Rowing Update: Training Resumes, Loneliness, and Testing

Taking it easy

The August scrimmage was probably the last time I tried some semblance of rowing training.

I reached a point where trying to be in top-notch shape was stressing me. And what’s the point? The 2020 racing season is a bust. Like many others, I had persisted as best possible through the spring hoping maybe a head race season would happen. We all know the (virtual) reality now.

So after the scrimmage and its disappointing result, I threw in the metaphorical oars. I had considered back in December making 2020 an “off” year. I’m not interested in virtual racing at this time. Winter is coming and that meant months of memorizing the crack in our basement wall while sliding around on the erg. Why was I torturing myself? Read the signs.

That’s not to say I’ve been a sloth and mowing down on some ice cream. On nice days, I bicycled. I signed up for a virtual mobility/foundational movement class. I have avoided the erg except for twice. I’ve rowed more this summer than a typical year in Kentucky.

Instead of worrying about poor spilt times and stroke rates, I flipped the stroke app face down and rowed for boat feel and technique. Is my chest collapsing? I am pushing out into the oars? Is the grip relaxed? Is the catch part of the recovery? I am moving the boat past the water? I worked to feel long and smooth. Sometimes I rowed “fast” and sometimes long and slow.

The team held a virtual half-marathon and marathon; it was tempting, but I let the opportunity pass by.

I admired the deer down at the river for a drink. I watched the mist swirl into tornadoes. Ducks cursed at me as I disturbed their morning swim. Fishermen caught my rudder and laughed. I experimented with different boats. As the mornings grew darker, the stern pointed at Orion’s Belt bright despite city lights. Sunrises caught pinks and golds. Temperatures cooled.

As the weeks passed by, that little switch started dialing up. I caught myself counting 100s. Throwing in power 10s. Itching for some distance. Doing starts. Wondering if I could make it to a certain dock before time wound down.

My last “training-free” row on Tuesday, I took a few moments to sit under the bridge and admire the silence. The trees are starting to burn, and the early morning sun sparks them awake. Mornings now frequently have mist gliding across the water. Motorboat traffic is waning. The club is back to rowing all boats, so fewer row 1x’s now. I was alone.

The row was glorious, but tough. The mental voice started to count strokes like I do when racing and had to tell myself to stop and enjoy the moment. I came off feeling long and strong.

Rowing is a lonely sport

How excited I was to join a team! To meet rowing people again! I know becoming part of a club is a challenging process. So many names, faces, and personalities to meet. Add the ‘rona to the mix and 1x-only rowing for weeks and it complicates things.

I expected it to be hard and long to integrate. I didn’t anticipate to be on the water with eight other boats and still feel alone.

It’s been three months since I started and I still can’t figure out this team culture. Maybe the problem is I walked in with certain expectations since the team actively participates in regattas. Then they haven’t met that organizational expectation. Certainly the lack of team boats for weeks plays a role.

This experience has led me to think about how to incorporate new Masters rowers into a team. I don’t remember it being like this when I joined ROCCS, Sarasota, or Louisville–and granted, they are all three very different teams in size, purpose, and organization.

October 1

Today is the date I set to restart my training cycle after weeks “off.”

For my goal, I decided to train for the W1x at the Head of the Cuyahoga, hopefully happening Sept 2021. I sprinkled in some smaller goals along the way, but those all have giant asterisks on them given no one knows what’ll happen with coronavirus.

Day 1 started with a 20-minute assessment. Good news: it was faster than my last test back in April. Good to know I haven’t lost anything! Solid base to launch this next year.

Our days on the water are numbered, and I plan to milk every single one until the weather is too cold. I have some other big rowing news happening in a few weeks.

About camckenna

I write; I row.
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1 Response to Rowing Update: Training Resumes, Loneliness, and Testing

  1. Chad Terrell says:

    No matter where you go, you’ll always have a home at ROCCS!

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