Nearing the end of week 2 of our second San Diego camp of the year, I’m prompted to come out of hibernation and make an update about how winter training has been coming along and all the major changes I’ve undergone in the process.  Such as: removing my lip ring.

The lip ring has served as a warning sign, a conversation piece, an obstacle, a toy and a trademark for nearly five years.  I had my lip pierced in the spring of 2005 during winter finals week;  a sort of pick-me-up to get me out of a winter doldrums slump not unlike the one I find myself in now.  It was largely spontaneous, with only the briefest consideration of having my nose done instead (which I ended up doing again anyway in 2008).  I never once removed it (or considered removing it) since then, until this winter when I had to remove it for surgery, and then again for an MRI.  Since captive bead rings are difficult to maneuver, and I was too lazy to find a piercer to replace the jewelry for me the second time, I was content to pop the incomplete ring in and out as it suited me for a few weeks until one morning I realized I had lost it.
Now, several weeks later, I’m lip-ringless and not missing it so I suppose it’s time that I accept that I’ll be moving forward without it from now on.

For the most part, no one has really noticed.  The few close friends and teammates I have mentioned it to are generally appalled that they have carried on practices and conversations with me for days without realizing it was missing.  My bosses, coaches and other acquaintances have not commented, and at long last I was able to travel through an airport without being stopped by a creepy man to be asked:  “Hey… did that hurt?” or, my other favorite: “Doesn’t that thing get in the way when you kiss your boyfriend?” Apparently most skeezy minds think alike, as I cannot count the number of times I’ve heard both of those lines over the past five years.  Well, hopefully I’ll never hear them again.  My only real worry now is that people will “make the mistake” of calling me Ellen and vice versa more often now that we won’t have the jewelry to distinguish us when in hats and sunglasses.  Maybe I’ll just have to go blonde again this summer.

In the meantime, I’ve still got my many ear piercings, my nose and tongue piercings to keep me “edgy” (whatever that means) and now that I’ve done my stint with overt body piercings, I can move on to my next major project–only following retirement, of course–which is a large ink piece.  But that’s a different post in a different blog.

Not that I can afford it right now anyway, living the dream, nomadically drifting from coast to coast to follow the open water and continuing to try to learn how to row some boats.  Being in California again is truly wonderful–as it always is–and the comfortable rhythm of life and training at the OTC is its typical, alluring self.  The men who have taken up residency here seem to be very happy, and I can’t help but be jealous. But even so, the time to move East is quickly approaching with selection dates growing near.  We have just fifty days until NSR I, and even less time than that until our next week of erg testing.  But in light of all that, I’ve got eight days left to enjoy California… even if it is going to rain all weekend.

My back is feeling stronger every day, following a sideliner that put me out of commission for a few weeks in January.  Training now consists of balancing my intense, aggressive desire to fight my way back up to the top of the group, and pacing my return to hard training to prevent a relapse injury.  With the help of the trainers here, my physical therapy team back in Princeton, and the patience and support of my coaches, I believe I can be healthy enough to be competitive this spring on and off the water.  At times it seems that it takes more discipline not to overdo it too quickly as a recovering athlete, than it does to push hard as a healthy athlete.  Every athlete and every injury is different, but being left behind is not an option for me.

Long Live the Dream,


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