Steve's Blog

Row Without End, Amen.




3:28 pm

Sunday, February 8, 2009
Meters Rowed: 12,691
Time: 1:00.08 (!)
Pace: 2:22-ish, and leisurely at that, I can assure you.
Total Meter Rowed * : 325,661

Friday, February 6, 2009
Meters Rowed: 6,250
Time: 28:00
Pace: Power Ten — 10 Strokes @ 1:45 pace  @ minutes 4,5,6,7 / 12,13,14,15 / 20,21,22,23
Total Meters Rowed * : 312,970

Wednesday, February 4, 2009
Meters Rowed: 298,115
Time: 40:00
Pace: 2:15, mostly
Total Meters Rowed * : 306,720

I do like a Sunday morning row.  Then to St. Joseph Church and I can just sit there in the pew and let it all wash over me, the workout and the worship both. A wonderful feeling, that. I remember reading when Kevin McHale was talking about how it was that he decided to come back and coach the Minnesota Timberwolves. He was at the six p.m. mass on a Sunday evening, he said (because, he confessed, he’d “missed” — that is, I’m sure, slept through — the morning offerings) and he was sitting in the pew “and that peaceful feeling came over me,” I recall he said, and he decided that the right thing to do was to come back and coach. And so he did. And I understood exactly what he was talking about. Not the coaching part, the peaceful part. (Though the coaching part apparently hasn’t worked out too badly for NBA January Coach of the Month Kevin McHale, either.)

Sitting there at St. Joe’s I could feel it coursing through me, that same sort of peacefulness, coming at me in waves. A quiet, contented satisfaction. A connectedness. And I felt like if they’d have let me sit there forever, by God, I would’ve ….

I decided last night on this 60-minute row. I was, to report on this precisely, standing in the bathroom, in front of the toilet, doing my thing, when I said it out loud: “Sixty minutes!” Yes. Why not? And then just like that I said, “Whoa!” Kind of sort of like that baby in the eTrade commercials might word it.  “Whoa!” Yeah — 60 minutes! A personal best for time by 10 minutes; a distance PB by a good 2,000 meters.

Weird how the mind works. (Indeed, this may be the lasting lesson the Concept2 has taught me these past six months on the water to the C.R.A.S.H.-B.’s, how it is so much in the head.)  I realized at the 20-minute mark that on another day, on a different row, I’d be winding things up near the end of a standard 5,000-meter pull. But here I was now, just getting warmed up. Then, doing calculations in my mind, I figured that I’d be coming home in just more than 13,000 meters. More ciphering with even just three minutes to go still had me at 13-plus, so when I finally realized that wasn’t going to happen, that I was going to … fail, I was suddenly — remember, I started this paragraph with “weird how the mind works” — pissed off. Seriously. Never mind the pair of PB’s I was in the process of setting — that were shattering, shattering, I tell you, my old marks.  I was so geared to seeing 13,000 pop up that when I realized it wasn’t going to, the air went out of me.

What pumped me up? I was so fixate on 13, and the goal I had envisioned was for a numeral 60 minutes, that when I looked at the monitor and saw “1:00:08,” the sight of it so surprised me and caught me of guard that I actually gasped in delight. The five columns of numbers! The pair of colons! The double zeroes! That “1” for the first time EVER in my nearly 21 years of rowing sitting out there proudly by itself! It all just looked so … so … so … peaceful.


So much in fact that it’s almost not to mention the passage past 300,000 meters on Wednesday. Or as I like to think of it: 0.3 million meters. And not to mention the Power Ten on Friday and that killer 1:45 pace.  I mean, not to mention.

* As of September 12, 2008

Winter break … Long live winter …




5:33 pm

Sunday, February 1, 2009
Meters rowed: 6,529
Time: 30:00
Pace: 1 minute @ sub-1:50 @ 5,10,15,20,25 minutes
Total Meters Rowed * 298,115

Break in the weather today. Clear blue skies. Sunny.  Not really warm but so what it feels like it is after the past two weeks. Loud gurgling in the gutters that frame the boathouse, the melted snow gushing in a steady stream out the spout and down the driveway and into the Woodspring. I threw open the boathouse doors with glee, put on the sunglasses just for fun and after four days away did a combo long-row with hard sprints every five minutes. Maybe I could blow away the remnants of that sinus infection, too. Or maybe not. But overall, a great, great pull.

Of course, all this going on about a break in the weather is from a guy who loves winter.  I truly do. I have nearly eight years lived in Alaska as my bona fides. I loved running outside at 20-, 30-, occasionally even 40-below zero. Jack London! Robert Service! Give me the snap in the air. The squeaky squeal of running shoes on Styrofoam-like, hollowed-out snow. The facemask frozen to the beard at the end of a 40-minute run in the 3 p.m. darkness.

All of which means that despite today’s wonderful winter timeout , tomorrow on Groundhog Day I’ll be rooting for Punxsutawney Phil to see his shadow and give us six more weeks of winter.

* As of September 12, 2008

Piece by piece, I come apart …




6:15 pm

Tuesday, January 27, 2009
Meters Rowed: 6,516
Time: 30:00
Pace: 2:17-ish
Total Meters Rowed * :  291,586

Sunday, January 25, 2009
Meters Rowed: 5,000
Time: 22:00
Pace: 3 x 1,000m @ sub-2:00 w/ 500m rest
Total Meters Rowed * :  285,070

Friday, January 23, 2009
Meters Rowed: 5,000
Time: 23:07
Pace: 2:22
Total Meters Rowed * : 280,070

Real life intrudes.  I am up in Brooklyn for a few days, mainly to do a book interview on the Dr. Memet Oz Radio Show on the Oprah Radio Network. This is a good thing of course. No complaints here. But it’s got me away from my Woodspring River Boathouse and out of what I was feeling was a pretty good groove. (Sunday’s disaster of a row notwithstanding, and about which more in a minute.) We’ve had some snow and with it a change in the weather, and with THAT has come my first sinus infection in I can’t remember when. Indeed, had it hit just 24 hours ago I’m not sure they would have wanted my voice on the radio. I brought my workout gear and had hoped get to the Y either today or tomorrow, but now I don’t know. Realistically? My next workout probably isn’t until next month. Well, OK. February 1. Super Bowl Sunday. But still.

Now, about Disaster Sunday. I mean it when I call it that. I completely broke down. There is no other way to say it. Perhaps I put the wheels in motion, or at least gave them a good greasing, the night before when I  stupidly, stupidly, stupidly did some ill-advised math.  I subtracted the likely winning time in my age group at the C.R.A.S.H.-B.s (6:20 or so) from MY likely time (7:50 if I’m REAL lucky) and the remainder — 1:30; a minute and a half, ninety full seconds – started to look like something akin to a complete lifetime. Worse, this image camped in my brain: me on the Concept2 at Agganis Arena at Boston University, still rowing like a fool while all the rest of the machines have gone silent, their rowers long done, everyone ready to move on, you know, to the next race, come on, if only this guy could, geez!, hurry up!

That was the spectral companion I brought with me to Sunday morning’s row. The plan was for three 1,000-meter sprints at sub-2:00, sandwiched around 500-meter rest rows. The first 1K I felt uncomfortable and out of sorts, but, OK , maybe I wasn’t warmed up enough. The 500-meter rest was, of course, way to short, and I was into the next 1K sprint before I knew it. This one actually felt OK. Not great, OK. I was halfway home! Bu no, the mind game didn’t take. By the time I was done the second sprint I could think only that I still had a third to go and it was going to be awful and horrible and even terrifying.

The 500 rest flew past. Sprint, steve, sprint! I cranked from 2:22 or so and within three strokes had it under 2:00. But I couldn’t hold it.  Within 100 meters I was slipping past 2:05. And then, somewhere around the 500-meter mark I remember saying out loud. “Come on, Steve … try.” And I did. I tried. I swear I did. I brought it again back under 2:00.

And then it happened. And it had never happened before, not like this. I didn’t just break down. I came apart.  The garage space closed down around me and for an instant I was claustrophobic. And then this wave of absolute weakness rolled over me, coming at me up my legs and up my arms and hitting me full in the face.  I was helpless to do anything about it. And I thought this in the moment: My body became a special effect like in the movie. I could see it from the inside. Suddenly it just fragmented around me into a zillion little pieces, each un-con-nec-ted and dis-con-nec-ted one piece from the other and there was nothing I could do about it. I mean, that is EXACTLY how it felt and what I saw.

And then I stopped, a good 400 meters left in the sprint. I just flat out stopped rowing, the handle coming to rest on my legs. I regrouped, but only barely. Who knows how long I sat there, unmoving? Probably less than a minute. But sit there I did, thinking thoughts I shouldn’t be thinking – me at the C.R.A.S.H.B.’s, still row-row-rowing my boat when everyone else is done. Come on!

* / * / * As of September 12, 2008

Thanks for clicking ……




12:18 pm

Wednesday, January 21, 2009
Meters Rowed: 10,599
Time: 50:00 (!)
Pace: 2:22-ish
Total meters rowed * : 275,070

If you’re reading this it means one of three things:
1) You clicked in from The Wall Street Journal’s “Daily Fix” and my Greatest High School Athletes of York, Pennsylvania, update ** .
2) You’re a rowing enthusiast and you received an email from me alerting you to “My Rowing Heart” blog.
3) A friend zapped you the link.

Whatever the reason, you’re here. Thanks.

“My Rowing Heart” is me blithely blogging as I (attempt to) prepare for the C.R.A.S.H.-B. Sprints World Indoor Rowing Championships February 22 at Boston University. It is my not-subtle reference to “My Father’s Heart: A Son’s Reckoning with the Legacy of Heart Disease,” my book published last year and coming out in paperback on February 8.

(I am under NO illusions about the C.R.A.S.H.-B.’s, by the way. Anyone can pay to play. I’m in that category. I’m gonna get smoked.)

Meanwhile, you’re right: “My Rowing Heart” is an obvious ploy to try to drum up interest (and sales) of “My Father’s Heart.” To say anything else would be a flat out lie.

But I think me and my connection to indoor rowing and the C.R.A.S.H.-B.’s is an honest one. “My Father’s Heart” is a memoir of my father who died of a heart attack in 1969. He was 50; I was 16.

That’s why today’s 50-minute row – a personal best for both time and distance. Dad would have been 90 years old today. If only. Happy birthday, Dad.

It was just the two of at home that night in York, Pennsylvania, long ago.  “MFH” covers A LOT of ground – including a couple of pages excerpted here on rowing and the Concept2. I’d been on the Concept2 for nearly 20 years when I received my own diagnosis of heart disease in 2005. The doctor said that he couldn’t say so definitively, but yes, the fact that I was (and had been for so long) in such good shape likely is what has kept me alive.

Thanks, Concept2.

I hope you believe this, too: I have long wanted to do the C.R.A.S.H.-B.’s. Honest. In fact, I planned to use the race as the final chapter of “MFH” – an affirmation of self, of still being here and in shape — until the opportunity to participate in a triathlon with my 16-year-old son came to me from out of nowhere and I went into a quick two-month training routine to get it done.

How I got that triathlon “done,” by the way, will be instructive in how I will, for sure, get it “done,” in the C.R.A.S.H.-B.’s. The triathlon was of the “sprint” variety: quarter-mile swim, 11-mile bike, 5K run. I finished a solid hour behind the winner and a good 30 minutes behind the winner in my 50-54 age group. I expect that same sort of results from my C.R.A.S.H.-B. performance.

I am doing the C.R.A.S.H.-B.’s for fun. As an impetus to crank up the get-in-shape dial these past few months. I get it completely that for many of people rowing is a defining gesture, a lifestyle statement. I get that. I respect that. It is for me, too, in its own way. But I don’t pretend to be a member in good standing in any club except my own.

Which isn’t to say I’m not coming at the C.R.A.S.H.-B.’s as hard as I can.  I am. I have been pointing to the C.R.A.S.H.-B.’s, training for it, blogging about it, since September 12. I’m doing time trials and intervals. Today’s 10,599, while my p.r., isn’t my first 10k pull.

Sitting on the machine these past few months, I have thought a lot about my father. I always do. But I’ve thought about other things, too. As a Pennsylvanian in good standing, I have cheered for the Philadelphia Phillies (and remembered Johnny Callison), tried to keep this C.R.A.S.H.-B. quest in perspective, turned my garage into my “boathouse,” the Woodspring Lane in front of my house into the Woodspring “river.” And then there is Lolo Jones. What, you don’t remember Lolo at the Beijing Games?


I am learning as I row.

I am getting it done.

I haven’t a clue.

I am having fun.

Thanks again for clicking in. Come back soon. Tell a friend. Drop me a line.

Steve McKee
My Father’s Heart

* Total meters rowed since September 12, 2008.

** To view The GREATEST YORK ATHLETES on “The Daily Fix” at WSJ online, click here and then scroll toward the bottom.

Or click here to read the most recent entry to “My Rowing Heart.”

The C.R.A.S.H.-B.'s made me do it …




10:18 am

Monday, January 19, 2009
Meters rowed: 6,471
Time: 30:00
Pace: Pyramid – 1minute(1rest)-2m(2r)-3m(3r)/3m(2r)-2m(1r)-1min
Total Meters Rowed: 264,984

I am doing the C.R.A.S.H.-B.’s so I can do workouts like this one. A “pyramid” routine that I cadged from the Concept2’s Web site training site. One minute at sub 2:00, one minute “rest” at 2:25, two minutes at sub 2:00 and so on up and down. It was an awful workout; it was a wonderful workout. It was exhausting; it was exhilarating.  I hope I never do it again; I can hardly wait to crank it.

Yes, I am doing the C.R.A.S.H.-B.’s so I can do workouts like this one. I realized that yesterday somewhere toward the end of all the agony this pyramid produced. The sequence is important here. I am NOT NOT NOT doing this workout so I can do the C.R.A.S.H.-B.’s. Yes, the C.R.A.S.H.-B.’s are out there waiting for me (laughing at me already, I am sure). And so to prepare, workouts like this pyramid are necessary. But like I recall Col. Potter once saying on a M*A*S*H episode about another hair-brained scheme of Lt. Kinger’s to get out of the army; “This one has a lot of reverse topspin. This is why I am doing the C.R.A.S.H.-B.’s: Because I would never in a zillion lifetimes sit down and do a workout as awful as this one just because, just for fun, just to “do it.”

To paraphrase the late, great Flip Wilson (as Geraldine): The C.R.A.S.H.-B.’s made me do it. Indeed, there is something of the devil in the C.R.A.S.H.-B.’s, I suspect. And (more paraphrased Flip/Gerladine): “What you do is what you get.”

Yesterday I sat down on the Concept2 and busted my gut, broke my heart, seared my lungs, pounded my quads. Because the C.R.A.S.H.-B.’s told me to. The down slope of the pyramid — three-minute sprint, two-minute rest, two-minute sprint, one-minute rest, one-minute sprint– was 10 minutes of mind-bending horribulisiosity (I am falling back on my four years of high-school Latin to find words – even made up ones – to describe how it felt). What I did was what I got. For one of the first times ever, I think, railing at Dad for dying of his heart attack at 50 years old wasn’t enough motivation enough to stay with it. When I rolled from the final two-minute rest into the two-minute sprint, THERE WAS NO REASON TO KEEP GOING BEYOND THE MERE FACT THAT I HAD TO. But I am 56 years old and I did it.  C.R.A.S.H.-B.’s, thy grip is powerful.

Garage Guy, up and at 'em




10:53 am

Friday, January 16, 2009
Meters rowed: 6,255
Time: 30:00
Pace: 2:22-ish
Total Meters Rowed*: 258,513

The Woodspring River was iced today, long streaks of it running parallel to the banks. Still temperature: 9 degrees; with wind chill, 1.  So I kept the doors to the boathouse closed today, not even trying to give it a go by throwing them open. This returned the “boathouse” to its original architectural intention as the garage in front of the house and made the gently flowing Woodspring “River” just the quiet street in front of the garage. And a suddenly small garage at that, what with both cars hiding within. That leaves just enough room for the Concept2 to sit parallel to a side wall — my right elbow just inches from the wall, my left just inches from the Audi Allroad.

Today’s 30-minute pull, by the way, was supposed to be 40. Got a too-late start at 6:40 a.m. But I’m not complaining. I got up when I didn’t want to. The C.R.A.S.H.-B.’s are out there, somewhere, waiting for me, waiting to take me down, I’m sure of it. I had to get out to the garage today, if only in self-defense. 

*As of September 12, 2008

You & Me, Dad




2:01 pm

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Meters rowed: 5,471
Time: 25:00
Pace: one minute sub-1:50 sprints at minutes 5, 7 & 9 and 15, 17 & 19
Total meters rowed*: 252,258

This thought came to me somewhere in the five-minute rest period at 10 min. to 15 min., between the two 3 x one-minute all-out sub-1:50 sprints. (The second set of which was maybe the worst five minutes I have ever experienced on a Concept2.)

Am I doing this – this six-month run-up to the C.R.A.S.H.-B.’s; this lifetime of staying in shape – am I doing all this FOR my father, BECAUSE OF my father, or, even, TO my father? And it struck me that in all these years of doing “this,” I can’t recall that I have ever framed the question exactly like that – for / because of / to.

When I was 16 years old I watched my father die of a heart attack. He was 50. It was just the two of us at home that night in York, Pennsylvania. Somewhere in that night I made this promise to myself that I would always stay in shape. (Indeed, maybe earlier. My junior year at York Catholic High School, inspired by Tommie Smith and John Carlos and their 200-meter Mexico City Olympic gold and bronze** – AND  black-gloved protest on the medals stand – I started running, fully intending to be American’s next great sprinter at the 1972 Munich Olympics***. Didn’t happen. But out there in the mornings were a couple of dads from the neighborhood – remember, this was 1968, still a pre-Fitness Boom age – huffing and puffing around the track. That registered with me. Getting/staying/BEING in shape, it mattered. And I wanted nothing more than for my own father to be out there with me. That didn’t happen either.

So I know somewhere early on I started getting in shape FOR my father. And I know I am staying in shape now, and have been all these years, BECAUSE OF him. It’s the sudden addition of today’s TO dad, for the first time, that intrigues. This morning, suffering through those one-minute, sub-1:50 sprints, looking for any any any reason to continue, I grasped at the fact that I was doing them – this being in shape — TO dad. Not in that old-fashioned Catholic, offer-it-up sort of way. No. TO Dad. IN HIS FACE. I can do this Dad. You can’t.  And you never could. And now I’m 56 years old. An age you never were. TO dad. That’s what I mean.

This was a good workout today. Best in a while. The first set of 3 flew by. I was at 10 minutes before I knew it. Set two was a lot less like fun. I slowed the stroke count down from 28 per minute to 24, stoking more power. This actually helped. But three one-minute sets at sub-1:50 is what it is. The final minute was agony. I knew I could make it, but only if I was willing. I talked to myself, talked to dad, out loud, begging for help to make it through.

And I could. Even if he never could.

*Since September 12, 2008

**This video of the 1968 200 meters appears to be have an Australian point of view. So it’s worth noting that Peter Norman finished second in this race. Watch it again, this time with an eye on the still much-revered Aussie (who died of complications from heart disease at age 64 in 2006).  Watch how, if Smith in lane three ate up Carlos in lane five to gulp on the gold, Norman in lane six absolutely feasted on Carlos to savor the silver. 

***Instead of me being the great sprinter of the ’72 Games (hard as that is to fathom!), honors went to Valery Borzov of the U.S.S.R. But with a bit of its own asterisk, maybe. This was the 100-meter dash where the U.S.’s Nos. 1 & 2 sprinters, their coach working with an outdated schedule, missed their start times in the heats, clearing the way for Borzov. Though Mr. Borzov did then later blow away the 200 meters outright against a full field with a convincing, look-around, arms-in-the-air victory that you just witnessed if you clicked on the 100-meter dash.

Dear Steve: Shut Up!




11:17 am

Monday, January 12, 2009
Meters rowed: 5,000
Time: 23:41
Pace: dunno
Total Meters Rowed: 246,787

You know, I should just keep my big mouth closed. A couple of days ago I was lamenting a twinge of a pulled groin muscle and how, suddenly, the realization that “getting hurt” could derail my plans for the C.R.A.S.H.-B.’s and how the world itself was now about to tilt on its axis. Yeah, well, no, that hasn’t now happened. But get this: Last night in bed I pulled a muscle in my back … while sleeping, while sleeping. Know idea how. All I remember is I woke up at 3 a.m. needing to go and next thing I know I’m unable to straighten up and I’m having trouble breathing. Worse, upon returning to bed I couldn’t find a position that didn’t hurt when I inhaled and so sleep was an on-again, off-again thing until the alarm went off at six. Did I want to blow off the workout, or what? But no. I had been planning a sprint routine, something good and hard and exhausting, but I went instead with just 5,000 meters — my default workout, obviously. I almost but not quite found a place on the Concept2 where I could sit and breathe without hurting and was glad to do it and get it done.

Still, visions of the C.R.A.S.H.-B.’s crashing around me before I even got there circled me the entire time. I simply can’t imagine what it must be like to be an athlete (a REAL athlete, let’s say), going for the Olympics, or the NBA championships or … whatever … only to have it all derailed by an injury and snatched away forever.

Actually, when you think about it, over the years there must have been thousands of athletes for whom it should have happened but never did. Competition is terrible … awful … Darwinian. But that’s the very point, right? Survival of the … you know the rest. It’s THE thing what makes competition so can’t-look-away compelling.  Surely there are many people we should have heard about, but never did.

 Well, to correct that, even if just a bit, here’s one. The York Daily Record here in my Pennsylvania hometown is winding up a 22-week series on the Top 10 athletes of all time in every high school in York & Adams counties. (I’m a 1970 grad of York Catholic High; my name is NOT on this list.) This past week the No. 5 athlete at Northeastern was Brendon Falconer (big-league name, no?). He was “only” No. 5 because the Daily Record limited its criteria to high school accomplishments (and whether said glory got the athletes a college scholarship or a pro contract), but that seems fair enough. Falconer won himself a couple of Pennsylvania state championships in track and field. Then he went to Kent State on scholarship and concentrated on the decathlon. Then, for my money, he became the best pure athletic talent south central Pennsylvania ever produced. (I unabashedly admit I am an old-school type when it comes to the merits of the decathlon.) And then for “Fly Man Falconer” (or “Brendon Bird Man”; geez, his future was soaring and, yes, the sky seemed the limit!!), what happened then? Oh, alas, what happened then …

I just made up those nicknames that never were. What happened then is how Falconer was forced to return to earth and yet so admirably, graciously, realistically accepted his clipped wings and walked away.

So yes, for me and my “injuries” and their awful “consequences”? I should just keep my big mouth closed.

I Got a "Hink-Pink" for an "Unfeeling Digit."




10:37 am

Friday, January 9, 2009

Meters rowed: 8,471
Time: 40:00
Pace: 2:20-21
Total meters rowed:  241,787

Fair warning: The payoff here  isn’t going to be worthy of the buildup, which is going to be sorry enough anyway.

So, iiiiiiiiiiif you’re still reading: Ever play a rhyming word game called “Hink-Pink.” You give a cryptic clue for a “Hink-Pink,” where each word is one syllable and they rhyme?  A Hink-Pink for an unhappy boy is a “Sad Lad,” that sort of thing? A Hinky-Pinky is two rhyming two-syllable words, a Hinkidy-Pinkidy two three syllable words and so on? We used to play Hink-Pink with my mom and dad all the time, especially when we were camping.

So: I got a Hink Pink for an unfeeling digit.

Today’s row? In a word, “Brrrr…..” Before I sat down on the Concept2, I threw open the garage door in an ill-advised face-off with the temperature: 27 degrees, according to the thermometer on our Audi Allroad, which I turned on afterward just to check. I warmed up soon enough on the row and it was actually quite pleasant. “Bracing,” let’s call it. My hands, on the other hand, are still screaming at me. My fingertips stung start to finish. Every so often, mid reach, I’d release one hand and quickly clench-unclench in an attempt get the blood out there to the extremities. Never happened.

The sick part is I kind of enjoyed it. Really. The man and the challenge and all that. (“The Man and the Challenge”! That was the name of a TV show from when I was a kid. Seriously, I remembered that just as I was typing it. Maybe it’s because I have recently written a memoir — hey, it’s been a long time since I blatantly plugged — but I love the way memory works.) 

Anyway, yeah, sick. I’m rowing away and my fingertips are screaming at me and I’m figuring somehow or other that this all raises my workout to the stuff of legend. Geesh. 

Oh, right, yeah:  A Hink-Pink for an unfeeling digit? A “Numb Thumb.” Hey, I warned ya.

Back Home in Pennsylvania*




10:13 am

Tuesday, January 6, 2009
Meters rowed: 5,481
Time: 25:00
Pace: one-minute sprints at sub-2:00, sub-1:55, at minutes 5, 10, 15 & 20
Total meters rowed: 233,316

DATELINE: YORK, PENNSYLVANIA – Yes, we are back in York now after two weeks up in Brooklyn, N.Y., for the holidays. Back here in the city that prides itself as the First Capital of the United States. Which, actually, isn’t exactly really true, though it’s close enough to make the claim and whose going to bother arguing it now anyway except maybe this guy?

Being back means, among other things, that I’m back in my boathouse/garage, the Woodspring “River” flowing in front of me. (It’s really just Woodspring Lane, the street in front of my house, as this blog entry explained.) Have I mentioned before how much I love this boathouse/garage of mine? Even more so now after having done my workouts in Brooklyn with the Concept2 stuffed into a third-floor overheated bedroom in our house in Boerum Hill. Here in York I can throw open the garage door no matter the temperature (we’ve got snow on the way today, says Weather.Com), and with my breath coming in puffs and my finger tips tingling in the cold I take off down the Woodspring.

Hey, you need to find your motivation where you can. It is good to have the rowing machine, and me, back where it, and me, belong.

Still, for all that back-home-let’s-go emotion, I almost almost almost didn’t work out today, and once I got to the machine I almost almost almost didn’t go for my planned sprint workout. Two days ago while cooling down and stretching out I slightly pulled my right groin. Didn’t think a whole lot of it, really. I figured the straight-ahead motion of rowing wouldn’t aggravate it, but it did. This a.m. I could feel it, just a touch, with every stroke. My biggest worry was that I’d alter my motion — on purpose or not — to try to compensate. An eventuality that has screwed up better athletes than me. I don’t think I did, so I am not worried. Or at least I am almost not worried. Because this is something, I’d have to say, I hadn’t planned on, even thought of, going into the C.R.A.S.H.-B. Sprints: That I might get hurt.

*With apologies to Jim “Gomer Pyle” Nabors

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