18' 1" Olympic Trials 2008

18' 1" Olympic Trials 2008

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.