The News Page: Spring Break Memories

It’s 8:04 am on a gloomy Tuesday morning. My tired eyes gaze up into the gloomy overcast of the sky, a metaphor of my physical and mental condition. Hunched over the green handle of a Concept2 oar, I slowly breath in a large gulp of air, holding it in for a few seconds as if to hold in that moment of serenity, never wanting to let go of it. We were exhausted, and moments of quietness, moments like these were so rare and so precious during a time of such chaos and disaster. Every practice felt like a cold day in hell, and every day became eternal pain. I hear the sound of a motorboat quickly approaching from behind me, and I then realized that this moment of serenity was about to be ripped to shreds under the deadly touch of the man who now owned our souls. This man had become the person who we loved and hated with equal passion. He is the father who you fight with constantly, but even after every fight, you could not help but love and respect him just the same. During those miserable days, love was an emotion known to none on that boat. There was no time for emotion in such a brutal environment. To feel an emotion would require energy, and energy is something that we all lacked.

The boat slowly came to a halt, resting between three boats of the hallow men, men who only a day ago were energetic children filled with life. The ringleader was now going to send us on our next journey through the modern river Styx that flows through the frozen depths of a new, torturous underworld.

“Gentlemen,” he began, as he always did, “today I am going to break you.” How charming, I thought to myself. Maybe after I break I will no longer feel the claws of death slowly digging into my broken spine. “We will be doing sprint pieces,” he continued. “One minute on, one minute off. We will do that by twelve…” Ha, I have come closer to death than this. Clearly our master has seen the faces of fallen soldiers and now realizes his evil doings. “…three times,” he added with an evil grin. No. He must be joking. That’s 36 minutes of flat out sprinting, and I can’t even imagine what rates he will have us pulling. Father, please, have mercy. “We will start at a 28,” he continued. “Then we will continue to move up from there.” Fantastic! The day orders me to lead my boat a stroke seat of an eight, we are commanded to perform pieces based on ratings! What fun he has in stored for me! “All rowers sit ready. This piece will be at a 28. Attention, ROW!”

And so the torture began. My legs began to burn, still tired from yesterdays death session. A minute went by at this pace, and immediately came a moment of rest, however a minute of rest went by far more quickly then did a minute of pain. This pattern continued for some time, until I found myself leading the boat at a 44 rating. As the piece finished, I looked up at my coxswain, my fellow soldier in this hopeless battle. With a weakened voice, I gasped at him, “I assume the rating is going back down from here, correct?” He believed so as well, and so he asked Brian, the ringleader, to confirm that these statements were accurate. With a snicker, Brian denied me that moment of happiness, and confirmed that we would in fact be increasing the rating all the way up to a 50, a rating I believed to be untouchable. Hell week had only just begun, and I already felt myself on the verge of tears.

Matt Meier