Now that I have been a dragonboater for a week, I return with a fresh perspective. The first thing I can report is that I feel definite changes in my body. This is a sport that focuses primarily on the body’s core for effectiveness. I can feel my stomach muscles firming up considerably, after only a week. My upper arms are firmer. My thighs. Yes, this sport has its physical benefits, but the practice also has mental and emotional benefits.
The second thing that I can report is that I have had a different caller/instructor every day, and each one of them has told me something completely different. Hinge at the waist. Don’t hinge from the waist. Hold the paddle at the base of the blade. Hold the paddle higher than that. Sweep the side of the boat with the paddle. Plunge forward. Keep the arm straight. Bend the arm. Conflicting information galore….but this is not a complaint. I’m enjoying learning the different options. It’s just difficult at times.
Three days a week now, I rise long before the sun does to prepare for practice. John loves to go with me and watch from the sidewalk cafe as I paddle across the river . However, he was in California over the last few days, so I’ve been taking the bus downtown on my own.
There is something about the Portland bus service that makes the experience a good one. The way the bus driver gets out to help the blind man across the street. How he or she greets riders as they enter the bus, or thanks us when we leave. Just one more thing I love about Portland.
The bus crosses the river and lets me out just on the other side. Then, I walk about a quarter mile throught flocks of resting Canadian geese, and arrive at the Little River Cafe. Sometimes I get there before it opens, and I simply sit outside and enjoy the majestic views. Other times, I’ll wander down the hill to the dock and walk to the end of it where I will do some yoga stretches while I wait.
It is stunningly beautiful at this place. There is a little island, called Ross Island, that we paddle by. Deer peeked out at us one morning. Two gigantic blue herons flew inches over our heads. Flowers everywhere. Beauty. Nature. It is all so astonishing, and especially against the urban backddrop. It feels like my own little secret right there in the city, but I am far from alone. There are more than 160 members on my team alone. This is a popular sport with many different teams with members of all levels.
Everyone converges at the end of the dock by 8:30. Getting into the boat has become less difficult for me than it was at first. I feel steadier now. Getting out of the boat is more difficult, as it is a long, narrow boat sitting DOWN in the water, rather than up high, so to exit, one must climb up as the boad sways. I’m sporting a big, blue bruise on one of my shins due to an early effort.
My level of energy gets me through the entire practice without exhaustion. However, I am definitely ready to head home when we reach the shores again. I always feel invigorated and happy from the dopamine and adrenalin surges that come with an intense morning workout. This lasts throughout my day. The world simply looks a little brighter.
Yesterday was sunny and warm. Of course, I forgot my hat. I am a pale-skinned woman who gets sunburned easily despite slathering myself with sunscreen and wearing protective clothing. Ah, well….a small price to pay for so much pleasure. I feel so happy, like everything is really falling into place now. Contentment. Joy. Peace. Love. Happiness.