It’s Wednesday of the 129th Royal Canadian Henley Regatta in St. Catharine’s, Ontario and I’ve just finished “Breakfast for Dinner” with my teammates for the week. We’re resting and hanging out tonight, looking forward to sleeping in past 530am, as our first race isn’t until nearly 1pm tomorrow. A treat.
After Club National Championships a few weeks ago, a group of University of Virginia rowers–2 of them being the double that put my composite double in 2nd place in Indy–and I decided to put some boats together and see what we could bring to Canada. Under the Sarasota Crew lineup, we’ve put together a Senior Women’s 2x, a Senior Women’s 4x, and I entered the Senior Women 1x and Championship 1x.
I raced my Senior 1x Heat yesterday. Managed to pull out a 2nd place finish by less than a second off first. Truly, I should have had the “1” spot but as I have a few times this year already, decided to make things “interesting” at the end. I had been battling with the left (starboard) buoy line the entire race. Coming into the last 300 or so meters, I was in the lead by close to a boat length but after hitting a couple buoys with my starboard oar, the Buenos Aires woman in lane 3 next to me had nearly caught up to me. It wasn’t until I hit that final buoy that sent my starboard oar handle sailing out of my hands that I realized I may have given up more than just the lead. In this particular race, the top 3 advance to semis, so I just needed to remain in the top 3…but flipping my boat would most certainly make that difficult.
It was a surreal moment feeling the handle slip out of my fingers, looking down and literally saying to myself, “that shouldn’t be there” as I watched the oar fly further out of my reach. Calmly, I slid back up to the catch and grabbed hold of the handle and continued to row toward the finish line. By this time, the Buenos Aires rower had a boat length on me. I was still in 2nd and unless I truly flipped my boat, had secured a top 3 spot. I just needed to finish the race. Being the persistent (some say stubborn) competitor that I am, I worked my way up and finished just inches–less than a second–behind her. What a way to start the regatta.
Going into today’s Senior 1x Semifinal in which only top 2 advance to the Final, I knew my chances were slim. I had a strong field and what I predict will be the 1st and 2nd place finishes in the Final tomorrow afternoon. I decided to stay conservative on my start, coming out 2nd to last off the start but fought my way back, walking through two boats by the 1000-meter line. Realizing that the 1 and 2 spots were going to be nearly impossible for me to catch, I had a gut check moment. I could take it down and just finish the race, “saving my energy” for the remaining races I had in the week, or I could fight for 3rd and put myself in the position to take advantage of any mistakes the 1 and 2 boats made (probably not as drastic as I had the day before, but you never know). So, I fought. It is interesting the conversations you have with yourself while racing. I imagine it’s much like the distance runner or sprinter. There comes a point when you are faced with that all important decision: to go or not to go? You’re tired, you may not be feeling 100 percent, you’re starting to cramp, you won’t win, etc. The reasons could go on and on. Just Go. I started a boat length behind and within 300 meters had walked on the woman in 3rd to put myself two boat lengths now ahead of her. Of course finishing 3rd wasn’t as great as advancing to the Finals, but it felt a lot better knowing I put everything I had into that race. I raced my race.
Now on to the Senior Women’s 2x tomorrow…