Row, row, row your 5k

(Originally posted privately on 10 March 2011.)

Rowing my "boat."
Rowing my "boat."

Some of you who’ve been keeping up with all my random posts probably already know this, but this past Sunday, I completed my first 5k Row for the Red Cross, which also happened to be the longest I have ever rowed before.

Let me tell you, I was beyond intimidated by this workout. It was announced around mid-January, and I thought about it, but it was fleeting. Was I nuts? There was no way I’d be able to keep up with a bunch of other athletes. I put it on the back burner and just tried to forget about it. But the thing about Albany Crossfit (one of the GREAT things, actually) is that the coaches really push you and truly want you to succeed. A few days before the big row, some of the coaches started bugging me to participate.

I was hesitant. It took three or four different people pestering me before I finally gave a tentative O-K. Even then, it was half to make them leave me alone. I didn’t have to go, anyway! But, you see, then the Catholic guilt broke out, and I kept on having this internal dialogue that went something like:

– Maybe you should just do it.
– No, you’ll just make a jerk out of yourself and will finish last.
– You’ll kick yourself if you don’t do it.
– You’re going to be sore for a week after this!
– It’s only 5k. What’s the worse that will happen?
– It’s 5k. Last week, you did a 3k WOD and almost died.

So finally, to make sure that I actually didn’t back out, I went ahead and signed myself up online (and ended up raising $75 for the cause literally overnight!).

Then race day came quickly. Somehow, I got myself out of bed and to the gym. I was too nervous to warm up. My stomach was doing somersaults.

I claimed my rower (also to make sure I was in the first heat and couldn’t back out), got set up, and awaited the buzzer.





I started rowing. My pace was really good (around 2:08-2:20 average 500m), considering that a normal 500 meter row for me is around 2:10. Around 1k, my legs started getting sore. Then my arms. Sweat was dripping in my eyes.

At the 2k mark, I couldn’t believe I had only rowed 2k.

At one point, I just started having tunnel vision and getting in the zone. Pretty soon, I was in my last 1000 meters. That was the toughest.

“Just five more minutes,” I told myself. “Just another 750 meters!”

I’m still not sure how I finished it, but I did. And I did pretty well, too (23:37 was my finishing time! I’ll take it, especially because the night before I told my dad that because it was so long it might take me 35 or 40 minutes…ha!).

I could barely stand on my legs, but after rowing (and not finishing last!), I felt crazy euphoric. (Is this what a runner’s high feels like?) It was so awesome to hear everyone cheering me on and then getting high-fives after. But what’s even better was that I accomplished something that just a few minutes before I didn’t think I could do. When we lift weights, I can always scale down and finish at a normal time, or even fast. But you can’t really scale rowing. And I did just fine. What a great feeling!

This experience totally made me feel empowered. I doubt I’ll be volunteering for a 5k RUN any time soon, but this row made me realize that I am strong enough to accomplish really difficult feats. That I’m stronger than I think I am. That I can do almost anything if I put my mind to it.



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Exuberant photographer, artist, writer, designer, wannabe chef, and Crossfitter.

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