Friday, November 28, 2008

The last rowing class...

The last time I was off of running for a substantial amount of time, I swore I'd sign up for a learn-to-row class the next time I was off of running. Why rowing? After some years of running around Green Lake and along Lake Union I'd seen the rowers out at the same time I'd be out very early in the am. I'm sure they were enjoying the same exact things I was enjoying. They were getting a workout but also an almost spiritual workout. Dawn. Stillness. Effort. Sweat. Peace.


Tomorrow I have my last learn to row class. I knew absolutely nothing about boats and haven't been on anything much smaller than a cruise ship. Bow. Port. Weigh enough. It was a foreign language so much so that I had to make flashcards to help me remember the terms. I grew up swimming and I'm very comfortable in the ocean body surfing or a swimming pool but an iddy biddy shell in the middle of a lake in winter in Seattle? I watched the safety video about "catching a crab" and freaked out thinking about getting in that little shell.

but I'd paid my money and I was going to learn to row, dammit! We learned the basic stroke in a tank. We practiced on an erg in the gym. We learned the calls the leader of the boat (the coxswain) would use to coordinate 8 people to get a 165' foot shell out off of the stacked racks and into the water. Then we learned how to get in the boat. The 20 people who had signed up for the class dwindled as it got cold and windy over the course of a month.

And we learned to row. I sit port in a sweep boat (one oar) and have sat at the bow of the boat. You do a lot of setting the boat so it is level in the water when you sit bow. lately as our numbers have dwindled and we just have enough to fill an 8seater boat, I've sat stroke. Stroke? it means I'm the first rower and sit right in front of the coxswain who directs the boat. Every rower takes their lead off of what the stroke does. I count my pull and my recovery and don't really think about anything but the effort of what I'm doing and what my oar is doing in the water. When I sit listening to the coach I take it how beautiful it is on Lake Union at night. It's stillness, effort, sweat and peace.

I got into a discussion with our coxswain, Bill. A dedicated rower and oh so patient with a bunch of newbies in a very tippy boat. He's been off rowing since June because of a bad bout of tendonitis (possibly a tendon pulled off the bone) in his elbow. He's been grounded and just started back to rowing last week. Oh did I so understand the pain physically and mentally he's been going through. there is nothing like rowing according to him and now I can understand that.

There is also nothing like running and I'm very glad to be back at it. However, rowing is waiting for me. At some point I'll need to do more of it...

P.S. The last class was fabulous. Only six people showed up. I got put into a two-seater sculling boat and we were able to row together. According to one of the coaches we did very well for such newbies.

No comments: