Ten years ago I gave up surfing. At the time I was only able to get into the water occasionally and I wasn’t paddling well. I recall being in the water at Fort Point, under the Golden Gate Bridge. I had a hard time getting into the lineup and jockeying for position. I was not in good condition at all, and figured that at the age of 35 I should forget about surfing. I was simply too old. I had my fun in the past, I was ready to start a family with my wife, get my MBA and concentrate on a career.
A lot has happened since then and now. Fast forward to last week when I paddled out at Fort Point. It was the first time since that floundering effort late last century. I’m about 20 pounds lighter now, at a weight and waistline I haven’t seen since college and in very good physical condition. I paddled into plenty of waves over a 90 minute stretch and could have surfed longer if I didn’t have an appointment. I also caught one of the most exciting waves of my life. It was an extraordinary tube ride, completely covered up, clean, in and out barrel right in front of the rocks on the inside. A week later I’m still high from the ride.
How did I get here? Why am I in such good shape and back in the water? A lot of it has to do with my eight year old Skylee joining the swim team this year. Each day I dropped her off I would watch the skate rats doing tricks on their boards at the Rec Center where she swam. I recalled my own skating days and how much fun it was. So I bought a board on CL for $25 and started hitting the streets, slowly at first. After several hours of baby stepping I started cutting loose.
Predictably I ended up falling hard and my right, good shoulder ended up sub-luxating, that is the medical term for partially dislocating. It was an agonizing 30 minutes before I was able to work it back into place. That probably should have stopped me, but instead it only added fuel to my smoldering fire. I still had to drop Skylee off and watch the skaters, so I got back on my board, only this time more conservatively, and I took up a weight training regime designed to keep my shoulders in place.
Not content merely to skate made a goal to get back into the water. I really wasn’t sure if I could do it, but I put it out there in my mind. Throughout the spring and summer of this year I worked out several times a day: wind sprints, calisthenics, and lots of biking filled my free time. There were days I exercised as many as six different times. I was possessed. I quit drinking and dropped from my just married weight of 176 pounds at the age of 30 to my freshman year in college weight, between 160-165 pounds where my weight fluctuates today. I never really had a problem drinking or stopping drinking, but the alcohol had added at least five pounds to my body weight.
A few years ago I was drinking with my boss at his house with some fellow Realtors. He showed me a picture of him rowing at the Crew Classic down in San Diego’s Mission Bay back when he was in college. He weighed 190 pounds at the time and said he’d never be that weight again or that he’d never be in that type of shape again. I thought the same thing about my own weight and condition. How does one turn back the hands of time? How did I?
When I was a small boy playing Pop Warner Football I remembered being in exceptional shape. I remembered summers where I would play two and three sports a day. I remembered whole days skating the hills of my home town. I remembered getting in shape as a senior in high school to make our defending national championship rugby team so I could accompany them on a tour to Australia: not necessarily to play rugby in Australia but to surf while there. I remembered my past, and made it become my present by pushing my body to its limits once again.
Right now the surf is going off at San Francisco’s Ocean Beach. It’s a classic fall day, outside I’m watching leaves fall off our backyard tree and literally blow in the offshore direction, perfect for surf conditions. I was going to wait until tomorrow to surf, but what the heck. I don’t live for tomorrow. My past is now my present. My business is in order, and I can make the time in my schedule to surf. I do what I want with my life and my time. So what would you do if you were me? Would you work on what is a fine Monday in fall of 2009 and put off your surf session until tomorrow? Would you just do some conditioning work instead?
It’s like the end of Cat in the Hat, what would you do if your mother asked you? My time is now, and I’m going surfing.
Andy Falk is a father of two incredible daughters ages born in 2001 & 2003, Skylee
and Sabrina. Andy is very active in the lives of his daughters, from coaching soccer to supporting them during swimming season to just plain doing homework or hanging out. Andy also surfs regularly, bicycle commutes and is a successful Realtor in Marin County, CA. Andy earned his MBA from San Francisco State University with an Internet Marketing concentration, and holds a BA from the University of California at San Diego where he studied and surfed in the 80’s.