Ciao from Erba, Italy!
We arrived early last Thursday morning into Milan and traveled the short hour by bus to our pre-Worlds training site in the small town of Erba, Italy. We are staying in the “Leonardo da Vinci” Hotel where we’ve been enjoying the friendly staff and delicious meals. It’s an older, but well kept establishment, perfectly situated less than a 15-minute walk (or 3-minute drive) to Lago di Pusiano where we’ve been putting in our training miles, making last-minute tweaks and sharpening up for the big dance next week in Aiguebelette at the 2015 World Championships.
After less than a week here in Erba, the group will pile into a caravan of coach buses this afternoon and make the 5-6 hour trek through the Alps to Aiguebelette, France. The lake there has restricted access until only a few days before racing begins so all of the national teams have been training in various areas scattered throughout Europe. We are currently sharing Lago di Pusiano with a small Team Cuba and the local resident Italian junior rowers. The training center is beautiful with a picturesque view of the mountains directly across the lake. The main building is a simple structure of concrete and glass–modern in style and practical in execution–cleaner than any boathouse I’ve been in. We need more boathouses like this back in the States! The lake is small, but perfect for rowing, with old churches, quaint restaurants and homes surrounding the water’s edge. Except for the occasional slow-moving work boat–and the one day a seaplane landed on the water (which was pretty cool)–there isn’t much other traffic to manage outside of coach launches and other rowers.
I’ve passed the time outside of the boat mostly enjoying a new book, napping, and wishing I could remember the little bit of Italian I learned while studying here one summer during college. It’s been too long since I’ve had the time to read with heavy hours of training separated only by eating, sleeping and working in my free time. I managed to leave (forget) my computer charger at home…something I’ve never done before. Ever. It truly has been a blessing in disguise. Fortunately, Amanda Polk (3-seat of the W8+) has been sharing hers with me when I need it. Not staring into the blue screen of a computer has lent toward more time spent truly resting, reading a book (on actual paper), and allowing myself to disconnect and fully focus on the challenge that lay ahead. It’s a simple concept, but one that can easily go overlooked. Less Facebooking and Tweeting, less Instagram scrolling, less mindless distraction and less stress. I realize the irony in this as I stare at my screen to type this very post 😉 The point being: there is real value in putting on the blinders, disconnecting a bit and allowing yourself the space to truly focus. Energy is finite and every bit counts in a 2,000-meter race.
For our last evening here in Erba, the hotel staff fixed us a delicious send-off dinner, capped with a little birthday celebration. I haven’t had the joy of blowing out candles for the few years now that I’ve been traveling as a part of the National Team as my birthday always falls over the World Championships trips. They prepared an amazing shortbread pudding cake with fresh berries and a framed ‘Happy Birthday Meghan’ message. Favorite moment? They wheeled the cake in while blasting some ’80s music. Well done, Italy. You know how to make a girl feel special.
This is only the third time I’ve experienced the ritual of World Championships prep and my first encounter with an Olympic qualification regatta. While the stakes are in theory, higher, the focus, approach and end goal are all the same as any other major international regatta. My partner, Ellen Tomek and I have put in more miles and gone to greater lengths this year to make sure we’ve left no stone unturned and no step missed on our journey toward putting the United States Women’s Double on the podium. Aiguebelette is a big step, and one step closer to Rio.
Every Day Counts.