The journey is the journey

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I am not rowing in the 2018 Great Pacific Race. There, I said it. I am not rowing. This year. 

After 24 months of planning, eating, talking, lifting, rowing, waiting, eating, and rowing, and waiting some more, I have pulled out of the GPR. This decision did not come easily, but I do believe in my heart of hearts that it was the best decision for my family and me.

I have learned a tremendous amount these last two years- about ocean rowing, about myself, and about other competitors. I have learned that I fall fast and hard for teammates and I am outrageously loyal- losing past teammates still smarts and I still feel a lot like the 2nd grade kid who isn't picked for the team. I miss weekly Skype sessions with women I thought would be in my life forever.

I have learned that although patience is not my trademark virtue, I am more patient than I gave myself credit for. I trained slowly and steadily after I hurt my shoulder last summer, patient with my body as it healed, and now find I am stronger than I have ever been. I was patient again while I waited 5 months for a follow up MRI to confirm that the benign cyst at the back of my skull had not changed and I am cleared to participate in any activity at all. 

I have learned that for my head to be in the game, my heart has to be first. I was all about this row- for two years. I dragged my friends and family into it, some members more reluctantly than others, but they all came along. Every. One. Of. Them. Through the ups and downs of kids growing up and the ups and downs of my ever-changing team name and roster of teammates, they came along. Every. One. Of. Them. It was hard on all of them at times- my kids often needed me but they granted me the time to prepare. This row is not just about the 2 months at sea, it's about the 2 years of endless hours on the erg, at the gym, on the computer, and out talking to people about the row and about the charity of choice, in my case, Doctors Without Borders. My family and friends were behind me- even when they may have preferred not to be. And I hold that support dear to my heart.

And that is a big part as to why this race is not my race. I was offered a seat on a fabulous 5 person co-ed boat, but I did not take it. The rowers involved were excellent- dedicated and invested. But I did not see myself in that boat. I saw myself in the original 4 woman boat going after the world record. I saw myself in the 3 person boat that I was not selected for. But just getting into any boat was not my goal. Developing a team, connecting with people, being a part of something over time is very important to me. And, it is important to my friends and family- that I am with a team they have come to know and to trust. It's that part of the journey that went missing.

An ocean rower I did not know contacted me right after I posted on Facebook that I would not row. We talked at length about the 2018 Great Pacific Race and my take on it.  She listened to me and then gave me some stellar advice. "Think about buying a boat and making your own team," she said. "Don't lose your dream," she added. The latter is totally out of the question. And the former, well...let's just say it has a lot of promise. 

I dream of the ocean just about every night. Not standing on a beach looking out at the ocean, but, of being out in the middle of it- of feeling the pitch and yaw of it. I shudder at the cold spray, bask in the morning light, and review all the ways I know how to deal with seasickness- all in my dreams. And then I wake up and see my kids. And I understand that although I would have rowed my heart out in that 4 or 3, I have made the exact right decision for where I am right now.

When I get out on that ocean, I will not be able to control it- it will do as it will do. But, right now, on land, I can be as deliberate about my choices as I need to be. My journey to the ocean continues, as I continue to learn about patience, support, teamwork, and love with my family and friends right here.

From the bottom of my heart, I thank you for all of your support. 

Courtney