I suppose it was inevitable after all the excitement of last week. I’ve heard the Monday after Henley referred to as Black Monday. But nothing quite prepared me for the crash that came after the high.
I was fine, in fact, until I got back on the river. But having seen at close hand how rowing really should be done, and then being confronted with the reality of my own attempts… well, let’s just say I haven’t felt that bad about my stroke since that outing, right back at the beginning, when I caught eight crabs and cried all the way home.
I could blame it on the fact that I’d swapped sides this week – I can in theory row on strokeside, though it always feels awkward. I could blame it on the fact that I was tired and out of sorts. Or that my knees were aching. Or that I was fighting off a cold. But the truth is I just didn’t row very well. I lost my rhythm. I went deep. I rushed the slide. And it ruined two otherwise perfect summer’s evenings both for me and my crewmates.
I’d love to say I reacted with calm serenity, accepting that sometimes rowing just doesn’t love me back. As if. I stressed and grumbled and got more and more tense – which, needless to say, made it all much worse. Sure, it was an overreaction. But I’m guessing most of you will relate.
And yet… if one thing has characterised my rowing career so far, it’s a bloody-minded refusal to let this most maddening of sports break me. The same determination that kept me going when I lost race after race after race until I finally won that first pot. That told me to ignore the fact that I was too small and too light and too weak and too old to make it as a rower. The same foolhardy doggedness, in fact, that made me believe that rowing, of all sports, might be a sensible activity for someone in recovery from M.E..
So I may have crashed but I won’t burn. And I certainly won’t give up, whatever I may have said in the heat of the moment during last night’s outing (!) I’ll nurse my wounded pride and my strokeside blisters for a day or two and I’ll come back fighting. Though I can’t promise it’ll be pretty.