Monday, April 26, 2010

Drake Relays

I traveled to Des Moines, Iowa this weekend to compete in Asics-hosted Drake Relays. My grandparents, Tom and Jean Engler, live in Fort Dodge, Iowa; about two hours north of Des Moines. I spent a relaxing and lovely weekend hanging out with them and my parents after throwing on Friday! Mom and Dad drove down from Fort Dodge to watch. :)

Travel to the meet was a little bumpy...I flew through Denver and had to run to my second plane, only to be delayed almost two hours. Thankfully, I happened to be sitting right in front of my buddy Dana Pounds!! Once we got to Des Moines, we found Kim Hamilton and headed to our hotel, courtesy of the nicest shuttle drivers ever that Drake provides the "High Performance" athletes. After grabbing some lunch, we went to the track to pick up our information, check in the javelins, and get a little shake-out in.

I didn't quite know what to think about Drake this year. As previously mentioned, I fought a little (actually not little) back spasm two weeks ago, and it was lingering slightly. Ty wasn't going to be there and I hadn't done a pre-meet workout in his program yet, plus we hadn't really practiced the approach I would use.
There were just things that I wasn't sure about.
Dwelling on those things is most likely the worst thing I could have done, so I didn't! For the pre-meet on Thursday, I did a walking warm-up and some hurdle hip-mobility exercises, then a few short sprints and box jumps to get my legs firing. Some core work to make me feel confident in my back and a little javelin footwork while visualizing the next day's competition wrapped things up. That night I went to dinner with Dana and her family and then off to bed. Changing time zones is hard!

On competition day (Friday), the forecast called for rain. Sure enough, it rained all morning and Dana, Kim and I prepared for the worst. I wore long spandex (tights and a shirt), sweatpants and swishy warm-up pants, and a sweatshirt with a jacket on top. Also my new beloved Asics beanie and uniform, of course! I knew I had to warm my back up really well if I wanted to be fully ready to go, so I did! All those clothes helped. My warm-up throws felt relaxed and technically-sound, and I tried not to let myself favor my back. My main technical focuses (foci?) in this meet were keeping my shoulders closed, getting to my block quickly, and hiding the javelin behind my head. On my third competition throw of the day, I kinda did all of those things.

Like I said, "kinda." I definitely could have been more closed, the time between my right and left feet hitting after my barely-there impulse was faster than my other throws, but still not where it needs to be. I hid the javelin behind my head okay, but my arm wasn't as far back behind me as it should be; it was a little bent (and that's not like me). Also, I don't know if you noticed, but I'm a little slow!

As it is, this throw went 61.80 meters (202'6" I think). One of my competition goals was to go to Drake and throw the World A standard (what you have to throw to be eligible for big international competitions). Since there are no outdoor World Championships or Olympics this year, there really isn't an official A standard for women's javelin, but last year it was 61.00m. I'm happy to have met a goal, and I know that fixing the technical issues listed above will make the javelin go a lot farther. I was most proud of my attitude going into Drake Relays though; I had fun and accomplished what I went there to.

A lot of my friends from San Diego (including Russell!) competed at Drake on Saturday, and I wish I could've watched them do their thing! I spent the rest of the weekend at my grandparents' though,
and family comes first,
especially when you hardly ever get to see them. We took Grandma shopping, ate delicious steaks, played cards, and visited with each other and all kinds of their friends. Each time I visit, it is harder to leave. I just love sitting and chatting with Grandma and talking sports with Grandpa. He's also great at giving me directions when I need to get somewhere in Iowa :). Grandpa gets to go on an Honor Flight from Fort Dodge to Washington D.C. this Saturday. I'm so proud of him!! The flight will take veterans of World War II to D.C. for a day to visit memorials and tell stories that only they know. What an honor!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

my old Purdue

Let me just start by saying "Hail Purdue." Despite where I came from (gorgeous Washington), I eventually learned to love West Lafayette, Indiana! And the best time of year to be there is exactly now, making my visit this weekend amazing because of the people and (bonus!) the lack of humidity! Who knew that could happen...

Purdue Track and Field has an alumni reunion meet each year, and this past weekend was it. I was scheduled to throw at Mt. SAC Relays, but I experienced a pretty severe muscle spasm in my low back/SI joint, so decided not to go. Instead of competing at Mt. SAC, I traveled to Purdue for the alumni bash!!

I still wanted to try and throw at Purdue, and remained open to it literally up until an hour before the event. I woke up on Saturday and donned my new ASICS uniform, got some breakfast, and walked over to the track, ready and willing to warm up and throw if my back permitted it. It didn't, and I'm happy that I decided to do the smart thing and not compete before I was ready. At the USA Track and Field Annual Meeting in Indianapolis in December, I heard a quote that I have taken to heart from Dan O'Brien, legendary decathlete. He said,
"Sacrifice the day to save the week, the week to save the month, the month to save the season."
I used to forget to respect my body; I'd demand too much from it and ignore it when it told me it wasn't handling stress (physical or mental) well. Now I know when I need to take a nap or not lift that heavy dumbbell again. You live, you learn! I still push the limits a little though...

Instead of competing in the javelin on Saturday, I chose a different event! My Alumni 4x100-meter Relay team (aka Team Awesome) consisted of Jim Schwingendorf, Ben Pax, myself and Andrew "Chops" Smith. We got second to Keith Hopkins, Terrell Thompson, Brian Kaluf, and Steve Bach, mostly because I'm a girl and slowed my team down. :) It was so much fun though!

After getting some ice and watching the rest of the meet (highlighted by Brianna Neumann clearing 4.20m in the pole vault),
I got to go to Coach Warner's house for a little alumni mingling! I met some awesome former Purdue Track and Field athletes, and got to hang out with West Lafayette High School Track and Field head coach (and Russ's former boss) Lane Custer and his wife Anne! I spent most of my time there visiting with Larry Grambo, member of a 3rd-place nationally 4x100 Relay team from Purdue around 1970. He was full of information on how I could get my shoulders/arms in general stronger using martial arts and Iranian techniques. It was so interesting and unexpected!

Saturday night spent with friends was a blast. My back was still bothering me a bit, but sometimes it helps more than you think to just relax and have fun!! We went to 9 Irish Brothers, and I had the privilege of meeting the owner, Jerry O'Bryan. After Mallory discreetly (haha) mentioned one of my better javelin accomplishments to him, he gave me the generous gift of the jersey of his pub! I believe it is the official jersey of the Purdue Hurling Club. That's Jerry and me, showing off that jersey.
It's great to know that I have support from people at Purdue, even though I'm not there anymore.
My weekend visit was amazing. I even got to stay in my old room at 610 Dodge! The coolest part about going back, though, was that I realized fully that I'm where I'm supposed to be. It was awesome to see everyone, "compete" at my old home track, and wander around campus a little bit, but when my plane landed in San Diego on Sunday night I had a huge smile on my face. I'm comfortable at Purdue, sure; I always will be. But, at least for now, San Diego is my home. I like that!

Monday, April 12, 2010


Last Wednesday, one of my dearest friends invited me to go to a cool formal event with her! Britney Henry is a hammer thrower, and is partially responsible for Russ's and my relationship :). Her blog, "Olympian in Progress,"was nominated for Blog of the Year at the first inaugural #influenceSD Awards. What is #influenceSD, you ask? I'm a little confused too, but basically they are a group (business? I don't know...) that celebrates and promotes social media (facebook, twitter, websites, blogs, etc.) in San Diego. Being a blogger now, I approve!

The #influenceSD Awards were held downtown at Anthrology. This place is super-duper classy! They have live music events all the time, and they feature specialty entrees and drinks depending on the events they are hosting! I absolutely want to go back, because the Twitter-tinis (cheesy...but cool at the same time) and my seafood linguini were delicious! They also have the coolest menus on the planet. They're made from Taylor guitar wood; beautiful.

The awards night was nothing like I expected. I don't know what I did expect, but I got a whole lot of new experience! This event was largely for networking, and it was largely attended by what seemed to be the socialites of San Diego! Very out of my comfort zone at first, but I'm okay talking to new people, so it ended up being really fun. I also was firstly there to hang out with Britney and cheer her on, so I knew I would have fun regardless! Her team of people making The Britney Henry Project happen are awesome, and I always love seeing her Grandma Carol; Mike and I watched her (she's 81, btw) attempt to water-ski on one ski in September. Talk about inspirational!

Overall, a fun night.
This world of athletics doesn't lend much time to getting dressed up,
and it was really fun to do so!

A Few Reasons I love Britney Henry:
-She is ridiculously loyal and fiery: I'm pretty sure she would win a fight in your honor if it really came down to it! But she is a lover, not a fighter, otherwise :).
-She is one of the most thoughtful people I have ever met; when I made the Olympic Team in '08, a) she cried for me and b) she sent me a water bottle filled with travel-size tidbits I never would have thought to bring for myself.
-She always laughs with you.
-She treasures memories just as much as I do; one of my favorite things to do with her is laugh about our joint experiences!
-She remembers things you say and wants to know about them later; I'll forget that I told her I was up to something, and when I'm done she's always excited to hear how it went. I call that supportive!

Thanks for inviting me Brit! Love you.

Thursday, April 8, 2010


I did it! Twice!!

Since about junior year at Purdue, I have set firm competition goals for myself. This year, through work with Dr. Ross Flowers (one of the awesome sports psychologists here), I set training goals too! They include things like walking on my hands for certain distances (my biggest challenge, grrr), throwing so far in practice, etc. The one I've been focusing on most recently is this:
Climb the rope in the weight room all the way to the top using just my arms (no legs).
In November when Mike and I started training, I could climb the rope maybe halfway up with legs and arms, and I got horrible rope burn on my ankle too. I tried my hardest to climb it with just arms the first time, but couldn't even get two pulls in! Once I learned how to prepare myself for my rope-climbing attempts and a little bit about the technique of it, I saw slow but steady improvement.

Tuesdays are gymnastics days for us. In this training cycle, we sprint, jump and do javelin footwork with a sled on Tuesday mornings, then gymnastics in the afternoon! Skin the cats, rope climbs, isometric stuff, etc. My original goal was to climb the rope all the way to the top with just arms before Indoor USA Championships, but I hurt my back a few weeks before then (and had almost reached my goal!), so couldn't attempt it until about 2 weeks ago.

It was frustrating to have a setback, but sometimes you just have to recalculate success for later.
Don't forget about what you want to accomplish just because you didn't do it in the original timeframe you planned to.
This past Tuesday (April 6), I climbed the rope all the way to the top with just arms. Then, I did it again! I didn't really know the other athletes that were lifting when I accomplished my goal, but one of the foreign kayakers could tell that I was excited; I looked down from the top of the rope with a huge smile on my face, and he gave me a subtle thumbs-up! It's nice to be supported by other athletes, and that is a huge perk of living here.

I can't wait to climb the rope three times with just arms next time it's in my training schedule. Next week is rest week, AND I'm going back to Purdue for the meet that is considered "alumni reunion" each year!!! I'm so excited to see some of my best friends that I miss talking to so much. More on that later :).

Monday, April 5, 2010

Good, Refreshing Idea

One of my BFFs from elementary school-on is Courtney. Our friendship has transcended the gap of not going to high school or college together; she will simply be someone I can talk to about anything, for life. Yay :).

Courtney works as an Autistic Therapist. The Pepsi Refresh Project uses Pepsi money (they have some extra) to fund a great idea. Court and her friend are working to develop a new school and resource center for the Autistic Community in my hometown of Vancouver, Washington, and they are up for a $50K grant through the Pepsi Refresh Project. I don't know about you, but helping out is fun for me!!! Take the time, if you will, to vote for their idea by clicking below. You might have to register, but it's real fast; promise.
You can vote every day until April 30th.

Thanks, friends. I'm sure Courtney will thank you also when they get the funding to make a difference for the kids they love to help out!