Weather: cloudy, windy around 7 mph, with gusts above 15mph. A cross wind.
I slept in this morning. Late this afternoon, I went to go for a short row and pick up my boat for this weekend’s race.
- practice starts
- 2 x 500
- pace target: 1:55 to 1:57
- rate target: 30-32
- cool down
I felt tired and frankly a little weird. My heart rate was really high even right after I left the dock. The wind was also a bother. A pretty stiff cross wind was kicking up some chop and also at times shifted around to be a nasty headwind.
The warmup was slow and I felt sluggish throughout. I was also paranoid because there were quite a few other boaters out. Kayaks, canoes, fishing boats. All randomly puttering along blissfully unaware that the river has a traffic pattern at all.
The past few days, I’ve been doing exactly the same warmup, but today, my heartrate was a good 10 to 15 beats higher throughout for about the same effort. Maybe too much caffeine or something.
After the warmup, I paddled to the end of the basin, turned and setup Crewnerd as instructed by Sander. Sounds on, speech on, autostart off, and then I set up the workout for practice starts. This is a 15 second countdown, 15 strokes, 1 minute rest. I planned 4 reps. With the speech on, Crewnerd gives you a tone warning at 15 seconds, then it says “ready” at 2 seconds to go, “attention” at 1 second, and “go” at zero. It works well and gives it a little more realism.
I played the first start conservatively, working on stability and crisp blade work. The next three I pushed harder. Each time, the same sequence. Comfortable at the catch at about 3/4 slide. Smooth push to get the boat moving. Early finish, blades high, barely feather, half slide, get blades in, finish early. Try to get the rate up around 45 for the first 5 short strokes. Then lengthen out to full slide in strokes six and seven, keep the rate high up through stroke 10. Then settle down to 32 and let the pace drift up toward 1:55 by stroke 15. I think these starts were good and solid. I was happy with them. None were perfect, but none were botched.
The last start put me about 20m away from the bridge, and I drifted under it and got myself lined up for the first 500. Again with autostart off, a 15 second countdown and speechified starting commands. It was basically flat calm as I started, but when I got out to around stroke 15, I was hit with a pretty strong gust of head wind, and it persisted through about 10 strokes, then eased a bit, and then slammed me again. This interval was right by the watch factory and I think the wind was swirling around the building. By the fortieth stroke, I was clear of the building and the wind calmed right down. I pushed the pace back down and really hammered the last 25 strokes. I paid the price after I finished.
I then paddled through the s-turn, and setup at the end of the straight section. The wind was still blowing, and here it was a cross/head wind. It felt like it was around 6-8mph and pretty constant. There wasn’t much chop where I started, but the river opens up to the port side of the boat after about 100m and there is enough room to build up a little bit of wave action. Nothing impressive by lake standards, but enough to make it tough to get out to full compression and maintain good balance. My start was good, and I just slogged my way through the breeze. Steering in sprints is always a challenge. I try to get a good look in about every ten strokes. In this piece, when I looked around at the 10th stroke, I saw a fishing boat to my port, safely clear. At 20, I looked again, and they appeared to be puttering along on a course that was converging with mine. I then steered to starboard to give myself some room. At thirty strokes, they seemed to have adjusted their course to try to get in my way. I steered more and snuck a look in at 35 strokes. They were right off my port bow, but clear by about 20m or so. I picked it up and pushed past them and it really started to hurt. So at 50 strokes, I pulled back and tried to set a rate and pressure that I could have sustained longer. This was a good way to finish, because I didn’t feel so bad after this rep.
I paddled with square blades most of the way back to the dock.
I decided to take a full rest day today and recharge my batteries for the race tomorrow.
The race tomorrow.
I’m in lane 2. This lane shares the center arch of the bridges. Scott Hornney is the guy who beat me by a little in last year’s Cromwell cup, and by a lot in a couple of head races. He’s a good rower, and pulled a 6:27 at last year’s CRASH-Bs! I have no expectation of beating him. Thomas Beretich was in the Cromwell Cup last year and he was a bit slower than I was. I don’t think that I’ve raced against James Ball before.
This year there might be a new twist. It looks like they are using the US Rowing age based handicaps. So, I get a 2.5 second of advantage against Thomas and Scott, and 3.7 vs James. That’s an intriguing twist, and one that I plan to ignore. I like racing on raw time.
The race meeting is at 6:20, so I plan to get there around 6 to unload and park. Then it will be a couple hours of waiting for (hopefully) less than 4 minutes of rowing. I’m very excited.