The Newbie’s First Race, Lake Merced Regatta 2013
I am one of the many newbies on the Healers this season. After only four practices was I signed up to race-- man, was I crazy?! I didn’t know what to expect for my first race. Dragon Boat was so foreign to me. Little did I know how much I would like it. Coach Kathy and Coach Ross said, once you experience your first race, you’ll just want more, more, more! And sure enough, I am ready for more!
8:25am- First heat of the day, first race of my life. I was so pumped up and ready to give it all I had. Don’t get me wrong, nerves still got me, especially being in the first heat, but I got myself focused and in the zone; there was no turning back. I am a competitive person. I don’t like to lose; I don’t like to suck at what I do. So in turn, I told myself that every time I got out on the water, I would give it my 200%, push through the pain, and put my game face on.
“Paddlers, are you ready?!....*silence*…” I dug my paddle deep into the murky Lake Merced water, listened for the airhorn, and was ready for that first starting stroke. Listen and react. That’s all I had to do. Coach Ross warned us about quick starts, loud boats, different commands to listen for, etc. So many things I needed to either tune out or remember. "Beeeep!!!" There was the airhorn. My eyes were set on Row 1, my ears tuned into the drummer, and my brain channeled into fight mode. Stroke after stroke, breath after breath... are we at the finish line yet? "Let it Ride..." Ahhh, YES! We did it! Not until I heard those words was when I looked around and saw there was a boat behind us. We were not last!
Whew. What a rush. I could feel the adrenaline pumping throughout my body. What a great feeling!!!
I raced two more times that day- a women's race, then our final. Our final was the last race of the day for our team and I wanted to do exceptionally well. I could feel the hunger, power, and determination just surge through each person in the boat. And sure enough, it paid off. We took 2nd place in our division! Awesome!!!
Later that day, while watching the 2000 meter race, Joe asked me, “Did you ever think you’d be out here doing Dragon Boat?” I paused and just stopped to take in everything. "No way... not ever. I didn't even know what Dragon Boat was until a few years ago, but I'm sure glad I'm here now!"
There’s still so much more for me to learn and I'm anxious to move forward. Thank you Coaches, Captains,and Teammates for welcoming this Newbie with such open arms and positive energy.