Monday, August 30, 2010

German Road Trip

I traveled to Breda, Holland and Bad Kostritz, Germany this past weekend to watch Russ compete! We rented a car and got to drive on the Autobahn, wow.

Breda was gorgeous! Cutest little Netherlands town ever. They had their own beautiful cathedral and lots of litte interesting restaurants, not to mention happily chorusing groups of people everywhere; it must have been some sort of holiday. The stores were pretty impressive, too, not that I believe in shopping in Europe...I would if I could fit things in my suitcase, though!

After Russ competed in Breda, we took off in the car for Bad Kostritz; approximately a 6 hour drive. I was told that it's strange to drive for that long in Europe, because everything is supposed to be close together! We arrived late, and Bad Kostritz is a tiny (but awesome) German town.

The meet the next day was a combination Highland Games/track meet! It's called Kostritzer Werfertag ("Werfertag" is, literally, "Thrower Day"), and is sponsored by the local brewery. This means that the winner of each event got a giant glass of Kostritzer Schwarzbier, their specialty! In the spirit of sportsmanship, all of the guys who podiumed got a taste of the beer. The crowd really wanted them to chug the entire thing, which Russ almost did.

Russ competed in the Portland Highland Games in 2007, and it was such a fun experience to watch! The events at the Werfertag on Sunday were super entertaining; people just want to have fun with their friends when they're competing at something like that! I got some hilarious pictures, and videotaped a caber-weave race (??...see picture). There is a Highland Games World Championship in Scotland on the first Saturday in September of every year, and I think it would be amazing to go someday! I have a good source (my friend Jessica) who's a big fan.

Friday, August 27, 2010


I was ready to redeem myself in Berlin this year, both because of Zurich and last year’s World Championships in the same stadium. This summer has been full of amazing experiences, and I’m so glad that I chose to spend an entire two months of the season in Europe instead of commuting back and forth from the states! I have, however, gotten a little bit shaky on my technique because I’ve been practicing alone.

In Zurich, my distances didn’t suffer as much from poor technique as they did from timidity. In Berlin, I had 3 throws over 60-meters again, but because of aggression instead of good technique. I forced positions and I was frustrated enough with mediocre distances in the beginning of the competition to simply try harder instead of changing technique, compromising my shoulder and elbow a little.
Any time my arm gets out of its “slot” behind my shoulder and I still try to put some big energy into the throw, things get dangerous.
I’m definitely not injured as a result, but my arm was much more tender after Berlin’s competition than it has been after any other all year! It was nice to get some rest, massage, and rehabilitation-type exercises in upon my return to Cologne.

While I did have three 60-meter throws, I didn’t have any 61-meter (A standard) throws. My best landed at 60.97m, which I’m pretty sure is exactly 200 feet. I ended up third to Christina Obergfoll and Linda Stahl. The rest of the meet in Berlin was really cool to watch, and was highlighted by a world record in the men’s 800m race! It was absolutely amazing to see David Lekuta Rudisha of Kenya run 1:41.09. I ran the 800 in middle school, and while I was nowhere near good, I have massive respect for such a cool result. It's the best it has ever been done!! My friend Benn Harradine (shown below on the big screen!) threw well for second in the discus, and watching Brad pole vault again is really fun; this was only his second meet of the year!

I threw in practice today, and Ty was there to help me! It was so great to have his input again, and I’m feeling optimistic about my chances to go out with a bang at the Continental Cup. I leave for Split, Croatia on September 2nd, throw on September 4th, travel back to Cologne to pack up on September 5th, and go home to America on September 6th!! I can’t wait to get a San Diego beach day or two in before I go on vacation :).

Here are my meets and distances so far this year (A standard throws in bold):

Drake Relays: 61.80m
Tucson Elite Day 1: 60.33m
Tucson Elite Day 2: 61.75m
USA National Championships: 66.67m
Prefontaine Classic Diamond League: 65.90m
Vancouver, B.C.’s Harry Jerome: 61.58m
Gateshead Diamond League: 63.11m
Monaco Diamond League: 64.21m
London Diamond League: 63.41m
Zurich Diamond League: 59.50m
Berlin ISTAF World Challenge: 60.97m

Eight out of eleven meets above the A standard so far! My goal for the season was to have 90% of my meets at that distance. Eight out of eleven is approximately 73%. There’s no way I’ll reach my goal with only one meet left in the season, but all things considered, this year has been one big confidence-building, successful learning opportunity. During the 2009 season, I had one meet over the 60-meter line. I actually only had one meet over the 58.56-meter line, and that was USAs at 63.95m. The 2010 season has been a whole different story, and this last meet is arguably the most important of the year! I’m really excited to finish strong.

Saturday, August 21, 2010


I did my best to approach the Diamond League Final as I have all of the other Diamond League meets this year; with confidence in my technique and focused on what I could do to succeed in the competition. Somewhere along the way in preparing though, I started listening to hype about the fact that I could win! While externally I said that I needed to just focus on what I could control, fantasies started playing in my head a little bit.
It’s dangerous to think about what could be if you forget about what you’ll do to get there.
My distraction showed in my results, and I ended up 9th in the standings in Zurich with a throw of 59.50m on my third attempt. Ninth place means that I was the only one who only got three throws, as they took 8 to finals.

I was very happy to see Christina Obergfoll throw 67m! I was also so glad to congratulate Barbora Spotakova on her inaugural Diamond League victory!

Not living up to my own expectations was really difficult, though. If you know me, you know that I’m a pretty emotional person. I’m a sore loser when Russ beats me in cards, but I do my very best to be gracious on the javelin runway. I hate that I can’t help crying when I’m upset with myself, but I let my competitors know how great I think they are despite my few tears! All I know is that I really care about what I’m doing, and when I don’t succeed, I’m disappointed.

Another thing about the competition is that I knew everyone would come to throw far. It is a final, after all! I also knew that I needed to throw far, but after the first round, I started getting worried instead of digging deep for my competitive energy. I watched others’ distances instead of thinking about my own and how I could improve them, when I already knew I shouldn’t fall into that trap.

Even though the results from Zurich are definitely not what I wanted, I’m trying to keep a little bit of perspective. I want to be tough on myself, as accepting less than my best is not what I’m about, but beating myself up too much isn’t smart or healthy! Some people have asked me if I’m injured, worried that that’s the reason I had my first meet of the season below 60 meters and didn’t get at least top 3.
I’m not injured; I just had a bad day.
One year ago, I would have been happy with 59.50m in any competition, as I was struggling terribly in Europe. I’m not happy with it now, but it’s my best distance by a long shot in a really high-pressure meet like this one was. I’m doing my best to learn everything I can from this season and am looking forward to applying all the new knowledge to competitions in the future.

I’m throwing in Berlin in the Olympic Stadium tomorrow! How great that I get an opportunity to throw again so quickly after a frustrating performance, especially because disappointments from last year in the same Olympic Stadium are now fresh in my mind. Can anyone say redemption? We’re even in the same hotel; I feel kind of like I get another chance.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Switzerland, Land of Chocolate and Presents

I left for Zurich on Tuesday morning. I woke up around 3am to a torrential downpour outside. I couldn't sleep for the next hour and a half, worried about walking to the train station with my javelins and suitcase in the storm! Sure enough, at 4:45 when I headed out the door, it was still coming down.
When you're faced with a problem you just have to overcome, no matter what, you might as well get going on it.
Luckily, it poured rain a few days earlier, and I had bought an umbrella (the first one I've ever really owned, being from Washington, and tough about rain). I honestly don't know how I did it, but I took my javelins and suitcase in one hand (two fingers holding the jav bag and two rolling the suitcase) with the umbrella in the other. My traps were on fire after a minute or so, so I did my best to switch arms periodically! This meant that I barely made it to the train on time. It was smooth sailing once I reached the airport, though.

Upon check-in at the Hotel Moevenpick by the Zurich Airport,
they gave me chocolate!!!!
My diet rules are that I cannot buy or otherwise get sweets for myself; they must be given to me as presents, or I need to be celebrating something. Being given delicious Swiss chocolate as a welcome gift is well within those rules! Being given an awesome Swiss massage by a meet physiotherapist is great, too.

On Tuesday afternoon, there was a kids' clinic at the stadium that I was invited to attend! Christina Obergfoell, Sunette Viljoen and I led group of kids in throwing Vortex nerf footballs and foam turbo-javelins. It was a nice break from my normal routine, and when we returned to the hotel, iPod Nanos were waiting for us as thank-yous!

I was interview by Peter Ahnberg for IAAF Athletix (a TV show) on Wednesday morning. They filmed me blogging, which was a surprise, and we talked about the competition and the rest of my season. Neat. After that I did my pre-meet and relaxed all day (and the next day), preparing for the competition.

Saturday, August 14, 2010


I arrived in London in a much more put-together fashion than last year! I know my way around the Cologne Airport pretty well now, so check-in and finding the oversize baggage screening area and my gate were a breeze. I did, however, forget that London would have different outlets than those in Cologne! Thank goodness for Becky Breisch and her preparedness; she always has extra converters, and let me borrow one after the two I bought last-minute in the airport weren't up to the task of charging my phone.

Speaking of Becky, it was so good to see her!! I miss San Diego a lot, and I literally hadn't seen Becky or Britney (who came for lunch on Friday) since the very beginning of July. Brad also made his season debut, and hanging out with all of them was a much-needed taste of comforting home!

I traveled to Amsterdam a few weeks ago to watch Russ throw discus in the 1928 Olympic Stadium there. I had a great time simply spectating, but it poured down rain during the whole competition! For some reason, I knew that London would be the same. I brought as many warm clothes as I could fit in the small bag that I take to meets, and prepared for the competition in much the same way that I got ready for Drake in April. I know that I need to feel really warm to trust my body to throw far, so I wore long spandex and a long-sleeve shirt under my uniform.
Rain is inevitable sometimes, so you might as well prepare for success despite it.
My warm-up throws for the competition were mediocre at best, and I was feeling really tired. That was frustrating, because I felt awesome in my pre-meet workout the day before! Maybe I over-did it. Anyway, warm-ups only count for preparing your body for competition, so I did my best to execute technique on my first throw; I didn't do a very good job of it, but it went 59.57m. That's only my second 59-meter throw ever, and the way I began my series at USAs, so I was encouraged by it. My second throw was better overall and landed at 61.77m, and my third felt excellent until I dropped my arm at the last second, making the flight funny and only going 56m.

Becky, Jill, Dustin and a bunch of other Americans were standing behind the runway watching the meet and cheering for me, and it was so great to be able to smile thanks in their direction between throws. After my third throw (we only got four attempts again, like Gateshead), I went to chat a little about technique. Becky was helpful and encouraging, and on my way back to my chair, Andreas waved me over to give me some tips! We chatted about how I should run onto my block and keep my arm back as far as possible to connect with the javelin better, and I kinda did that on my last throw; 63.41m. Cool.

I barely lost to Barbora! She threw 63.50m on her first attempt and passed the rest because her elbow hurts. I hope that her injury isn't serious, as elbows can be tricky for any javelin thrower. My parents watched the video on Universal Sports and got to see lots of my throws!

I'm kinda disappointed. I wanted a better distance, and I went into this meet knowing that if I won, I had a very legitimate shot at winning the entire women's javelin Diamond League series. I want to say that I did my best on the day of competition in London, but I know that I could have done better. I haven't had a competition in a while, so I should have been fresh from all the rest I've gotten. I've had a lot of opportunity to work on things in practice, but I haven't been executing positions quite like I should be. I didn't feel fresh and I didn't execute the greatest positions, but I still managed to compete well and almost come away with a victory! I also had an A standard throw in my first three attempts, and as I was trying to envision this competition as, say, the Olympic final in London in two years, I was happy to put a decent distance out there early.
Take the good with the bad, but focus on how to use the bad for good in the future.
I still have my biggest competitions of the season to come! The Diamond League final in Zurich on August 19th is a big deal, as it's the culmination of Pre, Gateshead, Monaco and London for me (plus Doha and Rome before that), and is worth double Diamond points. The Continental Cup in Split, Croatia on September 4th is such an interesting and exciting event, and will be my last of the season. Ty, Mike and Melinda recently arrived in Cologne, and I'm really looking forward to throwing with Ty in practice again!

Sunday, August 1, 2010


So, the travel to Tallinn, Estonia was going to be as follows:

By train:
6:45: leave for the main train station in Cologne
7:25-8:20: Cologne to Monchengladbach
8:25-8:56: Monchengladbach to Venio
9:19-10:00: Venio to Eindhoven
10:02-11:22: Eindhoven to Amsterdam Centraal
By plane:
13:15-16:30: Amsterdam to Riga International
17:10-18:05: Riga to Tallinn

All that with a rolling duffel bag, javelins and a backpack? Sounds really difficult. I've had a bit of a cold for about a week, and have been feeling it in the way workouts have gone. Getting information about this travel schedule coupled with the sickness factor made the decision not to go to the meet pretty simple, even though I had been looking forward to it!
Sometimes doing the best thing for myself takes some convincing, but I like to think that I come to my senses more often than not.
In other news, tomorrow is Russ's birthday, and since we're both no longer going to this meet, we'll be able to do something fun to celebrate!

Unfamiliar Territory

In preparation for my next competition, I was supposed to throw and do some overheads (throwing a shot put behind you as far as possible) yesterday. It takes approximately one whole hour to get to Leverkusen, so I opted for the Cologne Sport University again.

I arrived at the Rheinenergie Stadion train stop and made my way past the stadium toward the track to do my workout. When I got there, it was locked. Crap.

There are big empty fields right next to the stadium, so I made my way back to throw a little in the grass. I haven’t felt awesome lately-I think due to sickness on top of a little different exercise plan-so I warmed up carefully and did my best to listen to my body. Throwing in the grass is so fun for me! I did it the other day in Leverkusen, too. It’s easier on my back, I can go at a little slower pace than I would off of the runway, and it really makes me work to hit the positions I want to. It also helps me trust my footing; we worked on throwing on grass in the fall, and if you get your left foot down to block on time, you’re not going to slip like you’re afraid you will. Good training!

Sometimes when you’re in an unfamiliar place, you don’t have access to everything you need to train like you would at home. If you’re unsure about whether or not you’re supposed to be doing something somewhere (throwing javelins in a really nicely-kept field by a pretty stadium, for instance),
do it until you’re told not to. Then be respectful and apologetic when you get in trouble.
So, I’m throwing my javelins in the grass, and it’s going well, and I’m listening to my music on my iPod shuffle, when a man responsible for facility maintenance in a bright orange jumper thing strolls over to me. I do my best to ignore him and keep my headphones in, as I’m afraid he’s going to kick me out. He catches up with me, and instead of getting upset and making me leave, he just wants to throw one of my javelins! So I let him. A few minutes later, another one of the jumpsuit men comes over for his try. “Just once,” I say, and he throws and is happy. These two encounters made me laugh! These guys seemed pretty bored with their jobs, and simply wanted to attempt what I was doing. Nice; they took an interest.

I head back toward my pile of stuff, throwing along the way, and just as I’m about to take my last throw of the day, I get another visitor. This one drives across the beautiful grass on a moped, cigarette hanging from his mouth, and spouts off some German at me. I think he was working the event going on at the stadium, and it was weird to me that he was so rude, because everyone else at that event was super happy! “Entschuldigung, bitte? Sprechen Sie English?” I say, and he simply points at my javelins, waves his arms horizontally in front of him and says, “Nichts!”
Oh, I understand…you don’t want me throwing here, but you can drive your moped around on the grass. Alright.
So I toss my remaining javelin down on the ground, smile politely, and say, “I just finished! Thank you.”

All-in-all, a weird and semi-frustrating, but also semi-successful day. I walked about half an hour out of my way only to find the locked track and head back to the field where I decided to throw. I got in some good throws at the intensity that I needed to a few days before a competition, and got to glimpse a social event unlike any other I’ve witnessed before. The trains were super crowded, and that’s really annoying when you have javelins on board and everyone a)gives you really funny looks and b)expects you to be able to negotiate an 8-foot-long tube that does not bend around corners or people with the greatest of ease, without giving you any extra wiggle room. If it was me, and I didn’t know what was in the giant long case, I might not crowd as close as I possibly could to it. Just saying.