Preparing for the Calgary Dragon Boat Festival

This has been another crazy week. Lots that I’ve done, general mayhem in and out of the office, and this morning, I’m boarding a plane for San Jose.

Recap: We’re gearing up for the Calgary Dragon Boat Festival, which runs August 7 and 8 at the Glenmore Reservoir. (Those of you in the Calgary area should come down — apparently, it’s a big event.) This mean the DI-Hard (the team I’m on) had practices Sunday and Monday. That was hard, only because Sunday would have been an ideal day for floating down the Bow River. It was 32 degrees here.

Monday’s practice was, simply put, hell. Arnold (our coach and drummer) took us through a lot of drills, including three race pieces. As we were returning to the dock, our sides aching and our shoulders collapsing, we were doing pause drills. Basically, take a stroke and then pause until told to take another. It’s to practice timing. We were hearing “hit!…. hit!…. hit!….” from Arnold, but were chanting in return: “hit ARNOLD!…. hit ARNOLD!…” He called it off once he realized what we were saying.

Tuesday night was yet another practice, but this time for the Red Dragons, the Topmade men’s team. I’m the junior. Most of the others have been dragon boating for years. I’m a lightweight by comparison. Mark and I volunteered from DI-Hard to come out and give it our all. The men’s team really moves, and does things a little differently. Arnold is the coach here, too, and might also be the drummer. He guided us through similar drills to DI-Hard, with one major difference — we’re paddling with our eyes closed.

Yep, closed.

Sounds counter-intuitive, I know, but you’d be surprised how effective it is! Once you cut out all the other distractions, all you have is the sound of paddles hitting the water, and the surge of the boat. According to Arnold, we apparently had better timing with our eyes closed than we did with them open. Though I suspect our technique didn’t look so hot. We even did a practice race like that. It’s easier when you don’t know where the finishing line is.

On the way back, doing pause drills (again) with our eyes closed, my rotator cuff officially gave out. I couldn’t hold the paddle up anymore. hankfully, it’s the last practice for a while, so I don’t have to worry too much. Still, it’s a little concerning.

Now what’s the deal with San Jose? I’m going on business trip. My first since going to Cincinnati over four years ago. But this is not for a client, it’s for a technical conference on search engine marketing. Yes, believe it or not, there is much more to search engines than just plugging in a couple of keywords and pressing “I’m Feeling Lucky!”. I already know a lot about them (relax, I ain’t gonna bore you about them here), but I need to know more. Believe it or not, it’s part of my job now.

So I’m going to San Jose for five days with Craig (co-worker and fellow expert-to-be) and see what information we can glean. Hopefully, it will be fun. But I don’t have my hopes up. If we’re lucky, we’ll hit San Francisco. If we have time, which we won’t know until we get a better picture of the schedule.

And on that note, I gotta run. Plane to catch. See y’all later!