Several years ago, my friend Elizabeth Burke and I rowed twice a week through the Seattle winter. We ventured out without fail as dawn was breaking - rowing two single shells or a double. We'd row from the Fremont Bridge to the Chittenden Locks and back, or maybe across Lake Union and on to Lake Washington. Sometimes we'd come back to our home at the Lake Washington Rowing Club and wipe the ice off our boats. But we always came back with an irrefutable sense of moral superiority! We'd done it again!

Rowing - particularly Rowing Through the Winter - provides a richness of metaphors...instructive in my life as a Family Physician and the Home Dialysis CarePartner for my profoundly ill husband, Steve Williams. Now that Steve is gone, rowing reminds me of consistency and focus - so critical during grieving. Rowing requires balance, as does my life.

Row with me this winter. Linda Gromko, MD

Sunday, August 7, 2011

LWRC Senior Masters Women Take a First and Third Place at Greenlake

The Lake Washington Rowing Club Senior Masters Women entered two fours and an eight in the 50th Annual Greenlake Summer Rowing Extravaganza on August 6, 2011.

For our Fours, we entered a Senior Four and a "senior" Senior Four. The younger group took an "easy" first place, beating out the rival Martha's Moms. The "senior"  Senior Four came in fourth. Our Senior Masters Women's Eight won third place.

Connie, Sally, Nancy, Linda, and Ann display their Third Place ribbons.

That's the news; now for the color commentary:

During our warmup in the "senior" Senior Four, I discovered that my rigger's backstay was loose. As I jiggled it to investigate, the whole back rigger came completely off the boat, and all of the nuts and bolts fell irretrievably into Greenlake! I was mortified!

Then, some resourceful soul - maybe our coxswain Ellie - handed up a roll of duct tape. I taped that rigger in overlapping bandage fashion; it was so sturdy - it could have set a fractured femur!

Then, someone said, "No duct tape on a boat!" Evidently, if my duct tape came off, the front of the rigger could shear off - severely damaging the Azure. The referee breezed up in a launch, and helped us secure the rigger with fresh nuts and bolts - and it held.

*  *  *  *  *

During the first race, I thought I might die. Where was my leg drive? What would have happened if I just stopped rowing? Has anyone ever died while racing before? Why was I doing this anyway?

But I didn't die. I attributed my "near death experience" to inadequate hydration.
*  *  *  *  *

And, after congratulating the younger Four on their impressive win, we all scattered back to our "normal" lives before the late afternoon race.

I, for example, went back to the 3-day conference I'd been attending: Gender Odyssey - a fascinating program dealing with transgender issues, surgeries, and the sincere efforts people make to remedy gender when body, heart, and soul are asynchronous. (I have a wonderful transgender population in my medical practice.)

*  *  *  *  *

Back to Greenlake for the eight. We pulled hard; our set was better. And when I got to the point where I thought I might die before, it happened again. This time, though, it felt more normal:

"Oh yes, this is the part where I contemplate my premature demise - but it won't happen. Quiet that busy mind and just keep rowing!"

We appreciated the buoyance of the age adjustment; here's one situation where being older is great!

*  *  *  *  *  

Now, about those Unisuits. I ended up wearing capri tights under the suit; that helped some. Nobody sees my knees unless I've paid them to do a physical exam. But I learned that most of us have "body issues" - and that we just ignored them completely during the race.

You simply can't worry about flabby underarms or a 34-year postpartum tummy when you're racing - particularly when you think you might die! You just let it go...what freedom!

All in all, the Greenlake Extravaganza was special. We had such great young enthusiastic coxswains in Leah and Ellie. We all learned something. And I think we'd all do it again in a heartbeat!

Take care,
Linda Gromko, MD

1 comment:

  1. Congrats on the great rowing experience! Keep doing what you love.