The Thrills of Rollerblading

I started rollerblading during the lockdown as an alternative to ice skating. I was fearful at first, but now I enjoy it as much as ice skating. The two are different, but they complement each other. Whereas ice skating is about techniques, rollerblading is all about the thrills.

Skating down the ramps at skateparks has been exciting. I try to increase incrementally from lower to higher slopes. I am taking my time to make sure I am not breaking any bones. I am not as fearless as my nine-year-old son whose skills surpassed me. I am not competing with him, but I am inspired by him. He pushes me to overcome my fears.

These days, I try to put in at least an hour a day whenever the weather permits. The only problem is that when the weather is nice, the skateparks are also crowded. Some wear masks and some don’t. As a result, I find alternative places to rollerblade and bike trails are ideal. One of the advantages of rollerblading on a bike trail is that our family members who do not skate can join us.

For a while, I had no motivation to stay active. I ate more and drank more, but hardly moved. I felt tired, lazy, and depressed. I just wanted to read. Walking didn’t seem to do much. I got tired of jogging. I got bored of running on the treadmill. I was not into biking that much. Rollerblading and ice skating excite me and improve my health. I feel better even when work stresses me out. I also sleep better at night. I doubt that I have lost any weight, but I feel lighter. I don’t even drink much anymore—partly due to my gout—and I am not craving for it. I hope these recreational sports can keep me active. These are the only workouts I liked so far.

First Ice Skating Lesson Down

This Wednesday I will complete my ice skating lessons for Adult 2 level. The class started out with 12 students. In the past few weeks, only me and two ladies were left. Our coach has been great. She gave more individual attention with only the three of us. She kept reminding me to look up. I looked down quite a bit and it is a hard habit to break.

In retrospect, what have I learned? I spent the last eight weeks mastering forward one-foot glides. My right foot was better than my left. Now I can glide across the length of the rink on either foot. I found skating on one foot to be crucial. It helped me balance better and more confidence. My favorite technique was forward slalom. It looks nice and is easy to do. I am still struggling with backward skating. Fortunately, for this level I only had to do backward swizzles. I need to pick up and practice more backward skating. I also learned 180 two-foot turns in place.

I am very satisfied with my ice skating lessons. It only took half an hour a week and another half an hour for practice. I needed more time to practice; therefore, I have been going to public sessions almost everyday with the kids for an hour and fifteen minutes.

Hitting the ice arena after a long, stressful day of work helped me relax and get me off my office chair. It also gave me some bonding time with my kids. Xuân, my five-year-old, has been enjoying ice skating. I tried to give him a bit of lessons, but I let him find his own rhythm for the most part. Đạo, my twelve-year-old, is very careful; therefore, he picked up techniques slowly. He is still working on his hockey stop, but he is a bit frustrated because he doesn’t think he is making any progress. Đán, my nine-year-old, is the best skater out of all of us. He excels because of his fearlessness. I demonstrated whatever I had learned in class and he would master it. For example, he now can complete a 180-turn and continue to skate backward. I still can only turn in place. I wanted him to take ice hockey lessons, but he refused. I also wanted him to wear his helmet and protective gears, but he only wears his helmet and not protective gears. Last week, he banged his knee against the wall. If he had his knee pads on, he wouldn’t be hurt so bad.

I invested in a pair of Bauer Supreme S29. Because I fit in a junior size, it cost $130 instead of $260 for senior size. It has been a painful experience to break in. When it was brand new, I could barely stake for three minutes. Despite the expert advice, which I had to lace up as tight as possible, I loosened up my lace a bit. Now I can skate for ten minutes. As I get more comfortable, I will tighten it up bit by bit.

I am looking forward to my next Adult 3 ice skating lessons. I signed up with Fairfax Ice Arena to be closer to home. The current one is with Medstar Capitals Iceplex, which is closer to my work. My plan was to go to ice skating lessons after work, but the pandemic has changed that. Now I work from home. The curriculums for the two locations are different, but I tried to match up as best as I could. I hope this one will be as good as the current one. I also want to compare which place provides better lessons.

Ice Skating and Rollerblading

My recreational exercises these days are ice skating and rollerblading. Every Wednesday, I take ice skating lessons for half an hour and practice for half an hour. I am still an amateur, but I enjoy learning the techniques. I encourage my kids to take lessons as well, but they are not interested yet. Đán could benefit from having some structures to grow his skating skills as well as to help him learn to follow instructions.

As for rollerblading, I hesitated at first because it seemed dangerous. Falling on the concrete seemed more serious than falling on ice, especially for someone my age and weight. Then the pandemic hit, which forced all ice skating rinks to close. The alternative choice for skating was rollerblading. Đán and Đạo made a much quicker transition from ice skating to rollerblading than I did. It took me a while to get used to, but now I really am enjoying it. I didn’t even know about skate parks until recently. They are everywhere and we love to discover different ones close to where we live. The kids enjoy rollerblading; therefore, I drag them out to the skate park whenever I have some free time and to get them off the screens. It has been a fun activity I love to do with the kids.

I used to prefer ice skating more than rollerblading, but now I enjoy them both. Although they are similar, ice skating is smoother and rollerblading is much more rugged. One is for the arena and one is for the street. I am glad that I have fostered Đạo’s and Đán’s interest in both. Now I need to work on Xuân and Vương as well.

My wife has informed me that ski resorts will open this winter. I am not sure if it will be safe yet to come back, but I am not ruling it out yet either. We’ll see what will happen. When my wife organized a ski trip for the first time, I hesitated to join the kids for lessons. Skiing is an expensive sport. With ski lift and equipment rental, a day for skiing is around $140 for one person. I gave it a shot and it has also become my favorite winter sport.

I need to stay active and these sports are more exciting than jogging and walking. I am still a noob, but I enjoy discovering more techniques. As long as I can keep myself balanced, I am good. Of course, I have full guards and a helmet to protect myself from head to knee. At this age, I am not taking any risk.

The Zetrablade

After trying out four pairs of rollerblades, I settled on Men’s Zetrablade Inline Skates from Rollerblade. With this pair, I can skate up to half an hour before my feet get too painful to continue. With the previous three pairs, I could only skate up to five minutes.

To be fair, the previous inline skates were youth size. Even though they can be adjusted up to size 8, the width was very tight for me. I bought the Zetrablade for men; therefore, it is more comfortable to skate. That could be part of the reason. I have skated the Zetrablade for three times. It fits better and less painful each time. I am hoping that the pain will go away after I get break into it.

I am enjoying rollerblading more and more. It is getting less scarier, especially with protective gears. I enjoy rollerblading in the morning with a cup of ice coffee. That’s my only exercise of the day.

My New Morning Routine

I woke up around 6 am and read for an hour and a half. Around 8 am, I drove to the park nearby my sister-in-law’s house. The basketball court was empty. The court’s smooth surface was perfect for rollerblading. I sported my new Triple Eight Saver Series Pad Set with Kneesavers, Elbowsavers, and Wristsavers.

From now on, I won’t be skating for rollerblading without these guards. They are like seatbelts for me. At 42, I can’t gamble with my life, especially for something that is supposed to be pleasure. I fell a couple of times and as long as I didn’t land on my butt, these guards had protected my knees and wrist. Of course, helmet is a must.

I could only rollerblade for half an hour. I am still not breaking in to my new shoes yet. My feet still hurt like crazy. I hope it will go away. I used to have this issue with ice skating. By the time, my feet got comfortable with the shoes, the pandemic hit. Now I have to go through all the pain again. I guess it is true. No pain no gain. I am starting to get some of my groove back. It’s good for me to do some kind of exercise rather than sitting in front of the screen and snacking all day long.

I am trying to make this into my morning routine until it gets too cold to do so. I am hoping to recruit my kids to join me.

Learning to Rollerblade

I am making very little progress with rollerblade. The first pair my wife bought hurt my feet way too much. I could barely skate for few minutes. I tried out my son’s K2 Skate Youth Raider and it felt much better. She ordered me a new K2 pair just like my son’s since I have small feet and could fit into a youth size.

Yesterday after work, we went to George Mason field house to tried rollerblading on the bike route. Since the route is somewhat flat and has grass right next to pavement, we could run into the grass if we couldn’t break. I used that quite often. The K2 Skate Youth Raider Pro Pack includes knee and elbow pads as well as wrist guards. We definitely needed pads, guards, and helmet for safety. Rollerblading seems to be much more dangerous than ice skating.

I still have a lot of practicing to do to get in the groove for rollerblading like I had with ice skating. I am glad that my sons are joining me in this sport.

40 is the New 20

We went skiing again this weekend at Whitetail. The kids went on the blue and black slopes. I was still on the greens, but started dipping in a blue. I took a level-three lesson in the afternoon. The instructor was helpful. He gave me confidence to go back on the blue slope I fell horribly on the first day I skied. I thought I would never go back, but I did five runs without falling. Because the kids didn’t use their ski lessons, I used them for myself. I took another lesson in the evening, unfortunately it was not as good as the earlier one. I was a bit disappointed. Nevertheless I am loving this expensive sport. We went nearly every weekend and I didn’t even want to look at the charges. I felt a bit guilty about it, but my wife encouraged us to go. She kept saying winter is almost over; therefore, go enjoy while we can. Isn’t she a fantastic mom? Since this is our first season, we just dived in. Next year, we will plan better with seasonal pass, rental, and advance booking.

I feel fortunate that my wife and I have jobs that allow us to spend on these activities on top of other expenses. I am not bragging, but acknowledging the importance of having a stable income. If I were to do freelance for a living, I would be dead broke. I had quoted three potential projects earlier this year, but none sealed the deal. The latest one came from an old friend in middle school. She reached out to me to redesign her business website. I gave her a quote with a generous discount and we both agreed on the price and the services. Before starting the project, I asked her to provide me access to her web server. She seemed startled and wanted to know why. I explained to her that in order for me to make changes to her existing website, I would need to upload the files (webpages) to the server, which is a standard practice on any web development project. Of course, the client has to trust me with the credentials. She went completely silent and didn’t respond to my emails. It felt weird. I guessed she didn’t trust me.

I wanted to do freelance to give me opportunities to do more creative projects than my full-time job. These incomes cannot support me full time, but more like bonuses for vacations or ski trips. Still, they are much harder to land these days. It’s all good though.

In addition to skiing, I am also getting into ice skating. We went to the rink near our house every Sunday. I also discovered a rink near my work with only a dollar on Tuesdays. I am going to incorporate that into my lunch break. I am taking my time to learn one technique at a time from watching YouTube. I am still in the process of learning the hockey stop. I am a grown-ass man trying to learn these sports. I guess it is true: 40 is the new 20.

Ice Skating and Skiing

I am starting to like ice skating and skiing. On Monday, I spent five hours with Đán in the Fairfax Ice Arena. I skated a few times in my teenage years, but I didn’t do it the right way. I kept bending my feet. For the first time on Monday, I could skate with my feet straight. It felt great. I got a good workout and to spend time with my sons. Đạo didn’t like ice skating too much so I took him home after lunch. Đán and I continued until he had to go to swimming practice. I am looking forward to spending more time with him.

On Tuesday, we went back to Whitetail Resource for more skiing. Unlike the first time, I learned to control my speed and my turns. These two videos helped me tremendously. I didn’t go on a wild slope, but I managed to get pass the easier slope with just a few falls. I am definitely looking forward to more skiing in the near future.

I need to get some exercise and these two sports seem to be good for the winter. The ice skating arena is so closed to my house. I can go any time they have public skating. I should take some lessons though for proper techniques.

A Letter to My Middle School Teachers

Dear Mrs. Ostroff

You probably don’t remember me. My name is Donny Truong and I attended Reynolds Middle School almost thirty years ago. Because I could barely speak English back then, I had to take ESL instead of your English classes. I did, however, take chemistry classes with your husband.

I remember Mr. Ostroff vividly because he had a passion for skiing. He used to take a few minutes before each class to tell us about skiing. He even organized ski trips with the students. Unfortunately, I never took the opportunity to go skiing with him and other students.

This past weekend, I went skiing for the first time in my life and I thought of my wonderful chemistry teacher with an enthusiasm for skiing. I tried to look him up on Google and your name came up instead. I’ve learned that you are also an author. Congratulations on publishing your books.

Just a quick note to thank you and your husband for the knowledge you’ve instilled in us during those crucial years of our education.

Donny Truong

First Ski Lesson

When I attended seventh grade at Reynolds Middle School, I had a chemistry teacher who loved skiing. His name was Mr. Ostroff. Each day before class, Mr. Ostroff would talk about skiing for five minutes or so. He organized annual sky trip for students. Since many of us city kids were poor and would not have the opportunity to try this winter sport, he encouraged us to do fundraising to pay for the trip. Although I never signed up for any of the ski trip, I always remember his enthusiasm for this sport. I thought I would never want to try skiing.

Last year during the winter holidays, my wife decided to let the kids try out skiing. She signed them up for a beginner lesson. She encouraged me to take lesson as well, but I hesitated to drop almost $200 for an hour of skiing lesson. The kids loved it. They wanted to signed up for another lesson the next day. They now can ski very well.

Yesterday, we took the kids to skiing again and my wife just signed me up for a beginner group lesson. The group consisted of me and another Asian man. The instructor taught us postering, turning, and stopping. I didn’t do too well. Before the lesson ended, he asked if we wanted to try out the beginner slope. The other student refused. He felt he was not ready. I was like, “Sure, why not.” He asked me if I wanted to get on the lift or the magic carpet, I chose the latter. When we got off the carpet, he gave me a few rule of the road and told me to ski slowly. I did not even ski. My skis skied itself. All I heard was, “Make the pizza. Make the pizza.” Thank goodness, I didn’t crash into anyone. As we ended our lesson, he told me to practice some more before going back to the slope. He also recommended another lesson next time. I thanked him for his time.

I continued to practice and practice. As the night fell, the slope got less crowed. I went back on the magic carpet and implemented my turns and stops. After that I took the lift for a longer slope. Then I took another beginner slope with the kids and my sister-in-law’s husband. Then Đạo asked me to join them on a steeper slope. My sister-in-law’s husband told me that one is twice as long as twice as fast. I was like, “Sure, why not.” Holy smoke, I plowed straight down the steep slope, landed head first, rolled down, got up, put my skis back on, and plowed down again. I repeated that process until I got over the steep area. They were so happy to see me made it down. Đạo said he was scared, worried, and about to call the ski patrol if I wouldn’t come down in another two minutes. The instructor did not tell about about side slipping.

It was quite a learning experience. I definitely need more practice before getting back to the steep slope. Skiing is not so bad overall. I can live without it, but I guess I’ll do it for the kids’ sake.