Travelling out to Boston as part of Team GB & Ireland was fantastic and I would love to go again.
It was clear from some of the earlier races in the day that conditions were slow. The air was quite warm and humid, the water vapour replacing some of the much needed oxygen according to Q. All I can say is that it certainly felt like it!
However all said and done, I put in a solid performance and won my first World medal (a bronze) in a time of 6:12.2. It was not the time I had been hoping for, even though I picked up a bonus trophy for being the fastest member of Team GB & Ireland. I believed I was capable of more. Q said he knew I was.
It was only a month to the British and European Indoor Rowing Championship in Nottingham but Q intervened with concerns about the way aspects of my physiology were developing (or not). Q and I talk a great deal and it is very much a team effort. He proposed cutting the speed work went from the schedule, declaring my racing season to be at an end, and returning to the long hard slog of foundation work. The reasoning and argument behind it seemed compelling, so a period of gruelling power endurance began. The concession was that I could go along to BIRC to race if I wanted to, but no training specifically for it. I managed to negotiate a three day taper.
Plainly the power endurance work was doing something since I could no longer get up the stairs after training sessions. I found a great deal of confidence grew out of the training and I could really feel the increase strength in my legs (which to be honest were pretty strong already) during the leg drive.
At BIRC I was lined up to race alongside Graham Benton who I knew was looking to take Steve Redgrave’s 30-39 Championship Record. Graham is out of my league - for now – and the pressure was truly off. I was seeded 4th, so no pressure to win, no pressure to medal. It was all about I wanted to get out of it and I set myself my own “personal” goals: my personal bronze was to break my 6:11.8 PB; my personal silver was to break the 6:10.0 barrier; my personal gold was to break the Irish record of 6:07.1. Q and I had formulated the plan, I had it clearly in my mind, and it was simply a matter of rowing my own race. I got the start and the first 500m I wanted and was able to hold the pace I needed through the middle 1000m. As I came into the final 500m my average pace (/500m) was showing 1:32.7 but I needed a 1:31.8. It was time for Beowulf to make an appearance and he duly did - my final 500m came in at 1:28.1 and I smashed my own PB by 5.5 seconds, finishing with an official time 6:06.2 and a new Irish Record by 0.8 seconds. I also managed to pick up a bronze in the process - to say I was delighted would be an understatement. Even got a hug from Q.