April 2020: A Test Literal and Figurative

April 1

No joke, 20min test. I decided to do it the day before because it kind of fit nicely into the flow of training to do it Wednesday morning. I expected to see some gains, I just wasn’t sure how much.

I am pleased with how the test went. Last time I started to struggle three minutes in, this time I didn’t really start feeling the burn until 5 minutes in. Even that was not as challenging as last time. I started to struggle with the splits at 13 to go. I was trying to use the last test score as a base to grow from. At this point I started alternating the stroke rate every minute just to beats to keep me mentally tuned in and not focusing so much on any fatigue. It works really well. That six minutes remaining I bumped up the stroke rate changes two beats. Seven minutes to go, holding my target splits became more challenging. The last two minutes I just kept taking it up and trying to tune in was hard.

Last test I struggled with fatigue and I could tell my cardio-based wasn’t there. That improved this round. Probably the biggest victory, besides finding my cardio is improving, is finding a way to mentally stay focused because it’s hard in long-distant pieces. Next test, I probably could do a little more in terms of the base pace.  I need to improve my numbers through the middle and push the power application a little more consistently. I’ll keep working on the aerobic capacity because I know that will continue to improve the scores and what I can do.

Numbers wise, I dropped my average split one whole second and added 26 meters. I also had a slightly higher drag factor this round.

April 3

Feeling so frustrated about the weight. I can’t seem to drop the few pounds I want to lose. I need to start tracking what I eat so I can pinpoint the issue but it’s so hard to do with kid. One, he’s distracting. Two, I try not to use the phone around him. He sees phone, wants phone. “Watch thunder video, watch monster truck.” Causes issues.

Too many carbs? Don’t know yet. But that’s my suspect because I know I didn’t overeat yesterday.

Otherwise, cross training day with Alan. He doesn’t seem to like my workouts. I wish we had a pull-up bar.

I’m hoping the weather sticks around so I can go on bike rides with Caelan. Now that’s cross training.

April 5

Did 3x30mx2r today for 18+k. I didn’t worry too much about the stroke rate, more the spilt time. After two days off the erg, it was a solid workout.

An ant problem in the basement

Got ants?

So I did a thing. Our basement has an ant invasion we are tackling. My job today was to pull more drywall and insulation out. I was on a step stool with a pry bar ripping styrofoam off the wall when I slipped.

My left knee pinned between the wall and the corner of 
the stool. Hurt Bloody Mary, tears to the eyes. It’s definitely bruised, probably pretty deep. Applied ice and took some ibuprofen. Stairs are murder. I suspect tomorrow morning will be awful, after it’s been immobile all night. I do not see myself erging or doing any leg work for probably, minimum, two days.


April 7

Took yesterday off. Did finally get the bikes sorted and went on a test ride around the neighborhood. The knee was tweaking for the few first minutes, but it got over itself.

Knee left and right side. Slipped between the wall and stool, so a double ouchie.

So I decided to give the erg a whirl. I didn’t plan anything earth shattering. I thought I’d just warmup and see how it felt. One hour later, it survived a pretty consistent piece. It’s been a little angry since, but not too bad.

April 8

Knee hurts worse today than any other day.

April 9

Starting to wonder if I have a posture issue, maybe at the release. My right side ribs are feeling tweaky and sore. Today I tried to focus on not collapsing. Breaking bad habits is hard.

April 11

Thursday night I felt completely drained. I decided to take Friday as a rest day, “sleep in” (6:30), and do the 6k Saturday.

It was great. I woke up feeling rested. I ate cake, candy, two glasses of red wine.

So this morning I expected to have gained weight. Nope. Lost almost a pound. What? Why does this happen?!

Anyway, had another awesome night sleep AND Caelan slept in until 7:30! It was glorious.

I’m on a Spring VIII virtual competition team. The 6k is the first up. I purposely waited until the last day because of falling off the stool and busting my knee on Sunday. Just realizing I had two off days this week. Oh, well.

It’s blinking 6

I’ve never done a 6k test before. My objective with this one was really survival. I wanted to be somewhat aggressive, figuring shooting for the 75% range for my age bracket would be solid. I got the numbers from C2’s rankings and it seemed in line with where I’m at.

My rough spots were around 4K to go and 800 to go. I used the same tactic as my 20min test except I added a rate change. So 22/24/26 and back down every 500, until the last 500 which was just up. I had a goal spilt and projected time to hit.

Overall, tired. Hit my max heart rate at some point, so definitely effort was made. I hit the numbers goal, and it’s in line with the 20min test. Can’t complain.

April 13

Decided to do something different today. A friend invited me to join a Zoom erg session, so I did. It was the most rowers I’ve seen since our December trip to Florida.

They did a pause drill at finish, arms away, and body. The arms away absolutely wrecked me. I can’t remember the last time I did one. I usually emphasize arms and body moving out of bow together.

I was hoping for 18k, but I hit 16. And I think it was quality work, so I’m not disappointed.

April 15

Halfway through the month, four weeks of shelter-in-place. It’s crazy!

Following two days of really solid work, today is for the tests. Banged out a 500 for the Spring VIII. I’m okay with the result but I think I can do better. Too much focus on fast strokes for the first 30 and not enough on power. I’ll try again Saturday.

Second test: Faster Masters has a Fitness Evaluation that looked interesting. What have I got to lose? Now is as good as time as any to evaluate where I am. So I’m doing it. The tests are spread out, and the first was a good pairing for the 500. Peak power. Waiting for the flywheel to stop between rounds, I felt like a Price is Right contestant. Stop….stop… ssssstttttooooopppppp.

I have no idea if my results are good or bad yet until I do more tests.

The other thought circulating my head is that goal I had. It was already ambitious for my ten-month timeline, but now it’s seeming even further out of reach. I simply can’t get the training volume or strength training I need to be at a high competitive level. This might be a two-year saga.

I had been thinking of taking it easy with the rowing thing this year. I guess Mother Nature is making that decision for me.

April 18

I finished the testing series with Fasters Masters. Not going to lie: it’s a rough sequence of days. But that’s the point, right? Test your fitness.

Relocated to garage due to basement demolition. It’s in the 40s out here.

I had to flip flop the order a bit, doing the 1k before the 75-minute test. The 1k was depressing because it was 10 seconds slower than the one I did in July. I also did another 500 meters but only dropped one second.

I will also say I know my erg always seemed to post slower numbers than when I used a more recent C2 with a PM4 or 5 monitor. That does account for the same drag setting on both monitors. But I’m not trying to make that an excuse. This is the tool I have to train with, so these are the numbers I go by. And if it is slower, then when I show up for the team, I’ll be faster than I think, right?

Today was the 75 minutes hard steady state. It’s the worst rowing thing I have done in a long time, and that’s on the heels of that 6k. Horrible.

The erg is now in the garage because we completely demolished the basement. I didn’t relish the idea of sucking drywall particles into my lungs for an hour.

I appreciated the new view. The neighborhood cats are funny and so territorial. But it was cold. 43F and in the shade.

The beginning was fine. I just reminded myself to save it for later because it’s a long way to go. Playlist was on point. Did a quick slowdown for water 30 minutes in. Every 5 minutes I added a power 5. My left hamstring started feeling tweaky about 15 minutes in, so I opted to be conservative for a while.

Halfway was okay. Still holding on. I’m doing a power 5 every 5 minutes.

25 to go stuff started getting real. Holding the target spilt at the 20 spm was a challenge.

17 to go Alan calls on the phone, interrupting the music. “I’m busy!” I yelled in the earpiece, deep in the suffer zone.

15 to go, it’s hurting. Keep climbing the mountain, says Three Days Grace. Fighting the spilt count. I started alternating rate every minute instead of every 5 like I’d been doing.

This is the longest 7 minutes of my life.

You know that “length of a minute chart” that shows how long the last minute of a 2K is. Every minute of the last five minutes was that on repeat.

Length of a 2k minute

The length of a 2k last minute chart.

The after was excruciating; the cool down rough.  New slogan: Rowing: low impact on your knees, high impact on your tuckus.

Once I ran the numbers, the weaknesses, in order, were 1) strength, 2) anaerobic, and 3) aerobic.

The strength is no surprise. After two months off strength training, I’d just started again. And then, wham, coronavirus, and  something had to go when I lost daycare and everyone started working at home. It’s 26% off the target. Anaerobic is not a surprise; I always struggle with anaerobic training. It’s 13% off the target. Aerobic is 7% off the target.

So I will have to think over how I can do some kind of strength training to shrink those losses a little, but I’m not going to prioritize it at this time. I want to close the gap on aerobic training first, because it should help me make gains across the board.

April 24

You wouldn’t think an easy steady state day could be so miserable, but it was. I had the worst time trying to maintain the target which was stupidly minimal. “How can I not maintain these watts??? They’re 30-40 lower than everything I’ve been doing!”


But I needed the easy day. Been hitting it pretty hard all week. Swapped one erg day for a strength day. Definitely worn out this morning. Some pain in my right hip, which is new, and that took about half an hour of easy steady state to stretch out. That resolved when the left hamstring started tweaking. Woke up with vertigo, too, so walking down the stairs in the dark was a treat. Was dizzy on-and-off all morning even after the workout and eating.

Just a rough morning. It happens. Had a good few days before this though.

April 25

30 minutes for the Spring VIII Contest. I wasn’t looking forward to this at all. I did the same thing I’ve been doing: look at the logbook for my gender/age group/ USA and what’s 75% percentile? It seemed a little low. I played around in the pace calculator and came up with that I thought I could reasonably do. Aggressive, but not setting any records. 

Again, the soundtrack mix was on point. “Push It,” “Never Gonna Stop,” “Champion,” all popping on at the right time.

I broke the piece into 5-minute chunks. Each 5-minute started with a 5-stroke power and shifted to a different stroke rating. I made a mental note of my average watts every 10 minutes and tried increase that average at every interval. I wish I was one of those machines who clock the same spilt every section, but right now I need variety to stay alert and performing.

It wasn’t as horrible as I thought it be. Not great, not planning to repeat anytime soon, but not awful. 

I’m encouraged because I started the month with a 20-minute test, then had the 6k, and now this. Each test my average spilt has stayed nearly the same. So the tests are getting longer but my power isn’t dropping. To me that’s a sign I’m getting stronger. Expecting a good 20-minute test next week.

Next is a 4-minute piece. Damn. After that 75-minute, 30-minute, and 6k, 4 minutes sounds like a cakewalk. A pillowy Angel Food Cake.


April 29

Maybe that 4-minute piece isn’t such a cakewalk. I had that raw teeth/raw lung feeling after. At least that’s a sign I gave a serious effort. I did a 22-minute warm up but I think I needed more high rate/pushes in the warm-up to be more effective.

The second minute of the test was the worst because I couldn’t land on the target spilt with a good rhythm. The spilt was about 1-3 beats too slow. I finally hit it around the halfway mark. Other than that, this was more consistent than the 1k test and the base spilt was faster. So, improvement! 

April 30

Well, we made it. Another crazy month is down. I ended with a strength training session. I’m hoping I can get out for some aerobic work later, like a bike or maybe attempting a run, but the weather isn’t looking promising.

Spring is here and it makes me itchy for some water time. It’s depressing that we moved somewhere I can row again and I still can’t row. I’ve been secret-stalking the club FB group and fitting in webinars and podcasts during some workouts to get my fix. But I know this is temporary. 

I ordered some stuff to clean up the boat, so at least I can prep it up.

May, I will have to design my own training plan. My income stream dropped 75% from March to April, so I had to make some cuts. I’m thinking of calling it “Back to Basics” and compiling all the rowing stand-bys. You know, the 3 x 20m x 2r, 21′ with rate bumps 6-5-4-3-2-1′, 1 x 60 Hour of Power. 

Here’s to May flowers!

About camckenna

I write; I row.
This entry was posted in Home, Training and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s