My Race

July 27, 2013
Three years ago, I took my very first strokes. While initially the movements felt unnatural, the boat was tippy, and the sport seemed abstract, a sense of ease came upon me as I sat there, in the middle of the river, attempting to make my boat move. Since this first day on the water, rowing has become more to me than just a sport, and what once seemed a foreign environment now has become the utopia which provides me with guidelines to live my life by.

Every row, like every new day, is a new challenge, a new opportunity, a new chance for success. Each race, like each new goal, is a new fight, a new battle to be won or lost depending on how it is approached.

The shore is my past. It is what I leave behind me and what I cannot change. When I shove off the dock I leave this all behind me and commit to row. I accept the pain that lies ahead and commit to row. All that matters is the battle that lies ahead and that is what I must focus on.

The finish line is my goal, my hope, my dream. I realize it will take some time and a hard fight to reach it, but I won’t settle for second. Nothing other than first will satisfy me and will complete this battle.

My boat is my knowledge. I can only do in the boat what I have been taught and what I have practiced. Though my boat will sometimes be offset, I must apply the skills I have to find balance again and learn from the experiance.

My oar is my passion, my drive for success, my determination. The harder I pull my oar through the water, the closer I’ll come towards achieving my goal. Though doing so may tear large chunks of skin from my hands and leave me in pain I never thought conceivable, I must trust that those hands will heal, that the pain will fade, and just keep fighting towards the finish.

My teammates are my family, support, and inspiration during my most challenging moments. When the race becomes difficult I want nothing more than to quit, I look at the eight other people in the boat counting on me, and realize I not only would be quitting on myself down but on them as well. Therefore, I continue to fight.

My coxswain is my mentor and guidance. I cannot see what racecourse or obstacles lay ahead, but I must rely on my coxswain to lead and support me, and trust they will use their best judgment to get me to the end.

The water conditions are my roadblocks. Some days, the water will be smooth and easy to row on, and some days I’ll face waves that make my boat unbalanced, or a headwind that makes me row twice as hard to move forward. I cannot predict what will be thrown at me, the waves may splash me making it difficult to focus, and my race may take longer to complete, but I must adjust my rowing to the conditions and accept the fact that the water isn’t flat every day.

My row is what I make it. The choice to race is mine. I can go out, pull hard despite the pain, brave the difficult water conditions, and adjust to any imbalance in the boat, or I can stay on the shore and never begin the fight. In this utopia, I control my destiny and I decide what I will achieve.

Three years later, I have decided to extend my rowing off the water. I will choose, everyday, to row my race despite the conditions. If there is a headwind, I will row twice as hard, if I catch a crab, I will retrieve the oar and resume rowing, and if I lose I will train harder, come back, and win. At points I may need my teammates for inspiration and a coxswain to get me through the whitecaps, but at the end of the day, I will finish my race and I will win my fight.

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