Treasure Island, CA - Sept 26 & 27
|Black||Comp A||1st (2:10:60)|
|Black||Visiting Team Cup||4th (2:04:55)|
|Red||Rec A Seeding||5th (2:15:39)|
|Womens||3rd in seeding|
|LA Collective||Masters||6th (02:11:14)|
How do I describe this past weekend? Simply unbelievable.
Two days later, I still can't believe what happened.
Flash back to Tempe. LARD Black was eliminated in the semi finals. Remember that? I had to remind myself that the season was a long journey. At that time, I was hopeful as to what we could accomplish but I had no idea what the season had in store for us. Not a clue.
Absolutely stunning performances were turned in by all of our crews last weekend in San Francisco - our Men finished 2nd in the Men's Championship (losing to a Canadian composite team), our Women paddled great in their division, and Red paddled brilliantly as they frequently paddled against many teams' top crews.
Black's performance was a team performance. You are all responsible for the result. Every single one of you. It doesn't matter that you weren't in that boat. Doesn't matter if you didn't even make it to San Francisco.
This win was yours. This win was ours. We all played a role in winning the Competitive A Mixed Final for the first time in our history (and as a result breaking the Canadian curse). We each played our part. We trained together, encouraged each other, and even challenged each other. That's what makes a team great. And for one weekend, LARD was indisputably great.
This season's journey is now over and you made it a season that I will never forget. Thank you.
Enjoy your off season. Cherish the memories. Then, when it's time to hit it hard again, I expect you to play your roles even better than you did this year.
The target on our backs just got bigger.
Mmmm places with paddling. . .
Over a week later, after my throat has recovered and I've caught up enough with work, I am finally able to write a couple of notes of reflection (on our last races and our season overall). Bear in mind that this may be lengthy, as it attempts not just to look back at some of those memories made, but also forward to give you all a head's up on all the exciting events still ahead. Note that there are some items that I'll need your responses to (at the bottom), so please pay careful attention; there'll be a test afterwards (hint. I have bolded, indented AND asterisked* all such items, like *this)...
REFLECTIONS ON PORTLAND & SAN FRANCISCO & THE 2009 SEASON
Wow. With all that's already been written, all the photos, videos, shared stories, laughter, giddiness and excitement, I can't think of a better way for our season to close. What a ride. As a way to preface these reflections, it might be useful to look at how it began...
After watching, did any of you know what our 12th season would bring? What were your expectations then? What do you think now? Through the timeline of my involvement with the team, each season has truly been different. Sometimes the race schedules are the same. Same venues and familiar competition. Some of the same faces. But somehow, each experience has been independently different. The make-up of our team is different year-to-year, race-to-race, the dynamics, the contributions that you as individuals bring to the table. This year far exceeded my expectations for how fun and different it could be. And it's not about winning (though you won't hear me complain when we do).
This year, we had milestones as a team and individually (which ultimately as a family, impacts us all the same). We shared in the memories from each of the separate races - an Arizona season kick-off, Alcan finals repeat representation, to Long Beach home turf defense, to the YMCA camp Gregory, to the paddling vacation in Portland, to the season-ending triumph in TI. We worked hard, sweated, shared laughs, woke up early, stayed up late; we lived this team with each other. We made new friends. We had to deal with the national politics of an election, challenged with impacts from the economy, a health scare with John, a new birth (Congrats Joe & Yonnie), some imminent (but very temporary, right Lorena/Todd?) goodbyes, graduations, the maiden launching of Art's OC2 and his paddle art contest, our paddlers proudly representing us in Worlds/China/etc. - these are but a few of the many things that constitute the intertwined experiences that help define our memories of LARD's 2009 season.
Our future cannot be brighter. In looking back at the beginning of the season, what can you imagine next year will bring?
As excited as I am at the prospects, it's important for all of you to make sure you recover yourselves, fully renewed for next season. While we remember a season full of wonderful memories, joyous celebrations, and fun, it also admittedly required a lot [of you].
So as we head into the off-season, coaches instructions are simply to have fun. Stay fit. Explore opportunities for cross training. Our goals for next year. Same as always. Let's improve. You got the shirts with the slogan on it, "imPROVE YOURSELF. IMPROVE YOUR TEAM". Apply this to your goals for the off-season. And have fun. Regardless of your choices in the coming months, we'll still be at the beach as always, Saturday and Sunday (except this Sunday w/LB Marathon).
Meet My Family Part 2
Lilly Chen (TXE)
Alas, another dragon boat1 season has ended for the Los Angeles Racing Dragons (LARD). When I first wrote about my weekend hobby in the Piper’s Tribune last August, I thought finishing 7th overall in Vancouver was hard to top. This year, I have even more exciting news to share. My teammates and I paddled our way to the top of the ranks by becoming the San Francisco International Dragon Boat Festival’s Competitive A Division Champions.
With over 100 teams participating, this festival is the largest of its kind in the United States. The water conditions are far from perfect and there’s never a lack of challenge from our competitors. The competition was intense as the American teams sought to break the Canadian Curse – the Canadians have come in first for the last 3 years and were poised to do it again. We were calm and collected during the first day of races, taking care of our competitors to lock in a spot in the Competitive A division. The second day was a complete 180 – everyone was full of adrenaline and aggression, ready to blow the competition out of the water.
Paddling up to the starting line for the Final, the winds of Treasure Island were picking up but the focus was there. Everyone, including me, was ready to unleash their inner beast and show the Canadians what we were made of. As soon as the airhorn went off, we blasted through the start and never gave up through the 500m course. The finish was phenomenal. My muscles were burning with pain, but all I remember thinking was, “I can’t give up now, I want this, and I know everyone else on this boat wants this! Let’s finish this race the right way!”
LARD celebrating the win while waiting to unload the boat
As we crossed the finish line and stopped paddling, we weren’t sure how we had placed because it looked too close to call from inside the boat, but congratulated each other on a great race piece. A few moments later, we heard the announcer through the wind: “…and the official results are in, the Kaiser Permanente Mixed Competitive A Championship goes to the LA Racing Dragons!!!!” 2 My teammates and I erupted in a deafening cheer for the other paddlers who were docked around us, but many of them also shared our sentiments as an American team had beat the one and only Canadian team left in the division. It was the end of the Canadian Curse and everyone was looking forward to hearing the US national anthem at the awards ceremony. No “Oh, Canada” at this festival this year! As embarrassing as it sounds, a couple of us shed some tears of joy because our hard work had paid off. I still get a little choked up every time I think about the final race.
You know what is the best thing about the end of the season? It’s looking forward to what the next season brings.