Rowing

May 3, 2012
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Some things are hard for people to understand. Like how anyone could be proud of nasty, hard, yellow calluses that turn hands into hunks of leather. Then there are machines from a torture chamber – why would anyone want to erg as much as we do? Running, lifting weights, erging (which, by the way, an erg is a rowing machine), and basically enduring hell…all for a sport. At the end of practice, we’re covered in sweat, we compare our salt deposits, brag about our blisters, and most likely we’re bleeding someplace on our hands. Rowing is a sport where you win by sitting on your rear and going backwards…you get to see the people you’re beating rather than a finish line (which is something quite dignifying). Rowing is a sport for which you have to work your ass off and it’s like nothing else.

It confuses people as to why someone would put themselves through such intense pain. And sometimes it’s even hard for me to understand. Once in a while I wonder why I row. Then I realize that I don’t know what I’d do if I didn’t row…I don’t know where I’d be without my beautiful, spandex-adorned family. Rowing has taught me more about myself and about life than anything else of which I can think. It has shown me how far I am willing to push myself, where my breaking point is, and it has taught me how to push myself past that breaking point, through my walls – physical and mental. Rowing has shown me that I can endure so much more than I think is possible, it sets expectations for me and teaches me how to meet those expectations. Rowing has revealed my strengths and weaknesses and most of all, my character. A rower’s character (along with mental strength) shines through during those middle 1000 meters of a 2k test, through that wall where your brain says, “No, you can’t,” but your body keeps going, and mind you, that body pulls harder. In the speech ROWING INCHES, Al Pachino says it perfectly: “It’s the guy who’s willing to die who’s gonna win that inch… You’ve got to look at the guy next to you – look into his eyes. Now I think you’re gonna see a guy who will go that inch with you; you’re gonna see a guy who will sacrifice himself for this team because he knows when it comes down to it, you’re gonna do the same for him… Either we fight now as a team or we will die as individuals…” As one soon learns, there is something really spectacular about rowing and how it affects a person…

More than anything though, it’s the people you row with which makes rowing such an addiction. Your crew is your family; the boathouse is your second home. It’s those people for whom you are willing to push yourself past the brink of insanity, through those thick walls of pain; those people with whom you fight to gain length on another boat’s bow ball that make it all worth the suffering. You see, rowing pulls people together –your fellow rowers are the people for whom you sweat and bleed; they share your fears and tears, your pain and glory. They shine with you at your best and still love you at your worst. Sometimes we’ll be at each other’s throats, but in the end we’re a family and we love each other, and that’s what counts.





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