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Surfing with a Young Mind Old Body

This Mark again. I have been surfing since I was twelve years old, so in my mind, I have been surfing for forty-three years. I went surfing for the first time in Costa Rica on Saturday (July 15, 2023).


A big part of us deciding to live in the Central Pacific Coast of Costa Rica is the epic surf. It has many different types of surf breaks (point break and sandbar). It has been a dream of mine to surf every day. Now I can. Great, right? Except for the fact that I am old and out of shape. I went surfing for the first time in Costa Rica.


We went to Matapalo beach which is a 10-minute drive from our house. We went at high tide, which means the waves were a little farther out which means more paddling. The waves were two to four feet high and slow forming which made them decent shape for riding. There were two sets of waves. The larger waves were breaking outside and the smaller waves are a reformation of the first wave between the beach and the outer break. I was very excited!




I strapped on my leash and went to paddle out to the waves. Young mind and old body resulted in me paddling and paddling trying to get out to past the breakers. I told myself, I am not going to waste my time on the smaller secondary reformed waves! I can get to the nicer outside waves. After what seemed like thirty minutes (actually ten at most) of paddling and having wave after wave smash into me and push me back my arms felt like led weights and my lungs were on fire. I am not a stubborn person (well, you might have to ask Christine), I was just determined to catch a decent wave, so I kept paddling.

I caught my first wave, yeah! It was a left. This means I was riding backside, not my strong suit, but I had no choice as this wave fell into my lap. It was a relatively short ride, but I felt satisfied.


Again, not stubborn, I decided to paddle back out and catch more waves. After what seemed like another 30 minutes (maybe five this time) of paddling and trying to get oxygen into my lungs, I caught another left. This time I rode it a little longer and was happy while trying to catch my breath. I was now halfway between shore and the breakers and had to decide what to do. Paddle out some more or head into the beach.


My survival instinct took over and instructed me to go to the beach. I rode some whitewater to shore and then attempted to pick up my board so I could care it to the car. However, my body rebelled. I picked up the front of my board and dragged the back half on the beach. My arms, shoulders, lats had nothing left in them. My body hurt and was jello at the same time.


Christine met me at the water’s edge. She asked how it was and I thought I answered her, but apparently, I was so out of breath I made some incomprehensible sounds. I know for sure that I said, “I am just trying to breath.” According to Christine, I pointed to the right.

We started walking down the beach in the direction I thought the car was parked. Christine assumed I wanted to surf more further down the beach in the direction I pointed. I finally asked where the car was parked and Christine pointed in the opposite direction. I know I let out an audible sigh thinking to myself that all I want to do is get air in my lungs. According to Christine, the face I made was horror-desperation-despair. Christine offered to carry my board and was so exhausted that I let her. I was amazed that she was able to carry my board without dragging it and was not out of breath.


After what seemed like a decent walk, we finally made it back to the car. It took me about 15 more minutes of just standing on the beach for me to mostly catch my breath. I could not lift my arms above my chest as they were too weak.


We then thought it would be a good idea to go for a 45-minute walk down the beach while I continued to try and catch my breath. While I spent most of my energy catching my breath, the beach was spectacular!


We made it back to the car, loaded the surfboard back on the roof of the car (given how weak my upper body was I don’t know how I did it) and drove home. That night and the next day were special. Everything from my chest up was either sore or in a little pain. For the next few days, I could not raise my arms over my shoulders without pain or soreness. It has now been three days and while I am still a little sore, I have mostly recovered.

I look forward to getting back out there.


Pura Vida!


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Owen Levin
Owen Levin
Jul 20, 2023

You got this dad!

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Save some waves for me!

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