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.

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