18' 1" Olympic Trials 2008

18' 1" Olympic Trials 2008

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.  

1 comment:

  1. Paul, you have made a lot of people very proud of your work ethic, your attitude and most importantly, your results and passion. Give yourself time and space to process the trials. The adventure does continue and you will continue to inspire, encourage and lead. None of us know the future, but you have earned the good that will come. Stay positive, be grateful for your blessings and be open to the possibilities ahead. Are you going to vault in Pueblo this Sept? Let me know if you need a place to stay.

    Best regards,