surf session #38: all-time and a tribute to Praxis Fitness, without whom it would not have happened

So a few years ago, I started working out at Praxis Fitness. Partly to lose some weight that annoyed me and mostly to get stronger for surfing. Well, I lost some weight and my paddling improved, so I kept going. Last week, my gym habit paid off big.

The inn stood across from a surf spot and I needed to get in the water. The waves broke small and junky, but these were desperate times. I booked across the street to check more closely. This kid with a surfboard and a thousand-mile stare broke his reverie to glance at me. He grinned hello.

“Hi! Are you going out?” I asked.

“Yeah, but I’m looking over there,” he answered.

“Over where?” I said.

“To <redacted>.”

“All the way over there?” I asked, trying to discern whatever it was he was seeing in the distance.


I scooted back to the inn, donned my wetsuit, grabbed the borrowed board and trotted back to the overlook. There he was, a speck in the water, heading south. I could either follow him into some kind of adventure or stay and surf the small, junky waves where I was.

I paddled after him.

And paddled.

And paddled.

At some point the realization that I was paddling way far from shore at a rivermouth near the beginning of fall during a really good fishing season troubled me. But just for a moment. Committed, I kept going. I was committed.

The kelp startled me, scary heads popping up next to me, and tangling around my leash. I stretched hand-over-hand, pulled myself out of it and continued on.

I wondered if I’d be too tired to actually surf when/if I ever reached the break.

And then I arrived.

Did the kelp continue to creep me out? Yes.

Could it have been more glassy? No.

“You paddled over!” the kid exclaimed. He was a perfect surf partner, friendly but not overly chatty. We swapped smiles when a particularly good set rolled through.

Overhead A-frames. Steep, sloping peak. Rights. Lefts. Perfectly peeling. I worried I’d be too worn out to get into the waves, but I made every drop. Some sort of magic graced me.

At some point, a third person joined us. I surfed until the incoming tide mushed out the waves. Knowing I had a long paddle back, I called it and set off through the kelp once again. I’d take100 strokes, then rest. Repeat. I watched the cliffs pass by. I made it to shore. No one on the beach noticed my amazing return. I tucked the board under my arm and clambered up the trail.

Later, I Googlemapped the distance between one spot and the other. Seven-tenths of a mile, one-way. Accounting for the kelp detour, I’m confident the round-trip paddle was at least a mile and a half. Could I have done this pre-Praxis? No. Do I love my gym? Yes. So pleased with my little adventure.

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