The Rowing Club Journal: Novice Edition, 2

Semester 1 has flown by and now it’s time to look forward to the next which is bound to be busier.  The Christmas workouts that they’ve given us have not been easy and I’m finding it difficult to row by myself – it’s just easier when you’re rowing in a line, going at the same rate as the rest of the team.

Since I have a placement within community pharmacy the first week back I won’t be able to go to training and so I’ve signed up to Puregym at Cardiff Queen Street. It’s such a nice gym and a good one to be a nosy parker at. I usually split my time between ERGs and the treadmill and since some of the treadmills face the ERGs its quite enlightening watching other. So many have poor technique – this coming from someone who’s done a total of 3 months of occasional rowing. Hunched over and swinging the handle over their knees each time as they complete sessions at a fast rate – but with poorer splits than I.  The restraint it took not to barge in and stop them.

The first ERG session back at 6:30am comprised of 2x20min sessions with only 2 minutes rest.  My splits were awful but I count it was a win since I managed to last the whole session. I can never seem to complete 20 minute sessions by myself in the gym – I get bored, by backside starts hurting from the uncomfortable plastic seats, or I start feeling like I’m dying.

My progress is improving at a snail’s pace and barely managed to scape off a couple of seconds out of my 2Km.  to be fair, I could have put a bit more energy into it but they had us do a 250m sprint right after at a rate of 35+.  I have never gone above rate 28 before. So obviously, I didn’t manage the 35 this time either, but managed a slow 32 and ripped the skin between my thumb and forefinger. The joys.

25/01 – Cycled down to the Bay under a steel coloured sky and was half hoping that they would cancel with the drizzle setting in and the water looking particularly choppy but no such luck. The last time I was out on the water we got quite a bit of rowing in and I was hoping that it would be the same this session, but this time we focused on technique. My hips locked and my hands and feet froze and the fact that we had to carry the dripping boat back above our heads didn’t help with the hypothermia that was quickly gripping me.  I must have looked it as well as one of our coaches, noticing my clattering teeth and involuntary shivers that wracked me, asked me if I had any spare clothes with me and that I didn’t need to help with getting the little speedboat in so I could go inside. I never take spare clothes with me, and this one instance I wish that I had.  The thin splash jacket (that cost me an arm and a leg) was doing nothing to keep out the biting wind.

I had hoped that I would be able to compete in at least one race this term but rowing is turning out to be quite expensive.  I would have needed to pay a top-up membership, a British Rowing racing membership, and pay for the race and transport fee.  Oh, and lets not forget the pricey kit that I bought last term, and the gym membership that I now had to start. One word of advice – ask about additional costs before joining ANY society.  It may narrow down your options if you’re like me and want to try everything.

Completed my first (ish) 5km.  I mean, we have done a few in the Tuesday morning sessions while doing our 2×20 minute sessions but they weren’t taking our splits and so it wasn’t a race. I didn’t do too bad, gaining a split of 2.28 and so it’s a definite win for me.  I was the last to finish (as usual) but I felt powerful after finishing, even though I must have looked incredibly weak with sweat dripping down my face, gasping for oxygen.

Evening ERGs have been moved down to the Bay and so it was a little dark going there and back.  As usual I finished my 6x500m sprints way after everyone else but it is nice to cycle there and back, giving me a break from work.  I did however, for the first time in years, fall off my bike.  Tried to mount the pavement and the bike slid sending me sprawling.  Scraped my chin quite badly and possibly bruised my ribs and cried all the way back. We all need one stupid accident to happen to us during our Uni life.  I guess that was mine.

Everything has been cancelled due to COVID-19.  

It has been an extraordinary year so far and have gained so much confidence in myself. My parents thought me foolish for trying out for rowing, believing that I was too weak and even though I didn’t have the opportunity to compete I have proved to myself that I can do it – maybe not to the same standard as the rest of the team but at least I tried and didn’t quit.

My only regret is that they didn’t have just a ‘casual’ team – it’s all about competitions and races which excludes many from even trying out a new sport.  It would have been wonderful to be out in the crisp weekend mornings, rowing on the Taff, and getting to know the team.