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Dragonboating!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010
This story starts out a month and a half ago, when I was teaching a class on Swan Island. One of my students mentioned that she was on a DragonBoat team and, having been interested, asked what it was like. The story gets current with me sitting on a DragonBoat after work today.

The mechanics of it seem to work like this: a boat, probably about 35 or so feet long and maybe 4 feet wide, can hold about 22 people side by side. There's another person up front calling out what the paddlers should do, and a person in the back steering the boat. In unison (this is very important), the paddlers will make the boat move. Individual paddles will be watching a paddler several people in front of them for timing cues. Oh, and paddling is not supposed to be an arm motion, but a body rotation instead...

Not me and not my image, but this is what it looks like!

So I went out with a bunch of folks from the Shibumi Dragon Boat Team. I'll start by saying that it was a fun, but it was not easy. Apparently I showed up just in time for endurance practice, which means that, instead of going the normal 500 meters, they were practicing a 2500 meter distance, which is, I assure you, pretty far. I won't lie; I was only paddling for about 2/3 of the time... I spent the other 1/3 of the time catching my breath and letting my muscles relax. Everyone else was nice enough not to say anything about it. In the meantime, I realized I wasn't going to be an asset on the boat, and just focused on not being a liability.

Now I'm sitting here, several hours later, and my lower back hurts, which means I was probably doing something right, and I can barely move my shoulders to lift my arms, which means I was probably doing something wrong. Though the practice was only an hour long, it was a surprisingly intense hour. I was extremely thirsty on exiting the boat (I'd brought a water bottle but forgotten it on the pier) and many muscles were feeling weak and used up.

So was it fun? Yes.
Was it hard? Yes.
Am I already sore? Yes.
Would I like to try it again? Definitely.

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