Summer Eights (or Eights Week) is Oxford's big intercollegiate rowing competition. Well over 1000 participants from the university's 38 colleges compete with their respective boat clubs, and the event is so popular that on the final day (Saturday) this year, over 15,000 spectators lined the banks to watch.
(Bumps racing in action - so many boats on the river! We're the folks in pink in the middle; I'm wearing the red cap)
(Not our boat club, but dang, Jesus College sure does know how to do a motivational sign)
(Even getting the boat out on Saturday of Eights is a struggle with all the spectators!)
I limped through Eights week, helping Pembroke W1 maintain their 4th place standing on the river (which was no easy task with tough competition from Magdalen, who started the weekend in 5th, overtook us on the first day, evaded us on the second day, and who we only managed to get back on Friday).
(Coming in for the kill on Magdalen)
(Bumped! In sight of the Pembroke boathouse! Sweet, sweet relief.)
Racing was... pretty miserable, actually. I love competing, but I also love not having stabbing nerve pain running down my arm while I try to do said competing. I didn't row with the technical standard that I usually hold myself to, with the result that the videos and pictures that came out of the weekend are pretty hard to look at. And because we were one of the last divisions of the day, we got A LOT of pictures and videos taken of us! Sort of mortifying, but what are you going to do.
I've since found out that I was rowing with not one, but TWO bulged discs--one in my neck and one in my upper back--which makes me feel better about being a bit of a spanner (the British word for 'lacking proper technique') over the week. Since I already have some chronic pain and inflammation in that region from my broken neck as a teenager, I got even more resultant nerve inflammation from the bulged discs this time around. So, it was a legitimately painful couple of days!
I've been very frustrated because my efforts at Eights have meant that I've had to be on essentially full rest from the moment the competition was over until now. It's been a full two months now, and while the discs themselves actually look pretty good at this point (still abnormal but more within the acceptable range), the nerve inflammation around the discs has still been really painful. I'll be getting a cortisone shot next Tuesday, which will hopefully allow the nerves to settle down and let the healing process get on its way.
(A Summer Eights tradition: after you finish your last race of the week, you get handed a pint of Pimms and can't get out of the boat until you finish it. Oh so very British.)
(The Pembroke ladies of W1, all blazered up on the first morning of Eights for the annual Eights Breakfast with the Master)
(Plus, we got to party like it was 1999 for the next week after we were done!)
(The women of W1, plus our two 'super subs' who filled in for me and one other girl through the last two weeks when we were too injured to train.)
(I even wore a crown to make it even more super serious)
(Pimms for everyone!)
(Us with our spoons, which I made myself. So classy.)