When I took my pole bag out with all of my 14' 7" (4.45m) poles the first thing I noticed was a white spiraled taped pole. I color my poles so I can tell what size they are without having to read the little numbers etched on them. I started this in college after I broke a pole at the national meet and then promptly grabbed a smaller one thinking it was a bigger one.
The system is simple, blue is 1st place so it is the biggest pole, red is second, yellow 3rd, green 4th. If I have more than four poles in the series I'll add colors. So orange (University of Texas) will be the biggest and purple will be the smallest, before I get to my normal green, yellow, red, blue series. So where did white come from? I ran out of colors so it was the smallest pole.
Big deal huh? Kind of. When I said I blew through the two smallest two 14' 7" poles at Leander outside of Austin, it was actually the 2nd and 3rd pole because I didn't realize had a smaller pole, the white one.
So today I'm warming up and feel fairly crappy because I haven't run a step since Sunday. Even as I warm up I'm not sure this is such a good idea. Then I see and solve the mystery of the white pole. By flex number it is the equivalent of a 14' 1" (4.30m)/15.5, or .1 smaller than my biggest 14' 1" pole. Great - feel like crap yet I'm starting on a big pole that won't move very easy because the sailpiece is longer. Oil well - getting to know you time.
The pole felt like a log as it was fat and heavy. I did three take offs at 2 steps and then 4 steps and I knew that at 6 steps I would be in no man's land and the pole would probably still not bend - but it did - a little - enough to get in to the pit. Moved the grip up another hand width and it bent a little more. I'm bending it from 33' so I guess I'll be alright.
From 44' it was OK and from 54' I could almost complete a jump. I put the bar up at 12' from 65' and took off. ALMOST in enough to complete the jump but the pole felt a little quick because of the longer sailpiece. Next time I was closer but not quite in enough. On the 3rd jump I hit my take off right and really punched my left hand up and cleared it by a foot and a half (45 cm). Moved it to 13' (3.96m) and took two more but I couldn't quite time it up.
I'm sure it will be better next time but I'm excited to at least be in the ballpark of being able to go to a meet only on these poles. As they say, the definition of insanity is expecting a different result from the same approach. This one will be as drastic as when I first moved to 14' 1" poles. I just have to stay after it and get better with the timing.
The plan is to go one day a week on the 14' 7" poles and the other on the 14' 1"s. I'm expecting to really feel bad on Sunday and if I do I won't jump on the 14' 1"s. I'm going to Kris on Thursday so I want to be rested for that.
So I'm cautiously optimistic that I might be just outside the door to the next level. Having blown through poles 2 and 3 in Austin, and today being able to jump on pole 1 even though I felt bad, and had a huge crosswind, makes me feel I have a shot at moving up. Obviously this forces me to run from at least 65', which I haven't done in practice in two years. My experience is that I'll get better at that run fast. All of this said, just keep going on about my business and don't put myself at risk. Better to miss a jump session or two rather than risk it when I know it's an issue.
Sorry for the rambling but sometimes this is how I figure things out. Happy but not thrilled with today. It bothers me I couldn't quite get the timing but if I held a few inches higher I could. But if I held a few inches higher I may not get in enough to complete the jump. It's day one of a practice. I'm sure I will be fine unless I try to do too much too soon. That said, I've now been on three of my seven 14' 7" poles. If I can just get physical enough that #1 feels small, I've really got a shot at a breakthrough.
Have a great day and thanks for being here! Bubba