Today, I’m celebrating

by Dr. Ed Berry

Today is my birthday. It’s also the summer solstice, the longest day of the year (in the northern hemisphere), and a full moon to boot.

We don’t get a full moon on our birthdays very often. On average, we Earthlings only get a full-moon birthday every 19 years. We don’t get to be 81 on our birthdays very often either. So I’m celebrating.

So what am I doing today? Well, in between standing at my computer writing stuff, I am rowing the Concept 2 “Summer Solstice Challenge.”

The Challenge is to row 21,000 meters today. The Challenge is a worldwide event open to everybody. All you need is access to a Concept 2 rower with a chip or memory card that records your meters.

You can choose to do the whole 21,000 meters in one sitting (ugh) or you can break it up into smaller pieces (yes). I chose to do ten sets of 2000 meters followed by a finishing row of 1000 meters. As I write this, I have just finished my fifth set. So I am about half way there.

I am not a distance guy. I am more of a sprinter guy. Which is why my Concept 2 records are in the 100 meters and 500 meters for 2016 and 2017. So doing ten 2000’s in row, about one set per hour, is a whole new experience. At this point, I am not sure if I will be “putting” my feet into the rower’s footsteps on my last set, or “lifting” my feet into the steps.

For between-set nourishment, I blended some Silk Coconut/Almond milk with a banana and some frozen blueberries. In cup after some sets keeps me going. I am not going to get a full meal until this is over.

Well, I noticed it was time for another set, so I just took a break and did another 2000. Now I have done 12,000 meters. Hey, almost there. I don’t mind if you send me a little encouragement in the next few hours.

I did my first five sets at about a 2:30 per 500 meter pace, or ten minutes per 2000. My sixth set was at 2:45 pace. The Concept 2 meter shows your pace as a time per 500 meters. This speed display lets you calibrate your pace in every stroke. Ideally, you would like to have a pretty constant pace.

If I were going for a personal record in a 2000, I would pick a pace like 2:10 and see if I could hold it. I have not tried to do a personal record for 2000 but one of these days, I will give it a shot. But today is about endurance, not speed. I just have to make it to 21,000 meters.

For example, when I go for a personal record in the 500 meters, the pace number tells me my finish time if I can keep it constant. Last week, I decided to row 500 meters in less than 1:50. So I worked to keep the pace meter below 1:49. I finished in 1:49.5.

Another break: I just did set seven. I have done 14,000 meters. Only 6500 to go.

This 21,000 meter stuff is not anything I would want to do every day. Or even every week. I will do it again when the Summer Solstice and the full moon fall on my birthday.

By the way, did you know the longest day for the sun is the shortest day for the full moon? Simple geometry if you are into that stuff.

In case you are interested, I plan to do a coaching class on the Internet. It will take me a few more months to get it ready. I will focus on how to keep healthy and fit after 50 years old.

I will use the Concept 2 rower as a key exercise tool because it has many advantages. For example, it’s hard to fall down and break your leg. Also anyone can do it because you can set your own pace.

Well, I made it. Here is my Concept 2 Award:



  1. Great work Ed for 81! I am hanging in there at 84 and walking good with a new knee last August.

    Dick Petschauer

    1. Way to go both of you.

      Brave of you to go for a new knee.

      I would go for a new back, except my neighbour did and he perished from it.

      Same age as me (85 this year) and both of us still working.

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