The 2014 Indoor Rowing World Championships was always going to be the focal point of Q-Power's 2013/14 season, but identifying that some 12 months ago was in and of itself somewhat easier than the process of getting the athletes to the start line ready to go. Although the team considered that nothing had been left to chance, the reality of all sport is that you can never be quite sure what is going to happen. It is the easiest thing in the world sitting over a drink 364 days before the race making statements of intent - bringing it home is a rather different affair, a point we have been acutely conscious of on every one of those intervening 364 days. However the message sent out to the athletes a week before the event was as clear as it was simple: actually this is not about medals and PBs - it is about having fun. With the training that had been done over the year, relaxed athletes make for fast athletes.
The first of us got on the ground on the Tuesday giving us 5 days to get minds on the job and bodies ready to perform. The preparatory period in Boston gave people time to do their own thing, but was tightly structured. Aimless milling about can be physically ineffective and mentally unsettling. With limited interest in distractions, minor administrative irritations were brushed aside, restaurants were chosen, negotiations with restaurant managers about bookings concluded. We needed a few extra bits and pieces from the hotel - the Marriott's conference manager was fantastic.
We were on the ergs from the Wednesday in the training room. We ended up helping Brickett and Pat from C2 by putting a few together - suffice it to say they were embarrassingly quicker at it than we were. Q seemed baffled by the technological simplicity of an allen key and went so far as to get one jammed in the mechanism of the erg he was putting together - Brickett got it out.
The timing and content of sessions needed a lot of thought - with athletes from such a broad range of time zones (New Zealand, west coast Canada, Chicago, Ireland and the UK), bringing people into sync with each other presented certain challenges. However a few simple tricks of the trade worked well and the group of zombies morphed rapidly into an athletic unit ready to go.
The opportunity was taken to do some classroom work with a chance to share details of the experience of the last training year. The most effective parts of it were highlighted and a number of inefficiencies identified. Prior to competition we concluded as a group that the system worked well, but that there was potential to be more effective here and there - the results do not change that conclusion. Every 0.1 second has to be fought for and is worth having.
On the day before the race we were welcomed at the International Competitors breakfast as a team, with two individuals recognised as qualifiers at satellite regattas - Jordan rowed a solid 6:00.8 at Monster Erg in British Columbia and Shirley beat the qualifying time at the Canadian National Championships by some 26 seconds.