Benchmarking with COVID

ROW’s First 20 Minute Benchmark via Zoom

Warm Up: 8 minutes on our ergs at home with our teammates while our 3 coaches figured out how to work Zoom’s break out room option, so we could have more individualized support from our coaches during the piece.

Since I became a member of Recovery on Water (ROW), I’ve done at least 15 ‘benchmarks’ where we all row 20 minutes and use our times as a reference point. Our ROW benchmarks are used to guide us with workout goals, give us a baseline of our performance when we are just starting a new season, and aid in boat assignments when we are rowing out on the water (dreaming that we do that again sooner, rather than later!). In 5 years with ROW, these benchmarks have become a touchstone for me, a chance to check in with myself to see where I am.

My Searching for EMWA blog posts are often touchstones, check-ins and I definitely feel ready to write that kind of post today. It seems fitting that 7 weeks in to this COVID Quarantine of ours, ROW held its first Virtual Benchmark this morning and I took part.

Set Your Monitors: After Leanna led the warm up and set everything up, we separated into separate breakout rooms where Leanna, Colie and Christina could each give more individualized coaching to small groups. My group’s coach, Christina, talked us through our benchmark strategy before we each set our erg monitors for 20 minutes.

Technology, in particular the use of my computer, has engulfed my life during this pandemic. 2 months ago, I knew nothing about Zoom, WebEx, and Google Meets and I was a novice user of Google Classroom. Now, these are the platforms I am utilizing every day.

Everyone Up @ the Catch: Everyone has her feet strapped in and pressed down on the foot stretchers, knees are bent, arms are straight, bodies are facing forward. We are waiting for our coach’s call to begin. She is figuring out how to start playing music–a requirement for rowing these benchmarks!

The first 3 weeks we were in quarantine, we were only getting a preview of virtual learning. Everyone was thinking that we would quarantine for a couple of weeks and head back to our schools by the end of March–before spring break–and so there was more of an easing in to the whole process of remote learning during this time, rather than a full blown adoption. During Week 3, that last week of March, planning started to change when everyone realized that schools would be closed well in to April, although everyone seemed to be moving and adapting at different paces.

I did not sign up to be a virtual ROW coach when I thought that coaching would be a good thing back in December. What had I got myself in to??? Not only was I just going through the row coaching certification process as we went on lock down and shadowing a couple of classes, I hadn’t started actually coaching in person when we went into sheltering in place. And now I was being thrown in to coaching rowing via a technology that I hadn’t even known about???

ROW! Coach calls the start. It was a little jumbled when I realized that my screen was on Zoom’s spotlight view of Christina rather than gallery view. How was I going to pace myself with the amazing Catherine, who has a beautiful stroke and who I have paced myself with before? Figured out the issue, stopped rowing long enough to adjust my Zoom setting, and I was back on track, settling in to a good benchmark pace.

Week 4 was our Spring Break. A little bit of work drama, but for the most part, a really good week of personal projects, connecting with friends (including a Marathon Zoom session), lots of walks with the dogs getting me outside, and positivity with ROW.

3rd Focus 10: I’m usually good for the first third of a 20 minute benchmark, but counting down minutes 13 to 8 starts to make me wonder what in the world I was thinking to even attempt this benchmark. There are so many other things I could be doing and so my mind can wander a lot during this time. That is why it is super helpful to be coached during these benchmarks by coaches you like, trust and respect because when they call a Focus 10, 10 strokes in succession where you focus your mind back on the task at hand: finishing the benchmark and it becomes more attainable.

Weeks 5 and 6 were extremely hard. Officially starting Remote Learning. 3rd Quarter Grades Due and Virtual Parent Teacher Conferences the following week. Zoom Meetings. Google Meets Meetings. WebEx Webinars. Waiting for a Google Meets session leader to start his meeting–while he was actually doing a Zoom meeting!!!! Coaching ROW while trying to absorb so much technology. Wanting to research and work on an article about my favorite history resources while I had more pressing matters to attend to. Connecting with students virtually and trying not to get frustrated if they seemed to be ghosting me.

However, this is when the learned practice of getting through challenging times kicks in. Despite all of the drama and frustration, I continued to show up. I pushed myself, even though I was tired. I continued to coach and participate in not only ROW practices (where I was coached), but also special sessions with ‘our’ own ROW nutritionist and ROW morning coffee chats. I somehow managed to find windows of time to participate in history webinars and I made time for my husband, friends, and family. And I continued to walk the dogs, which forced me outside in to fresh air and allowed for some perspective.

You’ve Got This! You’re Almost There! Even when you want to quit, you push through. While the middle part is hard, the last section has its own set of challenges. You are tired and if you rowed too hard, you might start feeling as if you don’t have enough energy left. And what about that music??? Come on! I want my favorite workout song played! What? Coach doesn’t have telepathic access to my playlist? Going in to the final moments, all I want is it to be done. With my hypothyroid diagnosis 18 months ago, my rowing has been greatly impacted and I am not yet back to feeling that I can push myself like I used to. I had to remind myself that even if you drag that last minute, you still finish, which is important, because literally, all I wanted to do was quit.

Last week felt like the 7 Week Itch (like the 7 Year Itch of marriage) where we all realized we are stuck in a relationship that isn’t quite what it looked like at the beginning. What? We are going to be on lockdown now until the end of May???? Maybe beyond? People are still dying? There are more cases of COVID each day?? No physical graduations, proms or senior luncheons for the Class of 2020? What’s up with all these meetings? Am I ever going to find hand sanitizer or disinfectant wipes at the store again? I still can’t travel? We still can’t go by the Lake?

Woo Hoo!!!! You Did It!!! Shwew! I made it! Not my best time, but also not my worst. Cool. 1st Virtual Benchmark in the books! 

But we pushed through, I pushed through. I was wiped out by the Friday afternoon Mindfulness Webinar I attended and I actually dozed off during one of the mindfulness practice pieces! However, I felt a huge sense of accomplishment, as well, with all that I’ve accomplished, so far during this Time of COVID. While I’m still struggling with the technology, it is becoming more manageable. I had great interactions with my students–present, as well as former–and even managed to be ‘live’ with a small number using Google Meets. I’m becoming more comfortable with my ROW coaching and I put some really solid research and writing in to my history sources article. I showed up.

Cool Down & Stretching: Crucial

Friday evening and Saturday were relaxing and a chance to regroup from the week. A visit to China Town and time at the Plant with Terry. A great phone conversation with KRH. Beautiful weather! Avoiding the craziness of other people. Rest.

Bring It In. 1-2-3-ROW! At the end of every practice or race, we ‘bring it in’ and come together to wrap up our time together. Before we head out, someone calls our ‘1-2-3-ROW!’ and then we are done. Today’s benchmark ended on a high note.

My 7th week of quarantine ended today on a high. Benchmark: done. Kitchen cleaning: done. Vacuuming: done. Laundry: done. 4 walks with the dogs: done. My post: What are your go to online resources? at A Home for the Family Tree: done. This post: done.

Wishing everyone a great week!!

5 thoughts on “Benchmarking with COVID

  1. ROW on Zoom? I am impressed! We had a staff meeting last week and some still can’t figure out how to mute their mic on webex …had to listen to them talk to their dogs, etc etc. I have an in service tomorrow on risk assessment at the same time as an 8th grade team meeting, where they will argue about the retention list criteria, at the same time that Daniel has a class presenting his google slide show on what he has been doing during quarantine. It is cinco de mayo mañana, so I really just want a margarita!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: Adapting to Culture Shock | Searching for EMWA

  3. Hi JoAnn
    I love this blog post (and also A Big Pause Button) – and I’d love to include it in an ebook that I’m compiling, about Lessons from Lockdown. But I don’t know how to contact you!
    If you’d be interested in finding out more, could you send me a message on Twitter – or via my website – so that I can send you details please?
    Sending all best wishes

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Pingback: Yep, I’m in Print! | Searching for EMWA

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