Sunday, July 22, 2012

Team USA Rowing at Dorney Lake

The race course, looking fast and almost ready!

Wow...the past five days have really flown by. We're pretty settled in now to the Olympic Rowing Village, and the other countries have just started to arrive (for a while, it was just us, Belarus, Zimbabwe, Hong Kong, and a few others!) We're also into our normal training routine at Dorney Lake in Eton, which is the same fast course I remember from the World Championships in 2006!

Some things are slightly different, though, like the...interesting Olympic mascots at the 1,000m mark wearing GB unisuits!

We're still not sure what Wenlock is supposed to represent...

But once we're on the water, it's just our normal training and racing and getting ready to have the best races of our lives! Taylor, my lovely pair partner, shows off the view from my seat!

The view from my office!

Between practices, we've been grabbing meals at the course, which has great food and beautiful views of the finish line of the racing!

Yummy refueling at the course between sessions.

The Village also has a great training room for both us and the Olympic kayakers and canoeists, who will be racing the week after us. The pair and I got in some off-the-water training after getting to watch the awesome racing on the last day of the Tour de France!

Erging with the Sara(h)s and some of the Aussie men at the Village gym!

That's all for now from us getting ready to race. We're dialed in on our race preparations and practicing, which doesn't make for the most exciting blog posts, but which does make for all of us getting to the line knowing how prepared and focused we are on the work we've come here to do.

Team USA is almost all here now--the men's four and quad will be here tomorrow--and it is really exciting to be here, all together, getting ready to represent our country for the big one! Can't wait. Go USA!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

First 24: Ralph Lauren, the Rowing Village, and a Letter

Me and my rowing blankie! Home for the next two weeks...

Wow. The past 24 hours have already been amazing, and we've only just arrived in London! I'm about to shut my eyes after an action-packed but thoroughly awesome day that started in New Jersey and is ending here under my beautiful Olympic-sport comforter here at the Rowing Olympic Village.

Me and Saida, Team USA's #1 Fan!

We hopped on a red-eye at Newark last night, and before I got a great (if short) sleep, I met Saida, a huge fan of the Olympics and, hopefully, a future rower (I'm always recruiting!) Talking with her reminded me how huge our support is here in the USA, and it was neat to share my goals and journey with her just as I am starting this final step for all of our training with my team.


Rowing dorms--outside view!

Home sweet home!

As soon as we landed, oodles of friendly and helpful London 2012 volunteers shuttled us to our accreditation, where we got the passes "our lives depend on". Then it was off to grab our luggage and head to the Rowing Olympic Village, one of the satellite Olympic Villages near to Dorney Lake. We'll be staying here through the end of racing, and it's a beautiful place to be living with Team USA and focusing on our job at hand: getting ready to have the best races of our lives!

Yes--there is a lane just for us!

Just before heading in to the awesome craziness!

Just minutes later, it was time to head into the city and get "processed". Even after hearing stories from the women in Athens and Beijing about this crazy building where awesome sponsors bedeck you with bags and boxes of gear and goodies, I was totally unprepared for how almost overwhelmingly amazing it was! We started at Ralph Lauren, where we were fitted for our Opening and Closing Ceremony kit. The video crew asked me to say a few words about the gear, and it was really neat to have the opportunity to say how elegant and athletic our whole team looked in the outfits.

Susan & I modeling closing and opening ceremony kit!

Then we went through the other stations--our headshots, ring fittings (Hamilton Jewelers gives every Olympian a beautiful watch and ring!), Proctor & Gamble Welcome Kit pick-up (everything I could have possibly needed to pack--thank you!), and Oakley (so excited to race in my Olympic-Edition Miss Conducts!)

A small fraction of the tons of awesome gear we received today! (photo credit Sarah Zelenka)

And then--the huge dressing room and what seemed like 8,000 things to try on from Nike and Ralph Lauren, each cooler than the next! Nike designed a whole slew of really sharp outfits, and I couldn't even wait until tomorrow to wear some of it to the dining hall tonight. Our team left looking great and ready to get out on the water and race!

A wave from the Queen during our tour-bus ride home.

We took a tiny tour of the major London sights on the way home--Westminister Abbey (sadly, no Princess Kate sighting!), the Gherkin building, the London Eye, the Tate, and many more. It will be great to explore the city more after racing--but first, it's time to race! So then home for dinner, posting this blog, and now, bed.

USA team table at the dining hall.

One of the other amazing things about today was a letter that was waiting for me when I got back to my room tonight. At our Olympic Ambassador training several months ago, we were asked to write a letter to ourselves, one that we'd open if we made it to the Olympics. I had completely forgotten about it, and opened the letter to find a huge reminder of the work that we've put in as a team over the last four years and the tons of support that are beaming over here from everyone we know in the USA. It was so moving and it really sunk in--this is it. I'm here. At the Olympics. Ready to have the best races of my life and find an entirely new gear to go to in our racing. I cannot wait! This has been unlike anything I've ever done before, and I've only been in the country for just over 12 hours. Just--amazing. I can't wait for what the next three weeks will bring! Go USA!

A reminder to be all that I can be.

Monday, July 16, 2012

...And We're Off!

Final stages of packing (for the OLYMPICS!!!) last night!
  The last two weeks have been a whirlwind of training, media, and packing! We are finally heading out today to London, and I can't wait to get there, train, and finally, finally RACE!

  We have a bit of a planes-trains-automobiles of getting there, but somehow this feels different than the usual traveling. For now, we're bussing it to the airport, heading to Heathrow, then bussing it to the satellite Rowing Olympic Village, then off to get accredited and processed, and then finally back to the Village to get settled in. Whew!

  I am so excited to be traveling with my teammates and heading over to represent the USA with everything we've worked and trained and sacrificed for. All of us are so incredibly excited and ready to race, it's hard to think that we'll still have to wait more than a week to actually get to the starting line! And it's also really cool to see the two- and three-time Olympians on our team as excited as us newbies about this whole experience.

  I'll be updating as we go as best I can, and thank you for sending your support and cheers! Go USA!!!

Monday, July 2, 2012

The Row to London!

My roommate Natalie Dell and I with awesome door decor from our
teammate Sara Hendershot on the naming date!
We're now just 27 days away from our first race in London! After a few days of media tagging along to practices last week, we're back to normal, training and getting ready to race here in Princeton.

USRowing and the National Rowing Foundation have teamed up for the Row to London, a fundraising competition to cover the costs of travel, housing, and equipment for the 52 athletes racing at the Olympics and Paralympics, plus our alternates, coaches, and support staff! You can make a donation through my page here (I'm about 25% of the way to my goal of $2,500! Thanks to everyone who's donated so far!!!) and learn more about the Row to London project here.

We've also been reaching out to the incredibly supportive Princeton community. It's been awesome to meet so many great people who are excited about the Olympics and excited to support us! We hosted the inaugural Go for the Gold 5K last weekend and it was awesome to meet so many rowers, runners, and Olympic enthusiasts! We also got to meet the women's Under 23 8+. That was the first national team boat I raced in, and it was great to meet some of the women I'm sure will be heading to Rio in four years!

Some of the USA W8+ and W4x meeting the U23 8+ at the 5K!
My teammate Susan Francia and her family hosted an awesome Olympic sendoff Bar-B-Q this weekend...the highlight (besides the tour of the Francia home, getting to see some great awkward prom photos, and the homemade Hungarian goulash!) was this amazing cake Susan made of our eight! Yes, it's seven feet long...yes, the Barbies are wearing unisuits...yes, that's an Empacher...and yes, Mary is Skipper!

Erin, Susan, me, Taylor, Caryn, and Mary checking out the details!
Look out, Cake Boss!

For now, it's back to training and getting ready for the big show in just a few weeks! Thanks for your support and GO USA!!!

Warmup jog--ready to start another day of training on Lake Carnegie.