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...