Thank you. The end and Begining of Something Special..

The journey is “over”.

Three months ago I hung up my shoes and headed to Nicaragua to reflect. I’ve been back for over a month and I’m still reflecting. In some ways it feels anti climactic to come away from all of this with no answers, but I think that in itself was the exact meaning I was looking for. Life isn’t about finding a specific answer, or living by a set of rules. If we’re lucky we’re always asking new questions, uprooting new stones and continually taking new steps forward. Life lies in the efforts we make along the way. Our victories and failures are just new starting points. The experiences I had, the people I met and every single piece of support I got along the way continue to shape me in ways I could never express my graditude towards properly. For anyone reading this, I want to thankyou with everything I have in me for deciding to take part in this…even it for just a moment.

Happiness really is best when its shared.

I’ll leave you with the poem I wrote and read at an open mic as one of my last goals. It embodies a lot of my reasons for deciding to do this in the first place. Beneath it is my final video. I hope you enjoy.

Forgotten are the Trees we climbed.
 

Forgotten are the trees we used to climb. Our unquenchable thirst for uncovering stones has fallen to our feet leaving shadow where once we created light.

No longer do our window sills beckon for Peter Pan and Never Land is never more.

Tree forts give way to high rise apartments while swings weep silently, weightless in the breeze.

Hills are now obstacles to be climbed rather than rolled down, and puddles a nuisance instead of an impromptu pool party.

I never set out to be this ordinary.

The scope of our existence is tied to our spirit which in turn is directly linked to our day to day experiences.

How can one expect to tug on Super Mans cape if their insights keep them weighted to the ground?

I used to dream free of restrictions. My imagination was part of my world, not a separate identity. My only limits being an imaginary borderline keeping me safe within my neighbourhood.

Within a few city blocks my adventures were real and uncompromised. I waged war on dragons, built and re built a thousand castles and climbed to the highest peaks of the playground to survey my Kingdom below. In the span of a few city blocks I had it all.

Time however slips away quickly and as the world opens up around you, suddenly the ability to capture its potential narrows.

Peter Pan and the Lost Boys fly away. Sleeping Beauty falls back into slumber, Robin Hood disappears into the forest and the Teddy Bears pack up their picnic.

And all we can do is wave and say goodbye.

Adventure becomes a television screen or a foggy weekend hangover. The alarm clock is no longer the sun, bedtime no longer the stars and simple pleasures are suddenly not so simple anymore.

But who decides this to be steady truth?

I never set out to be ordinary; in fact I never set out to be anything other than who I was in the moment.

My life was based on the quality of my adventures. Free of burden I painted the world with brush strokes of creativity.

My future was directly tied to my present and my past was just that.

Never land may be never more and my soul may be tarnished, but life is still out there in its purest form for the taking.

The apparent freedom of unbridled ambitions is hidden beneath the stones now seemingly too mighty to move.

But within our strength of spirit and dormant imagination lies the lever to shed new light where darkness once loomed.

Shrouded in unfamiliarity it takes a wide eye and a settled mind to focus our altered perceptions of our limitations.

Look closely, all is not lost.

Within the joy of honest laughter we can reclaim our forgotten smiles and begin to shout at the top of our lungs just for the feel of it. We can cry tears of happiness and sorrow and never be afraid our emotions.

Remind yourself why we decide to love by holding hands a little tighter. Let yourself feel the warmth and rejoice in its embrace.

Ecstasy in life never reveals itself in moments of solitude. It is a shared experience free of expectations and hind sights.

Reclaim your innocence even for a moment and just let go.

Go home and build a fort out of cushions and hide under the kitchen table. Run with your chin way up in the air and somersault down the hillside. Jump in the biggest puddle you can find and then, if all else fails remember there is always a tree waiting to be climbed.

By – Scott MacKinnon

Stepping up to the Mic. (Poetry Reading!)

Wow, its been a rough two weeks. It hasn’t been easy conceding to the fact that when I finally decided on a finishing date, that I wasn’t able to get everything in. Injuring my shoulder amongst other personal hurdles stopped me dead in my tracks for a moment. In some ways it was fitting. The emotions that over took me last week were unexpected, but they confirmed that I had given it my all and could move forward confident in that. My date may be past and gone, but my drive to finish hasn’t changed. I will complete this.

This Friday I take the mic in my hands in Toronto, Ontario and face my fear of sharing some of my personal views with a live audience. It’s a scary thing for me, to express myself in front of people, but I know it has the potential to be extremely freeing.

I think facing the right kind of fears is crucial for self development. In the right scenarios fear is a “not so subtle reminder” that what’s starring us in the face is worth fighting to see through. A big recital, the ball in your hands with 1 second left, a love letter waiting to be written, or barring your soul in front of a crowd; its all relative.
That feeling in the pit of your stomach telling you that you can’t measure up to the moment is actually the clearest indicator that you’re about to step into something extraordinary. It’s our emotional attachment to the things that mean the most that make us fear them so much. Giving in to the moment and freeing yourself from the fear is what propels us into greatness.
I think I’ve been able to write something worth sharing, so its scary to put it out there. Who knows what people will think. One thing I do know for sure is; I can’t wait for that feeling of just letting go.

For anyone in the area, I’ll be on stage, Fri March 18th between 4-7pm @ James Joyce Irish Pub in Toronto. 386 Bloor Street West. (Downtown). I would love to see whoever can find the time!

Torn up Shoulder, Unplanned Hospital Visit, Postponed Vacation…Video at the bottom. Dammit.

After the failed backflip attempt I was bruised, but not broken and more determined than ever to finish my final week on a high note. With physical goals like dunking a basketball, bench pressing 300 pounds and performing a planche pushup I decided to let my body calm down a bit before making my push towards the end. I took a day off, rested up and re focused. I knew that I had trained properly and eaten well for the last 7 weeks and that all three were in reach, even with the lingering soreness from the ass kcking I took on the hill. I decided to spend the week away from lifting any weights and focusing on some basic body weight circuit training and attempt all three tasks on the weekend. The moderate activity seemed to agree with me and I was pretty stoked about the weekend. Saturday morning I got up and did some stretching then made my way to the basement for goal number one: The planche pushup  ( click here to see! )  

I had been praticing this move for a while now and was confident today would be the day. I had done a few bent leg attempts at the gym two weeks proir and had little trouble getting through six. Today however, I could barely hold the position, let alone extend up. I couldn’t understand it, I had no pain, but my body wasn’t cooperating. I spent the next hour failing miserably to get it done and ended up baffled at why I had regressed so far. I decided to head off to the gym and try for the slam dunk. Again, for the weeks leading up I had been jumping like a mad man. My vertical seemed on par or higher than my highschool basketball days and I was ready. But again, something was wrong. I just wasn’t getting the pop I needed. Attempt after attempt I just wasn’t getting get up, my legs felt great, but I couldn’t get the height I was accustomed too. I must’ve tried close to a hundred times until I could barely walk and not one attempt went in clean. With my head hanging low I went home to get some food and a good nights sleep to come back in the next morning for one last shot at everything.

At 9 am Sunday morning, 24 hours before my flight to Nicaragua and the end of my journey I was back in the gym. I decided to start with bench press. My last max attempt two weeks prior :285 pnds. I racked 135pnds to warm myself up. Tony my partner stood behind me, but because so little weight was on the bar, he wasn’t paying attention. I unracked the barbell, lowered it to my chest and all of a sudden my arm gave out. It was as if it had completely paralyzed. I couldn’t move the weight, or adjust it in any way to get it off me. This is a weight that I can manage for 40 reps and all of a sudden it won’t budge for one! At this point I knew something was wrong. I immediately lowered the weight to 95 pnds to try again. Nothing ..I couldn’t move it. What the hell was going on?? What did I do to myself I thought.

I went straight to the hospital and explained my perdicament. The doctor did some strength tests and explained to me that he was certain I tore my supraspinatus shoulder muscle. He couldn’t be 100% certain without an ultrasound, but given the overall condidtion of strength in my arm  there was really no other explanation.

Less than 24 hours now before I leave, and I’ve been forced to throw in the towel. You gotta be kidding me. I explained my plans for the next month. Told him I would be living in a cabin outside of a fishing village and would have no comforts of home. That my plan was to write, surf and repeat. There was no way I could spend 2 months in a cabin with a bed and a fan and do nothing but write. I would go crazy. Not to  mention that I refuse to give up on these goals. I understood that I needed time to heal, but give up my surf trip? No way. I thanked him for his time and said “Thanks , but no thanks.” to the ultrasound. Physio is the standard protocol for Rotator Cuff tears and anyways, so I’ll just do it in Nicaragua…it’s not like I could afford it in Canada anyways. And surgery could weight anyways if that was the final diagnosis.

I left the hospital and went home to pack. But when I got home, for the first time in a long time I started thinking about later on down the line. Could I really give up surfing, excersising and all the things I love to do just to go hit the waves for the next two months? Is it really worth injuring myself for good?

I picked up the phone and called Taca arlines and asked if they could bump my flight back a week. Suprisingly, they said changing it would be possible ( a slight charge ofcourse). I jumped back in the car and headed to see the doctor again. He seemed happy I decided to change my mind. We talked for a bit about my options and booked and ultrasound for Wednesday (AMAZING for Ontario Healthcare) and he decided to give me a shot of Cortizone for my trip. We talked about a realistic physio regimen and he wish me luck. He even said that if I kept it relaxed surfing would actually aid in the recovery!!!!!! I mean, I’ll be longboarding it up instead of hunting for barrells, but SO WHAT!!!! 

 

So today, here I sit, with an arm aching from the cortizone, an extra week on my hands and a un certain take off date for Nicaragua…but you know what, I’m still happy.

As for the end to the journey?? FUCKKKKKK THATTT!!! There’s no die in this kid. I’m a keep on Keepin on!!! I may not have a close date to this trip, I may not have achieved every goal I attempted, but by the time I get on that plane I will have at least attempted them all. It was never about winning, only experiencing, and by the end of this, I can say that is exactly what I did.

** Here is some a video of me attempting my planche pushup and dunk. I was injured, but at least it shows that I was close and that I was indeed giving it my all. I will get them done though…sooner than later. Rehab here I come..

Epic Fail….Crash and burn…literally.

Last sunday I set out to a local snow hill with shovel in hand and Adam Belnap by my side to document to landing of my first backflip on a snow board. Nevermind that I had yet to land ANY kind of jump with a board attached to my feet, I was jacked full of energy and 100% confident I could do this. I mean, I learned how to a standing backflip in a week in Seattle; how hard could it be to transfer that to a snowboard?

Turns out…pretty freakin hard.

I have thrown myself off cliffs, out of planes, off bridges, roofs, fences…you name it I’ve jumped off it. I have the bruises and battle scars to prove it, but wow…who would’ve thought snow hurt so much?

After my first ten jump attempts (mostly fails) I decided to up the stakes and put some extra pop into the take off – bad decision. I came down flat on my right side with my arm stuck behind me. Riiiiiiiiiip. Fuck…something seemed off in my shoulder. I laid in place for a couple of minutes contemplating the very real possibility that I just messed up not only my shoulder, but the chances of reaching my other physical goals. After a couple of minutes of nervous reflection I realised that god didn’t put a set between my legs for nothing and decided to push on. Gaining some confidence I started throwing in some grabs and a few 180’s and slowly but surely my completion average starting creeping up. It was time to starting uping my “hang time” in final preparation for the flip. Again bad decision. …..Same freakin arm, same freakin sound, same freakin pain, but only 2x’s as bad. There I was again starring at the sky, flat on my back in agonizing pain. That was it, I had to concede to my body. I had too many other things I needed my shoulder for and to be honest, I had two months of surfing ahead of me on the other side of this list. It was time to face the facts…it was either a broken body for one goal or hang tail to save myself for multiple other ones.

After consulting Adam and tallying up the amount of times I had smashed myself into the ground ( We estimated 30 crashes) it was time to call it a day. It all came down to time. If I had a week in waist deep powder I would have jumped until my legs fell off, but as I stood on 4 inches of packed snow, I knew I had to hang this one up for the time being.

It’s now four days later and although I’m saddened by the failed attempt, I don’t think my body could’ve handled much more punishment. I feel ten times worse than I did after my marathon and it’s still hard to lift my head up. At any rate, the days are falling quickly and my time is running short, but were there’s a will….well you know the rest.

* The shots are by my good friend Adam Belnap, a kick ass photographer. He’s making his way out to Nicaragua with me to put his skills to the test in the mighty Pacific. Next time you pick up a surfing mag, don’t be surprised if you see his name under a few pics!!

http://www.williamainsley.com  – check his work out!!

Since last Sunday worked out so well…how about an ill advised backflip attempt!

Flying high from actually crossing the finish line at the Winterman and with only a week left on the clock, it’s time to attempt the Snowboard Backflip.
Upon returning from Coloumbia I immediately began fine tuning my snowboarding skills at the local bunny hill in Battawa. I have to admit for someone who had only been strapped in once before I thought I was doing just fine. That is until about 2 weeks later when I attempted my first jump. Now I didn’t go for it right away, I just wanted to ease myself in with a basic jump and stick the landing.
It didn’t go as planned.
I knocked the wind out of me and as I sat breathless on the side of the hill I was convinced I wasn’t going to be able to make it to the bottom. Who would’ve thought snow was so hard? Undettered though I came back a week later and threw down three more times. This time I kept this air inside me, but managed to walk away 0 for 3 and with a sore right ass cheek for the next two weeks. That was the end of my jumping. It was time to change strategies. My new plan of attack was to spend a weekend in Tremblant up in the glades with a shoveled out jump in deep powder. This was I could keep my ass and neck from being broken. The plan was a good one in theory, but unfortunately mother nature had other plans and thawed out my action. So, with next weekend tied up with other tasks and the temperature steadily on the rise again this week, I’m left with one option. Find a hill, build a jump, shovel some snow below it for padding…and go for it. Will it work out? Well….I do enjoy throwing my body around and I can do a backflip…..the question is can I do it with a big ackward board attached to my feet? I guess we’ll find out Sunday….

They said I was CRAZY!! (The Story of an Untrained Marathon Runner)

It had to come eventually. No matter how many prayers I said or how many witch doctors I consulted; February 20th and the Winterman Marathon was upon me.
The days leading up to the actual event became more stressful as the it drew near and suddenly I found myself second guessing my decision to forgo any actual training. Let’s be clear here, when I say no training, I mean not a single kilometer run in close to a year. No pace practicing, no treadmills, no running from the cops. Nothing.
It’s not that I didn’t want to give it the attention it obviously deserves; I just didn’t have enough hours in the day to do so. The choice though, was still crystal clear…this had to be done.
Friday February 18th gave me something to look forward to though. As I stepped outside the sun was shining and the temperature had climbed to a balmy 11c ( 51f for all you non Canadians). If this weather continued into the weekend I could at least take comfort in the fact that I was going to be graced by the weather gods. Saturday Febraury 19th however, was a whole different story. The temperature had plummeted to -15c and the winds were gusting at over 40km/h. To say the conditions for running were less than optimum would be the understatement of the century. My only hope was that upon waking Sunday morning, somehow, Fridays weather would be shining down upon me again.
I awoke around 6:30 am to a fresh bagel and glass of water provided by my coach, Robin Mounsteven (2x Boston Marathon participant), got dressed quickly and with a few last words of encouragement I was out the door, into a taxi and off to the race. At registration I proudly announced that this would be my first Marathon. I was met with sarcastic smiles and a “You chose the Winterman? THIS winterman? Are you crazy?”
Oh yeah, I forgot to mention the weather never turned; it was -28c (-18f) with the windchill.
She told me that if I actually finished to come see her and she would give me a t-shirt for my troubles. So, with my new found motivation, I was off to the starting line.
1500 runners and only 79 running the full marathon. I was registered at number 79; whether or not that was an omen of things to come I couldn’t be sure.
The race started of smoothly enough. I hit the first marker (2.5k) on perfect pace and from that point on had a good grasp on how to gauge my speed to keep things moving. I hit 5k, 10, and a half marathon with gas in the tank and legs still underneath me. It wasn’t until 30k that things started to slow down considerably. My legs began to tighten up and every step seemed like I was generating enough force to push myself through the pavement. I had to slow to a speed walk just to help ease the stress. My mind started turning sour and all the minor annoyances I had been brushing off started to fell like a repetitive flick against my forehead. My balaclava kept freezing every time I lowered it below my chin to breath some fresh air and my earbuds would fall out every time I tried to wrestle it back into place. The wind coming up over the hill was too cold and worst of all I HAD NO ONE TO BITCH TO !!!
30 mins ago I had been literally dancing to my ipod and singing out loud, now I was ready to start tripping every runner that dared to pass me.
32.5k, 35k, 37.5k, were hell on earth and I slowed slow to a pace that had me running barely 50% of the time. Each and every time I would muscle up the strength to get back into stride it seemed almost instantly I was back to speed walking out of sheer agony. My muscles couldn’t bear the pressure being putting on them. With 4.7k left to go I was sure that I was done and positive I wasn’t coming in at under 5 hours if I somehow figured out how to keep moving. In a sense you could say I was smack dab, face to face, mono et mono with ….The Wall. 90% of the way though and this son of a bitch finally decided to show his face. Ain’t that a kick in the balls…or knees in this case.
At this point like everyone else who hits this wall, it was either quit or punch through. Me? I gathered every once of energy I had left and somehow pushed through and hit my stride. It wasn’t pretty, but with all my strength, chin in the air like a 9 year old running from a bully I pressed on with all my might. It wasn’t pretty, but I was determined.
40k, 41k, 41.5 and I was nearing the finish!!
As approached the last turn back into the war museum my ipod shifted to the song the that would take me across the finish line : It was Dierks Bentleys “I’ll settle for a slow down”. Well Mr Bentley? You know what? That sounds juuuuuuuuuuuuuuuust fine. And with that, at 4:57.35 I crossed the finish line.

*It was such a nice feeling to have my family at the finish. I want to thank Mom, Dad, Uncle Paul, Aunt Sandra, Uncle John and Aunt Rosemary for seeing me through the hard parts. It couldn’t have been fun standing in that cold, but seeing you at the finish line meant the world to me..

* I went back to see that woman about the t-shirt and one of the organizers Terry happened to be there , he wanted to congradulate me on being the sweeper for the marathon runners and even bought me a winterman sweatshirt for my troubles. Dead last…..but, you know what?…I’ll take it.

What do you get when you combine NOT running for a year and a Full Marathon? We’ll find out on Sunday…

With the final date looming just two weeks in the distance, I have my sights set on Ottawa this weekend for the Winterman Marathon. Due to the amount of physical tasks I have piled up on me at the moment my training for this race has been….well….zilch. With the pressures of doing the splits, dunking a basketball, bench pressing 300 pounds amongst other things, I simply had no choice but to leave something out. Spending 3-4 hours a day, 5 days a week in the gym meant running just wasn’t an option if I wanted to keep the dangers of overtraining away. I’m not confident that it was the best decision as race day comes near, but I really don’t think I had any other choice. That being said, I am extremely excited to push my body and mind in a direction that’s completely foriegn to them and see if I come out ahead. I have no doubt that this is going to test me in ways I’m not prepared for and will bring me past my limit. My goal is to cross the line in under five hours and do so without breaking stride. If I can set a good pace, keep my toe nails attached to my feet and the tendons in my knees from snapping I think I can do it. Then again, this is a freakin marathon…….cripes.