Today I completed 30 minutes and broke the magic 7,500 meter mark, an indication that I can keep my splits under 2:00 for a sustained piece, which in turn is an indication that I’m getting back in shape.
Rowing is all about the numbers. I divide the stroke into a four-beat count of: catch, drive, finish, recovery and the Concept2 PM3 monitor tells me the rest: strokes per minute (I am most comfortable at a 24 rate, racers sprint at 34-36 spm), heart rate (my resting rate is 70, I need to calculate my basal, or waking rate, but while rowing I usually hang in the 150-165 bpm range with a finishing sprint in the 175 bpm range), watts, calories per hours, meters elapsed, meters to go, projected finish time, etc. etc. etc.
In short, rowing is for number geeks. This is not a pleasant experience of watching the river bank slide by. Eyes in the boat, upright carriage, chin lifted to keep an open airway, and total focus on the balance of the boat. Well, on the erg it’s worse. Sit up right, try not to flail, don’t let your head roll around in agony, and ignore the sappy James Taylor song that comes on the iPod during the ultimate sprint.
My targets now are around weight loss, that means long pieces — like 10,000 to 15,000 meter sessions over 40 to 60 minutes — at a low rate, low effort, keeping my heart rate down in the 120 range. This is the definition of tedium. No challenge. No competition. Just grinding along letting my metabolism cook off fat cells. Hence I have graduated from the acclimation rows of 5000-6000 meters (20-24 minutes) to a half-hour, and after a couple weeks of consistently finishing the 30 minute piece (my favorite training distance and conditioning maintainer) I’ll graduate to the 10K.
So, getting there. Still too embarrassed to disclose my gross tonnage.
Sidenote: I received word from my agent that an actual royalty check for the Book of Rowing is on its way. Amazing that is still in print.