Six Weeks to Get This Master Faster

Ever since I resumed training for specific rowing events, I’ve written my training plan. That’s partially been out of necessity: no rowing team here, no outside coach to be the guide, no boat to motivate through the tough times. Mix that in with new limitations to my time (hello, toddler!) and resources (where’s the water?) and writing my own plan just made sense.

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Hello, Kentucky River.

The thing is, writing my personal training plan has been time-consuming. Part of that might be how I structure the workouts. I’m always asking myself, “Am I doing the right thing? Is this the right workout at this time?” I like variety, so you don’t see much repetition in the erg sessions.

As I prep for my first Head of the Charles, I’m giving the Faster Masters program a go. I plan to give an update each week for the next six weeks. 

Week 1- Diving into training

I once participated in both a sweep and sculling clinic from Marlene Royle, whose instruction I credit with helping me win my first 1x race. And I listen into Rebecca Caroe on the RowingChat/ Faster Masters podcast, so I was excited to jump into the resources they offer. The program is broken into modules, but when I launched last Monday morning I needed to dive in quick.

The training plan is the first module. The guidelines spell out how the training works whether you’re erging a lot, like me, or have the benefit of water training. There are four training plans available. I’m picking up September’s plan for an October/November 5k peak.

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It’s simple to understand, but my Florida-native brain trips me up when reading workout intensity. “Category 1” usually means bring out the margaritas and board your windows while “Category 5” means “Run for the hills because it’s about to get real.” Here it’s reversed: Cat I workouts are the most intense while V and VI are more steady state.

Initial Thoughts

Flexibility is the key reason I’ve been writing my plans. The kid could be sprinting across the house one day and running a fever the next. Some weeks I can only do four workout sessions. Others I hammer out six sessions. I can’t break up my workouts, as in row/erg in the morning and strength train/erg in the afternoon. I get up to two hours to smush in as much quality as I can. Erg, then immediately strength. If I’m lucky, I might have time for yoga or stretching later in the day.

Case-in-point for last week: I only had five days of training instead of a typical six because of traveling for two days.

The training guidelines advise you on how to fit the recommended training into 4, 5 or 6 days. I like that certain workouts in the plan are designated “priority.” So I focused on hitting those sessions and dropped a 60-minute row. But Week 2, as long as everything chugs along like normal, I’ll hit all six sessions.

The program isn’t so rigid that I can’t move things around to accommodate my schedule. Example: when I logged in to the training plan on Monday, I actually had a “rest” day. I typically use Sunday as a rest day, so I simply moved Sunday’s workout to Monday. 

And it flows between water sessions and erg sessions, which is great since I never know for sure when the 1x will get wet. I had a chance to row a Women’s 2x in Columbus last weekend. My partner was on board with doing the scheduled Saturday workout. We had a solid row, I exposed a technical weakness, and she liked the workout better than the one the Coach intended for the session. Triple win.

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There is rowing in Columbus, Ohio!

Tracking progress

My past training plans look like a box of chocolates…you never know what you’re gonna get. When you’re staring at black numbers and a white wall for over an hour, some mental spice is necessary. I achieved that by frequently dishing out something new. I always made sure to hit two hard steady states, two anaerobic, etc, but I’d rarely do the same type of hard steady-state twice in the workouts. Some key sessions would occasionally repeat, like 3x 20m x 3mr at 18-20, but not with any real frequency.

This training plan is the same throughout the month. So Tuesday’s workout is Tuesday’s workout all four weeks. 

I’m looking forward to seeing how this works for me. I think right now repeating each week will be super motivating because I’ve become very competitive against myself. I keep a rowing workout journal and track every session. I’ll know if I’m showing progress from Week 1 to Week 3 (Three and not four weeks, in this case, having picked it up the month a week late). 

Resources

There’s a treasure trove of resources included in this plan! While I didn’t have time until my weekend car ride to start sifting through the materials, I look forward to exploring more. Already the erg video drill has been helpful, especially since that rolling seat and I are intimately acquainted. 

How’d it go?

I think the first week went well. I learned after the first land training session I needed to up my weights quite a bit. After the second one weight session, which paired with a fairly intense erg session, I was a little sore the next day.

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Working on those front squats.

This month includes hip mobility, which I was grateful to see. Given the struggles I’ve had figuring out why my low back/left hip has a clicking and pulling sensation, it was timely. Working on my hip flexibility through stretching and sitting less has been a priority the last few weeks. I’ve jumped on adding this routine in my week. The first time I did it, my hip “popped” during one stretch, but in a good way.

I’m looking forward to seeing how Week 1 stacks up against Week 2. 

 

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Lucky in the Ultimate Rowing Lottery: HOCR 2019

Friday morning I woke up to this awesome text message screenshot:

I’m going to the Head of the Charles! All this hard work will serve its intended purpose!

Immediately after the morning workout I jumped online to buy tickets. It’s fun watching the prices inch upward and return flights sell out. But tickets have been purchased, so I’m going. I might be bumming it under a bridge somewhere, but it’ll be in Boston.

Just kidding. I do have a place to stay. I’ll be there Thursday-Monday soaking in the full HOCR2019 experience. There’s no time like the first, right? (Haha)

Training catch-up

After Nationals I planned to take Monday off before jumping back on the erg. Nature made other plans. I started telling Alan midday I didn’t feel right. I couldn’t quantify it, just “off.” A mild headache. Stomach a little funky.

Tuesday morning I woke up with 100.3 fever, headache, soreness all over. Luckily we were able to put the kid in daycare for the full week because I pretty much slept all day Tuesday.

Wednesday the fever played the yo-yo, but finally broke for good in the evening. Thursday the headache eased off, but I waited until Friday before doing any physical activity. Even that was an easy 20-minute tester.

The struggle is real

Starting the plan again the following Monday, I knew it would be a horrible week. All it takes is three days to start losing gains. I’d been out longer than that.

Is this all you can do lazy bones???

First workout went decently, but I struggled the rest of the week. Endurance, gone. Power, reduced. Mental toughness? Did I ever have that?

One theme I’ve been working on is what I call “changing the narrative.” It’s rethinking the benchmarks measuring what makes a workout good or bad. Specifically, I’m working on how I approach low rate, steady state. This shift in what’s an acceptable pace has made the workouts harder all-around. Many mental battles have been waged. Some won, some lost.

Weightlifting hit harder than erging, probably because I eased off the week before Nationals. My tush and shoulders keep asking for some TLC but I keep serving shoulder presses and lunges. Ouch.

I keep waiting for the workouts to “turn the corner.” It’s this magical moment when you’ve been struggling for days and finally, your body adapts to the load. The workout on that wonderful day makes me feel like The Rock. I am She-Woman, hear me roar!

If anything, the struggle has gotten more real. Friday I threw in the towel on the erg after two disastrous pieces. I’d had enough. The goal numbers were so far beyond my reach and I felt wiped out from the previous day’s weightlifting. Physically and mentally. You’d think learning about the Head of the Charles just hours before would be sufficient motivation. But I just couldn’t do it.

Saturday I took the little guy out for a day in the woods. I still felt sore from training, but nature is a great drug. She heals. And it was active rest, lugging a 30-lb toddler plus backpack plus Boykin Spaniel up and down steep hills.

Magical Morning in the 1x

For as hard as land training has been since I resumed, my row this morning was euphoric. I haven’t had such a solid workout in the 1x in ages.

I can’t say there was anything particularly special. Sometimes you have a day where you feel great in your body and how the boat is moving.

Turn around point on today’s 16k of water time.

I thought I’d end up with 12-14k, but the current was down to nil with unusually low water on the river. The temperature was in the 60s, 70s. Half the row, the sun didn’t peak over the cliffs, leading to long stretches in the shade. So I went for 16k total. Rowed a 5k and 4K low rate steady state pyramid. Executed a combined total of 4K in necessary drills, like square blade and cut the cake. I ignored the average spilt to focus on rowing well at the given rate. It felt good, and as I headed upriver towards the launch, like I’d made progress technically. This little piggy was rowing cleaner all the way home.

I chased a river otter downstream. Scared a deer. Saw practically no one.

My only regret is not starting earlier, when the mist swirled around and over the river. It was just lifting as I rigged the boat.

So a great row to start the next week of training. Six weeks to the Head of the Charles. What better motivation do you need?

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US Rowing Masters Nationals, Day 4

I made notes as the day goes on, as a lot happens in one day.

After a nice day off, I woke up 6am less sore and decently rested. Light was brightening the horizon and trees sprinkled last night’s rain over the ground.

The initial forecast looked like storms might hold long enough to run heats. This means all heats are for time in case finals are cancelled. I prepped with the intent to row my tush off.

Women’s Open D 4+

I joined a very nice group of women from Easy Bay Rowing, Oakland, California, and a Cox from Carnegie Lake. Their coach was on the Serbian National Team. He had a solid plan for the boat.

We weren’t able to get in our full warm-up, but it was more than I had with other boats. The marshals were being stricter about heading up river for the warm-up.

The headwind was starting to pick up on the water, so it was clear it’d be a bit messy.

I sat in 3 seat. Our boat was too big a hull for our total weight, but there’s nothing you can do about it when borrowing from another team. The other boats had some solidly built women in it, so I figured this would be tough. Fours are hard to Composite well. They’re inherently more unstable.

A clean start. We were up in a tight pack for quite a while. Not leading, but the 3rd place dogfight. The power started dimming a bit. We took a move at 500, but that just held us in position. The power fell off a bit again and never came back even as we moved into the last 250. The others moved on.

I heard the finish horn for the top finisher. Then three quick beeps for the next pack. And us.

After, the coach said probably need to sit up more at catch. Definitely something I struggle with. I appreciated getting some feedback.

Even if we weren’t top three, I enjoyed rowing with these ladies. They were very hospitable and welcoming. Nationals are in Oakland next year.

Break

The wind is starting to pick up. Watching splashy blades on the water. Cloud bank also moving in.

Talked to some more people. The best thing about rowing composite in everything, being a team of one, is meeting rowers from all over.

Bought some parts for my oars and turned in my crossword entry to US Rowing.

Then I sat in the awards area, watched some races on the screen, and massaged my legs.

Mixed B 4x

I felt really good about this race, even knowing some of my competition. It looked like the weather would hold long enough to have a run at time.

I went on a light warm up jog towards the start. Jamming to my rowing mix. Added some sprint pieces to get the heart going.

First person at the boat. Started stretching when I got a text from team mate: “get to the boat now.” But I’m already there.

She comes jogging up. “We have to derig this now.”

What? What happened?

“They cancelled the rest of the regatta.”

Not paused, not on hold, but that’s it. No more heats. Finished. My heart sank. I had such a good feeling about this boat! I wanted to end with a bang. If we won, I had my eye on these silver earrings I planned treat myself to. At very least, maybe place second and walk away wit my a 1-2-3 set.

And that was it. Regatta over.

The mad dash began. Boats and oars flying everywhere, people hustling to beat the impending storm.

Twenty minutes later the skies opened and the rain began.

And now I’m dry, eating peach gummies I saved as a special post-race treat, and heading out of Michigan.

A disappointing end to my second Nationals ever. I’d hoped to walk away with three medals. At least I won my first gold.

Bye, Grand Rapids. I wonder what they’re going to do with the extra beer from the garden?

Eight weeks to Head of the Charles.

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US Rowing Masters Nationals, Day 2 Recap

So much happens in a day, I take notes as it goes along.

It’s 5am and I’m awake

Its 5 and I can’t sleep.

Literally. I know I got some at some point, because I had a dream, but maybe an hour. And that’s with a sleeping pill.

Ugh. And now I have to go all day on little sleep and adrenaline.

Killing time

A whole lot of Masters is laying around waiting for the next burst of energy.

Fog delayed the start of racing an hour, so m already late heat (2:46) bumped to 3:46, with the final moving to 7:27.

We went to an outlet mall to kill some time in the morning. I walked around stiff and dazed. Bought some clearance snow boots. Winter is coming.

Ate lunch at the campsite. Alan dropped me off so he could get Caelan back for naptime.

I finally walked around vendor village. Some funny shirts. Grace Lutz loved my “Bourbon Country Rowing Club” shirt. The USRowing guy standing next to her was dropping puns like Randy Higel. “I bet you barrel over the competition.” He said a few other winners I don’t remember now.

I went back to Fluidesign trailer and laid on the grass for a while. The reps are awesome. So friendly and willing to crack jokes with us. And I picked Sam’s brain about my boat. Sean found four new wheels to sell me. Yay!

Women’s Open A 2x: the Heats

I checked the weather before my partner came. It was forecasting storms at 7:45. Awfully close to the final. I brought up possibly rowing for time, knowing Vesper in heat 3 would be wicked fast. If a final is cancelled, the officials award medals by heat times.

That was turned down. It will be what it will be.

The wind did come up, a head/cross wind that created a light chop across the water.

We had a plan. Executed the beginning. By 350-400 it was abundantly clear we had this race, with open water established. We cruised it in at a 25.

Unfortunately in the chop, it was not a clean 25. I was not pleased with my rowing. Lots of blade bouncing and sticking.

A break

A little over three hours to kill. I watched the races. For finals today they added a drone to the livestream. That was cool.

Our quad from the day before finally picked up our medals and snapped pics.

I met up with a rower for my composites on Sunday.

The skies clouded over. Right when I met Alan and Caelan at the food truck fair, it rained.

I couldn’t stay long. About 20 minutes, then back to the trailer for 2x time.

I knew it was going to be a challenging race. Expect the unexpected.

Womens Open A 2x: Final

Right before we picked up the boat to launch-and I mean right before, as in holding my oars while standing next to the boat-a huge wave of exhaustion bowled me over. All that lack of sleep, walking, pushing hard finally caught up to me. And my pre-race drink had a little caffeine in it, so you know I was just done.

I told my partner. She rummaged through her bag and found a fruit pack. It was disgustingly sweet, but it pepped me up a little.

The water had looked clear but it kicked back up for our final.

The head wind was hot and heavy.

Our start was fine, but I shifted too early. We ended up in 5th by 200.

It was tight for a while between us boats battling for 3rd, with us slightly behind. The headwind was creating a slow roller wake, as it was pushing against the current. It was also creating lighter chop on top of that. Again, I was struggling. Gusty crosses kicked up. I had to ride hard on port.

Then around 600 my oar didn’t clear out of the water and it slipped. I cussed up a storm. It didn’t stop us full, but jarred momentum. Now we were back further.

I kept looking, trying to decide if we had enough left to make a push to third. We were stuck in 5th, moving at the same pace as a boat from Texas to our port. We were in the last 750. Still rowing less than desirable, feeling awful about my performance. I peeked left and found we’d snuck up near level on a boat with three buoys to go. A quick choice: fourth is better than fifth. Pushed hard, passed them up by a deck.

I apologized profusely after. I still feel bad. And then after it’s a bunch of “what-ifs.” What if I hadn’t caught a crab? Would we have been in a better place to challenge for third? What if I demanded movement at the 750? Or called for a kick right after I got it back together?

I end with a lot of regret on this one. But at least I was able to row and lose than to not row the final at all.

After the final

Rowing finals this late absolutely sucks. My body is winding down at 7:30 at night, not revving up to perform.

I came off the water too tired to know what I wanted. I wanted everything and nothing. A cider? Yes and no. A treat? Dinner? Maybe. Shower and good night sleep? Definitely.

I sorted my oars and gear, left to find my boys.

We went back to the food truck fair where I eventually decided on this quesadilla that was the most delicious thing I’ve eaten in days.

Caelan was so adorable. As we walked back to the car he pointed out the boats and kept saying, “Mommy rowing boat.”

Then he stuck up one little finger, waggled, and said, “Mommy no more rowing.”

Huh? And he repeated it.

Followed by a super tight and long hug. Adorable.

We got him to repeat no more rowing again, but never as cute as the first one.

It’s actually Day 3 as I type. I had a good night’s sleep, and a little lie-in. Today I have no races. It’s about Daddy and Caelan. We’re going to do something fun for them in Grand Rapids. I have two races Sunday, both heats, but the weather forecast is not looking promising. Fingers crossed.

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US Rowing Masters Nationals, Day 1 Recap

I made notes throughout the day, because so much happens during the events. At the end, it’s hard to remember everything!

Alan and I survived the drive to Grand Rapids with a two-year-old. Over eight hours, two meltdowns, one pee in a mason jar, and lots of “I gotta get outta heeh.” Don’t we all?

Holly said, “possible regatta slogan?”

After a rough night sleep and rain, the munchkin woke up late (7am). Dawn brought a gray and balmy 59F with a cross/tailwind.

My first race started at noon, so I had a filling breakfast. Lots of down time packing and hanging with the monkey before shuttling to the venue.

Morning prep

Grand Rapids venue first impression:

Lovely. All the tall trees, the shade, the peeks out to the water. My heart started racing driving over the Grand River and seeing all the boats on the course.

Heats: Womens Open C 4x

I’m not super-superstitious in general, but as rowers we have our routines. Our lucky charms. I woke up with a good feeling. All morning Caelan told me I, “had a ladybug on my back.” Then our rented quad had a cricket in it. Lucky cricket?

After last night’s rain, we had more current and clouds. It was still cool when Alan dropped me off amongst the half-mile of boats. I wore pants and a jacket through the warm-up.

Last night I decided to change my oars. They’re set shorter and heavier than standard. Initially I thought it’d be fine with the current, but we had so much crossover in our practice row it was rowing “Gangnam Style.” And on reflection, the boat felt heavy.

So I made them 1cm longer and reduced the inboard 2cm.

Night and day. Felt way better.

Our practice up to start felt solid. Our stroke hot-seated for her third race of the day! Superwoman! She warned us of a list towards port at the start. The stake boat holder confirmed this trend.

So it was a cloudy and cool 12 o’clock when the announcer called, “quick start.”

And we slightly listed to port.

About four of us took off together and held position for the first 250. One started drifting slightly, but still a threat. The fifth boat I wrote off by 300m.

Bow called us in the lead around 400, but barely. I stayed focused on the pink NRS logo in front of me. I refused to look.

We had a power just before the 500m. That pushed us a bit ahead. By 750 the boats on the starboard had dropped clear into 4th and we had seats on the other two.

We came up in the last quarter, but not a true sprint.

It always feels good to win your first race at Nationals, even if it’s just a heat. Everyone comes off the water happy. The cricket was singing.

We clearly were in the fast heat. I expected the final to be a compete event race.

The Break

I literally had six hours from heat start time to my final start time. Worst schedule ever. Alan picked me up and we came back to the camper.

Yep. We’re camping. During Nationals.

Sleepy time!

We all took a nap. I repacked. Decided to change into my unicorn unisuit, feeling like we’d need some lucky unicorn power for the C 4x Final.

Final: Womens Open C 4x

When you get to the end of the day, sometimes it’s hard to remember all the details. I ran into Dragos dropping off oars at recovery. I went for a jog around the grass to attempt warming up. Ran into Alan and Caelan, who gave a good luck kiss.

We had to go right to the start because of our hot seat situation, but it was comfortable time-wise.

The start was clean. We sprinted a little longer this time. I had the impression of being up with the pack, but again I tried not looking. I peeked once both sides to see two boats back down on us, but I didn’t do a full look. We were at least in 4th. I was most concerned about Chinook on our port.

Bow called we were in the lead. I figured it had to be just barely.

Saw first red buoy. A call to focus. Feeling cold.

A bad, splashy stroke on my part.

Red buoy, 500. Another call to move. Now Chinook and boat to starboard are dropping down.  Still in the lead, but fighting. How far? I don’t know.

I know red buoy is coming. I sense movement to starboard. I look. Georgian Bay in lane 6. Another peek. I sense they’re moving up on us. I make a call, “Watch Georgia Bay! They’re moving.”

Then it’s the red buoys. Push. Up. Up. We’re stopping the move. We’re leading. We’re going to win.

Horn. It’s over. My first-ever Nationals win! Yay!

I don’t have the medal yet because I had to hot seat into my next race. We’re going to pick it up tomorrow.Regatta hair, don’t care

Women’s Open B 8+

I had more time than I thought, but you never know with hot seat situations. So I ditched the quad and ran looking for Carnegie Lake. Ran into Alan and Caelan again. Another good luck kiss from the boys.

I spotted the women in orange off in the corner. Ran over, jazzed up still on adrenaline. It was a fast, “Hello!” and congrats on winning, then right to hands on.

I sat bow in this boat. I knew it had potential as we started rowing all eight and the boat was pretty set. It was a composite with all kinds of women: Carnegie Lake and Vesper.

If you don’t know how I roll as a rower, I crack jokes. Really corny jokes. Mom jokes, maybe? And hey, I was rowing bow seat. Got to keep the party going, right? Party in the bow. So I may have said things like:

  • (Getting on the launch dock, which was wobbling in the current) “Whoa, had too much beer already.”
  • “Anyone bring a flashlight?” (Because our race time was 7:11)
  • “Hey, how about we get some glow sticks and do a time lapse shot?”
  • (Police sirens) “They’re coming for me!”
  • “Who bought the tequila?”
  • “My race plan is to put vodka in all of the competition’s water.”
  • “Composites are like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re going to get.”

The cox ran through the race strategy. I suggested maybe, if we were in a good spot at 600m, doing a “move 10,” or a “power10.” It got shrugged off.

By the time we locked onto the stake boat, I was dead cold and in desperate need of a port-o-let.

The sun’s late day angle was bouncing off the water and right into my eyes. I shifted my hat to block this. The drawback was it blocked my view of all the boats. We were in lane 1.

We listed off to port on the start, but recovered.

I remember just lots of pushing, honing in on two seat. The Carnegie Lake orange is eye-catching.

I thought cox said we were in first. Then around 500 or so she said 3rd. She kept talking about Alexandria. I kept pushing.

About 600 I felt the power come off just slightly. Like people were hitting the wall. It was subtle, but there. I wish we’d taken that power 10.

It came back on for the sprint. Definitely feeling the cold start, very tired, but pushing through as hard as possible. Two horns, close together, not us. Then horn. Looked fast left. For us. We overpowered Alexandria to finish 3rd.

I’m pleased about it. Like I said. You never know with composites what you’re going to get. This was a solid effort and solid row.

I didn’t bring my phone with me around the venue today, and the 8+ hasn’t sent photos yet. No awesome pics.

So now it’s time to rest, refuel, and get ready for a super competitive Women’s Open A 2x tomorrow.

Happy water!

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It Sucks to Be An “A” Masters Rower

Welcome to a rant on the US Rowing Master’s handicap system!

I completely understand why the handicap/age category system is in place. Of course a 60-year-old is less likely to row as fast as a 35-year-old. I have no dispute on the system. Nor am I educated enough to decide if the actual time deductions for your age are accurate and relevant. Not my place and not the purpose of this post.

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No. I’m personally stating an opinion:

Being a “AA” (24-26) or “A” (27-35) sucks.

Observation No. 1: Where are the As?

A reporter recently interviewed me about rowing. I prepared by researching the growth of Master’s Rowing in the U.S. Shocking fact: the “A” age group is the most populated. (The 55-59 ranks second.)

I did a double-take. Really? Seriously? There are more “A’s” than anything else?

My experience has been it’s stupidly hard to find other rowers in my age bracket. I was probably the youngest member of Sarasota County Rowing for all seven years I rowed there. I can think of 4 other current/former members who were an “A” during my time there. That’s right. FOUR. Not even one hand.

Expand out of SCRC, to other Florida clubs. Now I can readily think of another SIX who were/are at some point in the last five years in the “A” group. Now we’re up to 10! Woo-hoo.

So US Rowing says my age bracket has the most members. Big question:

WHERE ARE ALL THE A’S?

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Alan pointed out to think about the demographics of where we were. Florida. The “blue-hair” state. Resident average age: 42.  Sarasota: average age 45.

Okay, that makes sense. Maybe in the Northeast there are more rowers skewing younger.

Plus that US Rowing bracket might include some rowers who are actually collegiate or elite rowers.

But still. Look at the entries for the Master’s Nationals in Grand Rapids. There are 16 entries in the Women’s AA 1x. Only six are actually AA. One is a B. There are 11 entries in the Women’s A 1x. One is actually a B and one a C.

The Women’s LWT F-K 1x has 18 entries. 18! Women’s G-K? 15! You go girls!

Observation No. 2: No one wants to row with you

Not unless you’re a super beast with serious elite credentials who can literally pull an entire 8+ down a course.

Otherwise, you become a liability. There’s a reason my second nickname was “Handicap Killer.” Masters use handicaps strategically. It was getting horrible until regattas finally caught onto separating under 40/50s and over 40/50s. I don’t know how many seats I’ve lost because my age dropped the boat from one category.  I can’t blame them. In a head race, I can’t beat a two-minute+ raw time deduction.

Sure, they’ll row with you in practice, because the boat goes faster. But race with you? Pfft. Forget it.

Observation No. 3: Your racing is limited

Again, I understand the rationale and rules behind the system. It’s not fair for me to go head-to-head against someone 15, 20 or more years older, and vice versa. It’s not fair to them.

running field photography

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But think about it: an “AA” can only race in the “AA” 1x. As an “A,” I can only race in the “AA” or “A” single. But as a “B” it starts opening more. Now I can enter in three different 1x events.

Factor back in the average-age-for-boats things, and it really starts to open up as a B. You’re old enough to not drastically drop handicaps for C/D boats. You can easily row in AA/A/B events.

Sometimes I’m trying to make a boat for a specific event, but I’m just too young to make it fit the age category. Like our Women’s A 2- at Worlds. If Holly or I had been just ONE year older, or if FISA rounded ages UP instead of down, we would’ve been a Women’s B 2- and B 2x.

The wrap-up

I’m racing at Masters Nationals next weekend. I managed to get into 5 boats. And yes, I had a hard time finding other women close to my age bracket to race with. I was told “no, too young,” to a few boats. I have no races Saturday because the event line-up isn’t friendly to us young ones. It’s immensely frustrating.

That’s my piece. Being an “A” has sucked. I can’t wait to graduate to a “B” (36-42) next year.

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Eating ergs for lunch

It’s a Sunday. Usually Sundays are off days, but this weekend it ended up Saturday as my rest day.

I remembered that my weekend workout was short. What I didn’t remember until I looked at my training plan was I was in for a 1K test.

Enter expletive <here.>

“Are you nervous?” Alan asked as I change into workout clothes. Well, yeah, I am now that I know what I have to do.

“Why?” he asked.

Why is any athlete nervous about physical tests? Because we want to do well. We want to be kick ass. My case, because I had not anticipated it. I didn’t eat properly or sleep or prepare in the days before like I usually do. I had a chocolate-zucchini brownie soaked in Disaronno for lunch yesterday.

No defined mental strategy. It was, “oh, shit, I have to do something on the fly here. What’s my prior PR? What can I do now?”

Add to it: I haven’t been sprint training. So how’s all my endurance and anaerobic work going to play out?

So in the 45 minutes between, “crap, I have a 1k test,” and sitting down on the machine at the Y, I had to strategize and mentally prep. And suck down loads of water.

I looked up my last PR. Goal: be close to it, beat it if you can.

Goal 2: forget stroke rate. Aim for the target numbers as low a rate as makes sense for how you feel today.

And yeah, I was stupid nervous. I always am.

Strategy: copy the 5k framework, but over 250 meter splits. Try to beat each prior split. Do a start and five to go. Be strong all the way through. Consistent. No “hail mary” sprint like the 5k test.

Not going to lie, sat on the machine post-warm up procrastinating hard core. Fiddling with the ear buds, the straps, slapping thighs, sliding back and forth. Waiting for the right chorus in the song to start.

Finally, I just go. No more delaying the inevitable reality. It will be what it will be.

I count to 25 strokes. The start has sucked. Watts are up and down. I don’t like my settle stroke rate, it’s under my target watts and I can’t get it up. I accept a higher stroke rate around 200 in. I’m also at 25 strokes and 200 meter in, not 250. That’s a bummer.

Count to 30 strokes. This is sucking. I think I’m faster than first 250. Still trying to compromise between rate and watts. Forgot to look. 613 meters? Damn.

Count another 30. Push hard. Give up on rate/watt balance. Just push hard and through the lactic acid. Right around 30 it’s starting to burn.

But it’s 270 meters? Ok, 30 then 5-ish strokes, no big deal. Push. Starlight vision, definitely dehydrated today. Projected time 3:43, 3:41…must keep it 3:41. 250-sprint? No, just keep pushing hard. Will go after 30.

At 30, 60 meters to go. Hail Mary now. Projected time: 3:41. Can I make it 3:40? Let’s try! One! Two! Wattage isn’t high enough. Push harder! Four! Nope, move too late. Must move earlier next time. Six! 3-2-1-0 m Paddle!

Awesome! A new PR! Not a bad effort for underhydrated, unprepared, and a higher drag.

When I added the test to my record book, I was pleasantly surprised to see I did a 1k almost exactly a year ago (7/20/18 to 7/21/19). Time was 2.2 total sec faster, even with up erg and a different training schedule.

I am pleased with this effort and have no complaints for where I am with the training goal. After all, the target is the Head of the Charles.

Speaking of Head of the Charles

Last week I started getting really worried I would have to lottery in as a single. I always said I would if I had to, but I really didn’t want to.

Having heard from nobody looking for a rower for a crew boat, the possibility that this would be my route has been increasing. It was dwelling on my mind a lot last week. Just thinking about it made my palms sweaty. Can you imagine, trying to race a 5K for the first time alone at this prestigious event? Who’s Who of rowing watching and paying attention? My pulse was skyrocketing just thinking about it. And then remembering how I felt at the World Rowing Masters Regatta last year before the single?

I know people do it, but I bet most of them are better rowers than me with a lot more experience on this kind of platform.

I’ll do it if I have to, but my biggest challenge if I win the lottery will be the nerves. That will make or break my experience, and I expect they will be running high.

The advantage of rowing with other people is it actually distracts me from what’s happening. I “get out of my own way.” I’m thinking about them and pushing harder for them. I would even bow a boat for the first time at the Charles rather than raise the single. I would handle the pressure better. I’m not saying all the jitters would be eliminated, but it would be better.

So the 1x deadline is in two weeks. One of my rowing pals is back in, and we’re trying to make a women’s club or Masters 4+. We need one more girl, preferably port, to make it happen. If we can’t make a boat, I’ll enter the singles lottery.

Health update

Apparently my problem six weeks ago was caused by a little virus called mono. You may have heard of it.

Now I’m wondering: am I tired because of my training, because I have a toddler, because my plate it too full with Mom/work/training, or just a side effect of mono?

Either way, the mantra has been suck it up, buttercup. Keep pushing forward.

How’s the training going?

Like always, there are good days and bad. This week’s long endurance work felt better. I might finally be making progress in that realm. My new weightlifting routine is still in the early stages. I like having the numbers from the test that I can use to establish effort-like, “today is an 85% day, so that means 135lb back squat.” It’s proven I have been too conservative with my lifts.

So onward and upward! The routine continues. Always making gains.

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