Friday - July 25, 2008  The Nationals in Long Beach
My first "away race".  My second competition.  I'm in 3 races this weekend.  I'm reservedly excited.  Our team captain said we'll have a great time and this is a great opportunity to see some really good teams compete.  Our coaches have worked hard to prepare us.
For someone who doesn't consider herself a competitor, and who is only giving this sport a try, I seem to be getting sucked in with each new competition.  Watching the teams race 1000 meters, twice the distance we were to race the next day, was intimidating.  Before I found out that they were racing twice the distance we would race, I was afraid I wouldn't last that long, the distance looked so very long, but I was very impressed that they did.  I was very relieved that our races were only 500 meters, just like we practiced.  Suddenly my confidence returned.
I liked the boats.  They were very colorful and whimsical. Also clean and roomy.  The weather was perfect; warm and not too windy.  The setting was perfect.
Now if I can just keep it together and paddle right.

Saturday - July 26, 2008  Semi-finals, Red Team
Jitters.  I have an early morning race.  I have to prepare.  Vitamins. Protein.  Coffee.
Time to pull it together. Be here in the moment.  Focus. Listen for what's inside the boat.
Go!   Rotate. Dig!  Paddle, paddle.   Po - wer ten in 3 - 2- 1. Count it out One, two, three... Look only at my stroke.  Focus.  Breathe.  Feel the finish.  Breathe.  Keep going.  Keep going.  Reach.  Reach.  REACH!!  Another Power Ten!  Keep it together, you can do this!
I heard, "Let it ride."  Whew!  We did it.  What?  Second Place?  Well alright!  That's what I'm talkin' about!  See?  Teamwork and timing.  It worked, just like Ross said it would.  Who knew?
The day was made even more special because my family from southern California came out to watch me compete in this sport they'd never heard about.  Even my brother -in - law was impressed with the day.

Sunday - July 27, 2008  Finals, Red Team
Alittle more confidence, but still very nervous.  This will be a tougher race because we're up against the best of the semi-finalists. For most in our boat, this was the first time racing in such an event.  We were disappointed that we lost, but llike our head coach said, we still achieved all of our goals.  Goal #1 was to have fun. We had a great time just being there in the sunny weather, watching the boats go by. Goal #2 was to get race experience and we did that pretty well our first few times out.  Goal #3 was to do better than we did last year.  For most of us on on the Red Team, this was our first time here so there was no last year, but we did just as well here as we did at our last races in Redwood City where we placed second in our last race and brought home a prize.

I'm not a competitive natured person generally speaking, but being with this group of people on this team at this time makes me want to win.  Being here inspires me to work harder, to do better, to "be one with the stroke", with everybody doing their parts to the best of their abilities and giving everything they've got.

Epilogue - During our wait at the airport on our way home, one of my teammates wore her silver medal around her neck. Another teammate wore her KP Healers shirt.  A young man approached us and introduced himself as a member of another  Bay Area team, the Dieselfish.  We all had lively recounts and conversation about our Long Beach experiences and about our respective teams.  The conversation so interesting that a total stranger walked up and also asked our teammate about her medal.  We excitedly told him about our sport and he said he was going to look at our website.  Amazing.  I was not aware of the extended community and the myriad of teams before coming to Long Beach.  I saw Diversity at it's fullest.  Teams of older people.  Blind people. Very young people. Different colors of people. (way more black people than I thought.) All paddlers.  It was great. I'm glad I gave it a try.

Barbara Dangerfield. RN