It was a long weekend with lots of rowing.
Like all the other gondoliers, Ricardo had come into it with hopes - hopes for victory, hopes for good boat and oar situations,
but mostly - hopes that he could bring the best possible performance.
He wanted to give it his all, blow out those arms, empty that gas tank.
It was the last race he'd row - for the day, the competition, the year.
This was it...and he brought it.
In his heat, he came in well ahead of the others.
Nobody was gaining on him, but still he poured it on,
all the way to the finish line.
It was about securing a good race time, sure,
but it was also about bringing his very best.
Every muscle, every tendon, every part of his body was tense as he powered through to the end.
He was finished.
Finished with the race, and completely spent.
There was no more gas in the tank.
Face flushed. Shirt soaked. Hair dripping with sweat.
He'd given it his all and he knew he'd done well.
A few more strokes and his boat was headed for shore.
When there was no more rowing to be done,
when the race was over,
after every cell of his body had been continually screaming "GO!!!",
It was a perfect moment.
Beautiful, painful, serenity.
And while it only lasted for a few seconds,
I will always remember him this way.
In a way it was one of the most religious experiences I've had.