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Rowing satisfaction and boathouse stories

Yesterday, M and I drove up to Petaluma for the Petaluma River Marathon and Half Marathon. The whole thing brought back so many memories and stories from the last of the Marathon Rowing Championships all the way back in 2006 (!). There have been two downsides of the Louisiana Marathon Rowing Championships, however. The first is that they don't have a half-marathon distance, which I think could be really helpful as a gateway drug for getting more people into the challenge of a full rowing marathon. The second downside has been problems with drought conditions which have prevented Northwestern State from hosting another marathon since 2009. It's hard to make regatta plans around an event that hasn't happened in the last 7 years, especially for one that is now so very far from home.

So in those two respects, the Petaluma Marathon was fantastic, in addition to the fact that it was an easy 1-hour drive away from the BPRC. I haven't been doing nearly enough training for a full on-water marathon, so M and I just signed up for the half. The venue was beautiful, although steering along this river was just as nerve-wracking as the Cane River must have been for K.

Petaluma half-marathon row
Sunrise at the starting dock

Petaluma half-marathon row
Calling the start for a women's 2x in the full marathon

The space that the North Bay Rowing Club rows out of was pretty nice, but also amusing in certain similarities it shares with the Aggie rowing facility - namely, the storage containers and outside racks:
Petaluma half-marathon row

In contrast to Lake Bryan, however, NBRC had running water, a real dock, and about 8 times as many shipping containers.

Anyway, this marathon was an out-and-back event on a tidal river. What that meant is that we moved quickly on our way out, as the tide went out, thankfully with an incidental sailboat to show us the turns up ahead. Then, on the return, I had to be careful not to get too close to shore because the it was close to low tide, and we also had to work against the current without a sailboat to help me see the turns in advance. Regardless, we managed to have a good row and came in with a reasonable time of 1 hour 38 minutes - fast enough to win the Women's 2x half-marathon division against 4 other boats (but let's be fair, one 2x was a duo of 15-year-old juniors).

Then the NBRC hosted a great post-row potluck:
Petaluma half-marathon row

...which also gave me some nice time to hang out with M and JD and talk boat and BPRC boathouse stories. JD is a long-time paddler, so we never get to hang out at rowing regattas. He raced a stand-up paddleboard; he used to kayak until back problems ended that.
Petaluma half-marathon row
...caught here with their mouths full of the delicious food

JD told us two stories. The first is that apparently an original BPRC charter specified that someone must live at the boathouse at all times. I guess this has historically benefited the revolving door of starving graduate students and postdocs. It isn't a phenomenal living space, seeing as there aren't any cooking facilities, but apparently there is room to sleep in the attic above the men's locker room, and there are bathrooms, showers, running water, and peace and quiet most of the time. I could see a number of advantages to having someone living in the space (security reasons, mostly), but it would be difficult/impossible to reinstate that now.

He said he also learned of a second crazy story when a bunch of the members worked on refinishing the floors several years ago. Someone was concerned that the varnish could pose a fire hazard. But an old-timer said he didn't think so, because apparently a long time ago, back before the center racks were put in, someone who was struggling with mental illness apparently drove her car into the middle of the boathouse, closed the doors, and left the vehicle running with the windows down. However, nothing happened because the boathouse is too drafty.

So anyway. It was a satisfying event as we continue working towards our goal to race in the Head of the Charles in October. Hopefully we'll find out sometime this week whether we have successfully gotten an entry.

Petaluma half-marathon row

Rowing together with M has been beneficial for both of us. We are realizing that there are aspects of our style and technique that are very different, influenced in good part by a lot of time spent in the 1x. On the other hand, we are both reasonably strong and have good endurance, which are a good base to work from. So the boat moves reasonably fast, even if it isn't pretty and falls apart when we are tired. Our biggest source of additional speed will be improvements in technique, and we know those improvements can happen because we can pull ourselves together at lower stroke ratings and on power 10's and 20's.



( 1 remark — Remark )
Sep. 7th, 2016 01:16 am (UTC)
Congrats on your win -- I'm impressed! 5000 meters is the longest distance I've ever raced. I'd sign up to row a half marathon, I think, but I would be really dubious about racing it. (I'd get crushed, haha.) That all sounds like so much fun.
( 1 remark — Remark )

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