Friday, April 22, 2011

Women's Surf Clinic

I went surfing for the first time today and I had a great time but I didn't like it as much as I expected. I was in the UCSC Women's Surf Clinic and everyone was super nice and supportive. And they made it super easy- they gave us gigantic floaty boards and told us when to turn, when to paddle, and when to stand, and most of the time they literally pushed our boards to help us go fast enough. So that was all great. Plus they told us it was a good day in terms of light crowds and small waves, and I couldn't tell otherwise. Certainly I have seen it more crowded on nice days.

So, they had us all wear school wetsuits, and there was no way they were going to let me go out without one. I am glad I tried something new because now I can really appreciate not having to wear a wetsuit, which I have been enjoying all day. At the end of the day we compared notes and most of us were wearing a wetsuit that was too big or too small. Mine fit, but it was awful anyway. They told us the sizes correspond to dress sizes and I looked on the chart and my height and weight matched my dress size, so that was easy. Then I put it on and it was seriously the worst episode of Having To Wear Pants I have endured in years. I looked around once I got it on, and everyone was in swimsuits so I thought we could take it off so I did, but in fact no one had gotten theirs on yet because wetsuits are tricky.

Then we vanned down to the beach and got our surfboards. There were thinner and thicker ones, and I was determined to get a thick one. I thought it was cool because in a mixed group I probably wouldn't have. But, I was second to last and there was only one thick board left. In retrospect the other girl might have weighed as much as me because she was taller, but I was so focused on I AM BIG I NEED THE BIGGEST, and since our instructor told other people they didn't need a big board I guess she thought I had a point. So then I had to carry it a hundred yards and it was waterlogged and the other girl got to carry a lighter board so that was fair.

Before going out our other instructor had us all practice doing pushups on our board, so that when waves break while we are out the wave can go between us and the boards. I did all the pushups I can do (6) while we were on shore. Then we had to practice our standing up.

My favorite part of the day was bobbing out to the little waves. I just glided over everything. Even though we didn't use our legs at all for this part, it was like ten times easier than swimming. I liked turning, for which you tilt the nose way out of the water and kick. It was exactly like riding a horse, but cold. I was like, how is this happening? Because I was barely away from the shore but could turn and look at the town, just like the one time we went on the ocean in Beginning Rowing. I decided that when I get a board I will come out and lounge in my swimsuit, maybe eat snacks and journal. It was really nice.

While I waited for a turn, I tried to figure out wetsuits. I understand wearing one if it is the early morning before the sun is up properly. I understand wearing one if you are out for hours and don't rest on the beach at all. I thought maybe the reason everyone was wearing one is because guys don't have proper fat, but most of the adult guys out there were pretty big. I heard most of my group say they were cold. I have never been less cold in the water, which felt disconcerting instead of good. But I wasn't too warm, even though I was exerting myself, although I feel like if the sun was out I would have been.

The actual surfing part happened too fast, and was over too fast, for me to get the hang of it. But because they made it so simple, I managed to stay on nearly every time. Exercising in a new way made me super happy and when we got back to campus I was so excited that I hopped in the pool. It felt amazing for like three seconds, to be in water sans wetsuit, and then I started swimming and realized I was really worn out. I had to use a kickboard because I didn't have my goggles and my eyes are sensitive, and after soft lenses absorb chlorine you have to toss them. At 500m I was in a good rhythm, and I told myself I would do a slow 1000m, but by 850 I was all done.

The pool is so much less interesting than the ocean, but very safe. I think I could pass right out and be fine. It made me really want an Otterbox and waterproof headphones, because I could lap swim so long if I had something to listen to, but I've looked at lots of products and reviews and I don't think there is a really durable one or headphones that aren't a huge hassle during turns.

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