Saturday, June 19, 2010

Short update

2hrs 40mins until our repercharge. I'm dreading it but relishing getting it started both at the same time. Bit like how you feel before an exam. You're not looking forward to it, but you know you're as prepared as you can be so you're looking forward to getting it started, doing something constructive (rather than the horrible final hours before hand where you're just worrying about it) and finding out the result. In these last few moments in my hotel room before I get on the bus to the course and we go through the racing day motions... practice weigh (always unnecessary), waiting, weighing in officially, waiting some more, waiting some more, going to the loo, getting race kit on, going to the loo AGAIN, heading to the boat for pre-race chat, walking the blades down, wondering if I need the loo once more, deciding it's just adrenaline, hands on the boat, walking to the pontoon, pushing off, warm up, waiting for a race to go past, continuing warm up, questioning why I'm doing this, waiting for another race to go past, heading up to the start area, removing final kit, hearing the start list and the inevitable '5 mins' read out in a vague European accent, getting attached, waiting.... before all that lovely 2 and a bit hours, I like to remind myself that the result is not yet acheived, the inevitable is not inevitable, that history has not yet been written. I can still influence the result. It is still anyone's race. I am constantly reminded by myself, coaches and my fellow athletes that anything can happen. If you're on the start line you have a chance. It can be anyone's race. Nothing is guaranteed. So matter how the race unfolds, you stay alert, stay on your game. In international races things DO happen and they tend to happen in the last 500m, if not the last 250m. There is no giving up, no finding yourself in 4th place and thinking 'oh well, this is always where I thought I would be'. EVERYONE fights, even if all looks like it is lost, nobody gives up. It is a fight to the death, to the last stroke. You only need to win by a bowball - if you can still hear the other crew you still have a chance, even if you can't see them. So, I'm preparing myself for a battle. There are 5 crews, 2 spots in the A final and 10 women on that startline who all want it and know that on their day they can acheive it. Only the others can stop them and they're going to make it damn hard. I'm getting prepared to make it the hardest race they've ever had.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

World Cup take 2

I'm currently sat in a hotel room in Munich having arrived earlier today ready for the second leg of the World Cup starting the day after tomorrow. It's absolutely persisting down with rain and it's forecast to remain that way until we go home (joy) so rigging and rowing was not at the top of my list of things to do this afternoon, especially after I got into the hotel room and immediately fell asleep for the hour we had between lunch and leaving for the course!

To add insult to injury (quite literally) I'm also on painkillers and anti-inflammatories for a spine/rib joint injury which is getting worse by the hour. It's ironic that the only time you ever appreciate not being injured is when you're exactly the opposite. I've gone from being nervous about racing to just wishing I could race feeling 100%.

If there's one thing an athlete struggles with it's admitting defeat, and today I had to admit defeat and confess to Andrea that I thought we should go in rather than finish the outing - we'd done 5km out of a scheduled 12km. A back/ rib injury is not something to mess with and we only have approximately 36hrs until we face another gruelling race in the LW2x against the best athletes in the world.

Slovenia was amazing, a massive learning curve and an emotional rollercoaster of an experience. After an appalling display in the heat - we came 5th - we faced the repercharge the same day. Having discussed the heat, we focussed our attention on putting right the wrongs. It was a good job we prepared ourselves for a fight as we drew the Greeks and the Italians - two crews that are always fast. There were 5 boats in the race and only two went through to the A/B semis - we had to beat one of them. We were in 3rd place at 1500m, a good two lengths down on both the Greeks and the Italians, who were battling it out together in front. I have said since and I'm not afraid to say it again that if I was on the bank I'd have put money on the fact that we were out of it. However, Andrea had other plans and took the rate up to 38 with 500m to go. With 300m to go it wasn't enough and we knew it so she took us up again - to 41.5 strokes per minute. Just as I thought I was going to pass out we heard 3 beeps to say all three crews had crossed the line. It was so close nobody knew who had made it through. All three crews sat and stared at the results board, too tired to speak, holding our breath. We waited. The Greeks had won. We waited. We had come second, 3/10ths of a second behind them. Then the Italians had come 3rd, 3/10s of a second behind us. At that precise moment I felt I'd never deserved anything so much!

So to the semi, which we won fairly comfortably - a sweet experience after the heat and repercharge! However, byt the time the final came around we were tired. Happy, but tired. Our aim had been to make the A final and we had acheived that, but neither of us would have been happy with a mediocre performance - we were in it to race hard. In the end, we came 5th. It wasn't an outstanding performance, it wasn't terrible. Ultimately, we would've liked to have come 4th as we were pipped by 0.5sec by the Dutch who we'd beaten the day before in the semi, but you take small victories were you can - we beat the Irish!

So, here we are in Munich. Different boat (we're in an Empacher rather than a Filippi) but same focus. Far less crews - 13 instead of 23 - and no Greeks, Italians, USA, Dutch or Irish - but no less difficult. Andrea and I are here to show the world what we're capable of and a back injury is going to have to go a long way to stop me doing that. So, bring on the painkillers and the anti-inflammatories - I'm going to need them...