Sunday, 22 June 2008

Summer solstice silliness

Yesterday was the summer solstice here. To mark the occasion, some bright spark on the other side of the erging pond thought they'd come up with a challenge for the longest day: a 21km erg race. I'd put the date in my diary a few months ago when it was sufficiently far into the future as to seem like a good idea.

After Saturday morning's arm-beasting outing and a session in the gym squatting some reasonably heavy weights, we repaired to a local cafe for 'breakfast'. It was by then about midday. I was declared mad by the rest of the crew for contemplating returning to the club for what was likely to be more than an hour and a half of constant erging.

I wasn't too concerned by the distance, though I supposed my butt might be a bit sore by the end, and that I'd need to be diligent about rehydrating during the session and for the rest of the day (no more tea or coffee). 21km is just under twice the distance I've been rowing regularly in training, so I figured I could managed that without too much trauma, with maybe a few drinks breaks along the way to get some carbs and fluid in.

At about half three in the afternoon I started erging.

I finished shortly after 5pm, having got through a litre and half of carbohydrate drink, acquired a blister on my right heel, sweat rather a lot, and developed (as I had suspected) rather sore buttocks. Having said that, all things considered it was rather less strenuous than I thought it would be.

I didn't feel too bad this morning - I had a little soreness in my quads, but it was no worse than I would have anticipated following the squats from yesterday. If anything, I suspected I was rather less sore for having followed up with a long erg and a satisfying session of stretching afterwards. I'd also been relatively good at making sure I refuelled with plenty carbs and protein (thanks in no small part to a double outing the following morning and Tuesday's 2km test erg being at the back of my mind).

This morning's outings were hard. The water was frenzied, and we were rowing into a silly-stiff headwind at times. Having recently changed sides, rowing on stroke side is proving mentally exhausting per se in the absence of testing conditions. With the wind trying to rip my blade from my fatigued grip with every stroke, and yesterday's half-marathon efforts making themselves felt in my thighs, I don't think I could have been concentrating harder on my technique if my life depended on it.

And I rowed pretty well.

I've always liked a challenge, but until today I hadn't realised how much easier I find it to switch on and concentrate when I perceive things to be tough. Properly tough, such as having four bow-siders in the same four with two rowing on their disfavoured side, in rubbish water, with a silly headwind, and with my hands shredded from yesterday's stroke-side exploits. I can concentrate pretty well under those conditions.

It was hard work, though.

It's 7pm now, and there's no way I can write off the stiffness that has lodged itself firmly in my thighs as being wholly due to the squats I did yesterday. The erg and some tough outings have caught up with me, and brought with them much pain. It hurts a lot. Climbing stairs is tough. Descending them is nigh-on impossible.

It's two days until the next test erg, and I hope I'm recovered in time. If not, it's going to be tough. Mind you, perhaps (given today's realisation) that would be for the best...


Rob Clack said...

Frankly, my dear, you are completely bonkers. But then again, we regard planning to spend 3 weeks looking for fossils in Svalbard (and camping, to boot!) as entirely normal, so maybe there's some scope for negotiation.

But Why? said...

Rob C,
Camping in Svalbard sounds fantasic - I hope you have a fantastic time (and blog lots, and take lots of photos).

Wanting to spend three weeks in a frozen wasteland in a poorly-insulated and unheated tent is of course the very pinnacle of normalcy...

Reading the Signs said...

When the going gets tough the tough get going and the rest of us sit eating biscuits and reading about it from the comfort of our screens and thanking providence that you do it so the rest of us don't have to.

But Why? said...

I'm delighted to be able to announce the expansion of my service offering to include requests. Now, what would you like me to do for you so you don't have to? (Keep it clean...)

Rob Clack said...

In 1987 we went to Greenland on the same excuse (6 weeks rather than 3) and folks fell neatly into 2 groups: those who thought we were totally barmy and those who enquired how much it would cost for them to come along.

Assuming it actually happens, I promise to take loads of photos and blog about it. Try to stop me!

Kahless said...

the mere concept of erging exhausts me.
Yes, I think you are bonkers also!

Reading the Signs said...

Ah, Doctor Why, for one minute you got me all excited - but then you said 'keep it clean'. So cleaning jobs (kitchen floor, loo etc.) are out of the question, then? But still - this is an offer I can't refuse: I've always fancied a spot of parachuting or hang-gliding, or at any rate something that involves flying through the air. Far too chicken to ever have considered doing it myself, but would like to experience it vicariously. Very much obliged and thanking you in anticipation.

But Why? said...

Rob C,
Glad to hear it. Looking forward to the write-up!

Likewise - the anticipation of the test weighed heavily enough on my mind to cause me to lose sleep(!) and have a thoroughly ridiculous erg test stress dream involving me erging on a broken machine and leading to a large sense of humour failure and my waking up at 2am being fully indignant at the proceedings.

Does paragliding count? I've tried that, but found it all a bit painful... I'll blog it sometime.

Reading the Signs said...

Paragliding will do nicely.

DJ Kirkby said...

Hmmmm...'OUCH' is all that comes to my mind at the moment....

But Why? said...

Likewise - it seems to be the case at the moment that as soon as a glimmer of hope that I might wake up free of aches, stiffness and soreness appears, it is mercilessly squashed by a weights session. I had a massage yesterday and felt fab afterwards, but two outings this morning in rough conditions and warm sunshine has efficiently done for that...