Welllll I did it… I successfully rowed 34km (the width of the Channel) and I survived! Not being in the actual Channel made it much less treacherous, but it was still extremely painfully challenging.
My personal trainer Jo had borrowed another rower from one of her other clients, which meant that my ‘support team’ could row alongside me and keep me going. And I have to say that I would not have completed it without them. I think in total about 20 people came and went throughout the day, which kept me entertained and well distracted.
This was the start, where I was feeling very fresh and relaxed…
Each of the people rowing with me would keep rowing until I had completed a kilometre. Obviously as they weren’t doing the full 34km by themselves they could push a lot harder, so their challenge was to row the Channel there and back between them in the time I went just there. I actually think they managed it in the end, which is pretty impressive!
I was still feeling pretty good at the 10km mark. The furthest I had rowed prior to this was 8km, so I was pretty confident as I breezed past 10km. In my practise rows I had been trying to figure out a good pace that I could maintain, and had decided that I would aim for around 4mins30 per 500m. I was keeping up this pace quite well and didn’t really take any breaks until 15km, when I decided to have a loo break quickly.
Stopping for a couple of minutes made getting started again a LOT harder! My arms and neck had started really aching, and I knew that the rest of the row was going to be a struggle. I also began to get a pretty major headache. I don’t think I had been drinking enough, and I hadn’t really eaten anything (Yes Andy I know you told me to keep eating!!!). But the support crew were there to keep pestering me to eat/drink, so I gave my body a but of fuel to keep going.
This is how I was starting to feel..The next 10km were definitely the toughest… the novelty had massively worn off, and I was finding it tough to stay distracted. But suddenly the end was slightly in sight. There was less than 10k to go, and I started focusing on the finish line.
Somehow I made it past 30km, then 31, then 32, then 33, and to the last kilometre.. I was completely exhausted by then, but everyone was clapping and cheering, which gave me a last tiny bit of strength for a sprint finish. And then it was over…
I was definitely relieved that it was over. It still seems quite surreal that I was rowing for over 5 hours! I was soo exhausted at the end, and unfortunately couldn’t really enjoy the champagne that everyone else was having.. I just laid down on the floor to try and ease the back and neck pain that I had.
Getting into bed last night was such a relief. I was so tired, but couldn’t get comfy because my arms were hurting so much! Finally I fell asleep and woke up this morning in A LOT of pain!! I have spent most of the day lying on my stomach and then flipping over to lie flat on my back. My arms are very achey, but surprisingly not too bad..although I have a feeling that the DOMS will set in tomorrow and I will be feeling worse when I wake up in the morning.
BUT, pain is temporary, and the most important thing is that I DID IT!!! And I think I did it in quite a respectable time (although I have nothing to compare it to!)
So, a few major thank yous.. Firstly to everyone that sponsored me. I am so appreciative to all of you, and it really kept me going to think that you believed I could do it! And secondly, thank you to the Rooprai Spinal Trust and Prime Physio, who were the providers of the adapted rower. The Rooprai Spinal Trust donated the rower to Prime Physio for clients to use in their sessions there, and Prime Physio kindly allowed me to kidnap the rower for the day so that I could complete the challenge surrounded by friends and family at my parents’ house. They also were both huge support to me during the row via Twitter. My friends and sisters were in charge of tweeting and reading out tweets, and it was awesome to have them cheering me on from afar! Also, a special thank you to Marrianne for doing a 2km row ‘with me’ in spirit 🙂
And lastly, a HUGE thank you to all my friends and family that were there yesterday… I genuinely wouldn’t have got through it without you. The constant entertainment and distraction was extremely necessary, and I wouldn’t have even made it past 10k otherwise!
I think it’s time for some more rest now…