Women’s Rowing Spring Training Blog

The Holy Cross women's rowing team spent spring break training in Cocoa Beach, Fla. The Crusaders blogged from the trip.

Friday, March 7, 2014
By: Caroline Laurendeau, Class of 2017

Friday, our final full day in Cocoa Beach, Fla., began with our usual routine of crawling out of our beds at the last minute to have breakfast before we headed to morning practice. As a team, we all collectively arrived at our trailer with pigtails following Patricks's request of how we wore our hair for the day. After a team picture was taken to document our good looks for the day, 2 8s and a 4 headed out into the choppy water accompanied by strong winds to begin our morning practice. Practice began with our usual warmup and then we did our usual pause and catch drills followed by practicing our racing starts for the upcoming spring season. These starts went a lot smoother than we had anticipated which got us excited as we look forward to our racing season.   

Arriving later to shore than we had planned, we hurried to the vans to enjoy our final brunch the hotel provided. French toast and pasta was enjoyed by many hungry rowers followed by a cake generously given to us by the caterers wishing us luck on our upcoming season. To no one's surprise, it was devoured by the team in record time. Once lunch was finished everyone was found either napping or laying out by the pool soaking up some last minute sun as we desperately tried to even out the uni tan lines that had progressively become more apparent over the week.

When we arrived for afternoon practice, we were greeted by more choppy waves and strong winds. Because of the poor weather conditions our races against Clark were rescheduled for the next day. Despite the weather, we still managed to take out 2 8s and practice our starts we had been working on in the morning followed by multiple 1 minutes pieces. After practice everyone went back to our rooms to perfect, or manage to throw together last minute, the skits that each grade needed to perform for our seniors. This was followed by pizza for dinner and performances. Our final night ended with some last minute shopping at Ron Jon's and packing all of our spandex away to head back to Worcester the next morning. We all went to bed by 11:00 p.m. in order to rest up for our early 6:00 a.m. wake up call to head to our final water practice in sunny Florida before we fly back to freezing Worcester and head back to the erg room.

Thursday, March 6, 2014
By: Jackie Hanna (Class of 2015)

Thursday morning started out with another hotel breakfast and the slathering on of sunscreen in preparation for day five out on the water. The weather was a little gloomy when we got to Sykes Creek but cleared up by the time we got through our warm up and some drills to work on timing, catch placement and getting our finishes out clean. We rowed down to the canal where we did a few eight minute pieces. The pieces were the longest we had done all week and definitely gave us a taste of the fast approaching racing season and reminded us what a 2k felt like on the water!

As we were doing our usual post-practice stretch it started to rain and the weather took a turn for the worse. Luckily, Patrick informed us that we would not have our second practice of the day and instead we would have the afternoon off and were going to see the new 3-D Lego movie- thanks to a generous donation from an anonymous parent! After that good news not even thunderstorms and torrential rain could bring us down and we went back to the hotel looking forward to an afternoon of rest and recovery. We had another delicious lunch and enjoyed our afternoons relaxing until it was time to see the Lego movie! Our large group of tall girls wearing a lot of purple definitely made us stand out at the movie theater and after getting some popcorn, snacks, and cool 3-D glasses we were ready to enjoy the movie! Overall, the Lego movie was really funny and everyone enjoyed it. We headed back to the hotel and enjoyed a great Italian dinner while the seniors got ready for their annual senior dinner with Patrick. While the seniors were at dinner the junior class was in charge of organizing a craft for the rest of the team which was tie dying bandanas! After a long day filled with rowing, relaxing, fun, and good food we were all ready for a good night's sleep before our final full day of rowing.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014
Eugenia Minondo (Class of 2015)

Wednesday morning began the same way as the previous few days: we had breakfast at 7:00 a.m. and left the hotel by 7:30 a.m. to head down to the water. When we got there we were all a little concerned with the blanket of fog that made it almost impossible to see across the lake. We thought Patrick was going to give us the morning off and make us do some pilates and ab circuits but he promptly told us to get ready and hop on the boats. Since the fog was so heavy we did not go in the usual direction because there are a few bridges and it would have been a challenge to safely go through them without any visibility. Although the fog was pretty thick, we were able to row to an open area where there was nothing we could crash into and practice began. We did some much-needed technique work followed by a couple of three-minute pieces at full pressure. After two hours of practicing we strapped the boats down and did our usual after practice stretch and then headed back to the hotel for brunch.

We happily stuffed our faces with some delicious sandwiches and mac and cheese!!!! At brunch Patrick announced there was going to be a mandatory nap because we were looking a little run down from the last few days. After eating a couple full plates of food we all went back into our rooms. Since the day was a little gloomy and we were all feeling really tired, everyone was happy about our mandatory nap. After our naps we all met up at 2:00 p.m. to go over video. Then we got ready for the afternoon practice and this time everyone wore sunscreen because the fog had cleared and the sun was finally coming out! The afternoon practice consisted of some pieces as well as some more technique work. We focused on clean releases, which helped all of the boats move faster. 

After practice number two we headed back to the hotel for a quick change of clothes in order to get ready for Ash Wednesday mass. At church, the priest let everyone know that we were rowers on the Holy Cross rowing team from Massachusetts which made us all feel like we were under the spot light.  Since not everyone went to mass, after those who did go returned we all met up for a lovely dinner at the hotel followed by our nightly team meeting. At last it was time to go to our rooms and we all crawled into bed hoping that our blisters will magically disappear before our next practice!

Tuesday, March 4, 2014
By: Colleen Hynes (Class of 2016)

Waking up this morning was a bit harder than the past two mornings. Not only have the practices from the last three days begun to set in, but it wasn't the ultra-sunny start to the day we had come to expect. We all trekked to breakfast at 7:00 a.m., more than a few feet dragging, and carefully compared our new collection of calluses and blisters over our feast of oatmeal, raisin bran and bananas, and bagels with jam. Though the fog still lingered when we got down to the boats, as soon as we launched and started our warm up the amazing Florida sun dissipated what remained of the haze.  With flat water ahead of our bow and clear skies above our heads, we all focused in for a lengthy but productive practice. Today was the day of "clean releases" and Patrick had more than a few drills for us to do in the hopes that we would remember critiques from the morning during the hard work that was waiting for us during practice #2.

Back at the hotel we all ran over to eat brunch (yes, literally, we run to the food) and ate as ravenously as usually before putting on our bathing suits and monopolizing all the lounge chairs out by the pool. Some girls read, some girls played pool volleyball, but nearly everyone sent pool-side selfies to jealous families back home in colder climates (we know gloating is wrong, but it feels so right). The afternoon break was ended with some light yoga and a few abs circuits, and soon we were back in the vans heading down to the water.

As we sat in our stretching circle, many questions were running through our heads: Will day three of Dolphin Watch prove fruitful? Will Patrick let us row the new Vespoli 8 today? Will all this tape even stay on my hands? Did I put on enough sunscreen (Spoiler alert: no, never enough sunscreen)? And, most importantly, what is the likelihood that there will be tacos again for dinner? Our futures full of uncertainty, we waded into the water and launched our boats for the day's final workout. Patrick took advantage of the clear conditions to have us row all the way down to the canal and complete what felt like a million timed pieces ranging in length from 2 – 5 minutes each (in reality is was only a few more than half a dozen pieces, but there is little room for reason when you're that out of breath). Despite a tough workout, we all agreed that the technique work we've been focusing on for thousands of meters feels like it is finally transferring into boat speed; the coaches have yet to make a definitive statement on the matter.

The night ended with our usual team dinner and then Allie surprised everyone with provisions for SMORES!!! We all crowded around our small, makeshift barbeque fire pit and happily ate mass quantities of candy and marshmallows. Ming briefly entertained the team with some amateur pyrotechnics, but fellow freshman Maddy quickly put an end to that. With everyone full of graham crackers, we all headed back to our rooms to get a good night's sleep after another long day in rower's paradise.

Monday, March 3, 2014
By: Kiley McLean (Class of 2014)

We began the second full day as usual. We crawled out of our beds at 6:50 a.m. and sauntered into the breakfast room to silently stuff our faces with the hotel breakfast. We lathered on our sun screen and left in the buses for our first practice, promptly at 7:30 a.m. We did our morning stretching and unstrapped the boats for our first long practice. We spent much more time taping our hands, explaining to the novices that the ways their hands look is in fact normal.  We spent two and a half hours on the water, in two eights and a four, doing many, many drills and focusing on our technique. Our first dolphin sighting and the knowledge there would be French toast at lunch kept us motivated through the final pieces.

We returned to the hotel for lunch, only to find there was not only French toast, but tacos, and we happily recovered from the morning. We all split off to head to the pool or the beach, before meeting up at 2:00 p.m. for 30 minute stretching and extra abs circuits. Colleen and Ali, our resident yoga instructors, led us through 30 minutes of hamstring pulls and arm reaches and our coxswains coached us through eight minute abs. Blasting and singing classic songs of the 80s made it all much more enjoyable. We left for practice in the vans once again at 3:00 p.m. and after a few minutes on the water, we learned why Patrick asked us to do so much extra stretching. We rowed to the side canal and the two eights went back and forth, doing consecutive 90 second sprints. After completing 15 (not that we were counting), we did a steady state row to another bridge and back. Although we felt exhausted and sore, we raced to dinner together and relaxed in the pool after. After we watched video of this mornings practice with Patrick, we promptly went to bed after a long day of rowing under the sun.

Sunday, March 2, 2014
By: Abbey Wilkman (Class of 2015)

We began the day as usual, stuffing our faces with the breakfast the hotel provides. It seems Clark beat us there because all the yogurt was gone. I settled for two lemon poppy seed muffins instead. Then we hopped into the vans to drive to the boats. We had a 7:30 a.m. meeting time but Patrick snuck out at 7:27 a.m. with a full van reminding us when he says 7:30 a.m., the van will be on the move and you will be chasing after it catching up at the stop lights (as I experienced last year). Once we got to the water, we went through the usual routine of putting on tap and sunscreen, bringing down oars, and stretching. The first boat to launch went out in the Father K and everything went smoothly. We did the pick drill warm-up and made it out past the first bridge when there was no sight of Patrick or the other boats. So we waited soaking in the beautiful Florida sunshine when pandemonium was occurring back at shore. Apparently Patrick's launch was having technical difficulties so we had to return it to the renting company. Also all the wiring in one of our boats was off so Kelsey had to return with Caroline to the hotel to collect all the cox boxes we have. When that was occurring, Patrick coached the boat on the water for a shorter practice. Then we hot seated and the other rowers who were on shore watching the Northeastern men for entertainment got a short row in.

Returning to the hotel, we had a delicious brunch. Then everyone quickly changed into their bathing suits and stretched out by the pool or ventured to the beach to thaw from the bitter cold we experienced in Worcester. We met again at 3:00 p.m. for practice number two. Even at 3, the sun was blazing. Once launched and warmed up, we did a lot of work with pause drills and cut the cake. We were able to get some decent water time so we did some shorter pieces as well. We returned to shore and piled into the vans to make it home for dinner. Luckily, we were able to make it home before Clark so we go the first pick of the dinner. Dinner was followed by video sessions of that day's practices. Patrick used his slew of technology to have graphics that showed us the proper angels we are supposed to have at the catch, the release and our swing. He also showed us National team video to compare to and we marveled at the flawless way they are able to feather their blades out of the water (#rowerproblems.) During video, the power in the hotel cut out for a couple of seconds (we suspect someone was using too many hairdryers to try and dry wet spandex.) After video we had a "meeting" at 9:00 p.m. which we actually used to gather everyone to celebrate Tori's 20th birthday that is today, and Bridget and Kiley's 22nd that was on the 1st. After we got our share of cake, it was off to our beds to hydrate and watch the Oscars.