A River Runs Through It

Love this book and of course, the movie. I couldn’t help but poach the title. As I was pulling this post together, the phrase popped into my head. So cliché, but so applicable. I’ve used a variety of words and phrases including adventure, journey, and life-changing experience as I’ve written about my dive into rowing that began on the Connecticut River one New England summer morning, nearly two years and two months ago. I still remember the date. I probably always will. June 27, 2010.

Out of curiosity, I spent some time the other night combing through old emails, using search words: “learn to row” and “Riverfront Recapture” which is the Rowing Club in Hartford, Connecticut where I got my first strokes in with the Beginner’s Sculling Class Mondays and Wednesdays 8-9:15am. I was so enthusiastic and such a rookie, but instantly knew I had stumbled upon something that I could not do without. After the first week, I was already begging the coaches to let me start coming early every morning and “get more practice in.” Typical. But I knew this wasn’t something I wanted to recreationally pursue.

On a recent trip back to Connecticut, I had the opportunity to return to Riverfront and spend the afternoon riding in the coach’s launch, helping call starts for pieces–and even a little coaching–as the Riverfront women’s team was preparing for Master’s Nationals. It was so wonderful seeing those women that I experienced my first races with and my beginning of this love affair with rowing. Being reminded of a beginning–that first day of classes, your first presentation at work, or the first 5K race you finish (however terrible the time may seem now)–is both humbling and reviving.

And then my mind wanders through the twists and turns of the past couple of years. So. Much. Has. Happened.

“Heaven on Earth” Rivanna Reservoir – Charlottesville, Virginia.

With the conclusion of the 130th Royal Canadian Henley Regatta last week, the 2012 summer racing season has come to an end. I didn’t come away with the hardware that I collected last year (winning Henley Gold in the Senior Women’s Double and Senior Quad in 2011), but I still had a decent regatta with the point of the week being to have a little fun and get some last racing experience in before the summer ends. Competing in the Senior Women’s Single and the Women’s Championship Single events, I put up four 2K races in four days. 

It was my first racing since the Small Boat Olympic Trials in April. I had been sidelined all of May and June with a frustrating broken rib. A huge learning experience that I hope to never endure ever again. Even though I spent those eight weeks rehabbing and working on the bike, running, and cross-training, I was not quite in racing shape for the Henley. I managed to win my heat and semifinals, taking 2nd in the Final (out of an overall 48 competitors) in the Senior Women’s Single. Being the competitor that I am, it wasn’t easy swallowing defeat and knowing that I did not have my best racing. And even if I knew going into it, being out of shape is no fun and a little bit of a kick in the gut.

So it’s back to work. And working harder than ever. The 2012 Olympic Games have passed, and the U.S. Women’s Rowing team had a dominating performance, winning Gold in the 8+ and Bronze in the 4x. Our W2-, W1x and W2x had strong performances as well. Official workouts with the team at the U.S. Training Center in Princeton, NJ start back up in less than two months.The bar is set higher than ever. My application was accepted for my Women’s Championship Single entry for the 48th Head of the Charles in October. In the meantime, I’m off to my little piece of Heaven on Earth, Charlottesville, Virginia for a solid few weeks of good rowing, good coaching, and good people.

“One of life’s quiet excitements is to stand somewhat apart from yourself and watch yourself softly becoming the author of something beautiful even if it is only a floating ash.”                                       -Norman Maclean, A River Runs Through It

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