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03/12 2010

Training at Shawnigan

Yesterday was my first day back at Shawnigan.  Every Thursday the team heads up to Shawnigan Lake School’s boathouse for two long sessions.  We store our 8+’s and 4x/-‘s up there.

The first row was 28 KM – no big deal!

This morning when I rowed the 1X back at Elk Lake I was cooked from the get-go.  I was so tired because I worked as hard as I possibly could yesterday.  So my focus shifted very quickly this morning from results to fitness.  With every minute that ticked over on my stroke coach I knew I was getting more fit.  That’s what I needed this morning.

Dave

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03/10 2010

Race Around the Lake…and then some.

I got around the lake faster this week than last – in slower conditions.  Actually, the wind made the first half faster and the second half way slower.  I thought things were going very well when I got up to point 1 in 16 minutes – but then I turned around the buoy and the headwind hit me!  Wow did the wind make the final 3.5 Km heavy.

I lifted weights at 11 AM  and hopped on the erg at noon.  4 x 1000 metres.  All I could do was focus on my length and posture.  In the end I’m thrilled to get the work done – one step closer.

Dave

Posted in All Blogs, Rowing
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03/9 2010

VO2 Max Test

James Brotherhood and Liz Johnson

Ouch!

The thing is I can’t tell you what my results were- trade secret!  I can say that I am ahead of the curve from the last set of these I did in my comeback for Beijing.  James Brotherhood (seen in the picture with Liz Johnson) brought out all the results from 2007 for us to look at.  That’s a good sign that I am ahead of the curve, right?  I have only taken 18 months off since Beijing. 

I have been very lucky to have the support of the good folks at the Canadian Sports Centre Pacific out at the new Pacific Institute of Sport Excellence.  James (my cousin) played a significant role in getting me ready to join the team in 2007.  Having this type of information only helps me with my confidence as I get back into training because progress can be hard to gauge when I am pulling my guts out on the lake.  

Here are a few shots to let you know how it feels!  Basically we are in a full mask that is monitoring all O2 in and all CO2 out.  They have me work in 3 minute segments, increasing power each step.  James took my lactate levels in between.  But when I reached my maximum they switch me to 1 minute pieces with no breaks to push me to my absolute limit.  It’s really fun! 

Mike, James and Liz help me through the test.

Ouch

Enjoy the horror show!

Dave

Posted in All Blogs, Rowing
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03/9 2010

Tuesdays seem hard

Okay, so I had my first serious double day of hard workouts.  This morning I was in the pair with Doug, and we did 5 work runs, and tonight I was back in the single attempting 16 x 90 second ‘sprint-like’ pieces.  I say sprint-like, as opposed to ‘sprint’ because my 26 – 30 spm were not yelling sprint! 

It was great to be rowing the pair again.  We had a couple good pushes but in the end my fitness was the boss.  I had to laugh after the second run on a 22 free, Kevin and Steve drove Doug and I up to 28, 29 and 30+!  Well, actually, they drove Doug up and I just followed.  We got to the end of the run and I was cooked!  But in the end it is better to drive hard like that then to leave something out there!  Doug was a good sport about my fitness.  It was easy to row with him.  

Tonight’s workout was crazy!  The wind was up, and we all faithfully rowed up to point one – the roughest spot on the lake.  Mike altered the runs so that we went along the highway.  To fit them in we had to stop rowing for our 30 seconds off.  It was crazy!  We got all 16 in though.  By the end I knew that I was doing it for the fitness and not to worry about the results…regardless, I loved it!

At the end of practice Terry came up and coached me.  It was nice to have him give me a few pointers.  It all comes back to the same old points though – for some reason they don’t sink in for me.  I will get the long hang and I will hold my angle better!  Terry had me move my feet to the stern and lower my oarlocks too.  He liked the effect that change had on my finish.  Tomorrow morning I have the timed race around the lake to see how the changes feel.

Should be fun! 

Dave

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03/5 2010

Friday Sprint Work

Today was a big day. Okay, it was a bigger than usual day…for me…not so much for the other boys on the national team.  In my Hudson single I did 12 x 90 seconds – yes, sprint work!  I had a good 45 seconds in me at 32 before the world started to close in on me.  Then I just started counting to 45 – I figured sticking to a 30 spm was respectable, although not always possible.  45 strokes: 15/15/15, 20/15/10, even 23/23 – they all got me to the end of the minute and a half.  Although I really started to suffer for my lack of training, I loved it.  The entire row took over 2 hours. I am closer to my gold medal because of this workout…

Now I am off to do my VO2 MAX test on the erg…

Dave

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03/4 2010

Around the Lake Results

Dave's Hands after 3 days

Dave's Hands after 3 days

It may not have been very fast, but it was great.  I got around the lake in 32 and a half minutes.  I left my fitness at the halfway point – it just sort of jumped out of the boat!  You couldn’t get the smile off my face though.  Now starts the battle with my hands!  You can’t tell very well from this picture, but I think that I started pulling hard again.  If my count is right, I have 7 blisters.  Next comes the popping and then comes the raw open soars!  By the end of the month I should have a fully conditioned set of callouses. 

Oddly I did want to nap all afternoon and I fell asleep with Mira at 7:30 tonight. 

Dave

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03/3 2010

Race around the lake.

Some things never change. 

Wednesday mornings are always going to be Mike’s morning to race us around the lake in singles!  Why should tomorrow be any different?  I am nervous though, and excited, but I know that I have to look at it as training.  It’s my first Wednesday morning back – I want to get around rowing a solid 24 – 26, but rowing well.  I know the other guys will be able to race higher and harder – but it will be great to set a bench mark so that I can start closing that margin.

My first big focus in the single is getting over my fear of fully squaring my blades.  I miss so much water at the catch because I flip catch out of fear of flipping the boat.  Totally irrational, I know, but it only comes out in the single.  A few years ago I was able to fix that problem as a sweeper, but I have never conquered it in the single.

Any suggestions?

Dave

Oh, and today was an independent row because the boys were all up at Shawnigan Lake.  Probably a blessing in disguise.

Posted in All Blogs, Rowing
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12/2 2009

Every Little Bit Counts

Biking to Work

Biking to Work

Just before Bowen was born I blew a tire on my bike. I made a few efforts to fix it – but couldn’t quite get the job done. Then, after he was born I started rowing once a day with the Canadian team and became even less interested in fixing my bike.

Rowing against the national team, with three hours sleep at night, then heading into an eight hour work day just didn’t pan out. I think I made it two and a half weeks on the water before I had to pack it in. I’ve since borrowed a friend’s erg and have been getting great workouts in each morning.

Now that Bowen is eleven weeks old we have a bit of a routine set in the house, including the daily erg. On Remembrance Day I finally got around to fix my bike, well enough to ride it to work each day.  Mind you there are no front brakes, the chain skips and can’t go in the hardest gear and I need a front light!  Anyone know where I can get a safer bike for cheap?

Racing Again

Racing Again

I ride with my music on – and I visualize racing again. Sometimes it’s the 2010 Worlds in New Zealand; sometimes it’s the 2012 Olympic Games in London – but I’m always pushing hard, always winning and always happy.

In the few weeks since I’ve added my ride back I’ve seen my splits drop significantly on the erg, I’ve felt more energetic and healthier all around. And if you can believe it, I even feel physically warmer throughout the day. I still struggle to stay awake when I read bedtime stories to Mira though.

I can’t wait to train full time again.

Dave

2 comments
11/22 2009

1952 Helsinki Olympic Experience

Helsinki 1952 Poster

Helsinki 1952 Poster

I’m in Toronto right now. I flew here yesterday for Canadian Olympic Committee Athletes’ Council meetings (renamed today Athletes’ Commission). I’ve gone to www.offsetters.ca and calculated my carbon emissions for the trip (2.8 tonnes CO2); it only cost $70 to offset.

When I landed I hooked up with fellow Canadian Olympic rower Adam Kreek. Suddenly we were heading to the Argonaut Rowing Club’s annual awards banquet as guest speakers. We arrived at the club and immediately meet their eldest active member. At 89, Steve Sandor still rows his single, self-admittedly shorter distances than years past. Mr. Sandor and I spoke at length. As it turns out, Mr. Sandor is a Hungarian Olympic rower from 1952. In the course of our conversation he remembered to me, with great detail, the events that took him and his Hungarian crew mates from 1948 through to the ‘52 Helsinki Olympic Games.

At that time there were two rival rowing clubs in Budapest, one made up of only card-carrying Communists and his, an open mix of Party Members and non-party members alike; each vying to race the eight in Helsinki. Mr. Sandor’s story included stroke by stroke accounts of critical races against the communist club and a challenge race the Olympic year against the Germans. He recited precise measurements of his secret tactic to increase the size of his club’s blade surface area. He still held on to the exact weights of their hull, the brass oarlocks, seats and slides. In part because he so adamantly disagreed with the extra weight the strong ‘communist-designed’ boat carried. He said “We carried two coxswains”.

Rowers at the 1952 Helsinki Olympics

Rowers at the 1952 Helsinki Olympics

It turns out the Hungarian Communist Party wanted to promote the strength of Party Values and their Communist Brothers at the games in Helsinki. Allegedly, Party Officials made every effort to disadvantage Mr. Sandor’s club in the selection process. Mr. Sandor’s club was faster though, and had been in smaller boats for years. Then, finally in late 1951 and throughout the 1952 season, they had the faster eight too.

As club captain Mr. Sandor requested a meeting with top Party Officials in order to clarify the selection process. Mr. Sandor and his crew were granted an audience, but they were told that only the three card-carrying Party Members were allowed to speak. It became clear to Mr. Sandor that the conversation was not going well and he could only sit quietly for so long. He told me that he stood up and bellowed “COMRADES”, because that was a sign of respect to Party Ideology, and from the far end of the table he continued in a level, calm voice “Will the fastest crew or the Communist crew race for Hungary in Helsinki?” Put that way, the Party Brass was backed into a corner. They agreed to race a best-of-three selection process between the two clubs; the fastest crew would race in Helsinki. A week later Mr. Sandor’s crew won the first two races and was selected to represent Hungary at the 1952 Olympic Games.

Opening of the 1952 Olympic Games

Opening of the 1952 Olympic Games

Years later, at a party, after the fall of communism in Hungary, Mr. Sandor saw those same ex-party officials he had stood up to in 1952. With great respect the men retold the story of Mr. Sandor’s passion and bravery for everyone to hear. Now, 57 years later, I’ve been inspired by his story.

[Olympic] Dreams are worth fighting for, worth sticking your neck out for, and can only be realized by unwavering self-belief and commitment. Mr. Sandor embodies inspiring Olympic values. If the young rowers I chatted with last night at the Argonaut Rowing Club learn these values from Mr. Sandor now, they will be formidable at everything they do in life.

Dave

Posted in All Blogs, Family, Rowing
3 comments
11/10 2009

The Beginning of Something

Mira's first erg

Mira's first erg

Honestly – it was completely unprovoked.

It all started when Bowen was born.  You see, I thought I’d train with the national team on Elk Lake in the mornings for their first row.  You know, quietly slip out of the house at 7 AM and then be in the office by 9:30 for an efficient, high energy, 7-hour work day.  I’d be back home by 5:15 PM for a relaxing night with my family.

Well, it kind of worked – for two weeks.  By ‘kind of’ I mean I was just hanging on.  I was getting 3 or 4 hours of sleep each night, I was the slowest single on the lake and my high energy days at the office turned out to be more like a 7-hour marathon of trying to stay awake.  Oh, and by the time I got home each night I was exhausted and would quickly fall asleep reading to Mira by 8 PM.

My plan has always been to rejoin the national team full time in March of 2010.  If I am in shape leading up to March then I figure I have an outside shot at being fast enough to make a world cup boat.  But I definitely should be able to be race ready by the time the worlds roll around in November, 2010.

I had to stop after two weeks when I finally got sick.  Instead of returning to the lake, I was able to borrow someone’s rowing machine (aka erg), and set it up in my carport.  This is where my story really begins…

I set up the erg yesterday.  As soon as I set it up Mira wanted a turn.  Not to curb her enthusiasm I said okay.  She hopped on and had surprisingly natural technique.  She drove her little 5 year-old legs, swung her little 5 year-old body and pulled her short little 5 year-old arms in.  More amazingly she had the recovery sequence too.  Her little arms shot out, she swung her little body over and then she slid up the slide.  MY JAW DROPPED.

Setting up Mira's second erg

Setting up Mira's second erg

Not sure what was going on – I had to pry her off the erg to go to family supper at my Grannie’s house.  In fact, I had to promise her another turn on the machine later when we got home.  Sure enough when we pulled into the carport she remembered and was fired up to get back on the machine.  She had a quick turn, but it was past her bedtime, so again, I convinced her to go inside by promising her another turn in the morning.

This morning when 6 AM rolled around I was so excited to get to workout at home.  I woke up and jumped out of bed with excitement – laughing, knowing where Mira got her enthusiasm from.  I got locked in and pulled a solid 45 minutes at 1:49/1:50 splits listening to Big Wreck.

Giving'er on Mira's second erg

Giving'er on Mira's second erg

Shortly after my workout Mira woke up.  Rubbing her eyes she walked into my bedroom asking her typical “Daddy, will you play with me?”, but then cut herself off and gasped – “Erg?  Can I go erg?”  I burst out laughing and we went back outside.

We went out and I set her up for a 10 minute workout, the first 5 minutes was all coaching.  She loved it and felt great heading back inside.  Then when I got home from work tonight she was there, waiting for me again.  “Daddy, can I erg now, please?”  I couldn’t say no.  This time I set her monitor up for 500 metres.  A good distance for a 5 year-old and a way for me to teach her about goal setting.

500 M in 4:06.1!  We’ll see if she can beat it tomorrow – if she wants to!

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