{image source} Dan and I are loyal Aeropress users at home. But bringing an electric kettle and the Aeropress, however portable, on the ...

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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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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,...

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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