August 23, 2002

soundtrack to a workout

Coolth. Blessed, blessed, coolth.

(That's a quote, but I couldn't
give you the provenance. I'm thinking either Edward Eager's Magic by the
or one of Elizabeth Enright's Melendy books. Anyway.)

morning for the first time in a long time, the temperature was under 80F when I
got to rowing, and there was a nice breeze, just enough to feel good but not
enough to roughen the water. It wasn't really coolth, but it was the nearest
thing to it I've seen since getting back from Alaska. There were just enough
clouds to make the sunrise pretty, not enough to hold in heat. Not entirely
coincidentally, with the drop in temperature, a couple of old friends had come out
to watch me row. I've seen Luna on and off all summer, but today she was low,
full, and bright. I hadn't seen Orion since last spring; today was the first time
since then that sunrise was late enough to let me see stars while rowing. Orion
was gone by the time I'd rowed my first thousand meters, leaving only Venus and
another bright star visible, but Luna stayed around. Judging from how low and
bright she was today, she's beginning to think of harvest time -- only just
beginning, because she's still pure white.

Of course, the flip side
to the pleasant weather was that now I have no excuse for taking things lightly.
It took some force of mind, but I convinced myself to row my first 5000m piece of
the season. I rowed down to the east dam, about 3500 meters, as a warmup and then
went into the piece, at, I'd say, between 65-75% of full race pressure. On our
lake, 5000m is a bit less than a full lap; generally, I don't row more than one
length (half a lap) before stopping for a water break. Endurance, as regular
readers will have gathered, is not my strong point. But I did it, and the cooler
air made it possible and not intolerable.

Five thousand meters is a
long way, though: over 25 miinutes at the speed I was going. Though I enjoyed at
least some of it, I noticed that the tenor of my thoughts (not to mention my
rowing form) went distinctly downhill over the course of the workout. I usually
have a song in my head as I row, partly because I usually have a song in my head,
period, and partly because it helps keep the rhythm steady. When I started out in
the relatively-cool air, and noticed Orion, the song in my head was Gordon Bok's
setting of William Carlos William's href="">Peace on href="">Earth. (You can tell how
much I like that poem, since I've included its entirety in here twice.) As I got
started on the piece and upped the tempo, the song switched to Stan Roger's comic
song, Athens
(fortunately I hadn't then read the note at the bottom of the lyrics I
linked to there, saying that Athens Queen can also be sung to the tune of the
Gilligan's Island theme. I don't know what would have happened, but it couldn't
have been good.) As I started to really sweat, my mind urged me on with the chorus
from Come On Eileen. The part
where they sing "Come on, Eileen, taloora aye" about six times in a row works
particularly well with stroking a boat, and you get to grunt before each

When it got up toward 4K and I was having to be very
stern with myself to keep the pressure on, I was probably rowing a bit raggedly
and my soundtrack descended to the chorus of an old sort of proto-hip-hop thing
that went, "Put your mind on it, girl, come on you can get it, get it girl,
anytime. (Say what?) Tonight's mine. Huh!"
(Apologies to anyone old enough to
rememebr it and now have it stuck in their heads.) And after I finished and had to
row another couple thou to get back to the beach, my mind plumbed even further
depths, with the intro to the old TV show, Fame: You got big want
fame. Well, fame costs, and right here is where you start paying .... in
Not that I dream of fame (fortune, yes), but I was certainly paying in

Posted by dichroic at August 23, 2002 10:26 AM
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