Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The Details


No wait. I have to start with 9pm Friday night. My phone rang and one of the paddlers on my team (who was also part of the organizing committee for the Festival) called to ask if I could paddle for a second team the next day. I said yes because I still haven't learned how to say no.

So - Saturday.

Had to be at the Basin for 7am (instead of 9). Paddled just after 8am with Rogers Dragons Sans-Fil (in English that would be Rogers Wireless Dragons and yes, they are a phone company). They were all over the place with timing, pacing, etc. Finished 5th, I think.

Montreal Waves hit the water just before 10am. Dad showed up as we were warming up to go through to the staging area, so it was good to know there was somebody cheering for us. The qualifying heats are a bit chaotic as we were racing against teams better and/or worse than us. We finished a satisfying 2:23 (better than our 2:38 in June) thanks to a tail-wind and some improvement on our part. Finished ... I don't know where.

Rogers second race in the afternoon was even worse. At about the 250m mark, a paddler in the 2nd row fell backwards off her bench and wasn't able to lift herself back on until about the last 20m before the finish. *Sigh* That freaked out the first 3 rows of paddlers plenty. Finished 5th again - even though I screamed my heart out to "Control!!!", "Keep going!!", "Together!!!" Felt bad for them.

Several hours later as I was having a little rest under our make-shift tent (thanks to Mary's husband, Tony for being our McGyver) when suddenly I heard a voice ask "Is that Stephanie?" I turned over and found my brother Eric there with his girlfriend, Samantha. What a great surprise! I gave them a tour of the Festival, explained a little about the races and watched a few races with them. They stayed throughout a heavy downpour of rain and also stayed to watch us race. Eric even called out our motto for the weekend as we paddled by. "Eye of the Tiger!" That totally inspired us and made us focus on our goal of winning a race. It worked - we won the 2nd 500m heat!

After Eric & Sam left, I went to get ready for a night at La Ronde. For my first time ever, I was going to the Fireworks Competition. Somebody at work pulled some strings for us and 10 of us ended up at a lovely cocktail, dinner and loge seating at the fireworks. It rained on and off during the evening but did stop long enough for us to get one ride in before the show. The fireworks were just amazing and I'm so glad I got to go even if it did mean one heck of a long day.


Back at the basin for 7am. Raced at 7:30. Rogers managed to squeak into Division D of the rookie finals. They finished a respectable 3rd place. I think it was thanks to my coach from Waves steering us ;)

Our own Division C women's race saw us come in 4th by about a second only. There were 6 teams racing that final and the difference between 1st and 6th place was only 3 seconds, so it was a pretty tight race.

After these two morning races I had a few hours to kill so I decided I'd rest a little and went back to our team's site to chill. Never really slept (how could you with several thousand other people around?) but I was resting. As the team gathered under our tent to have lunch, I got up and was getting ready to go and buy some lunch when a huge gust of wind stretched the bungee cord holding the tarp to the tree so the bungee snapped off and flew back to whack me smack between the eyes on the bridge of my nose. I didn't know what had happened. I thought a branch had snapped and hit me at first. But then my eyes started watering and the pain suddenly exploded from my nose. I was still sitting down when this happened but then I fell to the ground and was apparently rolling around with my hands covering my nose and eyes. Vaguely I could hear people trying to figure out what happened and then somebody noticed that I was not OK. Luckily on our team we have an ER nurse and two physiotherapists (among 20 other talented women, of course). Before I knew it they were prying my hands off my face and breathing sighs of relief as they discovered I did not have an eye injury but simply a very small cut on the bridge of my nose. There was a tiny bit of blood (which I never saw). They cleaned me up, put a band-aid on and found an ice pack and a face cloth all in less than 5 minutes. Meanwhile somebody else on the team ran over to the first aid tent and got 2 attendants over to have a look at me. They asked me some typical questions (my name, where was I, what did I eat for breakfast - I was glad they didn't ask how old I was ...), got me to squeeze their fingers and shined a light in my eyes. I guess I reacted fine because all they could do for me was provide some tylenol if I wanted. Crisis safely over.

As I was recovering with the ice pack to my nose, we all heard the screams of people cheering a race turn to a massive "OOOOOOHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!" Some people came running back to tell us that a boat had just capsized. Naturally we all went running to see what had happened. The Best of the Fest 100m race had been taking place when the steerer of Les Brutes decided to wash-ride DCH Racing (wash-riding is illegal in racing and can get your team a 5 second penalty or disqualification from the heat or even the competition). They got too close, hit DCH hard enough that DCH flipped over. By the time I got there, the race marshalls were already lifting people into the security boats but there were still paddles and life jackets floating all over the place. Eventually everybody was safely aboard the boats and an annoucement was made that nobody was hurt. Crisis safely over. (Thanks to youtube you can actually see it here!)

Finally I found a little bit of time to have some yummy noodles and veggie spring rolls for lunch.

Final 250m races were as exciting as the rest of the weekend. The Rogers team placed 2nd in this race! I was so proud of them. They were obviously wanting to finish first but it didn't quite happen. Anyway, after the race I thanked them for letting me paddle with them and they thanked me for coming to paddle with them. They let me keep the team shirt and also gave me a baseball cap. Sweet!

The women's team didn't fare as well. We came in 4th place again. It was disappointing especially when we saw on the TVs that the difference between us (1:09.18) and 3rd place (1:09.06) was so little. But that's OK. We still have the Quebec Cup in September and this means we know where our weaknesses are and what we need to do in the coming weeks to improve.

To complete the old adage about good/bad things coming in three's - one of our own women paddlers separated her sacroiliac joint as we were going into our finish on the 250m. Apparently it's an old injury and is usually fine but she over-exerted herself, heard the pop and ended up leaving immediately after the race for a visit to the nearest emergency department. We've heard that she's fine but will have to take it easy for the next little while. So, crisis over, sort of.

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