Every vaulter has their own start routine. Some people just grab the pole and take off, others (myself included) almost-ceremonially check their grip, pantomime a pole-plant, and then raise the pole, take a step back, and go. Consistency is a big part of the vault, and having a consistent start is the foundation for a consistent run.
Once the run begins, I'm on autopilot. I still have the tiniest amount of control, but by that point it's practically an illusion. This is one of the most frustrating things about the pole vault -- there's a chasm between knowing what you need to change and actually implementing that change, and turning the idea into action (especially during a meet) can be extraordinarily difficult. Most of the real thinking happens during practice.