Jason Caldwell thanks teamwork for rowing the Pacific in document time

After Jason Caldwell had crossed the Atlantic twice and set a multitude of world records, he wanted another challenge and didn't have to look far.

"I live in the San Francisco / Bay area and the Pacific is my back yard, so I had to look west and wonder if I could do the Pacific too," said Caldwell. “There aren't many ocean rowers who have made more than one crossing. I had done two and wanted to be the first to do my third with my teammate Angus Collins to hold world records for the Atlantic and Pacific, it was very special. "

In June, the endurance athlete and his Latitude 35 team set a new world record for the fastest unassisted rowing across the Pacific Ocean of 39 days, nine hours and 56 minutes from 2016.

During the month-long, 2,400-mile hike - known as the Great Pacific Race - the crew of Caldwell, Collins, Jordan Shuttlesworth, and Duncan Roy followed a 24-hour two-hour schedule of rowing and resting. The crew was put to the test physically, mentally and emotionally, but nothing compares to feeling like they were destroying their common goal.

Caldwell explains what it takes to be a world record ocean rower and what to expect.


Courtesy The Great Pacific Race

Who you surround yourself with as teammates can matter most. Make sure you are with the right people, not just the best people. There's a difference and I've learned that the hard way. It's easy to focus on getting the biggest and strongest guys. You need to have the right people - those are people you trust and people who trust you. These are people who are selfless and who worry more about you than they do themselves because they know you feel the same about them.

After you build the right team, it gets a lot easier, but it's an uphill battle if you don't have the right people with you. Often times, you don't know what a person is capable of or who they really are until you're out there. Once you have the team you think you need, get out there, stay in these stressful situations as often as possible so that you can learn more about yourself and your teammates.


Jason Caldwell and his rowing team row in San Francisco Bay in front of the Golden Gate Bridge for the Great Pacific RaceCourtesy The Great Pacific Race

The training for this was neither easy nor quick. I always tell everyone who is interested in their first ocean crossing with me that you have to train yourself physically, mentally and emotionally for two years. There is no substitute for getting on the boat you will be rowing with the team you will be rowing with. You want to spend as many hits and nights on the water as possible.

Of course that's not always the case because you have teammates like me in different parts of the country. When you can't be out on the water with your team on the boat, you'll want to do a lot of cross training. For me, of course, a lot of it comes from the rowing machine. I am a rower and I rowed in college. I rowed with an elite rowing team after college, so I have a great rowing background. I have a long, turbulent history with the rowing machine: when I need to get in shape, I spend a lot of time on it.

You don't want to be one-dimensional either. Swimming is a big part of my training because it has no impact and it is easy on my back and knees. I love going to the pool and building my cardio base and that lean muscle mass too. I also like to do trail running and lifting. I work out in the gym to get as big and strong as possible. A lot of people who start these ocean runs think it's a license to just eat what you want, put on that artificial weight that is fat, and it isn't. Most people don't know that the fat will be burned within the first five days. You get shocked and stressed, seasick and suddenly the fat melts away. It's good to have a little artificial weight, so spend the last few weeks before you go eating whatever you want and take in healthy fat. After that, you rely on the lean muscle mass for slow-burning fuel. You need to get yourself this big dry wood that just burns all day and all night and that's what lean muscle mass is. Everyone builds lean muscle in different ways. I'm 6 & # 39; 4 ", 220 pounds. I love the gym, have big, strong legs, a strong core, and that back is something you need to take advantage of.


Endurance athlete Jason Caldwell and his rowing team take part in the Great Pacific Race and row in front of the Golden Gate BridgeCourtesy The Great Pacific Race

The experience is really a juxtaposition between serenity and violence. You are leaving the Golden Gate Bridge, it is a beautiful sunny day, the excitement is great and all that adrenaline rushes through you. The first day goes by in a flash and you don't even feel it. But it's not about the first day. It's about the 15th, the 21st and the other days. Back to my experience, seasoned ocean rowers know that you really are in a marathon-like setting. Make yourself comfortable and get used to your new home. There are nice and calm nights, then there are nights when whales break through next to you, there is the bioluminescence and you look at the stars and you can see the Milky Way because the sky is so clear. There are great moments like this - and they can change just like that. There are violent storms, waves of rogues that hit you and soak you. You can feel dry for a minute and it only takes a wave to hit you and you are soaking wet - then you freeze and you are miserable. You can't dry off because you're never dry because it's so humid, so spend the next few days miserable, cold, trying not to get all that moisture into the cabin.

It is really a story of two different stories. You need to prepare for the worst because it is going to happen to you. You get shattered by waves, get seasick, break ribs from stress, have wounds all over you, are so tired that you hallucinate. The other side of this is that you have to learn to look up too. My father used the satellite calls to remind me to remind myself that what I was doing was fun because so few people are doing it. I have been preparing for two years. This is not like a baseball, soccer, or basketball game where you can say we'll get it next time. There's no next time because it's right there.

Jason Caldwell Endurance Athlete and Professional Rower in the Great Pacific RaceCourtesy The Great Pacific Race

We broke the world record by nine days. We absolutely destroyed it. Without sounding too boastful, halfway through the series we knew we were going to break it. If a huge hurricane wasn't coming, we were ahead of the pace enough that we were sure we would break it. We had to choose whether to take it off and save ourselves a bit of pain and turmoil. At the end of the day, it doesn't matter if you break it in one day or at nine. You still get the world record certificate, you still get the cheer and fame. Or do you go out there and press the pedal to the medal and go as hard as you can? This is what our team decided to do. Halfway through, you're pretty beaten up and it sounds good to hear that you can probably take some time off, not pull as hard, and take a few extra breaks. We knew this was our only chance to put a number and time out there that maybe no one would ever break, or at least very long. We rowed so hard on that last day, it's like we're barely breaking the world record. When we got to the shore of Waikiki Harbor, we knew we'd left everything in that water. That's what I love about sport and about my teammates.

Jason Caldwell Endurance Athlete and his rowing team celebrate after taking part in the Great Pacific RaceCourtesy The Great Pacific Race


You definitely have a calorie deficit. I've lost nearly 30 pounds on this row. You can't paste what you're burning and your options are limited. 75 percent of our food was freeze-dried. These are meals to which you add hot water or room temperature water to moisturize the food and its high calories. We also had snack packs of things we put together - like beef jerky, protein and candy bars, dried fruit - things to look forward to that are sweet and high in calories. Element was a sponsor of ours and just added this salt to the water in a tasty way so that when you sweat that much you get more salt in your diet. After that, there is no secret recipe for what you are adding to your body as the options are limited. So you can really focus on making sure you have the right amino acids and vital nutrients and that you have your macros dialed in before you go so that when you are out you are ready to go because it will all go shit when You're outside and starting to eat.


Jason Caldwell focused on rowing in the Great Pacific RaceCourtesy The Great Pacific Race

It's almost all mental. The physical is very important, but it breaks down, and once it does, the mental and emotional components are left. They know you will go through ups and downs. There will be moments when you feel like the strongest on the team and have good moments. You can anticipate the days and push yourself. These are the moments when your teammates, who may be at rock bottom by this point, will need you to pull them up and be positive knowing that within a few days you will be the lowest on the emotional scale and You will need your teammates to help you out of this oblivion. I think that's how you deal with emotional and mental agony. It's not for the faint of heart.

I think people think that all this fame is and there is, but I always say that fame is enough to get you to the starting point, but it won't get you over the finish line if you're halfway through and you don't I don't think you can row for another two hours, let alone another 10 days. It's this shame to let your teammates down that really gets you out of this cubicle and pulls you as hard as possible. This is where you'll get through great teammates - such as I've been lucky enough to have on all of my crossings. You will be more afraid of abandoning them than of the elements. This is exactly where the key to the success of any endurance team sport lies.


Jason Caldwell takes a rest after his win in HawaiiCourtesy The Great Pacific Race

I'm definitely doing a lot better. I think I've really made some improvements over the past few weeks. Your body is pretty devastated after 30 days on a 30-foot boat while three other guys are presented with nothing but salt water. You are deprived of sleep, malnutrition, dehydration, and are obviously stressed out if you row at least 12 hours a day. They have everything from wounds all over their bodies to cracked ribs. You lose a lot of weight and obviously can't shower for over a month. The first shower goes a long way when you walk into the hotel and splash fresh water on your body with a little soap. From there, you face the longer-term health issues, like massive tendinitis in the joints of your hands from pulling an oar handle, which is essentially a million and a half strokes to get you across the Pacific Ocean. You can imagine how much strain is placed on the tendon on your hands.

I would say the tendons in my hands through my forearms took a long time to heal. I can still feel it a little, especially when I wake up at night or in the morning and have to stretch it. You have problems like wounds - hope that's not too much information - but on your ass. When rowing, you sit 12 hours a day and sweat with salt water. These complaints last for a while and they are sure to humiliate you from hobbling around and sitting on pads. Right now most of my skin has healed and its little things are now. I still have no feeling in my fingertips because of the nerve damage from all that dragging. All in all, I am happy to be at home and happy with what we have achieved.

I'm running well now. The first few days after you feel drunk. You cannot walk in a straight line. This passes after a few days and you only feel something when you get up. This was the first week that I started training again. Rowing is such a unique thing that you do. You push yourself off a sliding seat and pull with your back. While your back muscles, hips, and core are very strong, you are not using your calves at all. You take three steps to the seat and three steps back to the cabin, not using your chest at all.

Today it was very difficult to do even 10 pushups. thing you do on this water is healthy for you; not the sleep you get, and certainly not the movement you row. w it's at the point where long term recovery and repair comes into play. That means going back to the gym and building those muscles that were stunted and rolling and stretching a lot because I'm like a tight rubber band right now. I turned 39 on this water and when I was in my 20s I rolled my eyes while stretching and rolling. w I spend more time rolling and stretching than anything else. I'm not what I was when I was 26, but I'm smarter than I was then.

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