Tuesday: 14K of Technique

Monday:  I inadvertently slept until about 10 AM.  zThere was no other time during the day to grab a workout.  Instead, I drove into Cambridge, collected my sons and brought them back out to the house for a Memorial Day feast.  Steak, salad, corn on the cob, beer, strawberries.  A fine dinner and great company.

Last night, I had terrible trouble sleeping because I got so much sleep over the weekend.  I probably slept about 2 hours in little 15 minute snatches.  Still I managed to get out of bed at 5:15 and headed down to the river.

I was pretty tired, so I opted for a low intensity, technique oriented session

  • 500m square blades
  • 500m alternating square blades and easy r18
  • 500m of slow rollups, finish normally feathered, but immediately start to roll to square during the recovery.
  • The objective with all of these is to keep the blades clear of the water on recovery, and keep my shoulders relaxed and low.  Also to try to be very precise with my recovery, arms first, then body, then finally legs.
  • Repeat as many times as possible, so roughly 4 sets of the 3 – 500m chunks.

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Tomorrow (Wednesday):  Steady State, r20.  HR cap around 155.

Tomorrow around noontime, I am flying out to Chicago for a customer dinner, and then meetings on Thursday.  I fly home Thursday night.

On another note, I am looking at an open water boat to use down on Cape Cod.  This Saturday, I will be checking out a used Alden Star, a 22′ open water boat.

It’s a good price and it should be a reasonable choice for the conditions.  Now, I jut need to figure out how to get it up and down these stairs.

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Maybe something like this.

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Thursday to Sunday: Ticking along

Thursday:  Up at 4:30 to catch a 7AM flight to San Francisco.  Spent the day out in San Jose including a couple of meetings and a customer dinner.  Caught the red eye back from San Jose to Boston.  I arrived at about 6AM.

Friday:  My intent was to go home, get my rowing stuff and the then head out to the river.  But I felt pretty awful from the flight.  I managed to sleep, but it was pretty fitful.  Anyway, I climbed in bed around 8:30 and I thought I would just doze for a little while.  Next thing I knew the clock said 11:45.  I guess I needed the rest.

I finished up work stuff around 2pm and hopped on the erg for a gentle endurance session.

The plan was for 3 x 20′ / 1′ rest at r18 and 180W.  That’s exactly what I did.

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Saturday:  I wanted to head down to the river to install the stainless steel hardware for the oarlock and then try it out.  By the way, if you are in the US and you need hardware, check out boltdepot.com.  Great website, good selection and fast service.

I arrived around 7:30, and I had replaced the hardware and launched by about 8.  I was expecting to have to make some rigging adjustments, but it felt good as is.  No more clicking and the oarlocks were swiveling smoothly.

I haven’t had much time in the boat, so I just felt like rowing.  Nothing too intense, just steady state.  For whatever reason, I was dead slow and that was disappointing.

Sunday:  We took a drive out to Cape Cod to take some measurements in our new house.  We have to wait until mid-August before we close on it, and we want to be ready with furniture and everything that we need right away, so we wanted to measure all the rooms.  It’s a nice place.  Just visiting it makes me happy.  Here’s a picture.

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It’s on a 60 foot bluff above the water and it overlooks Cape Cod Bay.  I’ll be able to launch from the base of the steps you see on the right.

We got home around 4pm, and did a bit of yard work.  Around 6, I snuck off to do an erg session.  I wanted a bit more intensity, and I really enjoyed the 10K push from last weekend, so I did it again.  This time starting at 2:03 pace, and counting down.

I started with a 2K warmup.  2:03 pace with 10 stroke bursts at 1:50 or faster.

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Then into the 10K push.

Cool down, another 2K very slow.

Tomorrow:  It’s supposed to rain like hell.  So, I think another erg session, probably another 3×20.


Wednesday: An oarlock and a quickie

I flew back from Las Vegas, and it was pretty miserable. My flight was scheduled to leave at midnight and arrive in Boston at 8AM.  I had attended our sales awards dinner before grabbing a taxi and heading to the airport around 10PM.  There was much toasting and drinking.  Basically going from table to table and toasting all the different sales teams from different regions.  Many of them from cultures where drinking has been raised to an art form.  I stuck to beer, but even with that, I was feeling a bit tipsy by the time I got my cab.

I figured it would work out great.  I’d collapse into my middle seat and fall into a dreamless slumber.  Well, JetBlue had other plans for me.  I arrived at my gate to see that my departure had been delayed to 1:00AM.  I went to the desk and inquired.  The response was, “Oh yeah, that’s not the latest update, now we are planning a departure at 1:50AM”.  My heart sunk.  I had to try to stay awake for another 2 and a half hours in an airport terminal where everything was closed.  By the way, that’s when I wrote the “catching up” post.

Ultimately, the time passed and we were allowed to board.  At that point in time, we were told that due to a gigantic weather system over the midwest, we would need to fly a longer course, essentially due east to Georgia, and then up the east coast.  This would add about an hour to our travel time.  I was too tired to even react.  I just sat down. put on my seat belt, passed out and I don’t even remember taking off.  I slept for 5 hours straight, I didn’t even recline the seat.  I woke up as we were flying up the eastern seaboard and dozed off and on the rest of the way to Boston.  We finally arrived at 11AM, 3 hours behind schedule.

Now I had planned ahead.  After my 8AM arrival, I was going to stop in Newton, replace the oarlocks on my friends boat, and then take it out for a gentle row to work out the kinks from my flight.  These plans were also not to be.

I replaced the first oarlock without much problem.  They are a strange style.

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To remove the pin, you have to back out the bolt at the bottom, and then unthread the pin from the nut on top of the rigger.  The replacement went fine on the starboard side, but on the port side, the bottom bolt was frozen in the pin.  I tried to work it out, but managed to shear the bolt.  So, I regarded my situation and decided to go buy a new bolt.  From the hardware store, I then went home, drilled out the broken, frozen bolt out of the pin, replaced the oarlock, and then drove back to the boat (a 30 minute ride).  I then put the oarlock back on the boat, and noticed that I had left the nut to secure the back stay onto the pin at home (shit!).  I drove home (again), and packed up the nut so I wouldn’t forget it again.  By now it was after 3:30.  I decided to row on the erg until my wife got home from work.  Nothing fancy or difficult, just r18 and 180.

She got home from work about 22 minutes and 30 seconds later.  I stopped at 24 minutes and went to say hello.  It was a very low key row.  I didn’t have much to give.

We had a lovely evening.  Pasta Puttanesca, Chicken Breast and Brussels Sprouts.  I collapsed into bed around 9:30.

Today, I am flying out to San Jose for a meeting and dinner.  I fly home on the red eye.  I hope this one goes a bit better.  I won’t have time for a workout.

Friday:  I think I will go for a row.

Catching Up: Thursday to Tuesday

Things remain a bit hectic.  I’ve been focused on trying to squeeze in what I can.

Thursday:  I was down in Austin for a customer meeting, a big “Supplier Day” where a company invites in their largest suppliers and tells them where their business is going and what they need from suppliers.  A useful way to meet a lot of key people, but the whole time I keep thinking about other things that I need to get done.

In the morning, I popped down to the fitness center and did 30 minutes on the treadmill (max incline – 15% and around 3.5mph), aiming to upper end UT1 heart rate.  Then 30 minutes on the stationary bike, aiming at UT2.Screen Shot 2016-05-24 at 10.11.20 AM

It was kind of interesting.  There was a huge thunderstorm going on while I was working out.  Lot’s of thunder and lightning and it was raining like crazy!

Friday:  Up at 4:15 to get to the airport to catch an early flight.  Then straight into meetings on the phone once I got home.  No time to work out.

Saturday:  Busy day, rushing around.  shopping.  Painting a ceiling.  I managed to squeeze in an erg session.  I wanted a bit of intensity, but I wasn’t in the mood to go really deep.  So I decided to do a 10K push, but start off slower (at 2:04), and end at 1:55.

It was harder than it should have been, but I actually enjoyed it.  I started with a 2K warmup.

The main event.  Starting target was 2:04 for 1K, then 2:03 for 1K, and so on until I got down to 1:55 target for the last 1K.  Of course, I just went for broke in the last bit.

It stung a bit.

The cool down.  2K slowing down from 2:00 to 2:15 in 500 chunks

Sunday:  I caught a plane at 9AM out to Las Vegas.  We are having an internal team meeting here for a few days.  I arrived around 3PM and headed to to gym, hoping for some fun workout options.  There were none.  I was consigned to the usual treadmills, bikes, ellipticals, etc.  I did 30 minutes on the treadmill at a 2% incline, and a slow trot, maybe 4.5 mph.  I slowed a bit in the last 5 minutes of that to try to stick to a HR cap around 150.  Then I grabbed a drink, and did another 30 minutes on the treadmill on the max incline (15%, around 3.5 mph).

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Monday:  We got back to the hotel around 10 and I escaped the bar by around 11.  I headed straight up to bed, pounded down a liter of water and collapsed into bed.  I woke up with the alarm at 5:30, and then headed down down to  the depressing little fitness center to workout.  This morning the menu was 30 minutes on the treadmill at maximum incline (15%) and about 3.5 mph.  Then 30 minutes on the one of those new, improved elliptical machines that have more independent leg motions

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Tuesday:  On Monday night, I crawled into bed around midnight having had a bit too much to drink and feeling a bit worse for wear.  But I felt pretty alert at 5:30 in the morning when my alarm went off.  This morning, I was certain that I had no interest in returning to the sad little fitness center, so I decided to run the strip.  This was a great decision.  I ran along in front of all the fancy casinos and hotels for about 4 km down and 4 km back.  One thing that made it a bit more interesting and tiring was all of the pedestrian overpasses.  Each of the pace decreases below is me climbing a couple of flight of stairs, and the coming back down.

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Now, I am sitting here at the airport   My flight has been delayed almost 2 hours and I am getting very tired and sleepy.  This could be a pretty rough wait.

Tomorrow:  First priority, enough sleep.  Second priority is a quick erg session.



Wednesday: SS Rate Ladders, 1x

Weather:  Perfect!  60F, dry, almost no wind.


  • Rate ladders: 3′ @ 18, 2′ @ 20, 1′ @ 22
  • As many I could do in the time I had which was about an hour.
  • HR cap below 160.  I really should be capping at 155, but it just feels too slow!

I launched a bit late.  Yesterday, after I finished my main set and I was rowing back to the dock, I noticed that my starboard oarlock felt funny.  When I started to drive, it felt like it was giving a little bit at first, so there was a Ka-lunk at the start of the drive.  I had not noticed it before the workout.  When I got back to the dock, I noticed that the oarlock had more “play” fore and aft than the port oarlock.  I decided to try to swap out the oarlocks, or at least the bushings this morning.

I gave it a try, but I discovered that removing the oarlocks on this old Peinert would have required essentially completely disassembling the outboard end of the rigger.  I decided to just tighten up the nuts and go rowing, and try to fix the oarlocks on another day when I had more time.  With the nuts tightened, I could still feel a little thunk on the starboard oar, but it was a lot better.  It will need to be fixed though.  I don’t think this boat has been rowed hard for a very long time.

Anyway, by the time I got on the water, it was around 6:40.  I needed to be back on the dock by 7:50 to let the guy who owned the boat has his turn.  So I rowed down to the moody street dam, and decided to turn around again at exactly 7:15, since that would get me back right on time.  I had just gotten back through the s-turn and had just completed a ladder at 7:15, so I spun and headed back to the dam.  Then I rowed home.

Right before the cut, I passed by the coach of the LaSalle Crew.  They row in the afternoons, so I don’t generally see them on the river.  He gets in his own training in the mornings so we cross paths every now and then.  I was glad to see him, because there are big doings going on at my old club house about 1km upriver from where I keep my boat.  This year a high school crew from Nobles has moved in with a bunch of 4+s, and launches, and then later this summer, the biggest rowing organization in the area, Community Rowing, is going to be opening a satellite location at that boat house.  There is talk that they could be bringing up to 20 boats out here.  I think that this is great!  I would probably keep my boat where it is, but if there is a group of rowers from CRI here, then I might be able to find some folks to train with in the mornings and maybe get into some bigger boats for more racing action.  I’m going to reach out and see if I can find out what the story is.

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Anyway, back to the rowing.  I was sluggish and slow today, and I didn’t feel like I was rowing all that well.  But it was hard to be glum about it on such a sterling morning.

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Now I am on a plane down to Austin for some meetings on Thursday.  I fly home on Friday.  I will probably try to find myself a crossfit box for tomorrow morning, and just do some steady state rowing.  Hopefully, I can squeeze in a quick 10K on Friday after I get home.

This weekend, I’m not sure what will happen.  I fly out on Sunday for another trip, so I have lots to get done on Saturday.

8 x 500 / 3′ rest – 1x

Nice weather.  Light breeze (3 mph) from the WNW.  A cross head wind going up river and a cross tail wind going down river.

To put it gently, I had limited expectations for this session.  I’ve done no significant speed work in the boat this spring so far, and this was really to just to get reacclimated to higher stroke rates.

I was in Newton, in Alex’s boat.

Workout Plan:

  • 8 x 500
  • 3 minute rest (paddling)
  • Stroke rate 26 to 30
  • 4K warmup all the way to the Moody street dam, including power 20s at 26, 28, 30 and >32
  • 3 intervals up stream, then turn in the rest
  • 3 intervals down stream, turn in the rest
  • 2 intervals up stream
  • Cool down (SBR)

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This plot is from Google Earth Pro.  The SW accepts TCX files and can provide plots of speed, cadence, hr and elevation.   To do that you right click on the path, and choose “show elevation” from the menu.  It’s a pretty cool feature.

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These plots were generated from rowsandall.com.  This is an online tool that provides data analysis support for rowing data files from painsled, RowPro, Speedcoach, and Crewnerd (TCX).  It was developed by Sander and is still evolving rapidly, but if what you want is a quick way to generate graphical summaries of workouts, it’s very cool.


This is the CSV summary from CrewNerd, just prettied up a little bit.

My average pace for this session was 2:08.5.  While it is tough to compare sessions on different days, Last year on June 5, I did a 5 x 500 with an average pace of 1:57.7.  There are a number of differences between the sessions.

  • Different boat (mostly psychological)
  • fewer reps last year
  • longer rests last year, around 4 or 5 minutes of rest, so I was better rested
  • Standing starts last year (so I should have been slower)
  • real speedcoach versus GPS last year (so no current effect on rep times)
  • no wind last year (probably worth about 4 seconds)
  • I had been doing speed work on the water for more than a month.  I did a 5 x 1K with an average pace of 2:08.1 on April 16, 2015, a full month before now.

But, this is a starting point.  When I get my boat, with my speedcoach, and get settled back in, I will start working on improvement.  Right now, it’s really about technique and fitness.  In terms of a training plan, it’s basically 4 sessions of steady state endurance training and 2 high intensity sessions (one short sprints (1′ to 5′) and one longer intervals (6′ to 12′)) either on the water or on the erg.  Gotta keep it simple right now.

I’m still having the annoying problem with the wahoo strap getting stuck when I do these kind of interval sessions.  I think I will go back to my Polar H7 to see if that works better.



Monday: 3 x 20′ / 1′ rest L4

Sunday:  Feeling very worn down.  Did some painting.  No Training

Monday:  Decided to skip OTW this morning.  Winds were 20 to 25 mph which would have made it not very productive.  New plan was 3×20′ L4 on slides.

I felt pretty crappy.  My HR just kept creeping up and it was harder and harder to hold the target wattage.  I dialed back the stroke counts after the first 30 minutes a bit and it helped a little.

By the way, graphs were generated on line using a new tool developed by Sander.  It’s in beta test and active development right now, but has the potential to be a true cross platform to log and analyze rowing data.

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I’m in a bit of a rut right now.  I am really enjoying the time I’m spending on the water, and thanks to club boats and my friend Alex’s Pienert, can get on the water just about whenever I have time.  But doing sessions on the erg is a pain in the ass, and I am not sure exactly what I am training for.

Tomorrow:  OTW, something spicy, maybe 8 x 500.

Saturday: 12K variety 1x session on Qinsig

The weather was beautiful.  There was a very flukey breeze, building from nothing to about 5 mph.  It felt like a head wind while we were rowing uplake, but it wasn’t much of a factor.

The lake was buzzing with activity today.  Tomorrow is the Eastern Sprints, which is the most important east coast regatta for Men’s Division 1 Collegiate rowing.  All the big name teams were here.  Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Navy, Penn, Cornell.  We lend out our little boathouse to Navy.  Their rowers are tall and lean.  Very impressive.

We had a good group today, 11 people.  3 of us in singles, 2 doubles and a quad.  I was pretty much rowing with Bob in another one of the singles.

One confusing thing is that the lake run a reverse pattern on race weekends.  So, we headed up lake along the worcester shore and down lake along the shrewsbury shore.  It’s very weird because you get very used to steering the other pattern and you have to find all different points to use on the reverse patterns.

I was in a reasonably nice Drew Harrison single.  The boat is a good fit for me weight wise and it’s rigged pretty well for my height.  Bob and I headed up lake first along the outside of the buoyed course. I tried to hold about 18 SPM and get out over my oars.  I was also trying to keep my oars off the water on recovery.  About halfway up lake, I needed to stop to fix the foot stretcher.  One of the wing nuts was not properly tightened and it slipped noisily as I started to push the pressure up.

I finished fixing that as Bob was right beside me and we basically rowed side by side all the way up to the rt 290 bridge.  I put in a little burst at the end to see if I could hold technique as I pushed up the rate.  It was a really beautiful morning for a row.

We puttered around a bit until the quad showed up, and then we headed over to the buoyed lanes.  I was in the lane closest to the shrewsbury shore (Lane 6).  It looked like Bob was over in Lane 4.  The wind was behind us now, but pretty light.  I just wanted to work on technique at r18.  I tried to see how fast I could go at r18 without pushing my HR up past 155.  You can see the GPS spike where I went under the Rt 9 bridge.  From there, I kept doing the same thing for another 2K, which took me through the narrows.  Then I started to push the rate up to something resembling head race rate and pressure and did the final 2K down to the bottom of the lake.  I have a lot of work to do.  It was exhausting and I was remarkably slow.

After hanging around and reassembling our group, we took off back up lake.  For this section I rowed alternating square and regular strokes, trying to work on finishes.  I also tried to keep up with Bob who was doing low rate steady state.  I did this for about 2K up to the narrows.  After the narrows, it is about 1K to the bridge, so I pushed the rate up to 22 and tried to keep my finishes clean and keep reaching out for the catches.  There was a little bit of head wind.  Again, it was a lot more tiring than it should have been for the pace I was getting.

When we got back to the boathouse, it was madness.  People everywhere.  Very cool to see some of the best rowers in the country here.

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Tomorrow:  Probably a steady state session.  Very easy though.  I’m a little freaked out by Friday.

Friday: WTF?

My dinner in NYC lasted until about 11:30.  I got to bed around 12:30.  Up at 7:00.  On the road by about 8:15AM.  Drove home and arrived about noon.  Then straight into a couple of work phone calls.  My day finished up around 3.  I hopped on the erg for what I planned to be a 60 minute steady state L4.

I lasted 20 minutes.  My HR was in bounds, but my RPE was very high.  I was sweaty and breathing very hard.  I started the second 20 minute piece and then decided to just bin the session.  I have no idea what was wrong with me.  Maybe I just wasn’t in the mood.

I was very tired in evening.  I wondered if I was getting sick.  But I felt much better this morning.

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Thursday: 14K of technique work

Another perfect morning!  Sunny, 60F.  Very light wind (0-2mph) from the north.  This is basically a cross head wind going downriver, and a cross tail wind heading up river, I only noticed it a couple of moments in the row.  Otherwise, it was just little ripples on the water.

I changed my mind about my workout plan this morning when I woke up.  I was tired and sore all over.  I decided that doing an High Impact session was a bad idea, and a better idea would be to just work on technique the whole time.

So, I did my favorite technical workout.

  • 500m of square blade rowing
  • 500m of alternating 1 stroke square blade and 1 stroke normal
  • 500m of r20, trying to row with perfect form
  • Repeat over and over again.

One thing that works out well about this workout is that the useful length of the river is 3000m, so I can fit two sets in each direction very neatly.

I ended up rowing 1000m through the twists and turns, then did 8 sets of the 3×500 technique drills.  That got me back to the cut.  At that point I pulled my feet out of the shoes and rowed the 1000m back to the dock “strapless”.  This is also really good practice to get clean finishes.

This was a really enjoyable workout.  And I felt like my finishes got a lot better.  I was tapping down earlier, and getting the oars out of the water with less disturbance.  It didn’t hurt that it was a glorious morning and I was on a beautiful river.

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This afternoon, I’m driving down to New York City to have dinner with a customer, and then I’ll drive home tomorrow morning.  I think I will probably do an erg session when I get home.