Monday, August 10, 2015

Getting your Caffeine Fix on the Road

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Dan and I are loyal Aeropress users at home. But bringing an electric kettle and the Aeropress, however portable, on the road is a hassle. And hotel coffee? Not even worth it.

When you're travelling for races, morning caffeine is a necessity, not a choice. So I've found some alternatives:

1. Cold brew with a French press
If you prep your coffee 24 hours in advance, you can have a delicious cup of cold brew from tap water. I've found it to be not as strong as hot brew, but it's a decent substitute and is perfect for tropical vacations and hot training trips.

  • Starbucks and Peets will grind their beans for you in store, so you can get them ground for a French press
  • Look for sources of hot water—many hotels have microwaves or hot water for tea
  • You can use the press to brew loose leaf tea as well!
  • There are also travel mug french presses. (It's on my birthday wish list.)

2. Go out for coffee
I know this one is obvious, but I always forget it on road trips until we're already out the door. Hotel and gas station coffee is generally horrendous. Instead, check out local places on Yelp (or just find your nearest chain coffee shop) and make a date of it.

  • For race mornings, I put my coffee into a travel coffee mug (the Contigo autoseal mug is awesome) so I can drink it hot after weigh-ins
  • If you don't plan to drink it right away, iced coffee is much better at room temperature than hot coffee

3. Califia iced coffee
The price of this stuff was a bit off-putting, but when my only alternative was to go out on the daily, it became pretty economical. It's a pre-brewed, pre-sweetened iced coffee made with almond milk. The double espresso packs a mighty punch and is also delicious!

  • Make sure you have a refrigerated storage option for this stuff.
  • Pour it into a small re-usable bottle (or one of the hotel coffee cups!) and bring it with you

4. Trader Joe's cold brew concentrate
This definitely wasn't my favorite coffee, but they sell a decent size bottle of concentrate for about $8, which makes this one of the least expensive options.

  • Dilute it with sweetened non-dairy milk

5. Caffeinated Clif bars and nuun tabs
When you're on a road trip, or about to launch your boat for a race, you really don't want to worry about bathroom breaks every 30 minutes. Coffee has a knack for running through your system and hitting your bladder hard. The Clif bar/nuun tab combination is great for combatting this!

  • My favorites are the chocolate mint bar and the lemon-lime energy tab—but they admittedly don't go very well together.
  • There are a lot of other caffeinated sport foods if you don't like Clif bars or nuun

6. Chocolate covered espresso beans
I have yet to find a vegan version of these in stores, but they're pretty easy to make. Mix melted chocolate with espresso beans and let cool. These are also excellent for bladder management, and an AWESOME excuse to eat chocolate for breakfast.

  • Add them to yogurt, granola or trail mix to prevent over-caffeination
  • Use a hair dryer to melt the chocolate—your hotel room should have one

7. Unsweetened iced tea
Most grocery stores carry bottled unsweetened black iced tea. I don't think there's anything wrong with sweetened iced tea, or the green stuff, but for purely caffeine purposes, the unsweetened black stuff is the best. You can drink more of it and there's more caffeine per ounce than green tea. Win-win. (Or at least as win as you can get without a hot cuppa joe.)

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Monday, August 3, 2015

Looking Forward

With an anti-climatic end to the summer racing season, I can only looking forward to an exciting year to come.

My racing for 2015 is over, but the World Championships are still to come for Team USA. I will be watching carefully, as this year is the first chance to qualify boats for the 2016 Olympics in Rio.

Here's how it works:
- Countries can earn a spot at the Olympic games by meeting certain performance standards at this year's World Championships
- Those spots are by country—the athletes can change
- In the lightweight women's double, the Olympic qualification standard is top 11 at the World Championships
- For boats that don't qualify this year, there is another opportunity to qualify next year

With the great performance of the US lightweight double at their most recent international race, I am hopeful that we can meet the Olympic qualification standard this year.

The next major regatta for me is US Olympic Trials, to be held in Sarasota, Florida, from April 18th to 24th. Assuming all goes well at this year's World Championships, a win at that regatta would be a direct path to Rio 2016.

So what happens between now and then?

First, I am taking a much needed break. I've been working my tail off since December of last year, and made some great improvements. And now, I'm pretty tired. My body and mind need a good rest before I gear up for our next huge training block—which lasts until April! I will be spending some time with family in California and Oregon, some of it completely off and some of it cross-training.

Second, I'll be prepping for fall racing season. I'm considering a few different fall races, including Head of the Potomac/Green Mountain Head (same weekend), Head of the Charles, Head of the Fish, and Fall Speed Order. I won't attend all five of those races, but I'd like to fit in at least three.

Third, we'll be heading indoors to get fitter. We usually come off the water in mid-November. I'm a strong believer in getting in at least 8 weeks primarily on the ergs—with maybe a week of either rowing or cross-training sometime in the middle. That will take me through mid-January indoors.

Fourth, we are hoping for an extended trip to Sarasota to row and prep for Trials. Typically, we can't get on the water until early March, sometimes later. That is not enough time to prep for Trials, and 40°F days in New Milford are not productive training for 80°F racing in Florida.

Which brings me to money. At the moment, only two lightweight women receive any financial support from US Rowing, and that is minimal. I have been self-funded (and husband-funded) through this journey. As we come into the home stretch before Olympic trials, it's time to focus on training, not finances.

Over the next month, I will be putting together a budget for training and living expenses through April. Donations through our non-profit foundation (the Northeast High Performance Rowing Foundation) helped me take a three week training trip to Sarasota last spring that made a huge difference in my performance in the important early spring races. If you are able to donate, keep an eye out here for details about how to make a tax-deductible donation!

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Thursday, July 30, 2015

Looking Back: Summer 2015

As crazy as it seems, summer racing is over. When I left off, I was headed up to Princeton to race at World Championship Trials. If you didn't follow the results, we placed second, just 1.37 seconds behind the Riverside boat.

Our goal as a crew was to break 6:30, which we did, with an awesome time of 6:29.47. But, just like PanAm trials, we learned that wicked fast wasn't going to cut it anymore.

There were a lot of emotions, many of which I still haven't identified. I am super excited by our performance. I am disappointed to have not made the team—but less disappointed than I expected, which is confusing.

Whatever the emotions, we didn't have much time to process, as we headed back to the race course the following morning for the US Rowing Elite National Championships. All four of us tripled up, racing the light women's single, double and quad. (We were the only lightweight quad entered, so we raced in the open weight women's quad final and received our own medal.)

Overall, it was a great race. I placed 3rd in the single, then turned around and won the double less than two hours later. We came in second in the open quad race, but got a gold medal for being small! I came home happy but exhausted and in need of some recovery.

We had a taco feast:

Made some mojitos:

And ate veggies from our farm share:

And a week later, I got back in the car and went back to the swamp, a.k.a. Washington, DC.

Let me explain:
In April, US Rowing held the first National Selection Regatta, where I raced the open women's single. At the same time, the lightweight women's doubles raced. My doubles partner and I had only just tried our combination a week prior, and were not able to make weight for the race, so we didn't enter.

At that race, Devery Karz and Michelle Sechser won, and earned the right to race as USA1 at the World Cup 2 or 3—a series of summer races leading up to the World Championships. If they placed top 4, they would qualify automatically for the World Championships for the USA. Otherwise, the boat would go back to trials in early August.

Since Devery and Michelle elected to race at World Cup 3, in mid-July, we decided to practice the double in preparation for Trials.

Morgan and I raced and won the light 2x at Elite Nationals.

I headed down to DC on July 7th and got to work.

DC is hot and rainy, and exhausting. Practices were at 6am sharp—and parking was gone by 5:30am. The afternoon session started at 5pm most days, to avoid the hottest part of the day. But it was always hot.

We practiced and raced for a week, and by the 12th, Devery and Michelle had placed 3rd at World Cup 3 and I was starting to plan my drive home.

I'm disappointed that Morgan and I didn't get a chance to race our line-up. It would have been a great check point going into fall and winter training. However, I'm really excited that Devery and Michelle are going fast—we need them to place top 11 at this year's World Championships to qualify the US for the Olympics next year.

I'll write more about my upcoming plans in the next few weeks, but for now I am back in New Milford, sleeping, eating and recovering to prep for the next long training block.

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Thursday, July 16, 2015

What I Ate Wednesday

I'm never sure whether that hashtag is "what I ate this week on Wednesday" or "what I ate one day this week, published on Wednesday". I thought the former would be more honest: I couldn't choose the most conveniently healthy day of food from the week.

So, without further ado, here is what I ate yesterday. 
Bran flakes, nuts, raisins, soy milk and black tea at 5:30am, watching the sun rise from the Potomac Boat Club. 

And then I was still hungry so I had some blueberries.

Snack during the row. We did 75 minutes at a medium pace.

Post row snack. Coffee, banana and liberally applied peanut butter. 

Aaaaand another small snack around 10am as I was starting work.

Lunch, finally! Around 11:30 I had a salad with brown and white rice, spinach, snap peas, hummus and spices.
Warning: food in photo is tastier than it appears. 

Never forget dessert.

Another snack! English muffin, peanut butter, frozen blueberries and a banana with more peanut butter. I would say I'm eating an unusually large amount of peanut butter, but I've seen how fast my weight drops when I cut it out.

I had another one of these during my afternoon lift, along with some nuun. I would have preferred something else, but I really struggle with what to eat for the pm workout. A smoothie would maybe have been a better option? I'm not sure. Crackers could also have worked, just to change things up. 

And finally, dinner! The lifting session was long and ran late so I threw together this quick dinner when I got home. Sautéed carrots, peppers and apples with kidney beans and brown rice, topped with a white wine-mustard sauce and sesame seeds. And a glass of wine. 

Phew. That is a lot of food. I'm sure there are places I could do better, but I'm generally pretty happy with my diet.

I eat a lot of fruits, veggies and whole grains. I got in almost all of the colors yesterday: blue berries, red grapes, green apple/spinach/peas, orange peppers/carrots, yellow banana.

But I'm also not crazy restrictive. I eat chocolate and drink some wine. I don't count calories. 

I should probably diversify my peanut butter consumption. Maybe some almond butter. ;)

What did you eat on Wednesday?

N.B. This post was composed on my phone so apologies for any strange formatting.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

World Championship Trials

If you followed results from PanAm Trials, you may have noticed that the lightweight women had a dominating performance. Many congrats to Mary Jones in the light women's single and Sarah Giancola and Victoria Burke in the light women's double for pulling such fast times.

I was eliminated in the semi-final round. It was definitely disappointing, but it was a 10-second PR in the single for me, so I was still really proud of the result. There were a lot of mixed emotions to process—I knew I'd gotten a lot faster, and that was correct, but it turns out everybody else got a lot faster, too.

After a week of processing, I travelled down to Washington, DC to train with three other lightweight women out of the Potomac Boat Club. All four of us raced the singles at PanAm Trials, and have been spending the last few weeks trying to mesh as a crew.

On the drive up to Princeton

Starting this evening, we'll be racing in the lightweight women's quad at World Championship Trials, alongside Riverside and Vesper crews. For the last two years, there have been only two quads and a lot more singles racing at trials, so it will be fun to have a competitive three boat final.

It's been really fun to watch the depth increase over this Olympic cycle, even if it means working harder to get where I want to be.

Racing begins today with a late evening time trial that will determine lanes for Wednesday's final. The winner of the final will earn a spot on the 2015 US National Team for the World Championships.

Also starting on Wednesday are the USRowing Elite National Championships. Our quad will be racing the open women's quad (no weigh in!) because there were no other lightweights entered in the quad. We will also be splitting into smaller boats and racing the light women's double and light women's single.

More information about Trials.
More information about Nationals.

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Monday, May 18, 2015

Trials for PanAm Games

The GMS crew is in Princeton racing at US Trials for the 2015 PanAm Games. We've got two open women's singles, two lightweight women's singles, a lightweight women's double and half of a composite crew in the lightweight men's double.

The time trials went down to the course last night. Heats and repechages are today. Heat sheets and results can be found here:

In the lightweight women's single, there are three heats, and the top two in each heat progress automatically to Tuesday's semi-final. Everybody else races in one of two repechages this evening, where the top boat in each rep advances.

There are definitely huge advantages to only racing once today! The semi-final rounds are usually very fast, and having fresher legs is important.

Another note: this is elimination style racing—there are no B and C level finals. If a crew doesn't progress, their regatta is over. The first crews will be eliminated tonight during the repechage.

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Friday, May 8, 2015

2015 Race Schedule

Life for the last 6 months has been super busy, between an increased workload and an increased training load. We're starting to settle into a good spring/summer rhythm. Lots of sunlight means lots of time to get stuff done.

So, at long last, an update.

After a long, but productive, winter season, we headed down to Sarasota, Florida for some water time. We were there for 3.5 weeks, and ran and swam and rowed and biked as much as possible.

All this to prep for the first National Selection Regatta. Unfortunately, US Rowing changed the format of racing this year, eliminating the lightweight women's single from the NSR program.

This year, doubles were emphasized at the first NSR, but GMS is a very small club. That makes finding a partner difficult. We had used NSR1 in the single to help us find appropriate doubles partners. Without that option, I was without a partner.

Guenter (my coach) and I decided that focusing on the single was the best option. The open weight women's single was offered at NSR1 (although doubles were given higher priority). With only 7 entries (four of them lightweights!!), it was a good, low-pressure race to start the season.

Racing the time trial at the 2015 NSR1

And the results were a great starting point:
The two Potomac athletes are also lightweights.
My racing schedule for the summer is not yet finalized, but here are the domestic races I hope to attend.

PanAmerican Games Trials, May 17-20, Mercer Lake, New Jersey - Lightweight Women's Single
Senior I/U23 World Championship Trials, June 21-24, Mercer Lake, New Jersey
US Rowing National Championships, June 24-26, Mercer Lake, New Jersey

Notice that they are all in New Jersey? Currently all national team trials and most elite level regattas are held on Mercer Lake, just outside of Princeton. If you know anybody in the area willing to host a rower, let me know! Hotel costs add up quickly over the season (and hotels don't have kitchens).

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