Tuesday, July 7, 2009

The Longest Row

Taking a one day break from chronicling Daughter#2's ride from Washington to Pittsburgh. I'll finish it up tomorrow where i can borrow some pictures of the ride from Cumberland to Pittsburgh via The Great Allegheny Passage. i will say that they did make it - all 4 of them and they had a great time. Details to follow including dinner at a microbrewery in an old Catholic Church in Pittsburgh.

Hope everyone has a great 4th with plenty of celebrating and bbqing and adult beverages, if you are of age, of course. My weekend was without explosions and sparkly things. Its just not the same if you don't have kids around. While Washington DC has a fantastic fireworks show, the thought of watching it with 400,000 of my closest friends and then getting home at a reasonable hour sort of sucks the fun right out of it. The only local fireworks show, is at the local minor league stadium and we just waited to late to get tickets to the game. We went last year and settled for grandstand seating, which was a nightmare and I swore I would never do that again. No reserved seating was available so we didn't go. Our loss.

I did do a lot of rowing however. I rowed for five days straight. Ok for out of five with one night I coxed. It turns out I'm doing a lot of coxing this year. In the past we relied heavily on high school coxswains/rowers to cox for our club. Unfortunately, this year we had a change of procedures and we can no longer provide assistance for the coxswains through their booster clubs. Without the incentive its hard to get them to donate their time especially when we row at 7:00AM on weekends. So we've had to rely on rowers as coxswains as we are short of adult and high school coxswains to fill all our boats. because I'm one of the smallest of the men, and I have coxswain experience, I get drafted to fill in a lot. For the most part, I haven't minded filling in, just so it doesn't become to frequent. The fact that I can go across the Occoquan and row on my own makes it a bit easier for me to volunteer. So its all good so far.

This weekend our first two races are on tap. On Saturday we travel up to DC for the Capital Sprints hosted by Capital Rowing Club on the Anacostia River (ugh). Sunday is the initial Occoquan Masters Sprints on the Occoquan hosted by Occoquan Boat Club. I'm not a big fan of sprint racing, but it's part of the deal so I go. I don't feel like we're really ready to race. We haven't even practiced any starts yet. I guess it all about competing and not necessarily winning. Just hope the weather is good.

On Sunday I completed the longest row I've ever attempted in a single. I rowed a total of 14 miles. It was a combination of things that led to a perfect row. I didn't start out with the idea of rowing 14 miles. In fact, after rowing just 3/4 of a mile, I had to row into the cove for Oxford Boathouse (I started out at Sandy Run) and dock to adjust my foot stretchers as I couldn't fully extend my legs at the finish. After making the adjustment (twice), I was ready to go. The weather was overcast, but no rain. The temperature was mild and neither too warm or too cold. There was no wind and as a result the water was smooth and flat. There were more fisherman out then I would have liked (there was a fishing tournament supposedly). Nothing against fishermen as they have as much right to the water as anyone, but if you're out to fish then fish. Don't be moving from place to place every 5 minutes and creating big wakes and generally annoying everyone. So some fishermen not withstanding, I began my row. The longer I rowed the better it felt. I was relaxed, getting good fast run out of the boat with each stroke. When I got to Ryan's Dam (4 miles), I just kept going. When I got to the next point where I normally turn around (5 1/2 miles), I still felt good so I decided to go for the 6 mile mark. When I got there, I decided I would go on to the next big landmark, which is where Bull Run (yes that Bull Run) joins the Occoquan. This is 7 miles from Sandy Run. I felt a sense of accomplishment at having reached that point on the river. After taking a break, I headed home. At this point I had torn one blister on my right hand and I knew more blisters were to come. I made another stop at Ryan's Dam on the way back for another water break and ran into some former teammates out in an 8+. We had several guys break away from the Club this year due to some personal conflicts and they now go out and row by themselves. Everyone is till friendly and all, but it would be good to have them back. I headed out while they took a break and spun their boat. In my own mind, I decided to see how long I could go and hold them off until they caught up with me. I had about a 1/2 mile lead when they started off behind me. I managed to stay ahead for for a mile and a half and they finally caught me at Jacob's Rock. At that point I was pretty bushed. I had already rowed 12 miles including a hard row/ sprint over the last mile and 1/2. I finished the last two miles at a pretty leisurely pace. Remarkably I was not too stiff getting out of my boat at the end of the row. All and all it was a fun row. I'm not sure I would do it again anytime soon because it's so hard on my hands. As I type I have bandaids on three fingers and I'm not sure how the hands will hold up at tonight's practice. Now sweep rowing places the strain on my hands at different places, so hopefully it will work out. Sculling is definitely out though. Maybe I'll cox.

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