Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Older than Dirt and...

Its a week end of
"oh how I love this sport"
three medals, and two days
of wins, teamwork,
magic and silly friendship stuff
dorming it like wild college kids
and there is a thousand laughs
in the fun account
to feel very rich.
Hawaiianly charmed
and entertained
on a grassy hillside abundantly dotted
with reclining, dancing, drinking,
beautifully tattooed, smiling paddlers.

Our return here, marks five years
from our first race EVER!
Still can see us standing on the shoreline
naively novice in our big red bag shirts
that held rather than hid the smell of nerves.

We ran back and forth watching every turn
for tips, for clues
we had only discovered
the sport three months earlier
and we were, hmmm...
how should I say....terrible!

Without a coach or resident expert we
had learned
thru borrowed videos and books.
Even once simulating a way to dry paddle
using a picnic table and a cooler.
(Yeah, I know, odd to picture)

But for some reason
we were a crowd pleaser that day
coming in second
(don't get excited, out of two)
behind the intimidating Hawaiians.

Discovering immediately this was a sport
where teams helped other teams,
everyone friendly, good natured
and generous with information
and encouragement.
They LOVED us and still do it seems!

Charmed and seemingly pleased
to see us do well.
Is it because we are relatively new
or an unlikely collection
of older than average athletes
from the desert?
As much of a surprise to us,
as it is to them
when we claim firsts?
Or it it the new team shirts
with the cool logo
(a long ways from the red bag shirt days?)

No longer the nervous ones pacing
the shore line for our name to be called.
We are in the Silver Masters division now
(for women over 50)
or affectionately known as
"older than dirt."
Having earned this position for being
silver and seasoned! Finally!

We are kick back
casual, joking even before the race.
Getting around to figuring
out who will sit where
as we walk to our canoe.
Comfortable with the challenge
of dock entry
leaning left, one by one!

And we claim the water
as ours right away with a rolling start
and hold it with a fury
with clean technique and style,
Not worrying about the turn until
we get there, ready to do whatever
it takes to stay ahead and out
of the reed area we termed
"looking for Moses."

We do and we win.

I have found myself in seat one
as the stroker and
the water truly does belong to me
out in front in all ways
and its exhilarating, and thrilling
its my job, to get there and stay there
and it's...hard!
Very hard and grueling.
So, I try to get out of it for
the next couple of races
...and can't!

Seat one had always been
someone else's seat,
and I realized I had just been sitting
there waiting for someone else
to come and claim it,
so I could go back
to being a low keyed,
less responsibility, seat two again.
But what if this is my seat
and I claim it as such...
(no one else seems to want it either)
and train to be the best one
I can be and in better shape
for the job in the future?

So what if we are "older than dirt"
and come from the desert?
We are winners and
a team to be reckoned with
and just like our first medal win
in Tempe five years ago when someone said
"and they are hot too"
It was heard again this past Saturday
as we claimed our over 50 hardware...
Better than the medal? Almost!

Looks like we must be
doing something right.
Oh, how I love this sport!

Pam Piper Rain