Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Strange Goings On

So practice last night as a bit of an ordeal. Not so much that practice was challenging, although it was. More that the air was so thick with humidity that it was tough catching one's breath. We finally had enough guys to take out two 8s. We did our warm-ups coming out of our cove and headed down river toward Sandy Run and the race course. About half a mile upstream from Sandy Run a string of red buoys had been strung across the river. Our coach and coxswains didn't understand the meaning of those and we rowed past them. Not 30 seconds later here comes a police boat heading right toward us blue lights flashing. Now the Occoquan has a size limit on outboard motors - 9.9 hp so you'll see mostly small boats an occasional bass boat, but to see this big as boat with two huge outboards on it was quite a sight. We quickly turned around and headed the other way. They followed us for a short time to make sure we didn't' return. I'm not sure what is going on down there that requires a police presence. We got a notice about two weeks ago that Sandy Run would be closed on Tuesday and Wednesday. There looked like two small tents had been set up outside the George Mason boathouse at Sandy Run but it was hard to see. Since the notice was out out in advance, its not like they're dragging for a body. Someone suggested they were pulling up the water quality survey buoys. If that were true, they wouldn't need to block access to the race course and need a police presence to keep people away. All very mysterious.

Anyway practice. We did three 10 minute pieces at a low rate 24 strokes per minute. For the first piece, my boat was given a 15 second lead and even with that we lost. On the first turn we got taken on the inside and they made up the lead we had almost immediately. By the end of the ten minutes they had us by about 4 seats. After a 5 minute race we started out again. This time we kept our lead. The second piece, from my view in the #2 seat, looked much smoother and the set was better. The third piece was much the same as the second. We started with the 15 sec lead and held it. During the last 2 minutes our coach let them bump up the rate to a 26 and made us drop to a 20. Even with that stroke differential we maintained our lead. Of course that was the point he was trying to make. It maters more to stay long, row strong, don't rush and let the boat run. I'm sure he'll try to build on that lesson over the next several practices. Needless to say with the heat (low 90s) and the humidity (same), we all came out of the boat dripping wet. How I love rowing in the summer.

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