Friday, September 23, 2011

Bled WRCs 2011: In the Books and On to 2012!

 
  After some post-race globe-trotting, I'm finally back home. Back to work on the water — and back to my blog-compatible laptop, hooray!

20 meters to go!   Photo courtesy row2k.com.

  Our last race in Bled was everything a final should be: exciting for the fans, but internally deliberate, aggressive, and full of heart. We had a bit of a delay at the start due to swans in the lanes earlier...so there were 15 minutes of all crews sitting there patiently, with dozens of spectators milling around and Guns'N'Roses' "Welcome to the Jungle" playing on repeat.

  The buildup was effective, though: everyone came out of the blocks blazing, and there was no settle or shift in the field's pace as we all went into the middle thousand. Staying internal and focusing on our race plan, we kept pushing. For a bit, we were going stroke-for-stroke with Canada, but we dialed in and listened to Mary, and kept moving. Beep...beep! The race was over so quickly, but there we were, holding hard after the finish line, the world champions by 3/4 of a second.

6:03.65. Feeling spent and glorious.  Photo courtesy Igor Meijer.

  Music boomed through the grandstands — appropriately (?), "American Woman" by the Guess Who. Finally, as the W8+ medal ceremony was beginning, we were able to squeeze onto the dock! It was wonderful to finally get to hug my teammates after such a great race. You work with these same women all year. You know how tough they are and how much you have all worked to prepare for this race and to be the best crew you can be. So to put all that work and energy into one race and have it be what you all hoped and trained for it to be — it's a really special moment.

Elle, Moose, Taylor, me, Jamie, Caroline, Amanda, Don, Mary, and Susan!

  The medal ceremony was a wonderful blur. Receiving my medal from the inimitable Anita DeFrantz. All of us having to drop an octave while singing along with the oddly-high-pitched national anthem. Hugging a dripping Whipple after we did the cox toss. I got to run up to the stands and hug my family. And then we were rowing off — to celebrate and share the moment with each other and with the people who had helped us get there!

Photo courtesy row2k.com

  After racing, I had some great travels both in Europe and back in the U.S. My boyfriend and I went down to  Portorož (near Piran) on the coast of Slovenia, a gorgeous little Adriatic fishing village, for a few days. Then it was off to Interlaken in Switzerland, where incredibly beautiful mountains intermingle with waterfalls, lakes, alpine flowers, and cows. Moo!

Stepping off the train in Lauterbrunnen (Interlaken).

  Then it was off to Colorado to get my butt kicked by the unintentional altitude training. My "favorites" were running hills at 8,000+ ft. and doing "The Incline" in Manitou Springs.

Nothing says fun like gaining 1200 ft of elevation in one mile, AFAP.

  We're back in Princeton now, settling right back into the rhythm of training. Besides training, our big focus at the moment is promoting our 2012 USA Women's Rowing Team Calendar, the proceeds of which go directly to the amateur athletes working here towards the goal of London 2012. If you saw these last year, they were amazing, and this year's are even better! Click here to order — you'll receive a pre-sale discount if you order by Oct. 1!


  Thank you for another year of support and sharing the journey with me. This coming year promises to be both the toughest and the most rewarding one yet. And I can't wait!

  Go USA!
    -Esther

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Bled 2011: Ready for the Final!

Out of the blocks in our heat.   Photo courtesy of Igor Meijer.

Tomorrow is the big day for us: lining up against Canada, Great Britain, Romania, the Netherlands, and China for the World Championships final. We go off the line at 1:24pm here in Bled (that's 7:24am Eastern and 4:24am Pacific); you can watch the racing live on TV (Eurosport) if you're on this side of the pond, and live on Universal Sports here. There is also a live race tracker with audio commentary here.

It's always a bit funny to me to have a year of work boiled down to a single race, but I am nothing but excited for tomorrow's final. We have done a lot of solid work, have prepared for this, and have really come together as a crew. We are ready to test ourselves, and I can't wait for our race tomorrow.

Today's racing by USA crews both buoyed and inspired us to go to a new level in our final tomorrow. The women's quad had an incredible final, never letting up the pressure on Germany even when both crews had miles of open water on the field, and took silver, notching the first medal of the regatta for USA crews.

Megan Kalmoe, Adrienne Martelli, Natalie Dell, and Stesha Carlé: 
the USA W4x killing it!  Photo: Allison Frederick 




The men's eight never quite hit their stride in the B-final. In spite of having a solid piece, the guys finished a few seats down to Ukraine, yielding the final Olympic qualification spot. It is really tough to see your friends and teammates come that close to the mark, but the guys already have their heads in the game as to getting back on track for qualification next year, and I know they'll make it happen.

USA M8+ at the starting line.  Photo: Allison Frederick.

And in action earlier today, our teammates in the women's pair held off a late-charging Canada to qualify the hull for the Olympics by 0.06 seconds. Way to make it exciting for the folks watching back home, Kady and Caryn!

USA W2- out of the blocks.  Photo: Allison Frederick.

For now, it's an early bedtime and getting ready for our race. So much training, tapering, and now...racing is here! I can't wait to sit on the starting line with my boatmates tomorrow and feel all this energy ready to unleash. So ready to race!

We've had an incredible outpouring of support here in Bled and from messages coming in from overseas. It means so much to me and to all of us to know that you are cheering us on from the grandstands, from your living rooms, from in front of your computer! Thanks for all of your support, and Go USA!
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