By Jameson Halnon
The 2016 C.R.A.S.H.-B. Sprints World Indoor Rowing Championship was a unique and sure to be memorable experience for me. I went in knowing I trained well, or at least well enough. I’d pulled a 6:55 and a 6:54 in back-to-back weeks before I even started training, so I had a pretty good baseline. I was fairly consistent with my training program; I did plenty of other exercise so I knew I was in good physical shape.
Waking up at 3:20 a.m. is not my normal day, but we all adapt. We set up the ergs, the race system, taped the lines, etc. and stayed plenty busy until the event started. I was on the film team (apologies for the shaky camera) and was on my feet until 45 minutes before my 4:15 p.m. race time. Warming up was…meh. I knew I was off, but I also knew race adrenaline would kick in. Let’s just put it this way: I went into the race in some funky conditions, but hey, so did a lot of my competitors.
Well, it took me all of 32 seconds to realize securing a coxswain may have been a good idea, but I usually wing all my athletics so I went with it. My goal was to pull hard for three or four strokes and settle in at a 1:43/500m pace, feel that out for the first 1000m and then drop down to 1:42/500m and finish with a time of 6:48. When people asked what I expected I just kept repeating, “I know I’ll finish below seven minutes." Oops.
I couldn’t settle into my race pace, like, at all. 1:39/500m, 1:45/500m, 1:41/500m, 1:46/500m, the numbers were just jumping around. My first 1000m was okay; minus the numbers being bouncy, my averages were at least on course for something in the 6:56 minute range. I also watched my name climb the leaderboard as others went out way too fast. Then the infamous “third 500” hit. That’s when I really went everywhere. Before the race started, I just remember saying to myself “don’t let anything go above 1:49/500m.” HA! 1:52/500m flashed up there a few times. My coworker Dena was filming my heat, and aside from winking at the camera a couple of times, I tried to stay focused. I do remember her yelling at me, but I couldn’t tell you what she said. Either way when I saw my average was 1:45.2/500m with not a lot to go, I tried as hard as I could to bring the pace down, I wanted 6:59.9/500m so badly. I knew I was racing a bad race, and I needed that. Nope.
If/when I do CRASH-Bs again, I probably should do my training after my work day (I stand at my desk) and will basically try to train when I’m uncomfortable. Aside from training, the experience was amazing. Witnessing competitors hug their rivals after a hard race and seeing the adaptive divisions were beyond inspiring. And I got a special thanks from a father, because due to my amazing shaky camera shot, his wife got to watch from home as their son finished his race. The teamwork behind the scenes is amazing as well.
Most importantly: Did I get my donut? Well, yes, but not until I was nearly back to work on Monday, and I got three.