Dear athletes and friends,
Welcome to my blog! This has been an idea for the better part of two years so I’m incredibly excited to finally say, “welcome!”
If you read my about page or scrolled through the photos, you’ll know that I’m a rower: I train with Vesper Boat Club in Philadelphia and spend a good part of my days on the Schuylkill River – a place I easily call home. What you don’t know is that I’ve been training here, in pursuit of a spot on the U.S. National Team, for a VERY, VERY LONG TIME. It will be 10 years in June since I first launched a single, 10 years since I first felt the grip of two sculling oars, and 10 years since I first considered the possibility of rowing for Team USA.
Ten years! Pursuing one goal! I’d be lying to say that I haven’t been disappointed by all the times that I’ve fallen short. And part of why I’m still at it – still committed to a world that includes early morning wake-ups, freezing cold days on the water, countless minutes on the erg, and lost time with family and friends – is the sense of unfinished business I feel when I think about my competitive career. However, for me, rowing has always been about more than just making it to the start line at Worlds, and much of what drives me has little to do with earning a World Championships bid.
Rowing has been how I’ve challenged myself, and tested and expanded my limits. It’s been a source of community, and mentors, role models and friends. It’s the way that I choose to connect with the world and show gratitude for my abilities. Mostly, though, it is and has been the foundation of a deep and personal desire to inspire my peers and in someway help others who are working toward goals or struggling through setbacks or fears.
If you think that’s a lot to accomplish through sport… well, you’re right! But I can say with confidence that this is the dream that’s been supporting the goals and underlying the training and motivation to get to the line. I emphasize “confidence” because realizing this purpose and then owning it was no easy task, and is tied to years spent grappling with the idea of dedicating so much of myself to sport. As an athlete fresh out of college, I knew I was passionate about rowing but also felt profoundly confused by wanting to deviate from conventional norms. I felt selfish for wanting to follow a path that required being greedy with time, audacious for thinking I could race at the highest level in the world, afraid to even verbalize my goals, and ungrateful for my education because I wanted to row instead of pursue a traditional career. Yet, all the while I knew in my heart that I belonged on the water: I believed I was given this body – shoulders that caused enormous angst growing up! – for a purpose, and I believe now that it’s taking so long to achieve my big goal so I can have the experience and perspective to draw on for you.
My path as an rower has been anything except for straightforward. I’ve worked through more mental conflict than most athletes can imagine and struggled through challenges that led me to re-evaluate some core beliefs about life. I’ve had my heart torn out by injuries and grappled with why and how those injuries could devastate me in the way that they did. I’ve made decisions that involved moving, long-distance and way too much time missing family to stay committed to this sport, and ultimately learned who I am and what I stand for through it all.
I can’t wait to share more and sincerely hope that my blog will provide you with strength, inspiration and sound training advice and information. Please look for a new post at the beginning of each month. And feel free to click here to send me a question or topic you’d like to read about!
Last but not least, in honor of this being my first post and because I promised it in the title, here are five random, rowing-related facts about me.
1. My bridesmaids included my sister (love!), sister-in-law, and three of my amazing teammates from college. We all started crew as freshman and raced together for four unforgettable years. So, ladies new to rowing: get ready to make some best friends!
2. I didn’t “tie-in” to my shoes in the 1x for at least a full year after I learned to scull. I don’t remember the exact timing of when I first tightened the Velcro but I basically had a lingering fear of flipping and getting stuck underneath the boat. Tip for new scullers: don’t do this! It’s much easier to set the boat and find balance on the water when your feet are tied tight.
3. I named my new racing shell Fat Patricia. This was, hands down, the highlight of my year in rowing in 2015.
4. I love ergging to country music. It helps relax my brain, which has tendency to wander all over the place! Lucky for me, a lot of my teammates at Vesper are country fans too!
5. I couldn’t do any of it without the love and support of this guy. He’s been there from the start: celebrated the wins, showed support through the losses, made me laugh when all I wanted to do was cry, and has somehow weathered seven years of marriage and going-on 15 years of life with a lightweight rower.