Swan Creek Ergfest

From the CRASH-B's to an online challenge, discuss the competitive side of erging here.

Swan Creek Ergfest

Postby Edward4492 » March 4th, 2018, 5:02 pm

1st 60+ 7:20.2

My last event for the season. I'm getting burnt on the 2k's and I can feel it in my training; going to go back to some longer steady stuff and re-build a bit. Swan Creek Rowing Club hosted this event in Newtown Pa; they're a great club and are extremely competitive OTW. They win a lot of races.I figured this would be my only chance to get'em; it ain't happening in the boat. There were three 60+ guys, a 50+ guy and a young lady; they were probably walk-ins who had to jump into our heat as the other heats were set and there were only six ergs set up for competition. Very well run event, all new or like new ergs; plenty of warm up machines. Nice atmosphere.

I figured Ted Pytlar from Swan Creek would be my main competition. I thought I could beat him on the erg (but ya never know); I can't touch him in the boat. We were all up on the screen in the same heat. I didn't know the 50+ guy; technically he wasn't in my race. But I still wanted to beat him. We got the race screens up. Then: Attention! Ready! ROW! I got off and with-in sixth strokes was under my 1:49 pace and hung there for quite a while. My first thought is "just get the first 500m out of the way". At 1500m it was me, Ted, and 50+ all together and pulling away. My next thought is "okay, hold it to 1250m". Pulling steady 1:49-50 now. Settled in and cruising. Crossed the 1000m mark, now the real racing begins.

I'm sitting on 1:50-51 and starting to get a gap on Ted and 50+. Not dropping them, more like a slow steady grind. 750m to go and I have 8-10m, I decide to stay at 1:50-51 as I'm really feeling it and wanted to save a little something in case there was a sprint coming from the other two. As we enter the final 500m I'm 20m up on 2nd and 3rd, but Ted is starting to push a bit. He's next to me and I start to see some steady 1:50's popping up. Once or twice I drop the pace to 1:48-49 for about ten strokes and quickly decide it's a bad idea. I'll just try and match Ted stroke for stroke and hold him at 20m. I tried to sprint at the end but not much happened. I held on for the win over the other two by a comfortable 7-8s.

So, a nice way to wrap things up. A few seconds slower than I wanted to see, but I don't think I would have done anything differently. Feeling like I peaked two weeks ago at Center City Slam 7:18.0. Fairly consistent season, last three events were 7:19.3, 7:18.0, and 7:20.2. I'm disregarding my first race of the year (7:25) as there were problems with the start and the monitor.

Looks like I haven't faded too much as last year my best was 7:17.3; so only a 7/10 drop from last year. My big drop in speed came when I got OTW two years ago and abandoned my erg training for most of the year (for the boat). Pretty sure I could get back in the 7:12-15 range with full time, year round erg training. Just don't have the desire, and of course OTW is where I want to be.

Next weekend is the 1000m indoor world wide challenge. I pulled 3:28.9 this week, would like to get that down to 3:27 (3:26?) next week and see where I rank. Seems like there's a lot of really fast 60+ LWT's around these days!
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Re: Swan Creek Ergfest

Postby Cyclist2 » March 4th, 2018, 7:34 pm

Very tactical race, Ed. Way to go!

You're using the erg the way it was originally conceived - training for OTW. The races take a little of the tedium out of it. You'll be back on the water soon, and stronger for it.

Good luck in the 1K sprints. I'll pass - I've already pulled my fastest 1K for this year and my enthusiasm is waning.
Mark Underwood. Rower first, cyclist too.
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Re: Swan Creek Ergfest

Postby Edward4492 » March 4th, 2018, 9:07 pm

Thanks Mark. There was a long back and forth a couple of years ago on the forum about racing erg events as compared to pulling your absolute best time. My contention has always been if you're up against legitimate competition then it's a race and you row accordingly. Last years CRASH B's was a perfect example (for me) of it NOT being a race as the 4th place guy was 50m ahead of me and the 6th place guy was 50m behind. So I treated as a TT and had my best time of the year. My best ever event time was a 7:05.3 that I pulled against several gym teachers and coaches who were all at around 8min. "Beating" them and pulling a 7:45 would have been simply ridiculous. But pulling my all time best erg race time, well that counts as a win. Three weeks ago I had to push pretty hard to stay with the leader and I hung about 4-5meters back until he surprisingly popped. I ended up with my best time this year. It's also been said that you have no influence on the other rowers; which is nonsense. You can set them up for a pass, blow by and put some time into them and de-moralize them.

Today was a good race; the top three were close enough in fitness that I had to not make any stupid moves in order to win. It's also pretty telling that for guys at our level "holding back" a bit means pulling 1:50 instead of 1:49; and 7:18.0 is an SB for me, and 7:20.2 is a more pedestrian effort.

And.....I'm with you. Getting pretty tired of erg racing right now. The boat beckons!
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Re: Swan Creek Ergfest

Postby Rod » March 5th, 2018, 3:11 am

Well done Ed, sounds like you put a great effort in there!

Good luck with the 1k, that's a sharp and painful distance so rather you than me........ :wink:

As one of the 60's Lwt 'gang' I'll be interested to see the results but won't be doing it myself as I'm a few weeks past my fastest sprinting form now and am working hard to do a Half Marathon before the end of the season that I hope will be good enough to break the British record of 1:21.21.9 (I:55.7 pace) plus the 5k, 6k,10k and 30 minute pieces to have a bit of 'fun' with my peers on the rankings!

Good luck also with the otw stuff, it takes skill to do that, something you have.....and I don't! :lol:
60 year old Lightweight male. Based in Sussex, just south of London, England. Best 2k recently.. 6:58.1 for Silver at the world champs on the 18th February 2018.
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Re: Swan Creek Ergfest

Postby Yankeerunner » March 5th, 2018, 2:16 pm

Good job Ed. A couple of us up here did a small ergatta in Massachusetts yesterday, and it was fun, and I squeaked out an SB by 1.2 seconds, but I could feel that the fire just isn't there like it was leading up to WIRC/CRASH-Bs. It was a good season, with 6 races. Five 2Ks and a 1K. It's rare to find that many within a reasonable distance. It would be nice to see more crop up.

As with you Father Time is exacting dues for doing this. Two years ago my three best times were 7:31.6, 7:29.0 7:25.5. Last year my three best times were 7:29.2, 7:28.8, 7:27.9. This year it was 7:37.6, 7:33.8, 7:32.6. And yet it all 'feels' the same, it's just slower. I don't like the way this is heading.

I envy you your OTW rowing. I hope you have a boffo season doing that. I still can't keep a boat straight so I rarely do any of it. Someday I'll sign up for a training camp and see if I can learn. But for now, it's time to think running, and damned if I'm not slowing down at an even faster pace doing that!
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Re: Swan Creek Ergfest

Postby Cyclingman1 » March 5th, 2018, 5:29 pm

Yankeerunner wrote:I envy you your OTW rowing. I hope you have a boffo season doing that.


Ed, I think you have found your older age activity. You get great enjoyment from it. And that is not so easily done. I suspect that erging in the future will become a definite secondary activity and those times that you worry so much about will be a thing of the past. Your boat technique will be far more important an erg time.
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JimG, Gainesville, Ga, 72,190lb,76”. PBs since age 66: (.5,1,2,5,6,10K)1:30.8, 3:14.1, 6:40.7, 17:34, 21:18.1, 36:21.7;
(1,30,60’)332, 8337, 16237; (HM)1:20:25.
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Re: Swan Creek Ergfest

Postby G-dub » March 5th, 2018, 7:05 pm

Great job Ed! Good on ya for showing up and racing as much as you do. Warmer weather and longer days are coming soon
Glenn Walters: 5'-8" X 192 lbs. Bday 01/09/1962
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Re: Swan Creek Ergfest

Postby Edward4492 » March 5th, 2018, 10:09 pm

Thanks Glen, keep us posted on your exploits in the boat.

Jim, you nailed it dead on. The fellow I beat from Swan Creek crushes me in the 1x, wins everything. He gave me a lot of good advice about OTW. I find it very encouraging that there's lots of speed to be gained by improving my skills. As I have stated, I have a text book situation for OTW; couldn't write the script any better. Rowing is in and of itself a very serene, enjoyable activity. The same feeling you get on the bike when you're out in the country side on a nice long ride. I think I found my sport for life.

As far as the erg? It's kind of funny. The folks around here generally consider my times to be pretty fast. I look at the world wide picture and know that in the big picture I'm a solid 15-20 seconds out of the hunt. I have no desire to make the sacrifices it would take to gain that time back. So I treat the erg as a means to maintain and improve my fitness over the winter. I obviously love racing for it's own sake, it's a bonus that I'm in the mix locally and can win some events. Helps with credibility also as I continue to coach a handful of kids. My retirement plan includes erg repairs and maintenance (the crossfitters keep me busy), erg seminars (again, popular with the crossfit boxes), and coaching high school kids over the summer to help them drop their 2k erg. And this is the second season I've run our indoor erg program (Cooper Rowing).

Like you, my competitive juices flow freely. More than anything I want to win a race in the 1x or mixed 2x. This will be extremely difficult.But I really enjoy the boat racing, same feeling I used to get bike racing. To be honest, as much as I love the competition, I get a sense of dread right before an erg event. I used to get the same feeling on the bike when I was doing TT's. I guess it's because you're about to so something that's extremely painful and you're willfully doing it to yourself. As compared to mass start bike racing or OTW races where there's lots of sensory input, tactics etc. The erg races are much more manageable when there's close competition and you're actually racing.

Hope all is well and your health and fitness are coming back.
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Re: Swan Creek Ergfest

Postby lwtguy » March 6th, 2018, 11:20 am

Edward4492 wrote: To be honest, as much as I love the competition, I get a sense of dread right before an erg event.


Spoken like a true OTW guy. The OTW masters around here spend as much time as possible on the water, and little erging. Usually lots of cross training. The Swan Creek guys may be an exception since the club rules keep them off the river from November to April.

Ted was one of my favorite guys to row with. He has lots of experience and good advice to share so it helps to listen to him and pay attention to his rowing. I was the fastest guy there just by virtue of my age, but he has a lot of technically proficiency that I would love to get.
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PBs-- 500m 1:28.9-- 1K 3:08.9-- 2K 6:37.7-- 5K 17:27.6
6K 21:11.2-- 30' 8342m-- 10K 35:54-- 60' 16209m
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Re: Swan Creek Ergfest

Postby Edward4492 » March 6th, 2018, 11:11 pm

I really like the Swan Creek guys. They're good-natured, fun too be around, and have a hot-burning competitive fire. And they win...a lot. Don't know if I'll ever be good enough to make a run at guys like Ted. But when he talks...I listen. I picked up a lot in the short conversation we had at the event.
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