The Erg Competition that brought on many temperaments: with the wind blowing outside, up to 100 miles an hour (160kph), people being evacuated, all outdoor sports cancelled in Spain, the roof collapsing... and still we erged!
The week before the Spanish Erg Champs was a strange one. There was a few days where high winds made little Banyoles lake look like an ocean full of waves. On Friday, we traveled three hours south to a small town called Amposta. Map >
And with us came the wind.
Tere and I stayed at a nice hotel in Amposta. The food was really good - I remember that! We did a 30min erg warmup on Saturday morning, and all this time, the winds blew. It was like walking against a wall, trying to push it over. We waited at the hotel. Our race was at 7:30pm. So at 4pm, we left Amposta and drove to Tartosa, which is close. The competition was in a large hall. The sound system was so loud it drilled through my head, so I asked to wait in the van. With the winds blowing so strong, it rocked the van. This made me really nervous. I had never experienced this kind of gale force. I saw the electric polls look fragile like wheat stalks. We sat and waited in that van, with all these thoughts of how mother nature is all encompassing. A part of the roof collapsed at the venue, and shattered glass lay as proof outside. There was no power. But still the erg races continued, running the screen and computer with a generator >HARD CORE!
At 5:30pm, I had my very first weigh in. And on this scale (which we believe to favour lower numbers) I made 59.5kg (131lbs). The weight limit for lightweight was 61kg (134lbs). So I made lightweight, for the first time ever! YAY to the Paleo diet! When it came time for our erg race, I was preparing to erg in the dark. No seeing your personal screen, only the big boat lane derby. But luckily, luckily something kicked in, and there was light! There was a 40min delay to our start time. More waiting. And finally the warm up. And move onto the race ergs. The ergs were the Model C, the black ones. I definitely missed the comfort of new ergs, Model E! Oh well, I cleaned my tracks, and tried to check the drag. On the Model C you have to hold two buttons together to get the drag to show. I tried and didn’t get this to work, so guessed, somewhere between 5 and 6 feels good. I was on erg number 2, at the end. Next to me was Nuria and then Tere. Nuria is the heavyweight single champ for Spain and went to the Olympics. She raced the C final against Rika (SA’s single champ). There is no announcing the start. You just have to watch the screen and be ready, maybe better for me anyway, since my spanish or catalan is not good.
The screen came on with a 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, ROW.
I remember suddenly being sucked into the zone. I’m aware of what is going on, but I’m so focused on me. On pushing. On a number. On the screen. On finishing as quickly as I can. I heard one of the boys from Banyoles cheer me on. It distracted me for a second. Then I looked up and saw on the boat lane/derby thing, I was in the lead. My C2 screen kept flickering on the position. Showing 1, 2, 3 at random times. I just kept on focussing to keep there. I crossed the 1000 thinking, good, the worst is over. You feel good, Just count it down now. Coach Bienve’s voice came from behind, “I’m in control” and he started encouraging me with the splits we wanted to see. Someone came and tightened my feet straps. (What service :) Last 300m, and Bienve called for 1:43. “Come on, the record!” Still I saw 1:45. I felt my throat hurt like I was getting sick again. I zoned out, and before I knew it, 0m left. I knew I won, and raised my arms in joy of that. But I little sad for not getting the splits at the end. It was a solid constant erg piece. Final time: 6:58,9. I just made it. Looking at Concept’s site, Lisa Schlenker holds the record at 6:56.7.
Clicking on the Spanish Rowing Logo up top takes you to the official site of the Spanish Camps. It has the results, but I’m not listed there, since I’m not Spanish Nationality. Tere took the official trophy for lightweight women, and graciously handed it over to me.
That night we slept in a monastery, with beautiful tiles. However I didn’t sleep at all. I started feeling sick again, and that horrible cold I thought I had kicked back to Seattle was back. I lay couching, until Tere gave me some medicine.
The winds finally subsided. And the next day in the river of Tartosa we raced a quad. It was meant to be 6km, but they changed it to 3km for the currents. It was an interesting row, and with never having practised the line up, there were times the boat felt quite good. Not too much competition for this women’s quad, but we did take another trophy. Finally at 5pm, Sunday we made it back to Banyoles. And that was the weekend, down south!
Now training continues steady with plenty of miles. The hands show it!