Monday, June 28, 2004

In Which Our Heroine Confirms Her Brand Loyalty
Rowing, ah rowing. Bit of a passion of mine, which makes it highly weird that I really haven't been out this year. Until yesterday that is. Once a month in the summer my boat club hosts their "Harbor Rows" where you row down the Charles, through the locks, out into Boston Harbor down to the tea party ship, turn around and hang out by the USS Constitution for the 8am cannon fire, flag raising and playing of the national anthem. I have wanted to do this for so incredibly long I can't tell you. I think it was actually a big motivator behind joining this particular club.

First, I had to get a partner. The rule is you can't row it in a single for safety reasons - the locks, the swells in the harbor, that sort of thing. After Kit gave his usual no response response, I happened across the fact that Heike wanted to get back to rowing. We were a go! Bright and early (5:30. Um, well, we were scheduled for 5:30. I sort of mis-set the alarm clock and got there at ten to six. Bad me.) down to the boathouse, managing to snag my favorite Empacher double. But then alas alack it was taken away from me so that two guys who were heavier than Heike and I could row it. We had it pried out of our hands with the opportunity to row the shiny shiny new Filippi double. You know, try it out, put it through its paces.

Never again.

I have rowed, and in fact raced Filippi heavyweight doubles before and they were fine. Not great, but fine. But they've obviously done something in the new models which removes it from the category of fine and drops it to the category of "you've just got to be kidding me." They can be good boats, but from what I can figure out they're designed by little tiny Italians for little tiny Italians. If you're a lightweight, get a Filippi. If you're a big strong girl like me (or big strong guy), get thee an Empacher. This boat was so horrid that I had to swap out on the way back as the shin splints were that bad! No, and I mean no reach at the catch, so no real oomphage through the water, bad biomechanics therefore the shinsplints (no part of my body is sore today, so it wasn't a fitness issue, but my shins are still hobbling me seriously), and the gunnels were shaving the sides off my hips like a good parma ham. No no no no no. From now on, go Empacher for me or go home. I remember climbing into the Knauth down at the boathouse for the first time - it was like it had been custom designed for me. Ooo, the orgasmic bliss of that boat. Ok, so it has now been converted to a pair, but the other Empachers at the boathouse fit me just as well so it wasn't a one off. I think you can tell who the boat is deigned for in the mere length of the footstretchers. In the Filippi, even in the old one I was in danger of it slipping right off the end. Ditto in the new one. In the Empacher I've got bags of room. Case closed.

Boating nightmare aside, the harbor row was without question one of the coolest things I have ever done. It was all fabulous, much more fabulous than I had imagined except for what I thought would be the coolest part - the locks. I had expected much more swirling water and things. Frankly, it was so gentle you never would have even noticed what was going on apart from a quick glance at the tie ups on the side and going "Hey! Did the wall just move?" Good from a safety standpoint, and I'm certainly pro safety, but sometimes safe just isn't as exciting as you want it to be. I still had my wildlife siting of the day, but it was a very big jellyfish with an exceptionally long stingy tail which made me want to be extra certain that I didn't fall in. This was a whole new set of interesting issues I'd never thought aabout being in the harbour which apart from jellyfish included:
1) the fact that I've seen two con towers to submarines there in the past, and couldn't shake the feeling that at any minute we were about to start rising up into the air....
2) big signs by the coast guard cutters telling us not to come within 100 feet. The signs were posted by Homeland Security. It raised an interesting question - what exactly would they DO to us if say were were 75 feet from the cutter? Send another cutter after us? The wake alone would swamp us, and then we'd be jellyfish food. I know I'm a big girl, but these were big jellies.
3) the swells. They were mostly pretty gentle, but they took a little getting used to.
4) The wakes. Those harbor ferries throw up a pretty good one.
5) The cannon fire. Of course, we were there to see the cannon fire, but still an interesting thing to get used to. Don't get startled and let go of the oars.
6) The bridges on the way down. Rowing under the Zakim and the other bridges was pretty cool, but rowing under the Museum Way bridge until we knew for sure was a bit dicey. I think it is the first time I've ever been on the water and had to watch my head!

Thursday, June 10, 2004

In which our heroine gets all hot and wet and loves it

I've waited some long months now for this evening. Long, cold, in fact freezing cold months where I just held on to a determination that some day I would once again be gasping in the delerium of being all hot, wet and sticky.

Tonight was the night.

Although the week started off cold and miserable again, the last two days have been building towards a thunderboomer. But not til the sun went down, I was sure of that. So I headed off for practice on the river, and between river water and good old fashioned sweating, my muscles got loosey goosey and I was glistening all over in a way that some would term "a healthy glow." I went back to work to finish some things up, then strapped on my clipless pedal shoes and hit the roads at speed. Still loose, filled with the energy that good exercise brings to your muscles, I sped out and noticed that it was coming. Just on the edge, but there were the sprinkles. The spatters. The rain was coming. And for the first time in achingly long, it wasn't cold rain that chilled to the bone. It was the sort of rain that was like riding in a warm bath, with the air still humid and the water invigorating. I wheeled across the Mass Ave bridge and noticed that the lightning was coming, but was over the harbour. Good views, but only minimal risk of electrocution, which is good for me. (Andrew remains convinced that I will be struck by lightning. I feel sure that he has a bet somewhere on it.) So I arrived home and burst through the door, lusting for some food and having that incredibly sexy feeling that I've heard Liz refer to as her "rowing goddess stance." I understood it at that moment. I was empowered and ready to take on the world.

Tel was home, and noticing my hunger for something good to put into my body, she presented me with a copy of the new book by her friend Steve Almond. It is called "Candy Freak" and is supposedly about one man's quest candy and the role it plays in his life. I say supposedly, as I will only start reading it tonight. Tel had been to the reading on Tuesday, but I'd been unable to go. Turns out she summed me up to him while he was inscribing it.

"She rows so she can eat candy." said Tel.
"Sounds like my kind of woman." said Steve.

The inscription reads as follows:
"Anne - strong women NEED candy! Freak on. Steve Almond."

Sounds like my kind of man.