Rowing Again…I Hope. (Updated)

Something I heard in one of my podcasts years ago continues to ring true with me.  The podcaster used to be a semi-pro athlete.  It entirely consumed her life and identity, so much so that she still, several years after having to quit the sport, uses it as one of her primary descriptors.  She describes a dissonance that kicked in where she realized that she was using this terminology to describe herself, but hadn’t participated in the sport in a long time.  Being uncomfortable with the lie, she has had to do some soul searching.

I totally get it. For many years I competed on a master’s rowing crew in both Arizona and NorCal.  Four to five days a week I would row out to watch the sunrise from a boat in the middle of the SF Bay, then sweat my way back to the boathouse in synchrony with seven other ladies, each of us to go our separate ways up and down Silicon Valley’s 101 just before rush hour. It was what I was known for.  “My name is Susan.  I row.” All I have left of those years are the dozens of race-day tees.  Still, though, I list it as one of my hobbies.

The podcaster said that she just had to let that part of her go, and that it is okay to see life in phases of hobbies.  She further cautioned not to too closely identify with hobbies.  You are not your hobbies.  I nodded in agreement seeing the same lie in myself.

See, I deeply tore my hamstring willy-nilly sprinting with a friend of mine.  During the early stages of recovery I couldn’t perform the hamstring curl required to pull myself up the slide on our boat.  I tried coxing, but my hamstring spasmed when I sat all crumpled up in the tiny coxswain’s seat.  So, I sat out.  What drove the final nail into the coffin was when I went back to teaching.  I wouldn’t have gotten back to the boathouse to make it on time to get to school.

There it rests.  I still wear the tee-shirts, but I haven’t rowed in years.  The podcaster’s words soothed me for a while.  Just let go.  Your hobbies don’t define you.  I’ve come to some terms with that.

That being said, the soothing effect of her words is beginning to wear off.  I find myself going to Austin Rowing Club’s pages and scrolling around looking for an easy way in.  From what I’ve seen (on my dozens of page visits) it looks much more affordable than my crew in NorCal.  Still, I couldn’t teach and race.  I just wouldn’t get to school on time.  It looks like there might be an opening for a gal like me on Sunday mornings, though.

Only rowing on Sunday mornings would be perfect.  I would skip out on the arthritic thumbs and pirate skin. So, I emailed the crew.  And emailed the crew.  And emailed the crew.

No answer.

I used my old sales email technique of sending short emails comprised of two short questions that only require two quick answers.

Do you have room for one more person on your boat?
Do you row sweep?

No response.

Finally, I called the boathouse and a human answered.  She gave me the Sunday morning coach’s email address.  That coach emailed me back quickly and told me that I need to email the general mailbox.  MY GOD!!!  I said that I had emailed the general box on several occasions and asked if there was a different human I could email.

No response.

Their website has all this info about their outreach efforts to get people rowing on Lake Austin as well as to raise funds for the boathouse.  I have to wonder if everyone who reaches out to them is met with silence.  It is beginning to seem like an exclusive club that doesn’t want new members.

I’m happy to use that as my excuse to finally let go of rowing.  Between you and me, I get a little stressed out before rowing and there is always one passive-aggressive  b**** on the boat whom I’m happy to drive away from after practice.   Further, I haven’t had one single illness since I quit…not even a cold.  That alone is a pretty compelling reason to stay off the boat.

Then I think of the sunrises from the water, the feeling of accomplishment so early in the morning, and how bad I’ll feel the next time I see rowers pass under me as I drive over the 360 Bridge.

 I think instead of letting their crappy communication get to me,  I’m going to see it as my challenge.  I’ll try to get on their darn boat and let you know how it goes.



I was pleasantly surprised to receive a call from Michelle at the boathouse today.  I called her as soon as the kiddos left for lunch.  I had a million and one questions and she answered them all.  No, you cannot just show up at the boathouse.  You pay the monthly fee, then hope to sub in for someone who cannot make it to practice.  Interesting set up.  I paid them their fee to get on the sub email list.  I have no idea if I’ll get any boat time or not, but here’s tryin’.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s