San Francisco | Sept 17-18
|Black||500m Comp A Championship||3rd||2:09.75|
|Red||500m Comp A Consolation||5th||2:17.16|
|White||500m Rec D Championship||4th||2:34.95|
Preparations for Treasure Island
Manny Caldera (October 3, 2011)
Preparations for our competition at TI began long before the race this year, before the season even opened. Since January, anticipation was in the air, and once practices began, an e-mail went out to paddlers; this meeting was attended by those of us who wanted to take LARD to a different level, putting out 100% at our work-outs and participations. But the most important point that we walked away with, was how we would inspire the entire team to move in the same direction. As a newbie to LARD, I remember a statement made by one of our captains prior to practice. One of our coaches said, "Thank you for joining LARD; you're about to be challenged this year in becoming a paddler.” Our captain replied, "We'll make you better.” The season was off…
By the time TI was upon us, LARD had raced in Arizona, Long Beach, and Canada. For the next month and a half, land training increased and so did training in the boats. The coaches focused on LARD technique fundamentals, which have been proven to be the best. OC2 and Erg testing was scheduled for TI.
No one discussed which boat they were going to be placed on for the competition was stiff; all of the paddlers had given their 100%. The announcements were made after practice for the seating to TI. Scott indicated that a four hour phone conference among all the coaches was hard, but the results were in. Names were called for the Black Team, Red Team and White Team members. Scott indicated that some changes could be made at the last minute but reminded us that "The seats you're in are the ones you worked hard to achieve…"
Finally it was TI, and it was time to put out. Friday 3:30 p.m. was our first practice on the water. The winds kicked up, and the water was choppy. As we headed out, we took in some water. We practiced race starts several times. Sail boats were taking advantage of the wind, which caused one to capsize not far from our dragon boat.
Friday evening 9:00 p.m., our LARD Team meeting. This was the first time since Canada that you got to see your team members in street clothing. The chicks looked great and the dudes looked ok. Everybody looked different. Announcements were made for this weekend’s team managers, and for the Black, Red, and White boat captains. These individuals were to keep track of their team members for the duration of races. The captains went over the seating lists for Black, Red and White, then race start strategies were reviewed again with emphasis on positioning and timing.
Saturday morning, we arrived at TI to find our sister team Diesel Fish. Their team mom was busy arranging a breakfast for both teams.
By the end of Saturday and with outstanding support from our team members, all of our teams made it in to the semi finals. Its great to know when you're on the boat racing; your team members will be on the sidelines cheering and supporting you. Of course, we’re not allowed to look, since we’re paddling our butts off toward the finished line.
By Sunday afternoon, the Red and White boats did not make it in to the finals. All attention was now on the Black boat. Before the race, all of the coaches went over last minutes notes with the crew. Looking at the grid, there were some tough teams competing. The entire LARD team made their way to the sidelines along with the rest of the spectators, the crowd now three to four elbows deep. At the halfway point, we could see the Black team still in the race. One West was in front, the race was now for second between Jetstart and LARD. You could see the rate increase on the LARD boat as Jetstart also increased their rate. LARD was coming up on Jetstart with only fifteen meters to go, but crossed the line seconds behind them coming in at 02:19.70 to take third place. What a race that was…
Sue Houston (October 6, 2011)
The Treasure Island race was one I was definitely looking forward to this year. I first learned about dragon boating in San Francisco about three years ago, so it is always nice to come back to the starting point.
The weekend itself was an awesome experience. Between our three boats, it seemed like we were always getting ready for a race or cheering our teammates on. Going into the weekend, I felt our team had worked hard and learned from our previous races. Everyone seemed eager to see what we could do.
Black boat's first race was in the same heat as my old team, Absolute. I was worried that my old teammates were going to give me the loud, but good-hearted (but LOUD) ribbing that I got last year at the start of the race, but it was all friendly hellos and hugs when we finished our heat. Black won the heat, and the next one that day.
On Sunday, you could tell people were getting the jitters. The good kind of jitters, where you want to go out and just race your best, but jitters just the same. Our competition was getting tighter, and we knew we had some tough races ahead.
For the final race, we knew we were going up against some good teams, so our goal was to put together as close to a perfect race piece as we could get. Everyone seemed focused. As we were paddling out to the starting line, we could see the red boat racing in their final race. They looked awesome. They were together and strong, and seeing them was a great motivator going into our final race. When we were at the starting line, I felt ready to go. Our start and body felt good, but what was really cool was the finish. It probably wasn't the most together finish, but it was the kind of finish where you could tell everyone wanted it bad. It was the kind of paddling that is difficult, if not impossible to duplicate outside of a race. It was paddling from the heart. I didn't know what we placed when we finished the race, but I knew we did the best we could at that moment. All anyone can ever do is there best, and regrets only come from knowing you didn't do your best. No regrets this weekend.
Joyce Lee (October 8, 2011)
First and foremost, I want to say how proud I am of our team. The drive and determination I saw as we were training for San Francisco and the actual race weekend itself inspired me to be more devoted to dragonboat.
Racing at TI was a whole new experience for me. In my one year of paddling in college, Id gotten used to always being on the right side and in rows 8-10. So imagine my surprise when I heard I was going to be stroking White. It had only been two weeks since I joined LARD. I was still working on switching sides and adapting to the LARD stroke. I kept thinking I wasnt ready, I was told it's just White, there's no pressure, but at the same time I got the feeling that I had something to prove. Then race weekend came. Wynne and I didnt know what to expect, neither of us had ever raced in bench 1. We didn't even meet each other until right before the race when everyone was gearing up. I asked if she wanted to lead and she said "I dont know. I tend to speed things up.” I replied "Yeah, me too.” She decided to lead since she at least had experience as second stroke.
White boat paddled hard finishing 4th in our first race of the weekend but crossing the finish line, I think we all knew we had kinks to work out moving forward. We didnt dwell on our errors. We acknowledged them and we made corrections accordingly. For the rest of the weekend, Leon and Ryan took over as strokers for White and Wynne and I moved to second strokes. Slowing down the rate so that everyone could sustain their timing and technique throughout the race helped a lot. We improved with each race piece and in the end, that mixed rec D championship was a very close race. Regardless of the results, I know we gave it everything we had and I couldnt be happier with our effort. Good job, team.
The coaches tell you to be ready for anything and they train you to be effective no matter where you're sitting on the boat. At TI, I saw not just our teams amazing depth but also my individual improvement. I had pre-race jitters but Scott told me nervous was good and he assured me I would be fine. And it was. From stroking for White in the first race on Saturday to paddling in engine room with Red in the Comp A Consolation, it was a crazy and exciting rollercoaster ride and I loved it. Its been over two weeks and Im still registering everything that I experienced at Treasure Island. Thanks for welcoming me into the family, I cant wait to see you all in San Diego!
Noel Villegas (October 8, 2011)
SF was my first time paddling on a men's boat. Paddling with LARD for a year, I'd been in some fast boats before, so I thought I knew, but I had no idea how powerful a dragonboat could really be. The heat that stands out the most is the open semifinal. Starting in lane 1, LARD definitely had a water advantage, but combined with the raw intensity of 20 focused paddlers, it felt like we got shot out of a cannon. The coaches use this word a lot, but it really takes personal experience to give true meaning to it: explosive. From now on, in my mind, whenever I hear that word, I will imagine that start.
While the men's heats were probably the fastest races I'd paddled in, the races I'm most proud are the LARD red boat's races, specifically, the comp a consolation final. It felt like every single stroke we took was at our full 100%. Giving it our all, I definitely felt it after the first minute. It started to hurt. Bad.
I hate to admit it, but especially in practices, our minds can be an excuse-making-machine. My back is killing me, so I don't need to hinge as much. The guy in front of me isn't rotating anymore, so I don't need to. It's an hour into practice, so I don't need to focus on my sequencing. It's a mental virus that takes control of your body and infects the movement of the boat.
Around that time, we started hearing LARD black cheering us on. Knowing that this was the finals and our teammates were right there cheering us on, it magnified our focus. To be sure, every stroke into the finish still hurt bad, but every stroke stayed spot on. Timing, body movements, surges, intensity, they were all there: for ourselves and to inspire the rest of the team. The final placement didn't matter. What mattered was that not only did we give everything that we had, we found out how much more we really could give.
DieselFish and teamLARD
Competitive A Mixed 3rd place
500m Comp A 3rd
Drummer: Crystal W