The water in the rowing lake is spilling over onto the pathways and grass verges and the wind has turned the top of the water into choppy waves of khaki brown. It’s been another week without getting out on the water and another Saturday morning spent on the Concept 2 rowing machines in the rowing club gym. Today, instead of an individual race against the clock we’re organised into teams and our objective is to see which team can row the furthest in ten minutes. My team form a little huddle and decide on tactics which is to begin strong at 35 strokes a minute and then slow down to keep a steady 31, slotting in bursts of ten hard drives at three or four points and then (we hope) a very strong fast finish. The score will be the three distances for each team member summed and then compared with the competition. In my ten minutes I make 2159m which is the best distance in my team but overall we lose to the other team who have nudged just ahead of us. Standing up when we have finished my legs wobble and I feel streaks of sweat run down my forehead and into my eyes which then sting. I am too out of breath to speak. Our coach stands there and watches us with a knowing smile. It has “so you think this is hard” written all over it. I chat to a chap called Ian who will coach us at the next level and to the ladies captain and tell them I would like to race and would like, if possible, to have a structured programme of fitness and technique to help me develop both on and off the water. For those that want to race and will put the time and effort in, I am told, there are lots of options. Even Henley.
Later I am at an evening of blues music called the Shake Down in a village just outside Peterborough with some friends. I am shifting around on my seat because my bum hurts and I work out the pain is probably coming from my coccyx. At the interval I get up and have a walk around and the discomfort goes away. I sigh and realise, sadly, that this sort of ache and pain after sport is probably just part of getting older.