Thursday, November 29, 2012

Dynamic Mommies

One late morning, after a little erg testing myself, two new mommies from Lake Union Crew got on the C2 dynamics behind me and starting to get back into rowing. The new additions to their lives would still enthrall them as every stroke was not without a glace down to see how the little hands and feet where moving. I'm a big fan of dynamic ergs and this was very special to see that in all walks of life, you can feel the floating of a rowing boat.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

JLRacing’s trusted fabric of corporate social responsibility

Through their leadership at JL, owners Joline and Ken have been able to align their two passions--performance and sustainability. Though only a small manufacturer, social and environmental issues are always considered foremost in the decisions. The dollar never overshadows human cost. Two great examples of this come in their recycled fabric line and their business portfolio.
It matters where fabrics come from.
Ken and Joline source as close to the factory as possible, choosing US-milled recycled fabrics when possible. When they do go overseas, they buy from companies that follow strict environmental and social standards.

Over the last two decades, JL has steadily been replacing their virgin polyesters with 50-80%
recycled fibers made by Uni, a global leader in sustainable textiles. Behind every mound of
post-consumer waste is a mountain of pre-consumer waste. (The waste created by manufacturers
when they make products for consumers.) Both are used to make Repreve® polyester offsetting
the need to use new crude oil.

Joline enjoying the solar panels at the California factory
On average, every pound of Repreve® yarn conserves the equivalent of half a gallon of gasoline. Additionally, an increasing percentage of JL's fabrics come from Bluesign® certified mills. BlueSign® facilities must prove that every step of their supply chain, and their own operation, are sustainable and non-polluting. The BlueSign® standard is based on five principles: resource productivity, consumer safety, air emission, water emission and occupational health and safety.

LUC designed JLRacing gear
As athletes seek to be the best they can be, JLRacing’s business is committed to do the same.
After all the mission/vision media-hype talk, it comes down to who crosses the finish line first,
right? This is the actual doing that is reflected in JL’s case as character, attitude, intention and
community. In this JL delievers with an 100% American made factory that even has solar
panels on their roof. All workers have fully paid health and dental insurance, retirement and
profit sharing benets. The employees repay JL's committment to them with consistant, quality

“Dedication with honesty and hard work--no shortcuts.” is stated on the JL website. As testament
to their continuum of seamless performance--quality is not compromised by doing
good. The gear continues to be at the cutting edge while aligning to corporate social responsibility.

In 2010 Joline and Ken meet with Ursula Grobler, and offered to help her make her
rowing sustainable. Joline made it clear that the gear be passed on to others from Ursula. “I
remember my first USA JL Uni passed on from Sarah Jones, how special I felt wearing it and
Abby Broughton shown wearing the JL Uni given to Amina
what it meant. I still have that uni!” Ursula says. In 2012 at the Holland Beker Ursula passed
on some JL gear with the signature neon yellow fabric to Amina Rouba from Algeria. For
Amina, being a female full time athlete in her country is tough. This gift created a bond on
many levels. It will be about what is given and what is given back — reflectively.

JUST OUT: released 2013 Rowing Meanderings

I have just finished compiling a fabulous rowing calendar, packed with amazing photos of great rowing venues all over the world! International regatta venues include Bosbaan | Netherlands, Roodeplaat Dam | South Africa, The Rotsee, Switzerland | Seville, Spain and tons more. Includes the Regatta Calendar for FISA and other local events such as Head of the Gorge in Canada and San Diego Crew Classic.
Pay on paypal and I'll get this in the mail to you right away! 

12 in (30cm) square 12 month calendar
Starting in January 2012

USD $37.00

Just Sayen... VOTE!

Today, good friend and supporter Greg Williams re-sent me an old email. Funny how all things are connected. I have in hand, ready to mail, my first ever US citizen voting ballot!

Head of the Charles 2012

This was my return to the Charles after my 2009 win. I was excited to come with the focus of less-race-result pressure (aka party), but still go a little faster than party speed! I really enjoyed being in a venue with so many people all doing the same thing. Walking with oars and riggers seemed as standard on Soldier's Field Rd as people walking with Trader Joe's shopping bags.

Thanks to Lake Union Crew (Lee, Martha...) who drove the trailer out early meant that on Thursday I got to have a great row from CRI, to Hudson's private dock (which was super cool) and then up and down the course. The buoys weren't up yet so when they finally were in place on Friday early afternoon, I had put a different course idea in mind that needed tweaking.

Weather was barely holding. Pictures were coming in of rain covered window-shields on Saturday morning. For my race that afternoon, 4:10pm, it was actually quite warm and the rain cleared. At about 1pm, the nerves set in. "Why nervous Ursh?" I said. "Supposed to be relaxed." But winning is really fun. So the anxiety was building.

We drove down to FALS, winding through the street of Needham to avoid the mass pike  (Boston traffic) with my special hosts, Mary Jane and George. Mary Jane helped get my number on and get me launched. Thank you! I was honoured to see Kim Crow and Mirka Knapková getting ready to race.

As I row down to the start, and got warmed up, I decide to take my long-sleeve tech shirt off. I got to wear super cool JLRacing gear that Ray from JL and I designed for the WAC. As I pull the shirt over my head, off comes my alice band*. Plop into the water it sinks. "Okay, now my hair is in my face. Can I row like this?" A few strokes, and I decide my sunglasses can be propped up as an alice band. A few more strokes like this, turning around to face the direction I will be looking while, and I know the sun is too bright. Not being able to clearly see the course would be worse. Looking out over my oars, I see the Hammer Nutrition stickers I stuck on my oars. Maybe those can be used to stick my hair bits in place. And that I did. So I was the crazy person, down the course with stickers in my hair.

The start seemed to take forever. Something to do with being seeded bow 14. I was disappointed with being so far down. Still not sure the seeding is as clear as the organization writes about. Politics. Say no more. A little bumpy from the basin wind but once I got pressure on, it was super fun. I cut the first turn a little too close to the shore. Didn't go over the buoys but didn't quite set up my rhythm. That's from training on Thursday without the buoys set up yet. Got used to being too close to the shore. Then through the powerhouse and stretch and I started to encounter my first passing who was not yielding as graciously as my 2009 competitors. I think that's why it is better to be way down the line, or in the very top seedings, if you are 'mis'seeded. Then you get to pass people quickly, or have the course open. In the middle, you have some guys with some speed and also guys who want to hold their position and line all too well. We started to come to the Weeks turn, and my competitor held her course through the bridge. I was passing, but pushed out. A classic- bad Weeks course! Cut back hard to get the diagonal for the next arch. "Okay"- good going from there onwards. Perfect course around the big bend. Then another unyielding competitor. She came at me also wanting to cut the course fine, heading towards the Belmont/Windsor docks. She almost sent me crashing into the dock. I have never yelled out in racing. Ever. But this was my first, as I firmly voiced : YIELD! Mary Jane and George were at that dock. They saw the spectical. Can't wait for them to send me their photos to see it from a spectator point of view. That's what the Charles is about right - bumper boats with carbon-fiber! There's and oxymoron. Anyway, so now you have just the last part of the race, close to the bushes and push to the end. A little gust of head wind was a little unwelcomed, but it makes for a gutsy finish. 4 Row2k Pics here >

Had to head back to the dock quickly to make my flight back to Seattle. Had two early back-to-back Netball matches the next day!

Wanted to add, a big thank you to Hudson Boat Works, Glen, Craig, Ruud and the team for being so cool! #shakeandbake is right! I wanted to thank Dick and Pat from Concept 2 for my oars. They were stationed right next to Hudson. Must be a good sign of a good combination! Thank you to all the people who cheered my name as I came through the course. I heard you, and smiled! Thank you Kim Kelley for helping me and being my friend!

I also got to chat to the people/businesses who have contributed to my path in the past. To Brendan Cotty from Wintech, and Maas from Shimano, Ed with Bat Logics. Thank you very much for all your support!

So that's a wrap. Hope to be there next year. Further up the seeing? One more highlight: On Friday afternoon as rain poured down and we sheltered ourselves under the Hudson tent, the US Women's Charles eight-team was getting ready to out. It seemed a member was delayed. Taylor Ritzel asked me to row with them. I looked down, in disbelief and loss of words. I had no business being their boat. Suddenly a flashback to the last time I was in an eight, which was the second time I had ever been in an eight. In 2009 racing for Club Natació Banyoles. I had no idea which way my legs had to go with this one oar coming through. And both hands participated in squaring and feathering, even though I have since read only one hand is suppose to do that. As a complete novice, I declined Taylor's request. (Who says no the the US Women's eight?!) Right time, right place is right! Anyway, being asked will go down as a highlight for me! Interesting though, the Romanian woman who holds the LW1x record went on to the next olympics to win gold in the Romanian W8-... 

*It's an SA colloquial term: Horseshoe-shaped headbands are sometimes called Alice bands after the headbands that Alice is often depicted wearing in Through the Looking-Glass.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Head of the Charles Draw is Up

I'm a little disappointed with the draw being so far down. Not sure why this is. Feel like its all about who you know... 

Event 30: Women's Championship Singles

Bow/LaneBladeTeam/ClubShort NameAbbreviationRankLine-upAvg Age
Cambridge Boat ClubCambridgeCBC
G. Stone  
VK Slavia PrahaVK Slavia PrahaVKSP
M. Knapkova  
Melbourne University Boat ClubMUBCMUBC
K. Crow  
Union Boat ClubUnion BCUnion
M. Gay  
Undine Barge ClubUndineUndine
K. McFetridge  
Riverside Boat ClubRiversideRBC
E. Huelskamp  
Unaffiliated (USA)Unaffiliated (USA)Unaff.
O. Coffey  
Potomac Boat ClubPotomac BCPBC
S. Kozuszek  
Riverside Boat ClubRiversideRBC
L. Schmetterling  
Craftsbury Green Racing ProjectGreen Racing ProjectGRP
E. Dreissigacker  
Leander ClubLeanderLC
D. Flood  
Unaffiliated (USA)Unaffiliated (USA)Unaff.
K. Walling  
Sydney Rowing ClubSydneySRC
T. Gerand  
Lake Union CrewLake UnionLUC
U. Grobler  
Wassersportverein OttensheimWSV OttensheimWSV
L. Farthofer  
Norrtälje RoddföreningNorrtäljeNRF
A. Svennung  
Oklahoma City High Performance CenterOKA HP CenterOCHPC
K. Bertko  
USRowing Training CenterUSRowing Training CtrUSTC
M. OLeary  
California Rowing ClubCaliforniaCRC
I. Penney  
Penn A.C. Rowing AssociationPenn ACPENNAC
E. Jorgensen  

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Sweet Sweat Runs

On the docks in Banyoles, Spain
Sweat runs are often a mixture of love/hate. Tired legs from depleted body carries you out the door to lose weight, to make weight or maintain weight. Unlike the performance factor you push up against in your rowing race, this part of your training is something between stretching and heart rate sustenance. You don't want to work too hard, tiring you out for your real race, but you don't want to walk either. The job needs to get done as quick as possible. To sweat. And if you can get distracted by the surroundings, all the better, with sweet memories to follow. Here are some of mine gathered from my rowing racing sweet runs.

Banyoles, Spain
In 2009 for the Memorial Paolo d'Aloja, I remember running through the streets of Italy in Piediluco. My first experience of running to make weight. The other lightweights thought this was a drag. But I thought this was the coolest experience ever. The setting sun made all things European flicker in their difference to what was familiar. Cobbled roads, old ruins from ancient times, Italian voices. A snapshot of a European way of life that I physically, was being a part of and moving through with all the senses. I never felt so alive.

My second rowing-running memories are gathered in Spain, Banyoles where running becomes more than just weight-making. Its my pre-race focus in a warm-up and my after race recovery cool-down. Its just that ‘me’ time where I align all my anxieties, get ready to show my stuff on the water. Rowing is very technical and having the ease of the run sets me up to have all my nerves ready to perform.
Running in Galicia, Spain

Somewhere in the northern part of Spain, we went to a race.  It was possibly in Galacia, but I can't remember the exact location. I just remember running around the lake area to see little delicate vines, around huge power lines that overlooked a grand lake on which the rowing races were happening. I also saw the European villa houses that were movie tuscany-dreamy quality. The  orange trees added more beauty to the scene. It was nice!
River Trail in New Zealand

Hunt Drive - Fulmer's loop
Running for the 2010 World Champs in New Zealand was quite a fair. It was in November (Spring-Summer for the Southern hemisphere) and it was not as warm as I would have liked. Sweating took some work and more run-exploring. We stayed at the Kingsgate Hotel in Hamilton but the rowing happened in Cambridge, Karapiro. My explorations at pace soon found me at Minogue Park, near our Hotel. Like a child the large open fields and hills made me giddy as I covered the distance. When on top of the hill (koppie) I would have a stare out moment over my world. One day Netball games were being played close by. That was a great blast from the past. Haven't seen or played Netball since 2002, and it was such a big part of my life for 12 years. Just off Minogue Park, there was a horse track. Running laps around this track also gave me motivation to keep going on my sweat run. Perhaps remembering track training days with Mrs Erasmus at Willowridge, or perhaps thinking of the sheer strength, power and grace that the thoroughbreds exurb as they are jocked around the track. Those galloping strides paced me. From Kingsgate I was also recommend to head east towards the River Trail. This was a runner's haven. Long, unending trail roads, free of cars, winding along the river. Green luscious ferns pathed your way. Sometimes I thought I was on-set for a dinosaur scene. Once I also ran along the main street to just see the businesses and shops. Along the way there was a huge pile of tracker tyres. It was meant to be climbed and I couldn't resist. Like a obstacle course, jungle gym, I went up and over the tyre mount. A little embarrassed, I carried on running.
Wooded trails run
from my Garmin Connect
Another simple place to run is in the neighborhood of the Fulmer's. I run loops in the circular cul-de-sac. I turned my focus to my pace instead of frustration of limited space and making circles. I let my pace set in a deep rhythm needed to win my race. Further down the road is a great park I exploring the trials. Somehow it all connects Although once I ended up really far out. Thank goodness I had my iphone maps to direct me back.

Now running in Seattle, around Lake Union is also a staple run. Along the path of house boats, to wood panel boardwalk of South Lake Union. Running up the stairs to get over the Freemont bridge, and dropping back down into the Burke Gillman trial. Inside gasworks parks, running up the hill, close the water wall and back out. Along the trail, passing the rowing clubs of Lake Washington, Pocock until I get to my club, Lake Union crew.
Lake Union Run 
Lake Union View over towers of Queen Anne
View when running over Freemont Bridge

Another staple run takes place in Amsterdam. Running around the Aalsmeer lake is my ultimate distance run. Just under half a marathon, the run takes you in and out of the water's view. At times you feel like it just won't end, but then you see the water tower (which looks like it was built for the set of Transformers) and like a lighthouse, it brings you home. Thank you Otimus Prime for some stamina! Also in Amsterdam are my Bosbaan runs. This is the course where we row as well, so great to run the 2km out, there and back, and then also to wonder into the forests that surround the bosbaan. At first getting lost in the wooden trails was very overwhelming. Now I have it down, and found many little hidden gems in the wood. Like pools, big hockey fields, restaurants, and forest theaters. But the biggest surprise was finding the obstacle course. This is just like something we would do at veldschool (bush school) with ropes, tyres and legs to walk along, get over and conquer!
Bosbaan - Amsterdam
Around Aalsmeer Lake
More runs in the Netherlands also include the City of Delft along the River Schie and in Rotterdam along the River Rotte. Delft is a small quaint little city. Running through the square is also charming, finding little bridges crossing the ever winding waters ways. Or you could run out into the polders and the bike trails and just really run or bike for hours. Seeing bikes broken, warped and locked are common all over Delft, Rotterdam and Amsterdam.

Kandelaar Bridge in Delft
500m board on Lake Lucerne
Running around the city of Lucerne, Switzerland at the World Cup planted some great memories. I remember the cow bells clanging on the hills as I ran along the course. I would hear them when we rowed too. The Rotzee is beautiful. The jewel for all rowers! I also enjoyed running out to the bigger Lake Lucerne with views of Mount Pilatus. The out and back run to the 500 mile mark cafe would get me through. To see that 500m sign and look over the water and setting sun was magical. As I run back and get back into the little city, seeing Helvetica-typeface signs constructed on top of the buildings also delighted this designer's viewpoint. Helvetica developed in 1957 by Max Miedinger and Eduard Hoffmann aimed to have neural properties that exhibited great clarity. Perfect proportions in spacing and lines, just like the Swiss-German culture. 'Helvetica' means 'Swiss' in latin.

Track in Bled
In Slovenia, we competed at Lake Bled. So I ran around Lake Bled. A beautiful foot path that also have horse and carriage coming by. People strolling with big ice-creams was also a common site. Its a nice loop. I also started exploring the outskirts of the city and came across a beautiful athletes track. This excited me to no end. I made my loops around the track, and even did some harder 400m's work. Man, I remember those 400 days with coach Garry and Mrs Erasmus clocking every one. The rest in between just a painful pause to when you need to line up again!

Running around Lake Bled, Slovenia

Lake Samish, Bellingham
Back in the USA, I have also spend hours pounding the pavement around Lake Samish in beautiful Bellingham: a town north of Seattle, just a stone throw from the Canadian border. Also a lake loop letting you see the waters you are row from a different perspective. One side of the run is not as pleasent as it borders the highway (I-5). That was motivation to run faster so it could be over quicker. There was also another small lake called Lake Padden that was super fun to run around. This was all trails and Abby and I would run this more competitively though, for real training, while others bbq's and swam.

Lake Stevens
I used to live in Lake Stevens, and so wasn't long before I found myself making the lake loop. I rode it first on my bike figuring out the path. Then later we got a little furry companion, and he was soon trained to make the run. Remus is a american pit. Unlike his breed his known for, he is slender and swims like a fish. We start the lake loop in different strides. First he will be pulling me, and then after 50min, I pulling him to make the last 20min. Good team work I would say. Miss my little guy! Best running partner I ever had.
Remus, best running partner

From one side of the globe to another, running in South Africa, even now after my junior days is till a blast. There is a nature reserve close to where I live called Groenkloof, with hiking trails that I ran through. This sounds unreal, but as I ran, there were Zebra's and Giraff and Rhino. Only in Africa!
Groenkloof nature reserve

Willowridge High School Track

Thank you to Super Jock 'n Jill in Greenlake who fitted me in Brooks and I have never looked up. I love my Brooks, that support my pronating running style and have reduced my shin split injury to zero! Super Jock 'n Jill supplied me with sponsored shoes for my olympic endeavor. Please support these guys and they have me. I would recommend this store over and over if you are looking to buy good running shoes!