Saturday, October 19, 2013

Head of the Charles

It's Head of the Charles weekend, aka "Rower Christmas." It's the one weekend per year that rowers of all levels from all over the world flock to Boston for a race that spills onto the banks of the Charles in the form of a weekend-long party. The atmosphere is very festive, but in the past two years this regatta has triggered a wide array of emotions for me. I competed in the Head of the Charles every year since I started rowing in 2005 through the end of my rowing career in 2011. In 2010 and 2011 I raced even though I was horribly injured and it was still a blast to compete. These past two years, I've only been able to look on from shore as my friends row on, continuing to grow stronger and faster. Rowing was truly my passion and I miss it very much. Here's a picture from my last good race before I got injured in 2009, taking the infamous Eliot bridge turn. (Photos today courtesy of my friend Igor over at Sculling Fool. Check out his beautiful daily picture blog here.)

Rowing brings back wonderful memories: the thrill of pushing your body harder than you knew you could, victories beyond my wildest imagination, and relationships that will last a lifetime. Unfortunately my last two years of rowing had more to do with chronic pain and inflammation than with these magnificent memories. It was actually as a result of these chronic injuries that I decided to take an interest in nutrition, and started to (roughly) follow Dr. Weil's Anti-Inflammatory Food Pyramid. While I don't believe in the supplements he sells (supplements are poorly absorbed by the body, whole foods are better sources), the basic idea of eating more vitamin-rich whole foods, less meat, and more "healthy" fats has really resonated with me. Within a few months of making these dietary changes, I really started to feel better and after a year, I was able to return to purposeful training-- this time on my bike! It's been a whole year since I spawned a new overuse injury, and all of my old ones are continuing to heal so I think I'm finally doing something right. Onwards and upwards!

One of my last sunrise rows before hanging up my oars. Love that dirty water!

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