Piestany Sunday – Mixed Feelings

Mixed Quad

We lost this race a year ago by half a stroke. It’s the local Piestany team’s specialty and they were very very certain that they would win. Every time I met one of them on Saturday, I was greeted with an evil smile and  a “See you tomorrow at 9 AM”. They had done most of their trainings as a mixed quad.

This is a 500m sprint. Short. Painful.

We decided to put our club’s 2 mixed double crews behind each other, with me on stroke and Romana on 3, “Krocan” on 2 and “Spaca” on bow.

Rowing up to the start was OK. Practice starts were good enough. We lined up in our lane 2, slightly behind Piestany because of the diagonal start line.

We were out of the starting blocks pretty good and within 5 strokes it was clear that it would be a race between Piestany and us. The two other crews were too far behind to catch up. We rated 45 spm for the first 10 strokes. Then I lowered a bit to 40spm.

We were one man up, i.e. I was rowing next to their 3 seat. Enough to control and my plan was to switch to controlled rowing and leave some energy for the final 100m.

With 300m to go, Krocan shouted “GO!” and started to rate up. Correct. Not the stroke man, the author of this blog, but the 2 seated. Suddenly stroke seat was late at the catch. What the … ?

The effect was immediately visible. We slowed down. Piestany started to move on us.

It was only a few centimeters per stroke but it was going in the wrong direction. All the ugly, uncoordinated rowing going on in my crew was sapping me of strength and we were basically defenseless.

The bank was cheering for the locals.

We lost the race on the finish line. I was very emotional, disappointed, angry, etc, and I confess that my first reaction was to turn around and telling “Krocan” that if he would like to stroke, he should have raised his hand when we were discussing the crew line-up. I used some pretty bad wording, which I won’t repeat.

I was even considering leaving the boat immediately, swim to the bank and let them return with three rowers. But, the last 1% of reasonableness that was left in me convinced me that that was a very bad idea.

We paddled back, and listened to the speaker announce our win.

Our win?

Yep, our win. Apparently we had beaten the locals by 0.25 seconds. I guess I was fooled by the diagonal finish line.

I did deeply apologize.

Learned something again. 🙁

Here are my thoughts on this, and I mean it. Apparently I have become pretty intolerant to bad sculling, to the point where I am rude at other people, where I perhaps should have politely declined to race this race. On the other hand, I didn’t want to spoil the party, and we’re also looking to make sure that all people in our Masters group have some races to race. So, as usual when I am frustrated, I have just myself to blame for some bad communication, expectations setting, and commitments made. I may learn this one day.

In the mean time, Robin came in third place in the double:

The Single

I had a little over an hour between the race in the mixed quad and my race in the single. My head cold was a bit more prominent every hour but I didn’t think it would limit me, even though it seemed to get to my throat as well. (Masters rower inserting a comment about his health as excuse for upcoming bad result? Perhaps.)

I wasn’t too worried, by the way. The strongest of my opponents was Antonin (“Tonda”) Pribil from Breclav, and he hasn’t beaten me yet.

So I rowed up to the start, and did a few practice starts and 10 stroke intervals at what I had decided to be my race target: 320 Watt on the power meter (which had been re-calibrated after NK discovered a software bug and is now showing 10% lower numbers than I am used to).

Tonda was in the lane next to me and slightly ahead at the start. Did I mention the diagonal starting line?

He had a really good start and trying to remain next to him cost me an initial ten strokes at 400W and higher. See the chart (and I don’t know what the Heart Rate sensor was thinking, but it clearly underreported my heart rate).

Pretty explosive, and what did I get? Tonda was still in front of me.

So now it was time for me to stick to the race plan. I dialed back to 320W (you can see that transition pretty clearly in the Watts part of the chart above). I knew Tonda is a bit of a Duracell Bunny, so I was hoping that he would fade sooner or later. I hoped for sooner.

The problem was that in the cross/headwind I had trouble even holding 320W. At 500m to go, Tonda was still ahead of me (a bit less than a length), and I was struggling to hold 320W. It may have been empty legs from the quad race. It may have had something to do with my upcoming cold. I was seeing numbers slightly below 300W.

The good news, though, was that Tonda was “stiffening” (as they say in Czech). He was experiencing the very unpleasant effects of a lactate rush and he was fading, like the bunnies in the Duracell commercials. It also helped that the head/crosswind was a bit stronger there and there were some ripples on the water. Normally that would be an advantage for a big guy like Tonda, but his problem is that he rows in Breclav on a very shielded river, where they have mirror flat water. After the race, he was talking about “the chop”. He should come and train in Brno.

Slowly, but surely, I pulled him in.

Then I pulled away from him. The power numbers were not near to where I wanted them to be, but I just kept going. Luckily for me, Tonda was broken, and I managed to create enough light between him and me to row the final 200m in a very comfortable lead.

In the Masters A/B race, our club president Tomas came second in a close finish, in a time that was a second faster than mine. I know he is 32, but it still hurt.

So four wins out of four. Still, I am not happy.

  1. My stupid behavior after the Mix Quad
  2. Not having the fastest time of all Masters singles
  3. Rowing under my power target in the single
  4. meh meh meh meh

I still picked up my medals and made a picture of my son’s coxed quad picking up theirs.

Robin is the second guy from the right. They also got another medal in the double (close finish):

And my other son Dominik stroked a coxed quad to victory, with Robin as a coxswain:

Here are some of the metrics charts for my single race:

Apart from power, the other metrics look okay, I think.

After all the excitement, we spent a bit over an hour loading the trailer, and then we drove home in a little over two hours. We were home by six pm.

Today, on Monday, I woke up feeling very tired and almost unable to speak. I am taking an extra rest day today.

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