I purchased you at Sports Authority's end of season sale just a few months ago. I think that you may be last year's Burton "Secret" model, or maybe even the year's before. But that doesn't matter one bit to me. When it comes to snowboards, I'm not picky. I've been told by a few people with knowledge of the sport and it's equipment that you are quite nice. You do have a cute pink and white pattern, and Dean made sure you fit me properly before we bought you. That's good enough for me. You could say that we've bonded during our few times on the hill this past season, I think. We're starting to build a relationship of sorts.
If someone told me six months ago that I would be purchasing you, I would have called them crazy at best (or had them committed at worst). Dean has been a snowboarding fool for well over 10 years now, and it had never been something that I was interested in. But when we were looking for a place to go to escape our furniture-bare New Jersey apartment while waiting for the movers to arrive, Dean found out there was a mountain (and corresponding resort) just a couple of hours away, so we were off.
When in Rome, as they say, so I took a lesson on our first day out. I rented a snowboard (although it wasn't half as good as you are) and got a few tips from the sweet young girl who was the instructor of our group. And you know, I didn't do too badly, definitely not the worst of the bunch. "You just need to build your confidence" was my instructor's advice. That evening, Dean and I were sitting in a bar on the resort, having a drink and some snacks and enjoying each others company at the start of so many changes. Sitting there in my snow pants with my feet up, I was surrounded by a snowboarding culture that made me feel much cooler than my 30-odd year old self actually is. One of the staff got up and did a karaoke version of the Talking Head's "Psycho Killer", which we had heard a lot since we had been playing Rock Band on the PS3 during our drive, and it cracked me up. I have the song on my ipod now, and every time I hear it, it still makes me chuckle.
Let me let you in on something - riding you down a hill is not an easy feat, no matter how mush of a breeze those Olympians make it look. Well, the I guess it is not the actual boarding that gets a body as much as the falling. The morning following that first day, I was stiff as a board and black and blue from head to toe. But no broken bones or serious injuries, and some progress on the slopes. It was a start, and something to build on in the coming weeks, when we would drive to one of the two closer mountains for a day trip for Dean to board and me to "practice". After a couple of rentals, Dean and I decided that it was time for me to have my very own board. That's when you arrived on the scene.
But oh my, those first few times were hard, and not just in a "stiff and sore" kind of way. My breathing was just awful, I was huffing and puffing and exhausted from the little bit of activity that it took me to carry you to the hill and strap you on, especially when wearing all that warm winter clothing that had me looking like the stay puff marshmallow man. I was just mentally coming out on the other side of a really hard couple of years, which were filled with poor food choices and inactivity (and the weight gain that follows such bad habits), but you highlighted just how bad my respiratory system had gotten.
You really opened my eyes to the poor state of my own health, which is such a gift to me now. It was there on the hill that I knew I needed to make becoming fit (or fitter, I guess) a priority, that I decided that I could no longer use my diagnosis of sarcoidosis and the resulting partially collapsed lung as an excuse for my poor breathing. Perhaps it would require a little more work and some extra caution, but I needed to improve. If I was going to learn to ride you down the hill with any measure of skill or grace, I needed to develop better core strength, better lungs, a healthier weight. So I started off with baby steps - the elliptical machine at the gym, smarter food choices. You were my motivation to begin.
After that last trip to Mountain Creek in early March with our visitors, you were put away for the spring and summer. But I've been working hard and continuing to make lots of positive changes since then. Now I'm hitting the gym for cardiovascular work, bike riding, swimming, yoga. I recently started strength training with Dean, (who has been making some wonderful lifestyle changes himself) including the dreaded medicine ball circuit that he has us do. And boy am I feeling better: breathing better, less aches and pains, more energy, sleeping better. I've even lost a couple of pounds (though I still have a long way to go in that department). I'm feeling more like myself than I have in ages. Now when I walk the dog on the same route as always, I am dragging him along. This is no mean feat, as the poor pooch is 10+ years old, but it makes me feel good to get up the few hills in the neighborhood with a nice, even breath.
From the time I was just a wee bitty thing, I've always been known as "the smart one" or "the bookworm", and never felt physical activity was something I was remotely good at. In fact, I'm known as more of a clumsy, physically graceless sort. I had convinced myself that I was just not the athletic type. Now, I know that I wouldn't win any races and I won't be trying out for any Olympic teams for the 2014 games. But these days, when a physical challenge is in front of me - whether it be swimming a lap at the pool or holding a yoga pose - or even just as I am going about my day, I feel strong and capable. Most importantly, I have begun seeing a respirologist who believes that my lung capacity is good enough to begin weaning off the steroids I have been taking for the last 5 years. What an accomplishment it would be for me to be medication free.
And when I have those occasional unmotivated days when I'd like to hang on the sofa in my pj's, eat pizza and chocolate and watch Tivo'ed episodes of "24", I think of you sitting cozily in the storage locker, patiently awaiting next season. I picture myself riding you down the hill breathing easy, with the core strength and balance to make it look, if not easy, at least not a terrible struggle. Perhaps with a wee bit of grace. Then I get up and go for a walk or a swim.
So thank-you little snowboard. You were that first push I needed to move forward towards a healthier lifestyle, and you continue to motivate me still.
P.S. Do you think that if you notice us zooming out of control towards a sharp downward slope which leads to the chair lift operation shack next year, you could steer us away from it? Because when we fell down that hole and hit the shack last year, it was quite embarrassing.