2 weeks prior to the Marathon Row event, we had 13 people signed up and within the final fortnight we had an additional 21 people join in the fun.
The day completely exceeded all my expectations; a bulging goodie bag, finishers t-shirts (supplied by UK Printer & Embroidery), a gym bursting with rowing machines and lots and lots of happy faces.
At 10.30am, we all began our 42,195m challenge. The atmosphere was electric. Mat and I were at the front, in the middle so it was hard to see everything going on but the laughter coming from the room kept me happy.
I’ve rowed a marathon once before in December 2014 and hated every minute of it, but then again, I had never trained to row before. This time I had 7 months constant training under my belt.
I was aiming for a 3:45 finish and had decided to stop for 1 minute every hour to have a snack and rehydrate. Being next to Mat and all my friends made the first hour pass really quick and I was well ahead of my target. Perhaps I was going too fast? I promised myself I was going to do a 2:30 split but so far I was averaging about 2:20. Should I slow down????
Into the second hour, I was concentrating on that half way mark – 21,098m remaining. That for me would be a good milestone to assess my pace and decide what to do. When I got there, I looked over at Mat, told him I was half way and decided to stick with my pace, especially as I saw how much effort he was putting in.
Every now and again, I looked around the room and saw a mixture of concentration, laughter, determination, smiles, sandwich eating and lot and lots of fun. The music was pumping loud and the rowing machines were making the most incredible noise throughout the room. The atmosphere (and GU Energy caffeine gels) were definitely fuelling my marathon. Also knowing there were some indoor rowing pros right behind me meant I was trying to keep my posture and technique spot on throughout.
Nearly 2 hour’s in and the challenge was starting to become a chore. This was not a good point for me, but suddenly, just when we needed it most, our friends turned up to cheer us on. And it worked wonders, my split time went down and morale was boosted.
Into the third hour, Mat’s predicted finish time was 2:58, so that was my next milestone. After that, there would only be about another 25-30 minutes effort remaining.
The fourth and final hour didn’t feel great at all. I could feel my fingers and left heel blistering, and my spilt times were decreasing, despite pulling the same amount of strokes per minute. It was clear my power was tiring. Time for some more supplements and lots and lots of water! Sadly, I had indulged in one too many energy supplements and started to get severe stomach cramp.
Mat had finished by this point and I put everything I had into my last 5,000m. I’d trained for 5,000m loads of times! But it wasn’t that easy. I closed my eyes, concentrated on my form and got into a steady rhythm. I opened my eyes, after what felt like 10 minutes, but a mere 2 minutes had passed. Eyed closed again. Mat instructed me to sit up straight and drive with my legs. I did and my split time went down.
With 200m remaining, I decided to leave everything I had on the rowing machine. Each stroke got closer to a 2:00 split, and with each stroke, my heart and lungs felt like they were going to explode. Imagine, death my rowing machine!?
50m to go, only 5 more strokes. They were some of the hardest I’ve ever pulled. I was so lucky to have a gathering of friends and fellow rowers cheering me on and I wanted to make them proud.
My final time was 3:24:38.7.
I was so pleased to not only have got a sub 3:45 but a sub 3:30! It was 100% down to the atmosphere of the day that kept me going.
Reflecting on the day, it wasn’t even that bad, I smiled more than I grimaced just because the day was so great and it had gone so well.
With each team and individual that finished, the room cheered and applauded and it felt fantastic to have created something so positive. And we couldn’t have done it without all the participants, sponsors and event photographer, Sean Smiles Photography.
I look forward to our next event.
After entering my time into the Concept 2 Logbook for a marathon distance taking into account my age, I’m thrilled to be listed 9th in the World for the 2016 season! The season finished at the end of April, so therefore I may be tempted to go again next season and try for a better time. Let’s wait until the blisters heal though.