#Throwback

High Jump Extravaganza

Good morning!

I’ll head to Bergen in a few minutes, but first I’ll tell you about yesterday’s attempt at picking up stones from the past.

As a tradition, I always meet up with some of my retired track mates for a reunion — at the track. This is the one day out of the year where we sacrifice kneecaps, Achilles tendons and all other sports injuries we’ve collected through the years for an extravagant jumping showdown.

This year, Ingrid and I decided to give the high jump a try. I sort of retired as a high jumper all the way back in 2009, when my ankle first started acting up, but I did a couple of jumps every year until four years ago. However, in between that last high jump and yesterday, I’d been an Olympic weightlifter, bodybuilder and a half marathon-runner, so to expect anything more than disaster would be rather… delusional.

Back in the day when I knew how it was supposed to be done.

But it went fine! I was able to hold back enough to save my kneecaps from too much pain, which I’m very proud of. You all know letting me loose on a track is like letting a kid watch the candy store without adult supervision. I don’t know when to stop.

We both cleared 1.40m (4’7.12″) without too much of a struggle, and then we called it a day.

Click on the pic below for video:

With the exception of the lack of height in yesterday’s jump, it looked pretty decent. Here: From 2009.
From the past
I actually used to jump over hurdles higher than 1.40m, heh.. well

The funny thing was that all the technical flaws we had as high jumpers seven years ago were still there. Had it not been for our lack of speed, power and springiness our form looked the exact same. Muscle memory is a cool thing.

So did this make me want to do a comeback?

No. Not at all. But it was a lot of fun catching up with old mates and Mr. High Jump.

Until next time,
Maria

A New Goal

It’s now been 10 years since I entered the wonderful world of track and field, and it’s been exactly a year since I left it. Throughout that time I’ve been training at least five days a week, and at the peak of my track and weightlifting “career” I did as many as 12 workouts each week.

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Photo: Vegard Henriksen

As you all know, I decided to retire from competitive sports last year, but it didn’t take me long before I found a new goal to pursue. I ran my first half marathon a couple of months ago. And the moment I crossed the finish line I was ready to start training for a full marathon, but guess what! I made a discovery that changed things a little.

Looking through my training journals (Nerd alert: Yes, I’ve logged every single session for a decade…) I noticed I’ve only had 10 weeks off — in 10 years!

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Man, I deserve a vacation!

So that’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to let my body recover for a few weeks. Believe me, it’d rather be training for that marathon, but I’m going to challenge myself to rest until I can step out of bed without pain in the morning, and until I can kneel on the floor without feeling like someone pinched clothespins around my kneecaps. It may never get completely pain-free, but I’ll give it some time anyway.

#peaceful #morningrun 🌿☀️New post on the blog! (Link in bio)

A post shared by marialavelle1 (@marialavelle1) on

 

You’re probably asking yourself why I didn’t do this earlier, and why I even considered running a 21-kilometer street race if my legs and feet hurt that bad? Well, you see, the discomfort of jogging for two hours didn’t even come close to the pain I experienced on a daily basis as a long/triple jumper, so it never occurred to me that it’d be a good idea to slow down. The weeks following the race my feet have been killing me though, so I guess I finally came to my senses.

If someone’s trying to lose 50 pounds, stop smoking or go vegetarian they often make it public to eliminate the option of cheating or walking away from it. That’s why I decided to write this post. Working out is second nature to me, so by making my “vacation” public I kind of have to stick to it. I’m sure it sounds weird, but that’s what a 10-year long habit does to you, haha.

Wish me luck, xoxo
Maria
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Editorial: Firing a shot at the IAAF

In November 2015, the International Association of Athletics Federations made the decision to initiate a doping ban that will keep all Russian track athletes from participating in international competitions, including the World Championships – even if the majority of them have never officially tested positive. And now, with less than three months remaining until the Olympic torch is lit inside the Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro, hundreds of Russian athletes are left without the opportunity to compete.

Yelena Isinbayeva
Pole vaulter Yelena Isinbayeva never tested positive for doping, but was still banned from the World Championships last year. Photo by Malien Bravo

It was after Hajo Seppelt, a German investigative journalist, released his two documentaries “Secret doping dossier: How Russia produces its winners,” and “Doping – top secret: The shadowy world of athletics” last year, that hell broke loose for Russian track athletes. Not only were several of the biggest stars caught admitting their use of performance enhancing drugs on camera, but the film also alleged systematic state-sponsored doping throughout the whole Russian Federation, and history’s biggest doping scandal in the sport of athletics was just starting to emerge.

But by banning an entire nation, the IAAF declares that the notion of “innocent until proven guilty” doesn’t apply to the victims of the Eastern European system.

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Photo by Anson Henry/CBS Sports

Although it seems like Russia never quite recovered from the cheater’s mentality that started evolving behind the Iron Curtain in the USSR in the 1970s, it’s wrong to let today’s athletes suffer because the system is useless. The severe corruption and pressure from the government has paralyzed the country’s anti-doping work, and according to The Sunday Times, a database-leak revealed that blood tests from 5,000 Russian athletes showed extraordinary signs of doping.

If that’s true, banning all the athletes who did test positive would seem like a fair deal, but the real concerning issue here is that all those 12,000 blood samples were never disclosed to the public, or even to the World Anti-Doping Association.

That means the Russian Anti-Doping Association failed to do its job, and it should be punished instead of just sweeping all athletes into the same ditch – regardless of whether or not they have tested positive.

The IAAF used its most powerful tool by suspending the whole federation, and even if the ban will keep many doped athletes from entering the result lists, it only treats the symptoms of this whole epidemic.

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Mariya Savinova was caught discussing her use of performance enhancing drugs on video. According to the New York Times she said: “Well, really, what should we do? How should it go differently? That is our system and in Russia that only works only with pharma.” Photo by: Anja Niedringhaus/Associated Press

The reason why so many athletes are using performance-enhancing drugs is because they think they can get away with it – or their coaches and their team organizations think they can get away with it. If the RUSADA had done its job, the athletes who actually did cheat would have been plucked out of the circuit before it got to this point.

Punishing all the athletes from participating at the Olympics is just like deporting all Mexicans from the US because someone said the crime rates have been shown to be higher among the Hispanic population – it’s too generalizing and makes innocent people suffer more than they have to.

Now that Hajo Seppelt has found information that implies that the doping culture in Russia is, in fact, run by the government, the IAAF should see that they caught the wrong guys.

Editorial by Maria Lavelle

Flashback Friday and Reflections

Today it’s been precisely a year since I laced up my spikes for the last time as a college athlete. In September I wrote a post explaining why I made the decision to quit track and field all together, CLICK HERE to read it.

I have to admit that the thought of letting go of the one thing I’d always been good at was scary, and even if continuing down the same path was out of the question, I was terrified I would regret it later.

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Homemade NIKE ad from 2013 haha

But now, a year later I’m so proud and happy I made the choice to let go and start following my real dreams instead. Sometimes I even ask myself why I didn’t make the decision earlier, but then I have to remind myself that track was my ticket into college here in the US, and that my time as a competitive track athlete has taught me many things I can use in my filmmaking and life in general.

I also believe that where one door closes, God opens another.

Since I “retired” from track I’ve directed and produced a feature documentary, a 20-minute documentary, a video for TV, 15 video stories, won a Jury Award for Social Impact at our first film festival, and had the opportunity to bring attention to a big social issue in South Dakota by showing “Over the Bridge” at multiple events and by talking about it in the media.

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I think that sometimes you have to let go of something to let God show you what you really want and where to go.

Have a blessed Friday all,
Maria

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Looking back at some of my weirdest projects

I have, through my 22 years on earth, realized that I often end up adding small “pointless” projects to the bigger and more important stuff I do. Looking back, I don’t see why I even bothered doing half of it, but I had fun during the process, and that’s what matters, right? Here are some of the weird things I’ve spent a significant amount of time doing throughout the years.

When I was about ten I desperately wanted to learn how to walk on my hands, so I practiced day and night and didn’t care whether I found myself alone in our living room (where I often crashed into my mom’s plants and window decorations) or if I was at a shopping mall, out in the streets, in the middle of the school yard or in a public bathroom (I suppose I didn’t understand the word “unsanitary” back then…) This sort of behavior didn’t exactly earn me any elemantary-school-popularity-points, but so what if people called me a “show-off” or if they grew increasingly annoyed with me? Haha, I had a goal, and no one was going to keep me from reaching it.

However, the skill of handwalking did come in handy when I got a stress fracture in my ankle last year: (Click to start video)

 

On April 1st 2006 I made the decision to stop drinking soda (pop) for no other reason than to test and see if I could do it. I still haven’t had a sip of it, so I’m actually heading towards my 10 year anniversary!

The year after, I decided I wanted a six-pack. Yup, a decade before instagram and fitness even became a thing I came up with that strange idea. I talked one of my teammates into an ab-challenge where we had to do minimum 200 sit-ups a day for about a year. In retrospect, I realize that we didn’t really know anything about muscle building, nutrition or fitness, but that didn’t stop us from making it a part of our daily schedules. One day I wanted to test how many reps I could do non-stop, so I “just casually” ended up doing 1108. Again, this was all just for fun…

When I, five years later, went into the “sport” of fitness, all those crunches suddenly became a little useful, sort of:

Then when I was about 14 I wanted to become the master of L-seats. I won’t judge you if you’re not familiar with such terms, because it’s not a skill I expect from the average person. But an L-seat is kind of a modified handstand where you support yourself on your hands, lift you legs up straight in front of you, and hold them there for as long as you can. My record is a little over 2 minutes. I challenge you all to give it a try (because it’s WAY harder than it looks, and my current level is probably at less than 10 seconds.)

L-seat

Track and field has kind of filled all the gaps in between these “projects,” and when I retired from competitive sports last year, I started directing most of my attention towards filmmaking. With the exception of a brief vegan experiment earlier this year, I’ve tried to stay away from all “projects” outside school and film — which has been wonderful!

But Karen, Brittany and I have now decided to give up sugar and junk food until the summer break starts. Now that it’s official there’s no turning back until May 20th. Wish us luck!

Bless y’all,
Maria

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