Erging, is working out on the machine that helps build strength, timing, and stamina for rowing in races. There is no way around it. Just as you would never enter a marathon without miles and miles of roadwork, most rower’s would not attempt racing without this essential preparation.
It is 6 am and I find myself uncharacteristically cranky as I navigate my way, through an assortment of the sleeping beauties that include my two beautiful stepdaughters from Canada, my three nieces, and Molly, snoring the loudest. I am on my way to the uninsulated porch that doubles as training room. The temperature has dropped in the night and even though I know it will warm up once I reach cruising altitude, it means the first few minutes will be brutal. Crossing the threshold in near total darkness the first thing I notice are my anchors, the inspirational sayings strategically placed around the room. I can’t see what they say, but I know them by heart. Back 2Practice: Greatness Starts Here, I breathe in, and the outside world melts away.
There is something about erging in the dark that translates cold and alone into strong and competent. Today I sing along with Linkin Park while establishing a steady sustainable pattern. Swoosh, sweat begins to tickle my neck, the distance I have traveled is equal to or greater than the life that remains, what is to become of me? Swoosh, I am fully engaged legs with controlled movement, will hopes and dreams be fulfilled? Swoosh, I am long, lean, and elegant, will I sustain this healthy self AND go the distance with mom?
I think of all the other women training for the Crash B’s. What if I make a fool of myself? This is not about them, it is about finding, naming, and claiming my own timing. Swoosh, the new blister on the callous of my ring finger begins to burn, nine thousand meters down, only three thousand to go. Fifty five and more alive I remind myself, as I relax my grip and dig deeper. Being almost there means no longer having to hold any energy back, breathing becomes more labored as my stroke rate increases.
Nothing exists now but the last stubborn thousand meters running backwards on my MP4 monitor. I can do this. 978, 977, 976, almost there. Faster, push, harder 534, 533, 532. Faster still, sweat stinging my eyes, breath blowing out through pursed lips in steady puffs. 103, 102, you gotta love endorphins. Smiling, 32, 31, 30, yes, yes yes. Done. Sweaty and spent, I record the data, happily having shaved off a few precious seconds from the last 12k.
Released by the luxurious stretch of long muscle fibers is a delicious on this day, but occasionally sinister, knowing. Any sense of pride in the accomplishments of today, will count as nothing more than muscle memory tomorrow. After wiping down my machine with reverence, I pause to admire the pink that is spreading across the sky. Until tomorrow then – God willing. Heading back into the house where life is stirring, I smile.