Race Day!

Warning: very long day = very long post.

Last night, my nerves got the best of me, and I had a lot of trouble falling asleep. At 5:15 AM, when my alarm beeped my awake, I was tired, but feeling ready to go. At 5:45, I headed over to the race course and found a test scale. At 58.5kg, half a kilo under the weight limit, I changed into my unisuit and headed to the official weigh in scales.

Got my unisuit yesterday!
It was all very anticlimactic. In my unisuit, I handed the officials my ID, let them know my race time,  stepped on the scale and seconds later had a thumbs up. They noted my accepted weight in their race schedule and stamped my arm.

I enjoyed a quick breakfast with some other post weigh in lightweight girls, off to race the women's pair. After eating, I headed to my boat, and went out in the water for the first row in  my boat. It was a bit crowded, but calm conditions and good traffic control made the row a good start in the new boat.

Each boat and set of oars have slightly different properties--different lengths in the water, blade sizes, stiffness, weight distribution and more. While the boats all have similarities as well, it does take some time to get used to a new boat. The boat's reaction when you put your blades in the water is very different, and can be a very stressful moment if you don't know when to expect when you apply pressure.

After months in a boat that was a size or two too big for me, the biggest thing I notice is how small everything feels. From the shoes to the width of the boat, it all makes me feel just a little bit bigger--good in a sport where size is an advantage and half of the game is mental.

I spent the morning resting and refueling, although I probably did a bit too much walking around. I went down to the course early to get in a longer warmup in a separate practice area. My race was schedule for 1:24pm, and they called us to the dock to launch 30 minutes before the race. Normally, crews spend upwards of an hour on the race course before the race begins. Launching the boat, warming up and arriving at the start 5-10 minutes prior to the race all take time.

Nonetheless, I made it through my warmup and was waiting at the starting area just after 1:15pm. I watched the umpires line up the boats and send off the first heat in my event at 1:18pm. The races being on six minute center, this was perfectly on time, except for one detail: I was in the first heat! They sent my race off six minutes early without me, and with no announcements calling me into place.

It was incredibly embarrassing, and stressful. I immediately approached an umpire and informed her of the error. They attempted to contact the chief referee while I watched the second and third heats line up and start their races.

While I should have known that I was in the first heat and therefore should have been lining up, it was ultimately the responsibility of the officials to make sure they didn't start a race early without a rower present. As the fourth and final heat sat ready to race, I was ready to accept my fate and row home.

However, lady luck had different plans for me. Just as the officials began to poll the crews, part of the starting commands, safety launches came speeding in calling for all crews to clear the water. Thunder and lightning had moved in with the intermittent rain, and for safety reasons all racing was delayed an hour, until the weather cleared.

Two things happened during this hour long delay. First, the chief referee had an opportunity to hear my protest and make a decision. I was to row in the fourth heat, which had yet to race, but my time would be counted in the first heat, in which I was scheduled to race.

Second, the wind changed from a headwind, which causes slower times, to a reasonably stiff tail wind. This pushed my times nearly a minute faster than the girls in my heat. I expect to race in the semifinals tomorrow, although I'm still waiting on official word tonight. I'm not sure whether I deserve to race in the semifinal, but I do know I'm going to give it my best shot tomorrow, and hope I come away with a great race under my belt.

Overall, it was an emotionally draining day. Between nerves, embarrassment, anger and stress, I am completely wiped. I think I will more than make up for last nights lack of sleep tonight.

Wish me equal parts luck and skill tomorrow. I never thought I'd be hoping for another weigh in.

Let me know what you think by leaving a comment or emailing me at piquantprose [at] gmail [dot] com.

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