OMG, I’m opening my season on Friday morning.
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Remember how I said I’d shout my schedule from the rooftops, and do it early? I do too, and I’m sorry that I’ve been a chicken and haven’t done that. Not only does the 9:30am start time of women’s javelin on Friday atTexas Relays prevent any local high schoolers from coming, but the truth is, I’m nervous. I know I’m in great shape. I know that all I need to do is trust the process and trust my body and eventually things will work out, but that doesn’t stop the nerves from bubbling up. This will be my first full season back from major injury, and I’m excited about that, but I want to be open with everyone following along about just the kind of experiences this journey is giving me. Real, semi-gut-wrenching ones. I’ve been hiding because I’m scared, and competition will be the only thing that can break me of that fear. You have to throw in higher-pressure situations to get used to truly throwing harder! Fear has never stopped me before, and it won't now, but I am feeling it.
Looking back, I felt the same way upon my return to competition after hurting my back and missing a season in 2007. My attitude toward throwing has been similar to what it was that year, and my training this year has been similar to what we did leading up to 2010. Ty’s words after my first throw off the runway with him last Wednesday were, “Oh, Kara, you’re gonna throw so far this year.” I wholeheartedly believe him. I wholeheartedly believe in myself. There is just always this nerves hurdle when you’re returning from a hiatus! Expectant nerves.
I always expect a lot from myself, in every aspect of life. Surgery (and subsequent recovery) taught me how to manage expectation over a long period of time though, and that’s a lesson I feel like I’m applying now to throwing. In 2010, I was awesome. In 2011, I was not. And in 2012, when it mattered the most, I was injured. Patiently waiting for my knee to heal and for my body to be ready to throw again has been a huge challenge, but one I’ll carry with me in this three-season push toward the next Summer Olympic Games. I’ve always wanted to throw far, all the time, but both being injured and feeling embarrassed in 2011 helped me see that timing is everything. The build to the most important stage in my sport can take a while, and I need to be prepared to continue being patient. I’ve known this for a long time, but I hadn’t truly learned it until being forced through the long ACL healing process. Knowing that the road to Rio is still a long one will help me keep each meet’s results in perspective.
So, on Friday, these things are important:
1. Have fun! My nerves will continue to build until then, so I have to remember to enjoy what I’m doing to be successful. Being extra serious when I’m nervous does NOT help me. I remember enough about competing to know that!
2. Hit good positions. I’m finally getting a little bit of a feel for the javelin after months of training with overweight implements and throwing into a net. This meet is EARLY as far as when I “normally” open up my season, so I know that my timing isn’t there yet, and being disciplined in hitting strong positions gives me my best shot at throwing far. That’s ALWAYS true, but especially early. Set a standard for the rest of the season.
Those are the important things. Keeping it simple in my first meet will hopefully let me relax even more about it. I don’t need to put extra pressure on myself when I know I’ll already have tons of built-up nervous energy. I just have to channel it the right way!
Ultimately, I’m really looking forward to continuing my javelin journey again. I have this unyielding dream that I can’t quite grasp yet but I feel every day in my bones. Getting back on the runway is the only way to reach for my lofty goals, and I’m embracing the emotions that come with each step of my process so that I can learn from them later, need-be.
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