Heavy fog coated the bay this morning, reaching up through the streets and sitting heavy on the water. With low light and poor visibility, w...

Heavy fog coated the bay this morning, reaching up through the streets and sitting heavy on the water. With low light and poor visibility, we all made our way up the boathouse stairs to start our workout on the erg: twenty athletes sweating together.

As we settled into our workout, pockets of rhythm appeared. One rower latched onto the rhythm of another, and, as the rhythm spread through the room, ten fans sung out, whirring in unison. Filling in the background, smaller groups—two bodies matched perfectly over here, a trio of swing there—buzzed and hummed between the strongest rhythm.

Over the course of forty five minutes, the rhythms and the groups changed, each of us finding our own stride throughout the workout; others, sensing our flow, using our constancy as an anchor.

And though I could swing with the rhythm all day, the water beckoned. The fog just a whisper, we grouped into a quad and, with barely a word, took out our equipment to launch. And this is where the real beauty began.

Not four hundred meters from the dock, we are halfway through a warm-up initiated with but two words: pick drill.

From the bow seat, I am looking over my left shoulder, the toe of my right shoe swiveled hard to our starboard side, steering cleanly through the bridges, buoys and boats surrounding us. My hands grip my oars firmly, holding the handles and, by extension, the boat steady.

In front of me, our two seat gently glides back and forth on her seat, blades floating across the surface of the water. She reaches her hands forward, clearing space in the water for the rower astern. Then, she sweeps back, moving the handles from the arc of his shoulder swing.

As he rows, our three seat murmurs the occasional words, extending the stern pair's stroke from arms only, to arms and swing, then gradually adding segments of the leg drive. Silently, he counts strokes, making his calls as the count extends beyond ten.

The ultimate leader and the ultimate follower, our four seat mimics herself, one stroke after another. She trusts us to manage the practice as much as we trust her to find and keep our perfect rhythm.

And together, by some unspoken agreement, we make our way down the estuary, slicing the water as the emerging sun warms our backs.

Most of what I've read about elite athletes and success involves goal setting. The ability to set realistic short and long term goals se...

Most of what I've read about elite athletes and success involves goal setting. The ability to set realistic short and long term goals seems to distinguish successful athletes. I am always striving towards a goal, whether I actively recognize it or subconsciously strive towards it.

Here are some of my goals for April:

1. Maintain training weight
It's really easy to let your weight get out of hand after a difficult weigh-in process. I'd like to stay on top of my weight this month, ideally keeping it at or within 1kg of 57kg—the required boat average.

2. Improve my erg score
I've never had fast times on the rowing machine, and I need to change that. I can have as many excuses as I want, but faster ergs do translate to faster times on the water. For my erg, I'm fairly speedy on the water, but I can only imagine how much faster I'd be with a little bit more kick in my legs.

3. Don't lose any training time
I'm not talking about days off—those are crucial. I'm actually talking about failing to take off days and having to face the consequences. I lost over a week of critical training time in February and March because of stupid recovery decisions. I'd like to be smarter this month.

4. Race as much as possible
Whether it's racing my teammates or finding and entering local races, I could use as much race experience as possible in the next few months. One of my teammates has a great perspective on racing. After racing 6 times in one day, and having every possible thing go wrong during racing, she has learned to recognize racing as a learning experience rather than a one-time opportunity.

The last two goals also encompass one of my longer term training goals: develop a healthy attitude towards training and racing. I tend to take things too seriously, counting every bad workout as a demerit in my life's scorecard, but not giving myself enough credit for the good workouts.

If living in Oakland has taught me anything, it's to appreciate every single green light. {If you've ever driven in Oakland, you'll understand.} I need to bring this attitude towards my training, taking a lesson from a bad workout if I can, and then quickly letting them go and moving on. What's done is done--no point in dwelling.

In college, we lived without a kitchen. Most of our meals were from the dining hall, but this turned out to be an invaluable experience when...

In college, we lived without a kitchen. Most of our meals were from the dining hall, but this turned out to be an invaluable experience when travelling to Australia. With access to a communal fridge, a microwave and a 2-inch knife, my options were limited.

The most important piece was planning my meals. Salad greens and fresh veggies keep out of the fridge for a day, potatoes for a week--so of course I needed to eat the salads first. I also thought of a lot of creative ways to use individual ingredients so my food was interested and I didn't spend a fortune.

There were a few key ingredients that I relied on to make my meals tasty:
- pre-chopped garlic: I bought a jar at the local bargain food store for about $1.50; I added heaping spoonfuls to all of my dinners and most of my lunches. It's all sort of great for you, and the pre-chopped stuff is usually subtle enough to be eaten raw, or just lightly microwaved.
- hummus: I used this as a dip for raw veggies, as a spread on sandwiches and as a sauce for meals. I got the plain variety because my options were limited. There were a lot of other veggie dip options available, but most of them contained dairy products.
- peanut butter: peanut butter is awesome because it is both savory and sweet. I used it in conjunction with garlic as a sauce for dinners, and put it in my breakfast and PB&J lunch sandwiches. It was also a great snack straight from the spoon.
- oatmeal: I bought a large bag of quick oats for 99 cents. Their breakfast merits are obviously--huge portions are pretty low in calories, and they are filling and full of fiber. They also take well to a number of flavors--raisins + PB, apples, pears, bananas, passion fruit, jam, etc. Because they cook in the microwave in 90 seconds, they also make a great base for an on-the-road grain bowl for dinner. I know, savory oatmeal probably still freaks most of you out--I still recommend it.
- potatoes: Potatoes also cook well in the microwave, and sweet potatoes are just heavenly with peanut butter, garlic and spinach.
- canned beans: All of the canned beans had pull-tab tops, but if you can't find that, you can probably find a $2 can opener that you can bring on trips. Chickpeas are my favorite, because they taste the best cold and they tend to hold up best to cooking abuse.
- frozen spinach: I love spinach. They had spinach that came in little 1/3c portions in a bigger box. They were perfect for tossing onto potatoes or into savory oats for a boost of veggie. (There was also a lot more freezer space than fridge space available.)
- instant espresso: They don't have drip coffee in Australia--only espresso drinks. And most places we went, it was $4+ for a cup of coffee. Instead, I made do with instant espresso and hot water. A $7 jar lasted me through the trip, plus leftovers. It was heavenly mixed into oatmeal.. somewhat less tasty in its intended liquid form, but manageable if hot.

I also brought some things with me that proved invaluable:
- a small knife
- two medium plastic leftover containers
- a fork, a spoon and a knife

A toothbrush and toothpaste work wonders for doing dishes if you don't feel like bringing/buying dish soap and a sponge. It might not be perfect, but for me, it did the trick. I do also wish I'd brought one of our small cutting boards--lesson learned for next time. I might also consider bringing a mug--our hotel had styrofoam cups, but it felt so wasteful and they weren't really big enough for a satisfying Americano.

Flying can wreak havoc on your body. Sitting still anywhere for 14 hours is challenging enough; on top of that, there's dry cabin air, l...

Flying can wreak havoc on your body. Sitting still anywhere for 14 hours is challenging enough; on top of that, there's dry cabin air, less than stellar ergonomics for both sleeping and sitting, and very little to do.

I've written some about traveling before, mostly with regards to maintaining your weight while you're on the ground. But what about the flight itself? I take a lot of precautions to make sure I hit the ground ready to run, row, jump, squat, lift and weigh in.

First off, I manage my hydration. I always bring an empty water bottle and fill it once I'm through security. I try to drink to whole bottle in the first two hours of the flight. Every two hours after that, I'm up drinking more water. (Flight attendants often have cups of water available.)

Not only does this make sure I stay hydrated, which helps prevent the bloated feeling post travel, it also makes sure I get up every few hours to use the restroom. Between hydration, movement and extra hand-washing, drinking enough water is a triple threat against feeling crappy.

Note that I specify water. I very rarely drink juice and never drink soda, so drinking them on flights usually makes me feel bad. I would recommend sticking with water always, but if you don't like it, experiment and see what works for you!

Second, I plan ahead for food. Dietary restrictions make this absolutely necessary, but it's a smart move either way. If you've ever read a "10 Worst Snack Foods" list, featured at some point or another in almost every 'healthy living' magazine, you'll recognize most of them as offerings on your flight. (If there even are offerings.)

I pack meals for flights as if I were packing for a long day at work. I figure out which meals I will be missing, including some time on the ground, and pack accordingly. Mild flavors and scents are best. Sweet foods are usually readily available, including fruits, so I try to pack more savory foods and vegetables.

Some favorites:
- baby carrots and grape tomatoes; radishes and celery sticks also work well
- the little tubs of peanut butter (put them in your fluids bag!) or some PB2 powder
- pitas and tortillas with dry fried seasoned tofu (fry in a bit of oil until it's crispy and dry to the touch) {if they provide a meal, use some of the fresh veggies as filling}
- Clif bars

This time around, I also called the airline ahead of time to make a special meal request. Even if you don't have dietary restrictions, this might be a good idea. There is usually a list of options somewhere on the airline website. My mom tells me these options are usually tastier than the standard options.

Finally, I try to make sure I'll be as comfortable as possible. I wear comfortable, stretchy clothing and bring plenty of layers. My shoes come off pretty quickly into the flight. I try not to cross my legs and sit straight as much as possible.

If it's a red eye, I try to sleep as much as much as possible. To help myself sleep better on the flight, I usually bring a scarf that can be used as a pillow or blanket (although I've brought a real pillow before). I will also try to tire myself out the day of the flight, by getting up early, working out, and skipping a nap. Benadryl has also been a star guest on many of my red eye flights--it helps me sleep AND combats any allergies I might have on the flight. {I'm looking at you, dust!}

On long flights, I recommend using the flight to help adjust to the time difference. For example, on the flight to Sydney, I went to sleep at about 11:30pm PST, and ended up waking up around 8am PST. It was a great night of sleep, but I woke up at 2am Sydney time. Not ideal.

Instead, I should have aimed to stay up until 1am or so, at which point I would have been absolutely wiped. That would have gotten me about halfway adjusted to Sydney time, especially if I'd woken up a bit later.

What are your travel tips? I expect to do quite a bit of flying in the next 3-4 years, and the easier it is on my body, the better I will do at races.

This past week , we raced at the Sydney International Rowing Regatta, hosted at the 2000 Olympic race course in Penrith. The course itself w...

This past week, we raced at the Sydney International Rowing Regatta, hosted at the 2000 Olympic race course in Penrith. The course itself was absolutely beautiful: designed as a race course, it had ample launching and warm-up area as well as a fully buoyed 9-lane course and permanent starting docks.

The week might have been considered a rowing festival: in one week, the course hosted the Sydney International Regatta, the Australia Open Schools Rowing Championship, the Interstate Regatta, and the first stop of the World Cup series. We raced the lightweight women's quadruple scull at the Sydney International Regatta.

Our first race was Wednesday and was an optional race for lanes. Only three boats entered the race for lanes: us, Team Korea and Team Vietnam. We placed second in the race for lanes, just off the pace of Team Korea.

We borrowed unisuits from a local club; all our uniforms had to match, and we
are a composite crew so we don't have matching unis.
The race was good practice for us: it was our first time racing in this boat and, for three of us, also our first race of the spring season. We didn't execute our smartest race plan, nor was my steering something to brag about (yea, that's right—hit a few buoys). Still, the experience helped us develop a strategy for the final and learn.

It also gave us an opportunity to practice a weigh-in, which helped with our confidence about the Friday weigh-in.

Friday's weigh-in was also without drama. In fact, we only spent 10 minutes sweating out for that weigh-in, as opposed to the 20 minutes we spent on the first one. Once again, I wished I'd eaten a bit more for breakfast, but I did have a granola bar, some walnuts and I snuck a bite or two of peanut butter along the way.

Because we participated in the race for lanes, we got a middle lane draw for the final. We were situated in lane 5, with Team Korea just off to our left in lane 4 and the eventual 1st and 2nd place crews just to our right in lanes 2 and 3.

At the 500m mark, a quarter of the way into the race, we were even with the eventual 2nd place. We held in the mix, around 3rd place, through 750m to go. From there, our lack of racing experience really show through as we posted the same split time for each of the final three 500m segments. We finished in 4th, 6 seconds behind the winner and about 3 second behind Team Korea.

Ultimately, that was a great result. We definitely have work to do, but in many ways, this race was like comparing apples to oranges. We have established that we are not potato chips, i.e. we are actually competitive with these crews. Still, this was the final race of their summer racing season (in the S. hemisphere, summer is winding down--this was their national championships), and an incredibly early season race for us.

With a bit more race strategy, and improved fitness levels over the next few months, we hope to produce an incredibly internationally competitive quad. While it would have been nice to take home an international medal, that was not the goal of this regatta. We have other medals and other standards to chase, and this regatta helped us develop a plan for forward progress.

I will be back stateside soon, ready to make some solid progress on my training. Over the coming months, I need to significantly improve my 2000m erg time, dropping upwards of 8 seconds, if I hope to keep my seat in the LW4x and compete for international medals.

Weigh-ins don't really happen in the 24-hours before a weigh-in. Weigh-ins happen in the weeks and months that lead up to race day...

Weigh-ins don't really happen in the 24-hours before a weigh-in. Weigh-ins happen in the weeks and months that lead up to race day. As I've mentioned before, I believe that staying within a few pounds of goal weight is super important for a lot of reasons.

For this particular race, my goal weight was between 56.5 and 57 kg. (The exact weight is determined a few hours before weigh-in and depends on where we all are.) In the weeks approaching the race, my morning weight was sitting at around 57.5 kg.

In the days before the weigh-in, my morning weight was 57.3 kg—right on target.

12PM: Lunch. I eat bread with hummus, beets and cucumbers. I follow this up with some fruit. I also drink plenty of water with lunch, making sure I'm fully hydrated today, so I'm realistic about my weight tomorrow.

1PM: We hang out and relax as a group. As the afternoon wears on, we start talking more and more about all the foods we want to be eating post-weigh-in. Mostly, we're just excited to spend a week or two not thinking about what we're eating.

4PM: I'm starting to get a little bit hungry after lunch. As we get ready for our last practice before the race, I grab a quick bite: a small PB&J with some full fat soy milk.

5:30PM: Last training session. We go out for a short row--about 5000 meters of easy time in the boat. After the row, I weigh myself in at 57.9kg and then drink a full water bottle. We make the long drive home.

7:30PM: Dinner. I make myself a salad with cucumber, carrots, avocado, lettuce, hummus and eat a cob of corn. Previously, I've skipped dinner out of nerves and suffer from weakness the next day. This time, I force myself to eat dinner. (Sneak peak: Great choice, I was super happy about this the next day.)

8PM: I drink about a liter of water in the hours before bed. I pee several times in the next few hours.

10PM: Bed-time.

8AM: Wake-up time. I try to sleep in as much as possible. More sleeping means less eating. We all hop on the scale. I'm 56.9 kg, so I have a small breakfast: a Clif bar and some walnuts--foods that are light but calorie-dense. I also get dressed in some warmer clothes, so my body is warm and ready to sweat.

9AM: I spend some time packing both my clothes and my food for the day (and trying not to eat it yet!) I make sure to pack plenty of water and enough food for both right after weigh-in and after the race. I have another weigh-in later in the week, though, so I can't pack too much food.

10AM: We arrive at the course, and check our weights. Our average is about 57.5kg, or 1.1 pounds over the average. To make weight, we will sweat out some water weight. (Starting hydrated is super important for this.) We each spend about 20 minutes either running or erging in our long sleeve shirts and long pants and re-check weight.

I want to decrease the amount of time I spend sweating so I wear a bit more clothing than I'd normally wear. I still need to keep some mental tenacity for the race, though, so I stop at very mild discomfort.

11AM: We are about 0.1kg over the average. My body continues to sweat a bit in the heat of the day. I keep my longs on until I feel my sweat cease and I cool down. Otherwise, we just hang out in the shade waiting for go time.

12PM: Weigh-in. We all step on the practice scale one last time, spit once outside for good luck, remove any jewelry, hair ties, watches, socks, etc. and head to the scale. Success!

Once the weights have been confirmed, we re-fuel. I drink two bottles of water, one with electrolytes added, and eat: a Clif bar, a small cup of oatmeal, a banana, peanut butter on a tortilla and a pear. It's maybe a bit too much food, but not quite enough water. I make a mental note to improve this for the next weigh-in.

2PM: Race-time. I feel strong, hydrated and not overly full. Overall, I'm feeling like I'd be comfortable eating a bit more and sweating a bit more, but I was also very happy with the experience. I will make some mental notes of other things to try for my next weigh-in.

Things I liked: focusing on re-hydrating post weigh-in, eating oatmeal, staying fully hydrated the day before, eating dinner
Things I didn't like: eating quite that much food after the weigh-in, not sure I drank quite enough liquids between weigh-in and race, maybe could have eaten a bit more in the morning and/or sipped water, spent too much energy thinking about weight and not enough thinking about racing

After a 14-hour flight, most of which was spent sleeping, I arrived in Australia well rested and in a chipper mood. I had to wait for my tea...

After a 14-hour flight, most of which was spent sleeping, I arrived in Australia well rested and in a chipper mood. I had to wait for my teammates to arrive in the Sydney airport, followed by some struggles with lost luggage. (Their bags were sent to Sydney, Canada. Oops.)

Friday was spent getting to our super budget hotel and situating ourselves, as well as heading over to the race course for a short run.

Our hotel is bare bones: we are using a communal fridge and microwave as our only kitchen, and the bathroom in the room is about 1 square meter: a toilet and shower with no curtain. I imagine it like showering in a futuristic boat; except in a futuristic boat, I would expect some sort of drying feature so the floor isn't always wet. The furniture is from Ikea, and we have barely enough room to walk. Good thing we're spending most of our time outdoors and away from the hotel.

The race course is the exact opposite: absolutely spectacular. We are racing on the course from the 2000 Olympics in Sydney. It's perfectly designed for a regatta: ample warm-up space, great viewing, running paths, plenty of spaces for boats and launching docks, and great amenities.

Saturday through Tuesday, we rowed twice a day, getting up early most days to get a few loops on the course before racing for the day started. We have also had some fun adventures around town. Although I've had to work while here, and missed the trip to downtown Sydney over the weekend, I did get to enjoy a nice sunburn from a day at Bondi Beach. Oops.

We also spent a day lounging in a cafe in Paramatta, a small town near where we are staying, using their internet to do work. And I've visited countless grocery stores and produce markets already, trying to stock up on food as cheaply as possible. (Things costs about twice as much here as they do in the U.S.)

Our first race and first weigh-in was Wednesday. The weigh-in was uneventful--the best kind. I weighed in at 56.5kg, the lightest I've ever been. Our race was an optional race for lanes, and a great chance to get out and see how we handled racing. We did some things well, and need to improve in other areas. Friday, our final, will be the true test of our speed as a boat.

Eating vegan in a foreign country has been both challenging and easy. Like in the UK, foods are incredibly well labeled as suitable for vegans. That's great, since they have all sorts of different names for the myriad of chemicals that go into foods and I don't know which ones are vegan.

At the same time, I'm not in California anymore. At a breakfast cafe, I asked whether their bread contained eggs or dairy and they told me that yes, they had gluten-free bread. They didn't seem to understand that those weren't the same thing.

We are also doing all of our cooking in a microwave, while trying to maintain weight. Oatmeal has been a staple of my diet, as well as some other easily microwaved foods: potatoes, frozen spinach and canned beans. I have also made a few tasty dishes with tofu, but it's quite expensive here. Sample dinners have included:
- Sweet potatoes with spinach, chickpeas, peanut butter and garlic
- Tofu, chickpeas, canned tomatoes and spinach
- Veggie patties on pitas with hummus, spring mix and cucumber
- Canned chili with avocado, spinach and pre-cooked rice packages

I know—I'm suffering.

I also splurged and found some vegan dark chocolate covered marzipan that I'm going to thoroughly enjoy post-Friday racing.

One more practice. One more weigh-in. One more race. So excited for this crazy adventure!

Plants are watered and mulched. Bags are packed. At the airport, ready for a 14.5 hour flight to Australia! Remember that quad camp back ...

Plants are watered and mulched. Bags are packed. At the airport, ready for a 14.5 hour flight to Australia!

Remember that quad camp back in January? Well, we're racing that very same quad at the Australian National Championships next week. Because of the time change, I'm completely missing 3/14 (sorry pi day!!!) and will arrive in Sydney on Friday early morning.

We race the following week, Wednesday and Friday; results will be posted online:
We are event 115, the Open Lightweight Women's Quad

Once we arrive (five in total, including coach), we'll have five days to acclimate and get rid of any excess water weight from flying before weighing in and racing.

I'm well stocked for the plane ride: between magazines, books and TV shows (split between iPad and computer so I have enough battery!!!), plus hopefully a decent amount of sleep, I should be able to get to Sydney without too much boredom. Fingers crossed--when I get bored, I usually eat.

I'm also hoping that a double-day of exercise (75' in the AM, 60' in the PM), a 45' walk, packing, work and no napping have left me drained enough that a 12-hour night of sleep is just what I need. I even skipped coffee after practice so I'd be caffeine free for the flight. Oh boy.

I've packed quite the collection of food for the trip. We've been warned that food prices are high there, and I'm unsure of the vegan selection in Australia.

For the flight and subsequent arrival, I packed cherry tomatoes, baby carrots, pan-fried tofu, a tortilla, an artichoke, a banana and an orange. I also have packed a Clif bar for every day, some samples of Vega products, and some quick oats for making breakfast oatmeal. I'm sure I'll have to buy food, but based on my internet research, produce prices weren't too outrageous.

I also had to navigate special meal requests for the first time. What a hassle. It took me nearly 20 minutes of phone time with United to request a vegan meal. When I called to confirm today my selection, I was told that my request was entered incorrectly, and they have no idea whether it went through. Delightful.

One final question: does anybody else still have to fight the urge to go the wrong way on escalators? So much fun!

There are an abundance of reasons to mulch your plants. In California, where summers are hot and dry, moisture retention tops my list. Weed ...

There are an abundance of reasons to mulch your plants. In California, where summers are hot and dry, moisture retention tops my list. Weed suppression is another big one.

Some plants don't do well with mulching, like radishes and beets. But other, like peas, trees and bushes, do. I knew it would help me out a lot to mulch as many plants as possible--I hate watering and I'm pretty inconsistent about it.

If you go to your local garden center and ask for mulch, they'll show you big bags of bark chips. That's a great permanent weed prevention solution for walkways and around trees. Less great for annuals, where you'll want to turn up the soil and amend between plantings.

Since I'm working with relatively uninspired soil, I wanted my mulch to also improve the soil conditions. Partially decomposed compost was definitely an option, but my supply is super limited, and I'd like to keep it for direct soil amendments. If we had a car, I might have considered picking up bags of finished compost as mulch.

Instead, I went with a free solution: shredded paper. Between recycled newspapers and foraged ahredder byproduct, I'm slowly working on mulching my most precious plants. To keep the paper from blowing away in the wind, just wet it thoroughly.

As the season progresses, the paper will begin to decompose. When my veggie plants have finished their growing cycle, I can simply work the paper bits into the soil, where they will as organic matter, and probably improve water retention in the soil.

The peas have already received the royal treatment. Up next are the cabbages, lettuces and raspberries.

Easy to put together; full of texture and flavor. Thanks to the combo of parsley and tahini, the salad is both hearty and refreshing. What...

Easy to put together; full of texture and flavor. Thanks to the combo of parsley and tahini, the salad is both hearty and refreshing.

What you need:
Half onion, two carrots, three stalks celery
3 cans beans (chickpeas, white beans, red kidney)
Cooked grain
Tahini, honey, lemon, oil, paprika, garlic powder, water

What you do:
If you still need to cook your grain, start now. Try to use a grain that works well in salads: quinoa, orzo, couscous, barley, etc.

Dice the onion, carrots and celery and sauté over low heat while you're fixing everything else. Stir every once in a while.

Drain and rinse the beans.

Make the dressing: equal parts tahini, oil and water, half as much lemon juice, half as much again honey, paprika and garlic powder. Mix well. Salt and pepper, taste and adjust.

Combine everything in a big bowl, and top with freshly chopped parsley.

As part of the LW4x camp in January, we were trying to put together a quad to race at a few upcoming regattas. Our first stop? Australia in ...

As part of the LW4x camp in January, we were trying to put together a quad to race at a few upcoming regattas. Our first stop? Australia in the middle of March for the Sydney International Rowing Regatta.

Before travel and competitions details were finalized, we established weight goals.

Most lightweight rowers sit above their racing weight throughout the year. {I have some serious doubts as to whether this is the most effective way to train and race, which I'll address later.} The last weeks leading up to a regatta require weight loss, either minor or significant, in order for the crew to make weight.

In lightweight women's rowing, international regattas are generally subject to FISA weigh-in rules, which require a crew's average weight to be 57kg (125.5lbs) with no individual greater than 59kg (130lbs). {In the single, only maximum weight rules apply.}

This requires a lot of coordination. Lean muscle weight is a huge advantage in rowing; to be as fast as possible, we'd like our crew average weight to be exactly 57kg. There are a lot of ways to split this weight loss--one slightly heavier, all at weight, one slightly lighter, etc. During camp, we set our individual goal weights, and created a shared Google doc for tracking weight.

Our race-day goal weights will probably adjust depending on where we all get in the next few weeks, but for now, I am on target to have dropped 4 pounds in about 6 weeks.

After the fall speed order, where I had to drop approximately 6 pounds in 2 weeks and felt my performance suffer as a result, I decided to rethink how I managed my weight. Typically, lightweight women intend to train 5-8 pounds above their race weight; often, this ends up closer to 10-15 pounds above race weight.

I've had a lot of discussions about this strategy. I'd like to try something new. I know I feel like a totally different athlete at 155 pounds than 130 pounds. I know the same difference is there between 130 and 125 pounds, even if it's not as pronounced. I would like to train much closer to my racing weight (+/- 2 pounds, ideally).

A lot of proponents of dropping weight argue that maintaining racing weight is bad for training--increased injury and illness, decreased recovery, no sense of humor, etc. Personally, I feel these effects most when I am actively dropping weight, rather than maintaining (even at a smaller size). {See my post from yesterday--dropping weight definitely had an effect!}

I fully expect my weight to fluctuate some. Although my morning weight might average around 127 pounds, it will be higher some mornings and lower others. (Burrito night is almost a guarantee that I will be heavier for a day or two.) The goal is not to be hyper-controlling about weight, but to set myself  a new standard of normal.

This might not be the best strategy, but I will never know unless I try a few things. I've definitely tried weight-dropping enough to hope that it's not the best strategy. This year and next, I expect I will spend a lot of time establishing my own procedures for rowing lightweight. As I experiment, I hope to learn a lot about myself and my body.

The last week and a half was rough. Last Tuesday, I was up early in the morning for a 90' easy row, followed by a long day of work in Sa...

The last week and a half was rough. Last Tuesday, I was up early in the morning for a 90' easy row, followed by a long day of work in San Francisco and another, harder 60' erg workout in the afternoon.

Wednesday started early again, with a hard 2x50' workout on the water that left me absolutely drained. Things went downhill quickly from there. After spending another 5 hours in San Francisco fighting to stay awake and focused, I headed back home and pushed myself through yet another workout.

By Saturday morning, I was fried. A 2000m test left me shaking and crying on the locker room floor. I was so tired I thought I might never have energy again. Scary.

Fortunately, I talked to my coach about it, and we adjusted my workout plan.

I took almost two full days off, doing an easy walk and 30' light elliptical workout at the end of the second day. (That left me exhausted.) I'm still easing back into full-length workouts; I've been sitting at one workout a day and 9+ hours of sleep.

Only yesterday did I start to feel like I might really be untired again, and the shorter workouts are still leaving me more exhausted than I would like.

The moral of the story: Don't be afraid of exhaustion--respect it.

I've read a lot of quotes about pushing through fatigue and exhaustion--that you can have your excuses or your glory, but not both. And I've taken to heart messages from numerous coaches about going when your body tells you to stop.

Specifically, I remember coming out of a 3-hour upper division math final exam--one of my hardest classes at Princeton--and heading immediately to the boathouse for a grueling 6x7' erg workout. I couldn't bear to do it, so I got on the bike for a solid sweat session. One of the national team rowers, who was leading our winter training, came up to me and told me that wasn't good enough. She told me that if I wanted to be a real athlete, I needed to do the workout, no matter how exhausted.

I took that message to heart, and it's one of the worst things I could have done. I ended up quitting rowing at the end of that year, too terrified to pull a 5k test upon returning to campus; I was too bone tired to work hard. It took a full year of healing to recover from that season.

This time, I caught it. Next time, hopefully I'll catch it sooner. And after that? Well, maybe I'll prevent it. But in the meantime, I'm going to trust my body, and you should, too. Any good coach understands that you know your body better than they do.

Dan and I are spending the week housesitting in my parent's neighborhood. It's been a fun opportunity to see how another family runs...

Dan and I are spending the week housesitting in my parent's neighborhood. It's been a fun opportunity to see how another family runs their house, what it's like to have cats and chickens, and to see how much work two teenagers are.

I have also been cooking healthy vegan meals for four this past week. I planned the menu assuming their was nothing in the pantry, and then adjusted accordingly. What we ended up with was an almost entirely self-contained menu for nine days, with enough food to feed a hungry family of four.

To scale down for two people, you can buy the same foods over the course of almost 3 weeks--just plan on repeating meals. (Have Monday's meal on Monday and Wednesday; Tuesday's meal on Tuesday and Thursday; then make Wednesday's meal for Friday and Sunday and have leftovers on Saturday.)

If your family eats a lot (more than two active teenagers and two 20-somethings), feel free to supplement with additional snacks like a box of crackers or granola bars.

Below, you can find the meal plan and shopping list. This would be a great resource if you want to try going vegan for a week! Take advantage of the bulk foods section to get the right amount of most nuts and seeds; you can also buy grains from this section.

By the end of the week, you will theoretically have used up everything on the list. Feel free to pull from your pantry for substitutions (e.g. dried cranberries instead of raisins, or mixed hot cereal instead of oats).

What you'll need:

fresh fruit (2-3 pieces per person per day)

apples (2)
raisins (3 cups)
bananas (5-8)

frozen blueberries (2 bags)
lemon (1-2)

lime (1-2)

beet (1)
broccoli/alfalfa sprouts
cucumber (2)
bell pepper (5)
cherry tomatoes
avocado (3)
broccoli (4 heads)
Brussels sprouts (15-18 per person)
onion (2-3)
lettuce (2 heads)
sweet potato (10)
mixed greens (frozen spinach, kale, etc.)
kabocha squash (2)
radishes (1 bunch)
green cabbage (1 head)
celery (1 bunch)
baby carrots
red cabbage (1 head)
garlic (1 head)

Cans, Jars and Sauces
tomatoes (2 cans, chopped)
navy beans (1 can)
corn (1 can)
fire roasted green chilies (1 can)
pumpkin (1 can)
tahini (1 jar)
coconut milk (2 cans)
pinto beans (2 can)
kidney beans (2 can)
jarred salsa
black beans (4 cans)
peanut butter (1 jar)
hummus (big tub)
chickpeas (5 cans)
bell pepper spread (vegan)

Grains, Nuts, Seeds
naan or pita bread (8-12 pieces)
bagels (4)
quinoa (2 cups dry)
vegan trail mix (2 pounds)
French bread
cold cereal (8 servings worth)
pasta (2.5 pounds)
pepitas (1-2 cups)
oatmeal (6 cups dry)
sliced bread ***
brown rice (5 cups dry)
tortillas (20 medium/small corn)
chia seeds (4T)

non-dairy milk (1 gallon) ***
extra firm tofu (4)
Field Roast dogs or vegan sausages (6-8)
silken tofu (1 package)

Spices - optional items are in ( )

0.25c curry powder
soy sauce or teriyaki sauce
salt + pepper
olive oil
(garlic powder)
(ground cumin)
(organic sugar)

*** Note: Most sliced breads are not vegan. They often either contain honey or a milk derivative like whey. We eat honey, and have some local brands that are dairy-free. If you can't find this option, grab some crusty French bread (usually vegan, but check), pre-slice and freeze it. Pop it on the toaster when you want a sandwich.
*** Note: We prefer soy and almond milks, and almost always buy them unsweetened (as opposed to plain, which is sweetened).

What you'll cook:
Breakfast -
In a big pot, prepare ~3 cups of dry oatmeal. While it's cooking, add two big glops of peanut butter, 2 apples cut into chunks and 1 cup of raisins. Optionally, sprinkle with cinnamon and organic sugar.
Lunch -
Make sandwiches with hummus, sliced raw beets, broccoli sprouts, cucumber and bell pepper. Add 1-2 pieces of fruit and a handful of cherry tomatoes.
Dinner - 
Cook 3 cups brown rice. Heat 2 cans of black beans. Shred a head of red cabbage and toss it with olive oil, the juice from 1 lime, chopped garlic or garlic powder and, if you have it, ground cumin. Salt + pepper to taste. Serve with warmed tortillas for make-your-own tacos.

Breakfast -
Combine the leftover brown rice with chia seeds (about 1T/cup of rice), and some non-dairy milk. Microwave or heat gently on the stove top until it makes a pudding. Add 1 cup of raisins.
Lunch - 
Pack tortilla triangles, leftover cabbage slaw, black beans and rice. Add avocado slices and some jarred salsa.
Dinner -
Oven roast 4 blocks of extra firm tofu, pressed and sliced, with 4 heads of broccoli, chopped. Make 2 dry cups of brown rice. Serve with teriyaki sauce or simply a drizzle of soy sauce.

Breakfast - 
Finish off the leftover hot cereal from Monday. If there isn't enough leftover, add extra dried or fresh fruit like sliced bananas or apples.
Lunch - 
Leftover broccoli/tofu stirfry with rice.
Dinner -
Grill Field Roast or other veggie sausages (make 2-3 extra for lunch tomorrow!) on French bread. Slice Brussels sprouts and pan fry them with a chopped onion.

Breakfast - 
Vegan cold cereal with non-dairy milk, frozen blueberries.
Lunch - 
Slice the extra sausages and toss them with a jar of bell pepper spread and cooked pasta. Add any leftover Brussels sprouts.
Dinner - 
Make a salad with lettuce, a few microwaved sweet potatoes in chunks, a sliced avocado, pepitas, a can of pinto beans, a can of kidney beans, bell pepper, cucumber and radishes. Mix remaining salsa with olive oil to make a dressing.

Breakfast - 
Split a bag of trail mix (make sure it's vegan!) evenly and top with non-dairy milk. For some crunch, sprinkle in any extra cold cereal.
Lunch - 
Small container of leftover salad, plus a peanut butter and banana sandwich.
Dinner - 
Blend 1 package of silken tofu with 1 can of pumpkin and 0.5 cup of tahini. Pan fry some greens (frozen spinach, kale, leftover raw sprouts, etc.). Cook 1.5 pounds of pasta. Combine.

Breakfast - 
Make another batch of hot cereal; this time, add a bag of nuts, seeds and dried fruit trail mix as it's cooking (i.e. nothing that melts, like chocolate chips).
Lunch - 
Add a handful of raisins or other dried fruit to the leftover pasta; any leftover pepitas are also fair game.
Dinner - 
Dice and roast two large kabocha squashes, skin on. Sautee 1-2 onions over low heat until thoroughly browned. Add 0.25c curry powder, chopped garlic, 2 cans coconut milk. When the coconut milk starts to bubble, add 3 cans drained and rinsed chickpeas and the kabocha squash. (You'll need a BIG pan, or combine at the table.) Serve with naan or pita.

Breakfast - 
Vegan cold cereal with non-dairy milk, frozen blueberries.
Lunch - 
Serve leftover flatbread with hummus, baby carrots, arugula and cucumber slices.
Dinner - 
Slow cooker chili: Open and combine 2 cans chopped tomatoes, 1 can each of black, pinto, kidney, white and garbanzo beans (rinsed and drained), 1 can corn, 1 can fire roasted green chilis. Optionally, add garlic, dehydrated onions, and relavent spices.

Breakfast - 
Spread bagels with tahini. Serve with fresh fruit.
Lunch - 
Microwave 4 large sweet potatoes. Top each one with any of the leftover chili.
Dinner - 
Make 2 cups dry of quinoa. Lightly warm green cabbage, bell peppers and chickpeas. Top with a tahini dressing, made from tahini, juice of 1 lemon, chopped garlic and water to thin. Serve warm but not hot.

Breakfast - 
Smoothie: This is the best way to use up leftovers from the week. Ok to add: fruits, mild veggies (carrots, beets in moderation, spinach, kale, cucumber, celery tops), peanut butter, tahini, rolled oats, non-dairy milks, silken tofu, nuts, seeds
Lunch - 
Leftovers! Finish off anything you have left from the week. Freshen it up by chopping up fresh veggies to add, or just by giving it a good stir.
Dinner -
You know that hot cereal you made on Saturday? That's dinner! Who doesn't love breakfast for dinner??

Celery sticks with peanut butter (raisins optional). Microwaved sweet potato. Pita/naan or baby carrots with hummus. Fresh fruit. Raw cauliflower with tahini.
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