I had my stride down so that I would consistently land within a few inches on a 20 step approach. Achieving top speed at the last step was critical; a short step with a powerful, driving jump. Knee driving through, left leg trailing, hands pressed forward and up. I had to be fully committed to this approach. Any hesitation could be catastrophic.
The energy from the speed of the run and the final explosion transferred into the fiberglass pole. It bent with tremendous potential energy. The trail leg stretched behind until the last second when the pole started to uncoil, at which time my body began to pendulum from its stretched position to a coil of its own. Knees to the chest then instantly past. The momentum was now upward toward the bar. Feet rising above my head and my body becoming inverted. The pole finished its uncoiling with one last thrust, coinciding with my body being pushed upward and turning 90 degrees so that my belly was going over the bar. The final push was with my right hand off of the fully extended pole. One fluid motion from ground to peak height then back down.
All that happened in just a few seconds. It was an exhilarating feeling. Twice my pole broke, giving me serious welts. Twice I missed the mats, once cracking my heel. But each time I came back from the injury. I lived for the rush. The feeling of being thrown. The achievement of new heights. The overcoming of fear. It was all worth the pain of training and the injuries.
That is what life should be like. Risk all for the rush of living well. No hesitation, fully committed. A fluid motion from birth, to the peak height, then back down…. to the grave.
It took a lot of practice to pole vault well. Studying how the great vaulters did it. Training my body to go faster and be precise with each movement. Visualizing success. It will take a lot of work to live well. Studying, training, visualizing.
For Tara, doing well in this trial was not by chance. It was by studying, training and visualizing. None of which she would claim by her own strength or wisdom. One day she hopes to hear, “Well done”. Then she’ll know she lived well.