'I'm clocking up the miles now' - Ian Gaughran gaining confidence as a single sculler in rowing challenge
With five weeks to go, Ian Gaughran is gaining confidence and self-belief as he learns and progresses as a single sculler.
We are down to the business end of things now as the audacious bid to win the Dublin Sculling Ladder edges ever closer.
In reality, winning would be on a par with Leicester City winning the Premier League a couple of years ago, or Andy Ruiz knocking out Anthony Joshua a couple of months back to become the world heavyweight boxing champion.
Dare to dream, I suppose...
On a more serious note, progress has resumed and as the miles clock up, so do the confidence levels. My willingness to trust enough in my ability and start pushing out that bit more has brought new results and that boils down to the magnificent rowing community based among the numerous clubs at Islandbridge.
Neptune Rowing Club have welcomed me in and, most importantly trusted me with a fob. Yes, that’s a big deal — it means I can come and go, take out my boat and hone my craft.
INM journalist @IanGaughran making firm progress on rowing journey ahead of Dublin Sculling Ladder @ciaranlennon @HeraldNewsdesk @RowingIreland @NeptuneRowing @DubCityRowing @RowingPhoenix @get_rowing pic.twitter.com/H5rs4eFz5a— Independent Sport (@IndoSport) September 10, 2019
As simplistic as it sounds, being handed that little blue coin which gives me access to the boat house filled me with self-belief, especially following what were a couple of confidence-draining days on the river.
Last time, I had moved into the sleeker race boat and had struggled, but a combination of a number of factors have helped dispel those fears and banish those memories.
The lads at the Dublin Municipal Rowing Centre have been an enormous help and, on a choppy day the offer of a walkie-talkie around my neck provided some stability on my first spin back in the boat after capsizing.
Gar, Colin and Aidan have been providing daily assistance when I’ve looked like slipping back into some rookie habits and, for the first time, I’ve started to watch the clock on my runs.
I’m not breaking any records just now, but a look at results from the Dublin Sculling Ladder — my big race on October 12 — from previous years and I wouldn’t be dead last.
With the guts of five weeks to go it has provided me with a baseline and now it’s a case of chipping away at the time, while continuing to learn and progress.
As a single sculler, it’s all on me and as a competitive person who is incredibly hard on himself, I was quite surprised last weekend to learn perhaps as an important a lesson as I have to date.
Lesson is probably the wrong word but a very busy morning at Neptune led to there being a lack of available boats for me to go out on.
I suggested popping in next door to the Municipal Centre for a boat, only to find the women from Phoenix Rowing Club, a recreational club, short a body in their quad and urging me to come and make up the numbers.
All bluster, I agreed to be their number two, with a caveat.
I’d never rowed as part of a crew and am basically a beginner but Una, Heather, Emer and Mairead didn’t care about that and we were off.
Following a jittery start where I found myself out of sync with Mairead in front of me, there were a few expletives and more than a few apologies.
Before we began, actually, Neptune club captain Martin Stevens gave me some advice, urging me to keep my stride slow and long and, above all, practice patience.
Half way up the Liffey I copped it and, with Mairead in front of me slowing into her slide (the bendy knees part of the stroke) and exploding out from the catch (the rowing through the water part of it), I began to lengthen my own arms and found myself into a nice rhythm with my crew.
What I also found was that the levels of fatigue experienced were like nothing I’d previously experienced in the single — mainly due to self preservation and correction. Here I could let loose and go for it.
After the two runs in the quad, I found myself back in the single on Monday morning and really starting to gain pace — I was trusting myself.
At the start of this challenge I was told that miles make a sculler — I’m clocking up the miles now, maybe I’m becoming a sculler.