Wednesday, November 24, 2010

A PERFECT 12 Hours!!

Last night I got a call from masters studette, Dinah Anderson, telling me that an assistant coach at the University of Houston was going to open up the indoor facility for a few hours on one weekend day over the winter for masters vaulters. Unbelievably AWESOME!!

Today's Vaulting - This morning I got up and it was 73 degrees and dry so I headed over to jump about 7:45. Warming up I felt like I always do on the first jump session after a meet - CRAPPY. On top of that the wind was in your face one jump, across on the next, etc., so I really needed to take it easy on the runway. Not ideal but let's go.

Still I took out my bag with all of my "new" cut 14' 7" (4.45m) poles and pulled out the smallest one marked, 167.8. It was thin and light with a good pre-bend, but as I expected, STIFF. I was able to start getting some bend from 6 steps but not much. At 8 steps it felt stiff but real quick so I started getting nervous that my experiment would fail. I got Don's tape measure and saw that I was only gripping about 12' (3.66m) so of course it's stiff and quick. At 10 steps I had a real pole in my hands but still felt a little quick so I moved my grip up to about 12' 9" (3.90m) and put a bar up at 12'.

After that jump I looked at Don and asked what just happened. I knew I hit it right and got launched but I kind of bailed out to see where I was. Don looked stunned and said, "you cleared that by 2' (60 cm) and you quit on the jump". WOW!! That is my new start pole from 10 steps and I bet that soon I can use it from 8. Moved to 12' 6" (3.81m) and made that easy. Don said the pole was too small, and though I had a foot (30 cm) of height with my hips, I almost hit it on the way up with my chest. So two BIG clearances on my first new pole. More importantly, it was easy. No struggle to get the pole moving.

I moved up a pole and stayed at 10 steps and cleared 13' (3.97m) quite easily. I decided that I would move back to 12 steps and go up a pole, to the one that had rejected my timing in the last two meets. BOOM, cleared 13' again easily.

At this point I'm starting to feel a little dead and didn't want to risk injury by continuing. BUT, I took the bar down and took that infamous "one more jump" anyway. My reasoning was that without a bar I would run easier and I really needed to know if the next pole would twist in my hands like it did in Austin last month. It did not and it felt great so I stopped right there and finished up my sleds before heading to the gym. FANTASTIC day!! Could not be happier!! The poles feel great and I can easily transition from one to the next.

Before I answer the pole questions I keep getting, I want to say that we changed my running away from the raw sprint stuff and back to the sled. We decided to do this partly because I was getting too many reps after I jumped and my feet were starting to hurt. The other part is the sled helps you cover more ground on the runway with less effort. Glad to be back to that.

POLES - Bruce Caldwell at Essx first told me this summer that he thought I should move up lengths because of my jump style. We've known each other for 35 years so he knows my jump well. He told me that he would make me a 15' 1" (4.60m) pole in a 14' 7" (4.45m) body. I'm not the fastest nor tallest guy. If you look at the photo from Sydney, or any other big meet of me with the other vaulters, I'm almost always the smallest one or two guys. BUT, I jump up really well at the take off, so a longer sailpiece/reinforcement piece, "picks me up" at the take off. So many people move forward at the take off, I am also rising almost immediately and this helps me get on bigger poles.

Caldwell's reasoning was that if I got 14' 7"s and they didn't work and had to be cut down, then I would be where I am right now, on a 14' 1" (4.30m) pole. But with my angle off the ground, IF I could roll a 15' 1" sail, then great; but if not, cutting it would still give me a greater benefit. NOTE - Bruce does not cut my poles but he knows that I'm going to, if needed, until they are perfect for me. Manufacturers HATE it when their poles are cut, but what am I going to do, train real hard and hope I can get on them when I'm 60? NO!!

So me and Kris cut 2" (4 cm) off of all of my poles on day one. Sunday I cut another 3.5" (6 cm) off for a total of 5.5" (13 cm). So right now my poles are on a 14' 7" sail and YES, the pick me up AND roll so I can time up the top. I could not be happier with these poles. Today I used four of the eight in my bag, and had I felt better I could have used maybe two more. PERFECT!

So here's the catch, I felt crappy yet jumped higher with less effort because of the longer sail picking me up at take off. I didn't have to work nearly as hard as I do to hit a bigger shorter pole yet I'm getting much more explosive lift off of the top of the jump.

Pretty awesome if you ask me. I may or may not jump Sunday but I will get to Kris early and have all of the poles re-flexed on his flex machine on a 14' 1" span, so I can make a relative comparison as to where they fit in against my 14' 1"s. This will provide me an invaluable point of reference as I move to still bigger poles. But consider this; today I was four steps closer at 13' than I was at the meet Saturday yet it was too small. Better energy transfer on to a bigger pole that is matched to my jumping style. My guess is that this will allow me to jump on much bigger poles and hence go higher.

For today, I'm thrilled. My start pole can be used in any conditions. Next time I will try to use it from 8 steps. If I can do that, I can probably make 13' on it from there. That means 13' 6" (4.12m) from 10, 14' (4.27m) from 12 steps and so on back to 16 steps. Enough for today. VERY excited with this breakthrough. Thanks for being here and supporting me!! Bubba

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