Is Rowing or Running Faster?

Last Saturday, me and my best mate, Pocket Pal aka Karina, headed to Cambridge parkrun at Milton Country Park for a competition.
We used to run together a lot before I started training for the Atlantic row.  
We conjured up a plan in order for me to still take part in parkrun.

Karina ran 5k.
I rowed 5k on a rowing machine.

Who finished first?  Watch this video to see the result.

Below is a writeup from each of us about their day.

Thank you to Cambridge parkrun for the support and for letting us visit x

From Karina:
It’s 8.30am on Saturday morning at Milton Country Park Parkrun. There is a light drizzle the air, we’re speaking to the race director about where best to set up and how it’s all going to work. So far I’m feeling ok and not feeling nervous at all. Already the chalk board and white board are peaking people’s interests, this really starts to get me more excited about the competition in front of us.

Flash back to mid week when me and LT are planning to spend the day together and she says “Hey I’ve got a great idea, we race each other at parkrun. You run 5km and I row 5km”.

We do a quick intro video and the rain starts to get harder. Now, I am a fan of running in rain but not starting a run it in. I’m starting to get nervous now, not only do I want a new PB but I also want to win the challenge (I am very competitive).

The horn goes off at the start line and I sprint off! Starting way too fast…OOPS. 1km in my lungs are burning and I am wondering if I can keep this pace. The conditions are very muddy and traction isn’t great, even in my x-talons. 2km in and it’s still hurting, I’m not warmed up yet but I feel I’m settling into a good pace. I have my friend Phil behind me and it’s pushing me knowing he is there. We pass LT on the rower and she is looking strong, running around not knowing how she is doing starts to mess with my head.

I’m on my second lap now and knowing I don’t have long to go and it’ll all be over soon. Just that last little push and that little bit more pain. We pass LT again, now it’s just 300m to the finish line, I look at my watch and realise a new PB is moments away. Phil starts shouting at me to keep pushing and I somehow find the energy and power to sprint to the finish. I stop my watch and get my chip, that sick feeling starts to rise and I just have to hit the deck and catch my breath. I’m in so much pain and I’m making so much noise! I look at my watch and I know I have a new PB but not knowing how LT has done yet….

From LT:
The idea came to me in an instant – why hadn’t I thought about it before?  I didn’t really want to run 5k but I wanted to race my Pocket Pal – eureka, I’ll take my rowing machine!

With permission from the guys down at Cambridge parkrun the day before, Karina and I were excited.  I didn’t sleep that well the night before as I dreamt we arrived ready to start the competition and forgot to take the video cameras (I know, I know, third world problems).

We woke up at 6am, and I traded breakfast for prepping my notice boards, not my best decision but had lots of organising to do.  Outside it began to snow (!) and the weather forecast was looking miserable of the rest of the day and I felt more nervous about my Concept 2 rower getting wet.

Helen, the event coordinator, meets and greets us and is kind enough to introduce our challenge to the 200+ parkrunners that have turned up on this rainy Saturday.  I give a nervous wave as they cheer. (secretly I quite like it)

The start buzzer goes but I have been distracted (see video) – oh no, Pocket is going to beat me.

I’ve worked out I need to be pulling a 2:10 500m split if I am in with a chance of winning. I have never been able to sustain a pace like that.

The first 2km were very lonely as no-one was around. The odd park walker wandered by and looked at me like I was an alien, as I rowed in the rain with my rowing machine digging into the muddy ground.

I knew Pocket had been training hard with her running and getting PBs (personal bests) constantly throughout the year so far. I had been working hard too but this felt tough!

At about 2-2.5km pocket ran past me.  I have never run the Cambridge course so didn’t know where she was in regards to me.  I kept thinking “You’re rowing the Atlantic LT and you’re capturing this on camera – you have to win!”

So far, my rowing was quicker than my running used to be – it felt just as horrible.

It was great when the majority of runners ran past me, all giving encouragement and this really spurred me on reducing my split times and keeping me motivated. Thank you to everyone who helped.

I was situated about 200-300m from the finish line so knew once Pocket ran past me for the second time, I’d need to be nearly finished.  She ran past me at 308m remaining.  Blimey!  This was close.  I normally sprint finish and give it everything I have left at 150m – not today, it was time to crank it up and leave everything I had there……

Had she crossed the finish line before me? I couldn’t even see her…….. Blimey, my oesophagus hurts! And I can taste blood!