Week 6: It’s All About the Taper

I just finished my final workout on the training plan. Tonight I pack the bag and tomorrow I’m on an airplane to Boston.

I realized about four minutes into the piece that this was it.  My final erg session before the big day. Wow. It snuck up on me.

There is nothing else I can do but eat well, sleep well, have a good practice run Friday, and stay calm.

The taper week


All smiles for last training row.

My final four training days started with a Sunday row. You couldn’t ask for better conditions. Brilliant sunshine, bright blue sky, a balmy high 50-degrees. It’s about the same as the Saturday afternoon forecast for Boston.

We were visiting family, so I rowed on Owsley Fork. The reservoir is the lowest I’ve ever seen it, resulting in a tighter course. I also forgot I changed the poppers at the end of my last row. That threw me for a loop the first minute.

The workout was steady-state with some higher rate work. The first piece it seemed like all the high rate work fell when I had to steer, but I figure good practice for HOCR, right? All-in-all a solid afternoon of work.

I dragged the machine outside for more weather conditioning on Monday’s erg session. I felt good about the work. I had an epiphany about relaxing the stroke and pulling through to the release. IMG_2118

Tuesday, I started feeling energized around 2 pm, which is exactly what I wanted to achieve with afternoon training. No energy slump for race time! I also received my coaching notes from the video I sent it. The little extra jolt of positivity was exactly what I needed. The reminder to keep working on my body positioning at the catch helps, too.

And finally today. The final taper workout. Some HOCR video and a push-it-out session. Tapering always makes me feel nervous. You get off the horse thinking, “Is that it? Shouldn’t I do more?”

How do I feel about the training now that it’s done? Part of me wishes the numbers were better, but doesn’t everyone? I keep reminding myself there is nothing else I can do at this point. I’ve done what I can with the time I have to prepare for this race.

I really enjoyed the workouts in this month’s training plan. I have to trust in the work and in the taper plan. 

The Mental Preparation

As race day nears, I’m getting more texts from the girls. We’re all getting nervous. You’re going about your day when suddenly it hits you: “I’m buying airplane snacks for Boston,” or like today, “This is my last workout!”

I think asking a rower if they are nervous is dumb. Does a rower face backwards? Of course, we’re nervous! Asking just draws attention to it, even makes it worse. Maybe instead ask, “How are you feeling?” and let us fill in the gaps.

Today I’ve been working hard to reframe how I’m feeling. Just little notes like:

  • I have full faith I have done what I can to be ready, and so has my crew. I know they will be giving 100% and so will I.
  • I am going to have an awesome experience. It’s my first HOCR. It’s not about winning or racing for a certain time. I can’t control those things. I can control my experience. If we happen to make time or place well, all the better.
  • My objective is to make sure the things I do don’t slow the boat. I don’t know if I’m saying that right. I got it from Marlene. Somewhere she talks about before you go fast you have to know how not to slow down. I liked it.
  • I have to let go of my fear of the unknown.

What I’m Looking Forward To

Head of the Charles is the event that every rower who’s into the sport talks about. There’s an interview somewhere where someone says, and I paraphrase, “HOCR is the event ever rower is either at or wishes they were at.” 

I’m looking forward to experiencing that for myself. What is like being surrounded by superfans? Hooch and the 2017 World Rowing Championships are probably the closest comparisons I’ve had. I want to soak it all in, from the vendor village to the banners.

I can’t wait to row under the bridge and see the banners.

I want to see a crash firsthand–as a spectator, not a rower!

I can’t wait to cheer in person four of my rowing friends out to defend their bow #1, two on Saturday and four on Sunday.

I want to watch the Women’s Championship 1x. 

And I have a date with alcohol and ice cream/some other form of sugar high Saturday around 5 pm.


About camckenna

I write; I row.
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