So, your kid wants to row…

I met a couple of newbie rowing parents yesterday. All bright eyed and bushy tailed. Was I ever that naïve? It became clear to me very quickly that they have absolutely no idea on how their lives are going to change irrevocably.

Rowing is a team sport not only for the actual crew, but for their support staff – you, the parent.

Rowing is a fabulous sport. The teamwork. The outdoors. The sheer beauty of watching 8 rowers work in perfect unison. The sunrises.

All the good stuff.

However, there are some things no-one tells you about as the parent of a wanna-be rower.

These are but a few of them.

When your child chooses to row, so do you.

Is it worth it? Absolutely. There is nothing that can compare to it. However, (there’s always a but), you have to be prepared to actually do it. Your whole family has to adjust to support an Athlete – with a capital A.

Holidays. When you want to arrange a family holiday, you’ll find yourself hat in hand, cautiously approaching the coach to ask when it would be convenient. The answer is – never. You can have Easter Sunday and Christmas Day off.

Weekends: Lazy weekend braais by the pool with friends? Maybe a brunch with the girls? Don’t kid yourself. These will be but a fond memory. Your weekends will now be spent at regattas. Every weekend. And training stops for no man or woman ­– off-season or on.

Plans. Your friends and colleagues will stop asking about your weekend plans. They’ll know that there is only one answer – rowing. All your conversations will revolve around rowing. Your friends will exist almost entirely of other rowing parents. You’ll be bonded by the same rowing PTSD.

Having a sleep in. You’ll be in the car at 4:30am armed with a folding chair and a cooler box filled with water. Eventually you may find yourself investing in a gazebo. You’ll soon be able to erect and dismantle it in a shorter time than a US Marine can assemble his field rifle.

Dinner. Your meal plans at home will revolve around carbo-loading, pre-hydration, chicken breasts and protein shakes. Your child will eat you out of house and home.

Training. They start you off slowly. One or two afternoons after school. Then Saturday mornings. And Sundays. Then early morning training in the gym 5 – 7am. Before you know what has hit you, you’re getting up at 3 to take your child to the gym, getting them home at 7pm, feeding them a cow, battling through homework, bed and then the whole thing starts again. The pressure on your Athlete and yourself is intense. Everything, including exams, takes second place.

Spanners. You’ll buy so many size 10 and 13 spanners and no. 5 Allen keys that the sales staff at the hardware store will know you by name.

Folding chairs. You’ll quickly discover the pros and cons of every brand and design of folding chair.

Regatta food. You’d better love bacon and egg rolls, and the ever-ubiquitous, chicken prego. This is will be your main diet for most of the season. Bring a sandwich, plenty of water, fruit and chocolate milk. I don’t know why, but a cold Steri Stumpie is the best way for a rower to recover after a race.

The bar. The first time you head off to a regatta as a virgin parent, you might find yourself riding a moral high horse when you see another parent crack open a beer at 10am. Give it a few months.  The good news is that there is usually a very good bar. Schools compete to provide the latest craft beer and gin, fresh Pimms and champers. It’s very civilized.

Talking to your Athlete. Your child will go from zeniths to nadirs in 4 minutes. Their hands will be bloody, they’ll be beyond exhausted. They won’t want to engage with you. Just give them food and water and leave them to it.

Watching the race: This will be the longest and most excruciating few minutes of your life. You’ll need  binoculars, otherwise you’ll find yourself cheering on the wrong child. Oh, and they can’t actually hear you from the water at all. At about the 100m mark all they can hear is the pounding of their own hearts in their ears. People will tell you that you can identify the crew by their blades. This may be true when they’re rowing past you from the finish up to the jetty, but when they’re racing, you’ll be lucky to recognise anything.

The lingo. In order to survive you will need to know the language of rowing. Ergs. Blades. Stroke. Bow. Never, ever commit the cardinal sin of comparing a canoeist to a rower. Canoeist don’t row, they paddle.

Getting home early. Yes, the race takes 4 to 8 minutes. That doesn’t mean you get to go home. There are heats, semis and finals. Your child will be entered in 3 to 4 races. You’ll get there at sunrise and leave at dusk. From the dam, you’ll race back to the boat sheds to unpack the boats. You’ll be home by about 8pm. Get take-out. If you’re going to organize a lift club, try and do the morning trip and get some other sucker to do the home run.

Rowing camps. At some point you’ll be guilted into being a camp parent. This usually falls to the mother. You will fry up enough bacon and eggs to feed the Mongol hoards. You’ll sleep on an air mattress and on the backseat of your car. You’ll get inured to picking through the accumulated detritus of socks and underwear from 60 plus teenage boys. The trick here is to go to one and get it over with at the beginning of the season.

There are parents.

Then there are rowing parents.

Ask yourself. Are you up for it?

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The Rowing Chronicles – Part 6

Rowing Chronicles

 

What sounds like a great idea on a sunny Friday afternoon does not seem to be so brilliant in the cold grey dawn of a Sunday morning. Then, it seems like insanity.

Firstborn son and I hit the road and headed off to Hartebeespoort Dam at sparrow’s fart on Sunday morning to join my cousins, Tim and Wendy, for a morning of rowing.

Family is a strange and fascinating enigma. Something happens when you’re together and time and age disappears. The cousin who once bribed me with Caramello Bears now bribed me with me coffee to get me back on the water post my near-death experience.

Aside: I know I was really nowhere near death, but it doesn’t make a good story. Good stories are told when the truth is given scope – and scope I shall give it.

For me coffee and rowing are inseparable. They cannot be rowing without coffee. Lots and lots of coffee pots. Cousin Tim and Wendy have an innate understanding born of genetics and rowing that I was clearly not moving my ass until I’d had coffee.

Now, firstborn son was rather apprehensive about rowing me – an apprehension I shared since for some reason I cannot row a damn in front of him. I crack under the pressure of wanting to impress him. Nonetheless we waded into the cold and seated ourselves in an open water double.

My first-time in an open water boat and what a pleasure! It’s wide and comfy and stable! Also, it didn’t have those stupid shoes I hate, but velcro straps instead. So, no panic stricken foot claustrophobia.

Firstborn son is an amazing coach. He was utterly patient, brilliantly insightful and gave me not an inch. He made me practice techniques over and over, forced my back straight, kept me in rhythm and never made me feel like an idiot. (If only we could bring this attitude home, where like every mother of every teenager ever, I am the most stupid person alive!)

Also, his sense of humour slays me. If it wasn’t for the open water boat design I would have capsized from laughing so hard. I can’t wait to row with him again.

There are some unpleasant truths about rowing no-one speaks of. I suppose they’re considered taboo, but once you’re out there they will at some point need to be dealt with. I spent much of my recovery time asking the hard questions.

FARTING: All that core holding expels gas – backwards – into the face of the poor sap behind you. You can try to hold it in, but it will get harder and harder and eventually hot air must rise. The trick is to wait until you’ve got speed up and hope the cloud of methane swirls around you and dissipates rapidly on either side of your head without asphyxiating you.

PEEING: All that coffee! Firstborn informs me that when nature comes calling, the crew either pees off the side or just jumps into the water and leaps back in like a floundering salmon. Neither works for me, so here the trick is to pee before you get on the water.

NEWTON’S 3RD LAW: You need to know and absorb this one. It may seem awesome to test your race pace up the river for 2kms, but know this – you will have to come back down again. My approach is to take it slow up the course and race pace it down so you at least can get back to dry land without dying.

TIPPING: Having discovered this unpleasantness I can say with absolute sincerity, do not take anything with you in the boat you can’t afford to see sink. Even if you have your phone in a little plastic baggy you could well watch it sink into the netherworld, so rather leave it behind.

CREW: Row with a cool crew. You need to trust and respect the folks in the boat. You need to be able to laugh, have fun and enjoy yourself. There is absolutely no point setting yourself adrift with people you even mildly dislike. And despite all men (and women) being created equal, a crew is not a democracy – follow the damn stroke!

Tim and Wendy are off soon to the 2017 World Rowing Masters Regatta in Slovenia, which looks incredible! As well as being brilliant cousins they also make coastal and recreational rowing sculls.

They’ve been rowing since forever and have represented South Africa internationally and won many national titles in various boats at various levels and currently are active oarsmen (oarspeople?)

Good luck guys and thanks for having us over!

CAMPING WALKTHROUGHS NO. 6

The Rowing Chronicles Part 5

Rowing Chronicles

I kept my glasses on.

It sounds small, but it was kind of a BIG deal.

If you can keep your glasses on when everything goes to hell in a hand basket, you cling to that small anchor of control like… well, like… a drowning woman clings to a boat.

One cold winter’s morning, I swaggered into rowing a single scull for the first time. I was cool. I was calm-ish. I was collected. I was a strong, confident woman in charge of her own destiny.

I was touching. I was body swinging. I was ½ slide, ¾ slide and the whole shebang. I was cruising. And then I wasn’t.

You see my own hubris rose from the placid water like a leviathan, laughed and showed me just how over confidence can bite you in the proverbial behind.

I swayed to the left. I swayed to the right. My blades refused to cooperate. My brain short circuited and cardinal rule number 1 of never let go your blades suddenly and without warning evaporated from my psyche.

As the horison shifted I realised there was no way to rectify the situation. I was going overboard.

It was cold. It was really, really cold.

And then cardinal rule number 2 came into play. Never secure the shoes too tight. Although my freakish feet slip out of the shoes while rowing along, this does not mean strapping them on with extra shoes is the right way to go.

There I lay hanging on the scull, my feet firmly ensconced in shoes in no way keen on relinquishing control.

I yelled frantically for help, panicked and then took stock-take of my situation.

It was a this point I became aware that my glasses remained perched on my nose. This became of vital importance to me as I bobbed in the icy current.

Tulip Garden

I thought of Kaye Winslet in the Titanic and that poor man who survived in the ocean for days floating about on a piece of driftwood. I realised I was woefully under-equipped for survival.

But – I still had my glasses on.

My arms cramped up around the boat.

My hands went blue.

My legs reacted to being held at an awkward acute angle went numb.

I briefly considered submerging myself in the water and trying to untie my shoes. But, as I couldn’t get my hands to cooperate by letting go of the hull it seemed a moot point.

With the relativity of time and humiliation it seemed like forever I lay there contemplating just how ignominious my death would be. I’d be the woman found floating upside down in the lake whose shoe fetish killed her. I refused to die with such an epitaph like poor old Uncle Wilsie whose toe got stuck up the hot tap.

Eventually, hours and hours later (about 10 minutes really), along paddled my rescuer. I have no idea how, but he managed to steer me towards the shore. Where I lay hugging my boat like a cold, angular, unyielding comfort blanket.

“Let go now,” he said.

“No,” said I, “Feet. Stuck. Shoes.”

I had only small words left.

The absolute joy of having my legs facing downwards cannot be overstated. Unfortunately, they were not impressed with my treatment of them and refused to cooperate in allowing me to muster some shattered shred of dignity to totter out of the water cold, miserable and chastened by having to admit my own idiocy.

“Are you alright?”

“I still have my glasses!” I said.

I kept repeating this, much to everyone’s amusement, but it was really the only thing keeping me vaguely together.

And then I was given a hug and dissolved into tears of abject misery and dejection.

A coach boat was called to the rescue and I was ferried off across the lake to the jetties.

“How are you feeling?” said the coach.

“I still have my glasses,” said I.

Back on solid ground I trudged, dripping to the boathouse and discovered that my fingers would not cooperate enough to open the padlock. I found a patch of sunshine, removed my squishing shoes and hoped the world would just swallow me up whole.

It didn’t.

Some dry clothes and a towel (thanks to my son who had left some in the car and who I will never nag about taking his stuff out again) I felt marginally warmer. A life saving cup of coffee later and I was cheerily telling anyone in hearing distance, “I still have my glasses!”

Arriving home my son (the rower) told me off for rowing so far away from my crowd and leaving him behind. All true. He then explained how simple it is to re-float the boat and get back on.

“All you do is hold both blades, square them in the water and flip the boat over. Simple. Then just pop back in.”

Yeah. When exiting the swimming pool I use the stairs. I think this needs to be kept in mind.

Although my first inclination was to swear off rowing in a scull for the rest of time, I heard in my head the still, strident voice of Priscilla, my first riding instructor – “Get back on the horse!”

And so I shall. Just as soon as I stop shivering. And after I’ve practiced rescuing myself from the strait-shoes in a nice warm shallow spot of water for a bit.

But, regardless.

I kept my glasses on. So there!

Look, there’s a YouTube video on how to save yourself. Pity I wasn’t able to Google it while hanging on for dear life, but c’est la vie.

 

The Rowing Chronicles Part 4

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“Let’s do a regatta,” they said.

“It’ll be fun,” they said.

“Just one race,” I said.

“How about two,” they said.

“Just the two,” I said.

“Well, actually three,” they said.

“OMG!” I said.

“But you can do four,” they said.

“What planet are you living on?” I asked.

So, somehow I went from rowing one race to three in my first regatta. I’m still not entirely sure how it happened.

With a just over two months training under my belt, I suddenly realised the sheer magnitude of what I’d agreed to.

In perspective, while some people are athletes from primary school to the old age home, I am not. The last race I competed in was the egg and spoon race in preschool. And they gave me a potato instead of an egg.

I felt sick to my stomach.

My doubles partner and I hit the water with a vengeance, while our long suffering coach, Talbot (Mr T), did his level best to get us to row in a straight line, go up to the starting line (way harder than you think), and row the entire course in one go.

We were on the water at 06:30 and running to work at 09:00. I could start a new fashion label called ‘From Row 2 Go’. I figured out to to match my rowing leggings with a black miniskirt and a cute jacket and change my boat shoes for heels while in traffic. Necessity, invention and all that.

Regattas are a lot of work. The training, the derigging, the packing, the towing, the unpacking, the rerigging, the rowing, the derigging, the packing, the towing, the unpacking, the rerigging… it’s process.

I woke up on Saturday morning feeling nauseous. It was so cold, I piled layer on layer until resembling a rotund toddler in a ski suit. By the time I arrived at Wemmerpan for the Bucks Regatta, I was chilled to the bone, desperate for coffee and wishing for a fast forward button.

My rowing partner is a far better mother than me. Not only would I never have got this far without her, but she brought along a cordon bleu spread of breakfast, lunch and snacks. Most importantly, she brought coffee. Flasks and flasks of coffee.

Our quad had three learn-to-rowers and one experienced rower. Thanks heavens for him. The rest of us had no clue how to line up for the start and none of us have quite mastered the art of steering. For a race that only lasted a few minutes, it seemed to go on for hours. We may have looked a little like a caterpillar having an epileptic fit, but we came second!

Our doubles race did not end quite so well. We struggled with the line up, we missed our handicap and we were blown so far off the course, we rowed 2 kms rather than 700 m. I also had a massive panic attack in the middle of the race. With tears pouring down my face in the most unattractive manner, I begged and pleaded to throw myself in the water and just drown. Thanks to my calm and collected rowing partner, I didn’t. She got me to row and we finished the race in our lane.

I thought I would crawl out the boat, lie on the jetty and curl up in the foetal position.

No such luck.

We pulled up at the jetty, got out the boat and were unceremoniously ushered to the octuple. Talk about a new experience. I’d never been in an oct before. Our coxswain, Sebastian, is in the same rowing school as my son, and I have to give credit where it is due – I would not have made it without him. Despite most of us never having been in an oct or rowed with each other, Sebastian got us in time and drew on our last reserves of energy to get us down the lane and past the finish.

I have never felt so physically broken in my life. Neither have I ever felt quite so proud of myself. I never imagined I could do this. I have so much respect for my son and his crew putting themselves through this every single day without complaining.

I owe a huge debt of gratitude to all the people who got me across the finish.

  • My son who encourages me.
  • My rowing partner who inspires me, motivates me and feeds me.
  • My coaches, Dylan, Talbot and Craig who yell at me, push my limits and never doubt me.
  • The Victoria Lake Rowing Club and all the great men and women who give me much needed support and guidance.

My body hurts, I’ve never been so tired, but for some strange reason, I’d do it all again tomorrow.

 

 

The Rowing Chronicles 03

Rowing Chronicles

They call it being bitten. More like receiving a jolt of adrenaline straight to the heart – very Pulp Fiction-esque.

Not having been an heroin addict, I can’t say with absolute certainty that rowing is more of an instant addiction, but I imagine it might be.

Life is likea cup of tea.

I totally made that definition up, but it sounds really good.

I went from sloth to getting up at 5am to drive through misty darkness to get on a boat on water so cold the ducks refuse to swim in it. I don’t joke. I watched one do an incredible impression of Christ walking on water before succumbing to gravity and letting out a shriek of horror.

I can’t even say that it’s because I have discovered a hidden talent. I’m just learning, so I still get bow and stroke confused, my steering is wonky and my speed non-existent. Beside all this is a steely determination to succeed.

My schoolmates must be killing themselves laughing. After all, I did a sterling trade in sport sick notes and coming with creative excuses to avoid PE for 12 long years.

Now, usually on a public holiday, I sleep in as long as possible and dedicate myself to doing as little as possible. Not this one. For the last four days I’ve been at sparrow’s fart to row. This is when I start to wonder if my mental health has taken a knock.

I should be diagnosed with ‘Late Onset Physical Exercising’ otherwise known by its acronym – LOPE. Which, incidentally, is also my top speed of walking.

Let’s talk about shoes, shall we?

“Power to the legs!” yells my coach.

Yup. About that. I push off with all my might and my size 5 feet fly out of the size 15 shoes, I fly back and my blades go skywards.

Who on earth are these rowing shoes made for? Bigfoot?

Not only was I handicapped by my freakishly small feet in freakishly large shoes, but also by sitting in the steering seat. Because of my teeny tiny toes, I had to resort to contortion to steer the boat. This involved twisting my right leg and standing on tip toes to move the rudder while still trying to row. It wasn’t pretty.

I had to invest in some Tommies this weekend and shove my feet (now clad) into the enormous shoes on the boat. I still have space to spare, much to the amusement of my crew, the coach and Son 1.

Speaking of Son 1. He is a marvel. Despite his amusement, he has given me so much support in this endeavour. I’m also driven by the need to impress him. This inevitably means that whenever he rows past I lose all sense of coordination. Typical. I only row well when no-one’s watching.

Back to eretmania, I somehow find myself excited about rowing at 6am tomorrow morning before work. Instead of worrying about how on earth I’m going to get myself up at that time, I’m wondering how I can turn my rowing gear into a work ensemble by adding a skirt and some accessories.

PS: Don’t forget that if I can get my chubby bum into a boat, so can you.

The Rowing Chronicles 02

Rowing Chronicles

If I had spent a quarter of the energy I did on avoiding sport on actually doing some, I might’ve been fairly adequate at one. I didn’t, and having now found a sport I love, I only wish I’d found it 20 years ago.

I am a sloth. It’s not even my spirit animal. I am a sloth.

I was a pretty happy, if out of shape sloth, but generally a contented sloth.

Then something happened.

A seismic shift.

The stars aligned.

Mercury went retrograde.

The poles shifted.

Trump became POTUS.

Who knows?

I sure don’t.

I woke up in January and decided that I needed to learn how Salsa.

I woke up in March and decided it was time to learn to row.

Perhaps aliens have taken over my body?

I am slightly discomforted by this notion, but extremely aware that I’m acting out of the character I have nurtured for most of my adult life.

I’m also not sure that this is a bad thing.

Look, I’m never going to be gazelle, but I may move up the energy scale from sloth, to koala, past panda and maybe hit duck, swan if I manage to transition from ugly duckling.

It feels pretty good actually. Except for the obvious aching sore muscles loudly protesting the physical abuse.

So, rowing…

Marriage should be between a spouse and a spouse, not a genderand a gender.(6)

My humpbacked posture and non-existent core (largely due to three pregnancies and a back op) have improved drastically over the last 3 weeks. I’m no longer hunching over my desk like some spectre from Notre Dame.

I have more energy and less anxiety and depression. I would say I’ve lost weight, but honestly, I can’t be arsed to find a scale and find out.

My rowing coach, Dylan, is a source of constant and hilarious inspiration.

Marriage should be between a spouse and a spouse, not a genderand a gender.(2)

My crew mates, Andrea, Mo and Tyrone keep me in stitches, keep me motivated and keep me from rushing the slide.

I am, however, bemused by the idea that according to context we have to use synonyms for basic words that have stood in good stead since birth like ‘easy’ for ‘stop’. ‘Stop’ seems to me to be a perfectly adequate word for the action you wish me to take. I don’t understand why we can’t just say ‘Stop’.

Also:

It’s not left and right or port and starboard. It’s bow and stroke.

The two rowers at the back of the boat (3 and 4) are the stroke pair.

The two rowers at the front of the boat (1 and 2) are the bow pair.

Yes, this is confusing, because this placement has nothing to with left and right, but back and front.

Also, you face the back, not the front. So, when you go up the slide, you’re actually going backwards on the boat, but forwards in relation to your feet.

And, most importantly it’s not an oar, and definitely not a paddle. It’s a blade.

And never never ever call the boat a canoe.

The last learning I have from this weekend’s training is that manicured long nails and rowing are mutually exclusive.

After gouging out holes on the back of my right hand with my (not even very long) nails on my left hand) I sat in the boat, desperately gnawing at my nails to avoid any more bloodshed. Note to self: Bring band aids in the boat.

And now, sadly, there is no rowing for a bit as the experienced guys head off to regattas, us parents head off to Easter Egg hunts and so forth. I feel a little devastated, I may actually have to go to a gym (the horror) to use a rowing machine in a poor approximation.

In pursuit of perfection

sanddunes

There is that second, the space between seconds, where everything comes together in perfect synchronicity – that’s where magic lives.

It’s the moment the sun breaks through the clouds and hits the water droplets at just the right angle to create a rainbow bridge between heaven and earth.

It’s the moment each member of the crew hits the perfect rhythm and for those few microseconds there is nothing but the sound of the slide and the faint sound of the blades hitting the water. It’s where the soul finds silence.

It’s only my second time on the water and I’m already in thrall to the sport of rowing. It’s given me this unique glimpse inside my son’s world and I finally understand what drives him out of bed at 4am to train, why he lives each moment just waiting for when he can finally get back on the water.

Look, it’s not all poetry. Four very different personalities, most of us strangers, had to learn very quickly how to trust, how to follow someone else’s lead, how to cope with knowing that everyone else in the boat is relying on you to give 120% and never ever give up.

My crew on this misty Autumn Sunday morning was incredible. We had a lot of laughs, shed a few tears, but experienced those elusive moments of perfection together. It was bonding unlike anything some corporate team build event could ever hope to achieve.

I learned quite a few things too.

The most important being that a fashion corset does not do the job of an orthopaedic back brace. I couldn’t find the brace so resorted to a rather beautiful black corset to give my lower back some support. My back feels fine, but (and this is the kicker), I got my first rowing blister. Not on my hands. Nope. Under my armpit where the corset rubbed against it’s fragile skin for three hours. Lesson learned.

Enormous thanks to the team at the Victoria Lake Rowing Club for giving me this opportunity, for being patient, for giving me motivation and inspiration every step of the way. Most of all, thanks for believing in me, even when I doubt myself.

The Rowing Chronicles 01: Row, Row, Row my Boat

Pro Tip

The conversation continued…

My mother: “Shouldn’t you start with something a little less strenuous?”

Me: “You were the one who brought me up with the maxim: go big or go home.”

My mother: “Fair enough.”

Why am I squeezing my 40-year-old bottom in a teeny tiny rowing scull?

Damn good question.

  1. Clearly, my gravity and my body are not friends.
  2. I can’t afford plastic surgery to suck, nip, tuck and plump.
  3. Therefore, I have to do something myself.
  4. Also, The Husband promised that if I did a year of exercise he would fork out for a boob lift.

This is the year of bursting out of my slothlike routine and doing something.

First off I started salsa. Exercise I can do with a glass of wine and in high heels. Amazing.

Now, due in no small part of peer pressure (yes, even at 40 this is a thing) I decided to join the some other rowing moms and dads and actually learn to row instead of just giving my son pointers on how to row better from Google.

So, bright and early on a cold Sunday morning, I set off to Victoria Lake Rowing Club for my introduction to rowing lesson.

How hard could it be, my son looks like poetry out there?

HAH!

Despite my mother’s warning I did fit my size 12 bottom in the boat.

I thought to myself, “I’ve got this down.”

Remember back in the day when you learned to drive and you thought you’d never get the hang of doing everything at once?

Rowing is like that.

Each part on its own looks as easy as pie, but when you put it altogether becomes a bit more complicated.

Also you can’t just stop and get off, because you’re in the middle of LAKE! A LAKE! With a very good chance of getting very cold and wet.

“It’s easy,” says the coach.

“Arms, body, legs. Legs, body, arms.”

It’s amusing how all coordination flew from me at this point.

“Right,” he says, “Lean back at 45 degrees and relax.”

Leaning back at 45 degrees is not relaxing.

Also, I realised at this point that I do not have hamstrings. I have hams, but no strings. None.

Leaning back at 45 degrees with my legs straight in front of me with the shore disappearing from view, I began to panic.

Then we rowed.

“Bow side only”” yelled the coach as we drifted toward the reeds where a flock of perturbed herons stood and watched us slowly crash into their nests.

“Um, excuse me?” we answered, “Is that left or right?”

I swear the coach rolled his eyes.

Also, getting four people to row at the same time at the same speed is nothing short of a miracle. We must have looked like caterpillar having an epileptic fit.

According to my son who was watching with his crew from the shore, this was about when they decided they couldn’t look anymore.

I can’t say I blame them. Poetry we were not.

Nevertheless, we made it back to the shore, utterly utterly hooked.

So, despite my body aching in places I didn’t know I had places I have signed up for an 18-week course and committed myself to rowing at Rock at the Boat in 2018.

I think I will totally rock a tri-suit!