You spend all year thinking about the big race - the solo distance race.
This is no team effort.
You can't rely on anyone else.
It's all you.
You train, study maps, plan out the course in your mind.
You dwell on it, maybe like you did with Christmas as a kid.
Then finally the day comes.
Maybe you've trained diligently for it,
maybe you're not sure you trained enough.
Either way, it's time.
You climb onto your assigned boat,
wrap your hands around the oar,
and begin the slow row out to the starting area.
Thoughts race through your head:
"Where are we going?"
"Am I ready?"
"Should I be rowing faster?
"Or should I be trying to conserve my energy?"
"Do I have a good boat?"
"Is it as fast as the others?"
"How do I match up with these other guys?"
"I hope I don't break the oar."
Someone on the chase boat yells out instructions.
Everybody lines up as ordered.
If it hasn't happened already, you get that cold feeling that comes when adrenaline and anticipation are forced to inhabit the same space.
Your heart is thumping.
Every ounce of blood in your arms flows like arctic water in your veins.
There's a moment where all seems calm,
but it isn't.
"GO! GO! GO! GO!"
They're yelling from the chase boat.
You all explode in a rowing frenzy,
and the "calm" gives way...to the "storm".
That's how it begins.
How it ends, well, that's up to you.