May 10 2016
Of course all my races are important, but the race I was looking forward to most was the Masters Single, on Sunday morning. They put all the Masters C nicely in one race, keeping that fast Mr Milodanevic in the “A+B” race (he’s B) and letting the older guys fight for their title in a “D+F” race.
I had won this last year, easily. But this time I would have fierce competition from Kazimir “Robocop” Nedoba. A year ago he didn’t compete because he was getting a hip implant. But he’s back in full training now. As a policeman he has a lot more time than I do to spend on the water and in the fitness center. Actually, it’s part of his job description.
On the long distance championships, where he rowed in the heavyweight category and I rowed as a lightweight, I gave him a minute over 6km. But Kazi is a sprinter and my strength is more in the longer distances. So I wasn’t so sure.
My race plan was to start fast and get in front of him. Sometimes that breaks the competition.
Five boats at the start. I was in lane 5, Kazi in lane 4. Got out of the start a little behind him. Did ten strong strokes after the start. In my head, I repeated this mantra: “Got. To. Get. In. Front. Of. Him. Got. To. Get. In. Front. Of. Him.” I managed to get half a length. Then it was time to focus on technique. I know that if I don’t do that, I get sloppy. Then I get sloppy and tired, and that’s enough to lose a race.
Luckily my focus on technique helped. By half way I was length in front of Kazi. This is the part where the trees end and the boat area starts, so I now also had the support of my family and club members from the bank.
The other three boats were far enough behind to not be threatening. At the 500m mark I started to count strokes and I managed to push back Kazi a bit more. With ten strokes to go I knew I wouldn’t lose the race. Still had to keep rowing very fast.
Of course I was extremely happy. On the finish line, after we both just sat there breathing hard for a few minutes, Kazi commented that he now knows he has some work to do. I guess later in the season it may become even harder to beat him. This was very hard work, pretty much the max I can do in a single right now, at the beginning of the sprint season. I did a long cooling down row and then went on to prepare for the Masters 2x, just after lunch time.
I helped prepare the girls quad for their race by telling them that the girl who had won the single didn’t have three other strong girls in her quad and that they could win. Then I just took pictures and cheered while they won their final in a very nice battle.
Here they are landing, happy with their win:
I also cheered for Dominik in their B final in the boys 11/12 year old 2x. They were rowing in fifth place but taking over Lodni Sporty Brno and even had a chance to get the bronze, when the Lodni Sporty boat changed course and the two Brno doubles bumped into each other.
I guess Dominik really wasn’t lucky this weekend.
We would be rowing against Kral/Milodanevic, so we knew that the best we could do was a second place. That’s not defeatist. That’s just how it is. Milodanevic won his singles race in 3:28, Kral won the “D” category in 3:48. Still, even a second place would be a good result, because my partner Radek hasn’t put in as much training as he’d have liked during the winter, and the other boats looked strong on paper as well.
Our race tactics was to see where we were out of the start and then just race the boat closest to us.
That’s exactly how the race unfolded. We were in 5th position (in a full field of 6 boats) after the start and it took us 250m to get to the fourth position, then another 150m to get to second position. By that time Kral/Milodanevic were somewhere in front, too far a way for my peripheral vision, and we were rowing next to the locals from Piestany. Actually, they were half a length in front of us. I tried a ten stroke push but they managed to defend their position. Then, roughly at 0:50 in the video below, we tried a second push and manage to get in front of them. That gave us enough energy to even push away more and come in second place. Good result.
The final event of our racing weekend was the mix double with Romana. I was confident that we could win. Romana wasn’t so sure. There was a Piestany Masters B boat with a lady who had won the Masters Women’s single, and an athletic looking guy who hadn’t raced for the entire weekend.
This was a 500m sprint, so again a painful affair.
Piestany started on “Ready” while we went on “Go”. So that cost us a length which we had to get back. We managed to do. Romana is a very determined engine in the mix double. We knew it would be very painful two minutes but we put in the work and managed to get back in front. I don’t know how many times this weekend I had to get back from behind or from second position. It’s not a bad experience, actually, when you succeed.
Anyway, in front of the crowd we managed to build out our lead and we won. Fourth medal out of six starts.
After that an hour of packing and trailer loading, then a two hour drive home, and packing my suitcase for a trip to the US.
Spent a very long Monday getting to Phoenix, AZ, where I will spend the rest of the week on a symposium. The symposium program runs from 7:30 in the morning to 9pm in the evening, with just a one hour lunch break, so I am curious where I will find time to put in some exercise.