So now that the race is over, let me give you a brief picture of the exercise I go through to assess my performance. Overall, there will always be room for improvement, but at this point, I'm pretty happy with the results.
I was worried about over dressing because it was 33F when I left the house at 7:30 and I had put on a pair of tights and a fleece vest. But the fog delay actually allowed a good warmup so that by the time we were ready to start I had peeled down to shorts and a long sleeve wool shirt. It was just the right kit for the conditions.
Mentally I was stoked. From August on I've been doing a lot of volume workouts to increase my aerobic base and anaerobic threshold. I could sense my fitness steadily increasing and was pretty happy with how I felt during the test runs down the lake. It also helped me with putting the pieces together technically.
Since it was our "home course" I was able to do two trial runs leading up to the race and had a good idea what my pace was going to be:24-25 strokes per minute with sub 2:30 splits. I actually came out just a little faster than that thinking that I would settle once I got into the basin, but as I was joking after the regatta, I had the quad behind me and there is something about having that bow aimed straight for you that creates an incentive to row harder. I kept the rate at 25 up until the yellow buoy and then went for broke. Part of me wonders if I could have gone harder, but that would have risked blowing up before the finish. From the buoy to the finish line I was at 26-27 averaging 2:25, which surprised me. The tank was not completely empty when I crossed the line, which should not have been the case, but I had settled into a rhythm and found it hard to break out of it.
I'm very happy with how I steered, which I also credit to having a lot of practice picking out landmarks, lack of fishermen and kayaks, and very calm conditions.
For technique I give myself a B. The conditions really helped, but thinking back I believe that I could have rowed a little lighter in the seat to get more run out of the boat, and a little more "in front of the pin" which refers to reaching more at the catch. That may also be a rigging issue that I'll play around with next season. But overall I think my coach would be very pleased at how much more flexible I am and how I was able to hold body angle through the drive. The new stroke mechanics and using the hips more definitely are an improvement.
Speaking of Improvement - leg strength and body weight. While I've made a lot of progress with leg strength, I'd now have to say that is my weak link, and thus my main area of focus over the winter. Squats and lunges will be a big part of my Winter Workout Plan. I want to be able to hold a 2:30 split while keeping the rate down at 24, maybe even 23. I also did not do enough to lose weight this year. It's hard to admit that probably the easiest way to pick up some speed is to drop the extra 10-15 pounds I'm carrying around my waist. But all of this is the subject for an upcoming post.
I encourage you to think about your performance as well. What felt good? Could you have done better? What are the weak links? What can you do to improve? Did you notice your better fitness since you rowed later into the season?