Today, finally, it’s Wednesday. And first day of finals. Thanks to yesterday’s sluggish performance I was in the B Final, so the pressure was off (I had already not achieved what I had set out to do) but I did still want to finish off with a good race. I wasn’t expecting much more than a 6th place though. Even though I had organised a bit of a sleep in and no pre-row to give me a little bit of a boost, I was still pretty flat when I got to the course. Walking over the bridge to the island got me a bit out of breathe and by the time I got to my boat I was getting pretty tired. My enthusiasm from the morning (just after getting out of bed) was starting to slide. Still, I weighed in (58.4), had my raw crumpet and honey and half a mars bar (my secret racing weapon this year) and waited for race time.
Just before I went on the water I got to watch Rhys come 3rd in the Men’s Open Single Scull A Final (bronze medal). It was a really gutsy performance and his first Open Scull medal (he came 4th last year, then won the Interstate Scull). He was coming third, then in the last 500m the guy 4th pushed at him. He managed to overtake 2nd, but 4th pushed through him so Rhys still had bronze. Very inspiring and nice to see just before I went out, . . . but also not something I was expecting to match, especially as I hadn’t even made the A-Final and was so far off the pace yesterday. (Photo below: Rhys heading out to race with coach Joe)
Out for my warm-up and I was not feeling great. Relaxed and calm, but certainly not lively. I did a short warm up as it was a bit rainy again today and I thought I should save my energy. Still, I was blowing like a freight train after 30 strokes at race pace! Not a good sign when a race is probably ~250+ strokes long! I was pretty exhausted by the time I’d rowed to the start line and my enthusiasm and optimism was definitely wearing thin. I was trying a lot of positive talk though and was just determined to get out and row my own race and go as fast as I could go in this condition. Still, when I had to shake my head a few times while sitting on the start line as my vision kept going unfocussed I was seriously wondering if I should’ve even been racing!
But, I wasn’t going to pull out now!
Attention . . . . . . . . . Row!
I had a reasonable, but not super aggressive start, and also dropped my rate down to race pace (~33.5 strokes/minute) about 10 strokes earlier than usual. My coach had suggested I try to be as efficient and smooth as possible during the first half of the race so I had something left for the second half. Dropping the rate early didn’t wipe me out as much and gave me the energy to really get my race pace settled in. So much so that about 500m into the race, when I was reminding myself to keep pushing, I found that the rate had crept back up to 34.5. That was a little extreme for 500m in, so I settled back down so I wouldn’t blow myself up!
I was dropped pretty quickly by the front runners (Nell, Alex (yellow, red and blue), Annabel (orange, black and yellow stripes)) off the start – when I had a quick glance over I could see Jess (white, aqua and black) next to me (and slightly behind) and Eve and Amy on the far side of the course also dropping back behind. I settled into to a strong rhythm at about 32 (a bit lower than normal as I thought it better to be strong and smooth at that, than frantic at 33). I was still not feeling strong but just kept focussing on being smooth and efficient, rowing well, and always keeping the pressure on. I remembered all the things I’d been told (“Make sure you push at 700m, that is where it gets really hard” – Jamie, “Just need to get the first 3 minutes done and the rest will follow” – Ben, and so many others) and most of all “just keep going”!!! Jess sat just behind me the entire way and I definitely wouldn’t have gone that fast without her there. I kept pushing to the 1000m then just got really stubborn and decided I’d done enough races this year where I’d had to switch off at the 1000. No more! So, I kept going. Everytime the split really crept up, I tried to push a little bit harder. Every time I was in the middle of a distance e.g. 850m (there are markers every 250m, and everyone tends to push on the 500m marks) I pushed a little harder to try to get a bit of ground on Jess before she pushed. I’d seen Jess had an awesome race finish on Monday so, with about 600m to go, I pushed again, stepped up my rhythm and power (same rate, but just more power so a more aggressive rhythm). She went with me and I just kept driving. The rate was back up to 33, . . . and she was still with me . . . just before the 250, I started stepping the rate up. It only got to about 35, but I was trying to really drive each stroke to get more speed at that rate, rather than just taking the rate up. It worked. I pulled away from Jess, but knew I had to finish the race off so I kept going. It turns out that I’d actually closed the length + gap to Alex and Annabel who were fighting for second and third and I actually slotted in between them to nab 3rd! Pretty happy with that given my current state. I was only 0.3s behind Alex in second, and I had hit a buoy about 10 strokes before the line (luckily I saw it coming so it just slowed me down a bit rather than stopping me dead!) so maybe that would’ve made a difference? But also, maybe I could’ve just pushed a bit harder? I didn’t have any idea I was close enough to get them – I was just racing Jess at that point. Anyway, very happy with my race, happy with the way I raced, how I continued pushing, the positive talk that I kept up all through the race and the calm, composed, GOOD, technique that I had. I think I actually raced like a real rower. Finally! 🙂
Also have to mention my coach, Joe, who rode down on the bike path and yelled at me the whole way. Some encouragement, some useful technical things, and some new technical things (not my usual key words) which I simply couldn’t decipher during a race!! Also thanks to everyone else who was yelling at the other competitors whose names sound a lot like “Helen” because I thought I had so many people cheering for me! And to Jess’s coach for yelling at her and giving me extra incentive to stay in front of her (and warning me when she was going to push!)
Finish was: Janelle, Alex, me, Annabel, Jess, Eve, Amy.
A Final was Ella, Hannah EH, Mac, Maia, Carly, Hannah C, Sarah, Laura
Other good results from today, Alex Murphy came 3rd in the U23LM1X (did a usual Murphy finish to storm home from 5th)
Jack also got 3rd in his B Final (U23M1X)
Fairclough won his semi, reasonably easily still so hopefully his final goes well.
Jack and Matt Cochran won their U23M2X rep so are into the final
Fairclough and Boros came 2nd in the U21M2X rep so are into the final
I have my double scull tomorrow (1:55pm here time), so am hungry and tired tonight. Currently 57.9kg so basically 1kg to lose by midday tomorrow. Should be fine. If we race well we are a good chance at a medal so fingers crossed and I’ll try to maintain my racing composure and determination from today.
Can’t think of anything else to say. I feel like that is already enough of a massive post for you and I’m pretty tired so will leave it at that.