Thursday, November 13, 2008

Extended Weekends Are The Best

Oh did I speak too soon a few posts back about my rowing season being over? After rowing last Friday in a single, I got invited to row on Sunday in a Quad and again on Tuesday in a double. Heck it's like summer again in terms of frequency. Besides the rowing, I have no memory what I did with the rest of my time off (Saturday through Tuesday) short of going to my rowing club's end of season party on Saturday and grocery shopping on Monday.

The party was a good time, which is usually the case. What is so starling about the whole thing is seeing my fellow club members semi dressed up. I'm use to seeing them in spandex shorts and sweaty t-shirts or racing outfits. The women all have their hair pulled back and frankly everyone looks like ass as they come off the water. Well here these same people show up, dressed nicely and looking good. Who are these people? The party is a pot luck and I volunteered to bring a main dish. Rather I volunteered Ann to make a main dish for me to bring. In past years, we've opted to bring a Mexican lasagna, but this year we wanted to try something different. We had recently tried making our own pork BBQ, which turned out rather well. It's easy and would make a lot of food so it fit the bill. It turned out even better this time, mostly because we used a better BBQ sauce and also added a little liquid smoke to it. It was a big hit with people literally dipping their fingers in the crock pot to get the last of the sauce. At the party we were treated to a video montage of the past season, which I have to say was very creative. Unfortunately the copy of the DVD I was given won't play in my regular, hooked up to the TV DVD player or the DVD player in our computer. Not sure whats going on with that. Any suggestions are appreciated. We also recognized our coaches and coxswains for the all their help during the past season and gave them all gift cards. There was a lot of cold beer and good conversation. A good time was had by all.

During the party as I was chatting with some of my teammates, they asked if I wanted to go sculling with them the next day (Sunday). There was no real football game on (Redskins had a bye week) so I was up for it. It was a little on the chilly side (upper 40s) and a little windy. Getting out on the water was a bit of a comedy. The original plan was to scull a Quad. We got out the sculling oars and took them down to the dock. However after then checking out which Quad to use, the guy who set up the row spotted a coxless 4-. A coxless 4 is a sweep boat (each rower has just one oar as opposed to sculling where each rower has two oars). The coxless 4 had foot steering in the bow and doesn't require a coxswain as most 4s do. I think the idea of taking this boat out really appealed to him. It made sense in a way as the four of us have a lot more experience sweep rowing than sculling. Plus it was a type of boat none of us had ever rowed. We went down to the docks and got the sculls and put them away and grabbed four sweep oars. However when the last member of our foursome showed up (a good thirty minutes late) he stated he didn't want to sweep row, he wanted to scull. This went on for about 15 minutes about what to row. The other two of us didn't care what boat we took just lets get on with it because it's cold. Finally it was decided to scull. Back to the dock to get the sweep oars and put them away and grab the sculls again. We finally got out on the water a good hour later than we planned. It turned out to be a good row. Very relaxed, fairly smooth for intermediate scullers at best. I drew the straw to sit in bow and steer. Luckily OBC has Quads that you can actually steer as opposed to the high school Quads we use during the summer. We rowed up to Ryan's Dam and back for a total of 8 miles. We mixed it up with some power 10s and focus 10s. Ten on and twenty off and such so we wouldn't get too bored and lose focus. I think the row was pretty decent because there wasn't any pressure on us. It wasn't a race or practice. We didn't have to worry about fast stroke rates or chasing down or keeping ahead of other boats. It was just a row for fun and fun we had - once we got on the water.

Monday Ann and I grocery shopped and that's about all I remember doing. Of course going to the semi-new Wegman's in our area takes us about twice as long as shopping elsewhere due to its size and selection. The two of us wandering about like Ma and Pa Kettle right off the farm. "Look Ma at this new fangeld fancy pants food this here store is peddling." Geez

Tuesday, since a lot of us were off in observance of Veterans Day, a group row was organized. As I've mentioned before, I belong to two different rowing clubs. One, PWRC, uses rented equipment from high schools that's only available during scheduled practices and races. We also have coaches and safety launches, but we are now finished for the season. The other club, OBC, has its own equipment, but no coaching or scheduled practices. You just go and row when you want. You can start on 1 April and row to 1 December (although sometimes the park will stay open after 1 December if the weather remains seasonal). A fair number of my PWRC teammates are also members of OBC and that's the group that decided to get together for the group row. The debate (there is always a debate) was what time to row. Initially it was set for 8:00AM. However the weather forecast for early morning was for temperatures to be in the 30s. There is a temperature below which rowing is no longer fun and becomes uncomfortable and potentially dangerous (think hypothermia, especially if someone flips a shell). For me the temperature has to be 40 or above. I wrote back to the group (we were communicating via e-mail), that if we rowed at 8:00, I was out, but if they wanted to row at 10:00 when it would be considerably warmer, then I would go. After another flurry of e-mails, it was decided that 10:00 was good for most. A small contingent decided to stick with 8:00 and one hardy soul rowed both times. So seven of us headed out at 10:00. Three in singles and the other four split into two mixed doubles (mixed - one male and one female rower). I rowed bow in one of the doubles. It took my partner and I about ten minutes or so to find our rhythm together and then things went well. As long as we were rowing, we were fine and felt good. However as soon as we stopped, we would get cold pretty quickly. We rowed up to Fountainhead Park, where it was quite windy and the water very choppy almost to the point of producing whitecaps. Rather than rest there, we spun quickly and got back into more protected water before breaking for some water. On the way back, about a mile from our destination of Sandy Run, the woman in the other double, invited everyone over to her place for coffee/tea/hot chocolate. She lives in a run off the Occoquan and was rowing in her own double. I debated whether to stop or not knowing it would add another hour or so to the whole trip and Ann was waiting for me at home. Peer pressure prevailed and we rowed a short distance to her dock, pulled the boats out of the water and took a break at her house. It was nice and all and had some good rowing chat, but I think overall I would have preferred to have gone straight back to Sandy Run. I did enjoy the row. Its been about two years since I have been in a double with this particular female partner. She's quite the rowing nut and she works hard at it and technically she's fine, but has very little power in her stroke. Despite that we were able to get the boat to move right along coming back from our little break. Ann was a bit miffed at my late arrival home and justifiably so. I just wish I had had some advance warning about the invite.

That was the extent of my long weekend. Four days off in a row. I could get use to that really quickly. Retirement is looking better and better everyday. When to punch out remains the question.

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