Just over seven days ago, I was returning from a full training week of rowing in South Carolina, exhausted from pushing myself physically, mentally, and emotionally on levels I hadn’t experienced in a long time or to an extent, ever. My first day out on the water (probably my 10th time ever in a single), and in the midst of trying to keep up with the other elite rowers during a speed workout, I swamped my boat and ended up going for a little dip. After the realization that the water wasn’t as cold as I had expected and the fear of hypothermia had subsided, I threw myself back into my boat as quickly as possible and hurried down the racecourse at a steadier, controllable pace. Surprisingly, I wasn’t embarrassed but rather angry. I wasn’t expected to be “winning” the speed workouts; I don’t really know if there were any expectations attached to my performance on the water that week. I still couldn’t help but be angry and frustrated. I quickly learned there wasn’t time to dwell on the mistakes, and I couldn’t expend the energy dwelling on how poor of a rower I was at that moment. The week was about gaining experience and repetitions. For lack of a better term, it really was about getting my feet wet. I was killing it on the erg, on the safety and comfort of dry land. Now it was time to see what I was really made of and how well I would be able to move a boat. I got more than I bargained for.
The training week was critical on several accounts. Progress of my rowing skills from day one to day seven was worth the quick dump in the water. Talk about being thrown in the lion’s den or fire or whatever metaphor comes to mind, I was forced to sink or swim (again, it seems impossible to get away from the water/boat puns). I grew more in those seven days as a rower and person than I have in any other setting. The emotional gamut ran from days when I wanted to break my oars across my knee (no, I did not attempt this…) to the afternoon when my coach said, “Meghan, you look like you are actually rowing…” to the last morning row when the fog was breaking across the smooth, glass water reflecting a southern sunrise and the only sounds were the light splash of your oar breaking the water and the slide of your seat as you eased into the catch.
Back from camp, back to reality–it’s been a full week of training mixed with a full week of being back in the office and juggling “life” and “rowing” –it seems the deeper I get into rowing, the more it becomes “life.” No complaints from me. Every morning, I wake up looking forward to the painful but fulfilling relationship I’ve entered. Torturing myself to pull a PR (Personal Record / Personal Best) in a 6K erg test this morning and knowing that the hard work I’m putting day in and day out is actually paying off is a rewarding, accomplishing feeling. Flipping my boat and having my butt kicked by (albeit, the top Juniors in the country) a week ago forces me to remember that it takes putting pride on the shelf and forgetting your ego, to truly embrace starting from the ground up and having the confidence to know you will reach the top.