“THE C.R.A.S.H.-B. CONUNDRUM”
It happens every year.
Thousands of athletes travel to Boston, MA to rowing’s equivalent of the Super Bowl. Or maybe the Philadelphia “Wing Bowl”, because it truly is a spectacle.
Four of my athletes competed last week at the C.R.A.S.H.-B.’S, and only one came out successful. I finally realized that this event has always mystified me. In the seven years that I actually competed at the event, I only really did well twice. In my first year, I didn’t know any better, and pulled a personal best time as a lightweight. In 2005, my final year, I just stuck to my race plan, and somehow “won” my heat in exciting fashion.
What is it about the C.R.A.S.H.-B.’S?!?
I want to preface this blog by saying I absolutely love the C.R.A.S.H.-B’s. It is a great race and event.
However, when writers cover the event, their articles are about the athletes with inspirational stories, the rowing “celebrities” that happen to attend, and the world records that are broken. Meanwhile nothing is ever written about the thousands of other athletes that go there only to have their souls crushed by failure.
C.R.A.S.H.-B.’S is a conundrum. It is the Bermuda Triangle of indoor rowing competitions. You never know how it is going to play out.
When you first arrive, you literally forget how you arrived and why you are there.
Like the passengers of Oceanic 6 in the television series LOST we convince ourselves that we were brought to the Agganis Arena for a reason. In the end, we realize that even the writers had no idea how the story was going to end.
I have written about “2k Anxiety“, and the fact is that C.R.A.S.H.-B.’S is too overwhelming. Too stimulating. Too confusing.
High school athletes and parents always ask me for advice on whether it is worth going up to Boston. I look at them and simply say, “You should only go if you know you are going to pull a personal best, or you are going to win.”
Otherwise, just plan on being disappointed.
Even if you could go to Boston with the right mindset, there might be too many distractions there to overwhelm you.
Maybe it is just because the C.R.A.S.H.-B.’S is in a hockey arena. The atmosphere is much different than a rowing venue. When you are sitting in the stands, it becomes very easy to be engrossed by everything.
Too many tastes, smells, sounds, and other people. You can spend your whole afternoon just people watching. The air is thick with drama, and very soon it is time for your event. Even if you are able to tune out everything, you still have to interact with other people.
“Hey bro, are you done using that erg. I need to warm up…”
Not enough ergs. And constantly bumping into other people as you wait in line at the restroom or concession stands. And all the other people want to talk to you…
“What a feeling,” as you wait in line in agony for your event behind a heavy curtain. Much like the final audition in “Flashdance”.
“The Dharma Initiative”
Even if you arrive with a good plan, the plan may unravel. You can map out your whole routine right up until your event, however a single misstep will throw you off. C.R.A.S.H.-B.’S contains too many uncontrollable variables.
It is impossible to predict every scenario, and athletes that are creatures of habit will find themselves uncomfortable. Boston traffic, parking issues, and event delays are all out of the athletes’ control. Therefore the “organized” athlete will be out of their element.
“Your heat starts in 5 minutes and there is a line for the restroom…”
Desmond had to push the button every 108 minutes. Then he was distracted, and then plane came crashing down.
Are you ready to adapt your plan? Are you able to anticipate the things you do not know know about yet?
Like no toilet paper? (That’s only a joke… 🙂 )
“THE MAN IN BLACK VS. JACOB”
At the C.R.A.S.H.-B.’S, athletes are taken out of their element. They are in a unfamiliar place watching athletes and coaches do things differently. Athletes from other programs and countries will prepare for the C.R.A.S.H.-B.’S in a different way.
Observing these “bizarre” methods will challenge your core beliefs. Especially when the athlete next to you pulls a personal best time with a rowing style or warm-up method you are not familiar with.
“Why is he pulling the handle over his head?”
Whether you frown upon their rowing technique or wish your own rowing technique was better, you end up questioning yourself, your coach, and why you are even there…
The focus on your original mission has ended; you begin focusing everything that is wrong in the world.
Thank goodness the GOP Debate was a week later…
“THE SMOKE MONSTER”
You would think that those that thrive on competition, would always do their best at the C.R.A.S.H.-B.’S. In many cases they are the only ones that pull a personal best time.
With so much competition around, you begin picking out your targets. It is impossible to hold back your adrenaline because the arena oozes adrenaline.
“I am going to beat my time… I am definitely going to beat that CrossFit dude with no shirt on…”
“Oh WAIT, there’s GRAHAM BENTON!”
BOOM! You go out too fast.
I would love the opportunity to pick the brain of Graham Benton or even the inspiring 95 year-old, Steve Richardson, who broke the World Record. How do they handle that pressure? Perhaps Mr. Richardson was just there to beat his previous time, and to beat all the other 95 year-olds.
And maybe he was just really p***ed that there wasn’t anyone else to race in his age group.
“MORAL OF THE STORY”
I don’t know…
In the 35 years of existence, the C.R.A.S.H.-B.’S has produced some amazing performances. Perhaps that is what makes the event the true World Indoor Rowing Championships, because athletes must rise above all the psychological hurdles – the overwhelming masses, the tempting distractions, the conflicting philosophies, and the unbelievable competition.
Athletes will continue to compete at this rowing mecca to find their “heart” on this island…
Or maybe C.R.A.S.H.-B’S is just a purgatory where we all go to meet before we die…
Oh shut up Jacob…
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