Oh Boy! Somehow its been a year and a half since my last post! I promise I have jumped on here a dozen different times with every intent of writing a new entry and updating this page but the further behind I fell the larger the task seemed. But! I am going to do my best attempt at an update of the past 18 months in 1 short paragraph.
(Takes a deep breath)...
June '14 I finished 2nd at USA Nationals with 5.70m 18'8" Went to Europe and jumped a PB 5.76m 18'11" in Austria then 5.80m 19' IN Belgium 2 days later and finally 5.83m 19'2" a few weeks later in Germany! Finished the season in Morocco finishing in 3rd place at the Continental Cup. 5.83m was the 2nd highest jump in the world for the year and ended up ranked #1 Pole Vaulter in the USA and 7th in the World!
Had surgery on foot in October 2014, tried to come back to competition too quickly and while my body was ready my mind was not able to catch up with all the new stresses I was putting on it. I attempted to run from 20 steps compared to my normal 18 for the indoor season and the start of outdoor. I was afraid of poles, afraid of pole vaulting. I could talk for hours about this but I will have to do a follow up blog dedicated to this soon. Started to get things back together in May and June but not in time for Nationals. I ended up in 5th place with a season best of 5.50m 18' missing the qualifying for the World Championships in Beijing, but i had the privilege of representing the USA at the Pan Am Games in Toronto. I was blessed to finish with the bronze along with my teammate Jacob Blankenship! Had an adventure competing in Mexico with some of the best friends a guy could ask for and jumped 5.60m 18'4 to win the 2nd meet in Vera Cruz. Went to Europe at the end of the year finally jumping with some confidence on bigger poles, jumped 5.55m 18'2 in Germany but ended the year happy with where I was and what the future could hold.
OK I know its not fair to only give you that short summary but this past year and a half has been the highest and the lowest I have ever been in my pole vault career and life. The real work was what was being done on the inside. The Lord stripped me down, took away the identity I had in pole vault to finally see for myself that pv is not who I am. I am a child of God, He loved me so much that he sent his Son to die in my place so we could be together someday! This identity is eternal, it can not be taken away or changed,how awesome is that?!?! 2015 Training is going great! We've got a great crew of 8 vaulters here in Knoxville led by the one and only Tim Mack and we have been busting our butts for about 6 weeks now. We've had a beautiful fall here in eastern Tennessee and we have still been able to jump outside. We moved back to 10 steps last week and Tim and I are very happy with where we are so far. Heres one of my better jumps from Thursday the 5th. Pole is 4.90m 16' 195lb 15.0 grip is about 4.75m 15'6" bungee at 5.20m 17' Excited to see a lot of improvement already and excited to keep it going on longer runs and bigger poles!
Ok one last thing for now! Ive partnered with Mike McCarthy, (@McCarthysan on Twitter) the best photographer in pole vault, to put together a 2016 Mark Hollis calendar for ya'll! These can make some awesome Christmas gifts and each can be personalized with my autograph and note! The funds raised from the calendars are meant to supplement my training needs especially in the fall between competitions. Im asking for a $30 donation for the calendars, you can see more of the calendars and order at my website MarkHollisPV.com
So many times Ill jump on here and have no idea what I'm going to write, just knowing its about that time to post something. I probably should have plenty to write about, I'm jumping better than I ever have, Ive jumped 5.60m 18'4" or higher in my last 6 of 7 meets, which is higher than I jumped all of last year! In my last meet I jumped 5.71m 18'9" which is the highest Ive jumped since 2010 and the last time I jumped this high this early was 2008 when I jumped 5.75m 18'10" around the same time of the year. So whats different? Whats the secret? What are you guys doing down there in Knoxville that's making such a difference? These are questions Ive asked myself as well, because I'm doing basically the same workouts Ive always done, I'm jumping the same volume, jumping on the same size poles, but evidently something is different.Could it be the difference is not only having direction every day but more importantly believing in that direction? In the past Ive been quick to move on to something else because I wasn't seeing results in the time frame I wanted to see them. When I moved to Knoxville to work with Tim Mack I put aside everything I thought I knew about the vault, because if this was going to work I needed to trust my coach completely. There were times I wanted to argue that my way was better, but then I realized I would be telling Tim Mack I thought I was smarter than him! Isn't that what we do when we argue with a coach or do a workout differently than they have instructed? Aren't we saying thanks for your help but I'm smarter than you are? Tim, like all coaches, has more experience and knowledge than the athletes they coach . Even though some things were different than what I had learned, I chose to believe the path we're taking was better than what I had done in the past. For most of the athletes reading this post this is the most important time of your year. Conference, Regionals, Sectionals, State and Nationals are either coming up or happening now. Now is the time when all of the work you've done pays off! This is the time to do everything you've been working on the best you can, not to all of a sudden try something new because its a big meet! Trust your training, your coach, your poles and jump your best! As for me my season is still just beginning, I'm improving daily, my practices are better and better and I'm excited for what this season is going to hold. I'm going to Beijing, China on Sunday for a meet next Wednesday, I jumped there last year and I'm pumped to go back and jump high! I believe aPRis in my near future, and its about time! Believe in what your doing, belief builds confidence and confidence makes the impossible possible.
Every walk into an airport with your poles and get stopped by 12 different people asking you what your carrying? I know I have! Well now you dont have to worry even when travelling abroad! This shirt represents the bond we share surpasses any language barrier. Pre-order yours now, hoping to have them in a month!
Ive been training for this, Ive been training for this. This has been my mantra of 2014, especially now in my down time between the indoor season and the start of the outdoor season. This time of the season when the big meets are far off its easy to just "get through" workouts. To go through the motions of a short run practice or a speed endurance workout. The truth is in track and field and all sports we put a big emphasis on the end of the season, the state meet, nationals, playoffs. We want to be better than we've ever been or to "peak" at the time of those big competitions. Its funny that we get so frustrated when we don't jump a personal best or run our best time early in the year. We admit that we are training for the end of the season but get so down on ourselves when we don't have breakthrough performances in March and April, I'm guilty of this as well. What Ive realized is that Ive been training my whole life for this day, this workout, this repetition or this meet. Every time Ive failed at this exercise or drill has brought me closer to doing it better and better, which means that if I fail a little bit less today than i did yesterday I'm that much closer to perfection. This helps immensely in these early season meets, If we can go into a meet and do our very best for that day we can be happy with whatever the outcome. If we trust the process, trust our coaches and believe they are smarter than us and they have our best interests in mind we can be OK with not jumping personal bests early in the season because its just a stepping stone towards the finish line. How good can you be today? I don't care if its a Tuesday and your jumping from short run and doing drills you don't care about. How good can you do those drills? Can you build on how you did those drills last week and do them the best you can today? Try telling yourself you've been training for this next time your not thrilled about a practice or a workout, just try to do it better than you did the time before. I'm not talking about outcome, I'm talking about quality, I'm talking about intensity. Practice does not make perfect but perfect practice makes perfect. This pertains to all sports and really all things in life we are working toward, how do we learn from our mistakes yesterday and be better today? Every day I'm trying to fail a little bit less and less, I'm trying to be the best I can be because if not I'm just staying stagnant and not moving anywhere. Here's a couple of videos from my wins at the Millrose Games and USA Indoor Nationals. Those days it was my best, but my best is getting better and better.