Jun 2 2015
Jun 2 2015
On Monday we rigged our double and Romana and I took it for a leisurely 6km steady state. Just recreational speed:
This morning I went for the annual medical checkup. It’s still not compulsory but I find it interesting.
Morning urine: OK
Blood: Waiting for lab results
Fat: 7.9% (0.1% more than a year ago). A bit more fat on the belly and on the thighs. All within the measurement error if you ask me.
Weight: 71.8kg (0.2kg more than a year ago)
Lung vital capacity: 5.45 L – exceeding last year’s value by 2% but I believe this is all in the measurement error. Anyway, I was told it is a good value.
The doctor recommended to see a physio more often (well I never go, so perhaps I should start) because of some hard spots in my back muscles. Also she recommended to strengthen my lats. Funny, one would think that rowing would strengthen them.
Should do more stretching as well.
Blood pressure before exercise OK. Electrocardiogram OK.
Then it was time for the spiro test on the cycle. Before the test, I asked what my last year’s results were. Apparently I stopped at 355W and 182 bpm heart rate. OK. Challenge.
I reached 370W, at roughly the same HR (don’t remember by “heart” now, so will have to wait for email with test results).
But the doctor didn’t like that I had a slightly high blood pressure at one point during the exercise. Also they didn’t like how long it took (10 minutes) to drop. Hm.
So I bought this beauty, the Omron M6 AC, and will measure regularly:
Arriving at work, I had two cups of strong coffee, than sat down and measured myself. Values were OK. I think the high values during the test were an anomaly, or perhaps some fatigue, or “white coat hypertension”. The doctor asked if I had stress at work. 🙂
Difficult to judge how stressful their work is, but it looked more relaxed than what I do. 🙂 🙂
Anyhow, will keep measuring and looking forward to the complete test results.
What stresses me out is that my single is still in Hodonín. I agreed to have it on the second trailer load, assuming that he would turn around to pick up the remaining boats on Monday evening or Tuesday morning, but this didn’t happen. God knows when he will pick them up. It’s time to buy that small trailer.
Jun 1 2015
Greg wrote a blog “where I row”. Here is my version of it.
This is the Brno dam, nicknamed “Prýgl”, and the label “Brno 221” is the place of our rowing club.
This lake has 2 rowing clubs. Ours, CVK Brno, on the left bank, and Lodni Sporty Brno (where Miroslava Knapkova started rowing) on the right bank, roughly where you see the “384” road number sign on the map.
We have a 2km Albano lane system with the finish in Rakovec, at the south end of the lake. Between April and July, the two outer buoy lines are up, with the other lane dividers resting on the bottom of the lake. The lane dividers are up only during the main race, the International Youth regatta, in May. In the off season there are no buoys, but everybody knows where the 2km regatta course is.
On the lake itself you can row 3km without turning. Traffic patterns are agreed between the two rowing clubs, basically one way traffic from start to finish (north to south) on the regatta course and keeping the left (nude beach) side to go from the north end of the lake to the start of the regatta course, return traffic travels south to north along the entire right bank of the lake. For us, left-bankers, the traffic is a little more complex. Launching from our dock, we are supposed to cross over to the right bank and then follow the usual traffic. From the regatta course finish there is also a one way lane back to the club.
Our youth is rowing back and forth on the 500m in front of our dock for safety reasons.
Alternatively, we can go up the windy river through a very nice forest canyon up to the Veveri castle and beyond, all the way up to the barrage at Veverska Bityska. This part is not allowed for “sports”, so we get into debates with the police sometimes, when the anglers call them. In my mind, we are “recreation”. 😉
The lake itself is shared with swimmers, sailing boats, tourist ferries, dragon boats, and electrical boats. Gasoline motor boats are forbidden, with the exception of rowing coach launches.
The tourist ferries are big and mean and they don’t respect rowers much, but they follow a set traffic pattern and we are constantly on the lookout for them.
The lake is a major recreation area, and this creates some hazards on hot summer days. Swimmers don’t understand they shouldn’t be swimming in the Albano lanes so they mix with rowers training at full speed. Nobody except the rowers understand the traffic patterns, so we are constantly navigating around small boats filled with people drinking beer.
A slight wind, especially from the northwest, is able to create a mean chop. There are many days when we cannot send out the youth to train. Experienced rowers go into the sheltered river canyon on such days, but sometimes the waves are too high to make it to the entry to the canyon.
May 31 2015
Went to the Italian restaurant in Hodonín again, a pre-race dinner with double partner Radek and his girlfriend. Our older children Lenka and Dominik spent the night at the Hodonín rowing club. Lenka had a good day, I think. She came in fourth in the toughest Girls 15/16 1x heat and third in the double toughest double heat. In the single, she gave it all. In the other heat, she would have qualified for the final. Dominik came in third in the boys 11 year old single, beating one other boy. In the other races he would have beaten one or two others as well.
So we had a lot of rowing to talk about over dinner. Our youngest son Robin fell asleep after finishing his desert. So we had to carry him home.
Back in the hotel there was some noise from the courtyard. There was a handball tournament in town this weekend and we happened to share the hotel with the coaches of an East Slovakia handball club. Alcohol flowed freely. We had to sleep with the window open because of the heat, so we spent some time listening to Slovakian complaints about handball referees. 🙂
Luckily we were tired enough to fall asleep despite the noise.
Men Masters Single
My Masters single race was on at 9:21 AM. I like morning races. You arrive at the race venue when the music starts, when the first crews start to carry their sculls to the dock, and you get a feeling of how the other clubs spent the night. You see people waking up, rubbing the sleep out of their eyes, and getting ready for a nice day.
My back was relatively OK.
I did my usual routine. Running a bit. Stretching. Checking sculls, boat, slide, etc. Then rowing slowly to the start.
There would be two races in the 1x mM. I was between the younger ones, in lane 4.
The river we race on is the international border between the Czech and Slovak Republics, so my lane 4 meant racing abroad, together with the guy in lane 3, in contrast with lanes 1 and 2 who would race a home race. Well, despite the seriousness of international borders the important thing was that lanes 2 and 3 were in the middle of the river, with more current, and lanes 1 and 4 were close to the slower banks.
Did a 10 stroke set at race pace and a practice start to test my back. It didn’t hurt but I still felt it isn’t 100% ok. Still, good enough to race as long as I wouldn’t force it.
Just three of us, so they put us in lanes 2, 3 and 4. I was in lane 4. As the race is a big turn, the starting line is diagonal, with me in lane 4 ahead of the two other boats.
I led out of the start. After ten strong strokes I focused on technique and was leading by a boat and a half pretty soon. Then I started to row away from the two other scullers.
I think trying to save my back doesn’t really impact my boat speed.
With 150m to go I started a sprint, so the public wouldn’t complain that I didn’t sweat.
I enjoyed listening to the moderator calling my name when I rowed the last 10 strokes.
I won with 12 seconds on number 2, Michal Doubek from my own club who put in a nice final sprint to shake off nr 3. My end time was 3:28 (helped by the current), Michal came in 3:40. The other final (older guys) had times above 4 minutes.
An easy win. I won a medal and a bottle of hand soap. Yay!
One race before me, my son Dominik finished 2nd in the boys 11/12 year old 4x+. He was the youngest and rowed in the bow seat. He thoroughly enjoyed his row, so we were both happy.
Here are the stats:
|01688|20:05|05:56.8| 19.0 |warming up
|00082|00:17|01:43.1| 36.2 |race
|00103|00:22|01:46.9| 33.9 |race
|00105|00:23|01:49.3| 32.6 |race
|00090|00:20|01:50.6| 31.5 |race
|00103|00:23|01:51.9| 30.7 |race
|00108|00:25|01:55.5| 30.2 |race
|00107|00:25|01:57.3| 30.0 |race
|00102|00:24|01:57.4| 30.3 |race
|00111|00:25|01:52.4| 30.2 |race
|00629|22:58|18:14.5| 18.9 |post-race
So the race distance is a bit shorter than 1km, which explains the fast time. Still happy with race pace and stroke rate, given that I was rowing at 95% and didn’t have to throw in the kitchen sink.
After winning the single, I rowed past the crowd. My masters double partner Radek shouted at me that I should be happy with one medal. I answered that I certainly want a second one. This only added to his nerves. He’s a self-taught rower and I guess he feels he isn’t up to guys like me who row since childhood. I think this is BS.
Anyway, he was pretty nervous for our race. Rowing being for a large part in the head, it worried me.
All lanes occupied. Olomouc in lane 1, Ostrava in lane 2, ourselves in lane 3, and Břeclav in lane 4. We did a practice start in front of Ostrava before the race. They commented that we were beatable. 🙂
They didn’t know I did this practice start just to test my back and I wasn’t rowing full force.
I didn’t know what to expect from this race. I expected all boats to be pretty close, with Ostrava in front, us probably fighting for second place with Olomouc, possibly fighting for first place with Ostrava.
Ostrava guys had big muscles and looked impressive against us skinny lightweights.
Also, I didn’t know how Radek, in bow seat, would deal with rowing the big turn. You have to row in your lane, passing a few buoys on the right side, or you would be disqualified.
Ready – go.
As we were in lane 3, we were looking at lanes 1 and 2 and had a tactical advantage at the start. On the other hand, they would have the shorter turn.
We lead the race after 5 strokes, Břeclav in lane 4 falling behind quickly.
Passed the first buoy perfectly. When we had done our turning I called a 10 stroke set on concentration.
We quickly rowed away from the pack. Both of us relaxed.
Now the boat really started to run.
With 500m to go we were certain of our win.
Still, I called a 10 stroke set at 450m to go and another one at 150m to go. We won in 3:15, with Ostrava in second place in 3:30. I could have beaten them in the single.
The first prize was a medal and a voucher for a weekend in a hotel in the Austrian Alps. Nice, better than hand soap!
After the race I we had a photo shoot organized by Radek’s girlfriend, then 2 beers in the sun, and then we prepared our boats for transport.
Here are the stats:
|02280|28:42|06:17.7| 20.7 |warming up
|00092|00:18|01:38.3| 34.8 |race
|00099|00:20|01:41.5| 34.6 |race
|00103|00:21|01:41.6| 32.9 |race
|00090|00:18|01:40.3| 32.5 |race
|00103|00:21|01:42.2| 31.8 |race
|00111|00:23|01:43.5| 31.1 |race
|00103|00:22|01:47.1| 30.8 |race
|00090|00:20|01:50.7| 30.1 |race
|00141|00:30|01:46.6| 30.0 |race
|00503|16:53|16:46.2| 16.3 |post-race
All in all a great weekend.
May 30 2015
If I will start tomorrow, it will be an interesting experiment with a radical taper.
No exercise since Monday, to let my back heal. On Thursday, it was beautiful weather, I had the sculls already out in the dock, but I changed my mind in the last moment. My back has been steadily improving since Monday and I didn’t want to force it.
A gentle 20 minutes row in the double this morning gave me confidence that I will be able to race tomorrow.
So the first race day saw only the younger generation racing. A few pictures:
A thunderstorm lasting 20 minutes was a less happy intermezzo. Apparently the race organizers didn’t have anyone watching the weather radar, so kids were on the river when the it started raining heavily, with thunder and lightning. Nobody got hurt luckily.
As I am writing this, Romana told me she’s going to the hospital in the ambulance with a 14 year old from our club who broke his arm while playing in the clubhouse. His parents are in Brno.
So I will be coaching the girls in the quad. There race starts an hour and a half from now.
May 25 2015
Greg had a very nice comment on yesterday’s blog. Of course, the GoPro videos from behind, with suggestive music, are a little flattering. So he didn’t notice some imperfections that were there. Still, it was a good session.
This morning I wanted to do a side video, to get a little less flattering picture and learn something about my rowing. Showing side videos, disclosing the weak points in my stroke, can be quite painful … but I was ready for it.
The schedule prescribed fast intervals, and the Masters double that uses the same 6:15am training time had a 15-20x 20 strokes on / 20 strokes off session. I decided to join that. It is always nice to row these things with another boat next to you.
So I mounted my GoPro on an old forestay, launched and did a 10 minute warming up. There was pretty strong wind today. The north end of the lake was calm but the south end was a little choppy. About 2 out of 5 on a scale where 0 is oily calm, 1 is slight ripples, and 5 is what our lake is capable of with unfavorable wind strength and direction.
We turned around and set off for the tailwind part of the session. During the tailwind we would cap the stroke rates between 25 and 30. In the second half, the headwind, we would do free stroke rate, which usually ends up in a frantic 36+ spm sprint. I was looking forward to that.
Here’s a video of the warming up and the first few intervals. I stayed closer to 30spm than to 25spm, just because it felt right and I wanted to feel the boat run at 30spm and tailwind. Enjoyed that.
(Note that I probably have mis-synchronized the Garmin data and the video by a few seconds. The splits seem to follow with a few seconds lag. This applies to all following videos. It’s been a long time since I last worked with DashWare … )
The second video shows the remaining tailwind intervals. You can see the chop become slightly stronger in each interval. In the last one, the forestay with the camera somehow moves a bit bow-wards. I turned it back but I was slightly worried about the bolt coming lose slowly.
Then we turned around and I waited in anticipation of the headwind intervals. Did a few tapdown drills before the double started to move. Then we went off in the first interval. It went well. The only problem was that the forestay moved again, so after this interval I stopped, took my 13mm key and repaired it. It was a quick repair, so the perspective changed slightly.
The camera was secured and I was ready for the next interval. Luckily the double had waited for me. I set off for another interval, and then came the fatal one. I prefer if you watch the video before you read the final paragraph:
So that was it. Training cut short at 7km and a very painful back. I suspect it was a combination of being slightly off balance due to the weight of the GoPro, which I probably corrected with my trunk. Then, during the choppy part I had to correct even more. That combined with fanatically trying to not lose ground to the double created the circumstances for a muscle or nerve to become angry at me and bite back.
Luckily it is not the spine but about 10cm to the right of it and I believe it is just a muscle, not a nerve.
After the training I headed straight to the pharmacy to buy a warming gels based on hemp extract. At work I proclaimed that I would be going on the force of Cannabis for the rest of the day. At lunch the pain was maximal, then it started to ebb away.
Will take a warm shower in the evening (I have been warned that taking a bath is at the risk of not being able to get out of it) and skip tomorrow’s training in the eight. It was supposed to be a light week anyway, with races planned for coming weekend.
Here’s some pictures from RIM:
Quite happy with the paces achieved. Yes, it was in tailwind, but I wasn’t working very hard, the stroke rate was very controlled and there was some chop.
The video blogging turned out to be more painful than I expected, though … Still, looking at the technique, I see improvements. I am much stronger in the second half of the stroke than a year ago. My tap-down is still sloppy and barely visible. Also, I should sit a bit more straight.
Finally, to end on a positive note, here is Marieke Keijser, the 18 year old girl from NL that won the European Championship with an effortless easy stroke. Proof that rowing is not about strength, but about repeating flawless strokes, one after the other. When I grow up, I wanna row like she does: