Friday, July 28, 2017

Prefontaine Classic

We threw on Friday night at the Prefontaine Classic this year, which is the first time in my four total trips to this meet that that has happened. The women's long jump and women's javelin were the only two field events held on a night that typically sees lots of distance races go around the track.

I felt good coming into Pre, and had set up my training in a way that made me feel confident in my power and state of recovery for the first Diamond League meet of the season. I always want to succeed at Pre, because it's the only time I meet my international competitors on home soil, and have the advantage of time zone adjustment. I was second at this meet in 2015 and won way back in 2010, but fell short of my expectations in 2011 and this year.

On meet day, on the way to the track, the nine competitors set to throw were informed that only six athletes would receive six throws, rather than the Diamond League and IAAF rule-stipulated eight. This year in the Diamond League series, we field event people only have five competitions (including the final) compared to the seven we have always had, so to limit the final at the first one, while not unusual for this specific meeting, was frustrating for all of us. Whatever though, it's not like my or anyone else's mindset is ever that we will not be in that top 6 (I promise you: Everyone always wants to win), so the focus remains the same.

I started out with 61.66m in the first round, and was happy with the relaxed, strong beginning effort. As nice as an easy mid-61m throw is, I knew I'd need to improve to guarantee top 6, as the last two years of women's javelin throwing in the world have seen a huge increase in the number of women that can throw 62m any given day.

I tried way too hard in rounds two and three, totally losing my chest at the end of the throw (as a result of pushing backward with my right foot and rushing my upper body forward) and sending the tip of the javelin straight up in the process. I sat in sixth place until Barbora passed me in round three to push me into the first spot out of finals.

There have been too many finals in my career that I've sat out of. I truly enjoy the friendships that I've cultivated with many of my international competitors, and I always strive to be a good sport. When you don't get all six throws at a meet, you can either be escorted off the field, or stick around and watch finals from the bench. I've done that with genuine happiness for others and misery for myself far too many times, and at Pre this year, my parents were in the stands and leaving early the next morning to go home. I was more furious with myself than I've been for a long time, so I asked to leave.

Dinner with my parents in their motorhome with the dogs was far better and healing for me than sitting inside the oval at Hayward Field and politely clapping for my competitors' excellent performances would have been. I've been motivated by staying on the track for finals so many times that I wanted to fuel my fire with something different, and that's the love and support of my family. I spoke to Ty on the phone and he said that he heard something in my voice that he never has before, and was excited about perhaps a little different mindset for me. That feeling is still there, and has only intensified with other frustrating competitions this year.

It would have been more fun to watch the main Prefontaine Classic on Saturday if I had performed better, but seeing Christian Taylor and Will Claye put on a triple jump show, among many other awesome results, was still great. I also went for an interval run in beautiful weather along the Willamette River that morning, so I got some of my anger out. I'm a track and field fan, so being able to simply spectate one of the best meets on American soil is always enjoyable, plus I caught up with Rachel and her kiddos!

I can't lie to you, being given numerous excellent opportunities to perform by JRS Sports Management in the last seven years and continuing to just struggle along is not fun. I approach every single competition with the true belief that I have everything it takes to be the best, so to come out of many of them with very similar results (59-62m and 5th-7th place) is incredibly frustrating and disheartening on those bus rides back to the meet hotels. More on this in the next three posts, with some elaboration on what makes putting myself in these same situations worth it.

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