Catching up and slowing down

Wow.  I haven’t posted since last Monday.  It’s been a busy week.

If you recall, Monday’s workout was terrible.

Tuesday:  The plan called for a massive workout…

M2 3 x 30′ / 3′ MP, 10KP, MP 90.0% (167)

I was up late on Monday night and slept in instead of trying to go on the water.  I thought I could do the workout on the erg later in the day when my schedule was freer.  I was wrong.

It ended up that I didn’t have time to do the whole workout, so I thought I would change it to be 20′ @ MP, 30′ @ 10kp and 20′ @ MP.

I had hopes that my workout on Monday was just a fluke, so i set out with aggressive power targets.  200W for MP, and 230 for 10KP.

I didn’t last.

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I did the first 20 minutes per plan, but my HR was too high and I was struggling.  I backed off the 10KP to the bottom of the power range (210W), but I busted through the HR cap within about 8 minutes and was flailing around and struggling for breath.  I handled down.  I tried to start again, and HD’ed again.  I decided to just paddle it out to 20 minutes and then pack it in for the day.

Workout Summary - media/20170620-183745-sled_2017-06-20T13-28-55ZEDT.strokes.csv
Workout Details
01|01791|07:00.0|01:57.3|218.1|23.5|158.6|168.0|10.9 -HD
02|02834|12:07.4|02:08.3|179.2|21.1|160.4|166.0|11.1 - paddle it out

Very Frustrating.

Wednesday:  Tuesday night I was up late yet again.  Again, I decided that missing sleep to row was a bad call.  But on Wednesday, in an attempt to find my bliss, I left work a bit early, blew off the training plan and just went rowing.  The goal to keep my HR under 150 and just enjoy being out in the sunshine.

It was glorious.  It was quite windy, and there was a lot of kayaks and canoes out on the river.  I haven’t had a chance to upload the speedcoach data, all I have handy is the RIM data, without HR.

It was slow, both because of the breeze, and also because of the HR cap.  I am still getting used to the new oars.  This was a very nice, easy way to get some strokes in.

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Workout Summary - media/20170625-222721-89865o.csv


Thursday:  I was up until 1:30AM on Wednesday night, getting my car packed.  We are getting the house down on the cape ready for visitors.  I slept until 7 and rushed off to work.  I was going to take Thursday as a rest day.  I was due for a rest day.  I worked until around 4 and then headed off to the cape.  The traffic was horrifying.  I didn’t get there until 7:30!

Friday:  Open water rowing seems to be a probabilistic endeavor.  The tides are really big right now, so I wanted to avoid low tide, which was just before am.

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So, I slept in and I thought I would go in the early afternoon.  That’s when the wind changed my plans.

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Around noon, the wind just started building, and building.  By seven pm the sustained wind speed was over 40 mph with gusts nearing 50.

Instead, I got busy with a bunch of work around the house.  The most involved of these chores was repairing the bottom 8 steps of the stairs down to the beach.  The bottom 3 or 4 steps are actually submerged at high tide and they take a terrific beating during the winter.  On Friday, I jacked up and braced the stairs, fixed the handrails, and fixed 4 steps.  The steps I’m talking about are the ones below that final platform you can see at the end of stairs in this picture.

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There was a bit of aerobic benefit from going up and down the stairs about 6 times, but beyond that, there was no training on Friday.


Again, I was hoping for a late morning row.  But again, the weather did not cooperate.

In the morning, when I got up, the wind was blowing and the sky was grey and angry.  It got steadily worse.  The weather log tells the story.

The wind howled overnight, with gusts up to 50mph.  The wind stayed up above 30 mph all morning and there was intermittent rain.  Right around 11:00, dark storm clouds rolled in across the water and the sky opened up.  It rained hard for about an hour.  During that hour I decided to erg.  When I came back upstairs, the sky was clearing, the wind was dropping, and I had other stuff that needed to get done.

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The session was an easy one.

3 x 20′ / 1′ rest @ 180.

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This went better than the workouts earlier in the week, but was still a sweaty slog.  I guess the 90% humidity took a bit of a toll.  I had to back off in the last interval to keep my HR below 155.

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Workout Summary - media/20170624-1825210o.csv
Workout Details

Sunday:  This morning I was up early-ish because I wanted to get a quick session in before I headed off to the airport.

2 x 40’/1′ rest @ 180.

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Workout Summary - media/20170625-1255220o.csv
Workout Details


So now I am on a plane to Tokyo, then connecting to Korea.  I’ll be there through Thursday.  It’s a challenge to maintain a training plan with summer vacations and work travel.  I just have to play it by ear, be flexible and try to focus on having some fun with it.


Monday: 4×15’/4′ (9′ @ 5kp, 6′ @ mp) – Some days suck

We got home last night after 11pm, and I didn’t get to sleep until after midnight.  So I decided to sleep until 7 and do my planned workout on the erg instead of getting up at 5:15 to do it on the water.

I had a 90 minute window in my schedule from 11 to 12:30, so I dashed off to the gym to get it done.

The plan..

M1 4 x 15′ / 4′ 9′ @ 5KP, 6′ @ MP 92.5% (172)

Power targets

  • 5kp –> 225 to 240W (stretch goal 250 today)
  • mp –> 180 to 195W (stretch goal 200 today)

I thought it was OK during the first interval, but by the time I was a couple minutes into the second interval, I knew I was in deep, deep trouble.  I hung on to hit targets in the second interval, and then reset my target for the next one to be 240/190.

This turned out to be too little too late.  I blew up about halfway through the 9′ piece.  In the past, I have pushed this harder and gone into the anaerobic zone, but that seemed pretty dumb, and I was really in some distress.

I handled down for a few seconds then tried to spin back up at around 225 watts.  That didn’t work out so good.  I handled down again, and decided to just finish the rest of the 9′ piece at a marathon power.

This left me with some thinking to do during the 4 minute rest.  I thought about packing it in, but that seemed to be the coward’s way out.  I knew that I wouldn’t make it through the 9′ piece at any “reasonable” power.  I came up with a brilliant plan.  I would row at 225W until my HR went above the 172 bpm cap.  Then I would drop down to marathon power and finish the 9′ and the following 6′ at that power.

It was highly unpleasant, but it worked.

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Workout Summary - media/20170619-204125-sled_2017-06-19T10-54-44ZEDT.strokes.csv
Workout Details


M2 3 x 30′ / 3′ MP, 10KP, MP 90.0% (167)

Hopefully on the water.  This might be a bit of challenge because it’s a 90 minute workout.

Power targets

  • 10kp: 184 to 197W
  • mp: 158-171W

2 x 40 / 2′ (mp)

The wind was blowing hard today.  Around 20mph with gusts to 25 in the morning and 35 with gusts to 40 in the afternoon.  The water looked very angry.

I decided to erg. 😦

The plan:

M3 2 x 40′ / 4′ MP or slower 75.0% (140)

I decided to row to a HR cap of 155 instead of 140.

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Workout Summary - media/20170618-1950210o.csv
Workout Details

Felt very easy.


M1 4 x 15′ / 4′ 9′ @ 5KP, 6′ @ MP 92.5% (172)


Friday: 3 x 20′ (7′ @ 5kp, 13′ @ mp)

Weather:  Cloudy, mid 60s, light wind, 2-5mph from the south.  There were some stronger gusts towards the end of the workout.  This was a headwind going up river.


M1 3 x 20′ / 5′ 7′ @ 5KP, 13′ @ MP 92.5% (172)
  • Target power:
    • 5kp: 197-210W
    • mp: 158-171
  • modifications:
    • 20′ intervals are 6 minutes too long for the river, so I planned to just turn where required.  I didn’t add any additional time to the intervals since my HR really doesn’t go down much in the turn

I felt a bit tired when I got up.  This was the fourth session in a row, although one day was only 40 minutes.

I decided to stick with the plan and just ease up if necessary.  It ended up not being necessary.

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Workout Summary - media/20170616-145439-Greg Smith 20170616 0629amo.csv
Workout Details
01|01613|07:00.0|02:10.2|213.4|24.9|158.8|167.0|09.2 -5kp
02|01169|05:30.0|02:21.1|176.8|19.9|158.4|166.0|10.7 -mp->turn
03|01363|06:49.8|02:30.4|167.3|19.6|157.3|162.0|10.2 -mp
04|01057|04:60.0|02:22.0|215.4|24.3|160.4|168.0|08.7 -5kp->turn
05|00349|01:31.8|02:11.6|199.3|23.9|165.1|168.0|09.5 -5kp
06|02353|11:16.2|02:23.7|165.6|19.6|162.3|168.0|10.6 -mp->turn
07|00192|00:54.0|02:20.4|181.1|21.3|161.8|164.0|10.0 -mp
08|01461|07:00.0|02:23.8|200.5|24.2|165.7|173.0|08.6 -5kp
09|02475|12:42.0|02:34.0|166.6|20.7|167.9|173.0|09.4 -mp

This was my first row with a new pair of oars.  I bought a pair of smoothie2, vortex edge skinnies so that I could leave my fat2s down at the cape with my open water boat.

Here are a few metrics plots from this workout.

  • Drive length and effective length consistent and a bit longer than prior workouts
  • Lots of variation in WPS and power. Does that mean I need to work on consistency?
  • Power and WPS for the r24 (5kp) chunk of the row. (plotted by excluding all strokes lower than r22 and all strokes with WPS below 450)
  • Power and WPS for the r20 part of the row. (plotted by excluding all strokes higher than r22, and rest strokes, and all strokes with WPS below 450)

I was very pleased with the workout, and the new oars.  More about that later.

Today I am taking a rest day.  Tomorrow, I am planning a long open water row, weather permitting.

Thursday: 14km steady state

Weather:  The kind of day that makes you think that rowing is the finest sport ever created.  Temp was about 60F when I started and in the high 60s when I finished.

There was very little wind when I started, just enough to barely ripple the surface of the water.  In the last 30 minutes or so, the wind built to a steady 3-5mph from the Southwest.  This was a headwind that slowed me down in the last segment.

The sun was shining and sparkling in reflections off the water and the birds were singing.  It was just a glorious morning to be out.

The plan for today was:

M3 2 x 40′ / 4′ MP or slower 80.0% (149)

To do this OTW, I changed it to

  • 2 x 35′ / 2′
  • In each 35′ section there is a turn which takes about 30 seconds.  Goal is to do it quick enough so my HR doesn’t go down.
  • HR cap at 155, since I can’t seem to stick to anything lower.
  • target power: MP (158-171W)

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Workout Summary - media/20170615-161158-Greg Smith 20170615 0635amo.csv
Workout Details

Today, I was really trying to focus on two things

  1. Keep my HR below 155
  2. Keep my effective length above 83 degrees, especially as I got more tired.

bokeh_plot (73)

I also wanted to maintain power and WPS through the workout.

bokeh_plot (74)

I can’t complain about that workout.


M1 3 x 20′ / 5′ 7′ @ 5KP, 13′ @ MP 92.5% (172)

This is kind of tough, because I will need to turn in the middle of the 13′ segments.

Wednesday: 2 x 20′ (10kp,hmp)

No time for a session in the morning, and none of the windows I had in the day were big enough to accommodate the planned workout, which was 86 minutes long.

By the time, I came up for breath, it was 5:30 pm, and I really wanted to workout, but I also didn’t want to be too late going home.  The original plan was

M2 4 x 20′ / 2′ MP, 10KP, HMP, MP 90.0% (167)

I decided to just do the two harder chunks in  the middle for a 4 minute workout.

It didn’t work out so well.  My HR was high and I my RPE was through the roof.  I HD’ed in the second piece.

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Workout Summary - media/20170614-2220190o.csv
Workout Details

I did push the power a little beyond the target band, but it was the same powers as I used in a session last week (mp,10kp,hmp).  Here’s a comparison of my HR in the two sessions.

bokeh_plot (77)

Oh well, at least I did some training!


Tuesday: 4×15’/4′ (7′ @ 5kp, 8′ @ mp)

Monday:  I was tired and sore in the morning after my 3 hour row on Sunday.  I took an unplanned rest day.

Tuesday:  Hot!  75F at 6am.  Humid.  Light breeze, which increased from nothing to about 5mph over the course of the workout.  This was a cross/head wind coming up river.


  • 4 x 15′ intervals
    • 7′ at 5kp
    • 8′ at mp
  • 4 minute rests
  • Target power
    • 5kp: 197-210W
    • mp: 158-171W
  • Modifications:
    • To fit river length, shorten the 8′ intervals as needed

This was a good workout.  I was on the edge of failure in the last interval and the interval power came down in each rep, but I maintained good effective length throughout.

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So, I should have spent 28 minutes at or above 5kp.  Total was 26:20.

Interval detail shows that I missed the power targets (barely) in the last interval.  I think these are a bit harsh because the power is dramatically under reported in the turns to port.  (toward the oarlock side)  The power is over reported on turns to starboard, but I don’t think it’s as drastic.  At least that’s what I’m telling myself.

Workout Summary - media/20170613-135530-Greg Smith 20170613 0639amo.csv
Workout Details

After the last 7 minute piece at 5kp, I “handled down” for a moment and then started back up again.  I kinda pushed the end of that bit really hard.

A few metrics for fun.

  • Power in the MP intervals.  Reasonably consistent, except for the handle down at the beginning of the fourth one.
  • Power in the 5kp intervals, shows a slow fade as I fatigue
  • Power and WPS vs stroke rate.  Shows a consistent WPS between r20 and r24.  Also shows a bit tighter grouping of stroke rate at the higher rate too.
  • Drive length and effective length are both reasonably consistent across the whole row.  I was really focused on that today and I think it was a good thing to do.

I was really spent after the last piece.  I consumed an entire 1 liter bottle of water during the row.  For the cool down, I rowed with feet out about 1km back to the dock.  Maybe it was just fatigue and oxygen deprivation, but I felt like my finishes were beautiful!

Tomorrow: I have an appointment at 7 tomorrow morning, so i will have try to squeeze in an erg session sometime during the day.

M2 4 x 20′ / 2′ MP, 10KP, HMP, MP 90.0% (167)


Sunday: The voyage to the wreck of the James Longstreet

The weather is beautiful.  70s, Sunny, brisk breeze from the Southwest, around 15 mph with gusts a bit stronger.

I am trying to do longer rows to get ready for the Blackburn Challenge and I have been trying to get experience rowing in bigger waves. Today’s breeze from the southwest provided a terrific opportunity to do that.

The mission for today was to row up to Wellfleet Harbor and then row all the way to the Red Bell Buoy marking the wreck of the James Longstreet.  This was a freighter that was used as a practice naval target during World War 2.  The wreck is now almost completely submerged, even at low tide, but the buoy provided a challenging target for today’s row.

Here’s the planned course.

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I started at WP0001, which is locally known as kayak beach.  I had printed out the chart along with course instructions.


And then taped it in a ziplock bag to the deck beside the cockpit.  This worked out well, but I need to work on legibility.  I need to make the font bigger and come up with a way to identify waypoints, it was a bit hard to read when the spray was flying!

The actual track shows that I still have a lot to learn about steering in tidal currents.

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The first part of the row was slow and careful as I tried to pick my way between the shoals at low tide.  It wasn’t as bad as last time, but my oar blades were smooshing into the bottom on a lot of strokes.

I basically rowed straight to the green can, and then turned north to toward the inner harbor.  This was delightful downwind rowing.  There was a little bit of chop, and it was on my stern quarter.  There were some nice surfs along the way.

I got to the end of the breakwater, turned, had a quick drink and started to row against the tide and wind.  The first leg, down to a red buoy (WP0004), was good.  The waves weren’t that big and I wasn’t really taking on much water.  After the Buoy, when I turned to WP0005, I was heading straight into the wind and the building seas.  The section from about 7km to 11km was the toughest, slowest, wettest and most challenging rowing of the day.

Once I had the next buoy in sight (WP0005), I turned to the south, and then the wind was on my bow quarter.  This was a bit easier and my pace picked up a bit.  But as I came out from behind Billingsgate Island, I started to experience the long rolling waves that had built up across all of Cape Cod Bay.  These were long period waves, probably 2 feet high, with smaller chop breaking them up a bit.  There was a definite pattern of a few big waves, then a lull, then some more big ones.  It got a bit hairy as I approached WP0006, my farthest objective.  The waves seemed to get steeper over the shallower water here.  I was rowing to a compass course until I was able to see the buoy I was rowing for and then I turned straight to it.  Here’s a little narrative about my objective from the Embassy Cruise Guide to New England.

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I was quite glad to finally get around the buoy, and luckily I did not set off any unexploded bombs.  Then I had a long ride back with the waves on my beam and the wind behind me.

This was a different type of challenge, but quite fun.  My heading was not far enough downwind to surf the waves.  The thing that took some experimenting was figuring out how to deal with radically different water heights beneath each oar.  I found it easier with a slightly higher stroke rate.

Heading back, I navigated fine to WP0010, but after that, I maintained the right compass course, but I think the incoming tide pushed me quite a bit off course.  I rowed the specified distance from WP0010 to WP0009, but when I looked around, I could find the buoy at all.  I tried with and without sunglasses, and completely stopped the boat.  Well, that’s not good.

By now, it was a couple of hours after low tide, so I decided to deviate from the planned course and cut the corner to go home.  I was getting pretty tired and I had been out for over 2 hours.  But this was some of the most fun rowing of the day.  The wind and waves were on my port stern quarter, and the wave frequency was long enough that I could surf the front of a wave about every third stroke that I took.  When I caught the wave right, the last 3 feet of the stern would be buried and there would be a great swooshing noise from the bow.  It took some creative rowing to try to keep the waves from slewing the boat around through the process.

I navigated by eye around the north side of the island and pushed hard as I finished the last leg to Kayak beach.  I could barely stand up when I got out of the boat, but I was grinning from ear to ear.

The pace and HR plot below shows how it was tough to row hard when I was going into the wind and waves.  It was easier to push when I was surfing.

bokeh_plot (65)

It was quite a workout.  nearly 2 hours of UT1.  Total time on the water was 160 minutes.

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Workout Summary - media/20170611-171639-Greg Smith 20170611 0844amo.csv


Below are pace and rate charts.  The one from on the left is from the speedcoach.  The one on the right from Crewnerd.  Speedcoach continues to have some trouble finding the stroke rate in rough seas.  But the pace information is a bit smoother.

Tomorrow:  Hopefully on the water in Newton.

M1 4 x 15′ / 4′ 7′ @ 5KP, 8′ @ MP 92.5% (172)