In which I take up a wacky sport


Let me get the wayback machine and explain how I ended up standing on a beach at 6:45am on a beautiful June Saturday with 19 other women. 6:45am is not a civilized time, in fact, it’s not a time anyone without babies should even see. But there I was, standing in the morning dew, half asleep, waiting to race.

This story begins with peer pressure. Is there anything more insidious? In March, a friend from my community book club posted in our facebook group that she was looking for people to join her dragonboat team. Was anyone interested?




That’s a nope.

If life was only that easy though. As soon as two good friends decided that they were definitely going to do it, they decided I ALSO was going to do it. Think of the camaraderie! Think of the post-dragonboat beers! It will be fun! So the next thing I knew I was out $200 and signed up for a dragonboat team.

off we go
This couldn’t possibly be TOO hard…

The first Thursday night we all piled into the car and hit the dock. We got our places in the boat, our coach hopped in and we all leisurely paddled around the bay learning the basics of dragonboat. Like a cocky jerk, I got out of the boat after practice and said, “Wow, that was much easier than I thought, it didn’t hurt at all!” “Wait for it,” said our steersperson.

In literature, they call this foreshadowing.

At 3am the next morning I woke up and my entire body was on FIRE. I took two Advil and lay in bed praying for the end. I basically ached all over from head-to-tow and at work the next day I looked like a T-Rex as I tried to type. Oh how the mighty (smug) had fallen!

I kept up with it though, even as one friend decided it wasn’t for her and she quit. Every week I got a little better at it and every week I got to spent one hour on the water laughing and joking with 19 other hilarious women. I can honestly say I am surprised at how much I absolutely love dragonboat. Despite the agony of having to push more and more each week (YAY PAUSE DRILL) I found I looked forward to that one hour on the water. For someone who doesn’t exactly have a great track history with team sports, I surprised myself by how much I love it.

So in June 75 000 people descend on our city for the largest dragonboat festival in North America. Over 5000 people compete and there are free concerts, free stuff for kids and families and a bunch of great vendors. It’s also how I found myself up at 5:30 and standing under a little tent by the bay at 6:45am ready to compete with 7 other hopeful teams in our heat.

I can't believe I got myself into thisIt’s early, so, so early…

If you had told me a year ago that I would find myself up at O’dark early heading out to paddle on the water I would tell you that there would be no way. But there I was and surprisingly I was happy about it! Despite the fact that our team is totally beer league and we had no hope of placing, we had an amazing time. The thrill of competition hit all of us and we pushed ourselves hard through our first 2 minutes and 40 seconds (10 seconds faster than the team did last year, FYI!). We had no real expectations except to get out there, do our best and then head back to our tent to enjoy some well-earned refreshments.

Off we go...
At this point I was praying we wouldn’t tip over

In the end, our time was too slow to qualify for the second day of competition but we already had that expectation. But I did get to spend the rest of Saturday wandering around enjoying a couple of great craft beers, checking out the different vendors and taking advantage of the free events and concerts. Because we had a team we also had our own tent with chairs, snacks and water as well, which is great when you are hitting a festival with kids. It was a total win.

Over the course of the season, I will be spending $10 a week on Dragonboat (including the race entry) form May until September. It’s not inexpensive but it’s not astronomical considering that includes your team shirt, boat, paddles, lifejacket, coach and steersperson. I think it’s a good value for money given all I feel I get out of it. Since I also carpool with friends, I am sharing the load for transportation as well.

As it stands now, we all loved racing so much that we’ve decided to consider entering another race this September. So this week we will head out for wings and beers and discuss it. Despite the fact that I know I will be standing on a beach at O’dark early chugging coffee like a sailor, I am actually looking forward to it.

That’s a yep.

A well deserved adult beverage