Marathon Number Eight

February 28, 2021 by Joshua
in Fitness

I woke up, ate a light breakfast, oiled the chain, set the machine for intervals of just over 1/8th a marathon, and rowed. About three and a half hours later I finished my second rowing marathon.

My results:

I rowed my first rowing marathon two years ago. Someone pointed out my rest periods then of 2 minutes were too long (I forget the reason, something about the body switching modes). I also did 1/15th of a marathon intervals then and averaged around 2:25/500m over that whole marathon, so I rowed significantly faster this time and shorter rests so I like the improvement.

I didn’t row the sixth interval as slow as it looks. I started 30 seconds late from the bathroom break taking longer than expected (if not too much information). The seventh and eighth intervals I just didn’t have anything left to go any faster.

I’m not training for anything, nor did I train for this morning beyond rowing about 5k every fifth day, except to know I would know if I were injuring myself.

I wanted to give up many times. It’s so easy to say, “Stop at half, that’s still a strong amount. People will be impressed. No one will know you planned a full marathon.” But half of why I row, and exercise in general, is to develop emotional skills to handle that inner monologue—the addiction speaking, or close enough.

Eight marathons

Now I’ve finished six running marathons—five in New York City, one in Philadelphia—and two rowing marathons. I plan to run at least one more when I’m 67, which is the age my mom ran her first marathon.

I’m not sure how many more I’ll row. You might notice the end-of-February trend: February 27, 2019, I rowed my first marathon. February 29, 2020, I competed in my first 2k competition in Boston. February 28, 2020, this morning’s marathon.

Why end of February? Because I have a five-day exercise cycle beginning with the first of each month. Months with 31 days give me a free day to do something special. February gives me three or four days for yet more. On my 50th birthday, this summer, I plan to switch to a six-day cycle in acknowledgment of my age, which will give February four or five days. I haven’t thought of how it will change things.

Rowing versus running marathons

Rowing marathons hurt less than running. They probably work the heart and lungs about the same, and work the upper body more, but without all the bouncing and landing, they don’t stress the body as much. Plus I can do them at home for free without having to register months ahead.


I rowed before my first set of calisthenics so I still have both sets to do, meaning over 50 burpees left.

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