Friday, February 12, 2016

Making your body stronger

Karada wo kitaeru

Rowing Ruminations Part 16

One year, the captain decided to recruit women from a different department on the same campus. The people he recruited were a couple years younger than me, and didn’t understand that we meant to take rowing as seriously (well, seriously as was possible as novices on a knuckle). There’s a lot of stuff from that year that I’ve consciously and unconsciously blocked out of my working memory. It’s best summarized at around 1:33 in this video:

Which isn’t very uplifting. 

Especially since I was bow seat, not the cox. 

And they were with people from other boats. 

Including people I’d coxed previous years.

Uplifting or not, my rower season confirmed what I’d figured out during previous seasons: rowing in anything other than a single means that you can’t row unless the others row, and you cannot stop unless the others stop. If you are not there, the boat doesn’t launch. When you have a seat on a boat, your body ceases to become just your own. If you hurt it or get sick in some way, or just don’t show up, this affects not only you but also the rest of the boat. Guys, and women who do not conceive: rowing (outside singles) is about as close to pregnancy as you’re going to get (but will any men read this?) And no matter how exhausted you are, you don’t. stop. rowing. until. cox. calls. easy. oars.

(Or, weigh-nuff, depending on where you’re rowing, of course.)

This was the first time I was seriously training to make my body do more than it could do before. Yes, I’d done the running and the circuits and the weights with the rest of the team, but that was because it was the thing to do, not because I actually wanted to get stronger. This season, I was actually training to move the boat faster.

A couple months into the season, my body began to really change. I made it a point not to have body image issues, and my friends were supportive of that. I admit that I also loved being able to eat whatever I wanted because I’d burn it all off at practice.

One day, I noticed I actually had honest to goodness muscles. I was really pleased with them (even more than I was with my blisters. Because blisters from sports are cool. As long as they’re on your hands, that is), and during break between classes I called out to my best friend.

“Look! Look! I have quads!”

My friend, ever so supportive of everything I did, touched my thigh and said, “Wow, cool!”

(A cute 21 year-old woman feeling another 21 year-old woman’s thighs. Might be the opening of a kinky video…)

“And see, I have biceps, too!” I flexed my arm.

“Wow, c….”

The button of my short sleeve cuff went flying across the room.

I wore the cuffs of my short-sleeved blouses and dresses unbuttoned after that.

Our boat did poorly. After that season, the four other girls left, two of them committing crewcest as they did.

(But wait, since, unlike me, they’d never row with or against the guys they dated, it's not crewcest, is it?)

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