Linda Muri hardly needs an introduction; the MIT grad, former national teamer, World champion and current Dartmouth Women's head coach has "put in the miles" over the years, really in all aspects of the sport. Two years ago, Muri was diagnosed with and treated for breast cancer, and continued to coach, row and race, including winning the Head of the Charles the past two years. row2k caught up with Muri after her win in Boston this past Saturday for a brief conversation.
row2k: Another nice win today with a good friend [doubles partner C.B. Sands-Bohrer]. It's nice to win, it's nice to still be active in the sport, but in context of your life and your recent experience with cancer, how does continuing to row, continuing to race and continuing to do well, how meaningful is that?
Linda Muri: It's very meaningful to be able to be with friends and to be able to train at that level. I'm not sure that I have all the lung back from radiation yet, so I still don't feel like I'm at a hundred percent, but you know, that hundred percent keeps diminishing every year as you get older anyway.
But we were warming up on the ergs at Cambridge Boat Club and Mary and Cindy were on the two ergs and we were sitting almost in a circle and someone said, why do we do this? Why do we put ourselves through this? And C.B. [Sands-Bohrer] said something about you know, because of this, because of friends. And somebody said because we can. And I started crying. And Mary's like, we love you Linda, you know this whole thing - and it's just, you know, great to be in that kind of environment, where it's fun and it's competitive.
row2k: You mentioned your physical recovery; for athletes, a lot of times you can't come back to near full strength, but as regards the mental piece or the emotional piece of it, how do you come back from an experience like that to doing what you've done these last couple of years, as life goes on, as you do get older, as you progress?
Muri: Some of it comes just from the rowing, as I've found so much, I don't want to say comfort in the rowing, but I think about my rowing career and where I started in college and all of that and it's something that it's been a part of my life and I've turned to it at times. When I was in college it helped me get through or I might not have graduated. And the years that I spent racing on the US team were really special times, so it's just been something that's been good. So I think keeping that helps me get over some other adversities like the cancer and the training and the treatment and all of that.
row2k: How do you take fuel from these experiences that to go forward and continue? Or is that even necessary? It seems like you've always just gone and done...
Muri: Yeah. It's kind of automatic. I don't want to say it's a habit, but I would so miss it if I didn't do it. Even with the move to Hanover you know there's a great rowing community there. You just do it. I don't know. It's what I do.
row2k: As rowing people or people that have been in rowing for quite some time and also too for people who coach, it's really easy to take rowing as a metaphor. Rowing can be a metaphor for hard work. With an experience like yours it seems like you've lived that probably a little bit more than a lot of other people, and so it's easy to say, oh it's about the hard work or it's about all these other virtuous things, but do you find that that somehow rings more truthful when you're doing things like you have?
Muri: You know, I don't have the opposite experience of not knowing what it's like, but I think if I can step away from it, I think it does. It does and it's about having fun. If you're not having fun rowing it doesn't matter if you're a novice or in college or racing at Worlds or the Olympics, if it's not fun, why do it? So I think that part keeps ringing true more and more than anything else.
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