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

Monday, September 26, 2011

Our First Sound Rower Experience!

Kim Biggs and I began rowing at Lake Washington Rowing Club at about the same time, roughly seven years ago. She and I have rowed in all sorts of events, but nothing - nothing - has come close to our eight mile row on Budd Inlet on Saturday, September 17.

Coach George Andreadis wished us luck, saying, "I like your spirit - blood and guts!"

Which is appropriate, as Kim is an honest-to-God CSI (Crime Scene Investigator) detective, and I'm a doctor.

Linda and Kim prepare for the adventure

A Sound Rowers event has been on my bucket list for a while. Kim, though, has the skills to actually secure a double to a truck! (Not in my skills set!)

We agreed we'd do it "for fun" - and "to finish," not to really race.

That was probably a reasonable goal. When the starting horn blew, Kim found herself sitting in bow holding her foot stretchers in her hands! She took care of that matter as quickly as possible - but we lost a few minutes.

Later in the race, we paused to take off some layers of clothing and to drink some water...more time.

But as we got into the event, we passed up the kayaks and closed in on the pack of singles and doubles. This wasn't so bad - we'd probably make it!

Somewhere along the line, I scraped my right knuckles with my overlapping left hand. It took only a few good gouges to start an impressive amount of bleeding - annointing the Hecate and my neon green "Dolly Parton blow-up" vest from Stormy Seas.

We soon learned that the kayaks were trying to take us on. And one was drafting behind us!

Pulling into the dock, roughly one hour and nineteen minutes after our launch, I told Kim about my scraped knuckles. The blood splatter prompted Kim to comment,

"It looks like a crime scene!" And, as a CSI detective, she would certainly know!

Because we were first in our class, i.e. women's doubles, we were awarded enormous blue ribbons - the fancy kind you might win for having the best Holstein cow at the county fair!

By the time we finished the race and then got that big blue ribbon, we were hooked. We'll be back next month for another Sound Rowers event. After all, eight miles can make Head of the Lake look like a sprint race!

Take care,
Linda Gromko, MD

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