Thursday, June 15, 2017

Hanging out on an afternoon off and am feeling like writing for the first time in a while. I think part of my lack of motivation to write recently has had a lot to do with how much I have been moving around. After I returned from Belgrade, I spent a little bit of time back in Ann Arbor, then Craftsbury for a couple weeks, and now I am in Princeton getting ready to go across the pond to Henley next week. I finished racing in Belgrade feeling tired but very energized to get back to work in the US. I felt confident in the way I was rowing and with the speed I was producing given my training leading up to the racing, but before I could get back to work, I was fighting a severe fever and migraines. I spent the next week at home feeling miserable and it took me almost two weeks to get back to feeling normal in training again. Spending two weeks in Craftsbury was crucial to me regenerating and getting back on track. I then transitioned down to Princeton to join the Training Center group that was also preparing for Henley. When Teti arrived last week, he nixed the guys' Henley trip, but I have still been able to get some good work in with the pairs that were not boated in the eights. Teti has drastically changed things here and I have to say, I think its great. I have mixed in every now and then rowing both in the eight and the four on some steady state rows and I have enjoyed the simplicity and clarity of his message and technique. He has a very good sense of what is important and what is not, and more specifically, what is important to making an eight fast and what is not. There are definitely some guys that are experiencing some growing pains with the change of leadership, but that is natural. I am definitely still committed to the 2x with Ben but I also want to keep my options open and find myself wanting to buy in to what Teti is selling. The allure probably has a lot to do with contrast to training on my own and doing so much on my own. Showing up to practice, hopping in the bow seat of an 8, and just going to work is wonderfully simple. There seems to be this clear on and off switch right now for me that has very rarely existed in my training when I am on my own or feeling like I have a stake in making the training plan or helping coach the boat. The ability to just turn the focus up all the way for 90 minutes and lean and absorb what the coach is saying, then shut it off. The coach can think about what he wants us to do at practice--not me. I'll just rest. Obviously, it would be wrong for me to say that I don't enjoy, in some extent, thinking about what I want to do at practice and controlling that. There is certainly great value in taking ownership of your training and your results. Anyone who has read this blog would know that I truly value that type of self-reliance, but I guess I am simply asking, at what point is it counter productive? At what point am I not being the best athlete I can be. I am not trying to be the best athlete/physiologist/coach/logistics coordinator. If I truly want to be the best athlete version of myself, it feels like this set up is ideal for that, but who knows. I believe Ben and I can be an A finalist M2x and could challenge for medals this year,  I really do. But I have to say, sculling and organizing everything with no support from USRowing feels like fighting to stay awake when you're really tired and sweeping at the Training Center feels like giving in and just falling asleep. Sometimes I just wonder why I am trying to stay awake so badly, It would feel really nice to just doze off and get some rest.

But for now, the focus is on the Diamonds at Henley. This has been my number one goal from the onset of this year and if I'm totally honest, probably since I saw Jamie Koven win the Diamonds in 1998. I was 9 years old walking on the banks of the Thames with my brothers wreaking havoc and watching the boats go by. Our Dad had told us about Jamie Koven, World Champ in 97, and I thought Jamie Koven was as cool as Michael Jordan. I have always wanted to come back and win the Diamonds. I have competed in it twice, the last time being in 2013 when I lost in the Semifinal to Alan Campbell by 2 lengths. I am eager to improve upon that showing. The entries came out today and the top names include Robbie Manson from NZL and Cam Girdlestone from AUS, among many other talented guys. Obviously these are top caliber scullers but I do not feel scared to get on the plane. I am going over there with loads of respect for them and all the other competitors but all the confidence in the world in myself.  Belgrade showed me that I have as much raw speed as anyone and I am excited to use a couple new tricks to allocate it better over the course. I felt like my biggest limiting factors at WC1 were poor pacing and not having enough belief in myself that I could hold anyone off in the last 500. I hadn't spent enough time in training visualizing crossing the line first, not just being competitive. I have thought about Mahe a lot. Many call him self centered and egotistical but his confidence is his greatest tool in his racing. He has the strongest belief on the course that he will cross that line first, no matter what. Yes, he goes 5:40 and is an absolute machine, but that alone does not make you as consistently dominant as he has been. All those heats, semis, and finals over all of those years. The only way you can produce time after time is with a rock solid belief in yourself, an unbreakable confidence. When analyzing how I raced in Belgrade, thats where I saw the biggest room for improvement. If I am a length up at the 1500m mark, no matter who I am racing, the only reason I lose that race is if my belief in myself is not strong enough. In Belgrade, I thought, " I am length up on Aleksandrov, but he's stronger than me, so he will probably come back on me". And thats bullshit.  I've been told for so long by people that I am not strong enough to be a top sculler, that my erg score isn't good enough. I block the majority of that out and don't listen, but even if I let 5 % of that in, over time that adds up and you begin to believe it. When things are going well those thoughts don't come up, but its when you are in the 6th or 7th minute and you are in real pain, thats when that 5% I let in comes to the forefront of my conscience. After having those thoughts in Belgrade it occurred to me that the only thing holding me back from being up there with the best is allowing those thoughts in my head. So I've been working on bringing the Mahe mentality into the second K of my race. I've been working on introducing a Damir belief into my last 500. But it also can't be totally plagiarized, it has to be my own, and it needs to be authentic. I've written on this blog before that " I am as strong as I believe I am". I have never thought that to be more true than now, I am just not sure I truly bought into it they way I do now when I wrote it last.

Also, the website The Frynge is running a campaign on my behalf over the next couple of weeks. 10% of every purchase made on the website will go directly to helping me fund my season. They have some cool stuff on there so check it out. Here is a link to an article they published a couple days ago about last year's experience in the quad. Thanks a lot!

Point Seven From Rio




The Hosmer was a little angry when I first arrived, but she finally calmed down.






Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Great video on polarized training with extensive research done on Norwegian xc skiers and rowers:

http://fasterskier.com/fsarticle/nordic-nation-stephen-seiler-training-intensity/


Saturday, May 6, 2017

Really tough day here in Belgrade. I have been feeling great so far and was very eager to have a crack at the A Final this afternoon, but it just wasn't it the cards. Due to weather, the Rep was moved from yesterday afternoon to this morning, and so I had to race the Rep and the Semi over the course of 5 hours. Plenty of analysis to unload when its all over, but for now I have one more opportunity to show what I can do. I race the B Final tomorrow at 10 am local time. It's a packed B Final and should be a great test. While I am bummed to not have made the A Final this go around, I am more confident than ever that I have the speed to be there and trade blows with the best. While this afternoon's semi was an incredibly painful experience, I don't have any doubts about my effort, mental game, or capabilities. Everything was there, everything was firing... except my Legs. They felt like they had concrete in them. I just flat out was too tired to compete with those guys today. So, now I rest, eat a bunch of food, and come back even harder tomorrow. No doubt, just more work ahead. Thanks for all the support.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

If there's anyone out there that is still interested in this blog, thanks for your patience over the last couple of months. I guess I just felt like it would be better to wait until after this race for a big update. This was not quite like Steph Curry deleting all of the apps off of his phone or LeBron not using social media during the Playoffs, but I didn't want to create much of a stir before this race by writing about how training has been going and what I plan to do after. I just wanted to prepare well, race hard, and execute, without any distractions. That was slightly affected by the article Row2k published about Ben Davison and I between the Heats and the Semifinals this week: Bound by Shared Olympic Dreams. In fact, that was exactly the type of buzz I didn't want to create at the time. Everything in that article is true, it was just not ideal timing for either of us. But I guess, in a way, it was good to make our intentions known. The interesting detail about choosing to pursue the 2x with Ben is that the majority of my time will still be spent training and racing in the 1x. He will be in school until the summer of 2019, so I will have to truly enjoy life in the single while still maintaining a longterm focus in the 2x. This week racing at the first domestic race of the new quadrennial was a great way to start things off. Given the way the year is laid out, with late Trials and late Worlds, I had planned on racing the first World Cup in early May. The goal was to use the Speed Order and WC1 as a mini competition phase before getting back to training. So back in late March, I petitioned to go to WC1 under the condition that I won the Speed Order. I knew that if I could manage racing well in Princeton, I could have a shot at a great performance in Belgrade. However, that is a big IF. In the past, I have showed up to NSR's and Speed Orders very well prepared and tapered, determined to put down my very best racing. Learning how to do that is vital, but there is certainly a cost. A huge mental, emotional, and physical cost comes from truly pouring everything into a four day regatta or even just one race for that matter. A great example of this was last year at Olympic Trials in the M4x. We had a Final only and the race was not even close, but because of the stress of the buildup and the incredible weight lifted off our shoulders by getting through that race, all four of us got sick after the race. We were miserable for at least a week and I have to believe that affected our performance in some degree at the Final Qualification Regatta in Lucerne. As a I planned this year and looked at what I could improve upon, this was a huge focus. If the goal is truly World Cup performance or World Championship performance and not just to perform at NSR's and Trials, then my training and approach would have to shift. In the last few months, my main focus has been 2 x 6k speed, strength in the weight room, and 4 x 2k @ 24.  My 2 x 6k improved 1.5 splits on the C2 since last Fall and I'm hoping that by improving this system, I will be able to get through a 3-4 day regatta without burning the candle too low. Especially at Worlds in 2015, it occurred to me that we were just not able to repeat our speed in the same way other crews were able to. We could hang with the A finalists in the Heats and then gradually drop off throughout a regatta. So it definitely took a leap of faith to come into the Speed Order with minimal race prep, but as Gregg Stone reminded me, " Thats what Time Trials and Heats are for!" Despite some tough headwind conditions, I really enjoyed racing again last week, and I feel ready to go lay down some great racing in Belgrade. I am training in Princeton this week with the men's team and then flying out of Newark on Sunday. Carlos Dinares will be meeting me over there and helping me throughout the week. This week I am putting in a normal week or training with modest mileage and 3 x 2k on Wednesday with the sweep group. I saw the entries for the M1x at World Cup 1 this morning but it looks like they took them off the website. They will definitely be released tomorrow. It is a pretty stacked field especially for the first world cup of the post olympic year. There are 21 entries including Damir Martin, Martin Sinkovic, Angel F. Rodriguez, Aleksandr Aleksandrov, and many other proven scullers. I couldn't be more excited to go up against a quality field and see what I can do. While its a lot of fun to get caught up in who will be in the lane next to me, I will need to stay focused and just maximize my speed in my lane; after all, I have the experience to know how hot the pace will be and I have been preparing all year to handle the heat. That being said, this field is full of Olympians who will be at various stages of returning to training, so it will be important not to take too much stock in the results, good or bad, and use everything as preparation.

After I get back from Belgrade, I will be waiting a few weeks for Ben to finish up racing with Washington, and then we will get to work in the 2x. If Washington goes to Henley, I will go and race the single at Henley and then return back with Ben to prepare for Trials. I'll try to keep writing while I'm in Belgrade. Back in October, I wrote about racing Damir Martin at HOCR and how the goal now is to race him toe to toe for 2k. Well, here it goes. Thanks for all the support.

Go Green, Go Blue!







Monday, March 20, 2017

A couple more vids:

1. 18 spm into a headwind, working on flow and sequencing.
Headwind SS


2. Base pace, working on hanging off the legs better and coming out square--thinking a lot about Xeno right now.
Base pace

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Spent the last week training in Oak Ridge and am now down in Sarasota for the week. Here is some video from this morning. Didn't miss that Sarasota crosswind! Sorry for such a long hiatus. I really just haven't found the time to sit down and write recently. Hopefully this week I'll have a chance to gather my thoughts on the last month and what lies ahead. But to sum it up quickly, its been strange. I woke up this morning thinking Trials were 5 weeks away and I am going to bed thinking they are 5 months away! Just give me a date, I'll be ready.

3/8 Sarasota


Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Jan 2017


When I walked through our apartment door after twenty hours in the car driving back from Florida, I didn't expect to feel the profound sense of comfort that came over me. I couldn't quite put a finger on it at the time, but for the last few months I had been missing "home", a concept that gets more and more fluid as you get older.  I dropped my bags, looked around at the combination of Felice's and my stuff all around the apartment, and felt so happy that we created this space together. When I left Ann Arbor in early December, I felt like I was just leaving a place that I had been living in for a month or   so, but something about the act of coming back turned this apartment into home.  

The impetus for my departure three weeks ago was to go check in on how I was sculling and make sure that when I returned to land training in January and February that I had a clear idea in my mind of how I am trying to row. Truthfully, I have not felt sharp in the single for quite some time. I hadn't rowed twice in a day since June of last year. I had trained twice a day, sure, but I have been skimping on the attention to detail in my sculling pretty much since we lost at the Qualification Regatta. I don't regret that, I think it was healthy to dial the focus back and give my mind a break. There is certainly a cost though. It made me appreciate just how in tune I had gotten to the nuances of the stroke and how I had learned to create speed without necessarily creating more power. Achieving this feeling in the boat is what brings me and so many of us back for more. Throughout the Fall, I was rowing decently and moving OK but all of the speed I was producing was taxing. I was unable to tap into rhythm that could sustain itself. So before I locked in for a formidable period of winter training, I wanted to go someplace warm, find my swing, and take notes. I am confident that I am going to emerge from the winter watts factory that is Ann Arbor stronger and fitter than I arrived, but that will mean nothing if I am putting it into the wrong framework. 

I spent the first week in Sarasota, home of the 2017 World Championships. After spending so much time in Florida last year, it was emotional driving into the empty boat park and rigging up where we rigged the 4x so many times. We came over probably four or five different times from Canal 54 to do pieces with College 8's during February and March leading into Olympic Trials. I spent the first couple days as the only one out there but then was joined by sculling prodigy Ben Davison! Ben rolled in, got out of his car, and we both looked at each other, smiled, and I said, " Hey man. Ben and Pete are late." Ben said, " Typical!" It was superficially light hearted but I think we were both joking with a lump in our throats. To think of all of the resources and effort that was put into last year and then to be standing with Ben in Sarasota with no one else around, having not made the Olympics together, it was a little sad. I thought Dick and Judy, Troy, Larry, and how special and meaningful it was to all of us that they and so many others wanted to be a part of this journey. I thought of the piece of artwork I gave Larry before our Final at Olympic Trials and remembered how he rekindled my belief in the Process. 



But very quickly that moment of relfection was gone and Ben and I were side by side in singles between the buoys, right where we should be. We ticked off 18k together, got some burritos, and then came back a couple hours later and launched in the 2x. Ben and I had rowed the double many times last year over the course of our training in the quad but it occurred to me minutes before we launched that I hadn't rowed in a team boat for an embarrassingly long time. I felt like I was moving the single well but I was apprehensive that I may have forgetten how to match. That sounds incredibly stupid once I write it out, but hey, I was just scared I might suck at rowing a double! Like the NBA Stars after the MONSTARS steal their talent in Space Jam. That sort of thing. We hopped in, adjusted our feet, and took it off arms only. Then back, quarter slide, and out to half. Oh yeah. I know this. From stroke one it was clean and crisp at both ends, smooth on the drive, and matched in the way only two people who know the same stroke could be. The lesson here is that while fitness comes and goes, the miles that we put in together last year just don't go away. We proceeded to cruise up and down the course rowing the double just like the quad-- loose at the front, gently locking onto the same patch of water together, and then slinging the boat past that point. Relaxed length and suspension all day. This row is more evidence to support why boats, especially sculling boats like the double and quad benefit from athletes sticking together and rowing together for multiple quadrennials. See: German men's and women's quads and many others. 

The next day, Ben and I lined up against each other in singles for 4 x 2k on 5 min rest at 22-28 spm. Once again, we were alone on the water and it felt poetic for us to be out on the World Championship course ripping each others heads off without an audience. I don't want to go into too much detail about these pieces but I'll just say that we both won two. Ben won the first and third, I won the second and fourth. Neither of us like losing, but I think we both recognized that it was really high level racing and great training. On the pieces I lost, I wasn't upset, it was more of a feeling of " Ok, wow, I just had a really good piece and you beat me. Now lets see if you want to follow me down a couple more splits." Ben is great motivation for me to keep pushing for more speed. If I don't, it's only a matter of time before he's taking all four pieces. In other words, adapt or die! The double with Ben is a real option but obviously his school and commitment to Washington come first right now. For now and regardless of the plan, the best thing both of us can do is to continue to get fast in the single and on the erg. This mini camp showed us that we are still on the same page technically and that if the fitness is there then we can produce a lot of speed. We both agreed that we are not interested in waiting till 2019 to get our shit together. If we learned one thing from last year and from the crews that succeeded in Rio, it's that preparation is king and that making a plan early and committing to that plan is key. The best examples being Gevvie and Andrew and Josh. All that being said, it's important to note that its very early, our governing body is still figuring out how best to proceed, and Ben and I are not the only people out there training hard. I have lofty goals for this year and this quadrennial but so do many others and I am constantly reminding myself to rid my pursuit of any self-importance and approach this next set of challenges with patience and humility. It is difficult, however, to stay patient when there is a corporeal fury in me every time I hit the water or even think about getting the chance to race again. Maybe that fury comes directly from not making the team last summer or just wanting to prove myself in the upcoming quadrennial, but I would say much of this energy was sparked by one particular message I received a few days after we heard about the Russian doping disqualification this summer.  Nils Jakob Hoff (Norwegian 4x this summer and M2x that won Worlds in 2013) messaged my brother Peter and I and wrote, " If Rio is off, the work you did this year will pay off next season, I promise you. If you guys can use this energy as positive fuel for the coming winter, there will be amazing opportunities on the other end...if not, then what you did in that the quad, the quality of that rowing, is still world class..you know it, I know it, but if you want that medal to show for it, you'll just have to do another push. My heart is with you guys and right now it hurts, but no matter what happens, whichever road you choose, this is not the end...it's the beginning!" That has stuck with me. The female rowers of the world call him "Norwegian Fabio", but I am very lucky to call him a good friend. 




Ben and I cruising in Sarasota. 
Double thumbs up.


After spending Christmas with my family, I met up with the Michigan women's team down in Orlando and set up camp on Lake Pickett. Apart from training, I was responsible for grocery shopping for the team of forty. By the end of the trip I had it figured out for the most part, but I was definitely on a pretty steep learning curve. On the first day, I misjudged the portions to a large degree and I felt like I quickly got on the girls' shit list!  Honestly, if I were in their shoes and some guy didn't buy enough food I, too, would be upset. So, the next day I went all out and attempted to win their hearts back with a bounty of Nutella, fruit snacks, Snack Packs, and Tostitos(Hint of Lime, obviously). As quickly as the sugar triggered the dopamine release from their brains, I was back in their good graces and I gotta say, it felt great. 

Publix customer service is top notch. 


The majority of my time on the water in Orlando was spent doing drills and putting in easy miles, but I did come up for air a couple of times to stay in touch with speed. On New Year's Eve, I finished off 2016 with a 2k Time Trial. I was hoping to do it side by side with the Michigan Novice 8, but they had other plans and I ended up doing it alone. I was not totally unhappy with it but it felt fairly lukewarm. At the time it felt like I was passive during the piece and didn't push or go faster when I needed to, but looking back I think that is just a common and obvious symptom of doing a 2k in the middle of the winter without any speed work leading into it. A couple days later, I jumped in against the Michigan women's varsity 8's for a 250 on/250 off workout. This was incredibly fun for me and brought a playfulness to my rowing that I haven't had in a while and that is very difficult to have when training on your own. Being a part of a team environment is what can make high performance really enjoyable and sustainable. I appreciated the coaches letting me tag along and am excited to race these girls more this spring.

UCF Boathouse on Lake Pickett. 

Now that I am back in Michigan, I will be putting focus back to getting stronger in the weight room and doing biweekly erg pieces with the Men's Team. At the end of the month, I will be going out to Lake Samish to train with Carlos for a week in Bellingham. I have never been to the Pacific Northwest or been coached by Carlos before so I'll go out there with an open mind and see what I can learn. Thanks for reading and happy 2017!


Back in Ann Arbor. 


Kjetil and Nils. 2013 World Champs in M2x. 

Finish Tower going up in Sarasota.