About a year ago when I found out that the 1st Rowing World Cup was going to be held in conjuction with our National Rowing Championships and Schools Championships I thought “Wow wouldn’t it be interesting to be rowing in Sydney during that!” It was the first time ever that a World Cup has been held in Australia, in fact I think the first time ever in the southern hemisphere. But at the time I was so engrossed with my cycling and looking forward to London that it was just a fleeting thought.
After London I only used the trike to commute and got back to my roots of swimming and rowing. I began to give rowing at Nationals a bit more thought. I got on the phone to my good friend Alex Green, who I had rowed with in the national team and who had also switched to cycling, and asked her if she wanted to enter the Para-rowing event LTA Women’s 2x. This in laymens terms means Legs, Trunk and Arms (LTA – which is my category), double scull. She said she was interested, so I advised her I would contact her closer to the time of entry. Well as the time drew nearer I got in touch and she was definitely up for it. We hadn’t rowed in a boat together since 2009 when we teamed up in a 4 at World Championships in Poland and the 2x in Tasmania at the Nationals. But we are both fit and I figured we could give it a good go.
I also entered the single scull and was then contacted about an LTA mixed 4+, which means a coxed four with 2 men and 2 women. Alex and I both agreed to take part in this race as well and the organiser of the boats was able to get enough people for 2 fours which was a first for Australian rowing!
So on Tuesday the 19th of this month I headed up to Sydney to stay with Alex and her family for a couple of nights at which time on the Thursday morning we headed to the Sydney International Regatta Centre in Penrith. This is where the 2000 Olympic rowing events were held. It is a magnificent centre and a world class facility and I love rowing there. The day was perfect for a good row with a small cross/tail wind. Alex’s club Uni NSW had lent us a boat and as we pushed off from the dock and started to row it was like we had never been out of the boat, we just clicked.
As we lined up against our competitors my heartrate began to rise in anticipation and as the start whistle blew we launched into a well timed start and built upon it as we got in front of our competitors. We had chatted before we headed out and decided that we really just needed to put our legs into action and drive the boat with that strength that we had both gotten from cycling. By the time I heard Alex yell “250 to go lets bring it up” I had remembered how much rowing racing hurt! I could see our competitors making some ground but Alex and I were able to hold on to our position and crossed the line in first, even ahead of all the male boats. (They had raced both sex’s together) When the results were posted we had actually rowed faster than we ever had in the past together, so it certainly goes to show how much cycling has helped.
The next race was the LTA4+ and I really wasn’t expecting much. Both boats had been thrown together, some of the rowers very novice in sweep rowing and we had never rowed together. Alex and I were in opposing boats, which was definitely a first, but I was surprised at how good our boat felt. We had a pretty good start and was very surprised how well we worked together to cross the line in first! So here I was racing for the first time in 2 years and on my first day I came away with 2 gold medals.
As Alex wasn’t racing in the single the next day (she is a very smart woman!) we said our goodbye’s and she headed home. Kate, who we had raced against in the 2x and who stroked our 4+, had offered me a bed for the next few nights, so the two of us with her coach Lindsay headed off.
My single scull race the next day there were only two of us racing, Kate and myself, and I knew that this race was going to hurt. I had been in my single once a week for the last 5 weeks, but I had certainly not done anything very hard in it. Kate has been training very hard and is a fantastic rower so I figured that I was going to get my butt kicked! Kate is vision impaired and the rules state that she has to wear blacked out goggles while rowing and be directed by a marshall in a boat. Very brave if you ask me, I can’t even think about how hard that would be. So trying to get us set up at the start line was hard because we had a cross wind. Once we had finally been able to line up the wind suddenly died down so that we were able to get a good start. Well I was right, not only did the race hurt but I well and truly got my butt kicked! I think it was the hardest 1000m of my life!
Australia put on a great regatta for the 1000 rowers and 28 countries that took part and we have a lot of brilliant young talent coming up the ranks. I look forward to seeing how they go in the other international competitions this year!
The regatta ended for me with 2 gold medals and a second place, not bad for someone who hasn’t raced in 2 years! The rest of the weekend was spent doing some training in a 4+ on the Nepean River for The Head of the Charles, which is a race in Boston at the end of October. But that is a whole other story that I will write about soon! So Kate kindly gave me a bed for the entire weekend and another rower Steve and his wife Andrea took me back to their place on Sunday and to the airport for my flight home.
It has been a really busy few weeks, with the Red Ride, racing in Perth on my trike and these rowing nationals, so Monday I was certainly stuffed! But it has all been worth it, it has made me feel alive. I love filling my life with things that I truly love to do and to be honest that means there is no room left for things I don’t like! We only have one life, so live every day to the fullest and go out and do those things that make you happy.