The Older You Get…
February 20, 2008
One of the nuggets of rowing wisdom passed down through the ages goes as follows: The older you get, the faster you were.
Yes, dear readers, the great thing about getting older in rowing is…well, it’s like the “fish” story of old. You caught a fish that was “this big” (arms outstretched, the distance between them widening as you tell the story). I knew I was in big trouble last summer when my long-time rival, “Crazy Bob” Eldridge, introduced me to his mixed doubles partner as a “former has been.” “It’s even worse than being a has-been,” he explained to her. Knowing Bob as well as I do, I didn’t take it to heart, but instead laughed heartily as I redoubled my psyche and used the comment to prepare myself for kicking his ass later that day. (Fortunately it worked, as both races were doubles races, and he chose novices as partners while I was smarter and chose aces.)
But I digress! You see, for those of us who never made it to the Holy Grail of rowing, which is, indisputably, competing at the World Championships, or, better, the Olympics, the rest is just…whatever we choose to make it. But that is precisely what makes rowing such an awesome sport. You can truly enjoy it at every level, and you can enjoy the competitiveness at every level, if you are so inclined – as I am, said Mr. Eldridge is (ya think?) and countless others are. The little, and not-so-little, victories are the stuff that gets us up in the morning. Beating someone new during pieces on a random summer morning – someone who gave you a look before the piece like, “who the HELL are you??” – and then seeing his (or her) dumbfounded face afterwards…these experiences can carry you through the rest of the summer. Or at least get you up the next morning at 5 AM.
So when you get to be my age (God I sound old saying that!), you will hopefully have one or two seasons you can look back on to bore people with…over, and over, and over. Problem is, you can’t bore the SAME people with these stories over and over because, well, it starts to get kind of embarrassing. You have to find new victims (see “rowing evangelist” in my last blog).
My rowing career – the part in which I actually had some competitive results to even speak of – was far too short, encompassing a few seasons in my early 40s. But that means my stories of incredible triumph against all odds, facing competitors far bigger and much meaner than I, are innumerable. Adding great drama to my stories was the fact that I rowed my wife’s boat, a beautiful King that I inherited when she hurt her back and got pregnant, simultaneously (I was only responsible for ONE of those two events – honest!). So I was “the skinny old man rowing the wooden boat.” It made for great copy, let me tell you. Especially since I was the one writing the copy.
So stay tuned, and I will bore you to tears with stories so great, so incredible, so inspiring, that you will turn to this blog eagerly every week to see how I can outdo the last load of you-know-what! But alas, I’m out of word count. And I have to stick to my word count promise to Sean or….he might tell you the truth in one of his blogs.
Til next time, in which I may discuss one of my other “Tracey’s Axioms of Rowing,” such as, “In rowing, all you need to do is stay in the sport, not die, keep competing, and eventually you will win a TON of medals!” Either that one or “Finding a Mixed Doubles Partner Is Like Getting a Date To The Prom.” I have a week to decide.