10 million metres

Last year I discovered that the YACF forum members have an indoor rowing team. They log their metres on the Concept2 rowing log for the various team challenges that come along. I’d not done that before, but since I do a bit of indoor rowing in the winter I thought I’d help them along by logging my metres there too.

It wasn’t long before I wondered how many metres I’d erged in my life, although it took until October before I bothered to dig out my old training diaries and feed the numbers into the “history” bit of the website. I first erged in September 1988, rowing just 1500m in a fairly rapid 5:32. I remember we used to row on a couple of model-B machines that’d been left in the dusty basement cycle shed in my old college, presumably in case anyone from the rowing club felt the need to have a quick blast rather than dragging themselves down to the boathouse. (I’d graduated 4 years earlier but still hung about in college to shoot the breeze with the various post-grads from my year who were still cluttering the place up, as well as racing in the odd inter-college cross-country or two.)

Some of the data was a bit sketchy – I knew I used to do a 1000m erg warm-up before any gym or weights workout, but looking back through my diaries sometimes that could be anything up to 4000m. Sometimes I never bothered to write it down. So I just added 1000m for every weights session and left it at that apart from those where I was absolutely sure I hadn’t (some of the gyms I’ve used over the years haven’t had any cardio equipment so I’ve relied on the cycle/jog to them as my warm-up).

Anyway it turned out I’d rowed 9894,964m. Somehow I thought it’d be more but at least it left me only 105,036m to go to my 10 million. There were times through the winters when I rowed with City of Oxford (1997–1999) when it felt like I was never off the damn thing, but actually there was a lot of other training down at the boathouse too. My biggest month, 277,500m, was more recently in 2008 when I’d hurt my knee and rowing was just about the only thing I could do to keep fit. Like most boys, I like to keep a track of all these numbers, so it was good to find that after a 12km row on Thursday I had exactly 15249 metres left to go to my 10 million, a distance that ought to be just within reach in an hour’s time trial.

It was cold and very wet outside all Saturday (not pleasant weather for those running in the “Winter 100” and “Piece of String” ultramarathons, just down the road from here in Streatley), so, late in the afternoon I decided to have a go at my hour. I needed a 1:58/500m split, something that’d seemed relatively straightforward in Thursday’s 12km. I was rowing at an average 1:57.8 right from the off, but it never felt like anything other than hard work and even with only 20 minutes gone I was having to remind myself of the bigger target to keep myself going. I have no idea why it was so hard today – sometimes the erg is just like that. I knuckled down, and as the end neared let the rate drift up slightly from my usual steady 22 to make the finish easier. Ended up with 15277m, a season’s best, and then paddled another 230m or so to round up the session to 15½km.

Pretty happy with that, I’ve no idea why I found it so hard though, I did 10km at an average 1:56.3 split not so long ago. Perhaps I’m still a bit tired from last Sunday’s marathon? They say you should take a day for every mile run/raced to recover, but I’ll be damned if I’m taking it easy for nearly four weeks. I’ve got the Thames Trot 50 to prepare for!

If I carry on logging meters at the same rate I’ll be 72 by the time I reach 20 million. I wonder if that’ll happen? My lower back gets quite sore and stiff these days and I’m certainly not as comfortable on the erg as I was even three years ago. It makes a good winter alternative to running or turboing though.

I didn’t get to celebrate much as it was my cycling club’s annual dinner and I was driving over there and giving out the prizes and so on. Had a nice drop of whisky when I got home later.