Gently Down The Stream

Row Once upon a time, a sign appeared on the wall behind the rowing machine at Girly Gym. 1000 Metre Challenge! How Fast Can You Go? All you had to do was row one kilometre as fast you could, then if you beat the current fastest time you’d yodel for a staff member to verify, then they’d write your name on the sign which is conveniently covered in plastic for easy erasing.

A year later, the same name and the same time are still there. I can’t remember the name but damn if that bloody time isn’t burned on my retinas. 4 minutes 11 seconds. I don’t know if the record stands because nobody can come close to it, or they can’t be arsed, or they haven’t even noticed the sign. Whenever I’m at the gym I seem to be the only person who goes anywhere near the rower; everyone’s busy fighting over the treadmills.

So it’s just me versus this Speedy Mystery Woman. There’s no prizes involved here, just the Whiteboard Marker Scribble of Glory! But do you think you I can get anywhere near 4:11? No I bloody cannot! And I’ve been trying soooo hard for soooo long! Okay I haven’t really been trying very long or hard at all, to be honest. I was working on it last winter and then spring, but then I exercised outdoors most of summer. I’d totally forgotten about it until I ventured back into the gym recently and saw the sign still there, unaltered and mocking; and now it’s made me cranky all over again. HOW DO YOU DO IT SPEEDY WOMAN? How can I catch you?

Over and over, I sit down at the machine and shrug my shoulders then stretch my arms and then strap in my feet and do a few test rows and fire up the iPod with a furious beat. And off I go and I row and row and row… but the fastest I’ve managed is 5:10. Bloody hell. 1:01 slower!?!

So then I get into a huff and curse the Speedy Mystery Woman and her alleged record. What setting did she have the rower on? How much resistance? And who verified this record? Where’s the proof? Was there drug testing?

Instead of sulking, I need to be more strategic in my approach. First of all, schoolgirl error – I shouldn’t attempt to break the record after I’ve already done 25 minutes of stinky high intensity intervals on the Arc trainer. DERR! I need to go in fresh. I need to be well hydrated and maybe a bit carbed up. I also need to revise my technique.

I’m in the mood for relatively small challenges lately. I’ve been caught up in rather big broad long lofty goals – lard-busting, writing – so right now I fancy some smaller scale ambitions (but still satisfying with some scope for obsession). Learn to make a souffle! Revisit kickboxing! I can’t remember the others!

But somehow I think "Defeat Speedy Mystery Woman" will end up being a long-term project. GRRRR!

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35 thoughts on “Gently Down The Stream

  1. Arrrgghh… the rowing machine is evil. My PT set me a challenge of doing 1 km in under 5 mins and I only ever managed once. The first couple of mins are fine and I’d be all like ‘yeah, I can totally do this’ then about the 3 min mark I’d fade totally. Good luck, I’m sure you’ll kick Speedy Woman’s butt.

  2. You realise that it SO isn’t you and the mystery woman anymore. It’s you, the mystery woman, and ME! I’m SO going to try and beat that time!

  3. Attack it strategically – you can do 5:10, go for 5.00, then 4.50..
    you will TAKE Speedy Woman before you know it 🙂

  4. Ooh.

    I am going to join, the Marshmallow, Speedy Woman and DG Rowing Challenge. Should we make it a worldwide contest?

    Although, I have a hairline fracture in my left elbow at the moment, so youse can all have a few weeks head start. After that I’m there, baby! I’ll probably never do it but I might get killer abs trying.

  5. I love my rowing machine! But I have NEVER managed to row a 500 meter split in less than three minutes, which would be about 6 minutes for 1K. Good luck!

  6. Hey Shauna, I can’t wait to get the book. I will figure out a way to do get it to me in America. I have been talking to my sisters about you forever and now I can get them the book for the PERFECT Christmas gift! Congratulations Shauna! I am soo proud for you! Melissa

  7. Why don’t you become Speedy Woman? Wipe out the existing name and time and put in your own.

  8. Hi Shauna – long time lurker here 🙂

    I used to row, can I offer some advice? Not sure what your technique is like, so I apologise if you already know this, but I always used to see people on the rowing machines at the gym doing it ALL WRONG and wondering why they can’t get a good time!

    Basically, you need to slow your rate down, and push harder. Sound weird? Go slower, to get to 1000m faster.

    Most people try to go really fast, so the momentum brings their legs up and down, and their arms pull the bar. BUT your legs are wayyyyy stronger than your arms, so why not use them?

    Slow your rate down, and concentrate on keeping your back straight, your arms straight (but slightly bent at the elbow), and then bend your knees up until you’re as close to the machine as you can go. Then SLAM your legs down flat, and keep your arms still until your legs are flat, then you can pull the bar into your chest for the last bit. You will be able to pick up your speed once you get the hang of this technique, and you’ll be amazed at how much further you go!

    And yes, I’ve done 1000m in 4 minutes – and I was 120kg, fairly unfit, and in the C rowing team in my high school… so I KNOW you can make that time 🙂

    Hope I’ve helped, I love your blog, it’s encouraged me so much 🙂

  9. Nothing like a project to spur you on.

    I need to exercise desperately. I get operated on between now and Xmas and I desperately need to be fitter to deal with it.

  10. Long time reader – never (?) commentor? You encourage me. I’ve lost over 40 lbs (a couple of times) and now feel I can get the last 20-40 off (depending on what size is what weight and how healthy I am) and I KNOW it is all about exercise, largely because of people like you!!

    at any rate – you are only 59 seconds behind her. Does that make a difference to you?

  11. That’s some excellent form advice from Mandie up at #10. Also, check the resistance setting on the machine. The higher the resistance the more “distance credit” you get for each stroke. IIRC, my top 1000m is about 4:25 and that’s strictly owing to form since my upper body strength and endurance weren’t all that hot at the time. I’m not sure if I could pull that off now. Maybe I’ll join your quest and see if I can beat Speedy Mystery Woman.

  12. Shauna,

    Maybe Speedy Mystery Woman died in the attempt to break her own record and her name is only up there as a tribute? 🙂 (I can see it now-she was going so fast, she shot out straight out the door with her velocity. Zoom!

    I can’t imagine our gym doing that — it’s already insanely competitive. But I know you can beat SMW with some practice.

    Thanks for linking to my post!

  13. just found you after having heard or read somewhere about weight-loss blogs. i just turned 50 and have missed my goal of FITNESS by fity. i don’t have the urge to work out these days–used to be such a gym rat canoe racing bicycling hammer head. now its me and my choco lab at the park in most humid sugar land, texas. i will definitely look for your book and look forward to catching up on your blogs past. you are such a cutie and joyful spirit.

  14. well gee i forgot to warn you–keep concentrating on your form and abs tight to avoid injury on those darned rowing machines

  15. Thanks for all the hot tips, youse legends!

    Mandie – that is ace advice, cheers! I also got a great email from Nicole who mentioned the legs too. I realise now I’ve been making it an upper body thing, coz I’m still so Knee Cautious. Must work on that…

    And Amber, I usually put it on number 6. I think it goes up to 10?

    And mdingo98, thank you 🙂 and good point about the abs/form too, I tend to get carried away and lose control about the 4 minute mark!

  16. Mandie’s right – it’s all in the technique. Master that and world – I mean gym -domination will be yours!! Mwahaha ha ha!! Just keep at it you KNOW you can do it! Make sure you write your name & faster time in permanent ink too 😉

  17. love it…

    maybe the speedy mystery lady is there waiting and watching to see if anyone can come close… be careful!

    or maybe it’s all part of an elaborate scam! by the management to get people to use the poor little rower! :O)

  18. You inspired me last night – saw the rower hiding so at the end of 40 mins of other stuff I had a go. And I went hard – for at least 200m – realised that I couldnt do it that hard and slowed down. 4.49. It has a LOT to do with the resistance (go 10) and your legs. 4.10 is now my benchmark, and I am going to do 1000m every time I go to the gym now to measure how I am going.

  19. You be careful with those rowing machines! You can SO mess up your back with them if you aren’t careful!

  20. I’ve never even done the rowing machine, nor have I rowed in actual water because I don’t have a gym membership or a kayak. Good luck with the record though!

  21. Ooooh, so with you Mandie, I have to look away when I see folk using the rowing machine wrongly, the ‘lifting the arms to go over the knees’ movement drives me nuts – stop, stop! That said, there was a madman at my last gym and there was a sort of stepper or cross-trainer fandango and he would ALWAYS crank it up to 100 and then throw his knees at it – my joints hurt just looking at him.
    Listen to Mandie – rhythm is the key…

  22. i shall remember that DB 🙂

    danioz – woohoo! good on ya tiger 🙂

    arrgh i just noticed i pasted the wrong “technique” link in the entry, it was meant to be this page on the Concept 2 site that a lovely lass called Nic told me about last year. Here it is in case it helps!

    link to concept2.co.uk

  23. I’m glad you found the advice useful. Make sure when you slam your legs down that your knees don’t lock (keep them ever so slightly bent) and your knee should be fine! Good luck 🙂

  24. I wonder if someone put an impossible time up there just so people would strive to beat it? Hmmmm.

    I absolutely love your blog and can’t wait to read the book. Do you know when it will be available in the states?

    Have your ears been ringing lately?

    I keep talking about you and thought I should let you know 🙂 You are such an inspiration!

    link to finallyfiguringitout.blogspot.com

  25. Actually I know a bit about rowing because it was one of my teenage sports for a couple of years. I even raced in the finals of the novice womens 8 at the NZ Champs… (that’s just to prove my credentials!)

    My advice is to try to keep a steady pace all the way through. Focus on the time/km stats. Start with 500m bursts and build up your stamina that way. Work your way up to 1km by ensuring you are keeping to the right speed.

  26. Perhaps Speedy Woman is a transgendered steroid popping freak of nature. Its great to have goals but I’ve found that if I set my goals against my own personal best, it is more realistic for me and much healthier for my sanity LOL

  27. I happened on your site this evening and I think you are great! What an incentive for others to do well! Keep up the good work. I hope your book is a BEST seller. I will plug it on my blog as well!

  28. I know nothing about rowing, but I could give you a recipe for a cheese soufflé if you like! (It’s dead easy – if I can make it anyone can.)

  29. Whoo hoo – did 4.30 yesterday (after an hour of other stuff). 4.10 you are soo mine.
    But seriously – cannot do more than 1000m on the bugger