Solo Practice

I am a survivor and survivors are tough to the core. My day consists of mostly dragon boat practice after work. I love the exercise and the social encounters. You meet great people from all walks of life. There is nothing more fun than racing on a nice sunny day. I have to stay fit as a fiddle as a survivor of modern medical science. In between practices, I use an inflatable kayak to improve my upper arm strength. I haven’t had it for long, but it is serving me well. It was low-cost as these inflatables go but is easy to transport and get it in and out of the water. The best inflatable kayaks for under $500 can be purchased online and they include the paddle, a carrying case when it is deflated, and an air pump. I got it for only $325 and the site also offered a discount. Such a deal.

It is a one-person model suitable for my solo needs. You are guaranteed a great time on the water at your favorite lake, river or stream. It is built from rugged and durable materials and the design includes a built-in fabric seat that is super comfortable. I was sold when I read about the reinforced 24-gauge laminated three-layer PVC construction. This means that the kayak is durable and rough water ready if that is what you like. It has multi air chambers (two in the hull and one in the floor) that make for a comfortable ride. I love the bottom fins that are dual directional. They give the craft great stability and control. Some people need the grab handles to be on the large size and the rings that are useful for carrying and connecting to other floats or the dock. I prefer the aluminum oars to plastic as they are easy to use and effective in getting you where you want to go.

You can buy such an inflatable kayak online and they usually ship in 24 hours so you don’t have to wait and be patient. You can dream about your upcoming adventures, however, and how much fun you will have enjoying the water recreation it provides. It is a good alternative to dragon boats and gives me a little variety while I tone up. Some people call it a blow-up kayak which diminishes its cachet. Inflatable as a word is far more gracious. It is too well built to be reduced to the blow-up level. In other words, it is premium quality and a sportsman tool. My kayak is nimble and durable and everything I could want including eye-catching graphics for added safety on a lake or slow-moving river. You will be seen from everywhere thus avoiding any mishaps. Being highly portable is the best feature of them all.

I stow the deflated kayak in my garage where I can find it in a pinch when I am ready to use it or loan it out. I practically have a waiting list of people standing in line.

One of Those Days

To celebrate life and conquering disease, I love dragon boat racing. It invigorates me and allows me to have fun with friends. It is a supremely social event to which I frequently look forward. This blog is going to focus, not on the racing itself, but what happened to my watch. It was a good one that cost a pretty penny, and I am sorry to say that it got damaged in the rain. It was an unpleasant day and I should have taken off the watch, but I thought it was waterproof. Alas, I was wrong. My next watch is going to be a waterproof g shock model so this doesn’t happen again.

These special watches have more bells and whistles than I need, but since they are fairly priced, I will opt for one to make sure it can handle water exposure. I don’t intend to swim or dive with it on, but just want it to withstand some minor splashing and a little rain. I don’t doubt that I will face inclement weather while racing from time to time. Sure, we could all pack it in and go home; but we were out there for a good time and weren’t about to cut it short.

G shock watches are all the rage these days so you have plenty from which to select at all price ranges. I like the Baby-G analog digital with the cool transparent white resin strap. It is like no other and it is just for women. It makes for a bit of a ladylike touch to an otherwise trendy durable watch. It has a round case with markers and logo at the bezel. What really sends it over the top is the rose gold-tone mirror analog-digital dial with hands, markets, positive display subdials, LED backlight, shock resistance and logo. Many of the best g shock watches give world time in 29 zones, have a city code display, daylight savings on/off (very handy for those of us who forget), 5 alarms, hourly time signal, 1/100-second stopwatch, full auto calendar, 12/24 hour formats, countdown timer, and button operation tone on/off. Now we get to the nitty gritty. It has a quartz movement and water resistance to 100 meters.

Now you know what I favor. Get on the Web and see what becomes your passion. There are so many styles as to boggle the mind. Give yourself a treat if water is at all an issue for you when wearing your old watch. Years ago, people didn’t think about it much or they got a sport watch for swimming. However, I prefer the look of the g shock watch for everyday and only use a sport watch for the gym. If I forget to change, it doesn’t matter since I can wear the Baby-G in the showers. To be most careful, I take it off and leave it in the locker. However, sometimes I forget and now I don’t have to regret it.

Celebration Time

We won a great race this past week. It got uncomfortably close for a bit and I did not know if I could go any more. Luckily we have a good team and were able to motivate each other and push ourselves to the limit. If our drummer wasn’t as good as she is, we might have lost. She was able to keep us on the winning pace, and we got the job done with only a couple seconds to spare.

After the race, we made plans to get together that evening at our flag catcher’s house. Her name is Victoria. She just moved into a new house and wants the whole team to come over and celebrate. I haven’t been out in ages and it certainly sounded like a good time. Before cancer, I did this all the time—visited with friends. Maybe we sat around with cups of coffee or a glass of wine, perhaps we’d go out to dinner or to see a movie. Sometimes that seems like a lifetime ago. For so long it was just about surviving the day, or even that moment, and I couldn’t even imagine having the opportunity to do something like this again. It is nice to feel like the old me, to do the things like this.

I may have taken a little bit longer than I should have to decide on an outfit. I chose a black cowl neck tunic, a pair of white leggings, and a pair of gold sandals. I told myself there was no point to saving nice clothes for a special occasion if it meant that it might hang in my closet forever (yes, I know, spoken like a true cancer survivor—nobody is guaranteed tomorrow). With all the wardrobe changes, I ended up getting there later than I had originally planned. The party was already in full swing by the time I got there. I wasn’t the last team member to arrive, but I was pretty close. Also, I realized a little late that I went a little too fancy with my clothing, judging by all the denim and athletic shoes everyone else was wearing. I got some nice compliments, though!

We all got the tour of the house, which is gorgeous. The backyard is especially nice. There was a pergola with seating underneath. Victoria had hung lanterns down from the top of the pergola and it looked beautiful and inviting. I made my way over there and sat with some teammates. We talked about the win and caught each other up on personal stuff. As the sun set, the night got cooler, and Victoria put a small, portable propane heater on the side table next to me to help keep us all warm. It was small enough that it didn’t obstruct my view of anyone and it certainly kept us all toasty warm. Victoria ended up sitting near me so I asked her about it. She told me it runs on little propane canisters, which are cheap to buy and means there are no cords for people to trip over. She also mentioned that she’s even taken it camping before. I probably would have had to leave much sooner if she hadn’t brought it out for us—it added probably another two hours to the party! Now I’m thinking of getting one for my backyard.

It was a really good day that turned into a great night. I am so thankful that these women have come into my life, regardless of the circumstances I met them under.

Taking Care of Yourself

When you are on a cancer-treatment regimen, you need to take care of yourself. You are in control and no one else is going to do it for you. This means being vigilant and staying clear of people who are ill who might compromise your immune system. You can’t always avoid every threat to your being, so it means adopting some tried and true health practices to keep your immune system functioning optimally and that bring peace of mind and inner strength. There is no real substitute for establishing a well-conceived health program for yourself.

First and foremost, it pays to eat nutritious foods when you are a cancer survivor. They say that certain fruits and vegetables with antioxidants help ward off recurrence when eaten in sufficient quantities. Experts and nutritionists talk about blueberries, tomatoes, broccoli, and assorted super foods. They also mention drinking vast quantities of green tea and even water for maximum hydration and proper renal functioning. Lean meat and poultry is fine to satisfy the body’s need for protein, added to a small amount of dairy, fats, and carbs: everything in moderation and nothing in excess except maybe those leafy, green vegetables. It seems that you can’t get enough of them. You can’t go overboard eating fresh salads virtually all of the time.

While a healthy, balanced diet is key (including items from all of the basic food groups), you can also take vitamins and supplements in areas you need the most such as Omega3 fatty acids, Vitamin B, C, D, or E. A doctor’s recommendation is instructive after giving you the traditional battery of blood tests. Some people are also lacking in certain enzymes, so they will be included on your supplement list.

Next comes the role of exercise. You have no doubt read volumes on the subject, but there is a reason that the topic is so prevalent. Exercise is everything, next to diet, when it comes to maintaining one’s good health. It can counteract all the negative things we do to our body such as internalizing stress. There is nothing worse that tension and anxiety to bring on disease. One hour three times a week of some type of light to moderate aerobic workout such as running, brisk walking, swimming, etc. is advised. You would be surprised how miraculous a regular program of exercise can be. If you are not in tip top shape, you soon can be with a little effort.

Diet, vitamins, exercise—it sounds like a reasonable self-help program. But there is one more thing. Consider a whole home air purifier to keep airborne germs and bacteria away. Many healthy people suffer from chronic allergies and even asthma if their air is impure. It depends on where you live, but indoor air can be laden with allergens, pollen, dust, germs, bacteria, mold, odors, and more. The good news is that you can do something about it beyond keeping your windows and doors closed, and vacuuming and dusting incessantly. An air purifier built into your HVAC system will help you breathe easier and sleep well at night. Be sure to add one to your list of health practices.

Exercise To Ward Off Cancer

Exercise To Ward Off Cancer

One of the toughest parts about being a breast cancer survivor and a cancer survivor in general is the all-consuming fear that you cancer is going to return. Even if you have had a double mastectomy and you’re a breast cancer survivor, you haven’t completely eliminated you odds of getting cancer again. You have reduced them by around ninety percent, but they’re still there, and that is more than enough to terrify you.

I’ve found that one of the best things that I can do to make this sort of fear go away is to adopt the sort of healthy habits that will make the symptoms less likely to appear. This is the part where someone inevitably says that exercising isn’t a guarantee that your body is going to be healthy enough to ward off a recurrence of cancer. They’ll talk about the fact that a lot of people act like antioxidants are magic, and they just aren’t, even if they can help.

I want to say that I know all of these things. All cancer survivors do, or at least most of us. We have lost the easy sense of security that a lot of people have, because that’s one of the consequences of being a cancer survivor. We do these sorts of regimens and adopt these habits primarily because the fear goes away as a result.

Lots of cancer survivors don’t turn to diet and exercise. Some of them try aromatherapy and other types of alternative medicine that lack almost all scientific backing. They get plenty of scorn from the skeptic’s community as a result. I want to tell these people that the cancer survivors who do this are trying to cure the voice in their heads that is making them worried about getting sick again. Whether they actually have any faith in aromatherapy or not, that is their primary objective in my opinion.

I can tell you that getting regular exercise really helps partly because there actually is some scientific backing behind it. It isn’t any kind of a miracle cure, but the cancer survivors who exercised regularly were less likely to experience a recurrence of cancer than the cancer survivors who did not. In this context, ‘regularly’ means around five days a week, or at least three. You don’t have to do it every day, although there were points during the recovery process where I really was.

This is probably another reason why I got so enthusiastic about dragon boat racing in the first place. This is the kind of exercise that really lets you feel it in your bones and everywhere else in your body. You’re not just taking a walk around the block. This is a rowing exercise. I found that when I got into one of those boats and started with the paddling, it always felt like I was starting to outrun cancer in the process.

Dragon boat racing provides a distraction, of course. You get focused on trying to improve your technique and you stop worrying about your cancer coming back. You bond with all of your teammates, and they help take your mind off of what your body is or is not doing. Getting a new hobby can make all the difference for people who are experiencing mental health problems of any kind.

However, I really think that dragon boat racing hit the spot on many different levels. It made me feel like I was really doing something to prevent cancer. It helped take my mind off of the cancer in the first place. It helped connect me with dozens of people who weren’t involved in the cancer world and who therefore didn’t make me feel immersed in it in a different way. I’m glad that dragon boat racing was there for me at that point during my life, and that it still is.

Roadside Assistance

I am a survivor in more ways than one. I had cancer and pulled through and that is my main claim to fame in the survivorship category. But I also had a bit of a minor scare on the road not long ago that also tested my reliance and ability to tackle another type of adversity.

Imagine a long winding road. You are driving at night and your right rear tire deflates causing a bumpy feeling in the ride. You slow down and pull over to have a look. Sure enough, a flat. You have seen all those scary movies when people appear out of nowhere, somehow knowing that this is the exact spot you would end up after a fortuitous flat. But that’s a movie for you.

You know you have a reliable air compressor in the trunk so you don’t panic. You are still waiting for the people who come out of the woods with axes. You try to pop the trunk but it is stuck. Now you panic. You seem to be in a kind of mysterious no man’s land, too far to walk, and definitely too late to hitch a ride.

You try the trunk again, and after ten tries you slam your open hand hard on its surface in anger. This does you no good at all. You try to gather your wits and come to some kind of solution. Meanwhile, it seems to be getting misty in the distance, hiding objects and buildings, if there are any, from view. You are afraid to get lost when approaching any nearby residence. You also know how people react when strangers come to the door.

You stop panicking and tell yourself you have a brain, so why not use it. You get an umbrella out of the back seat of the car and try to pry the trunk open with it. It breaks. You check your cell phone for service, there is none. You start to panic.

You wait for a car to pass by, hopefully it will be a tow trunk, or at least a nice woman with kids in the back seat, who will seem harmless to you. Unless you saw that particular movie…..You start to feel incredibly tired and scared.

Fear is our worst enemy and renders our knees weak. There is the horrific kind when your doctor first tells you that you have cancer. And then there is this minor, but still intense kind, when you are stuck on the highway in the dark. It doesn’t matter the intensity; fear is fear after all.

You get in the car and turn on the heat to get warm. It works. You are not revived enough to try the trunk again. It works. Nothing seems to be itself when you are in a panic—that is a good rule of thumb. Now everything is normal. You pull out the air compressor and the spare tire and go to work by the strong light of your emergency flashlight. It takes fifteen minutes. Hooray for you. You get back into the car and drive off with pride.

Resources for Breast Cancer Survivors

Resources for Breast Cancer Survivors

Being diagnosed with breast cancer is going to be one of the most terrifying experiences of your life. There is no getting around that. You’ll automatically feel like this is it for you, regardless of how serious your actual case is. You’re going to question a lot of the things you took for granted, like the sense of security that you always had for yourself. You’re going to feel a sense of panic at first.

You should know that the situation for breast cancer sufferers is much better than it used to be in more ways than one. This is partly because the condition is nowhere near as dangerous as it used to be. There are loads of breast cancer survivors today, which just wasn’t the case a generation ago. Getting cancer really was a death sentence. There may not be a cure for cancer, but there are ways of holding it back before it consumes your entire body. This just wasn’t the case years ago. While I can’t promise that everything will be okay for you, I can say that scientific advancements have made a lot of things better for everyone.

However, all of the resources available for breast cancer patients have also made all the difference in the world. A couple generations ago, if you had cancer, you had to suffer in silence or hope that your family was going to be able to provide all of the solace that you needed. Basically, you had to get lucky when it came to your own rigorous constitution, or on how affectionate your family was. Lots of people are zero for two when it comes to that, and that’s the last thing you want to be at such a difficult time in your life.

Today, we have support groups for patients who have cancer in general, and breast cancer in particular. I think my diagnosis would have been much harder to cope with if I did not have a group of other sufferers and survivors to talk to, since this really is a very unique and personal condition.

Your friends and family are going to offer as much support and compassion as they can. Not everyone has a support network of friends and family, of course.

Cancer.org has a great list of resources for the people who are battling breast cancer, as well as the survivors who won:

http://www.cancer.org/cancer/breastcancer/detailedguide/breast-cancer-additional

A good portion of these resources can help people with understanding their condition. Some of them are resources that can more or less provide people with financial aid, which can make all the difference for many individuals in a country with very uncertain medical care. There is so much misinformation about cancer in general and about resources for cancer in the United States and elsewhere that it helps to look to the most official sources that are out there.

I was lucky enough to live in an area that had a cancer support group that I could visit and that was within driving distance. Lots of people don’t have that luxury. Lots of people don’t even have cars. Fortunately, there are online cancer support groups today, so as long as people have Internet connections, they will not feel like they have to be alone with their cancer:

http://www.cancersupportcommunity.org/MainMenu/Cancer-Support/Online-Support-Groups.html

Designing and painting the team’s dragon boat to make it stand out

Talking and thinking about dragon boats gets me going. Whoever though a cancer survivor would adopt this as a primary pastime. It just goes to show you what resilience and drive really mean. I dedicate this blog to my follow dragon boat racers and to those new readers who will soon get, literally, on board.

There is also nothing as great as the camaraderie of a team. When you are out there together working toward a common goal, it is mind blowing. There is nothing that amps you up and motivates you as much as team effort. Working with people beats going it alone every time.

Let’s step back a moment and give some definitions. A dragon boat is human powered and is best known in China, Africa, and the Pacific Islands. There are of course many proponents around the world in places like Puerto Rico and Indonesia. It is a venerable old tradition, laden with folk customs, in which boats are often made of teak wood, although many other types have been employed. It is a family tradition in some areas of the globe and the watercraft is often described as a paddled long boat.

In competitive circles, nowadays the boats are made of light materials to enhance speed; but racing has been part of their existence from their original appearance. Official racings date back, historians say, to ancient Greece. Thus they have an illustrious history and a remarkable present as well.

Joining a dragon boat team will change your life without doubt. You will want to help your team decorate this marvelous craft as tradition requires. Each boat should be distinctive and represent the members that propel it. Recently, my group wanted to update the boat’s look and elected to use a HPLV air paint sprayer. It worked remarkably well and gave a lovely surface appearance to the boat. You can get even, lustrous color, and a smooth as silk finish. Every boat should have artisans like mine to enhance appearance. It certainly makes it stand out at festivals and other water rituals.

A dragon boat actually looks a bit like an outrigger. Only pros draw strict distinctions. And it seems like the description of the boat, anything goes as to the design of the surface. Some teams like to include sea life and related ocean symbols. Others prefer agricultural references that bespeak of ancient lands. The dragon, a mythical creature of great repute, has been the most consistent imagery. The animal is part of the Chinese Zodiac and an apt character to use, even in modern times.

The crew of a typical dragon boat consists of twenty two team members and there may be a drummer who gives the beat of the paddling to all. In effect, it is a marvelous, synchronous effect that takes place. The paddles by the way in traditional dragon boat racing are not attached to the boat and thus they are distinguished from oars or sculls.

I could go on and on about championships around the world and the excitement the sport engenders. It is still somewhat exotic in the U.S. I hope, however, that I have piqued some interest and possible future participation.

Cleaning For a Reason

I would like to introduce and promote a wonderful organization called Cleaning for a Reason. This group provides maid service for women undergoing breast cancer treatment, and I can’t say enough about how important this is. Any woman in this situation can use considerable help doing the most mundane of tasks. It is a godsend when she receives notice that someone has hired this service for her immediate needs.

Having been in these shoes, you can muster up a cry of delight and relief when you know they are coming. You will be pleased with the professional results: thorough and attentive cleaning. They come highly recommended so you don’t have to monitor the work or inspect the aftermath. It is a one-stop shop that covers all the bases.

Cleaning can be a simple matter for most of us, but for the ill, it is a formidable task. You are exhausted after light dusting and a few dishes. You can’t face the tremendous challenge of vacuuming even with the best vacuum cleaner or cleaning bathrooms and kitchens. It is beyond the pale to expect these duties, but someone has to look after the house.

Thus, Cleaning for a Reason steps in to help where it is needed the most. I used it myself and give it two thumbs up and a rousing round of applause. It was a life saver, and frankly I don’t know what I would have done without it. It provides a kind of everyday support that surpasses almost any personal need a patient may have. When you have cancer, for example, most things are impossible to fathom. I don’t care if you have the fanciest Dyson or Shark. It is more than glorious to have cleaning work done for you so you have a little more time for yourself–or just to rest.

As a cancer survivor, I have a history and a six sense. The latter tells me when things are right, and when they go awry. You have no stomach for problems when you are sick and little recourse to solutions. You simply don’t have the energy to look into things and make decisions. If just one area of concern is addressed, it is like a big load is lifted off your back.

Cleaning for a Reason is supported by volunteers and donations. It charges a minimal amount for most jobs, another godsend when it comes to the cancer territory. You are spending so much on treatment and medication—things not covered by insurance. You may need a caregiver at times, a driver, and someone to prepare meals. There often doesn’t seem to be enough money to go around when everything is happening so fast.

Having a service on standby lets you know that you are still in control of your environment, if not yet your health. You hope to be back to normal in no time, and this kind of wishing keeps you going. When it does happen, you will look back in wonder at how convenient and vital Cleaning for a Reason was, and, like me, you will want to pass on the word.

Good Rest is a Miracle

Recovery seems so elusive when you are sick. It seems very far away. Time becomes distorted and days long and endless. You need all the help you can get to make life a bit more comfortable during the long wait. One way is to have help preparing meals and cleaning the house. Hiring someone to throw out the trash is simply overwhelming to someone with no energy.

In addition, your ability to sleep well is impacted as you may have numerous aches and pains from a less-than-comfortable bed. You seem to all of a sudden become conscious of the defaults of a once-prized mattress. You toss and turn and lack even one good night’s sleep. Then a blessed soul comes into your life and offers a new mattress to help with back pain. You more than imagine the bliss!

A mattress of this nature has extra cushioning on one side–the upper area–that wraps you in soft comfort. Many love it although some find it rather soft. For the cancer patient, it is a good option to consider. I know many, including myself, who have enjoyed its benefits. It adds depth to the mattress and enhances any other features it may have.

A Temper-Pedic is a high-end mattress brand that is another alternative, but it is very costly. Of course, when you are ill, you feel that no expense should be spared to make you feel better. If you think you would have bought one anyway, it is worth every penny, or so users say in their many online testimonials. Read between the lines and get the hidden message. In one way or another, it will apply to you.

Sometimes an average mattress will do the job when it is new as it is a vast improvement over an old, worn out one. It is a personal decision that takes some consideration to make, and this will be within a given budget. All in all, as sleep is so important, and good rest almost a miracle, you will want to weigh each option carefully.

Sleep takes a bit more sometimes than the mattress, so be prepared for some enhancers that really work. If medication at night is ineffective, a patient might enjoy a light, gentle body massage. It can involve aromatherapy that soothes muscles and the mind at the very same time. Once you hone in on your favorite scents, you will look forward to this treatment.

Music is also a great mood enhancer and if a bit monotonous, it can lull you to sleep. There are wonderful CDs available with exotic low-toned instruments and the sound of the sea. Pick a few and alternate them so you don’t get bored—unless, of course, boredom for you is the road to slumberland.

Someone can read you a story; you can watch TV; or listen to the radio. You should not, however, look at a laptop or tablet—and especially your smart phone—before bed. These are bad enough for normal insomniacs, and are worse for cancer patients in distress.

Dragon Racing and the Dragon Boat Itself

I’ll admit that one of the things that go me into dragon boat racing was that I couldn’t get over how much I liked the boats. They’re these huge boats that do tend to be adorned with dragons. They’re like the sorts of things that you would expect to find in a Chinese parade, and you can row them. I’ve always liked the Chinese aesthetic, and the dragon boats were a lot more interesting to look at than your typical canoe.

Some people have been under the impression that dragon boats were created by Westerners who were mocking Chinese culture, which is fortunately not true. Dragon boats have a long history in East Asian countries and many others, in fact. They have come to the West relatively recently. The fact that dragon boat racing has become popular in the West is largely a symptom of the fact that the world is becoming more globalized.

The boat also makes a difference when it comes to documentation. My family really went to town with the pictures from my last race. They started taking all of these different pictures at all points during the race, and they’ve been posting them on Facebook ever since. They could probably make a scrapbook of the pictures if they wanted.

While they were doing that to be supportive, I also think that they were doing that because dragon boats really are that picturesque. They’re the sorts of boats that can help create really great pictures, and that’s what you want when you’re a photographer, even if you’re just taking snapshots for your family. Honestly, I think that all of those pictures are just additional accomplishments in their own right, which has only made things better.

Dragon Boat Racing and Rhythm

Dragon Boat Racing and Rhythm

I’ve found that one of the most important things that any team of dragon boat racers can do is establish a sort of rhythm. It might seem like that’s going to be difficult to do, especially because so many people are rowing the boat during a dragon boat ride. However, without a rhythm, the whole thing isn’t going to be anywhere near as successful or easy.

You’re try to get a large group of people working together on one task when you do dragon boat racing. If you do that, people really can’t go off and enjoy their own directions at all. They literally and figuratively have to do with the flow, and it helps if the flow has a nice beat to it and people cannot help but dance along, so to speak.

The beat can help you stay connected with your teammates. It can also make the more strenuous aspects of dragon boat racing a lot easier than they would have been otherwise. You start to lose yourself in the beat. It’s like exercising to music in a way, or dancing to a musical tune. The music becomes a part of the dance more than anything else, and it seems to tell your feet where to go.

The rhythm also makes dragon boat racing a lot more fun. You’re all together, you are all moving a boat together, and you all have the same beat in your head. There’s something emotionally satisfying about that. If you’re like me and you spent a lot of time in the company of something that you could not control, like cancer, then feeling the sense of accomplishment and the pride in what your body can do can make a huge difference.

Enjoying All of the Benefits of Dragon Boat Racing

Obviously, the main reason I got into dragon boat racing is that it seemed like a lot of fun. I’d never even heard of it before I received the recommendation from a friend, and it sounded cool. After having received my diagnosis and after managing to beat cancer, let’s just say I was feeling a little more adventurous than I was earlier in life. I don’t know if I would have tried it ten years earlier, but then again, I may never have even heard of it.

However, one of the reasons I stuck with it were all of the health and fitness benefits. Rowing of any kind is going to burn calories, since it requires a lot of physical work. Nothing is pulling a dragon boat but you and your rowing mates. There is no motor. It’s you against the water, and it’s a human-powered piece of technology. Doing that with a canoe is hard enough. A dragon boat is so much larger and longer that it’s going to take even more energy to move it.

It’s true that if you’re a dragon boat racer, you’re going to have a lot more help when it comes to rowing. However, you and your boat mates are also going to be adding even more weight to the overall boat, which is going to make a huge difference when it comes to the amount of effort that it takes to move the boat. There’s a trade-off. You need more helpers for a boat this size, but they add weight to the boat themselves and make the process harder. That’s just the right situation to create a lot of challenges for you.

Of course, the number of people is part of the point. With a lot of other athletic activities that aren’t team sports, you’re not going to end up meeting a lot of people. It’s already hard enough to meet people as an adult professional, and I didn’t want to start a hobby without having some sort of opportunity to meet a lot of new folks. Not only will you meet a lot of people when you try dragon boat racing, you’ll be working together doing something that is both challenging and fun.

Few things can build a bond between people quite like doing an activity that’s difficult together. Even people who outright hated each other have been able to bond under circumstances like that. People who were just strangers will be able to establish a bond very quickly under those circumstances. After a day of dragon boat racing, you and your teammates are automatically going to feel like you’re old friends even if you lose, and that’s saying something.

A dragon boat race is also an accomplishment. I’ve been a part of groups before where it felt like we sat around and chatted the whole time. I like that too, but it’s also nice to really be part of something and really feel like you’re doing something, and I feel like something like dragon boat racing fits the bill in a way that a more generic activity just doesn’t.

I’ve over forty now, and I have to take more care of myself in general. Even if I wasn’t a cancer survivor, it would be a good idea to get involved with something that burned a lot of calories and exercised a lot of different muscle groups. I get mistaken for a younger person all the time these days, and that’s partly because of all of the fitness benefits of dragon boat racing. It shows on all of you. That’s a reward by itself.