San Francisco | Sept 15-16
17 Years of Fantastic Racing in the Bay Area
|Black||500m Comp A Grand Championship||3rd||2:15.02|
|Red||500m Rec A Championship||3rd||2:34.84|
|White||500m Rec B Consolation||4th||2:49.65|
2012 San Francisco Dragon Boat Festival
Doug Nyland (Sept 19, 2012)
This was the first time in quite a while that I paddled in the 10th bench. It's quite a different beast back there. This boat felt a little more compact that the Long Beach boats; an unforgiving, hip-to-hip paddle nook. Dan and I lost any modesty quickly and observed that our paddling technique would instantly improve because if we dropped our top hands beyond our centerline, we'd bash fists.
LARD Red started out the the first race of the weekend placing 3rd. The race felt good, but we knew we had much more in us, much better in us. We didn't nail the start and we felt it. Top hands were wonky and the back half was pushing. At the next race, we got a better start and cleaned up the top hands. We battled a headwind and the boat felt stronger overall but added 9 and a half seconds and dropped into 5th, advancing to Rec A semifinals.
Sunday was a new day. The semifinals race was in the early afternoon. We were refreshed and inspired by watching our teammates pouring it on all day Saturday and Sunday morning; White, Black, Men, Women, Masters.
Okay, I hope this isn't unsportsmanlike but going into this semi-final I was a bit peeved. Why was I peeved? This was the "Rec A" semi, that's why. REC, not COMP. Look at our roster of paddlers! REC?! Okay, that's how we placed. Accept it and do what we do.
We locked-in and we battled to a 2nd place finish in the semi-finals. A paddle or 2 took a hit to the flag just past the start but we were unphased. The boat felt focused and driven for the distance. We shaved 2 and a half seconds off of our 5th place time.
By the time we got to the final race, the boat was focused and pumped. As we paddled out, I visualized how hard we'd worked as a team all season. The murderous sprints, the aching core workouts, the fatiguing med ball drills, the longer paddle pieces, the repeat race pieces, ERG, OC2 time trials, I seriously flashed through all of this in my head, along with personal training that I'd accomplished, goals I'd met. We are prepared, we are fit. We are ready. We need to step off this boat with no regrets. At this point, it's the brain that gets in the way. As Leon emphasized, we trained for 4 minute pieces, this race is just over 2 minutes.
We took our start and got the race going. From start to finish there was a headwind and heavy spray in the face. I remember squinting, eyes burning from the salt water, taking deep, deliberate breaths and spitting water as I exhaled; it added to the aggression. I recall Jason shouting, "You're in the hunt!" at one point and the boat seemed to tighten into lock-step all the more. By the time we got to the finish, this boat of paddlers was ravenous! It felt violent! I don't know where we were in relation to the other boats but it sounded like we were in a pack with all the commotion. When the finish was called, the resolve was palpable! Every body was twisting, straining for a bigger reach and a deeper plant. Jason's mantra was "body pulls!" Extreme was called and it was so painful all over but we didn't relent. They, whoever they were, were not going to take us! I was told after the race that we were tied for 4th and at the finish, we beat down the other boat and marched! And it sure felt like that's what we did! (But we added nearly SIX SECONDS to our 5th place finish?! WTH?!)
For me, there is no greater reward in this sport than to finish a race and know that I have absolutely nothing left. Collapsed, aching, gasping for air. Everything was dumped in the bay. A few minutes later, wearing a huge smile.
Pats on the back! White, Red and Black!
Jason Cheng (Sept 17, 2012)
Before this Monday at work zips by any faster, just wanted to briefly say how very proud I am of everyone's efforts this past weekend. With my voice breaking in true Peter Brady form, lips a bit chapped and muscles slightly sore, I feel good about how we performed and represented our team on behalf of those who couldn't make this race, including our supporters. Each heat leading up to our mixed crew finals saw improvements over a previous solid effort, and it's a satisfying moment coming off the boat after a finals heat and knowing that your teammates-- benchmate, caller, steerer-- also poured every ounce of focus and determination into getting across the line as fast as possible together.
So many thanks to go around: our always dutiful Captains and Board members; travel/race manager/team mom Diane; LARD alum Delwin, Stephanie, and Alicia coming back aboard and Ken L dropping by; Kimm joining us from Vancouver; Taylor and others capturing video and taking photos as our race schedule allowed... And hello. Best post-race Sunday dinner. Ever.
More to follow later, but in the meantime, have a wonderful day in the city for those of you still up here, and I look forward to getting back on the water with everyone in Long Beach again soon. Thanks for another great weekend, and safe travels to everyone.
LARD on 3!
LARDies in sleep mode.
Giant Robot salutes to the LA Racing Dragons!
Kris AKA Giant Robot (Sep 20, 2012)
I hoped to find a time to say this during the race. The chance didn't come up, so I'm glad I have the opportunity to write it now. Essentially, I want to give great thanks and respect to the LARD coaches and captains for granting me the chance to paddle with LARD Black as an alternate in a signature race like Treasure Island. Taking nothing away from any level within our team, this to me represents great trust in my abilities and character, and given my age/injuries/lack of hard training since '09, I felt this was a tremendous honor. I hope those who paddled with me feel I lived up to this responsibility with the same spirit and tenacity they displayed on the water that day.
That said, there is one person in particular I feel deserves distinguished thanks, all the moreso for his outstanding individual efforts to the team's success in spite of unfortunately not being able to join us for the race. Deep bow of respect to Scott Wu, who's land training more than anything is helping me regain solid form, even to the point of concieving my top condition in 2008 being perhaps within reach. LARD in many ways has exactly what I have been looking for in a dragonboat team for several years now, and I only wish I'd been able to train with you since the start of the season.
Building on what I saw at the team dinner (Chuck's marriage proposal was absolutely one of the most man-up things I've ever experienced), as someone who's only been here for 3 months it's pretty obvious you folks have established something a lot greater than just a sports team here. There's clearly a history behind LARD that appears more like extended family. I only hope this can be further built on to make a stronger team with even more solid relations in the years to come. Giant Robot salutes to the LA Racing Dragons!
Otto vs. Psy
Kenny Kim (Sept 29, 2012)
Psy, Gangnam Style
Unless you've been living under a rock for the last few months, there has been a media blitz about Psy's 'Gangnam Style'. Well, I'm here to tell you little story about something that will rock the dragon boating world, Otto Style.
I've been paddling since 1998 off and on. And I thought I'd seen it all. I've seen oars snap, callers fall off, steers fall off, boats colliding, multiple boats colliding, spontaneous swampings, hell, I've personally been in a boat that was flipped over from a side swipe. And nothing. Absolutely nothing, is as awesome as what our very own Otto did during the FINISH of our race.
Otto, Otto Style
It looks so innocent. Otto is playing a little air guitar. What will forever be a part of LARD tradition now, is the Otto Salute (below) as we all hail our cherished coach who has taught us. No matter what happens in a race, stay focused [major kudos to Sue for not missing a beat], and show the world what it means to paddle LARD style.
He's special and we love him for it.
First time at Treasure Island
Dan Gee (Sept 19, 2012)
The elusive, sleep ninja!
My first TI race was pretty damn exciting; I had some awesome teammates to paddle alongside and that last Red race was really fun, especially with our finish which felt really good. Got to chat for a little bit with the Cal team, which was cool, and the Volunteer race was super fun! (thanks Kenny and Crystal for the loaner gear). I got to see what the dealio was with being lead stroke for fun, without any of the pressure and whatnot that I assume comes with it. My only regret is I didn't get to have Steve yell at me. And as for SF in general, it was really nice to be back in the Bay, walk around the City, have SFPUC/EBMUD, etc etc.
Diesel's got some pretty fun, quirky folks, especially the ones at our table Sat night; they reminded me of my old dorm mates. Also they can apparently provide the most excellent food; my next goal - take the jook recipe (which was a genius idea) I obtained from them and make it happen..
Had a lot of fun Sunday night, too. Dinner had everything from tasty foodstuffs (thanks Tabitha for organizing and all!) to Mr. Chuck, who somehow did his thing as smooth as a baby's bottom. So congrats to Charles and Lilly! And paddlers are pretty fun dancers haha - good way to end the night! Whoever initially picked that bar, good for you, they had good music. And finally, I'm going to thank all those runs and whatnot we do around the parking lot, because I'd like to think that in some way they helped me be able to sustain a full on sprint down the entire SW terminal at Oakland airport to make my Monday 6:00am flight by about 5 minutes or something (of course my gate would have to be the farthest one...). Woooo!
Having a fun crew to hang with and meeting some new cool folks made for a solid SF experience!
Bears hanging out at the Golden Gate Bridge
Wine for the Wino
Kenny Kim (Oct 9, 2012)
Fun things to do after a race? Why check our the twistiest road in the world, Lombard street?
I've been to San Francisco, or The City, as the locals call it, many many times. But for some odd reason I never did Lombard street. Nor on the many trips to FIsherman's Wharf, did I realize that hey, there's a Submarine there! I've never been in a submarine, and no the ride in Disneyland does not count. It was interesting. Very very tight. Clearly not meant for someone my size.
What to do when the roller coaster ride ain't enough? Take a swing by the infamous Fisherman's Wharf. So this has nothing to do with dragon boating, but random fun stuff like this always happens when I'm off at a race.
So there I was, standing in the middle of Boursin, just browsing through when I see a homeless wino walk by me. He casually picks up a bottle of wine in his left hand, tucks it under his coat, walks around the table and walks right on out of the store, walking by the cashier in the process. I stare at the cashier for a few seconds to see if she noticed the theft. Nope. Sigh. I walk over, inform her that the wino stole a bottle of wine. She gets all sorts of distressed and calls over a co-worker to chase after the guy who is now slowly walking away from the store, cool as a cucumber. I think that qualifies as my good deed for the day, yes?
The Two P's of Life: A Glorified Narrative of My Pre-Finals Speech
Justin Chi (Sept 28, 2012)
Using the bathroom. A typical routine consists of unloading, flushing, and hopefully cleaning up. Everybody does this often every day. A portable toilet affectionately referred to as a porta potty introduces unpredictable elements to the experience: the water hole can contain indescribable ingredients to fester in a confined space and cleaning agents like toilet paper or soap can be limited and of low quality.
Paddling a race piece. A typical routine consists of a start, body, and finish. LARD paddlers do this quite efficiently. A race festival introduces unpredictable elements to the equation: weather and water conditions, other boats in the heat, and pressure to perform.
Before one of the heats at Treasure Island, the urge to use the porta potty was overwhelming. I reached a point similar to feeling too full when eating; put another way, the Wall of Resistance was breaking. I jumped into a toilet chamber to begin the Ritual of P. However, something was wrong. The drawstring to my shorts was tangled. My body was ready but my mind was in panic. I started to convulse as the surrounding musk and claustrophobia set in. Amidst the hysteria, I had a revelation and remembered a coach's advice regarding spinning out or overdoing it from a recent practice. "Think!" I calmed my mind and honed in on untying the knot while the Floods of Wrath were on the brink of eruption. I successfully unlocked the String of Fortitude and had the most satisfying feeling of achievement.
When racing, unexpected things may happen even if you plan for them. Timing may fall apart when more power is added, someone may take out an air guitar near the end of the race, and the boat as a whole may fall as the pressure of a final takes over. The key is to stay calm and to think and I guarantee the finish will be amazing.
The key is to stay calm and to think and I guarantee the journey from the start to the finish will be amazing.
Otto Jan (Oct 2, 2012)
A couple weeks later, after remembering that Jason had started the writeup, I'm sitting here reflecting about the race weekend and how to properly close off his writeup about the last target race of the season. My first thought is that the race was a great success for us, because we competed to the best of our ability and worked on improving our pieces throughout the weekend. At the last weekend of practice before SF, we talked about being able to deliver a complete package, a race piece where we have a strong start, body, and finish. The beautiful finals pieces on Sunday were an indication of that.
Before I continue on, I want to take the time to really thank the board, captains, and on-site supporters who helped make that weekend go as smooth as possible. I'm not sure if we'll truly understand and appreciate the amount of work that gets done for each race and for other team events (LARDsale, banquet, etc). Our team is one of the most well organized paddling clubs around, and we're very lucky to have members who are responsible and actively support the team. I also want to thank our alumni paddlers for still being an integral part. It's always encouraging to see our network extend coast to coast and even into Canada as well. Kimm, flying down from Vancouver to join us because she loves our group? How awesome is that!
I'm continually amazed at the depth of this team, that we're able to field 3 competitive crews for a race that requires traveling and time away from work. Our White crew consistently improved on its blending throughout the weekend. The end result was impressive, especially considering that we weren't able to practice with a full White boat beforehand. My main memory about the Red crew is the finals piece. What a great display of effort and precision. I think the group of us on the sidelines was very impressed with the beautiful finish, and that level of effort set the bar for Black to reach in the following Finals piece. For Black, I remember the look and feel of disappointment at the Long Beach race. We stressed at the time, and have continually stressed, that our focus is not on placement, but on the delivery of a great race piece that we're satisfied with. I believe we achieved that on the finals piece. Regardless of the placement, I remember finishing the piece and walking off the boat with a sense of calm and an understanding that the piece we just ran was very solid, with a strong start, solid body, and aggressive finish. I believe you guys felt the same way. The results didn't indicate what we couldn't achieve. Rather, it gives kudos to the strength of the competition. Many teams up and down the coast have been gunning for us for years. They deserve some well-earned respect for their effort.
How do we respond? How do we elevate our level but have fun at the same time? The team isn't just about routinely showing up to practice. It's about pushing yourself and reaching a level of fitness and technique (please forgive me for the "air guitar" technique) that you have not previously achieved. You're given the opportunities at land training and water practice to continuously improve, with your teammates, through effort and determination. It's also about embracing the team events as an opportunity to know your teammates better. I truly believe that the more cohesive the group is off the boat, the stronger the group performance is on the boat. The joint dinner with DF, the team dinner on Sunday, and the Liluck/Chilly (Chuck and Lilly) public engagement are all testament to the camaraderie that we're exposed to on LARD, and that's just over that short weekend. You add all these components together to result in a club that's sustainable in success and in retention.
What's coming up? We have the LARDYMPICS (am I even spelling this right?) coming up. It's a great opportunity to mingle with your teammates and have some fun. The race in San Diego is in a couple weeks, and it's a great way to end our season. Great city, relaxing atmosphere, fun racing, what's not to like? We're still accepting signups, by the way. We're winding down to the start of our off-season very shortly, and I know some of you guys are looking forward to some well-deserved rest. Keep staying active, mentally recharge, and be ready for another exciting season.
Charles Chang (Oct 4, 2012)
Lilly and I met in 2005 through LARD and began dating soon after. Our first race together was Treasure Island, so SF and TI always had a special place in our hearts. Even during our three year intermission, TI always reminded me of the good times we had. Fast forward to this year, I had the engagement ring 10 days before the race. That was the easy part. The hard part was figuring out the right time and place to get down on one knee. SF seemed to be the easy choice. I hid the ring in my luggage while Lilly was showering, and off we went to SF. Since there were so many group activities, I couldn't find much alone time with her on Friday or Saturday. Finally, after the race on Sunday, we had some free time. I asked her to go to the lounge on the top floor of the hotel to have a drink before we have dinner with the team, but she wanted to rest up for the team dinner. While she was napping, my brain was working overtime trying to figure out what to do. I decided I'm going to propose to her tonight, hell or high water, and took the ring with me to dinner.
Luckily, LARD had the entire restaurant to ourselves. It occurred to me that this was the perfect setting. We both knew almost everyone there. And these are not just mere acquaintances, we are a tight knit group. We train together, race together, and hang out together. And to boot, Lilly's sister and brother-in-law were present too. So I asked the bartender to get the champagne ready, and everything else after that was fuzzy. I just remember me mumbling something, a lot of screaming by everyone, and she miraculously said yes.
Our salute to Otto.
Welcome to Treasure Island!
Comp A 3rd
Rec A 3rd