Wales IRC – no pressure, but still pressure?

I’m on a plane, and I forgot to bring anything to read. So you have the joy of a brain dump on the way there, and then a post race review on the flight back.

How have things been since last week then? Well, one thing is for certain, this erg-cough has been hanging around! No amount of Jakemans, hot baths or chest rubs has got rid of it. I don’t think this will come to play tomorrow, but it’ll certainly be worse afterwards.

Training has been ok. I dropped the baseline calculation for my 2k to 1:41 – and everything I was doing felt quite easy. I did have an odd session when I was supposed to be holding 1:40 – and just couldn’t get the rate right. 28/32/30 – I was all over the place. So the result was a bit all over the place, but at least it wasn’t also destroying me. It showed that hitting 1:40.5 for these 90 second intervals wasn’t unmanageable in any way – and if I’d have hit the rate right, 1:40 would have been ok.

And on Wednesday I had a tickler for the weekend. All meant to be around the 2k mark. Not sure what the result is meant to mean. Does the final 1250 show I’m ok for a 1:40 2k? That it really is all in my head?

Truth be told though, it was a 1:41 row with a sprint at the end. So not naturally a 1:40.5.

And how does that lead into tomorrow then? Well on the one hand, I’m still approaching this as just a TT. Yes it’s a race, and yes I’ll probably get dragged into a race, but I just want to set a pace (1:41) and make sure I at least deliver a 6:44 2k. If there’s more in the tank, fine. But I need to get a successful 2k out the way after being so hard on myself for some of the rows I’ve done over the past couple of months.

That said, apart from one guy, who I don’t know, I haven’t lost to any of the others in my cat before. Which means obviously, I’ve got one foot in the performance camp. This makes me sad to hit at least 6:42 in a 1:40/41/41/40 configuration.

If I lose to Guy again after last week, I’ll obviously be disappointed (and happy for him) and the same goes for Tim – if he’s been training hard since Boston, he has it in him to slide under 6:40 – so if a race is on in my head, a race it’ll be!!

I just need to be happy with the power. 500m it’ll burn. 500-1000 it’ll start to feel lonely and that’s when the demons will enter. 1000-1500 will be awful if I’m in the wrong state of mind. The last 500 will be hell on my body, but all thoughts should just be on keeping going, not about stopping.

I’m on a plane again.

Well that was an interesting race. For a few reasons actually.

Weigh in was ok. Needed to pee before hand, but thought I’d try before and then that gave me a panic option! 75.3kg. But the photo shows how I made weight without peeing!

At least I still had my socks…

Two hours later, it was race time.

First up, here’s the screenshot:

What’s the report then?

First off, the start was a bit messed up. The guy next to me pulled just ahead of “Row” – which was then followed by a klaxon and the commentator making a “woah” noise.

So obviously that made me think there was a false start. So I stopped.

But then his “woah” was followed by “it’s a clean start!”

Ah. So that’ll be 2:30 splits to start then.

About 10 pulls later, the average was back about 1:42 – and my head blew it.

But as I’d gone in with a 1:41 plan anyway, it just fell into my hands really. This crap start meant that any delusions of racing Tim and Guy I may have had were now gone. By the time I’d got myself back to speed they were both 15m ahead of me already and I was in 4th place behind Anton

My approach from that point on was just to count in strokes of 10 and only look at the monitor at the end of each 10 strokes. Sometimes I’d look up and see 1:41. Sometimes 1:43. I had no idea what was going on between Guy and Tim

I was pleasantly surprised to pass 500m feeling great. Got down to 1000m and still felt like it was a hard row, but nothing more than that. Just a hard row, not tough. Around the same point I saw I’d jumped past Anton and was in third. Tim and Guy were a good 20m ahead of me.

So I continued. Just counted down from 100. Looked at the monitor and made sure I wasn’t slipping under Anton again. An easier ride to 500m as you can see.

At 500 I put in some pressure to get under 1:40. A question occurred to me as to whether I could catch up the other two, but they were racing each other and pushing as hard as me.

With 300 to go – I dialled in more. Down to around 1:35 splits

And with 200 to go, I went for power strokes (instead of the mistake I made last week with upping cadence).

Down to 1:30 with the last three strokes at 1:28

A comfortable 3rd place in the end. I stopped, swore, urged Joe to keep going, and then loped back to see my sister and Brother-in-law, knowing I hadn’t performed at maximum.

Usually I’m on the floor unable to breathe or walk after a 2k. Even last week’s 1k left me jelly legged and erg-cough-sick feeling.

But yesterday, I just sat down, had a moan about the start, then went upstairs to the warmup ergs and did a couple of 100m sprints. (17sec, nothing to light up the record books, but not something I should have been able to do 10 minutes after a 2k race. )

So what do I take from this.

  1. Although a little slower than my plan, I did what I thought I’d do. I just held below the intensity threshold line and knocked out a 2k that I can look back at and know I should have gone a lot faster. I just wanted to do 2k and not hit any doubting problems. So that is a box ticked.
  2. My head is still my greatest enemy. I know I used the start as a “thank God I’ve got something to blame” moment. Maybe this was because it let me stick to plan, but I should have fought in spite of this instead of giving in to it.
  3. Regardless of my head – if I could pull 1:28 splits at the end, there was a LOT more in the tank. I need to work out how to access that with my head over the next two weeks before I race at BRIC. Again, this is a no pressure race because of the other entrants. But I do need to race Guy and Tim etc this time. If I keep sitting back I may never go forward again!
  4. The last paragraph I wrote on the flight to Bristol about the hell I’d experience as I rowed it couldn’t have been further from the truth. Again, proving that I probably only put in about 80-90 effort (until the end).

Proof that this community is incredible and supportive though is Anton’s race. It turns out he got to around the 1000m mark and stopped. But the guy rowing next to him shouted at him to pick up and finish the race. So this guy, while rowing his own race, took out time and energy that he should have put in to his own row – to tell a fellow competitor to keep going. I don’t think I could imagine another sport where that would happen.

Sure there are runners who help someone else cross the line, which thinking about it, is very similar, but it’s not often that you see this in any sport.

Anyway. I’ve got two weeks until BRIC. I need to sort myself out. Part of which will be to stop digging around in my head and just get out and row. I’m in a self-fulfilling circle of doubt right now, and if I can just get back to trusting my body and stop worry so much about things, hopefully it’ll all magically be right again soon. 🙂

The Wales IRC is a great event though. Fun, friendly, competitive and really well run. As long as nothing gets in the way, I’ll be be next year when I’ll be sure to race for gold!

I certainly can’t drag my sister and Pete all the way from Bristol to Cardiff again if I’m not going to give it 100%.

See you on the plane back from BRIC!

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