Archive for 2009
I hope everyone is doing well on Thanksgiving weekend. I am blessed to be spending the weekend with my husband’s family up in beautiful Lake Tahoe. We had Jerry’s famous breakfast cassarole this morning and watched the Macy’s Thanksgiving parade on TV. It’s funny to watch all of the singers lip-syncing to thier pop tunes. Last night Barb served up her lasagna and we lifted up our glasses to toast Ray (Jerry’s dad) who is in the hospital with some mysterious elevated heart rate issue. We are praying for you Ray! We all had an awesome time washing dishes and dancing to a great YouTube clip called The Evolution of Dance. Everyone can dance to that…even Jerry! Happy Turkey Day. Give thanks and God bless America!
Some cool happenings: Kiley, eighth grade discus thrower at Slinger Middle School in Wisconsin, threw 104 feet at the opening track meet, shattering the school record held for over twelve years.
Her coach Rachel Womack presented her with a neat autographed collage at the end of year party last month. Cheers to the next generation of discus throwers!
Here’s a great article that documents my visit to the St Albans Athletic Club. It was published earlier this week in the St Albans & Harpenden Review.
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Olympic gold medallist visits St Albans
If the athletes of St Albans AC needed inspiration ahead of this weekend’s Eastern Young Athletes League final, it was supplied by Olympic gold medallist Stephanie Brown Trafton.
The 28-year-old American, who the won discus in Beijing last year, answered questions from the Westminster Lodge club’s throwers and put them through a series of training drills last week.
To read the rest of the article, click here.
I’ve been working hard and playing a bit too while visiting my family in England. Staying with Jonathan and Anne has been great, they are such a loving family and Anne cooks the best soups ever! Jon and Sarah, my cousin, have the same wacky spontaneous personality that I do and we could get into a lot of laughs given the chance.
Ive been training at Fairway Athletics Centre in Sandown and although it had been windy (Thanks to Hurricane Bill!) I’ve been able to get some training in there. The newspaper and radio have even come out for interviews… check out the article here.
Have you ever read a Nicholas Sparks novel? Most are filled with drama and heartbreak yet are so inspirational and gripping. My particular story has taken a heartbreaking turn, hasn’t it? I did not come close to winning a medal tonight. I knew that this meet would be a turning point for me, either I would win and be the “golden girl of Galt” again or fail miserably and take myself totally out of the running. Its all about how you want the story to be written. I have played out the story of the underdog. I will never be that again. Tonight I was more relieved than anything to be out of the running for a medal. I don’t feel comfortable sitting in the top position. It takes a certain level of emotional strength that I am just starting to exercise. In actuality, I would rather be fighting my way to the top than defending titles. I don’t feel too bad about this outcome. What hurts me the most letting down the people who have been rooting for me to win. But the story does not end here, not tonight. Somehow it feels like this is the way it is supposed to be. I struggled all year to figure out what my new story would be. After tonight I know what I want it to look like. Now I have something to work for again instead of work against. I intend to have more world championship experiences and I intend to redeem myself. The story of redemption is every writer’s dream. So many great stories are based on it. In the ultimate act of redemption, God intentionally took the fall for all of us so that He could redeem us in the end. That’s why I am so excited to see how my story plays out, yet I know I have already won. I hope in the meantime it will be a page turner, just like a Nicholas Sparks.
To see the final results go to: http://berlin.iaaf.org/results/racedate=08-21-2009/sex=W/discCode=DT/combCode=hash/roundCode=f/results.html#detW_DT_hash_f
Wow! I don’t think I could have come much closer to bombing at my first World Champs. And I don’t mean the good kind of bomb, like when I “dropped a bomb” in the first round in Beijing. This time I actually bombed in the qualifying meet and had my second worst throw of the year. On the other hand, “Hallelujah” because I made the final 12 and the slate is wiped clean for the Friday night final. In retrospect I knew something like this would happen. I usually find some way to create some drama during competitions. For example, in 2001 I decided to go on a hike the day before I left for the NCAA Champs. The day before the competition I woke up with poison oak in my eyes and they were swollen shut. After some medication and ice I was able to control the swelling and had an awesome performance at the meet. Another time at a college home meet I got the start time wrong and showed up just as the competition was starting. I still had my running shoes on and I stepped in the ring and tossed a great mark. Subconsciously I need that little bit of drama to get my adrenaline going. I know this is my pattern and in these situation I just need to mitigate the damage. I had a feeling a few days ago that I was going to sabotage something but instead of denying that fact I tried mitigate the situation by finding something minor to sabotage…like my shoe lace on my favorite shoe breaks or missing the bus to the training track. The later situation won out the day before the qualifying round. The bus pulled away just as I walked out to the stop. I waited 30 minutes for the next bus but when we got about 15 minutes into the trip I realized that we were going to the wrong stadium. I had to get back on the bus and come all the way back to the hotel and wait another 30 minutes for the right bus. By the time I got to the practice track I was two hours later. I thought that was the perfect sabotage prior to the meet. The qualifier was at 10:10 am, the first of two groups, and I had to get up early and eat breakfast prior to the trip to the track. I was relaxed and warmed up fine. I felt confident and the automatic qualifier was an easy mark for me. 61 meters is at the low end of my range this year and I knew that on a bad day I could toss it out to 63 meters. During the meet it seemed like everything locked up, my legs, hips, feet. It was physical nervousness instead of mental. I felt paralyzed but I knew that the others were in the same situation. I did my best with what I had that day and waiting for the final results of the second group. I felt sick as the others matched the automatic qualifier mark, counting down the places I was slipping….9th, 10th, 11th. There were two girls who could throw farther then the mark needed to get to finals and as they stepped into the ring I sat with a towel over my head, waiting and shaking. The girls did not pass the mark and I pretended to pass out. I scraped my knee in the process but it was worth it. The drama was over but the game just started. I made it to the finals and the hard part is over. On Friday I will be ready to let the discus fly and no more messing around. Friday is TCB day….”take care of business.” There will be thousands in the stands but I will perform to my best for my audience of one.
Check out this radio interview on KNCI (http://www.kncifm.com/Pat-and-Tom-On-Demand/3109556)
It seems like the time has passed by so quickly but I have been here a week already. Over the last few days I have practiced according to my schedule and even had some time off to go to visit a standing section of the Berlin Wall (click here), cruise on the River Spree, and speak in front of hundreds at the opening prayer inside the historic Berlin Cathedral (pretty pictures here!). At the Wall I wrote a birthday note to a friend, snapped a few pictures, and sent them back as a gift. I was too scared to write it in huge letters but I’m lucky I didn’t get arrested because it was not the official ”graffiti” section of the Wall. The river cruise down the Spree (more sites here) revealed to me the best parts of Berlin architecture and culture. The cruise had a rocky start though as the drink waitress dropped a full bottle of beer in my lap when trying to pass it to Chaz. I looked like I had wet myself but I really wasn’t worried about the wet pants. I was worried about coming back to the hotel smelling like Berliner Kindl. The prayer at the Cathedral was amazing. I was asked by one of the chaplains on the team to attend. It was my first day off of training and I had planned to take the train to see some of the sights. I took the morning to go sightseeing, including the Wall and a sandcastle exhibit on the river. Then back at the hotel we had a very long team meeting followed by team picture. In all team pictures I am forced to stand at the back because I am so tall but this time I refused. I got my Cal Poly teammates together and we all stood (well…I slouched down a lot and they stood) a few rows from the front. I’m proud of us Poly Dollies! I went straight to the taxi stand and rode with the chaplains to the cathedral. I was told that there were two athletes invited to speak at the opening prayer, along with a high level Catholic Bishop, and Evangelical Protestant Bishop, and the head of the German Athletic Federation. The other athlete could not attend due to a training session. That meant I was the only athlete representing over 2000 athletes at the Championships. My lines were already written out and all I would need to do would be to stand on the stage and deliver the message without jumbling my lines too much. I didn’t have time to change after the team picture so I was decked out in all of my USA gear and felt a bit out of place standing next to the bishops in their long robes and men in three piece suits. The TV cameras were rolling, bulbs flashing and I was hoping that I didn’t have anything in my teeth. My heart tried to leap from my chest, even with my 6 months of Toastmasters training. I delivered the lines clearly, deliberately even though I was about to have a heart attack I thought the delivery was excellent. After the ceremony we walked in file behind the large wood cross held by one of the bishops to a back room which I assumed to be one of the private chapels. Everyone exchanged pleasantries and shook hands. One of the bishops gave me a book about the “Berlin Dom” but because it is written in German I cant understand it. The pictures are nice though!
Here’s an article we came across from UniversalSports.com:
Stephanie Brown Trafton was among a delegation of American coaches and athletes invited to take an official walk-through of the Olympic Stadium here this morning, the first time Team USA has done so since the 1936 Games.
The structure is, in a word, colossal. When you couple that immensity with an awareness of the history that unfolded inside the building’s stone and beyond its columns, the awe of the experience leaves its imprint. Needless to say, Brown Trafton was intimidated.
Then, she began to think about the fans who would be filing into that stadium for the World Championships in a day’s time. Germans have an appreciation for the discus, and they have a local legend to support in Franka Dietzsch, the aging but reigning world champion. The combination should have been enough to leave Brown Trafton, admittedly a newcomer to the international stage, quivering with fear.
But the 29-year-old Californian has become a pillar of confidence in the 12 months since she burst onto the scene with her improbable victory at the Beijing Olympics. She enters this competition with the leading mark in the world and the confidence of a champion.
Today we walk to the accreditation center to get our credential. Credentials are like gold here; a passport to all things Championship. A credential will get you into the venue for all sessions, meals and entry to the hotels, official bus transportation and free travel on all the public transit in Berlin. I am in line to take my picture for the credential but as you already know I am super lazy so I sit in my chair and scoot it along as the line moves along. The floors are wood and the chair must have a sharp edge because after a few feet I look back and there are gouge marks in the floor.
Later I travel to the Olympic Stadium and start a practice session on the track. Today is not a throwing day but I have some supplemental training I need to do. One of the men’s high jumpers is walking with me to the track and I notice that his pants fit him perfectly in length. He must be at least 6’9″ and his uniform pants go all the way to the tops of his shoes. I ask him how he managed to get pants that fit because my pants hover three inches above my shoes and I constantly have to pull them down. He says that they gave him extra long size and I am jealous. I requested long sizes but I guess I don’t have enough clout to get them. Maybe they had to make him a special pair. It starts to sprinkle but not hard. I brought my rain gear and it comes in handy now.
Back at the hotel I nap in the afternoon and then decide to take a trip to the corner store to buy some essentials that would just not fit into my carryon. I spend about an hour looking at different bottles trying to decide if I they are shampoo, conditioner, or bleach. I decide on a few items and hand my Euros to the cashier. I have not yet mastered any German words other than “Danka”. Last night I played a game of cribbage with the USA men’s coach who knows a little German. I attempted to speak all of the numbers in German while counting my hand. It was a great learning experience but still I can only retain the ten numbers. I still don’t know the word for zero but as poor as I can play the game, I surpirsingly never need to use it. The cashier gives me my change but as I leave she starts to yell at me and runs out the door. Apparently I left a ten euro note on the counter. “Danka”, I say.
I walk by a cafe on the way back to the hotel and decide to stop in for an espresso and cookie. I sit down in a booth and grab the Berliner paper and try to understand the captions under the pictures. This holds my attention for a while but soon I find a much more interesting activity, people watching. This is by far the best part about traveling abroad. Watching people chatting, laughing, walking with dogs on leash, pushing babies in strollers. Most people carrying groceries from the store use small rolling carts as cars are more of a luxury then a necessity. Gas is more expensive. Food prices are very high and portions are small. It makes me realize why many Americans eat too much: the food is plentiful and cheap. I would say a good weigh loss program would be to travel to the big cities in Europe. Eat one large meal a day and snack the rest of the time.
Tonight is the talent show! Every year the team has a talent show to showcase our talented artists on the team. Most people sing in the show but we had one dancing act. I have to say that some acts were horrible but having the courage to make a fool of yourself in front of a hundred people is talent itself. Three coaches sat on the judging panel and we had a Simon Cowell judge making everyone feel terrible and two other coaches giving praise. Our winner was a sprinter named Charles and his voice was magic. Gave me goosebumps. He was the outright winner but was disqualified shortly thereafter due to an anonymous tip that he was not an amateur and had a CD out. I hope this does not carry over to the track. We don’t need any more scandalous disqualifications by the sprint team at this meet!
Getting settled into the hotel is the first order of business. The first night we eat at the hotel cafe under the atrium. Cozy and comfortable dining with dim light from mini candles and soft music from the piano in the lobby. The hotel room has two twin beds, just wide enough for me to lie down on my back and not fall off either side. I am a back sleeper though so I don’t mind the narrow beds. I call housekeeping and request two pillows and an extra comforter and shortly they arrive at my door. I have rearranged the room so that my roommate, who will arrive in several days, and I can each spread out comfortably in our half of the room. I slide my bed next to the window so there is a wide open space in the middle of the room to use for my stretching and tai chi.
The next morning I grab a quick breakfast, then down to the medical room for massage. Beth asks me where I am tight and what needs to most attention. This is supposed to be a deep flush to get my body recovered from the plane trip. I know this is going to hurt, but I don’t mind. A deep tissue massage is supposed to hurt a bit…its the kind of pain that promotes deep breathing and forced release of muscle tightness. It takes a couple of days to recover but it is well worth it. I take a nap and get ready for practice at Lichterfeld Stadium, about 25 minutes away. Carrie, our event manager, makes sure we have all what we need to get a good practice. I need a few extra discus to throw as I only have the two discus that Carrie brought over in her luggage. When she returns she has four discs borrowed from a volunteer that happened to have some in his trunk. Wolfgang is a discus thrower competing in the masters division and he let me use his 1k discs. I think his discs might be a bit heavy because every time I throw them they land in the right side of the sector and my discus and on the left side. They will work well for practice, especially since I am too lazy to keep walking out the field to retrieve my discus. I call it laziness but I know it is just a matter of energy conservation…I save all of my energy to throw far. Back at the hotel it is time for dinner and bed. The only TV channels we get in english are CNN and BBC, so after I get the major world news I read Barbara’s paperback borrowed for the trip and fall asleep. Not much excitement this first day but I have to get into a normal routine and wait for my day off to really explore the city.