Tuesday, December 20, 2011

GVSU Holiday open uggh and a little update from practice

Competed at Grand Valley State University in Allendale Michigan on Friday.  I can say I wasnt too pleased with how it turned out, but I instantly learned what I needed to fix and was able to do so today in practice so all in all it was successful.  I decided to jump from 7 lefts at the meet and can say that most of the things I had been working on all went down the drain.  I was not getting my foot down at the takeoff and therefore was hugging with my left which led to not catching the pole and only jumping 5.15m/16'11".

So after watching videos for a couple of days I went in to practice today working on those two things.  I am still wanting to drift into the takeoff rather than being quick and putting my foot down.  I was able to do that towards the end of practice and it made a lot of difference.  Next was the hugging, after looking at the videos of the meet I saw that since my grip was as wide as it was I was never really able to get any chest penetration in the jump and this led to me hugging the left arm in to swing upside down.  That has never really been taught to me it seems that it just started to happen in the last couple of years and has been something Ive really been trying to change.  Today I thought I would try to narrow my grip, which ended up being just the change I needed, rather than the left being almost in front of my face at takeoff now its up and over my head, allowing the chest to come through and create space in the pole.  I was very happy with a few of the jumps where I was able to do both, foot down at takeoff and chest drive through.  This led to poles being too small, and finishing  my jumps.

While the meet was not so good, I did just want I wanted to and found the things that needed to be fixed and luckily how to work on them and fix them.  Now the challenge is doing it on longer poles from a longer run.  I hope to do this on wednesday which will be my last practice before heading to Amanda's parents house in western New York for the holiday.  

Always Pursuing -Mark-

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Stay Warm Sale! Hoodies Only $27

In my part of the world, Northern Indiana, its started to get cold, I know a lot of you are lucky enough to live where its not cold and will never be cold, I envy you.  But for the rest of us, why not don a warm hoody that  shows your support for an Olympic hopeful.  I have a limited number of hoodies and because Im in a Christmas, giving mood Ive reduced the price to 27 dollars!!!

Always Pursuing -Mark-

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Demo at GM

About a month and a half ago I talked with my gymnastics coach Andy Poe at Gymnastics Michiana about doing a demo into the foam pit at the gym.  I kind of forgot about it and last week Andy reminded me that the meet was coming up this weekend and wondered if I was still down for doing a demo.  I of course was as Gymnastics Michiana has helped me out a ton and thought it would be a good chance to get my name out in the community a bit more.  We ended up making a box out of about 4 2x4's, the "box" was flush with the ground so I ended up putting a mat down to jump off of that gave me about 3 inches off the ground which helped things a bit.  I grabbed a 14' 160lb pole from Notre Dame to use from 2 lefts which ended up being almost too small as you can see in the video as I nearly clear the pit!  Hope you enjoy, I sure did.

Always Pursuing -Mark-

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

It's been too long since my last post so figured I better jump on here and give a little update on how things have going. First of all I will tell you that the fundraiser was a great success! We ended up raising over 1200 dollars at the silent auction and t-shirt sales. I had a great time with the kids that came out, they went through a series of activities to teach a healthy lifestyle. They did a bit of yoga/stretching, jump rope, and basketball drills. I awarded the kids with gold medals and everyone seemed to have a great time. I have to give a big thank you to the Montessori school of Elkhart and my wife Amanda for organizing the entire thing.

Since then I've been focused on training hard and preparing myself for the season to come.  Workouts have been going well, Im feeling fit and strong.  Vaulting has been going well also, my main focus right now is the last 6 steps of my approach, keeping those legs rolling over quickly keeps me in the best possible position at takeoff.

Sometime soon Im going to try to put a video together, a day in the life kind of thing, so that you guys can follow me through my workouts, vault and lifting sessions, and gymnastics.  Im going to try to work on that in the next couple of weeks so make sure to check back for that.  Today I will leave you with a rundown of my day yesterday.

10 a.m.  Head to Notre Dame, full warmup, 600m jog, skip, karaoke, backwards skip, hamstring flicks, side skip.  Stretch, hamstring, IT bands, groin, quads, calves, glutes.  2x50m stride at 60%. 2x straight leg bound, high knees, butt kick, karaoke, backwards sprint.  2x50m stride at 75%  prone and supine star rolls, inverted scissors, plow exchange, hurdle seat exchange, leg swings.  A skips 2x30m B skips 2x30m, powe skips for distance.  2x60m stride 80%  A run, B run, 50m sprint 95%

6x 40m pole runs with small hurdles last 6 steps starting 13'8" 2.05m in between each hurdle.  3x Overhead Back throws between each run.

1:00pm  Gymnastics, 2x10 parrallel bar swing dips, swing up dip, swing back dip.

10x hang from high bar, hold knees at 90degrees for 2 sec, roll hips upward, extend legs into a pike straight/ bubka.
2:00 pm Lifting at Notre Dame, 4x3 hang clean 250lbs, 4x3 box squat 385lbs, 4x6 incline DB press, 65lbs, 4x8 Lat pulldown 165lbs.

Got back home around 4pm, I love days like this, i always feel like ive accomplished a lot.  Oh and once I got home I roll out with a foam roller, go through my rehab exercises and ice.  Much easier day today, little bit of General Strength, and vault tomorrow.

Always Pursuing -Mark-

Monday, November 14, 2011

CordaRoys beanbag video

I am proud to announce my debut as an actor/spokesman in this web commercial.  My wife contacted Byron the owner of Cordaroys asking if he would want to work together.  After learning about me he said that when people ask him what is inside the beanbags he tells them its the same thing as a pole vaulter lands on.  So we worked with the local dealer Sean, who has a display in University Park Mall in Mishawaka, brought the beanbag to Notre Dame and shot this awesome video haha.  It took me about 12 takes to shoot the talking part and probably 15 jumps to actually make the bar and land on the beanbag.  It took us a while but it was worth it and so much fun. I hope I get to do something like this again. Enjoy!

Always Pursuing -Mark-

Friday, November 11, 2011

11/11/11 Family Fun Night and Fundraiser

Hey guys I wanted to jump on here quick and make sure everyone knew about the fundraiser thats going on tonight at the High Dive Park Pavillion in Elkhart, In.  Its going on from 6-730pm tonight, Im really excited because this is not only a fundraiser, its a chance for kids and familys to come and learn a little more about living a healthy, happy life.  I love to meet people and tell them that Im training for the Olympics because I show them that anything is possible, seriously, I was never an amazing athlete.  When  I got my drivers license at 16 I was 5'4" 104lbs too small to play football and was picked on a bit for my size.  Well luckily the Lord had a plan for my life that included me growing a bit and when I got to college I learned that if I worked hard enough anything was possible.

When I talk to kids I try to explain to them that Im no superstar, I wasnt a high school phenom, the guys and girls that are amaze me because that wasnt me.  If you are or were one of those phenoms, use that gift to all your ability.  I know we tell kids they can be anything they want to be but its another thing to show them an example and hopefully thats what I am to them.

So although tonight is a fundraiser to help raise money to support me in my Olympic pursuit, its a great opportunity for me to give these kids something to shoot for to know that anything is possible, be it the Olympics, going to college, being a doctor or the president.

I have to thank Mike McGrath of PoleSkins.com for donating 4 posters, Jerry Hofferth from Hofferth Chiropractic for donating 2 massages, Andy Poe of Gymnastics Michiana for donating a certificate for a free class, Fuzion Athletics Bethel College for donating 2 camps,and Ashley Whitaker  www.agogocc.com for designing the awesome shirts.

And finally to all of you, for the donations to the website, shirts that have been ordered, and every once of support that i get from all of you I cant thank you guys enough.

Always Pursuing -Mark-

Monday, October 24, 2011

New T-Shirt Designs!

Hey everybody! I am very excited to tell you that I have new t-shirts! I have been working with Ashley Whittaker of Go Go Creative Consulting. Ashley designed the first shirts and I loved what she did the first time around, well she blew me out of the water with these new designs! Also when I say Ive been working with her I just asked her to design me new shirts, all the credit is hers. Seriously if you guys need any design work done please check her website out and contact her.  Right now I have about 15 of each shirt, as requests go in I will probably pick the 2 with the most interest.  If you are interested go ahead and order as many as you want, these are costing me a bit more so Im upping the price to $18 which still includes shipping.  Thanks guys, these shirts have been a huge help to me and offsetting my training and travel expenses, things would be a lot harder without help from all of you.
Always Pursuing

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Kansas, Arkansas, and a little clearing of the air.

This past week I drove to Concordia, Kansas to Jonesboro, Arkansas and back home, and put about 2200 miles on Amanda's '95 Chevy Corsica, all with the poles strapped to the side of the car. I went to Kansas for the Tailwind pole vault club's Doctoberfest competition. It was an awesome short run competition where we all ended up jumping from 4 or 5 lefts, Jeremy Scott ended up winning with 17'. I ended up making 16'6" after a couple of mulligan attempts, but had a great time at Doc's club. Tailwind Pole Vault Club is is the tiny town of Jamestown, Kansas but the coach Mark Breault brings in over 150 kids each year and teaches them to pole vault correctly and safely, what a great guy and great place that I will hopefully visit again in the future.

 After Doctoberfest I drove down to Jonesboro, Arkansas home of Bell Athletics and famous pole vault coach Earl Bell. I drove down with Paul Litchfield and stayed at Daniel Rylands house while there. What a great time of being around like minded friends all with goals of competing to be the best. Waking up training, eating right all the while being accountable to great friends who are also competitors. Seeing the things that others are doing on a daily basis really made me think about the things that I needed to be doing at home to make sure I am the best that I can be.

 I know that there has been a lot of talk going around about my recent coaching change and who I am working with now. I started working with Danny Wilkerson back at the start of 2008 and can not give enough credit to him as a coach and the improvements I have made because of him. Danny is one of if not the smartest guy I have ever had the opportunity to talk to and work with. His insight is not only on the mechanics of the vault but everything that goes into being a successful athlete at any level. For the better part of 3 years he wrote every workout I did, and was at 99.9 percent of those workouts and practices. I have no doubt that I am the athlete I am today because of his expertise, knowledge and hard work, and Danny I cant thank you enough for all youve done your are a great coach and friend. In the past year Danny and I have had differences in opinions on a few things, maybe just a disconnect between the model in his head and my understanding of that model. I was struggling in competitions, having some of the greatest opportunities of my life and not being able to capitalize, even make bars that I could of blindfolded in the past. Frustration mounted and finally peaked with me making the decision that I needed to go in a different direction. At the time I didnt know where that was but made the decision that it was ultimately up to me to improve and get to the place I want to be.

 For the past month and a half Ive been searching, asking, and studying to find that breakthrough and if youve read my last couple of posts you know that Im excited about the improvements Ive made already. So to clear the air, I am my own coach, I am utilizing the knowledge of every coach I know but at the end of the day I am the decision maker and thats the way its going to be for the duration of this year.

 Now that is out the way I can tell you I didnt discover a magical secret while down in Jonesboro in my jump, if there is one it is the group of people working together to push towards a shared goal. One thing that was really cool about Earl was he didnt try to change anything drastically in my jump, he fed off of what I was feeling and added his opinion. Which was cool because I think Ive already got a great start on what I need to do and changing that would have just been a step backward. I jumped twice while there and on my second session I was able to put a few things together and on my last jump I made a 5.20m/ 17' bar from 4 lefts! I have never really jumped at bars from that run so it was definitly a new PR for me which was a really cool way to end up a great week of training.

 I drove back to Mishawaka Thursday night and started my training monday. Im sore today but know that soreness just means its the start of a new season. Im looking ahead to a great year and many more great opportunities. So I'l leave you tonight with video of that PR jump and Im sure Ill have many more to post in the near future. Always Pursuing -Mark

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

I love pole vaulting....right now

In my last post I told that while watching the world championship vault comp I was inspired and motivated. Motivated knowing that to have any chance at a medal I need to be jumping 5.90m/19'4 or higher and inspired because I am just as fast, and strong as the best guys in the world, which led me to ask what am I missing thats allowing them to jump so much higher than I am. I came to the conclusion that I need to perfect my technique, there are major parts of my jump that are holding me back from utilizing the skills and athleticism I have. So im not really taking any time off of vaulting, I need repetitions to relearn proper mechanics and technique. In the past I have taken 3 or 4 weeks off of training but more like 2 1/2 months off of vaulting, then it takes a while to get back in to the flow. So this year Im never getting out of the flow, I had a major breakthrough just last week while watching video of myself and comparing that to other vaulters, something so small that I had never noticed before even tho I had watched the same videos over and over. In the vault, its all about getting on the biggest pole so that you can jump the highest, well to get on the biggest pole you have to be able to"move" the pole which means continuing to put energy into the pole as you takeoff and swing so that it doesnt just unbend and throw you back onto the track. Something that I have struggled with is moving the pole, a lot of my jumps especially this year you see me getting off of the pole at the top, well I believe that is because the pole has stopped moving and so I feel the need to push myself into the mats to finish my jump. After seeing this epiphany, i practiced in the backyard a little, which is tough because Zoey my black lab chases after the end of my piece of broken pole. I was anxious to try out my new found theory so I went and practiced, Ive never had one thing make such a noticeable difference in my jump immediately. When I did this small movement just a little differently it allowed my chest to come through which then allowed me to swing more powerfully, keeping the pole bent and I was able to catch a great ride off the top of the pole. Also this is my 10 step pole that Im using from 8steps! So not only did it allow me to get on bigger poles immediately but also to move those poles and jump pretty high in the air. Anyway Im excited! its really cool when you can find something that really clicks that gets you excited about vaulting again. This is a 15'7" 195lb pacer carbon holding about 15'4" jumping at a 17' bungee, next practice im jumping at a bar so I should have some more good vids up after that.

Always Pursuing -Mark-

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Daegu and wearing the Red, White, and Blue.

Im sitting in the Tokyo Narita airport waiting for my flight to Detroit, Ive had a great time here, being a part of the World Championships and having the privilege to wear USA across my chest is something I will never forget.  My performance here at the meet was like a lot of this outdoor season has been, dissapointing.

Now dont get me wrong I had a great time, the hard part is knowing how much work Ive put in this year and knowing that I am capable of much more.  The tough thing about the vault is sometimes you dont get to leave it all out on the track, you get three jumps to make a height and it doesnt matter if you try your hardest and give it 110 percent sometimes that bar just doesnt stay up and your day is over.  Those are the toughest days to deal with as a vaulter, the day that you wish you could change the most is the day when everything feels right, the weather is great, your fresh and jumping well and for some reason you just cant capitalize.

On Saturday at prelims I felt the best I have in a long time, I was finishing jumps in warmups and even made an 18ft bar, most of the summer I barely even left the ground in warmups!  I felt confident in my run and was excited for the competition.  I passed the opening height and came in at 5.35m/17'6" I came down and made the bar with ease!  If youve ever vaulted you know that once you make that first bar you have total relief, the pressure is off and you can get to work, and thats the way i felt after this make.  We went through the height very quickly with only a handful of misses from all the guys.  The bar went up to 5.50m/18' I came down, and was definitely under on my takeoff, which lead to me not putting all the energy from the run into the pole and I came down on the bar.  My 2nd and 3rd jumps were all very similar to the first I had tons of height in the air but not enough depth into the pit.  Just like that my day was over, frustrating, not because I thought I was going to win the meet but because I had an amazing opportunity and just wasn't able to compete to my ability.

Now that that is out of the way, I had an awesome time in Daegu, I got to mingle with the best athletes in the world!  I had a beer with Trey Hardee, 2 time World Champ in the Decathlon.  It really was inspiring to be among so many great athletes and to see the level of competition and performance was amazing.  I got to hang out with my German friends, Malte Mohr, Tim Lobinger, Rafael Holdzeppe, and Karsten Dilla, Korean Yoo Suk Kim, and my good buddy Mexican vaulter Giovanni Lanaro, just to name a few.

I had some time after I competed to really look back at this year, analyze, critique and get a plan of what I need to do to not just make the finals, but to win the gold medal next year.  I can tell you that I am very excited about the future, about training and vaulting better than I ever have in my life.  Gotta get on the plane now, cant wait to get home and see my beautiful wife.  

Always Pursuing -Mark-

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Daegu Baby

Its my 4th day here in Daegu, Korea and at the moment it's raining but for the most part the weather has been nice.  I know I haven't updated the blog recently but as you can tell I made the team for the World Championships!  What an amazing experience, just to receive the USA gear in the mail, to try on the uniform and know that in only 3 days I will make my debut as a member of the greatest track and field team in the world!
I've been staying in the athlete village the last 4 days and its really something, there's a track right across the street so training and working out has been really convenient.   Last night Brian Yokohama, the chair of US pole vault development and my good friend Giovanni Lanaro went downtown and saw Plame of the apes in 4D!  It was pretty cool the seats moved like a roller coaster, wind and water blew in your face and there was smoke coming from the floor.  

I had a jump session on Tuesday from 5 lefts which I've posted a video on Facebook of.  Practice went really well, i was hitting the pole really good off the ground and so the one pole i had ended up being way too small, which was a good thing.  That workout left me with a very good feeling about this weekend and also very confident about my chances.  Right now my focus is on doing whatever I can to make it through prelimns and on to the final.  The last 2 world champs it has taken right around 18' 6" to make the final, and I know that i am more than capable of doing that.  Is been great to see so many friend from around the world, its amazing how close the pole vault community is, we really are a big family.  
I've been trying to use Twitter a little now so I will try to update that more often, you can find me there @Hollispv

Always pursuing,

Thursday, July 7, 2011

A few videos...Finally I know

Haha so here I am in the Bratislava airport of all places and they have free WiFi! Woohoo! I thought i would use the 5 hours i have before my flight to upload a few videos. So here they are in chronological order, my favorite is either the 5.60 make at the Gill Factory vault just because the top is so smooth, if i could do that all the time, oooh baby. The 70 make is pretty good as well, that pole kind of just tosses me over that bar pretty easily.

USA Nationals 5.54m

Gill Athletics Factory vault, 5.60m


And finally 5.28m from Vienna just to get a look at the venue.

SO there you have it, if anyone wants to see any other videos just let me know, and again any questions or comments you may have Im always happy to hear from you guys.

Always Pursuing -Mark-

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Update from Vienna

This sport can drive a man crazy!  I forgot to tell you that over the weekend at the Gill Factory Vault I jumped 5.70m/18'8" a season best!  I was feeling pretty good about it and excited about coming overseas to jump in a couple of meets, and I still am dont get me wrong.  I landed in Munich around 8am on Monday and was picked up and driven about 4 hours to Vienna.  I jumped here in Vienna last year and we dealt with rain the entire meet,  I finished in 2nd place jumping 5.40m/ 17'9".

Well this year the weather looked like it may cooperate but as we got closer to the time of the meet we had intermittent showers.  The rain held off for most of the afternoon and it looked like we might luck out.  I wasnt feeling too bad, the legs were warming up but my calf was pretty sore.  I took a couple jumps in warmups from short run to get a feel for the set up and things felt good.  I moved back to my full run and my legs just werent moving too well, and after taking about 6 jumps it just wasnt happening, and it looked like the rain was coming in.  So i decided that rather than take the chance of not making a height I would start at the opening height and jump from my short run to make a few bars.  I made 4.80m, 5m, and 5.15m all from my short run but when the bar went to 5.28m/17'3" I knew I needed to move back to my long run.  I did and I actually felt better than all of my warmups and was able to make the bar on my third attempt.  The bar went up to 5.40 and my legs just werent cooperating, I couldtn hit the same takeoff spot 2 times in a row.  I had a lot of fun and know that the meet director was happy with my performance, he even told me I was voted best performer!  Not the height I was looking for but still a good time.

After the meet I got word that I got accepted into the Paris Diamond League meet on Friday!  Tomorrow I fly to Paris and get ready to jump on a very big stage with some of the worlds best.  Quite the meet to pick up while im here.  

Always Pursuing -Mark-

Monday, July 4, 2011

USA's, Gill Factory Vault, and oh yeah Im off to Europe Land again.

Well Im here now in Vienna after about 26 hours of travel.  I had a huge blog written that took me probably 4 hours and I opened up my browser to send it and its all gone!  So heres the replacement.

Like I said in my last post I was really struggling the last month and a half or so.  My last trip to Europe was a disaster, it was like I had totally forgot how to pole vault, I couldnt hit a takeoff or catch the ride from the bend like any professional vaulter should be able to do on every jump.  So going into USA's I really didnt know what to expect, I was of course hoping for the best, hoping that it would all just come back to me when I stepped on the runway but knew it wasnt going to be easy.

There was some great news that came before nationals that really helped.  I got a call from my agent Jeff Hartwig telling me had been working hard on my behalf to get me a contract with Nike!  Its been a long time coming and I had really just gotten used to the fact that it might never happen.  I cant tell you how blessed i am to have been given the breaks and blessings that I have, and this is just one more to add to the list.

Amanda and I flew to Eugene thursday before the meet, and had about a day before the competition to just relax and get some therapy.  The meet organizers always have an amazing selection of massage therapists, chiropractors, and physical therapists who do some great work.  So after getting worked on a couple of times, I was feeling great going into the meet.  My game plan the whole week leading up to the comp was to get into a good rhythm in warmups and make small changes one jump at a time to get into a groove.  Well the conditions were so good that it took me 4 jumps in warmups to leave the ground so that plan was out the window.  I came in at 5.35m/17'6 came down the runway, left the ground, felt horrible but made it over the bar.  Bar goes up to 5.45m/17'9 and I made it pretty easily, im starting to feel a little more confident after every jump becaue its just getting better and better.  It took me 2 attempts to make 5.54m/18'2 but my jump felt awesome, i finally felt something familiar and I knew i could make the next bar easily...right.

We went up to 5.60m/18'4 and I picked up the next pole, one I hadnt jumped on in almost a year, came down the runway planted the pole and it twisted so hard it my hand that I almost lost my grip.  I knew something was up but couldnt figure it out, I tried the same pole on my 2nd attempt and this time it twisted hard enough that i lost my grip and flew into the pit upside down landing on my shoulders.  Now Im pretty pissed off, theres 2 jumps down the drain.  I went back down to the pole I was using before and hit the bar off on the way down.  Game over...just like that.  I was pretty disappointed to say the least, 2 years ago I had jumped in Eugene with a broken toe and finished in 5th place, one place from making the world championship team.  This year I finished 4th, one place from making the world champ team again.  But there seems to be a silver lining, Nick Mossberg the guy who finished in 3rd place has to jump 5.60m by August 8th to make the team and if he doesnt Im on the team, so now I wait.

Now Im in Vienna getting ready for my comp tomorrow, last year they had an awesome live feed but this year they are not.  Hoping for great weather and even better jumping, wish me luck!

Always Pursuing -Mark-

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Sweatshirts, Spike Bags and a quick update

Well needless to say its been a while since my last post, and the reasoning is that I was jumping like crap!  I didnt really know why it was happening, all i knew is that i forgot how to pole vault.  I no-heighted my last 2 meets in Europe and I can tell you it sure was nice to get back to the states after that.  Even tho the results were not what i wanted, i feel like i got some great practice in crappy conditions over there.  Every meet I was jumping in a head or cross wind and a little rain.  Now if i had just stayed home there is no way i would of practiced in conditions like that.  One thing Ive learned over my career is that anyone can get mad when things dont go there way, its the better person who looks past the negative to find any positive that they can, and thats what Im doing here.

I came home and went straight to practice, trying to figure out what was going on and how to fix it.  I had a good practice and a bad one, but thought I was on the right track.  I drove down to Tremont, Illinois for the Tremont street vault, had great weather but i only jumped 5.35m/17'6".  Needless to say I was disapointed but still had a great time with the kids.  Came back to Notre Dame yesterday and had the exact practice i needed.  We figured out that i was really pushing the hands forward right off the ground and just killing the pole rotation.  Once we figured that out the rest of practice was pretty awesome.  So Im excited about the rest of the week, getting ready to head out to Eugene for USA Championships next week!

In the meantime Tony Bonacci from the Grand Rapids area, has made me a few sweatshirts and spike bags that are embroidered with my logo and are sweet.  I have a very limited number of sweatshirts right now and i think about 15 bags left.  Im selling the sweatshirts for $30 and the bags for $15.  Im going to sell them first come, first serve, and im not sure if Ill be able to get more or not  so for now what i have is all there is.  I have 3 small, 6 medium, 4 large, and 1 Xlarge, comment on this thread or email me and ill let you know what i have still available.

Always Pursuing -Mark-

Sunday, May 29, 2011


Well I ended up only jumping 540m/17'9" and finishing 4th but it's hard to describe how hard it can be to jump high here in Europe.  With a lot of Mets here there in stadiums, and if there's any wind at all it can really swirl and blow in any direction, which was the case today.  During warm- ups I might have a decent tailwind in the back and then half way through my run it would turn to a headwind.  This was happening to everyone and no-one looked very good in warm-ups.  So I decided to come in at 520 to make sure i made a bar.  I came down my second attempt and halfway down the runway I hit that headwind, i tried to keep my run the same and just make sure i was ready at take- off and made it easy even with a bad jump.  Then the bar went to 540, the wind was getting a little better, still not good but not as strong.  I came down with the same thought as before, just keep the run the same, but with those big poles a lot of times that's easier said than done.  I was able to make the bar with a little scrape and was feeling pretty good.  Only 5 guys had made the height and I was sitting in first when we went up to 550m/18'.  I came down on my first jump with a decent wind, had a bunch of height over the bar and just clipped it coming down.  I moved the standards up 5cm came down 2nd attempt with a good wind and had a good jump but this time I hit the bar on the way up.  So i moved the standards back 10cm thinking I could get the same wind and have the same jump.  Still no-one had made the bar.  I started my third jump and got hit with that stupid headwind and got stood up, meet over.  Then I had to watch as tim lobinger, Derek miles, and Rafael holdzeppe made it on their 3rd attempt.  That's just the way it goes sometimes.  Now I just have to make sure Im ready to go for the next one, try to learn from what happened today, how I overcame some obstacles and didn't some others.

Always Pursuing,

Sent from my Verizon Wireless Phone

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Hengelo, Netherlands

I made it to Hengelo after quite the trip over. My flight out of Chicago was delayed so i got into Atlanta right about the time my flight to Germany was taking off. So Delta put me on the next flight to Barcelona and from there onto Dusseldorf. By the time I made it to Dusseldorf it was already 8 hours after i was first supposed to be there. My poles made it but my other bag with my clothes and uniform in it did not, so then i had to talk to the airline people for another hour about getting my bag back to me. So by the time i finally got to the hotel it was 7pm here which is 1 eastern time. I had been on the road since 9am the day before, it was good to not be on the road or in the air for a while. My first meet is tomorrow around 430 here, 1030am eastern time here in Hengelo, Netherlands. I came to this meet last year and it rained pretty hard, so i am hoping its better conditions for us to jump in tomorrow. Then its off to Munich for a couple of days before i head to Innsbruck, Austria for the Golden Roof Challenge.  So a pretty quick trip before heading home to get prepared for nationals at the end of June.  Ill try to take some pictures tomorrow and have them up with an update tomorrow night.

Always Pursuing -Mark-

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Down to St Louis

I've come down to St Louis to spend the week with my buddy Jeff Hartwig.  I've come down here to get a fresh perspective on my jump by having a fresh set of eyes to watch and give me feedback.  We jumped yesterday and watched video lady night and really figured some pretty cool things out that I think are going to make a big difference in my jump.  Im planning on jumping again tomorrow and then heading up to Minneapolis on Friday for a meet on Sunday at Fusion athletics.  Then im heading back home for the week and then heading to Europe for 2 meets, one in Holland, and the other in Innsbruck Austria for one of my favorites the Golden Roof Challenge.  I hope to have some videos later on this week that I can upload for all you guys.

Always Pursuing,

Friday, May 6, 2011

Frustration in Doha

Well that's not what I wanted to end up with.   Ended up jumping  my opening height of 540m/17'9.  I made it easily and was very happy to get the first height out of the way.  The bar went up to 550m/18', and I'm not really sure what is going on but I'm just not setting up the takeoff right on my last two steps and so when I hit the box sometimes I get jarred a bit rather than really hitting the pole.  This causes me to be out of position as I start my swing sometimes I go right, sometimes I get stood up a bit.  This is what happened on 2 of my 3 jumps at 18'.  The wind was fairly good a little bit of a cross but not too bad.  I ended up tying for 5th place but I easily could have been 4th or 3rd possibly without an amazing day.  I do have to say that I had a stomach ache as soon as I walked on the track, I don't think it was nerves, I have jumped in comps like this in the past and have not felt this way.  Also jumping on borrowed poles probably didn't help but I didn't think it was a big issue.  As you can probably figure out I'm frustrated that I wasn't able to capitalize on the opportunity better.  It make for a long plan rise home tomorrow that's for suee.  I don't leave until 1030 tomorrow night so I'm gonna try and soak up some sun and strategize about what to do next.  I don't have anything planned for may so if anyone has any ideas I am open to suggestion.  Oh well, just a bump in the road, if I wasn't able to learn from my mistakes I wouldnt be where I am today, now I just have to learn how to move on from this mistake, and road to take to put me on the right track.  Thanks for all your support, I feel like I'm in a bit of a valley right now but I know on the other side there's a mountain peak waiting for me.  

Always Pursuing,

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Just shoot me

I show up to the airport today ready to depart for my first Diamond league meet in Doha.  I check in pay for the poles and proceed through security.  Minutes after I sit down a lady comes to me and says she has bad news, the poles are not going to be able to make it on the plane, I look outside and see the biggest plane I've ever flown on.  She says they measured the poles and looked in their books and they will not fit, I told her she was crazy and I've done this a hundred times they will fit, but to no avail.  So now my poles are in their way back to my car on a shuttle bus and I am about to board a plane and go to a meet knowing I will not have poles.  The good thing is that I know Fabian Schultz from Germany will be at the meet and I've use ls his poles before.  So I'm ready to make the most of it  and kick some butt on borrowed poles.  HAHA all I can do is laugh right now.  It's time to get on the plane, hopefully this is the only hiccup on this trip.  

Always Pursuing,

Monday, April 25, 2011

Drake Mall Vault and Relays

Its Monday morning and im busy packing and preparing for a very exciting week in Des Moines Iowa.  As many of you know the mall vault at the Jordan Creek mall in Des Moines is one of if not my favorite place to jump in the world.  3 years ago at the mall I went in with a PB of 5.50m/18' and came out with a new PB of 5.71m/18'8", I ended up finishing 2nd to Derek Miles on misses.   Then 2 years ago I jumped 5.61m/18'4" but ended up winning the competition.  The atmosphere of the mall is really what makes it so awesome, the crowd is within 6 feet of the runway on both sides as well as crowded around the balcony on the 2nd floor looking down on the runway and pit.  Couple that with the loud music and the energy is unlike anywhere else in the world that Ive been.  This year they're doing a team format where every guy will be coupled with a girl with the best combined height crowned the champion.  The main sponsor of the event is Scheels, a huge sporting goods store in the mall, the prize money for the event is a shopping spree at the store which is a lot of fun.  This year is going to be an awesome competition, the guys competing are Derek Miles, Brad Walker, Jeremy Scott, Giovanni Lanaro, and myself.  The ladies are Mary Saxer, Kylie Hutson, April Steiner-Bennett, Lacy Jansen, and Becky Holliday.  The comp is Wednesday at 6:15pm and if your anywhere in driving distance this event is a cant miss.

Then on Saturday we all vault again at the Drake Relays, which as long as the weather permits is also a great place to jump.  Training and practice has been going really well, Im jumping higher on the same poles and the same run so we must be doing something right.  Im really excited about this week and the possibility of jumping really high, another 7 inch PB wouldnt be so bad.

Always Pursuing -Mark-

Thursday, April 7, 2011

quick video from practice

Heres one of the best jumps from practice the other day.  Working on keeping the right arm straight as I extend up the pole.  Im really excited about the progress were making, long run day today, will post more videos later.

Always Pursuing -Mark-

Monday, April 4, 2011

Oh Boy...

Well its been a month since my last post and I have to apologize. But, at least I have many valid excuses as to why.

1. Moved into new house
2. Got a black lab puppy
3. I was knocked on my butt with back spasms for a week
4. Just recently got our internet hooked up

Most of these things have brought excitement to my life but have brought along with them stress.  I planned on taking about 2 weeks off to gear up for the outdoor season but after my back seized up my break turned into 3 weeks.  Ive been back training hard now for about 2 weeks, heavy lifting, gymnastics, and technique training in the vault.  So I know its been a while so ill just recap on USA's and tell you a little bit about whats been going on with training and whats next to come.

My last post was written the morning of the USA National Championships in Albuquerque, New Mexico. And as most of you know, I ended up winning the meet. The morning of the meet, I was very confident in my abilities and the work I have put in. So I had a plan of coming in at 5.40, passing to 5.60, 5.72, and 5.82.  Even though things got a little crazy, I was proud that I stuck to the plan, even tho I didnt get the height i wanted I am very happy about winning a second national title.

After nationals my plan was to jump once at Notre Dame the next week and then travel to Minneapolis for a meet put on by Fuzion Athletics, and then call it a great indoor season and take a little break.  Well  I jumped at Notre Dame from 8 lefts because they dont have enough runway for me to run from my long run.  I wasnt expecting a whole lot from the meet because we had moved into our house that week and so i had been doing a lot of lifting and not much actual working out or practicing.  Well I ended up surprising myself and jumped 5.63m/18'5" a new indoor best!

After that meet I decided it would be a great idea to do some painting as a little job. Well I ended up having to move the furniture in the rooms and after finishing 2 rooms and having only 1 to go my back started spasming like crazy. I have had spasms before but never like this, so my hopes of jumping at the meet in Minneapolis were gone.

But for the last 2 weeks ive been feeling good, we're back lifting hard and ive been back to gymnastics getting my core strength stronger.  Vaulting has been going well, figuring some things out and really looking forward to this outdoor season.  My first meet is April 16th at the Mt. Sac Relays in L.A. California.  After that I will be competing at the Drake Mall Vault on April 27th and then the Drake Relays that following weekend.

Well I apologize for taking so long to update this, and hopefully now that Ive caught up a bit I can write on a consistent basis as i was before.  Until next time here is another video from practice last week.

Always Pursuing -Mark-

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Birmingham Grand Prix and home again!

Its the morning of the USA Indoor National Championships in Albuquerque and I thought i better write about my last couple of meets before i have another and have to write about all 3.  

I had a meet in Prague and struggled a bit.  My run felt really good but i just couldnt dial in my last 2 steps to hit a good takeoff.  For me to put together a great jump I have to be completely over top of my takeoff foot so that i can jump up into the pole.   Well at Prague I kept being under on my takeoff so i just kept moving back, well i got to the point where i was too far away and so I was reaching a bit for my takeoff, because of this i never really put a good jump together.  I made my opening height of 5.30m/17'5" but no heights after that.  

So I headed to my next meet in Birmingham, England with a few ideas of what to change and how to improve on my last meet in Europe.  It was my first time to the UK, and it was nice to be able to read everything and understand everyone.  The meet in Birmingham was a IAAF Grand Prix meet, which just means it was a high level meeting, with a good amount of prize money, and since i didnt finish as well as i wanted to in Donetsk I knew i needed to finish well here and come home with some money in my pocket.  

The venue for the meet was really nice, it was a lot like Madison Square Garden with large stadium seating on the sides.   My plan for the meet was to jump on the poles i was comfortable with and move up when i needed to.  I started the meet at 5.35/17'6" on the 5m 13.3 and continued to make 5.50/18' and 5.60/18'4" all on the same pole and all on my first attempts!  I was sitting in first place as we went up to 5.70/18'8" and i thought that if i put a really good jump together i could make it, well at the same time my run was really coming together and my last 2 steps were really sharp.  I blew through on my 1st attempt, moved up to the 5.10m #3 and blew through that.  3rd attempt i moved up to the 5.10 #4 or 12.7.  I remembered all to well coming down on the bar in donetsk with the standards at 60 so i moved them in to 55, came down, had a pretty good jump and just barely clipped the bar again.  I wasnt happy about missing 5.70 again but i ended up finishing in first place!  

I came home the next day to my beautiful wife, and relaxed most of the week.  Thursday we came down to Albuquerque for indoor nationals today.  I jump at 5:45pm mountain time or 7:45 eastern.  For the first time they are having a live webcast of the meet at http://www.usatf.org/events/2011/USAIndoorTFChampionships/video.asp  Wish me luck!

Always Pursuing -Mark-

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Prague, Chzech Republic

I made it to Prague after the meeting in Donetsk.  What a great time i had!  It was an amazing experience to be around such talent, past and present.  This truly was a World Championship final, maybe missing 1 or 2 great vaulters.  The trip as a whole was not too bad, not nearly as bad as I was thinking it would be.  The flights were fine, they are taking much bigger planes from Kiev to Donetsk than they were a short time ago.  I flew on a 737 rather than the old Soviet prop planes I have head so many stories about.

The competition itself was a lot of fun, its hard not to be disappointed with the height because of how close i was to making 5.70.  My last jump of the competition i decided to move up to my 5.10 #4 or 12.6, now this is the replacement for the pole i broke just a month ago.  I was feeling good, and knew this pole would put me over 5.70 easily.  Now of course i look back at it and wonder why i didnt have the standards closer than i did, 60.  But at the time, in my amped up mind I thought it was perfect.  I came down the runway hit the biggest pole of my life, went for a ride over the crossbar and barely scraped it on the way down.  AAAGGGGHHHHH Is really all that comes to mind when I watch that video.

I remember sitting in a Q&A with Toby Stevenson one time and said the only way to be a professional vaulter is to jump high enough to give yourself great opportunities, and once you get those opportunities you better capitalize on them.  I kind of feel like i could have capitalized on this opportunity a bit better.  But I must move on, I have a new plan for the meet today. This year I have been starting on the 5m poles and then once the comp starts i try to move up to the 5.10's.  Well in Donetsk i was second guessing every decision i was making about moving my grip, changing poles and where to put the standards.  So the game plan for today is just to start on the 5.10's holding down and hopefully that will help me to know what to do better.

I will tell you this trip has been a little dissapointing so far.  My results are fairly good, 5.55, 5.53, and 5.60, the best, most consistent indoor ive ever had, but I should have jumped 5.65, 5.63, and 5.70, you saw the videos, barely knocking down all three of those bars.  So today Im gonna show my poles whos boss.  Lately they have been in charge, not today, today Im in charge.  Today is my day, Today the bar stays up.  Im not promising anything because you never know what can happen in the vault, but I will promise you this, im going into this comp with a different attitude.  Something needs to change, Im not ok with being mediocre, and 5.55, 5.53 and 5.60 are just that.

Always Pursuing -Mark-

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Oh how I love traveling!

Don't you just love it when you have everything planned out perfectly. Flight booked, poles in storage at the airport, and all I have to do is walk 5 min, jump on a train, transfer to one other train, pick up the poles at storage and check in at the airport. It all sounded so promising, a day of international travel with little to no stress. Wouldn't that have been nice! It started off perfectly, breakfast, coffee, tickets in hand and out the door, supposed to end up at the airport at 8:45am almost 3 hours before my flight, plenty of time. First train is right on time, 7:17, I jump on, ride it for about 20 minutes get out and head right to the next terminal to jump on the ICE train straight to the airport. I have about 8 min until the train arrives and as I wait an announcement comes blaring out in german of course. I can't understand anything other than Frankfurt flughafen, airport, I look around and noone seems happy. In fact they all start to leave, I still have no idea what's happening but I can tell its not good. I frantically start looking for an information desk or someone who can help me. I finally find out that the train is cancelled due to some damage to the tracks or something. A nice gentleman tells me there's another train going to the airport from the main station, he tells me to jump on train 10 and go to the main station. I don't even hesitate, I know I'm in a time sensitive situation and don't have time to mess around. Luckily the guy was telling the truth, so I get out and immediately find a kiosk, luckily it has an english button so I can read it. It says there is a train going to the airport that leaves in 5 minutes and gets there the same time as the other train I was going to take! I rush to the terminal, the train comes and I get on, I exhale, that was a close one. I was pretty proud of myself for not panicking and figuring out where I needed to be in such little time. Now its time to relax, so I go to the cafe car and order some coffee, enjoying the sights of the German countryside and a few castles here and there. The ride is only supposed to be an hour, at one point I hear an announcement,(on this train they repeat everything in english) that says the train is running 7 minutes late, no big deal. I wait until about 5 min to go, get up and walk towards the door. 5 minutes go by, nothing, I think maybe there a few min off on their estimate. 20 min go by, 35 min, nothing, finally they come on the announcement and say that we are running 75 minutes late! What! Now I'm freaking out because I'm only going to have 80 minutes to retrieve my poles from the baggage storage area, and find my gate and check in. We finally get to the airport and I learn I have to take a bus to my terminal, YES! that helps so much! I finally get to my terminal and have maybe 45 min until my flight. I run to the counter and tell the lady I have stabhochsprung poles in the storage, it doesn't matter how many times I've heard that word(german for pole vault) said noone every understands me. So I start motioning my hands to try and convey pole vault poles to a lady who is looking at me like I'm on drugs! Finally she understands, tells me to run and get them and she will check me in. I get back, and she tells me it will be 16 euros/kg my bag is 30kg! She asked if I wanted to leave the bag at the airport, I laughed and said I wish. I pay her, because I'm pretty sure I will be reimbursed at the meet, and I head to my departure gate. I made it! I'm covered in sweat from running around with my backpack and huge bag, oh yeah and those freaking 30kg poles, that's like 66lbs! Stupid things... So here I sit, my flight is delayed of course, I don't know how long but I know its long enough that I couldve walked here instead of ran everywhere!
This is the life of a professional pole vaulter. Traveling abroad is pretty cool, like I said experiencing the new cultures and the people I meet are unforgettable. But throw a 17 foot 65 pound bag in there and your perspective changes quite a bit. But as my good friend and agent told me today in an email, "enjoy the adventure." Guess that's all there is to say about that.

Always Pursuing,

Monday, February 7, 2011

A lovely week off

So I didn't have a ton of time to write about the meet in Landau so I just threw up some videos to keep everyone happy for a little while until i had the chance to sit down and write a little more.  So here is me writing a little more, which may turn into a whole lot more, i guess we will just have to see.

I tell you what if i didn't have the few friend i have here or have met the people i have met things would be a whole lot harder.  When i heard i would be staying with a local family in Landau i got a little nervous, i think as anyone would in a foreign country.  I cant say enough about the Kiefers, the family i stayed with.  Whats funny is that most Europeans know some English, actually most can understand you and answer your questions, while most Americans couldn't say 5 words in another language, now I know there are exceptions but it makes you feel kind of bad being here and not knowing their language.  I wonder if they feel the same way about me as i sometimes do about foreigners in USA who dont speak English... ANYWAY the Kiefers are wonderful people I wish i could have stayed for much longer than just the 1 day i was with them.  They actually lived in the Detroit, MI area about 20 years ago.  There are 3 boys i think 17, 21, and 23 and their mother, I found out that their father died in 2001, I don't know the details but thats tough.  They live only about 1/2 mile from the track and gymnasium that the comp was held in.  Its really the people here that make you want to come back, and the Kiefers are a family I surely hope to see again.

Right, the competition, now I told you i wasn't planning on doing this comp, it just kind of presented itself, or should i say the Lord had it planned the whole time.  One thing Ive learned about competing here, you young guys listen up, its all about the relationships, if you can get the crowd to like you more than likely the meet director is going to like you, and thats where your money's at.  When i met the meet director Jachen, he told me that Bjorn Otto (German Superstar vaulter) had committed to coming to their meet, so of course they had advertised he was coming.  Well I guess less than a week before the meet Bjorn pulled out of the meet, Jochen heard i had nothing to do and invited me to come.  So now i know that I am the main attraction, not just another name on the list.  As Im warming up for the meet I give some kids high fives, thats a sure fire way to get the crowd liking you.  Now the gym is only so long so i have to come from 8 lefts, one shorter than my long run, but the box (where you plant the pole) is like an inch deeper than normal which will make it easier to get on bigger poles.  Warmups start and im feeling pretty good, the crowd is coming in, the runway is fairly fast and im jumping fairly well.  I decide to come in at 5.23m/17'1 because i dont want to sit around and the higher you can go over a bar the louder the crowd is.  Make it first attempt, next is 5.38m make it first attempt.  THe meet record is 5.52/18'1, so i pass the next bar of 5.48, and go to 5.53m.  By this time there is only 3 guys left, I come down first attempt and missed, Karsten Dilla from Germany comes down his 2nd attempt and makes it, now the pressures on.  I come down my second attempt and make it pretty easily.  We both decide to pass to 5.63m/18'5", Karsten is close but not too close, and as you saw on the video i was damn near over the bar and barely knocked it off.

Now I thought i had gotten 2nd because Karsten had jumped 5.48, but as they were announcing the winners I won the meet! thats an extra 200 euros from 1st to 2nd! I also got this huge trophy, theres no way i can put it in my bag, I already packed way to much, so i think i will have to leave it here and get it another trip.  So for the whole weekend I made a nice unexpected paycheck.

After the meet I decided to go with my German friend Michel Frauen to his apt in Leverkusen, Germany, they have a great training facility here and since i have the whole week before my next meet that's important.

Sunday Michel asks if i want to go to the sauna, very normal thing to do here, especially after a workout or competition.  I said yes of course, I had just did 2 meets in 3 days and my body was feeling a bit beat up.  So we go to the sauna, Im not sure how to describe the place we went other than a European Ymca i guess.  We walked in, checked in at the desk and got a locker key, walked into the locker room and Ive worn compression shorts.  Michel looks at me and says "we go naked, your in Germany now...land of the free."  I should of known, so I stripped the shorts off, put a towel around my waist and we walked out into the great unknown.  As we walk out of the locker room, I immediately notice that this is a coed sauna spa, i guess ill call it.  All the saunas in the main place are packed so we go outside to another small building and get into a 70 degree citrus sauna , we stay in there for about 10 min, leave and walk outside to a cold shower which makes me scream like a little girl.  We walk back into the building and see there is a super hot sauna in a few min, so we go and find a spot, the temp inside is already 90degrees Celsius.  A lady walks in and begins to pour water on the stones, now its really hot, she starts waving a towel around which you think would feel cooler, but its just pushing that hot air right into you.  I survived until it was done, we walk back to the showers, by now i dont feel as strange being naked because everyone is or donning only a towel.  I scream a little more in the frigid shower and we go inside and sit around a fire and relax for a bit, after this its back to the sauna this ones only about 80 degrees, after which we went for a swim outside in a warm pool.  I really had to think about this, because it is so much different than anything in America, it was very awkward to me at first but i ended up really enjoying the experience.

Its very noticeable when i go to Europe the obesity epidemic we have in America, now i have a few theorys why the people here are fitter than we are, but maybe its as simple as once or twice a week everyone takes some time to really truly relax.  To sweat out the impurities, the stress of work, and get away from the never ending technology that seems to rule our lives.

I told Michel when we left that was definitely the most European experience I had ever had, and I had to thank him.  One of the coolest things about coming here is you have to go outside your comfort zone, this was a very extreme case of it, but it helps to open your mind to experience new cultures.

Its Monday, tomorrow we are having a little jump session and then thursday I jump on the train to Frankfurt and fly to Kiev, Ukraine for Sergey Bubkas meet in Donetsk.

Always Pursuing -Mark-

Saturday, February 5, 2011

5.53 make

Always Pursuing -Mark-

5.63 near miss

Always Pursuing -Mark-

Landau, Germany

5.38 make

Always Pursuing -Mark-

Linz, Austria to Landau, Germany

The start of the meeting in Linz was not looking good.  I didnt finish a jump all of warmups, couldnt really figure out what was going on but it wasnt good.  I knew that once the bar went up things should be better.  I started at 5.25/17' just to make a bar easily, well it took me all 3 tries to make it easily!  Talk about some unneeded stress!  But on my third jump i was feelign much more confident on the runway, my last 2 steps were much more crisp and i decided to pass to 5.45/17'9".  Came down first time and made the bar, thats a little better!  5.55/18'2 was next, came down, same run same takeoff, first attempt make!  Now i was on the smallest pole in my bag which i usually only warm-up on, but whatever tool is needed to get the job done is the right one.  We went up to 5.65/18'6" and now there were only 2 of us left, myself and Fabio Gomez deSilva from Brazil, my first two tries were very close but i couldnt keep the bar up.  Fabio came down on his last attempt and had a great jump and made it to win the comp.  I was actually pretty happy with the way things turned out since they had started so badly.
Here is my 5.55m make.

After the meet I was motioned over to someone who asked if I wanted to travel with them and jump in a little German town called Landau. Now I had no plans for 9 days until going to Donetsk so i was more than happy to go with him and get in another meet. The next day we left at 7am and drove for 7 hours to Landau, Germany for a meet today. For those of you who have seen the new NeoVault movie, this meet in Landau is put on by the same director as the meet in Jockgrim, Germany. In NeoVault that is where Derek Miles jumps 5.81m/19'1". The meet director's name is Jochen and he is a super guy! I have been staying with a German family who has been so gracious and hospitable, this morning for breakfast the table was filled with so many different choices, I cant thank them enough!
The meet today is at 4pm or 10am eastern time.  It is held in a small gym and they told me the ceilings are 7m high, which is about 23ft.  I told them it wont be a problem until i am attempting 6m haha.  It should be a lot of fun, i hope to get some great video to post here later tonight or tomorrow.

Always Pursuing -Mark-

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Good Morning USA!!!

Well after an 8 hour flight to Germany, a 2 hour flight to Vienna, and a 2 hour van ride to Linz I made it!  Its good to be here, theres always a lot of stress that goes into getting here, making sure the poles make it, did i pack everything, and so on.  Its the morning of my first meet here in Linz, I am staying in this dorm like hotel, its not a 5 star place but Ive had worse.  I have 2 roommates, Richard Hurren from the UK and his training partner Andy.  Ive competed with Rich a few times so it was good to see him again.  Im excited for the comp tonight, Fabian Gomez from Brazil is here (18'10), Kostas Filipidas from Greece (18'10), and about 7 or 8 other guys, so its shaping up to be a pretty good competition.  I surprisingly slept well the last 2 nights, i usually have trouble the second night but i fell right asleep and slept through most of the night.   THats all im gonna write for now, gotta grab some lunch, and get ready to go, I vault at 7pm this time which is 1pm eastern time, I will try to get on facebook after and update here as well.  Wish me luck!

Always Pursuing -Mark-

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Reno this weekend, Then off to Europe!

 Well guys this week has been a little bit crazy, im preparing not only for one of my favorite meets, the Pole Vault Summit in Reno, Nevada but im also packing for a 3 week stint in Europe.  Thats not all, Amanda and I have just signed a lease to move into our first house!  We are very excited to have some more space, a garage, and especially a backyard.  With all that going on it has been a little crazy this week to pack everything i will need for nearly a month.
For all of you who will be at the Summit this weekend, please find me and tell me that you read my blog, i may have a little something for you!  Also i will have lots of shirts for sale, so if you havent gotten one yet you can grab one from me there.
Im super pumped to jump this weekend, the crowd is always amazing and the runway is fast.  Im getting 2 new poles from Gill to replace the one i broke as well as a bigger one.  Let me tell you that I know if I jump on these poles 19ft will be no problem.  Ive been checking out the meets i will be doing in Europe and they all look like great venues, all of which will be new to me.  I have about 9 days between my first and second meet so i will be staying in Linz, Austria at an athletics club, so i should have plenty of time to update my blog and hopefully see some of the city. 
I jump friday night at Reno and i will def have some video up soon after.  Im feeling good, and Im ready to jump big, and i cant wait to tell you all about it.

Always Pursuing -Mark-

Saturday, January 22, 2011

5.60m and my first pole break in 7 years!!

Ok i decided to post my near miss at 5.72m/18'9" and the pole break 2 jumps earlier. This is the first pole ive broken in 7 years! I am actually really lucky that this pole broke when it did, I could've broken it next week in Reno or even when i was in Europe! That would have been a catastrophe. Im jumping better that ive ever jumped before in my life! I cant wait to get the new poles and get out to reno in front of all those fans and jump some huge bars right before i go to Europe.


Always Pursuing -Mark-

Saturday, January 15, 2011

5.62/18'5" GVSU New Indoor PR!!

That felt good!!!!

Probably the best jump of my life, bar is at 18', pole is 5m/16'5" 215lbs run from 134' takeoff is 13'9".

Approach feels really solid, my speed is already back if not even faster than last year. I ended up jumping 17'9" 18' and then i made 18'5" on my third attempt, which was also a good jump but not quite as good as this one. after 18'5" I raised the bar to 5.72m/18'9" and went up to the 5.10m/16'9" poles to feel them out some more. I had only jumped on the smallest one in practice so we didn't know which poles we would need to jump on. So i ended up just hitting a few of the bigger poles but never really had any good attempts at the bar.

That result puts me at #2 in the world, that wont last long of course but that's why im going to go back to GVSU next Friday and jump again. I figure its best to get in one more meet with my coach before Reno and my trip to Europe immediately after that. So this week we'll work on a few things, try to get in another good practice from long and go back on Friday and try to hit those bigger poles and more than likely be able to get that 18'9" and hopefully 19"!

Always Pursuing -Mark-

Tuesday, January 11, 2011


Holy cow! We have been slammed with snow over the weekend, South Bend got a total of about 39 inches in a little over one day! We didnt get as much here in Elkhart but still got quite a lot. Luckily it was over the weekend so by the time we needed to go to South Bend for practice the roads were clear enough that we could make it. Since a little before Christmas I have been jumping over at Bethel College in Mishawaka as you have seen from my videos lately. Sunday I jumped at Bethel and got back to my long run, the early practice at the long run is tough because even tho Im only running 130 ft, the tempo is always difficult to get accustomed to. But even tho im still working on the run, im still jumping on big poles! Last week I took up the 5.10m poles which i did once last year but never jumped well on them. Yesterday I jumped on the 5m 13.3 and had height on 5.70/18'8" Im really happy with the way practice has been going and Im super pumped for my first meet on Friday in Michigan. Today I just have some light conditioning to do so i gotta get ready to go hit that. Heres a video of me doing a new drill, a inverted pushup finishing in a piked position. Not as much for the strength side but for the position at the end.

Always Pursuing -Mark-

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

First day back at full approach!

I hope that all of you had a safe and wonderful holiday. I spent Christmas with my wifes family in western New York. I was there for a week and was able to get some workouts in at Brockport High School. We came back a few days after Christmas, got back wednesday night, practiced thursday morning and headed to my parents house in northern Illinois to hang out with my family. We returned to Elkhart on Sunday afternoon, glad to be home finally.

Monday I went into practice at Bethel College in Mishawaka. I practice there every now and then when we are unable to do so at Notre Dame. In the past we had to set up a board runway every time we had to practice, but last year they finally dropped a box. So now all we have to do is roll out a runway and do a little setup and were ready to go.

So Monday practice was going really well, so we decided to go all the way back to my full approach, 9 lefts. I was able to take about 10 jumps and improved on every jump. This video is the last jump of practice, running from 132' takeoff at 13'9" pole is a 5 meter 13.3 215lbs, bungee at 5.65m/18'6". Really just working on the approach and getting comfortable with it again.

Always Pursuing -Mark-