As mentioned in the previous post, we spent quite a while in Gainesville, GA preparing for NSR I. We learned a ton by racing each other in singles, and doubles (with the ARION scullers), and overall, the trip was a huge success. Before we left, Lucas’ aunt invited the team over to ride horses at Bearfoot Ranch followed by an incredible BBQ put on by his aunt and the staff at the ranch. We learned that in addition to being a horse rescue ranch, Bearfoot provides equine-assisted activities and therapies for children and adults with special needs, regardless of ability. Thank you for taking us riding, we had an awesome time bonding with the horses! (pictures courtesy of Bearfoot Ranch)
After a month of focused training at Lake Lanier Olympic Park, the time came for us to pack up and head North for our first racing series of the 2018 season. We made one quick pit stop before our final destination (Princeton, NJ), in Charlottesville, VA to the home of the Hoos for a mini GRP training camp!
Thanks to UVA’s Frank Biller (Head Coach for the men’s team), we were able to break up our trip from GA to NJ with a few days spent on the Riviana River. UVA Men & Women shared their house with us, and we are grateful for their generosity. One of the big reminders taken from our visit, was this simple sentence written on the exterior of the boathouse: “Entitled to Nothing. Grateful for Everything.” As GRP athletes, we have the privilege of following our pursuit of excellence in the sport of rowing; and, we have the responsibility of leaving every thing we are a part of, better than how we found it. In the words of former GRP coach, Larry Gluckman “practice makes permanent”, we know that in order to achieve greatness in all aspects of life, we need to practice being the best version of ourselves at all times. Doing the right thing, being kind, trustworthy, accountable, on-time, supportive, humble, and hungry are all things we are striving to do every day- things that start away from the water and the gym, and that do not have a stopping point, but that rather facilitate our evolution into better people and athletes.
On the water, Steve ran us through a supercomp series in order to help us both recover and prepare our muscles for a week of racing. Off the water, we had three days of transition to help our mental preparedness, as there was an opportunity to run through race course trailer loading, rigging, boat preparation, and visualization one more time before arriving in Princeton.
Racing ran April 17-19, though, it was originally scheduled to be a four day event, ending on Friday- race officials compressed the schedule due to severe weather conditions. To see a detailed race write up, go to the Craftsbury Outdoor Center news feed.
We would be remiss if we did not discuss weather conditions in this blog post – which were very challenging given wind and wake; however, the results uncovered the strength of the GRP which is performing in adverse conditions with exceptional focus on the task at hand while simultaneously acknowledging the big picture.
Due to extremely difficult and rough water, Nate flipped in the warmup area. He was having trouble getting out of his shoes and keeping his head above water, a task made harder by the combination of rough & cold wind and water conditions. Luckily, Will Daly (USRowing National Team Athlete Services Coordinator, Olympian and 12-time National Team Lightweight) was operating a USRowing safety launch when he saw Nate go in the water. Will removed his outer layers, and went in to the water to save Nate. Any one of the athletes racing at NSR could have flipped – it could have been any one of us in the water. Will did what he knew was the best decision at the time, and that was to help someone in need. Unfortunately, Nate was not in a good enough condition temperature-wise to accept the re-row that USRowing offered to him; and, as a result, he was no longer in contention to progress in the week’s racing series. We are happy that Nate was unharmed, no amount of thanks could express our gratitude properly to Will- but, thank you all the same.
As far as the rest of the GRP’s performance went, John, Wes, and Frank ranked 2nd, 10th and 14th, respectively, in the 1900 meter time trial giving them a pass to the next round, while Lucas (17th) just missed making the top 16 and progressed immediately to the D Final. Jen posted 4th fastest time, and Jenny 11th- both progressed to Wednesday morning heats.
All GRPers that raced in Wednesday morning heats advanced to semifinals later in the evening- a schedule compression that race officials felt would give athletes racing in the finals (now set for Thursday instead of Friday) the best possible water conditions, as Friday’s weather forecast looked poor. Jenny’s lightweight heat was postponed for Wednesday evening, and all D+ finals were cancelled due to deteriorating course conditions. As a result, Lucas’ overall result at his first NSR remained 17th.
Because of the augmented schedule, GRP prioritized recovery between races. As soon as we came off the water, we either erged or biked for 40 minutes, and ate or drank a snack to help replenish our glycogen stores ASAP. When we got back to our house, we ate a good breakfast and utilized NormaTec Recovery pants to help aid with flushing out residual lactic acid and prepping our legs for the semifinals. We all got about 8 hours between races, the latest race started at 7:26 pm.
Conditions for Wednesday evening’s races were markedly calmer. Admittedly, it was one of the most visually stunning races we’ve ever had. Tearing down the course, racing to the finish line before the with bright red-orange sun disappeared behind the westward trees, competing against five amazing athletes – some Olympians, some world champions, and some (including two of our own) still novice scullers – was a truly unique and fun experience. Thanks to Julbo Eyewear – our eyes stayed happy for the duration of that gorgeous sunset, as the course runs nearly exactly West to East. Vear took 4th in Semifinal 1, while John and Frank took 2nd and 6th, respectively, in Semifinal 2. Jen took 4th in Semifinal 1, while Jenny took 3rd in her heat.
In order to progress to the A Final, GRP needed to be in the top 3, any other result meant racing in the B final. Because of the shift in the lightweight’s schedule, the top 2 finishers in the evening heats would progress to A final, and everyone else to the B final. John progressed to the A final, while Wes, Frank, Jen, and Jenny progressed to the B final Thursday morning.
John won the A final with a time of 7:21.41 at 88.6% of the World’s Best Time or “Gold Standard”. Wes placed 3rd in the B final with a time of 7:19.80 at 88.9% GS- taking 9th overall. Frank placed 5th in the B final with a time of 7:27.99 at 87.3% GS- taking 11th overall. Jen placed 3rd in the B final with a time of 8:03.21 at 88.4% GS – taking 9th overall. Jenny placed 3rd in the B final with a time of 8:29.70 at 87.1% GS- taking 9th overall.
We left Mercer feeling good about this first week of racing, but hungry and excited to get back to training.
So, whats next for us?!
Jen made a speedy U-turn this past Sunday from Craftsbury to the Mid-Atlantic. Just 36-hours after getting home from Princeton, she drove down to Washington, D.C to join in on Potomac Boat Club’s 2xs selection matrix. There, she joins five other women (Margy Bertasi, Maggie Fellows, Mickey Fili, Emily Huelskamp, and Julia Lonchar) for the opportunity to make a 2x that will race at NSR II / SSO II against other top lineups in the country, which will also be a precursor for 4x selettion. NSR I/SSO II runs May 17-20.
NSR Events: M2-, W2-, LM2x, LW2x, PR3M2-, PR3W2-
Speed Order Events: M2x, W2x, PR2M1x, PR2W1x
The rest of the GRP remains in Vermont, for now, and are training on the Lamoille River, thanks to the help of UVM Crew.
Stay tuned for more updates!
As always, thank you to Craftsbury Outdoor Center & Concept2 for supporting us in the pursuit of our Olympic dreams both at home and on the go; to JLRacing for outfitting our team with high-quality racing and training apparel; Julbo Eyewear, for your generous donation of racing sunglasses; and, to NormaTec Reovery – having recovery tools like yours helps immensely especially when we have same day races!