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The Best Part About Waking Up At 5:30am

Before you tell me how mornings are the worst, and how you can never wake up to your alarm, and that getting up early is so awful - hear me out.

I get it, I do. Some people are just not “morning people,” and that’s okay. I am not here to convince you to all of a sudden jump out of bed singing every morning, because everyone has their own struggles. For me, my mornings start on the water with my team, and they are the most rewarding and beautiful part of my day.

I realize that the world of rowing can sometimes seem elusive to my friends and family who have never rowed or seen a practice. There are so many steps and moving parts involved just to make it out on the water, that some days, it seems like a miracle that the whole production even takes off.

It all starts with waking up at 5:30 (and staying awake). Once I turn off my alarm, get dressed in the dark, and make my trek to our vans that take us to practice on the water, I am awake.

The drive to the boathouse is quiet, with everyone listening to their own music. There are not too many other cars on the usually packed parkway, and it’s a short drive without interruption. It is still dark when we pull up to our destination. While people get ready for practice in their owns - putting on or taking off layers, going to the restroom, braiding hair - others get oars down to put on the dock to save time before we bring the actual boat down.

The sky starts to lighten just slightly as we walk back and forth together, doing dynamic stretches to loosen up our bodies. After a quick word about the practice plan that day with our coaches, the coxswains call “hands on,” and we grab our usual boats. For a boat that can carry the weight of nine girls, I am always surprised how fragile it really is, and how careful you have to be when bringing it to the water.

Once everyone puts oars in the oarlocks and straps in their feet, we push off the dock. The coxswain will call "starboards row," then "bow four," and then we’re off. Time for the workout to begin.

When our warmup is finished, and we start to paddle all together, building into a steady state or race pace, that is when the sun finally begins to show. And that is what makes these mornings worth it, because of how beautiful it is, being in the middle of the vast expanse of water before anyone else is even awake, watching the sunrise together with your teammates. I hold these quiet moments right before the craziness of the workout that day actually begins close to me, the calm rush of the water underneath the boat, the light skimming of oars moving altogether, the lights of the New York City skyline in the distance.

I’d like to share with you some of the views I am lucky enough to see every morning from the boat, all taken during ordinary morning practices:

So for those of you who have asked me, why do you wake up so early, don’t you ever get tired of being on the water, how can you justify getting no sleep - is it even worth it?

The answer is yes, it is absolutely worth it. Here comes the sun...