It is clearly January, and as many of you know that means the Concept2 January World Virtual Rowing Challenge is underway. This is my fourth year erging for Ariel Toy, under the watchful eye of our Team Captain Bob Reichart. It is a fiercely competitive team made up of heroic warriors, including a US Olympian, US Military personnel, and most of the Detroit Boat Club.
Last year, I barely scraped by to exceed the minimum requirement of 100,000 meters in 31 days due to exponentially expanded caregiver demands. This year brings an entirely new challenge and even though my overall meters may not be as high as in years past, it is a triumph of infinite proportions to even have re-upped for the event.
You see each of the years that I have participated mom has served as my cheerleader, coach, and witness. Walks with Molly punctuated long hours out on the porch in all kinds of conditions. So I knew this would be tough. I did my best to prepare.
For starters, I moved my rowing machine off the frozen tundra of the porch and into the den. Next, there was the issue of having not erged much since early last spring. I have been pretty sedentary over the last few months of intense grief. So last month I started doing 10 minutes per day. Which doesn’t sound like much but took tremendous courage. The first three times, there were long periods of sobbing after getting off the machine.
Facing ‘the erg’ on January first, I planned for 20 thousand and managed 12. It was humbling, to say the least. I had to keep stopping every few hundred meters for water, and to adjust my feet which were pretty sore from work. Needless to say my total meters for the day, although a decent showing, took what felt like forever to complete. The second day I tried to recapture the joy of beginners mind – I put on music and did a shorter stint. The third day I was pissed off and feeling extremely sorry for myself. And then something happened….
I began to remember how much I like the motion, and the feeling of strong competence as my legs push back and my arms follow through. I thought about how at one time my erg felt like my best friend and the anchor that helped me stay and take care of my mom.
With each successive day the image of myself once again gliding across the water with the loons and swans of Lake Cochichuate in the predawn darkness has grown stronger. As of today, at 54,193m I stand at number twenty of forty-nine team members, while Ariel Toy currently runs ninth, out of two hundred eighty-two teams. There is still a long long way to go.
All I know is there is a new confidence beginning to grow. I am still here, altered though I may be. I will survive. I have purpose and direction.
My goal for this month is simply to row each of the thirty one days, and to finish strong. It is clearly a year when moderation will be key to making it through.
Each month a new goal and another step back to living. Next month is LICSW test prep class. In the meantime I continue to make sandwiches, knit daily, dream of spring, and erg. And that ain’t bad all things considered.