Friday, November 6, 2009

The Last Race

This past weekend marked the last race of the 2009 season - The Head of the Occoquan. It's run by the Occoquan Boat Club, which is one of the two rowing clubs I row for/with. The Head of the Occoquan, or HOTO as it's known, is a two day event with college 8+s and 4+s and singles racing on Saturday and everything else on Sunday. I had entered into three races. A single on Saturday, a first for me, and a 4+ and 8+ on Sunday. The races are held on our home water so traveling wasn't an issue. I'd like to say this was the view of the water for Saturday's races, but lo it was not. This photo was taken earlier in October right before the Occoquan Chase. Its the view from the Oxford Boathouse looking out onto the cove that empties into the Occoquan. I just like the way it turned out so I included it here. I wished it was like this all the time when I row.

Saturday's weather was warm, but windy. Considering I was racing in a single, the wind was of some concern. Ann and The Son accompanied me to Sandy Rum where I would launch and recover. I picked up my registration package,which consisted of a bow number for my shell and a number to be pinned on my back. I was number 1122.

My support crew needed nourishment and there was a BBQ caterer on site to feed the hungry masses. So Ann and The Son enjoyed a couple of pulled pork sandwiches.

My launch time was at 1:00 with a start time of my race at 1:45. It takes a while to row to the start of the 3.5 mile race. I was racing in a Peinert 25X. Here I'm at the dock tying in before pushing off.

I was racing in the rec category, which is one step up from novice. It was my first race in a single so I felt it was the proper category. It was pretty neat seeing the gathering of 25 or so singles marshaling up at the start line. I thought my start was good and the first straightaway went well, The turn at Jacob's Rock was also good as was heading down the long straightaway from Jacob's Rock. I had a hard time picking up the buoys at the next turn and having a Marshall sticking his boat out on the course and in my way didn't help. I had to maneuver around the first buoy and went a bit wide on the second. The race down the next straightaway where the Oxford Boathouse is located was interesting. Right outside the cove leading to Oxford, I got squeezed in between 2 other rowers overtaking me. I had no where to go and actually clashed oars with the rower to my right. Since I was the slower boat I had to yield so I coasted for a moment to allow both boats to clear. After making the turn by the Painted Rocks and heading toward Sandy Run, the water got really choppy and it was hard to maintain a good rhythm and run. That changed once I reached the turn at Sandy Run. At this point I could also see a friend closing in on me and I used him to pick up my own pace to try and hold him off as best I could. He finality passed me as we approached the finish line of the 2,000 meter race course. At this point there was about 500 meters left in my race. Unfortunately, I hadn't gone out and looked over the course a final time and the finish line was not where I expected it to be. I thought I could cut the final turn and go straight to the finish. I couldn't and almost ran off the course and narrowly missed hitting a huge buoy. Recovering, I start back up and headed off to the finish. Here are two pictures with about 500 meters left in the race.

I was of the understanding that the finish was at the race course grandstand area. As i approached that area, I could hear the officials calling out the finishes for the timers. I thought I had crossed the finish line but was sadly mistaken. I was about 150 meters short. oops! Stupid actually. Here I was just coasting in front of the crowd and I still had hadn't crossed the line. I recovered and finished, but that a pretty bad mistake. Here I am at the finish.

My time was a very slow 27:39.8. The only redeeming factor was that I was only 7 seconds behind the only other rower in my category. My time notwithstanding, it was still fun to do and I plan to try it again next year.
Rowing back to Sandy Run after finishing the race.

Thank god it was warm - at least on Saturday.

Over night a front came through and the weather changed to rainy and cold. The rain was on and off for my 4+ race. It rained as we waited for the start, but over the course of the day, the rain went away, but it stayed chilly. The 4+ race went well for us. We finished 4th with a time of 20:58.6 just under 4 seconds from third. For the 8+ race, I joined a boat with a mixture of our fitness rowers and a novice or two. I had no illusions that we would finish anywhere but last given the makeup of the boat. I did it because I enjoy rowing in the 8+s. We finished last with a time of 20:35. The set wasn't bad, but there was no power in the boat. Our "A" boat passed us right outside our cove and we made them work to pass us so there was that although I think it also drained our tanks and we still had a good 1.5 miles to go. We finished a good 2 plus minutes slower then the "A" boat, which finished with a time of 18:18 to our 20:35.
Back to Saturday, which was also Halloween. I carved a pumpkin for the occasion with The Son lighting the candle inside.

We got almost no Trick or Treaters. Maybe 9 total. That was a bit of a surprise. We never expect a lot as most kids, like ours, are grown and moved away, but we still have kids in the neighborhood. I'm sure the drizzle that was falling didn't help. Just means more candy for us!

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