The following review comes from a HOLOFIT member, originally posted in the HOLOFIT Community group.
I had a curious idea this morning when waking up: let’s do a half marathon! But in virtual reality, on the Cam in Cambridge! My previous one was on the 12th of January. I did it in 1:29:49.7, an average pace of 2:07.7. So, I targeted an average pace of 2:05, which should bring me just under one hour and a half.
I prepared with an early breakfast of muesli + almond milk and roasted black bread + red fruit jam and waited for 11h15 to start, doing some Marketo work for my customers.
During a half marathon where you will row for one hour and a half, it is crucial to limit clothes friction, so I use tight boxers, t-shirt, and socks+ sneakers. I also have a headband to limit the sweat to flow in the headset, and the belt with the heart monitor connection.
I go to the toilet, blow my nose so that I am not disturbed after 20 minutes of rowing: it is very annoying to have the urge to blow your nose while rowing and not being able to do so. I warn the family that I will be unavailable for the next 90 minutes, close the door of my office where the rower is, open the French window so that I will not die from my own carbon dioxide and sweaty smell.
It is fresh this morning…
Now, the playlist: very important to keep the motivation going; I decide to not choose trance music I usually listen to while rowing, but go back to the ’80s. I let Spotify surprise me with its own compilation > click here to check it out.
Now, is time to install on the rower. I start the PM5, connect my heart belt monitor, start the headset, connect with the QR code from the HOLOFIT app, remove the headset, set up the PM5 on a half marathon, position the iPhone connected with a USB cable above the PM5 with Ergdata to collect the data, put on the headset again… and ??? crap… I must initialize again! I remove the headset, switch the PM5 to “Connection”, losing my half-marathon setup.
I do the whole procedure again keeping the headset on the head. ? This is a part that is kind of painful as the headset is not well designed to stay on your head. Then a sudden thought arises:
What am I doing ?? Why did I want to do this? Last time it hurt like hell and I swore I will never do that again… OK, let’s turn off the brain for a while… ? Let’s switch to zombie mode and think about all that when I am rowing…
I choose the “Race” mode in Holofit, “Half-marathon”, and “Cambridge” as this environment is in my humble opinion the most suitable for the long races in addition to San Francisco: it is the longest so I will “only” to do 3 tours.
Last time I finished first with the second and third one on my heels so I expect that I will quickly distance them if I keep the planned pace.
3,2,1 ✔ GO! All competitors start very fast, as if their acceleration is infinite and reach their long-run speed almost immediately. So, you often start last and must battle to reach the 1st position. I quickly reach my planned pace of 2:05 and surprise ?! I cannot get to the 1st place, not even the second one! The competitors have raised their level too.
“Hysteria” from Def Leppard is playing. Cool… So, I slowly increase the pace. 2:04. Not enough, but the gap is closing. 2:03? I slowly overtake the third one. 2:02… I slowly close the gap with the first one…
During this time paparazzi have come with their speed boat to film us, and then a drone slowly turns around us to take shorts…We pass a football stadium and I almost receive a ball on the head!
I accelerate to position myself first and adapt my pace to keep the second one just a meter below me. OK, I will have to stay between 2:02 and 2:03. A huge effort gap compared to what I planned… I am wondering how long I will be able to keep up this pace.
15’ have passed in a blink, and I will do all the race elbow to elbow with this competitor.
15 – 30 MINUTES:
“It’s a Sin” from the Pet Shop Boys. A lot of memories come back from childhood… Now, I focus on my movement and my respiration, trying to adjust it so that I will it a reflex, as efficient as possible.
I settle on 25 strokes per minute. My drag factor is around 170 which is pretty high, but I like it this way and I have always rowed with a high drag factor. So, I cannot row too slow otherwise the drag factor will slow down the wheel too much between two strokes, wasting a lot of energy. 25/26 SPM is my preferred rhythm.
I try to extend my movement to the max, reaching far in front of me, pushing first with my legs and blocking my back in a straight position (but bent toward the front), then working using my back to bring it in a position bent toward the back and finishing with arms; all that in the smoothest movement possible.
“I just died in your arms” from Cutting Crew… I melt inside… I feel well for the moment, and I try to relax as much as possible all the muscles that are not working, scanning mentally my body starting with my head, the jaws, the upper back, the arms, the wrists, the lower back, the thighs…
Then Roxette arrives with “The look” I start singing keeping an eye on the pace indicator. An error and I quickly switch to the second place…. 4 minutes passed in a blink!
I pass under 15km after 24min. I mentally reset my mind as 15kms is the distance I usually do for long training. So, let’s do as if I just started and this was a normal training…
A yellow submarine emerges from the river and passes me slowly. The drone comes back and an eagle grabbed it in its claws. Well done!
And I arrive at the end of the first tour, and soon at the first 30’.
30-45 MINUTES :
My mind starts to embark on dreamy journeys along with the music that passes (”Oh l’Amour” from Erasure), and when I wake up, my movement is not perfectly synced… Ouch, it costs me some effort to come back to the first position.
My body stats to send my signals, expecting that all this will soon finish. My thighs start to gently ache.
“Danger Zone” from Top gun gives me a boost in motivation and I imagine I am flying with Maverick for a while…
At first, you count every 15 minutes as a milestone, then you switch to every kilometer, then every round number for the distance or the time is a milestone on which you target to attention.
I pass under 10 km almost at 45 minutes. Huge milestone! Almost there, only 10 km to go…
45 MINUTES- 1 HOUR:
During these first 45’ I kept the pace, but I am more and more frequently drifting to 2:03 and then 2:04 losing the first place…
My body is used to this training duration, and I usually stop after one hour so I must shut it up and make it understand that it will not be finished soon. Hopefully “Jump” from Van Halen kicks in and a motivation flow arrives. I quickly stabilize the pace, get back to the perfect movement and monitor my respiration. Thanks, Eddie Van Halen!
I pass the hour, finish the second tour and “only” 6500 meters left… So little and so much at the same time… The competitors show no sign of weariness… bastards… BPM around 150.
1H – 1H15:
Now the thighs hurt, the back hurts, the butt hurts… I find myself contracting my jaws nervously, so I try to relax a little with a mental body scan. The sweat flows in the headset, impossible to remove it without losing the precious seconds… It’s atrocious…
I want to kill the paparazzi, too bad there are no alligators in the river… I want to kill the guy who pilots the drone… I want to smash the competitor with my oar… Is it normal to have so many deaths wishes???
I start smelling the nice odors from my wife cooking the lunch; oh no, I start to salivate…Let’s focus, let’s focus… I pass under 5 km. I feel I will collapse at any time, my movements are now difficult to keep in sync, I surprise myself “cheating”, not keeping a straight back, not reaching far in the front, and increasing the SPM… thus consuming more energy… I slap myself mentally and try to regain some composure…
My heartbeat must be around 160 BPM now. I reach 1h15 with great pain and drop under 3 km left…
The last quarter is just a way to hell. All the body hurts, the lungs are about to give up… My eyes are dry now and it is painful to keep them open.
I just don’t give a crap to what happens around me and concentrate on the pace indicator and the rank. I count every hundred meters done.
2.5 km left…. 2 km left… 1.5 km left… I seriously consider stopping here, I just cannot keep up the pace…And then a miracle! ???
Kim Wilde with “You keep me hanging on”. Just a fan. She kept me company until 400 meters left and I found the strength inside me to accelerate under 2:00 during the last kilometer to humiliate the two other competitors.
I was just not thinking straight anymore… BPM is around 170 now…
And the finish line!!
1:26:25 announced on the HOLOFIT app, 1:26:23.6 announced by the PM5. I was 364 out of 741 on the worldwide Concept2 ranking in my age/gender/weight category and I passed to the 199th position.
I slowly emerge from the headset, unlock my feet, and try to stand. I go and take a shower, from lukewarm to slowly but surely really cold.
Blisters are not so bad thanks to the intensive training of these past days/ months. I put all my clothes in the washing machine and start the program. I then come to the lunch and do as if everything was normal, except I still sweat massively, and my kids are making fun out of me…
I am not so tired and I decide to write down for you this journey, in case you want to try a half marathon –
You are now warned!
Prepare your playlist, it can save your session.
Stay safe and talk to you soon!
Now, that was a ride! Brave enough to try it?