Thursday, September 14, 2006

The crab*

Yesterday, I had one of the best rowing practices I can remember.

We were doing four-minute, full-pressure pieces. The stroke ratings were medium-low because we're getting ready for the head race season (longer races against the clock—they average around 3 miles, but the lengths are variable). We were rowing two minutes at 24 (24 strokes per minute) and two minutes at a 26. We did five pieces total. And somewhere during the third piece, I hit my stride. I was sitting up tall, I was rolling up early (feathering the oar correctly), I was slow on the slide. I wasn't skying, I was getting good compression. And I was laying on the pressure. It felt like I'd jumped up a level. Then, we were in the last ten seconds of the piece and...

WHAM! My oar handle thwaps me in the chest and my whole oar is parallel to the boat instead of perpendicular to it.

The boat stopped while I recovered my oar. The rower behind me started to give me advice on how to free it, "You need to turn the handle…

I said, "Please don't! Not now. It's bad enough to catch a crab…" I wish I hadn't snapped at him, but he should have kept his mouth shut. I've caught a crab before, though it's been a long time.

Catching a crab can hurt, though, luckily, I don't have a bruise. Mostly, though, it hurts your pride. You are supposed to be in charge of every second of the stroke and, somehow, it got away from me. I have no idea what happened.

It's been years since I crabbed. Years. Even during the one race were our equipment was crap and the oars weren't pitched right, I didn't crab. I was in control.

The last two pieces went well. My form was still solid, the pressure was still high. And my confidence? Just a little tiny bit bruised, but unbowed.

*From wikipedia. Crab: A rowing error where the rower is unable to timely remove or release the oar blade from the water and the oar blade acts as a brake on the boat until it is removed from the water. This results in slowing the boat down. A severe crab can even eject a rower out of the shell or make the boat capsize (unlikely except in small boats). Occasionally, in a severe crab, the oar handle will knock the rower flat and end up behind him/her, in which case it is referred to as an 'over-the-head crab.' Mine was an over-the-head-crab, though I didn't lie down--I kind of wiggled to the side as the oar moved behind me.

Grateful for: perspective.

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