Oklahoma was, on the whole, a great success. I shall start from the beginning.
We left the training center in San Diego on Tuesday afternoon and arrived in Oklahoma city that evening. Our hotel was right in the heart of Bricktown, across the street from the stadium, and across the railroad tracks from the venue.
Wednesday and Thursday were practice days. It was extremely windy, but that was fine with me- kind of felt like paddling on the bay back home. The river itself was about as wide as the Genesee River, with lots of bridges going across. The Chesapeake Boathouse was absolutely gorgeous. The design is really modern-looking... it's a circular building with a moat around the outside (!) and everything is white.
The course, of course
Friday was the first day of racing. We had the k1 500m (heats, semis, and finals) and the k2 500m (a direct final). I was a little bit nervous before my first heat in the morning (the first-heat-of-a-regatta jitters) but that disappeared as soon as I got on the water to warm up. I progressed through to the semi-finals, and two hours later, came second in my semi-final, which put me in the A-final. Success! I have never made the A- final of senior team trials. (The past two years I have placed 11th overall.) So already I was happy with my performance.
The semifinal: Emily Mickle for the win, followed by me in 2nd and Susannah Stuccio in 3rd
The A-final was pretty stacked. I lined up in lane 2 and took a few deep breaths. When the gun went off, I just raced my race. I dunno. I never think during those things. I just go down the course and try to be fast. I had Emily Mickle on my right side in lane 3, and she remained a half boat-length ahead for most of the race. I tried to pull up even at around the 350m, but an especially big gust of wind came across the course. I missed a paddle stroke on the right side and lost my focus for a few seconds: a stupid mistake. Mickle pulled further ahead and beat me, (placing 4th) but I held my spot and crossed the line in 5th. Carrie Johnson won the race, and thus secured herself a spot for the 2008 Olympics! We are all so happy for her, and proud to be a part of the team that helped create a champion.
Carrie Johnson is Beijing-bound!
Susannah and I had already decide to do our warm-down in k2, because the k2 final was only an hour after the k1 final. We ran our k1s up into the boathouse and hopped in the k2 together. It felt solid, and, satisfied, we headed back in to the boathouse to decide What To Wear.
We decided to rock the arm warmers. Our race went without a hitch. We placed second to Carrie Johnson and Maggie Hogan. This means that Carrie and Maggie will move on to Montreal to try to qualify for Beijing. Suz and I weren't disappointed though, because we felt we had a solid race, as well as healthy potential for improvement.
Finally, at the conclusion of Day 1, I was careful to stretch and ice my shoulders. The wind can really do a number on your body without you even realizing it. (A spoiler for Day 3!)
For dinner, a bunch of us (including my mom, who flew in from Rochester!!) went to Toby Keith's bar for dinner. Yum! Oklahoma City is Toby Keith's hometown, and apparently the bar was inspired by his song "I love this bar." he he he.
I am not exaggerating when I say the four of us went to bed brimming with excitement for the next day's k4 showdown. With nothing to lose, we couldn't wait to throw down a good race and compete for the win that would send a crew to Montreal to try to qualify for the games.