The ten months following the move to become my mom’s full time caregiver were anything but smooth. I thought, find a job, hang out with mom, and pretty much superimpose the life I had before onto my new location. What is the saying? If you want to make God laugh, tell her your plans.
To a certain extent, mom’s need to maintain the status quo in the house was accommodated when most of my belongings were packed away in the garage. The job search which started out hopefully, spiraled toward earth like a plane without engines until I became briefly suicidal after not passing the test for a US census job, and mom’s care needs escalated far quicker than expected as she was forced to confront the passing of her best friend. To top it all off, although I had rowed in a learn to row quad over the summer, I had managed to gain a tremendous amount of weight through the fall. By December, despite having passed the ‘do over’ census test only to be told that my experience was impressive but…., I was in desperate need of a challenge that would re-establish my confidence.
My beloved, from the safety of his home five hundred miles away in the big mitten, suggested that I try the Concept 2 January Virtual Rowing Challenge and promptly put me in touch with a hardcore in it to win it team, peppered with elite athletes. The captain took me on, under the condition that I commit to 100 thousand meters. After numerous calculations, and many consultations with friends and family, I agreed.
It was a tough month. Mom’s best friend of 85 years had passed away in December and I was trying to coax her into sticking around, although at the time she wasn’t sure she could “without her Ruthie”. We spent hours every day working on jigsaw puzzles, trying new recipes for the perfect oatmeal raisin cookie, and looking at pictures. In between there was a cycle, row, eat, ibuprofen, chores, sleep, eat, ibuprofen, and row again. It was grueling, but somehow the continuous motion and simple repetition of the days kept us both going. When all was said and done, on January 31rst I had logged over 501 hundred thousand meters, mom was still here, and even with numerous oatmeal cookie taste tests, I had lost 17 pounds.
In April, thanks to a tax refund, one of the few benefits of unemployment after the insurance ran out, I bought my very own Model E Concept 2 rowing machine. It was a phenomenal feeling to row on my porch surrounded by spring on a clean responsive, and easy to maintain machine, which was the complete opposite of the one I had been struggling with at the local YMCA. I spent luxurious hours in between chores on long rambling ergs averaging 10-12 K per day. By summer it became obvious that with no money for rowing fees, I needed to set my sight simply on what I could and began training with an eye to the Crash B Sprints, that will be held next year in Boston on February 20th.
Even though I was in reasonable shape after all those long distances, the first time I did a 2k test I distinctly heard the sound of freight train straining. I became disoriented for a minute when I realized, A. we don’t live near the tracks, B. the sound was audible despite Love Lockdown playing loudly in my headphones, and C. It was actually the sound of my throat, trying to keep my lungs from imploding.
I must have survived because today marked day 126 of training, leaving a mere 94 days between now and race day. After careful study and consideration of the times for others in the women’s heavyweight 55-59 category I have come up with a time that belongs to me and is my goal for the actual race. I am still quite far from that goal and some days I wonder why anyone would even attempt such a ridiculous and unnecessary event. Yet here I am, looking forward to my planned day off tomorrow and day 128 – all I can say is – what a ride.