Each winter, the gym at TC Williams High School is filled with rows of brand new, just out of the box Concept 2 ergs for the Mid Atlantic Erg Sprints…and a whole lot of hope. Hope of setting a PR, which stands for Personal Record for those just getting into crew lingo. You’ll find hope of setting a school, state, event, national or possibly even setting a new world record, which happens more often than you would expect. And then there’s the hope that your legs will have the ability to stand after you’ve left every ounce of strength, sweat and stamina on the seat of that erg.
Hope is bountiful on that day, and this year the day is Saturday, February 2nd.
Registration is open to compete and volunteer for the Mid Atlantic event, but it closes January 20th. This event is voluntary for Woodbridge Crew varsity, novice and students currently in winter conditioning hoping to make this year’s team. Parents are allowed and encouraged to participate as well, and there’s a specific category for student and parent teams to compete.
According to the website, there will be a very limited number of seats available in the Bullpen for the 2,000m events only. Doors will open for competitors at 7:30AM.
The Mid Atlantic Erg Sprints will have the usual 2,000 meter events along with traditional Erg Sprints events: marathon, half-marathon, 20-minute junior and 30-minute open/masters rows, 500 meter sprints, relays, parent/child and kids rows. Find the full list of events on RegattaCentral.
Two weeks later on February 16th the Prince William County Erg Sprints take place at Forest Park High School under the same concept, but limited to students within Prince William County.
If you’ve never been to an indoor event like this it can get intense. Rowing can be a team or individual sport, but at the Mid Atlantics thousands of people from across the east coast and more than ten countries come to compete alone. As alone as you can be surrounded by a gym full of others competing alone.
According to the media guide, T.C. Williams coach Mike Penn and Booster president Kitty Porterfield created Erg Sprints to break up monotonous winter training back in 1986. With the help of volunteers and support from Concept2, the Erg Sprints have become the largest indoor rowing competition for juniors.
To give you an idea of what it can be like, here’s a SIX HOUR video from last year’s indoor championships to sample. If you jump around throughout the video you’ll see everyone from middle school novices to 94-year-old masters competing against the clock, the rower to their left and right, and themselves.
The Woodbridge Coaches encourage our rowers to compete in events like the Mid Atlantics and Prince Willaim County Erg Sprints to keep them motivated, give them a goal and build some bonds together while learning more about what #crewlife is all about.
If you’re at all like me, my 2019 calendar is already marked up and highlighted from the Rose Bowl game on New Year’s Day out to a 4-day weekend that starts on the 4th of July. So to help you fill in some of those 2019 blanks I have the 2019 Woodbridge Crew Calendar. This has many of the key events you or your student will need to know for the 2019 spring season. From Novice Interest Day on January 30th all the way through the end of season awards ceremony, your calendar will soon be filled with these- and other dates to follow.
Key dates to remember- Tryouts FEB 19-20. Then there’s the registration meeting, our spring Tag Day and then before you know it we’ll be out on the banks of the Occoquan March 30th for our first regatta, the Sandy Run Regional Regatta.
So put these on your home calendar, on the fridge, in your iPhone, Samsung, Google or tell Alexa to do it for you, but don’t miss out on what will be another great season for Woodbridge Crew. Oh, and don’t forget to follow Woodbridge Crew on Facebook and on Instagram at @woodbridgecrew.
-Rich Greene, Woodbridge Crew Communications Director
2019 CREW CALENDAR
Wednesday, January 30, 2019 Lower Café 7pm (Novice Rowers only) Interest Mtg
Saturday, February 2nd, 2019 TC Williams HS Mid-Atlantic Erg Sprints *Voluntary
Monday, February 11, 2019 Lower Café 7pm (New Rowers only) Interest Meeting
Tuesday, February 19, 2019 TBD 5pm Mandatory Tryouts
Wednesday, February 20, 2019 TBD 5pm Mandatory Tryouts
Thursday, February 21, 2019 Oxford Boathouse 4:30pm First Day of Spring Practice
Wednesday, February 27, 2019 Lower Café 7pm Spring Registration and Info Meeting
Saturday, March 2, 2019 Lower Café 9am – 3pm Tag Day
Friday, March 29, 2019 Lower Café 7pm Family Pasta Party
Saturday, March 30, 2019 Sandy Run Regional Park Regional Regatta
MON-FRI April 15-19, 2019 Practice Everyday (Water/WSHS)
*****PWCS Spring Break – PRACTICE WILL OCCUR EVERYDAY*****
Thursday, April 18, 2019 Westridge Clubhouse 7pm Oarsman Ball
Saturday, April 6, 2019 Sandy Run Regional Park Walter Mess Regatta
Saturday, April 13, 2019 Darrell Winslow Regetta / James River
Saturday, April 27, 2019 Sandy Run Regional Park Al Urquia Regatta
Saturday, May 4, 2019 Sandy Run Regional Park VSRC Day 1 Regatta
Saturday, May 11, 2019 Sandy Run Regional Park VSRC Day 2 Regatta
Thursday, May 23, 2019 Zanesville, Ohio, SRAA Championship Regatta
Wednesday, May 29, 2019 TBD 7pm End of Season Awards Ceremony
“If I pass out, note my time.” – Rower completing a 2K
Nobody knows who said it first, but it’s said thousands of times a day by rowers around the world.
If you do it right, rowing is one of the hardest things you can do. It is also one of the best workouts there is, period. If you’ve never rowed before, you’re in “decent shape” and you row 2000 meters as fast as you can, you’ll most likely finish somewhere between 8 and 10 minutes before you stumble off the erg. You’ll also have gotten one of the best full body workouts of your life.
You’re done. Spent. And you’ll most likely be mentally and physically depleted as well.
Don’t believe me? Sounds like it’s too easy? Go do it.
Give it a shot, and talk to one of the coaches when you return. You see, rowing, especially indoor rowing — or Erging as it’s known among rowers — is one of the hardest sports I can think of. It is excruciating, depleting, but an incredibly addictive full body workout.
The Erg keeps me coming back day after day after day, to get my latest dose of stress relief and dopamine. I would never want to go back to my pre-rowing days. That’s how addictive it is. Oh, and as a side benefit it has gotten me in the best shape I’ve ever been in — physically as well as mentally.
See, the thing about the Erg, is that it is a microcosm of life. Erging will teach you a few things about the way the world works. Here are three that I’ve learned so far.
The More You Work The Better You Get
The 2000 meter row, known as the 2K, is the distance in rowing. It is what everyone benchmarks themselves against, and talk about to no end. The worlds fastest 2K erg’ers are revered in the rowing community. The point is — the 2K is hard. It takes guts and heart and incredible physical conditioning to even get close to this level.
But you’re not there, at least not yet. The good news is every varsity rower, every state champion, every world record holder had to start somewhere and progress to where they are today.
So how do you get there? By preparing.
You have to put in the work. You have to put in the long steady rows (with good form) when no one is watching. You have to put in the hard intervals and keep fighting when everything in your mind is telling you not to, and every muscle in your body is screaming for you to stop.
Mental toughness and strength are key to being a good rower. Your coaches will tell you not to stop or to “push through the pain” not because they are there to torture you, but to help you realize your mind hasn’t pushed or stretched itself to the limits you are capable of…yet. Ask any of the varsity rowers and they’ll tell you they had to learn to go farther than what their mind and muscles told them they could. It comes with a bit of experience and a whole lot of practice. That’s what Winter Conditioning is all about.
“It will take time…and it will be painful…and you’ll want to quit. But it will be worth it at the end when you make the team.”
But soon you’ll realize the more you work, the better you get. That is a universal truth right there, and one that applies to every single aspect of life whether it is rowing, writing, making it in the business world or whichever endeavor you can think of pursuing. Putting in the work is the only thing that works. And the rewards will come.
You will get better. Be patient, but stay focused on becoming better. And if you put in enough work and give your best effort you might actually get good at it. It will take time…and it will be painful…and you’ll want to quit. But it will be worth it in the end when you make the team.
Humility Is Key
When I started rowing I had no idea what I was doing. I was bad. Luckily I had enough insight to realize I was bad. This helped me improve more quickly than I would if I’d just assumed that I was doing well.
Admitting that we don’t know something is hard. I’ve always had a hard time doing it, but somehow rowing was different. As a novice rower I quickly realized that I was nowhere near as good as others, but nowhere near as good as I could be.
Your coaches will push you, because they see new rowers struggle at the beginning of each season. As they get to know you they will be able to tell when you can dig deeper, help you align your form, correct your breathing and continue to challenge you to improve mentally and physically.
The point is that when you’re setting out to learn something humility is key. Realizing that you don’t know the half of it is a good place to come from. There is a catch though, because the more we know, the less humble we become. There is a trick to keep our humility about us, and staying humble. Which is far from easy. It is especially not easy, when we start hitting our stride, reaching new highs and setting new personal records, known as PRs. But this is where it matters most.
Because in order to get from where we are now to where we want to move to, we have to be humble. We have to realize that there is still more to learn, there are still ways to get better. There are always ways to get better.
Spend Your Energy The Right Way
Almost everyone wastes energy when they just start rowing. I was no different. This is known as energy-leaks. It means that you spend energy doing things that doesn’t translate to faster times. You add input without getting more output.
The more I row, the more I realize how important it is to spend my energy the right way. We all have a limited number of resources, and the way we spend those resources is determine how well we do. This is true on and off the erg.
The thing about the erg though, is that it gives you direct and immediate feedback. The better you spend your energy, the better you do. This is also true in life in general.
Find the points where you have energy leaks. Stop doing unproductive things and hope that somehow it translates into productivity. Don’t cry about how little time you have if you’re at home playing Xbox, Mario Party on Nintendo Switch or watching TV instead of homework, reading or family time. We all have energy leaks somewhere.
Rowing has taught me the value of finding out where I waste my energy, then I have to decide to stop doing that. This might be the most valuable lesson of the three, because when we apply our energy in the best way possible and get the most output from our input, good things happen.
And when good things happen during Winter Conditioning, good things can happen on the water in the spring.
*As this post was being typed I found an article by Nick Kastrup on Medium.com that went over many of the same points I was making, so I added my comments in with Nick’s article. But the meat of it belongs to him. – Rich Greene
Every year it happens: seniors graduate, military families move, life gets in the way and seats open up for students to get involved with crew for the first time. One of the easiest and best ways to show your friends the great sport of crew is to invite them to one of the Learn to Row Days.
These two-hour sessions are designed to introduce someone to “Crew Life” with a tour of the Oxford Boat House, some individual instruction on an ERG (which non-rowers call a rowing machine), a description of how the different parts of the boat and rowers work together, a safety brief and then get on the water in one of the Woodbridge 8-seat boats. Beginners will mix in with current Woodbridge Crew members to take the boat out onto the Occoquan River and get firsthand experience as to why Crew is one of the fastest growing sports in Virginia, and one of the largest teams at WSHS.
All of our Learn to Row Days are free and are open to new and current Woodbridge students. Many students row in the off seasons of another sports they participate in, and find that rowing significantly increased their physical fitness, challenged them, and was a lot of fun in the process.
So invite your friends, neighbors, brothers and sisters and that kid down the block who skateboards everywhere (you know the one) to come out for the next Learn to Row Day. Contact Coach Julie Hyzy at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Follow Woodbridge Crew anytime: Web page: woodbridgecrew.net
There’s an old song that talks about the “Lazy Days of Summer”, but we hope that doesn’t describe you!
Just for a moment, think about all the hard work you did last season.
- The pain and sweat of winter conditioning
- Those times when you just knew you would never be able to stand on your rubbery legs after you gave everything you had in that 2k
- The blisters on your hands
- And the countless times your lungs were ready to explode.
But it all was worth it. Sure, you had a good year. The team had a good year, actually it was one of the best seasons in the history of Woodbridge Crew. But what are you doing now?
Let’s face it, Summer’s halfway over. While you’re Fortnight skills improve, your Rocket League team is ranked nationally in the top two hundred, and just since June you’ve had two oh-so-close-but-unsuccessful attempts to win wing eating contests…your rival has been wearing the grips off his ERG.
So far he’s lowered his 2k from April 30th by 11.7 seconds. He’s coming for you.
Don’t drop the oar this summer. Find your way to an ERG, get to one of the weight room days, eat well and do what you can to stay in shape or even improve during the rest of the summer.
Your rival is.