Kara Patterson has spent more than a month in Europe and will throw in the Aviva London Diamond League meet on Saturday.
In her spare time — besides workouts, sleep and tirelessly working to make sense of a place where she doesn’t speak the language — Patterson has done a fair amount of blogging. And she also was gracious enough to field a couple of questions this week from TrackFocus.
Patterson broke the U.S. javelin record by a whopping eight feet in Des Moines at the U.S. Track and Field Championships and has made it her mission to throw at least 61 meters (roughly 202 feet, the A standard) in every competition she enters this year. It’s all part of a process geared at putting Patterson, a Vancouver, Wash. native, into medal contention at the 2012 Olympics. (It wasn’t long ago that Americans were an afterthought in this event).
Here are the Purdue graduate’s answers to our recent questions, including her take on “precision” javelin (or the world’s biggest, baddest game of lawn darts):
TrackFocus: You’ve been in Europe a while now, and I see you are on the list for London. How is it going to to be gone this long? Is it wearing you out or do you still feel like you are in position to throw big ones? Do you get all of the rest and practice that you need over there?
KP: I’m very excited about London! I leave (Thursday). Not only am I looking forward (so much!) to competing again, but a few of my very good friends from San Diego will be there; I haven’t seen either of them in over a month!!
I have been here for a long time. I really like my apartment in Cologne, Germany and the area that I live in. I know where the grocery stores are, there are laundry machines in the basement of my building, and I’ve figured out the train system, so I’m feeling kind of at home now. At first, I had no idea how to get food, I boarded trains that went in the opposite direction that I wanted to go, and it was looking like it would be a very long summer!
Learning my way around coupled with the fact that my German improves every day makes life good again (I took three years of the language in high school and two semesters at Purdue). I also have friends and a boyfriend (Russ Winger) around; having company and fun always makes an experience better.
I feel like I am still in position to throw big. I train in Leverkusen, Germany at a club, and the facilities are excellent. They are very javelin-friendly, as Steffi Nerius (World Champion 2009) trained here during her career and is now coaching at the facility, and Linda Stahl (European Champion 2010) trains here as well. It took me a little while to get accustomed to all the walking that happens when you live in Europe and use public transportation, but I feel good physically and I know what I need to do to hit the technical positions that I want to in my upcoming meets! My coach (Ty Severin) also recently arrived in Europe, so I’m really looking forward to having throwing sessions with him again soon. It will be nice to fully cement some ideas that have gotten shaky in practicing alone. As far as rest is concerned, the only thing I really have to do every day is practice, so the other hours are spent commuting, watching movies and TV shows (Russ and I are currently working our way through “LOST”), playing cards or spending time at Starbucks to use the internet!
The idea is intriguing to me for a few reasons: A) I don’t really understand how they score it, and B) I have no idea how I would perform. At Purdue, Lindsey Blaine and Jim Schwingendorf, two of my training partners, would throw at things on the ground for fun, and I was always terrible at it. Also, my high school javelin coach, Nate Botnen, would set up a “javelin golf” game for us every year at the end of the season. Everyone had a handicap based on their own personal best, and the winner got a prize! I don’t remember being very good at that either.
I would definitely be interested in competing in a “precision javelin” event. A lot of javelin throwers train by throwing at cones at certain distances, and while it’s never the goal to actually hit the cone, it’s still a focal point that I get close to sometimes. We’d just have to see how it went!