Heading “Home”

I haven’t been to Manhattan Beach all summer, not that that’s a big loss or I haven’t been busy with other things.  If I don’t get out on the water sailing once a week, it’s twice.  MB seems like it’s not “my town” anymore.  I see all the FB pictures of people still looking awesome in bikini’s in their 50’s. The one thing I wish I hadn’t missed is the English Beat, that would have been fun!  I might have been creepy Heller showing up by myself.

I head down today w/ my new electric folding bike, a Pedego.  There are a few hills I avoid or walk my bike up when I’m down there, be nice for that jump start up the hills.  When you fold it up, it kinda looks like a wheelchair?  The cover of the brochure looks like a senior citizen demographic (which is me?).  I’m still fully capable of riding a bike!!  I rode it without the battery about half way home from the store and then tried it out when I got to some hills to get used to it.

There are two places I could use the bump start, those beach hills and getting up to the Golden Gate Bridge.  When I was a teen I had a moped to park at the beach to avoid parking.  Uber has been convenient getting around, the extra traffic is very noticeable now.   I have a love/hate with Uber, it’s starting to remind me of the traffic and cab drivers in Ciaro – they drive like crap.

The other great thing about it is it’s a folding bike, it can go in the boat or plane for transportation when I get someplace.  The hard part is, I can’t lift  it.  I did it at the store and felt it for 2 days afterward.  That part of getting older is really hard for me, I used to be so strong.  When I dock, pull the plane out, now with the bike I always need help.  Because I’m older too, it’s not like I’m the hot girl asking for help.  Last week I was waiting for someone to walk by to help me getting the boat out and a guy said, “Sorry, I’m in a hurry and can’t help.”  Late to sail?  There’s really no such thing.  I told him I didn’t need help and waited for anyone else helpful to walk by.  I got Cap’t Ron with a cig hanging out of his mouth, still better than banging the boat into the side of the dock.

Excited to just dive in the water again, can’t do that here it’s too cold.  It’s weird, lately when I do things it really reminds me of being a kid.  That fog yesterday while we were sailing with sort of choppy waters always reminds me of going out on boats when I was in grade school.  Going in the water in MB reminds me of heading down for a dip after school that was a few blocks from the beach.  Nice to relive some good memories, now I can finally ride my bike up that beach hill!!

 

I used to be Heller

Aging is a humbling experience, you feel the same and yet your body and mind is telling you that’s not the case.  When I turned 50, I gained 10 pounds that have never gone away no matter what I do.  I’ve rowed, ran, swam, rode my bike, eaten only salads yet it is stuck there.  In a way, I finally have a woman’s body instead of the bikini bod I got to have for almost 50 years (you’d think I’d be grateful?).  Instead of throwing on a pair of shorts and seeing muscle I used to see, I see elephant knees.

As much as I love the beach and really am grateful I got to grow up in a beach town, moving to NorCal saved my skin.  Never one to just sit around and lay out for a tan anyway, my life was the beach.  In my teens, I would roller skate that mile to the beach every day to play volleyball and swim.  If I laid out, it was to read a book or to dry off.  As a kid, I’d ride my bike with $1 for lunch tucked in the corner of my towel for Zeppy’s pizza.

All this was coming to me on my swim yesterday, where a woman was in the lane next to me with her teenage daughter…smoking me in laps.  It’s not like I’m fast at anything, there are times I just want to cry at what I used to be.  I’m fast and in shape for my age?? I remember going in for my physical at 50 where the nurse said, “You’re 50 years young?” like I was 100.

It’s one thing to have the physical decline, barely able to pull myself out of the pool.  Twice my legs have gone out from underneath me, once getting on the boat and another time where my cousin & I were jumping off a small stage while we were dancing.  I paid for that for months afterward, it was worth it.  That’s excluding the fact I’ve been injured almost all year with broken ribs (from surfing)/bad back knocking me out for 6 mos.  Lucky I’m able to even attempt to get back in shape at all.

One of the hardest things is my memory recall.  This weekend is the 6-man volleyball tournament in Manhattan Beach I was considering going to.  Besides the elephant knees & extra weight, I look similar to how I did growing up and people recognize me.  Since I haven’t lived there for a long time, if I see someone I recognize I immediately say, “I’m Heller” to take that awkward moment of scrambling for a name out of the equation.

Obviously, people don’t have the same memory loss I do while I look at a face I haven’t seen for 20 years to try and recall a name.   It’s worse when they’re drunk with a hat and sunglasses, I had 2 guys come up to me at the last Hometown Fair I went to and were pissed I couldn’t recall their names.  One of them, for the life of me, I don’t remember at all even when he told me what his name was.

My memory used to be spot on, now I might as well be standing in front of someone peeing my pants is how humiliated I feel when put on the spot.

There was a guy at the golf course who had the same car I did.  When it was time for a smog, mine wouldn’t pass without going to a rescue smog because of a computer glitch.  The next time I saw him, I told him about it and he looked at me totally blank like he had no idea what I was talking about.  A few months later, he asked me to look up his handicap and told me he had alzheimers.  I watched his decline, finally coming out with a nurse so he could still play until he passed away.  His handicap was a 10, even with alzheimers.  A woman who guided his alzheimers group came in and wondered about bringing some of the group to play and I told her that he was really good, not your average golfer.

I think about him as I age, not that I’m anywhere near that right now.  I do skip a beat from time to time, like if someone asks what I did last weekend I’d really have to think about it instead of automatically recalling.  The physical is still automatic, similar to that guy playing golf.  Still, it’s declining probably proportional to my age which makes going to my hometown events almost painful.  That, and I’m genetically screwed in the memory department.

Tapering

It’s embarrassing how much Garmin stuff I have, tracking my every move.  The newest is a marine watch that supposedly links to my auto pilot on the boat that also has a heart rate monitor.  Wow does Garmin have all my info!  When Apple came out with the watch, I was convinced the HRM on that would notify Facebook when you died and post a little montage of your life.  That still could be true, there’s no doubt they’re collecting data for the future while we’re paying for them to have it.

It’s totally worth it though, I love this stuff!  My back has been a lot better, I can still feel it and am trying to be careful.  I started swimming and riding my bike again.  I’m not a cyclist, I have a gorgeous touring bike I haven’t been able to ride because of my back.

This Garmin is giving me all my swimming stats, for being down for almost a year I’m still in pretty decent shape.  My Vo2 (whatever that is) is for a 30 year old.  Without training too much, the speed’s not too bad either.  Not like I EVER want to compete again, just nice to know.

Every time I think of joining masters swim again I think of my experience in my 40’s when I swam.  There were two women in the pool who were faster than me, one who’s daughter now swims for USC.  This one woman gave me a birthday card for my 40th saying, “You’re faster than you think you are.”  It’s hard for me to tell, Walnut Creek is to swimming as Manhattan Beach is to volleyball (as Marin is to rowing, I rowed there for a few years).  A friend of mine has a daughter that played VB in college close by.  He was in the olympics for VB when I started rowing and found out Marin was a top rowing club.  I said, “I grow up in MB that’s #1 in VB, move to WC and join a masters program where it’s #1 for swimming, then join Marin rowing.  Where can I live where I’m #1?”  I’m sure he couldn’t relate, it was still fun to complain to a former olympian while watching his daughter’s match.

The incident that ended my swimming hopes and made me feel 12 years old was due to a parent race at one of my kids swim meets when they were little.  We had morning masters before the kids practices, I was asked to be on the A team for the parents race.  This was a “for fun” race, not going in any record books.  It was a 4 person relay, as soon as one person touches the wall the next one goes off the blocks for 25meters.  I can make it across a pool taking maybe one breath, top of my game.

Minutes before the race, a few women decided that they wanted to race too, a B team was put together last minute…and I mean last minute.  Suddenly, there were 8 of us walking up to the blocks when our heat was called.  To my horror, one of my “teammates” switched me up AS WE WERE WALKING TO THE BLOCKS.  I guess one of the last minute swimmers was a known triathlete, so I got bumped back.  This happened to me once before, in 7th grade when I called a VB game and when it came to our match my partner said she wanted to win and booted me for someone else.  I’ve hated both of them ever since.

The A team got 1st (of course), my B team got 2nd.  You all remember the City meet of 2003?  Yeah, thought so.  I do have a few gold medals for rowing, even that was mental torture of who gets what seat and what position was the “best.”  I was told my seat was for the lamest rower, I was 4th seat, apparently along for the ride?

At 55, just glad my back is feeling good enough to hop in and out of the pool.  Lifting a boat to put in the water hurts just thinking about it, same with golf.  I have many o’ competing in golf story as well.  My competing days are over, it’s all about getting to my golden years on my own 2 feet.  I’m closer to that than being 12, or even 40 now.

Great.