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.













Tuesday, December 6, 2016

RP3 6k



This morning I did a 6k on the RP3 on the erg split setting. Never done one on the RP before but I thought this was a pretty solid piece.  I didn't think about the splits very much, I just rowed it like I was in the single. I will likely test again in January, but for now, off to Florida to do some real rowing.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

November



Its been a wonderfully lazy Sunday morning and I'm thankful to have the chance to sit down and write a little bit. The past three weeks have been successful in terms of volume and quality of training but as it stands now I am in a deep hole. My focus going into November and December was to bring intensity into the weight room and let the rest of the week form around that. Looking back, the work I have done in the weight room has been solid and I am happy with the progress. When I arrived here after the Head of the Charles, there was no question that I was lacking in absolute strength. The tell tale signs were mainly in my grip strength, range of motion in my lower back, and then just the embarrassingly low weights I was lifting. I knew that with consistent lifting and time, it would come back, but it was important to begin lifting heavy things asap. I got in touch with  Dave Gleeson and he got me on a lifting plan periodized for this year and beyond. The first week was a massive shock to my system. I was lifting both at a higher percentage of max and a higher volume of reps than I had been since I trained with him in 2012. It was refreshing to be doing the type of work that was clearly stimulating change in my body. However, that alone has not led me to the state of fatigue I am in currently in. Credit goes to the biweekly bouts with Gregg Hartstuff's Michigan Men's Team. Despite perhaps jeopardizing the physiological effects of the lifting, I felt like I needed to keep my racing edge alive, so I asked to be included in the teams pieces. Little did I know, I was biting off more than I could chew. The Michigan men share a space with the Boxing team in the upstairs of a building called the Coliseum. Maybe I am just projecting this but there has certainly been a gladiatorial and pugilistic feel to each round of pieces I have done with the team. This room gets to be at least 90 degrees and I typically lose around 6 lbs in sweat over the course of the workout. I have been going out at splits that I feel like I should be able to hold and then dying a miserable death. 2 x 6k is just... the worst. My max heart rate is around 188 and I have been hitting 185 about 2k into the first piece. For the remaining 10k, I sit close to max and watch my power output dwindle to embarrassingly slow numbers. I reason with myself that at least I am getting a good training effect because my HR is so high, but its hard not to feel worried and depressed leaving these workouts. I am impressed with the Michigan guys for never complaining about how hot it is, they just get it done. They could certainly be pulling faster numbers in a cooler room, but they just trust Gregg, do the work, and compete. Yes, its been miserable at times, but its been a lot of fun being around the energy of their team. I'm getting the toughness training I signed up for.
When I have erged in different locations on campus where the room temperature is 30-40 degrees cooler, I have been reassured that I am not quite as much of a mess of some of these pieces have suggested. The women's team has the privilege of doing their winter training in THE BIG HOUSE. The visitor's locker room to be precise. This space is nicely air conditioned and has large high powered fans evenly distributed throughout the space. In the world of sub max endurance, thermoregulation is king, and cooler rooms equal faster splits. It is equally dangerous to get excited about fast splits in a cold room as it is to get down on yourself for going slow in a hot room. I am remembering that no matter the circumstances to just do my best and not schmett the small stuff. 

ARM DAY!


Entrance to the BIG HOUSE.

Erging in the Future. (Above)2 x 50' @ 22 < 160 HR. (Below) 2 x 40' @ 22 <160 HR.




Last week we received an RP3 from Carlos Dinares. It has been fun playing around with the numbers and comparing it to how the single feels. So far, I have been really impressed with its likeness to on water rowing. The ability to focus on work per stroke instead of just speed is very useful. Sure you can do that yourself on any rowing machine, but the direct and precise feedback loop is so valuable. I would imagine using this for matching curves, stroke length, and especially the relative peak force would be a great tool for team boats. The change that has the greatest impact on my curve so far I has been keeping my left shoulder down and engaged. It's still not where I'd like it to be but I think its moving in the right direction. When I do a better job of pre-engaging my lats, my curve becomes smoother and any hitch is eliminated. Especially at race pace, I have a fairly significant hitch in the transition between the legs and the body that I'd like to fill out. Below is a clip of me rowing on the RP on Thursday.




video


video


Just as I am getting into thick of winter training here in Michigan, I am going to do the sensible thing and put my boat and oars on my car and drive south in search of warm weather and rowing! One of the perks of working remotely is being able to do things like this. I'll be doing some training with Ben Davison while he is home from Washington and I'm really looking forward to reuniting with him. I'm mostly excited to train with someone who is as excited to go to Chipotle for every meal as I am. Beginning Dec 26, I'll be rowing with the Michigan women's team during their winter camp in Orlando, then hopefully meeting up with the Women's 2x of Meg O' Leary and Ellen Tomek in Sarasota for a few days the following week. Before I leave for FL this week, I will be doing a 6k erg test. So its not all sunshine and sculling. I'll try to post from Florida with some rowing video. 











Sunday, November 6, 2016

Chapter 491: Ann Arbor

This is my first post from my new home in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Those close to me have probably known for a while that I have been planning to move to Ann Arbor with Felice, but I have tip toed around the topic on this blog for the last couple of months. It wasn't a huge secret that there would be some transition up at Craftsbury after this quadrennial and I think that is good and natural. For me specifically, in order for me to continue on with a clear mind, things just had to be a little different.

While Craftsbury is a wonderful set up to limit the burden on an aspiring elite athlete, there is still a financial burden, and I am no longer willing to rely solely on others to support me. I am not saying I'm leaving Craftsbury forever, but its really important to me to be financially independent and I want to take the time now to work, earn some money,  and be in the same place as Felice, while contuning to train. Although I am in a different place, nothing has changed about what gets me out of bed every day.

Since we lost in Lucerne in May, I have been exploring job opportunities and assessing what set up would be most effective for training. I gave some thought to rowing and working in Boston, especially after being inspired by Gevvie's result in Rio. Truthfully it wasn't until Felice said she was considering going back to school at Michigan that Ann Arbor came on my radar. We visited in the summer and I was in awe of the facilities, the feel of the town, and the wholesome feeling of being back in the midwest. I came back to Craftsbury after visiting and I felt excited about trying to make the move work. The big question mark however was how I was going to support myself. Searching and applying for jobs this summer and fall was a humbling experience. Pursuing the Olympic Team is cool to those who care about such things, but most employers just see a giant four year gap where you earned zero work experience. Needless to say, finding an employer that understands the delicate balance between work and training is very difficult. Enter John Chatzky. I met John for the first time while watching racing in Rio. I knew of him and he knew of me, mainly from his support of my two best friends and their company Foray. I told him about the last four years, our quad that missed qualifying, and how I felt like I had more to give this quadrennial but was struggling to support myself. Weeks went by, I got turned down from countless jobs, we stayed in touch, and then in mid October he offered me a position working for his Angel investment fund, Rowing Ventures LLC (www.rowingventuresllc.com).  He said he wanted to create a position that would offer me meaningful and engaging work that would pay the bills and also allow me still to pursue rowing with everything I had. The best part being that I could do it from anywhere, all I needed was my computer, my work ethic, and a lot of enthusiasm. I was thrilled. Since I started, I have really enjoyed it. My main responsibilities involve writing content for the website and other publications, designing logos and other artwork, along with soliciting and reviewing applications to the fund. In Rio, I told John I was going to win a medal in Tokyo and he was one of the few that didn't laugh at me right away. He smiled and said, " Lets make it happen". That's why I am enjoying working with him. He seems to understand that drive that I have and he wants to not only help support it, but make sure I have something on my resume for life after rowing.

Right after the Head of the Charles weekend, I left for Ann Arbor. Upon arrival, both the women's coach Mark Rothstein and the men's coach Gregg Hartstuff were incredibly welcoming to me and offered to help however they can. Gregg's team is notorious for working extremely hard indoors through the winter and I am very excited to have a group like that to spar with on the erg. Wes Vear, a new member of the GRP and former Michigan rower joked with me that we are trading places for good reason. He needs to learn how to scull and I need to learn how to pull harder than I ever thought possible. He assured me Gregg could help with that. There will still be opportunity to cross country ski and I plan to incorporate it here and there, but I am planning on spending most of my time lifting heavy things, erging, and eating.  Understanding more completely the way the quadrennial works, its the right time to unequivocally work my ass off and be very tired. I was told recently, " ...your training has just been putting icing on your cake time and time again. You have tasty icing, but your cake sucks. You need to take the time to bake the cake. Then you will have made a real cake. " Hahaha, I loved that. The main takeaway there is to take the time while I have it to really train properly. It's not to say I don't want to be fast this year, of course I do. Every year is important. But I am not willing to sacrifice my speed in 2019-2020 just to be fast over the next couple of years. Now is the time to go back into the studio and write a new album. Olympic Qualification in 2019 and Tokyo 2020 are the concerts that I'm aiming for.

No doubt I was sad to not race this weekend at Fall Speed Orders in Princeton. I had only planned to race the Charles this Fall, but watching the results roll in this weekend I was reminded of how much I enjoyed coming down to Princeton and racing with all the other scullers. I remember Coach Roock always thought it was important for us to show up to make an event out of it and help to raise the standard through competition. For that reason, I was really happy to see so many people entered this weekend and for guys like Justin Keen and Greg Ansolabehere to lay down really fast pieces. Its clear the guys training in Philly like Justin, Erik, Lenny, JP, etc, have a really good thing going. I will need to be sharp to keep up with those guys.


Oh yeah. The Charles!

A lot of people have congratulated me on a solid showing and I wouldn't totally disagree with that, but I look back at it with mixed emotions. Starting first, I had a wonderful advantage to carve my own line and just race my own race. Very quickly, in fact, as quickly as possible, I struggled. As anyone knows who rowed on Saturday evening, there was a pretty gnarly cross headwind in the basin and on the magazine beach turn. As I built through the line, I was just focusing on rowing long, clean, and composed. But it seemed like immediately I was pointed to my port side and in danger of going off course. I quickly corrected and snuck under BU bridge, only to go too close to the buoys and miss the second possible buoy on the turn. I saw it before I missed it, corrected as hard as I could, and still missed it. Haha. I think I literally laughed because I knew I had probably just lost the race for myself. I distinctly remember having the thought " I can't beat Kjetil and Damir with a buoy penalty." Regardless, I tried to regain my composure and just row my rhythm.  It was hard not to notice that Damir was coming up quickly and I hadn't helped things by rowing like a butthead for the first few minutes. By the time I got to Weeks bridge, Damir had pulled to about a length of open behind me. We came around the turn together and I held that margin until Weld Boathouse. Everything up to this point was sloppy and lukewarm. Everything after this point, I am extremely proud of.  As we passed Newell boathouse, I felt Damir continuing to close the gap, so I decided to go to 32 spm and hold him off as long as possible. My boat lightened up and I began to move away little from Damir. As we came to the buoy line on the Cambridge turn, I could tell Damir was getting antsy to pass me, so I went again. I thought about just holding him off another 20 strokes, then another 10 strokes, then another 10, until finally I turned and saw Eliot bridge. I livened up again, put my bow ball on the corner of the Belmont Hill dock and went. What had started as just a last ditch effort to hold him off turned into a long range cruise missile to the finish line. As I passed under the bridge I could hear the echoes of friends yelling on the bridge. When I came out into the light again I gave a yell and I could feel myself moving away from Damir. What I couldn't see was Kjetil moving up on both of us.

After we crossed the line and had caught our breath , it was cool talking to Damir and hearing the Olympic silver medalist tell me " You have great last 2k!" No doubt part of being able to hold him off was the fact that A. he went out too hard early B. He's not in his best shape. Although, neither am I. At the end of the day, it really doesn't matter, It was an amazing experience getting to compete with him for 18 and a half minutes! Now the goal is to be able to hold him off for 7 min.

The yell. 






ITS EVERY DAY!!


Argo Pond.

Tokyo 1964 poster in our apartment.