The weekends regatta in Ironbridge was great, fantastic organisation, great camping, good company, great weather... all the way around fab.
My problem came with the frustrations of racing, it was my first regatta in stroke so I was already putting myself under-pressure.
Mentally I caved in over the course of the weekend... the first race I felt good and confident, so much so I felt like winking at the cox as if to say "got this covered" on the start line. We won that race well.
The second race on the Saturday (second round), I was almost as relaxed and confident, but the other crew were too much in my thinking... off the first three to four strokes the other crew moved off better and the call for "ten big" came two strokes too soon - all my mental prep had been on the first six and transitioning into the ten - this threw me and from there I wasn't in the right mind frame. Plus I hadn't realised there would be no go for it at 200m call, realised afterwards that kind of call should be down to me - lift the stroke and rate and see if I can get the crew to move with me. Sum total - we lost.
Confidence a bit dented by that and not seeing my I / we had done wrong, left me too reflective and sensitive.
A noisy disturbed nights sleep on the campsite didn't help at all, I was at one point in the night moved to shout at the top of my voice at idiots clattering our tent... the anger didn't really subside... I was almost too determined to chill, to the point that if anything won't let me it had a very opposite effect.
Sunday morning, I was not prepared to race from a mental point of view... the visualising from the previous week was standing me in good stead still - but too much other clutter had entered my head. I was ready this time for the ten big call too come early, but the start still wasn't clean... we were down, I had decided to take it home independently of call before the race, but didn't know the course well enough to time it... apparently we looked neat and were closing - not a great consolation [my technique was getting a little more ragged according to my photographer ;o) ].
Sunday afternoon brought the 8, the blackmail 8, the stupidly arranged scratch 8... the I should have said "no" 8... much political rubbish before hand and a pair of shoes that was so much in my thinking that I didn't row like I can... we competed and were half a length down on the line, but I didn't enjoy it at all... the shoes had been taped up before hand and were barely in one piece, during the race they stretched an inch or more..... after the finish line I snapped and tore my left shoe out of the foot plate with an angry tug.
After that I was beside myself with - "why did I do that?" - it didn't make a bad row any better... I felt awful. Some strong self questioning and hours later, I confessed my actions to my wife, coach, crew and vice-captain. I had settled upon the decision that if this kind of out-burst happens again I am taking myself out of racing, I have put myself on a two - four regatta probation.
I am a quietly competitive person, not used to being able to compete... my early experience of competing in school was to have the joke or excuse worked out even before failing. My fitness rejuvenation in later life, lead me back into competing and competition (based on physical / technical ability)... and whereas my body is in better shape than it has ever been - my brain has some catching up to do.
You live, you learn, you use knowledge, you live better... I hope I learn fast in this particular endeavour.