A nice distraction from the admin of organising an Ocean Row is definitely the training. Slotted into the calendar a couple of months ago was the ‘Just Row’ event held at Train Manchester on Sun 23 Apr 17. A refreshing change from the usual indoor rowing competition set ups which are usually just 2km or 500m disciplines. This event comprised 4 workouts within 1hour!!
Specific indoor rowing programming began 7 weeks prior to the event, working off current 2km pacing and building that important cardio base, improving recovery and conditioning to long sessions on the ergo to prepare for what lie ahead.
I had been suffering with a bad case of the notorious Man Flu in the week leading up to the comp, constantly fluctuating in decision between “Yeah, I’ll be fine to compete on Sunday” to 5 minutes later wondering if I could even manage the 20 meter expedition to the kitchen to make a cup of Yorkshire tea (everyone knows Yorkshire tea gives you super powers). It came to packing my bag the day before the event and I decided to stop torturing myself and make a grown up and wise decision … not to compete! Therefore, I didn’t pack any of my rowing kit or fancy equipment. I just went up to support some friends who were competing.
Race day! Five minutes after arriving at Train Manchester and seeing the set up and feeling the atmosphere I knew I had to compete!! So the scavenge for kit commenced, I managed to grab some spare shorts off a good friend and fellow competitor Ste Wood. The gym was selling ‘Just Row’ T-Shirts and they were pretty cool so needing a top to race in was a good excuse to buy one! I couldn’t find any trainers so it was down to my brand new all black Asics!
The heavyweight male open kicked off at 1600hrs and having arrived at just after 10am it was a long time to be anxiously waiting. Eventually it came round and I was sat on Ergo number 5, dressed like I was there for my very first gym induction and thinking why did I change my mind?! Then we were off!
The first workout comprised 3 min row, 2 min rest, 3 min row. Overall distance ranked you against the other competitors for workout 1, 1st place received 1 point, 2nd place 2 points etc. So effectively the person with the least points after the 4 workouts wins. I had practised this event a few times already in training so knew what I was capable of and more importantly what I wasn’t capable of! It was so tempting to ignore the race plan and just fly off but you would certainly pay the consequences later in the competition if you did. I managed to stay bang on my race plan, placing me 9th after the first workout.
I need to mention now about how dry my mouth was getting. If you’ve ever experienced ‘cotton mouth’ then you’ll know what I mean! For those of you that are not privy to a serve dose of the cotton mouth, think of the worst dry mouth you have ever had waking up after a heavy night out then at that moment attempting to eat 10 cream crackers in 30 seconds. That would put you somewhere near how dry my mouth was! The only comfort being that I knew I wasn’t the only one suffering as I saw people trying to suck moisture back into their mouths as if they were eating a bag of extra sour sweets.
The second workout began at 1620hrs and was a flat out sprint for 75 seconds. I am a self-confessed plodder, not a sprinter! Again, I held back from the temptation to keep increasing the pace, overtaking people and instead stick to my race plan knowing there was a longer distance workout coming up that I needed to save myself for. Happy enough with my attempt at a sprint, I ranked 13th in workout 2.
The next event kicked off at 1630hrs and was a 3.5km row but the first 875m of which was ranked as a separate workout, giving incentive to go off fast! I knew this was my opportunity to claw back some points but didn’t want to get lured into the trap of burning out. The first 875m went really well, placing 6th in workout 3. As I went into the second part of the 3.5km I tried to stick to my race plan but the fatigue was kicking in, the cotton mouth was just ridiculous and I started to flag. I fought hard through the middle section and managed to hold onto my position for the 3.5km coming 6th in workout 4. This placed me in 7th place for the whole event overall! I am really pleased with this result as there were a lot of strong athletes competing and I had been ill leading up to the event. So, all in all a very good day out!
Confession: I may have had a Large Strawberry Milkshake from McDonalds on the drive home, purely to soothe the cotton mouth of course!
Out for now, Dunc
Here we will be keeping you up to date with all our musings pre, during and post competing in the Atlantic Challenge race that started 12th December 2018.