June to February - My journey to the Canadian Indoor Rowing Championships
Dear Family and Friends,
Many of you may be aware, and just as many of you may not be aware, that I have suffered from bouts of major depression as well as crippling migraine attacks for many many years.
I have been on and off just about every migraine treatment out there, and I have been on what seems like dozens of different anti-depressants. Not much seemed to help. In fact, I even found myself addicted to one pain medication, so I dumped all that I had in the house in the toilet, called the pharmacy and told them to cancel all of the refills that I had available and told my doctor not to prescribe that drug to me anymore.
This past Spring was a very bad time. A major bout of depression set in and just wouldn't lift, my migraines were driving me over the edge, and things were looking pretty bleak. I had also ballooned in weight to over 275 pounds and looked and felt awful. When seeking treatment for these problems, one common theme kept coming up from all of the doctors. "You need to get more regular exercise." That turned out to be a vicious cycle, as just about any exercise that I tried would result in my getting a blinding migraine. I couldn't lift weights, I couldn't jog, a stationary bike didn't work my upper body at all. . . It seemed as if I had tried every form of exercise out there and I just couldn't find one that I felt that I could do on a regular basis for the length of time needed to provide any benefit.
One of my theatre friends asked me if I had ever tried stationary rowing (or erging) as exercise. I had tried it once several years ago when I belonged to a health club in Florida, so I decided to give it a try again. I found the action to be very natural, and the rhythm of the stoke to be soothing. And I could row for long periods of time without getting my head all out of whack. This looked like it could work!
I researched all of the machines available, and I settled on the Concept2 ergometer. This machine seemed to be the standard by which all other machines were judged. I ordered one, and I braced for the expected bout of questioning and doubt from my wife. And it came, but not without reason. Every other piece of exercise equipment we have ever owned has just ended up gathering dust in a corner or in the basement. And this machine was not cheap either! But it arrived, and I started using it on the very first day. Sadly that first day of use also coincided with the loss of our precious little guy Pedro, but I let the tears flow and rowed.
I kept rowing. As many days a week as I could, for as long as I could each time. I never set any goals, I just got on the machine and rowed. Some days when I was first starting out, I would just do a few thousand meters, and some days I would row for an hour or more. Then I looked into the Concept2 online community and saw that Concept2 had special online challenges with minor prizes that you could win for completing them. The first one to come up was the Solstice Challenge on the 21st of June. The challenge was to row 21,000 meters (and if you added an extra 97 meters that would be a half marathon). I decided that I would try it. Keep in mind that I only got my erg on the 11th of June! My time for the half marathon was 1:54:55!
So, to make a long story short, I have now rowed over 2,234,164 meters (that's 1388 miles). My personal best time for the half marathon is 1:38:43.6 and I have rowed the equivalent of a full marathon (42,195 meters or 26.2187 miles) in 2:32:34.9. In the January Virtual Team Challenge, I finished with 401,041 meters which currently has me in 158th place out of 3756 competitors. My team (The Eh! Team) is currently ranked in 9th place overall, and I am 9th place on my team (out of 49). Final standings for this even will not be posted until the 5th, so my rankings could drop slightly).
I have lost over 40 pounds. My depression is under much better control, and I have not had a severe migraine attack in some time. Things are looking up.
On Sunday, February 3, 2008 I will be competing in the Men's Senior Masters 2K and the Open Men's Recreational 1K events at the Canadian Indoor Rowing Championships at the Rexall Centre at York University. Please keep me in your thoughts and prayers, or swing on by the CIRC to cheer me on. My events are at 9:00am and 11:15am.
Row, row, rowing my "boat"
Guess I should have checked the settings on my camera! I forgot that I had it set for 1600 ISO from shooting test shots in the theatre the night before this one was taken.