Thursday, October 4, 2012

Its Time!

Its been a month and a week since my last meet and I can tell you the rest has been good!  The first few weeks I ate a lot of junk food and did a lot of sitting around. The next few weeks I started getting a little antsy and started doing some body weight workouts and I found this awesome park in South Bend with about 6 miles of mountain biking trails which I have ridden several times.  Also doing some trail running, enjoying the changing of the seasons with the warm days and cool nights.  I finished my time of rest with a 22 mile kayak/fishing trip which lasted 2 nights and the better part of 2 days, and I can tell you 22 miles is a long way in a kayak, Im still sore!  

Here I am at the start of another year of training, excited to pole vault again and excited to learn and improve.  As I look back at the past year I examine the pros and cons, what I liked and didnt like and how to change the things that are holding me back.  This past year I took major steps in the direction I want to go.  Its easy to look at the year as failure because I failed to jump the A standard and I failed to make the Olympic team and that is the way I viewed it for a few months after the trials.  Its hard to look forward to 4 years from now after looking at where I was 4 years ago, fresh out of college totally in awe of the people I was around,enjoying every minute. and most of all I was jumping at personal bests most of the year.  So its time for a fresh start, how to I get back to the things I was doing well back then and how to integrate the things I have learned and experienced.  I stepped out on a ledge this past year leaving my coach, and really going at it on my own.  I believe it forced me to take full ownership of every part of my life, training, jumping, diet, and competing which maybe I had become relaxed with in the past few years.  I did some things this year that I never thought I could do, I jumped on 17ft poles regularly and I was taking off from outside 14ft regularly.  These things were way out of my comfort zone a year ago and to have pushed myself to make these advances I know they will pay huge benefits in the future.

Once again it comes back to putting the pieces together, I have the speed, strength, and work ethic to be among the best in the world so what is missing?  This past year I spent a lot of time listening to many different coaches, traveling around the country trying to take the bits and pieces from many sources and make them into the perfect technique for me.  That was great in a way because it helped me to see what works and what doesnt, the difference between doing something just because it looks good or because it makes a difference in my jump.  On the other hand its hard to focus on one thing for very long when your taking in so much information.  This year Im going to focus on being consistent the whole year because as long as Im confident in what Im doing I know the results will show.

I feel refreshed, I havent rested this long since college and come Monday Im starting my 2013 season. Is there anything you all would like me to talk more about on my blog?  Questions you have for me? If so leave a comment or tweet me and let me know.  I have a feeling this will be my best year yet!

Always Pursuing -Mark-

Friday, July 20, 2012

Euro and downs thus far

Its the trips like this make me want to. hang it all up, at least then I wouldn't have to carry these damn poles everywhere. I'm often asked for horror stories involving traveling with poles, most people are expecting that my poles were strapped to the side of the plane and fell into the atlantic ocean somewhere or the ever popular my poles were cut in half while traveling story. The worst of my stories always involve airports and I'm pretty sure I have a couple more to add to my top five bad experiences traveling with poles from this trip so far.

I guess the best place to start is always the beginning, so here it is my trip thus far. I live right smack in the middle of 3 major airports, Ohare in Chicago, Detroit, and Indianapolis. This is good because I always have a choice but its very bad because each one is a 3 hour drive, so you can imagine that each time I travel I need to make special arrangements to be dropped off, and I fly around 20 times a year! But on this trip Amanda was on summer break so she was able to drive me to Detroit. I've actually had really good luck flying with Delta, as long as your on a large enough plane they will take the poles and I've had several trips this year that I haven't been charged for the poles, which can cost up to $300 one way! This time I walk up to the counter and there is always a look of alarm from the person behind the counter, "oh my" or "what are you doing with those here?" This time was pretty good I was charged 150 for the poles and sent on my way.

I arrived in Amsterdam and had one of the longest walks to my next gate to catch my flight, first I get slowed at passport control costing me an extra 5 min then again going through security, they for sure thought the 2 tennis balls I had taped together, a simple tool for therapy, was a bomb! This cost me a good 10 min and even tho I was running they had closed the door to my flight about a minute before I got there, ugh. I've done this enough to just shrug it off and proceed to the desk to get a re booking, I wait about 2 hours and catch the next flight to Berlin. Now I'm wondering about my bags and if they made it on my first flight or second, I had no doubt they made it because I ended up having that long layover in Amsterdam. Arriving in Berlin and I wait and wait for both my bags, neither are coming which I'm thinking is fine, they must have just sent them on the earlier flight so I proceed to find where they are stashed. The guy tells me to go to another part of the airport for lost baggage. Now european airports aren't quite like in the states, things are never where they're supposed to be! I get lost trying to find the counter, oh also I'm supposed to be meeting my chauffeur for my meet in Hof who I didn't see as I came off the plane. I finally find the counter and realize that I have somehow lost my bag tags! So now my bags are somewhere and the only way to identify them is the black one with wheels and the huge tube, joy! The next 48 hours are just pure anxiety and phone calls that are going nowhere. Not only do they not know when my suitcase will arrive they haven't even located my poles! How is that even possible? I mean how many 17ft long tubes you got floating around that you can't locate mine? Well with thanks to my wife and brother steve getting a hold of the right people my suitcase arrives the morning of my comp, which is very good because I've been wearing the same underwear for over 3 days uhhhh, sorry for that mental picture but that's what I'm dealing with. Still no poles but at least I can compete, pole vaulters are always looking out for each other and its usually just a matter of finding someone with around the same size poles as you to borrow them. Day of the meet is very windy and on and off rain, I decide to run from a shorter run of 6 lefts because of the conditions and the poles I was borrowing were perfect for that run. Start the comp and I jump 17', 17'4, 17'9, and then I put together a great jump on my first att at 18' and made it! I was super pumped, one of the toughest things to learn in the vault is how to know if your doing something right or wrong and being able to reproduce it. I think that I'm pretty good at that so I'm excited for my meet tomorrow to try it on longer poles

So after the meet I checked with KLM for an update on my poles, now they know they are in Amsterdam,I'm thinking at least were on the same continent. I told them to send them to Cologne since that is where I was heading the next day. I wake up the next morning, get my rental car and find out the poles are in berlin and they can't deliver them so I need to pick them up. Berlin is 3 hours in the wrong direction for me but I had to get my poles. So I drive to berlin get the poles and drive another 6 hours to Cologne, finally arriving at an apartment 2 american pole vaulters are renting before the olympics. Hung out there for a day and then I was scheduled to fly out on air berlin to stockholm at 6am so I was up at 4am heading to the airport. I've flown on air berlin before and really didn't think I would have any trouble checking in the poles, oh was I wrong. I walked up to the counter and started to check in, the lady saw my poles and said "oh that will be an extra charge" I was pretty happy that that was the biggest concern here and thought I was going to be good to go. Well the lady started talking on the phone which is normal, then the manager comes over and they're talking, after about 40 minutes of this the manager tells me it is not possible, my favorite european expression. I plead and basically beg, ask them to just try it but to no avail. So now I don't know what to do, of course I don't want to go to the meet without my poles but if I have to I will. So I'm on the phone with my manager and he's going to come and pick up the poles, I ask air berlin if I can leave the poles there for 20 min until someone picks them up but of course they aren't going for that. They are reallyu going out of their way to not help me in any way. I'm down to about 30 min until my flight, so I take the poles and go down to baggage storage but I have to wait 10 min for them to even open, its only 6am. Finally they open and tell me I must wait for security to come and scan the poles. Another 10 min passes and by now I'm sure I've missed my flight, go through security and sure enough doors are closed. I go back out and tell them I need to be re booked and this lady starts literally yelling at me for thinking I can walk in here with my large luggage and expect to get it on the plane and to have the nerve to think I could get re booked because I was made to miss my flight. She went on to tell me it would be an extra 300 euros for another flight with no poles. I really was just in awe, I had kept calm thru this whole ordeal but I just couldn't take it anymore, I think I was just so overwhelmed with all the stress this early in the morning, remember its only 630am and I'm still very jet lagged. I was totally defeated, emotionally spent, and just wanted to go home.

Well I finally made it to Sweden, wow what a beautiful country! This is definitely a place I would visit on vacation. My poles are also here which I thought was a good thing. I attempted to jump yesterday and every one of us except for one person didn't make a height. Right now I just can't believe the string of events that this trip has produced. I'm on my way to my final meet of this trip in Poland, its going to be a great meet, all the top guys in the world will be there. Hoping to redeem this trip and put on a good showing.

Always Pursuing,
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Posters for sale!

Hey Mark Hollis fans! This is Amanda (his wife) and I'm posting on behalf of Mark. He is competing in Sweden now and I just wanted to let you know of a new opportunity to support him! Some of the vaulters and Vaulter Magazine have teamed up to do posters to help the vaulters with their training funds. Mark's poster is the picture below. On the other side is a poster with vaulter Allison Stokke! 2 posters for the price of one! If you would like to purchase a poster to help Mark/Allison with their training, please follow the link at the end of this post. Half the proceeds of each poster goes directly to the vaulters! Thank you so much Vaulter Magazine for this opportunity! It is so nice to have things like this that don't cost us a dime. 
Thank you so much everyone!

Always Pursuing -Mark-

Monday, July 2, 2012

Olympic Trials Reflection

Just so you all know I don't want to do this, I don't want to talk about my week at the Olympic trials, because it hurts.  It hurts really bad.  But I know that I need to, I owe it to all of you to continue the journey.  Just like the victories are a vital part of any story so is the heartbreak.  And it wouldn't be fair for me to pretend like everything will always go the way you want it to, even when you work so hard at something sometimes it just doesn't go in your favor.  I've said it before and I'll say it again the sport of pole vaulting is cruel, it's cruel to everyone, so if you haven't experienced its cold hand slapping you across the face just wait, you'll get yours.  And I think thats why we love it so much, because the heartache makes the victory that much sweeter.  So maybe we should relish in the defeat, just because we know it's going to push us that much harder and make our victory so much sweeter.  I think as soon as I get home I will put something up on the wall to remind me of the 2012 Olympic trials because I don't want to forget the bitter taste I have in my mouth right now.  The part im trying to not think about is how long I have to wait to get my revenge.  

Going into the Trials I believed that if i could make 5.72m/18'9" I would be top 3 and make the team.  My plan all along was to be in the competition when the bar went up to 5.72m and give myself a chance to make the team.  Warmups went better than they have been going for me in the past month or so, I was confident in my run, and knew that once the bar went up I could get in the groove.  I wanted to start at 5.50m/18' but i wasnt on the pole I wanted to be on to feel confident in doing that so I opted to start at 5.40m/17'9".  The wind was swirling around the majority of the comp and when I stepped on the runway it was blowing in my face.  I muscled through the wind and made the bar first attempt, I was feeling good after that and knew that since i was going up a pole I could pass the next bar.  When the bar went up to 5.60m/18'4" I think there were still 8 or 9 people still in the competion.  My first attempt was a good jump but I barely hit the bar on the way up, I went up a pole and did the same thing on my second.  I didnt want to go up to my next pole yet because it was a pole I had never jumped up and I knew if I upped my grip the pole would slow down a bit and give me more time to make the bar.  I really felt no fear in not making the bar, I believed in my decisions and knew that the numbers added up to making the bar.  I put a great jump together and made the bar on my last attempt!  Now I was pumped, I knew that by going up to my next pole, the biggest one in my bag, if i could put a jump together like the last one I would make the next couple of bars.  

I passed 5.67m/18'7" only Brad Walker made the bar which meant i was sitting in 5th place but if i made 5.72m/18'9" I would take the lead and be on my way to London.  I taped up my 5.20m/17'1" 12.3flex Pacer Carbon pole and was ready to go.  By now the wind had picked up and it had started to rain.  There were 2 of us jumping at the bar so we had 2 minutes to start our attempt.  I waited about the whole 2 min waiting for the wind to switch direction or at least die down.  I started my first attempt and the wind was straight in my face, now on the size pole i was on if your not running your fastest the chance for injury is pretty high, I knew the wind was holding me back so I dropped the pole and ran onto the mat.  Second attempt the wind wasnt as strong i took the jump up but got a little stood up meaning i didnt quite get the horizontal movement into the pit I needed and had to bail the jump.  This left me one attempt, I was praying that I could get a good wind.  The problem I had was that since I was on a new pole with one jump remaining its hard to set the standards where you need them to be.  I left mine at 70cm meaning the bar was 70cm behind were we plant the pole.  The wind was a little better as I started my run but at the middle of my run it switched, I left the ground and gave it a shot, had plenty of height but came down on the bar.  

THat was it, the end of my pursuit for 2012, I think the worst part of it was that I knew I was deserved to be there, I was the best prepared but in pole vault sometimes it just doesnt matter.  

Im starting to look forward, its pretty easy to get down and think about just how close I was.  Im ready to get back on the runway and jump a personal best which I know is right around the corner.  I jumping down in St. Louis on Wednesday the 4th and then in Champaign, Illinois on Saturday at the Gill Athletics Field Fest.  

Thanks to everyone who supported me this year, thanks for buying a t-shirt, that helps so much.  Im going to keep on pursuing and some day soon Ill start looking forward to 2016 in Rio.  

Always Pursuing -Mark-

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Olympic Trials Here I Come!

Making final preparations the last couple of days it feels just like any other trip.  Im packing my bags for a week and a half trip just like I have probably over 20 times in the last few years.  But this time its different, this trip means a little bit more than any of the others I have prepared for.  Im excited, Ive been looking forward to this for the last 4 years, think of where you were 4 years ago, that was a long time wasnt it?  Ive been training my butt off for 4 years straight working toward this goal.  Im happy that the time has finally come, Im also at peace, I am really looking forward to going to Eugene and just having a blast.  I know theres nothing else I can do, I can only embrace my training, my fitness, and my vault and use it all to the best of my abilities.

The last month or so has been exactly what I need, Ive mentioned it to a few people but it is very evident to me that this path has been marked off for me.  I have been improving one step at a time, and even when I wished I could have skipped a few steps and just jumped 5.72m already I know that I have to trust the one who has set this road before me.  So Im just putting this in the hands of the Lord, and whatever the outcome, I want his will to be done.  And whatever happens let the glory go to Him.

Thats it, I may write again after prelims on Monday or just wait until after the finals on Thursday.  Ill try to update my facebook and twitter pages you can follow me there at HollisPV.

Also I want to thank every one of you for following me, supporting me, and always being there with a kind word of encouragement.  I truly couldnt do this with your support.

Always Pursuing,

Monday, May 7, 2012

Belem, Brazil

I felt pretty hopeless when the bar went up at the beginning of the competition in Belem, Brazil. For the second meet in a row I hadn't left the ground in warmups, the cues I had been working on at home weren't working, and I wasn't sure I was going to be able to make a bar.

I knew what to expect, I jumped here 2 years ago, jumped well, cleared 5.55m/18'2" and nearly 5.70m 18'8". I knew the pit was small, apparently I forgot how small tho, the front buns came out to the end of the box and it was only as wide as the standards. I know the pits in the past were much smaller, the problem is that when you practice and compete only on bigger pits your perception can really get messed up with a much smaller one.

This meet and the last my run had been consistent, hitting my mid and takeoff marks, absolutely no reason I shouldn't have been jumping in warmups and getting on the poles I needed to. If you haven't figured it out yet, this sport is 90% mental, you can work out all day long but if your standing on the back of the runway not sure of what is going to happen all that muscle and speed isn't going to get you anywhere, believe me I know. So there's this epic battle going on, sometimes I feel as tho I have an angel on one shoulder and a little devil on the other. The little devil has been winning lately, saying things like; "your grips not quite right" or "the wind isn't a straight tail, its bugging you isn't it." Now when the confidence is high your not thinking about every little thing and the angel wins, she's saying things like "your running so fast, the pole feels good in your hands" or "this pole is nothing, let's grip a little higher and really go for a ride."

The battle is on, devil: "your gonna no-height this meet, you came all this way to no-height," angel: "you got this, your run is on, once the bar goes up your good to go." Devil: "that's what you said last meet and guess what you happened...NH!" Angel: "its a new day, and there's no way in hell your gonna let that happen today, now get yourself together."

I've had battles like this before, I think every vaulter deals with it, I think Steve Hooker called it the yips. I try to settle myself down and stay cool, the UV index is 11 and heat index over 100! I figure I can make 5.20m/17' on my smallest pole a 5.10m 13.8 but not much higher, what I know for sure is I'm not going to clear any bars if I don't leave the ground. My legs are feeling good as I take my first attempt, and that devil is just whispering in my ear and I run through again. I'm really not liking myself now, I'm afraid that I'm gonna take this next jump and blow thru and then be down to one attempt. Second attempt I start my run a little easier so I can try and feel myself accelerating into my last few steps. This time I'm drowning out all voices in my head with fear, fear of what my wife Amanda will say if I no-height this meet. She doesn't really like me being gone anyway especially when I don't do well. I take off! I take off and make the bar, big sigh of relief, BIG sigh of relief.
I still wasn't confident in my run or takeoff, something was off, my hands were so late in moving to takeoff. With the pit being so short I was feeling far away and so everything was happening late. I passed to 5.40m decided to stay on the small pole because I really needed to hit one good so I would feel confident going to the next pole. First 2 jumps were not good, getting a little closer but not close enough. Now each jump I'm figuring it out a little more, my acceleration is good, I'm moving my hands better but I'm still leaning back a bit at takeoff. I'm down to my final attempt and I know if I hit one good this pole is going to be too small, so I grab the next one, hit a takeoff and make the bar! Gosh, not sure if I've ever had to work this hard to make 17'9", but I'm still alive. The bar goes to 5.50m/18' and I'm feeling way more confident than I was after warmups. Angel: "now your getting it, keep those hands high and you gotta step through that takeoff, you make this and your in the lead." My 3 jumps at this height were my best of the day, on my second I did all the things I wanted and smashed the pole. I go up to the 12.8 my last 5.10 before the 5.20's, I had the standards at 55, came down and put another pretty good jump together just hitting the bar on the way up. I was bummed but proud, bummed because I felt if I had made that bar I could of made the next couple, proud because I had won the battle! I didn't give in to that voice of negativity, and I had finished in 2nd which was way more money than finishing last.

A few people were pretty surprised when I told them I was doing all these meets in such a short period of time. Sometimes you have to go through the fire to find what your made of. I can tell you that after that comp I know what I'm made of, I am ready for just about anything, I know what I need to do in the future and I am so much stronger because of it. I'm looking forward to these next few meets, Fortaleza on wednesday, Ponce, Puerto Rico on Saturday and then Shanghai, China next week. I want to increase this confidence with each meet and just get better and better, and I think I know how to deal with that little devil if he decides to show his face again.

Always Pursuing,
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Its about that time...

Oh man this is usually the way it works, I think about writing on here and dont, I have a meet and really think its time to write but dont.  Finally I decide its about that time to get on here and update all of you who I know are just chomping at the bit for my next post.  That being said since my last post I have done 3 meets, Siena Heights, Drake Mall Vault and the Drake Relays.

Siena Heights was a small meet about 2 hours away from me up in Michigan.  The coach texted me and invited me to jump on their brand new track with a raised runway on the infield.  I was to be in a wedding the following weekend and would miss the Kansas Relays so of course I was excited about the possibility of getting a meet in.  The weather held out for all the competition, it was cool around 60 degrees but a nice tailwind was blowing.  I came in at 5.40m, 17'9" made it on my second attempt but was having some trouble with my approach.  I was getting up to top speed too quickly and just felt out of control at take off.  I went to 5.60m 18'4" and it started to drizzle rain.  I was still trying to get my run under control and  was coming down on the bar.  I was disappointed but knew that I needed to start my run a little easier and accelerate into the take off.

I had a couple more long run practices really locking in my approach and can say that other than a few jumps in the three comps my approach has been consistent,hitting 56'6" mid and taking off at 14' which is right where I need to be.

The Drake Mall vault has got to be one of my favorite comps in the world.  The atmosphere is awesome, music is lound and the energy is electric.  4 years ago I jumped 8 inches higher than I ever had before at this meet jumping 5.71m 18'8" so it has always had a special place in my heart.  This year I was excited again, eager to put all my hard work on display and get a big mark out there.  Before most meets I take out my notebook and write down my goals for the meet.  Things I want to hash out beforehand and cues I want to remember during the meet.  My main cue for the drake mall was to live in the moment, embrace each jump as its the only one I get that day, not thinking about the next jump, what height im at or whats happening in the future.  The meet started and as always at the mall vault it was hard for me to contain my excitement, I came in at 5.35m 17'6" made it on my first attempt with a blow through, which is a good thing.  I went up to the next pole at 5.50m bailed on my first attempt, and put together one of my best jumps on my second attempt.  I ran through the takeoff hit the arms and all of a sudden i ran into the bar, the pole was too small!  Now usually this wouldnt be that big of a deal, i would just go to the next pole have the same jump and make the bar.  What made this different is that the next pole was my first 5.20m 17' pole, I had had the 17' poles for a few months but never jumped on them, now i would have to take my final attempt on a longer pole that I had never jumped on, I was nervous.  I gathered my courage, ran down as hard as I could hit the takeoff, I could feel I was under, the pole felt like a big noodle bending so much in my hands.  I was caught off guard but before I knew it the bar was coming towards me so i turned up, smacked the bar on the way down and it stayed!  I was pumped, not only had I taken my first jump on that pole but I made it and that meant the competition was still a go for me.  I knew now that as long as I put a bit better jump together the next bar and ones after where attainable, or so I thought.  The next bar was 5.62m 18'5" and that stupid run demon got a hold of me and I hit 3 different spots on my takeoff and was so out of position that I couldnt even attempt the bar, AGGHHH.

I came away from the mall vault disappointed again, knowing that I had a great chance of jumping high and couldnt put it together.  But I also knew that I had that pole now, I had made 18' on a crappy jump which told me that with a good jump I could jump a whole lot higher.

Amanda and I spent the next couple of days in Des Moines enjoying the nice weather and hanging out with the other vaulters.  I was anticipating the relays Saturday hoping we would have good weather and i would have another chance at jumping high.  The day came and the wind held, we actually had a nice tailwind the entire comp but for some crazy reason 4 or 5 of us were really having trouble.  I was hitting all the right marks on the runway but just couldnt leave the ground.  I have had warmups like this before and knew that once the bar went up I would put it together.  Well the bar went up and i couldnt put it together and ended up with a big fat NH or no-height.  I was pissed, straight up, I never want to end up with a NH but especially when were lucky enough to have decent conditions you want to jump well.

Now Im home packing up for the start of a pretty crazy 3 weeks ahead of me.  Thursday I fly to Brazil and jump in Belem and Fortaleza, I fly back to Atlanta on the 9th and catch a plane to Puerto Rico where I jump in Ponce.  Then I fly home for a few days and head to Shanghai, China for a Diamond League meet.  The Diamond League is the biggest series of international meets in the world other than world champs and the Olympics so it will be a great chance to jump with some great competition.

Im excited, I know that all the work Ive done is really coming around and now its time to just jump and let it all come out.  Im also excited because I know theres not much else I can do, Ive put it in the Lord's hands because I know anything is possible through Him.  Where really getting close people less than 2 months to the Olympic Trials and Im pumped to see what God has in store for me.  Thanks for reading, Ill try to update while on the road.

Always Pursuing -Mark-

Monday, April 9, 2012

Update and a few videos

Ive been meaning to jump on here and update everyone on all that has gone on but I kept putting it off.  The main goal between the indoor and outdoor season is to get a good base of training in that will hold me all the way to the end of the season.
I had the chance to go to the Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, California for a USATF workshop.  USATF brought a bunch of high jump, pole vault, long jump, and steeplechase athletes to the center to do a variety of tests including high speed running analysis, nutritional analysis, functional movement screening, and bio-mechanical vault analysis.  All really good stuff, I have done all these things before but wanted to see where I was in comparison to last year and was pleased to find that I am ahead of where I was a year ago!

Since I was getting a free trip to California I decided to stay around for about a week and get some good training in.  I gotta give a big shout out to my buddy Jeff Coover for putting me up and putting up with me for the week that I was in San Diego.  It was great we would drive to the center get a great workout in or jump session and then jump in the ocean which was awesome for recovery.  I had 2 jump session at the center and Tye Sevin the vault coach at the center was nice enough to help me out and I think I really started putting some things together.  Heres one video from 6 lefts on a 5m 13.8 taking off around 13ft.

After coming home from the center for about a week Amanda and I drove down to St. Louis and stayed with Jeff Hartwig for about a week during Amanda's spring break.  I had 2 jump sessions down there with Jeff and Lane Lohr.  Its funny how my understanding of the vault has changed this year and I think that my week down in St. Louis really opened my eyes to what Im really wanting to do in the vault, and I really think its going to have a big impact on my jump.  Heres a video from the 2nd jump session even tho its a miss this is another step closer to where I want to be.  Now Im going to just strengthen that jump and just try to replicate it over and over again.  My schedule coming up is the Drake Mall Vault, and Drake Relays.

Always Pursuing -Mark-

Thursday, March 8, 2012

US Nationals and a week off

Yes I know its been over a week since Indoor Nationals and almost a month since my last post, Yes I know.  This is how this all works, If I am happy about a meet, I going to be happy and excited about writing a blog and telling you all about it.  Well as you have guessed if you didnt already know I wasnt too excited about how the meet went and wasnt super excited to get on here and relive it.

I finished 3rd at USA Indoor Nationals, your all probably thinking,"Mark thats good, hundreds of people would change places with you in a second."  Well it isnt good enough, maybe thats what keeps me hungry even tho Ive been vaulting for 12 years, I just always want more.

I finished 3rd with a 3rd attempt clearance of 5.60m/18'4".  The bar went up to 5.72m/18'9" I was actually over the bar on my second attempt when I got a little lost in the air, opened my mouth to yell because I thought I knocked the bar off and when I yelled I hit the bar off with my teeth, Bummer!

Looking back now Im grateful for a little time off, Ive been vaulting for about a year and a half without a break so a couple of weeks will go a long way.  With this little bit of time off  Ive been going back and looking at my indoor season, not my best ever, but I think that Im right where I need to be.  Of course I want to jump high ever time I step on the runway.  I know this is a process, Ive made a lot of changes since September and I think Im a little over halfway to being where I need to be.  Ive got about 4 months until the Olympic Trials and I know that I will be ready when that time comes.  

The first thing Im working on is changing my grip over to glue, chalk and I have had a long fairly healthy relationship but here recently is just isnt working out.  This indoor season I just wasnt confident in my grip, i would be half way down the runway trying to adjust my grip on the pole.  Instead of focusing on the takeoff and what I wanted to do on the jump I was thinking about my grip and wondering if i would be able to hold on to the pole.   I decided with my time off that I would try a few different set ups with my grip and really try to make it work.  I asked Brad Walker and Jeff Hartwig what they used for their grip, Brad uses a glue that someone made him and cant be bought anywhere, so thats out, Jeff gave me a little bit more accessible technique.  I tried it out on monday and at the end of practice,  was able to use it confidently, not before the glue pulled my top layer of skin away and gave me a big blister.  So now Im waiting for the blister to heal so I can get back on the runway and get back at it.

This week Ive been testing myself to see where Im at and compare that to where I was back in October.  We do this so we know if the training were doing is working or not.  Monday I ran through a 5m speed trap with a 35m run in and ran 10m/second, I had never done this in practice before so that was a new PB.  Yesterday I did standing long jump into a sand pit and from toes to heels I jumped 10'1".  Weve also changed the lifting around a little bit, which has got me good and sore, along with starting up gymnastics again.

Next weekend Im going out to Chula Vista, California to do some training at the Olympic Training Center.  Im really looking forward to some great weather and outdoor training.  Ill try to do better on updating this beast a little more regularly.

Always Pursuing -Mark-

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

A week in perth

Im sitting on the beach watching my last sunset in Perth and there is this cool haze in the air that makes the sun reflect off the water in this really amazing way.  I can count 25 wind surfers and its cool enough to be able to relax on the sand without getting burnt.  

What a week it's been, forget the jumping, that wasn't so good but this week is the exact thing that I needed.  Im just can't stand being indoors all the time, I like jumping indoors, competing that is, but it gets real boring real quick, training inside all the time.  For the past 4 or 5 years I've really thought about getting out of the Midwest, at least while im competing and still jumping.  Getting to where you can train outside and not freeze to death in the winter months.  I could definitely live in Australia if it wasn't so far from everyone I know and love.  Anyway let me tell you about my week and why it's been so awesome that I would consider living here.

First of all the temperature had been in the 90's all week which has allowed me to get a real nice tan.  Second training has been great, the track and facilities here are great and the wind has been a nice tail everyday I've been here.  Except for the day of the meet, that was a little swirling but oh well, I guess it can't be completely perfect.  The hotel I've stayed at is right on the beach and I've swam in the Indian ocean almost every day.  Sunday I went with Russ Winger, and Tara Patterson to this little island right off the coast called Rottnest island.  We swam, snorkeled and drank Coronas all day in probably the most beautiful place I've ever been.  I was finally able to try out my waterproof camera and got some really cool video underwater.  I've been able to train every day at the track and today I jumped, I was really hoping to be able to train with Steve Hooker, one of the best vaulters in the world, and his coach Alex Parnov but communication has been tough and so I haven't really been able to.  I jumped today really working on posture and driving off the ground into the pole, posture pressure knee, is what my mantra was today.  Posture into the takeoff, pressure the pole and see the knee as I swing up.  It seemed to work well, Saturday I had some trouble since it was my first outdoor meet in dealing with the conditions and was kind of leaning back a bit at takeoff.  I jumped 535m/ 17'6" and had a really good jump at 555m/ 18'2" but couldn't keep it up.  

Today in traveling to Sydney, it's a bit sad to leave this beautiful place and the great weather, I guess the weather hasn't been quite as nice in Sydney.  I will be staying in the Olympic village in Sydney and I compete Saturday.  Im looking forward to trying out my new cues and really hitting the box hard and blowing some bars up.  

As beautiful as this place is and as much as im dreading coming back to winter in Indiana there's a huge part of me missing that I have to get back to.  Happy Valentine's day Amanda, love you and miss you.  

Always Pursuing,

Thursday, February 9, 2012

No dramas man! Update from Perth

No dramas is my new favorite saying, picked it up at the Sydney airport when the virgin Australia crew was trying to get my poles from international to domestic. After trying to fit them on the bus, which of course didn't work, I came back inside and the guy said "no dramas mate", yes! If only every time I flew with poles it was no dramas mate, life would be so much easier. Needless to say I made it to Perth, 48 hours after leaving my home in south bend, indiana driving to Indianapolis, flying to Atlanta, flying to Los Angeles and then to Sydney, then I had to wait 9 hours for my next flight which I spent seeing the Sydney opera house and walking through the botanical gardens, which was really cool. Finally made it to Perth at about 9 pmthis time which is 8 am east coast time. Spent the day relaxing yesterday on the beach before heading to the track and doing a little shakeout and lift. I got to see steve hooker at the track and found out that he will not be competing for a while which of course is a bummer but all in all I just hope he's good to go when the time is right, and a little meet in february really means nothing in the scheme of things. I'm heading to the track soon to hopefully vault a bit and then I really don't know what tonight and tomorrow hold, I do know that im pumped to jump on Saturday, that track is fast and a sweet tailwind is expected. I jumpe around 6 pm here which is 5 am eastern time Saturday. Always pursuing, Mark

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Week of workouts and Meyo Invite

Hey everyone, I wanted to jump on here and first tell you that Im going to be jumping at Notre Dame at 6 on Friday.  If your a local fan it would be awesome to have you come out and cheer me on, Ive jumped well at ND in the past, last year I jumped 18'5" and this year I have my sights set on 19'.

Training has been going well this week, I have heard from a few of you that you wanted to know what my workouts were so here they are.

3 Part Dynamic Warmup
5x50m fast 5min rest between reps
Clean and Jerk 4x3 205lbs
Speed box squat 4x3 405lbs Box Jumps in between sets
Incline Press 4x4 60lb dumbbells
Lat Pull Down 4x8

3 Part Dynamic Warmup
Pole Vault

3 Part Dynamic Warmup
Bike Workout
2x8x15s hard 45s easy 5 min between set
High Pulls 4x3 205lbs
RDL 4x3 185lbs
Lunge Step ups 4x3each leg 115lbs box jumps between sets
Dumbbell Row 4x6 55lb

Good warmup
Ice bath

Always Pursuing -Mark-

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Reno Pole Vault Summit

Reno Pole Vault Summit, this event is one of the few reasons that I dreamed of becoming a professional pole vaulter. When I first attended the Summit it was in 2007, I was totally in awe of these guys that were jumping over 18ft, I remember thinking there wasnt anything I wanted more than to be one of the elites jumping in front of everyone. 2 years later I was in the elite division and what an honor, every year has just gotten better and better.  This year was no different, I was there for 2 days before I jumped and through the meetings my thoughts kept going back to the elite competition.  I had good reason to be pumped up for the chance to jump, the week before I had picked up 4 brand new Carbon Skypoles the morning before I jumped.  The poles were 5.10m/16'9" ranging from 205-215lb ratings.  That day was the first meet I had ever jumped on only 5.10s I had put a great jump together on my final attempt at 18ft but the pole was too small.  At Reno I knew I had 2 more poles in the bag so I was confident that I would have enough poles to jump on, little did i know I would need probably 2 more.

The time leading up to the comp was filled with meeting people and seeing friends and fans from all over the country.  I love being able to interact with the athletes and coaches and give my insight on training and vaulting.  One of my favorite times of the summit is getting to sit down with about 15 high schoolers and tell them a little about myself and answer any questions they might have.  Its a more personal way for the kids to get to know me and pick my brain, this year was awesome as usual.

Warmups for the elite comp went really well for me, I wanted to take as few jumps as possible because my hamstring had been bothering me.  I took 3 jumps from long run and on my last one I cleared a bungee that was at 5.72m/18'9"!  I decided that it was time to step it up and to enter the competition at 5.52m/18'1" which is higher than I ever have started a competition before.  The comp started at 17ft and I think there were 7 people still jumping when the bar came to 18'1" and I was next to last on the order.  Now the energy at the Summit is unlike anywhere else in the world, Ive always had a little trouble keeping my head and being able to relax especially on my first jump of the comp.  I knew this and so I did everthing I could not to keep from getting anxious and overly excited.  My first jump of the comp is the video below and as you can see I didnt clear the bar by a foot but I made it pretty easily.  I wish I could of seen the video because if i had I probably would have gone up a pole right away.  I stayed on the same pole at the next height 5.62m/18'5" really blew through the pole on my second attempt and went up to the biggest one in my bag and blew through that one as well!  That pole was a 5.10m 12.7 flex and I was holding about 16'6" which is higher than I have ever held before!  I can tell you that even though I didnt jump as high as I wanted the things I was able to do and poles I jumped on mean big things for the season to come.  I ended up finishing 2nd in the comp behind the American record holder Brad Walker who jumped 19ft the easiest I have ever seen it done.  Seeing that jump really pushes me to be better, knowing that he is already jumping that well means I have to be at my best to compete with him which is a great motivation.

To wrap it up I had a great time at the summit, to all those athletes, coaches, and parents I met it was an honor, keep up the great work!  Next on the schedule Im planning on heading to Indiana University this weekend to jump with my buddies Jeff Coover and Dustin Deleo.  Im looking forward to jumping on those big poles again and hopefully some bigger ones.  Ill update how that meet goes and hopefully have a new PR to report.


 Always Pursuing

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Practice video and quick update

Thought Id upload a few videos of practice yesterday, my good friend Adam Pierson came down from Chicago for a few days and gave me a couple of things to work on.  Adam is originally from Bourbonnais, Illinois which is the same town as ONU where I went to college.  He vaulted at University of Illinois and moved to Texas training as a post collegiate, Adam helped me out a ton in my first years out of college.  He noticed that right after takeoff I needed to push upwards more, so we tried it out yesterday at practice and it really seemed to make a difference in opening up the bend of the pole allowing me to be in a better position as the pole unbends.

Im opening my season this weekend at Grand Valley State University up in Allendale, Michigan on Friday.  Im really excited to bring it full speed and see how the changes Ive been working on make a difference on some big poles.  

Always Pursuing -Mark-