It was a windy afternoon, the sky consisted of dark clouds, and the water on the Glenmore reservoir was anything but calm. If I took a stroke in the wrong direction I could have undertaken some serious water weight, or worse flipped the boat. I was tired from the morning practice I had earlier on that day and I had landscaped all day; my body felt weak and depleted. I thought: “Hell, if I flip this thing, at least I get a free ride into the dock with the coach boat and I can go home.” Come to think of it, this was definitely the PG version of what was going through my brain. There was Tony, following me in the red inflatable coach boat. You could see by the expression on his face he was analyzing every damn thing I was doing and I knew it wasn’t pretty to look at. I kept thinking that I was a novice, I did’t know how to row a single in still water let alone the ocean that was starting to form. Why was I doing this? Why did I pick up this sport? I took a few more strokes and got my oar caught deep in the water and immediately lost balance (otherwise known as catching a crab). Let me tell you this was a boat stopping, flip-worthy crab. Somehow I managed to stay upright and stopped. My head dropped; I’d had enough. Tony came up to me in the boat, stopped the engine and floated for a few seconds. I looked at him, he looked at me and we sat like this for a few seconds. Eventually he spoke in his thick Hungarian accent: “You have to find the balance.”… Duh. A few curse words crossed my mind.
Little did I know the words he spoke two years ago now, had a much bigger meaning.
For anyone who is a high level athlete or who has fully committed themselves to something they love in search of a big goal knows that not all hard work directly equals success. The path is never linear; in fact it is quite bumpy and sometimes you feel like you’re not even progressing at all. So what’s the key? You have to find the balance.
If you know me, you know that I am competitive and like to achieve excellence when I find something I love. I can get fully wrapped up in what I’m doing. I want to give it 100% and go hard. This past year, I’ve had a few health issues and landed in the hospital once. My body was suffering from all the stress that I had put on it. Athletes are tough people: we think we can handle it all and that we can persevere through anything. Well, we are wrong. Marnie McBean pointed out once that athletes are just regular people trying to achieve superhuman things.
I thought of that day on the water where I felt like quitting and I put my body through exhaustion, and I saw a different meaning to Tony’s words. Quite literally yes, I had to find the balance in the boat. But I also had to find the balance in my life. Being an athlete is also about being smart, taking recovery into account, and never underestimating the power of quality over quantity. This is great in theory, but how was I going to put this into action in my life? I have a full-time job, I train full-time, and I like being social and seeing my friends. I could cut down on work… but then rowing doesn’t pay for itself. And if I train more, I can’t work as much.
That’s when my friend, co-worker, and fellow athlete Amy suggested doing a fundraiser. Immediately, I felt uneasy. Yes, it was a great idea; however, asking people for help isn’t something that comes naturally for me. It seems that being vulnerable isn’t something I was quite comfortable with. After a few suggestions from Amy on how to run the event and some help from many others along the way, I had finally committed to holding the event on June 9th. Though I felt nervous about really putting my goals and dreams out to the big world, the night couldn’t have been a bigger success. Not only did it help alleviate some of the financial stresses in my life, but it helped me find the balance. It helped me realize that being an athlete is a team effort, that I have a huge support system, and that support system makes the successes so much better. The wins and the gains mean so much more when you have people who want to be a part of the journey and relish in the successes with you. It helped me realize that balancing sport with life is important. That friends, family, and loved ones are important.
So… have I found the balance? Not fully and maybe I never will, but I’m getting closer. One thing I can tell you: there are a lot less boat stopping, flip-worthy crabs.
Thank you to all my friends and family that have supported me so far.
Thank you to Jenny Cull from Elevate auctions.
Huge thanks to Bob Wilkie and the rest of the crew at the Wild Rose Brewery that made the evening of my fundraiser possible.
Thank you to Tony, for “trying to piss me off” to make me better.
And thank you to you, for reading and being a part of my journey; whether you know it or not.