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The “Adventure After 50” takes its show on the road

May 5, 2016

In a couple of weeks I’ll be giving my first “non-poetry-reading” public presentation for the local Sierra Club chapter’s bi-monthly meeting.

I originally contacted the group last spring, when Rick Kempa was planning a So Cal book tour to promote his two stellar recent anthologies of writing about Grand Canyon: On Foot: Grand Canyon Backpacking Stories and Going Down Grand: Poems from the Canyon. It’s been an honor to see my work published in both of the books, and a pleasure to get to know Rick through the process.

While the book tour last fall was a blast, it did not work out with the Sierra Club’s schedule; I did, however, receive an email a couple of months ago to see if I’d still be willing to present at their May 2016 meeting. Hmmm . . . with no specific book tie-in this time, I decided to put together a new program dedicated to my shoeless adventures at Grand Canyon: “Adventure after 50: How I lost my shoes and found new joy on the trail.”

(Here’s a Google drive flyer for the event:

So . . . I’ve been working on my slide show for the last couple of days, which has inspired me to (finallah!*) try a new “adventure” to perhaps include in my talk: free-running. (finallah = finally + allelujah)

Over the last couple of years I’ve read a bit about parkour, free-running, and the whole “natural movement” trend. (It’s kind of sad that it qualifies as a “trend” since it is not the norm for society, but that’s how it goes in our hunched-over, screen-focused, chair-bound lives in 2016 . . .wrote the woman hunched over her computer screen . . . )

Here’s a few web sites that have inspired me: Chris McDougal’s work about “Natural Born Heroes”

Erwan LeCorre’s natural movement emphasis with “MoveNat” & “The Workout the World Forgot”

I even tried focusing on this sort of giddy free-style movement on a few of my visits to Irvine Park this year:

Being a teacher, though, gave me hope that maybe some focused “classroom” instruction could shorten my free-running learning curve–maybe even keep my osteoporositized bones from snappity snapping–so I flung myself into the void this week and attended my first class.

Gina B. had joined me for a hop-skip-crawl-and-climb around Irvine Park in January;


she was adventurous enough to meet me at Firestorm Freerunning a couple of nights ago for an hour of intense balance and muscle work: we crawled, konged, scooted, ran, climbed, vaulted and jumped our way up and over and off a variety of obstacles.

Here’s a freeze-frame image from the Firestorm informational video; instead of an agile teen boy, imagine an over-eager, under-qualified gray-haired lady flying through the air. That would be me.


Since I’ve been “meaning” to do this for about a year, but never could quite get up the nerve to go by myself, I owe Gina a big “thank you” for providing the motivation to follow through and show up.

I also blame Gina for how sore I’ve felt since then! Yikes! Even a barefoot rim-to-rim crossing of Grand Canyon didn’t thrash my quadriceps as much as an hour of free-running fun.

I’m about to hobble off to the hills for a run . . . hoping a few miles of barefoot loping will loosen my legs up again . . . ’cause right now just getting up from the couch sets off a bunch of whiny muscle fibers.

There are no photos to show from my free-running class; I was way too busy trying to keep up with the gangly teenage boys who were also learning to vault smoothly and land accurately and remember ALWAYS FLAT HANDS. Because? If you form the habit of sticking your thumbs out/down, you’re setting yourself up for a major injury down the parkour road.

It was pointers like this that made me really appreciate Coach Freelove’s constant emphasis on staying within our own limits as well as using safe technique . . . but right after being reminded yet again about flat hands, I would set off on the obstacle course and my mind would disconnect from my body and I would, uh, stick out my thumbs to help flail my way over a foam block. Lesson learned: the mind/body connection needs work. “Flat hands!”

Thus the “Adventure after 50” continues . . . I can’t wait to go back and shred my palms on the intricate jungle gym/bar set-up at Firestorm. And learn to scale walls. And jump off walls . . . maybe even flip by the time I hit 60? How fun will that be?! (Especially if I don’t end up in the emergency room first . . . )

“Keep moving” is a popular song lyric; a recent search found 4, 369 lyrics, 9 artists, and 100 albums matching “keep moving” on

For researcher Laura Middleton, “keep moving” needs to be the motto of folks interested in staving off dementia. Her work at the University of Waterloo is examining “the impact of exercise and physical activity on slowing cognitive decline. Her studies have supported the premise that any activity that keeps you moving will reduce your risk of memory loss and potentially lessen the chance that you will suffer from dementia as you age.”

If fun-crazy free-running can help prevent scary-crazy dementia, I’m all in. Adventure after 50! Flat hands!

4 Comments leave one →
  1. Gina permalink
    May 5, 2016 10:45 am

    Have you seen this fabulous video on Crawling Exercises – 21 Different Crawling Variations?

    • May 5, 2016 10:54 am

      Haven’t watched it yet, but I’m about to 🙂

      Thanks for the link, and for your encouragement to go after this new adventure!

  2. Gina permalink
    May 5, 2016 10:36 am

    Thea, I can’t say I’m feeling your pain because mine is enough! Looking forward to more of it, though. Considering open gym to practice on those forgiving foam blocks…. Flip on!

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