro Arkansas spending priceless time at legendary Bell Athletics. Pole vaulting with a National Champion on my homemade runway was a blast, and being able to do it outdoors under the sun in December was like icing on the cake.
            NCAA All-American Derick Hinch grew up in this area and sometimes when he comes home for a holiday we get the chance to jump together. He was able to come over after Christmas and get a vault session in. We were graced with another sunny day and tail wind in December. It was still a little brisk for Derick having the luxury of 80+ degree weather where he lives in Arizona, but we still managed to have a lot of fun and even make some “Christmas bars”.
            Training has been different than in the past year. I must admit that I’ve been taking more risk, as I feel that I don’t have a whole lot to lose anymore. Also I changed therapy for my back, and it feels stronger and healthier than it has in two years. It has allowed me to readopt a handful of my old favorite training methods, and the change in routine has been well appreciated. I feel extremely strong, but not as fast as I’d like. It is still very early in the year, and the old legs are always fatigued, so I’m trying not too dwell on it.  My work has been inconsistent and it’s frustrating because I need the money, but it also allows me a great deal of free time to train.
            The indoor season is about to start and the only competition I really cared about was Reno (I just reread this, and I take that back. I am very much looking forward to the Simplot Games). Unfortunately this year I didn’t get the invite to Reno. They make a set of criteria to justify having to choose and fund a small group of vaulters out of such a large group of great vaulters in the US. A difficult task, that many would not be able to handle. I didn’t make the cut this year. So I’m still trying to decide if I will attend. It’s a shame because I have only missed one since 1998 and its probably going to be a very memorable Summit, but I’ve got a lot going on, and I can’t justify paying $120 registration fee to pole vault, not to mention travel costs. I’ve been offered some help by some nice people. But there is some underlying principle that still itches in the back of my throat, tied for 11th in the US in 2012, and having to pay people to compete. It just doesn’t sit right. It’s not just the Summit, but all over the US, always a registration fee, always out of your own pocket. Our sport is really a mess. I wonder how much the USA’s 11th ranked NFL, Tennis, Golf, NBA, Soccer, MLB, Hockey, Snowboarder, Skier, NASCAR Driver, or even Bowler pay to compete? Probably zero, and if so some sponsor likely handles it. Even more likely, they are the ones being paid, seems logical in a business sense.
            Anyway, that’s not productive talk, those discussions drag on and on, and tend to go nowhere.
            Like I said I have a lot going on outside of pole vault and my priorities have definitely shifted. Engaged, with a son on the way, the issues surrounding pole vault suddenly seem less and less critical. I can see how so many people move on, and leave our great sport behind. I’m not going to move on, or give up on myself and our upcoming stars. I intend to continue to put forth an effort, in any way I am capable, to helping make there careers a success and keeping this remarkable sport alive. To be continued…..

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The Fine Line of Destruction and Glory

           My body is aching all over. I've definitely had a sudden shift in gears from my lighter training regiment to getting after it lately. I’m excited about all the great things coming up, and its easy to get a little crazy during intervals or lifts. I actually was chatting with a coach the other day about how I took a different look and approach to a fall conditioning period this post Olympic season.
            Every one of us had a specific training and competition plan designed for the Olympic season, and I guarantee at least 80% dropped right off that plan in May and June. The sense of urgency to achieve the Olympic A-Standard becomes all that matters leading us to the US Trials. The only way to achieve it, is too compete, and compete, and compete. Without any notice you make a compromise in your plan, than another, and another, and suddenly your plan, that was prepared a year or more in advanced, goes right out the window and you are flying by the seat of your pants. You start doing what Track and Field athletes call “Mark Chasing”. You are chasing after a performance mark instead of sticking to your plan, your tapering, and taking proper care of your body. Then what happens, suddenly you are two or three weeks away from a major championship you should be rested and peaked for, and you are doing as many as four or five competitions a week, chasing that god damn continually elusive mark. What does that leave you with, injuries, lots of them. They may not any alone be too detrimental, but as a group, they must be. You continue to ignore them, starting with IB profen, then the icy hot, then atomic balm, the wrap, the neoprene sleeves, the heat to get started, the ice to finish, and this list can go on and on. ‘You put a band-aid on a wound that needs stitches’ and you carry on towards the task while it tears, you continue on for the mark.
            With that being said, you have left yourself a mess through the summer, your plan is long gone, and now you need proper time to heal (sometimes mentally more than physically). Is that amount of rest time and reintroduction to conditioning the same for a 22 year old man, as it is for a 32 year old man? Probably not. It makes sense to me not too continue to follow a seasonal training pattern that I have followed for the past 14 years, especially this post Olympic season where I laid mind and body on the line bordering destruction and glory. So I took time to rethink, and retune my training. Older and wiser you could say, or maybe just older and tired. The best way to describe it; is skipping the annual horror of fall conditioning after a late summer rest period and going straight to early to mid season type regiments with a much slower transition into such, and the rest of the season to follow a fairly similar timeline to those in the past, minus the mistake of “Mark Chasing”.
            That was a lot more explanation of sore muscles than I had planned. As you have read, I’m normally used to doing a heavier load of training at this time of year, and the excitement of the “Ultimate Vaulter” clinic and comp this weekend, getting to hang out, train and trade secrets with Mark Hollis, and the indoor season right around the corner, I did a little too much this past two weeks.
            There is also one other underlying reason for the additional workload, the weather. It’s been gloomy lately, and when it’s gloomy, I get gloomy as most of us do. I do value my time outdoors. In my opinion the best anti-depressant in the world is exercise, and sometimes you need a little extra to get you through those gloomy days. So if you’re feeling these seasonal blues like I do, get out and break a sweat, its not that hard, find something. It’s not just the nice endorphin's you get during the training; it’s the brief emptiness of mind, and the lasting feeling of confidence that comes with the knowledge of achievement on the day. 

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Routines, Working, Playing, and Training

I don't have much new too report for the few who remain curious. I basically work crazy long hours one week a month and which week is generally relayed to me totally at random, (up to 18 hour shifts now). I try to spend my free time working on future unique Pole Vault Clinic curriculum and how to improve and promote our sport, coaching privately, training like a mountain man/pole vaulter, and being happy. It seems odd to list happiness as a chore or a routine, but sometimes you do need to look at it that way when you lose site of its importance, or it slips through the cracks of your ultimately important schedule of survival.

Speaking of routine, during an awesome training camp with Daniel Ryland and Mark Hollis two years ago, Daniel introduced us to his ideas and beliefs in the importance of "morning warm ups" or daily routines. We were all racing through a warm up every morning together, and continued doing so the following months out on our own. Over time it seemed logical to mold my own into a daily therapy routine everyday and shooting for over 100 days in a row. Then some harsh life events broke my will to continue doing so. But I started up again, 20 days in a row now, and my back and shoulders are feeling fantastic, I'll get 100 days this time around, and I'm hoping that after doing something 100 days in row, it just becomes automatic and will stay with me for the rest of my days.

Meanwhile, I'm preparing for this Mark Hollis clinic and competition("The Ultimate Vaulter"). It should be a great event, and will be awesome to have my friend in town, and a World Class athlete to train and trade ideas with for a few days.
I've been trying to create a short video trailer for the clinic and have been digging through a lot of old footage. This clip is something really fun I stumbled on from my days back in MN. Thought you guys might get a laugh out of it. Enjoy.

This is the first and only time I have ever attempted this, but would love to build one and attempt it again. If you have one and you live nearby, contact me. This is the kind of stuff you would normally find only at Daniel Rylands house.

Friday, November 2, 2012

A Side Effect of Passion

It’s November, hard to believe that the regular season starts again in a mere eight weeks. Are you prepared? I think I am, oddly enough. This year of 2012 did not play out near what I had planned for. I can remember having an extremely powerful focus, a state of mind unparalleled even by my most successful years. It was almost like a feeling of invincibility. I knew what I wanted, I knew how to get it, and I knew it was going to happen. However, when the season progressed, the months and weeks full of small defeats chipped away at that focus. I did my best to ignore this fact or even pretend like nothing was happening. I felt it all along, and at some point in early June, I lost the state of mind I worked so hard and sacrificed so much to achieve, and I did it at the worst time possible. Do I regret this fact? No. Regret is a huge waste of my precious time and energy. Divert what could be regret into knowledge. Knowledge of a mistake that can be prevented in the future, for myself and others in my web. There is always a valuable lesson in the darkness, typically blurry at first, but with time and patience it will come into focus.
I have had my “out”, as one could say, too retire. Many times now, I could have said ‘well this obstacle is too great, and it’s time for me to bow out.’ On a regular basis people ask. My answer is still the same; I am hurt by the harsh reality that is now in the past and defines my 2012. I don’t see myself continuing on four more years. I am unsure of my physical and emotional strength to do so. But I remain utterly unsatisfied. I am so much better than I have shown. I have a number in mind, and if I could only achieve it, it seems as if it would put my soul at ease. I don’t want to define my career by a number, I know that it is much more than that, but the number haunts my every conscious moment, continually eluding me with cruel taunt and malice. This is the sharp pain of addiction that can emerge as a side effect of passion for many athletes. When is it good enough? When are we satisfied? Can we even be satisfied? If not a number, than a team, a record, a legacy, is it ever enough? When the ultimate goal is achieved, than a new one presents itself within the hour.
I may never achieve my own, but as long as I am capable, I will continue to try. 

Monday, October 29, 2012

The Ultimate Vaulter Pole Vault Clinic

The Ultimate Vaulter
Mark Hollis   vs.  Tuxedoman Paul Litchfield

On December 8th and 9th 2012
Location: TheYolo Striders Vault Factory (460 Harter Ave. Woodland, CA)

Come to a Pole Vault Camp and Competition that is the first of its kind.
All athletes in attendance will be split into two teams based on lifetime best.
Team Hollis, and Team Litchfield.

Each team will be coached under one of these great athletes for an intense day of instruction, then compete against each other the following day, too see which Team will be crowned the Ultimate Vaulter.

Day 1: Instruction will be different for each team. A curriculum specifically designed by Hollis or Litchfield to get their team to have a high learning curve and give them what they feel are the most valuable tools needed to compete at a winning level the following day.

Day 2: The competition will be held on two runways parallel to each other. Where Hollis and Litchfield will take each team through a pre meet warm up, and then coach each team member through the entire competition. Athletes final heights will be scored on an IAAF scoring table, and the highest score wins.

But that’s not all. During the competition if a vaulter goes out with three misses, and their coach thinks they can make the height to stay in, they can “buy” that athlete an extra attempt with a specified point deduction from there teams final score. The higher the bar, the higher the deduction.

Then Hollis and Litchfield will go head to head in a show down. Due to ceiling restrictions it will have to be from short approaches, but will still prove to be exciting as they push each other to the point of hitting the ceiling. Hollis and Litchfield’s final heights score will be doubled for the overall total, and they can also buy extra attempts with the permission of there team.   

All proceeds will go to maintaining and improving the Yolo Striders Vault Factory, and the Mark Hollis and Paul Litchfield training funds.

Ø Go to Active.com to register: https://cui.active.com/camps-reg/login?a=283139402
 Ø Early Bird Registration ends December 2nd at 11:59 PM.
Ø Online Registration ends December 7th at 11:59 PM.
Ø Early Bird Special: $200.00
Ø Regular Registration: $225.00
Ø Same Day Registration: $250.00

Friday, October 12, 2012

Dog Shit and Television

There is always a certain level of stress following you around as a post-collegiate pole vaulter, I would say as an athlete, but I’m not sure how it works in every discipline. Obviously you don’t have to be an athlete to have this same dark cloud following you around either. This stress usually spawns from financial problems, social pressures, and family needs. To get deeper into the details of each is not my goal right now, you can use your imagination to drum up plenty of scenarios to support all three. I am more interested in the discussion of dealing with the stress on hand and creating a healthier emotional atmosphere around ones self.
It comes to us all and it comes in many forms, how each of us deal with it and press on makes us unique and strong. For me that comment has a literal meaning lately. Everything I have been doing to block out the negative has been physical. So much to the point that I have had too mold my training around it this past week. When some people have a hard day, week, month etc., they like to go home, eat food, have a drink or a smoke or both, and turn on the television until they melt into a zombie state, forget there problems and fall asleep. This seems to be, I would say the ‘natural order of things’, but a more defining term would be the ‘unnatural order of things’. It’s a routine that has been created since the dawn of the television and has been passed through a handful of generations. On an even further tangent, everyone blames fast food chains for the obesity problem, I bet if you had the data and could go back far enough the correlation between obesity and television is much stronger.
But I digress. The point I was trying to make is that this terrible anti-stress routine that has become the norm in modern society actually has a negative effect on me. I realize that it is like throwing a newspaper over the dog shit in the kitchen, rather than cleaning it up, and while I’m sitting there I feel a growing sickness of guilt for wasting precious years of my life with mind numbing activity when my precious gift of time on this earth could be used for such greater purposes. That thought alone provokes another tangent that is an ongoing conflict in my mind about seeing time as having much greater value than currency, but I will save that for another day.
Back to the TV: The BLS American Time Use Survey says that the average American watches 5.11 hours of television daily. That is insane, do you understand how those numbers pan out over time? These are rough numbers mind you, but still.
5.11hrs/ day
= 35.77 hrs/ week   : You’ve already lost a day of your life awake (1.5 days actually)
=155.85 hrs/ month: Now you’ve lost 6.5 days in just a month, almost lost a week.
=1865.15 hrs/ year : Now you’ve lost 77.71 days, which is over two and half months.
How long does it take, to lose one year off your life spent awake and in from of the television? Every 4.7 years, you lose a year of your life to the television.
Think about it.
So, I have a hard time sitting there even when I have completed a great deal of tasks throughout the day. That is the situation I have been attempting to address throughout this incessant ramble. 95% of what helps me relieve stress is physical. Working out works better than anything, not only do you kill time, remove your mind from the outside stressors, create a wave of endorphins, but you gain a lasting confidence of accomplishment that will carry you for hours. But you can’t work out all day, so then what? I’ve been doing a rash of manual labor around the property, things that have needed to be done for years, are finally being taken care of, and each time one task is completed I feel a lasting amount of gratification and boost to my overall confidence. These daunting tasks, that we continue to ignore, hang over our heads and will eventually grow into terrible monsters in the back of our psyche, haunting us on a daily basis. There are other things, indoor things that I need to complete as well, but I save those, for when the sun is down.
So what am I even trying to say today?
Fight stress with exercise. 
Complete the tasks you continue to brush aside to experience relief and joy.
And stop watching so much damn television. 

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Halloween Pole Vault Clinic and Competition

I'm doing a Halloween Clinic and Competition at the end of the month. Going to be a great time. Here is the information for those who are interested.

We all had a great time with Paul at the September Pole Vault camp. The experience was definitely one to remember. We are now gearing up for the October camp and this time we want to mix it up a bit with a Halloween theme. Come in costume, something jumpable would be best. Remember this is a limited event, only 20 participants per camp so there’ll be plenty of personal instruction and 1:1 time. The clinic will be held Saturday October 27th and 28th mixed in with an Open Halloween competition Sunday the 28th

Yolo Striders Pole Vault Factory, Woodland, CA

Ø Go to Active.com to register:

Ø Early Bird Registration ends 10/21/2012 at 11:59 PM.

Ø Online Registration ends 10/26/2012 at 11:59 PM.

Ø Camp is limited to the first 20 paid participants.

Ø Early Bird Special: $150.00 (Before October 21st)

Ø Regular Registration: $175.00

Ø Same Day Registration (If space available): $200.00

Day 1 Schedule
11:00AM - 12:00PM Registration

12:00PM - 1:00PM Introductions, Safety Discussion, Warm up

1:00PM - 2:30PM Drills and Specific Strength

2:30PM - 3:30PM Lunch, Review

3:30PM - 5:00PM Pole Vault Session

Day 2 Schedule
8:30AM Doors Open

9:00AM - 10:00AM Group Warm up and Drill review

10:00AM - To Finish Halloween Competition

Post Competition Pole Vault Gymnastic Conditioning

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Early Fall Update

I should start a blog that is opinion and philosophy outside of pole vault. You guys should see some of the crap I ramble about. When I look back through it I wonder how readers would really respond. I’m sure there are some that would ask me to seek therapy. Maybe someday I’ll release it, like when I’m on my death bed or something. Either way, this is not an appropriate setting. Anyway, I was writing before this and felt like I should say hello when I got done.

I realize that when you don’t keep up on these things you lose most of your readership, but I don’t like writing for no reason, and I especially don’t like writing if it is going to be filled with negative garble. Lately I have had exactly that. In the midst of all that garble, I did coach a pretty awesome clinic down in Woodland, CA, at an indoor facility run by the Yolo Striders. I really had a blast working with the kids and would like to thank those that came, and the Striders for hosting. It made me miss all those years I spent coaching. That has always been a huge part of my life. It has granted me with lifelong friendships, and more gratification through success than my own athletic prowess could ever produce. Although I am pursuing other financial interests outside of the athletic world, I am going to begin setting more time aside for clinics and random opportunities to coach. Not only because I enjoy it so much, but because I think I’m pretty damn good at it. It is a way for me to give back to a sport that has given me so much, and for the sport to continue to make my life more positive. I hope to be a part of it until I am no longer psychologically capable.

On that note, I am going to do another clinic in Woodland on October 27th and 28th, as a Halloween camp, and competition the following day. I will post official details and links soon.

On a training note: When I arrived home after this last brush of unplanned travels, I returned to my unorthodox and carefully calculated training regiment with full force. I didn’t have a goal in mind, still being confused about the year to come, other than the fact that I felt out of shape and guilty about the way I had been “letting myself go”. As guilty as I felt, it turns out I didn’t let myself go too far. The bad weight melted off fast and the good weight is returning. My strength and speed are surprisingly high and I’m having a good time training again. I haven’t jumped from a longer run since I was in Colorado, but I had a couple of fun short run sessions in Woodland, and I actually think I kind of looked like a pole vaulter.

This is an entry in my journal from 3/24/2012 I will leave you with today:
“Stop listening to what everyone else is saying and take a moment to listen to your heart. It knows what is really possible and it is trying to tell you. Your future is not already written. You can shape it anyway you desire.”    

Monday, September 24, 2012

Whirlwind Month

What a whirlwind journey. All in all from August 29th to today I’ve traveled roughly 6,000 miles. 2,000 was by plane, but still 4,000 by car, not too shabby. I am finally back home, but feel as if I should be busy with something. I know deep down that the best thing for me is a few days rest, but instead, I’m going to be training all week, and then do a two day pole vault clinic over the weekend (that isn't full, by the way.....)

After leaving Pocatello, Ben Allen and I raced up to Oregon to pay our respects to Keegan Burnett, and spend some time with his family.  It was a sad but beautiful visit. We stayed at the Burnett house and learned more wonderful things about Keegan and his family and friends than I could have ever imagined. I look forward to seeing them again in the near future.

Western Oregon is such a beautiful place. I always feel a strange connection with it while I am there. I would say the underlying mystique, is due to the fact that I was born there, but I think it has more to do with all the trees and green surrounding you everywhere you go. We had to be back in Northern California to work on Monday (that’s correct, I am employed now, believe it or not). Ben tested the limits of his engine as we flew to the coast. Short on time we got to hang out around the shore for about 18 hours before making the journey south.

Deciding to take the “scenic route” we didn’t know what we were getting ourselves into. Driving through the center of the Redwood National Park, we found ourselves on some of the windiest, broken roads I’ve encountered, stopping for herds of Elk blocking the road, watching Eagles fly, and eventually following 30-40miles of dirt road into what seemed like nowhere before finding pavement again. It was a beautiful drive, and I’m glad we did it that way, but unless you have about 14 hours to spare, I don’t recommend it.

After making it to the Hotel at about 3am, we woke up the following day and worked hard long hours over the next 4 days, bouncing back and forth from Sacramento, Ione, and San Francisco, at the end of which, we decided to go camping in the Sierras. Passing by home on the way, we threw a few things in the Subaru and headed up the mountain. With visions of catching high altitude lake trout, we failed miserably, but we did do some of the craziest mountain biking I’ve ever done, continuing to challenge and surprise us both around every corner, turning backpacking trails into a biking playground. We did get lost at one point and had to carry our mountain bikes on our shoulders for about 2 hours, while we climbed large granite slabs, and blazed our own trail through the brush. That was pretty brutal, but it was a great weekend. I ache all over. 

I did make it home, for how long? Probably not very. What is next? More of the same I think; work hard, play hard, train hard, travel a lot. I’m still not sure what level of commitment I have towards my own athletic career.  I’m ready to start working off the debt it has left me, like the extra body fat one puts on after years of turning a blind eye to its continued growth. I will train, I will pole vault, but my priorities have been modified. It can work, in 2005 I had one of my best seasons while working part-time at a Newspaper, part-time coaching at Idaho State, and part-time running a private pole vault club. I was a little younger, yes, but you can be the judge in 2013.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Camps Coming Up

With all that's gone on lately I forgot to tell you. I am Coaching a few indoor camps down in Woodland, CA in conjunction with the Yolo Striders. So if you want to have some fun, and learn how to be awesome, you should come. Here are all the details.

Paul Litchfield Pole Vault Camps at The Factory

Vaulters and Coaches,

We are very excited to be able to host two Pole Vault Training Camps with Paul Litchfield. The camps will be held at The Factory in September and in October with the first one scheduled for September 29th and 30th and the second on for October 27th and 28th. The Factory is located at 460 Harter Ave., Woodland, CA. Both camps require a current USATF membership number. See below for details on registration, schedule and pricing. Space is limited to the first 20 paid participants each camp. If you have questions, please don’t hesitate to call me at 530.867.4286.

a.    Equipment: Vaulters are encouraged to bring all necessary gear and poles. Poles can be stored overnight at The Factory. In addition they will utilize pits, standards as well as training devices that may include the use of gymnastics equipment (such as high bars, rings, trampolines, swing-up bars or ropes), and other devices created to assist in the training of athletes in the pole vault.

b.    Poles: We want to be able to provide a positive training experience. Therefore, some vaulters will be allowed to use poles brought to The Factory as part of the camp but only at the specific and express direction/permission of a camp official or coach.

c.     Instruction: Athletes participating in camp will receive instruction on pole vault technique and various vault-specific training strategies from only approved coaches under the direction of Paul Litchfield.

Ø Go to Active.com to register: https://cui.active.com/camps-reg/login?a=283139402
Ø Early Bird Registration ends 9/23/2012 at 11:59 PM.
Ø Online Registration ends 9/28/2012 at 11:59 PM.
Ø Each camp is limited to the first 20 paid participants.

Day 1 Schedule
10:00AM                              Doors Open
10:00AM - 11:00AM        Come in, get setup and comfortable
11:00AM - 12:00PM         Registration
12:00PM - 1:00PM           Introductions, Safety Discussion, Warm up
  1:00PM - 2:30PM            Drills and Specific Strength
  2:30PM - 3:30PM            Lunch, Review
  3:30PM - 5:00PM            Pole Vault Session
  5:00PM - 6:00PM            Pole Vault Gymnastic Conditioning

Day 2 Schedule
  8:30AM                              Doors Open
  9:00AM - 10:00AM         Group Warm up and Drill review
10:00AM - To Finish         PR Competition

Ø Early Bird Special: $150.00 (Before September 24th)
Ø Regular Registration: $175.00
Ø Same Day Registration (If space available): $200.00

We look forward to seeing you.


Pole Vault Coach, YSTFC, WHS
President, Yolo Striders Track & Field Club

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Strength in Tragedy, Colorado, Jackie, and Keegan

I have been wanted to write, but my thoughts are scattered, and I have been unsure of the appropriateness of doing so.
Where do I begin? I left my home in California at 4am Wednesday August 29th to catch a flight out of Sacramento to Phoenix, then Phoenix to Minneapolis. Arriving in the afternoon it was strangely comforting being back in Minnesota. Although I left there to pursue a different path, my time there left me with great friendships and memories. With a good night of sleep I woke up early to jump in a truck with my friend and former athlete, who earlier in the week found out that his travel buddy was unable to help him with the 1,000+ mile drive to Pueblo, CO, so I was happy to help him out and assure that he would have a chance to attend one of his favorite competitions. The favor went both ways, as I could not afford to get myself to the meet on my own and the Kreiger family once more, funded my travel to a competition.
We were making great time to Pueblo. 800+ miles later we arrived in Sterling, CO in 11.5 hours. We grabbed dinner and a hotel room and passed out. Just under 300 miles of driving left I woke up early and did a light workout before hitting the road. When I turned my phone on the first communication that came through was about the passing of my friend of 13 years, former teammate for my entire college career, post-collegiate teammate, and former Coworker during my time on the coaching staff of Idaho State. I’m not sure how to describe how I felt from there, helpless I guess. I knew my Idaho family was in a great deal of pain, and I couldn’t get to them. I was in the middle of the country on my way to a competition in someone else’s vehicle, carrying out a commitment I had no intention of backing out on. It was 7am, I had two beers left in a 6 pack and still in my workout clothes, covered in sweat, I set my phone down, carried them out to the deck of the hotel poured out the first drink and held them to the sky as tears began pouring down my face. That was the last time I got to have a drink with one of my favorite drinking buddies. As I sat there in silence I told myself that those would be the last tears I shed until I arrived in Pocatello. A large group of ISU athletes was already waiting in Pueblo, and we still had an event to attend.
Somehow I managed to win the competition in Pueblo with a jump of 5.45m, over taking Mark Hollis by having less attempts at the previous height. Mark, Rory Quiller, and I all had great attempts at 5.60m, but couldn’t quite leave the bar up. It was shockingly some of the best jumping I’ve done all year.

Now I needed to figure out how to get my friend back to Minneapolis and change my flight to Sacramento, to somewhere closer to Idaho. Knowing he is a tough and responsible kid, Grant and his family felt comfortable with him making the drive alone, and there happened to be a free seat in one of the ISU athletes vehicles headed back to Pocatello. The 700 mile drive went quick, but upon arriving everything changed. It’s been a hard week, but I’m so impressed with the strength I’ve witnessed as the days went on. Even more impressive, is the amount of love and support surrounding this one person.

 I wrote this when I arrived in Pueblo, it was for my own purposes, but now I’m ready to share it.
-It’s been a long time since I drank two beers at 7am. The only reason it was only two was because there were only two available. I recently read something about Jackie that said “This is not a time to drink alcohol. That will not honor Jackie’s memory.” Obviously that asshole didn’t know Jackie. I understand that he is trying to protect athletes, but in this situation, it is not his place. Death has seemed to surround the Idaho State Track and Field program over the past few years, and at the last instance of such I was standing with Jackie, and with tears in her eyes she said “At my funeral I don’t want people to be standing around and crying, you better have a party and you fuckers better be slamming beers.” That is the Jackie I know. She brought joy and laughter to all those around her, even in times of great sadness, times just like this. So crack a joke and don’t be afraid to laugh and smile. With this loss, tears flow easily, grins come with effort, both came to Jackie with ease, a huge heart and massive sense of humor made her the wonderfully unique person that we will remember for all time.
Death is nothing if not cruel. We all have an expiration date and to most of us, we see dying young as a tragedy. It’s hard to see the poetry in such a terrible thing. Cherish in the fact she doesn’t have to experience what you’re experiencing now. With so many loved ones in her life, growing old would have been filled with adventures and joy, but also with sadness and the crushing heartbreak of loss as all those around her eventually passed on. That is something Jackie no longer has to go through. She will never get depressed again, doesn’t have to grow old and senile, or experience chronic pain, and sickness. She gets to remain happy and young from now on.- 

More unplanned travels lie ahead. It’s odd that I wrote the text above on different days and I was unable to post it, because last night I received a phone call I could have never expected. Former Idaho State Pole Vaulter Keegan Burnett took his own life on Monday night. After legitimately cheating death on two different occasions, Keegan ultimately decided that he wanted to have a higher quality of life rather than a larger quantity (is how his father said he put it). Keegan survived a massive head injury  in May of 2007 which would have killed most people, after awaking from a month in a coma, where he endured multiple brain surgeries, he learned how to walk and talk properly again. He went on to live a life filled with adventure and ambition, only to be dealt another stroke of bad luck. While night skiing in January of this year Keegan crashed and shattered his T-12 vertebrae and ruptured C-4 and C-5, leaving him paralyzed from the waste down.
I can’t be angry with Keegan for the decision he made. A selfish act is the term most use, for the pain he has caused those he left behind, but with these types of circumstances we should not judge him. A man whose entire existence and happiness revolved around athletics and outdoor sports, any one of us would consider the same fate. Keegan just had the courage to go through with it. I will miss Keegan, he was the most hard-headed person I have ever met, he loved to argue, and always had to be right. Everything he did, had to be done his way, he even got the final say in the order of his own demise. I used to say to him when we spoke “Your just impossible to kill.”, he even proved me wrong there.

 All this pain is a worthy price we must all pay for loving with our hearts and feeling those powerful emotions and connections returned to us by such wonderful people. 

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Competition Time Again

           August has been fantastic. I spent most of my days hanging out with family and friends, and deciding which adventure tomorrow would bring. In and out of Auburn and the house, I’ve used it more as a storage unit and travel hub. For awhile there, I was actually feeling a bit weird, and without purpose, I knew that I needed some sort of goal or project to challenge me and return me to a sense of purpose. Saying no to every outside opportunity that came my way for the past 12 months, in an effort to remain on the task of training harder and smarter than ever, I feared as my main and sole purpose came to end all those opportunities that came my way were missed.  It was a small voice inside filling me with doubt, but its presence still an annoying itch I was unable to scratch. I knew if I stayed positive and open to the possibility of projects coming my way, they would show up as they always have in the past. They are all starting to appear at once, and with them my state of overall emotional well-being has sky rocketed.
            Tomorrow I fly out to link up with a friend and former athlete to head to Pueblo Colorado for the State Fair Street Vault. I haven’t jumped from a competition run since July 30th. I did take some decent short run jumps one night while my brother was in town a few weeks ago, because I wasn’t going to pass on that opportunity, but I’m a little curious to see how this competition turns out for me. I’m excited for the travel and being reunited with my vault buddies and former athletes, it is a very well put together meet, and always a good time. I really hope that I can put up a good performance and entertaining show, but mostly I’m just going there to have fun. So I’m headed out back after lunch to charge down the runway from 127’ with some 16’5” poles to see if I can pop over a few decent bars. Good or bad, this session won’t effect my confidence or enthusiasm for the weekend to come, I just figured I ought to get out there and clean some rust off the gears.  

Monday, August 20, 2012

Summer Video Blog

      I know I haven’t written in awhile, and I apologize to those of you that stuck around. The main reason I continued to decline to do so was the fact that I have been spending most of my time in areas where I have a fairly difficult time accessing the internet, and as for my cellular device, well it hardly works in major cities, let alone out in the hills, and to be completely honest with you, there were days when I thought that I was done posting to this blog for good. But I’m back, this week at least, and I have learned many valuable lessons in my time away. Hosting the least amount of competitions I have attended in a summer since 2003, I took the time for myself, and have been going out and doing all the things I have missed over the years. With the end of this chapter, a new kind of journey awaits me, and there is plenty of positive to ramble on about, but for now I thought I would give you a visual aid. This is my short and sweet Summer Video Blog. I hope you enjoy it.

Typical technology, google is not allowing me to post this video on the blog for whatever reason. So this link will take you to it. 


Friday, July 20, 2012

Posters for Sale on The VAULTER Mag

Well I've been busy doing upper body workouts and therapy while cutting down on most impact oriented activities. I have also been pursuing permanent help for my back problem. In this brief period I'm taking off, I'm also filling my time playing in the available mountains, job searching, and preparing to do some pole vault camps. Information on camps will be available soon. Sounds like I may be taking a few short run jumps with Derick Hinch in the backyard today while he is passing through town to help him prepare for the Clovis Street Vault. I haven't taken a jump from a short run since December, so I'm looking forward to it.

The good folks at The Vaulter Magazine are selling posters to help raise funds for post-collegiate athletes like myself. Here is the link to purchase. Mary Saxer is on one side and I am on the other, here are the images. So buy some awesome posters!

Here is the link to purchase.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Summer Play Days

Sorry, but I don’t really have anything new and awesome to report. Since my last competition I spent the week trying to find another one that would not cost me twice as much money to travel too, than I could earn. There don’t appear to be any. So instead of training like normal I’m doing alternate strenuous physical work like biking, hiking climbing, and whitewater rafting, all of which are very close by, and only cost me the little amount that I spend in gas and food. However, I still do my ring workouts because I enjoy them so much. I guess the job search must begin since even a small career in the vault is not possible at the moment and I’ve done a great job of letting the bills pile up while I spent the year focused on training and competing only. I have also started the process of trying to find real help with my back problem. Only a few weeks of normal life and already my left leg is getting very numb. I trip on stair steps and uneven ground, and because of the funny way I am walking to compensate, my left knee has begun to hurt in a way that it never has in the past. If you’re reading this and you know any kick ass back surgeons that would consider pro bono work for a broke athlete who is poor of finance, but rich in heart, let me know. Otherwise the days ahead are still very unknown to me. I’ll do my best to keep this updated, but I’m afraid to say that I don’t see much pole vault in my near future. Meanwhile if you look close enough you may spot me high on the side of a cliff, or flying down a Mountain bike trail grinning from ear to ear.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

When will I jump again?

I competed yesterday on Alki Beach in Seattle, WA. I only managed to clear my opening height of 5.27m (17'3") and sneak into 3rd place. It was a rough day from the start. I woke up in the morning to find out my laptop of 6 years, that had survived my abuse, 2 operating systems, and travelling the world, finally kicked the bucked. So that was a bummer. Then a standard one hour drive from where I was staying to where I was competing, became a three hour drive from hell surrounded by some of the most selfish A-hole drivers I have ever encountered, because of construction we were unaware of. I arrived at the meet with about 30 minutes to get ready, after sitting in the car for three hours and doing everything in my power not to jump out and start throwing rocks at the cars who's drivers deserve to be drug out of their freshly broken windows and beaten within an inch of their lives in the street. You know the ones I'm talking about. It was unpleasant, and emotionally I'm still not all put back together since the Trials. So when I arrived at the meet, I was a little put off and couldn't shake it. I did manage to clear a height though. After I went out of the competition I got to see some great jumps by Bryson Stately and Scott Roth. It's too bad I couldn't put on a better show for the crowd because it was huge, and they were excited about pole vault. But Scott and Bryson stepped it up and saved face for the rest of us. I have to say, I did wind up with one of the best pole vault t-shirts I have ever seen, and that is saying a lot, because I have more than I can count. I'm wearing it proudly at the moment actually. So a shout out to whoever designed this year's Beach Vault shirts if your reading this, thanks. And thanks again Becca (polevaultpower.com, Club Northwest) for hosting two fantastic Beach competitions once again. So what now? That's one hell of a question, it comes up every day in conversation and is on my mind probably 90% of the time. There aren't any meets in a travel range I can afford. So, start working, pick coaching back up, start doing camps, go overseas, play in the outdoors, give up pole vault, continue training for a year, continue training for four years, drive deep into the woods and vanish for an unknown period of time and emerge a wise and powerful hermit/monk? All of these things sound like viable options, and making decisions about any of them seems near impossible at the moment. If I ever make it home, I guess I'll just see which one grabs me. I do want to jump, I feel like I was robbed of my peak performance I had been saving up for, but maybe that window has past. The circuits in Europe seem a bit dried up until mid August, without an agent it's hard to really tell, but I'm doing what I can to find out. Right now, the financial numbers are too far against me. A guy who hasn't made a USA Team, or jumped 19' is not exactly a hot ticket item in the pole vault world. Meanwhile, there are rocks to be climbed, trails to be rode, rivers to be run, and more backyard jumping to be done. The sun is always shining somewhere, and the playgrounds of the earth are calling.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Perfect Moment

Wednesday I competed at the Tacoma Freedom Fair Beach Vault. Normally I get almost overwhelmingly excited for street and beach competitions, but since the Trials my attitude towards Pole Vault has been fairly pessimistic. I did my best to warm up and get into the meet but my heart just wasn't in it. I was really dragging my feet with my head down. It wasn't until I cleared my opening height of 5.26m (17'3") that lightning struck. As I was safely falling through the air after clearing the bar, time slowed down, and my inner Angels and Demons sat down to have a quiet drink and discuss my current state of being. The outcome of the treaty was outstanding, because as soon as I struck the gentle embrace of that wonderful landing pad the world around me, that once seemed so simple, came back into focus again. It said "This is pole vault Paul, welcome back my friend". I love this sport so much, and I'm so happy to be able to do it. It all happened in a flash, my attitude repaired, my emotions repaired, my spirit repaired. People say that perfection is impossible, but that was a perfect moment. I finished the competition in second place with a height of 5.41m (17'9") and was very happy with the result. I keep telling everyone, 'that was just what I needed'. I'm very excited to get to compete again on Saturday at the Alki Beach Vault in Seattle, regardless of placing or height result. I feel free again, free to just pole vault, and enjoy it. I don't need an A-standard or a few more stress filled centimeters, there are no deadlines, restrictions, or outside pressures. I spoke with my coach last week and said that I'm still setup for a new lifetime best, or even my illusive Unicorn of clearing 19', and he said stop thinking of it that way, don't put a number on your success. I took me awhile to process it, and it sank in during my long fall from 17'3" in the air. I don't need a reason other than, I get to jump and I jump for me.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

The Man in the Arena

This is a quote my Father asked me to read after my defeat on Monday. Thanks Dad.

-The Man in the Arena-
"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat." -Theodore Roosevelt

I really did try my best. You can blame conditions or officials, but 11 men still rose to the occasion and I was not one of them. They earned their right to compete again on Thursday for the mere 3 positions available on USA Men's Olympic Pole Vault Team, and I commend them for there performance. It is hard for me, but I will remain in Eugene for the duration of the Olympic trials too eye witness who continues on and I will proudly applaud them. The painful truth about the Glory of the Olympic Trials is there are (hopefully my numbers are close) 9 running events, 8 field events, plus the Decathlon and Heptathlon equaling 36 events (men and women combined) they take roughly 24 athletes per event and 3 make the team, making around 864 competitors, and only 108 of them go to London. Meaning 756 of those athletes and their families leave Eugene in tears.

The best way to describe how I've been feeling, since my final failed attempt in the prelim, is confused. There is pain, and anger that is perfectly natural, but mostly confusion. I don't know what to do now. After the competition I was so lost, I went to the warm up area and ran, then I stretched, then I ran some more. With my headphones blasting I kept my emotions at bay. I could not bring myself to leave the warm up area for two reasons. I knew that once I set foot past that barrier, I was no longer an athlete at the Olympic Trials, but a spectator. The second reason being that I didn't think I could face my friends and family that waited outside the gates. 

I did eventually leave, despite the strong urge to sleep there for the next week or year, and I have been doing surprisingly well. Thankfully I am here with some of my favorite and most beloved friends and family. They are making this all much easier for me. Hiding out in the Mountains outside of Cottage Grove where cell phones and internet are not functional, we've been filling our time with hikes, wildlife siting's, icing our legs in the river, playing Koob in the driveway (an awesome Viking game of throwing sticks and logs), climbing 100' pine trees, and unloading hundreds of rounds of ammunition. It's all been a great distraction, but real life has to pick back up eventually. 

Everyone keeps asking me 'what are you doing now?', meaning, now, a month from now, a year from now, etc., and the answer continues to remain the same, I don't know. I really wish that I did, because that would be a fraction of the clarity that I am surely lacking. I'm having some difficulty pulling my mind out of these newly acquired bad memories or even seeing one day into the future, but thankfully I'm managing to enjoy the present. I keep telling myself that there is a lesson to be learned from all this, and in time I will decipher it. Maybe a lesson is not the best way to describe it, but better, a reason. What that reason is, will only be revealed with time and remaining in the moment and staying out of the past is the best way to allow the mystery to unfold. I'm guessing that it must be an absolutely fantastic one, to make up for this disaster. For every low, there is a high, for every trough, there is a crest. I'm at the bottom of a trough, and I'm excited to see the view from the top. 

I am starting to see the future as a road on the map. I was headed down one road that led to a particular glory, but I have been diverted. I'm still heading in the same direction, but my destination has changed. I've already driven through all the storms, obstacles and steep grades, I have smashed through the point of no return, where a quitter would turn back. A parallel route to a kind of glory, only this road is completely foreign, unknown, mysterious, and unpredictable. Probably a better suited route for a guy like me anyway. The adventure continues.  

Friday, June 22, 2012

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Reaching Out for Help

            In 2004 and 2008 I traveled and competed for months spending every dime I had, and exhausting all available credit given to me to post a reasonable qualifying mark for the Olympic Trials. In 2004 in a tie with two other athletes at 5.50m, we were bumped off the final list by 1 centimeter. I went to the 2004 Trials, watched from the stands, and even had to look at my own biography printed in the event program (they must have ordered them before the final lists came out). I looked at a picture of myself amongst great athletes and I made a promise that never again would I watch an event like this from the sidelines. 
            In 2008 I sat next to the phone waiting for a call saying that I was one of the last athletes to be accepted into the competition. The phone call came, but came with bad news, “you will not be competing at the Olympic Trials” a voice said, heart break followed, I had failed again, and broken my own promise. My Subaru sat in the driveway at the ready, full tank of gas, poles loaded on the roof rack, clothes, uniform, and sleeping bag. I remember wondering the hills on my mountain bike, and playing hours of disc golf over the next 24 hours to try and help kill the pain, but nothing seemed to help. The following morning, another call came, “your in the meet, you need to get to Eugene as fast as possible.” Knowing the Mens prelim was in about 48 hours, I had to get from Pocatello, ID to Eugene, OR as fast as possible. Convinced to fly by a great friend, I charged a one way plane ticket to my credit card, hopped a flight and headed over. The same friend Paul Gensic drove all the way to Portland (because poles can’t be flown into Eugene) picked me up and let me crash on his tiny hotel room floor despite the fact that his pregnant wife was in the room with us. It was so kind of them to look after me and I am forever grateful. The Gensic family was helping me with meals, Paul’s parents even chipped in. Other than that, I was eating a mass of free crackers, chicken salad, yogurt, and granola bars provided in the few athlete hospitality areas to supplement the meals that I was unable to pay for. The story gets funnier from there, but is long, to summarize; Parents came for awhile, crashed with them, coach came, crashed with him, hitched a ride to Seattle and back to compete, slept on the ground in random locations in Seattle, came back to Eugene and hitched a ride to Idaho in a car my coach borrowed, poles fell off on the road at one point. It was an interesting trip to say the least.
            So as you can see, money, was not something I had. It was hard for me to swallow when I found out that the other two athletes my Coach had come to work with at the Trials were both paying him $1,000 dollars for his travel and his trouble. He and I both knew that this was an impossibility for me, and he never asked for a dime. But to this day it is still a blow to my ego, was embarrassing at the time, and upsetting to the other two athletes. There was nothing I could do. After a summer of competition I was able to lay $500 aside and gave it to him immediately upon my return to Pocatello, hoping that I could come up with another $500 as time went on. I couldn’t, and it still bothers me.
            This time around I want him to know how important it is too me to pay him that amount or more. A wonderful group of people put together a fund raising event for me before I left on this last trip to southern California. When they gave me the money they said ‘use this money in the best way you see fit to give yourself the right situation and opportunities to make the Olympic Team’. Having my coach there at the meet is the right situation and best opportunity for me to have a chance at making the Olympic Team. So using some of that money to pay him seems logical to me. He is not a rich man, and has developed his own set of hardships in the last year. He needs help, just like I need help, and I need him. He would go for free, but I don’t want that. After traveling around California this past month, I still have enough money to get to Eugene and handle all my expenses, but I don’t have enough to pay Dave, and I have too. It’s hard for me to explain how important it is to me, but it is. I can spare about $500, again, and a good friend of mine is throwing in $250. So I only need $250 more, then I reach my $1,000 goal for a coach who in my opinion is worth $1,000,000. I don’t like asking for help, and I don’t like asking for money. This is humbling and difficult for me. So I’m reaching out to you. My donation button on this blog is directly linked to a checking account I can access from anywhere. If you can spare a few bucks and want to help me and help the man who got me to where I am today, please do. It’s easy to donate and I will be forever grateful.
6/21/2012 -The money came in. No need for anymore donations. Dave is getting his well deserved $1,000! Thank you so much.-

            On a lighter note, the radiator in my car cracked today and luckily I was only a few miles away from one of my best friends Steve Murschel, who is an amazing mechanic and was still at work. I’m so glad that it happened today while I was in town, instead of tomorrow when I will be hundreds of miles from home, on my way to one of the biggest Track and Field events in the world. A few bucks out of the travel fund, a brand new radiator, the Subaru, as always, presses on and I’m confident it will carry me safely on yet another great adventure. Thanks for bailing me out again Steve.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Staying Relaxed, 5.55m Plus Video

       There is a lot I want to say, but I'm so tired. You know how you feel after driving through the night, or missing a night of sleep out partying or working? Well that's how I feel, and I've pretty much felt this way for a few days. I'm experiencing a fog of delirium, and writing at the moment seems a bit difficult. After competing in a sequence of Thursday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday (which was a brutally hot day) with lots of driving in between, I'm out of it. My body is beat down, and my mind is crippled. But I do have some video of my jumps yesterday so I will put them up, and possibly write more later. Before I give up on my literary ability for the day I must share something.
        I finally understand how to give myself the opportunity to really jump high. By relaxing and allowing it to happen, things have become much easier and feel effortless. Even with the amount of fatigue I've had, I've been higher in the air with ease. By trying so hard in weeks prior to force a result I was creating an even larger obstacle in my path. I had become my worst enemy, as the saying goes. When I finally relaxed, I disconnected myself emotionally by becoming carefree or fearless of an undesired outcome or complete failure. I just turned by brain off and enjoyed the ride. At some point you have to realize that you are so physically fit and technically prepared from all the time you put in, you have to stop trying so hard to use that fitness and technique, and allow it to do its job without trying to force it to, you have to step out of its way and take the ride, get out of the drivers seat and become the passenger in your own body. It really works, and pole vault suddenly is easy and fun again. With proper rest and a continued path of relaxation through the release of fear and anxiety I believe more in myself and dreams than I ever have.
         Here is some video, sorry for the rough angle but my tripod is a piece of junk, and Tyler did his best. Thanks for shooting for me buddy. Here is my third attempt make at 5.55m (18'2.5"), which was also my opening height that day, because I figured I was only good for a few jumps and didn't want to waste any. There is also a clip of my first attempt at 5.61m, which was my closest height wise, the other two were good jumps, but blow-throughs (which means my pole was too small) and not as impressive looking on video. Enjoy, I'm going to take a nap now, possibly for a few days.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Quick Update

       I jumped my opening height of 5.40m (17'8.5") at Mount San Antonio College yesterday on my first attempt. I was unable to clear the next height of 5.60m (18'4.5"), but it was for much better reasons than my previous few outings. On my first attempt, my pole was too small, I grabbed a bigger pole, my second attempt was no good, and my third attempt that pole was too small, way too small, which is a great sign. By being more relaxed on the runway and emotionally detached from the outcomes of the future, I was on bigger poles, higher in the air, and very consistent, with what felt like much less effort. Pole Vault felt easy, and fun again, as it should. It was a great day of jumping and I'm excited to be back enjoying what I love doing. There are still questions about what fate has in store for me in the next few weeks, but I know better now than to allow them to consume my thoughts.

Sunday, June 10, 2012


           My intension in starting this blog and continuing with it has always been the hope that it can inspire others who need it most, and in the process I’ve realized that it has become a valuable tool for me in dealing with the difficulties of the life I’ve chosen.
I felt it necessary to submit an update, but it probably was not the best of timing. After my last posting I received a few phone calls and emails from people close to me, expressing their concern. Despite my efforts, I was unable to gloss over my real feelings with positive truths as usual, and readers saw right through into its grim nature. I do my best to be as open and honest as possible sharing the real world of post-collegiate pole vaulting, but as any athlete will admit, some days you just can’t spin positive out of what feels like a cloud of negative surrounding you. I must apologize for that, so I am very sorry.
            The reality of how I truly felt Thursday, Friday, and Saturday is simple, I felt like shit, I was pissed, and depressed as hell. But I didn’t really want to share that, because what good does that do anyone, including me. I don’t like complaining, and I don’t like bringing other people down when I am down. I generally distance myself from society until it passes and in this case I fear my self pity may have infected a few others. But now, it’s ok to talk about it, because it is in the past. I’m not down anymore, and no, I’m not glossing again, I’m being 100% honest. I feel resurrected. It just took me longer than normal to shake the frustration and anxiety associated with the powerful fear of failure. I’ve left that coward behind, and I don’t expect to hear his whining little voice anymore.
            It started happening sometime last night, I finally began letting go of that fear, and when I woke up this morning it was gone completely. Like exorcising a demon, I feel better than I have in weeks. Sounds almost manic, but believe me it isn’t. Science hasn’t created a pill for the symptom I have, “obsessing over triumph”, and if they do, we should probably rally together to destroy it.
            Everything is happening exactly as it should be, or it wouldn’t have happened this way at all. My faith in myself has been returned with new vigor, and the nightmare that I saw in front of me has been wiped clean with visions of success and happiness.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Back on the Bubble

          The beginning of this rest period didn’t turn out quite to be the magic I was expecting. Warming up yesterday I felt fairly rested and ready to go, much better than the previous few competitions I have attended, but it was still not enough. I thought I had a logical plan in mind to prevent the previous running and approach problems that have been occurring, but that logic, based on numbers, cost me. I wound up failing to clear a height once again, in track and field we call that a “No Height”. It was embarrassing and hard to swallow, two appearances at the Olympic Training Center, and two horrible looking failures in front of my friends and peers. On top of that I got to see three great vaulters move up on the national list once more, moving me down now to a four way tie for 19th in the US. I was excited for each of them, and was positively charged by witnessing there success, but I could hear a small voice of fear inside who continues to try and grow stronger. That damn voice, it knows that there now is a distinct chance that, unless I increase my season best by a centimeter or so, I may not even get the opportunity to compete at the Olympic Trials. Scary right? I know. Rumor on the OTC campus is that USATF is saying they would rather have 20 male vaulters compete at the trials rather than 25 if possible. As of last night, I am one of those guys right on the edge again, "on the bubble" as they say, and there are still 10 days to compete and post qualifying marks, and plenty of capable guys out there.  
            I don’t like the sound of it, anymore than you do. I try to block out thoughts like this, but they find their way through. There is a great deal to be positive about though, despite all these setbacks I still have not revealed my true capability. With some more tapering in the upcoming days I will be sharper and stronger than ever. The anxiety associated with trying to best my own mark would normally trick me into competing several times in a row, but this time I told myself absolutely not. I could compete tomorrow, but I chose not too, knowing that very capable and talented guys will be, and may push me down the list even further. I can’t allow myself to continue to follow other people’s paths, I know what is best for me, and I have to stay calm, focused and patient.  So I’ve chosen to compete again on Tuesday, giving myself the proper rest my body needs, despite a strong urge begging me to try again tomorrow.
            This all seems so unnecessary to me, I truly expected to have jumped higher by now. I never thought I would have to deal with this stress again, and here I am, for the third time. At this point accepting whatever fate has in store for me is probably my best line of defense. I’ve done absolutely everything in my power and can look back on this period of my life with no regret despite the outcome. 

Monday, June 4, 2012

V10 Engine

            From late April to early May I forced what felt like a few too many meets into a short block of time, the results of which proved to be physically daunting, but mentally empowering. I even have entries in my training log stating that I should probably not push my body that hard for the rest of the season, or ever again. So without having too try too hard at a guess, what do you think I did once I got down to Southern California…… three competitions in six day’s. You can see that I didn’t exactly take my own advice. What can I say? I got bit by the bug immediately after arrival, and momentarily lost site of the big picture. When there are opportunities to succeed, it’s hard to pass them up despite your better judgment.
            After failing to clear a height at the third meet, I knew it was time to reassess my diverted path. Before contacting my “voices of reason” (a few very important people), I was struck with a strong curiosity, how much rest have I actually been taking?  So back to the training log I go. Minus resting with the flu (because that doesn’t really count) in the past 4 weeks I had taken exactly 3 days rest, and even on those days I did some kind of warm up or activation. So I pressed further into the pages of my journal 5 weeks 6 days rest, 6 weeks 8 days rest, 7 weeks 10 days rest, 8 weeks 12 days rest. I finally stopped. It seemed though the further back I went the more logical my training had been. It’s clear that the week of the flu throws the rhythm off. After feeling recovered enough, the anxiety of having missed 5 days of training took over and I began pounding away to play catch up everyday for 10 days straight, including 1 competition in the mix before I finally took a day off, only to compete the following day again, then again 2 days later…..idiot.
            So what does it all mean? Well for starters the negative outlook is that I’ve broken myself down a bit, and have now forced an involuntary rest along with this revelation of sorts, but there is nothing so terrible that it won’t heal in a few days. I do see a massive benefit too all this, having gone far enough back into the pages of my journal I’ve realized that I haven’t truly rested for a competition outdoors. In other words, I’ve been traveling around with a V10 engine, but when I compete I’m only firing on about 7 cylinders. Which was always the plan, and appears to still be on track, but the frustration associated with poor performance results easily clouds the big picture allowing me too veer off at times, but not anymore. 
            Pat Manson once told me that you should look at training like putting money in a bank account (maybe I’ve told you this before, or he has) all the hard time you put in, is an investment in yourself, and its building interest daily. At some point you have to stop investing, make a massive withdrawal and go on a spending spree. He may have phrased it differently, but you get the point. My investment days were high quality and now reach back years, not months. In my opinion I’m sitting on a sum greater than ever, meaning that my days of manic spending are just over the horizon, and that its time to engage those last 3 cylinders.