Sunday: Windy 12km on Lake Quinsigamond in a 2x

I met Joe at 8.  We were expecting 5 total rowers, but everyone besides Joe and I cancelled out.  So, we hopped in the double.

I was glad to get out on the water for a bunch of reasons.

  1. It sure beats erging, and I’ll be doing a lot of that over the next 5 months.
  2. There are all sorts of changes afoot with the rowing club and I wanted to hear the details
  3. I had a new version of the Quiske app that I wanted to try out.

The weather was a little iffy.  It was in the low 40s, but there was a brisk wind blowing from the NW.  It was about 10mph on average, but quite gusty, up to 20mph.

Screen Shot 2018-11-04 at 1.36.35 PM

When the wind is from the NW, the worcester side of the lake is quite pleasant.  You are in the wind shadow from the shore and you get flat water and gentle tail wind.  But the trip north up the shrewsbury shore is a real slog.  The wind hits the shoreline and is funneled to the south.  There is a pretty good chop and each headland acts as a funnel for the wind and the waves.

Look at those horribly slow splits!  We were hovering around 3:00 splits for most of the way up the lake.  Each of the big dips was around one of those headlands.

Because I was in the double, I didn’t have my oarlock, but I was curious how much power was required to push into the headwind, so I used one of the advanced features on rowsandall.  There is a physics model to estimate power from pace for a few boat types, including the 2x.  The model includes the ability to correct for wind.  It’s very cool.  It imports the minute by minute wind data from the nearest weather station, and then applies it to the GPS data from your row and figures out whether it was a head wind, cross wind or tail wind and then calculates a corrected pace.  I think today’s breeze might have overwhelmed it.  It says in the toughest bits, we were hitting 300W.

This in turn is used to calculate the corrected pace chart.

bokeh_plot (53).png

I think it might have been a bit generous on the pace estimate, but I sure felt better about the our slow slog into the wind after I looked at it.

The Quiske pod worked great.  When I started I had it mounted wrong way around so it must have thought I was rowing in the Upside Down (little Stranger Things reference for you there).  Once we got to the south end of the lake, I fixed it and was able to see my oar path for about 4K up the lake before my phone ran out of juice.

It’s remarkable how quickly the Quiske folks are improving the iOS app.  It’s already at a state where it can be used to help diagnose and work on elements of technique and they are rapidly working out all the kinks.  I’ll be writing up a more detailed review sometime in the next few weeks.

Tomorrow:  I think it will be basically be a rest day.



Free form week

I’m between plans right nw, so I am just sort of making up as I go along.

Tuesday:  Steady State OTW

Back on the Charles.  Mostly messing around with the Quiske pod.

        Workout Summary - media/20181028-1930330o.csv
Workout Details

Wednesday: No Training – Drs appointment

My weight is still too high (209lbs).  Blood pressure is good 120/80 (with meds)

Thursday: Strength Training

I’d like to incorporate strength work into my offseason training so I started today.

  • hip equalization
  • foam roll quads
  • swiss ball twists with med ball
  • front plank 3 x 30sec
  • side plank 3 x 30sec each side
  • Front Squats.  Bare bar, bar + 20, bar + 50…3 x 12
  • Good mornings. bare bar, bar + 50…3 x 12
  • inclined row on smith machine, 3 x 12

Friday: 3 x 20’/2′

OK, I was pretty close to paralyzed from the weight work on Thursday.  But I did a slow 3 x 20 on the erg.  No matter how much I slowed down, I could not keep my HR from going through the roof.

       Workout Summary - media/20181026-1240330o.csv
Workout Details

Saturday:  Wicked Slow 10K push on the dynamic.

I thought I could be any more sore than I was on Friday.  I was wrong.  Putting on my underwear was torture.  I staggered through grocery shopping and various household chores.  Late in the day, I decided to do a short erg to try to loosen things up.

I started very slow.  I intended to start at 2:15, but I just couldn’t bring myself to row that slowly.  I ended up starting at 2:12, and shaving a second each 1000m.  I did a little push at the end to 2:00.

        Workout Summary - media/20181027-2225340o.csv
Workout Details

Sunday: 12km in a double with Joe

Technical issues with the speedcoach.  For some reason, it did not save the session, even though I was sure that I had started it.  Luckily, Joe was wearing his Garmin Fenix.

It was nice to get out.  The water was really flat and there was very little wind.  We rowed 20-22 spm to the south end of the lake.  Then we did 2 rate ladders.

  • 750m @ 22
  • 500m @ 24
  • 250m @ 26

Then we did a last ladder.  In this one, Joe called for a power 10 and power 20 in each section.  We then held the r26 to the end of the lake alternating about 10 power strokes with 10 lighter strokes.  Then more steady state back to the boathouse.



6/7 – San Diego Rowing Club

I flew out to San Diego on Wednesday.  I had a business dinner that evening.  Through facebook, I had made contact with the Dan O’Neill of the San Diego Rowing Club, and he graciously offered to row a double with me on Thursday morning.

I showed up a bit before 6am, and met Dan, along with a whole slew of other master rowers.  The SDRC is a remarkable club.  They have hundreds of members, an active and successful juniors program, a fleet of shiny well maintained boats, almost all of which are bright red, and a beautiful location, right on Mission Bay.

We launched from the beach.  I was embarrassed that I didn’t know how to do a stylish beach launch.  It’s sort of like the european dock launch where you push off with one foot on the seat deck and then sit down smoothly as your boat glides sideways to deeper water.  Instead, we paddled a bit from the beach and put on our socks, got our feet in the shoes and began our row.

Dan is a great rower.  He has been rowing for decades, and knows every nook and cranny of Mission Bay.  We worked our way through a pick drill and he tried to get used to my stroke style.  We rowed our warmup out to the spot where the club tends to gather to start their workouts.  We were supposed to meet a men’s quad, but we didn’t see them around, so we started on our own.

The planned workout was

  • 2 x 19′ rate ladders with a few minutes rest between.
    • 4′ at 20
    • 3 at 22
    • 2′ at 24
    • 1′ at 26
    • 2′ at 24
    • 3′ at 22
    • 4′ at 20

I think I was a bit too self conscious and insecure in the first pyramid.  I rowed at much higher pressure for the rates than I normally do and I think my form suffered for it.  I also suffered in general, since my HR shot up quickly and stayed there.  After the minute at 26, I managed to relax a little bit.  Or maybe I was just to winded to care too much, and my rowing seemed to improve.  My finishes got a bit better and I felt like I was doing a better job in general.

After the first piece we hung out for a while just chatting.  Dan is a really interesting guy.  He has been a principal in a number of software startups and is active in some really interesting STEM education stuff like first robotics.  We ended up resting a bit longer than we should have, but eventually got going again.  The second ladder was much smoother then the first and I didn’t push quite as hard.  After that one, we did a couple of starts, which were pretty shaggy, but fun nonetheless.  Then it was time to get back to the boathouse.


Screen Shot 2018-06-16 at 7.54.00 PM.png

Workout Summary - media/20180607-1521040o.csv
Workout Details
01|00924|04:00.0|02:09.9|000.0|20.3|148.0|157.0|11.4 - 4
02|00837|03:44.0|02:13.9|000.0|22.0|162.1|166.0|10.2 - 3
03|00454|02:00.0|02:12.2|000.0|24.0|167.9|172.0|09.5 - 2
04|00229|01:00.0|02:11.2|000.0|25.8|169.9|172.0|08.9 - 1
05|00471|02:12.0|02:20.3|000.0|23.6|172.4|173.0|09.1 - 2
06|00757|03:38.0|02:23.9|000.0|22.2|170.3|173.0|09.4 - 3
07|01055|04:56.0|02:20.3|000.0|21.0|170.1|173.0|10.2 - 4
08|00914|04:07.0|02:15.1|000.0|20.6|147.8|159.0|10.8 - 4
09|00619|02:46.0|02:14.1|000.0|22.0|164.2|168.0|10.2 - 3
10|00447|02:00.0|02:14.4|000.0|24.0|167.4|170.0|09.3 - 2
11|00233|01:00.0|02:08.7|000.0|26.2|172.0|173.0|08.9 - 1
12|00434|02:00.0|02:18.4|000.0|24.1|174.1|176.0|09.0 - 2
13|00630|03:00.0|02:22.9|000.0|22.5|173.4|176.0|09.3 - 3
14|01234|05:56.0|02:24.2|000.0|21.4|173.3|176.0|09.7 - 4

I enjoyed this so much.  I am very grateful to Dan and all the friendly folks at SDRC.  I can’t wait to get back to San Diego and row again!


Back on the Water! – 3 x 1500 + 3 x 500 in a 2x

A couple of days ago, I looked at the weather forecast for the week and decided that it was time to get back on the water.  I sent a text to my friend Joe and asked if he wanted to go out any morning this week.  I needed to retrieve my boat from winter storage on in Worcester, and I thought it would be great to get a first row in out there with Joe at the same time.

He suggested Wednesday morning.  I was a bit worried this morning when I woke up and heard sleet on the windows, but I’m glad that we weren’t deterred.  The weather cleared up and the water was amazing!  There was basically no wind and the lake was glassy smooth.

One of Joe’s finest qualities is that he is willing to do just about any kind of training session.  So, today, I just brought the session that Marlene has scheduled for Wednesday’s

The Plan:

  • 3 x 1500m / 1′ rest
    • Cat IV, r24
  • 3 x 500m / 2′ rest
    • Cat II, r28

To work with the constraints of the lake, we did a nice long warmup down to the south end of the lake.  Then we did the 3 1500s going north.  Instead of 1 minute rests, we just paddled 200m between intervals.  It looks like that was actually about 1:20 of rest.  And between the 1500s and the 500s, we took a longer break so that we could get up to the north end of the lake.

I was really pleased with how the outing went.  Even in the warmup, I felt like we were in synch and rowing pretty cleanly.

The 1500s at r24 were really enjoyable.  They started to bite a bit at the end of each, but the rowing was good.

The 500s were a bit more hectic, and by then my hands were pretty torn up, so I wasn’t as happy with how I was rowing.  But for r28 in a first outing, I’m not gonna get too grumpy about it.

Screen Shot 2018-03-28 at 1.04.51 PM.png

         Workout Summary - media/20180328-1600330o.csv
Workout Details

Tomorrow:  OTW in my single.  Cat VI session r18-20 total rowing time ~ 60 minutes.


Saturday: 6 x (5′ @ 28, 5′ @ 18) On the Water! In December!

What an unexpected treat.  Joe texted me yesterday afternoon and asked if I wanted to go rowing this morning.  The forecast was favorable.  Very light wind, sunny and right around freezing.  It sounded like a great idea to me.  I asked him if he was up for the workout I had scheduled in the training plan for Saturday.  Lucky for me, he was!

The plan:

  • 40 to 60 minutes
  • 5 minutes at r28 and Cat III pace (1:51 on the erg)
  • 5 minutes at r18 and Cat VI pace (2:06 to 2:11 on the erg)
  • Stop only as needed to rehydrate

So, the first challenge is to translate this into a good OTW workout.  I decided to focus on the rates.  That translates well.  The lake is a little more than 25 minutes from top to bottom, so we could fit in 5 – 5 minute segments each way.  So, we would warm up to the north end of the lake, then row south to do 3 segments of r28 and 2 segments of r18, then spin to go north.  I decided to let the spin be part of the next 5 minute r18 chunk.  Then we would probably have enough lake to finish that 5 minutes at r18, and do 5 more segments to the north end of the lake.  It worked out perfectly.  We finished with about 200m of lake left.  Then we cooled down coming back to the boat house.

There was a bit of wind from the north.  Not enough to effect the set of the boat, but enough to slow down the northbound splits.  The boat felt much heavier going that way, then going south.  It took a couple of reps to get used to the rate that high, but by the third, I felt like we we rowing well together and the boat was moving.

After we turned north, I felt a big blister on my left hand blow up and by the time we were halfway up the lake, my left handle was a bloody mess.  I sprayed bloody blister juice all over the rigger and the stern of the boat.  The stickiness started to make it a bit tougher to cleanly feather, but it didn’t screw things up too much.  I sure noticed it after we finished the main set and started the cool down.  Both my hands were stinging badly.  Oh well, that’s what you get when you only get out on the water once every couple of weeks.

It was totally worth it!

Screen Shot 2017-12-02 at 3.31.47 PM.png

          Workout Summary - media/20171202-195851-Greg Smith 20171202 0913amo.csv
Workout Details


  • 4 x 20′ / 3′
  • Cat VI: r18 / 2:06-2:11


Saturday: 2 x 5 x (800m on / 200m paddle) / 5′ rest in the 2x

Out at Lake Quinsigamond.  Very light breeze from the south.  Cold as hell, about 25F, when we launched.  Hazy sunshine.  It warmed up to about 30F by the time we finished.

The Plan:

Session: 2 x 5000m (alternate 800m on/ 200m easy)
Rest between: 5’
Rating/Pace: 800m “on” = Cat IV
For the #1 “on” SR 24
For the #2 “on” SR 26
Notes: Stay as close as you can to the target stroke rate

We launched around 8:30 and headed to the north end of the lake.  The lake is about 6km long so we wanted to be able to do all five reps going south, and then spin during the rest and do 5 more heading north.  We just rowed steady up to warm up.  It felt a bit weird being in a boat after almost a month, but we settled in and started to take some good strokes.

          Workout Summary - media/20171118-203730-Greg Smith 20171118 0918amo.csv
Workout Details

The workout was tough.  It would have been easier on the erg, I think.  I was working very hard in the last couple pieces of each section.  I really wanted the “easy” bits to last longer by the end.

I started out with pogies on and I took them off after the first half of the workout.  It was a lot easier to control the finish without them on.

It was a wonderful thing to be out on the water with Joe.  He is a great partner in the double.  He steers, I row stroke and he follows whatever weird stuff I do in terms of rate.  He also never complains about me splashing him, even when It’s 25 degrees out.

Not sure what is in store for tomorrow.


Tuesday: 9 x 2′ / 1′ in the double

I needed to drop off my car for service out in Shrewsbury for service at 7am.  So, I dropped a text to my friend Joe to see if he wanted to take out a double with me before I dropped off my car.  We met at the boathouse at 5:30am, and the eastern sky was just starting to lighten up.  It reminded me of last fall when we would do a couple sessions a week like this when we were getting ready for the HOCR.

It was cool, only about 50F and there was a lot of mist on the water.  There was a bit of wind blowing from the North, maybe 6 mph of so.  Just enough to make the boat feel heavier when we were rowing up lake.

My plan called for an L1 workout today.  An 8×500 sprint session.  I decided to dial it back a little bit and change it to more of a head race type session since I didn’t think it would be good to try to rate up too much.  It takes a few good practices together before you can really get the timing down well enough to sprint together.  I figured by cutting back the rests ad bringing down the stroke rate it would be a good threshold workout and it would fit into the trip up the lake.  That would leave us the trip from the boathouse down to the south end of the lake to warmup and get used to rowing together, and the trip from the north end of the lake back to the boathouse for cool down.

So, the Plan:

  • 8 or 9 x 2′ / 1′ rest
  • Target stroke rate: 26-28
  • Heart Rate Limit: None
  • Pace Target:  Who knows.  Maybe 2:15?



       Workout Summary - media/20170829-131818-Greg Smith 20170829 0546amo.csv
Workout Details
01|03364|16:00.0|02:22.7|000.0|22.3|143.9|162.0|09.4 - warmup
02|00414|02:00.0|02:25.0|000.0|25.1|144.7|158.0|08.2 - rep 1 - waked
04|00416|02:00.0|02:24.3|000.0|28.5|163.3|168.0|07.3 - waked
11|01932|09:52.7|02:33.4|000.0|23.9|151.3|160.0|08.2 - cool down

There was a ski boat out at the same time as us.  He nailed us in the middle of our first interval, and then again with 30 seconds left in the third interval.  We were free and clear after that.  With the head wind we were a bit slower than I thought we’d be, but I was also rowing a bit lighter than I normally would, trying to be careful of my back.

My back was really touchy this morning before we set off.  If I bent wrong, I got shooting pains in my hip and lower back.  I stretched a bit before we launched and worked my way out to full length during the warmup and it felt much better by the time we finished.

It was a great workout.  I really like rowing in the double.  I like stroking and not having to worry about steering and its nice to be out rowing with someone literally in the same boat.

Tomorrow:  The workout plan calls for an 80′ L4.  I am going to continue to substitute r20 endurance sessions for L4s for the foreseeable future to minimize risk of aggrevating my back injury.

For reference, here’s the link to the google sheet with my workout plan and daily summary.


I sure missed this. 14km 2x

I got home at 2:15am on Saturday morning.  It was pure bliss getting back into my own bed.  I slept like a log.  I was stunned to see it was 11am when I finally woke up.

I spent the day just puttering around the house.  I did some grocery shopping and laundry.  I didn’t feel like training, so I didn’t. I got to bed around midnight.  Even though I didn’t feel that sleepy, I fell asleep quickly and slept until 5.  I woke up and I knew instantly that I was done sleeping.  I tried to sleep a bit more, but a thought crept into my head.  If I’m awake anyway, maybe I should head out to Worcester and go rowing.  This seemed like a much better thing to do than to toss and turn in bed not sleeping.

So, I did.  I got up, put my name on the sign up list, got my stuff together and headed out to Quinsigamond.  When I got there, I was delighted to see Joe and Bob.  Bob suggested we take out the Wintech.  I thought that was a great idea.  I haven’t been in a boat since July 16th.  A nice stable double sounded perfect.  I could let him steer and I could just focus on trying to remember how to row.

It came back quickly.

I didn’t have much of a plan.  I ultimately decided that I should do some kind of an approximation of the L3 workout that was scheduled for Yesterday.  But mostly, I was just really enjoying the feeling of being in the boat.  The feeling of connection.  The sound of the bubbles running along the hull.

Screen Shot 2017-08-06 at 9.21.29 AM

We headed south and I fell into a groove at around 23 SPM.  I just went with it.  We had a bit of a tail wind and the pace was generally between 2:10 and 2:15.  I was working pretty hard, and by the sound of Bob’s breathing, he was working pretty hard too.  We got waked a couple of times by waterskiing boats, but generally it was just a nice hard row all the way down lake.

We turned to go north, and I suggested we take it down a bit and do some easy rate ladders.  This plan didn’t last all that long though.  As we were coming out of the cove at the south end of the lake, we saw the quad from our club going the other way, so we looped around the little island and followed them back into the cove.

We stopped and chatted for a few minutes and then we both started up again.  Bob said he would feel ore comfortable ahead of them than behind them, and the rest, as they say, is history.  I brought the rate back up to about a 24 and decided that we would “do the lake”.  This is a nice 5+km piece.  Basically a perfect head race distance.

Now I didn’t push it as hard as a full on head race simulation, but I wanted it to be a good threshold L3 training piece.  Now the wind was ahead of us and it was building.  We launched at about 7:10 and we would have started up lake around 7:40.

Screen Shot 2017-08-06 at 9.31.20 AM

The row was close to uneventful.  One or two wakings, but generally we just clicked along.  The wind got a bit gusty once we were north of the Rt 9 bridge, but the water was flat.  Bob asked for a hard twenty at the end, and then tacked on another 10 for fun.  We were both puffing hard by the time we finished.

Then we turned around and took it easy almost all the way back.  Bob asked for 50 hard strokes at the end.  It was a good way to finish.

Today made it easy to remember why I really like this sport.  Pushing hard is easy on a crisp, sunny morning like today.

myimage (99)

myimage (98)

Tomorrow:  Schedule calls for a rest day, but I did that yesterday.  I think I will try to do an L4 OTW in Newton.


Saturday: 20km on Quinsig

One must be adaptable.  My original plan was to do a long open water row this morning, but we decided to stay home instead of going to the cape this weekend.  So, I texted Joe and asked him if he wanted to do a long row in the double this morning at 6.

He was willing, so that was the plan.  The weather this morning was beautiful.  A bit chilly, in the upper 40s.  There was no wind when we arrived, but a light breeze picked up by the time we launched.  It was shifty, coming sometimes from the NE, sometimes from the SE, and sometimes it was non-existent.  This was mostly a cross wind.  It was sunny and clear and the water was nice and flat.

We took out the Wintech double that we bought from Saugatuck.  I really like the boat.  It’s easy to set and much lighter than the old Vespoli we had been rowing last year.

I didn’t have much of a plan, beyond 90 minutes of UT1.  We rowed to the south end of the lake.  That was mostly just us getting in sync and watching the scenery.  I stepped up the stroke rate over the last 1500m or so to spice things up.

Once we spun the boat, I asked if Joe was up for some easy rate ladders.  He was, and off we went.  The plan was 6 minute ladders.  3 minutes at r20, 2 minutes at r22, and 1 minute at r24.  Repeat until you run out of lake.

It took us 4 and half ladders to get to the north end of the lake.  I checked if we had the time and energy to go all the way back to the south end of the lake.  We did 🙂

Going back south, it took almost 5 complete ladders.  We got waked right at the end, which was a bummer.  By then we were getting short on time so we spun the boat and headed back north to the boat house.  We did two more ladders, which brought us to about 1k south of the bridge.  Joe said we should row past the docks since there was a crowd gathering for learn to row day.  The plan would be to row at r20 until we got to the bridge, and then I would bring the rate up to 28 or so and we would demonstrate the beauty and grace of our rowing to assembled throng.

That was the plan.  I’m not sure how beautiful or graceful it was, but there was a lot of water in the footwell and Joe looked very wet by the time we finished.  :-O  I guess I really need work on my catches to reduce my backsplash!

After that we helped out with our humble part of National Learn To Row Day.  We had a couple dozen folks show up.  So we taught the basics of the stroke on a dozen ergs, got the to sign away all their rights, and then took them out in a couple of eights for a quick row.

All in all, a fantastic morning.

myimage (32)

myimage (33)

Tomorrow:  rest day.

HOCR 2016

The weather reports were ominous.  Rain and wind starting around 11am.  What time was our race…11:07am.  Before that, the water was flat, the winds were calm and the skies were cloudy but not dark.  As the morning wore on, the weather reports seemed to be improving and even when we launched around 10:20, it was still quite nice.

We headed down to the warmup area in the basin and started going around the “box”.  This is a big area marked by 6 huge yellow and black checkered buoys.  We did a couple laps and still had some time so we embarked on a third trip around.  By now it was about 10:50.  We turned the corner and started to row up to area where we were being lined up.  Even numbers on the cambridge side, odd numbers on the Boston side.  We looked up river and what did we see?  A wall of rain charging toward us.  I am serious.  You could actually see the line between where it was raining and not raining coming across the water as it approached.  And then we were in it.  The rain was not all that hard, but the wind picked up from the NW and it was pretty significant.  It was blowing steadily between 10 and 15 mph with gusts up to about 20mph.


We sat in the rain and wind, trying to hold our position between bow # 43 and #47.  Precisely at 11:07, they started the first boat and the odd and even line began to slowly paddle up.  Before I knew what was happening, I saw the red and green flags in the chute that are a couple of strokes away from the start and then I heard the announcer struggling to pronounce Lake Quinsigamond Community Rowing and say we were on the course.

Here are links for the stern video of the race:

HOCR – Part 1

HOCR – Part 2

The video tells the story.  We hacked our way through the head wind to the BU bridge.  Steering through this bridge is a challenge under ideal conditions.  With a nasty head wind blowing rain in your eyes and with multiple boats ahead of you, it is even tougher.  Joe picked a great line and we zipped right through.

Then we were into the Magazine Beach turn.  Here we were exposed to the head wind across a wider part of the river.  The goal is to get tight to the green buoys along the cambridge shore and try to get into a good rhythm through the turn.  This was complicated for us by a slower boat in front of us and a faster boats right behind us.  Joe did his best to avoid the boat that was passing us to the inside, while not running into the boat ahead of us.  On the video, it looks like they kind of zigged and zagged a bit across us as they tried to figure out how to get out of our way.

The boat that passed us looked like it was going a thousand miles an hour and that kind of got under my skin.  I started to have irrational fears of ending up in last place.  This was certainly spurred me to dig deep, both figuratively and literally.  Figuratively, I pushed up the stroke pressure and rate to an unsustainable level.  Literally, I started to row pretty badly, burying my blades too deeply and not being careful with my finishes.  This did not do our boat speed any favors.

We got into the power house stretch and the water was smooth and the wind was blocked.  It felt like the boat was moving better here.  I hardly noticed, but we passed another boat at the beginning of the stretch.  I think it was because I was too focused on a couple of boats that were gaining on us fast and passing us after we emerged from the Western Avenue bridge.

We took twenty strokes and then turned for the Weeks Foot Bridge.  My wife, sone and some friends were there cheering us on.  Honestly, because of the boats that passed us, I was pretty despondent at that point.  I had pushed way too hard, and I wasn’t even sure if I’d make it to the end.  Strangely enough, once we had passed them, I started to feel a little bit better.  I eased up a bit on the rate and we made the turn to the Anderson Bridge.  Coming out of Anderson, another boat passed us, but I my attitude had improved.  I had decided to just do what I could and just not give up.  The long turn toward the Eliot bridge was uneventful, mainly because Joe steered it really well, including the really sharp end to the turn and the passage past the docks just upstream of the bridge.  Here’s a comparison of my course last year, and Joe’s this year.  (2015 is red, 2016 is yellow)

2015 vs 2016.png

Here’s the first third. You can see the steering around overtaking and slower boats on the yellow line.  I like the line that I took last year closer to Cambridge as we approached the first bridge, but I doubt it makes much difference.

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Here’s the powerhouse stretch, into the weeks turn.  Joe did a better job of this than I did last year.  He was a lot smoother through the weeks turn and got us in just right place for the turn under the Anderson bridge.


Here’s the last third.  It looks like I did better job at the beginning of the curve, and Joe did better second half and he hugged Boston side into the bridge.  I hugged to cambridge shore last year, Joe swung a little wider, but again I don’t think it added much distance.


In terms of effort, this was a tough race.

I was into the threshold HR zone within a minute of the start, and I just kept pushing.  I kind of plateaued around 175/176 or most of the race, and then with about 5 minutes left, around the Anderson bridge, I started to up the rate and pushed my HR up above 95% of my HRR.  I usually count out strokes at the end of a race to give me something to focus on.  I had planned to start counting at the Anderson Bridge.  This is about 1k from the end so, about 120 strokes.  But I forgot about it with the steering that was going on.  I remembered as we went into the long turn, and I figured that we must have gone at least 60 strokes by then.  So I started counting and I figured I’d need to count up to about 60.  I was wrong.  I got to 50 and there was no sign of the finish line.  I counted another 10, still no finish line.  I wasn’t sure if I had another ten strokes in me, but I did and that set brought us just across the line.  Luckily there was a big gap between us and the next boat to finish because I needed a few seconds to put myself back together.

With the headwind, and extra river flow, it was a slow race.  The winner was a full minute off the course record for this age group event.  And the winner was the crew that set the record!  We were a good four minutes slower than the winner.  We finished in 43rd out of 52 boats.  So, my fears were not realized.

When you talk to some of the folks that we compete with, you realize that there is some genuine athletic talent in the event.  Guys that were former national team members and varsity level college rowers are common.  This seems different from running and biking where there are a lot of more casual competitors.  We were talking to one guy in our race who set the world age group record for the marathon on the erg 20 years ago.  He held a 1:47 split for whole thing!

In any case, unless you are talented and dedicated enough to win a big event like this, all you can do is try to improve.  Now I have an initial marker that I can try to make better over time.  Looking at the results, there are improvements in many areas that could help.

  • Weight:  I should lose 20 pounds
  • Strength:  I’ve been reading more about strength training for 50+ year olds.  I think I need to add this in over the winter and see if it helps
  • Fitness:  I think this is pretty good, and the best way to get better is a lot more duration at
  • Technique:  Lot’s to do here once it is next spring.  I need to improve my stroke in a couple of essential ways.  I need to fix my tendency to row “over a barrel”.  I also need to clean up my finishes and get my hands away faster.
  • Steering:  The key to this is to get enough time on the course, so next year I think doing weekly sessions on the Charles is going to be a big priority.