Jan. 24, 2014
Chrissy Holm, a three time Academic All-Big Ten selection, breaks down the team's nine-day trip (Dec. 30-Jan. 7) to Tampa, Fla.
This season's Tampa winter training trip consisted of a great deal of volume-rowing 30,000+ meters per day, bonding with teammates and enjoying the most comfortable of hotel beds. More importantly, it provided opportunities for us to shake off the dust and set ourselves up for productive scrimmages and future training trips. It is crucial that we take advantage of this time on the water in the winter to stay competitive with the warmer-climate schools such as Cal or UVA. Tampa training trips definitely provide this.
A typical day starts out with a 7 a.m. practice (18-20K), followed by five hours of down time -- in which rowers can hang out, decompress from fall semester finals, and take long, restful naps in the plush hotel beds. After our ample recovery time, we have a PM rowing session (12-16K), followed by dinner in the hotel. It may seem like all we do is eat, sleep, and row, which is generally the case. However, this time of the year it is so nice to only have those responsibilities.
On one of the final days of the trip the coaches set up a Maize vs. Blue race. This was the first-ever inter-squad competition on a Tampa trip. We were separated evenly into two teams, Team Maize and Team Blue. The workout was designed as 4x2k in fours, with four separate flights (1v, 2v, 3v/4v, and novice). Each group had a certain number of available points to earn depending on which flight they were in. This was done to simulate the Big Ten Championship and emphasize how important it is to earn every single point available, no matter if one was rowing in the first varsity eight or the second novice boat. Every race, every boat and every stroke counts towards winning the team Big Ten title for Michigan. Capturing this title is among the many impressive goals this team seeks to achieve this year, and this competition was a great exercise in mental toughness and being relentless when the pressure is on.
After a pre-race pump up speech by coach Mark Rothstein, we were ready to launch. We rowed up the channel, past the city of Tampa to get a nice clean stretch of water to do our pieces. The 1v flight started things off, and the rest of the flights followed quickly after. At the end of the workout, Team Blue ended up on top in the points count. However, if you were to ask anyone in attendance, Team Maize won the 'Best Dressed' award, with an unbiased nod to my four which sported our flashy maize issued travel polo shirts. I don't think Adidas ever predicted that its polo would be used in intense workouts, but boy were they breathable in that hot Tampa sun! New spring racing uniforms? We may be onto something ...
Not only is the Tampa winter training trip an excellent opportunity to tune up the rowing skills and get fit, but it is also a wonderful opportunity to explore Tampa and partake in some team bonding. One of my favorite activities to do in Tampa, which has become a newfound favorite of many of my teammates, is getting some absolutely delicious Mexican food from the nationally renowned Taco Bus. For many years, some of the rowers and I had walked past the big yellow bus protruding out of an office building, wondering what this peculiar mobile was all about. Little did we know, this big yellow bus housed the magnificent makings of some unbelievable Mexican cuisine. Eventually, our curiosity got the best of us and we took a leap of faith by going for dinner one afternoon off. We ordered an array of fresh tacos, guacamole, and tamales that literally took our taste buds for a ride. We were blown away. Later we found out that Taco Bus had been featured on the Food Network, and that we weren't the first to pioneer its goodness. From then on, Taco Bus has been an absolute hot spot on Tampa training trips. For those who have yet to take a ride on the Taco Bus, please do, because it will completely change your Tampa experience.
Overall, the goals of the Tampa winter training trip were to shake off the dust, fine-tune our technique and get ourselves excited and ready to out-work every other team this spring on the water. This trip definitely achieved those goals. It was an excellent balance of development of technical skills while still tapping into that competitive racing fire that will propel us to success this upcoming season. Big things are on the horizon for this group, and this Tampa training trip was only the tip of the iceberg.