Check off the Bucket List!

There are some activities that I’ve always wanted to do – and they were important to me to get to in my lifetime.  Growing up in AZ, I spent quite a bit of time in San Diego and boogie boarding in the ocean.  I always wanted to try to surf but the Zonies (people from AZ) usually just stuck to boogie boards.  In my college years, I talked a lot about


My husband and son stand-up paddle boarding.

organizing a girls’ surfing trip and, more recently, taking surfing lessons on a family vacation.  But, after marriage, kiddos, and as my weight got higher and I was less likely to put myself out there like that, the idea was sort of buried.  Furthermore, I find the water in soCal to be way too cold for me now.  So, when thinking about activities that we could do in Hawaii, I realized that this might be my opportunity to finally give surfing a try.  The water is quite a bit warmer, the beaches and ocean are beautiful, surfing lessons are plentiful up and down Kaanapali beach – and my girls were willing participants and actually wanted to do it with me.  My husband and son weren’t interested but did want to take stand-up paddle board (SUP) lessons at the same time.  My husband registered (or so I thought) for all of us to do the lessons the next day; however, when we all got ready to head out Thursday morning I found out that I misunderstood him and he had only booked the SUP lessons, thinking I was handling the surfing lessons.  It all worked out OK though, it gave us (the girls) the opportunity to sit on the beach and watch the boys.  The water sports shack guy was able to book us the next morning for our surfing lessons – and with the same instructor that had been out with the boys.

I should mention, I was highly considering backing out at this point.  Since gaining some weight back and losing much of my fitness, I have really been struggling with leg strength and some pain.  I mangled my knee about a month ago and just seem to be having lots of issues.  I was sort of depressed about trying this big event when not at my ideal weight and fitness level.  I really don’t love how I currently look in a swim suit.  I had 1000 reasons in my head why this was a bad idea.  The surfing guys were super friendly though and I chatted with him about my concerns about not being able to get up on the surf board.  They seemed to think I would be just fine and alleviated my concern about not being strong enough.  They told me arm strength was important (I felt OK on that front) and that the steps to get up shouldn’t be too difficult on my legs.  I was doubtful still but a bit less nervous.

We had booked an early 7:30AM lesson since the surf guys said that would be the best time for waves to learn on.  We walked down the beach and got the provided rash guards and water shoes to protect our feet on the reef.  We were joined by just one other girl, she was a bit like me (but younger) but doing this because she always wanted to.  First we practiced on the beach.  Andy, the instructor went over safety stuff, tips while we were out in the water, and then the steps to get up on the surf board.  The steps are to lie on the board towards the back, paddle then, when instructed, arch up with your arms, slide the right knee forward but keeping your shin/leg on the board, pull the left leg forward – plant the foot, then push up to a standing position – keeping both feet pointed to the side in the middle of the board and, most importantly, looking nowhere but straight ahead towards the beach.  I was able to do the maneuvers on dry land – not very smoothly – but I alleviated my fears about not being able to push my body up from a lying down position.

We then headed down to the water.  I was also a bit nervous about how cold it would be but quickly realized that it was going to also be OK.  I do not like cold water any more but it only took a few seconds to acclimate to it.  We paddled out together against the waves, which was quite a workout!  I did OK with that and wasn’t the last one to our spot.  One by one Andy took us with him, holding on to the nose of our surfboards and coaching us individually.  We waited patiently for the perfect wave then he turned us into it and yelled the steps as he pushed us on our way.  My youngest went first and, of course, she popped right up on her surfboard and made it most of the way to the beach.  Easy peasy.  She also weighs nothing and works out at gymnastics 15 hours a week.

Finally it was my turn and off I went.  Unfortunately, there was a lesson about 10 feet from us and their instructor decided that was the perfect first wave for his student – so before I was even able to push up and get my steps going, the kid next to me was (barely) surfing right towards me.  I didn’t want to mess him up since I knew it was his first time up – but I didn’t know how to pull out of it.  I finally managed to pull off to the right and then tried to push up and still surf.  I was so flustered though after that incident that I moved my wrong leg first and then couldn’t really get corrected.  With the shore approaching quickly, I pushed up to my knees then crashed into the wave.  The surf school had a staff member waiting for us at the beach to help us and he was right there helping me out of the water and making sure I didn’t get hit in the head by my surfboard. I popped up and felt like I was ready for another shot at it – paddling all the way back out there again.

When I got back to Andy he was telling me how proud he was that I kept fighting to save the ride and try to make the most out of it.  He said most people give up and don’t try when something back-fires.  He was confident I would get it the next time.  My oldest daughter was not able to get up but she got through the steps and was close.

So, 2nd ride … I had the wave to myself and … I surfed!  I couldn’t believe it!  I didn’t make it all the way to shore but I got pretty close.  The parents of the boys that were in lessons next to us, the instructor on the beach, and my husband and son were all cheering for me.  I was so damn proud of myself!  I repeated this whole thing 2 more times and got up another 2 times.  After my last ride I was pretty wiped out from all of the paddling and, with only about 10 minutes left, I decided to stay on the beach and watch my girls finish up.  I’m so glad all 3 of us were actually able to surf!

I had the biggest grin on my face the rest of the day.  A few times while we were back at the condo I spontaneously looked at my husband and said “I surfed today!”  I am really proud of myself, not for actually getting up on the surf board but from not backing down from following through on this dream of mine.  I knew if I didn’t do this in Hawaii, I might not find another opportunity to try.  My weight and fitness are not where I want them to be but I am still in a good place and need to remember that.



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