Saturday – A storm and a storm of races

On Friday evening, we had a nice dinner at the Regent Beer Brewery, then went to our hotel to get a good night’s rest before the races.

It wasn’t to be like that. Two hours later I woke up because of the storm. It sounded like a hurricane was going over Brno, and I started to get very worried about our boats. We had them outside on the Trebon rowing club grounds. On the one hand, our boats were in a relatively shielded area, under some trees. On the other hand, our boats were under some trees!

I just listened to the sound and worried and wondered if I should go out, drive through the storm, and check the boats. But then, imagining myself under those trees, in the hurricane, … hmm. Luckily, the storm was short and the wind calmed down.

In the morning, I received a picture from my brother in law, who was sleeping in a cabin on a camping about 20 km away.

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Not good. Tomas was sleeping in the cabin opposite, but there were people inside when the tree fell. Luckily, nobody got hurt, but it is a small miracle.

On to the races. Luckily, we found all our boats in good order. The first race was for my son Robin, competing in the 500m single scull in the Boys 11 category. He raced to a great second place. Unfortunately, I didn’t see his race, because my single was planned for 10 minutes later.

My first race was the Masters 1x. A full field of C rowers. On lane 1, Radek Skodik from Hodonin, a merry chap who combines horse racing with race rowing. He learned to scull a year ago, and this year he is confident enough to race the single. Me, on lane 2. On lane 3, a Mr Lacko from Roudnice. Lane 4, Tomas Zeman from Smichov Prague, bronze medal at the Masters Nationals. Lane 5, a Mr Gerhat from Prerov. On lane 6, Jan Dekanovsky from Tabor, fourth place at the Masters Nationals.

My race plan was well prepared. I consider this a training race, so the plan was to go out hard and fast, then settle to 325W exactly, and hold that to the finish line.

“Lane 2 a little forward. Lane 1 a little forward. Lane 4 back. Attention. GO!”

Well, that caught me a bit by surprise, and my first start stroke was not as planned. Luckily, I managed to correct immediately in the second stroke, and as the adrenalin was kicking in, I hammered 5 hard strokes after the start which brought me to the lead, and then another 2 sets of five hard stroke which gave me a length of lead on the field. Yep, my starts can be fast.

Shift down to target power. This is always very difficult. The risk is dropping the stroke rate too much, and actually that is exactly what happened.

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I was approaching the second 250m in 30spm. I noticed, and corrected. The field crawled back a bit. I just continued to hold 325W, slightly raising stroke rate with each 100m gone. With 200m to go I didn’t like that Mr Dekanovsky was moving ahead of the field and starting to close in on me, so I pushed a bit more. I crossed the line in 3:48, three seconds before Jan Dekanovsky. Nice.

What is also nice is that this workout is moving my power-duration curve (also known as CP chart). Here are the before and after pictures. First, before:

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Then, after. Check the values on the y axis.

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My Silver race at the Czech Masters was 347W over 3:56 minutes. This race was 358W over 3:48 minutes. I guess the 15 hard strokes after the start made the big difference, but I tend to think these are not the ones that punish you in the second 500m.

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This win was the start of a series of races. I did four races in total within a two hour time frame.

The first one was the Masters/Child combination with my son Dominik. We battled ourselves to a nice second place on the 500m, in a time of 1:52. I think it is a nice result and a great time, especially given that most of the other Masters took a 14 year old, where I was rowing with a 12 year old. It is fun to scull with Macon blades. You really have to row technical and make sure you get the blade placement right. As a result, I didn’t row this race full out.

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Shortly after that, I swapped my son for a fresh family member. My brother-in-law Tomas took his place and we rowed the Masters 2x over 1000m. That was a great race, racing wise. Immediately out of the start, I am told that we were leading. I do not know, because I was busy stroking the double and looking straight back to avoid bringing the boat out of balance. Then, Zeman+Ulc from Smichov took over the lead, with Dekanovsky and his partner, who had a slower start, starting to catch up with us. At the 500m point I started to increase the pressure and we passed Zeman+Ulc. Unfortunately, so did Dekanovsky and co, and in the process they also passed us. With 250m to go I rated up and we started to catch up with Dekanovsky, but they did a great final sprint to secure their win. We were second in a time of 3:33. I consider that not bad for the neutral wind conditions. It will not be a winning time in Bled, but we should be able to beat a few crews.

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The closing event of my marathon racing afternoon was a 500m double scull. Again with Tomas, but this time in the Open Men category. Because there weren’t enough boats registered to row heats, the race organizers had replaced the heats with a 500m sprint on Saturday. I was tired already and we didn’t race well. Our first 250m was great, and we were hanging off the end of the field but I even had hope that we would be able to pass the fifth placed boat. Unfortunately, we got thrown out of rhythm by a few waves and never were able to get back into it. It shows that we have not enough meters rowed together.

I have no digital record of this sprint, because I forgot to switch the SpeedCoach to recording.

So we were last, and on Sunday’s 2km I expect to finish last as well, but it will be a good training/race. We need to make meters together.

My son Dominik came third in his Boys 12 race (a 1k event) and my daughter Lenka survived the heats and qualified for the A final in the combined Juniors/Women 2x (over 2k). So Sunday will be an interesting race day.

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