My Mitochondria

slow boat
This is the Historical Fremont Bridge in Seattle.

My mom didn’t take up rowing until she was 50, but even with a late start she’s still at the top of masters rowing. She races against former Olympians at FISA World Championships, and makes mothers all over the world go home with tears in their eyes. Our hallway is lined with the medals she has collected recently, including a gold from Head of the Charles.

Mom's Boat
My mom is the stroke (stern of the boat) in the white hat.

Yesterday I went to Lake Union in Seattle to watch my mom racing in an eight at the Fremont 4-miler. They really didn’t look like they were working all that hard. Here’s the route (I gave my mom a Garmin Forerunner 305, which has proven to be as good a product for rowers as it is for triathletes.)

View Larger Map

They didn’t look like they were going that hard, but check out the the heart rate data my mom recorded click for a bigger view:

HR and Pace VS Time

The dips in HR are when the boat was turning and port side had to let up.

For a 60 year old women, the old max heart rate of (220-Age) would mean that her max should be 160, but she was averaging over 180, and revved up to 192 on the last stretch. That’s awesome. I’m proud of my mom for being able to race so hard, but there’s also a selfish reason that I’m so stoked on my mom’s ability to crush her competition: cytoplasmic inheritance.

Mom Racing
I’m not sure I’d like having a coxswain staring at me the whole race

You may know that your aerobic capacity is largely based on the efficiency with which your cells can uptake and metabolize oxygen. You may also know that the parts of your cell responsible for aerobic respiration are organelles called mitochondria. The interesting part is that your mitochondria have separate DNA, and are inherited through cytoplasmic inheritance (they come in the egg). In other words, your aerobic capacity comes from your mother. [sorry Dad, it’s true.]

Thanks Mom!!

Jean Rogers
That’s my mom’s friend Jean Rogers. She dominated her race and finished with the masters men. If she ever had kids they would be really lucky.

Published by Ben

Ben Collins Professional Triathlete

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  1. WEW, I’m outa breath just thinking about it. Now son, aren’t you glad I can sure pick ’em!

    Good job Ruth Ann!


  2. I am totally bummed you didn’t tell me your mom was at Head of the Charles!!!!!! I could have totally watched! But your does sound way hard core and I never knew that. Glad to know I am just as fortunate with my mom.

  3. Well, she did Head of the Charles last year, but this year was too out of shape from being dragged around Europe for three weeks with no place to row. My bad… 😉

  4. Good report of the race. I don’t think my heartrate was that high, but I know it was higher on the turn at the S end of Lake Union when I/we were pulling all those ports around the corner!! Candy

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