Back in the Saddle

Jun 28, 2010

Back in the saddle…and by saddle, I’m referring to both my small little carbon fiber boat seat as well as the more comfy Concept2 seat. Exercising has been replaced by training. Grazing is now refueling. Wine is now water. However you want to skin it, I’m 31 years old and I am back in it.

Ali on the erg

All the hours before coming to camp spent running Crissy Field in San Francisco or New York’s Central Park loop, hiking the Marin Headlands or trekking through Vail’s back bowls did not quite prepare me for the workouts I’ve endured over the last three months. Yes folks, I’m talking about getting results on the Concept2 Indoor Rower and in the rowing boat. After three months several marks of progress have started to appear including defined shoulders, oblique muscles, sunburns, and lovely little gems such as heat rash, chaffing and blistered hands. Those formerly luxurious (and optional) hours of “exercise” targeting weight loss and stress management are o-v-e-r. Blisters and/or sore muscles do not garner a hall pass these days. not. even. close.

After a six year athletic hiatus to concentrate on my marketing career, I’m back training with fellow 2010 US National Team hopefuls, and ultimately some of us will be 2012 Olympians.

Here’s how the morning starts, I wake up at 6:05 a.m. with the ever-familiar jolt of “am I late for practice!?!?,” then pull myself out of bed one sore muscle at a time, negotiate whether I’ll be able to take a nap later that day, say a word of thanks for my trusty automatic-timed coffee maker, pour a to-go cup of joe, make a pb & honey flax seed, gluten-free sandwich and drive to the boathouse listening to the NPR headlines.

Am I committed? Oh, heck yes and actually, I am in constant shock at how unwavering my commitment has been. Less than four months ago I had trouble dragging myself to the gym while living in San Francisco. The thought of stepping away from my computer and trekking from my apartment to Crunch Fitness on Union Street was a daily struggle. Never quite able to unplug completely, I normally would sneak my Blackberry into biking class or next to my erg seat. My professional and social life always took precedence. Well, these days, “happy hours with the girls” have given way to erging 2 x 40’  “steady state” (in non-rower speak, this is two 40-minute sessions of rowing on the Concept2 Indoor Rower at a steady heart rate normally between 140 and 156 heartbeats per minute). Carefree hours of free time have been replaced by long rows in the pair or eight person boat, team runs and sweaty sessions in the weight room.

Bench Pull. My least favorite lift!

My point to all of this—did I think I would ever find myself pushing physical limits in quest of another Olympic medal? The firm answer is no. However, I could not be more fulfilled or driven by the challenge. After three months of training, was my decision to put my “real life” on hold and go for it a good one? Absolutely. This is scary, and I’m doing it.  

The business trips, benefits, galas, family vacations, music festivals, wakesurfing on Lake Austin, Jackson Hole jaunts and everything else under the sun will have to wait for two years because I am recommitted to the Olympic dream, which consists of healthy living, boat speed, winning races and besting my personal records on the erg. Daily.

No beer or wine in this athlete’s cart!

What is your goal? Please send me an email, Facebook message or tweet about your newest challenge. I would like to hear how and why you’re pushing the limits by taking on a daunting goal. WWW.ALICOX.COM

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