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

Saturday, November 19, 2011

The Season in Review

2011 was a "significant" year, which is maybe akin to saying that somebody is medically "interesting."

I did a lot of rowing this year - mostly with the Senior Women's Masters Eight under the persistent and capable direction of Coach George Andreadis. George offered a great mix: very clear and specific in his direction, very funny, and never "personal" in his critique. Such is a great coach. Women like me who hadn't been athletic in their lives were able to get out and experience some competition - and we improved considerably. Watch us next year!

Then, there was my personal favorite interlude: my first three experiences with Sound Rowers!

Sound Rowers is a completely different experience. It's not necessarily "sound" from a mental health prospective, but you row in very different venues, i.e. open water, and for much greater distances. Any human propelled boat qualifies - and there were kayaks, power kayaks, pedal boats, out-riggers, racing shells, open water shells - even a stand-up padel board or two!

It's enormously relaxed - and they feed you afterwards!

Kim Biggs and I did our first two events together, winning county fair style blue ribbons at Budd Inlet and at the Mercer Island Sausage Pull.

Kim and I felt victorious to have actually finished.
Finished? We were hooked!
Photo by Michael Lampi
Elizabeth Burke and I did Lake Sammamish. What a comedy of errors - but what wonderful fun!

It took us a while to get the boat on Elizabeth's Outback. And I was certainly no help. I, of course, left the directions in my computer bag at the LWRC boathouse.

"We're only an hour late!" said Elizabeth, as we set out for our water (water-not-dock) launch.

The buoys were taken down by that time, but it was a gorgeous fall day. So, what's an hour late? We rowed the course anyway. Or actually, what we thought was the course. Instead of the six-mile triangle, we rowed a "bow tie" course of closer to nine miles.

It was life-changing!

And, as I've said before, nine miles makes a head race feel like a sprint.The other morning, our intrepid four: doubles of Catherine Crain and Elizabeth, Kim and Linda - went out to the locks in choppy conditions. No problem!

What else for the season?

Learn-to-Row classes, including two exclusive events for my medical practice's weight loss program, Queen Anne Medical Weight Loss, introduced folks to rowing in a safe and secure environment. Giving plenty of people an experience which stretched their own personal boundaries and made new activities even possible.

Coach Mike Rucier and the QA Medical Weight Loss Eight

But, all of these great and life-sustaining activities were overshadowed by the loss of my husband Steve Williams only seven months ago in April. We held Steve's memorial party at the boathouse, which is a perfect spot for such an event.

Elizabeth's prescription for a grieving widow?

 "Take a 2x, row, repeat."

Truly, that has been the best prescription of all. How wonderful to have a supportive bunch of active, like-minded adventurers to carry me through these rugged times.

Take care,
Linda Gromko, MD

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