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Rowing Adventure: Day 2

April 13, 2011

If I could write this piece lying down, I would. I’m not sure where the pain in my abs ends and the pain in my back begins. That was the feeling I woke up to this morning as I rolled out of bed-as opposed to sitting up and getting out of bed.

Despite the fact that the coaches and the ladies referred to our 7 a.m. start time as an opportunity to sleep in, I still found the darkness outside the Hecht Center as a sign that I shouldn’t be awake yet. Today’s workout is an on-land workout in the James L. Knight Sports Complex. As I rolled in, the ladies were pleased to see that I had indeed survived my first day and had come back for more. In the gym, we lined up 30 erg machines and then did our warm-up.

It must be a sign that I’m getting older, but the stretching and the calisthenics had never felt better as everything in my body cracked, popped, and ached. After our warm-up, Coach Carter informed the team that our workout for that day would be three sets consisting of a 500-meter sprint, with a three minute rest, a hard 1,000 meters followed by a six minute rest, and then another 500-meter sprint followed by a 10-minute cool down in-between sets. The light groans from a few of the ladies around me kind of signaled that this might not be a good thing.

My level of worry continued to increase as freshman Julia Reisner and senior Sarah Medland asked me if I was doing the entire workout with the team. They both agreed that it was very mean of our coaches to put me through such an event. Before we got started on our schedule of torture, we had a 25-minute warm-up session that, in my mind, was sufficient for the day. As Coach Carter started the team off on the 500, I broke out in a hard pace, ready to prove I was up for the challenge. With 100 meters, left I glanced to my left where Julia and Sarah were both resting after their first 500. None too pleased with the preparation and start of the team, Coach informed us that we would be re-doing that first 500 meters. Not fun. My second 500 meters was nowhere near as fast as the first and I finished further behind the powerful strokes from the ladies to my right. The only thing motivating me was the smile from our Associate Communications Director, LaTonya Sadler, who playfully asked “Are you having fun yet?”

As we continued to push through the sets, Coach Carter reminded us that these sets represented the breakdown of a 2,000-meter race. That we were supposed to attack the first 500 meters off the starting line to get the boat up to top speed as quickly as possible. The middle 1,000 meters are where you want to maintain a strong pace throughout, and the final 500 meters you want to pour everything you have into getting that boat across the finish line first. In between our breaks, the coaches went around to the ladies, discussing strategy with them and making minor adjustments on their technique and their mindset through the race. After Coach Carter had one such discussion with freshman Julia Reisner, I talked to her about her adjustment to Miami. After starting as a rower in her junior year of high school in Redmond, Washington, she was recruited across the country to the University of Miami. While she’s faced the normal challenges of any freshman adjusting to college life, she’s enjoyed the opportunity to be closer to her sister in Atlanta, and like everyone I’ve met here, she enjoys the weather.

I wish I could say that these conversations helped me forget how many sets I had done like the six 1,000 meters I did yesterday, and that the workout had all blended together into one painful memory. But I vividly remember how painful each pull was today and how sick I felt before, during, and after each repetition.

The advice I got from numerous teammates made the workout at least bearable. Junior Katie Stanzilis kept reminding to keep my arms and legs moving in between sets to prevent lactic acid from building up in my muscles later in the workout. Sarah gave me the encouragement to keep pushing through my workout after she had finished long before me. The smiles from my Novice 4+ teammates from yesterday as they checked in on me to see if I was still pulling through today, and the encouragement from junior coxswain Maria Seimann to push through my pain and to beat my time gave me a little extra burst. The camaraderie between the ladies was an amazing sight to behold and the way they included me as part of their team wanted to make me push through to the end.

While there is no way I will be joining them for their weight training and their cardio workout this afternoon, I am ready to come back tomorrow morning, get on the water and show to my new teammates that I’m up to the challenge. And as I walked out of the gym with a few of the ladies, I remembered the aspect of team sports that is so addicting and the sense of accomplishment and camaraderie  that you can’t find anywhere else.