competition · racing · Rowing

My first ergatta!

This weekend I took part in my first ever ergatta, like a rowing regatta but indoors, using rowing machines. It was a very nice, locally organized event for high schoolers, the London High School Invitational Ergatta, to which we’d added a Masters’ class event. It was just our local group racing + one person from away which also made it less nerve wracking.

I enjoyed the mood and the atmosphere: the young racers, keen coaches, and excited parents.  It was fun to watch their technique and see some of the blazing fast times of the seniors just finishing high school, on their way to university rowing teams.

Our masters group arrived early and we had ample time to warm up with the ergs set aside in the space we usually use as a kitchen and meeting room.

We received some terrific advice from our coach in the days leading up to the race. He told us to pick a 500 m split time for which we’d aim in advance. Don’t try to wing it. “Pick something that you think will be challenging, but — importantly — something you’re confident you can hit.” His advice was to settle into that split time as soon as possible–ignore the adrenaline rush from the start (very hard for me–I’m a go out fast and collapse kind of gal!) and save the energy for the final sprint.  2 km is longer than you think, he wrote. And yes, indeed it is. You can’t all out sprint for 8 min but 8 min isn’t quite an endurance event either. It’s a tough distance. (You can read more about 2 km tests here.) He advised us to wait til the last 250 m and take up the pace then, going all out with everything we have left for the final 50 to 100m.

Terrific news. It worked!

My 500 m split times have been going down in the monthly 2 km tests we’ve been doing, from 2:11 for the very first one to 2:07 most recently. I picked 2:07 as the pace I’d maintain and while I couldn’t quite resist the urge to sprint a bit off the start I did remember the advice and held it steady at 2:07 for a long stretch. I had lots left in the tank to sprint at the end, finishing with a 2:04 split time. A new personal best.

I also won the women’s masters category. I finished first after the guys. I have a new hat. See photo below. But really the new PB matters more since there were women who would’ve beat me if they’d raced. Winning in a time trial like that is partly a matter of luck about who shows up.

Also, for some people it was their first time racing. It was my first rowing race but not my first race. I’ve done lots of running, triathlon, and bike races. And knowing how to handle getting ready for a race and how to deal with pre-race jitters helped, I think.

This time I finished in 8:16. My goal is for a sub 8 min time which seems doable. I wasn’t as wiped out this time as I have been in other 2 km tests. I think I could have picked something lower than 2:07 to hold but I didn’t know if I could do that so I didn’t try. Next time…