Ready, Set … YesYesYes!




1:29 pm

Friday, November 14, 2008
Meters: 2,000
Time 7:59-8:00
Strokers per minute: 25
Total Meters Rowed: 118,346

Come on, Steve … 7:58 …. aaaargh! … 7:59 … 2,000 meters ! … 8:00 … YES! YesYesYesYesYesYesYes! (Fist pumps!) YesYesYesYesYesYesYes! (Chest heaves!) YesYesYesYesYesYesYes! (Heart pounds!) YesYesYesYesYesYesYes! (Dad thoughts!) YesYesYesYesYesYesYes! (Air gasps!) YesYesYesYesYesYesYes! (More Dad thoughts!) YesYesYesYesYesYesYes!

Time-trial time, finally: 2,000 meters. Ready, set, go. Steve, what-ya-got?

Well, turns out I got pretty much what I thought I got. Or what I hoped I got. Two thousand meters in eight minutes, straight up. And it was … (careful, Steve,  careful) … well, it wasn’t easy. But it also wasn’t … hard.

Two minutes and 500 meters was on me before I knew it. The 1,000-meter mark came almost as quickly, and by then, well, I was halfway home! I can do this. Then, at 1,350 … doubts. But they were quickly banished by 1,500, and at 1,850 I was pulling a solid 1:57 pace and —  YesYesYesYesYes! — I knew I could make it.

I spent most of yesterday thinking about this. I went to bed last night with my workout clothes on the floor beside me. The alarm went off at 5:45 and I got up, hit the head, then got back in bed. Maybe this wasn’t the right day. But by 6:15, unable to sleep, unable to think aboout anything else, I got up, dressed, went out to the boathouse and opened the garage door. A heavy fog lay on the Woodspring River. The water was still, beckoning. All was silent. There was a certain something that was perfect about everything. It was time.

Still, I felt I was going to my execution. No, wait, that’s a silly analogy. This wasn’t a life-or-death matter and to make it one insults. And then it struck me. Here is exactly what it was like: I am back at Allentown College of St. Francis De Sales, the new little school with the too-long name. It is my senior year, the ONLY year I had anything like a successfull basketball season. I started and would win the team’s MVP award. I always played. I never came out. My home-game ritual was to walk down to the gym by myself — at the sprawling AC campus the gym was a good half-mile from the school’s three other  buildings. I’d walk down, alone, and shoot around, by myself, still in street clothes for 20 minutes or so before anybody else was there. When the janitor came in to pull out the bleachers (upon which, by the way, almost no one would sit to watch the game) I’d head to the locker room.

Here is the singular moment that brought all this memory on: Every time I walked into the gym — every time! — the long expanse of the basketbasll court would be stretched out before me, and a wave of exhaustion would roll over me, nearly knocking me down. How could I possibly run up and down that floor all night, 40 minutes, never come out? And the doubts would creep.

Today that same doub crawled through me again. How could I do this? I never had before. Two thousand meters, eight mintues, 2:00/500 pace. All of it brand new.


Of course then, almost immediately after I was finished, it hit me. I can do better. I had left too much in the tank. Honestly? I kept waiting for that heavy-leaded awfulness to crush my legs, paralyze my quads, but it never happened.  Was I tired? Sure. But not THAT tired. I was able to keep it going. And I finished with too much left. I didn’t need to be carried off on my shield. So, had I really even done it?

But still, a start, no? YesYesYesYesYesYesYes, a start!