Off to the first round of National trials.

As I head out to the airport to fly to Sydney for the first round of National trials I laugh as this is my 17th year of preparing for senior competition. Its so strange to think that way back in late 1994 I went to Canberra to compete in my first National long distance trail with Ben Dodwell. Ben was already a senior athlete having competed in the 1992 Olympics plus 93 and 94 Worlds. We went to Canberra after being in the pair for a couple of months. I remember being there and thinking it was huge to be going for selection and to be rowing with one of the senior guys.

Over the years the time trials become a big part of the early season events and most National events were held then in Sydney on the Nepean River. So it's been 17 years and many long distance events have come and gone. I guess for the most part I have faired well in them and yet go it to this one wondering what sort of day we will have. Things have changed to as this year we will be doing 2k racing after the 5k time trial. So in effect it been weird thinking through the different demands coming up.

We will compete in the pair on Thur then fours for the rest of our time there. The focus has always been the same. Go as fast as you can in each boat and give the best showing for the work that has been done. We are still pre Christmas so I am not expecting any early presents but I am anticipating that we should be able to produce a number of good solid performances. I am not playing things down here rather being realistic about what needs to be done and how we set ourselves to continue and progress moving forward.

From a benchmarking perspective 17min for the 5k is a good line in the sand to be drawn. Something like 90% plus when compared to Worlds best time is another good play park figure. History would say you have to race the 5k not do it as a long distance plod. All this considering reasonable conditions.

As for the 2k racing well that at this stage is less clear but I would like to think we are ready to go pretty fast even with out much race prep. Our work so far has been largely base training and threshold focused. I still believe it will give us a great platform to race the 2k's.

So after 17 years I think I am ready but it still feels like I am just that young athlete way back then. Excited to get involved. Nervous about what it will take to go super fast. Very curious to see how we stack up compared to the other athletes. Clear that this is all preparation for a bigger day.

For now we travel and then we race. This is why I love being an athlete. Plan, prepare, compete and review. Next stop Sydney then Christmas and from there time will feel like it is speeding up.


matta said…
You had serious back surgery - but returned to rowing.
I rowed at Princeton for Curtis Jordan, Chris Nilsson and Mike Teti a couple of years before Sam Loch arrived.
Recently, I had laminectomies on L4 and L5 - and also want to return to rowing also. However, I'm not looking to make a national team, nor am I in a rush. Rather, just racing once in a while on the club level here in the States would be a blessing.
I would love any advice - anything from effective exercises to mental tips to continued medical care. Especially, methods in protecting my discs and lower back would be helpful. For example, how to properly resume rowing and training - both on the water and the erg.
Maybe you could blog on some general advice. I can only assume other recovery oarsmen could benefit from your experience. Your candid posts suggest you don't mind helping others through your challenges and successes.
Matt Abel
Tampa, Florida

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