5 x 1500 / 5′ on Quinsig

An extraordinary morning.  We launched around 5:40am.  The sun wouldn’t be up for another hour, but it was crystal clear and there was a beautiful full moon out so it was way easier to see where we were going.  There was a very light breeze from the west, which is basically a cross wind. It was light enough that the water was just barely rippled.  It was an extraordinary feeling rowing in the dark on perfectly flat water.  I felt like I was flying.

I got the replacement rigger for my fluid on Wednesday, and I spent a hour or so getting it installed yesterday.  It took a bit of work to get the rigging right and I was sure that it was right.  I always worry that I might have missed something.

The plan:

  • 5 x 1500 / 5′ rest
    • rate: 25-28
    • pace: 2:15
    • HR limit: none
    • Technique:  knees together at the catch, limit layback, crisp finishes

I started out with about 1.5K of drills.

  • arms only
  • arms abd back
  • quarter slide
  • pause at finish
  • pause at half slide on recovery

From there, I did about 500m of steady pressure at about r20.

Through this, I was annoyed to see that technology was failing me today.

  • My speedcoach battery was down to one bar
  • My HR sensor seemed to be stuck at 96 bpm
  • My EmPower oarlock wasn’t registering any power or angle readings

I didn’t want to take the time and effort to try to figure out what was wrong, I decided to just do the workout using pace and rate.

I started the first interval right after I got through the narrows.  I was pleased to see the pace drop down to about 2:15 and hang there.  The setup of the boat felt good.  I was well set, and it felt like the boat was accelerating nicely.  After about 60 strokes which was about 500m, I started to notice that it was hard work.  But, the level of effort felt very sustainable.  I continued through another 60 strokes, two thirds done, and I felt even more strongly that the effort level was pretty close to right for a head race.  I finished right as I passed into the cove at the south end of the lake.

I paddled the rest of the way into the cove and turned around.  I hung out and waited for the quad that launched behind me to get there.  I noticed that I was right on 4000m, so I took off for the next interval, heading north.  This one was a little faster.  I guess the cross wind was a bit against me in first one and behind me in this one.  This one stung a bit more, but at the end, I was counting down remaining strokes, I could have kept going.

After the second interval, I rowed a quick loop to make sure that I would have enough lake at the end.  As I looped around, I had to dodge a eight coming north.  I think I spooked the cox a bit.  But this was pretty good because it gave me something to chase for the third interval.

I started this interval about 500m south of the narrows.  I could see the white light on the stern of the 8 and it looked like I was gaining on them.  I passed through the narrows and took a line towards the eastern shore so I would give the 8 enough room.    The rest of the interval, I continued to gain on them and I was about even with them when I hit the end of the interval.

I paddled to the north side of the route 9 bridge and started the fourth interval.  My legs were a bit more tired now, and I noticed that I was rating a bit higher.  I also noticed that 28 felt good.  I didn’t feel rushed or sloppy.  That made me happy.  I was feeling some distress by the end of this interval.  I’m not sure how much further I would have liked to go beyond the end of this one.   The last 200m of this interval took me right in front of the docks of the QRA.  I ended up closer to  them that I like to go because I wasn’t paying close enough attention to my line.   But I got to watch about 40 rowers watching me as I did my last 100m.  It was certainly incentive to keep my finishes clean and not look as gassed as I actually was.

I paddled to the north end of the lake and turned around.  I ended up paddling an extra 100m to get lined up right and started the interval heading south.  It was the fifth interval, so my legs were pretty empty, but I was still able to get down to the target pace.  When I got to the last 500m, I started to bring the rate up and counted through the last 60 strokes. I was glad it was over, but it wasn’t a near death experience.

After this, I looped back to go find the quad.  When I found them, I turned again, and we did a quick 500 piece back toward the dock.

This was a really fantastic workout.



        Workout Summary - media/20171006-131833-96782o.csv
Workout Details
01|01547|06:58.0|02:15.1|000.0|24.6|000.0|0.0|09.0 - down lake
02|01543|06:54.9|02:14.5|000.0|26.0|000.0|0.0|08.6 - up lake
03|01541|06:50.0|02:13.0|000.0|27.1|000.0|0.0|08.3 - chasing the 8
04|01540|06:52.2|02:13.8|000.0|27.1|000.0|0.0|08.3 - past QRA
05|01547|06:45.9|02:11.2|000.0|27.9|000.0|0.0|08.2 - heading south
06|00575|02:36.0|02:15.7|000.0|25.5|000.0|0.0|08.7 - bonus piece!

Tomorrow:  Steady State coastal row.


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.

Screen Shot 2017-09-30 at 10.15.30 AM.png

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

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.


Screen Shot 2017-09-22 at 3.42.47 PM

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!


Screen Shot 2017-09-22 at 3.43.52 PM

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


Back on the water

Sunday, September 17th

We hung out down on the cape until mid-afternoon and then headed home.  There was still no AC in the house.  But around 8pm, I settled in for a sweaty erg session.  Today, painsled decided to cooperate.

The same session as Saturday.  4 x 15′ / 2′ rest with stretching in the rests.  HR limited at 155.


        Workout Summary - media/20170917-2005310o.csv
Workout Details

Monday, September 18th

Yet again I had to be home in the morning to let workmen in and get them setup.  That killed any chance for a morning workout.  I finally had a window around 5pm.  I headed down to the fitness center.  I’m worried about too much rowing, so I decided to start off on the treadmill with a 20 minute death march (15% grade, 3mph).

After that I was planning to jump on our brand new Model D indoor rowing machine.  But someone beat me to it!  While I waited, I jumped on a elliptical machine to get a few more aerobic minutes.

Screen Shot 2017-09-19 at 4.44.05 PM.png

Now the rower was open and I hopped on.  The PM5 picked up my HR monitor and linked with Painsled with no issues.  I set up a time based interval session.  15 minute work and 2 minute rest.  I intended to do 2 intervals.


        Workout Summary - media/20170918-1720320o.csv
Workout Details

I was interested to see how it compared to the dynamic.  Same stroke rate.  I think about a 4 second pace differential, not as much as I would have thought going in.

Tuesday, September 19

I was so excited to get back on the water, I woke up before my alarm and just lay there imagining how awesome it would be.

Since this was my first early morning workout since my injury, I wanted to put in place my new protocol.  I got up and went straight into my core routine (curl ups, side planks, bird dogs).  Man, I am coming to loathe doing ab exercises.  I stretched before and during and did some jumping jacks and stuff.  Hopefully it was enough to squish some of the extra fluid out of my disks before I went rowing.

The drive to where I launch is about 30 minutes.  I was on the water by 6:30.  The weather was less than perfect.  It was around 65F, with a fine misty drizzle and a bit of wind from the northeast, maybe about 7 mph.  This was a headwind going downriver.

I was really happy that my balance wasn’t terrible.  I felt comfortable almost immediately.  The plan for the day was pretty simple:

  • steady state
  • r20
  • heart rate limit: 150.  lower is better
  • no pace target
  • technique focus:  keep knees together at the catch.  rock hips over at the catch and keep spine straight.  focus on isolating the back swing.

I was using the speed coach the whole workout but because I stopped right at the beginning to change what I looked at in one of the display fields, it stopped and I forgot to restart it.  I didn’t realize what I had done until I went to upload the session and saw that it was for a total distance of 8 meters!

But, as an experienced speedcoach user, I have my backup.  No heart rate, but at least I have the whole session on RIM.


        Workout Summary - media/20170919-193028-95635o.csv
Workout Details
01|00821|04:07.2|02:30.6|000.0|19.8|000.0|0.0|10.1 - To the cut
02|03019|15:10.2|02:30.7|000.0|20.0|000.0|0.0|09.9 - To the dam headwind
03|02865|14:00.0|02:26.6|000.0|20.4|000.0|0.0|10.0 - Back to the cut Tail
04|02013|10:25.2|02:35.3|000.0|20.4|000.0|0.0|09.5 - to the bridge
05|02178|10:34.8|02:25.7|000.0|20.5|000.0|0.0|10.0 - back to the cut
06|00905|04:22.2|02:24.8|000.0|20.7|000.0|0.0|10.0 - Back to the dock

I think the paces are overly optimistic.  I can see the jaggies on the map

(map provided by rowsandall using the latest and greatest navionics overlay!)

Screen Shot 2017-09-20 at 9.12.32 AM

It’s more obvious in a close up of the s-turn.

Screen Shot 2017-09-20 at 9.12.58 AM

I was so happy to be back on the water, I can’t even begin to describe how much better the rest of my day was.  I was just walking around grinning.


Monday: 75′ Endurance Session 1x

Weather:  Stellar!  Wonderful!  Sunny.  Almost chilly.  Around 55F at the start, mid 60s when I finished.  No wind at the beginning.  A little headwind for the last trip up the river.


  • 2 laps of the river, roughly 75′
  • One water break halfway through.  Otherwise, just turn and go.
  • stroke rate: r20 (to reduce the pressure on my lower back)
  • pace target:  I would like to say I didn’t have a target, but I really like seeing the pace be faster than 2:30.
  • Heart Rate Limit:  155 max.  Try to keep it around 150.
  • Technique:  I watch effective length and tried to keep it in the upper 70s


        Workout Summary - media/20170828-145353-Greg Smith 20170828 0641amo.csv
Workout Details
00|00913|04:42.0|02:34.4|149.0|21.0|127.4|142.0|09.3 - to start
01|02944|14:33.0|02:28.3|156.3|20.2|146.2|150.0|10.0 - to dam
02|02823|14:15.0|02:31.4|151.6|19.8|147.3|153.0|10.0 - back to cut
03|02751|13:43.8|02:29.7|149.7|19.9|146.4|153.0|10.1 - back to dam
04|03200|16:16.8|02:32.6|150.1|20.1|149.8|155.0|09.8 - back past cut

The challenge of this workout was to balance three things at the same time.  Keep my stroke long, keep my stroke rate up at r20 and keep my HR below 155.  SInce I have been doing most of my endurance work at r18, or even lower, I am very used to rowing with a lot of stroke pressure.  With a higher stroke rate, there are two things that could happen.  I could row shorter with the same stroke pressure, or stay the same length and reduce the peak force.  I wanted to do the latter.

Mission accomplished….

A few other parametrics.

  • consistent power
  • consistent length.  A little shorter in the last 15 minutes or so
  • wash got worse as I went along.

Friday: Easy hour on the water

This was a busy week at work, and I my lower back continued to give me trouble.  I had business dinners on Tuesday night and Thursday night, and I was preparing for an important meeting on Friday morning.  I was hoping that I could help out both situations by taking a few days off rowing.

I last rowed on Tuesday morning.  A tough interval session.  My back was killing me afterward.  Tuesday I had a full day of meetings with a group from a customer, and we had dinner Tuesday night with them.  Wednesday we had a group from a different customer visiting first thing in the morning, plus a big internal meeting that I was hosting.  I ended up working quite late.  On Thursday, more meetings and then a business dinner that kept me out until almost 11.  On Friday, I was presenting in an important meeting at 9am, so I want to get to work early to dry run my materials a couple of times before I was up.  It paid off, the meeting went well, and I felt a huge sense of relief after it was over.  I finished up what I needed to get done by about 3:30 and decided to go for a nice easy row on my way to relax a little.

The plan:

  • 60 minutes
  • Heart rate limit: 150
  • Stroke rate target: 20  (This is a significant shift for me.  I have been rowing with much higher stroke power and lower rate)
  • No pace target.


        Workout Summary - media/20170827-150206-Greg Smith 20170825 0437pmo.csv
Workout Details
00|00908|05:00.0|02:45.2|144.2|18.7|127.1|141.0|09.7 - to start
01|03047|15:58.2|02:37.2|152.2|18.2|142.8|148.0|10.5 - to dam
02|02780|14:22.8|02:35.2|140.9|17.7|139.5|147.0|10.9 - back to start
03|01122|06:31.8|02:54.6|128.8|17.6|142.6|148.0|09.8 - 7 min out 
04|01333|07:25.2|02:47.0|128.3|18.1|144.4|152.0|09.9 - 7 min back
05|01125|06:07.1|02:43.1|119.5|19.8|142.7|150.0|09.3 - back to dock

The summary looks a bit weird for the pace on intervals 3 and 4.  The eyeball average for the pace looks a bit faster than the summary.

I got distracted during the row and I completely forgot to keep my rate up, so I reverted to my normal r18 kind of rowing.  But I did row a bit slower than a similar session from Monday.  I was also rowing a lot shorter (as measured by effective length).  I dug into the metrics

You can see that everything is a bit smaller for Friday’s row.  That’s me being careful with my back.

Tuesday: OTW Pyramid

Weather:  Perfect.


  • L1 Pyramid workout
  • 250m/500m/750m/1000m/750m/500m/250m
  • Roughly 1’30” of rest per 250m rowed
  • stroke rate target: 28-32
  • pace target:  Not really sure, maybe around 2:00
  • Technique:  Work on improving efficiency at high stroke rates.  Try to maintain length and form.  Especially keep finishes clean.

I was not feeling good about this workout.  My back hurt and I debated whether it was wise to risk to row with it hurting.  I’ve had mixed results, some days rowing doesn’t seem to cause any problems and other days, I feel much worse afterwards.  (More about that later).  I decided to give it a try and bail out if I felt too compromised.

I did a short warm up while heading through the twisty bits to the start of the good section of the river.  Since I am training for head races, I eased into each interval with a rolling start, not a racing start (also a bit easier on my back).

I did the intervals by distance.  This was a bit of a challenge because I wanted the 4 fields on the speedcoach for pace, HR, effective length and work per stroke.  I used RIM for distance and stroke rate on the boat acceleration screen.  Analyzing the data later, it looks like there is some innaccuracy in how RIM starts measuring meters because even though I rowed through the full distance by the display, the data on the speedcoach shows I cheated each interval by up to 50 meters.  I think I’ll go by time delimited intervals from now on when I’m on the water.

I pounded out the first interval and, frankly, it felt awful.  Well, it’s more complicated than that.  I really enjoyed the feeling of getting up to speed and seeing the speedcoach dip down into the 1:50s on pace.  I love the gurgling noise the boat makes when I’m going fast.  I also like the skinny smoothies at higher rates.  I felt more stable, and under control above 30 SPM with the longer oars and I felt like the softer shafts made the drive smoother.  So, that was what dominated my thinking for the first 20 strokes.  Then it hit me.  The last 10 strokes really hurt.  Whoops.  I guess I need to be a little more conservative.

So, I backed off a bit for the 500m.  That went OK.  The 750m was basically the same deal.  I was now struggling a bit with intestinal issues that hit pretty hard after I finished each piece.  The back was feeling OK though.  I was not looking forward to the 1000m.

For the first 2 intervals, I had rowed back to the start after each and rowed them downstream, but for the 1000, I rowed it in the other direction.  There wasn’t much current, but there was a light breeze blowing down river and it surprised me how much slower I was going on the 1000m in the other direction.  But I made it through it and it was pretty clear sailing for the rest of it.

I didn’t realized how tired I was getting, but I had a bad case of tunnel vision in the last 250m and nearly ran myself into the riverbank with some very poor steering.  I had to do one of those full stops where you jam both oars in and reverse feather to avoid it.

I rowed back to the dock with feet out and tried to work on perfect finishes.


When you look at it on a pie chart it looks a lot easier than it felt.

You can see how the intervals all got shaved down a bit.  Very disappointing for a completist like myself.  i probably would have been close to the 2:00 target if I hadn’t been working against the head wind in the 1000m piece.

        Workout Summary - media/20170822-151706-Greg Smith 20170822 0636amo.csv
Workout Details

I did a lot of metrics charts.

  • power and wps: pretty consistent through the workout.
  • stroke rate and pace:  I tried to hold 28 for the 750s and 1000.  I tried to push it up to 30 or higher for the 500s and 250s
  • peak force:  I think it’s interesting that I was most consistent in the last 500m interval.  I bet that’s a good thing.  The prior 750 looks much sloppier.
  • length:  Very happy that my effective length was consistent as I got more tired.

The bads news was that I could barely stand up after I got back  to the dock.  My lower back was VERY irritated.  Well to be more precise about it, the area at the top of my left glute, right around where my pelvis is.  It is not very painful once I find a reasonable position, but bending over and getting up from sitting cause me problems.

Since then, I’ve been on a diet of ibuprofen and rest.  I skipped yesterday’s L4 and today’s L2.  I’m not sure how long this will take to heal, but I think I will avoid rowing for a few days.  I’ll give the stationary bike a go to see if I can at least save a bit of aerobic fitness.


Monday: Exactly one hour

Well, vacation is over.  This morning at 5:15, my alarm went off.  The alarm was loud enough to wake up my wife, but not me, so she nudged me awake.  I was so tired that I felt nauseous, so I just shut it off and rolled over to go back to sleep.

But my brain had other ideas.  There were so many different voices in my head.  “Get up, do the session”  “You need more sleep” “When’s my first meeting”  “Do I have any free time blocks to go catch a quick workout on the erg?”  “Should I even be rowing with my sore back?”  After 9 minutes of this jabbering, I gave up, got up, and stumbled through my morning routine.  The bathroom phase of the routine took a bit longer than normal.  There is nothing worse than trying to row when you need to poop (sorry, but it’s true)

By the time I got on the road, I knew that my workout would be time limited.  Luckily, traffic wasn’t too bad and i was on the water by 7:03am.  I knew I needed to be on the road by 8:15 to my 9:00am meeting on time (allowing a generous 12 minutes to shower and change).  So, that provided a window exactly one hour long for my row.

The plan:

  • 60 minute recovery / endurance session
  • stroke rate target: 18 spm
  • target effective length: 80deg
  • target WPS: >450
  • HR limit: 150

My plan was to row until the elapsed time was 29:30, then turn around and retrace my path.  This ended up being about 1/3 of the way back to the start from the dam in Waltham, right before the s-turn.

Screen Shot 2017-08-21 at 4.11.40 PM.png

My heart rate was stubbornly low today.  I’m coming to think that this is related to very hard efforts the day before.  After about 15 minutes, I got up into the UT2 range, and I was able to hold my heart rate right at the top of the ut2 range with very small changes in stroke pressure.  It was only in the last quarter when I felt a bit of time pressure did I push hard enough to get into the meat of the ut1 range.

Of course, I wish the splits were faster, but this was a good workout.  It was nice to be on glassy flat water, and I felt like I could take long, smooth strokes.  I am not enjoying the back issues though.  Most strokes felt fine, but some strokes, especially when I was  turning, or not well balanced at the catch provided not very subtle form feedback through my frayed nerve endings.  I’m worried that this could get worse before it gets better.


        Workout Summary - media/20170821-193402-Greg Smith 20170821 0703amo.csv
Workout Details
00|01095|06:00.0|02:44.3|128.9|16.9|112.7|124.0|10.8 - slow turny bit
01|02932|14:47.2|02:31.3|149.7|17.7|136.1|144.0|11.2 - down to dam
02|01393|07:12.0|02:35.0|151.1|17.7|141.8|146.0|10.9 - back to 29:30
03|01395|06:52.8|02:28.0|157.6|17.5|141.2|146.0|11.6 - back to dam
04|03078|16:04.8|02:36.7|146.6|17.8|145.4|151.0|10.7 - back to start
05|00946|05:05.5|02:41.5|128.5|18.6|149.0|152.0|10.0 - slow turny bit

So, how much difference does nice flat water make?  Here is a comparison of the stroke profile for work strokes yesterday and today.

So, with slick flat water I get higher peak and average force, an extra degree on the catch, a degree on slip, 3 degrees on the finish.  Together it ends up increasing my effective length by about 7 or 8 degrees.  That’s about 10% more length!  The peak force angle also moved about 4 degrees to the bow.  I guess more work in choppy water would be a good idea!

Here are some more stroke metrics.  Nothing really weird in the data.  The averages here do not exactly match the stroke profile because I pruned all strokes with WPS below 350J to get the turning strokes out.

Tomorrow:  The plan calls for an L1 session.  The Pyramid!  OTW in my fluid.  Stroke rate target is 30 SPM.



Sunday: Failed L3 – A bit breezy on Lake Quinsigamond

Weather:  Sunny, low 70s.  Brisk wind from the NNW.  Quite gusty.  I launched at about 7:15.  So, the wind got a little gentler as I rowed down to the south end, and then picked up again as I rowed north.

Screen Shot 2017-08-20 at 10.49.44 AM.png


I have been taking more rest days than planned recently, so I am behind on the training plan.  So, even though I had a tough L2 yesterday, I decided to do an L3 session this morning.  The lake is much better for hard distance because you can get nearly 6K in without turning around.

  • L3 – hard distance
  • 5.5km from south end of the lake to the north end
  • stroke rate: 25
  • effective length target: > 75 deg
  • WPS target: > 450

I rowed to the south end of the lake as a long warmup.  I did a couple of rate ladders.  The whole way south, I debated just doing ladders for the whole workout instead of doing the L3.  Clearly, my head was not really in the game today.  My back was acting up as well.  I was hoping it would settle down like it did yesterday, but I was getting a twinge on each stroke.

Anyway, I turned north and started up.  I got about 20 strokes into it and a big splash sent the RIM app to some setup screen and I no longer had any stroke rate information.  (I had the speedcoach set up to show pace, HR, Eff Len and work per stroke).  I stopped and quit out of RIM and started Crewnerd which has a much more effective screen lock mechanism.  Then I started up again.

I was trying to row clean against the gusty headwind and I was making very slow progress.  I would do OK when I got into the wind shadow of islands or headlands, but in the gusts, I was having some trouble getting to my target length in the chop and with the wind pushing around my oars.

I plugged along, but by the 1500m mark, I was losing hope.  I rowed through the narrows and eased up the pressure a bit.  I just tried to row clean.  I figured I could at least make it to the bridge and I was almost there when I was massively waked by a waterskiing boat towing a skier.  The wakes hit me at the same time as a big gust of wind and it was a little bit too much for me to handle.  I stopped rowing after about 2600, about 400m short of the bridge.

What to do now.  My back hurt, I was tired, and I wasn’t having much fun.  I decided to turn around and go find the double that was a ways behind me, and just row with them for a while.  I rowed back to the narrows and saw them coming through.  I turned and just rowed easy with them all the way up to the bridge.  By then I was feeling a bit better.  More importantly, I saw a double from the other club about 100m north of the bridge.  Ah ha, a target.  I brought the rate back up to 25 and tried to row a lightly and cleanly as I could with the head wind.  I slowly reeled them in, and passed them about 1000m north of the bridge.  Now, I was motivated to get to the end.  But there were more challenges to confront.  Another massive waking, and then a fishing boat trolling along very slowly right in my way.  I basically needed to stop to get through that mess.  But I spooled back up to my target rate and pushed through the last couple hundred strokes to the north end of the lake.

I was toast.  I basically square bladed the whole way back to the club.  The western edge of the lake was reasonably well sheltered from the wind and what there was of it was coming from behind, so it was nice easy rowing.

Screen Shot 2017-08-20 at 11.59.06 AM


        Workout Summary - media/20170820-144123-Greg Smith 20170820 0715amo.csv
Workout Details
00|00700|04:00.0|02:51.5|120.6|16.7|113.2|129.0|10.5 - 4' @ 16
01|00598|03:00.0|02:30.5|145.3|17.8|132.3|139.0|11.2 - 3' @ 18
02|00402|02:00.0|02:29.2|152.3|20.1|141.7|144.0|10.0 - 2' @ 20
03|00204|01:00.0|02:26.8|172.9|22.0|146.2|148.0|09.3 - 1' @ 22
04|00770|04:00.0|02:35.8|127.1|16.8|139.1|148.0|11.5 - 4' @ 16
05|00600|03:00.0|02:29.9|145.7|18.4|142.6|145.0|10.9 - 3' @ 18
06|00203|01:00.0|02:27.9|168.6|20.0|146.5|150.0|10.1 - 1' @ 20
07|02648|13:07.8|02:28.8|191.9|25.3|160.3|171.0|08.0 - 1st hard piece
08|00701|03:58.8|02:50.3|135.9|19.1|138.0|143.0|09.2 - loop around
09|01659|08:28.2|02:33.1|176.8|24.2|156.1|169.0|08.1 - 2nd hard piece
10|01050|05:19.8|02:32.3|189.3|25.7|167.7|176.0|07.6 - bit after wake
11|02192|13:22.2|03:02.9|096.7|19.8|130.6|152.0|08.3 - SBR drills

A few stroke metrics

Tomorrow:  Recovery session on the Charles.  HR limit at 150.

Saturday: L2 Waterfall 1x

Friday:  We came back from the Cape Thursday evening.  Friday, I had an appointment with the eye doctor, and I had a lot of running around to do to take care of some car maintenance.  I never got around to working out.  Part of it was dreading a session on the dynamic erg.  I need to get rid of that thing.

So, it was a rest day.

Saturday:  We were up late, so I decided to sleep in a little instead of rowing out in Worcester.  I got up around 8:30 and decided to go row in Newton in my neglected Fluid.

It was a hot, humid morning.  Overcast with very little wind.


  • L2 – Waterfall (3000, 2500, 2000)
  • ~5′ rest
  • Stroke rate target: 25 spm
  • Pace target: 2:15

I was bummed out that I couldn’t find my speedcoach in my rowing bag.  I’m wondering if I forgot it down the cape.

So, I just had RIM in the boat.  So, basically, just a way to see the start and end of each interval, the stroke rate, and a very rough idea of pace.



        Workout Summary - media/20170819-160532-93720o.csv
Workout Details
01|03000|13:23.7|02:13.9|000.0|25.1|165.6|178.0|08.9 - down
02|02500|10:54.8|02:11.0|000.0|24.9|170.9|181.0|09.2 - upstream
03|02000|08:38.0|02:09.5|000.0|26.6|171.8|182.0|08.7 - down

I was very surprised by the paces.  The display on RIM was showing between 2:15 and 2:20 most of the time.  But, I’ve always felt the live display was a bit on the slow side.  But looking closely at the GPS data, there is a lot of location jitter.  I am wondering if that is causing the distance logged to be further than actual distance, and thus showing a faster pace.

Screen Shot 2017-08-19 at 2.41.57 PM.png

This was a tough, tough workout.  I felt like I emptied the tanks on each interval and I needed a bit more than 5 minutes rest after each.  It ended up being closer to 7 minutes, I think.

I steered a reasonable line.  In the 2500m interval, I saw a kayaker over my starboard shoulder and it looked like I would clear her easily.  Then, while my back was literally turned, she decided to cross in front of me and misjudged the distance.  I clipped her stern with my oar.  That’s the pace and rate glitch right around 7000m.  She’s lucky I didn’t smack her in the head.  I try to keep a good watch, but when I’m 20 strokes from the end of a 2500m interval and my heart rate is around 180, I get tunnel vision.  I need to be more careful.

Tomorrow:  Hopefully head out to Quinsigamond.