Tuesday, July 16, 2019

USATF Masters National Outdoor Championships

            Andy and I traveled down to Ames, IA to take part in the Masters National Championships this past weekend. The meet actually takes place over the course of 4 days, but since our main events (pole vault and triple jump) both took place on Sunday for us, we just competed in one event each. The forecast had a high of over 90 degrees, full sun, and very humid. All of the women actually competed together, versus being split into two flights, so there were 20 of us competing together! I was the youngest at 32, and the famous 85-year old Flo was the oldest of the group. The line was pretty long for warm-ups, but staying warm wasn’t tough when it was so steamy out. 
Based on how pole vault at the decathlon played out, I knew I would have a very long wait to get through the lower heights until I would come in. After my warm-ups, I was able to go watch Andy triple jump. He was having a frustrating day, especially when his best jump was a scratch. He still broke 40’ and took second in his age group behind a pretty elite triple jumper. 
After waiting for well over 2 hours, the final pole-vaulter went out, and I was able to do one run through before moving the bar up to 3.20 meters (roughly 10-4). I cleared it and passed to 3.40, then 3.50 (11-2 and 11-6). While I wanted to clear 12’ again, I really didn’t want to end at just 11-6 again. We put it at 3.61 meters (11-10), which was my college PR, and I cleared it! Deciding to go for a PR, we moved it to 12-1.25, and I missed. It would have been great to PR again, but I feel great about tying my second best jump, and being consistent at the higher heights this year. Going into this, I was also a little nervous how it would go after sitting for a couple hours, and then competing by myself. I had a lot of fun, and definitely had a lot of adrenaline going, as I was gripping at my highest, and on my biggest pole – and with the standards pushed back.
We had a fun surprise with Mrs. Z (now Mrs. Messenger) working the meet, too! She was our elementary art teacher, and we usually get the treat of seeing her at the WI State Track & Field meet, as she officiates that big meet as well. There was also a group of women that pole vaulted that I also did the decathlon with back in June. It’s always fun seeing familiar faces! Andy and I competed under the Three Eagle Track Club, and as a Club Team, we ended up 61 of 115 Club Teams. Pretty cool!

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Hometown 5K

            We were back in our hometown a few weeks ago, and although I was not looking to run a 5K, nor did I have any interest or desire to, Andy ended up registering me for it (so of course I had to then!). It was a very hot, sunny day, and I have not been putting in the mileage to run a fast 5K. He has not been doing much distance running at all, so neither of us were very optimistic at what our results would look like!
            I was the pacer, so fortunately, Andy just stayed with me and we let all the crazies pull ahead in a start that is always too fast. I had no idea what I could really do, as I had recently run a PR 800, but did not feel like I had the stamina for a fast 3 miles. I was correct. We picked off runners ahead of us one-by-one until we were in the top mix and I was top female at that point. We mainly just tried holding on for the second half as the heat and lack of training caught up to us!
            We ended up 4thand 5thoverall (and first female for me) with a time of 21:12 (ouch!). My PR is almost a full minute faster than that. Nothing to get excited about, but at least it got my hard run out of the way for the day! ;) 

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

2019 River Vault

            This was the first year that I made the trek to La Crosse alone for the River Vault. Since this was my 4thyear there, and the pole vault community is rather small, there was a lot of friendly faces there that always make it a fun event. It was a steamy hot, sunny day. I felt like I was clicking with warm-ups (as always), and started at 10-6. This was also the first year that I competed in the top flight of women, which was also exciting! It also made for the smallest flight out of them all though (an extra bonus). I cleared 10-6, 11, and 11-6 all on first attempts. 
I am now getting a ton of clearance on 11’ that I feel like I could potentially make that my starting height even, which is a great indication of how far I have come this year! I came down on the bar at 11-6, but it stayed up. This also should have prompted me to either a) move my standards up, or b) lower my grip to get in deeper. Instead I did neither of those things heading into 12’. My first attempt at 12’ was the best jump I had at the height. If I would have made either of those adjustments, I am confident I would have cleared it, as I had the height, but came down on it, knocking it off. My takeoffs at 12’ all felt terrible, but I tried to make the most out of each jump regardless. 
Clearance on 12'
            I feel very fortunate to have already hit the 12’ mark this year, so that I don’t feel pressure at these competitions as the season is already drawing close to the end. Walking away from the River Vault, I didn’t feel as disappointed in the result, as a result of having hit my goal already. However, watching the videos from that day, I feel extra motivation to end my season with a bang – because the height is there!
            Heading into Masters Nationals Outdoor Championships this weekend, I am really excited to jump at a big meet like this for the first time. I have some reservations, as there will be 20 women, and I will most likely be starting after most all of them have gotten done competing. This means that I could be sitting for a very long time just waiting to start. At the decathlon, however, I sat for 1.5 hours to wait for only 7 women to finish, and was still able to go in and perform well. It will be both an opportunity and a challenge that I look forward to taking on. 

Thursday, June 27, 2019

Three Eagle Summer Meet #1

            Last night, the Three Eagle Track Club (which I am the Club Director and Head Coach of), hosted it’s first of 2 summer meets. These are super low key and inexpensive meets, but it provides an opportunity to compete locally during the summer (instead of driving 4 or more hours). It's also a chance for our kids to have fun with track too! It was forecasted to be hot, and it didn’t disappoint. I spent the morning dragging everything out. My expectations for my personal performance at these meets are pretty low, as I need to make sure the meet runs smoothly as well, which means setting up, moving, and clearing hurdles, and also chasing after our own kids. There were only 4 of us vaulting, and as much as I encourage the crew to get started, it never seems to actually start until I return after the hurdle races (and the 50m, as all 3 kiddos ran that).  I cleared 10-6 and 11 on my first attempt, and 11-6 on my second attempt, but I felt like I was way over it. Definitely getting consistent with that 11-6 bar this year!
My legs honestly felt terrible, but after the big clearance over 11-6, I wanted to go straight to 12’ instead of messing around with anything else. After all, that’s what I was really after. I had so much adrenaline pumping that as I went back on the runway, I said to a fellow vaulter, “Can you film this? Because I’m going to make it.” At that point, there wasn’t room for any doubt. This was happening. First attempt – CLEARED IT! It’s been 9 years and 3 kids since I first set the goal of 12’, and I finally did it. And I still have 3 competitions left to the season! I have things to keep working on (like my weak take-off and getting off the pole sooner), but I think that’s also the exciting part – that I made the height with so much room for improvement. 
What’s it like to accomplish a 9 year goal? Absolutely surreal. TWELVE FEET– that’s legit!

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Badger State Games Track 2019

            Badger State Track was hosted in Wausau this year (typically it is in La Crosse), and while the forecast kept showing rain, and Andy had done nothing prior to the week leading up to it, we were set on going. We both picked 4 events and kept pretty busy. Not sure if I have had really bad allergies, or a very bad cold, but I have been miserable and not getting much sleep. Why not go compete in the rain?!  
            The day started overcast and misting. We had a headwind(!) in pole vault, but were told that moving the pits was not an option. Fortunately it was calm at times, and we were allowed to wait for the wind if we needed to (definitely waited it out a couple times). I squeezed in my warm-up and ran over to discus to get warmed up and to throw. I have been working on disc quite a bit lately, and the All-American standard for female sub-masters was over 88 feet. My PR the weekend prior was 84-2. I threw 94’ for a 10’ improvement and I smashed the standard! Getting close to 100’ makes me feel a bit more legit throwing the disc!
            I got back over to pole vault for run throughs to start at 10-6, and I was already the only female remaining in the competition (the next best height was 8’). After making 10-6 and 11, it took me a couple attempts to make 11-6 (which I have now made 3 times this year)!! Since I was the only female remaining, I chose to go for 11-9 first. My college PR is 11-10, and post-college best is 11-6. There was definitely some bar love but I cleared it!! I got a lot of height on one 12’ attempt, but not enough depth. To be honest, most of my vaults with the bar up felt like junk! While I am frustrated that I am not putting things together better with a full approach at a meet, I am also a bit impressed that I have been making the heights with such poor jumps. I have 4 more meets this summer to put it together to make my 12’ goal!
            I had probably one of my worst throws over at shot, but fortunately I also had my best throw, with a new PR of 29-10 (so close to breaking 30’)! After achieving 3 new personal bests, I felt like I HAD to PR in the 800 as well. My official PR time for the 800 was a 2:46, although I unofficially ran a 2:43 in the Coach’s Race at our home meet this spring. I was seeded with the youth, and they didn’t fail in helping push me and I dropped my time to a 2:39.96!
            Andy also had a fantastic day, and his “philosophy of zero training” seemed to have worked again for him, as he triple jumped over 40’ and broke 19’ in the long jump! On top of all that, the clouds disappeared and the sun came out and it ended up being an all-around great day. We had a few other Three Eagle Track Club members competing at the meet as well, which always makes it more fun when you can compete with your team!
            My personal theory is that when the odds are not in your favor, that’s when you can really shine. My best jumps in college were like that. I sprained my jumping ankle the week of indoor conference. At conference, with a ton of tape on it, I vaulted my indoor record of 11-8. On a crazy windy day at Hamline (I should include that I am a headcase when it comes to wind!), I vaulted 11-10 for my ourdoor record. The wind that day was constantly shifting. Sometimes a tail wind, sometimes cross, and even sometimes a head wind. In those situations, I take the pressure off of myself to perform.  If it doesn’t go well? Well, there’s an external factor to blame (ha!). Either way, it’s about having fun and not letting outside factors get the best of you. My motto this year seems to truly be: “it’s about overcoming- not about having all the stars align.”