Sunday, 21 October 2012

2k training

I have printed out my C2 interactive training programme for the 2k. The English Indoor Rowing Championships are on 27th January 2013 in Manchester.

14 weeks of 4 interval sessions are on the horizon, although this photo shows an earlier print out of the training plan when I had selected to do 6 sessions a week.

I forgot to leave some days free for cross training which consists of the turbo trainer, road bike, kettle bells, Olympic bar weights and strength and conditioning stretch sessions.

Day one

10 minutes warm up, 3 x 12 minutes row with HR 147 - 162 UT1 and pace 2:34 - 2:26.

Not too bad. As I always find with the C2 interactive programme my HR is always a little under the suggestion when rowing at the suggested pace - so I pulled alternately hard and then eased off to get my HR up to the top of the range for UT1.

Thursday, 30 August 2012

Summer biking

I have to admit that despite getting out on the bike a few times over summer I haven't been very diligent in blogging about it.

Here is a quick overview of my summer cycling:

Saturday, 9 June 2012

French holiday

Chris and I booked a last minute trip to France for the Diamond Jubilee weekend. We bust-a-gut to get to Heathrow airport for a 17:50 flight to Geneve on Friday night only to discover it was delayed by over two hours so our holiday started a little later than planned. Mark and Fanny from GPM10 picked us up at the airport in their big silver van that was big enough to throw our bags and bike boxes in the back with no problems.
Saturday 2nd June
  • Stayed at the Auberge du Roselet Hotel over-looking Lake Annecy.
  • Mark (our personal director sportif) arrived at 10:30. Chris and Mark built up the bikes while I organised water bottles and energy bars.

  • Mark set a reasonable pace towards the first climb of the day - the Col de Marais alt. 840 metres - I was a little bit nervous about how I would handle the ride but I climbed the col at a steady cadence.

  • The descent was fast and fun. Being a novice descender I was a little too brake-happy but I think my confidence will improve with practise. We sailed through Thone and followed the valley around to the opposite side of Lake Annecy. 
  • We took a much needed fuel stop at Mark's girlfriend Fanny's Cafe and ordered crepes all round.
  • Prior to our lunch break I took an embarrassing  head dive for the tarmac as we were passing the Lakeside beaches. I skidded and ended up in the flowerbeds. Luckily there was no real damage to my bike and a I got away with just a few scratches and a bruised ego.
  • Here is a link to the route:

  • After the bike ride Chris and I jumped in the lake for a refreshing swim.
  • To finish the day off we had at a lovely meal with Mark and Fanny at restaurant in Annecy.

Sunday 3rd June
  • We decided to do a similar route to the previous day we took us up the Col de Marais for a second time. I improved my time.
  • It started to rain as we rode into Thone. We stopped for a very quick coffee break for a temporary shelter from the rain.
  • We over-took a triathlete as they made their way around a very route to ours. It was only when we passed him that we realised he must have taken a bad fall.
  • In the photo above I am in (very temporary) second place position in the Annecy triathlon. The dots in the distance are the lead triathlete with the pace motorbike.
  • Here is a link to the route:

  • Arrived in Chamonix after a brilliant drive on an elevated road-way through the valley and checked into Hotel Eden. Unfortunately Mount Blanc was hidden by cloud, mist and rain so I hoped the weather would improve for Monday. 
  • Ended the day in style with scallops followed by steak. Yum. I think the candle was Chris' idea of romance.

Monday 4th June
  • The weather was still cloudy and rainy so we went for Plan B which was to drive through the Mount Blanc tunnel to Italy and spend the day relaxing at a natural thermal spa.
  • Luckily the weather in Pre Saint Didier was much clearer than in France so we got to enjoy the outside spa pools and jacuzzi's. 
  • We also had a full body mud treatment and Turkish sauna that required you to have a cold shower at the end to revitalise the skin and close pores. Chris enjoyed pushing me under the cold shower - he is a little bit mischievous.
  • The day would not be complete without a nice meal and luckily the only restaurant that was open in Pre Saint Didier did a brilliant fillet steak and salad.

Cross training for the 2013 season

After the 100k row I have not erged everyday as I was doing in the lead up to the challenge. There is a reason behind it and before you think I have been taking it easy - I am cross training.
A typical week looks like this:
  • 45 minutes turbo training session on the bike / bike ride
  • 20 minutes warm up row, 4 x 500 metres
  • 20 minutes warm up row, 4 x 1000 metres
  • 150 dead lifts,  80 kettle bell swings, 100 olympic weights
  • 6,000 metres row
I rotate the different sessions around and have enjoyed working on the weights. The idea is to improve my power and endurance on the rowing machine and flexibility on the bike by working different parts of my body.

I have completed a full month of cross training so far and I am keeping a record of each session on a wall calendar in the gym. I haven't rowed any ranking pieces yet to compare against last season's performances. I think I will continue through the cross training in June and see how I get on later in the month.

Friday, 6 April 2012

100,000 metres row 4/4/12

I had a plan to start at 08:00am and I had everything ready to go;
  • 3 bottles of water lined up next to the C2
  • chunks of chocolate in a bowl
  • CD's out of the cases for music
  • Heels taped up to avoid blisters
  • Chamois cream to avoid rashes on the posterior
Unfortunately when I sat down and tried to type in 100,000 metres I realised the counter only had a 50,000 metre limit. A quick phone call C2 headquarters in Nottingham soon helped me out. You have to enter 100,000 metres in the Variable Intervals section of the monitor menu - just for future reference.

I started at about 08:30 with a reasonable pace of 2:36 keeping it slow and steady. I kept this up for the first two hours and took a drink break at about 10:30. Back to it for another few hours, taking very quick toilet breaks / drink breaks when needed.
My back was feeling it and the heel on my left foot was beginning to blister despite my preparations but I had to keep going. I was having to listen to the same CD over and over because it wasted time trying to change it which was slightly annoying.

At 65k I had to take another toilet break and re-apply some chamois cream. When I sat back down on my machine the monitor shut down just as I was going to pull the handle. I was really gutted because it meant that I wouldn't be able to officially rank the 100k row on the C2 ranking site.

I had to dig deep and enter the remaining metres onto the monitor and row the final section knowing that even though I have completed 100k it would not be recognised as an 100k attempt. Extremely annoying!!

I finally finished the row in 9:34:26.2 which was about 30 - 40 minutes longer than I had expected. Despite my average pace being between 2:35 - 2:39 the many frequent stops I had for drinks and comfort breaks diluted my average pace down to around 2:48 / 2:49.

I am writing this two days after I have completed the 100k and my back and legs are still aching. I don't think I am going to attempt another 100k in a long time.

Sunday, 1 April 2012

New 500m PB on April Fool's Day

With only one month left of the rowing season I was planning on taking things a little bit easier, particularly with my 100,000 metre challenge set for Wednesday 4th April.

Over the weekend I have had a few great sessions on the C2. Yesterday I had a decent warm up and felt like I could give my 500m PB a shot; I pulled in a reasonably decent attempt only .5 seconds away from my best ever time.

I gave the 500m another shot this afternoon and smashed my PB from 2:00.4 to 1:59.0 at an average stroke rate of 32. I am really happy to have broken the 2 minute pace.

Here are the stats:

100m = 2:00.5 = 32spm
200m = 1:57.5 = 33spm
300m = 1:59.0 = 30spm
400m = 1:58.5 = 33spm
500m = 1:59.5 = 33spm

Monday, 26 March 2012

BIRC 2012 stats

I pulled in my best ever 2k time yesterday at the British Indoor Rowing Championships at the University of Nottingham 08:36.1.

I had a great cox who encouraged me the whole way through my race and really supported my race plan. I set off probably faster than I have ever done in competition and it felt strangely comfortable for a good 300 metres (as it always does in these things) then things felt considerably harder in the next quarter. The third split was hard work and my legs were feeling quite heavy and sluggish but my cox really motivated me to never see a 2:12 on my screen and shouted at me to get it down to 2:09. In the last 300 metres he was yelling at me to push harder and give it everything I had.

I was so glad it was over and I had no idea that I had pulled in my best ever time until I read the stats on my screen. Unfortunately the group of women I was racing with were extremely fast and I was miles away from a medal position.
If I had been racing in the 30-34 lightweight category I could have walked away with a Bronze medal!!

It is interesting to compare my EIRC race with my BIRC race in terms of stroke rate and splits:

Saturday, 10 March 2012

Chats with an Olympic Rower

Last week I met Toby Garbett the Olympian and two-time world Champion rower at Twickenham Academy. He visited the school to give students an inspirational talk for the Olympic 21st legacy project. Whilst the students got on with activities I chatted to Toby about his career and told him about Empty the Tanks IRC and my EIRC and Crash B 2k races. He was a great guy to talk to and he now makes his living giving personal training and he is competing in the European Triathlon in Israel next month.
I e-mailed a link to my EIRC race video and he very swiftly replied pointing out a couple of things that could improve my technique:
  • release your knees only once the hands have past the mid shin point on the rockover
  • sit up and don't dive for any more length
  • the left knee tracks in at the catch position past the line of the toe so I would try and address this.
I have been putting these tips into practice over the past week to see if it might make the difference for the BIRC in two weeks time.

Check out his video about how to get the perfect erg technique on the C2

Toby's website is a great read, follow the link here

Friday, 24 February 2012

Boston 2012

Chris and I set off for Boston on Thursday 16th February on an afternoon flight out of Heathrow. We touched down in Boston fairly late in the evening and crashed out in our room at Onyx Hotel on Portland Street. We stayed at the Onyx last year and I think the staff there are some of the friendliest in the US.

Friday 17th February

We wanted to get a decent lie in but awoke early on Friday morning. We chilled out in our room until our rumbling stomachs couldn't take it any longer. Our hunting and gathering landed us at Wholefoods for a giant brunch of roast chicken, bacon, turkey bacon, eggs,fresh baby spinach and roasted tomato and basil soup.

We walked across Boston Common towards Newbury Street and looked in a few shops (i bought a coat) before taking a coffee break in a little place called Wired Puppy. Chris thought the de-caff coffee was very nice. We got chatting to three ladies who recommended a steak house called Abe and Louie's that just happened to be around the corner.
After spending a bit of time in the Apple Store we booked a table for 17:00. This meant we had just enough time to walk back to the hotel, drop off backs quickly freshen up and walk back for a decent steak.
The recommendation was truly deserved because the steak was lovely. The waiter suggested an off menu 32oz ribeye steak which he called the Tomahawk. It was amazing!

After the awesome steak session we met up with Tim Boomer (Chris' ex work colleague and friend who lives in Boston) for a coffee. We walked past Boston Common and had a hot drink in a nice cafe overlooking the park. We convinced Tim that he needed to cox Chris again, like had the previous year to help him achieve a good time during the race. He agreed to cox but warned us he had a big night out with the boys on Saturday night so he might not be of form.

Chris and I walked back to our hotel and fell asleep really fast.

Saturday 18th February

Read my Empty the Tanks blog to follow the main aspects of the pre-race preparations for the WIRC.

In the afternoon we met Tim who had got hold of some bikes for Chris and I to use. We went for a little bike ride around Boston for a couple of hours. Check out the video.

Sunday 19th February

Race day came around very fast. Chris and I had bought all our race food on Saturday because our races were early in the day and we had to get to the Arena at about 08:00 so we could weigh in 2 hours before our race start at 10:10.
The race itself was hard, Chris and I both felt that it was a harder 2k than the EIRC and we didn't perform to our best. The enjoyable aspect of the Crash B's is the atmosphere and the participation.
Roll on WIRC 2013!

Thursday, 23 February 2012

EIRC video

Chris filmed my 2k at the EIRC.
Check it out here:

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Bronze at EIRC

Can you tell which is the before and after photo?

It was a very long day on Sunday but all the months of training paid off with my best ever time for a 2k with 08:37.3. I had a rushed 15-20 minute warm-up and I was into the first 500 metres before I realised what was going on. I felt fresh and strong in the first quarter pulling in an average pace of 2:07 and I evened out a bit into the second quarter. I began to feel the pain in the second and third quarter and then I was into the final 500 metres and I gave it everything I had.

Here are the splits:

500m = 02:07.2 = 02:07.2
1000m = 04:17.1 = 02:09.9
1500m = 06:28.0 = 02:10.9
2000m = 08:37.3 = 02:09.3

I didn't realise that from the second quarter onwards I
was in third position and in the final 500 metres I finished .3 seconds away from a Silver medal!!
If only I had pulled harder in those last few strokes.....

The top three lightweight ladies, 30-39:
Me with Bronze, Naomi with Gold and Hayley .3 seconds faster than me with Silver.

My 2k time has improved over the years:

2009 = 9:29.8 = 2:22.2
2010 = 8:49.1 = 2:12.2
2011 = 8:40.5 = 2:10.1
2012 = 8:37.3 = 2:09.3

Sunday, 22 January 2012

New Year new PB and 6 million metres

Round five of the Challenge Series is a 10,000 metre row. The last time I ranked this distance was in the 2010 season with a time of 49:02.6 with an average pace of 2:27.1.

I set off today with an aim to keep an average pace of 2:26 or less.
About 2k into the row I realised I was good for much more than that; here are the splits:

Distance Pace Split Spm Avg HR
2000 2:25.0 9:41.9 21 155
4000 2:23.2 9:33.1 21 169
6000 2:22.4 9:29.6 21 168
8000 2:23.3 9:33.2 21 173
10000 2:20.9 9:23.6 21 183

I knocked the original time out of the water by nearly 90 seconds with a new time of 47:41.3 with an average pace of 2:23.0. I noticed my heart rate peaked in the last split at 184 bpm - I think the highest its ever been is 189, so there is still room for improvement.

As for the after effects of my row:
  • I have not been this sweaty for a long time (even after the marathon).
  • My face went a lovely shade of red, and remained so for a good half an hour afterwards.
  • It makes me think that I can get an even better time if I continue with my training.
I am currently ranked 11th out of 23 lightweight 30-39 females in the C2 world online rankings.

I also reached 6 million lifetime metres today too!

Saturday, 31 December 2011

New Year's Rowing Plan

It's not a resolution but a clear plan about how I am going to achieve the 2011-2012 season C2 Ranking Challenge I set myself earlier in the year.

There are four ranking pieces left for me to do and the plan is to do one a month finishing with the 100k challenge.

January 2012 = 10,000 metres = I will also be able to enter time for Round 5 of the C2 Challenge Series.
February 2012 = 2k = The best time from either EIRC or WIRC
March 2012 = 60 minutes
April 2012 = 100,000 metres = My aim is to complete this during the Easter break

Friday, 23 December 2011

Christmas marathon

I am happily exhausted and having a bit of difficulty typing due to the blisters that are now emerging on my fingers - why? you may ask?

I have just completed my first marathon on the rowing machine this morning.

I got up at 09:00, ate a whole bunch of sweet potatoes, drank a pint of cold water and got my head into gear for the pain that was about to commence.

These are the precautions I took to minimize any discomfort:
  • Cycling shorts for extra padding to avoid a sore bum
  • Taped up heels with micro-pore to avoid blisters
  • Cycling gloves to soak up sweat and minimize blisters on my hands (not that successful)
  • Tied my hair back to stop it falling in my face
  • Lined up two water bottles and some broken chocolate within easy reach for fuel and liquid during the row
  • Enrolled the help of Chris to feed me chocolate and change music / films during the row
42,195 metres is a challenging distance. I looked at my half marathon time to help me gauge a race plan which was to:

a) finish the marathon
b) do it in less than 4 hours

I managed to achieve both goals with a time of 3:50:55.8 at a pace of 2:44.1 average stroke rate of 18.

Check out my position on the C2 World ranking site
(Technically it looks like I'm number one!)

My splits are as follows:

8500 = 46:14.9 = 2:43.2 = 18 s/m
17000 = 46:29.2 = 2:44.0 = 17 s/m
25500 = 48:12.6 = 2:50.1 = 18 s/m
34000 = 46:31.8 = 2:44.2 = 18 s/m
42195 = 43:27.3 = 2:39.0 = 20 s/m

I was in reasonable comfort for the first half of the session and was very happy to see when the metres displayed 19,000 metres to go. I felt like I had the worst part over with - I was feeling quite strong at this point. The worst section was with 8,000 metres left to go - I was feeling weary and tired. My bum was numb on the left side and I could feel the blisters starting to build up on my fingers and palms. I battled through with the help of Chris who fed me chocolate in the last 4k. He filmed the last 1k of the marathon so I will upload it when I get a chance - I can't imagine it's a pretty sight.
Overall I am happy that I finished the marathon and its another C2 ranking piece completed for my 2011 - 2012 season challenge. I'm off to slob out on the sofa now......
although that's not as comfy as usual because of some chaffing on my bum cheeks - or is that too much detail?

Thursday, 22 December 2011

New bike and biomechanic assessment at Bespoke Cycling

I went to Bespoke Cycling yesterday to collect my new bike (which has been on order since the summer). I spent a couple of hours getting bike-fitted by Ben who rigged me up to a special computer (called a retul system) that calculates the optimum cycling position via sensors that are velcroed to your joints (see photos).

I visited Bespoke Cycling in the summer to get fitted to my Trek (old bike) and to assess my power output, pedaling technique and cycling position. Ben concluded that my lack of flexibility in my hips, abductors and hamstrings was negatively affecting my cycling efficiency and position. He gave me a range of different stretches which I have been doing over the past few months. The good news is that all my hard work has paid off and my hips and abductors are looking in much better shape. This means that my cycling position is now more controlled and stable due to my improved hip flexibility.

Back to the bike. As you can see - it was well worth the wait.

Check out this stealth bomber:

Parlee Z5 sli - matte carbon with ghost graphics - it's so stealth even the rain can't see it
Enve composites seat post and stem in matte black to match
Shimano Dura-ace Di2 electronic gears (11-28 cassette to help me on the climbs)
Mavic rsys slr wheels - the new ones with the black exalith coating on the rims (excellent braking in the wet and they look good too)
Rotor 3D crank set with Q rings (oval chain rings)
Arundel bar tape
Arundel carbon fibre bottle cages in matte black - it would be rude not to match the rest

So far I am really impressed with the bike - the electronic gears shift really well. The finish on the frame is amazing. Looking forward to the Christmas Day cycle around the sights of London and dodging Fenton and the deer in Richmond Park.

Finally, I have to say a huge thanks to Barry and Ben at Bespoke cycles - Ben for spending so much time with me on fit and biomechanics both before I ordered and then when the bike arrived and especially to Barry for being so helpful in getting the right frame to fit my body (and aesthetic preferences -- I am a girl after all). Bespoke are absolutely top notch for customer service and highly recommended by me if you are ever in London -- great guys too. Website here for more info

Saturday, 17 December 2011

5k PB

I beat my best ever 5k today for Round Four of the C2 Challenge Series. I had a chilled out day after a hectic final week of term and I wasn't convinced that I would manage a decent row never-mind a personal best time. Here are the stats:

1000m - 4:38.0 - 2:19.0 - 22 s/m
2000m - 4:47.9 - 2:23.9 - 21 s/m
3000m - 4:41.5 - 2:20.7 - 21 s/m
4000m - 4:40.1 - 2:20.0 - 21 s/m
5000m - 4:30.1 - 2:15.0 - 22 s/m

My final time was 23:17.5 at a pace of 2:19.7 with an average stroke rate of 21.

I felt brilliant after I realised that I had taken off 11 seconds from my previous 5k time earlier in the year. I am currently positioned 24th out of 64 lightweight females in the C2 world rankings - that's the top 63rd percentile

How did I have the energy for a PB today? Was it the sweet potatoes I had for breakfast; the tuna and celery for lunch, the coconut and orange cake I made this evening or the Matcha Green Tea I drank before my row that did it? Who knows....

Sunday, 27 November 2011

Almost feeling back to normal

For the first time in two weeks I could say I am feeling back to reasonable health. It is mad how you only seem to appreciate your health when you are feeling under the weather....

I had to do Round 3 of the Challenge Series yesterday before the end of November. It was the first row I have done for a while where I felt like I had something in the tanks (and could breathe without coughing).

I rowed 6,344m in 32.14.4 minutes. Not the best 6k time I have ever done, I didn't hit the pace I wanted, but I got close. I wanted to pull a pace of 2.28 or below and managed 2:30.3 which I was reasonably happy with considering my poor condition over the past 14 days.

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Incredible intervals

I have rowed the Cross Team Challenge twice this weekend and have pulled in some good times. On Saturday I was quite tired after a crazy week at work and a full day conference in Pimlico, London so I wasn't looking forward to tackling the 4 x 20m with 2 mins rest. I rowed a steady 20 minutes warm up row then set the interval session into the C2. I was pleasantly surprised with the results.
Today I felt much fresher and managed to take 3.5 seconds off my time since yesterday.

Here are the splits:

Saturday: 3:22.0
200m = 2:09.5 = 30spm
400m = 2:06.5 = 31spm
600m = 2:03.7 = 30spm
800m = 2.05.2 = 31spm

Sunday: 3:18.5
200m = 2.05.0 = 31spm
400m = 2.04.7 = 29spm
600m = 2.03.5 = 30spm
800m = 2.03.0 = 27spm

The next time I tackle it I am going to aim to get more even stroke rates. Its interesting that in today's row I was improving my pace at each interval yet slowing the stroke rate down. I need to focus on putting more power into each stroke and getting an even spm throughout the session. I will keep you posted.

Saturday, 29 October 2011

NYC food feasts

When we go to New York we stay at the Affinia Manhattan hotel because it has a kitchen for self-catering and a lounge area for us to chill out in. Over the past three years we have hunted for food at the local Wholefoods on 7th Avenue then rustle up something brilliant at the hotel after the morning gym session.
It is so hard not to spend money in Wholefoods because everything looks so nice. This year we had a variety of different steaks with salad and one of the big hits was home-made burgers with fresh parsley and home-made salsa. Chris' mega steak with fresh organic spinach and Parmesan nearly finished him off. It was a BIG piece of meat.

C2 session

In keeping with my mission to erg on a C2 in different places around the world I pulled a couple of strokes on Gordon's C2 in his garage. So that makes Conneticut my new place of erging!