Dolphins and a 12-foot Alligator…
It has been a while since I wrote my last update and a lot has happened. We had another 6k erg test a few weeks after my last post and I was able to take another big step in the right direction. Unlike the previous tests where I would blast off the start, I was able to reign myself in a bit in the first 1500m so I was in a better position to cruise through the middle of the test. Approaching 2000m to go, I started to step my split down and charge for the finish line. I pushed earlier than usual so in the final sprint I was running on fumes and didn’t have the kick that I usually do – but having done the work in the middle of the test, I was still able to knock another 10 seconds off of my best. I’m pleased with the score but even more so with the execution of the test and the absence of any ‘soft spots’ of mental weakness. Our group as a whole had a great test with everyone getting a personal best time – an encouraging indication that our training is working. The group of athletes going for the 8+ just did a 6k test as well and posted some impressive scores. Its good to see that they are on the right track as well.
We are just returning from a warm weather training camp in Florida. It was a welcome break from the usual routine in Victoria and it was nice to see the sun for a while. We rowed out of the Ft. Hamer boathouse just north of Sarasota as well as the new lake at Nathan Benderson Park, which is putting together a bid to host the 2017 World Championships. There were a bunch of dolphins that would follow our boats and play in the coach boat wake at Ft Hamer and we had a somewhat unsettling sighting of the resident 12-foot alligator in lane 3 of the Benderson course (luckily from the shore after a long row!). It was a refreshing 2 weeks and we were able to get in a lot of long aerobic volume type work; continuing to build the base that will carry us down the race course this summer. We rotated through a bunch of different combinations for the 4- and 2X and potential line-ups are starting to come together which is exciting to see. We went out in an 8+ (just for fun) on the last in Florida and I tested out my starboard skills – still got it!
Really bad photo of the gator.. but proof nonetheless.
The latest news out of British team is that the top pair of Andy Tiggs-Hodge and Pete Reed will be going into the 4-. This isn’t official and nothing will be confirmed until after their final trials in March, but it does appear that this is the direction their head coach is taking. One way of looking at this switch is that with them out of the event our chances of winning have now increased. They are a fast pair and have a proven track record of being able to raise their game when it matters most. So, its good news… right? I don’t see it that way. First of all, I don’t concede that they would beat us! They did last year but I think Dave and I are picking up speed and will be much more competitive this summer. I want to race against the best – for me that is the whole idea of the Olympics – and now the two top rowers from Great Britain wont be in the event that I hope to be in. This isn’t meant to be a critique of Pete and Andy at all. I have a huge amount of respect for both of them as athletes and they are good friends of mine. I’m just disappointed that it looks like I wont get a chance to race against them.
Even with countries trying to position their best athletes in certain events to try to ensure the win, anything can happen at the Olympics. Past results obviously go a long way in predicting which crews will be competitive but momentum leading into the summer, and even through the week of racing, can play a large role in determining who comes out on top. It is tough to hold that top-level speed through a year of racing, let alone a full 4-year quadrennial. I know that all too well from my experience in the 8+ at the Athens Olympics. I was new to the boat but we went in as the two-time defending World Champion 8+ and had won all of the pre-season races… we were the clear favorites to win… but it all unraveled in the final and we wound up finishing 5th. The Kiwi pair has been on fire lately (and there is no doubt that they will be fast this summer) but they know the challenge of holding that speed coming in the Olympics as well as I do. They were in the 4- in Beijing and despite having won the World Championships the previous year, something happened in the semi-final and they missed out on the final. We train all year to try to be able to control these outcomes, but on that biggest stage when all the pressure is on, results can be unpredictable. That is the beauty of sport.
Quote from the movie The Grey
Once more into the fray
Into the last good fight I’ll ever know
Live or die on this day
Live or die on this day
I watched a bit of the Grammy’s last night and saw this acceptance speech by Dave Grohl. Loved it. For me, music is about artists writing their own songs, singing, and playing instruments… not singing into a computer to autocorrect their voice on songs that they didn’t write.