Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Dragon boat races

For the last two years, our families with children from China has been competing in the Dragon Boat Races at the annual Dragon Boat Races, lantern and kite festival.

The first time it came up I could not imagine exerting that much energy without being so winded and knew I was so heavy that I might tip the boat over.

Last year, I had just had my second surgery trying to fix all the problems which made me so winded that I could not do anything, which helped get some of the heaviness off, so this year when we got the info I responded immediately that all of us would be there ready to row!

I really should have taken time to look at the pictures and videos they sent to show us what was involved, but I was thinking of the one time I went for a ride in a canoe and thought, how hard can that be??? One word that should have clued me in was the key word RACE!

OK, another hint that it might be more difficult than I thought when it was announced we needed to have a "practice" so we could "learn" how to paddle!

Our weekend was pretty complicated with Friday evening starting with a storm delaying our drive home for almost an hour, quickly preparing a meal for a family with a new baby, an early start at the community garden, tearing down a new bed a neighbor gave my girls, running to the children's choir audition, before finally racing to our "practice, with having had no lunch and very little breakfast.

So we went off for our training with a few chicken mcnuggets and me a protein shake with a shot or two of espresso to help keep me moving!

Around the docks where the boats were located, were teams of very young, extremely healthy and fit individuals who were taking this very seriously and obviously had been practicing more than the few minutes we planned to do. And they clearly understood that it was a race!

Back to my experience in boats, it is VERY limited. I am not sure if riding in a fishing boat around Pat Mayse Lake outside Paris, Texas counts as I was a kid and no one let me do anything but try to keep my mouth shut so I did not scare off all the fish.

My next memory of "boating" is the canoe ride, back in 1983, where I helped clear out the stream for a canoe ranch? or a canoe farm? not sure which it was. It was a slow, steady stream and we jumped out often to clear out the brush. This canoe was built for maybe 2 or 3 people. I think my expectation of the dragon boats was something similar, small floatation device down a slow moving stream.

I lost all dignity when I sat down on the dock and scooted into this colossal boat that seated 20 of us, plus the drummer and the steer person. Then we learned to hold the paddle just right and get ourselves out of the dock and into the middle of the lake, not stream!

Adding to my anxiety is the fact that Grace is out on another boat with all the "youths" and Annabel is perched precariously on a small bench on our boat with a giant drum in front of her, and people are telling her to hold on tight as the boat could lurch and send her overboard, which really would have been bad since she still has not mastered swimming!

So after I have scooted on my bottom to get into the boat and remembered what they said about moving to the edge, I realized I was about to have a panic attack. I've been practicing my breathing in with the statement, "I am..." and exhaling with "relaxed". It finally helped enough to learn what was being taught and we were deemed ready to compete the next day.

The weather forecast had been for severe storms and I hate to admit I was SO disapponted when they did not come as that meant I had to get on that boat on Sunday bright and early.

After some rearrangments, which sent me to the back of the boat, hopefully in a safer area, we were prepared to take off for our first race. Most of what happened next is a blur and then the time waiting on our next turn is also a blur, except when I went to the displays and got the girls some lunch.

The next two races were back to back and all of us middle aged moms and dads weren't sure we could row ourselves back to shore even!

The last race was very close and we almost won one of them!

Annabel stole the hearts of the adult team with her very professional drumming and keeping us on track while we pedaled!

Monday morning I discovered a whole LOT of muscles and joints that had become sore just for sake of the dragon boats.

We will have to just wait and see about next year!

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