Monday, August 20, 2012

First Rowing Practice

So after you finish the Learn to Row starter practice, you are free to sign up to practice with the group.  I signed up for my first practice on Sunday, and spent the weekend worrying about it.

I'm just a natural worrier, and new people scare me.  When I did the ice show in Cedar Rapids a few years ago, I drove up there and then sat in the car for 10 minutes thinking I should drive back home.  And that was with a group I mostly knew.  (In hindsight, there was major drama involved in that show, so maybe I should have... but it wasn't due to scary people.)

So anyhow, the Hawkeye Community Rowing is divided into two groups: competitive and recreational.  There are also combined practices.  The problem is, the group was newly split, so almost everyone in it is competitive.  There were only like 2 rowers on a list of 30 that only attended recreational practices, another 4 that only attended recreational and combined (yes, I'm a dork and took the sign up sheets and worked this out...)  Everyone else was part of the competitive practices.

So, I signed up for a combined practice on Sunday, really nervous about it, because no one on the list was one of those recreational rowers, and many of the "competitive" rowers in the group were ones who had done an actual race the previous day.  How in the world could I keep up?  And would they all hate me for slowing them down?

Turns out, on Sunday, there was lightening, so we didn't go out on the river.  I figured we would erg, but instead we practiced in the rowing tank.  There was a lot of grumbling about the tank, while R.C reminded us how lucky we are that we have a rowing tank to use at all- most community programs would have to erg, or have to go home.

So in the tank, we started with a 10 minute warm up, left and did 10 minutes of active stretching, and then did 4 sets of 10-minute steady state rowing with about a minute of rest between them.  Then we finished and stretched for 10 minutes. 

And what do I think of rowing?  Holy crap- it is an absolute killer.  The warm up was fine, but I was already sweating.  It was at a faster pace than I had done before.  The first 10 minutes of steady state rowing was insanely difficult.   We were rowing VERY fast- enough that the water in the tank was gushing like a water ride.  It had the nice benefit that the oar would be pushed for you, but if your timing wasn't right, you could hit the oar of the person in front of you.  R.C.  told me I was rushing my slide, and to SLOW it down.  My legs can only take so long to extend and the woman in front of me was like 8 inches taller than me.  Slowing down was very hard, but I worked on it.  By the second 10-minute set I thought I was going to die.  My legs hurt, my abs were starting to fatigue.  But I kept up.  Third set- still keeping up but "legs-body-arms" cadence got changed to legs-arms, my abs had pretty much stopped working.  This was of course noticed, so I was encouraged to lean back more.  I tried...    Before the last set, she asked if anyone wanted to switch sides.  I didn't want to row starboard because I am so uncoordinated on that side, and already we were rowing too fast for me.  Then R.C. said there was a set of slides set up, so if I wanted to erg I could.  I did that for the last 10 minutes, which was way better because I set my own pace.  I was really hurting by this time.  The erg went better too.  I learned how to resist the erg from pulling itself under me and to make sure to only bend my legs when I was ready, not when it forced me to.  I worked on having more efficient strokes, and a longer recovery, so the stroke rate isn't so high.  That went pretty well.

I was sore leaving the building, but by the time I got home I was pretty sure my legs were not going to function anymore.  I had a painful night sleeping, I woke myself up crying a few times...   I'm pretty sure I badly pulled the muscles in the hip flexors in both legs.  Walking is painful, lifting my foot up is nearly impossible.  (I can squat though, they work that way.)  I also have a sore spot in my upper right calf, I don't know what part of the muscle that is, or why it hurt.  It is different calf pain than typical in skating.  My abs are also insanely sore, but not hurt like my legs.

So this is the problem- when rowing as a team, you have to do what the others are doing.  Ease into it isn't possible.  But what they are doing is clearly too hard for me.  Aerobically I got through it, but it hurt.  And clearly, today I'm hurt.

So here is hoping one day of rest is sufficient and I can skate tomorrow.  And row on Thursday...


alejeather said...

Wow! Sounds like you had quite a day!

When I started flatwater kayaking, the team was doing 10k practices and I thought I'd never be able to go that far! I was surprised at how quickly I was able to start joining them, but during my first several practices, one of the established members always stayed with me to make sure I was okay, coach me through it and go with me as far as I could go. I don't know how you'd do this with rowing, though, since you're all in the same boat.

One of the reasons it worked with kayaking is that it's a sport that so few people are familiar with, that the team was accustomed to taking people from zero to keeping up with the team.

Hope all your soreness heals and you fare just a bit better the next time, and then the next time after that, etc!

Jessim said...

I like to Kayak, but anytime I've done a long distance it has been an all day thing.

I think with rowing if we have an on the river practice it won't be so bad. It is unlikely we'd go out in an 8, but probably a few 2s and some singles. I can't be in a single yet (can't steer well), but in a 2, I can talk with the other rower and figure out what works with me. Keeping up in the tank was hard though, even though you aren't in a boat, your oars need to be synchronized.

I expected it to be difficult, but I thought it would be aerobically difficult, not the hip flexors.