18' 1" Olympic Trials 2008

18' 1" Olympic Trials 2008

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Just More Rain and Train

Waiting for the fire.
It’s quite cold today down in the barn, the old storage shed and tool shop, I now call home and gym. More weather has come in, and this time it’s a bit colder. I curse myself once again for celebrating this climate. When the truth of the matter is that everywhere you go, there are downs and ups. It’s not the place, it’s the resident. Nowhere is perfect, if there is a true paradise that is not in danger of tornado, fire, tsunami, hurricane, etc, then I’m sure the super rich are doing an exceptional job of keeping it out of public knowledge, alongside a mass of other ‘need to know’ topics. But I digress. Peering out the cold single pain window into the grey wet gloom that is a Saturday looking extremely familiar to the previous month, I patiently wait for the fire to raise the temperature to an acceptable training level. Creating a decent atmosphere that will host the second of two short training sessions on the day. They were designed one week ago not specifically for peak physical condition, but mostly for psychological survival. Clouds and rain can be depressing, working out is always uplifting, and spreading the free joy throughout different periods of an uneventful day can prove therapeutic.

I was talking with a friend the other day regarding training, and I said “With all this rain, I’m getting plenty strong, that’s for sure. Upper body, core and stabilizer strength that is, my leg speed……I’m not so sure.” I went on to say that it doesn’t concern me, but it does at times. Almost all the data that is out there supports a technical pole vault model based on speed, and I just don’t have it anymore (you could argue, I never did, but changing such is even more difficult now). I hang onto the evidence that a few men over the years, just a few mind you, have been clocked at slower (less than 9m/s) speeds and taken some incredible jumps. These jumps are outliers. The result is most likely do to a splendid conservation of energy and high percentage of efficiency in its management throughout the jumps entirety. But this is not an invitation to start an ongoing debate on my blog or via email please, it’s just stuff I think about so save it for the message board. I have to become one of these outliers, and I will. I have an individual formula that will work. The odds are heavily against me regarding the matter, despite other issues, but maybe that is why I continue to press on through this madness, sometimes I wonder.

Seeing results around the country, and the knowledge of my friends competing and starting there outdoor seasons has made me a bit impatient to start my own. But looking at a broad picture full of goals and dreams, suddenly even April 14th seems too close. They have their thing, and I have mine. I have too keep reminding myself that I’m on the right path for me and my circumstances, and following the masses would be a grave error.

I have officially had 3 vault sessions on the backyard setup now. That makes 3 vault practices outdoors and 5 total in 2012 (not counting competition). One of which (out back) I have already shared with you. The second was forced into the middle of a tiresome training cycle do too a supposed break in the weather, and after warm up and prep, I set foot on the runway for my first jump (from a full run of course) in a headwind, and the rain started. It was fairly light at first and since I had already gone through all that effort I figured I would be tough, and give it a shot. I managed to fully complete 1 out of a total of 8 attempts, and figured if I cut myself off, I had enough energy in the reserves to possibly come back the next day (also a chance at a weather break) and try again. So I did, session 3; the next day, after morning rain, the sun broke through and the wind was polite. I started jumping from a full run, sore and tired. I managed to clear one lonely bar of 17’1” and failed to turn upside down once after. I tried and tried until I found myself further and further away from a safe landing location in such a large mat, meanwhile my boring better judgment took over and that was the end of that practice. Believe it or not, there were more positive things to take away from the day than negative. Two examples of which; Item one being a few glimpses of what felt like decent speed through a tired pair of legs. Item two being that through fatigue, I still was forced to get on my second pole again, and unlike session one, this time I made it work, instead of having to swallow my pride and demote myself to save the workout.
These are small victories, but still victories in my mind. It is important to take away the positive from a session and not to dwell on the negative, promote the good habits and don’t destroy your ego through mass concern on the bad ones. 

Saturday, March 24, 2012

FINALLY! Jumping out Back + Video

I would have liked to have some higher quality jump footage to post for you, but with everything that has transpired I was lucky to have the strength to run at all. Despite my lack of exceptional technique or power it was still a very exciting day for me. The local newspaper came by to see how the project progressed and to check in on me, to see how training was going. I could very well have taken a small pole from a short run and popped a few pretty looking jumps for photo purposes. But I told them that in the larger scheme of things the psychological benefits of doing no drills, no short run jumps, and going straight back to my competition run was very important to me. A powerful demonstration of confidence in myself as I am now far more driven to succeed in the mental side of being an athlete than the physical side. It was my goal to go down there with the same two poles I used during the indoor season and have the courage to charge in from my competition approach and take jumps regardless of my poor physical state. I grabbed the first 5m pole in my series that was pole #1 of 2 throughout the entire indoor season; It only took me three trips down the runway, and a few step adjustments, to complete a jump over a modest opening height of 5.05m (16'7"). Not bad considering it was on a runway that has never been tested, a box that has never been tested, no good mats covering the standards, I haven't vaulted in a month, and it was my first outdoor vaulting session of 2012. It may seem simple to you, but to me, it was extremely satisfying and a psychological triumph that will carry me much further than an amount of weight I can lift in a weight room, or a time I produced through a set of laser timers.
It went something like this....

After that, to my surprise I blew through the pole I was jumping on. Meaning I would have to go up to pole #2 from the indoor season, the only other pole I used. It was a nice surprise (I credit it to the nice tail-wind that continued to assist me ) but it was still a welcome one. So I went to the larger pole, the same pole that I have jumped 18'1" with 3 times in the last 9 months. Not getting greedy I only raised the bar to 5.20m (17'1") had a hard time moving the pole a few times, completed one failed attempt, got spanked a few more times, then went back down poles and took a jog down the runway to clear the bar of 17'1" and end the day with a successful attempt (ugly, but still successful).
Here is kind of how it went. My camera died and we used a phone to finish shooting and my video editor is angry with these files so here is the best I could come up with...

Bigger Pole...Rejected, Miss, Rejected, Rejected, down to a smaller pole and a clearance at 17'1".

Bigger jumps coming soon.....
Your future is what you make it.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Pictures and Update

The last two days have finally been rain free. Lately I was feeling like I was watching a little bit too much TV and I felt like it was a huge waste of my time. So I decided to stop watching any TV or Movies for 10 days, guess what happened on day one, rain, and rained it has for almost everyday of the ten days. I've gotten a lot of great upper body and core workouts in though. Anyway, I'm rambling.
The rain cut into my backyard pit project heavily, thinking I was ready to jump down there, the rain proved I was far from prepared. When the sun finally came out yesterday, I took advantage of the great weather and started the rebuilding process. It was a long hard day to be added onto several days in a row of mad labor in mud and rain. Needless to say they have taken a toll on my back. Three days ago we sank my Dads rear wheel drive truck in the mud while working, then spent the following day digging it out with shovels (3 different times and locations) and finally yanking it free with my Subaru, which I have to add, is the best damn car known to man, I could write pages about its exploits, but added to that list now is pulling a 3/4 ton pickup out of the mud, 3 times.

The pit is completely up off the ground now, safe from mother nature. The box is sank and protected, the standards are on pallets, and everything is covered with 2 massive tarps that water will not penetrate. There is 140' of cement runway laid, cured and covered in black rubber. The last 10' of runway I plan to install continues to evade me as I cannot get the truck to it in the mud, and mixing and pouring cement in downpour rain is no fun. However, the area is jump ready, safe and solid.
It's dry out today, not clear, but dry. However the rain will come in the afternoon, take friday off, then continue through the weekend. Surrounded with pain throughout 80 to 90% of my aching body last night, the excitement of jumping the following day clouded my vision with delusions of attempting to do so. When I woke this morning I felt like I had been jumped by a biker gang on PCP. It was hard to even stand. Now with high doses of anti-inflams and black coffee i'm feeling functional, but aware enough that jumping is not in the cards today. Tomorrow? That's still a viable option in my mind and will most likely take place. The christening of my own vault area, exciting.
I had meant to take completed photos to post, but the urgency to cover the pits before dark and the next storm came over me last night, and once completed there was not enough light for photos, plus they would just be of a huge tarp with a massive strangely shaped lump underneath them.
But here are some photos in the mean time.

The beginning.

Later on..

Fetching Rubber from Idaho

Rear forms

Prep'n for the pits (We have triple this amount of Pallets now)

Shots from yesterday

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Confidence over Volume

Sunday was an exciting day, well, day and night. I spent it moving pole vault pits from a friend’s house to my backyard. Overjoyed with the task I told all of my friends who are passing through town this spring, and to each of them I finished with “I’ll send you pictures tomorrow during the daylight”, being impossible at that moment as the project was completed in the late evening hours. I awoke Monday morning to dark clouds and rain, and rained it has, for the past three days. I feel like I brought it on myself talking about how fantastic the weather is here all the time, but no matter. It’s actually pretty funny. I would snap some photos, but with the presence of a massive tarp and the lack of presence of the sun, the photos would not paint a picture that I would enjoy sharing.

The backyard project is not completely finished, but it is jumpable. My runway is currently 140’, so another 10’ slab will go in when it stops raining. The rubber is down, the standards are patiently on standby, waiting for the nice cement pads to be poured so they have a strong level place to sit and relax while I go sailing over the high bars they are so kind to hold up for me. By all means I could go down there and jump right now, from a full run, in the rain, with the standards on pallets and it would work, but I’m not that desperate just yet.

The ten day forecast does not look promising for a jump day anytime soon, but hopefully the weather folks aren’t quite on the mark. Regardless of that I am making good use of my time away from the runway and the runway project. There were plenty of things I had been delaying or holding at bay in order to get jumping again. As the rain has prevented me from doing so, my productivity level in these other areas has skyrocketed. So rather than seeing the rain as a detriment, as I very well could, I choose to see it as necessary and part of the larger scheme of things. The timing seems a bit odd, but this is the way it was supposed to happen, or it would have happened differently. The end result (or goal) remains unchanged in my mind, and that is what really matters.

Not so often, but from time to time, well the anxiety of time creeps into my conscious. At the end of indoors, even though results didn’t show it, I felt like I was on the verge of breaking through to another level, right at a cusp, if you will. So the urgency to continue down this path through volume of jumping pokes fun at my confidence when it can. So I continually remind myself that early on indoors I jumped from a full run Dec 2nd, for the first time since early September when I thrashed my ankle in Colorado, then did not do it again until Jan 14th in competition, and I did just fine, jumped 17’7”. Which is nothing to write home about, but it’s not bad for 3 competition run sessions in 4 months. And I’m a hell of a lot better now than I was then. So, I’m not fretting this little 2 and a half week gap between my sessions. That’s nothing, and it will probably extend to 3 and half or 4 if the weather folks have there way. The truth is that I’ve put the volume in, I know how to jump (some could argue I still haven’t learned, but that is another discussion) if I remain confident and healthy during the gaps between sessions, I will pick up right where I left off, without the need to start the process all over.

I traveled with a mere four poles in my bag during the indoor season, all of which were 5m (16’5”); I only jumped on two of them, the entire time. For my first outdoor session, I will walk down to my runway with only those two poles, when the weather permits, and I will take successful jumps.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Project Therapy

It’s been an extremely productive week, maybe too productive in some ways. After pushing hard at the end of indoors, all the travel, and a nasty virus or two, it’s always wise to take some time off too recover properly. I’m not good at resting, but I’m doing my best. A day off of training in my mind is a day to get chores done. On an awesome piece of property like this the projects and chores never end. It is especially intriguing for me as I grew up here with all this freedom to play outdoors, and then trapped myself in the small indoor and outdoor spaces that are common place in dorms, apartment complexes, and duplex style housing for the past 13 years since I left the nest. Now I’m back, and everyday that its sunny (which is almost everyday) I’m like a little kid again. When I walk out of my door I see projects and possibilities of fun. In the first few weeks I returned I made four different features for my downhill bike, installed two disc golf baskets and ten tee placements, cleaned an area for my slack line, picked out places for a high bar and rings in the trees, climbed a ton of other trees, and ultimately measured several potential locations for a vault runway and have almost completed the process of installing it. The projects themselves are a very important type of therapy and meditation for me. Creating and completing something is one of the most gratifying things in life and I cherish it.

Compared to where I have lived in the past few years, this place feels like an ultimate paradise to me. The weather is incredible, and I’m in the mountains, hard to top that. This is the first winter in more than ten years that I did not get seasonal depression in the winter, probably because it didn’t ever feel like winter to me this year. That has been a very nice, needed change. My parents land is a playground, and I feel very blessed that they were willing to take me in again as an adult and support me in a dream that others don’t believe in. It was embarrassing to admit at first, sort of a blow to the ego. I couldn’t make it work out on my own all these years. I came close, but couldn’t quite get over that hump to the next level. By removing all of those outside stressors I truly believe that I am giving myself the best chance possible to become an Olympian. When this year is over, no matter what the outcome, I will be able to look back with a smile and know in my heart that I did everything I could to pursue my Olympic dream. I don’t scare easily, and I don’t fear many things, but this dream is the most important measurement of success of my life so far, and I never want to have the ability to regret any of it. It will always stand out in memory as something I can look back on with pride, knowing I did absolutely everything in my power to achieve it.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Assault on an Oak

I’ve only been home for three days now, and I feel like I have already achieved so much. With the conclusion of my indoor season, I was tempted to visit an NCAA last chance qualifier to further solidify something special I felt happening performance wise. However the cost of attending the USA Indoor championships was a bit higher than normal and another big trip seemed like a stretch. I returned to Idaho from New Mexico to spend a few much needed days with friends. The outdoor season is around the corner and there is still much to be done. A 650 mile drive on Friday, with 150’ of role out rubber bottoming out the suspension in the trusty Subaru, landed me home, but a few days prior, a large storm landed a hefty oak tree in my parent’s driveway. So my plans were delayed a day and the collective family assault on the tree took place comprised of two chain saws, two hand saws, four bodies, and one massive burn pile. After a sunny day of hard labor, saturated in laughs and strained muscles, full use of the driveway was back in play, and plenty of fire wood for next winter was stacked. I turned my attention back to my main project.
Installing a pole vault facility at home has been a healthy task. It is a massive effort that is only going to become a reality thanks to the powerful connections of the pole vault community. A plant box from Mike, Rubber from Coach Dave, 150’ of cement bought, mixed and poured by my Dad, standards from Wilson, a pit from Kent, and the constant labor efforts of a few others like myself, my Mom and my Girlfriend. Looks like I’ll be taking jumps from a full run on Friday of this week.
The idea of putting in a runway at home has a lot of reasoning behind it. Working around an injury makes me limited, and planning has proven more difficult than you’d think. I seem to have much more success on the fly. If I’m feeling good, I want to be able to take advantage of it right then. I have a great deal of support out here, and have been given access to a handful of great facilities, but being unemployed, broke and in debt, putting gas in my car to get to those places, and scheduling in advance is no easy task. It’s embarrassing to admit, but it’s the truth and this is the path I have chosen knowing full well that this is going to work. With 5 to 6 weeks of down time from competition and a good looking forecast, I am going to eat right, sleep right, do my therapy, bike, run (uphill only mind you), do my ring workouts, rest properly and Pole Vault, all in one place, no scheduling or gas necessary.