12K in a borrowed boat

I was excited all day long yesterday.  On Thursday night, when I got home, I saw a big object wrapped in bubble wrap on my front porch.  My new rigger!

I didn’t have time to get it on my boat and adjusted Thursday night, so I erg’ed on Friday morning and planned to install the new rigger as soon as I got home from work on Friday evening.

After dinner, I went out to get it all set up.   I got the old rigger off the boat, started to unwrap the new rigger, and I noticed something looked a bit odd about the port end of it.

2017-09-29 19.55.21

That’s funny, I didn’t remember them having a bend in the end of it like that, and it looks kind of sloppy.  So, I unwrapped the starboard end.

2017-09-29 19.55.54

That’s the way it’s supposed to look.  Dammit, the rigger got bent in shipping.  I looked more closely at the bend on the port end.  The aluminum tube was actually fractured on the inner side where the crease was.  This is not repairable and there is no way I would try to row with it.  My boat is still unusable and it’s 21 days to the HOCR.

So, I dispatched an email to Fluid with pictures and I am awaiting instructions on what to do.  In the mean time, I need to get my ass back in a boat with some urgency.  So, today, I headed out to Worcester and made arrangements to borrow a friends peinert.  Until I have a boat, I will just have to wake up earlier, and schlepp out to Worcester to get out on the water.

The plan today was to take it easy.  Just get comfortable in the boat, build up some more aerobic endurance minutes and keep my HR below 155.

The conditions were not ideal.  It was grey and cool, in the mid 50s, with a gusty 6-10mph wind from the North.  This was shooting straight down the lake, so there was a good amount of chop.  And heading into it was a slow slog.  I was very interested in trying to be good to my back, so I purposely rowed more lightly and at a higher rate for this easy of a workout.

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I started off with a double heading south on the lake.  After about 1000m, I noticed that they weren’t behind me anymore, so I headed back to check on them.  They were off in the cove doing some drill work, so I resumed my trip down lake.  As I got back to them a single came by heading south, so I took off in pursuit.  My rules were simple.  Respect the HR cap.  Keep the rate between 20-22. And catch up with him.  I did, and passed him as we went through the narrows.

I rowed into the cove at the south end of the lake, had a quick drink and then headed north into the wind.  I upped the rate to around a 23 to try to avoid putting too much pressure on my back and tried to rationalize that the pitifully slow pace was due to the head wind and chop.  As I came past the little island coming out of the cove, I caught sight of an 8 from our club heading south, so I spun and followed them into the cove.  The double that I started with was also coming south too.

We all headed into the cove again, and I spun.  The double spun quickly and took off north again.  I watched them go and they looked pretty smooth.  I decided to give chase using the same rules as before.  Respect the HR cap, keep the rate above 22, and focus on keeping my damn knees together at the catch.  The chop was a bit challenging at times, and the gusty headwind slowed me down.  It was a relief when I was rowing in the lee of an island or outcrop.  The most obvious example of that is the drop in pace around 47 minutes.  I went from being in the wind shadow coming up to the narrows into a choppy, gusty mess as soon as I passed it.  I was gaining on the double all the way up to the bridge, but they bailed and headed into the boathouse.  I continued up lake.

After another 1000m or so, I decided I wasn’t really enjoying the slog.  Also, I was concerned that everyone would head in to the dock and I’d be making them wait if I went all the way up lake.  So, I spun it around and did the downwind slide back to boathouse.



All in all, a very nice outing.  My back feels good. I liked the Peinert.  It seems a bit tippier than my fluid, so that was good practice to keep the boat set.

Oh, and I used the Polar OH1 on my arm today.  It worked great, even under a long sleeve shirt.

Tomorrow:  Steady State erg session, 60-80 minutes in 20′ chunks

10K Threshold

The original plan was to do another 30′ piece, but I was looking to change up the workout a little bit.  I wanted to challenge myself a bit more and frankly I like distance based pieces than time based ones.


  • 10K
  • Rate: 25-26
  • Pace: 1:56 (my 30 minutes was at 1:56.2)
  • Technique:  Keep your damn knees together
  • HR Limit: None

I did 10 minutes on the treadmill to warmup (15% grade, 3.1mph).

These rows are pretty brutal.  Just like the 30′ piece that I did last weekend, I started out trying to hold 1:55.  I lasted a bit longer today.  Out to around 5K versus 3K for the other piece.  I had a very brief crisis around the 7000 meter point.  I essentially pulled up for two strokes, and then thought better of it and took a minute or so at 2:00 pace.  Then pushed the pace slowly back toward target.  It was a pretty good save.

I did a slow 1K on the erg for a cool down.


        Workout Summary - media/20170929-1236080o.csv
Workout Details

Here is the whole workout from the polar OH1 sensor


I was curious about how this session compared to my 30′ piece.  So, I used the nady multicompare features in rowsandall to look.

  • Pace and power, you can see how I started both pieces at about the same pace, and then faded in the 30′ around 2500m.  Then you can see the crisis around 6300m in today’s piece.
  • I did a better job at keeping the stroke rate up today.
  • better HR response today.

Tomorrow:  I’ve got my new rigger for my boat.  I will mount it tonight and hopefully do a nice long and easy technical session tomorrow on Quinsig.


Steady State


  • 15′ warmup – Treadmill 15% grade, 3mph
  • 3 x 15′ / 2′ steady state
    • pace target 2:05
    • rate: 20
    • HR limit: 155
    • Technique: knees together

I got a phone call while I did my warmup so I ended up doing 20 minutes of death march.

On the erg, I was unhappy that I needed to slow down to stay under the HR cap.  But, one must respect  the rules!

HR for the whole workout including warmup…



The rowing bit.


        Workout Summary - media/20170928-1251390o.csv
Workout Details

Tomorrow:  Hard Distance.  30′ pace target 1:55.


Up at 5:15.  In the gym around 7:00AM.

The Plan:

  • 10 minute warmup on the treadmill (15% grade, 3mph)
  • L2 Waterfall
    • 3K / 2.5K / 2K
    • 5′ rest
    • pace target: 1:54
    • rate: 24-26
    • Technique: knees together
    • HR limit: none

I’m trying to warm up off the erg to try to make sure that I don’t take any hard pulls until my back is limbered up.  Today was a brisk walk up a 15% grade.  My HR was still below the bottom of my UT2 range by the time I had gone 10 minutes, but I had broken a sweat.


This was right on the edge of my capability.  I eased up a bit in the 1000m to 500m to go in the last two intervals, but just by about a second or so.  It was enough to make it through.  Each interval, I counted strokes from beginning to end.  Between 96 and 100 strokes per 1000m.

        Workout Summary - media/20170927-1235430o.csv
Workout Details

Tomorrow:  steady state 4 x 15


40 minutes with bumps

I slept badly last night, so I didn’t get up until 6:30.  That compressed the time available for a workout to my lunch hour.  So, an easy 80 minute session wasn’t going to fit.

I had about an hour.  Allowing for time to change and shower afterwards, that left about 40 minutes for an actual workout.  I decided to trade time for intensity today.  I also wanted to do something a bit different, to keep things interesting.

The Plan

  • 40 minutes
  • 8 x 5 minutes
    • 4 minutes at 2:05/r20
    • 1 minute at 1:54/r24

I don’t have any research to back this up, but I suspect that workouts where you go from a faster pace to a steady state pace help you develop the ability to process lactate.  These bump based workouts are a big part of some workout plans (especially the 10 meters per stroke strapless plans).  They are also fun to do because you are always counting down to the next bump.


Workout Summary - media/20170926-1700550o.csv
Workout Details

I was  thinking that my HR would have been a bit lower from this, but I don’t really know.  It was good fun anyway.

Tomorrow:  L2 Waterfall: 3k/2.5k/2K on 5′ rest.  Target pace 1:54.


15 x 3′ / 1′ Static

I felt tired at 5:15 so I rolled over and slept 2 more hours.  I’m glad I did.

I headed to the gym at lunch and sat down on the new erg.  And my HR strap didn’t link up to either the PM5 or the phone.  I popped out the battery and it was wet.  Uh Oh.  I put in a new battery.  Still no life. I think the seal must have gone and sweat has gotten into it.

I pulled out my old wahoo tickr and put a new battery in this one.  I had stopped using this one because it seemed to have a problem following fast HR changes, like you see in interval sessions (like today’s workout).  This one linked up right away, and I got going with the workout using painsled.

The plan:

  • 15 x 3′ / 1′ rests
  • Pace: 1:54
  • Rate: 26
  • Technique: knees together, limit layback
  • HR limit: none


So the sensor still has issues.  Glad it wasn’t my imagination.

So, targets met.  Tired now.

Tomorrow:  80 minutes of endurance training.  20 minutes treadmill, 3 x 20′ on the erg.

12km coastal row in Wellfleet

Oh, what a beautiful morning!  It was in the mid 60s, very little wind, flat water and bright sunshine.  It was just after low tide, and there was just enough water depth to launch and row out.  The seabirds were wheeling around my boat as I started out, and I could see the bottom.  Schools of striped bass swam under my boat chasing after smaller fish.

The Plan:

  • 60-80 minutes of easy rowing
  • HR cap: ~150
  • rate: ~20
  • Technique:  Work on keeping my knees together and tapping down cleaning without a lot of layback.  Get those blades off the water!

I followed the Lt Island shoreline out toward deeper water.  My path out is the more northerly one in the map below.  Once I was clear of the projecting point of the shoal, I turned west and headed toward the red buoy, but I couldn’t pick it up over my shoulder yet.  I was heading out and the tide was coming in, so the pace in this section was a bit slow.  After about 2000m, I did a more purposeful scan and found is bit to the south, so I turned and headed towards it.  I did a u-turn around the buoy and headed north to Wellfleet inner harbor, now with the tide behind me and the pace improved by at least 30 seconds per 500.  I rowed to the green buoy and then continued past two more marks around the tip of the breakwater.  I decided to turn at 6000m.  I stopped and had a drink of water.

I turned around and headed back the way I came.  I seemed to weave around a bit more on the way back.  I suspect that the tide was setting me east or west depending on my direction relative to flow.  The last 1000m of the row back to the red buoy was a bit sloppy.  A little bit of wind from the east had sprung up and there was a bit of cross chop that was making it hard to keep a good rhythm.  Once I turned into the wind at the buoy, the boat felt a bit heavier, but it was easier to hold a rate.

As I got closer to the end, I pushed the rate and pressure up a bit just for fun.

A fantastic outing.

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        Workout Summary - media/20170924-160226-Greg Smith 20170924 0910amo.csv
Workout Details
00|02397|15:30.0|03:14.0|000.0|19.3|134.2|147.0|08.0 - a/ tide
01|03610|19:30.0|02:42.0|000.0|19.3|144.4|148.0|09.6 - w/ tide
02|03643|23:00.0|03:09.4|000.0|19.6|142.8|150.0|08.1 - a/ tide
03|02180|11:55.3|02:44.0|000.0|20.8|149.0|160.0|08.8 - w/ tide

Tomorrow:  Short interval/Short rest on the erg.  15 x 3’/1′

30 minutes hard – static

It was foggy and windy this morning so no coastal rowing for me.  Probably a good thing.  I have a lot of issues to work on right now, but threshold fitness is probably the biggest one.  It’s probably easier to focus on fitness on the erg compared to a coastal row with a lot of wind, chop and other distractions.


  • 5 minute warmup with 10 stroke bursts at 22/24/26/28
  • 30 minutes hard
    • rate target: 24
    • pace target 1:55
    • HR limit: none


Workout Summary - media/20170923-1750570o.csv
Workout Details

I held onto to 1:55 as the target through the first 10 minutes, but I felt like I wasn’t going to be able to keep it up the whole way.  I decided to let the pace drift up to 1:57.  That got me through the next 5 minutes.  At the halfway point, I decided to try to play a little visualization game.  I tried to remember the rough spacing of bridges in the HOCR.  I was pretty sure it was about 5 minutes from the Eliot bridge to the end.  It was probably a little more than 5 minutes from the Anderson to Eliot, and another 5 minutes from Western to Anderson.  So, I tried to visualize the different parts of the course as I did them.  I was really struggling at 10 minutes to go, and I was picturing myself going around the long turn from Anderson to Eliot.  I pictured the Cambridge Boat Club coming into view with about 2 minutes left and focused to trying to stay close to the buoy line.  I let my pace slip a bit slower than 1:57 because I wanted to save a little for the last stretch beyond the eliot bridge.  With 5 minutes to go, I split it up even more.  First was about 25 strokes to get me to the BBN docks.  Then 50 strokes to get around the last turn.  Then a final 50 strokes to the finish.

It was pretty satisfying to get it done.  I was really losing hope in the middle.  I am not pleased at all about the time.  My best 30 minutes is 1:48.8 pace back in 2013, and my best hour is at a 1:52 pace late in 2015.  Hell, my best half marathon is faster at 1:53.6 (also in 2015).  So I am more than 7 seconds off my best pace for head race distances.  All I can do is work on my tolerance for pain and do my best.

Tomorrow:  Hopefully an easy coastal row.

The Voyage of the Doomed

Or…The Accidental Triathlon

The day started like any other day.  I woke up, did my hated core exercise routine, and drove to Newton to go for a row.  Little did I know that my easy steady state session would end up…in disaster.

It was cool and grey out.  They was a brisk, gusty wind from the ENE blowing about 15mph with gusts to 20.  This was a cross head wind going downstream.  The 4km trip from the dock to the dam was an uneventful slog.  I have not spent enough time in the boat and my rowing was terrible.  There was a bit of chop in some places, and the wind was hard enough to toss around my oars.  But I just worked on trying to keep my oars off the water on recovery and take nice smooth strokes.

I turned around at the dam, and I was really looking forward to working with a tail wind.  I rowed back under the bridge, and in front of the watch factory.  As I was approaching the s-turn, I heard a loud metallic pop behind me and my port oar washed out.  I looked over my shoulder and my rigger had failed.  I row in a Fluid which has a bow mounted rigger.  There is a main strut and a smaller reinforcing strut.  The main strut had completely severed, right near the edge of the hull.  The only thing holding the rigger on was the thin reinforcing strut.

After a few moments considering my situation.  I was roughly 3km of river away from the dock.  I decided to see if I could gently paddle along on what was left of the rigger and make back to the dock.  This worked great!  For about 20 strokes.  Then the joint connecting the severed main strut to the reinforcing strut parted and I was left holding an oar that just dragging in the water.  An immediate moment of panic passed when I realized that I could keep the boat balanced by leaning to starboard a bit on my good oar.  That gave me time to think.  The first thought was…I am not getting out of this boat without getting wet.

Obviously, I wasn’t going to be able to make it back to the dock, but there was a boat launch ramp about 100m from me.  100m is not far to go, but if you have no means of propulsion, and it’s 100m upwind, it isn’t really close either.  For about a minute, I thought the wind would push me to the bank of the river and I could get out there.  Then it became clear that I was getting pushed to a part of the bank where there was a lot of underbrush, and I wouldn’t have been able to get out.

I made the decision to eject.  I leaned to port, and quick as a wink, I was in the water next to my inverted boat.  I kept a grip on the loose oar.  I was worried that the extra weight of the broken rigger on it might be enough to make it sink, which I now doubt would have happened, but at the time, it seemed quite important to me.  With my free hand, I flipped the boat back over, got my water bottle and flip flops back in the cockpit and started swimming upwind to the dock.

The swim took a while, maybe 5 minutes or so.  I’m looking at this as the second leg of my triathlon.  Then I put my boat and oars off in a grassy corner of the little park where the ramp is.  It was a bit worrying that I could hear water sloshing around in the bow.  I’ll have to look into that later.

OK.  So I was on land and I had a boat.  What’s my next step.  I knew that I was 3km from the dock on the river.  I had no idea how far it was to get there on foot.  And then I discovered reason #67 to have a smartphone with you when you row.

Reason 67 to have a smartphone with you in a boat:  If your rigger fails and you need to get back to your car, you can use it to give you directions!

It turns out that there is a path that runs along the river, but cuts out a lot of the twists.  Google maps told me that my car was 1.5 miles away.  I put on my flip flops and jogged the whole way for the final leg of the Triathlon.  I got to my car, changed into some dry clothes and  then drove to pick up my boat.  I never knew that it would be so handy to keep my boat rack on my car.  I’m just glad that I do!  I picked up my boat and my oars and headed to work.  The crazy thing is that I got to work almost exactly at the time that I normally do.  It was a disaster, but a very efficient one from a time point of view!

Part 1 of the row.  No HR data because it was connected to the speedcoach that ran out of battery power.  This took me about 3km into the row.  When the speedcoach packed up, I stopped this session and hooked the HR monitor to RIM to continue with part 2.


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Part 2 of the row.  Finishing the trip down to the dam, turning around and rowing until the boat busted.  Then the swim to the ramp!


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I didn’t bother tracking HR or pace on the run back to my car, but it took about 15 minutes.

Tomorrow:  We’re heading to the cape tonight.  If the wind dies down I might go for a coastal row tomorrow.  Other wise it will be on the erg.  In either case, the goal will be head race simulation.  30 minutes at 24 spm.

Here are few pictures of the busted rigger


4 x 2K / 5′ – on the erg – Back at it

When my alarm went off at 5:15 this morning, I felt very tired.  I walked downstairs, thought about it for a minute, and then went back to bed for another 2 hours.  I got up at 7:30 and felt much better.

As I drove to work, the weather was fine, but a bit windy.  It would have been perfectly rowable, but I was glad to get the additional sleep.

My new plan was to do the workout at the end of the day on the erg.  Because I have missed just about a full month of serious training, both technique and fitness need attention.  Today I wanted to focus on fitness.

I haven’t done this workout since 9/16/2016, just over a year ago.  This winter and spring, I was using the Eddie Fletcher Marathon training plan and haven’t been doing the normal interval work at all.

I point out all of that basically to say that I had very low expectations, and I didn’t want to bite off more than I could chew.  So, I decided to pick a conservative pace target.

The Plan:

  • 4 x 2000 / 5′ rest
  • pace target: 1:55 or faster
  • rate target:  1st: 24, 2nd 25, 3rd 26, 4th: no target
  • HR limits: none
  • Technique:  Focus on keeping my knees together at Head race stroke rates

myimage (8)

        Workout Summary - media/20170921-2215550o.csv
Workout Details

That was hard work.  I managed an average pace of 1:53.7.  Under “normal” circumstances, I would consider this a massive fail.  But given that I am coming back from an injury layoff, and going by the HRs, I was working very hard.  Mostly I was really happy about sticking with it in the later reps and I walked a bit taller walking away from the erg.

Tomorrow:  OTW steady state.  Focus on technique.