Andy Baxter author of
WOLF- So why did you actually write a book on the whole experience ?
Andy Baxter -the original idea was that Steve might write a book as a follow up to The Shell Game. as a trainer and training partner, I was to document the training, then give him my notes when all was said and done. that all changed for me on May 18, 2007. We had just gotten off the water from our second session of that day and I wrote this in my training log
"On our last 20-minute piece we take power tens every 40 strokes. In the final stretch we opt for a series of power twenties and really lay into it. In that moment in space and time we are utterly locked in and connected- to the boat, to the water, to each other. Controlled, efficient, relaxed and powerful, in that moment we fly. The universe shrinks and my consciousness expands and everything slows down and becomes quiet. This is my Zone. This is my God. Maybe this is my God Zone. I know forever that this is why rowing is my religion, offering me a glimpse of something, within and without myself, far beyond the ordinary. Steve extends his hand backwards and we shake. The violent ballet has begun."
Right then, once I let go and allowed my emotions to coexist with the hard numbers stuff I thought "awwwww crap this is gonna be a book..."
WOLF- I have to admit that when reading the book it was interesting to say the least that you guys felt going to masters 1K races in a pair would give you ample experience in racing 2ks against the USA best rowers. Why did you feel this would be enough and who came up with your training plan?
Andy Baxter- 2. Dude, why didn't you warn me in '06?! Seriously, I think there were two main reasons. The first was sort of a practical, linear progression reasoning that was a long time in coming. As we became profficient in the pair, we would look for new challenges; new adventures. Every time we succeeded at a given benchmark the question would be, "what's the next adventure?" so we kept looking for bigger adventures, so to speak. Between us we won five golds at FISA master world's in '06. It was then that Steve suggested we train for the trials in '08 and see where it took us. We set specific benchmarks along the way such that, should we fail at any of those benchmarks, we would hang it up and go home and that would be fine too.
The second reason is more profound and I give all of the credit to Steve - the idea of telling a story. by creating this quest, owning it and living it, we created a story that affected so many people. By the time we got to the trials, it wasn't really about how we placed in the heats, it was about how we inspired a friggin Boatload of folks literally around the world. The morning of the time trial Susan Francia and Anna Goodale told us they were already planning their comeback in 20 years, because of what we had done to get their, not because of the end result!
I designed most of the training plan, but we had help along the way from Ed Mcneely, Fritz Hagerman, Joe Lusa and Diane Green, Jim Dietz and Mark Wilson; Most importantly in the last four months we had invaluable mentoring from Andy Medcalf at Penn AC. He's amazing. You can see the training calendar of the last four months on the website http://www.racingyesterday.com
WOLF- Having represented the USA in the light pair in 2000 myself
I understand how Fn hard it is the train with one person almost every day and we had our "issues/blow ups" every so often. What issues did you guys have while training and racing ?
Andy Baxter -probably the biggest would be in training styles. Steve is from the old school where you just attack it every day until you're dead and frankly with a guy as strong as Steve iit's sometimes hard to argue against that cause he can usually pull it off. Training is my profession so i'm a student of training philosophies and a numbers/data geek. I started doing blood lactate testing in '96 when most didn't really know what it was. That probably has alot to do with my allegiance to Medcalf; he tests his guys right on the water from the launch to insure they are not overtraining. the second would be intrinsic motivators. as you know when you make the commitment to sacrifice everything in a race, you open the door to some serious demons. Our demons come in different shapes and sizes. have to read the book to find out more about that!
WOLF-So tell me when your at your first NSR and you lined up against the other pairs at the stake boat what were you thinking and what were you thinking one thousand meters into the race ?
Andy Baxter -We have always rowed better without a rudder. the time trial was picture perfect weather and we just floated through that, happy to be there and having a great time. the day of the first heat the weather was getting gnarly. at some point that day, either at the boat house or in town we ran into tyler and cameron winklevoss. they both urged us to put the rudder back on and of course we didn't. so at the line we had a vicious 3/4 cross wind off starboard bow and considerable chop and no rudder. it was not a pretty race. the first 600 meters we were in a fist fight with everything just trying to stay on the stern deck of Dan Beery and Micah Boyd in the lane next to us. after the 1000 I was just trying to clean things up a bit and row my own race.
WOLF- what are you and you pair partner up to now? Any more ideas to train for 2012 ?
Andy Baxter - we are both pursuing big adventures and still get on the water once in a while. Steve is building an Olympic kayak training center at his home on the Rogue River. I have a new line of physical therapy equipment launching in October; the Function Line by Scifit. I do lots of orthopedic stuff, mostly knees and hips, and this equipment utilizes multiplane resistance to reduce shear in the joint.
For 2012 Red Bull has a great event where you build your own kinetic sculpture then drive/fly it off a pier into the ocean. I'm totally into that and yes, an erg or two will be involved.
Extra one / two
WOLF- How can folks get a copy of your book?
Andy Baxter - The book can be downloaded directly from http://www.racingyesterday.com
WOLF- After the racing was done how did the guys at the training center treat you?
Andy Baxter - 90% of the guys were great and gracious, volp and jr, dan and micah in particular. a few of the guys not so much, but honestly I don't blame them. I think it's important to note that by showing up we were not disrespecting the process, we were really honoring it.