I completed my first-ever 5K row on Wednesday. The last time I attempted to row 5,000 meters I couldn’t finish because my left glute cramped up really bad and I ended up having to stop at 3k– that was almost 1 year ago exactly, when ironically, I was in much better shape than I am today. Crazy no?

So what was different? Let me tell you!

First of all, when my coach told me that I’d be rowing over 3 miles I immediately thought, “No I’m not. I can’t row 3 miles. The last time I tried I wasn’t able to finish and that was back before the shoulder issue, other shoulder issue, hip issue, unsuccessful pregnancy and 20lbs weight gain! If I couldn’t do it then, there’s no way I’ll be able to do it now!”

I even announced to my classmates that I’d only be doing a 2k row because my body wouldn’t let me do 5, and I meant it. I was certain that my body would not be able to row that distance and further justified my lack of confidence by telling myself that I didn’t have time to row that far because class was running late and I had shit to do! [tweetthis]It’s funny what our brains are able to rationalize when it’s convenient for them, isn’t it?[/tweetthis]

Begrudgingly, I got on the rower with my water bottle and VERY NECESSARY hand chalk at arms-reach. (I’m pretty sure I’m the only rower who needs an entire chalk bucket nearby when rowing to allow me to keep my sweaty hands on the grips.) I had every intention of rowing no more than 2,000 meters because, “that would be good enough.” After all, I’m just getting back in the swing of things and my body is still recovering and my brain thinks I’m not ready or able and blah, blah, blah…

Stupid brains.

3, 2, 1, go!

I knew that if I went too hard at the start that I’d burn out fast so I paced myself straight out of the gate– slow and steady. I kept my pace around 2:23 per 500 meters. It was a good pace that kept my heart rate in a good cardio zone and allowed me to find a good rhythm. By 800 meters I was like, “What the hell?! How am I going to make it to 2,000?!” I was already feeling fatigued and my stupid sweaty hands were already slipping. I told myself to get to 1K and then I could stop and chalk up.

1K came, I stopped, I chalked and then I kept going.

1,300…ugh

1,500…half way to 3k– my failure point a year ago.

Tired and bored! Might as well have been running. Meh.

Chalk. Water.

1,800…my back was starting to cramp pretty badly. I stopped, took a sip of water, chalked up my hands and then took my feet out of the straps and stood up for a minute to stretch.

2,000, 2,300…

It was about this time when the guy next to me started giving up. He really wanted to quit but I wasn’t about to let that happen. The coach/trainer in me hollered, “There’s no shame in resting! Just don’t quit!”  (I’m really good at coaching other people…not so good at coaching myself!)  As soon as those words came out of my mouth I knew I was going to have to finish all 5,000 meters no matter what.

I stopped to rest and stretch 3 more times and each time I came back stronger. I ended up finishing in 24 minutes and 24 seconds (rower image shows 24:31 but that’s residual “momentum”). Not a bad time at all, especially with all of my breaks! In fact, looking back, I think that if I hadn’t stopped to rest I probably wouldn’t have been able to finish all 5,000 meters. Chances are that my troublesome hips (glute/hip flexor issues from spending too much time at my desk) would have seized up like last time and potentially created an issue that would have lasted for days and that would have been counter productive!

As I hit that 5k mark, I realized that my choice to rest was ultimately my choice to finish, even if finishing wasn’t even a goal when I first started. I was able to walk away from that rower COVERED in sweat and chalk, feeling proud of what I’d accomplished, regardless of how many times I had to stop and take 10-20 seconds to stretch, hydrate, chalk and REST!

I did not rest because I was weak, I rested because I was determined to row all 5,000 meters. [tweetthis]I did not rest because I was weak, I rested because I was determined to finish. #inspire #fitness #crossfit[/tweetthis] I am proud of myself for that! I am proud of myself for listening to my body, for respecting it and loving it enough to take care of it. The more I learn to do this, the better it takes care of me. And after the last several months of dealing with physical fitness related setbacks due to being an irresponsible athlete, I will give my body whatever it needs– especially necessary rest.

My goal is to be faster, stronger, better today, than I was yesterday. I may not be as fast or as strong as I was one year ago, but I’m still making progress and I’m determined to NOT quit! That automatically makes me better than ever!

There’s no shame in resting! Just don’t quit! [tweetthis]There’s no shame in resting, just don’t quit! #inspire #fitness #loveyourself[/tweetthis]