Recently I have noticed a trend in my rowing career.
I tend to come into a new portion of the season doing really well; stroking solid boats or pulling good erg scores. Then slowly I’ll start to move back into the boat and then be bumped out of the boat until I’m getting my ass kicked by everyone.
It’s far from not trying. I’m trying as hard as I possibly can, but all of a sudden I’m in the third eight, or twentieth on the results sheet after a bad erg. I look at myself and can’t help but think “how the hell did I end up here?”
I’m looking at where I was as if I was standing at the bottom of a massive pit. I hate myself for it. I’m frustrated and flustered because I am obviously not performing at my highest potential despite my best efforts. The only way I have found to fix it is dig in, work harder and care more. This has historically gotten me a seat or two behind where I was to begin with, which although disappointing, is nothing to scoff at. I spend all my energy attempting to claw my way back to the top that when I get there I expect to be able to breathe a sigh of relief, but I take a breath and suddenly I’m sliding back down again.
Rowing is incredibly fluid. No pun intended. Seats are not guaranteed, everything must be fought for tooth and nail. Boats can change completely in one practice; being left behind can happen faster than you can say “weigh enough.”
As I wallow in self-loathing over my spot on the team, let me say that being on a crew team is not all about me. Rowing is about working together as a team to be the fastest you can be. If me not being in the top boat is going to make the team the fastest then I shouldn’t be there. I am an extension of my team: one of many. I want our team to win. That’s what we all want.
However, by this logic, my not doing well is also the beginning of my team not doing well.
I’m getting left behind and I hate it. My erg pieces begin alright, but the numbers start to slip out from under me. By the end I can’t pull any harder and my splits are complete garbage.
My coaches and coxswains ask me if it’s mental or physical and I just don’t know. My body physically can’t go anymore, but I also think I might just be panicking because I know if have to do better than I am. I haven’t killed myself on the erg all winter to be seeing numbers that are slower than they used to be.
I can’t keep starting at the top and plummeting to the bottom, depending on a bounce back to the top to carry me to a better place. All I want is to be a good teammate and a consistent contributor. I don’t want to bounce anymore.