Week 5: Race Prep Brings on the Nerves

All was well. The house, quiet. Lights, dark. Bed, cozy and warm. Alarm snoozed. 

Out of the darkness: “Next week this time, you’ll be heading to Boston.”

I blinked. Crap. In my mind, HOCR was nine days away, but I hadn’t thought about it like that. Who’d have thought one simple sentence would be a sucker-punch of adrenaline?

Five weeks down, one to go!

Comparing week 1 to week 2 of the October 5k training plan, I made gains almost every day. It was interesting because the priority workout I struggled with last week I crushed, while the one I loved absolutely ran me over. Those two twelve-minute pieces picked me up and body-slammed me hard four times, adding an elbow for good measure, screaming, “How do you like me NOW?”

This workout didn’t see an average spilt improvement, but it also didn’t see a significant loss.


Tuned into HOCR videos for recovery row day

It’s funny how that works–great workout experience one day, horrible the next. 

All-in-all, a good training week. A little stronger at the start, but I think that has to do with sleep trouble. For the last four days, I’ve struggled to get a full night’s rest. I keep waking in the wee pre-dawn hours for no good reason. No crazy dreams, no nerves, no crying kid. Just, “hey, it’s 4 am, let’s lie awake in bed for the next two hours. Sounds like fun!” I took a sleeping pill last night and somehow still woke up at 5 am.

I ended Week 5 with a five-day training week, taking Saturday off. Early weather reports had rain and wind on Saturday, so I thought Sunday would be the better rowing day. I think the switch will work out better, too. Four final days of training: Sunday-Wednesday, then off Thursday for travel. Then bam! It’s showtime.

The taper & recovery

Rowing’s still been charging ahead, but weightlifting started the taper. I think I find tapering hard because I feel guilty. After pushing and building for months and months, now go easy? It seems counter-intuitive. 

Now that a have a little extra time, I tried to spend more time on a better recovery. I’m guilty of the same thing other adult athletes are: not giving time to the post-work cool-down. When I train at the Y, I have a two-hour clock in child watch. I try to squeeze it all in, but that usually means sacrificing the tail-end of training. I might say, “I’ll do my core later,” or, “I’ll put on some yoga at naptime,” but let’s be real. It never happens.

Early steps to prepare for HOCR 

At the sub-10 days out, I decided to start shifting training to the afternoons. I hate racing late in the day. I’m always worse, but I suspect that’s true for a lot of people. For me, I always seem to hit an energy lull around 3-4 pm. And when’s the race? 3:16 Saturday.


When your Mommy is a rower…

I’m hoping training later conditions my body to get used to making a large physical effort later in the day.

I started adding some land-based warm-up before all the rowing sessions, just like I do when I race. Again, just practicing the routine. Trying to normalize everything.

I watched more HOCR race videos on a recovery day, but I realized they weren’t really going to do me, the rower, any good familiarizing with the course. I’m not a coxswain! My butt goes over the line first, not my feet. I did find two videos shot from rowers wearing Go-Pros. Besides the shakiness, that was actually helpful. On the second one, I saw a building and remembered a bridge was coming up.

And I added Boston to my weather app. That’s a sure sign it’s soon!


Rest day! 7 Days remaining

Those pesky nerves

You know when you’re giving a speech for the first time, and someone says, “everyone else is just as nervous as you,” as a measure of comfort? 

It doesn’t help.

Maybe everyone else is just as nervous head racing, and especially head racing at the Head of the Charles, but that knowledge does nothing to stop those adrenaline jolts.

The first round of nerves hit with Alan’s innocent little remark Thursday morning. The came again as I drove to the YMCA to work out. The sweaty palms. The tumbling rocks in the stomach. Dry mouth.

I’ve also had checklists running through my head. What to pack, what to buy, what to do this weekend.

Nerves and the mental game are two rowing demons I struggle against I am my worst enemy. The bigger the boat, the less I struggle, but the panic is always there. I put a lot of pressure on myself. Sometimes I don’t feel worthy of being in the boat I’m in.

In my spare moments, I’ve been reading on strategies and approaches to help stay calm and focused. If you have the Faster Masters program, there’s a section on head race planning. I liked this image from this morning’s research:

 “One major cause of race-day stress is the unknown… How fast will you run? Will you finish? Will you be the last person across the line? Will you qualify or break that personal record? What will your finish-line photo look like? The key to calmer waters is to race with what the day gives you and surrender to running your best on the day.Source

The idea of surrendering resonated with me. It will be, what it will be, right?



About camckenna

I write; I row.
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