Sunday, September 29, 2019

Nearing the end of my second full week in Colorado and so far I couldn't be more smitten with this place. While the majority of my time has been spent taking pictures of the foliage as I cruise on the lake or jaunt through the trails, the training has been going well and I feel like I have made progress especially in this second week. I was pretty cautious during the first week about going up in altitude too quickly and overdoing it before I was ready. I paid close attention to resting HR and HR variability and after I saw a clear shift in the numbers and my perceived exertion , I was able to turn the dial up a bit. 

I started the week hiking up Grays and Torreys—two fourteeners( >14,000ft) that can be clearly seen from Lake Dillon. I am told that the Frisco Rowing Center logo is comprised of the rising sun between the peaks of Grays and Torreys. Anyways, this was meant to be 120-180’ easy cross train but it ended up being very challenging for me. I think I attacked it somewhat irresponsibly and ended up paying for the early pace as I crested above 12,000 ft. When I got to the summit, I was greeted by a very cold wind that really made me regret wearing shorts. I spent just enough time to snap a few selfies, take a video, and then I bolted across the saddleback to the peak of Torreys. It’s only a 30 min hike or so across to the other peak, so its a very efficient way to knock off a couple of 14ers. 

The next day after the hike, I rowed an easy 18k in the morning on Lake Dillon and then rode my bike to Vail in back in the afternoon. The bike path starts in Frisco at 9,100 ft and then goes up and over Vail Pass( around 10.6k) and then drops down to 8,000 ft in Vail Village.  All in all it took about 150’. When I got home, I loaded up the car and headed down I-70 to Denver for a day at lower elevation. Down in Denver, the plan was to do a weights session in the morning and then rip off some pieces in the afternoon. With all of the easy rowing in the mountains, its crucial for me to make sure I am turning up the volume as high as it goes a couple times a week to remind myself what it feels like to go fast. Considering that Denver is still decently high( 5,400’), I am not quite able to hit the speeds I would at sea level, but the extra oxygen definitely helps to produce more power and push my heart rate near max. I completed 3 x 10’ at 22-28, packed up, and then drove back up to the mountains. 

The day after the pieces, I took advantage of an gorgeous day and ticked off 22k in the morning and then biked for 120’ in the afternoon. During the morning row, I don't think I saw another boat or a ripple of wind the entire time. I was focusing on being patient on the top 1/4 of the slide, letting the blade swim, and then really hang through my lats. Hanging with my lats is something that I am not sure I have ever truly been able to feel, but I have been trying my best to feel a stretch in my lats before I do anything. Slowly, that stretch has become more natural and as a result I feel like I am able to push from my legs better while the lats are truly engaged. My hope is that if I can take some of the tension out of my shoulders and keep it down low, I will be able to maintain speed better when fatigue sets in. 

This weekend I drove out to Steamboat Springs and did a few sessions with Pete Morelli at around 6,800 ft. After a good lift on Friday night, I tortured myself on the erg on Saturday morning. 2 x 6k is the worst workout even at sea level, but at almost 7,000 ft, it’s freaking torture. Sometimes during a piece at sea level, I will spend the first minute or so trying to get my breathing rhythm down and it can be pretty uncomfortable. But sooner or later, I always find a good rhythm and am able to relax. I experienced that discomfort for the entirety of the workout. 41 minutes of self imposed suffocation. I was going laughably slow compared to what I normally do, but I was very proud of myself for getting it done. I’m hoping that workouts like this will help make a 3 mile race at sea level not feel too bad. After the erg, Pete made me a quick smoothie and then we hit the roads on our bikes for a 100 min easy ride around Steamboat. Huge thanks to Pete and his wife Lib for putting me up! 

I’m now back in Frisco for the final few days of my camp out here. I am sure I am missing some great weather on the east coast, but honestly, I don't want to leave. This has been a dream trip and has met or exceeded my expectations in every way. I needed to have some time to reconnect with what brings me joy about this pursuit and make sure I am in the right head space moving into what will be my final year of training at the elite level. In some ways, my worst fears manifested themselves this year: first, having Ben choose not to row the 2x anymore, losing 1x Trials, and then really struggling to make sense of it all. After 2016, the only reason I wanted to continue training was to get it right this time around, to be prepared at 2019 Worlds to qualify the boat, to not leave it to the last chance regatta. So when Ben told me a week before 1x trials that he was going to sweep, that long term goal was shattered, and while I didn't want to show it, I was shattered too. I am proud of the way I gave everything I had to the quad this summer, even though it was not exactly where I wanted to be, but I knew when the summer came to a close, I needed to get away and really take a moment to reflect before I go again. I am so thankful I’ve had the opportunity to do just that in such a beautiful place. I can’t say for sure what my path will be going forward this year, I think I’ve learned my lesson about trying to control what can’t be controlled, but whatever opportunity presents itself, I am going to pursue it with everything this mind, body, and spirit can muster together. I’ve given a lot, but not everything, not yet. 

Thanks for reading. See everyone in Boston. JG. 

Here are a few pics from the last couple of weeks.


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