Olivia Loe was in the 'hurt box'. In a big way.
That's nothing out of the ordinary for a rower, though the location probably was.
Loe was squeezed into a small garage in Cambridge, pounding away on an erg machine.
Beside her another teammate was doing the same, while a third was suffering nearby on a stationary bike.
As the rain came down outside, all Loe could think about was the pain of the previous 30 minutes and the fact that she still had another hour and a half to endure, as the lactic acid began to kick in.
"You can't beat the erg, it just stares at you the whole time, Loe tells the Herald. "We normally just supplement our work on the erg, so to do full sessions was something else. There was a sense of achievement that we managed to do it……but would I do it again? No."
If Loe, who is the reigning doubles sculls world champion alongside Brooke Donoghue, achieves the ultimate triumph at the Tokyo Olympics next year, she will think back to the never ending sessions in the garage as a key pillar of their success.
"All over the world a lot of people were holidaying or relaxing, we definitely didn't take that approach," says Loe. "We just kept on going. It was definitely tough."
Wind the clock back to March 25. New Zealand has shut its border to non-residents and citizens and is going into full lockdown the following day.
At the Rowing New Zealand headquarters at Lake Karapiro there are some final briefings, before boats are locked away. The elite squad disperse, but not before grabbing some gym equipment, bikes and rowing machines.
To add to the uncertainty, the postponement of the 2020 Olympics was confirmed that morning, with the new dates announced five days later.
"There were a lot of unknowns to deal with, says James Coote, coach of Loe and Donoghue. "But we decided to continue with the programme. It was definitely tough. They learnt a lot about themselves at that time. But that's the reason they are world champions – they think differently and are able to push themselves."
Loe lives with three other rowers and they supported each other, but it wasn't easy.
"We worked two at a time, so everyone had a training partner, so you weren't by yourself with the others sitting on the couch in the lounge."
They had to replicate what they would normally do on the water, which meant daily two hour sessions on the erg, sometimes twice a day if the weather closed in and meant they couldn't go for a run or bike ride.
"We had a good system, we would still get up at same time, we would all be training together so it felt like business as usual apart from the fact it was all in our garage. We all supported each other but it was hard.
"I never thought I would spend that much time on an erg. Ever. You had to be pretty tough to get through some of the sessions they set for us."
Loe had conflicting emotions. She is used to the grind but admits it was difficult to find the focus at first.
"The toughest part about it was trying to place what you were doing the work for? Where it sat in terms of reaching your Olympic goal. We had no racing, no pinnacle event for 18 months and you are sitting there, grinding away in the hurt box, thinking, but why?"
But they continued, and chats with the coaches helped to gain perspective on the overall aims as heart rate monitors and erg scores were collected daily.
"It was gruelling for them, says Coote. "You don't get that release of being on the water, being with your teammates, the energising environment.
"They had to push. We tried not to go backwards over that time, but they had actually gone forward in some markers and held onto some other ones. It was huge."
Life is more normal now. The team had a break in July but have been back in training for the past nine weeks. It's an extended lead into Tokyo – effectively their training block will be eleven weeks longer than normal, with the cancellation of all major events this year.
Like most, Loe needed some mental adjustment to process the new reality but has accepted it now.
"You are a bit gutted at first but then you move on," says Loe. "I was always going to continue after Tokyo so it has just postponed my holiday."
It does present an extra challenge though; staying ahead of the pack for another 12 months, after Loe and Donoghue looked to be peaking perfectly for this July.
They had been the most consistent performers in the Rowing New Zealand team across the current cycle, winning 20 of 22 races and collecting a truckload of medals. But they must extend that dominance into a fifth year.
"Everyone gets a second chance, a second go at the season," says Coote. "We know what we have done up till now won't be good enough. We have to improve what we are doing; not just think we are training harder."
That shouldn't be a problem for Loe. She has had to scrap most of her career, since first relocating to Cambridge a decade ago. She had an extended period in the youth (under-23 crews), then two consecutive years as a reserve in 2015 and 2016. It's an uncomfortable void for a rower; knowing you are good but not quite good enough, doing all the training but watching from afar come competition time.
"In my first year I was young, I learnt so much and I felt very grateful to be part of it. But no one wants to be reserve again. It takes more self-motivation, discipline and the first half of my second year really tough."
Loe has been dedicated to the sport since 2004 – when she first picked up the oars as a 12 year-old at the Avon Rowing Club in Christchurch – but wondered if she was on the right path.
"I was thinking – 'is this for me?'" recalls Loe. "You can't help but think that. Everyone here is so competitive, you want to be the best but I wasn't sure.
"Is all this work ever going to turn into something or am I going to be the athlete that doesn't quite get there? You don't want to be the one that does all the work and never quite cracks it."
Loe says the second half of 2016, which included the experience in Rio as a travelling reserve, was a turning point.
"It was so valuable, it was the bread and butter of what I bought to Brooke and this relationship. Chipping on, setting goals you can achieve and turning it into a positive, I had to get over myself and do the job I was given. I couldn't argue it. I had no grounds, so I just had to work."
Since then her progress has been sublime. Loe teamed up with Donoghue in early 2017 and they have been near-perfect since then; two World Championship golds, one silver and five World Cup triumphs.
"Most people don't do it that way, sitting on the fringe for a long time and then diving on the deep end," concedes Loe. "The crews one or two cycles before me seemed somewhat legendary - you almost pinch yourself that you managed to follow suit a little bit. I never thought I would be able to achieve what we have so far, but we are by no means done yet. Won't mean anything unless we get the Olympic one."