From Beijing to Mongolia, then back to the boat
Welcome to the stream of thoughts, experiences, reactions and conclusions that constitute my blog. I'll do my best to give a taster of what it means to be at the coalface of Olympic rowing, in the gym and out on the river, and feel free to get in touch with any questions or criticisms - there's nothing I like more than some debate!
It's been nine months since I stood on the Olympic podium in the haze and humidity of Beijing having a silver medal hung around my neck, yet it seems like a lifetime ago.
The Olympics was an absolutely incredible experience on so many levels, but at the same time it wrings dry every part of your heart, body and soul, and I reached the point where I wanted to get back to just being me.
Straight after the Games, I took a long trip to Mongolia and I think it was absolutely the best place for me to gather my thoughts again and remind myself of who I was. I don't know if you've been to Mongolia but there's not much there except space, and it was space that I needed.
After a long time thinking about Beijing 2008 and looking to London 2012, I decided that I hadn't quite finished with the lure of international sport, and I wanted to give it another shot.
This brings me up to where I found myself last weekend - back in a boat, sitting on a start line of an international regatta, in that moment of utter stillness before the starting buzzer sounds.
This was the first World Cup regatta in Banyoles, northern Spain, the Olympic regatta venue for Barcelona '92. We have three of these World Cups, which are points-accumulating and have less significance, before the big one, the World Championships in Poland in late August.
And even the World Championships is less important on its own as it forms a marker on the road to London 2012.
This World Cup provided more than the usual set of challenges, however, as four of us competed in two different events: the double scull and the quad scull.
Unlike swimming or cycling, where competitors routinely compete in several events, in rowing the technical demands of building a crew boat together with the physical demands of rowing a 2000m race flat out means that doubling up is comparatively rare. Steve Redgrave tried it at Seoul in '88 and 'only' managed a gold and a bronze.
She's spent the last four years in this boat, winning a world bronze and Olympic bronze, so is incredibly confident and experienced in the double.
Having spent the past two seasons in the quad myself, it's been quite a learning process coming back to the small boat, where the races are longer and more tactical.
In Banyoles, we managed to win the double with a controlled race, and followed that with a victory in the quad.
It was a great regatta and - after the pressure, razzmatazz and huge media interest in Beijing - it was great to be able to get out there and race hard without all the song and dance surrounding it.
Of course, in London in three years' time, no-one's going to remember who did what at the first World Cup of this Olympiad. But at the same time, it's the old saying: If not me, then who?
We go out to win every race and we think we should be the fastest double out there. Battle re-commences in two weeks in Munich at the second World Cup and the competition will get tougher with our main rivals expected to be Bulgaria and Germany. Watch this space...