In February 2014 a friend in the US decided she needed to get fit. She owned a rowing machine, but needed encouragement to get on it. Despite never having rowed in my life, I volunteered to help and we decided we’d each row halfway across the Atlantic (I’m in the UK) and have a wonderful digital party when we met. Or, given how long it was likely to take, we could save the money to meet in real life again.
I researched rowing technique online and did my first session on 21 February: 10 minutes, 1730m. Three bouts of 3 minutes, with 60 second breaks between them. I remember thinking I was going to die by the end of the third session. I put my imaginary boat in the water at Lochinver, on the northwest coast of Scotland, simply because it’s a place I know in a landscape I love.
As time progressed I rowed longer sessions, built stamina and discovered that I really enjoyed rowing. It’s work against resistance, which I find much easier than the self-control needed for something like Pilates. I stopped my treadmill walking and devoted the time to rowing.
On 12 September I rowed 10044m in 52:06 with only two brief water breaks.
My friend has discovered she doesn’t like rowing, and has stopped participating, but I’m still out there. I’m past Corryvreckan (not something one can row in real life) and heading for the north coast of Ireland, where I’ll turn west. I no longer have to meet my friend in mid-Atlantic, or even Boston: I am free to choose a destination. I’m thinking of plotting a route back home to Alberta. Maybe I could portage where needed to cross the Rockies (imaginary boats are as light as one wishes, despite the immense forward locker containing an infinite supply of warm dry socks, gourmet meals and a library). I could row around the world!