This past summer was a great time for rowing. I had a great time out on the water with my teammates and even got to spend a day in a double with Mami. There was also the US Rowing ODP Camp in June, where I learned a lot and made some great memories! And I can't forget my team's summer banquet which is always a blast! But now that summer has come to an end, it's time to bring up the intensity of our training and compete at some regattas! We've already raced at two and it's all building up to the final one of the season in just a few days!
Fall practices have been going very well lately. We've had long rows up and down the river and have been getting faster as the season progresses.
Most practices were on the water but there were a few land days as well, with one Saturday practice over at CrossFit. We completed a 6k test on the erg, and I was thrilled that my time was the second fastest! Then, at the end of September, me and my new double partner were elected as team co-captains.
By the time that the first regatta of the season came around, I felt really confident about our races!
Music City Head Race
The first regatta this fall was the Music City Head Race in Nashville, TN, where I would compete in two events: a double and a quad. My first regatta ever was at Music City, so I was excited to see how far I've come, now that I've entered my final year of racing with Row Huntsville!
I arrived bright and early to help get everything set to race! The first boat on my team to head out would be the eight, and even though I wouldn't be competing in it, I still wanted to be there to help them and support my teammates!
While we waited., another teammate of mine that wouldn't be competing joined me on the pedestrian bridge to pass the time and watch the races.
It didn't feel like long before our team's eight was coming down the river. They looked good, but it was the first race for a lot of our teammates who were in the boat, so ultimately, they placed last. Regardless, they still enjoyed their first regatta experience!
Once the eight was put away, I joined my best friend for a pre-race snack before my double headed out. Her dog was there, and I guess he wanted me to share my protein bar!
Soon enough it was time for my double to launch!
We'd been practicing a lot in this particular line-up, and things had been going really well! I felt strong and the boat was gaining speed. At practice, we'd have to row really slowly to not get too far ahead of the eight, and I was feeling great!
However, a few days before the race, my double partner got sick and wasn't feeling well at all! Even on race day she felt miserable, so it was pretty clear that it was going to be a tough race! Especially since the water wasn't flat and there was quite a bit of wind out there!
Nevertheless, we'd have to push through it and give it our all!
And that's just what we did! Neither the water nor wind were in our favor, and the bow of our boat would often dip underneath the surface of the river, but we never gave up. Even my double partner who must have felt terrible, especially in those conditions, still gave it her all!
And not only did we not get last (which seemed likely given our circumstances) but we still beat a handful of boats, placing 12th out of 19!
Though the results were a relief, we didn't have much time to celebrate. Shortly afterwards it was time to head back out to the river and compete in our quad race.
Both my double partner and I were also competing in this boat. The full line-up, however, had never practiced together before. Our usual bow couldn't make it, so another teammate was swapped in and we never got to practice with her until the row up to the starting line.
But it still worked out! At times, there was a lot of power and we were all determined to finish the race!
My team, Row Huntsville, had another quad competing in our event, so my main goal was to not finish last and to beat them. Mostly because we had U19 athletes (including myself) and the other quad was all U17.
We didn't finish last (10th of 12) but we also didn't beat Row Huntsville's other quad. They were a strong quad, but once my double partner recovered, I was confident that we could beat them!
So, with the day's racing coming to an end, all that was left for me to do was tie down a few boats on the trailer, help with the guy's doubles recovery, and enjoy the last few moments of the regatta!
All in all, I think that it was a great way to start out the season!
Secret City Head Race
Music City was a great way to start out the season, but the results weren't really what we wanted; partly due to the fact that our strongest teammate wasn't feeling well. The next weekend, however, the Secret City Head Race came around and by then she was doing a lot better, so this would be our chance to prove what we could do!
My first event of the day would be my double race which wasn't until 11am. I arrived earlier in the day to help some other boats, but it wasn't long until my boat set out.
Unlike Music City the previous week, the early morning actually felt nice and warm. It was the perfect temperature, there was barely any wind, and there were clear skies as far as the eye could see. That is, of course, before we were out on the water...
We were on our way up to the starting line when the wind started to pick up a bit. We were almost there when a big dark grey cloud started heading towards us, and while we were waiting for our turn to start, the winds were already getting pretty strong! Immediately before my boat had to start, we got a drizzle of rain! That's not what we wanted!
And the weather only got worse from there. The rain was temporary, but the winds were against us the entire time! From start to finish they were pushing against our oars, forcing us to work extra hard to even take a stroke, and making the boat feel so heavy that we couldn't feel each other! We both felt like we were carrying the entire weight of the boat!
It would affect our balance and make the whole race more painful. At one point we had to go under a railroad bridge and the wind hit us to the point that our boat was sent backwards! My double partner said that we passed the bridge, and then a gust of wind sent us back under it! That wasn't fun!
But what I did enjoy was that final stretch of the race! We caught up to a boat that had started before us and to one that had passed us earlier on, so we were between the two for about a thousand meters; it felt like a head-to-head spring regatta!
We were between the two for quite a while. It felt really great to keep up with them and not get left behind as with my previous regattas. It felt even better when my double partner and I powered through and not only got the lead but also gained some distance on them!
Even with all of those obstacles, we managed to finish the race and placed 10th of 17!
In our same event was another boat from our team. My best friend was in that boat, so I was happy that they got 11th place, finishing just after us!
Once we were off the water, there was one thing that I wanted to check. Halfway through the race we'd heard a metallic rattling coming from our boat, so I was suspicious that our rigger was loose. Turns out, it was! I'm not sure how that happened. The guys rigged it, I double-checked that everything was tight, and one of my coaches did too! Everything was good when we went out, but somehow a screw got loose and popped off during our race! We're lucky that the whole rigger didn't come off!
Anyways, we had a few hours to rest before it was time for the quad race! This time, my double partner and I would be rowing with the other double from our event (my best friend and her double partner). Frenemies for the first half of the regatta and allies for the second part!
This lineup, however, had never even practiced together before! It was the first time that the four of us would row a quad together, so it was exciting, but I was a little nervous too. I never know how new lineups are going to turn out!
Fortunately, it went great! It was still windy but not as bad as earlier. We also got cut off by another boat right at the start (they tried pushing us into the shore), but we didn't let that stop us and we all gave it everything we had!
We even managed to pass another quad, catch up to a four from a previous event, and gained some distance on a boat that tried to pass us. One team was walking on us, but our bow rower told us not to let them do that, and we drove it down and left them far behind!
I was really happy with how my quad did in that race! To be honest, I was a little sad about getting 4th place (it hurts being so close to medaling), but we all gave it 100% and we still placed 4th of 9. I call that a personal win!
After our quad was the U17 quad which got 3rd of 5. Then the men's doubles raced and with that, the regatta was complete! Even without a medal, I had an amazing time at the regatta!
Both regattas so far have been amazing experiences. The races have been tough, but we've pulled through each time! Now, it's time for Head of the Hooch in just a few short days! The practices have gotten harder and harder, but with each one we've been getting stronger and faster! I'm excited to see how it goes!