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...