Aspen Princess: If you can’t take the heat, get into the water | AspenTimes.com

Aspen Princess: If you can’t take the heat, get into the water

Alison Berkley Margo
Aspen Princess

Ah, summer: that wonderful time of year when I am forced to wear revealing clothes that might not be all that flattering and participate in water sports, especially now that I live nine miles away from a reservoir.

Yes, it’s true, I dedicated a good part of my 20s to learning to surf, working for a surf magazine and traveling the world with scary pro surfer chicks who did not bother to hide their disdain for the spoiled snowboarder chick who was sent to cover their sport despite her lack of skills and experience. I don’t blame them. It’s just that surfer girls who also happened to be journalists were in short supply at the time.

My boss at Surfer magazine put it like this: “You got the job by default. There were no other candidates.”

So I was thrown into the deep end, so to speak, scratching like a cat on a hot tin roof in waters that were way over my head.

But I was never a water baby.

And I’m not really a summer person, or a lover of warm weather. Yes, it’s also true I spend half my life in a hot yoga studio, but therein lies another one of my inherent contradictions. Truth be told, the best part of a hot yoga class is that first burst of fresh air you feel when you walk out of the room at the end of a hard, sweaty class. Or if you’re lucky enough to practice in Basalt, that quick dip in the river which always feels profound, like a baptism.

At any rate, I am built like a penguin with short arms and legs and a thick body. I am built for cold. I am not, by contrast, built for heat.

For starters, I have never been best friends with bathing suits, even when I had the body for it. My summer look is comprised of cropped leggings and longish loose fitting tank tops with an empire waist and platform flip-flops. At this stage in my life, I know how to flaunt my best assets and hide the rest — a practical alternative to juice cleanses and a psychotic fitness regime.

Winter is easy — a hat with a fur pompom is all I need to top my look, so to speak, and on snow is where I’m happiest. There’s nothing that feels better to me than wind-blown cheeks and the pinch of my lungs when I inhale cold air.

On the contrary, I’m not a huge fan of sweaty thighs, dusty feet and scaly, dry skin. Plus, now that I decided to have a baby in my mid-40s, I would say the ol’ bathing suit and I are more like enemies. I can’t really sport a bikini because of the muffin top and the bagel belly that have sort of melded together to form something more like a full loaf of bread. My belly button has become so recessed it would function well as a pen holder. I have tried different varieties of the two piece, hot shorts and halter tops and tankinis, but that extra weight always finds a way to ooze out somewhere, like toothpaste from a crinkled tube.

You would think a one piece would be a good and obvious alternative, especially if I am going to go down the road of bad mom clothes, but no. All that does is somehow accentuate how short and round my torso is, so I look like an apple with legs.

I finally settled for a tankini I bought at Target, solid blue bottoms and a striped strapless top that is a little loose. It’s fine for the Basalt pool, but not exactly functional for my dreaded turn behind the boat.

Outfit aside, last summer I tried to wakesurf and could not for the life of me get up to my feet — and it was not for lack of trying. I let myself get dragged around the lake by that damn boat about a dozen times before I finally gave up. Not only was I frustrated, I couldn’t walk for a week after blowing out both my hamstrings.

So when Ryan suggested I take a turn at the knee board, an easier alternative to the trickier takeoff a wake surf, I balked.

“I really don’t want to hurt myself again,” I said, feeling about 90 years old.

Lately it seems like every time I get into peak fitness, I hurt myself and end up benched so the whole process starts all over again. As soon as my shoulder healed from an early-season snowboarding accident, I developed tendinitis so wicked I can’t sleep because of the pain deep inside my knee. I admit it probably wasn’t a good idea to carry the baby up Arbaney Kittle every day, but there you have it.

Somehow my competitive side still won and I decided I’d rather try knee boarding than lose sleep over a missed opportunity. I put on a full wetsuit that I’m pretty sure was made for a man, and did not despair when it kind of fit — at least nothing was hanging out.

It took a few tries, but finally I was up. Sure, I was on my knees, but at least I was getting the hang of being pulled by the boat. I started to maneuver the board and figure out how to make it turn right and turn left. Finally, I got the courage to go over the wake and that’s when I found it: the wave.

The drop was almost as good as surfing in the ocean. With the glassy waters of the early evening, I was able to ride that wave (albeit on my knees) until my arms gave out, which they eventually did.

I can’t wait to go out there again and try to get to my feet. Now I just have to find something to wear.

The Princess plans to go on a diet soon. Email your love to alisonamargo@gmail.com.


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