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.



Snake Race

It’s been a busy week.  My last journal entry was on Oct 9 when I did a terrific 5 x 1500.

The rest of the 9th was a blur.  I worked out, then a day full of meetings, then rushed off to go a wake (One of our best friends lost his brother to a sudden illness), then ate dinner, then to the airport to catch a ten o’clock flight to Geneva.

I slept really well on the flight.  I probably got 5 hours of sleep.  We landed in Zurich and then connected to Geneva, finally getting in around 2pm.  I had meetings all afternoon, and then we went to dinner.  I finally got back to the hotel around 10:30pm and had hoped to get right to bed.  Unfortunately a time critical work issue came up and I spent the next 90 minutes on the phone.

My plan had been to do a short workout in the morning before my 10am flight home, but I decided that sleep was more important.  I slept until 7:30, had a nice breakfast, called an Uber and went to the airport.  The flight home was very uneventful.  I did work most of the way, took a short nap, and then I was home.  The worst part of the whole thing was the traffic home from the airport.

Friday – Oct 12: Drills and a little bit of race pace

My usual taper is to do a shrinking number of 500m pieces over the week before a race, and then just do a warmup on the day before.  This time, I had two complete rest days but lots of inert travel time.  I decided that it would be best to do some work on the day before the race to try to make sure that the race pace strokes felt OK.

I also wanted to do a lot of drill work.  I find it quite calming, and it really engages my brain in the session.  So the plan for the day was to do about 20 minutes of light rowing and drills, then a couple of 2′ race pace pieces, then more drills.

The summary shows the 4 – 1 minute pieces and 2 60 stroke pieces.  Plus a little bonus sprint to the dock at the end.  Notice the difference in power between the first 4 and the last three.  The last three are against the current, so it takes a lot more watts to get the same splits.

          Workout Summary - media/20181012-1145320o.csv
Workout Details

Pretty easy session, only 18 minutes above a <ut2 level.

Then I loaded my boat on my car and went to work.

Saturday – 13 October: The Snake Race

Screen Shot 2018-10-14 at 4.24.57 PM.png

This may be my only race of the season, and I hadn’t raced since my disappointing outing at last year’s Head of the Charles.  I was nervous as hell before I launched, even though this was a low stakes local race.  My competition was.

Screen Shot 2018-10-14 at 4.29.07 PM

The rowers from Anchorage and Community scratched.  As for the rest.

  • Maldari is a good rower from Lawrence, he’s beaten me and I’ve beaten him in other events, we are about the same speed.
  • Kisarale is a rower from Uganda.  He’s 38, but he was in the 2015 Olympic qualifying regatta for Africa in the 2x.  I’d never met him, but I suspected he was a lot faster than I am.
  • Haddon is a rower in my club.  He was rowing this as a tune up for next weekend when he will be in the HOCR.
  • Krupnick was a 1st boat varsity rower at WPI and graduated in 2017.  He was going to be MUCH faster than me.
  • Byrnes is in the other main club on the lake.  I am usually faster
  • Sturges.  Same story
  • Sontgerath was the guy that I wanted to beat.  I had beaten him in the HOCR in 2015 and then returned the favor last year, beating me pretty badly.  This may sound silly or immature, but I saw the race as between him and me.

The way the bow numbers were handed out, I was starting second to last, and Sontgerath was starting last behind me.  So, it was simple, I just needed to keep my eye on him and maintain the spacing.

Bob and I launched around 8:30 for a 9am start.  We warmed up going down to the start.  For some reason, my speedcoach decided to stop soon after launching and I didn’t notice it until I was getting ready for the start.  So, most of the warmup is missing.

Screen Shot 2018-10-14 at 4.50.30 PM.png

It was cold and rainy, around 48F.  There was a light and variable wind that seemed to be from  the northwest, which is a cross/head wind.  I only noticed it a couple of times during the race when I felt like I was working harder and the splits slowed down.  I was quite glad to have the power meter.

Anyway, we were all at the start, and so the officials decided to move the start time up a few minutes so we wouldn’t just sit there getting cold and wet in the rain.  We were called up to the start in order and off we went.  The starting line was at the southern end of larger island, right about even with the label “Pinecrest”.  My first target was Sturges.  I saw him off my starboard side.  You go up the western shore of the lake, and soon after the start is a beach that juts out.  I decided that I could pass him to the shore side and still have enough room to steer out from the beach.  It worked out fine and I was well clear of him by the time I steered a bit out from shore for the beach.  The guy who started in from of Sturges was Kisarale, but when I looked around I saw no sign of him.  I did see Byrnes, so he became my next target.  He was also off my starboard side, and we had the narrows coming up.  I just held my line and we slowly moved toward the buoy line that marked the starboard side of the course. I passed him right around the narrows and when I looked around I could spot anyone close enough to focus on.

Now it was time to just row.  This is about where the video picks up.  There is bit more than 1km from the narrows to the bridge.  I was starting to feel the pain, so I started counting strokes.  I got to about 130 when I got to the bridge.  The whole time I was keeping my eyes on Heri (Sontgerath).  At times, he seemed like he was closing the distance, and other times it seemed like I was stretching it out.  Frankly, I didn’t even really remember how far back he was at the start, so I had no clue if I was ahead or not.

From the bridge to the end should be about another 200 strokes.  Which I counted off as I went.  It seemed like it took a lifetime to get from the bridge to the Gazebo.  I thought it was almost another 1000m from the gazebo to the finish and so I just settled in and tried to avoid blowing up while I started scanning for the finish.  I saw it, but in retrospect, I wish I had seen it sooner.  I started my sprint later than I should have.  But I finished strong.  I thought the finish was going to be marked with white buoys.  It was marked by a pair of oranges, which I thought represented the start of a finish chute.  I continued my kick for another 100m beyond the finish to a white buoy.

That extra kick brought be me up to be close enough to chat with Maldari.  Apparetly, he was trying to keep his seperation with me, like I was trying to with Heri.  We had a nice chat about boats and stuff as we paddled to the docks.  They I cooled down from the QRA docks to our club at regatta point.

The results

Screen Shot 2018-10-14 at 5.03.59 PM

Third place, but first place amongst the old guys.  I walked around 10 feet tall the rest of the day.

Here’s a video of the last 9 minutes of the race.  The first 10 minutes were basically useless because of water on the lens.

Looking at the video, as always there is a lot of stuff that I need to work on.  The most obvious is that I have re-established my habit of digging way too deep and rowing over a barrel.  I also need to work on making the body and arms part of the stroke more powerful.

          Workout Summary - media/20181013-1355320o.csv
Workout Details
02|04363|19:36.7|02:14.9|176.1|25.8|170.7|179.0|08.6 - the race.

My pace was 2:14.9 this year.  I did this race in 2015 in similar conditions and my pace was a 2:12.9.  Here is a link.  2015 was my best year at the HOCR.  Comparing the two races, I pushed hard in 2015, with the last 5 minutes above 178 bpm.  My rowing looks very similar.  I am probably about 15 lbs heavier now.  I am ever the optimist and when you put all that together, I come to the conclusion that I can get back to and even exceed where I was in 2015.  As always, it comes down to weight, technique and fitness.

Well, enough for now.  I think I will go do some easy rowing on the dreaded dynamic.






6/8 to 6/16 – Pretty Hectic

Thursday 6 / 7 – in CA, red eye home.

After my fantastic row in San Diego on Thursday morning, I flew up to San Jose.  I had a meeting in the afternoon and a business dinner that evening.  I flew home on the Red Eye.

Friday 6 / 8 –  rest day after the red eye

I got in around 6 and was home by 7:30.  I needed to hop right in the shower and head up to the office for a 10 am meeting.  After that meeting, I had another, and another, and so on until around 5pm.  I headed home and my wife and I packed up and headed for the cape.  The forecast was sunny and warm for the whole weekend.

We got down there in the evening and settled in.  I was really tired and slept like a log.

Saturday 6 / 9 – 12km coastal steady state

I slept in until about 9, and then I went out to get delicious croissants for breakfast.  After lazing around for a while, we went out and bought some flowers to put in near the path to our door, came home and planted.  Around 5pm, it was really beautiful and there wasn’t all that much wind, so I decided to go for a row.

I launched from the north beach, as usual, and headed up toward wellfleet harbor.  I didn’t notice much at the time, but the tide was with me and so was a little bit of breeze.  My splits heading north to the harbor were quite fast for my tubby little aero.

After I turned around and headed out of the harbor against the tide and the breeze, it was payback time.  The splits were slow and the boat felt heavier.  Although it was just supposed to be a gentle evening row, the slow splits pushed me into putting in more effort.  Although my HR was a bit too, high, I was really enjoying myself.  On the way back, I rowed straight out to my favorite buoy and then turned due east to get back to the beach.  I did the last 3 minutes or so at a hard 24.

Another really enjoyable row.

Screen Shot 2018-06-16 at 8.25.18 PM.png

          Workout Summary - media/20180610-0135230o.csv
Workout Details


Sunday – 6 / 10 – 14km coastal steady state

I was up around 8 and I decided to go for a row before the wind started to build.  It turns out I didn’t quite succeed at that.

Screen Shot 2018-06-16 at 8.32.15 PM.png

I launched from the north beach and looped around the island to go south toward Eastham.  The forecast was for the wind to be from the east, so I figured if I hugged the shore, I would be sheltered and have reasonable smooth water.

As I went, I felt the wind building a bit, but it seemed my plan was working.  The water was nice and smooth, and although I would be buffeted by some of the gusts, it was a nice ride.  I wanted to be done in about 70 minutes, so I rowed for 35 and turned around.  It was then that I noticed that the wind was really coming more from the NE or even the NNE and I had a long slog into to get home.

I rowed in as close to the beach as I could get, and slowly made my way up the Eastham shore.  I was not looking forward to leaving the lee of this shore when I got up to point where I needed to cut over to the west side of Lt Island.  When I got there, it was really tough rowing.  The waves were on my starboard bow, and they were throwing me around a bit.  I made quick decision to turn east and row straight upwind so I would be going right into the waves.  This was slow, but much better rowing.  The boat was nice and stable and I just kept pushing along.

I was looking over my shoulder every ten strokes or so, and it made me nervous every time seeing these well define rolling waves with white caps on them.

Eventually, the salt marsh on the inner side of the island finally started to get closer, and then, before I knew, I was right on the edge of the marsh.  The wind was blocked by the island, the water flattened out, and I turned to follow the shore.  Now the wind was behind me, so was the tide, and the water was flat.  I torn along the south edge of the island until I came out of the wind shadow along the westward side.

Then it was a short final slog into the wind to the beach.

It was interesting, I felt like I was working hard, but my heart rate was nice and low.  The sun was out, the sky was blue and it was the perfect temperature.  When I landed, I was so glad that I had gone out.  Coastal rowing is a very different experience from flat water rowing, but a total blast.

Workout Summary - media/20180610-1540220o.csv
Workout Details
00|00118|02:07.0|08:59.9|000.0|21.2|095.2|106.0|02.6 - getting set
01|06345|34:21.0|02:42.4|000.0|18.8|136.2|145.0|09.8 - downwind
02|04307|29:22.0|03:24.5|000.0|19.9|147.7|155.0|07.4 - up wind
03|01537|08:47.0|02:51.5|000.0|21.0|146.6|152.0|08.3 - sheltered
04|01337|09:04.1|03:23.4|000.0|21.0|148.7|153.0|07.0 - upwind

I was pretty worn out for the rest of the day though.

Monday – 6 / 11 – Steady State and drills

By the plan, this was supposed to be a rest day, but everything has been so disrupted, that I just decided to do a nice steady state session and work on some basics.

I started with a complete pick drill, did some legs only rowing.  I also did at least 10 reps of the KOM drill at the start and at each turn.

         Workout Summary - media/20180611-1745210o.csv
Workout Details

Nice fast splits for the first 3 segments.  I felt great too.

Tuesday – 6 / 12 – Starts

The plan is as follows:

  • Race warm up
  • 5 x 20-stroke starts
    • Rest between: 3’
    • Rating/Pace: SR 36-40 (or your most efficient rating)
    • Notes: Steer straight, clean releases, same sequence as planned for your race.
  • 2 x 9’
    • Rest between: 2’’ easy rowing
    • Rating/Pace: Cat V: SR 22
    • Notes: Focus on your releases.

As it turns out, I deviated a bit from the plan.  I ended up doing more starts than planned, and a bit less of the steady state rowing.  I think I also skimped a bit on the warmup.

The conditions were far from perfect.  There was a reasonably strong breeze.  You can see the first 2 starts are downwind, then 2 upwind, then two down, then two up.  The last two starts, I extended out to thirty strokes and settled to race rate, around 32 after 10 strokes.

I did about 11 minutes or so of steady state rowing at the end.

6 / 13 – Rest Day

I couldn’t get out of bed at 5:15.  I tried, and failed.

6 / 14 – A horribly bad workout.

It was supposed to be this.

  • 4 x (2’ with your start sequence, paddle 1’ then, 2’ 1k base pace)
  • Rest between: 4’
  • Rating/Pace: 1k base pace

But I just couldn’t put together a good 2′ piece to save my soul.  I don’t know what the hell was wrong with me, but I was ready to withdraw from the Cromwell Cup, quit racing and never sprint again.  I was a quintessential drama queen!

Ultimately, I gave up on the workout and tried to one minute on / one minute off.  That seemed to work a bit better, but I think I have to push through this problem next week.

          Workout Summary - media/20180614-1735190o.csv
Workout Details

One thing I’ve noticed.  With the technical changes that Marlene has had me working on, I can row cleanly at high rates.  Up above 32.  And I can move the boat very fast.  But I burn out very fast too.  I have to find the pace and pressure I can sustain over four minutes.

This workout left me grumpy all day long.

6 / 15 – Steady State and drills

I had an 8 am meeting so I got on the water early, and I only had an hour.

It was a bit windy and I was pretty slow.

Saturday – 6 / 16 -Random fun on Lake Quinsigamond

I went out with a mixed double.  We are reasonable well matched in speed.

We rowed low rate, but good pressure to the south end of the lake, then did some drills for a bit of the way back north.  Then a bit more steady state.  Finally when we got to the north end of the lake, we decided to play leapfrog.  That was a blast.  They would take off and when they were clear ahead, they would call “clear”.  That was my cue to speed up and their cue to paddle.  When I got clear ahead, I’d call “clear” and it was their turn.

We did that for about 2km.  Then we steady stated our way back to the dock.

The only problem with the session was my speedcoach running out of memory and not recording all my leapfrog strokes.

Here’s the data from RIM.

Whew!  Now I’m all caught up!



All rowing, all the time

May 2: 3 x (1’/3′ + 1’/3′ + 3’/6′) all at 1k race pace (or best effort)

May 3: 60′ speed play

May 4: 4 x (3′ @ 24 + 3′ @ 28) / 6′ active rest

Wed – May 2: 3 x (1’/3′ + 1’/3′ + 3’/6′) all at 1k race pace (or best effort)

On the charles.  Nice weather.  It’s finally warming up.

The workout plan was:

  • 3 sets of: 1’ on, 3’ active rest, 1’ on , 3’ active rest 3’ on, 6’ active rest
  • Rest between: Continuous, no rest between sets.
  • Complete one set and then repeat the series. The active rest is relaxed, low intensity, easy rowing. Stop only briefly to rehydrate.
  • Rating /pace: Race effort, 1k pace (your best right now)
  • Training effect: Cat II-III mix, repetitions, race pace technique

My goal here was to try to work on the technique feedback that my coach gave me from the video.  Her main suggestions were:

  1. Keep outward pressure on the oarlocks throughout the whole stroke.  She noticed that at the catch, I was dipping my shoulders and pushing the handles toward the stern.  She wanted to focus on early body angle preparation and remember to keep outward pressure on the handles as I approached the catch.  This feels more like pushing the handles outward, versus sternward.
  2. Keep outward pressure on the oarlocks at the finish. Again, make sure that I am keeping the collar firmly against the oarlock as I approach the finish.  My elbows are in the wrong position, which we are going to work on with a bit more rigging change.
  3. This goes with the body prep comment.  She told me to be very conscious of when I start to move the seat toward the stern.  Work to be sure that my arms are extended and my body position is ready for the catch.
  4. Sit up nice and tall in seat, avoid slumping back on my tailbone.

This workout was an interesting one to try some of this stuff out because all of the pressure rowing was r28 or higher.  I found that concentrating on the technique at r28, I was able to go multiple strokes touching no water and with rock solid balance.  Keeping my core engaged and my legs locked down during the initial recovery really kept the boat stable. Of course, it was more of a challenge to maintain  the rate as I was focusing on the recovery in segments, but I got the hand of it.

A very fun workout.

One thing that was not fun.  My EmPower oarlock was acting up.  Out of about 1200 strokes in the workout, it did not report data for 289 of them.  Many of them were strokes in the intervals when I was trying to row to a power target, which was a pain in the ass.  All in all it was probably a good thing because I ended up focusing more on the technique and less on power.

Workout Summary - media/20180502-1715240o.csv
Workout Details
01|00260|01:00.0|01:55.5|262.7|27.3|147.2|156.0|09.5 - down
02|00237|01:00.0|02:06.5|302.2|29.4|152.3|162.0|08.1 - up
03|00763|03:00.0|01:57.9|282.0|28.4|162.1|169.0|09.0 - down
04|00227|01:00.0|02:12.2|308.1|28.9|149.9|163.0|07.9 - up
05|00263|01:00.0|01:54.0|309.2|29.8|153.8|166.0|08.8 - down
06|00658|03:00.0|02:16.7|261.4|28.2|166.5|177.0|07.8 - up
07|00254|01:00.0|01:58.3|274.3|29.7|151.5|164.0|08.5 - down
08|00225|01:00.0|02:13.1|316.4|29.3|155.0|166.0|07.7 - up
09|00747|03:00.0|02:00.5|265.0|28.8|166.4|178.0|08.6 - down


Thursday – 60 min speedplay.

Again on the Charles.  I had an 8 am meeting, so I bolted out of bed at 5:15, and I was on the river by 6am.  That gave me just enough time to do 60 minutes, put away my boat, get to work, and shower before my meeting.

The workout is pretty standard by now, but on Thursday, I was still trying to obsess on the technique notes.  Also, the annoying empower issues were continuing.  This session 272 strokes were missed.

But none of that changed the fact that the weather was perfect!  No wind.  Really warm.  A little overcast, but still a glorious morning to be out.

Friday – May 4: 4 x (3′ @ 24 + 3′ @ 28) / 6′ active rest

On Lake Quinsigamond.  Overcast.  Very little wind.  Perfect water.  Scattered showers.  We needed to stick to the south end of the lake because boats were out practicing on the 2k course for this weekends big event, the New England Rowing Championship (“The NERCs”).

After 5 days of workouts, I was feeling a bit spent.  The workout plan has an optional speedplay session on Friday, or a rest day.  But since I knew I was heading down to the cape, I switched things to do the more intense Saturday session on Friday.

I knew that I would have to lighten up the r28 sections to make it through 12 minutes total of it.  I was also more interested in continuing to work on technique at race rates.

Here are my coaches notes for the session.

Session: 4 x 6’
Rest between: 6’
Rating/Pace: 3’ @Cat IV pace: target SR 24 + 3’ @ Cat III; target SR 28

Notes: Work on the rhythm of a strong leg drive combined with relaxation on the recovery. Follow through to the arms/body away position to complete each stroke and to set the body preparation for the next stroke before starting the slide. Hold your posture and head up as you fatigue.

I can’t say that I was completely relaxed on the recovery.  I had a lot on my mind…keep the knees down.  Set the body.  Keep my shoulders down.  Keep outward pressure on the handles.  Don’t over reach at the catch.

But, at least I had something to keep my mind off how hard the 3′ chunks were.

Before this outing, I updated my empower firmware to 2.18 and changed the battery in the empower oarlock.  This seemed to calm things down.  Only about 8 missed strokes.  Of course I recorded a lot fewer strokes because I forgot to push start after fiddling with some settings.  I was also having HR monitor troubles.

Here’s the whole thing on RIM

I had a bit of a moment on the third interval.  About a minute into the r28 section of that one, it really started to bite, and I got that drowning feeling.  It remarkable how quickly you can work your way through a chain of logic.  It’s been a long week, I don’t race until July, I shouldn’t have started so hard, etc, etc.  And before you know it, you’ve stopped rowing.  Well, I stopped rowing.  After about 10 seconds I started again and finished out the segment without any further drama.

Here’s the last ladder on NK.  Notice the weird crap going on with the HRM.

Workout Summary - media/20180504-1325270o.csv
Workout Details
01|00671|03:00.0|02:14.1|000.0|23.9|000.0|0.0|09.4 - r24
02|00704|03:00.0|02:07.9|000.0|27.7|000.0|0.0|08.5 - r28
04|00675|03:00.0|02:13.3|000.0|24.2|000.0|0.0|09.3 - r24
05|00711|03:00.0|02:06.6|000.0|27.9|000.0|0.0|08.5 - r28
07|00658|03:00.0|02:16.8|000.0|24.0|000.0|0.0|09.1 - r24
08|00633|03:00.0|02:22.2|000.0|27.5|000.0|0.0|07.7 - r28 (fail)
10|00661|03:00.0|02:16.2|000.0|24.2|000.0|0.0|09.1 - r24
11|00708|03:00.0|02:07.1|000.0|28.5|000.0|0.0|08.3 - r28

The last segment was particularly fun.  As I coasted to a stop at the south end of the lake.  I noticed another single with a shirtless young dude in it.  I turned around to the north, and he just sat there.  When I started to row, he started with me and matched me stroke for stroke.  I noticed he was a bit rough in terms of technique.  I imagine he was a college kid who wanted to branch out into sculling.  Anyway, we were side by side while I was getting ready to get into the interval, then I rated up  to 24 and started moving.  He hung with me for a a little bit and then started dropping back. He was sticking to a lower rate, and I’m sure he wasn’t paying any attention to me, but I was relishing the view of him dropping further behind.  This was all it took for me to make it through the last ladder with no hint of slowing down or giving up.  Seems like I need a training partner!

Later in the day, my wife and I headed  to the cape.

Saturday: May 5 – 60′ of coastal rowing

Screen Shot 2018-05-05 at 8.08.50 PM.png Down in Wellfleet.  It was a windy night last night and breezy in the morning, but by 3pm, it was calm and about 65F with hazy sunshine.  It was a great day for my first coastal row of the season.

The tide was still coming in, but close to slack.  I wanted to row for about an hour, and I just wanted to do steady state.  I wanted to keep working on proper technique in recovery.  knees down, outwards pressure, consistent body angle, don’t overextend.  It was great to practice this in the Aero, because it is so stable.

Workout Summary - media/20180505-2230240o.csv
Workout Details

I was having a great time.

Tomorrow:  The weather is supposed to go downhill, so I think I will probably do an erg session.  80′ speedplay.


Videos! KOM Drill and Rate Ladders

It seems like so long ago, but it was just last Saturday.  When I went out to Lake Quinsigamond for a outing with my pals at the Worcester Boat Club.

I set up for side video to see how I was doing with the feedback that my coach had provided.  For reference, here is the before video.

The things that I needed to work on.

  • Rigging:
    • Decrease inboard to reduce the amount of overlap at the crossover and give me more room at the finish.  (I went from 89cm to 85cm)
    • Move foot board to stern to give me more distance through the pin for my hips.  (I moved it 2cm to the stern)
    • Move the oarlocks down one spacer so that my hands would be lower during the drive.
  • Technique:
    • Get my heels down quicker in the drive and keep my heels down during recovery
    • Maintain outward pressure on the handles during recovery to get the blades off the water and stay more stable.
    • concentrate on hinging at the hips and keep my back straight.

She recommended that I include the King of the Mountain Drill into my routine.  I’ve do it in a couple of workouts so far.  You can tell from the video that I need to do it more.

Here’s what it is supposed to look like.  Link to Video

Here’s my version.

I don’t know what my problem was, but I was really tense during the drill.  I feel like I did a better job the first time I tried it.

Then it was into the work out.  The assignment was 4 x 12′ rate ladders.  I include 2 videos here.  The first is the last couple of minutes of the r18 section, 4′ at r24 and 2′ at r28.  This one was done with basically no wind.

So, what do I see.  I know it’s tough to make things out because of the position of the sun.

  • The rigging changes are good, and maybe should go even further.  My finishes look a lot better.
  • I am doing a little better in the way my body is hinging, but not much.
  • I seem to go deep at the catch and then come to a good depth in the last 2/3 of the drive.
  • My balance still sucks.

Here’s the second ladder.  Again the end of the r18 bit and all of the 24 and 28.  The sun is now behind the camera so the video quality is better.  The rowing is a bit worse.  There was a bit of head/cross wind and I went a bit too hard in the first one so I was starting to fatigue.

I look a kinda slumpy in this one.  I need to really work on sitting up straight in the boat.

Finally, because I can’t help myself.  Here’s another blooper.  When I started my second ladder, I managed to lose track of where a buoy was in front of me.  By the time I saw it again, I was too close to cleanly steer away from it, so I just braced for impact.

Not my proudest moment.  I guess I should have worn the sunglasses.


Wed – Sun: A lot more rowing!

What a delight to have 5 days of rowing in a row!  I was in town for the whole week this week and even though I had a busy work schedule, I managed to row every morning.  I didn’t get much sleep, and I froze my ass off, but it was totally worth it!

Tuesday: 2 x 30′ (already posted about this one.  It was pretty tough work)

Wednesday: 3 x (1′ + 1′ + 2′) – a delightfully short sprint oriented workout

Thursday: 60′ of speed play…I got rained and snowed on

Friday: 65′ of speed play…Nice morning, but still damn cold.

Saturday: 4 x 12′ rate ladders on Lake Quinsigamond

Sunday:  Off to Taiwan.

The details:

Wednesday: 3 x (1′ + 1′ + 2′)

Here are my coach’s instructions….

  • 3 sets of: 1’ on, 3’ active rest, 1’ on , 3’ active rest 2’ on, 5’ active rest
  • Rest between: Continuous, no rest between sets. Complete one set and then repeat the series. The active rest is relaxed, low intensity, easy rowing. Stop only briefly to rehydrate.
  • Rating /pace: Race effort, 1k pace (your best right now)

Notes: The emphasis is on high quality work and stroke efficiency. This speed workout aims to keep the lactic acid levels low by allowing enough recovery between pieces for it to clear. Do not cut the rest short. Feel fully recovered and psychologically ready to do the next piece. If the quality starts to drop dramatically, stop the workout.

Training effect: Cat II, repetitions, race pace technique.

Pretty clear instructions and it’s nice to have the notes to know what to focus on.

I did not need to cut the workout short, but I did suffer a bit in the sprints that were going into the head wind.  I adjusted the active rest between sprints as necessary to have the right amount of straight river in front of me when I started each sprint.

There is a huge difference in pace due to wind and current.  The first three were all downstream and wind aided.  The next three were all upstream and into a building headwind.  The third set I did two downstream and then did the last 2′ piece into the current and wind.  I struggled with the cross/head wind in the last one.

Workout Summary - media/20180418-1415260o.csv
Workout Details

I basically aimed to get the power above 300 and keep it there.

Thursday: 60′ of speed play

A unique experience for me.  It was cold and grey when I got to the dock.  I had brought stuff so I could do the session inside because there was rain in the forecast, but when I arrived, it was not raining.  So I decided to give it a go.  I’ve done this session on the erg, but not yet in the boat and I was looking forward to it.


  • 60’ with speed play
  • Rest: n/a only to rehydrate
  • Rating/Pace: Cat VI; target SR 18-20.
  • Once every 10 minutes take the stroke rate up to 28 spm for 20 strokes.

I modified the time between power 20s based on the river.  I wanted to get two 20s into each direction that I row, so it was a little less than 10 minutes between them.

The wind was pretty strong and it started raining during my first trip down the river as I emerged from the s-turn.  By the time I turned at the dam it was raining steadily.  By the time I had gone back upstream, it was a “wintery mix”.  Then it was all snow.

Workout Summary - media/20180419-1300370o.csv
Workout Details

 Friday: 65′ of speed play

Friday is an optional rest day, or I can do another speed play session like Thursday’s.  Since I knew I had travel coming up, I wanted to get as much time on the water as I could.

The weather was even colder than Thursday, around 32F.  But at least it was dry and the sun came out.  The temperature was in the 40s by the time I finished.

I felt much better in this workout than the one on Thursday.  Better, more consistent power in the bursts.


Workout Summary - media/20180420-1350290o.csv
Workout Details

Saturday: 4 x 12′ rate ladders on Lake Quinsigamond

Saturday was a big day for our little club.  We were going to christen our new lightweight double.  We have some very good women rowers and they have been using a mid-heavyweight double which is way less than ideal for them.  We picked this boat up used from Saugatuck and had it repainted locally (fire engine red!).

I brought my boat out.  Today was going to be ideal for a few purposes.  I wanted to see my rowing friends.  I wanted to have a nice long lake for this workout.  And since Saturday mornings are a lot less time compressed, I figure it would be a good time to do some side video with the rigging changes to see if it looks any different.

Marlene had suggested that I move further to stern, and I had moved the footplate a cm last week.  On Saturday, I moved it another cm to the stern.  It felt fine during the row.

I started out with some king of the mountain.  I was really tight and tippy on Saturday, maybe it was having an audience as everyone else was getting ready to row.  Anyway, I have to do this drill more because I suck at it!

Then it was time for the planned workout.

  • 4 x 12’
  • Rest between: 6’
  • Rating/Pace:
    • 6’ @ Cat VI; target 18-20
    • 4’ @ Cat IV; target SR 24
    • 2’ @ Cat III; target SR 28.

The first ladder heading down lake was delightful.  The water was smooth and the wind was light.  I felt strong and fast.  But by the end of the 12′, I was pretty gassed.  I think I pushed a bit too hard.

The next one was uplake and into a building headwind.  That was less fun.  Notice in the plot a transient right at 25 minutes?  That’s were I ran into a “No Wake Zone” bouy.  I noticed it right before I hit it, so I had enough time to brace and avoid flipping, but not far enough to stop or turn.  It freaked me out a bit.

Then back down lake again and finally another one uplake.  by this time I was worn out and the lake was pretty choppy.  The wind was from the northwest as near as I could tell, so coming down lake I was sheltered by the western shore.  Going uplake along the eastern side of the lake, I was exposed to the wind and chop.

I was totally spent the rest of the day.


Once I get settled in Taiwan, I’ll post the videos.

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.