Monday, October 27, 2008

Boston, etc.

Unrelated to this post:  I just devoured almost an entire bag of dried mango.  It was the special kind that I love, the no-sugar-added stuff from Trader Joe's.  I made the mistake of bringing what was left of the large bag to work, thinking I could save what I didn't eat.  Who was I kidding?  And while we're on the subject of dried mango, on the way home from the store the other night when Brian and I were eating it in the car, I had a particularly tough piece and when I finally succeeded in tearing off a chunk with my teeth, my hand flew to the side and the sharp edge of the mango actually scratched my face.  Mango casualty.

Anyway, that's neither here nor there.

I raced in  my very first Head of the Charles Regatta this year, the biggest rowing race of its kind in the world!  The weekend before last I flew to Boston and got to stay with my cousin Dan and his wife Cedar, who are the best couple ever and are 7 months pregnant!  They have a beautiful condo in Belmont that they have clearly taken their time with-- the decor fits just perfectly in the space (older, with hardwood floors and awesome trim), and they remodeled their kitchen themselves.  Anyway, it was the perfect homey place to hang out between the craziness of the Charles events.

And it is definitely crazy.  Hundreds and hundreds of people race there... so many, in fact, that each individual is only allowed to row in a single event.  It was a curvy course full of bridges and one 180-degree turn, not so easy for a gal in a single.  I practiced on Friday afternoon and it was really exciting-- I'd never rowed on the Charles before and to row past so many super old, well-established boathouses was super cool.  I then had to wait the whoooole weekend to race, since my event wasn't until Sunday afternoon.  I spent lots of time on the Weeks Footbridge cheering on teammates, including my dad, who looked great in his double.  I had plenty of time to wander around Harvard Square, though I wish I'd had more time to walk the whole city, cause it's one of my favorites.  I got to have noodles with Schutt and talk about theatre and life stages and relationships, and I wish we lived in the same place!  I strolled and caught up with Paul right before my event, and he was semi-successful in taking my mind off of the incredible nervous feeling I had as the wind got stronger and stronger... and finally I was on the water!  My dad and Fran helped me launch and the 5k row up to the start line felt like forever.  It felt good, however, to finally be on the water instead of thinking about it obsessively.  I knew that my race was a super competitive event full of ridiculously fast women, all of who probably knew the course better than me, so my expectations in terms of placement weren't super high-- I just wanted to row a good race and look decent going past the crowds!  Rowing up there I felt like a lost little kid on the first day of school...petrified, yet super excited.  The basin where the start line is was also the place with the roughest weather, so they started us quickly and I, unfortunately, scraped my oar on the railroad bridge at the start.  That caused me to almost completely stop, which of course helped three rowers pass me almost immediately.  Ironically, I steered a great course from then on!  I felt like I couldn't actually put a lot of power into the strokes because I was constantly worried about steering and turning, but I didn't get passed by everyone (one of my measures of success), and nobody saw me make any major mistakes!  If you really want to know what my placement was, you can look at the race website.  I'm event 44.  I finished, ahem, nowhere near the front. ;)

Moi, heading through the Weeks Bridge and halfway done!

The point is, I am no longer a Head of the Charles newbie, and next year I know exactly what to look for and how to prepare.  And I know also to get there several days before and stay several days after, cause Boston saw not nearly enough of me this time!