miscellaneous

everything else

Skateboard

FootBoard

I recently bought my first skateboard. I’ve always wanted one, but always found excuses for not getting one, as in “I won’t be able to do it,” “I don’t have the time to do it,” and “I’m too old for that sort of thing.”

Excuses don’t cut it anymore. In the end, I figured it was time to learn some new skills, so I took the plunge.

I’d really wanted a longboard, as I think they’re the most beautiful type of skateboard. But I was convinced by two of the staff at Zumiez, a local board shop, that a shorter, lighter, and wider board would be better. So I ended up with a Z Flex Street Rocket.

Street Rocket

The Street Rocket is described on the manufacturer’s site as “Low to the ground and built for speed, the Street Rocket has been the go to board from the ages… Quality, speed, and durability will take you back to the beginning where originality was everything.” (I love the way skateboarders talk.) I also bought a helmet and some cheap Converse sneaker knockoffs to go with the board.

So far, I’ve only had a couple of sessions on the board, on my driveway and on the street beyond it. It’s a scary experience – like slathering your feet with vaseline and stepping onto a sheet of ice. But it’ll come, I’m sure. Next step is to head over to the local schoolyard, where there’s more flat asphalt and no traffic. Eventually, I hope to try out the city’s skateboard park, which is highly-rated among local skateboarders.

As it turns out, my fondness for concrete and my new interest in photography has played out nicely in getting a bunch of images from the local city skatepark.

Skateboard bowl

By the way, the image at the top of the post is a hope for the future. To date, I’ve only seen one person riding barefoot on a skateboard – a tall, young guy on a longboard moving effortlessly along a neighbourhood street. Don’t know if I’ll ever get there – but I’m certainly going to try!

Birthday!

1948 Limited Edition

Today’s my birthday. I’m now 66 years old.

Funnily enough, that doesn’t seem old. I’m aware of having lived for a (relatively) long time, but that’s not the same as feeling old. I’ve been through adventures and misadventures, good and bad health, smart moves and some very dumb ones, and I’ve got the scars (physical and psychological) to show for the journey. For all the ups and downs, though, I’ve ended up in a good space. I’m a happy man.

All in all, it seems to me that 66 is a nice number. What surprises me is how much I’m looking forward to 70. :-)

Hipaversary

X-ray, left hip

Nine years ago today, I was run over by a truck while cycling. Somebody called an ambulance, and I was taken away for emergency surgery. The result was that I had some stainless steel grafted into my femur. (Click on the above image to see it in all its detailed glory.) I think of it as my “hardware upgrade.”

The follow-up to the surgery was 14 months of intensive physiotherapy. That brought me to what my physiotherapist called “functional” movement. Getting to “dynamic” movement took a good while longer. But it was the beginning of my return – after an absence of thirty years – to running. So, in the end, it’s a happy story, because it’s brought me to where I am today.

Six days from today, I’m going to run a 50K trail race. Life is good.

Barefoot Running UK

Barefoot Running UK April 2014

The latest issue of Barefoot Running UK is available online here.

I can’t recommend this publication highly enough. If you’re at all interested in barefoot and/or minimalist running, movement and sports therapy, product reviews, this is a must read. If you’re still struggling along in foot coffins, well, this just might be the nudge you need.

Changes

What a difference a few years – and a lot of running – can make.

Niagara 50K 2009

Run4RKids 6 Hour 2014

The photo on the left was taken at the start of the Niagara 50K Ultra in June 2009. I’d come back to running in late 2008. Ran a half marathon in February 2009, DNFed in my first “return to glory” marathon in May 2009, and then decided I’d give the ultra a try. The photo on the right was taken about four hours into my first 6 hour ultra, in early January 2014. I’m 30 lbs. lighter than I was in 2009, a much better runner, and a much happier, healthier guy.

I love changes!

SportTracks Ambassador!

SportTracks logo I’m pleased to announce that I’m now a SportTracks Ambassador. I started using SportTracks about six months ago, and immediately found it to be a valuable tool for tracking and analyzing my running data. I’m now in a position to represent SportTracks to my local running community, and to encourage others runners to use it.

What is SportTracks?

SportTracks recognizes that, while athletes are recording more data than ever, this rapid accumulation of data can be overwhelming. SportTracks offers a good way to use the data to reflect and plan. It allows users to log workouts and provides detailed analytics.

The flagship of the SportTracks platform is SportTracks 3, a Windows application that’s been in development since 2006. ST3 has been translated into 22 languages, enjoys strong international (multi-language) support, and offers an impressive library of plugins.

SportTracks.mobi is the newest product on offer. It’s a mobile-friendly website with greater social interaction and an updated design. Users can easily share workouts with their friends, while still enjoying the “bells and whistles” aspects of SportTracks technical analysis.

SportTracks 3 and SportTracks.mobi are designed to work together through CloudSync. This service ensures that users can enjoy both the heavier analysis of ST3 and the convenience of accessing their data on their cloud-connected devices. (I use the SportTracks.mobi app on my Samsnug Galaxy tablet.)

As an ambassador, I’ll be a community liaison for SportTracks and will assist in local promotional events. I’ll also have some annual SportTracks.mobi subscriptions (each valued at US$35) to give away. Stay tuned for more news about that!

The Sound of Music

No, not that Sound of Music. A different one. My sound of music.

Yurbuds Inspire earphones

I’ve written previously about having Asperger’s Syndrome. It manifests differently for different Aspies, but for me a very large part of it is an extreme sensitivity to sensory input. Put simply, sometimes the world is just too bright and too noisy for me to bear. What would seem to others ordinary levels of sound and movement can make me retreat very far inside myself, and sometimes precipitate a complete meltdown. It’s not pretty, trust me.

About eight years ago, I stopped listening to music completely. That’s hard to do in our society (think, for example, of the music that’s constantly played in stores and other public places), but being in silence has kept me (mostly) sane, balanced, and happy.

All of that changed recently. For the past four months, I’ve been seeing a naturopathic doctor, who’s been treating me with homeopathic remedies for physical health issues around my thryoid and prostate. They’ve been remarkably effective, to the point where I’ve gone from being a complete skeptic to being a strong believer. But that’s another story…

Of course, I told my doctor that I have Asperger’s. Part of his treatment has been making it easier to deal with. To this point in my life, I’ve coped by doing what most adults with Asperger’s do, that is, condition myself to deal with crowds, noise, and busyness as best I can, and move away from them when I have to. Suddenly, things are different. I find that I can function better in social situations. I can tolerate multiple sources and levels of sound without going nuts. I’m not as rattled by, or fearful of, crowds. And I can listen to music again.

I got back to it gently, exploring YouTube for tunes I knew, then trying out new sounds. The link between the two was Terry Riley’s 1969 album A Rainbow in Curved Air, a pioneering piece of minimialist/experimental music and a favourite from my formative years. That led me to the ambient works of Brian Eno.

To celebrate all this good stuff, my wife gave me an iPod Shuffle, a pair of Yurbuds Inspire earphones, and an iTunes gift card for Christmas. (The buds are pictured in the photo at the top of this post.) That may seem like small stuff to you, but it’s monumental for me. I now have a very listenable playlist on the iPod of works by Riley and Eno that totals 6 hours and 42 minutes of listening groove.

So far, I’ve only used the iPod while running. A few times while at the indoor track at my local YMCA, and for the entirety of the 6 Hour track ultra I did a little over a week ago. The iPod, the Yurbuds and the playlist were perfect for the ultra. I wanted to complement my physical preparedness with something that would help me realize the attentiveness and mindfulness that would support running for six hours around a 200m track. It worked a charm.

I’ve turned another huge corner in my life. Psychologically, mentally, and perhaps even cognitively, I’m ahead of where I was before. That’s always a good thing. And I continue to discover new music. The latest is the work of drone-based ambient duo Stars of the Lid. They’re about to go on my playlist.