At the halfway point of the Pre Trials Camp in Austin. Here’s a little video of the training over the last couple of months. Enjoy.
Wednesday, November 11, 2020
This summer, I waited for a moment when the fog would lift and I would be excited again about training and racing. I waited and waited and it never came. Only after some very difficult gut check moments, was I faced with a choice: either I let go of the past, let go of the disappointment, and commit to bringing quality to the moment, or it's time to move on. The video below is a reflection of the decision I made and the focused enthusiasm that has ensued.
Brings to mind a quote. It's been attributed to many people, so not sure who to give credit:
"Success is not an act of spontaneous combustion. You must set yourself on fire."
I'll be in Ann Arbor hanging with Felice for the next couple weeks and then our group will be shifting back down to Austin, TX to, once again, prepare for Olympic 1x Trials. Still plenty of uncertainty, but we are going full speed ahead with clear eyes about what could happen if the pandemic accelerates again.
Here is the link to the video. Enjoy.
Sunday, April 26, 2020
We came in, loaded the boats, and joined the UT team for a farewell taco party that the coaches had arranged for us. At this point, there were some rumblings about how the outbreak might affect the NCAA season, but nothing major. As I enjoyed a breakfast taco with Dave O'Neill, I made sure I was out of earshot of any of the athletes before I told him what was on my mind. " Hey, what are the chances NCAA's get affected? " He responded quietly, " I'd say it's very likely." I took that as it might get moved or postponed but I definitely did not anticipate how much our lives were about to change.
As the party was winding down, we took a moment to share some stories and say goodbye to the team and the coaches. Without knowing what lie ahead, I remember feeling the gravity of the moment and how sad I was to leave. This had been a special camp for me and the boathouse had begun to feel like home. No matter how tired I was walking to the boathouse at 6 am, when I walked through that boat bay and heard the music blaring, it all faded away. That energy lifted everyone up and made it fun to push to the edge and hold it there. Whether it was holding a plank or racing five boats across, Dave taught us that when you think you can't go anymore, that's just where the fun begins. I knew I would miss these mornings, but given how the last few weeks have unfolded, I have developed such a strong nostalgia for our time in Austin. The last section of track before the train was derailed.
It's now been a month since I last rowed in my single and most of that time has been spent trying to make sense of this situation. As Trials and the Qualifier approached, I felt myself nearing the end of this journey and I was pouring it on in a way you only can when the finish line is near. It was a bittersweet feeling to know that I was doing it better than I ever had and also that this was my final opportunity. But this was how I wanted it to end--at my very best. Olympics or not, this journey has always been about finding just how much speed I could squeeze out of this mind, body, and spirit, and leaving no stone unturned in that pursuit. And the only way to truly to get everything out of yourself is to free yourself of a safety net and go after your goal without the possibility of another chance. So, it has been quite challenging to shift gears from being two days away from Trials and being ready to culminate physically, mentally, and emotionally to possibly waiting a full year to get another shot. But when I start to feel like this season has been completely lost, I am reminded of what I told the Texas team after NCAA's were cancelled:
" It may seem like with the end of your season all of your work is erased, but remember that energy cannot be created or destroyed. Only transferred. What you have is special, it's real, and it's valuable in whatever you choose to do in rowing or beyond. So, take a moment to be sad, but then get back to work, because whether it's in rowing or life, the world needs more people like you who know how to stay tough in the third 500."
It's remarkable how quickly those words came to me back in March and how difficult it has been for me to arrive back at this perspective after coping with the loss of my own season. Man, John in early March 2020 was a wise dude! I think the reality is that it's just easier said than done. Alas, I'm trying to stay patient and available for the next opportunity, whatever and whenever that may be. Thanks for reading and hope everyone is staying safe.
|Photo: Scott Del Vecchio|
Saturday, February 22, 2020
Tuesday, November 19, 2019
I am proud of the initiative and responsibility I took this Fall in charting a new course of action for myself. I spent the last year seeing limitations and ceilings to what can be achieved and now I find myself rejuvenated to the point where I am not phased by the difficult task ahead. I just see opportunity. There is no space for doubt. I am confident in the plan I have in place, the support I have around me, and am not wasting any time getting to work.
117 days until Olympic M1x Trials
179 days until the Final Olympic Qualification Regatta
248 days until the Olympic Games
|A card I made for my Dad on Christmas 2016.|
Sunday, September 29, 2019
Wednesday, September 18, 2019
I am out here for the next two weeks rowing on Lake Dillon and cross training in the mountains. This was a camp that we had planned for Ben and I in the 2x, but since that's no longer an option, I figured I would come out anyways and enjoy a change of scenery. I am being hosted by Mark "Stormy" Stormberg who has set me up with everything I need to have a productive camp including boat and oars in both training locations. I am doing all of my low intensity volume up here in Frisco( 9,000ft) and then shifting down to Sloan's Lake in Denver(5,400 ft) for higher intensity sessions and weights. I am just getting back into training after a couple weeks off after Worlds, so I am easing back into it by only rowing in the mornings and then biking, running, or hiking in the afternoons. The mountain biking and trail running around here is incredible and the time just disappears. Obviously, it's pretty challenging to breathe and it's definitely easy to overdo it at such high elevation, so I am having to be very careful about my exertion and meticulous about my recovery. But so far, so good.
More to come, but for now, time to get back out there.
|Bike trails through Breckenridge|
Friday, July 26, 2019
It's important to note just how raw this lineup was when we raced in Poland. I was fully aware of where we were in the process and accordingly, I had tempered expectations. It was so important to get those hard strokes in together on a FISA course, against the top boats, and to make mistakes. Knowing how long it can take to form an identity and a unified way of operating in the quad, I did not expect us to be even close to our potential on the first trip out. We had some moments where we were holding the best crews in the world and we had moments where we were catching diggers. Such is the reality of a crew that had been together for two weeks. No sweat. Try, learn, adjust, try again, repeat. We did something better every time we hit the water and that's all you can ask for. In the B Final we got sprint through in the last 250 by the Lithuanians, three of whom were World Champions in 2017, and have a notoriously potent sprint. Sean was upset we got sprint through, some of the guys were discouraged. I looked over at Rolandas Mascinskas, World Champion in the 4x, many time medalist in the M2x, and gave him the thumbs up. To me, it was hilarious that we almost beat them considering we were in the infant stages of our development. The challenge would be to bottle those lessons, take them home with us, and put them into action. There is huge upside to this crew but only if we bring purpose to our training every day.
Upon our return home, we wasted no time applying changes. The first change we made putting Mike in stroke seat. It is a testament to Greg's lack of ego and strength as a teammate that this was an easy transition. All he wanted was to help the boat improve and if that was in two seat then great. From my perspective, this switch really freed up the boat in a lot of ways and gave us some flexibility both off the start and in the sprint that we had been missing. We probably could have cultivated it eventually with the other lineup but sometimes there is a simple and quick solution and we were fortunate enough to find it quickly. Don't get me wrong, there was still plenty to be desired from a technical standpoint but I felt like this was a very positive change. We did not get much chance to test the new lineup at race pace before Trials but after our first 250 in the Final, it was clear to me that we had made a step forward. Mike led an explosive opening minute and we were able to find relaxed base pace rhythm for the rest of the piece to punch our tickets to World Championships. This was a solid no drama execution that felt significant to me and made me excited for the coming weeks of preparation.
A couple hours after our win at Trials, I threw my single on my car and drove out to Cincinnati for Nationals. Due to my poor finish at 1x Trials in April, I had not secured a spot in the Lotman Challenge for 2019. Winning the 1x at Nationals would be my last opportunity to get in. In theory, it sounded pretty fun to take a few days away from the quad and get back in the 1x. The reality was that I hadn't rowed the 1x since April and it was pretty rusty! I wasn't able to get a practice in before the Time Trial but was able to use each race to prepare for the Final. In the Final, I got out to a good lead early, but definitely was spinning my wheels and ended up going pretty slow in what were near perfect conditions. I was pleased to get the win and shouldn't take that for granted, but it definitely reminded me that speed in the single is not just automatic and that I will need to put substantial time in it this fall to get back up to pace. The good news is I am back in the Lotman but based on the standings, I will need a great performance at HOCR in order to get into the top 4 in points.
Since Nationals, we have been working hard in Philly and enduring some brutal training in the heat. Despite our bodies being in a pretty big hole, the boat continues to shed inefficiencies and inconsistencies. There are three large engines in front of me and I am using every faculty I have to channel it all into positive boat speed. It is a real credit to the guys that they have bought in to how we are trying to row and have allowed me to be the maestro in bow. There is a positive dialogue in the boat and it feels to me like they know I am not talking at them or down to them, I am just doing everything in my power to bring this boat together. I am using every ounce of experience I have to fast track this boat to the standard we are shooting for. I am thankful for their trust and for their willingness to buy in. Since beginning to row with these guys a couple months ago, I have constantly tried to bring the focus away from just rowing and doing mileage for the sake of volume, and rather focusing on the quality of those miles. It's fine to do 20k, but unless there is purpose to it, it's somewhat folly. Even when we are continuous I have tried to bring a specific focus or additional challenge to everything we do. Perfect matching, perfect bladework, and always imagining we are at race pace. The steady state splits only matter if they are achieved the correct way. Only when we can hit the target speeds without working will they be relevant. Leaving no stone unturned and trying to get absolutely everything out of a boat is what excites and motivates me and I feel thankful to be in a boat where everyone is onboard with that concept. We have a short timeline to World Champs, but I am eager to see just how much we can push it in the next few weeks.
More to come, but for now I need to jump in the car and cruise on up to Ithaca. Go USA.
Saturday, June 15, 2019
It's been a while and I am sorry for that. I wrote something substantial but I decided it wouldn't do any good for me to post it. A lot has happened in the last 8 months since I last posted and the journey has been laden with unexpected turns and blows. There have been highs, breakthrough moments, and PR's as well, but they are not the reason I haven't posted since October. It is important that I do not forget my experiences; after all, without memory there is no learning. But it is also vital that I move on and embrace the moment that I have right now. I am sorry that I won't share everything with you, maybe someday, but for now I just want you to know that I am leaving for World Cup 2 tomorrow and am excited by this new challenge in the quad.
We fly out tomorrow night and will begin racing Friday. There are 12 entries in the M4x and a few notable absences, but we will still have a great opportunity to test our speed and inform our training going forward to qualification later this summer.
Saturday, October 13, 2018
On Wednesday afternoon, the wind was swirly and it was unclear what kind of conditions we were going to be dealing with. As we paddled to the start, we saw the LM2x quarterfinals coming down and we could immediately tell that something was up. There were huge margins and every boat in the inside lane was winning. A cross headwind was building and as we took some warm up strokes into the headwind we began to realize that this was going to be a messy and slow race. Still, Ben and I both felt really good and confident. In the headwind, we would focus on holding the feather slightly, slotting the blade, and having a broader power application. As we pulled into the starting area, we were informed that the lanes were being shifted to the other side of the course and there would be a 20 min delay. We stayed loose, took a couple more short warm up loops and by the time we got back down to the starting area they told us to go back to the docks because racing had been cancelled due to unfair conditions. For a guy that hates to warm up and loves to race, this was a difficult experience. A good amount of beet juice and espresso was wasted that afternoon.
Something that we were certainly not missing this summer was support. We were incredibly fortunate to have Steve Whelpley, Dick and Judy, Troy Howell, and so many others at the Outdoor Center totally in our corner and behind our efforts. We are bummed that we didn't get to shine a brighter light on the GRP and the Outdoor Center with our performance but I hope people recognize that our double would not exist without the GRP. Thank you, Steve, for having limitless energy and passion and backing it up with a ton of hard work behind the scenes to make a special summer in Craftsbury.
Thursday, October 11, 2018
At the halfway point of the Pre Trials Camp in Austin. Here’s a little video of the training over the last couple of months. Enjoy. https:/...
Wrote a very long blog post chronicling the last month or so. Said blog post then got deleted. Anger ensued. I will write a much longer upda...
Six weeks ago at this time, I was paddling back to the dock after our final pieces before loading up for Olympic Trials. The hay was in the...