Wednesday, 8 January 2014

Right, maybe this time I'll keep the blogging energy going!

So I'm rowing again.  I rowed 200km for the Xmas Challenge, something of a late push as it was my first chance to row since my hernia operation in September.  I took it steady at first, then ramped up the distance to cover the 200km in a little over two and half weeks.

That set me up for the JVTC, the annual Xmas gut-busting team challenge to help us all fight the holiday flab!  I've started well, covering 108km so far in the 8 days we've had.  That sets me up nicely for my target this year of 400km, which my quick maths tell me I'm on course for.

I row 10km at lunch with Ric in the work gym, and on Wednesday and the weekends when I'm at home, I row at least 15km.  With a few extra metres here and there, I should be okay.  It's starting to hit my back already though, but I'm being sensible and choosing steady paces and intervals for the longer pieces.  I've discovered that 2500m intervals with something like a 2' rest gives me a perfect blend between working up a sweat and getting a short recovery to start again.  We'll see how the theory pans out anyway!!

On the health front, my acid is at an acceptable level now without medication.  Training does worsen it slightly, but so do other things that I can't quite pinpoint, so have stopped trying.  My hernia scar is fine, just the odd twinge now and again, but I'm aware it can take a while to completely recover.  At the moment though there's nothing to make me concerned.

Finally, there's my heart PVCs (premature ventricular contractions - a kind of arrythmia).  When I stopped training after my hernia op my heart seemed to return to normal (not that it's really 'abnormal', but normal in the sense that I wasn't aware of it anymore).  Since picking up the training I've had the odd palpitation, but nothing like the 'old' days, where I'd get one big thump per erg session.  Now I get one a day, if that.  My theory is that training strengthens my heart, which intensifies the PVCs when they occur.  I also still get my odd balance issues, but they come and go, and they seem to get worse when I'm tired.  To that end I'm endeavouring to get more sleep!!

See you all soon!

Monday, 26 November 2012

Still alive, just!

I've really been neglecting this blog, I hope you're still reading?!

The main reason for that is I haven't been doing anything blog-worthy.  My Challenge series entries have been poor, not a patch on last season's, however today I may have turned a corner by doing this month's 6344m in 22:18.5, only 2 seconds or so slower than last year.

It's been a real effort this month, Ric did his in 22:26 a week or so ago, but I'd had 4 attempts before today and quit in every one.  I either stopped completely in digust with myself, or kept going at a slower rate.  Today though I told myself this was it - probably my last attempt this month and I had to start picking up points.  I'm not in the office much this week, tomorrow is my last day, and I was suspecting I might catch a cold as our kids are coming down with one.  Therefore there's every chance I might be less than 100% tomorrow, and if that was my last attempt I'd have blown it.

I set out at my target pace of 1:46-1:47 and with 3km to go the pain in my legs was building.  It was this pain that caused me to stop in my earlier attempts, so I told myself to ignore it.  My breathing was fine, my heart/acid reflux problems have lessened recently and so I was feeling pretty good in general.  This gave me the confidence to push on with my breathing and heart race increasing.

With 1km left I was starting to hit the 1:44/1:45s, but my legs were seriously burning now.  By the time I reached 500m left I was getting down to 1:42, but I knew I was spent.  There was no powering through the finish, instead I gasped over the line at 1:40ish, in a final time of 22:18.5.  I had nothing left, so I know I gave it my all, I couldn't have done more than another 50m.  I had to unstrap my feet incase my thighs exploded!!

It set me up for the rest of the day though and gives me the confidence that I might not be as far off the pace as I thought.  I've done a good 12' for the CTC this month, so I knew I had a decent 6344m in me, it was just a matter of pushing through the barrier that so often these days stops me.  Maybe I've done it, it certainly feels like it.

Tomorrow is another attempt at the 12', so I guess we'll see!

Monday, 15 October 2012


FTC completed, 500km rowed!

That's about it really, today was surreal in a way.  I knew there would be no fireworks at the end, no big hurrah, but it still felt like an anti-climax.  That's probably because I was so tired, I couldn't have taken much more rowing after today.  It should sink in tomorrow when I get to relax at lunchtime for the first time in a month!

Thursday is my first day back in the gym.  The current plan is a 5km PB attempt, or at least as close as I can get to it.  I don't know whether 2 day's rest is enough though after almost 31 days constant (albeit with 3 days rest).  I guess I'll find out!

Sunday, 14 October 2012

Darkest just before the dawn!

Well, the title says it all really!  Today is the penultimate day of the FTC, and boy was it a killer.  After taking the 9th off with illness I had to catch up those missing 15km to stay on target, which I did this week.  All I had to do today was my scheduled 15km, but for various reasons I didn't get on the erg till 8:30, and that's a bad time to be doing an hour's row after car cleaning, football and all the day's other activities!!

I programmed the 15km in, put a "Friends" box set DVD on and settled for the row.  After only 3km though I knew it was going to be tough.  I'm physically exhausted after rowing 470km since the 15th of September with only 3 days rest and tonight was almost the final embodiment of that.  After 5km I had to stop, towel myself off, then pick back up again and tell myself to concentrate on the next 5km.

By the time I got halfway though I knew it wasn't going to work.  I was exhausted, physically and mentally, and part of me wonders if it's because I'm watching the TV.  It does seem a distraction - when I use it to listen to music, or when I row at work with no distraction I row 'better'.  Whatever the reason, I stopped.

I sat there thinking.  I could leave it there, then tomorrow do my allotted 15km at lunch and finish in the evening with the missing 7.5km.  That just seemed like a cop out though, and I knew it.  However I also knew that I couldn't do the remaining 7.5km the way I felt, and so came the brainwave - row intervals.  I programmed a 2km distance interval and rowed 4 of them.  Nothing fancy, but with a 2:30 rest inbetween I settled into the pace better and knowing the rest was coming helped no end.

So I ended up doing 15.5km, and feel all the better for it now.  I'm actually over target for tomorrow now - all I have to do is 14.194km (not that I'm counting!!).   That's what I'll probably do though, making my total a round 500km.  I could do more, but 500km seems more 'complete' than 500806m.

I really can't wait to finish now, this has been a looooong month!  How I ever did 32.258km a day that time I did 1,000km I'll never know - this has been tiring and difficult at times.  Despite that though it has been 'easy', most of the sessions have been in my work lunchbreak and I haven't had to row more than once on many days.  I'll be glad to get back to having rests though, and mixing up my gym sessions again!

Sunday, 30 September 2012

Halfway through the FTC and just about on target!

Well, I make this day 16 of the FTC, which must mean we're halfway!  15 days completed and I'm on 230km with ETT sitting 10th in the table.  My target is 500km, so technically I need to do 40km today to keep me on target!!  I did have 2 days off last weekend though for our anniversary, so I'm actually doing okay and I'm thinking 2x12.5km rows today should suffice.  That's more than I've been doing (about 20km most days this week to try and get my average up), and will put me roughly on target.  I should then be able to get away with just 15km rows during the week when I'm at work, leaving my evenings free to recover for the next day (to catch up for the lost days I'm currently doubling up - rowing at lunch and then again at home, which is proving to be very tiring!).

I also need to catch up from yesterday as well, when I only did about 10km.  The reason for that is that we went out for a birthday meal in the evening, so I only had time for 1 row during the day.  As it's almost the end of September I took the opportunity to do my Challenge series entry - the O'Neill 4 minute test.  How did it go?  It was a killer!

I'm not used to sprinting at the moment, instead putting in the distances.  The only sprinting I've done over the last few months was my CTC 3x300m, and that was at the end of an hour row!  Therefore I was quite nervous before the start, more so than normal.  I know how much sprinting hurts, I've done it enough times, but knowing I had to do it when I was not at full fitness and pretty much exhausted from daily 15-20km rows filled me with dread!  I did a steady 4km warmup, paced around the house whilst the wheel stopped spinning, then sat back on and fired up.

I aimed for a 1:37 split, thinking I could hold that.  The monitor though thought differently, flitting between 1:37 and 1:38.  After 2 minutes though, the halfway point, I was on a 1:36.9 average.  I was feeling it in my legs, the tiredness was very keen to make itself felt, but my distance perseverance started to help.  All I had to do was make it to a minute left then 'technically' I was almost finished.  I had my average down to 1:36.7 by this point, and powered home the last minute, bringing the pace down to 1:34/5 to finish at 1:36.5 and 1243m.  As I cooled down the familiar blood/copper taste was there in my throat, so I knew I'd given my all.

How do I feel about it?  Being blunt - it's not good enough.  Last season I did 1263m @ 1:35.0, and that was a sluggish start to the series.  My Grimsby mile (1609m) was covered @ 1:34.5 (under race conditions admittedly), so yesterday I did 350m less at a pace 2s/500m slower.  I am tired though, I'm not giving my body any time to rest, I'm not sprint trained and I didn't do daily long distance pieces for last year's FTC.  So I've told myself that the later rounds will need to be better, when the FTC is over with and I can work on the pieces several times.  It is disheartening though, when I know I can do so much better.

Must dash now, 12.5km is calling!

Monday, 24 September 2012

Good, but tiring, day!

Well, I did nothing at the weekend - I was dragonboating with some work colleagues for charity on Saturday (my first time ever and we finished 12th of 30 teams!).  That really made me ache on Sunday, so my good intentions came to nothing and I had another rest day!  That meant I have to start putting in extra effort this week, and today was just the day I needed.

I told myself it had to be the normal hour at lunch followed by a 10km when I got home.  That meant the hour had to be steady in order for me to conserve my strength for the later row.  I therefore set off at 1:59ish pace and maintained that all the way through, coming in just under at 1:58.8 I think.  I felt good afterwards, a bit achey, but not even remotely out of breath.

When I'd got to about 12 minutes left in the row I started thinking about the challenges I'd not got round to this month - the Challenge Series first round and also the CTC.  I have to squeeze them in before next Monday, but I also have to keep plodding out the the distance.  As they're both small pieces (4' and 3x300m  respectively) I figured I'd fit them around larger pieces somehow.  That's when I had the crazy notion of doing the CTC after my hour piece, just to see if my strength was coming back yet.  When I finished feeling fine (apart from the slight ache) I resolved to have a go...!

I was pleasantly surprised with how I got on, considering I'd just done 15km in the hour.  My first 300m was rattled off in 53.4@1:29.0.   I felt fine after and knew I had more left in me, and so the second was done in 52.3@1:27.1.  Now, I sneakily knew that our new team mate Andy B had done a 1:27.x average, therefore if I was to beat him I had to get down to 1:25 ''ish", which was harder than I expected with my tired legs, but I finished the third in 51.2@1:25.3.  The overall time was 2:36.9@1:27.1, and I was very pleased with that considering what I'd just done.  Whether or not I have time to have a proper go at it I don't know, but at least I put a time in and there's a chance of floating another boat!

To cap off a good day I came home and rattled off a 10km in a "pootling" time of 39:36.5, which I just realised was exactly the same 1:58.8 split as my earlier hour, so that's consistency for you!  Tonight's entertainment as I rowed - Red Dwarf V episodes "Holoship" and "Inquisitor" - I'm working through the boxset!!

One final point - it's our 7th wedding anniversary today, so now I'm off to spend some time with my fantastic wife!  See you all again soon!

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

FTC Episode 4 - Blister Wars!

So we're now 4 days into the FTC and the blisters are here to stay.  Yesterday I did a 10km and 30' piece and today I had planned to do a straight hour, but after 10km my heart wasn't in it, and as I was rowing at home it was also just the time my kids were going to bed, so I stopped there.  After a 20 min break for night-nights and a drink I hopped back on and did the remaining 5km.

I set out steady, especially as I find when I restart the blisters really hurt - I should learn to keep going!  With 1km to go I was at a 2:01.8 average, which is pretty slow by my standards (my 5km PB being around the 1:45 mark!!).  However, this is a marathon, not a sprint, so I was all set to plod on when I just thought about my physical state.  I was sweating, obviously, and I was tired - but there was no muscle ache, no pain in the legs or lungs.  That's when I realised what I was doing was being lazy, sloppy with my form and not really putting my heart into it.  I therefore decided to step it up, bringing the final 1km home in 1:50.2.  I wasn't out of breath, and the only pain was from the blisters, and I felt happier for powering home a piece, rather than petering out as I have been doing.

It's got me thinking that I'm in some kind of limbo right now.  Too scared almost to go out hard or fast, yet too easily bored to go out slow and steady.  The boredom was what made me stop after 10km, and I found it all too easy to say "it's okay, I can just get back on for another 5km".  After my recent health scares (I'm feeling overall much better today) and lack of exercise there's a fear I won't be able to do justice to a piece.  That's why I'm taking everything steady, and I think that's what I need to work on next.

Keep on erging everyone!