Thursday, September 20, 2012

Yay! I Love Pain!

I have said before here, only half jokingly, that Laser sailing is mainly about pain.

It's certainly true that the ability to hike hard, even when your quads are screaming at you to stop, is key to upwind performance in medium to strong winds. A very famous Laser sailor once told me that if it hurts it means you are hiking properly. If it doesn't hurt you're not hiking hard enough.

Our sport is not unique in that respect. Runners and cyclists and rowers all take pride in their ability to push through the pain barrier.

Anna Railton who writes a blog called Something about rowing...? is a rower and a cyclist. A very good rower in fact. She was a member of the Cambridge women's crew that beat Oxford in the Women's Boat Race this year. A lot of her posts explore the subject of pain, often with hilarious cartoons of her competing while saying things to herself like "Suffer Harder," and "Oh Jesus Fucking Christ why will this not end?" and "FUCK YOUUUUUUUU LEGS." That's exactly the kind of things I feel like saying to myself when racing a long hard beat in a Laser race.

Captain JP left a sly comment on Anna's last post of this ilk saying...
Congrats! (and go Cambridge) but hmmmm.... I'm seeing a link between rowing and cycling and its pain. On a completely unconnected note, have you read "Fifty shades of grey"?

Fifty Shades of Grey, for those who have been living under a rock for the last few months, is a novel that is very popular among women of a certain age. As Wikipedia puts it
Fifty Shades of Grey is a 2011 erotic novel by British author E. L. James... It is notable for its explicitly erotic scenes featuring elements of sexual practices involving bondage/discipline, dominance/submission, and sadism/masochism (BDSM).


What is JP implying? That Anna's passion for sports that require enduring some element of pain to succeed is in some way derived from the pleasure that masochists gain from subjecting themselves to pain?

Heavy stuff. Is he saying that all runners and rowers and cyclists - and Laser sailors - are masochists at heart?

Do you need to enjoy the pain in some way in order to be able to tolerate it?

Anna wrote a post called Rowing: The Rules which she had adapted from a similar set of rules for cycling and which I, in turn, plagiarized to create Laser Sailing: The Rules.

All three versions glorify the idea that being a participant in each sport is all about being a badass who can tough it out and endure the pain longer and harder than the competition. Some of the rules in the Laser Sailing version, for example, are...

#4 You sail a Laser because you like pain. The sooner you appreciate this fact, the happier you'll be.

#5 Harden The Fuck Up. You should not need telling again. 

#33 Display your Laser sailing injuries with pride. 

I'm confused about all this. Am I supposed to enjoy pain? Learn to ignore it? Embrace it? Or just swear at my fucking legs?

In line with long-standing tradition on this blog, I think I would rather follow the maxim: If in doubt, make fun of it.

There is a very funny Twitter account called Fifty Sheds of Grey which is a parody of Fifty Shades of Grey. It's described as Erotica for the not-too-modern male. Most of the tweets start off making you think you are in a scene from Fifty Shades of Grey but end up making you realize that this is just a tweet by some not-too-modern bloke with a grey shed.

Here are some of my favorites....

Each firm stroke was bringing me closer and closer to that moment of relief and satisfaction. Soon my shed would be completely weatherproof.

'Don't hold back,' she cried, as I tied her to the chair, 'I want to feel real pain.' 'Alright,' I said, putting on my Best of Top Gear DVD.

'I'm so wet,' she purred, squirming, 'You know what to do . .' I certainly did - I went straight to B&Q and got a dehumidifier for the shed.

'You're making me so hot,' she breathed. 'I know,' I said, 'Maybe the shed wasn't the best place for a barbecue.'

After that weekend in the shed, I never saw her again. She wasn't looking for a relationship - she was just DIY-curious.

Where was I? Where am I?

Oh yes. Laser sailing and pain.

Funny how blog posts end up sometimes.

Cartoon originally from Anna Railton's blog post Rowing: The Rules


yarg said...

I am almost as old as you, and if I want pain all I have to do is wake up in the morning.

The pain in laser sailing (light wind contortion aside)comes when the upwind contest is reduced to who is the better lever. From the point of view of the vertically challenged I plead no contest; elementary physics is enough to convince me that I am fatally disadvantaged against the taller and heavier connoisseurs of pain.

This kind of crazy talk makes me think about becoming a Sunfish sailor. Let's go back to the Sailing Philosophy with a Crappy Chart.

JP said...

Did I post that comment? Must have been Buff using my login without my knowledge.

Anyhow more likely doing something painful can be associated with doing something pushing the ol' envelope hence showing you have the right stuff.

It was cold and tiring sailing to the Arctic circle but definitely worth it. Tolerating pain in order to achieve a worthy goal is what its all about.

Work is a bit like that - or at least it should be.

Tillerman said...

Work? Almost forgotten what that was like.

Come to think of it, I pretty much followed my crappy chart philosophy there too. For the first 30 years or so it was fun. Then others conspired to make it not so much fun for me. So I quit and started being a sailing instructor. (I refuse to call that noble occupation, "work".)

Then I taught sailing for six summers and when I could feel that it soon wouldn't be so much fun any more either I quit that too.

Tillerman said...

If it's just about who is the better lever, then why does my Great Grandmaster friend consistently beat me upwind even though he is much shorter and lighter than me (not to mention 10 years older too)?

See Laser Sailing: the Rules. Rule #5.

Anonymous said...

As a non-Brit, I wonder
Is it common for presumably well educated Cambridge U women like Anna to use the F word in every (other) sentence?


Tillerman said...

Yes Anonymous, among presumably well educated Cambridge U common men like me, it's considered very common for presumably well educated Cambridge U women like Anna to use the F word in every (other) sentence.

But that's part of her charm to the common man, innit mate?

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