Rough Water ….




5:29 pm

Saturday, September 18, 2009
2 x 5,000 meters
Split: 2:20
Strokes per minute: 16-22
Rest: 3 to 5 minutes
Drag: 110
Compliance (1 = awful; 10 = great): “6”
Total meters rowed: 23,400

Astute followers will know that today’s workout was supposed to be yesterday. Astuter followers with math skills will know that I bagged most of the second 5,000 meters.

This just barely a week in.

I need to talk to my coach. But first, meet my coach: Tom Corcoran, age 27. He rowed at Chestnut Hill Academy in Philadelphia and at the University of Pittsburgh. He has a law degree. He’s been a foot soldier in some local Pennsylvania political campaigns in the past few election cycles, but what he really wants to do is coach rowing. Listen to him talk about it, see the sparkle in his eyes as he does, watch how the sport itself brings him to life, and you can only envy the passion he clearly feels.

You can read what he blogs about here. I particularly like in his first entry where he talks about how in the sport of rowing one needs to make it as a coach from either inside the sport, or out. Tom’s starting on the outside, looking for the in.

Right now he’s the brand new coach of the girls program at a high school in New Jersey and my own personal guru. I asked him to set me up with an every-other-day regimen. I long ago decided that back-to-back days was counterproductive. I asked him to keep in mind that I’m almost 57 years old and that I have heart disease. He said we can adjust as needed. Well, adjustments are needed!  More about that once I talk with him.

Before I forget. Read any good books lately? This summer I rowed through “Kelly: A Father, a Son, an American Quest,” by Daniel J. Boyne. The story of the rowing John Kellys, senior & junior, of Philadelphia.

This from Publishers’ Weekly on the Amazon site:
“In a time when rowing rivaled boxing and baseball in popularity, Jack Kelly (1889-1960) was its greatest champion. … Boyne chronicles Kelly’s rise from modest beginnings as the son of Irish immigrants to Olympic gold. … [Y]ears of training on Philadelphia’s Schuylkill River made Kelly the fastest rower in the world, but prejudice barred him from England’s prestigious Henley Regatta. That sleight, never forgotten, lead him to push his son Kell into the sport, and ultimately to win the Regatta in 1947.”

John the Dad was also of course the father of Grace Kelly, of whom no introductions are needed. Keep in mind that for an Irish Catholic kid like myself growing up York, Pennsylvania, which orbited within the gravitational pull of Philadelphia, the Kelly’s story, especially Grace’s, was merely the stuff of legend. What I liked so much about “Kelly” is that Boyne says at the get-go that much of the entire point of writing this book was to bring to the front the ROWING story. Grace, for maybe the only time in her life, is a bit player.

And now for some Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon (another son of Philadelphia, come to think of it). In MY book, “My Father’s Heart: A Son’s Reckoning With the Legacy of Heart Disease,” when I write about my 20-plus year love affair with the Concept2 rowing machine, I talk some about how the Vesper Boat Club from Philly went to the Tokyo Olympics as the U.S. Eight, won the gold and then a few months later some of the crew were celebrity guests at a big-deal gala in my hometown. If only I’d know this when I was writing “MFH”: Kelly the Son, by then in his early 40s, put that team together, presaging the large-net methods the U.S. now employs when forming national teams.