Well, the first World Cup race, my first International race since the Sesia in 2001, was today. It was a sprint (Thank God) on the Upper Mersey, and I paddled today doing warmup and race runs more than I have all week. And I haven't collapsed yet, so I'm getting a bit better. The weather was much colder than in previous days and we did our warm up at 8am, so it was a bit damn cold. I wasn't really expcting to do that well, and flailed a bit on the practice run as I didn't know my way that well, I just wasn't that used to the boat and mainly because I usually flail on the first run of the day. By the run down to the start of the first race run (sprints are the cumulative time of two runs) I was a bit out of it, and was entirely unprepared for the "Ok you can go anytime now..." start instruction from the Aussie folks - yep, they are this laid back down here. I was expecting a "10 seconds.... 5......3..2..1, Go!" but as the start beam was about 15 yards below the "start" we could go as soon as the clock reached 5. I went, but I never really got going before the finish. I had no "Go", no acceleration, no strength, and really no preparation for racing. I had no idea how long the course would be for me as I had done no dedicated sprint runs. As it was I did a 1.55, which was last but one, and over 20 seconds (Holy Crap!) behind the winner. The good news, I did beat Tom, who did a 1.56 and wasn't super happy with his run. That made one of my aims, although I have to do this in every race.
I knew I could do a bit better in the second run, although I was 7 seconds off of the next guy so I almost certainly wasn't gonna move up a place. I was a lot more prepared for the second run, and went off much harder, concentrating on keeping a higher stroke rate. It felt a bit better, but it wouldn't have won any awards. I hit twice, once pretty hard, and was all over the place at the bottom. Still, I was a second and a half faster to hold my place, to beat a couple more women (never a bad thing for my pride) and to stay ahead of Tom, who did a similar time to his first run. Was I happy with that - not really, but considering this week of preparation, or non-preparation, I will have to be satisfied. The result gave me third in the 30-44 year old Masters Category, which came with a medal, but not a bottle of wine (apparently only the Women's Master's medalists got those?). Still, it is good to get a race out of the way. I got a good cheer when I went up for the medal as a lot of folks know how crapy I have been feeling this week - folks here are very friendly and the teams have been very nice in general. It is a good time, and hopefully I can continue to recover and post a result, or at least a race run, that I am happy with before the end of the World Cup. I'll try to post some pics of Tom's race run when I remember to bring my camera.