“The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek. Fear of the unknown is our greatest fear. Many of us would enter a tiger’s lair before we would enter a dark cave. While caution is a useful instinct, we lose many opportunities and much of the adventure of life if we fail to support the curious explorer within us.” ~ Joseph Campbell
The last two years of my life have been about rowing. It is something that we’ve lived, breathed, ate & slept. Of course up until four months ago I hadn’t sat in a boat or picked up an oar.
My life was about helping my husband, Malcolm Howard in his quest for a second Olympic medal. After he and his teammates achieved that goal in London this summer, we moved to Oxford in order for him to pursue his Masters. With little to do initially, I jokingly said to the OUWBC President who was coaching some of the Oriel Novice Women “Should I learn to row?”. The next day I had a tank session. And that’s how my rowing career began.
I took to the water after two tank sessions, likely under some false preconceived ideas of what it would be like. After watching Olympic crews I knew I wasn’t going to be good, but I didn’t think the suck would be so bad. I came off the water that day in tears and has VERY reluctant to go back.
The next outing was an inter-college mini regatta. My crew won. Things were looking up. After a long pause for my return-to-Canada-Visa-trip and the Holidays it was back to training. This was where things actually got fun.
I began to like erg-ing. Anyone who has done Crossfit with me knows my disdain for the erg. I think it was invented as a torture device. BUT, little did I know I would enjoy 25 minutes pieces, and be thrilled to be back in the gym doing circuits and pushing hard to build strength and fitness.
The weather in England has not been very rowing friendly this year. Flooding meant many red flags and ‘closures’ of the Isis. While this did mean some fun trips to Wallingford (including one where Malcolm and the OUBC squad were training as well… talk about trying to keep your head in the boat while your husband yells “ERIKA” as you row by!), it also meant that the ‘newbies’ didn’t get out on the water as much as we’d hoped.
Then the 6th week of term arrived. I had been away in Canada for a wedding and returned to Oxford just in time for Rowing On. This is when boats in the lower categories have to race a time trial in order to qualify and rank themselves for Torpids. I’m happy I remembered how to row, having not been in a boat for a few weeks, and even happier to say we qualified!
Now the task will be getting the boat to move quickly, while we keep our focus amidst the craziness around us. I’m not 100% sure what the experience will be like, but BUMPS racing is insane. Boats are lined up along the river according to ranking, and the objective is to catch and overtake or bump the crew in front of you. I feel like it’s rowing+american gladiators… and I’m oh-so looking forward to it!
Hopefully I will have many stories to share by the end of the week!
Keep your fingers crossed for us and send some Oriel love this way 🙂
“The will to win, the desire to succeed, the urge to reach your full potential… these are the keys that will unlock the door to personal excellence.”
P.P.S Next year stay tuned for when Malcolm takes up either dancing or rhythmic gymnastics (we’ll be holding a vote for you to decide which!!!!)