Sunday, April 13, 2014

Grand Prairie Dragon Boat Festival - Houston Heat Takes Home Gold!

This Spring I joined the Houston Heat Dragon Boat Club and this past weekend was my first competition in Grand Prairie, Texas.

The weeks and days leading up to it I was nervous, for many reasons. I've never been a part of a competitive team before. I've never in my life paddled. What if I make a rookie mistake and cause our team to lose? I don't know how to swim, what if I fall in the water and drown? What if there is an alligator, crocodile, shark, or something with really big teeth that will kill me?!  I've never in my life traveled alone with out either my parents, or husband. How was I going to handle that? My first time traveling without my parents, but with Mychael (nearly 10 years ago), I cried my eyes out when the sun set and it hit me that I was hundreds of miles away from home.

I'm happy to report, I handled it quite well. Many thanks to the two girls who encouraged me to try out dragon boating. Linda, and Yumi. These girls had me laughing during our whole trip!

Morning Selfie
Our fellow team member, Luis (left) had a Houston Heat team sign made at this year's Houston Rodeo. Love it so much! We all just had to take a photo with it! 

The city of Grand Prairie was very welcoming to us. To the point that the entry line was backed up because the attendant made conversation with every person coming through the gates. =)

Mayor Ron Jensen during opening ceremonies. 

There was a lot of downtime between the races. Some people took naps, ate from the local vendors, I just enjoyed watching the races and taking in my first event.

Team roster:

The winds were strong in Grand Prairie and the first boat that went into the water, flipped. Cue me getting a little nervous. But not to worry, these events are always well planned out. There were boats to pull people out of the water if need be, and of course all experienced members went to help the paddlers out of the water and bring the boat back to shore.

The one thing I've learned very quickly is that the dragon boating community is very welcoming, and helpful. It doesn't matter what team you're on, or what city you represent everyone is willing to offer advice, help, and give pats.

After this, the location was moved about a quarter mile away to less choppy waters.

Photo by: Linda

In the qualifying race our team's time was 1:03:04! Yay, the fastest time!

Our team likes to take lots of photos, and I think Yumi thought I was sleeping, but I caught her!

Photo by: Yumi

Final times for each division. During this race, I pulled my paddle out of the water. During our power up I nearly slid off my seat. If I would have come back in the race I was confident I would not be on pace, the last thing I wanted to do was mess up a team mate. During our practices the coaches told me it is much better to pull your paddle out of the water and allow the team to carry you, than to go back in when you're not ready. So I used my best judgement and we won!!! 

And, just for fun, the event leaders threw in a 1,000m meter race. All the competitive teams were combined and randomly selected for each boat. Once I took my seat I thought about asking if I could sit this race out. I've never paddled that distance, even though it was just for fun I didn't want to mess up or not be able to complete the distance. I took a deep breath, and told myself I could do it. I followed the lead of my team mate in front of me and pushed through when I was tired. It was a great feeling after we were done to know I pushed myself. A personal growth moment. I was on the 6th boat with Coach Jeff, we came in 2nd!

Happy to be a part of the team that brought home the very first Gold Medal from the Grand Prairie Dragon Boat Festival.

After the races and closing ceremonies were over they fed us! 

Photo by: Linda

Delicious BBQ from Dickey's Barbecue Pit. The meat was tender, beans delicious, and potatoes made my belly happy. There was a lot more food, but they had veggies. Me and veggies = no. Ha!

We received this great thermal bag with lots of goodies inside.

Free Sandwich from Dickey's Barbecue Pit, $5 Awards Card to spend at Applebee's, FREE Chick-fil-A nuggets, $10 off accessories at Longhorn Harley-Davidson, Buy One, Get One FREE coupon for Grand Prairie Airhogs baseball tickets, Coupon for Go Loco Street Tacos and Burritos, Cash voucher for opening a new account at Texas Trust Credit Union, FREE VIP Coupon Book for the Grand Prairie Premium Outlets, Coupon for Ripley's Believe It or Not, Discount for Christian Brothers Automotive, and a Community Guide. It looks like Mychael and I could be set up for a weekend stay in Grand Prairie! I love playing tourist in our own state.

I'm glad to have my first event behind me. I know what to expect next time, and am confident I'll continue to grow with my team.

A special thanks to my team mates and coaches who have offered great constructive criticism and words of encouragement.

Heat It Up!!!! 

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