The solo journey

When the Run Like the Wind came around this year, I was eager, yet felt unconditioned for this long race. I had been concentrating more on weight training and rowing since this race’s December 2 cancellation (due to freezing temperatures). That date coincided with a rowing marathon I had opted to do as well. When I showed up to row this marathon at the 7 a.m. start time and realized it had been cancelled as well, I waited for a few minutes and then decided I was going to do a long row solo. Slipping into a tiny boat after finding good oars to attach, I stepped in, strapped in my feet, and pushed off the dock. It was still dark as I rowed about 1.5 miles to Red Bud Isle, where a dam hindered further exploration. I turned the boat and headed back toward the docks, passing them and journeying onward to the other end of this lake. There was a dam on the other end I had never visited. The sun started to rise, casting a beautiful golden hue that gradually replaced the deep blue darkness. Flowing under a few bridges, the lake took a gentle curve one way, then the other as I headed off into uncharted territory. I was still very aware that if this boat were to tip over, I would be in a bit of trouble as it was still 28 degrees outside. My feet were almost completely numb with just two pairs of socks, but no shoes. (The foot plates on these boats do not accommodate shoes, so cold conditions like these can be problematic.) I went under a few more bridges, realizing that I had not seen anybody else in the last six miles since starting this adventure except a lone jogger along a trail that hugged the lake. A few more miles of rowing revealed a split in the lake. I chose a direction, soon realizing that this was actually an island sitting in a large field of water. The lake had opened up into a vast, intimidating expanse. I felt tiny out there in this massive body of water. Rowing around along the perimeter, I saw what looked like another bridge, which revealed itself to be a dam by a powerful rumbling as it released water to its far side. Close proximity to the warning buoys of this massive structure produced images of being sucked through the power-generating impellers. I felt like it would be a good time to get out of there and head back to the docks. Looping around the other side of the island and into the narrowing lake brought me immediate comfort, and the four-mile journey back to the start felt like a celebration. My hands were a little blistered from my inexperience; relatively new to this sport, I had only four months under my belt at the time. There is so much to learn, but the progress is addictive. Following the curves and avoiding the large concrete bridge posts, I finally saw the docks come into view. I docked the boat, unstrapped my feet, stepped out, and stumbled onto the dock, realizing how tired my legs had become and how numb my feet were. This was not a marathon, but it was three times the distance I had yet traveled, leaving me extremely satisfied with eleven miles under my belt and a boat that did not flip over. I also had the lake to myself for the entire trip, giving me a dream date with nature that will never be forgotten.

 

All bundled up and ready for a cold water adventure

All bundled up and ready for a cold water adventure

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