The weekend certainly had its ups and downs. The rowing was on the upside and the football was mostly on the downside. Lets take the upside first. Saturday practice was a very light workout as we were racing the next day. Due to a lack of enough coxswains, we were limited to taking out the 8+ rather then two 4+s. I wasn't scheduled to race in the 8+ so that left me and another rower to ride along with the coach in the launch. Rather then do that our Coach suggested rowing in a double, which sounded better then just sitting and watching. The row in the double actually went better then I expected. It was a decent row although short. We only rowed about 3.5 miles. That's probably half of what we normally row in a practice. On Sunday the 4+s were scheduled to race at 1130. However, our coach wanted my 4+ to come at 830 for a short practice. I'm not exactly sure why. It's not like we haven't rowed together before. In fact this would be our second race together, but out we went. Our coach had some good tips particularly for our two starboard rowers (get your hands down during recovery so the boat isn't off to port during the recovery. I'm a port rower so, of course, anything wrong with the set of our boat is due to the starboard rowers :-) ). At 11:00 we launched and rowed up to he start, which just upstream from Jacob's Rock. The race use to start at Jacob's Rock and started with a straight shot onto to a long straight away. Now it starts just upriver and requires negotiating a big sweeping turn to starboard of at least 120 degrees. I suppose it makes the race more interesting with that big turn at the start, but given the Chase's move slightly upstream and the Head of the Occoquan moving theirs downstream from Fountainhead Park, it makes the two races too similar. That can't be good for either regatta where you're competing for the same rowers. There will be some that will come to both, but there are a lot that will chose between one or the other figuring why spend the money to come to the Occoquan to run what is essentially the same race? Anyway back to our race. We were led to understand that we had three boats in our age category (50+). One from Alexandria and the other from Oakton Masters. Oakton would start right in front of us and Alexandria behind us. For those that aren't familiar with Head Racing, boats start single file about 15 seconds apart. You win by having the fastest time, but the idea is to pass as many boats ahead of you as you can while not letting the boats behind you pass you or close the distance from the start. We had mixed results. the boat from Alexandria passed us about the halfway point while we passed Oakton with less then 1,000 meters left. They caught back up to us and we dueled for the remainder of the race including clashing oars with each other at one point. As far as the race itself, I thought our 4+ rowed much better then we had in the Head of the Potomac. Can we improve? Surely. Enough to make up the 35 seconds we need to catch up to Alexandria? Probably not, at least not this year. After I got home, I checked the results and was surprised to find that Oakton was actually in the 40+ category. So we finished second in a two boat race. Not quite as satisfying as saying that you finished second of three. Overall the club had an excellent day. Our Men's 8+ finished 2nd, the Women's 8+ finished 1st and the Women's 4+s finished 1 and 2. Lots of medals and more important respect for our club.
Most of my Saturday, after practice, was spent watching football. Both Auburn and VA Tech were on TV at noon. Auburn was playing at Arkansas and VA Tech was playing Boston College. The Auburn game turned out to be quite the disappointment given that Auburn was undefeated going in. Not anymore. On the other hand, VA Tech took apart Boston College, which made Daughter#2 and The Son In Law, but VA Tech grads, quite happy. Sunday I watched the Redskins play and lose to the previously win less Carolina Panthers. The only good thing about the loss is listening to the fan base bitch and moan and call for heads on sports talk radio the next few days. Lets face it, the 'Skins offensive line is just terrible. Without a good O line, it doesn't matter how good a Quarterback you have or how good a running back, you'll lose.
Monday I went for a row in a single. I practiced the Head of the Occoquan course and overall it was a good row. It never ceases to amaze me how my ability to make the boat run really well comes and goes over the course of a piece. I guess the idea is to be able to hold that good technique throughout a race. I need to get more zen like with the boat - become one with the boat. 19 days until my first race in a single.