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.













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.