Friday, August 4, 2017


I am recapping the second, third, and fourth Diamond League events of this season together in this blog, because they were all very similar experiences for me, much to my frustration!

I left home on July 3, after picking Russ up from the airport in the morning, taking Maddie to a Denver dog park, and them dropping me back off at the airport in the afternoon. The Lufthansa Denver-Frankfurt flight is my favorite way to get to Europe! In nine hours, you're there and just have to make a short hop to your destination. I came really close to falling asleep sitting up while sipping espresso on the shores of Lake Geneva on July 4, took an ice bath with Kathryn Mitchell in that lake after our workout on July 5, and visited the Olympic Museum the morning of the competition (Lausanne is the home of the International Olympic Committee). This was my second time in Lausanne, and the stadium and surrounding views were just as beautiful as I remembered.

Too much leanback now=too far forward in .5 seconds!
I felt really good warming up in the grass outside the stadium on competition day. My legs were working a bit better than they had in Sacramento, and I was excited. I had been battling a very stubborn back spasm since right after throwing at USAs, though, and as soon as I took my first runway warm-up throw, it felt like my entire spine adjusted itself! Cue increased spasm, and I did everything I could to counteract my back pain with better legs, but sometimes when all of your energy is focused on one thing your body uses that first, regardless of pain. It was really difficult to relax my right arm behind me as well, as the muscles most effected are in that upper right quadrant of my back. I did the best I could with what I had, I guess, managed to stay in the top 8, and finished the day with 59.19m and my first regular-season competition under 60m. It is a terrible feeling to keep getting the same result at Diamond League competitions, as previously stated in my Prefontaine blog. Performances by the other women were even more impressive in Lausanne than Eugene!

Gorgeous stadium and great crowds. Love London!
We traveled from Lausanne straight to London for the July 9 competition in the Olympic Stadium. I threw here in 2015 at the Muller Anniversary Games for the first time after competing at my second Olympics with a torn ACL, and that went well, so I have overall great memories of this track! I wanted to improve on Lausanne and mostly wanted to get my back in line and firing again. There wasn't adequate warm-up space outside the stadium for this meet, but we had more than enough time to throw off of the runway once we got inside. The weather was absolutely perfect, and my back felt better than it had three days prior. I moved up one spot (7th) with a pure-guts 61.06m throw. I felt the same: I tried to focus on my legs in both competitions, but haven't been using my right leg effectively through my crossovers all year, so by the time I get to my power position and am attempting to let my left leg do the work and not push with my right, my upper body is so far forward that I have nothing to put into the javelin. Goldie Sayers said hello outside the stadium, and it was so good to see her! She mentioned her notice of my right leg pushing back, and that observation was my first indication that I might need some serious self-reflection in practice.

There was no time for that, though, as the Rabat Diamond League occurred on July 16, and two competitions in four days meant my arm needed some rest (especially after not hitting the best positions at high speed). After a short stay in Stuttgart with wonderful friends and great strength training/rehab, it was off to Morocco!

So. Sweaty.
I promise that every time I step on the runway, I have a fresh perspective and new mental focus for each throw. I fully believe that each attempt will be my best, and that each new competition presents an opportunity for greatness, regardless of prior outcomes. This is how I approached Rabat, after some great rehab in Germany, pretty easy travel, and a back that was slowly calming down. 

When we entered the Moroccan stadium for competition, we got a rare treat for javelin throwers: Introductions with smoke and cheers for each individual coming out of the tunnel onto the track! We were then marched all the way around the back curve of that track in front of all of the fans, to meet our stuff at the runway on the far side. Along that walk, a little group of Moroccan fans near our runway took to me. They cheered loudly and waved the flags they'd brought along every time I threw and each time I glanced their way during competition. I don't know why they chose me, but they stuck by me the whole time, even when it was clear that each of my frustrating throws wasn't what I wanted!

Something I've remembered in the last week or so is that I have to be more patient with my chest, but then actually use it when the time is right. In Rabat, like Lausanne and London, I was trying to use my legs first, but really only using my left leg to propel me down the runway. I've always struggled with shooting my right foot backwards too soon, and over years, I think I started just not using my right leg! Recently, I've used it in my crossovers better, and then been able to carry speed into my block in practice. In this competition, though, I was not yet there. So, on every throw, my mindset, was to get to my left quickly while not pushing backwards with my right, but I had no momentum by the time I got down there. Add a chest that was forward due to lack of momentum as well as a personal refusal to push that chest forward in an attempt to stay behind my block, and absolutely no energy went into the javelin.

I had decent tip control and flights, but every time I let go of the javelin, it went nowhere. I finished the day with 59.94m and fifth place, very frustrated. The competition overall wasn't nearly as strong as Lausanne or London (therefore, wide open for me or anyone else who could have stepped up). In those situations, when you don't step up, it feels doubly defeating (other people beat you AND you beat yourself). 

Positives: I left Morocco with all of my belongings, which is more than I can say for the first time I traveled there in 2014. I also set an African PR for myself (I threw terribly at Continental Cup in 2014, as it was two weeks before my wedding and my head wasn't quite in the game). Thirdly, I scratched and clawed for enough Diamond League points, even with very underwhelming performances, to qualify for the final in Zurich on August 24! 

After Rabat, I trained and adventured in Leuven, Belgium for 10 days with some other members of Team USATF, then went to Birmingham, England for training camp for four more days. Now, we are in London, and the women's javelin qualifying round at my fourth IAAF World Championships takes place on Sunday evening, with the final slated for Tuesday (top 12 athletes move on, as usual). In Belgium, I finally had the opportunity to film throws again, get a lot of reps in, and figure some things out with the help of discipline, Russ, and John Dagata. I have a few key cues going through my head constantly at this point, which is better for my focus than my mind being completely blank going into a major championship! Excited.


  1. Our hearts and prayers are with you, Kara! Just do your best!

  2. PS Love your web site! Great job and easy to use!