I haven't been talking that much about rowing this winter. This is mostly because I've had a crop of really thought-consuming student athletes to work with. But now I feel the urge to talk a little about my erg.
The past few weeks we've been doing timed rows in a group. The indoor rowing class has people ranging in age from me to an old dude who smells like bengay. There are 2 other young ladies and one young guy who wears as much Ohio State gear as I wear Penn State stuff. Also, I had signed up for the advanced rowing class because I felt cocky and wanted a better workout than they give you in the beginning ones.
So I have no idea what I'm doing and each week, Sonja the Russian coxswain and Devon the dancer spend a long time molding my body, pressing on my shoulders while I row, holding my butt still so I won't "shoot the slide." But I have endurance! And speed! Last week, in fact, Sonja said "Penn State! Please sit in the front row next to Adam." (Ohio State)
I literally said "MEEE???" because why on earth would they put a clunker like me in the front row for the other rowers to model.
"Yes, please. You have a good pace and we need to row fast today."
I started to get the edge. I was going to win at something. Beat someone. Ha!
I wanted to beat Ohio State. I wanted to beat him even more when Devon told the whole class he was certain that guy would finish first. Apparently, even if everyone is rowing the same stroke rate per minute, the people who drive harder with their legs cover more meters per stroke. I only realized this when he was finishing up and I still had 100 meters to go. But I could still be the first woman finished.
It was insane and crazy. I had to row my brains out and I just wouldn't let myself not be the first one done. I have never felt competitive with things that involve speed before. I just tend to let myself be a tight five player. Everyone understands that the tight five isn't supposed to finish first. Except in the boat house they have no idea what that means and I wasn't letting those women beat me.
And I won! Then, this week, I beat my time by 3 seconds.
After our hard workouts, we go into the tanks and work on technique with actual oars in actual water. There, I am still the delinquent rower who feathers too early and conks the person behind me with my seat and handle. And I don't care because I've only been doing this a few months.
But upstairs, where speed and fitness matters, I am kicking butt. Which foreshadows great things on the rugby field this spring. Look out Albany. The Pittsburgh tight five is coming your way.