We sat down this week to plan out the next few months and the closeness of the racing season struck me. My time to ‘ease back into training’ or ‘get myself back up to speed’ is quickly diminishing which brings with it some excitement as well as apprehension. The past 3 months have gone as well as I could have hoped for and shifting up into race pace has usually been where I excel, but there are always those little self doubts around whether we are going to be ready. The goal of the next three or four months (and more importantly, 16 months) is to erase any of those lingering doubts.
Dave and I are in the pair right now and while there is still a lot of selection to be done, I would say that it is likely that we will stay in the pair for the racing this summer. As the potential pair, the next test for us will be what is being called the ‘Small Boat Regatta’ within the Canadian team. This will be held in mid May and will serve as the first round of selection for many of the different boat classes. Once the team has been selected, the plan is to travel to Amsterdam to race in the Holland Beker Regatta at the end of June as a warm up race. Then, after a short training camp the team will move to my favorite place to race – Lucerne, Switzerland - for the main preseason race of the year. After Lucerne, the team will then return to Canada to prepare for the World Championships in Bled, Slovenia at the end of August. It will all happen very quickly!
I’m looking forward to pulling into the starting blocks in Lucerne to measure ourselves against the competition. There are a few very fast pairs out there and it will be fun to see where we stand. It will be very similar to sitting at the start line of the same race in 2008; we had more training under our belts then, but it is still that first race of the year where you think you are fast enough to compete with the best but have no idea how fast you actually are. Those next 6 minutes are always very revealing.
I’ve spent much of my rowing career in an 8+ but have come to really enjoy racing the pair. There is nowhere to hide. I enjoy the camaraderie of the bigger boats because the group of guys usually elevates the overall experience but as the boat gets bigger the ability to ‘slot in’ and just do your job increases. I like the fact that in a pair it is all on you; unless you, as an individual, are absolutely on fire that day, someone else will beat you. But while there aren’t as many personalities to manage (and elite athletes tend to have fairly strong personalities!) in the smaller boat, having all of your training and racing goals depend on one person can put a lot of pressure on that relationship. Dave and I have had our moments of being that bickering old couple but in general I think we have done a decent job of managing our partnership. We have different stress points and things that annoy us but we have been able to create a dynamic that allows us to go fast on the water. Managing this relationship to ensure that nothing takes away from all of the training, recovering, etc will be key to our success in the next year and a half.