Our first race! Our preliminary heat pitted us against Great Britain, China, Netherlands, and Russia. The top two places in the heat advance directly to the A Final, while the remaining crews will race for the remaining spots in the repechage on Thursday.
I always get nervous before a race (call it a healthy respect for our competition). But I was especially nervous this morning… Not only because this is the WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS (eek!), but because I had absolutely NO IDEA what to expect! The last time (the only time!) I faced these crews was three months ago in Switzerland. And everyone knows that a lot can happen in three months: different lineups, new racing shells, athletes are tapered and ready, etc etc. I mean, I think we’re fast, but at this level, everybody’s fast!!
But Coach sent us out on the water with some good guidance: don’t think about the other boats, just race hard, and the results will work themselves out. Excellent advice!
Once we launched, and started going through our warm-up, the jitters worked themselves out into general excitement—after all, racing is exciting! Mother Nature thankfully decided to be reasonable this morning (light tailwind, mostly flat water), which meant that times were going to be quick! [Rowing background: a tailwind speeds up a crew UNTIL it makes the water choppy. Once the water gets wavy, boats start to swamp, which isn’t fun for anybody]
As for the race, it was AWESOME! We hit a great rhythm right off the starting line, and maintained our power and connection all the way to the finish line. The British and the Dutch put up a good fight, but our base pace was fast enough to give us a healthy margin by the finish (see below). We all felt great: after months of training, it’s such a relief to just go out and pull hard!
Now we’re back at the hotel, and I’m pretty much just propping my eyelids open until a reasonable time to go to bed (I tend to get sleepy after a good race!). I can’t wait until the Finals! It should be a tight race: Canada and Romania both posted fast times in the second heat, and the racing is always intense when there’s a gold medal at stake!
Check out the World Championship coverage on www.row2k.com for race results, photos, and team updates. You can also watch racing on www.worldrowing.com, and I’ve heard rumors that racing is still streaming on www.universalsports.com. Go USA!