Final Blog of Jason Fox. Team Essence.
I have mixed emotions to say it’s my final TE blog. It has been emotional to say the least but writing these, for you all, has been a look forward.
Now I have been thinking for a while about what I should share with you this time. Really it shouldn’t of taken me long at all. Today’s blog is entitled:
The conclusions of an Ocean Rowing Rogue.
I want to quickly explain why we are branded rogues of ocean rowing. It’s simple really, we don’t conform to the culture of, and don’t like rowing! I actually hate the activity. That, coupled with having never done any real rowing and having a few misdemeanours when we first started off. The misdemeanours being, turning up heavily hungover for our first race meet. Crashing into three stationary objects resulting in broken oars, getting our backsides handed to us on a plate by ‘Yorkshire Rows’ (a 4 women, all mum, rowing team that just completed the Talisker Challenge setting a record!! Congratulations & well done!!) during a race meet!! Now this isn’t bad and shouldn’t be anything to be ashamed of except when you take into consideration, we are younger, Ross and Aldo are ex Royal Marines, I am an ex Royal Marine and ex Special Boat Service soldier, Mat was combined services heavy weight boxing champ and Oli is, well, the man mountain power house!! expectations were high to say the least. We also had a very embarrassing moment at the beginning of our North Sea race that involved a television news crew, some rope and the theme to Rocky!!
All up, we don’t act or look like rowers, especially ones wanting to row an ocean!!
Now that explanation is out of the way let me document my conclusions.
I will break them down into paragraphs:
Pain. I believe there is a statement that’s starts “pain is momentary”. This is true but the problem I have with this line is how long is momentary? For Team Essence I hope it’s less than a 52 day momentary for our body’s sake let alone wanting to set the record to below that. This expedition has been one long lesson in enduring pain and managing it. The send off in Lagos, Portugal saw us row off south towards the Canaries, after only a couple of hours the standard back pain set in. Now, what seems to have happened is that pain just seems to migrate around the body and it’s different for each of us. Mine, as mentioned, was back pain initially which moved on to just behind the knees. It seemed to continue to “flick flack” between the two for a few weeks. For others hips and bum posed problems or small infections in toes or legs. Palms of hands picked up blisters and as for the trainer less contingent amongst us, barefoot rowing for the first week, after our losses, was excruciating! For a few days my left oar had had enough of me and, for a few shifts, battered my knee to pieces Kathy Bates style!! Fortunately, for us all, we have had Aldo and his extensive med pack to deliver comprehensive medicine and first aid immediately. We have also had the legendary Doctor Ross of Adventure Medical Consulting who has been on call 24/7. We have used him and Doc Ross has proved invaluable! We move in to week seven and all of us ache. My fingers ache, my back, my knees and elbows all ache but what causes me the most pain to date is my backside! It feels like I have shards of glass grinding into both cheeks. I rinse, air and get them inspected but I feel, for me, it’s just a 7 week thing from ocean rowing from which there is no escape, except the end. I have only slept a maximum of 1hr 45min per sitting for the last month and a half and I am worried about how I am gonna shape up after a proper nights sleep?! I may video the moment just to show you how nimble I have remained 😳!! So, my conclusion is, before signing up to rowing an ocean or any such likeminded madness, consider the above but take into account that pain makes you feel alive, makes you feel like you are achieving, lets you know you are working hard and makes you appreciate the good times that follow.
Fear. Now we set off knowing that rowing an ocean would present us with a multitude of scenarios that would push us emotionally. The main emotion to emerge is fear. Mother Nature is strong and formidable and will easily excite that emotion inside you. Large seas that smash the boat all over the place, trying to deploy the para anchor in forty foot seas with water crashing all around and engulfing Ellida. Capsizing and rolling whilst in large seas also springs to mind and finally, whilst under para anchor and holed up in cabins trying to sleep, listening to what you think is Ellida breaking up around you. Fear in these situations exists, of course it does, we are human after all but it is an emotion, it’s yours and it’s not a negative one. Allow fear to take charge and it can become negative, you will flap and make bad decisions. It can also become contagious and spread, infecting others around you. Fear should be acknowledged and respected. I conclude that fear is there to keep you focused and alive. It makes you remember all you have learnt for those sticky situations.
Determination. This, we all have! Sometimes you just need to dig around and find it. It can waver and normally when pain and fear set in, yet it is the afore mentioned pain and fear that make you, if you really want to, dig in and persevere! When that happens you feel determined, invincible and unstoppable! When you find determination it feels good, awesome in fact. Determination is something we have all needed and found in abundance! To conclude on determination I say go out there and get determined because that helps put pain and fear to bed and it feels great!
Camaraderie. Support networks, teams, friends, all of the above have camaraderie. It is born between you all from situations you experience and endure together. It’s important to remember why you are all together and doing what it is you are doing. Team Essence, the rowers, well we had a chat about what it was we were doing before we left. We knew it would be hard and we would have our differences but ultimately hard and differences don’t matter. Us being there and looking after each other when the chips are down are what matter! Again, I will end this paragraph with a conclusion, so remember, be there for one when they need you because it might be you that needs them the next time!
So, in summary, when you embark on anything in life I feel you will come across, encounter and experience all of the above. You will have to and want to as they make the adventure all the more worth it. Pain, fear, determination and camaraderie, I feel, are needed. They compliment each other. Remember, most things worth doing are not easy!
As we near our final destination, which I might add is still over 500 miles away I will bring this blog to an end but I will do it quoting two mottos that belong to two organisations of men that I feel privileged to have dedicated much of my time prior to this row. I lived my life by these mottos and it would appear I still do. I guess I will continue to as it is now a part of who I am.
Per Mare Per Terram* (Royal Marines Commandos)
By Strength and Guile (Special Boat Service)
Until the next time, love you all,