So, I rowed the Head of the Charles today and – as our President would say of Iraq – there’s a lot of good news. For example, I did not flip my scull over, as several people did. (One guy was in the last mile of the race and I was right beside him, going downstream after my race…he slowly tipped a bit and then, over he went. Wild sight. Big pile-up of other racers coming down on him and so on. I did not do that, so that’s good.) And, aerobically, I ran just the race I wanted to: 85% of max the first two thirds, 90% the last third with enough juice for a 95% sprint at the end. Amazing! A triumph, when you consider how badly I finished. And, frankly, my form was reasonably good, as my many pals on the shore were generous to attest. And no one passed me. Excellent.
That last is partly because I was seeded (and started) in last place, right where I belonged. Actually I am delighted to report that I actually beat a few people, which is another miracle.
But the Shame of the Charles, for me – and shame is the dominant note – is the fact that I steared like a drunk. It is massively important to follow a good "line"; it is a huge part of the race and everyone knows it and should do it well. Every swerve costs huge amounts of time and major swerves are disastrous. My track, if you could see it on the water would look like a slalom course. With a few, inexplicable traverses of the river thrown in. Pathetic. But listen it was very early in the morning. And the sun was inmy eyes. And my hat blew off. And the dog ate my GPS. And God knows what.
So my Harvard classmate, Carlo Zezza – who has been winning these things since he was a small boy – and Harry Parker, the legendary Harvard coach and oarsman – escaped again. Curses!! Actually the escaped by about ten minutes which does not qualify as a squeaker in these affairs. But next year, by heaven ….
The fact is, it was and is a magical event and I absolutely loved it, despite the disgrace of my goofy stearing, I am delighted just to have gotten in and finished (dry). A bunch of pals and a lot of family showed up. (I painted Younger Next Year on my bright yellow boat so even my slightly blind sister couldn’t miss me.) Some 8000 people row in almost two thousand boats. The river and the river banks are stunning at this time of year. The crowds are huge and welcoming. The whole scene is amazing and it’s a privilege to be involved. Even at my level. One of the best kedges imaginable. Wonderful, wonderful stuff. And next year, by Jesus, when I am a little younger ….