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Midwest, how I've oddly missed you
Last week was one of my favorite weeks of the year as far as vaulting goes! Funny enough, it takes place in the good ol’ Midwest. It began with Kansas Relays at KU in Lawrence. A majority of the top US girls were there, along with Ireland and Canada’s top vaulters, so it was a good competition. The wind tends to be a bit swirly because it is in a stadium, however we definitely couldn’t complain about the weather being dry and mid 60s! It seemed several of us struggled a bit, but at the end of the day I cleared 4.50m (14'9) to win!! I always want more, but considering things didn’t feel like they were totally lining up for me, I am happy with a 4.50 and the big “W”!! Kansas always treats us so well and the crowd is great. They play music and focus the camera in on groups of people dancing and having a good time, so it makes for a fun meet!
After the meet 5 of us vaulters, my coach, and former American record holder Jeff Hartwig, drove an hour to Kansas City. We stayed at 1984 Olympian Doug Lytle’s place for a couple nights and had a blast! We were all headed up to Des Moines, Iowa for the Mall Vault and Drake Relays so we figured why not make an entire week out of it together! Doug completely spoiled us while we were in Kansas City! He took us to this cool bar where him and this guy sang on a stage to us. Then we went to this awesome country bar, which if you know me then you now I was in complete heaven haha! There was a mechanical bull in the middle so of course we had to ride it! Kylie and I went together and stayed on for a pretty good amount of time I think! We eventually fell off at the same time, cracking up the whole time of course. It was fantastic! The next day Doug threw a block party for his neighborhood and we had fun at that being goofballs in the photo booth. Later that night he took us to a hibachi grill…those are always a blast! We had so much fun we didn’t want to leave! He is too sweet to us girls!
Monday we hit the road to Des Moines, Iowa and geared up for the mall vault Wednesday. This was the 3rd year the mall vault had women and my 3rd time back. I always get so pumped for it because it is literally my favorite place to jump! On Tuesday Kylie, Bjorn Otto, Mark Hollis, Jordan Scott, and I did an autograph session at the mall to promote the event. We signed posters and got people excited to come out and watch us Wednesday night. This year they brought in a few foreigners including Yarisley Silva (London Olympic silver medalist from Cuba), Bjorn Otto (men’s London silver medalist from Germany), and Renaud Lavillenie (men’s London gold medalist from France). Bringing them in just brought that much more competition and excitement to the mall! The mall vault is unique because it is a team competition. Every girl is paired with a guy and their heights are added together to determine places. The combination of the team aspect, the loud music, and the crowded mall make it an unbelievable atmosphere! I was paired up with silver medalist Bjorn Otto and we had a blast! High fives and pound-its after every attempt…we had so much fun and both jumped well! Bjorn won the guys competition by jumping 5.80m (19’) and I tied for 2nd by jumping 4.60m (15'1), so as a team we ended up placing 2nd by only 2cm. The result…..a shopping spree the next day!!! Oh and if you’re wondering, yes I spent every last cent of my gift card I won the next day!! It was pretty much a dream haha.
Two days later, on Friday, we competed at Drake in the stadium. Friday night was prime time so before every Hy-Vee (the meets big sponsor) event, fireworks went off. It was pretty much a packed house at the Relays that night! Drake is always a tricky place to jump, plus I think the 6 of us who had jumped in the mall 2 days prior were feeling it a bit in our legs. Considering it all I think it turned into a great competition though. Yarisley set the Cuban national record and Kylie, Lacy and I all jumped 4.53m (14'10). Jenn (the Olympic gold medalist) jumped 4.63m. Any meet where that many are over 4.50 is a good meet I think! My legs didn’t feel ideal, but that is to be expected at my 3rd meet in a week. Also, it’s good practice for Europe when I may often travel from one meet to the next and have to be ready to jump. I ended up placing 4th at Drake based on misses, but at the end of the day I can’t be too upset about the week I had…4.50, 4.60, 4.53. I know 4.70+ is right around the corner and I can’t wait! Oh and I can’t forget to mention the amazing Iowa Beef Steakhouse we all went to after the guys competition Saturday night! It’s a thing we do every year and it never gets old…soooo yummy!!
Thinking about last week, I just feel so unbelievably lucky to do what I do. Yes, last week took place in Kansas and Iowa, maybe not the coolest places by most people’s standards. However, I got to compete against the best in the world. I got to eat and hang out all week with Olympic medalists like we had known each other for years. I got to focus hard and compete in the sport I love, but also ride a mechanical bull and get treated to delicious meals and have a blast with my competitors who understand exactly what my life is like. I got to go on a shopping spree…because of pole vaulting! I mean how cool is that??! Yes, there are a million struggles and so many lows on this journey, but the highs make it all worth it…I can’t imagine doing anything else besides chasing my dreams each and everyday.
Now I am back training at Notre Dame for the week before heading home to Boston. It’s nice to be back at my old stomping ground and to see some friends. I put in some good work this week on both the vault runway and the track. Still have another 1.5 weeks of solid training before my next meet, which will be the Shanghai Diamond League in China. I will keep you all posted as training and more competitions get underway. As always, thanks for being awesome and following my journey! :) Follow me on twitter at @SaxDefyGravity for more frequent updates.
Thu May 2nd, 2013