British Indoor Rowing Championships

14 Dec 2016 by Henry, No Comments »
Warming up

Warming up

 

I’ve been dealing with a bit of tendonitis in my right knee since the summer and post the Hardmoors 60 I haven’t run a step in an effort to rehabilitate myelf and get into peak shape for 2017. So in an attempt to stave off the insanity that comes hand in hand with NO RUNNING WHATSOEVER, I’ve taking to the rowing machine in an effort to keep both my mind and my cardio function in check. And it turns out it’s been really fun. Since staging Field Maneuvers  with my wife at the beginning of September, I’ve managed to get my 5000m time on the Concept 2 Rowing machine from around 19.02 minutes to 17.57. This has been no mean feat by which i mean it’s been really bloody hard. Whilst boring a client with this information last month, he pointed out that the British Indoor Rowing Championships were taking place on my doorstep at the Olympic Park on December 10th, and although they don’t have a 5000m event, they do have 2000m races. So I thought I’d put my oar in and have a go at setting myself against some serious competition.

Blurry view from the ground

Blurry view from the ground

And boy did they look serious. I was taking part in the Masters 30-39 2000m competition. When I arrived, a lot of confident men in tight rowing lycra had adopted striking poses around the venue, whilst nochalantly regaling each other with anecdotes about splits and stroke rates. Perhaps i’m out of my depth I mused to myself as we were herded towards the floor of the Velodrome where a bank of about 100 of the latest Concept 2 Erg Rowing Machines awaited us. Before going up to the arena floor, we were held in a pen with a netted roof where an organiser tried to gee us up, before releasing us in front of the crowd of several hundred cheering spectators.  The net was ostensibly to stop rogue velodrome bikes falling out of the sky onto anyone who might be stood there, but the way we were assembled, it also reminded me of the scene in Gladiator where Russell Crowe and his fellow gladiators are about to be released, in many cases to their doom, in front of the baying Roman mob. Luckily there was more lycra than tridents and the baying mob were more a collection of supportive members of rowing clubs from across the country.

We ran out, found our boats and after 5 minutes of sensory overload: cheering crowd, build up commentary and a huge blue screen with our names on it, we were under starters orders. Being completely new to competitive indoor rowing, I set off with the sole intention of not overcooking myself and falling away at the end of the race. My best time in the two weeks of training I had for this distance was 6.54.7 which works out at 1.43.6 per 500m. I didn’t expect to get much faster than this. So I rowed the first 500m of my race at 1.45/500m, determined not to go off to hard, then increased it to 1.43/500m for the next 1000m. To my surprise, and I suspect a lot to do with both race day adreneline and a brand new rather than dusty old rowing machine, I was still feeling strong at this point and I finally managed to pull 1.39.4 for the final 500m and finished with a time 6.49.9 for 2000m… way beyond what I’d planned. Well, almost 5 seconds quicker than i’d hoped which over 2000m, is a lot. I was 6th in my heat and 34th overall. As an ultra marathon running newbie, racing against experienced competitors, some Olympians and a lot of serious looking chaps from the Navy and RAF, and a smattering heavily tattooed North London personal trainers, this left me feeling quite chuffed.

So dare I say it, I think I had a few extra seconds in me. In practice I’ve staggered off the boat, nauseous and unable to walk properly. After this race, I was just a bit queasy and a bit wobbly. I think that means I didn’t go hard enough. So i’m on the lookout for the next rowing competition to find out if that was the case. And then I can hopefully start running again in January. Well I’d better be able to, as I’ve just entered myself in the 95 mile West Highland Way Race in June and yet another Hardmoors 55 at the end of March!

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