September 10, 2014
For most of this year I’ve been exploring the possibility of running for council. Today, I’ve got my answer.
In 2001, I joined Putney Town Rowing Club on the Thames in London. I was living near the river and knew I’d be heading back to Canada soon so I took the opportunity to learn how to row.
There is little more empowering than navigating a busy river under your own steam in a single scull. There is little more magical than being the first to cut a path through a calm river on a crisp autumn morning, sun rising, mist clearing, with commuter traffic humming along each bridge your boat quietly passes under. There is little more physically demanding than knocking 5 seconds off your best 2000m race pace.
I was addicted immediately.
A year after I took my first stroke, I entered the British Rowing Championships. It’s the biggest annual race in the country. People who succeed in this event move on to the Olympic team.
I’d trained two sessions a day every Saturday and Sunday for six months. I was in the best shape of my life and was training with a competitive crew at another rowing club.
When I arrived at the national event, I realized I was out of my element. I’d only been racing in small competitions on the river. This was a six-lane affair, just like the Olympics, with athletes who had been competing for years. I had so much more to learn before I could be a contender. I came third in my first race and was out of the competition. I learned that being prepared is what it takes to win, but I also knew what to expect the next time I raced.
I’ve thought a lot about that experience in my decision to run for council. I’ve weighed the cost of lack of preparation vs. the benefit of gaining campaign and council experience. I leaned towards the latter until recently when I decided not to run…and then changed my mind.