2 days of great racing at the Dogwood Junior Championships were tough, painful, and exhausting, but despite all that, they were full of amazing memories and our team did really well, including my double that I finally got to race!
With nearly 600 entries and 47 clubs/organizations attending, the Dogwood Junior Championships were our biggest race of the season, and one where we'd be racing two days! While most of my teammates drove up the day before and stayed the night in Oak Ridge, TN, my Mami and I left at around 1am, being the first at the team trailer!
But soon enough everyone got there, so we started getting our boats ready to race! Our girl's squad didn't have a race for a while, so we mostly hung out by the trailer. I'd brought some cards to play with, but the tent was on a slope, so it was tricky to spread them out, and I couldn't quite remember the rules of poker, definitely not enough to teach it. Then the women's doubles were called to warm up, so I didn't have enough time either!
It wasn't long before we were told to warm up for our doubles, and after that we had to grab our boats to launch!
At both the Percy Priest Sprints and the race at Baylor, Zoe and I were supposed to race in a double together, but the weather had other plans. Those races were cancelled, either because of strong winds or currents, both of which would most likely cause us to flip, so I was happy that the weather this past weekend let us race that line-up!
After getting everything in the boat set up, we set off on our first race together! It was the time trials, and there would be 27 boats in our race, and only the top 21 would advance to semi-finals!
As has always been the case for my races, the row up to the starting line was pretty leisure, but once we got to the bridge where we had to turn, that was a bit of a different story. I knew that that bridge was one for trains, but I used to think that it was no longer used, however, I was proven wrong when the train passed by as we were drifting under it. I'm not sure what everyone else thought about it, but I know that I was nervous! The steel carts looked really heavy, and every once in a while, I would hear the metal wheels screeching against the rails, fearing that something would fall in the river! Luckily, nothing did and we got to the starting line safely!
Two of our other teammates, Allee and Hayden, were also in the race with us! *They're the ones farthest from the camera in this picture below, and we're the other double!
Oh, and here's something about Zoe...she's notorious for her backsplash! After every practice where I'm seated behind her, I always end up getting soaked, so much so that I was once asked by Laney's sister if we'd flipped because I was so drenched! This race was no exception, and I was already getting wet during our warmups!
The race wasn't a full 2K but instead 1750 meters, and I didn't think that we were doing very well, especially since Allee and Hayden passed us by a bit, even though they started some 20 seconds after us, but I guess that we actually did well!
After crossing the finishing line, we were both exhausted, but after catching our breaths, Zoe told me that one of the other boats, one that we'd been neck-and-neck with for a large part of the race, had actually started before us, so having caught up with them, we'd actually done really well!
Then we had to go dock our boat but getting there was pretty fun!
There was a lot of laughter as we joked around, rocking the boat a bit, and Zoe stretching her arms out trying to touch a bent underwater pipe!
But most of all, we were relieved to have finished our race, especially since we both gave it our best!
After getting off the dock and putting our boat away, I went to go put on my dry T-shirt when Zoe ran up to me saying that we'd made semi-finals! We were both thrilled, especially when we placed 18th of the 27 boats racing! It'd been a rough race, and I was glad to know that it all paid off!
A few hours later, after having lunch and resting, it was time for my second race of the day, the eight!
Regardless, even though we finished in last, we still did a lot better than at our previous race where we lost by minutes, not just seconds! This time, we were 21 seconds behind the second-to-last boat, while at Percy Priest, that difference was 4 whole minutes!
So after crossing the finishing line, we had to bring the boat back in to dock!
After docking successfully, we carried our boat to the trailer...
...and gathered around Coach for a little team meeting! We talked about what went on during the race, and of course, finishing in last meant that we wouldn't move on to finals, but Coach was still really happy that we gave it our best!
With my races of the day being over, Mami and I went to the team tent by edge of the river to watch the other races!
After all of our team's races were over, my Mami and I drove to "Cinnaholic", a vegan and better version of Cinnabon! I got a create-your-own cinnamon rolls with marshmallow frosting, brownie bits, and mini marshmallows...delicious!
Then, after picking up our cinnamon rolls, we drove to the team hotel, where, after leaving out things in our room, I went down to the lobby where a lot of my team was playing a game of Uno. Meanwhile, Mami went to go find us some Chipotle for dinner!
There was a lot of laughter, and even though I wasn't playing the game myself, it was still a lot of fun to watch since at times it looked like it was getting intense!
Curfew was at 9pm, so the game had to end early, but since Mami hadn't returned yet, I couldn't go back to the room (I didn't have a key and was told to wait for her). Lucky for me, Laney stayed with me, and we got to hang out while we waited for Mami to get back. When she did, we all went to our rooms where Mami and I had our dinner. I love "Sofritas", especially with rice, a soft flour tortilla, and other veggies!
While we ate, we watched some Harry Potter, but soon went to sleep to get some rest for the race early the next day!
Sometime between 5:30am and 6am we woke up and got dressed for our races. The double semi-finals were the first event of the day, and after having breakfast at the hotel (I had a banana and apple juice), we went back to the venue to get everything set up and ready to go!
Like we do before every race, we warmed up, but this time, we also did some stretches with Coach, where she talked to us about the race. She said that it was the "race of our lives"! After this, we got everything we needed and went to the docks to launch...
And we're off!
It was a race at around 7 or 8 in the morning, which is the earliest that I've ever had, and we were determined to advance to finals!
My Mami even thought that it was cool that our bow number was 7, since she called it "lucky number seven"...even took a picture because she thought this. Well, I wish it had been true...
All of my races have been hard, simply because rowing is a tough sport, but this time it was harder. At some point in the race, around the 500m mark, Zoe told me that she didn't care about making finals anymore, she just wanted me to watch our point and push, hopefully passing a boat, so that's what I did...
I was also told after the race that we looked great, as in, although in last place, we were still doing great, so both our moms were surprised when they found out what had really happened!
After crossing the finishing line, Zoe told me that when she told me that she didn't care about winning, it was because she heard me stop breathing and was scared but couldn't look back. For me, the whole race was a blur, so I don't remember quite how I was breathing. Then, after docking, Zoe said that her arm hurt, so Reagan, another teammate of ours, carried our boat in her place, even after Zoe insisted that it was her boat, so she'd do it. But after putting it away, I found out that Zoe had heard her elbow pop around the 1,000m mark, and after Coach took a look at it, Coach Sierra and I accompanied her to the ambulance parked on site so that they could check on her. Honestly, I'm really impressed that she still pushed on and rowed half of our race like that! Hopefully she feels better soon!
It was no surprise that Zoe left early, especially since neither of us had any more races that weekend, so I just waited for our team's other boats to race. Reagan and I both helped our team launch and recover, and while we waited, we even helped other teams' recover when their teammates didn't show up. I think we both helped 2 fours, and I helped a single as well!
Then, after helping Hayden launch her single, I went to the team tent to watch her race! She did really well, coming in really close to third during finals! Then the last race of the day for our team was the women's U15 coxed quad, which only had 3 boats racing so it automatically qualified for finals and a medal was guaranteed. I was surprised when I saw that they were in first place, and they actually won!
Then after medals, we took a team picture, and prepared for a tradition that happens when a coxed boat wins championships...they get to throw their coxswain in the water!
Here's a video of the coxswain getting thrown off the dock...it's hilarious!
And after the races had ended, we all started heading back home!