Batting for team shorty…

Honest to goodness that phrase was used once to describe me. But honestly I never thought I was short… I’m 5ft 4inches. That’s only .25 of an inch below the Irish average for a woman. My mother is shorter, coming in at 5’1. And my boyfriend has always been much taller than me, he’s just under 6’2. I’ve never seen it it as a massive disadvantage, I’m quite good at climbing to get to things (or just call Cormac) and it meant I could always wear heels (brings me up to the height of the rest of the women in the office). But recently I’ve been wishing I was a little taller. Why? Well it all boils down to that sport I’ve been banging on about for the past 6 months!

Rowing.

Height is very important in rowing. All to do with physics or some such but basically the taller you are the easier it is for you to get a boat moving quickly. And you’ll never guess what, I’m the shortest in the group of women that I row with. Not only that but my main crew member, the woman who is in the boat with me everyday is 5’11. A whole six inches in the difference. To keep up with her I have to work so much harder. What would feel a little tiring to her would completely kill me. And I can’t help but think how good we could be if I wasn’t so vertically challenged. Or if she would be better off with one of the taller girls Is she just carrying me? Yes I’m just as fit but is that enough?

These questions have been playing over and over in my head for months now. And yesterday I felt like some of these questions were answered for me. We were put out in single sculls and had to row against each other. I know what you’re thinking, I must have been miles behind her. And for the paddle I was, I had to pull so much harder to even stay closer to her and she was rowing quite lightly, only focusing on her technique. But then we raced. And boy did I hold my own. I was quick and I was strong and I was hard to beat.

I wasn’t going down without a fight… or at least until I broke the boat.

And that got me thinking about my own attributes. Attributes that made me a good rower. Attributes I should be proud of instead of focusing on what I’m not. Being lighter than my competition, being fast from the get-go, being strong and being stubborn as fuck. Dammit I am good! And so is she! We make a great team!

Those six inches don’t mean anything when we work hard, stick together and never let the other one give up!

 

Photo shown above: Myself, Art and Ruth. These are the two that I train with the most, yes these two! I’m hella short in comparison!

Doing it all, except the dishes and trying not to burn out

So my daily life has kicked up a gear ever since the clocks went forward. An extra hour of sunlight meant only one thing to me, waterwork. No more tedious long erg sessions (rowing machines). Anyone who has sat on one of these will know that it’s great to get back off them. With that extra bit of light we could go out at 6.30 and get a good session on the water. Only problem with that is. I am left with NO TIME! I am not exaggerating. I work from about 8.30am to roughly 5.30pm, then I get togged out and head down to the club. We get on the water for about 6.30pm and don’t get off it til about 8. After bringing in the boat, getting changed, locking up and driving home it’s between 9 and 9.30. Then it’s time to make dinner. So we’re eating by 10pm and then we chill for about an hour before I start getting real sleepy and head to bed around 11-11.30 pm. I sleep, I get up and I do it all again. That is my daily routine roughly. Housework does not get done during the week. Dishes pile up (although very neatly) and wait patiently for a spare moment to get washed. Grocery shopping now gets squeezed in during my “chill time” on a Monday evening. Thankfully, I’ve enough clothes to get me through a week without too many loads of washing. On the weekends, I train, see my friends, clean the house and catch on some r&r with the boyfriend.

This is was all going grand, then the other designer went on a three week holiday. You can forgive him as it was his honeymoon. Nontheless, the anti was indeed upped in work. I had a more stressful and more demanding workload. He has since come back but the workload has not lessened. I also have the new task of being the coxwain for the novice quad. Foe those of you that don’t know, that is the person who steers the boat and yells at the crew to row harder (who doesn’t love to yell). I gladly excepted this task not realising how mentally draining it could be. How people do it well is beyond me. EVERYTHING IS BACKWARDS. So this means on my rest days I’m actually still down at the club. I may not be rowing but I’m still in the boat.

And don’t get me wrong, I truly love how active I am. I love the rowing, I love blogging (albeit, quite infrequently) and I love my job. I’m delighted that I still manage to socialise quite a good bit (it helps when you’re friends with the people you row with) and that Cormac and I still manage to get out and do lots of things, from the cinema and dinners to hacking through that part of the woods they tell you not to go in and despite all my whinging Cormac still drags me to. But I felt like I hit a brick wall this Thursday. I felt like I couldn’t keep going. On my way home from training I had a cry to myself in the car (yes I’m one of those people). How do people “do it all” and not burn out? How do they keep going? Are the snorting berocca or something worse? I have yet to figure out the secret. If someone knows please do tell me. Until then, I will solve my problem the way I solving it right now. Chocolate, boyfriend cuddles and a four day weekend which includes a trip home to my mammy. And ma if you’re reading this, I’m fine, don’t panic. Bless her she worries too much.

And as Cormac keeps telling me, would I rather look back and say I gave it my all or say I kept a clean house. I think we all know the answer to this.

A lazy girls thoughts on getting fit, staying fit…

I was sort of sporty as a teenager. Sure that’s how I met my boyfriend. I was a rower then and fitness came easy to me. But the Leaving Cert came around and I felt I needed to “sort out my priorities.” Really, I think I just got sick of daily exercise and pushing myself physically (there is indeed a lazy bone in my body!) and I used my portfolio and the looming Leaving Cert as an excuse to quit. When I stopped, I stopped completely, I mean COMPLETELY. Looking back, I can see now how lazy I became. This must have annoyed the boyfriend no end as he was super fit and loved to be active. All I did was watch telly, hang out and eat. I ate a lot, like an athlete. No one mentioned calories to me, I had no idea what I was doing to myself. And it wasn’t until half way through my first year of college that my poor mum felt she had to tell me that I had lost my way. She was so upset when she was telling me, she felt like she was the worst person in the world. But she was right… 

 So I decided to make a change. But only with food. My diet changed but my activity level was still really low. This carried on for years. Trying to be healthy through food alone and completely half-assing any exercise I attempted. Starting off with great potential but getting bored and giving up again. I was sluggish, I was slow and I was deeply unhappy. It all came to a head one day when I just burst into tears because another dress in my wardrobe was too tight, was suffocating me. My weight was suffocating me. I wanted to run away from it, rip it off me and be free. My boyfriend simply said if I hate how I look and how I felt that much then change. It was only myself holding me back. My fear of the effort. This thought that I’m not really going to change, not like the people do in the magazines, not like those weightless spokes people. This stuck with me. But I started to run (with help and a wee bit of coaching from himself). Admittedly, my main goal was to lose weight but I started to have a little bit of energy, then a load of energy, soon there was an obvious spring in my step. I loved how agile, how nimble, how quick I was becoming. 

 So nearly two years passed and I got really into running, doing weekly 10k’s as if they were nothing! But I started to feel the niggle of that lazy bone again. I didn’t stop exercising but I began shortening my runs, I ran less frequently, no longer feeling guilty if I missed a run or two. I had the mindset that I had already achieved my goal. I had lost over 3 stone, I was a healthy, active person now, I didn’t need to kill myself on a 10k anymore. This was dangerous, but I fought this mindset and I managed to stay active, not letting long workdays and lazy Sundays to be the end of my new lifestyle. I was determined to not go back to that unhappy girl I used to be. 

Then by chance an old work colleague needed an extra bum in a new sport she was trying. That new sport was rowing. Went to one session and was nagged to join the team (thanks Emily). And all of a sudden I was out rowing a few times a week, only leisurely at first but then we started to get a taste for it and then, shockingly, we wanted to compete. This changed everything. Suddenly, we realised we had to up our training to five/six sessions a week. Long runs on the rowing machine, tough intervals, a little bit of weight training and drills after drills after drills. Instead of becoming more sedentary, I was becoming more active, becoming really fit, really fast, really strong. I’m a million miles away from the girl I used to be. I just wish I could tell her that it was all going to be worth it. That not only her body would change, but her health would improve, her attitude to life would change and she’d finally feel good in her skin. 

People, if you’ve done what I’ve done, changed your life and became fit and are worried about falling back, find a sport you enjoy and join a team. There is no better motivation than not wanting to let your teammates down. There is no better way to get through a tough session than doing it right next to someone going through the same shit. One goal in mind, motivating each other, being there together. 

I am forever thankful to my boyfriend for pushing me to achieve what I wanted and I want to thank my crew for not letting me fall back. Anything is possible with the right people beside you.

left on land

Feeling left out is never easy. Being left out is even worse. Being left out and knowing there is nothing you can do about it, well that takes the cake.

Let me explain because it’s a messy situation that constantly leaves myself and my coaches feeling pretty shitty. Apologies in advance for some rowing terminology.

Ok so I row, you guys already know that. But what you don’t know is that I row at a higher level than the rest of my crew. This sounds great and in some respects it is, unfortunately it’s caused me nothing but hassle and leaves me feeling very deflated at times. Because I row at a higher level (due to years of me rowing as a junior) I usually have to be left out of crew races. The ladies I row with are novice, I am intermediate. It would be unfair to make them row at my level all the time and I am not allowed row at theirs. And because there is more of them than there is of me the novice boats (the eight in particular) are obviously priority. Which, don’t get me wrong, makes sense but it leaves me thinking, what about me?

I usually just gloss over it but Saturday was the first day I was really left out of the boat. And not because I wasn’t good enough and not because I don’t try hard enough, but because I simply didn’t belong. And it hurt. It hurt a whole heap. When I pushed the girls off the slip out into the water for their race and wished them luck I had a little cry to myself. That should’ve been me out there. I do my work, I get good scores and here I am on the bank. How is that fair? And that’s what really kills me… All the other women, if left out of the boat, will know it’s probably due to performance and know that they just need to pull up their socks even more (they work so hard as it is) and claw their way back into that boat. Me on the other hand, can do nothing. I could train all day, everyday and I will never be in that boat. I will never race novice with them.

Yes, we do have a club eight (novice mixed with intermediate) but there aren’t as many races and I still feel like an extra. And I also row in a double with one of the ladies. It runs well (we even win races) but it clashes with the eight so it’s hard to see that being a runner. Sure, I can hop into a single scull and just plug away at that. But single sculling is a lonely sport and I’m not “intermediate” standard at it.

Really, I just want to be part of the crew when the buzzer sounds.

I need these ladies to hurry on and move up a level so I can stop feeling like spare part…