Monday, July 01, 2013

Liz Podominick on Her Way to Moscow

Liz Podominick is the only Minnesota athlete with a guaranteed spot on the US team for the IAAF World Championships in Moscow in August.  The graduate of Lakeville and the University of Minnesota finished third at the US Championships in Des Moines to qualify.  Despite a hip injury that threatened her season, she PRed twice and threw and A standard qualifier for the World Championships.  Below she talks about her progress in the event, coaching change, and what she hopes to be able to do in Moscow.

Liz Podominick
Photo by
Becky Miller
Down the Backstretch: Since the last time we talked(2011) you have “taken the plunge” to devote yourself to your “athletic side.”  What was the thought process on making that decision?

Liz Podominick:  I came to the realization that I could work a 'grown up' job anytime and that my time for an athletic career is limited. This is the time to pursue something that I will not be able to do ten years from now and I know I would regret it if I did not give myself a chance. 

DtB:  You had a website and a Twitter account(LizPodominator) where you were using social media to raise funds for your quest to make the Olympic team in 2012.  How did that come about?  Was it financially beneficial, something you might try again?

LP:  One one my best friends from high school, Rachael, and her family suggested that I do a fundraiser. Thank you Peterson family. They know me well and that it is hard for me to ask for things, so they made the offer to help organize it. We sat down one weekend to figure out the details and then they took it beyond something I could ever imagine. 

So many people from the Lakeville community, and beyond, came out to support me and I would not have been able to pursue making an Olympic Team or even the World Team this year without the money. I am truly blessed to have that kind of support and I will definitely consider doing another one...probably closer to 2016(smiles).

DtB:  Now you’re part of Mac Wilkins’ throws group.  Mac has some history with throwers with Minnesota ties as he helped out Lynn Anderson, who coached you at the University of Minnesota.  How did you become part of Mac’s group?

LP: I actually met Mac in 2011 at the Tucson Elite Throwers Classic at the University of Arizona. He was there to do some consulting for the athletes on the 'elite' list at the time. I had a decent showing and caught his attention. After the meet, we sat and talked, and drilled, about technique for awhile and he made the offer to work with me if I was interested. 

Last year I flew out to Portland to work with him for a week every couple of months (with the money raised from the fundraiser) and then always seem to have a big break through shortly after. When it came to the new quad cycle, I knew I needed to work with Mac full time and took a leap of faith when I moved out here in September.

DtB:  You had a hip injury this winter.  What happened and how did it impact your season?

LP:  I initially thought I had a hip impingement, but thankfully I had Dr. David McHenry from PACE look at my hip and discovered that my external rotators where weak. After a bunch of rehab and some rest time, I was able to start lifting and throwing again. 

I lost about a month of training in the winter, and I guess I will have no real way of knowing how it impacted my season. Obviously I did not get the amount of time in the weight room or the circle that I needed, but I do believe that I made a nice recovery and also know the warning signs to prevent something like this from happening in the future. Everything happens for a reason, so I try not to look back.

DtB:  You’ve made big progress this year with two PRs in the outdoor season—206’4” and 208’9”.  What improvements, adjustments have you made to allow you to get to this level?

LP:  Working with Mac has taken my understanding of the discus to a whole new level. So much of throwing is about rhythm and timing, which is something we have worked on a lot this year. My specific strength has also drastically improved, and I have taken more throws this season than I ever have before. Often time is the answer, and another year of throwing also helps add some distance, especially when I work with a coach of Mac's caliber.

I have also continued to work on the sport psych and nutrition side of training/competition and have been blessed to have more access to these services this year. Little things like being reminded to focus on what I can control, and even when to eat so my body is not depleted, can make the difference between staying where I was at or advancing to the next level.

DtB:  Your all time Minnesota shot put mark was beaten this year by Maggie Ewen, who was at the Junior Nationals in Des Moines and won the discus with a big PR of 179’6”.  Did you get a chance to meet Maggie? 

LP:  I actually got to meet her in Des Moines! I was watching my training partner in the men's disc and my high school coach introduced us. I was so glad to meet her face to face and congratulate her on breaking the record. She has such a bright future and I cannot wait to see what she does at ASU. 

People sometimes forget how many great throwers the state of Minnesota has produced, and I am so happy to see another one!

DtB:  Both you and Maggie struggled a bit in the early throws in the competition, but eventually threw far enough to accomplish some of what you wanted to do(you wanted to make the team; Maggie wanted to throw over 180).  Both had a bit of “nerves.”  Maggie said her dad told her to relax and have fun, don’t try to do too much.  What worked for you?

LP:  I just continued to work on focusing on the cues that had been working for me at training all week. Throwing is so much feeling and rhythm,  and I was just trying to find that feeling and rhythm throughout the competition.

DtB:  What’s next for you?  Will you compete, either in the US or in Europe, prior to Moscow?

 LP: I plan on competing at some domestic meets prior to Moscow and then head for training camp at the end of July in Austria. I have not planned any international competitions, partly because I do not have those connections. I think I need to get an agent.

DtB:  Stephanie Trafton won in Beijing throwing under your PR.  Anything can happen in an event on the bigger stages.  What are your goals going into Moscow?

LP: My goal is to make the cut for the next day of competition. While I am absolutely thrilled to make the team, I also want to do something while I am there. I could have just three throws and be done, but I am going to do everything I can to make it to the finals. That includes continuing to work on the rhythm and feel like I have been all season and trust that a big throw will be there when it counts!

DtB:  Aside from making an Olympic team, which is the logical next step, what are the plans for beyond Moscow or are you an “in the moment” person, taking it one step at a time?

LP: Well, I really need to start making some money in order to keep doing this. It has not been easy and I am pretty much tapped out financially. I know I need to actively pursue getting an agent and be more aggressive on getting some sponsorship. While I never know what will happen next, it always seems to work out. I just place my trust in God that he puts me in situations that are part of His plan.

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