Initial Thoughts

Some people consider themselves either bottom heavy or top heavy.  The former is akin to a pear while the latter to an inverted triangle; just another political representation of the human body that is either fat assed or with chicken legs to put it bluntly.  Luckily I have neither, or so I think.  My body is considered an ectomorph or plain and simple “payatola” which can either be good or bad depending on how you see it.  As such, I consider myself both top and bottom weak, a complete and total weak package.  Blame it on decades of dormancy and being “normal” as opposed to an athletic predisposition in life which, at those times, “abnormal” or something being indulged in by the select, queer ones.

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Then I started getting myself into running, to develop the weak bottom.  Few years into this “revolutionary” activity (the act of making that which is abnormal to something that which is cool is indeed revolutionary), made me a “power bottom (?)” but a weak top.  I believe not only I observe this imbalance in a purist runner’s body, strong legs at the bottom of weak, underdeveloped top muscles.  After all, I, myself, am slowly inheriting that.  If I am to become an elite runner in the league of Kenyans and Ethiopians, that won’t be a problem.  But as a regular guy with a “regular” life, I look emaciated underneath loose everyday clothing.  Thus need for another sport/physical activity to address this disfiguring imbalance is in grave urgency.

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The Introduction To The Sport

Recently I have observed that a lot of my running friends are taking to the Manila Bay certain mornings of the week away from running.  Team or groups names like Maharlika Drakon, Pyros, Rogue, kept mentioned in hushed but excited discussions.  In fact, one of my fellow Fabulous Running Diva, Red Ginger, got invited by a friend to one and oh how I envy his slowly developing upper body looking more sculpted than rounded as his body is an endomorph (fat bound in lay man’s term).  Hesitation always kept me from testing the waters (literally and figuratively!) brought about my innate timidity.  But fate had its way when after OFW run last March 24 where I did an lsd with some friends, an after race “kita kits” turned into an impromptu paddling introductory lesson when another running friend sent invite to the running diva group to proceed immediately  to the dock nearby where her team is having a session.  As we are already there and still reeling from endorphin after effects, we readily went and savored the aroma and the challenge Manila Bay has to offer to weary legs but uninitiated arms.

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See what I mean? The upper body muscles? Delicious!

I had fun despite the creeping fatigue of a 20k run making me faint after 20 continuous paddle strokes as my arm muscles don’t have the efficiency and the grace that my legs have to running.  The challenge, though, is something I would not turn away from with the additional come on of not only an upper body exercise but the fun in the water also.  Add to this is doing them with my Fabulous Running Diva friends whom I have bonded beautifully with.  The fun and the challenge shared is worth all the NSAIDs I need to take afterwards in order to function as a human being.  Thus I returned for another day of training and fun with my new family, the Maharlika Drakon Dragon Boat Paddling team.

The Official First Training Day

Call Time: 4:45   Late comers are penalized with push-ups or a tantamount exercise

Training itinerary:

Warm-up stretching exercises

Lunge drills and running drills

Easy jog with sprint pick ups

Circuit drills with sprint in between

Paddling lesson for newbies

Cool down exercises

Bonggang bonggang stretching exercises!
Bonggang bonggang stretching exercises!
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Some exercises to warm-up our sleeping muscles.
Speed drills and circuit training in one!
Speed drills and circuit training in one!
Strengthening exercises still.
Strengthening exercises still.

Sir Pol, one of the pioneers of the Maharlika Drakon and a competitive paddler himself in the heydays representing the Philippines in various competitions abroad, provided the necessary basic lessons for us newbies in his erudite and cool manners.  He demonstrated the proper rowing techniques before letting us do the motions which naturally we can’t duplicate properly.  The eagerness to learn is imminent in our faces, though, as he approaches each one of us in order to correct our strokes.  But this eagerness tensed our grip on the paddle which is unnecessary in an efficient stroke.  A couple of drills to and fro the shadows of Manila Ocean Park and we were able to channel our strength correctly and eased up on the paddle grip.  After an hour or two of grueling slash fest with the Manila Bay’s surface tension, we feel strong and ready enough to join the ranks but weak to continue with the paddle practice.  So off we drove our dragon boat to the dock for our final cool down exercises.

Sir Pol teaching the basics of holding the paddle.
Sir Pol teaching the basics of holding the paddle.
Sir Pol correcting our stroke individually.
Sir Pol correcting our stroke individually.
Sir Pol talking about his exploits in dragon boat racing to inspire us to continue on.
Sir Pol talking about his exploits in dragon boat racing to inspire us to continue on.
Excited yet nervous of this new adventure.
Excited yet nervous of this new adventure.

The After Party

Final cool down exercises may be the end of this day in the paddle boat training course but not for the very energetic and vivacious Maharlika Drakon team.  With the gastronomic tank at empty status, the sumptuous pancit treat courtesy of birthday gal Czhel Macogay was attacked with passion and animated conversation.  Another pasta party though is brewing somewhere in the heart of Manila just a few kilometers from the bay.  Donnie aka Donya is playing host to this another eating /camaraderie occasion which we went to still bearing the stench of sweat and the bay.  This is but an example of how a day in training goes with the Marharlika paddlers and I am positive many more of such is in the offing.  I am rearing to be part of all of these!

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At the cozy house of Donnie for our after practice pasta party!

Maharlika Drakon Dragon Boat Team. Strong!
Maharlika Drakon Dragon Boat Team. Strong!