Monday, December 19, 2005

Why don't we play a little game called "Shut the motherfuck up."

Over the last four months, I have spent the majority of my time in a boat sitting in stroke. In truth, I've been sitting stroke since frickin' Learn to Row camp in July, if we're gonna be technical about it. The problem with that being that when you spend most of your time being the person that sets the pace for the boat, you never learn to follow anyone else's pace for the boat, and hey - issue! And, because of the fact that I've concentrated on being able to switch between & maintain an 18 - 22 stroke rate, once we get above that, I am fucked. I can sit a 20 or a 22 like nobody's business - sadly, the higher level rowers almost never go below a 24 - 26 on a lackadasial day. That would also fall under the classification of "issue". Yes thanks. Therefore, Coach I says to me, "We're going to switch you around up near the front of the boat so that you can get practice following other people at a higher rate" - which then in turn means eventually I'll be sitting stroke at that higher rating. (and hopefully cut down on my title as Tues Morning Short Bus Special)
someone my height & weight is at the front of the boat. The few times I wasn't stroke in Learn to Row, I was six seat, and I honestly don't think I've ever sat further back than 4, which is basically the stroke seat for the bow half of an eight. I'm a big girl, what can I say.

Therefore, when I get told this morning that we're taking out the green 4, which is a starboard set stroke, & Beavis is stroke, I'm all "Coolio, that's the plan..." also I narrowly escaped coxing, so sweet! Sitting stroke is a whole different set of issues than any other seat in the boat - really the only seat equal to it in worry is bow. Can't live in a boat without a good bow seat. And I'm not just saying that because R.S. Monkey reads my blog. But after a couple months as stroke, sitting 3 seat? Blessed ease, my friends. All you have to do is row - you're part of the engine room, you can just concentrate on your form, & follow the stroke in front of you, be completely self-centered...it's kind of like a little vacation, I tell you.

Now - There's a hierarchy in a boat. It goes thusly:

Coach
(who's technically outside the boat, but shutit)
|
coswain
|
stroke


If you are not one of these people, you pretty much just fuckin' row. You don't make decisions, you don't contribute your opinion unless asked, you are there to make the damn boat go & nod when critiqued on form.

Our cox this am was this girl A. Now, A's not very experienced. She started at the same time as R.S. Monkey & I, but she hasn't really been around as much, and she's very hesitant about the whole thing. boat's set up with Beavis in stroke, me in 3, two more senior rowers R & S in 2 & bow. I'm thinking, "We're going to have a good, solid row, no fuss, no muss." Which really, I could use a no fuss no muss row 'cause lately? Not so much with that in my world.

Unfortunately, R & S turn out, to my surprise, to be effin' backseat coswains. Before we even cleared the goddamned dock they were "no, you don't turn, we need to do this, we're not warmed up yet..."

We get about halfway through the warmup for stern pair (Beavis & I) and my footstretcher unhitched - aka, the boards that my feet are strapped to so that I have something solid to push against shifted. And it was not a quiet slide, so pretty much everyone knew it happened. However, at this point I know that unless it's a danger to yourself & others, you just finish the piece and fix them quickly during a break, but it does mean that your form changes. In this case, to keep in sync with Beavis, I had to reach forward more than I normally do. From behind me, I hear R & S going, "You can't do that, you need to fix your form, you're going to hurt your back..." wtf? What part of the rip of bolts coming out of their catch did you not hear? We stopped for a minute, switched pairs so the bow could warm up while I fixed my stretchers, and then made the turn, rah rah rah - Beavis& I carry the turn, and technically never finished our warm up - A calls for us to hold and the Peanut Gallery behind me is all, "Bow pair isn't warmed up enough, we need to do more..."

and it was like that the whole fucking time. Now I'll admit, I am a controlling stroke - if I don't trust the cox completely, I will talk to them, especially when we're in the Mighty Four - in that case, it's four rowers who've (somewhat) trained together, and we're used to a certain rhythm & routine of doing things. And honestly, the Mighty Four has had some rather dubious coswains tossed our way, so there are times when as stroke you're literally coxing the boat for the practice, something that I know has always slightly annoyed Beavis, who I think just got an idea of what that's like today during her turn. Could A have been quicker about some things? Yes, of course. Did she do things that I wouldn't have? Of course. Are there calls I would have made differently if I'd been stroke. Yes.

But you know what? I wasn't stroke. So I sat there, I shut the hell up, and I concentrated on following Beavis & feathering the way I was taught on Sat. The only time I opened my damn mouth was to say "And....back.." and that was because for all of her prattling from the bow, S couldn't seem to remember when to manage that for a river turn.

It was just... I was in awe. Maybe I've just become spoiled with the fact that I've mostly been rowing with my Mighty Four girls & the racing class people - as dumb as I might feel when I'm in the upper ranks, they don't pull this shit. You could see poor A becoming more & more flustered, and Beavis as stroke trying to talk her in, pay attention. Even Coach I said at one point, "If you are not the coswain you should not be talking!"

And yet, there they were. They'd take a steering stroke when they deemed it proper, they tried to control the docking, right up to the last second. When we were putting the boat away, I just started saying, "A, go ahead & call it. A call this for us." because to the final nanosecond of the row, those two had something to say.

I went up to A afterwards when she was putting her stuff away & told her not to worry about it. God knows we've seen worse. Right now, R.S. Monkey is remembering an incident in an 8 where I finally snapped & yelled, "NO SHIMMYING!" She looked so worried, so I explained, "Look, when you're cox-ing, it's you, and the stroke. that's it. I wasn't sitting stroke today, and did you hear me at all?"
"No, actually...."
"So the day when I shut up should let you know that it's all right to tell everyone else to be quiet." *snerk*

I also started lifting again this weekend, so as I joked to Sabrina this morning, you go to sit down, or squat to pick up a boat, and make that little gasp of "ugh." So hey, good times, good times. Tomorrow morning, I get to go try to keep up with the Big Kids in Racing Class. Joy. How is this sport relaxing again?

2 Comments:

At 1:19 PM, Blogger R.S. Monkey said...

OMG - I would have been so irritated today too. I'm so pissed that I couldn't go this morning but what with having no strength to get myself dressed this morning, much less lift a boat above my head...I would have been useless. I thought about going to cox, but I would have probably fed the fish instead :-P Good times @ 5:20 practice - hehehe. I miss all the good stuff! BTW - send those pictures already! Oh...please :-)

 
At 9:06 AM, Blogger claris said...

God dude, from S it doesn't surprise me, but R? He's like the ZenMaster, I don't know what's up with that shit...

sorry, sorry... I have them downloaded & everything. Or you know, just given you my camera. *g*

And I know what you mean. I started lifting on Sunday, and I got up this morning, shuffled on screaming quads to the bathroom, looked at the clock & went, "Frack this, G doesn't even keep a cox penalty for Tuesdays and it's the week before Christmas - I'm going back to bed."

Gonna be there tomorrow morning though - lord knows I've got enough penalties for MWF - I think I've got two left to work off before I'm just on regular schedule, and based on my close call yesterday, I think tomorrow am is going to be one of those...

also? With the lifting? eye=hurty. And tonight I have to go do it again. ow.

 

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