Saturday, December 31, 2016

Year in Review: 2016

Stats!  I only competed 7 times this year (if you count Trials qualifying, which I am), compared to fifteen times last year.  My last meet was my best one on the year, which has never happened before.  Also, my first meet was my furthest season opener ever, although it was later than ever.  I did a lot of forcing speed rather than focusing on positions this year, which I don't intend to repeat in 2017.

Portland: 61.72m
Eugene qualifying: 61.42m
Eugene final: 57.90m
Rio qualifying: 61.02m
Berlin: 58.76m
Rovereto: 58.44m
Brussels: 61.86m

Worst: 57.90m
Best: 61.86m
Overall Average: 60.16m
Top 5 Average: 60.96m

This year went by SO fast, but at times it felt like it would never start.  Training and competing with a torn left labrum and rotator cuff for the second half of the 2015 season, and all of the complications that caused with my mid- and low back showed me that I needed to solve the problem before the Olympic year if I didn't want to be miserable.  After left shoulder surgery in October 2015, I couldn’t run until the middle of December, and didn’t pick up a javelin until January.  Shoulder rehab took attention away from keeping my left knee healthy, and I pinched a fat pad (so painful, persistent and annoying) in that knee after two awesome weeks of training in Austin in March/April.  I wasn’t nearly as strong in my right shoulder as I normally am, despite impressive creativity from Jamie and Ty in my training to get around my healing left shoulder.  I did absolutely everything I could with what I had this year, and as much as 13th in Rio hurt, I’m proud of my performance at my third Olympic Games.  Given the choice again, I would get surgery again.  It was the right thing for me and my overall quality of life.  If one other thing had gone a tiny bit better, my results could have been much more impressive on the year.  Again, though, I'm proud of my efforts through everything that happened physically this season.

2016 wasn't what I wanted professionally, but some really great things happened for me outside of Track and Field!  Russ and I adopted a little yellow dog (she's a lab) named Maddie in May.  We are her third home, but we knew her for about ten months before she became ours!  When we brought her home, we thought it was a trial run and that we'd officially adopt her in the fall (after this important summer), but within three days she made it very clear that she was happy to stay.  I definitely couldn't have parted with her anyway, and she kept me smiling while my season was delayed!  

In June, I finished my last class toward my graduate degree: An MBA with an Accounting concentration through DeVry's Keller Graduate School of Management, and the scholarship program via partnership between DeVry and the USOC.  This most recent course of education began right after we moved to Colorado (just after my ACL surgery), and was really therapeutic for me in a time when my athleticism was halted for a while.  I'm thrilled to have seen it through and imagine what I can do with it in the future!  

So many things to improve on in 2017, and even if it wasn't what I'd imagined, so many things to be thankful for this year.  Happy New Year!

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Ironwood TC Throws Classic

I competed at my first meet of the 2016 season in Portland, Oregon on Saturday, June 25.  Multiple people asked me in the lead-up to that opener if I was planning on competing this year.  Haha!

Photo by Kim Spir
I had hoped to start my season at the end of May, and had trips to Halle (the German throws meet that Russ and I have talked about going to for years), Rome and Birmingham lined up.  I cancelled that trip before even getting plane tickets due to various aches and pains.  I simply lacked the physical ability at that point to prepare adequately for competition!  In this Olympic year, I wasn't willing to compromise the end goal after everything I've been through since 2012.  I've also never had the guts to say I wasn't ready for something and cancel a trip, and it was really liberating to be able to do so!  At 30 and after 7 years of professional javelin throwing (15 years total!), many times less is more.

Many long stories short, surgery is never what you expect.  I said when I decided to get left shoulder surgery in the Fall that if I couldn't compete until Olympic Trials due to the recovery, that would be okay.  When the reality hit that that was what was happening though (and for reasons I didn't see coming), it was a little tougher emotionally to stand by what I said!  I also knew that even with all of the experience that I've earned throughout this career, it would still be silly to go cold into TrackTown, USA, especially with the improving state of women's javelin throwing in this country.  I wanted to open two weeks before Trials to give myself as much time as possible to be ready but still have some rest time in between, and it turned out that David Pless had planned a meet at Concordia University on the perfect weekend!  Bonus that I love coming to the Northwest and that I haven't competed as close to home as Portland since high school (12 years ago)!

Friends and family came, I got to travel with Russ, the weather was gorgeous, and the meet was small but women I've built relationships with over the years came to throw.  You simply can't reproduce competition emotions by yourself, and I was definitely nervous, but focused hard on two things:

1. Hide the javelin behind my head.
2. Good rhythm on the runway.

All film is by Duncan Atwood, a wonderful Northwesterner who has been a part of my career for 14 years!

This warm-up throw went about 60 meters, and I really liked my rhythm:

Round 1 flew 61.28m, and I felt like all I did well was keep my arm back and high.  The rhythm could've been much better, and just because my arm was back doesn't mean it was in the position I'd like it to be in!  I was really encouraged by Attempt #1.  Practice has gone pretty well, but I just never know how competition nerves are going to hit me.

Round 2's 58.85m was a much cleaner throw, but not as rhythmic and definitely not as explosive at the end (because the rhythm was off and my upper body was in a bit of a forward position).  When I saw it fly I hoped it was further (it was pretty!), but looking at my speed and right-left time I know why it wasn't.

Round 3 went 61.72m, and I can imagine that it looked pretty similar to my other 61m throws on the day, but had a bit faster left foot touchdown time!  I tried too hard on Round 4.  Round 5 went 61.58m!  I tried to stay taller through my core on this throw than I had on Round 4, and I think I accomplished that.  Still missing great rhythm in my legs, though, and I wish I could hold my upper body back just a hair longer.

I would be thrilled with this opener even if this year hadn't been filled with some frustrating challenges!  Three throws over 61 meters isn't something I normally do in my first meet, especially with the lack of speed that I feel like I displayed in Portland and my slight hesitation at the block that is lingering.  The training I've been able to put in this year (been limited to?) make it feel like I'm in comparable shape to what I normally am at a typical time to open a season (late April or so) rather than July.  I was really nervous about feeling that way, but throwing near home after trusting my own process this year paid dividends in this opener and series.  I'm ready for Olympic Trials this weekend!

Here's a 63.21m attempt from Austin last May, just for a fun comparison to the above throws.  The rhythm is much better but the upper body leaves something to be desired!