Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

Anne Jane Giffin

What an exciting event, day, and miracle!

There was a day, way back in my addiction, I said a prayer and said “God, I don’t how or if I even can get sober but, if I do, I want on that boat! I want to be a part of that team. I want a better life!” Today after many practices, showing up, and applying myself, I made it to my first race! It was not in my minds concept of just how big the event really was! From all around the world, different states as well, about 880 paddlers came to play a good game! And they all did! I was so excited to be there!

I got up at a staggering 1 AM to get ready to be picked up at 3:30 AM. I did my best to get the items and myself ready but what I lacked in having, my two teammates made sure I had. Thank you, Judy and Carol! We had a long 3 ½ hour drive to Tacoma, Washington. The event was under way, getting set up, and started for an amazing day.

I realized our tent was at the back of the location, just an effortless walk to the normal 2-legged friends but to me was a trot!  I made it to the dock to my first race.  Each race was 300 meters. I had to do the fashionable crawl down the dock to get down to where the dragon boats waited to be loaded. Maggie, our team’s tiller, was at my side every step of the way to get loaded. Then it was like time flew by me and were doing a race start to practice and circled around to line up the boats and silence happened. All I heard was Maggie’s voice shouting “GO’!  Coach Julie was looking at the boats teammates and beating the drum at every hit of our boats paddle. We were off! (I’m about to cry right now, the excitement is flooding me now!) I, with each stroke of my paddle, had to find ease. I was so excited I was off and by the end of the race I was too dramatic, trying to lean on Natasha my benchie, almost causing the canoe to capsize! I gained composure and tried to handle myself as professionally as possible.

I tried to make it back up the dock but immediately after the race my breathing and physical endurance was too much. Luckily, and with much appreciation, the event coordinators allowed me to stay at the dock near the events volunteers calling out to start the races. I made it to the second heat. I started off like a bat out of hell (lol). My teammate shouted slow down! I had enough energy waiting for the next heat. I quickly listened and got into pace my arms and body flowed much better this heat. The excitement of the fresh first-time race wore off and I had settled down. Still the excitement and the event were real. This was happening, and I really enjoyed it.

My mistake was to come up for lunch and eat, which I didn’t eat much at all. I got myself two shirts, one for my walls of recovery, and one for me to wear! I realized at this moment that the long walk from the dock to our tent was too much for my body. I ran into coach Julie, and we decided I would sit out the rest of the heats. I was extremely saddened that my body was unable to complete the races. I want to know my body well enough not to be a liability.

At that point, I got to really enjoy being a part of the crowd and see really what the race looked like. I was able to meet an Angry Unicorn team member who also sat out the same heat as me. We were both newbies and we did our best! I called my biggest supporter, Lisa Koontz, and got her voicemail. I cried as I said to her “Thank you for never giving up on me and getting me to this day! I composed myself and got back into watching my team as they crossed the finish line. What an event! What a day! What a dream come true!

Willamette River Dragons, Good game! Thank you