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.”

Monday, June 10, 2019

My First Decathlon

            What an experience! Ten events over two days. The first day did not have any of my strengths, and these ladies were amazing athletes! I had no expectations for the 100. Long jump was definitely not my best, only jumping 13-5. I was hoping for closer to 14 feet. When you don’t do well in one event though, you just move on to the next, and that’s exactly what I did! My best throw of shot was in college, somewhere in the 29’s. Last time I threw at a meet though, I don’t think I hit 28. I threw 29-4.75! I have always struggled with high jump. I jumped 4-6 ONCE in high school, and while I understand HOW to do the event, I have a hard time converting horizontal speed to vertical height. That would be true of all jumping events, including pole vault. This high jump bar was VERY forgiving though, so I managed to make 4-4! I have had close attempts in practice at that height (with better form), but a slight brush of our bar would make it fall. My goal for the 400m run was to go under 1:15, and I came in at 1:12! 
First time doing the 100m hurdles!
            Results that surpassed my expectations for most events helped to make it a successful day, but I won’t lie, I definitely felt out of place with some of these ladies. One had a lifetime PR in shot of 55’! Another had a lifetime PR of 14’ in pole vault, and while one woman in her 50’s just started competing in track a few years ago, she definitely kicked my butt in high jump. And there was a well-rounded college superstar multi-eventer/pole vaulter. Day one was a reminder of my high school days, where I was mediocre at best in everything. It was also an honor to meet and compete with these awesome women though!
Clearing 11-5.75!
            The second day I was really excited for, but also tried to hamper my expectations a bit since I was a bit sore from the first day. However, I know that more than anything, I have endurance, and I am also used to doing track events as my second workout of the day, meaning that I am used to jumping or pole vaulting on tired legs. I started with my first-ever 100m hurdle race, and while it wasn’t fast, I met my goal of 4 stepping all 10 hurdles. Next time, I will definitely shoot for a faster time! I actually had enough fun with hurdles that I would like to stick with it a little bit for fun. I was looking forward to discus, since I had been practicing it quite a bit the last few weeks, and even worked on the rotation instead of just power throwing. My best in high school, if I recall correctly, was around 77’. My first was my best with 84-2! The other two throws were also over 82, so I was very happy with how that turned out. We got about a half hour between events (and to use as warm-up for the next event), so I hustled over to pole vault to get in a good warm up. After a good warm-up, three of us (the only ones who vaulted in college) had to wait more than an hour (1.5 hours actually), to even get to our starting height. We got one run through to re-warm up, and while my first make was ugly, it still got the job done. Made 3.10 meters (10-2 roughly), passed to 3.30 meters (10-10 ish) for a make, cleared 3.40 and then 3.50m (11-5.75)! I had attempts at 3.60 (one cm shy of my lifetime PR), but failed to clear it. What a great showing in my best event after 7 other events!
Discussing the game plan to get Jen an American Record
            I held a javelin for the first time at the end of the first day of competition, and did not have much for confidence with that, so all I will say about that is that I got a mark and I have lots of room for improvement on that event! The decathlon concludes with a 1500m run. At that point, one woman had already acquired enough points to set a new W40 American Record for the decathlon, but another woman was very close to setting a new W50 AR as well – if she could run a fast enough time in the 1500 to get her enough points. My legs were pretty beat at that point, but I told her I could pace her well, so she shouldn’t let too big of a gap come between us. I was hoping for at least 5:50 or under. The college athlete pulled away for a big gap between us after just the first lap, but then I held the gap for the next lap, caught her with one lap to go, and pulled ahead of her to finish the 1500m run first, with a time of 5:34, which put me on pace for a sub-6 mile – at the END OF A DECATHLON! The woman I tried pulling along, came in under what she needed to get enough points to break the American Record too – that’s the kind of stellar field of women I was competing against!
The gap between the leader & I at 1 lap in; catching the lead w/ 1 lap to go; crossing the line 1st in 5:34!
            Usually when we get a chance to travel to compete, the kids stay back at home, but this was one of the times when they ALL got to come along. They came out to the track on the second day and got to see me compete in my best events – pole vault and the 1500! It was nice having them be a part of the weekend, and fun hearing, “go, Mommy, go!” I was out of my comfort zone for a lot of it, but I am glad I did it anyway – what an experience!