I Didn’t Think I Was A Master, A Word From Jennie, And World Cup 1 Results)

I was born on August 25, 1980.  As far as I can tell, that makes me 29 years old.  And I’ve never seen a Master’s race that allowed people less than 35 years old.  But today, after the World Cup #1 sprint, I was called to the podium for taking 3rd place in the Master’s C-1.  The organizers decided to cut off Masters at 28 years old for this race, so I’m sitting here with a bronze medal in my pocket.  It feels a little strange, because I’m not too pleased with my race runs, and standing on a podium to receive an award you feel you don’t deserve is awkward.

This morning started earlier than usual, because we had to be at the river my 8:00 a.m. for our practice runs.  I cooked pancakes (my usual race day meal), we loaded the car, and headed out for the 45 minute drive to the river.  Practice runs were okay for Jennie, Chris and me, but Jennie was battling a headache and a sore throat and Chris has not recovered from his viral/bacterial infection he picked up on the way to Tasmania.

Jennie wasn’t too pleased with her first race run, but picked  a few seconds on her second run.  She finished 15th in K-1W, with a time of 4:15.24, 23.2% off the winner (Jessica Oughton of Great Britain).

Chris finished in 27th place with a time of 3:48.79, 21.29% off the winner (Nejc Znidarcic of Slovenia).

My warm up went well, and I started fast on my first run.  I cut the first corner a bit too tight, and did a few steering strokes to get myself into the fast line, which made the line not so fast.  Once I got going again, I paddled decently, but finished the first run in 7th place (out of 8).  I was sure I could go faster and beat Keith McGuirk from Ireland in the second run, but I was two tenths slower– I made a mistake in the last few seconds.  I finished in 7th, 0.6 seconds out of 6th, and 9.81% off the winner (Yann Claudpierre of France).

So now, the mental games start.  When you train every day, you have to believe that you can do well– that this year, you can be a little closer to the top than you were last.  That hope and belief makes year round training possible.  Then, you race and don’t perform at the level you expect, and you have to adjust mentally.  With less than 24 hours before the next race, you have a decision to make.  Do you change your goals?  Make excuses?  Try harder?

My best races have come when I’m angry because of poor performances the day before.  We’ll see how I respond tomorrow.

OK.  OK.  Jennie gives in and is making a contribution to the blog:

It’s just like the Lonely Planet guide to Tasmania says – the people in Tassy are really friendly and laid-back!  The race organizers and all their volunteers are very friendly and fun and have just been a delight to converse with (not that I understand every word, mind you!).  I have met some wonderful people, and not just the Australians. The atmosphere at this World Cup is much more inclusive than it was in Italy in 2007 (my only other international wildwater racing experience).  In particular it was wonderful meeting the parents of Stewart Bennett, the Tassie I adopted for a week when he was in the states a few years back and joined us on a week paddling trip down the Main Salmon.

One of my goals for this trip was to see a platypus in the wild.  The first morning after our arrival at our first accommodation, I was up early, so I wandered down to the pond on the premises with my binoculars in hand.  Within 1 minute, up popped a platypus who swam toward me, did a dive, came back up, checked me out, then finally disappeared under the weeds!!  I was thrilled – they are truly the most adorable critter.  And here’s my birdlist to date:  Tasmanian Native-hen, Laughing Kookaburra, Superb Fairy-wren, European Goldfinch, Welcome Swallow, Green Rosella, Scarlet Robin and a pair of screeching Yellow-tailed Black-Cockatoos.

I’ve enjoyed paddling the Mersey River – I’ve done 15 runs!!  A bit of performance anxiety on that first sprint race run, (OK – so maybe a lot) but I thought my lines and my paddling were spot-on on my second run.  So I think I’m in racing mode, now.  It does confirm, however, that I really am the slowest!  But that’s OK.  As long as I paddle well.  Perhaps if the course is more challenging, which the next venue is supposed to be, I could move up a few notches!  I was disappointed that the race organizers did not choose to maintain the international 5-year age groups regardless of the number of entries in that age group for the Masters class category.  The masters class was anyone over 28.  Not much advantage when you’re 55!

I want to extend a special thank you to a couple supporters who contributed to our wardrobe.  Without them, the USA paddlers would not have been able to show team spirit and style!  Alice Goldberg knitted wonderful red/white/blue hats (I’ve worn mine every day!) and Michele Ruess sewed up very patriotic bandanas.  Thank you for  your contributions!!

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One Comment on “I Didn’t Think I Was A Master, A Word From Jennie, And World Cup 1 Results)”

  1. Ed Gordon Says:

    Tom- No one’s trained harder or is more deserving of a good outcome. I’m pulling for you to put together a satisfying run with a result to match. And that master’s cut-off puts the kibosh on any fantasies of geriatric glory I may have had.

    Jenny- Yesterdays tally on the 45 minute Boca loop paddle. Bald eagle. Osprey. Common loon. Cormorant. Great blue heron (x10!)Grebe. Merganser. And some type of yellowish warbler thing.

    Best to you guys and to Chris. Go fast and have fun…Ed

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