I have no idea why Concept2 runs the season from May 1st to April 30th, but that’s what they do. And with the end of another season, its the time for a look back.
I have some mixed feelings about the season. I couldn’t be happier about my OTW results from last summer and fall. However, after a very promising start to the indoor season, the wheels really came off in February, and I never really got back to where I wanted to be. So, I am going into this OTW season with a lower state of fitness than last year.
For the full year, my total meters are almost identical to last year. But with a higher amount of erg meters and less OTW meters. You can blame the unplanned rapid rearrangement of my boat by a tree for that.
But under the hood, there is an important difference in the way that these two seasons ended.
Last year I finished strong with big meters in March and April. This year, not so much. So, I am leaving this season in a lower state of fitness than last.
A closer look at this season on a weekly level shows how spotty things have been since January.
Why? In a word, life happened. A couple of bouts of manflu, a promotion, some vacation, and a ton of business travel have disrupted my training plans. I don’t see this as a failure, because I wouldn’t change any of the choices I made, but I do need to think through realistic competitive goals and a reasonable, flexible training plan to get me to achieve them.
I am just about 1% lower total meters and 1% lower total training time for 2015/2016. My average distance for days rowed is up slightly, which is driven by more erg sessions and fewer OTW sessions (erg sessions tend to be about 20% more meters)
Bt I don’t want that to diminish the good stuff from this season. I was really happy with how the OTW season went.
Festival Sprints: 1K and 2K sprints. Tough racing in lousy conditions. Improved on last years results, but not as much as I wanted to.
Cromwell cup: 1k sprint in amazing conditions on a fun course. Finished second by a fraction of a second in my age bracket in a great race. Thrilled with the outcome. The guy that beat me ended up finishing 6th in the nationals.
Masters National Head Race Championships: A 6K head race. In Lowell on the Merrimac in lousy conditions with a small field. Finished third, about where I should have, but I was hoping to do better.
Quinsigamond Snake Race: a 4K head race. Picture perfect conditions. It was a small field so all the singles were raced in a single flight. I placed second. More importantly, I had a duel on my hands for nearly the whole race. The guy that started one or two places ahead of me was just a hair slower than I was and over the first 1K of the race I slowly closed the gap and we raced side by side for the next 2000 meters. I’d push, then he’d push, it was back and forth. In the last 1000 meters, I finally managed to achieve some separation, but it was the most exciting head race experience I have ever had. (tiring too)
Head of the Charles: A 5K head race. The big one! I started 36th in a field of 59 boats in my age class. It was generally head wind conditions and pretty nasty through the first 1000m. There were parts of the race where I gave away time by not steering the best line, but looking at the heart rate, I certainly put everything I had into the race. I’ll remember the last 1000m for the rest of my life. I was chasing down the guy in front of me and hearing the announcing calling out my name and bow number as I was surging. We hit the finish line at nearly the same instant (I think he had me by a bow ball), but the feeling of achievement was so intense.
Merrimack Chase: This was a 4K head race at the beginning of November. It was windy, but not nearly as cold as past years. The conditions were choppy through the first 1000m but got a lot better. I had bow #1 of my class so I had no one to chase. I managed to put in a good race and won my age bracket. A great way to finish off the season.
I finished the OTW season is really good shape for middle distance rowing, and started to use a new training plan based on block periodization. I started with working on endurance and through November and December, I was hitting targets and even setting some new personal bests.
I set PBs for the 5000m, 60′ and Half Marathon. In some cases improving PBs that were 3 or more years old.
So, I might have to set more modest goals for the coming season. Maybe reduce the number of races I enter, and try to improve technique and diet to compensate for lower training volumes. I also need to do more research for the optimal approach when time is limited. There is a lot of contradictory advice out there to be sorted through.
Anyway, it was an exciting and rewarding year. And there are some new challenges to keep me interested in this coming season.