Thanks for the comments on my report of the 100k World Record row on Sunday. One question was what was the range of stroke rate through the row, this is probably easiest to describe by going through how the 100k went from my point of view from start to finish.
In the build up to the attempt we had a few discussions between the 3 teams on realistic pacing targets, both based on the records we wanted to beat, on Joe’s experience having set the 60+ male tandem record with his brother Gerry last year, and on comparison with other distances we’d done. We decided that physically we should be able to row the challenge at our respective marathon paces, so used that as the slow end of the target range, afterall if you can row 42k in one go at a certain pace how hard can 52k be with breaks? It is quite a different prospect, however, doing that 52k spread out over a 6hr30 period (52k being the distance the males were doing in these attempts). So with a marathon pace of 1:52.3 I decided on a target pace of 1:50-1:52, which as with all targets meant that I’d end up rowing at 1:50 pace.
It took the first 10k to really fully warm up into the row, and with 10% down feel we were into the row. I was sweating a lot from the start and conscious I needed to drink a lot to keep hydrated (it was a hot day on Sunday). I started out pulling mainly 25spm for a 1:50 pace.
Going through 25k gone I felt really good, and was pulling a few 1:49′s as well as the 1:50′s, and still at 25-26spm trying to keep the stroke fairly light. I could feel rubbing on my bum at this point though, and thought this could be a bad thing with 3/4 of the row to go. In one of the short breaks I quickly ran out to the fire stairs and changes clothes to stop the rubbing, and this also helped to feel fresher at around 30k into the row.
Through to the halfway point it was all going well to plan, the spm was steady at 25-26, and the pace steady at 1:50. I should point out that Jen was rock steady at 2:00 / 25 through to this point, and looked in perfect control. It was at about 45k to go that I started to feel the pace, and know there was a long way to go still. Soon we were through to “just” a marathon to go, the first time that it was any sort of realistic distance showing on the monitor. I’ve done a number of “small team” 100k rows before, but a small team is 10 people, and this is a very different prospect (not to mention a lot faster, so it takes a lot less time!).
The point it started to get much harder was at 25k to go, and this is where my stroke had to change. I started to get cramp in my forearms to begin with just below the elbow, which seems to come at extremes of movement – either when my elbows were fully bent, or fully locked out. As a result I increased the rate up to about 28spm and simply didn’t go to extremes of bend at the elbows any more. I stretched out during every rest period, but it was obvious it was really a nutritional problem.
Mild cramping in other areas of my body, mainly my quads, started at around 15k to go. Again this was primarily when I straightened my legs fully, and was only really kicking in during the second half of each of my reps. Into the last 10k though it was getting much worse, and if I bent my legs too much my quads would completely cramp. To compensate I had to shorten the slide, and rate up more and more. First t0 30spm with 10k to go, and finally up to 33spm or so in the last 5k. During the last two rest periods it took about 3 to 4 minutes (or a rest period that was about 4m30 long) to stretch my quads enough to be able to even stand up straight, never mind row again.
Through the middle of the row I had been looking forward to blasting the last rep when I came to it. In the final rest period I thought I was going to have to get Jen to finish the distance, and with 1min to go when I knew I could row again it was all about just getting through to the end. I started off the last rep at 1:48, and finished in with a 1:42 last stroke, but it didn’t much resemble rowing as I tried to keep the emphasis off the muscles that were cramping worse. Hence the photos at the end of my last blog entry showing simply relief at finishing rather than any sort of sense of achievement at having set the fastest mixed tandem 100k time ever.
A few days later now, as I recover fully from the efforts of the weekend, I am starting to contemplate how good the row and the pace was.
I took two complete rest days on Monday and Tuesday, very unusual for me. On Wednesday I woke up feeling quite run down (despite resting with two days off work too!), but had to get back to the gym. I just did an 8k @ 1:55 /23 for that first session back. Today was back to a normal “steady distance” piece:
10k = 37:19.6 / 1:51.9 / 24
1:53.8 / 24
1:53.8 / 24
1:53.2 / 24
1:50.7 / 25
1:48.1 / 25
And now it’s time to build back into full training, and back to that sub 20min 6k aim!