I can't believe it's Monday night already. I thought I would have plenty of time to sit and write post after post. I didn't count on how much time I would be spending with my team--time I wouldn't give up for anything. We've rowed together for about a week and a half total, but I feel like we all know each other pretty well as athletes. That was one of the things I was thinking about this morning as we got ready for our first race.
My roommate and 3 seat Eric set a 5:50 wake-up call. We were set to take an 8:00 bus, so I wanted to sleep in until at least 6:45. After hearing him pick up the phone I went back to sleep. Then disaster struck. For some reason our TV turned itself on at full volume and would not shut off. That sure got me up. Eric and I ate an early breakfast, met up with the rest of the team and headed to the race course. We all have different ways of dealing with our pre-race stress--for some it's checking and rechecking the team's preparedness, for some it's quiet mental gymnastics. On the bus ride over I put on my headphones and listened Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture. I thought I would be stressing about the other teams, over-analyzing and over-thinking the race, so I was surprised how calm and focused I was. Call me crazy, but the music definitely helped.
Karen met with us before we hit the warm-up ergs and launched. She told us to row our own race, focus in the boat and forget about the other crews. I took her advice to heart as we approached the starting blocks. Hearing your country called feels surreal. At that point it just sinks home that this isn't for your club or school, but for your country. If I hadn't been focused in the boat something like that would make me extra nervous. But our boat just sat at the start looking cool, collected and ready to row.
Throughout the race Tim was instructed not to make any calls about other boat's positions. All the information I have about how we did came after the fact. All I remember from the course is a blur of burning pain, the race plan running through my mind and the sounds of Tim's coxing and Eric's yells from in front of me. It turns out we were in fifth for the first 500. France, Russia, Australia and Italy stood between us and the finish line. After the first half we started making moves--first through the French, and then again through the Russians. We ended up taking third, with Australia and Italy ahead of us. With no variation from our original race plan and no idea where the other crews were, we felt very happy with our performance.
As I write this I'm getting ready for tomorrow's repechage. Our heat includes Germany, the Ukraine and France. Germany and Ukraine both pulled faster times than us today, and who knows what France will do? It promises to be a good race. We've got under four minutes to prove ourselves on the course--and I think we're ready. Definitely stay tuned.