A rower’s motto: I race therefore I am

Posted by Adam Kreek on 20 May 2008

Why I race…

I love going into schools and giving talks. I focus on my passion for sport, my respect for our fragile global environment, lessons I have learned, setting goals and the importance of proper nutrition.

I remember one time I was in front of a group of kids describing a race:

“The pain experienced while rowing is similar to middle distance running, biking really hard or speed skating. Your legs burn and scream for oxygen, while your lungs wheeze with your heart struggling to transport renewed blood to the complaining body parts. Suffering is the best word to describe how I feel in a race. The after-effects of competition are exhausting. My body aches and I have depressed energy and drive for weeks after the event.”

The innocent, truthful voice of a grade four pupil challenged me: “Then why do you do it?”

I still smile, thinking about his question. Why do I put myself through this pain?

Oddly enough, I was attracted to the sport of rowing because I loved to train. I loved the meditative state I could enter after launching my boat from the London Rowing Club onto the Thames River in Ontario. It was invigorating to spend long hours on the water in rhythmical repetition. It brought an ability to focus into my Attention-Deficit-Disorder youthfulness; I loved it.

I vividly remember the extreme pain of my first race. It was almost more agonizing than racing is now, because the experience of rowing pain was so new. The rewards of pushing myself were also unknown. (My advice to the young athlete: “It does not hurt any less, you just get faster and beat more people.”)

I grew to love racing because of the heightened incidence of NOW it brings me. When the time to race draws near, there is nothing else in my mental space but the goal at hand. My nerves are primed and firing. My body is in peak physical condition. My mind does not wander. My soul takes in the beauty of the extreme environment that has been created at the regatta site. The challenge of pushing my limits and reaching a new state of existence excites me.

I’m shaking as I write.

Racing at any level is in itself a good experience. I definitely recommend it. It brings to the forefront many unique feelings of the human condition in a non-violent, co-operative manner.

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