A Swampy Scrimmage

The team put together a singles scrimmage this morning. I was looking forward to it all week.

Meeting time was 6:30. No problem. The night before, I prepared all my supplies, loaded the boat, came up with a morning plan. Wake up 5:20, get there early with plenty of time to rig the boat, stretch, and do some warming up. Double checked my alarm. Yes, set for 5:14. Sure. r

Reality: kid walks into the room. At first I think he’s up really early, maybe had a potty accident. Then I realized light is coming through the window. Explode upright, check watch.


“Oh, F—-!”

I’m calculating in my head as I dash to the bathroom, yanking on the unisuit, brushing truth. Twenty minute-ish drive, 25 minutes-ish to start, 7:15 race time. Super tight–maybe I can at least make the relay. I’m out the door in record time, dictating an email while yanking on the boatstraps.

It’s raining as I pull out. Radar check while driving down the road. There’s rain ALL OVER. I checked the forecast the night before, same time as the alarm, to make sure it was clear. It was 20% chance at seven and eight am! Now cats and dogs. I have to slow down to be safe.

I call Julio, thinking maybe he’s in a place where he can tell them I’m late but trying to make it. No answer.

6:55 I pull into the parking lot, not bothering to flip around like I usually do. Yank the boat off, walk straight down the hill versus around the ramp. Unzip, don’t bother to roll it neatly, throw it in the boathouse. I sprint back uphill to get the rigger. Slap that on, tighten tighten, throw the bag in the boathouse.

I have no idea what time it is but I see a bunch of boats heading out up by the bridge, about 500m north of the docks. I hope it’s them. I pass Julio coming off–I yell I’m pulling a Julio–showing up dead late to race.

It wasn’t raining when I was offloading and rigging, but as I turn and head northbound, the sprinkles start. A strong outflow headwind slows down my adrenaline-fueled progress. By the bridge, the hose is on, the sky is gushing, and water runs down my back. Every stroke is squishy. The bridge itself has literal waterfalls gushing down the sides. I don’t think I’ve been in rain this intense since Sunshine State in Gainesville.

So I’m thinking Murphy’s law: no alarm, torrential rain…does that mean I’m going to flip next?

I catch the other woman I’m supposed to scrimmage against. That calms me down–now I’m not late anymore. I’m just soaked and poorly warmed up.

By the time we turn around and meet at the start, I’ve got at least three, if not four, inches of water. A nice strong stroke sends water out the stern. At least it’s sunk my boat enough to where it’s setting up properly.

The 1k

Originally it was supposed to be four heats, two boats in each, near age brackets, but it was changed to all the men in one heat and all the ladies in the other. So we were going four across and I opted for the far outside. I figured if I screw up steering I’ll have a lot of forgiveness.

The rain slowed enough to where I could use my hands to splash some of the water out, but not all.

I knew this 1k wasn’t going to be pretty. I figured get going and then just work on technique, trying to be long, get a good catch.

Floating start, and of course I start behind everybody. My starts are already horribly slow anyway, so it doesn’t help.

I had a stroke coach app on my phone, but the sloshing water turned the screen off. I only knew what I was doing for the first few strokes.

The two AA ladies were ahead, and let them go. I stayed ahead of the girl in my heat, figuring that’s what counts. I really had no idea where I was going, so I just counted, remembered what I planned to work on, did my best to lift into the catch.

So when I finished, I figured I was maybe three or four boats behind. It was hard to tell; once they were gone I just looked for steering and not distance. But I felt embarrassed, to be wearing the unicorn suit and to put in a poor showing. No one was really talking. Very quiet at the finish.

Soaking post-rain

500 m Relay

As I’m rowing northbound for the relay, I start getting really mad at myself. Here I am, going at an 18-20spm and I can pass all these girls and catch some guys, but I go to race, and flame out? What the heck, man? What is my problem?

Every stroke, I’m just stewing. Part of me is downright pissed because this is not the impression I wanted to make. Part of me is glad this has happened; I’m analyzing the performance and calculating what I can do with training to improve. But then the question is: why bother? We’re not really racing until next year, at the least. Now I’m weighing when and why I should ramp up.

This is all happening in my head as we go the 500 m relay start.

So guess what happens?

We’re put into teams; it’s two girls/one guy; one girl/two guys. I’m the one girl on the two-man team. Because of a number issues, I’m now the slowest one on the water based on results. Also, because I’m already on the outside, the two dudes opt to have me go first.

I’m going 500 meters against a guy. I know I can’t beat him, but I am on a mission to minimize his lead. And, like I said, ANGRY. I am ANGRY.

My app works this time, no water changing the station. Now I sprint competitive numbers, but of course, no one is going to know that but me.

The secretary brought donuts for after and I swallowed my misery with two.

The Aftermath

It’s been an interesting scrimmage. We’re soaked, I’m mad at myself, the boat is full of water, and it’s my last official row as the single owner of the white Fluidesign. She’s going to be a club boat by the end of the day.

The whole car ride home, Linkin Park blasts full volume as I ruminate over my sprinting problems. I don’t care that I was injured two weeks, or that I have been challenged with my training schedule, or that I eased off the intensity and volume; I am a competitive person on the water and I did not demonstrate that today.

I stayed angry until about lunch time, when I finally looked at the app. The 1k sucked; about as bad as my first 1k race ever, but the average rate was low. Power-wise I was doing reasonably ok until about 600meters, which is when I think my performance got in my head. The 500 meters was heads better with spilts under 2:00 for the first 20 strokes; my last 10 left a little to be desired, increased the total spilt, but I think I was looking for the finish about then.

About camckenna

I write; I row.
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