Today was our first NDRC water practice of the year. We had almost two full boats (I think 17 paddlers per boat, plus two steers), so I think that set off a nice tone for the rest of the season.
I had originally expected it to be quite cold, as it was forecast to be 3 degrees (feels like -1 with the windchill), but it was actually not that bad. It did look relatively windy, though, so I really did not want to sit up in front since the front gets super wet, particularly on windy days. I’m usually up at the front, somewhere in the seat 1-2 range so I normally would’ve headed to that area, but I was not in the mood today. So I snuck around to the back of the boat and sat in seat 9. I’m pretty sure Justin judged me. He and Brian ended up pacing our boat, which was perfectly fine since both of them are pacers anyway.
A few people helped with bringing the second boat to the water. I noticed that pretty much only the guys went to help while the girls (and Brian) hung back. Not sure what that says about us, but I’ll just mention it to give the guys (minus Brian) their credit.
While the weather itself was not that bad, the water was super cold. My bottom hand hurt a lot at the beginning of practice as the cold water shocked it, though it later became tolerable, probably because it became numb and I just couldn’t feel it anymore. Adrian was super prepared for the weather, with his wetsuit, face mask, and plastic bags over his feet (so ghetto!). I had on two pairs of tights, waterproof rain pants (which aren’t so waterproof anymore, but are still decent), two longsleeves, a tank, a waterproof rain jacket, and neoprene socks. I was plenty warm and in fact as practice went on, even became too warm. Evidently Jess felt the same way as she started stripping halfway through practice (so indecent). Surprisingly, Ben kept his shirt on, which never happens.
Thankfully, we didn’t do any super long pieces at practice today and eased into things. We did a few two-minute pieces, a few one-minute pieces, as well as some broken thousands. We did one 1000 m steady-state piece during which I was completely dying. I don’t know how everybody else did it, but I was legit dying before we even finished halfway, I don’t know why. Let’s hope it was just due to not being used to the back of the boat.
I don’t really like sitting in the back of the boat much, since I’m not used to the opposite curvature of the side. I’m also a bit short for seat 9 (for some reason, it feels very different from seat 2) and the footboard’s rather far for my legs. My legs got super tired from being so stretched out all practice. However, I think moving around and sitting in different parts of the boats occasionally (from what one is used to) is very useful and forces one to think a little differently and be more aware of how they paddle. It was a beneficial if not pleasant change, and it was nice being forced to find the connection in the water (which took some time) and adjust to the different conditions, compared to the simple heavy water up front.
Lucky Chris got to steer for most of practice, eventually giving it up to Ted. Gavin steered our boat during the whole practice, which I was sad about, because I like steering and am really lazy and don’t like working hard. I was very grateful that we didn’t take up the full two hours of practice and was super happy when Gavin said we were heading back. We ended up doing changing leads on our way back, but only after doing a few pieces, so we didn’t have to go too hard for very long, and added to the fact that we could go at 60% (pretty sure we were doing something closer to 40% active rest).
It was the first day on the water for New College as well, who had practice right after us. Ben told them to add the number of letters in the first and last names and divide themselves by odds and evens in that manner, which I thought was a super convoluted way of doing things and I’m pretty sure it also confused half of them. Special mention for Navarro who had a lovely swimming cap on, which I think was entirely unnecessary but hey, whatever works for him.
In summary, it was a pretty decent first day back. Not exactly the best practice ever, but nice to ease into things, and nice to be back on the water. Let’s hope that the weather warms up soon!