I've been looking forward to this post for a little while now. In fact, if you've been checking my blog over the last months you've probably noticed the Innovative Fitness logo under "sponsors" on the right hand column. Well, the deal has finally been made official, and I am proud to say that Innovative Fitness and I have agreed on a sponsorship that will expand our already long and successful partnership through 2008 (and beyond I hope!)
My feeling is that the best sponsors, and therefore the ones athletes should try to sign up with first, are the companies they would shell out their own money for anyway. It's a test that proves whether the product or service is ACTUALLY VALUABLE to the athlete. I could be wrong, but I doubt Tiger Woods drove a Buick before they sponsored him.... in contrast, (and, admittedly, on a slightly smaller scale), I have been a loyal and happy, paying customer of Innovative Fitness for more than 4 years now. So it is very easy for me to promote this great business - I know first hand how much I.F. can do for anyone signing up.
My history with Innovative Fitness began 4 years ago when I decided to make a commitment to my health. This decision came about as a reaction to pain and discomfort I was having around my hips (this is common for amputees several years after losing a leg). I wanted to ensure that I wouldn't need a hip replacement - one high-tech, robotic body part is enough for me thank-you very much! The only answer was to strengthen the key muscle groups in the area to reverse the effects of a decade of overcompensation. I couldn't leave this matter to the winds of willpower and the ebb and flow (mostly ebb) of previous efforts to "get fit". I needed results and I needed to be held accountable - my health and future depended on it.
The processes and systems that are at the core of Innovative Fitness are unique, time tested, and effective. My initial goal ended up being a pretty easy one - after a few months working with my trainer my hips didn't ache at all. In addition to the superior training (and the great results) the amazing value of Innovative lies in the atmosphere and culture that exists - between coaches and customers and between the customers themselves. I quickly found myself part of an extremely energetic and exciting community of active, live life to the fullest, people. I was exposed to so many amazing opportunities - different sports, travel adventures, great people etc. Not only that, but the physical improvements I continued to experience made me more and more excited to act on the opportunities - to accept challenges, and eventually to challenge myself.
Four years later I can look back and credit Innovative Fitness for being a real catalyst in a huge life change for me. I was introduced to triathlon - I will compete for Canada in my second World Championships this year. I gained the fitness and courage to tackle a goal like making it to the 2010 Paralympics in Nordic Skiing - and I have a support crew behind me from Innovative working to make that dream come true. Most importantly of all, my lifestyle is much improved - I am healthier, happier and more energetic than ever before.
During my 4 years at Innovative my family has grown - Mattias, now five years old, was one when I joined, he now has a sister, Aia (3), and a brother on the way. I am proud and thankful that these kids think going for a run or a bike ride, or doing a race on the weekend is the most natural and normal thing in the world. (Mattias did his first running event last year - he was 4.)
To summarize, I would say that there is no single influence that has been more important to my start and ongoing development as an athlete than the people at IF. Their incredibly good slogan is: Challenge, Adversity, Victory - and I feel that an organization that walks, runs, swims and cycles people through these stages couldn't be a better match for me.
Our sponsorship agreement is very exciting for me as Innovative Fitness will be providing me with the same great value in training and support that I have enjoyed and benefitted so massively from over the past 4 years. In return for their services and support, I will act as an I.F. ambassador in the community; I will proudly wear their colours; and hope that, through my endeavours, I am able to inspire customers and staff to challenge themselves and maximize their relationship with "the gym" to reach their goals.
If you are ready to lay the foundation for your next "Victory", whatever it may be, don't leave it to chance! I would be happy to fill you in and put you in touch with the right people to support your efforts. Please don't hesitate to get in touch with me.... Or you can look into it for yourself at:
(Just don't forget to tell them you heard it here first. Thanks!)
As the title says, this blog will record my successes and failures, victories and defeats, journeys and adventures in sport and life... I try to keep it interesting and action packed! Please register for updates (at the top of the right-hand column) so that you won't miss any exciting posts from Yours Truly!
Tuesday, April 29, 2008
I have been asked many times what I do about the blisters and skin problems that effect most amputees. Just like everyone else, I experience these problems from time to time. I have heard that those of us with suction suspension end up dealing with these issues more often. The techniques I use are a mixture of things I've heard, things I've experimented with and things I have stumbled upon in moments of desperation. I hope you will find this useful.
OK, one of the best ways to fix your skin problem is to avoid getting it in the first place... makes sense right? There are a few things I do regularly to try to limit possible damage to my skin:
1. I don't baby it. I get a bit of sun on it when I can, I towel it roughly, I wear my leg all the time (unless there is an extreme problem).
2. I keep the hair on the leg trimmed extremely short. I use an electric clipper (set on ZERO with no guard) to do this. I DO NOT EVER SHAVE WITH A BLADE - this will lead to ingrown hairs for sure. The point of keeping the hair short is that it improves my fit, improves my suction, and therefore less problems arise. It also helps Tegaderm to adhere A LOT better. Read about Tegaderm below.
3. As soon as I feel any problem arising I use a dab of vaseline on the area until it goes away. Even if the pain/feeling is barely noticeable, I do it anyway - I don't wait for it to get worse before acting.
4. If I am heading out to do something challenging (a run, ride, a flight or whatever) I will put several Tegaderm dressings on key spots to protect the skin. Tegaderm is microscopically thin, sterile, breathes, is waterproof and adheres VERY well and is generally awesome!
Sometimes, there is nothing you can do... you take off your liner and there it is - a blister, or an ingrown hair or whatever. They're irritating and can be extremely painful... for sure. Here's what I do:
- I bathe, dry off, turn on a bright light and get a really good look at the offender. If there is any popping, or plucking or picking that seems prudent I do it... but I don't do it if it will make a situation worse - use your judgement. Also, NEVER pick, pluck, pop anything that you can't see (i.e. it is on the back of your leg...) this is a recipe for disaster, as I have grabbed skin and pulled only to find that it attaches strongly to swaths of healthy skin - ouch!
- I use Cicatrin. This is a prescription powder that speeds healing. It is extremely fine and a tiny amount will do the trick. I put it on every chance I get to heal the problem. Especially good at night.
- During the day I use Tegaderm. You wake up, your leg is sore and you've got to put on your prosthesis - I know, it sucks. Tegaderm will help you get through those first steps with WAY less pain and it will help keep the pain at bay and speed your healing all day long. Here's the recipe: Put a tiny amount of Cicatrin in the wound (wipe away ALL excess from the skin around the 'problem'), put a Tegaderm dressing over the area, put a small amount of vaseline on top of the tegaderm. What this does: 1. Cicatrin dries and helps heal, 2. Tegaderm protects and reduces/eliminates skin tension and pulling, 3. Vaseline prevents the liner from sticking to the Tegaderm and allows it to slide over it - also reduces pulling/tension on the skin surface.
- I re-do this dressing daily or more often if necessary.
- I take it easy... I try to walk gingerly and protect the area as much as I can during the day so it can heal.
- I watch my moods - I can get a bit short and snappy when my leg hurts with every step I take - I try the best I can to limit this.
- I try to be extra nice to my wife - if I end up going a few days legless - I'll need her on my side! (Can you grab me a ____ dear? Thanks!)
- At home I try to leave the leg/liner off as much as possible to speed healing - whenever it is off I have Cicatrin on the opening.
- If the 'problem' is not healing I sometimes try the following: Cut holes in prosthetic socks around the area, wear no pros. socks and use crutches, wear no leg at all and use crutches. I also tend to get in touch with my prosthetist - if something isn't healing properly it could be due to the fit.
SWEAT: Yes, sweat is a definite issue with these silicone liners. I read somewhere that as amputees we sweat more per square inch of skin because we are missing some square inches of skin.... interesting. Anyway, I find that I can exercise at a high intensity under most conditions for nearly an hour before I start to experience 'real' discomfort from sweat in the liner. Before races I wipe Drysol over my skin... this helps a bit. I don't use it often as I worry that it is pretty toxic stuff.
During training I tend to stop running every 45 minutes to do a quick dry-off on my leg and liner. This is ultra-cautious but I really don't want blisters from training. During a race I will only stop if I think it will be worth it to speed me up or if I think I am about to injure my skin.
In long races I stuff a chamois in my race belt and use that for drying my leg... they are light small and very absorbent.
In short, it seems that every major issue I've had with my leg showed up in the skin first - think of it as an early warning indicator. When you take your leg off at the end of the day (or better yet after a long walk) look at the red marks - they tell the story of the pressure spots on your leg. Learn how it looks when all is good and how it looks when your leg hurts...
Hope this was helpful. Now get out there and GO FOR IT!
Monday, April 28, 2008
It ended up being a pretty good family weekend - still feeling a little under the weather, I just decided to give up on any training aspirations I had for this weekend.
Laser Dome here we come!
Friday, April 25, 2008
Well, yesterday was a BIG day for me.
About two years ago I had the idea to start a foundation to help disabled people do the sorts of things I am fortunate enough to be doing - running, riding, skiing, cycling, swimming etc. etc. These types of endeavours are often particularly expensive for disabled participants - for example a running prosthesis like mine costs about $12,000.
After discussing the idea with a bunch of people I was actually a bit discouraged.... I found a lot of people's eyes glazed over when I started talking about this idea. Looking back I think there were two reasons - 1) I was talking about selling one of my businesses to concentrate on this; and 2) charity stuff just plain isn't interesting to most 30-something guys. (About #1: I think most people were very doubtful that selling a business and replacing it with the "idea of a charity" could be financially smart. Understandable...)
A little time went by and I talked to a few other people... finally to my training partner and good friend Kevin. He was the first person to get a spark in his eye and start tossing out ideas. I think we had the first of many 90 minute bagel and coffee chats post-Masters and I left feeling energized, and I had at least one BELIEVER. Thanks Kevin!
I did a bit more work on it in the next few months. Bit by bit I had a few plans coming together... a real boost came when I did sell my business last summer. I took some of the funds and had an identity created, I also hired a lawyer and got a society incorporated and an application for charitable status submitted to the government. The process to achieve all of that was long arduous and a little expensive. It's not all smooth sailing in the world of lawyers and the CRA.
The Government of Canada (god bless them) guarantees that it will take "at least 9 months" to review the application... a little longer than one would hope given the rapidity with which they check 20-odd million tax submissions this time of year EVERY YEAR but I digress....
Anyway, after months of waiting I got a call yesterday that we have a charitable number! If you write me a cheque I can give you a tax receipt! (Actually, I am not sure how to do that yet but I will be soon!)
Thanks to everyone who has been supportive from the start or who joined in along the way to help me get to this point. It is only the beginning but boy did it take a long time to get here!
There will be more info and news showing up here on a regular basis.
Well my "training" consisted of an hour-long stretch session today.... I am still feeling pretty "off".... I might have started to feel sorry for myself until I heard that a triathlete training in the ocean off of Solana Beach died after a Great White Shark bit him across both thighs this morning.
Solana Beach is 14 miles north of San Diego and one of my favourite areas ANYWHERE. I have spent lots of time in San Diego getting work done on my leg and the north coastal areas are so awesome... I have always fantasized about getting a group together for a training holiday there - riding on the Pacific Coast Highway, running some of the cool trails, and swimming in the ocean off Solan... uhhh... well? It would still be fun... we could swim at the UCSD pool.
You can read all about what happened here. It would be quite a coincidence if anyone there reads my blog (indeed if anyone, anywhere reads my blog) but my condolences go out to his family.
Thursday, April 24, 2008
I've been sick since Monday morning...
I went to Masters on Monday morning and the first sign of a problem was when I dove in and it felt like the pool was unheated...
Second sign - couldn't eat my bagel or drink my coffee at Delany's after... these are fixtures that I look forward to WAY too much so I knew it was serious.
Anyway, I've had a fever on and off since about 9am on Monday.... very irritating. At night it has been bad enough that I have been hallucinating and sweating like crazy....
I had a dream last night that was the mental/visual equivalent of a skipping CD... the same 5 second clip again and again, even after waking up and going back to sleep. Strangely, it centered around red and white banners (??), with absolutely no context, which I also couldn't read (#%@!) Not so cool....
In other news, I had some spectacular and unexpected work news today and it cheered me up A LOT. I will elaborate in a dedicated post tomorrow (or maybe on the weekend) depending on my ability to "compose"....
Sunday, April 20, 2008
Thursday, April 17, 2008
A few folks from the groupTweet this!
Since I know you have all been on the edge of your seats since I left you with the cliffhanger two posts ago, I will now unveil my Sun Run Race Plan.
Monday, April 14, 2008
Last night Sacha and I realized we had 1 car at my Dad's place - which doesn't work too well when I need to go to swimming at 6am and to work from there, and she needs to get the kids to school for 9...
Saturday, April 12, 2008
I was planning to go on a long ride today with the I.F. group but in the end the logistics made it too challenging. We are living at my Dad's at the moment (he is in Montreal) and all of my cycling equipment is in West Vancouver. The 7am start-time combined with my equipment being on the other side of town made me change my plans.
Friday, April 11, 2008
First week back update...
Hey folks... wow it takes a long time to go through digital photos.... sheeesh.
Anyway, here are most of the good shots from our trip. Notably absent are awesome shots from the Na Pali Coast hike I did with Ian Daffern (a Cross Country Canada National team Wax technician who was on Kauai by chance at the same time...). They are absent because I forgot the memory card for my camera - doh! Anyway, Ian will send me a few shortly.
The final summation of this trip.... boring, lame, don't bother going there, the place sucks! Just kidding.... it was awesome! We loved the island and would recommend it to anyone - and there are great deals on accommodation there (good places from $125/night!) Just ask and I will fill you in...
Without further ado.... the slideshow:
Tuesday, April 8, 2008
Well we made it back safe and sound... got back on Sunday night actually. The journey was smooth right up till the last hurdle - our luggage got lost. All four pieces to be precise. We still don't have it and I won't lie that it's becoming a bit irritating. Really it wouldn't be a big deal except for a few key items - the cord for my laptop being the #1 item I am missing. (Mental note: don't separate the cord from the laptop to save a bit of carry-on weight.) So, why did our luggage get lost? Let me tell you (because this is a new thing and you may be effected)...
Wednesday, April 2, 2008
It may seem strange to you that I am proud of myself for hanging out at the beach so successfully for the last week.... But I really have to hand it to myself - I've got the beach dialed in.