Eight Tough Minutes: Lindsay Meyer
January 9, 2007
Lindsay Meyer at the 2006 Jr Trials
My picture is not of a beautiful sunset, a group of friends, or even a happy point in my life. It was taken at a time where I wanted nothing more than to scream and give up because it hurt so much, both mentally and physically. To me, that picture is worth so much more than 1000 words; it is worth a year of intense work, dreams, goals, disappointment, and ultimately a bronze medal in arguably the toughest event at World Rowing Junior Championships, not to mention my place in US Rowing history.
Last summer, I raced 16 times, in four different cities, on two different continents, with two different coaches. Out of all those trips down the course, one still sticks in my mind as the race where I learned why I was so successful all summer. In my career, I have raced more times than I can count, but my semi-final at Junior Worlds 2006 was by far the most grueling race I have ever gone through; it was eight of the toughest minutes of my life.
My trip to Junior Worlds began way back in the fall of 2005. I had set a goal for myself: make it to Junior Worlds and make the medal podium. To everyone but me and my new coach, this was an impossible goal that I had no chance of making. No one from the U.S. had ever done better than 10th in a womens sculling event at the regatta, so why was I any different? The two things they forgot, the things that make me different, were my determination, and my drive to do the impossible. When someone tells me I can't do something, that just makes me even more determined to do it.
By the time I got to the semi-final, I had already done what most people thought was impossible. I had placed second in my heat and made it directly into the semi-final; I was one of the six favored to make it to the A-Final. Then I ran into more trouble than I had anticipated.
The start went fine, I was with the pack for the most part. The problem was that I was rowing into a headwind, which I hadn't done in a while, and my oars were loaded heavier than I was used to, a change we made to compensate for the raging tailwind in the heat. Every stroke was heavier than the last, and by 500 meters into the 2000 meter race, I was 9 seconds behind. I was used to being behind at the 500, never having been fast off the start, so I just sat down and rowed; I trusted that I would start passing people soon, as I normally did. When I was still 9 seconds down at the halfway mark, I realized I was in uncharted waters. That season I had never gone halfway through a race without passing anyone. I was going through more pain that I had ever felt, but it still did not seem to be enough. All of a sudden, all of the fears, doubts, and frustrations I had had that year, came flooding back. What if can't do it? What if everyone was right and I'm not good enough? What if I don't accomplish my goal? What if, what if, what if? Then, just as soon as they came, the questions stopped. I resolved in my own mind that no matter how much it hurt, no matter how much I just wanted to give up, I would never give in. I would not let the questions intimidate me. I would not let the the fears, the doubt, or the pain keep me from doing what I was there to do. I did not travel all the way to Amsterdam to make the B-Final. At that moment, I felt more determined than I ever had in my life. I rowed how I knew I could, without being scared of the pain, and without paying attention to the "what ifs".
People ask me every day how I can handle the training, the racing, and still manage to do well in school and have friends. I was never able to give them an answer until now. That race gave me my answer, and that picture showed me what I already knew. It is because I am determined, not just in crew, but also in all aspects of my life. I like to do the impossible every chance I get. To this day, I know I would not have made it to the A-Final, I would not have accomplished that goal, or any other goal for that matter, without my often crazy determination.