We have just finished up some race work in Sydney and are now heading home for the last few days before we leave for Europe.
Today I am reminded of something worthwhile. The feelings and thoughts that flow when in the think of a race effort. Worthwhile because all the preparation, training, testing, talking, listening, watching and learning doesn’t stop. It continues to happen right up to and beyond each effort. This morning we broke from the race time table to do our effort earlier so to allow time to train after. We have committed to an approach which has us set on a certain path. For some it will seem like we are just trying to be different but for us it’s about continuing the journey we are on.
Our focus and energy is being directed towards a very clear outcome. An immediate outcome which has us discussing the meaning of what we do, and talking about purposeful practice, being in the moment, working together and for each other, allowing things to happen and staying with the boat, shifting and changing our habits, and tapping into deeper concentration and energy to create, build and deliver a pure performance.
Here we had two race efforts to see what had come of our journey thus far. Good news is we are on track. The bad news, well not so much bad news are challenging news is its going to get more uncomfortable yet before it becomes comfortable and natural. Before we raced since trials we tested our boundaries and have learnt about the training we will use going forward. We have come to know more about each other and I sense we are all learning more about ourselves.
During the racing I found myself working well but still quiet tired. It took mental energy today to stay in the framework and add to the rhythm. The dullness of fatigue was present which is ok and I didn’t fight it rather just worked with what I had.
Bringing this into sharpe focus I enjoyed the feeling of being on the knife edge. Pushing hard early with out loading up into the hands, arms or shoulders was important and yet I needed to keep the self talk going for it could have easily slipped into harder work than need be. Coming closer into the stroke and my seat as I sat behind Josh, who I am loving see develop and grow, was like being behind a drag car with his big boots ready to lay down a long stretch of rubber. The shove and speed of his hips and legs is quiet amazing and although I don’t try to match it I feed off it and intent on extending his dynamic pick up by throwing the handle back with him.
With in the drive I enjoy the sensation that comes with this combination. James and Will are fantastic at picking up on what we set up and like my intent of adding to Josh’s movement I feel like James and Will do the same. It makes the drive feel long and fast. It feels like we pick the speed of the boat and add what we can each seat to ensure the release is sent. We enjoy our unique rhythm and with patience at the release we feel the boat run. Sure this all happens pretty fast but the feeling of press, posture, sequence and acceleration is a joy. I guess as the drive and recovery are linked it as if the drive continues well into the recover phase and like wise the recovery phase bleeds into the drive with relaxation and unloading rather that a traditional loading at the catch. Not sure this makes sense but at times I feel as if the marrying of the forward and backward movements becomes one in the same. Seamless and flowing.
What excites me is the feeling we get when we find the groove. The sound of the blades as the meet, hold and step out of the water. The feeling and sound of the boat when we harmonise and experience efficiency. I even get excited about being on the edge. Oh yeah that’s pretty cool. The fine edge between falling apart and not being able to do any more, and the realization of speed, platform, pure performance. The light plays off the water in those moments like the thoughts in my mind. The reflections play, tug and influence as the stream of thoughts come and go. I have found the challenge of trusting in the speed to be important. Trusting in the team to be key. Trusting my old and aging body which has become the butt of many a joke. Actually my facial expressions have been mimicked and shared as I squint to see but also expose my large grow of nose hairs which spear down as my nostrils rise to aid my sight. It’s all bloody exciting really, rowing, teamwork, growing old, learning and the simple opportunity to go forth to compete for my country.
So there it is we have raced and almost completed all our last training in Australia. Soon we will be over in Europe and readying ourselves to be compared to others. Funny thing is though we are not really all that worried about the competition as our efforts and energy are being directed towards our own view of how we will perform. Unless a rule change happens and rowing becomes combative we will have our own lane for 2000m which will be like our own stage. No one can stop us have the fastest race and most enjoyable race of our lives.
*lastly this will be a big part of our journey, boarding planes and waiting around to get to where we need to go. It’s all part of it and like yesterday when we flew home finding ways to enjoy the journey, all of it is key.