November 30, 2004

retirement age?

Yesterday morning I was driving to work when my biological clock went "Bong!" No, not that alarm. This was a sudden realization, at a time when I wasn't thinking of much but traffic, that maybe it's time to retire from rowing, at least for a while. Or perhaps it was something in the air, since the same realization seems to have hit both Matthew Pinsent and James Cracknell somewhere around the same time.

Though I've never trained anything like the 5 hours a day Cracknell and Pinsent have done, I've been rowing more or less seriously since about 2000, and a bit less so for all but about three or the years since 1990 when I first learned. I've done the Marathon. I've completed three Holiday Challenges. I've competed in Masters Regionals and Masters Nationals, and in eights, fours, quads, doubles, and singles, as well as in the coxswain's seat. I've won quite a few medals and come in DFL lots of times as well. I've beat other people even in singles. There's not really much left for me to do except win race in singles and doubles and that will probably not happen even with much more intense training, and the simple fact is that I have no desire to do much more intense training. (Actually, Egret and I did win one gold medal in a double, come to think of it, but it was a small regatta.) I don't have the size or strength to be national caliber even at the Masters level, so it's always an uphill fight, even more than for most rowers.

Also, I really, really hate waking up at 4AM and going to bed at 8PM.
Also, I always said I'd want to pull back from rowing for a bit while working on my IFR. I haven't really, so far, but I also haven't done nearly all the studying I should.

On the other hand, I love my shiny pretty boat and I've worked awfully hard to get a certain fitness level. I'm not particularly worried about my weight (on Thanksgiving Day after two weeks off I weighed 117.5; now six days into the Holiday Challenge I'm back up to 120) but it's difficult for me to gain endurance and I'd hate to lose ground there.

Also, there are sunrises over smooth water and me with my boat and oars whose design echoes the rising sun, and there's the sweating satisfaction of pushing harder and faster and faster yet.

No matter what I decide to do, I know three things. Barring accident or injury, I will finish my fourth annual Holiday Challenge, since I've already started. I will go to rowing camp in January, since I've already signed up and it should be fun and educational, and I won't retire forever. The wonderful thing about this sport is that you can compete at any age so I never feel I have to rush to get all the good out of my "good years". If I stop now I'll come back to it, either sooner or later when I can compete another age bracket up. I just don't know. It sort of feels like time, but it sort of feels like I shouldn't stop. At any rate, I'll be erging until Christmas, so there's all that time to think about it.

Thankful that: my alma mater has a dog in this fight. (Actually, Penn's law school is apparently not part of this suit but has brought a separate suit challenging the Solomon amendment, as has Yale.) This has been an issue on campus almost since the "Don't ask, don't tell" policy was instroduced. I'm proud of them.

Holiday Challenge: 153880 meters to go.

Posted by dichroic at November 30, 2004 11:15 AM

It's an issue on our campus, too. Thanks for the link.
I imagine there must be something really zen-like about rowing. But seeing as my gym doesn't even have a rowing *machine*, I'm stuck trundling along on the treadmill.

Posted by: Melanie at November 30, 2004 12:48 PM
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