April in review: I shared some goals for April earlier, and although I've kept them in mind throughout the month, I haven't follow...

April in review:
I shared some goals for April earlier, and although I've kept them in mind throughout the month, I haven't followed through as well as I would have liked.

Goal 1. Maintain training weight: I definitely slipped on this one. By the middle of the month, I was sitting around 130 pounds; not out of control, but about two pounds above where I'd like to be. On the other hand, I did make significant progress on developing a healthier attitude towards food—one where I don't constant stress about every calorie I put into my body.
Goal 2. Improve my erg score: I had some success on the erg this month; most notably, I took another lactate test and saw significant improvements. I still need to get better at test pieces on the erg, especially stress management.
Goal 3. Don't lose any training time: This was incredibly successful. I had a hard time transitioning back to Pacific time after travelling, but once I adjusted, I had some great weeks of training. Prioritizing sleep was really important.
Goal 4. Race as much as possible: I did a lot of racing in April. Between race pieces against my teammates in California, against juniors and masters in Connecticut and racing at NSR1, I think I can check this one off my April list.

Although I only really met two of four, having goals helped focus my training. And with that in mind, I would like to set some new goals for May.

1. Reach and maintain training weight
128 pounds is a very do-able training weight. I can maintain that and not weigh myself obsessively or count every calorie. I just need to be honest with myself; if I buy an entire package of Oreos, I will eat an entire package of Oreos and not be at weight.

2. Improve my erg score
Although we may not 2k test on the erg this month, there are some things I can do to make progress. Most notably, completing at least one workout on the erg every week. Ideally, I will start to work on strategizing on the erg rather than simply going full pressure.

3. Fuel properly for workouts
There's nothing worse than running out of steam 5 kilometers from the dock, and having to struggle through wind and chop just to get home. It's exhausting. I can prevent that by bringing food or sports drinks in the boat and hydrating well before, during and after workouts.

4. Spend more time with my teammates
It was a lot of fun hanging out with teammates at GMS and in Australia over the past few months. But between training on a different plan and travelling, I haven't spent nearly enough time with my CRC teammates. Having their support is crucial to successful training at home.

After racing concluded on Saturday, I headed over to " the best old place of all ", Princeton's campus. This is one of the bes...

After racing concluded on Saturday, I headed over to "the best old place of all", Princeton's campus. This is one of the best times of year in Princeton. The daffodils and tulips are all in bloom, the pollen levels are still low to moderate, and the temperature is comfortable. Even better, the seniors have mostly turned in their theses and are enjoying the post-thesis life.

It's a very different experience being back on campus again. It turns out hindsight is not 20/20.

When I left campus, I was so glad to be gone. As the months have passed, though, I have become a bit nostalgic. Recently, I even managed to convince myself that Princeton was great and I just hadn't taken advantage of it properly.

Actually being here has reminded me why I didn't like it.

From the small town feel to the stressful student life, Princeton was not all that I had hoped college to be. I certainly learned a lot on campus—how to calculate the moment on a concrete beam, the chemical composition of chocolate and the architectural style of Mies van der Rohe, for example. Now, I realize that none of that stuff really matters.

Princeton didn't teach me the things I needed to know: how to have fun, what I'm passionate about, and how to say no. In the two years since I've graduated, I have started to learn those things. Returning to campus, I can see that.

I have learned to socialize and drink in moderation. I have learned that I love moving and being outdoors more than thinking or being indoors. I have learned that I can't do everything and that I shouldn't do everything—even if my peers are trying. I have learned to compete with my yesterday rather than compete with your today.

Perhaps I just wasn't ready to learn these lessons in college. And I do have regrets: I wish I had gotten more involved in the garden, attended some of the lectures, taken my classwork less seriously and had the independence to move off campus.

In my last few hours on campus, I am going to savor the reminder that I love life after college. I am living my dream and every day I make my dream a little bit bigger, bolder and better.

This morning started even earlier; we arrived at the boathouse just shy of 5am to prep for a 5:52AM weigh-in. The weigh-in was the easiest o...

This morning started even earlier; we arrived at the boathouse just shy of 5am to prep for a 5:52AM weigh-in. The weigh-in was the easiest of the week—perfect timing!

Conditions were also near perfect; a few gusts of wind skittered around the course, but it was otherwise flat. Although I was definitely tired from a hard few days of racing, my legs felt pretty good (especially compared to the semi-final!).

I launched right on time, and had a fantastic warm-up. Usually, my warm-ups consist of around 15 minutes of medium pressure rowing, followed by a few sets of 10-20 harder strokes and a few practice race starts.

At this course, there's a relatively large warm-up circle and I had previously had trouble timing my laps so I arrived at the starting platform as they called us into the lanes. I ended up spending too much of my warm-up time sitting and waiting. So last night, when I had a little bit of leeway, I timed a large warm-up lap and a shorter warm-up lap around the area so I could plan accordingly.

It wasn't perfect, but it helped a lot.

They actually called us into our lanes a minute early, and were counting down time to the start a full minute early as well. Since you have to be locked into the starting blocks two minutes before your race, I didn't get to practice quite a full start in my lane. Other than that, the race went off without a hitch.

As usual, I was down off the start. This coming month, I plan to practice the first 500m a lot. Although I was disappointed, I still had contact with the whole field—an improvement for me. I remembered my plan to focus internally as much as possible and focused on finding my race rhythm.

My rating was a bit higher than I'm used to, sitting at 33-35 strokes per minute for the first 1000m. Coming into the second half, I let the rate fall to 32 strokes per minute, which seems to be my sweet spot at the moment. As the rate drop, my speed increased and I moved into 5th place in contact with 4th place (in my neighboring lane).

From there, I worked off of the boat next to me, trying to maintain contact on her rather than focusing on the whole field of boats. Although it's tempting to look at your competitors, it's also really disruptive.  By focusing on just one boat, I kept my rhythm and had good racing to keep me fast and honest.

By the 1500m mark, I had pretty much lost contact with lane 5 to my right, but out of the corner of my eye could see lane 3 dropping back. My goal was to finish in the top 10—the same as the time trial—and I knew I had to beat two other singles to manage that. With that in mind, I started my sprint earlier than planned, starting to increase the stroke rate with 400m to go.

Each glance over indicated that I was moving up into the fourth place position, but perhaps not quickly enough. And so, each glance, I was convinced to push a little harder, toeing the line between fast and frantic. Ultimately, I edged out lane 3 by a full second, placing fourth in the B final and 10th overall.

I was very happy with the result, the race and the overall experience. I've learned a lot and will be headed back to California with some new things to work on!

First things first, though, a stop at my alma mater: Princeton. I will be spending the next day and a half on campus visiting old teammates and enjoying campus without homework. I'm headed west early Monday, and looking forward to spending more than two weeks in the same place!

Read about yesterday's racing here . Racing has concluded on the second day of NSR1. By qualifying for the semi-final yesterday aftern...

Read about yesterday's racing here.

Racing has concluded on the second day of NSR1. By qualifying for the semi-final yesterday afternoon, I essentially guaranteed myself a spot in the B final, so all I had to do today was get myself down the course.

Weigh-in was early again, and a bit easier this morning than yesterday. It's still not my favorite experience, but it's so worth it to be competing against rowers of the same size. I'm so lucky that I am the right size to row as a lightweight. It certainly takes effort, but 5'5"-5'8" is the typical height range for lights, and I fall right in the middle of that range at 5'6.5".

I used the race as an opportunity to practice racing strategy. I had no illusion that I would make the A final. I certainly gave it a go for the first quarter of the race, but after that re-focused on my boat and my racing.

Photos from most of my races are posted at row2k.com
I have some technical issues I've been working on--I'm rowing a different boat than I row at home and it's a bit bigger than I'm used to. That was great in the windy time trial, but since I float higher in the water it takes a bit more effort to keep the blades seated in the water. (I'm also using a different brand of oars, which may be contributing.)

 I've also noticed that the boat pulls to my left, so I was trying to figure out what was going on there.

I finished last in the semi-final but I'm happy with the time I posted relative to the effort I put in. Now I'm just trying to make it through the last day of super focused eating and drinking before tomorrow. I race at 7:52AM EST, and races will be broadcast live at http://www.youtube.com/user/usrowingorg

I will be in lane 6 and my boatmate from the WL4x in Australia will be in lane 2.

Kristin and Stesha both made their respective A finals, and Ann will be racing the B final tomorrow morning.

Today was the first day of racing at the first National Selection Regatta (NSR1). The morning session was a time trial; each boat raced down...

Today was the first day of racing at the first National Selection Regatta (NSR1). The morning session was a time trial; each boat raced down the final 1900m of the course (the first 100m was left out to create a staging area for the next boat) and times were taken. The results of this trial created the heat assignments.

Thanks to Bernhard for the many awkward photos.
The day started early with a 4:40AM wake up in order to get ready for weigh-in. The lightweight time trial began at 8:15AM; weigh-ins happen between one and two hours before the racing. Ideally, you weigh in exactly two hours before your race to give yourself maximum recovery time. With that in mind, we arrived at the race course at 5AM.

It took me a few minutes to get myself weighed on the practice scale; I was a bit heavier than I would have liked, but nothing unmanageable. I think at least part of it was due to bloating from traveling and nerves; I'm hoping tomorrow's weigh-in is a bit easier.

I ended up sweating off some water weight by erging on and off over the course of about 80 minutes. I successfully made weight by around 6:40AM. The extended warm-up ended up being a blessing in disguise—rehydration wasn't difficult as I was incredibly hydrated to begin and the warmth helped ward off the bitter cold on the water this morning.

Conditions on the water were pretty rough. The first set of time trials completed before I launched, and gave me some pretty valuable insight: the first 750m had the cleanest water, so take advantage of it. I used this knowledge and the row up to the starting line to feel the wind conditions along the way. It ended up paying off.

The person slated to go directly behind me in the trial scratched her entry, so it was just me and the open water. (The next person started 40 seconds behind me.) I pushed hard in the first 600-700m, and then slowly shifted my focus to handling the conditions while maintaining pressure. I placed 10th of 15 (four entries scratched since the entry deadline), a solid start. This took me on to the heats in the evening.

The California Rowing Club had a great day overall; Kristin, the other lightweight woman, placed fifth in the time trial and Stesha and Ann, two of our openweights, placed 8th and 12th respectively.

You are only required to weigh in once per day, so weight management during the day was mostly related to tomorrow's weigh in. I spent the day telecommuting to work, napping and relaxing.

In the evening, my heat was composed of the 3rd, 4th, 9th, 10th (me) and 15th place boats from the time trial. Four advanced to the A/B semi-final while the fifth place moved on to the C final tomorrow morning.

I ended up with 4th place in my heat. The race felt good and pretty aggressive; conditions were very calm which was probably to my disadvantage. (It definitely wasn't enough to make up the 5+ seconds between me and 3rd place, though!)

Kristin, Ann and Stesha also all advanced to the semi-finals! Go CRC!

My semi-final tomorrow morning is at 8:26AM EST, which will make for a slightly later weigh-in. Yay! I would be very happy with a 4th or 5th place finish in the semi-final, both of which would put me into the B final on Saturday. Every race, I am learning how to race better; in college I relied on my coaches and coxswains to guide me down the course. It's a whole new world out there on your own!

More information, including results, can be found here:

The number one trick to having a green thumb? Grow things that require very little care and attention. My personal favorite? Fruit trees! ...

The number one trick to having a green thumb? Grow things that require very little care and attention. My personal favorite? Fruit trees!

Our orange tree was left abandoned and unattended for months before we moved in, and yet we had an unbearably huge crop of oranges. I've had to put in some effort to prune the tree, making sure it didn't get too big and that air could still flow through the branches. Still, overall effort level was low. It got no water the whole winter and, aside from picking the fruit, no care.

The trick is to pick fruit trees that are suited to your region. The most important factor for the Bay Area is chill hours--or the number of hours that fall below around 40°F. From what I understand, Oakland tends to fall around 500 chill hours, too few for most tasty apples.

On the other hand, here in Connecticut, there is plenty of chill and perhaps not quite enough sun for summer fruits like peaches and nectarines, and it's certainly too cold for winter citrus.

If you buy a tree from a big nursery, it's probably labeled with the minimum number of chill hours. If your region is cold, apples, pears, cherries and plums will probably work; if it's hot, you could try figs, citrus, or some varieties of stone fruit.

Another factor is sunlight--our yard has more than full sun, which lets fruit ripen nicely. I think both blackberries and blueberries grow well in partial shade--and the former does have a thornless version if you're concerned.

We are using our full sun to grow strawberries and raspberries (notoriously easy to grow), as well as grapes and melons.

So far, in Oakland, our citrus and stone fruit have been most successful. Our lemon tree grows in a pot and produced over 20 lemons this winter. We will let it bear more fruit this year as it has grown considerably in the last 3-6 months. Our lime tree is producing its first fruits after suffering too little sun last year. And our necta-plum-cot tree has the tiniest of plums and rapidly growing apricots hanging from its limbs.

Fruit trees also produce shade, so be careful how many you plant if you want to grow veggies. We are using the shade from our fruit trees to try to extend the spring veggie growing season. Most of our favorite veggies are cool weather crops--peas, spring mix, lettuce, cabbage, kale, carrots and broccoli. We're hoping the shade keeps them from bolting before we're ready.

I mentioned yesterday that I'm working on a planting plan for the GMS garden. I neglected to mention that there was a garden in place p...

I mentioned yesterday that I'm working on a planting plan for the GMS garden. I neglected to mention that there was a garden in place previous, and some of the herbs have managed to survive. Picking through the remnants of the garden, I've found mint, chives and sage, plus what might be strawberry plants.

I'm not familiar enough with Connecticut flora and fauna to go foraging in nature, but I definitely feel comfortable using these herbs to supplement my weekly meals! Dried herbs and spices definitely add something to meals, but fresh herbs and spices are a huge treat on the road.

On the trip, I brought a knife, a cutting board, a tupperware and utensils. I also have limited access to a kitchen with a microwave, fridge and many of the larger appliances (tea kettle, stove, toaster oven...) and small gadgets (pots but no pans, bowls, mugs...).

My breakfasts have consisted of primarily cold cereal or oatmeal with a variety of fixings. Since I'm usually fueling for 75-90 minutes of cardio work, it's important to get carbohydrates into my system. Some of my favorite breakfast combinations:
oatmeal + raisins + pears + almonds + cinnamon
cold cereal + bananas + raisins
oatmeal + apple + peanut butter

My lunches and dinners have been frequent repeats: it's much easier for me to pop in to the kitchen to reheat something than to compete for stove and countertop access to cook from scratch. Last week, I made a box of pasta with frozen pureed butternut squash as a sauce and frozen peas and canned beans as fixings. That lasted for three solid meals.

Another favorite has been rice with spinach, chickpeas, garlic hummus and various spices. A can of beans and a box of spinach split nicely between two meals, and changing up the flavoring made them seem like different experiences.

Upon discovery of sage in the garden, I decided on a squash-onion-sage simmer simmer sauce with tofu served over brown rice and/or sweet potatoes. Salads have also been easy to make, since I have some access to salad dressing ingredients; I'm hoping to supplement with fresh chives from the garden.

I am getting a little bit tired of microwave texture, though. It seems that most everything I'm eating has either been microwaved or boiled. This weekend, I made roasted broccoli (in the toaster oven!) that helped break up the monotony, but I'm definitely craving crispy, crunchy and chewy.

And, despite my best attempts at fueling myself with whole grains, legumes and veggies, I've still demolished a jar and a half of peanut butter in the past week and a half. (Technically, peanuts are a legume...)

Yup, that's the second jar.
I've also been enjoying a few (slightly) indulgent foods, like Nature Valley granola bars and fluffy, puffy store brand cheapo white bread for my peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Sure, it may not be the healthiest stuff around, but I usually get my 48 daily recommended grams of whole grains by breakfast. What's a little bran between friends?

One of the most important parts of organic gardening is pest management. I'm currently working on planning the garden out at GMS. Since ...

One of the most important parts of organic gardening is pest management. I'm currently working on planning the garden out at GMS. Since I won't be here, and garden care is likely to be minimal, I'd like to set it up to minimize damage from pests.

There are a few different ways to manage pests in the garden. I'm going to be relying on companion planting to take care of a lot of the pests while I'm away.

When I first started gardening, I wondered why anybody would waste any space on flowers. It turns out, flowers are a vital part of both pest management and the encouragement of pollinators. There are a few flowers that seem to be particularly beneficial, including nasturtiums and marigold.

Flowers work in a lot of ways. Some flowers attract beneficial insects, like ladybugs, that eat pests in the garden. Others act as sacrificial plants attracting the pests away from your vegetables, like nasturtiums for aphid management. Others, like marigolds, actually repel pests naturally.

I have always understood the value of herbs—they're a delicious addition to most meals and we use them in a lot of sauces and dressing. Fortunately, they're also spectacular for pest management.

However, some herbs don't jive with some plants. For example, chives can retard growth of spring peas. Other herbs help plants thrive: the classic tomato and basil combination can increase tomato productivity, and chives help carrots taste sweeter.

When planning a full garden, there are a lot of combinations to consider. I'm trying to approach the problem systematically.

Most plants can be grouped into families, which helps with companion planting. For example, brassicas (cabbage, cauliflower, kale, kohlrabi, etc.) work well with the allium family (onions, garlic, chives, shallots, etc.). I've made a few general combinations (nightshades + mint family, brassicas + alliums) and plan to plant these into individual beds.

I've been trying to place flowers throughout the garden, as well as some generally beneficial, although less common, herbs. I've tried to leave spaces for: marigolds, lovage, borage and nasturtiums.

For the actual layout of the garden, I've been using Google Drive's spreadsheet. Our GMS garden is going to be 30' x 30' so I made a spreadsheet with 30 cells by 30 cells and dedicated each one to a square foot. I've been numbering all of the different plant varieties; after re-sizing the cells to be square, I can fill in the squares with plants and walkways.

We still have a lot of work to do—the area isn't tilled, and the seeds aren't really started yet. I have a feeling everything won't get planted in time in such a large garden, but with some sense of layout, hopefully things get planted in generally the right place!

7AM: The birds are chirping. They've apparently nested in the gutters of the office/hut where I'm sleeping and wake me up at this lu...

7AM: The birds are chirping. They've apparently nested in the gutters of the office/hut where I'm sleeping and wake me up at this luxurious hour. I roll out of bed.

Breakfast is oatmeal with raisins and almonds. And then a PB&J. And then another handful of almonds, and a few spoonfuls of J. And a few more spoonfuls of PB.

7:50AM: Pull on some spandex and venture out into the cold. Come back in and trade out my regular socks for the thick wool variety. Regret leaving my oars outside in the cold, damp grass overnight.

8AM: Carry my boat down to the dock. Oars in, shoes off, electronics on, and shove. As a scattered group, we row down the river and through Lover's Leap Gorge--a gorgeous, shaggy gorge, with rocks diving into the water at odd angles and trees hanging onto the smallest crevices. We meet just on the far end for the rest of practice.

9:30AM: Back on the dock. Oars out, shoes on, electronics off. Quick snack, quick shower and back into bed for a 45 minute nap.

11AM: Lunch (pasta that I made earlier in the week) and some putzing around on the computer. Writing blog posts, checking Twitter/Facebook, reading the news and sending cute emails to my wonderful husband.

Noon: Time for work. I settle into the comfy armchair, notebook and pen by my side, and get ready for a few hours of productivity. My time is spent emailing tour guides around the world, reading about incredible places I want to visit, and discussing cool opportunities and ideas with my coworkers. While life on the road can be tough sometimes, working at a travel company has made me really appreciate all of the cool places I'm getting to experience.

3PM: Grab a quick snack before pulling on dirty spandex; the wind has picked up some, but the warm(er) weather beckons us to the water! The afternoon session is on-your-own--an easier row where I get to spend some time with my own thoughts and some time practicing the technical work I've been doing all week.

Since there's no coach watching, I feel more comfortable making some mistakes or trying new things just to feel how my boat reacts. It's one of my favorite parts of rowing the single--having time to take risks without affecting anybody else. I'm sure I've taken my share of horrendous strokes, but every time I try something that doesn't work, I learn. Then, when my boat is doing something I don't like, I'm that much closer to being able to identify what I'm doing to cause it.
(My other favorite part of rowing the single? Nobody cares when you fart in the boat.)

5PM: Off the water, I eat a snack before showering. (What luxury--two showers!) This time, I actually take the time to use soap.

5:30PM: Time for dinner. I have mastered the art of microwave cooking and pull together a tofu/sweet potato/spinach/peanut butter dish that could really use a bit of fresh garlic. Although I've been pining for a bit of texture, this satisfies my hunger.

6:30PM: Back in the big lounge chair, putting in a few more hours of work. As I work, I also munch on a few different food stuffs: raisins, cold cereal, a granola bar, an apple..

9:30PM: Dan has made it home from work, and we get to video chat for a bit before I have to hit the lights and call it a night.

10PM: Lights out. I'm not exhausted yet, but I trust that I will shortly fall asleep. Double days will do that.

When I travel, my relationship with the scale is forced to take a healthy step back. At home, our scale sits prominently in our bathroom. Yo...

When I travel, my relationship with the scale is forced to take a healthy step back. At home, our scale sits prominently in our bathroom. You don't even have to tap it--just step on and seconds later it registers your weight, precise to 0.2 pounds.

But what is it really telling me that I don't already know? My hydration status? How well I ate yesterday? That my jeans fit me more tightly this week than last? I definitely think weighing myself has been helpful for staying in control of my weight, but perhaps I have overdone it.

When I step on the scale in the morning, I listen to the numbers instead of my body as cues for eating. A low number pops up, and I take that as permission to eat more even when I'm not hungry. A high number, and I start to steer clear of the peanut butter jar. And yet, the number on the scale is not the result of one day of eating, but rather weeks and months of eating.

This week, I've hardly stepped on the scale. I am out of my usual context, and therefore have very little gauge for how much I normally eat. Instead, I am relying on my body to tell me when to eat. When I start to dig into the jar of peanut butter with reckless abandon, I listen by finding something healthy and more balanced to nosh on. And when I'm not hungry at dinner time, I make myself a salad, leaving the leftovers to munch as hunger arises.

Of course, it's a bit of a risk. I do have several weigh-ins next week for racing. I will probably spend some more time on the scale in the coming days. Although my weight is comfortably at the limit, I also know I have to weigh in wearing a relatively heavy unisuit. I'm also expecting an early morning weigh-in, so opportunities for sweating are relatively limited. I had hoped to be enough under the limit that I could avoid the scale, but then again, I think I'd have to be pretty light for it to not be on my mind at all.

Still, my jeans are fitting comfortably (perhaps even slightly looser), and I haven't felt over-fueled. My food choices, with the exception of the entire jar of peanut butter, have all been great. (You can't exactly binge on chocolate when there isn't any.) I'm still getting a bit hungry between meals, which is generally a sign that I'm on track to maintain or even lose some weight.

And, perhaps most importantly, my training has been great. I've felt ready to go for all of my workouts and still had energy by the end. My body has definitely been sore, but between sleep and good eating, I've successfully completed all of the practices. (Ok, I got a bit grumpy at the end of one practice, after nearly 5K of direct, strong headwind.)

The true test will likely come when I step on the scale sometime late this weekend. Hopefully my meals next week aren't all salads and low calorie soups...

How often do you weigh yourself? How do you know what the "right" amount to eat is?

Wednesday's thousand meter pieces were good, but not spectacular. My steering was definitely less than stellar, as evidenced by the GPS ...

Wednesday's thousand meter pieces were good, but not spectacular. My steering was definitely less than stellar, as evidenced by the GPS map of my course.

A little hard to see, but most noticeably: not a lot of straight lines.
Still, it was great to get out on the water and do some pieces against other boats. I was racing against a few junior women's openweight singles; the world record times for that category are fairly comparable to senior lightweight women, so we had some good racing.

In the afternoon, we headed back out on the water to start doing some race prep and speed work. Although I was tired, it was great to have the extra meters on the water practicing race-specific skills. We did even more of it this morning, but slowed things down even more to make sure we knew exactly how to execute a proper start sequence.

I'm still working on getting the stroke rate over 42 on a start, but it will come with practice.

In the meantime, it's laundry day! At home, I do laundry and grocery shop on a rolling basis, so I never really have a sense of how much dirty clothing I produce or how much food I eat. This week, it's become apparent.

I've gotten a bit lax about wearing clean clothing to train in. Sometimes, it's not necessary or practical. Still, the cold weather means I've been wearing two layers on bottom and three on top for most sessions. Even if I rewear one layer on top and bottom per workout, with two workouts a day, that's a lot of laundry. Fortunately, there's a washer and dryer on site, so clean clothes are on the way!

{On a related note, re-wearing dirty workout clothing has completely altered my perspective on when normal clothing is really dirty. I've been known to wear the same shirt three days in a row.. partly because I usually only wear it for 4-6 hours!!!}

Food has also been a bit of a shock. I've already plugged through most of a jar of peanut butter, a loaf of bread, two cans of beans, a box of pasta (plus sauce), two pounds of frozen spinach, two pounds of baby carrots, a box of frozen squash puree, a bag of frozen peas, a head of lettuce, a can of beets, a big tub of hummus, a box of Nature Valley bars, three pears, 6 bananas, 5+ apples, a quart of almond milk, half a box of Grape Nuts, half a (big) box of raisins, a can of soup and more.

It's been four days. Please don't calculate how many calories that is.

The chances that I'll need to go grocery shopping again before I head to Princeton are high.. right after I bought all my groceries? I was worried I'd have food left at the end of my two week trip. Apparently my stomach is bigger than my eyes.

I'll touch on this more soon, but I've been trying to listen to my body when eating. I think there's a reason we go through so much peanut butter--I'm just really hungry all the time and peanut butter has a lot of calories. Hopefully that's a lesson I can carry back to California.

This is a picture of a pill box. Except it doesn't have pills in it. It has my daily doses of nature's medicine: spices! From l...

This is a picture of a pill box. Except it doesn't have pills in it.

It has my daily doses of nature's medicine: spices! From left to right: cinnamon, chili flakes, dried thyme, cumin, paprika, curry and garlic powder.

I also brought a small container of salt, although it turns out salt is available in abundance so it was less than necessary.

I've been trying to add spices to as much as possible, since I have so much. My salad was topped with thyme, garlic powder and paprika. I'm planning to add chili flakes to my pasta tomorrow, and I've got a rice/bean/spinach/hummus dish planned that would be might tasty with some curry.

Cumin still needs some inspiration; I think it might work in a peanut butter, tofu, sweet potato dish I have planned, maybe alongside some garlic powder and a touch of almond milk to make a sauce. I'm still not convinced that those flavors will work together, but I'm open to trying.

In any case, I'm pretty happy with this little discovery. Just make sure you pick a pill box with tightly closing separated containers that also open separately. Keep all but one closed as you fill it; and do try to keep savory spices away from sweet!! Notice that the garlic powder and the curry are quite far from the cinnamon!

Two and a half days and five workouts later, I'm finding my groove here in Connecticut. After some solid napping and sleeping, I've ...

Two and a half days and five workouts later, I'm finding my groove here in Connecticut. After some solid napping and sleeping, I've made it onto East Coast time. There has been some wind and some cold and some rain, but nothing atypical of an East Coast spring.

The boathouse is located on a huge piece of property that used to be a tobacco farm. A large number of the boats are stored inside the old tobacco barn, along with all of the weight equipment and the ergs. There are also two small offices and a huge old house on the property. I'm staying on site, so the dock is less than 200 meters from the front door.

Although there was only one workout schedule for Sunday, we ended up getting on the ergs in the evening for a lactate test. I made huge gains from my last lactate test in January--I can produce much higher wattage for the same blood lactate level, a sign that I'm getting fitter and faster.

As part of the lactate testing, we are also given heart rate zones for each workout type, from the long, slow easy workouts that make up the bulk of our training, to the hard sprint work we do mostly just before racing. I use my Garmin to monitor my heart rate, as well as track all of my workouts. (Thanks Dan!) Although I'm not always happy with the speed I produce at a given heart rate, I know that staying in the prescribed zones helps me get fitter without pushing my body too hard.

Monday morning started with a nice long easy row in the single. I re-familiarized myself with the course and enjoy the new, lower heart rate zones. I was definitely cold--I couldn't feel my fingers very well. It made me glad I came out early and have an opportunity to adjust to the cold before racing.

During the day, the three high performance athletes that are here at the moment all just sat around the office, watching the Boston Marathon. We had actually tuned out and all gone to take naps/eat lunch when the bombing occurred; I found out later that evening. It was very inspiring to see the elites running the course, especially the women's race.

Monday afternoon, we headed out on the water with a gaggle of junior rowers. Lots of fun racing against all sorts of different boat classes and boat speeds, even if we only did short bursts of speed. It was also fun being on the water twice in a day! We rarely go out twice in one day at CRC, usually opting for cross-training or erging for the second session.

This morning, I had a work phone call scheduled for 9am, so I headed out in the wee hours of the morning to row. It wasn't as cold as the previous day, but it still took me the vast majority of the row to really warm-up; I need to get back in the habit of warming up on land, inside, before heading onto the water.

The day was spent sleeping and working. I'm lucky to have a job that lets me telecommute, and a job that's fun and engaging enough that four hours fly by. I've been trying to increase my hours without interfering with training--after all, if I'm not giving my training the focus it deserves, then why am I training at all?

In the afternoon, we hit the weight room. Lifting is definitely not my favorite part of the sport, but I'm learning how to manage it. I've found that eating well and consuming enough calories prior to lifting is really helpful--it makes the whole experience less miserable. Lifting the right amount of weight is also important, and I'm learning to ask my coaches how to pick a starting weight and how to best increase weight and/or repetitions.

Tonight, I'm hoping for an early bedtime, so I can be up bright and early for 1000m pieces in the single, plus speedwork in the afternoon.

I'm not always proud to be an American. Although I work my butt off for the opportunity to represent the United States, there have alway...

I'm not always proud to be an American. Although I work my butt off for the opportunity to represent the United States, there have always been parts I'm not sure I want to represent.

Days like Monday remind me that the good parts of being an American far outweigh the bad. I don't always agree with my fellow countrymen on matters of politics, economics or religion. But Monday has reminded me that, at our heart, we are a good, compassionate people. From the Bostonians offering food, clothing and shelter, to the Americans around the nation offering words of hope, wisdom and reflection, we are a strong, united community.

This Patriot's Day, I think I may have finally become a Patriot: not afraid in the wake of an isolated incident, but part of that great American community.

You know what makes a 6-hour flight feel short? A 14-hour flight two weeks earlier. This time around, I'm headed east for a week long tr...

You know what makes a 6-hour flight feel short? A 14-hour flight two weeks earlier. This time around, I'm headed east for a week long training camp followed by an awesome racing opportunity in my single.

I flew out last night on the red eye, and slept the entire flight. I brought a pillow with me and curled up into the window for 5 hours. We had an incredibly hard training day on Saturday, so I was struggling to stay awake before I even arrived at the airport.

I am starting my trip up in Connecticut training with Guenter Beutter, the man behind GMS. He's been coaching me, alongside my coaches at CRC, since January. At this level, all of the coaches are really spectacular, and all of them have something to contribute. Although it can be counterproductive to jump between training plans, I think it's really helpful to talk to as many coaches as possible to get their input. I've learned a lot already training with Guenter, and training with the other girls he coaches.

This morning, I went out for a quick 15K row before doing my grocery shopping and taking a solid 2-hour nap. Always a great way to start a trip!

From there, I'll be headed back to my alma mater, good ol' Princeton. Although I vowed to wait two decades before returning to campus, it seems fate had other plans for me. I will be racing at the first national selection regatta of the year, an opportunity for rowers around the country to pace themselves against the competition.

For me, I hope it will be a good starting point for me. I'm relatively young and new to training, so it is a great chance to see how I stack up against some more seasoned competitors as well as others with similar training backgrounds. I'm going into the race with hopes for great racing experience and not victory--it's a very comforting place from which to approach race day.

I will try to post updates throughout the next two weeks!

It seems we have officially welcome spring in the Bay Area. Warm weather, followed by rain and strong winds. Unpredictable cold snaps keep r...

It seems we have officially welcome spring in the Bay Area. Warm weather, followed by rain and strong winds. Unpredictable cold snaps keep reminding me that it's not yet summer, and for that I'm glad.

In high school and college, spring was racing season. After emerging from a cold, dark winter, we transitioned in mere weeks from the long 80-120 minute sessions to short sprints and painful 2000m races.

A lot of pain went into that medal.
Whether they were on the erg or the water, my nerves would stay in check until we reached the starting line. And in that moment, the calm, collected, calculating rower disappeared. The part of me that believed rowing should be excruciating, and that your effort was based on your ability to endure more pain than your opponent, blossomed.

Even when I ran races, I raced much smarter--somehow the need for race
pain didn't translate to running.
We would jump off the line, and as my nerves gripped my body, I would descend into a world of hurt 200 meters into the race. The burn of oxygen deprivation would build in my system, searing my mind and my muscles. In the best races, I held on, only falling slightly off the pace as the pain clouded my mind. In those races, my coxswain usually led my body when my brain failed. In the worst races, I watched as slower crews moved through us, the water in our lane turning to mud beneath me.

750m to go, struggling
But in the past year, something has changed. Perhaps it's my maturity as an athlete; perhaps it's the time between races; and likely it's the experience of my coaches and teammates. Either way, I am finally learning to race.

Instead of accepting the pain, I am learning to stave off the pain for as long as possible--while maintaining scores. I am learning to use my smaller size to my advantage by taking more strokes at a lighter load. I am learning to stay calm and collected, relying on my technical strengths and my lungs rather than my muscle and brawn.

This is where the change all began.
The whole experience has been mind-blowing. I'm seeing personal bests and coming off the erg ready to go again. The low stroke rates that have plagued my racing career are gone. My immense fear of racing is subsiding as I manage the pain, keeping it tolerable until the last minute.

Although I'm nowhere near the quoted 10,000 hours it take to become an expert in your field {I estimate I'm closer to 5000 hours}, I'm starting to understand why it takes so long.

I've had this book on my shelf for a while, but always passed it by, daunted by the word "advanced" in the title. I guess I un...

I've had this book on my shelf for a while, but always passed it by, daunted by the word "advanced" in the title. I guess I underestimated by background in chemistry and the amount of reading I've done about nutrition.

Overall, I found the book to be very informative. If you were hoping for a 'magic bullet' of nutrition, you'll probably be disappointed. Instead, Bernadot talks about common sense nutrition and goes into the how and why behind it.

For example, he emphasizes the need for athletes to have a high carbohydrate diet, explaining how carbohydrates are utilized as energy during exercise, which carbohydrates should be consumed at what times, and how any excess protein is simply converted into carbohydrates plus detrimental waste products.

The points I found most interesting, perhaps because of their relevance, were about weight loss and body composition. Although he seems generally opposed to weight loss in athletes, focusing instead of improved body composition, his approach is very sensible and well-founded.

Primarily, he advocates a balanced calorie deficit/surplus throughout the day, rather than just over a 24-hour period. I've been trying this out for the past week or so, and have been pretty happy so far. It's a bit hard to get in enough calories before/during morning practices, but I've been noticing that my desire to eat an entire jar of peanut butter has decreased.

My biggest bone to pick was the idea--no insistence--that athletes don't eat enough. I've heard this from so many places, and yet it doesn't seem to be an issue with me. I definitely think a lot of athletes eat at the wrong times or eat the wrong foods, but if I eat everything I want to, I gain weight. Of course, he argues that training should make you gain weight--but nowhere close to the amount of weight that I would gain.

As with all nutrition books, I'm taking the advice with a grain of salt (or maybe two, since Bernadot recommends upwards of 10g of sodium a day for athletes). But overall, I think this book is pretty well grounded and definitely geared to the elite athlete (those training twice a day, most days).

You can check out the first 30 or so pages here:

Another update on the classic PB & J; this time, it goes the veggie route! Take a 10" tortilla, microwave for 30 seconds. Spread ...

Another update on the classic PB & J; this time, it goes the veggie route!

Take a 10" tortilla, microwave for 30 seconds. Spread with a layer of peanut butter, then sprinkle with raisins and chopped celery bits. Roll and devour.
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