Greetings from Florida! My season opener is in a little under a week and I've been in the Sunshine State for about a month preparing for...

Greetings from Florida! My season opener is in a little under a week and I've been in the Sunshine State for about a month preparing for my first trip down the race course. I've learned so much in the last few months, so let's start at the beginning: February.

As I mentioned at the end of my last update, February was my first full month at home since June of 2018 and I was hoping to take full advantage of it. That's what I did.

In the Northeast Kingdom, February is one of the hardest months. The days are still short, the cold still bitter, and the end far away. Rather than fighting this truth with willpower, I chose to accept it and lean on the power of team to get me through. My coach, Guenter, and I made sure I had training partners for almost every session.

I'm particularly grateful to one of our juniors, Gabby, who fearlessly chased me down (and occasionally beat me) on the ergs throughout February. From sitting next to her, I learned to trust my racing instinct: whenever she closed in on me, a switch flipped and I was able to work harder than I thought possible. I'm also grateful to one of our masters athletes, Paula, who showed up every morning and helped me get through a lot of 75-minute steady state session.

Throughout the month, I saw improvements and personal records on a variety of workouts and came into March full of optimism.

In early March, I got my bloodwork done again with InsideTracker (that link gets you and me both 15% off if you want to try InsideTracker) and things were heading in the right direction. (Again, big thanks to Paula, who's also a registered dietitian and who helped me interpret the results and make effective changes). More optimism there.

I also started working with a sports psychologist in early March. My 2k erg score has never been fast, but recently, it's been slower than expected despite other improvements. I had somehow convinced myself that it was just my peculiar biology holding me back, but after both Paula and Margaret (my boatmate from this summer) told me it was a mental thing, I decided to believe them and do something about it.

We 2k tested three times in two weeks. I'd had very little time working with the sports psychologist, but felt the utility of the tools she gave me as I improved each 2k test. Ultimately, I didn't reach my PR, but finished out my indoor training block with my best 2k since 2016 and my first well-executed piece in years.

On March 10th, I loaded up my car and hit the road, spending two days driving into the heart of spring. On my first row, it felt like somebody had finally plugged in my solar panels: my energy levels were incredibly high. In fact, much of that first week was spent holding myself back. I came off the water after every row wanting to keep going, fighting the urge to tack on an extra run or a quick bike ride.

This was especially difficult as I was surrounded by other women who were doing more volume than me. Over the years, Guenter and I have found that I thrive on a lower volume plan than most of my competitors, usually averaging 800-900 minutes a week of active work. Seeing the women around me continue on for 1200 or 1400 minutes in a week made me feel lazy and inadequate, like maybe I just didn't want it as badly as they did. It took a huge amount of self-confidence, trust in Guenter and faith in the process to stick to my own plan. This is something I spent most of March actively working on in my time outside of practice. It turns out, the amount of work you do is not directly correlated to the amount you want it. In fact, sometimes, the hardest thing to do is to step away from the grind. Maybe someday, I'll fully believe that.

The time down here in Florida has been exactly what I hoped for.

My first goal was to get comfortable in my boat. I've spent the last weeks figuring out how to work hard without trying hard, and I'm finally starting to figure it out. When it clicks, it's the most magical feeling: something worth chasing regardless of the outcome of racing.

My second goal was to work with the group down here to get faster. I didn't know who would be here or how cooperative they would be, but I knew how much team had helped me in February. It turned out to be better than I could have imagined. We ended up with a group of 6-10 fast lightweight women here, pushing each other in singles and doubles, and supporting each other, despite being competitors. Helping your competitor improve is terrifying. All of us have demonstrated a stupendous amount of courage these last weeks, pushing each other to be better. But our faith has paid off: we are all the faster for it. And, if nothing else, I now fully understand the power of courage.

And suddenly, it's just the finishing touches.

Racing starts on Thursday, April 18th. With 27 entries in the lightweight single, it's going to be a full four days. Live results will be available at HereNow and information about the event (including a tentative schedule) is posted at USRowing. There are no direction selection implications for lightweights at this event. Instead, it's an opportunity to gauge our early season speed before we hop into doubles and prepare for the first trials of the year in mid-May.

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