After the excitement of the morning, it would have been nice to have had a stress free afternoon. That seemed unlikely, given the line-up.
First came Paul Brew in the men's 40-49. A recent addition to the team, Paul had about 12 weeks with us before the race and so had yet to benefit from a full season. However that was not going to deter him. Seeded 5th or 6th based on the erg assignments, a medal this year was always going to be a stretch, but a solid row was definitely on the cards. Paul is getting to the top of his age group and this was another example within the team of preparing for the future.
Paul got off well at 1:24s, before pulling it back to a 1:36 cruise. However the pace in this event was predictably relentless, with the leaders pushing it at 1:32s and 1:33s as Paul settled to 1:37s through the halfway point in 5th to 7th place (all three boats being pretty much level). Through the 500m to go marker and Paul accelerated... so did everyone else. Paul crossed the line in 5th accordingly to the race computer. However as in Carolyn's race, there was a fast performer on a different race system, leaving Paul 6th in a time of 6:25.6.
Then came Q-Power's largest offering, with 3 athletes racing in the men's 30-39 event. Ollie raced last year but had had a tough time of it with a 6:16. The last 12 months had gone well with further time taken off his PB, and we were optimistic he would be a fair bit faster this year. Paul Buchanan had had a challenging year with regard to training having become a father. A chest infection three weeks before the race bizarrely proved a double edged sword - it took a dent out of the final stages of speed work, but it enforced some rest. It was going to be an interesting trade off.
And then there was Jordan. Relatively new to the sport but at 6'7" and with a peak power that can generate 1:05 splits, Jordan had been grinding away developing his aerobic engine for the last year. In the last few months it was showing signs of becoming competitive, with a controlled 5:57 in training and a 6:00.8 at the qualifiers. But race day is different - anything can happen.
His competition was challenging. Jordan was seeded 3rd (based on his 6:03.2 PB at the time the entry went in), but the top seed Marcos Sarmiento looked every bit the part. So did 2nd and 4th. There were no passengers here.
As part of a pre-determined plan, Jordan got away at less than full power, peaking at 1:14s. The other top seeds kept it above 1:20 although perhaps predictably Paul could not resist the temptation and a 1:18 popped up.
Through the 1,700m mark and Jordan and Paul were at 1:32 looking for their cruise, Ollie settling at 1:34. By 1,500m the top seeds were on 1:31s and 1:32s, well settled into their race rhythm, with Jordan showing a lead of a meter or two.
The second 500m started to split the field just a fraction, but it was close. Jordan was on a blend of 1:30s and 1:31s and looking very much in control, whereas the chasers were a second/500m off that. Paul and Ollie both went through the halfway mark at around 1:33, Paul in 5th and Ollie in 7th.
The next few hundred meters saw Jordan comfortably consolidating on 1:32s before starting to turn the screw. Marcos turned it as well, and both approached the 500m mark pulling 1:30, Jordan carrying a lead of 8 meters. However Jordan's race always consisted of two parts - getting to 500m to go, and the rest of it. Through the 500m and the pace moved first to 1:28 and then on to 1:26. The gap started to open decisively. At 300m to go Paul was on 1:32 and Ollie 1:31 as the pack began a mad sprint for the line. The places remained remarkably stable - at this level everyone has an extra gear.
At 100m to go Ollie was on 1:29, Paul on 1:26 and Adrian Quinn in 4th on 1:25. Jordan came back to 1:30, but the gap to second was now 22m. The final results were Jordan (1st in 6:00.3), Paul (5th in 6:06.1) and Ollie (7th in 6:09.1). 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th were separated by 1.3 seconds.
With the top 8 under 6:10, this was a quality race. Paul and Ollie's blogs each tell the story from their own perspective.
The last individual effort of the day came from Jen. Seeded 2nd, Jen won as a lightweight in 2012 in a race remembered by just about everyone in the indoor rowing community, and is part-way through the transition to heavyweight, steadily growing into her new self. A conservative start to just 1:44 before settling back to 1:45 at the 100m saw her placed mid-field, but a 1:46/7 cruise through to the 500m mark was enough to put her in 2nd, with the gap to gold just starting to open. 1:48s appeared between about 1,100m and 650m to go - enough to pull out a lead on bronze, but not to wind in gold. 1:47s became 1:46s at 400m and 1:45 by 200m, finishing on 1:43 and a very solid silver secured in a time of 7:07.9 (4.3s off gold and 3.8s ahead of bronze).
Jen's time was in fact a PB which is a relatively rare occurrence in Boston, the environment being one of the slowest on the circuit due to a reduction in minute ventilation caused by the cool dry air. It was an encouraging sign for the future.
The final race of the day was the team event. This was always going to be a bit of fun, although admittedly Jordan, Paul, Ollie and Paul perhaps had to work at it a little to see Q's characterisation of racing a 1k sprint 75 minutes after a flat out 2k as "a bit of a giggle". Q gracefully declined Jordan's dynamically delivered invitation to participate himself.
Once again the system of having one of the fastest seeds not on the race computer system nearly resulted in catastrophe, although we did not even become aware of it until we had left Boston. The team set off with a standard 2k start and settled into a very conservative 2k-1 pace, knowing that we could turn the heat up if we needed to. The plan had been to put our foot down at 500m to go, but with a large gap opening up on (what we thought was) 2nd, the call was held off and the team rowed over steadily. Ollie lifted it to 1:25s at 350m, and the rest of the team pushed on at 200m to go on the delayed call. It was a good job we did, for in fact the clandestine 2nd place Rugged Rowers crew was only 2 seconds behind (conspicuous by their absence in the finish line screen shot on the right; there were in fact 14 crews in the event it would transpire from the results).
So all in all, a successful trip to Boston and a set of results which probably fairly reflects where we are at. A huge amount of work still to do, but a lot of fun to be had doing it. The reality of this sport is that however fast or slow you may be, the only person you are truly racing is yourself, and only you can judge whether you have won or lost.
Jordan Weide1st M30-396:00.3
Paul Buchanan5th M30-396:06.1
Ollie Osborne7th M30-396:09.1
Paul Brew6th M40-496:25.6
James Howard4th LM50-546:41.9
Jen Howse2nd W30-397:07.9 PB
Clare Busst1st LW30-397:19.9
Carolyn Gersh4th LW30-397:38.2
Jo Allsebrook4th LW40-497:47.7
Shirley Godkin2nd W65-697:55.2
Q-Power's two 2014 Indoor Rowing World Champions
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