Monday, February 14, 2011

Hikes, Bikes, and One Awesome Weekend

Happy Valentines Day everyone! I'm not too big into the holiday. And I'm spending this one alone. But Geoff and I made up for it by having an amazing weekend!! Saturday was Geoff's day to plan an outing and Sunday was my turn. Great minds think alike, because we both planned things that took advantage of the gorgeous sunny weather! On Saturday we picked up some hot coffee at Earth Fare and went out to hike around by the river. I have been absolutely dying to spend some time outside, so I loved every minute of it. And then we took our time getting back to town, just driving around on backroads enjoying the scenery. It was nice to finally be able to relax together.
Sunday was quite a bit more active. I borrowed a bike from one of Geoff's friends and we headed out the the 4x and slalom courses behind ETSU. With how gloomy the winter has been I know Geoff had been itching to ride. I haven't ridden a bike other than my road bike on a trainer in years. And I haven't been on a mountain bike since at least 2005.... So needless to say I was pretty nervous. I was prepared to eat it a lot and make a fool out of myself, but it actually turned out to be a lot of fun. I didn't fall, and I actually started getting the hang of it again by the end. Maybe I have found my next sport to try my hand at... :)

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Yay for the Training Room!!

I never thought I would be excited to be back in the training room, but today I was ecstatic to be there! As a post collegiate athlete, it's really hard to get the kind of consistent medical attention that you get used to in college. It's up to you to stay on top of icing and rehab on your own. And to be totally honest, that is hard to keep up every day. But thanks to some great friends, I have some help now! My new best friend is Sara. I have a few nagging injuries that keep coming back year after year. I think with a little help from Sara every morning I will be in tip top shape, and most importantly I'll be able to avoid those big injuries that can quickly ruin a season. And I'm super excited to be able to ice bath every day!! Woo hoo!!

And on another good note, vaulting this morning was great! We stuck with a shorter run, focusing on getting my plant out early and then being really aggressive off the ground. I really felt like I was making some good progress. I can't wait for Friday when I get to apply all of this to my longer run! :)

Monday, February 7, 2011

Niswonger

So this past weekend was the Niswonger Invitational at ETSU. It's a track (and meet) that I know very very well. I was definitely excited about it. But with all of the travel issues the week before it was a challenge getting recovered in time. Surprisingly, on the day of the meet I was actually feeling great! One thing I have come to expect from Niswonger every year is a REALLY long wait. After warmups I had to sit for almost an hour and a half before I came in, and that was only 4 bars from opening height. 15 girls no-heighted, or didn't clear their first bar. It was rough.
Again, my results weren't exactly what I was hoping for, but there was definitely progress. I started at a higher bar and cleared it on my first attempt. I haven't had a first attempt clearance since the first meet. And most importantly I started on bigger poles. All of my meets so far I have used my 12'4 poles for at least the first bar, but this time I jumped straight to the 13' poles. The last few weeks I have spent a lot of effort trying to simply get used to running from my full run, and now that I'm getting comfortable I am really going to be able to attack my vaults. I still have some technical improvements I can make, and we have decided to take the weekend off so that we can focus on making some changes. My next meet will be back in Boone at App State again. I'll keep you updated on how practices are going. I am really really looking forward to finishing the indoor season with a big jump!

Friday, February 4, 2011

The Summit

So the National Pole Vault Summit turned out to be quite the crazy trip. Overall, I was disappointed with the experience. I have been to the Summit twice before, in 2007 and 2009. Both times I had nothing but great memories. I always loved the lectures, the elite competition was exciting, and the competition itself was always a lot of fun. But this time around was different. I don't feel like I got much out of the lectures, though I think it had less to do with the lectures being different as it did with me just having a lot more knowledge on the topics. The question and answer session with Brad Walker and Tim Mack was really good though. It was just the college and open athletes in there with them, so were a lot of great questions about training. And the highlight of the lecture day was by far Willie Banks' talk as the keynote speaker. If you don't know who he is, he was a world record holder in the triple jump. Check it out, very inspiring!!
The competition itself on the whole was very disappointing. Maybe I have a different view on everything this time around because of how far I have come in the last 2 years, but it was just unimpressive. In the elite competition on Friday night, only one girl cleared higher than 14 feet. Two of the top vaulters in the US, one a former Olympian and the other a World team member, both failed to clear a bar at all. I don't think this takes anything away from the girls. They are all great vaulters. I think it just illustrates how difficult it was to jump at the Summit this year. For my own competition on Saturday, I think it was possibly one of the worst run meets that I have ever competed in. I was with a really good group of girls, most of them are capable of jumping 13 feet or higher. But the situation was just terrible. About 10 minutes into warm ups we were told we were only getting 20 more minutes on the runway. Normally you are given about an hour to warm up. And once we started competing the hardest thing to deal with was the crowd. I really like having people watch me jump. In fact, the more the better. It really gets me going. But what I don't like is when all of those people are standing just a couple feet back from the runway. It was like a party down there. And no one was paying attention to the vaulters that were competing. From where my coach was standing at the box, he couldn't see 30 feet down the runway to catch my mid mark. I don't watch the other vaulters much during the meet, but I think the results tell it all. Everyone was struggling. Only 5 girls cleared higher than 12 feet.
Overall I was very proud of myself with how I handled the situation. For the day I only had 2 run thrus, and I know exactly why I ran through on them. It's an easy fix. It was my first meet running from my full run and I handled it well. I finally moved up onto my bigger poles. And I finally felt like I put together a decent jump over a bar:

video
So I am very happy with how I handled the situation. But the experience was bad enough that we will have to think really hard about whether or not we will add this meet to our schedule again.
The trip back was a great way to top off the weekend. Our flight out of Reno Sunday morning was cancelled. Since there were at least 3 big conventions in town the earliest they were telling us we could get out was Monday evening. So rather than sit there and be unproductive, Geoff and I rented a car and drove by Lake Tahoe over to Sacramento, CA. We were told that the pass was covered in snow and that we wouldn't be able to make it without chains, but it was a gorgeous sunny day up there. Definitely made me wish we had time to stay a while.
Glad he was able to stop before he needed to take a runaway truck ramp!
We were able to get on a flight out of Sacramento Sunday evening, and we met my coach in Phoenix and we were all on the red-eye back Sunday night. I am not a fan of all-nighters so it has taken me a while to recover from that. But my next meet is actually TODAY in Johnson City! It has been an easy week letting my body recover from the travel, and I'm really excited to be back and Johnson City jumping in front of friends and family again. I've got good feelings about this!! I'll be sure to let you know how it goes.