Friday, April 30, 2010

I'm baaaack...

So I have been conspicuously absent recently.  There has been a lot in life that has conspired to keep me off the erg lately.

First, once I completed the marathon for the Red Cross, I felt like I needed a bit of a break.  The Concept2 March madness challenge, followed by the marathon, forced me to put in a lot of meters in a month and a half.   By the time I finished the marathon I was starting to feel a little bit of burnout.   I was just not feeling excited about getting back on the rower.   That, to me, is a sure sign that a short break was needed.

Last weekend, I traveled with Laura to Dallas Texas for a CrossFit Level 1 certification class.   I have been doing CrossFit for over 2 years now and have been wanting to get my teaching certification for about a year now.   It was a long time coming, but in one regard I am glad I waited.  The certification process is more formal now and includes a graded test at the end.  This was formally introduced 4 weeks ago.  Anyone who took the certification class in the past, needs to go back and take the test to be officially certified.  So, I am glad I don't have to do that!    The great news is that I passed the test and now am officially certified to teach CrossFit!   Can't wait to start putting that to action!

It has also taken me a while to get into a good routine with my new dog, Kira.   She's a great dog, but is still a bit of a handful - as puppies are prone to being.  My past routine of waking up and rolling onto the rower for a 10K has become, rolling out of bed, letting the dogs out, running a mile with Kira, feeding the dogs, and THEN rowing 10K.   Still working out the kinks in that schedule to find a reliable way of logging the meters on the rower.    I'm sure I'll figure it all out.

I did manage to get a quick 1,500 meters in as part of a warmup at CrossFit earlier in the week.  I have to pull that data off my log card and record it here.  In the mean time, my 10K row from this morning is recorded below.  Feeling like my technique is off a bit after the 2-week hiatus.  Kept the pace pretty easy and tried to focus on that...

Finally, I just wanted to say one more time - THANK YOU!!! to everyone that donated, rowed, or provided support to the Row For The Red Cross!   We are going to try to roll it out on a much bigger scale next year.   I sincerely support all the encouragement from friends, and particularly from the online rowing community.    (Speaking of which, if you happen to stumble upon my blog and are a rower, check out the rapidly growing community of rowers at Charles Anderson - the creator of the site and the founder of the Concept2 virtual rowing team "tweetcrew" - has done an amazing job with the site.  Some awesome features there.  Check it out!)

Total Meters
Total for Day
Meters to go

Sunday, April 18, 2010

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Ok, that title might be a bit over-dramatic.  But there were elements of all three things in my row today.  It was my first full-marathon, and was part of the Row For The Red Cross event that I started with Bethany of CrossFit Geneseo.   So much to talk about... lots of pictures to share (thanks to my girlfriend Laura, and to my friend Randy for taking all the GREAT pictures!!)... let me break it down.

The Good

Really almost every aspect of the day was good.   Actually "great" would be more accurate.   First, and perhaps foremost is that I completed my first full marathon!  42,195 meters of (basically) uninterrupted rowing on a Concept2 rower.  My time is posted below.  I managed to keep it under 3 hours and 30 minutes, which was my primary goal for the day.  I'm tired, but not too battered from the effort.

But really, the thing that is more important to me is that the event was a huge success!   We had a great turn-out at CrossFit Rochester, with about 13 people coming out to row.  And several more came out to cheer the rowers on.  And just about everyone hung around to the very end when I finished.   I just can't put into words how much that meant to me.
CrossFit Rochester
 Laura rowing beside me at around 20K to go...

One of my fellow CrossFitters, Darren, jumped in to do his 5K when I had about 15K to go.   He hammered out a sub-20 minute 5K (by a good margin!) and then, after a short pause, hopped back on the erg to row next to me to help me finish it out!  What a HUGE mental help that was!   Darren is officially on my "I owe him a beer" list!  Thanks Darren!!!!

Darren helping me bring it home!

Thanks to the Red Cross, we also got some local media coverage.  Local CBS, FOX, NBC, and Time Warner Cable affiliates came by to video and talk to me about rowing, CrossFit, and raising money for the Red Cross. That was fun!
Proof that I can talk and row at the same time!

Again, it was HUGE success, thanks to all my great CrossFit friends, the great people at the local Red Cross Chapter, and especially to all the generous people that donated money to sponsor rowers.  We have raised over $3,400 for the Red Cross.

Oh, and I broke 600,000 meters on my way to a million this week!   With a bad back even!!!

The Bad

Really only one "bad" thing to report.  With about 5K to go, my laptop which was running RowPro went into sleep mode!  This caused RowPro to lock up!  So I was unable to save my marathon digitally!  FAIL!   And, of course, this was the one time I did not have my log-card inserted into the monitor.  ARRRGGGHHH!   Fortunately, I have lots of witnesses. :-)
RowPro, locked up with 5,591 to go!
See, I really did do it!
The Ugly
The one thing that I would potentially characterize as "ugly" is that 1/2 - 3/4 distance 10K.  When I hit about 20,000 meters I was thinking "Great! Almost half way there and I am feeling great!"   The next 10K seemed to take about 2 hours... Ughhh.   My pace stayed pretty constant, but mentally the clock just seemed to sloooooow dooooown.   I need to be mentally prepared for that next time I try this.

Next time???  Did I just say that?

Heck yeah!   We are planning on making the Row For The Red Cross a much bigger event next year.  We are hoping to even take it nation-wide!  Gonna have to get going on that.... But for now, I think I have earned an evening's rest.   And maybe a beer to replenish my electrolytes.  There are electrolytes in beer, right?  :-)

Total Meters
Does my back still work? (Thur)
Easy 5K (Fri)
Marathon (Sun)
Total for Day
Meters to go

Today's the big day!

Today's the Row For The Red Cross.  I'll be doing my first Marathon in about one hour from now...

Nervous.  Excited.  Anxious.  And very, very thankful for the incredible support I've gotten from everyone.

I'll post again later to log my meters and let everyone know how it went.

Wish me luck!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Short (forced) break before the big row

Sometimes life throws you a curve ball.  One of those "sometimes" for me was Monday.   I somehow managed to tweak my back at the beginning of a CrossFit workout.   Went to do a dead-lift high-pull and one of the muscles in my back went into a spasm.

This is a recurring problem for me.  Though I have been fortunate in that it has not happened for a couple years.   Consistent working out, and morning and evening stretching exercises seems to keep the problem at bay.   However, as often happens in my life, when something changes my daily routine something will end up forgotten or deferred.  In this case dealing with my new puppy in the morning disrupted my morning schedule enough that I have been forgetting to do my morning back stretches. (Yes, I am blaming it on the dog!)  No stretching equals higher susceptibility to back injuries for me.

So with less than a week to go before the Row For the Red Cross I am nursing a sore back.  Rest, stretching, alternating heat and cold treatment, and anti-inflammatories are the order of the day for the next few days.   I am hoping that I can get a 10K row in on Thursday or Friday to test the waters (pardon the pun) and see how the back handles the movement and stress of rowing.  Hopefully I'll be ok by Sunday (you can click on the link on the right if you want to sponsor me for the row...)

Never did like curve balls...

Here was my last row.  An easy 10K last Sunday.  My next row should take me over the 600K mark.

Total Meters
10K (Sun)
Total for Day
Meters to go

Sunday, April 11, 2010

One week to go!

Today marks one week before the Row For The Red Cross event.  In case anyone has stumbled onto my blog for the first time, the Row For The Red Cross is an event that I put together with Bethany Wadsworth of CrossFit Geneseo to raise some money for the local Red Cross.   It really started out with my new years resolution to row a million meters in 2010.   Bethany decided to join me in that quest and she's closing in on 500K now (Go Bethany!!!)  Then we somehow talked each other into rowing a marathon during Concept2's April Marathon Challenge.  Now we've got several CrossFitters joining us to row 5K's to raise money, and the Red Cross is talking to me about making this an annual event.  Funny what a crazy new years resolution can turn into. :-)

So, as I think ahead to the week leading up to the marathon, I am planning on a pretty easy week of CrossFit, running and rowing.  (I have signed up to run one leg of a trail marathon in May... never done any trail running before, so that should be fun!  One tenant of CrossFit's fitness philosophy is "try new sports"...  I've taken that to heart!)

I am thinking I'll put in one longer row tonight at an easy pace, then I'll keep it pretty laid back the rest of the week.   Though I have to log a respectable amount of meters to keep up with my friends on the C2TweetCrew virtual rowing team.  Our 12-man team has logged more than 2 million meters towards the World Rowing Challenge!  Check out the impressive distances some of us have logged in the past month!

Total Meters
Half Marathon (Thu)
10K (Sat)
Total for 2 Days
Meters to go

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

CrossFit Rowing

All of my rowing over the past couple days has been at CrossFit.   Monday's WOD had two sprints: 1000m and 500m at either end of a WOD that included double-unders and dumbbell snatches, and yesterday there were two 1000m intervals serving as bookends around a WOD that was 5 rounds of 20 jumping pull ups and 20 thrusters.

Rowing in a CrossFit WOD that combines other physical elements is a very different experience from rowing a 2K, 5K, or 10K piece.   It is very different experience from doing "normal" interval work on the rower (like last night's 6x500m CrossFit Endurance workout).   During a normal rowing workout, the erg is your sole focus.  And in my experience, the body fatigues in an "even" way with rowing.  By that I mean my legs, arms, core, and even my general aerobic capacity all seem to get exhausted at the same rate.  Granted there are some interval workouts I have done on the rower that seem to just destroy my legs, but certainly with 5K and up pieces, things seem to get exhausted at pretty much an even pace.

Not so with CrossFit workouts.   If you have never done CrossFit before, here is an example that will give you a taste of what this is like.  Set up to do 6x500m intervals.  Between the intervals, insert another exercise - like pushups - and do a tabata interval of that. (Tabata intervals are 20 seconds of work, then 10 seconds of rest for 8 repeats).  Throw in a 1:00 rest before getting back on the rower.

So your workout would look something like this:
500m row
8x0:20w/0:10r pushups
1:00 rest
repeat 5 more times...

When you get back on the rower, notice how much different the interval feels.   You would probably think you would be hitting a completely different muscle group on the pushups (triceps, pectorals) than you were using on the row.  However, engaging the core on the pushups is going to pre-fatigue the core for your next rowing interval.  What generally happens to me on these kinds of workouts is that I hop back on the rower thinking, "great, back to rowing!!  I'm gonna kick butt on this because I row all the time!".  But what I discover is that the row feels completely different because of the pre-fatigued core.  It is a totally different experience than a normal 6x500m interval.  My body has to cope with fatiguing in a different way than it is used to.  Rowing becomes slightly unfamiliar and more challenging.

It seems to me that my rowing workouts on days after a CrossFit WOD that incorporates rowing are better than other rowing workouts.   I will have to review my rowing logs to see if my performance backs up that feeling! :-)   But psychologically anyway, I feel better about rowing after a good CrossFit WOD that incorporates rowing.   Perhaps it is because the CrossFit rowing always feels so much harder, that if I can just row it is a huge relief.   Or maybe that unfamiliarity I am feeling durning the CrossFit WOD rowing makes returning to "normal" rowing kind of like a return to the familiar and somehow more comfortable.

I have also noticed that all the "normal" rowing I have been doing has improved my CrossFit WODs that incorporate rowing.   Seems like most folks at CrossFit dread the rowing - let's face it, nothing kicks your butt like rowing!  But I actually look forward to WODs with rowing in them.   I look forward to the place in the WOD where I can get back on the rower, get into my rhythm and, well, just row!  Even though physiologically it is unfamiliar because of the pre-fatigue induced by the other CrossFit elements, psychologically it is a return to something that I feel strong in.  My mind is telling me "you row 10Ks all the time, a 1K will be practically like resting".

Did I just say that a 1K row could be like resting?

Results from the last two days:

Total Meters
1K (Mon - CF beginning of WOD)
500m (Mon CF end of WOD)
1K (Tue CF beginning of WOD)
1K (Tue CF end of WOD)
1K (Warm up CFE)
rest meters
1K (Cool down)
Total for 2 Days
Meters to go

Monday, April 5, 2010

Change of pace... so to speak

With the end of the March Madness 10K challenge, I have been giving myself a change of pace.  I've decided to take a few more rest days from rowing, and throw in some longer rows to test my endurance.  This has been an interesting challenge for me.    First, I really don't like to take rest days or to change a routine once it is established.   I think at some level I am afraid if I take a break I will lose momentum, or somehow not get back to the task.   This is an odd thing about me, but I know that it is deeply ingrained in my personality... once you start, don't stop until you are done!

Saturday I did my first 30K row.   I wanted to do something close to the full marathon just to see what it felt like to be in the seat for more than 2 hours.    This ended up being challenging on a couple levels.    First, just being in the seat that long proved to be difficult.  I had to stop briefly and stand up to stretch out.  I found a couple times that my right leg was getting numb - I believe this was from the my position on the seat.   Fresh bubble wrap will be a must for future 20K+ rows!   The second challenge to my longer rows lately has been dealing with a 9 month old dog needing to go out!   In the middle of my 30K row I had to stop to let Kira (the husky) and my other dog Cici outside... a 15 minute break I was not counting on.   Same thing happened on my last 10K row, though the break was not as long.   This is making my times look really anemic!  Clearly I'm going to need some new strategies to deal with the dogs so that I can row uninterrupted.  Either that or get myself to stop caring about what my split times look like! :-)

Kira loaded up for a walk.

 Last two rows from last week:

Total Meters
10K (Wed)
30K (Sat)
Total for 2 Days
Meters to go