Sunday, June 26, 2011


I competed at the 2011 USATF Outdoor National Championships yesterday, and came away with my fourth straight national title (including 2008's Olympic Trials Championship)!
I'm happy.
I'm happy that I threw farther than I have been in recent meets.

I'm happy that I put a decent throw (59.34m) out in the sector on my first toss, since I was the very first thrower in the order and had an opportunity to make a statement early.

I'm happy that I competed well, not only against the other girls, but against my recently-chattering brain!

I'm happy that I kept my USAs winning streak alive.

I'm happy that I really took to heart all the amazing encouragement I've received over the past few weeks from people that I care about and who I know truly care about me.

I'm extremely happy that I didn't have any right sector fouls. :) In fact, my fourth round throw landed on the left side of the sector. Booyah!

I know I have more work to do. I'm spending a few days at home in Washington and I'll be back in San Diego on Wednesday morning. I'm really looking forward to building on this competition's technical progress in practice, and getting even more great training in! Thanks a bunch to everyone who has offered support and congratulations! Thanks especially to my Coach (Ty Sevin) and Sports Psychologist (Dr. Ross Flowers), and huge awesome-job-you're-the-best-training-partner-ever-appreciate-your-help-always shout-out to Mike Hazle, who won his first national title in the men's javelin on Friday after coming in second to four different guys for the last four years! Well deserved and long-awaited victory! Proud of ya. :)

I've been confirmed for the Paris (July 8) and Monaco (July 22) Diamond League meets! I'll be spending most of July in Cologne, Germany, living with a group of friends from the training center. I loved living there last year and am looking forward to spending time in the same place again! I definitely have my work cut out for me in the coming competitions, but it's nice to feel like I'm rounding into a good mentality at the right time.

Monday, June 20, 2011

CVOTC "Tune-Up"

I competed in the meet here at the training center on Thursday. I wanted to have a low-key, fun meet after New York and before USAs! Some dear friends of mine threw the javelin for me to make it a legitimate meet; thanks ladies :). It was fun, but each time I got on the runway, I got all tight again.

I threw 56.98m, which is better than New York, worse than Pre and not nearly where I want to be. In the middle of the competition, I took another step out of my approach, which means my approach is now exactly what it was last year (and I loved it last year). After the competition, I practiced for about another hour, throwing out of that new/old full approach and finishing up with some shorter stuff at the end. Practice was great and I think I threw myself out of some things by the end of it, yay!

It's strange when we change things that don't need to be changed or we forget about things we worked on for a long time. But those things don't matter as long as we realize how important it is to focus on basics and execute simple things we know we're good at. I'm looking forward to practice tomorrow!

Monday, June 13, 2011

adidas Grand Prix NYC

Well, I got sixth again. This time though, sixth meant I also got last place. I only threw 54.62m, intentionally fouled two of my throws, and had two sector fouls. My last throw (the one that went 54m) landed about an inch inside the right sector line.
Needless to say, my alignment is off.
I still feel physically awesome. I was a little more achy than recent weeks on Saturday, probably because of the slight sickness I've had and all the travel I've done in the last three weeks, but a little achy shouldn't mean 54m. Last year, I threw at Drake Relays and had two meets at Tucson Elite before USAs. Those three competitions were low-key and fun, and I got a chance to really trust the technique I had developed. I wasn't trying to win on every throw, I was just trying to solidify the things I had done in practice. This year, I threw at Drake Relays, flew to Rome a month later, went to Eugene the next weekend, and competed in New York the weekend after that. Rome, Eugene and New York were much more high-pressure than my competitions last year, and dealing with external pressures from having prior success has been something I thought I was prepared for, but perhaps wasn't.

I think it's important to talk about the mental side of track and field. I started working with Dr. Ross Flowers here at the training center last year, and his help has been invaluable. I get to talk to him this afternoon, and I'm craving a good, tough conversation. After I threw 61.56m in 2008 at Big Tens, I suddenly felt like I needed to throw that far every single time I competed, and (in my head) it seemed like people following my career would be disappointed if I didn't. Not true. I realized eventually that people were watching me because they were excited to see me succeed. Sure, they'd be a little bummed if I didn't throw far, but if I did, they'd be happy. I wanted to make them (and myself) happy! It took me a while to learn how to use other people's energy as a positive thing, and I think I'm dealing with the same kind of stress now. Every athlete takes a different path to where they want to be, and I'm doing my best to learn and grow from everything I experience!

It's pretty cool to receive congratulatory text messages/facebook messages/voice mails/tweets when you do well, but something that I took a lot of comfort in this weekend was that people didn't hesitate to contact me to tell me how much they are still supporting me after a poor performance. I feel blessed to have people in my life who cheer for me and lift me up when I'm feeling a little bit down. I try to be that person for them when they need it, too! Part of athletics, though, is always moving forward. So, on to practice today and away from a meet I'm happy to leave behind.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Prefontaine Classic

I had my worst result ever at Hayward Field this weekend (58.39m). I also suffered my first career loss at that venue with a 6th place finish. I'm disappointed, but the way I felt physically did not show in my results!

Training this year has been much more challenging than last year. Yeah, I worked hard in 2010 and was in good shape, but 2011 has been vastly more well-rounded as far as total-body focus along with many ever-important technical sessions. Ty has been teaching me to throw the javelin with my legs and whole body instead of just using the arm felixibility and strength that I've always known are there. In the competitions that haven't gone like I wanted this season (Drake and Pre), I've resorted to old ways.
Obviously, I don't revert on purpose.
I'm simply having to learn to use a higher fitness level and more speed on the runway; to make adjustments. My timing was off in Eugene this weekend because I didn't trust myself to stay behind my block and hit correct positions with the power I was bringing to the throw. I'm frustrated with myself for not being brave in the moment, but I'm feeling very positive about the fact that I'm healthy and haven't had to miss nearly as much training as I did last year! I need to just hone in on some technical cues in practice and trust my positions in competition.

My parents and brother came to the Prefontaine Classic this weekend! I love my family because they are competitive and, of course, only want the best for me. When I don't perform to my potential, I know they love me anyway, but I also know that they're feeling disappointment too. I don't take that as pressure, I take that as reassurance of their belief in my capabilities as a javelin thrower. They want me to be as great as I want myself to be, and I love that!

Up next is the third installment of women's javelin Diamond League meets. I'll throw in the adidas Grand Prix in New York on Saturday!

When in Rome...Learn

I competed in the Compeed Golden Gala (my event's first Diamond League meet) in Rome, Italy on May 26. Sorry for the delay in writing a blog about this one, but I'm nearing the end of a flurry of recent meets and haven't had much time between training, volunteering, travel and competition!
Things I Learned in Rome:
1. Eliminate distractions whenever possible.

At Drake, I wore a back brace to support my cranky SI joints. No matter how prepared you are for your attempts during a competition, having to put on an extra piece of equipment each time is just obnoxious! I've been seeing Brett the rehab master here at the training center regularly for adjustments and exercises, and ditching that back brace is always a celebration. I didn't even bring it to Rome, so getting ready for my throws was simplified. Javelin, shoes, Kara...check, check, check. I also learned how the zipper on my new uniform jacket works. I know that sounds stupid, but I struggled with it at Drake and it really drove me crazy. To put on and take off my outer layer with ease was a relief.

2. A little adventure never hurt anybody.

Becky and I went to see the Vatican on Tuesday night (the day we both arrived in Rome and two days before competition). We didn't stay long, but glimpsed the ancient tourist attraction from the outside, ate some delicious gelato, and wandered around for a while enjoying a game of "Tourist? Or Local?". I do better at competitions when I don't take myself super seriously, so it's always nice for me to get out and see the sights a bit! After the meet, dinner was served at a party around the pool, and I love to socialize, so it was great to meet some new people and catch up with others.

3. Sleep is my BEST FRIEND.

My flight landed on Tuesday at about 10:30am. I kept my eyes open until 8:30 that night, and didn't open them until 10:30am on Wednesday. I took a nap from 1:00pm-3:30pm that afternoon, then went to the track to do my pre-meet workout. I fell asleep at about 11:30 that night, and slept until 8:30am Thursday (competition day). After a quick breakfast, I fell asleep again from 9am-3:30pm, waking up in time to grab a mid-afternoon snack and get ready to leave for competition on a 6pm shuttle. I. Felt. Awesome. That's approximately 32 hours of sleep in a 53-hour period. You gotta do what you gotta do!

4. Sometimes, you just get lucky.

I was delayed out of San Diego on Monday about an hour. Unfortunately, my layover in Chicago was only a little more than an hour. I spent my first flight sort of nervous, but also knew things would work out if I didn't make it. After all, I've learned from past mistakes and now always have everything I need with me. I found out during the first flight that the man across the aisle from me was also going to Rome. He was a lot more nervous about making it than I was, and also a lot more clueless as to where our connecting gate was. Walking as fast as possible without completely leaving him in my dust, I showed him to our next plane, which was delayed about 20 minutes, meaning I had time to grab a quick sandwich at the totally convenient deli nearby! After I ordered, strange man from my previous plane surprised me by buying my veggie wrap, even though all he got was a banana. Then I hid from him in the totally convenient women's restroom until my flight boarded. I had an empty seat next to me on the flight despite the fact that the rest of the plane was completely full! When we got to Rome, my javelins were there waiting for me even though the connection in ORD had been tight. Made a short connection, free lunch, open seat AND javelins arrived safely? Fabulous!

5. Good plans work.

During warm-ups for competition at the Olympic Stadium in Rome, literally every one of my competitors kept one or two of their javelins with them to throw in the warm-up area. I had checked in all of mine. I don't expect to be able to throw in the warm-up area at regular-season meets, because it hardly ever happens that way! But when everyone else was doing it, I felt a little foolish. Then I said to myself, "Kara, you never do that. Stick to the plan," did what I usually do and then relaxed until we were called to go inside the stadium. What do you know, my warm-ups on the runway felt fine and I competed pretty well in prelims, throwing 62.76m on my third attempt when I felt like I needed a better mark to ensure that I was top 8 and would go to finals. The other plan that worked well was to train through Drake completely. I definitely could have and should have thrown better there, but having such a strong training base this season is going to serve me very well in the long run. :)

6. Chill, baby! And take care of number one.

When we were led out to the runway for warm-ups, the men's pole vault had just started. Even though there are two different places that both the pole vault and javelin can be contested in every stadium, we were both on the same side. That meant that the pole vault and javelin runways intersected at a T, and a man stood with an orange flag throughout both competitions, prohibiting a javelin thrower or a pole vaulter from doing their thing at all times. This was especially problematic during our warm-ups, as there's not an ample amount of time for them in a stiuation that doesn't involve potential violent collisions. I saw the problem as soon as we arrived, so I grabbed two javelins and took them into the field, away from the chaos. A few meet people told me not to, but if I'm not getting a chance to go down the runway, I'm gonna do what I have to to be warm to throw. Sorry I'm not sorry. :) It was silly that both men's vault and women's jav took twice as long as they needed to, but it ended up being kinda fun to be so close to another field event. The mantra that we should worry about things we can control gets put into practice in all kinds of situations!

I learned a whole lot at this meet. I think mostly it was a refresher course though; a re-introduction to big time competition and how to handle certain stressors. I didn't respond well when Barbora passed me in the sixth round and ended up fourth overall, so that leaves me hungry. Rome got me excited about Pre, but that didn't turn out how I wanted it to. Stay tuned...