JUNE 3, 2011

This past weekend my teammate Meghan Musnicki and I competed at the World Cup 1 in Munich, Germany.  It was my fifth time racing there so the novelty of rowing in the land of fairytales, soccer, bratwurst, and beer was completely overshadowed by my one mission: to get the yellow jersey by winning the Women's Pair event.  Though it was a great regatta and my pair partner and I got faster with each race, we missed the gold medal and yellow jersey by 2 seconds in the final.  We were happy with how we raced and we stood on the podium with a silver medal around our necks.  But we were disappointed.  When your expectations are high and you don't win, frustration is natural.  It's the next step that will make the difference.  Some people get very down on themselves and accept defeat while others make excuses for their performance or are simply complacent with their results.  The biggest lesson is learning from your mistakes and using your results to drive you.  I have to admit, I have an obsession with winning, and this race will inspire me to push harder.

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Sometimes these losses are the biggest blessing in disguise.  In 2005, at the World Championships in Japan, our Women's Eight led for 1700m until 3 boats walked through us in the sprint.  We ended up coming in 4th by 0.27 seconds.  For the next year, I thought about that race EVERY DAY.  It replayed in my head during some of the hardest work outs.  I was never going to let my teammates down like that.  I know my teammates felt the same way.  We pushed ourselves and each other because we were motivated by losing by such a small margin and we never wanted that to happen again.  It could have been a Disney movie… in 2006, we not only won the World Championships in the Women's Eight, but we set a new World Record.  If that doesn't bring a tear to your eye, well, we also freed a whale named Willy.

It's not just those pivotal races that push us but sometimes it's even being cut from the team.  My teammate Erin Cafaro was the last girl cut from the 2007 World Championship Eight.  Though she ended up winning in the non-Olympic Four event that year, she wasn't satisfied with herself.  As soon as the racing was over, she spent her 'vacation' starting an intensive Crossfit workout regimen lifting big weights, getting fitter, and eating a rigorous diet.  She was absolutely determined that nothing was going to stop her from getting a seat in the Olympic Eight.  When time came for selection she was an obvious choice, having proven herself on the water, on the rowing machine, and in the weight room.  That year Erin went on to win an Olympic Gold Medal in the Women's Eight.

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It's not just in sports that we can use these lessons but also in life.  I know it's the most annoying phrase but it's true: When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.  I certainly will do everything I can to turn my loss into a success.  Even Disney can agree that those hardships make winning that much more sweet.