Going for broke

The second 5k of the year seems to be of much greater importance. The first one gives you a mark of current fitness after a year since the previous one. This time only 5 weeks separated the two and we had a steady track of progress in the period between them.

Almost straight after finishing last time I told myself I was going sub 17 this time around. This meant that by this week, 17 was no longer a big enough goal and I was almost taking for granted that I would get it. With this new found confidence, I started setting my sights on bigger and better things. For one this was the last real chance to take the club record. 35 seconds off my PB? No problem, I’ll give it a go. For another I was fed up of being second in the club for every test. Beat the guy who has beaten me on almost every test so far? Sure, why not?

Knowing that to stand a chance of either I’d have to go far quicker than last time from the start, I took off at 1:40 splits and r35. This was far above last time and the same split that I got for the 2k last year (albeit when I had starved myself). I’d purposefully set the drag factor down so I could rate higher than last time but was still surprised that the rate was so attainable.

1500m in I reached not a wall exactly but a definite steepening of the road. The rate was down to 32 and I was closer to a 1:42. After 2k I dropped it again down to 42.5. The 2.5k to 4k stretch left a fair bit to be desired. I hadn’t blown up as such but lacked the mental conviction to stay on target. Those five minutes were spent far too close to 44 and r30. The 1000m to go moment brought a new sense of urgency. Up until this point I’d had the erg screen on the BIG numbers display. Just split, rate, HR and distance to go. I had no idea what my average was or what time I was heading for. An ‘interesting’ stroke later I had info in front of me and the metaphorical gauntlet was thrown at me by the monitor.

Predicted time: 17:03

Well that wasn’t the game I wanted to play. It wasn’t supposed to do that. With the carrot in front of me I went for it. This was still around 700m to go and a while before I usually start sprinting but desperate times and all that. I started counting down strokes from 30 at a random point. I think it must have been around 50 strokes to go. After a couple of hundred metres I was averaging 1:42.0 exactly. It’s odd to know that you are right on the edge of what you’re after an knowing that you have to stay on it all the way to get anywhere. A single stroke could have pushed it up.

The counting helped and got me down to the last 200m. From there I just counted again. The last 200m are easy. Splits were into the 37s again and rate was 36+.

The first feeling after I’d hit the floor this time was one of disappointment. I’d just finished first in the club, taken more off my PB than last time and still I felt it hadn’t gone well. I’d lacked the determination in the 4th km to keep the work on and it had cost me a fair few seconds. I knew I was physically capable of more and that was worse than not beating my target would have been.

It was only after a while that it started to sink in that I’d moved past the 17 minute marker. That I was one of the few rowers the club has had that has gone sub-17 and this was while being less than 80kg to their 90+.

The final push into the satisfied camp came with praise from our coach.

“…You could genuinely achieve a lot in this sport”

I was surprised how much that one sentence meant.

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