Sunday, May 31, 2009

And an overdue congratulations to....

Forge Racing, who partook in some seriously great racing at the 70-miler last weekend. Kyle and Matt finished 2nd overall, and Marc and Holly finished as the top mixed team... 8th overall! Results from the regatta are here.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Astra Archery

Tyler wrote a book! It has been many months in the making, and I've been lucky to watch the project unfold.

The book was released Thursday and is available for pre-order!

Talented athletes are impressive; those who write beautiful books about their sport even more so.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Pizza night with team USA

On the dinner menu tonight: a stir-fry of liver, pickles, and bacon fat.

We each had one bite before we realized what we were eating. And we went into town and got Hawaiian pizzas. Yum.

Monday, May 25, 2009

70-miler is happening NOW!

Good luck to Forge Racing today at the General Clinton Canoe Regatta, aka the 70-miler! These are the guys with whom I train and race marathon canoes back home in Rochester.

The race runs 70 miles on the Susquehanna River from Cooperstown to Bainbridge, NY, and anyone who finishes is officially badass.


We are training in Wałcz, Poland for the next 9 days leading up to the final World Cup in Szeged, Hungary. We've just arrived, and I declare it beautiful! We are staying at a gorgeous Olympic training center in the North-Western Polish countryside, on a lake called Lake Raduń. There are plenty of trees and lots of sunshine today. After I take a nap, I'm going to run around with my camera!

Goodbye Poznan

I woke up early this morning to go for a run and take some photos of the venue.

The finish tower

View of the finish line and the boathouse on the far right

I was hoping we'd see people skiing on this ski hill, but no such luck. I can't tell what the surface is but it looks like fun.

Sunday, May 24, 2009


It was a whirlwind of a World Cup weekend that unfortunately saw Mickle and I get knocked out in the semifinals of both our k2 500m and k2 1000m, in the former case by less than half a second. We did not race poorly; in fact we dealt with the weekend's inclement weather very well. We are quite simply not yet fast enough to hang with the top crews. At first we were frustrated, but there's no reason to remain that way. We know we have a lot of work to do, but everyone has to start somewhere. Our somewhere is right here, on the outskirts of the B final. We are going to try to improve on that in Hungary.

Our races aside, it was a pretty crazy weekend full of thunderstorms and fickle weather. On Saturday the wind was a steady 14mph tailwind.

Wind + hundreds of kayaks and canoes + motorboats + cement walls on the sides of the Lake = really dicey conditions.

I had waves hitting me square in the chest; many boats flipped during races. The Hawaiians [and wanna-be Hawaiians] on our team were right at home, surfing giants. When it grew near-impossible for the poor canoeists to line up in the start gates properly/ get to the start line without sinking their boats, they called the races off and moved them to the next day.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Race website

Here is the website for this weekend's world cup here in Poznan.

It will have live results all weekend. Look for me in the k2 500m, the k2 1000m, and the k1 5k! My k2 partner is of course the infamous Miss Emily Mickle.

This picture, circa 2004, was taken on the day I met Emily Mickle, which coincidentally was the same day I paddled a 22 kilometer marathon with her.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Welcome to Poland

As a last hurrah in the Czech republic, I woke up at 5:30 this morning to go for a lovely run through the forest. I found tall pine trees, beautiful wildflowers, dewey farm fields, and a real-live crowing rooster!

At 7:30am we piled into the van and drove more than 8 hours to Poznan, Poland. So far, I love everything about this place. Our rooms have hard-wood floors, beds with mattresses, and a patio! We are just a 5-minute walk from the finish line of the course.

The course has stadium-type stands and lots of bleachers in different areas. On the far bank, there's some sort of ski hill with a tiny chairlift that I'll investigate further. The whole atmosphere here is buzzing with excitement. I'll take some pictures tomorrow as we are setting up everything for the start of the World Cup on Friday.

But the best part by far is the food: they have vegetables here! I'm thrilled... and full of delicious salad and sauteed vegetables. Life is good in Poznan!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Last few days in Racice!

We went to Prague again on Sunday and spent the day looking at castles, cathedrals, and other beautiful old buildings. We have had a good last few days of training here in the Czech republic. The stay has been a nice, isolated focus on training, but I'm getting a bit claustrophobic paddling on the 2k basin and I'm excited to get to Poland and to race again. We leave tomorrow morning!

Friday, May 15, 2009


This afternoon after 2 workouts and lunch, we loaded into the team van and drove to the train station, where there is a 40-minute express train through the countryside that goes directly into Prague. I have been looking forward to this since our Monday trip got rained out.

Upon arrival in Prague, first things first: we immediately chose a cute-looking coffee shop and all 10 of us ordered espresso or cappuccino. Most members of this team are coffee lovers (some are more addicted than others) and we have all been craving coffee since we left America. Since we haven't yet had anything resembling real coffee, the caffeine hit us hard and we had plenty of energy to go find item number 2: pizza!

10 Americans sat down and ordered... 10 pizzas. I was kind of embarrassed to play a cliche American so well, but more just hungry.

After we were full of coffee and pizza, we walked around Old Town, found cute shops, walked over the Charles Bridge, and saw the Prague Castle. It was fun to be a tourist in such a gorgeous city. I've never seen buildings so old!

We were there in the city for a few hours, because we have training tomorrow, but we will probably go back on Saturday afternoon and Sunday!!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Adventure in town

We drove into town tonight! It felt wonderful to get out of Sportcentrum Račice! (Our team van was in disrepair last week so we haven't been able to get away.) Nathan took us to the grocery store, where I happily purchased, among other things, some scrumptious-looking green apples, and more laundry soap. Afterward, we walked along the river and took photos. I wish I remembered the name of the town or the name of the river... but Czech is a difficult language.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

We have been doing workouts with the Japanese women this week. Kitamoto Shinobu won Japan's first world cup medal ever this weekend when she won the women's k1 500m race. Their k4 also placed 6th at the Beijing Olympics. They don't speak much English, (and we don't speak much Japanese!) but it's fun to train with a different group of people.

Monday, May 11, 2009

video of k4 race

Here is an awesome video of our k4 race. (I sit in the second seat.) There is an interview on the video first, and unless you understand Czech, it probably won't be too interesting. If you're having trouble viewing the video, I would suggest trying it in a different browser.

Venue pictures

boat racks and docks in the start area

the finish line

the view from outside my window. We are right at the 250m mark! In fact I watched a few races perched on my roof

Maple trees outside my window

Rainy Monday

It is POURING rain here in Racice this morning. Luckily, I woke up at 6 and went running before the storm started. Now that most of the teams are gone (for the next week it will just be USA, Belarus, and Japan training here) I realize how quiet the countryside is. And also how much it smells like cows.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

World Cup, Day 3

The 5k today brought me back to my marathon days. 24 boats lined up on a tiny dock... paddle hitting the girl's next to you... everyone false starts.. it was an incredible washing-machine mess of boats and paddles and lots of waves. I started well, but quickly got jostled around. After a buoy turn at the 750, there were just four 500m loops on the 250m course left. It certainly wasn't the MOST fun I've ever had in a kayak.... but close.

Just kidding. It was a painful race. But when Mags and I finished (no clue what our places were) we got to watch the boys 5k (featuring Morgan House and Pat Dolan). It was incredibly exciting. From the stands, you can see all of the action. Every buoy turn, every move.... guys bonking and breaking rudders and smashing paddles and giving up and bridging gaps and wash riding in packs.. it was great fun to watch... after I'd already completed it, of course.

Tomorrow, we will do some light training and then take a train to Prague for some sightseeing. I've wanted to go there for years, so I'm really looking forward to it. Pictures will be added whenever the internet is fast enough to upload them. Cheers!

Saturday, May 9, 2009

World Cup, Day 2

Our k4 semifinal went off at 9am. Our race was better than yesterday's in every way; we hung with the pack for a fairly close finish. But we finished 4th, thus missing progressing to the A final.

I had my k1 500m semifinal straight afterward, so I had to rush to get out of the k4 and into my k1. At first it was really rough paddling to the start line; my arms were filled with lactate and felt like they weighed a hundred pounds. It's also strange to hop from k4 to k1, two boats with very different "feels" to them. At any rate, I allowed myself plenty of time paddling easy to adjust and relax. When I finally felt more normal, I did a few pickups and lined up in lane 2. I had another great start and was with the leaders at the 100 meters. Too bad the race lasted another 400.

But seriously, I paddled well, fixing some key elements that [Coach] Nathan and I had discussed. I crossed the line in 9th [out of 9] and thus missed qualifying for the B final.

Yes, it IS disappointing to cross the finish line in LAST place.

But I'm not worried. I have made the semifinal in my first World Cup at the age of 21. The improvement that lies ahead is exciting.

This afternoon I showered, went for a jog, and did laundry in the sink. Nothing grosses me out more than smelly clothes... except birds.... and certain kinds of bugs.

Like the fly that Maggie found BAKED INTO HER BREAD at breakfast this morning!!!!

Friday, May 8, 2009

World Cup, Day 1

Today was a heavy day of racing. I started the day off with some corn flakes and a banana and a few cups of the the atrocious Czech coffee. We spent the better part of the morning stretching, sitting, and reading. (I'm reading Atlas Shrugged.) Sprint racing, with all its sitting and waiting around, is sometimes crazy. (Can I even say that?) Everyone's laying down under boats, out of the sun, eating controlled portions of bars at specific times and timing their walk down to the dock to warm up down to the very last minute. Myself included, of course. We're talking a 10-hour day at the race course, peppered with four short races, dozens of separate warm-ups, and all sorts of carefully measured little habits and idiosyncrasies. The strange things we do.

Anyhow, to start off the day Mickle and I had a solidly satisfactory k2 1000m heat at 11am: our first 1000m k2 race together ever. We were lucky to progress to the semi only because there were too few boats to knock anyone out.

Next up was k4 at 2pm. Mags, me, Mickle, and Jen. We did NOT have a good race. But there are some changes to be made and it's going to be great in the semi tomorrow.

I raced the k1 500m to a 5th place finish in my heat which sends me through to the semis tomorrow. I was happy with that race but I think I can do even better in the semi (good thing, because that will be necessary in order to make the final).

Lastly, Mickle and I had our k2 1000m semifinal. We improved vastly from our heat, paddling 12 seconds faster and with much better form. Unfortunately, we didn't make the final (I think we end up in 16th place).

To top the day off, there was a raging thunderstorm this evening with gorgeous lightning fingers that I had the pleasure of viewing from underneath my rain jacket hood as I sprinted with Nathan and Mickle from the parking lot to the boat racks to make sure all the boats were tied down. During all this, I had completely resigned myself to a legitimate belief that bolt of lightning was going to find me and stop my heart. [I am a worst-case-scenario-imaginer.]

Maggie chose to read vampire stories on the windowsill during the storm.

At the end of the first day of my first World Cup on my first European tour as a senior paddler, I feel tired and pleased. Tired from the racing followed by our Tempest Adventure, and pleased because I have successfully completed the mission of Going As Hard As I Can In All My Races.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Sports Med Session

Our budget this year doesn't allow for any doctors to travel with our team. This is a major bummer, as we felt the need for a chiropractor and massage therapist after just 1 day of training. Fortunately, we each have our specialties. I crack backs; Maggie and Mickle adjust hips. And so far, it's actually working well!

Day Three

I find I always experience the worst jetlag on Day Three. I am exhausted today. But I dragged myself out of bed at 6am and to practice at 8. We did sprints in the k4. This afternoon we are practicing again and then trying to stretch and get rest for tomorrow. The internet is so bad, but I think the race website is here. I know that I am racing the k1 500m, the k2 1000, the k4 500m, and the k1 5000m. Heats and some semis are on Friday... more semis on Saturday... and some finals and the 5k will be on Sunday. Not positive on the specifics, but I bet the race website will have live updates all weekend during the racing.

I will post more pictures and hopefully updates over the weekend if I can find a decent wireless signal.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Photos of the trip so far

Mickle and I had matching sleep masks for the plane ride

What kind of flowers are these? They are everywhere out here in the country!

Maggie showing off our lovely room

Walking to the course... Jen, Emily Mickle, and Mags

This is the new raincoat I got as a result of a pre-departure nightmare that it would be cold and rainy in Europe. Bingo!

Eastern Europe in the Summertime

Now I think I know why the Czech girls like to come train with us in California. Eastern Europe is cold, rainy, and windy. In fact, it has been steadily raining for over 12 hours. The roaring tailwind is picking up again and we are all pretty wet and cold.

I paddled on the racecourse for the first time this morning. It's a man-made 2-kilometer course with a little channel on which to warm up that is separated from the rest of the course by an embankment. It has little channels by which to cut over to the course at the 1000m, 1500m, and 2k. (This is to eliminate the wake that each boat would create if it were to paddle up the side of the course to the start line.)

The warm-up channel is just a bit narrower than the Erie Canal, but otherwise looks (and smells!) the same. The race-course is maybe about as wide as the Genesee River. The whole thing is quite professional. The starting gates are really interesting. The nose of your boat lines up into a triangular gate, which holds your boat right on the start line. When the starting gun goes off, the gates from all 9 lanes simultaneously drop down into the water, allowing you to paddle forward. If you try to paddle before the gate drops, i.e. false start, you'd only run into it and bounce backwards.

The finish tower and stands

For this first world cup, I will be racing k1 and k4. I'm fairly certain that k1 is on Friday and Saturday and k4 is on Sunday. Right now we are working on getting me a boat for me to race this weekend. That's important.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Welcome to Racice, Czech Republic

I've finally arrived in Eastern Europe... where the internet is cutthroat! So I'll give a quick update. We arrived at about 2pm Czech time without a hitch. The last flight, from Munich to Prague, was a really small plane and we were worried the paddle cases might not make it on. But nobody even lost a bag! Apparently that's a first.

The hotel is just 1.5 kilometers from the finish line. The rooms have orange curtains, giant windows, and sloped ceilings. There is a giant maple tree that I can touch if I open my window wide and lean way out. It's so green here, just like the east coast! Racice seems like a pretty rural area. There's a train running through a meadow across the way, and the streets are just as bumpy, winding and narrow as you'd expect in Europe. For all these reasons, I like it here a lot. This afternoon there was such a strong tailwind down the course that it was white-capping! We set up the boats and did some light paddling or jogging.

Tomorrow, we'll do two paddle workouts, focusing on getting that on-the-water feeling back after traveling for so long. I am also putting special emphasis on staying healthy and rested, because I know that once you get sick over here, it's hard to shake it off. Today it was raining, windy, and probably 45-50 degrees. So staying warm and dry will be key.

I forgot my camera cord in my room, so I'll have to upload pictures tomorrow!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Kayak Cam

Here are two of the most recent videos I've posted on my youtube channel. I love the second one the best because, unbeknownst to me, Emily Mickle was making faces at my camera during the rest at the beginning of the clip.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Saturday night.

I'm trying to get in the mode of updating my blog more often (which is one of my goals for the upcoming trip to Europe.)

I have been working hard at packing and cleaning all day long and now I am taking a sushi break.

My Grandma Molly always tells me that "Only boring people get bored" and as a result I am fighting the urge to describe my current state as such.

I purchased a camera online last week. I feel this was a smart move on my part, because who goes to Europe without a camera?

Now I can take more silly pictures for you. Like this: the tower I am building from Trader Joe's coffee canisters.

As you may recall, I am collecting them.