So it’s been a while since I’ve raced a big boat internationally (five years!?), and getting back in to the swing of “things” and remembering how to operate within a team dynamic has proven to be an exercise in faith, patience, hilarity and insanity. The particular breed of crazy that abounds within the 2010 W4X lineup is.. in my experience, unprecedented. Daily activities include (but are not limited to): speaking to the local wildlife as we pass them on the lake (birds, turtles, fish, insects, etc.) ; steering excessively around the lake to the increasingly annoyed tone of Margot’s voice ; spending most or all of our rest time lying prostrate over the riggers making philosophical comments up in to the trees/clouds/etc. ; singing impromptu karaoke ; making fun of each other for being old, jaded, bitter and crotchety. Etc. We are a truly bizarre group.
Amid this cloud of weirdness there is one little ray of sunshine, blazing out of the number two seat. It is Natalie Dell, the newest of all the newcomers to the PTC group and a welcome addition to our nuthouse dynamic. Natalie did something pretty impressive this year, which was to come straight in to selection camp from NSR III having never rowed with any of us before; pull a 2k PR ; and then proceed to make the boat for the 2010 Team. Very few others have done that while I’ve been here so full credit to her for jumping in and making it go.
Now that Natalie has become a part of the group, however, it seems that she often falls victim to much of the teasing that happens in the boat while we’re on the water (always good-natured, of course). Unfortunately it seems that she tends to bring this upon herself a lot of the time (but not all of the time).
One of the things we have been giving Nat a really hard time about is her current addiction to CLIF Shot Bloks. Regardless of the length or intensity of the workout, Natalie has not come to practice in the past two weeks without a pack of them with her. Some of us would call an arsenal of Shot Bloks excessive for a 12k technique row, but nevertheless, there they are (Margot has equated Natalie’s dependence on the Bloks to a crack pipe… maybe a little over the top, but I can definitely see similar behavioral patterns emerging). Inevitably the jokes begin when we hear the crinkling of cellophane from in front or behind us, despite Nat’s best efforts to silently remove a Blok from the package and feed her habit.
This was a fairly harmless quirk for a while, until one day we put the boat on the dock, and I noticed some movement from within the shell. Upon closer inspection, I noticed two small ants crawling on my rigger, and commented so since Margot had had a run-in with an ant in the boat a few days earlier.* Natalie then turned her attention to her seat, where a small colony of ants had swarmed overnight, attracted to the residue left on the inside of the shell by her multiple packages of Shot Bloks. We were infested. Of course, maniacal laughter ensued, and Natalie took it like a champ, as we all continued to flick ants of of ourselves and each other for the next 12k.
Looking forward to more adventures (hopefully not involving insects of any kind) as we wrap up in Princeton over the next few days.
Long Live the Dream,
* Margot found a rogue ant on her leg one afternoon and then posed the philosophical question to the Boat after she had flicked it into the lake: “What do you think that ant was thinking just now? Like, one minute he’s just walking… walking… and then suddenly ‘I’m flying through the air!’ ‘and now I’m in water!’ ‘WTF!'” The sad thing is, I’ve had this thought many, many times.