Tuesday, July 26, 2011

King 5 TV Channel Tomorrow at 5pm News

Today Allen Schauffler from King 5 News interviewed me, and Dave was on the camera. The story will air tomorrow on the 5pm News Slot.

How Fun?! Allen and Dave endured my entire 20km workout on the water around Seattle. It started with the rain, and grey clouds looming (this is Seattle right?!) but the rain cleared for us, and made the morning quite beautiful. The story aired one year to go towards the Olympics and here is a link to the story > The long, strange journey of Ursula Grobler

Watch the interview clip here >

Monday, July 18, 2011

Racing in World Cup III - Luzern

If I were to make a soundtrack to Luzern, it would go something like this: cowbell, cling, cling-cling. Cling-cling.

The beauty of the place was escaping, meaning the task of racing seemed pleasurable. Sweat runs were dreamy, along the lake and tourist cobbled streets. Dark chocolate was really dark, 99%, and made for a great treat to look forward to after racing. Helvetica signage neatly architectured above the buildings made me smile. And seeing fellow athletes from Spain was great to catch up, as everyone keeps on the journey, believing.

Here is a race-recap>>
Friday morning:
We lost our heat today. Tough draw with Canada, winners from last year. Placed second to them. Only 1 through to semi from heats. We have another chance to race in the reps tonight at 6:24 to get through to the semi tomorrow. It means an additional race making the weigh-in process tomorrow morning a little more tricky. It's my first time going through the reps. But nothing on this comeback is easy and yet everything that comes in our way makes us stronger.

Friday evening:
Tonight we raced the reps at 6:25 instead of 6:24. The delay was caused by us. And it was a comedy of error that luckily had a happy ending. With 5 minutes before our start, waiting for them to call us into our lanes, I noticed my port oarlock making more noise and my pink oarshaft was moving around alot. Oh no, the white elastic holding my oar in place had come in place. Calmly, but desperately I'm trying to slip the loop over the hook. I'm crushing my fingertip and I'm hearing the announcement for our heat. The white elastic falls into the water. I see it sinking and I grab. Got it. Ok I can't do this on my own and we row to the umpire boat. Abby calls out we have a technical issue please notify the start. The umpire is with spanner trying to slip the elastic. Then he opens the gate and it brings the hook closes and I slip in on. Thank God! Abby and I motor to the start, 'USA lane 3'. We connect with the stake holder and barely line up when the country countdown begins. I look at the lights and confused the red line is not on. What the? Then I see the umpire above in the start tower with flag over head. I hear his voice: Go! I jumped. But something is missing. My seat is between my legs! Oh no Abby I cry out. Crashing blades, Abby patiently instructs me: get back on your seat. I grab it, put it under my butt, and pound ferociously down the course. Abby says, we are back in the pack. But I can still see boats around me, and I'm not settling. I'm going. On the 1000m I'm starting to see boats away from me. Inches. France is starting to move. Abby is determined they will not gain on us. I'm finding power and rhythm in the head. We come into the last 500m holding. We won the rep. A rainbow bowed above us from the rain we warmed up in. Rowing from the rain to the sun Abby said.

Saturday Semi:
Leading for the first 1000m, we were off to a good start. Then the third 500m, the boats picked up speed and we stayed at the same pace. We put our energy into legs, power, but still the boats came and unfortunately, we placed 4th. That pushed us into the B-Final.

Our B-final we met our friends from the Netherlands, and the Kiwi's. We raced a better rhythm, but our start out us in third and third we held all the way down the course. A result that was bitter-sweet and many lessons to go from. However, team-mates Julie and Kristin made history by placing 3rd in Luzern thus holding the highest points in the World Cups. The USA Lightweights have some great momentum going!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Bicycle and Boat

There are only two ways to experience Holland: By Boat or by Bike.

Training in a rowing shell most days, I'm confined to a 2km course of the Bosbaan, so not much tourism there. But on the Amstel River the channels allow the pleasure boats, powered by petrol, to come out when the sun shine. Its a traffic jam like typical highway at rush -hour and near-mere crashes. We got the experience this on Fran's power-boat and cruised the channels while eating grilled chicken breasts cut in squares for easy finger bites. Potato salad made with a tahini-dill mayo (no actual dairy used) and large grilled veggies like broccoli and zucchini with garlic.

Or early mornings allow rowers in their singles to wonder the Amstel. I ran along the river while Frans rowed. I was pleasantly surprised at the amount of single scullers out there. It had the feel of Seattle, where many row for it power, grace and beauty.

The other way is by bike. The bikes litter the streets like plastic bags. Buckled or bent, wrapped or locked around fences, bike stands, they come at me like people with distinctive personalities. They come at me when I'm driving too, so better to bike than drive. More Amsterdam bike portraits >

I remember a college mate, Nic Grobler, who did a bicycle portrait project for South Africa raising money for the underprivileged. Really nice photos and videos of his work can be seen here > www.bicycleportraits.co.za

Tshirts designed through JL

Walking in the crowd at the Holand Beker, I saw a familar t-shirt! The grey JL swirl Seattle skyline print. The man said he bought it in Denmark and enjoyed it, since he had visited Seattle before. He was delighted when I told him, I was the designer for this shirt and through the partnership with JL allowing me the canvas of a tshirt, I get to see my print worn. Look out for for designs and tshirts as well as the more pattern-black/white prints known as the shwe-shwe line originating from my South African heritage. More Pictures on the JL Gallery.