rebeccmeister: (1x)
So, it finally happened. After 21 years of rowing, I finally flipped a 1x and fell in the water.

All things considered, this happened under the absolute best possible circumstances. I'd been in the middle of a set of interval pieces with the Serious Double, and Captain J had just called for us to spin our boats. I threw my oar in the water, and then the handle just kept on going, and pretty soon, I was in the water, too.

Upon discovering what had happened, the Serious Double stopped nearby to ask if I needed any help. More specifically, Iz asked, "Have you ever gotten back into a single before?" This was no time for false bravado. "No," I said. So after I got a whole bunch of random flailing out of my system, she coached me through the correct way to get back into a flipped 1x.

I decided that, at that point, it would be best if I just rowed back to the dock and wrapped up for the morning. Part of me really wanted to be the kind of person who rows to the dock, tips out the water, and keeps on rowing. But another part of me informed myself that the flip was an indicator about how I was feeling that morning, so I listened to the second voice instead.

It wasn't until I was leaving the boathouse and heading up towards work that I finally figured out why I'd flipped, and this lent some weight to the decision to call it quits for the day. I hadn't been in the Kaschper in a couple of weeks, between going up to Petaluma for practice and then the marathon, and getting to row in the 2x with Pan Am last week. So when I got the boat set up to go out on the water this morning, I had to make a guess as to where to position my footstretchers. Once I was on the water, I determined that my guess was slightly off. Not wanting to hold up the Serious Double, which had a serious practice plan (46 minutes of intervals, total), I really quickly repositioned my footstretchers. Except I wasn't fully awake, so I repositioned them in the wrong direction - moving them further towards the bow. This created extra clearance at the release, which is what made it possible for the oar handle to swing past my body when I attempted to spin the boat.

So, now I have gotten that out of the way. Better to have it happen during warm weather and during practice, rather than during a race. I'm also relieved that I didn't go in in one of the weird smelly, murky patches that have appeared recently on the BAP. That would have been tremendously disgusting.

So anyway - if you need any lessons on how to get back in small watercraft, come have a chat with me and I can now give you a few pointers.


Sep. 5th, 2017 10:24 am
rebeccmeister: (1x)
It was not easy to get up and out to the boathouse this morning. But yesterday I e-mailed the usual suspects to tell them I'd be there, so I couldn't exactly weasel my way out.

When I got to the boathouse, I was relieved to find I wasn't the only one who was dragging a bit. On top of that, the other woman 1x sculler was happy to make good on her promise to row in the 2x with me. I'm going to nickname her Pan Am because she raced in the lightweight 1x in the Pan Am Games a while back.

Anyway, what a wonderful opportunity, to get to row with a phenomenally skilled rower. Pan Am was gracious, and we had a pretty good time, all things considered. She also told me a story about getting to row with Chris Ernst, her hero. Eventually Chris had to tell her to relax because one's nerves do start to affect the boat feel and keep the boat from flowing along. I could relate, but PA also said she was very grateful that at least I had good boat feel.

She and the Serious Double are hitting the stage where training for the Head of the Charles starts to get pretty hardcore, although at least this week is a taper week. So we did 27 minutes of interval work at stroke ratings ranging from a 26 to 32. Not bad for a post-marathon recovery row.

My upcoming rowing homework assignments:

Core work: I haven't been keeping up with core fitness in the gym, and that really started to show towards the end of the marathon. Time to get back on that horse. Good core posture is essential for good body control on the recovery. (Further evidence: see my posture in one of the photos accompanying this article. That was clearly towards the very end, when my butt really hurt, but I'd like to be able to maintain good posture all the way through a marathon).

Staying relaxed + efficient as I start to get tired. PA noted that I can often stay ahead of her in the 1x during the early interval pieces, but she can catch me during the later ones because when I get tired I start to just hammer away and my efficiency drops. It's that whole "finesse" aspect of sculling.

Slide control: When she pointed it out, I could manage to smooth out and control that last top inch of the slide, but whenever the going gets tough my slide control tends to go out the window. PA was way better than M in terms of supporting the correction (M and I seem to just get in a bad feedback loop), but I still have to take the lead on smoothing it out.

After the interval pieces, we worked our way through a series of 10-10-10's, where she would row for 10 strokes, then I'd row for 10 strokes, then we'd row together to get a feel for how to match up our power application. Those drills made it clear that there's even more potential speed to be gained if we can work on better coordination. There, again, I think I need to keep thinking about finesse and not hammering the drive. Old habits from sweep rowing can take a long time to die.

Overall, fun times, and it was fantastic to break from the routine of the 1x. Rowing in the 1x is fine, but it's easy to fall into a very deep rut, especially because we don't have any coaching.

*Apparently J nicknamed PA's 2x "The Loveboat" because PA got it so she could start rowing a mixed 2x with one of the older master's men. Ha!
rebeccmeister: (1x)
After our pre-race meeting wrapped up at around 6:30 am, all the marathoners trooped down to the docks to launch our boats and get underway. We tried to start out in order from fastest to slowest to minimize the hassle of trying to pass. That meant I should start at the very back, behind the quad, doubles, pair, and men's singles. But just as the quad was about to get underway, one of its rowers declared, "I forgot my water bottle!" The quad members consulted with each other and decided to delay their start because hydration was going to be a big factor for the marathon.

So off we all went. I felt fairly nervous in the first 3k or so because I know that it's easy to start out way too fast in a marathon, but I haven't been getting in quite enough training so as to have a sense as to an appropriate pace. In addition, the water conditions mean that it isn't always possible to judge one's effort based on one's splits. I had to settle for rowing for a bit and keeping an eye on my stroke rate and splits and then just figure I was proceeding fine.

It didn't take too long before I caught up with the pair. As I was working on gradually overtaking the pair, the quad started to charge up, so we had three boats across for a bit.

The heat, air pollution, and scattering of thin clouds made for an absolutely gorgeous sunrise.

I'm hoping to download footage from the cheap Chinese GoPro knockoff this evening. Its battery didn't even last all the way to the halfway point, but there should still be some cool Slow Television footage on it.

The scenery along the Petaluma Estuary is entirely different from the scenery along the Cane River in Louisiana, the other place where I've completed a winding river marathon. Almost all of the banks along the Estuary are mud, leading up to flat, grassy habitat, which is probably great for birds. There are a bunch of gentle curves, but only a couple of sharp corners at the very beginning of the row. So for the most part, steering is very easy. The main obstacle to watch out for is other boats.

After I got underway, I realized I hadn't set up my SpeedCoach to display the elapsed time - only my split (time it takes to cover 500m), stroke rating, meters to go, and meters completed. I made mental note of my starting time and then did a few mental calculations for what kind of speed would be necessary to make it to the turnaround point ahead of the two-hour cutoff time.

After I had been rowing for about an hour, I passed another boat, this time a men's 1x. At about that time, I also started to notice my split times creeping up. I didn't feel like I'd changed much in terms of effort, so I had to figure the difference was due to changing tides. Still, I became slightly more nervous about making the cutoff because my ongoing mental calculations suggested I'd now be cutting things close. But there was nothing to do but carry on.

At long last, I rounded a long corner and could see some sort of bridge off in the distance. It was the highway overpass shortly before the turnaround at the train bridge. I also spotted the quad, charging straight at me! The bowman in the quad shouted a warning, and we both adjusted our courses to avoid a collision.

Then, through the highway bridge, and through the train bridge. In that section I could definitely tell interesting things were going on with the tides because every couple of strokes things would feel strange due to currents and eddies. Observing the angles of the train bridge, I concluded I'd be best off weighing enough to complete my spin. And then I could tell that yes, the tide was most definitely coming in. I'd have a chance to cruise along for a bit on my way back to Petaluma.

The first of our safety launches was parked back on the return side of the highway bridge, so I decided to head over towards it before stopping for my first slugs of water and energy gel. When I reached the launch, I observed that they were helping another 1x rower with something. Eventually he got back in his boat and carried on. Later I learned that he was having severe hamstring pain and couldn't use his legs at all. What a slog. I also learned, at the end, that a second men's 1x rower had his footstretchers rip out of the boat while he was rowing, causing him to fly out and flip the boat. A safety launch helped him back in and found some rope to tie his footstretchers back in so he was able to complete the row.

I stopped again at the 14 km-to-go mark for another slug of water and sugar gel, figuring that dividing up the remaining effort into 7ks would give me good distances to work through without stopping too frequently. It was starting to get fairly warm. The only other boat I saw along that stretch was a pleasure boat, which chased me along at top speed until it hit a no-wake zone, then slowed down, then plowed along again and delivered a huge wake. I said a lengthy series of curse words under my breath as I stopped to ensure that I didn't flip. Ignorant jerks.

I made my last quick water stop at 7 km to go. Shortly thereafter, I started to see the familiar sights along the early stages of the route and was cheered by how the landmarks gave me a sense of forward progress.

When I crossed the finish line, my SpeedCoach said I still had about 500m to go, so I decided to finish out the full marathon distance by continuing to row down to the next bridge. Then I finally stopped, spun the boat around, and headed for the dock.

Altogether I think I should have carried one more bottle of water, given the weather conditions. If I'd needed it, I could have stopped at one of the safety launches to reprovision, but as it stood I had just enough to squeak by on fumes at the very end. As soon as I reached the dock and pitched out of the boat, I made my way over to a cooler full of Gatorade and downed a full bottle. It tasted wonderful. I also stuck my hat in the ice water and put it back on my head and it felt utterly amazing.

I managed to finish without any blisters ripping open, probably because I was rowing but not really racing. If I'd intended to really race, I would have needed to have trained more carefully in the months leading up to the marathon. That said, my finish time was only 10 minutes slower than the record finish for the women's 1x marathon distance. Something to ponder if I want to come back and row this event again. I also think I'd switch over to just drinking sugary sports drinks. That worked well for me the last time I completed an erg marathon. The gels are too concentrated and a real nuisance.

Today there are a number of butt and postural muscles that are complaining, and ligaments in my right thumb are unhappy. Still, recovery's pretty swift for an event like this, and I'll probably try to row again tomorrow morning. Altogether, in spite of the heat and the air pollution, yesterday was a wonderful day.
rebeccmeister: (Default)
Did I tell you that I was going to row a marathon in the 1x at Petaluma today? Well, I did. I earned those laurels, that's for sure, and now I'm absolutely going to sit on them for a bit.

I was also the only woman foolish enough to participate in the full marathon in a 1x. Overall, it was great, other than that one powerboat that decided to wake me, twice.

Success in the women's 1x full marathon distance!

Hopefully I'll have more energy to post a more detailed write-up tomorrow. Right now, in addition to the post-marathon energy drop, I'm struggling to cope with the Bay Area heat wave and am finding that my Arizona-derived heat tolerance isn't quite as good as it used to be...
rebeccmeister: (1x)
On Friday night, M accidentally locked herself out of the lab, and was thus unable to complete a small project that required collecting hemolymph from crickets at midnight. The net result for me was that I didn't have to plan on running crickets yesterday evening, which also meant that I could go to sleep at a reasonable hour and get up to row this morning.

The more consistent rowing schedule is starting to pay off, which feels very rewarding. One of the elements of rowing that I have found very difficult if not impossible to replicate off the water is its effects on some of the deep postural muscles of the lower back and hips. In particular, when one reaches the release, one sits with straight or nearly-straight legs and a tall back with a slight bit of layback (leaning back towards the bow).

I believe this position requires good strength from the iliacus and psoas major, which then initiate the forward motion on the recovery as one comes up to take the next stroke. It takes a while to get these muscles firing correctly, to ensure that one's weight is rock-solid and centered in the bottom of the boat, and that one comes out of the bow well. It's important to maintain as low a center of gravity as possible to help stabilize the boat. There's an understandable common misconception among many novice rowers that it's the shoulders and oars that determine the boat's balance. Those things matter, too, and so does timing, but top priority should go to the low center of gravity. You can feel this difference quickly if you ever have a chance to sit in a boat with an experienced rower, where somehow the boat feels magically rock-solid. It isn't the boat - it's that rower's body and muscles holding the boat in the ideal position so that all the rest of one's energy can be channeled into moving the boat forward. The experienced rower will get fatigued if you are making the boat flop all over the place, so all rowers should work to help contribute to that aspect of balance.

I would love to see an x-ray of my spine at some point, because I'm certain it's weird (scoliosis at least), and made worse from those years in high school when I only rowed starboard. For whatever reason, rowing helps it tremendously, and that's one of the fundamental reasons I want to keep rowing for as long as possible.

On Sunday, at one point while I was heading towards the BRPC dock, I noticed that the bowman of the Old Man Double* was filming me. Two seconds of film and I know that I need to keep working on my catch speed. He said that they had rowed 180 km the previous week, in an effort to shed weight before Master's Nationals**, and that all the rowing had done wonders for their balance.

I was actually able to best The Brit this morning during longer intervals pieces (two sixteen-minute sets of 90 seconds on, 30 seconds off). He says he's a wimp in the wind. We shall see. He'll have an extra week to train on his own while I'm up in Seattle on a bicycle. Now I am tired. Ka-whumph.

*He should really get nicknamed The Captain. His partner will be Marathon Man.
**Argh, I just hope they are being careful about this.
rebeccmeister: (1x)
First, regarding Charlottesville. I am angry about how these events draw media attention, but on the other hand they shouldn't be ignored, should they. One thing I see that is important is this article on how to talk to your children about the violence in Charlottesville. How about you?


This weekend I did something I may come to regret. I went rowing Saturday morning with The Brit, as that would follow the training schedule I'd outlined. Then I burned the candle at both ends went for a long row this morning to prepare for the Petaluma Marathon on September 3.

The long row went pretty well. The BAP was more rowable than it has been since before July. There are still several areas with large patches of decaying algae, but it was possible to row in a circle instead of in a straight line. There's just one spot where I had to break through a line of algae for a stroke. The main benefit of the circle is that multiple people can be out without the extreme risk of head-on collisions. In addition to the standing patches, there are occasional small chunks and floating islands that move around in the wind, just to keep things interesting.

I have been testing out a set of Concept2 Bantam oars, which were originally designed for young rowers but have been co-opted by the grown-ups, too. They are shorter than the oars I've been using (Smoothie2's), which takes some getting used to, and they have the green grips instead of the much older Azure blue grips. But they didn't tear up my hands, so I was able to achieve my main goal of continuing to build up callouses for the marathon.

Two hours after I got off the water and returned home, a sunburn showed up.


I am feeling burned out on cooking. I used up most of an enormous bag of spinach yesterday by making a huge batch of spanakopita. All of the spanakopita exploded open when I baked them. I should figure out what I did wrong. I also tried to work away on the zucchini by making chocolate zucchini bread, but I don't feel like I made much of a dent in the zucchini supply. But that's how it goes with zucchini. The garden produce is overwhelming given that we have very little freezer space to work with, and given that I'm not home early enough to do much cooking on weeknights. Maybe I would feel differently if there was a more uniformly appreciative cooking audience. I don't know.
rebeccmeister: (1x)
Tuesday morning, there was one other rower out when I got to the boathouse, but he was headed for the dock. After I finished my paddle around the BAP, I found a note by the logbook that said, "Rebecca: Let's train!" with D's e-mail address (D will henceforth be nicknamed The Brit, to go along with the other various rower nicknames).

I've seen The Brit out and about periodically, and I think he's even participated in one or two scrimmages with the Serious Double, so a training partner sounded like a great idea to me.

Apparently The Brit used to row in London, back in the 1980's. He took a break starting in 1988, and has spent the past year getting back into things and figuring out sculling.

While it's nice to let the Serious Double feel good about themselves, it's even more fun to have another 1x to row with. And that will also keep me on the hook in terms of showing up consistently to train.

When I got off the water, another newish rower was there, E. She seems like a super sweet person and seems to be learning a lot in the singles, so I asked if she'd be interested in taking a double out for a spin at some point. Seems like it could be fun.

I'm going to miss the BAP and BPRC when I leave. A nice spot, and good people.

Also, check out this lineup of algae piles removed by the weeding machine. This isn't even the whole set of piles!

Algae piles at Berkeley Aquatic Park
rebeccmeister: (1x)
I just got the e-mail that my entry was accepted for the Head of the Charles for the Women's Club Singles!

Hmm. I'm going to have to get more serious about my rowing training.

Can you tell I'm excited?

rebeccmeister: (1x)
The algae on the BAP is now decaying extensively, and the weeding-machine has helped to clear enough open water to make things passable by rowing shell again. There are still some patches with disruptive islands that startled me as I rowed through, but I am now confident again about putting in hours on the water.

It was good to get up early and hear the morning birds and quiet as I headed down towards the water. Yesterday I received a message from my father that his latest chemotherapy treatment has not been successful in slowing liver tumor growth. Moreover, the latest scans now reveal that his cancer is following the expected natural progression and there are now worrisome spots in his lungs.

I am feeling that I really want to return to Seattle in 2018. I feel this sense of direction more strongly than I feel any sense of direction with regards to an academic career. I want to focus on writing and thinking for a while, and I want to feel the damp drip and mushy moisture underfoot.

One of the wonderful rowers at the BPRC loaned me a book, Bijaboji*, about a woman who rowed a dugout canoe from Port Angeles to Ketchikan in the 1930's, up through the Inside Passage. So far it contains the kinds of adventures that make me chortle. It relieves a certain degree of weariness of the soul.

*This is her boat's name, created from the first two letters of her four brothers' names: Bill, Jack, Bob, and Jim.


Jul. 3rd, 2017 11:47 am
rebeccmeister: (1x)
It is time to start building up the mileage in earnest, in preparation for the rowing marathon in Petaluma over Labor Day weekend. Four days of rowing, back-to-back, feels really, really good, even with the BAP all choked full of algae.

I'm mostly doing steady-state rowing, emphasizing very good technique with drills thrown in periodically. For my body, a lot of the stabilizing muscles that contribute to a well-balanced and efficient rowing shell are muscles that are very difficult to train and coordinate properly via anything other than rowing itself. When I do enough rowing, I also observe more general postural/comfort benefits throughout the rest of the day. It is highly rewarding to work on extending the duration of time that I'm able to row cleanly.

The other major limiting factor for rowing a marathon is hand toughness. There, again, the only way to prepare is to row for long enough to challenge one's hands, but not so long that one develops endless skin rips and bloody blisters. So far, so good.

I won't row tomorrow morning because I'm also back to work on circadian experiments (ugh), but in the interest of prioritizing rowing to a greater extent, my schedule this week will look like the following:

Tuesday morning: erg
Tuesday - Wednesday: lab overnight + morning timepoint
Wednesday afternoon: row (hopefully during the 2-5 pm afternoon window)
Thursday morning: row
Thursday - Friday: lab overnight + morning timepoint
Friday evening: kayak

Next Wednesday, we're heading to the field for two weeks. No rowing there, so I'll just have to jog and do some strength-training instead.
rebeccmeister: (1x)
Busy times right now, so some background first. We had a grad student heading out to Bishop, California, on this past Monday, and he's doing a bunch of field respirometry measurements on small willow leaf beetles, and is still getting up to speed on respirometry in general, so that's been randomly sucking up time. On Friday at noon, just as I was trying to head out the door with my gear for the weekend, he called me over to the FoxBox in a panic because something wasn't working right.

I quickly triangulated the problem to the built-in air pump, and mentioned that I'd purchased a spare air pump a week or two prior so I could pump air in the dark for the circadian experiments. If he was desperate, he could take my air pump. So he did. But now I have another midnight timepoint tonight. I went back to the Albany Aquarium Store (awesome place), but they didn't have another air pump in stock. They're expecting to get another one today. Close timing.

Between sorting that out, cricket care, lab meeting, and wrangling student researchers, yesterday vanished.

Anyway, the weekend, which was more fun overall. Back in my Arizona Outlaw days, I got to hear a handful of stories about some regatta that happened up on Lake Tahoe. A couple of our Outlaw buddies who went out to the Marathon in Louisiana had gone up to Tahoe and had a blast. So I'd known about the regatta for years, but never had the resources and logistics lined up to attend. Well, after our fun times at the Open Water Regatta in Sausalito, M suggested we look into the North Lake Tahoe Regatta, so we did.

Logistics wound up being somewhat involved, but not terrible, altogether. Apparently D, a rower who works for Maas (open-water rowing shell manufacturer), had volunteered to drive his trailer up to the lake. That sounded leagues better than trying to cartop the Maas 2x all the way up there, so we said, "Sign us up!" So I de-rigged our club's Maas 2x last Wednesday morning, and met up with D on Wednesday afternoon to load it onto his trailer. He had an interesting and clever method for throwing it all the way up onto the top rack, and it worked beautifully. I think he wound up hauling around 15 boats, which allowed a comparatively large number of rowers to compete in the regatta.

Here's the trailer setup, later on. It was a fantastic small boat trailer setup:
Lake Tahoe 2017

So then, back to Friday. After wrapping up a busy morning in the lab, I headed down to the boathouse to meet up with M and drive out to Tahoe. We wound up making good time and didn't hit any especially crazy traffic, so we had enough time to stop for some espresso in Truckee before the evening banquet in Tahoe City at the Tahoe Yacht Club.

Like many yacht clubs, it was swanky:
Lake Tahoe 2017

And there were all kinds of fun trophies and photos on display.

When we arrived, we learned the regatta was canceled due to high winds. The organizers said the cancellation was because our two safety launch drivers decided it was too dangerous for them, especially given the number of race entrants.

I think they had a good point. I could see some impressive waves through the Yacht Club's spotting scope:
Lake Tahoe 2017

There were also large waves on the beach where we were supposed to launch for the race:
Lake Tahoe 2017

Even if we could row in water like that, we'd have a hellish time trying to launch the boats without immediately crashing back into shore.

So that was a disappointment.

Thankfully, there were a couple of consolation activities. Our trailer driver knew of a more sheltered beach, Commons Beach, on the other side of Dollar Point, where he thought we might be able to get in some rowing, at least. And he was right. We did. It was still bouncy over there, but rowable.

Lake Tahoe 2017

After rowing and a leisurely potluck lunch, we also got in a nice hike that included some scenic views of the lake and mountains. Vistas of the route that we would have raced, if it weren't for the winds and freak weather.

The near cove is Kings Beach, where we stayed and were supposed to launch. The winds were blowing directly towards Kings Beach, so it had the worst of the waves.
Lake Tahoe 2017

Dollar Point, our outbound destination:
Lake Tahoe 2017

Sunday morning, a different group of rowers got up early to try and fit in a second row at Commons Beach. It was chilly, maybe in the 40's, and as we worked on rigging the boats, it started to snow. "Time to channel your inner New Englander!" I declared to M. The brief snow flurry cleared up as we waded on in and hopped in the Maas for another couple of spins.

I have a better appreciation for Lake Tahoe now. First off, it was still cool enough to make the dusty hike enjoyable and not a hot and sweaty misery-fest. I think the cool weather also meant that tourism wasn't at its peak yet, which was also a boon. Secondly, I now know of a couple of lakeside swimming beaches that would be pleasant in warmer weather. It looks like it would also be pretty easy to drop in a kayak and go for a paddle. There's a 100-mile road bike route around the lake, so that would be a third option.

So maybe we'll just have to try again next year.


Jun. 7th, 2017 02:06 pm
rebeccmeister: (1x)
I'm heading to Lake Tahoe this weekend with M, to race in the North Tahoe Rowing Regatta. We'll be up against the same two boats as for the Open Water Rowing Club Regatta in Sausalito, but at least this time there won't be a mass start. So I should be able to steer clear of the double that repeatedly cut us off at the turns. In theory.

It's time for me to start building more distance, so I rowed 5 laps around the BAP this morning (16 km). There was the typical head/tailwind, and algae is continuing to bog up the south end.

Evening timepoint tonight (7-10 pm, basically).

Blue Hudson

Jun. 1st, 2017 09:31 am
rebeccmeister: (1x)
On Tuesday morning, I took the silver Kaschper out for a long row. It's time to start building up for longer distance rowing and racing. Of course, a "long row" was only 13 km, but it's a start. When I brought it back to the boatyard to rinse it off and dry it, I discovered a nasty punch hole right along the bottom of the hull that was definitely letting in water. So I notified the appropriate people, thoroughly toweled out the bow compartment, and put it away to completely dry for repairs.

So, back to the Blue Hudson this morning! It was fine. I can tell that I am now managing to make it to the boathouse at a satisfactory frequency to sustain and build technique and speed. Now I just have to try and keep that up through another round of circadian trials.

Tonight's a 9 pm timepoint, and tomorrow's a midnight timepoint, so on Saturday morning I'll sleep in and then I'll row with M on Sunday instead. We're getting ready to go out to a long-distance regatta on Lake Tahoe that we're pretty excited about. 16 km. Some of my Arizona Outlaw teammates used to go to this regatta and really liked it.
rebeccmeister: (Default)
This morning was the BPRC's annual Work Day.

People worked on all sorts of projects, like laying out the base fabric for the area behind the boathouse that's going to get turned into a fenced-in storage yard:

BPRC Work Day 2017

All the boats were hauled outside, so the floors could be thoroughly swept and mopped.

BPRC Work Day 2017

Some of the equipment that's looking worse for wear got repaired, too. These two canoes needed a bunch of fiberglass repairs and reinforcement, for example.

BPRC Work Day 2017

But my project for the day centered around this doorframe.

BPRC Work Day 2017

At last year's work day, when we were clearing piles of stuff out from inside the boathouse, one of the old timers mentioned that there was an aluminum threshold piece that needed to be cut down to size for the bottom of this doorframe. Eventually I decided: challenge accepted. I brought the threshold home and got advice on how to use a hacksaw and Dremel cut-off tool to shape the end pieces.

When I brought it back to the boathouse, it still didn't quite fit. I rummaged around in a toolbox there and finally dug up an ancient, rusty wood file, which I used to file it down until it fit.

But there was a second lingering problem: with the new threshold in place, the door wouldn't close completely.

At that point, I'd run out of tools and energy, so I just left the threshold there.

Before I went rowing this morning, I grabbed the Dremel. After rowing, I spent maybe around an hour and a half trying to get things to fit. First, I shaved down the threshold piece with some sanding pieces that clearly weren't supposed to be used on aluminum. Then I wised up and switched over to sanding down the underlying wood. That aspect was somewhat tricky because the side support that contained the strike plate had a tendency to flex outward when it wasn't bolted in place, and it thus covered up a small lip of wood that was a part of the problem.

After all that, I got things to the stage where the door could be closed and locked, but it still required a forceful tug at the end. That doesn't work well for a facility that serves a group of people who vary in their strength and body leverage.

So finally, a guy who was watching and helping a bit suggested just taking a hammer to it. Now it fits.

BPRC Work Day 2017

I had thought the project was largely a cosmetic one, but in the process of getting it to fit, I learned otherwise. Apparently it had been really challenging to hang that door in that spot, and it's the main entry door for the boat bays, so it's an important one. One of the old-timers pointed out spots around the doorframe where things had been kludged together, and noted that the whole thing needed that aluminum threshold to brace the side supports.

I'm just glad it's finished and I can check it off my list.

Then I came home and made a quiche out of a bunch of things that needed to be used up.

Now I need to work up the motivation to get to work on the bike spats. It probably isn't going to rain again for several months.
rebeccmeister: (1x)
I managed to get myself out of bed to go rowing this morning. As usual, I'm glad I did. The wind was blowing up the BAP out of the south, as it often does, but the water was still nice enough for a good steady-state piece.

I'm continuing to work on my posture in the boat. A long while back, Iz had some useful feedback on how to think about it, and I've finally reached a stage where I can feel the feedback from my muscles when I'm doing things correctly vs. being sloppy. Good postural control at the finish/release makes for much smoother rowing and better preparation at the catch. It should also help smooth things between M's rowing style and mine.

The challenge is that I have to keep rowing with at least a minimal amount of consistency to hold onto improvements like this one. Days like Monday through Wednesday this week made that challenging, however, so I have to be satisfied taking what I can get.


Wednesday through today I have been dissecting the crickets from this week's inulin experiments. My primary goal is to determine the flight muscle status for the long-winged crickets (pink, active flight muscle or white, histolyzed flight muscle). My main focus is on the long-winged pink-muscled crickets because they are metabolically distinct from the short-winged white-muscled crickets.

But on any given day, the ratio of long-winged pink to long-winged white varies. For the 11 pm - 1 am timepoint, I had 7 pink and 1 white, so that timepoint is set. However, for the 11 am - 1 pm timepoint, I only had 2 pink and 8 white, and for the 8 pm - 10 pm timepoint I only have 1 pink and 7 white.

So I will need to redo two out of the three timepoints. Based on the current results, I'll set up long-winged to short-winged crickets at a ratio of 2:1.

These dissections have been very tedious and labor-intensive because in addition to checking the flight muscle status, I'm also dissecting out and weighing it, and also the crickets' ovaries and fat body. The ovaries are straightforward, but the fat body is a diffuse and sticky tissue that has to be gathered up.
rebeccmeister: (1x)
Notes to self and reflections for racing:

That was not an easy race again (Desert Sprints being the last ...interesting... one). Too much talking and futzing heading to the starting line left me feeling unfocused. I stuck us too far in the middle of the pack for a 6-boat mass-start. We wound up spending the first straightaway jockeying with three other boats, and got stuck behind everyone at the first turn around Cone Rock. M kept on turning around to look for herself, which makes me think we should switch seats and she can be bow and make all the steering decisions for a while. IF I can manage to do a decent job of setting stroke length, stroke rate, and recovery speed.

I'm finding it hard to make snap decisions in the middle of the race about how to move around other boats. Do I need to be more ruthless, and just hold my course and yell at other boats to move out of the way? Or do I need to just decide to go around, set my course, and get the business done with? It's admittedly hard to do this on a long (10k) course that's unfamiliar. And altogether, I actually did a reasonable job of steering us whenever we weren't fighting with other boats for position.

How do I hold on to or regain an effective stroke if early segments are shot due to nerves? More high-quality time on the water, I suspect.

I feel like I'm missing a certain level of poise/body control, and I don't quite know how to get it. I may need to erg with a mirror for a while, and I absolutely need to stay on top of strength training. I would like to have a sense of grace when I race, and it isn't there right now.
rebeccmeister: (1x)
When I got to the boathouse gym this morning, I discovered that a piece of equipment I never use had been moved to another space outside. Its removal freed up a section of wall that's invaluable to me. I use that bit of wall to brace my feet while doing shoulder exercises on an exercise ball (to me, those balls will forever be Swiss physical therapy balls). Previously, I'd been trying to brace my feet against the piece of equipment, but it wasn't ideal.

The extra wall space inspired me to start adding this exercise back into my routine. It's really great for building shoulder stability and strength, which are crucial for preventing repetitive-use rowing injuries.

I also want to get even better at one-legged squats. They're a fast way to notice and work on correcting bilateral strength imbalances. I also feel like they're good for facilitating long-term mobility. As evidence: the notorious RBG does them.

I still need to figure out how to add a second strength workout into my weekly agenda. Maybe if I study crickets hard enough, I can figure out how to use them to bend the space-time continuum.
rebeccmeister: (1x)
Saturday morning I met M over at the BAP to pick up oars and drive to the Open Water Rowing Center and practice the race course for the OWRC Regatta in two weeks. We were lucky to have S as our course guide. He's half of the Old Man Double and used to sail, so he knows a thing or two about precision navigating.

Our race course will be entirely within Richardson Bay, which is well sheltered compared to other parts of the Bay. Even so, there's a lot of open space to cover, which means lots of room to accidentally steer a very wide course. I guess a couple years ago S wrote a short novel explaining how to effectively steer the race course, and after reading it last Thursday evening I became even more convinced that a practice run would be incredibly helpful.

And it was. I wish I'd had a bit more time to take some pictures, but we were focused on getting the work done. The OWRC's dock is nestled in in a lovely little part of Sausalito - I guess you can check the webcam to see for yourself! The weather was absolutely beautiful and clear, which enabled us to see all of the landmarks and channel markers. It was useful to get the sightseeing aspect out of the way so we can focus while we race. Some of the open-water skiffs stored at the OWRC were cool, too, so I will aim to take photos when we go back for the regatta in 2 weeks.


From there, I hightailed over to the lab to take food away from the crickets, then headed in to San Francisco to meet up with a friend at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

It's challenging for me to try to simultaneously catch up with someone and also gaze at art, but I'm glad to have had a chance to distractedly check out SFMOMA because I probably wouldn't have gone for a visit on my own otherwise. It's a small enough museum that one can visit everything in a single trip, but it's on the larger end of my preferred range of art museum sizes. I also spend enough time at contemporary art museums to find it kind of odd to just look at stuff that's mostly already comfortably within the established artistic canon. I guess I like the sense of freshness and dialogue that comes from viewing very new work, in lieu of just having my eyes land on Duchamp's sideways urinal or Warhol's prints.

I did, however, like William Allan's aesthetic, particularly his landscape paintings of the Sea of Cortez and Deception Pass. In person, it's easy to get lost in their vibrant luminosity. There were a number of other works spread throughout the museum that exhibited similar extreme levels of meticulous painting and drawing, which is interesting as a common element.

Two examples include Lesende (Reader), by Gerhard Richter and Wall Drawing 1247, by Sol LeWitt.

This image tickled my funny bone the most. It reminded me of Stella Marr.
No Radio - SFMOMA

Kayak 1

Mar. 19th, 2017 05:18 pm
rebeccmeister: (1x)
Kayak paddle strokes learned:
-Regular - paddle close to side of boat, maintaining "box" between paddle and shoulders
-Franken-paddling (locked elbows to practice using torso and core)
-Sweep-stroke - wide, long, shallow stroke to correct direction
-Backing up - look behind as you back
-Side-scull: good transition stroke for thinking about stability when flipping
-Conventional side-paddle (move boat sideways)
-Stretch with paddle

Signals (we don't get to do this with rowing oars, heh):
-Paddle raised over head: stop
-Paddle pointing straight up: come over here
-Paddle pointing straight up, moving up and down: come over here, FAST
-Paddle pointing forward at an angle in a certain direction: paddle thataway

The instructor also made useful comments about different boat types, including the utility of having sealed hull compartments (as with rowing shells, these provide buoyancy). It was also helpful to see how to paddle efficiently.

Kayaking is a great counter-motion to rowing, methinks. I should probably take the Level 2 and Level 3 lessons.

There's a lot of traffic in the Oakland Inner Harbor.
rebeccmeister: (1x)
This morning, M and I began training for an upcoming Open Water Regatta. As we got underway, I was telling her a handful of stories from the Desert Sprints Regatta last weekend, including mention of my Arizona Outlaws teammate, K, who I am trying to entice to a regatta or two this year.

Somewhere, over the course of our conversation, M said something about rowing for the sake of "Prevention of Decrepitude." That really tickled my funny bone.


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