Recently in Hobbies Category
It was one of those minor, extremely chill dragon boat competition, with the Wasabi Dragons (to boost our team blog's PageRank). It was in Rawdon, a small regional municipality a 45 minutes drive up northeast of Montreal. I woke up at 6:30AM, picked a ride with Alex-everyone-knows, joined five other members waiting for us at Lionel-Groulx at 7:45AM, and arrived on site at 8:45-ish, in time for our first race, at 10-something. XD
Rumors had us do a fairly good time on the 500m (2:23), despite generally feeling that we sucked (as usual - always aiming for better :D). The 250m was novel, as we only competed on the 500m at the Montreal Race. I personally felt better on the afternoon 500m race...
The weather was beautiful, and I probably mentioned Rawdon because I thought it would be so nice if I could drive, so that on random weekends, I could drive to the country with friends and have a good time on some randomly faraway beach. I've never quite been a countryside person - but it's interesting when you change your way of seeing things (such as with the only interest in a thing like "driving")? But I already thought an outing to see shooting stars at an observatory, or some mountain out of town would also top my list of neat.
(Mozilla Firefox 2 Beta 1 (Bon Echo) has a spelling check for all inline text boxes. But feck, how do you disable it? o_O)
Our team finished something like 2nd-ish in the last race, but generally noone really seemed to care, unlike at the Montreal race, b/c the atmosphere was really really too chill.
It was the Montreal Dragon Boat Race today. We did bad enough on the first day to get dropped in the "rookie" division, out of the three divisions. This morning today however, we did the best time of all "rookie" teams. That means, the best time out of, hmm, 20-something teams, right? But what goes up must go down, and we finished fifth on the final race, and went home with no medal. Heh, we have a website too. :D
Was pretty excited by the extent of event. Lots and lots of people, more than I ever imagined, with the food stands, clothing stands. I noticed there were way more chinese people in Montreal than I thought. A lot of Asian-looking people who speak teh perfect English or French. Lots of Cantonese too. Wonderful that the sub-group of an ethnic group does exist in Montreal.
There were lots of activities along the basin. Didn't follow much of it, as our team had a tent closer to the 500m start than the finish line (where stuff was happening). There were martial arts shows, and people singing. There were also stands where people could pay a small fee for a watermelon-eating contest.
This weekend passed exhaustingly. On Saturday night, I already felt as if it was Sunday evening, falling asleep right after drinking a mezzo coffee at Starbucks, and feeling as if there was nothing else to do but go home and sleep for another work week to start. Tired, b/c we all woke up pretty much at ~5:30 on Sunday to get to the pool by 7PM. Usually, when I'm awake that early on a Sunday, it's because I haven't slept the night before. :P
After the race was finished, I wandered off to the limits of the Piknic Electro. I think I do like electronic music enough. I didn't have a fresh supply of it lately, but particular electronic sounds is pushing on the right buttons. Sat on a bench facing the artificial pond, and just fell asleep to the sound of the psichh psicha, etc.
Later, was a bit more awake. Picked up randomly good food at Al-Taib on Guy (a zaatar, which I didn't know, could be served "all-dressed"). Went to the movie reviewed below here. Wish I could just sleep nine hours, bleh. Priorities, priorities...
And bleh, I'm still imagining myself making the paddling movement. <_< You know, turn your shoulders and reach, and shit.
Two things have kept me awake these days.
One of them is paddling technique. o_o Yeah, you've heard it here, I am thinking about how I should paddle, whether I sit correctly, push my arms forward enough, turn my shoulders fast enough. I've never thought so much about my own body (I spent my university years being totally amorphic). It's to be noted that we had our hardest practice on Monday, which included two (or three?) 1000m, three or four 500m, including a race with elite teams, and a 4x20secs, 4x40secs and 2x90secs somewhere before the race. I know I've claimed it's "the hardest practice evar"many times, but I think we can't go (much) further than this.
Overall, I felt really good. For the first time, I ran around the olympic basin (4.5km), with a few stops in the first 2km, and only once to tie my shoelaces in the last straight. It's not a question of breath, but more of energy. After paddling so much, you just can't feel your arms, even if your heart still wants to pump more blood into them. I think the key will be a good nutrition, and for that, I'm already planning a congee-based diet for Thursday and Friday, and I bought myself a bag of sultana raisins for snacking ($2.45 for two big scoops at the Arabic grocery store on Ste-Cath near Guy). Tomato pizzas at Italian-owned Boulangerie Clarke on St-Viateur/Clark are a pretty good, filling and cheap high-carb lunch. It's around a buck fifty for the ones with tomato sauce/oil and rosemary + other herbs, or tomato pieces; $2.25 for the cheapest and heartiest rectangular cold pizzas I've ever seen in my life - twice as thick as the ones at Pino and Matteo's around the McGill campus!
Today was probably the worse we've overcome this year. We really really need to get in shape for the race (especially the novice like me), and so today our coach applied the shock therapy. First, it was a 3.5km jog, then various drills in 3-minute variants, then 2-minute (quicker) and 1-minute (yet quicker). And _then_ we get to go on the boat: 2x1000m, 2x500m, 2x250m and something like synchronized paddling (keeping your paddle in the air, and follow the pacer's stroke).
I probably said before that I've never been as in shape in my whole life. Well, I'm pushing the limits week after week now (and today, on top of not sleeping for 38 hours straight - b/c I slept too much during the long weekend). I also never thought that I could jog (after failing the jog test during high school, thus registering my only semestrial failure grade - in phys ed, how revealing) and it isn't actually hard with the right shoes.
I better go to bed. (Currently lots of happy exercise chemicals circulating in my body. Tonight, I shine, tomorrow, I'm an undead.)
Yeah, really. Because of the Grand Prix settling down, we moved from our usual Wednesday practice site in Parc Jean-Drapeau to the cozier Canal Lachine near the Centre Gadbois (a revamped municipal sports complex complete with pool, rink, training room). I don't recall going there in recent years, but people (including parents) have told me how nice and relaxing it is for jogging, rollerblading, biking or all of the above.
I already missed two practices, one last week because I totally didn't sleep (ironically, I slept even less yesterday and the night before - vivement la St-Jean), and Monday b/c of you-know-what. I already arrived late, so missed the dry-land training (jogging a stretch of canal three times, and then setups beside the benches lining up the canal), and only did the jogging stretch twice. Twenty minutes later, at 8, we jumped in our stinky/rotten lifejackets and set sail for about an hour or really painful but educative rowing. The new teacher Almer is "all about technique" and taught us, among other things, to dip in the water "long and deep". But seriously, he was much better than the previous coaches we had. Basically, we focused on four points: 1- keeping both arms outside the boat, 2- bend your body and turn your torso when you redress, 3- make long and deep strides, and 4- keep your body square and straight at the end of your stride.
I was by far the worse of the team members, but everyone was nice. Can't let them down again, for sure. At this point, my arms are already starting to hurt, as well as torso and legs from the jogging. I guess that this is it: I can do so much more with this body.
On our way back, Jack dropped us off at Monk metro, and made us an improvised guided tour of the sights on Monk Avenue, which is an interesting-looking commercial artery outside of city centre (of course, everything in Mtl looks better in the summer - *everything* ;D). It had a multi-ethnic array of cuisines, grocery stores. I might like living in that area - that is if I can decide to take the jump or not...
So today was the harshest day by far. I forgot how many 250m or 500m we did, but my technique's bad and it seems that physical coordination is not my strength, and that it's even worse when the instructions are given in English (despite being almost accent-less and practically fluent). Could not follow the rhythm at times, and even if the heart wanted (we had two simulated races against more experienced teams), the body could not follow, and I had to skip a few strokes, paddle with bad technique for the last stretches of the 250 or 500 metres. Painful, and I have hypertrophied biceps now. _O_ (I was told by Alex that shadow boxing, lifting weights with a frontward gesture is good training.)
After the training, our team went for a late-evening munch at Van Roy in Chinatown... which I haven't been to for the past ten years. Teammates were singing praises about the "pork fat" dish that is the pork chop combo (the champions' meal, complete with steamed veggies, mounds of rice, more than enough _deep-fried_ pork chops and a fried egg to finish off what's left of your monthly quota of cholesterol), but while three or four members of the team settled for that, the remaining eight or nine went for ordering our food "Chinese style". And it's obvious that large groups at Chinese restaurants is a ++, b/c it's basically a buffet on a turning table. :D
Did not play "competitive" (intramurals) hockey -not even on ice, just on a field- for a good three years. I miss the times planting myself in front of the opponent's net, or fighting pucks/balls in the corners. Which reminds me of playing broom-ball in cegep, sliding my ass on the ice with the ball into the crease... I would need to improve endurance, but I remember I've demonstrated heart in what I was doing. Well, ok.
I can see clearly underwater (b/c they have a prescription). So many details you may fail to notice, such as the way the bottom of the pool goes from shallow to deep. And I don't get red eyes anymore (while I still smell chlorine and have hair that feels like gweilo's for the rest of the day... aiya).
(I assure you, when my HK aunt was speaking with my mother about buying a few of those prescription swimming goggles, they kept on calling 'em 'googles'. In ten years, noone' going to bat an eyelid at it.)