Wednesday, July 25, 2012

London Calling!

I was asked recently what kinds of foods I'll eat while in London, and realized that I never posted about in-season eats!  I wanted to share a little bit about what I eat during competition season, what I take with me when I travel, and what I can expect to consume while at the Olympic Games.

I've been to London three times before, and it's one of my favorite European cities!  From what I've seen, the city streets and sidewalks are fairly wide compared to other places I've visited, meaning two throwers (or maybe just Americans?  Ouch?) can walk side-by-side without being uncomfortable.  Even though it rains a lot, that makes me happy to a point because I'm from Western Washington!  People speak English there, and I've found grocery stores with fairly familiar products in the past.

British food, however, is not my favorite.  In my 3 trips to the city, I've stayed at the same hotel each time, and maybe that doesn't give me the best idea of what's available.  I did get to meet up with my friend Laura from Purdue in London in 2009, and we got some street food and had dinner at a pub with her friends!  It was fun!  I really think that good company makes food better sometimes.

My favorite British food is bread pudding.  It is also the complete opposite of what I try to eat during the season!  When the season really gets rolling, I don't eat many carbohydrates (bread, pastas, sugar), and stick to mostly vegetables and proteins.  I love a big salad with all kinds of veggies, nuts, seeds, cottage cheese, avocado/guacamole, and fruit in it.  I'm strict when it comes to sweets during the season, too!  So, bread pudding, being a carb and a sweet, is just not on the menu.

That leaves me with bland roasted meats and fish, soggy steamed vegetables, and fruits that seem to be less flavorful than in America, too.  Again, this is only my experience at one British hotel speaking, so I'm optimistic about what I'll find in the Olympic Village!  The dining hall in the Village in Beijing was filled with buffet lines consisting of lots and lots of different varieties of food.  There were "American" options, Asian selections, and lots of Italian things to eat.  Even if there's a lot that doesn't look appetizing, you can probably find something that will be good for you!  The USOC has a training facility in London that is specifically for the American athletes, and you can sign up for dinners there that mainly consist of American food.  That place was awesome in Beijing!

There aren't a lot of snacks available in the Olympic Village (or anywhere when you travel abroad), so I'm bringing some stuff with me so that I can recover after workouts.  Here are my essentials:

EAS 100% Whey Protein Powder
     I think I'll take a mixture of vanilla and chocolate.  I mix this with water or milk after workouts, and throw it in smoothies!
Balance and PR Bars
     PR Bars are amazing.  Check out the link!  I love them!  Balance bars are delicious and not as good for you, but I've been using them for a long time and I'm familiar with them.
Peanut Butter
     Good for a delicious shot of creamy protein and fat when you're feeling hungry.
     YUM.  This is plane food for me.  I also have a cranberry/almond/pistachio trail mix that I like.

That's about it for eats at the Olympics!  Meet my new friends from Maggie and Britney; Champion is the Build-A-Bear dog on the left, and my Pillow Pet elephant from Britney's trunk is pointing up for good luck!  They're very patriotic!  I have amazing friends. :)

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Olympic Trials

I’m so grateful to have an awesome support system of family, friends, ASICS, and CVOTC people!  I’m extremely touched by everyone’s encouraging words and actions, and I can’t say that enough.  The number of people that I had cause to hug during the lap the top 3 women took around Hayward Field after the final was overwhelming; I can’t believe the amount of people I knew personally who were in attendance!  Amazing, and so humbling.

The qualifying round went almost exactly as I had hoped it would.  Ty and I seemed to be on exactly the same page; throw far on my first toss and sit down.  This year at Olympic Trials, the meet organizers decided to make the automatic qualifying standards in the early rounds of the field events the Olympic Games A standards, therefore allowing athletes to chase said standards during qualifying.  In 2008, the auto marks were much lower, meaning that if an athlete threw far enough to automatically qualify for the second day of competition, they couldn’t keep throwing to try for a mark that would make them eligible for the Olympics.  Coincidentally, the automatic qualifying mark at the Olympic Games and World Championships is usually the A standard of that year, so this seemed like excellent practice to me!  I wanted to throw 61 meters on my first toss, not only to secure a spot in the Olympic Trials final, but to practice for major championship qualifying rounds of the future.

I didn’t quite make that mark, but I was very happy with my approach and execution of Friday’s competition!  I was relaxed, did a pretty good job of hitting the positions that have been working well for me in practice (I could’ve hidden the javelin behind my head a little longer), and felt confident on the runway.  My first throw flew 60.49m (198’5”), so was not quite the auto mark, but I passed my second and third throws regardless, and easily moved on to yesterday’s final.

My general warm-up on finals day was very similar to what I had done in qualifying, but I didn’t feel quite as strong on the runway and wasn’t hitting quite as solid positions.  Nevertheless, my warm-up throws flew well, and I felt confident going into the competition, especially as the first thrower in the order.  I wanted to make a statement early and move up from there.  My first throw made a mild statement; 59.09m wasn’t enough for me to feel completely relaxed moving forward.  I was a little bit forward and not as aggressive into my block leg for the first three throws as I had been on Friday.  They were all fairly similar in distance, and not nearly what I felt I was capable of coming into the competition.

I feel awesome.  I feel strong.  I feel like I’m finally understanding my technique again and having fun on the runway because I can be relaxed and conscious of what my body is doing during the throw.  I was so excited coming into this Olympic Trials final: I’ve been waiting to PR for two years now, and while I’ve learned that expecting to throw far is dangerous, I know I’m in shape for it.

That’s why I’m so bummed that I tweaked my left knee on my fourth attempt of the day.

I was forward on all my throws in preliminaries, but I was even more forward on my fourth throw.  I approached the runway knowing that I needed to attack my block better than I had in prelims, and I brought more speed than I had previously into that left leg.  Unfortunately, my upper body being forward and on top of my legs instead of at an angle behind them meant that lots of pressure got forced down into my knee instead of forward through my whole leg.  I think it bent backwards a little bit, and since I’m usually blocked off (my left foot plants more toward the center of my body than the left side when I throw), it probably got slightly twisted as well.  That throw still flew 56m (it would’ve been great if I hadn’t just let go of the javelin after I felt pain, haha), but I couldn’t put pressure on my leg for a few minutes afterward, and it’s stiff and a swollen today.

Until the sixth round, my 59.79m throw from round 3 led the competition.  I’ve made it clear that winning USAs and Olympic Trials is very important to me, but yesterday, I reluctantly realized that staying healthy for the Olympics was more important.  Ty and I decided that I should pass my fifth and sixth round throws in order to not risk further injury, and although I wanted to be ready to respond if someone threw further (which Brittany Borman did), I know I couldn’t have thrown better with how my leg felt.  We did the right thing.  I ended up second overall, and for the first time in years and years and years, the United States is sending a full roster of women’s javelin throwers (Rachel, myself and Brittany) to the Olympic Games.

This Olympic Trials was vastly different from the experience I had in 2008.  I’ve been involved with the professional side of track and field for three years now, so I know many of the competitors who were vying for Olympic spots over the past two weeks.  Some of them are my best friends.  I can’t believe how much more emotional it is to monitor results, watch interviews, and read articles when you know someone in almost every event.  The highs are higher, and the lows are lower.  I shed happy tears and many sad tears for my peers, and learned a lot about managing the emotions that I have for other people’s performances.  In many ways, I’m more motivated than I’ve ever been heading into a major championship, and I’m also better prepared.

I love London!  I’m looking forward to going back for a fourth time, and I’ll happily be joined there by family and friends, including a large group of John Purdue Club members!  I don’t know yet what’s happening with my knee, but if I need to stay home for the next month and just focus on rehab and training, that’s what I’ll do.