DEN HAAG, the Netherlands — The alarm always seems to go off much too early the morning after a game.
Whether I’ve played or not, it’s always hard to fall asleep after a game, and the alarm usually interrupts me in the middle of a dream. I’m convinced that I’m more tired after a game in which I don’t play than after 90+ minutes on the field.
I didn’t play in the United States women’s national team’s 3-3 draw in a friendly with Germany last Friday, but the focus and mental energy I expended watching and preparing in case I was called upon left me as drained as if I were participating in the end-to-end battle.
The morning after the game, my roommate, Crystal Dunn (a fellow North Carolina Tar Heel), and I rolled out of bed and headed to fill out our daily physical monitoring form. Every morning we track our hydration, resting heart rate, weight and how sore/tired we feel. The morning after the game my body was in good shape (although the players who didn’t play much did a short training session after, so I wasn’t completely fresh). All of my data was pretty typical but I indicated that I was “sleepy tired.”
After breakfast, we were on our own to do a recovery session. There was a gym available and a pool, as well as a yoga instructor who was brought in to lead a 30-minute practice. I usually take advantage of the yoga offered, but this time it was a bit different. The instructor was hilarious and did an offbeat (understatement) yoga session in which we tried all kinds of different handstand-type poses with the help of a partner. It wasn’t at all the relaxation and stretching that I was expecting, but mentally and emotionally it was absolutely perfect. I haven’t laughed that much in a long time, especially when the instructor demonstrated a pose with Kelley O’Hara that looked like something from the Kama Sutra. …
After lunch it was time to pack and load up the bus for the drive to Den Haag for our second friendly of this trip. Paul Rogers, the goalkeeper coach, was nice enough to make a Dunkin’ Donuts (who knew they had one in Frankfurt, Germany) run for the team. The bus ride was awesome for about 10 minutes while we scarfed down our donuts, but the fun didn’t last long. We were told the ride would be four-and-a-half hours. A little more than six hours later, we pulled up at our hotel.
The first order of business was to get into our rooms, but almost more important was how to access the WiFi. On the road, WiFi is the only way most of us can be in touch with the outside world. So it is a valuable commodity on trips abroad.
After a long day of travel, we were finally able to have some dinner, get our feet up, and relax. We will face the Netherlands on April 9 and then hit the road once more to rejoin our club teams. Life on the field with the national team is intense, but the days in between are full of laughs, spending time with teammates, and sometimes (on a good day) donuts!