Sunday, August 9, 2009

This is it - Champ Single at Canley

I didn’t sleep all that well. Too many thoughts. We could wake up a little later because racing only started at 11am. We headed to the course, as we did every morning and I rowed my 12-16 kay warmup. The wind and current was particularly strong and there were very different momentums and feelings one way to the next. Returning to the Ridley Gate Manor for our usual, but still spectacular breakfast. Peter’s bacon that he cooks for one hour, beautiful cut and decorated fruit plate and eggs as you like them, fills a grandstand quality to the start of your day. The table was also filled with Bostonians who were rower parents. So breakfast was an hours affair filled with stories from George and Mary Jane, and Margaret and Tim. Great conversations again making such a quality impact to our day.

I went and rested and then the room got darker and rumbles were heard from afar. The rain set in as did the lightning and solid thunder resounded. Racing was delayed by 3 hours.
My start of 3:25 moved to 5:55pm.

On the return to the course, mud was everywhere. The humidity thick enough to cut. Rowing down to the start, the wind kept me on my toes. Lightly threatening but not.

It took longer than usual for the aligners to call us into the course. But when they did things moved really fast. More ready for the current pushing against my blades I waited for that beep. The start of all my competitors was quick. I was especially keeping a sense of where Isolda, (my nemesis) was. She was in Lane 5 and I in Lane 4. By 500m I was building my lead. Feeling connected and moving. Suddenly Isolda stopped rowing. For a moment I was unsure if someone had called the race off and I didn’t hear it. Or she saw something that needed us all to stop. But my other competitors didn’t stop, and I realised neither should I. So regaining the focus again I pushed on.
The result was a 7:15.03. I would have placed in the Men’s Champ single with that time! The goals of Carlos were achieved, and that is the end to our summer training 2009. I feel happy with all the training we have done and yet still look forward to the continual pursuit of excellence... and happyness.

-I still am not sure why Isolda stopped. I’ll be sure to facebook her sometime.

-Thank you to NCC (North Cascades Crew) for allowing me to race under their club name.

-Thank you so much to Peter and Teresa Kellett who took these pictures and fed me so well! Peter came to the finish and asked the umpires where is the champ single trophy because he knows who’s winning it. To which they replied, “we have heard this before”. And after my race they returned saying, “boy you were right”.

-Thank you to the Huskies at the course and back home for facility use and support. Like Carlos said, we missed the whole college rowing and now we have this opportunity to be involved in it.

-Thank you to Josh who stayed for my race. I appreciate your support.

-Thank you to Lacey and Rick Crawley from U.Vic for trailering my boat!

-Thank you dad for helping me stay afloat. In many aspects.

-Finally thank you to DJ who gives me the platform to push myself. Thank you to Julie for allowing me to take up so much space in their life to perform, and thank you to Carlos for billions and trillions of things. Terabytes of words to say thank you for my speed, my development and life lessons. Here’s the first summer on the path to 2012.

We are all Champions.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Heat 2 > Lane 5 > 7:39.43

Event 81:

The weather was good. Not too hot, not too cold. The water was good. The current was a little strange, pushing the boat at the start. The shallow water with tangling undergrowth made sure I kept shallow blades, however I almost took a dive in the warm-up. On the way to the start my foot board nuts and bolts loosened and I had to make a stop at the umpire boat for a wrench. Other than that, the race went fine. Everything to get ready for the final now on Sunday at 3:25pm. This was my first race in the new single!

Some interesting things about my competitors:
I have a close friend who went by k. hearn. There was a k. hearn in my race and I thought that was very coincidental.
Lacey Crawley is the daughter of Rick Crawley who are our boat trailer drivers all the way from U. Vic. Thank you to them for driving the boats safely. Isolda from Heat 1 won this event last year. She also won her heat, so we will battle it out again in the final.

Then interesting according to Canadian Henley rules, I can’t race any other event, like the Senior Women single or the Lwt Women single for the 500m dashes both for open and lightweight because I have raced in a World Cup. I could only enter the Champ Single which is open weight category.

We also found out today that the masters World Champs will be here at St. Catherines next year September.

Peter Kellett, our host from the B&B we are staying at was at the finish grandstand as he was last year, and took a few shots! Thank you so much Pete and Teresa for your support. Ridley Gate Manor is a wonderful addition to my Henley experience.

Thank you to NCC, for whom I could race for. Go Orange!

What more can I say. On to the final on Sunday!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009


It is almost a year later since the dreaded damage of my previous Wintech boat came back to me in two. In fact we are working on the logistics today about racing the US Nationals again. But this time, we are hoping to rent from Wintech on the east coast!

So in August ‘08 I was able, with help from many donations, to place the order with Filippi to get a brand, shiny, new F15 LW boat. The delivery of the boat was very delayed. Finally in March ‘09 the boat arrived in Seattle. I was in the plane boarding at San Francisco when the delivery truck called saying I’m at Pocock, come get your boat.  The hostess was trying to explain to us sitting at the emergency exist and telling me, you need to shut your phone off, while I was trying to desperately call Carlos saying please can you help get my boat!

From March to June the boat rested at Carlos’s boathouse-basement. And today, yes today I put the boat in the water, rigged and ready to rock!

Boat name:
I equate this Italian stallion to my Ferrari!
my Mondial - meaning world in Italian
Barchetta - meaning little boat in Italian
or Lusso - meaning luxury in Italian
or maybe I should call this boat Malcolm - after my brother

Thank you so much to the following people who helped donate towards this boat:
  • Lee & Judy Steers - Thank you mom, Lee! Thank you.
  • Julie McCleery - Thank you for helping guide me through this.
  • Graham Murphy - my fellow triathlete and south african.
  • Stuart Mack - ballroom dancing partner.
  • Sandy - what history we share, thank you for this new journey.
  • Clayton Cunningham - thanks Clayton. Long time.
  • Krash Test Kimmie - thanks Kim. Quick recovery to your son.
  • Jennifer Smith - Thanks to everything Anytime Fitness means to me.
  • Ellen Hagarty - Thanks for your faith and persistence.
  • Camila - Keep up the good training too!
  • John & Linda - My first erg students. Thank you for this great gift.
  • George & Darlene - Great conversations, thank you for your time.
  • Rauchell McDaniel - Thank you for putting up with the parking.
  • John Cameron - Thank you! See you in the Mill Creek Gym.
  • Linda Hunt - Wow thanks to SVC! I had a great learning experience.
  • Christine Grant - Thank you so much!
  • Lindsey & Nancy Hochman - Thanks so much and sorry this happened.
  • Nancy - Thank you for reaching out.
  • Claudia McCain - Thanks Claudia for understanding.
  • Paula and Kelly - Thank you!
  • Heather Tromp and girls - Thanks so much Trompers.
  • Tim & Mary Panichi - wow, thank you Mary. See you at the gym.
  • Kat - yes I will be getting insurance for this new boat :)
  • Wendy & Jim - yay!
  • Bill & Cindy - Thank you so much for your honest smiles.
  • Judy & Ed - Thank you for sharing my dream.
  • Don & Ann - Your neighborly warmth is of great comfort to me.
  • Greg Williams - Thank you for helping me with the Medalist.
  • Alicia - Thanks for great friendship.
  • Tammy McLeod - Thank you for reaching out.
  • Chris Muser - Thank you so much for all your rigger help.
  • Kathy McCormack - My first advise seeker, thank you!
  • Hunter - I’ll come looking for the raft in summer.
  • Bob Heacox - Sorry this happened to you aswell.
  • Kati Wheeler - Thank you for believing in me, and following my journey.
  • Dionne - Thank you for being a fan! Hope to see you in London 2012!
  • Dave P - Dave, thank you for listening, and sharing with me this journey, and being a part of it all!
  • Sean & Corina - You guys are great friends to us, and Remus.
  • Kevin & Kim - The K’s family. Looking forward to Koda’s next visit.
  • Glen & Ann - Thank you for making the connection.
  • Carlos & Julie -There are not enough words.
  • Abbie B Berry - Thanks for working with me.
  • Karen Calara - I’m sure we will still walk a long path together, thank u.
  • Stern family - Thank you for bringing me to Seattle. Who knew.
  • Audrey Alderson - Thank you for being a friend to Judy Steers.
  • Al McGuire - Thank you for your support. It was my pleasure to work with Grady!
  • Diane Combs - Thank you supporting me, and your friendship to Judy Steers.
  • Black Fly Sculers - Thank you Black Flys! Go Flys!
  • Tom Paul - A great pleasure meeting you at Henley! Keep those flys swarming!
  • Kennedy McGill - Thank you for listening and caring!
  • Michael Smith - Lucky me, that you found the money in the gym! Thank you!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

WORLD CUP I -and I’m in it

Tere came to Seattle to help prepare the double a few weeks ago. A big thank you to Carlos and Julie who hosted her at their house. Then Tere and I returned to Barcelona. Unfortunately on different flights. However, luckily we game in through the same gate only 30min apart. And I say luckily with a capital L, because Tere comes through the passport control to find me sitting outside. The immigrations officer did not like my return visa. And questioning was a problem since my spanish was not conversational. Then Tere arrived, and I don’t know what she said to this officer, and how she charmed him, but the next moment, not only is he letting me through customs.... he and all the other officers are taking pictures with us, making us sign the photocopied pictures.... what a show!
Only a week away.
It all became more real when I saw the entries of the boats. And I was on that list! (LW2x). We race the heats on Friday, 30 May (event 20) starting at 12:42. And then the final on Sunday, 31 May at 12:15. (Central Europe Time Zone, GMT +1)

The streets are filled with big posters announcing the event. Copa Del Mundo they call it here. The website I created for the world cup a few months ago really has a feature now. And I have a little fan club coming from Lake Stevens! Thank you to Greg and Rebecca for making the trip!

Now in Banyoles, the crews are coming, Carlos is arriving on Monday to finally be there when I race.
The work is done for now. Thank you to all who have helped me get even to this point! I’m so excited!
Focus, Ready, Row!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Racing in Piediluco, Italy

This weekend I had the opportunity to race in Italy outside of a small town called Terni. Where is this place? Map A lake tucked inside the mountains, made for some good introductions to the racing season.

The weekend brought interesting challenges, one being my first official lightweight double racing. No rower can weigh more than 59kg (130lbs) but the average of both rowers combined can be no more than 57kg (125lbs).

Saturday morning, racing day I weighed 57.0 kg!!! And we made the weigh in. Approaching the start line, two hours later, I felt strong and confident. I felt the other lightweight girls had no strength over us, and as we went down the course, my feelings were justified with a win of 27 secs!

The coach decided that this was no competition and changed our entry to the heavyweight double for Sunday. This meant I didn't have to do a weight control, and stronger competition. I was glad for both options. So Saturday was good lunch and dinner, and I did feel a little more replenished approaching Sunday's race start. But I was more nervous for I knew we were in for a fight. On the warm up, wind and rain doused us, but it was just a tease, because luckily as we started the race, it all seemed calm. At least in the surroundings, because inside the boat, or in my head there was nothing but adrenalin noise pumping. The Italian heavyweight double held our boat the whole way down the course, and at the end, they squeezed a second in front of us, to take gold. Those pasta-eating girls, darn them! I felt we raced hard, but not smart, and in the end we should have held them off better.

After racing a quick turn-around and we were in the airport again, bus and home. Never got to really see anything in Italy besides hotel, bus and regatta course. Luckily I have been a tourist in Rome before. Because I guess this trip was nothing.

Official Website

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Open Trials for Spain

The first weekend of April rowers from all over Spain came to Banyoles to show their stuff in the selection trials. Rowers have only small boats, pairs and singles to prove their presence in the eyes of the selectors.

Well, I hit the ground running hardly describes what happened in 2 days. A sudden, unprepared flight to San Francisco getting the visa... delayed on the runway, only arriving back in Seattle at 8pm... a call to say my boat had arrived... (Thank you to Carlos for collecting the boat while I was on the plane!)... taking the plane at 6am the next day to return to Banyoles... race the heat for the Open Trials.

The wind blew like crazy on Friday and the heat start was not pretty. But I won, and went through to the semi’s. The draw put me with Nuria Domingo, Spain’s only Olympic qualifier in the Open W1x. I was excited to race someone of her experience. The start went well, and I was off. At 1000m I was well ahead and won the semi to go through to the final. There I met partner Teressa mas Xaxars and Nuria Domingo again. This was the big one, where we were going to really show it all! The start was good. I felt Nuria with me longer than before. And I kept my head down and kept working. All the training from Carlos, this whole process gives me a confidence in my performance unmatched! And I was able to win this race by 5 seconds!

Monday, February 23, 2009

Fisa Team Cup XV >1000m & 500m

On the Guadalquivir River the Fisa Team cup is said to launch the racing season and break up the long distance rowing with a short 1000m on Saturday and 500m on Sunday. I competed in both the LW 2x and 1x on both days. And I competed for RSA, and combination with ESP.

Going to Seville for the first time has left a deep mark of memories. Not only the experience of racing a semi-international regatta for the first time, but getting the experience of so many things that are going to be part of my life for the next couple years. What it means to go to a competition and get ready to give your best.
Some crucial experiences for me was going through the weigh-in two hours before your race. Another crucial experience was just being in a new place and learning a new course. But more than that, feeling like you are so comfortable in this new environment that you can dominate it. This took a beating on me, and I felt tired and slept so much more than usual. And then of course racing, and racing under a country banner.

There are some very big highlights for me about Seville. One was that Marit van Eupen was there. And I got to speak with her. It was an honour to meet this olympic champion. WOW. Deep breath.
Then on Saturday afternoon I rowed passed the start of the 2000m, and saw Seville from the river. It was so beautiful passing the bridges and architecture and enjoying the sun and just seeing the city while rowing. It gave me such a calm and peaceful feeling. It was very meaningful. My parents also planned a Spain holiday to coincide with my time here, and were in Seville to cheered me on. My dad got to see a bit of what my rowing life is like, helping carrying oars and boats. It was great to have that love and support. On Saturday evening there was a dinner and show for the rowers. I got to experience a bullring show, which was very cultural. The High Performance Center was also quite good for training, and I enjoyed what comfort is brought me to help with racing well.

So finally on to the racing.
Saturday the 1000m in the single was interesting. Being 1000m only after so many 20km rows, was really a change. And I spun a little on my wheels. Lots of effort but not moving the boat that well. Especially with the starts. As the boat got momentum I then only did I get going and was able to secure gold in the single, and together with partner Teressa Mas Xaxars we took gold also in the LW 2x. The Sunday we raced 500m, and there I ran out of meters before I could get going. So I placed 3rd in the LW 1x and Tere and I took 2nd in the double. As Tere told my father, we are diesel. And luckily the real thing is 2000m!

Thursday, January 29, 2009


Spanish Version of Ergomania

The Erg Competition that brought on many temperaments: with the wind blowing outside, up to 100 miles an hour (160kph), people being evacuated, all outdoor sports cancelled in Spain, the roof collapsing... and still we erged!

The week before the Spanish Erg Champs was a strange one. There was a few days where high winds made little Banyoles lake look like an ocean full of waves. On Friday, we traveled three hours south to a small town called Amposta. Map >
And with us came the wind.

Tere and I stayed at a nice hotel in Amposta. The food was really good - I remember that! We did a 30min erg warmup on Saturday morning, and all this time, the winds blew. It was like walking against a wall, trying to push it over. We waited at the hotel. Our race was at 7:30pm. So at 4pm, we left Amposta and drove to Tartosa, which is close. The competition was in a large hall. The sound system was so loud it drilled through my head, so I asked to wait in the van. With the winds blowing so strong, it rocked the van. This made me really nervous. I had never experienced this kind of gale force. I saw the electric polls look fragile like wheat stalks. We sat and waited in that van, with all these thoughts of how mother nature is all encompassing. A part of the roof collapsed at the venue, and shattered glass lay as proof outside. There was no power. But still the erg races continued, running the screen and computer with a generator >HARD CORE!

At 5:30pm, I had my very first weigh in. And on this scale (which we believe to favour lower numbers) I made 59.5kg (131lbs). The weight limit for lightweight was 61kg (134lbs). So I made lightweight, for the first time ever! YAY to the Paleo diet! When it came time for our erg race, I was preparing to erg in the dark. No seeing your personal screen, only the big boat lane derby. But luckily, luckily something kicked in, and there was light! There was a 40min delay to our start time. More waiting. And finally the warm up. And move onto the race ergs. The ergs were the Model C, the black ones. I definitely missed the comfort of new ergs, Model E! Oh well, I cleaned my tracks, and tried to check the drag. On the Model C you have to hold two buttons together to get the drag to show. I tried and didn’t get this to work, so guessed, somewhere between 5 and 6 feels good. I was on erg number 2, at the end. Next to me was Nuria and then Tere. Nuria is the heavyweight single champ for Spain and went to the Olympics. She raced the C final against Rika (SA’s single champ). There is no announcing the start. You just have to watch the screen and be ready, maybe better for me anyway, since my spanish or catalan is not good.
The screen came on with a 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, ROW.

I remember suddenly being sucked into the zone. I’m aware of what is going on, but I’m so focused on me. On pushing. On a number. On the screen. On finishing as quickly as I can. I heard one of the boys from Banyoles cheer me on. It distracted me for a second. Then I looked up and saw on the boat lane/derby thing, I was in the lead. My C2 screen kept flickering on the position. Showing 1, 2, 3 at random times. I just kept on focussing to keep there. I crossed the 1000 thinking, good, the worst is over. You feel good, Just count it down now. Coach Bienve’s voice came from behind, “I’m in control” and he started encouraging me with the splits we wanted to see. Someone came and tightened my feet straps. (What service :) Last 300m, and Bienve called for 1:43. “Come on, the record!” Still I saw 1:45. I felt my throat hurt like I was getting sick again. I zoned out, and before I knew it, 0m left. I knew I won, and raised my arms in joy of that. But I little sad for not getting the splits at the end. It was a solid constant erg piece. Final time: 6:58,9. I just made it. Looking at Concept’s site, Lisa Schlenker holds the record at 6:56.7.

Clicking on the Spanish Rowing Logo up top takes you to the official site of the Spanish Camps. It has the results, but I’m not listed there, since I’m not Spanish Nationality. Tere took the official trophy for lightweight women, and graciously handed it over to me.

That night we slept in a monastery, with beautiful tiles. However I didn’t sleep at all. I started feeling sick again, and that horrible cold I thought I had kicked back to Seattle was back. I lay couching, until Tere gave me some medicine.

The winds finally subsided. And the next day in the river of Tartosa we raced a quad. It was meant to be 6km, but they changed it to 3km for the currents. It was an interesting row, and with never having practised the line up, there were times the boat felt quite good. Not too much competition for this women’s quad, but we did take another trophy. Finally at 5pm, Sunday we made it back to Banyoles. And that was the weekend, down south!

Now training continues steady with plenty of miles. The hands show it!

Sunday, January 18, 2009


So a straight plug convertor is not enough. You need to read the label on the machine to make sure it can take the higher input.
Lesson of the day: USA volts 110
Spain volts 220. Not the same thing.

The first day I made my protein shake, I was delighted that the bullet spun and all is well. However there was lots of black powder that dispersed from the bottom of the machine. Maybe from the travel I thought. But there is this burning smell also. Curious. Oh well. Hopefully it will go away. Yes, well, three more times I used my bullet until this morning when I plugged it in, using my handy european plug convertor, and when I turned the cup that turns the blender on....nothing.

I knew, I knew that the burning smell, the black smoke.... I burnt the motor out. Now after a little research, reading labels on electrical machines are s important as reading labels on food products! Who knew?! Some things like my laptop shows on the adaptor input 110-220V, and reading the Bullet, it says 110V. And that’s it!

So what does this conclude in my life lessons learnt:
2008 saw me learning about fingers in blenders, and 2009 saw my blender motor meltdown because of too much volts!

And final conclusion : Ursula and a blender are not a good combination!