report by Pip Sarah
The Night Before
Restless. That is the word to describe how I was feeling.
Up before the alarm went off. Double/triple checked that I had everything before I left home. Picked up Adrian. Drove to the shed. When we arrived at the shed to pick up our vests and paddles, I felt like an Energizer bunny that was ready to explode. I know it was nerves but I was really excited – my first ever race for the Melbourne Flames.
The drive to Geelong calmed me a little bit, but once we (Adrian, Nick and myself) arrived at the river – via the scenic route as we took a few wrong turns – the excitement started to build again.
Walking towards the river across the grass and seeing all the other clubs gathered, and seeing the boats for the first time with the dragon head and tail on them, I honestly felt so privileged to be part of all of this. I felt great.
The morning went by quickly – it was helped along its way by chatting to some of the Flames crew, granted they were also grilling me, but it was all good fun and it helped to relax me. It was also great to be able to help the other teams/clubs into (and out of) the boats and wish them all the best for their paddle.
All too soon though it was time for our warm up – led by Karen. It was probably the most entertaining warm up I have had since joining the Flames. Then it was time for us to get into the boat; I was in seat 8 next to John. I enjoyed the warm up! Dragon Masters and Yarra River Dragons headed off before us and then it was our go – all I know is thank you Kathryn for teaching us race starts the week before, otherwise I would have had no idea what to do when Jen said that was how we were starting the race. We weren’t even a quarter of the way up before I was wishing I was back on the bank, but I dug deep and every time I got a glimpse of the other boats ahead, the encouragement from Jen and the energy of our boat made me push myself that little bit harder.
Made it to the half way turn, on the home stretch. The last half was tough, I have no idea where I found the energy or strength to keep going, to keep pushing myself, but it came from somewhere. I do know that my technique was bad and I was most likely out of time from the strokes. I was just amazed that I kept paddling. The last 300 metres hurt and the finish line couldn’t come quicker. We made it! I have never been so drained – but I felt good.
The boats were out of the water, the presentations made. It was time to head to Little Creatures. What a place, the food was great, the organic cola was definitely interesting, but the best bit was being there with the Flames Crew.
I feel so lucky; I am so happy to be part of this club – from Day 1 everyone has been so welcoming and I love coming to training.