Head of the Hooch 2018

After six years if near-misses and trying, I finally earned a medal at the Head of the Hooch and it’s golden!

It has been a roller coaster of training over the last five weeks. I’ve been meaning to write about it, but simply haven’t had the time. This blog probably won’t be my best race replay because I’m tired. Fowler threw up five times last night, and that kept Caelan awake…. This is why moms with young children don’t row.

I wasn’t sure I was going to race at the Head of the Hooch this year. I was considering lottery for the single, when at Worlds I was asked if I would like to be in an Women’s Open 4x. Yes, yes, I would.

I had five weeks to switch from 1k to 5k training, which is more than all those rowers racing at the Head of the Charles. But really, it was four weeks because I wasn’t able to train immediately after Worlds. Three weeks to go, I was sick (again) and still have this lingering cough. Mentally, the switch from short pieces to long erg sessions tested my focus and ability to push through. But I did it.

Saturday Hooch

I didn’t race Saturday. This was probably good. Toddlers dictate your entire life and Caelan was having a really bad day. Travel took forever. Alan offered to stay behind while I went into Chattanooga to shop, watch, and have dinner.

The boys came to support Mommy.

This year the rains created a wicked current on the Tennessee. I saw it Saturday in the 5k times. Boats were crushing 14-minute and 15-minute wins.

The ROC posted the potential for shortening the course due to forecasted winds. This was the topic of conversation for the evening. The forecast we saw looked just fine. Sunny, 62, winds 12-13mph. That’s good head racing! What’s a little chop?

Sunday racing

Fog delayed race starts, which made our day longer and more convoluted. The ROC announced the races would be shortened to 2100k. I felt, and still feel a little, robbed. I didn’t come all this way, erged all those long pieces, to sprint a 2k! Still, better than not racing.

The winds did kick up later in the morning, but the conditions for our race didn’t seem bad enough to warrant a 2k row. Other rowers did say it was worse earlier. All the pairs and a bunch of novice small boats were cancelled.

I rowed 3-seat, perfect for me. Just follow and push. Lauren behind me made the calls which was perfect. Our row up was a bit rocky, partially the wind, the current, and just needing to sync up as a 4x.

The girls won last year, and so we were the first boat. The stager let the Mixed 8+’s before get some space, so we had no one to chase. The girls wanted to have Texas to push away, so we waited a bit before going.

Even though it was 2k with the current, it felt like a longer row. It wasn’t easy rowing, rocky, with swirly water. We hit a huge swirl patch Jen had warned us about about 100m out the chute. Definitely felt it in the boat.

Plus, I think because you know all the landmarks, you keep waiting for them. Island, bridge, island, bridge, bridge, cheering section. After rowing 3k, it probably seems much faster but as just a 2k, those landmarks don’t fly by.

In my head I broke the race into 50 strokes. Count 50 and push. Lauren encouraged us to push away from Austin, but I didn’t look too much at them. I actually kept my head in the boat more than normal for a head race, I think because it was so short. I was trying to treat it as a sprint and not be the reason we lost.

Lauren called us up one beat, and up for the sprint.

A really solid row. I’m very glad and honored to row with these ladies and finally win a Hooch medal!

Now it’s time for a much-needed break and some cross-training. I think many other rowers in my circle feel exactly the same way. We’re all going through some burnout after FISA, and many of them also raced the Charles.

About camckenna

I write; I row.
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