Posts Tagged ‘racing’

The first symptoms appreared as I lay in bed last night, wide awake and twitching. My mind was racing, my heart was thumping and every few minutes my stomach lurched. Thump-lurch, thump-lurch, thump-lurch. I could feel the adrenalin coursing around my body. Exactly a week before my first regatta of the season, I had my first bout of regatta nerves, and it’s not going to get any better until the siren sounds and the first race is over (at approximately 3.21 p.m. next Sunday).

I’m a little shame-faced about the depth and intensity of my fear. I am, for goodness’ sake, a grown woman who’s had her fair share of life experiences and prides herself on being fearless and feisty. Heck, I’ve even given birth twice so it’s not like I can’t handle pain.

But there it is. Thump-lurch, thump-lurch. Thump-lurch.

The fears crowd in.

What if I mess up the start? Thump-lurch.

What if I come off my seat? Thump-lurch.

What if I … oh, dear God… catch a crab? THUMP-LURCH!!

If it were just me on my own, I could probably cope with the potential for disaster and humiliation, but the thought of messing it up for eight other people… thump-lurch-thump-lurch-thump-lurch.

So be gentle with me this week. And someone please tell me I’m not alone in my suffering. Think you’re immune to the fear? Here’s a handy little test to see how you’re doing…


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Forgive me for being indelicate, but I can’t help noticing that with the head season nearly upon us, there’s rather a lot of testosterone in the air.

The gentlemen of the rowing world seem to be greeting the prospect of long ergs and distance rows with more than their share of grunting and posturing. The internet rowing world is full of “bring it ons” and “grrrs” and detailed accounts of erg sessions and kilos lifted.

Impressive though it is, I’m not altogether sure whose benefit it’s for. Perhaps it’s designed to unnerve the opposition. Perhaps it’s a misjudged mating ritual. Or maybe it’s simply a way of mentally shifting up a gear. Either way I find it kind of sweet, in the same way that I view my (small, male) dog’s noisy attempts to frighten the postman.

Meanwhile the fairer (and in many ways stronger) sex are going about the seasonal change in a more methodical way. Meetings are in the diary. Schedules are being drawn up. And, behind the scenes, quietly, the ergs are whirring into action again (though to my shame I discovered a tell-tale cobweb on mine this morning).

It doesn’t mean we’re less enthusiastic about the heads ahead. After all the noise and splashing and stress of the regatta season, I’ll be quite glad of the heads-down, no-nonsense nature of the long haul. There is, after all, more to take away from a head than the silverware. Even if you’re not first in your class, you’ve got a time to work on and to compare with last time and next time. And I can’t say I’ll really miss the adrenaline rush of the racing start.

Anyway, that’s enough for now. I have to go and get cracking on my evening’s workout. That’s an hour long erg at 1:53, followed by some weights and then a giant steak. Grrrrr. Bring it ON!!!

Just kidding. I’m really off to make a cup of tea.

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There are certain things in life that are bound to provoke arguments with your kids. Teaching them to drive is, I’m guessing, right up there.  Choosing a playlist for pretty much any occasion. Offering thoughts on what they’re wearing.

But what about rowing? Well, we put this to the test at our latest regatta, with a Mums and Sons’ mixed 8. The sons ranged between 15 and 19. The mums ranged between ** and ** (cough… no need to be specific). The combined points (everyone else’s, that is; I was the only novice) took us into IM2. We put the boys in the stern and decided we’d just sit the boat and let them do all the work (just kidding).

As with most scratch mixed 8s, we only managed one outing before the big day, and the bickering was … what you might expect.

“You need to assert yourself more”, No. 2 shouted to the cox.

“Mu-um, stop bossing everyone around”, moaned No. 5 at No. 3.

Thankfully my boy and I were too far apart (with me at bow and him at 7) to communicate.

Despite the squabbling, we soon noticed that having our well-coached boys in the boat immediately raised the bar. The mums warmed up first, neatly but without much panache, but when our offspring took over we realised what it really ought to look and feel like. Suddenly we started rowing better. Crisper at the catch; faster at the finish; slower up the slide.

And the outcome on the day? Well, we lost, but only by 1/4 length, and it was one of the best races I’ve had. Our opposition looked gratifyingly exhausted at the end. And the arguing afterwards? Actually, I don’t think there was any.

So would I recommend family rowing? You bet I would. I’m already planning next year’s line-up.

Mums and Sons (girlontheriver at bow; sonontheriver at 7)


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So Ross Regatta has been and gone and my shelf is still empty. It was a bit of a rollercoaster of a weekend; I’m not going to go into the gory details, but if I say it involved my firstborn, a couple of coxing errors, a crash and a disqualification, you’ll understand why I don’t want to relive it all. Anyway, they say you learn from defeat, so here’s a round-up of what I learned this weekend:

  1. I love my children more than I love rowing. Of course I knew that already, but it’s good to have a reminder every now and then.
  2. My fellow club members are amongst the nicest people you could ever meet. I knew that already, too, but hadn’t realised quite how amazing they were. Go Monmouth!
  3. The ladies at Royal Chester are incredibly lovely, too.
  4. When your opposition comes to talk to you and you get a crick in your neck craning up to see them, you get a tiny inkling of what the outcome of the race might be.
  5. A good race against a better crew makes the defeat more bearable.
  6. The fake tan was, on reflection, a mistake. White legs in all-in-ones are not a good look. Brown and white, streaky legs in all-in-ones are an even worse look.
  7. If there’d been a pot for prettiest, club-themed nails, I would have won hands down.

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