Two Years in the Making & Less Than 3 Weeks Left

The journey before this journey—well, it’s been a journey.

Everyday for the last week, without fail, someone asks me…“Are you ready?” and/or “How are you feeling?”

There’s a lot going on in my heart and mind as I near the weeks before the adventure and goal I’ve been planning for over two years. Part of me is scared and nervous. Other parts of me are excited. There’s even a part of me that is mourning the fact that it’s almost over…and it hasn’t even begun yet. This trip and adventure has been such a part of my identity for so long that I’m already scared I won’t know who I am when I come back.

“What are you going to do when you get back?”….”What’s the next adventure going to be?”…”Will you cross the Atlantic?”

I’m not avoiding the future or thoughts about the future-the truth is, I really don’t know. I’ll have plenty of time to dream up my next adventure while I’m on the lake. I’ll have plenty of time to think about everything… probably everything ten times over. Maybe the next adventure doesn’t involve a boat, maybe it does. Maybe I’ll do it alone, maybe I won’t.

The last few weekends I’ve been slowly saying my farewells to family members, assuring them that I will be safe and stay in touch as the adventure takes off. Having my family confidently stand behind me has meant the world to me. It’s like I’m up to bat at my first t-ball game and they’ve all got my back.

My hometown newspaper even jumped in to show their support. Row4ROW made the front page of the sports section in this Sunday’s Battle Creek Enquirer:

So how do I feel, in one word? Ready. More than anything, I feel ready.

Yes, I’m scared. I’m terrified! Whenever I put Liv in the water for a test run or a night’s sleep…without fail my adrenaline is pumping from a new noise, some big waves I’m not sure I can row through or some other surprise.

“What if I can’t get Liv out from this port…what if she crashes into shore? Man those waves are big…” I think all these things.

“What if I can’t do this?…”

I don’t waste much time with that last thought.

More importantly…What if I can? What if I CAN do this…?

What if Row4ROW changes someone’s life?

What if a survivor learns about exercise through this trip, is inspired by my big yellow boat—and decides to join a gym or a sports team? What if they look into a local rowing program and join the sport?

What if there’s someone out there with a dream like mine, just waiting to be born? What if I give them the courage to do it? What if they get brave and decide to go after something, despite the fact that they might fall on their face?

What if I fall on my face?

Well, that makes me a little more human–a little more vulnerable to what everyone might think–and I’m okay with that.

A personal challenge like this is just that: it’s personal. But sharing this trip has been a blessing. It hasn’t always been easy to share but I know it’s important.

Whatever happens on Lake Michigan is what will happen.

I cannot control the weather conditions. I cannot control the injuries and impairments that my body will go through and endure. I cannot control the seasickness, the fatigue, the sunburn, the loneliness.

There’s no way to know that I will make it through this trip at all. There are a lot of unknowns, and if I let them get the best of me I’ll never leave the dock.

So–I will go with what I do know.

I know that I’ve trained hard. I know that my body is as ready as it can be. I’ve thrown some weights around at Rowfit and had the most supportive and amazing community there. I’ve completed workouts I didn’t think I could finish with Rowfitters cheering me on—and I know they’ll be with me and Liv in spirit. I’ve spent mornings on my WaterRower. So many mornings…so MANY early mornings. I’ve done yoga every day in 100-degree heat, focusing my mind and my body, calming everything with my breath.

I know Liv is capable. She’s amazing. We’ve been through rough weather, calm weather, and she never let’s me down. Just when my heart skips a beat from an enormous wave in sight, she hangs on to me and keeps me safe as it passes.

I know that I’m doing this for a worthy cause. I know the ROW team will be cheering me on, worrying about me, and–most importantly–rowing hard at practice every week in my absence. We’re going to be rowing for each other…and if in these two months I can help keep them going, after all the inspiration they’ve given me over the last 4 years as their coach, then we’ll be all right.

And the most comforting thing that I remind myself of over and over is that I’m not doing this alone. There are a lot of people cheering me on for which I could never be without.

When it gets to be too much and I want to give up, I’ll remember how beautiful it was to watch the ROW novice squad rowing all four last week. I’ll remember that they were glowing when they got off the water. I’ll remember the support I saw them give each other through hugs and high fives.

I’ll remember that cancer doesn’t care about sunburn and blisters. I’ll remember that cancer takes away mothers from daughters. That it takes away sisters and aunts. I’ll remember that cancer doesn’t get tired or give up–and that I can’t either.

Thank you for your continued support of ROW and this trip. If you’d like to sponsor a mile of my adventure, take a look here to donate $100 in support of an amazing cause and effort.  Or join me at the send-off party at the Chicago Yacht Club on June 14, 6-8 p.m.

GO ROW!

-Jenn

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