About rowing

So, okay, about the rowing.

I went. It was cold and rainy but I went anyways, as I had pushed past the nervousness enough to be actually excited about the prospect of rowing. I thought about how much I enjoyed kayaking the few times I’ve tried it. I thought about how much I love water, love the nearby lake, love watching people row. I put on my tennis shoes and some sporty gear and drove out in the rain.

Pretty, pretty lake.

When I got to the lake, I signed in and got a quick orientation to the boat (port vs. starboard, what a foot stretcher is, that sort of basic stuff) and then got put on a rowing machine to learn the basic movement, which wasn’t that tricky. Legs first, then arms, then back. I rowed for a few minutes (hello beginning of tired legs!) and then it was out to learn how to lift the boat above our heads. This was also pretty easy, so no worries yet.

After we lifted the boat my group (me plus 5 other newbies) headed to the lake to get in the 8 person boat. The boat was in the water so we had to wade into calf deep water to get in. I was the first to get in. It was a little awkward, as there are not a lot of place to safely put your foot, but I got in without falling or embarrassing myself. I sat in the boat, feeling it tip and sway as the rest of the group got in.


Now, here is where I started to realize that I might not be made for rowing. I was clutching the sides of the boat and feeling distinctly nervous every time the boat pitched in one direction or the other. The boat was, I repeat, in calf deep water. And I really and truly don’t care about getting wet. I play in this lake with the kiddo on a regular basis. So why would I even care if we tipped (which the experienced rowers swore, correctly, that we wouldn’t)? But, still, the rocking made me feel inexplicably nervous.


Finally we were all loaded in and we pushed away from shore. I started rowing. It was hard and awkward but so are a lot of sports I’ve tried that I don’t have any existing muscle memory for. I rowed and rowed. We moved out farther in the lake. I began to feel distinctly uneasy. Soon it was my time to rest (we were rowing in pairs and fours. I was in the first pair and group) and my unease turned into unhappiness. I didn’t like being out there. I wanted to get out of the boat and swim back to shore. I was tired of rowing but I didn’t like the feeling of not rowing and having to hold my oar in just the right way in the water.

We made it to the middle of the lake. It took everything I had not to ask if we could please turn around and go back. I still wanted to get out and swim. It dawned on me: I didn’t dislike this. I HATED it.


It was an oddly visceral reaction, one that I’ve never had before when trying a sport for the first time, even sports like  rock climbing or kayaking that I wasn’t at all good at and that were just as hard as rowing.

As we finally began heading back to shore I found myself of two minds. My reptile brain was screaming “HATE this! Hate! Want off!” and my logical brain was wondering why I hated it so much. On the shore the rowing club members started talking about how we could sign up for 8 weeks of lessons for only $125. A small part of me debated signing up, maybe to see if I might like it better with more practice. The sane part of me realized that paying $125 to do something I hated was stupid.

For once in my life, I listened to the sane part of myself and just went home.

When I got home I cheerfully told Mr. Monkey about how much I hated it. It was kind of liberating, really. I hated it for, well, I’m not sure why. Because it is a team sport and I am an individual sport kind of gal? Maybe. But it doesn’t really matter. I hated it but I didn’t feel guilty about hating it or feel like it was my fault because I’m too fat or too uncoordinated or whatever. I felt mostly proud of myself. I tried something new, didn’t like it, moving on. No drama.

Rowing: I’m just not that into you.


3 thoughts on “About rowing

  1. Renee says:

    Most people don’t go out on a limb to try something new. I would have totally been like, do you mind if I bail and swim back to shore.

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