Saturday, December 30, 2017

What if it were fun ?

"What would this look like if it were easy? is such a lovely and deceptively leveraged question. It’s easy to convince yourself that things need to be hard, that if you’re not redlining, you’re not trying hard enough. This leads us to look for paths of most resistance, often creating unnecessary hardship in the process." Tim Ferris
Proud owner of Hull #44

Let's challenge the "No Pain No Gain" rule.
I am the first to be guilty of believing that hard work pays, and high pain tolerance bring you want you to be.
I always thought that it was my dedication to my career that made the difference.
Truth to be told, it was always easy for me to spend long hours sitting in front a computer, programming.
I liked it, still do. I am enjoying the creative process of coding, the constant brain games and solving problems.
It is easy for me to go in flow while programming. Time flies, code lines accumulate.
Was it that hard to achieve success ? Maybe not.

Rage drill on an old aluminium traveler

Running my first marathon I had a fierce determination to never walk.
What ever it will take, never stopping. Failure was not an option, pain to be endured.
No pain, no gain.
Now, after I finally learned to stop and walk - hitting the wall on my second marathon pretty dramaticcaly made me believe that
all rules are meant to be broken - I am following the MAF method - which could be resumed by taking it easy.
You focus on running in zone 2 - Anaerobic zone - the easy zone. Believe it or not, you will improve and run faster and faster.
This is actually the golden rule of endurance.
As a side benefit this is more gentle on your joints and body and you reduce greatly the risk of injury - not a small advantage for me - still recovering from at least 4 different running injuries.
Running slow and easy.

back winded working jib.

Take it easy and bring the fun into everything you do.
Everything you do becomes a hobby.
Times flies, you are in flow, living the moment and improving.
The only way to improve is to spend the time. The body is an incredible adaption machine, and  so adapt the brain as well.
In everything you do, find the fun, and offset it to be easy.
Raging or swearing makes it worst, every obstacle is a chance to improve.

Starting on make her pretty. A paint job.

I discovered lately how to apply this to boat work.
I always assumed I did not like working on the boat. Hard, long, expensive. Not gratifying.
It was a mean to an end, travelling, cruising, and only because I did not have enough money to pay someone to do that grueling work in my place.
Now, what if boat work was easy ?
Remove the time constraint, work on one project at a time, and allocate only few hours a day to it.
Don't make it a live or die situation. Buy the right tools and do any shortcut.
What if it was fun ?
Prepare it well, make yourself comfortable. Take the time, Do it well, Appreciate the results. Appreciate the creation, the problem solving, the handcrafting.
Be patient. Do it once, twice, third time. Listen to a podcast.
It is actually quite marvelous to see your work take shape.

Reward of a job well done.

What if fixing the boat was actually half of the fun ? And the cruising only the excuse ?
By embracing it, you go with the flow, you go in the zone.
Slow and easy. And you improve.
Live your life like a hobby, live in the zone.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Give Thanks - 3 years in a row.

It has been three years in a row than Thanksgiving period has been firing.
20knots, 15ft feet of waves.
At that size of wave, my skills start to be a bit stretched :)
Over the year, my comfort zone kiting has been growing from the 8ft to 12ft.
But a building swell of that size, triple overhead face, going down the line ....
 Looking at the wall behind me ... Reconsidering this bottom turn that would throw me up there...
Just not ready yet.

Red is good. Last week we peaked 15ft ground swell.
This week is still super playful.

Hard to tell when you are not use to, but the reef is actually pretty far out.
The bigger the wave , the further they break.
Today they are very very far, and there is a lot and lot of white.
This is the kind of day crazy folks head to Peahi.

White Line is the back means .. It's alive.

Kite beach and Kanaha spots were pretty crowded.
You can only assume that Hookipa is closing out and everyone default to here, which is the best place to handle swell that size.

Old man's beach is busy busy. Must be good.

The last couple of weeks I have been enjoying serenity at home, rebuilding slowly my running (I feel this time I am on the good track) and kiting or paddling when ever possible.
I really enjoy spending time on the boat, getting ready for our next grand adventure, but I enjoy coming back as well. 

Smiling after an amazing sesh
It is sort of going back and forth between very nice and very very nice.
Life's good in Hawaii.
I am thankful, and we are sparing the turkey.
It was not chicken's day, on the plate and on the water.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Half and half

This past month has been charged with emotions.
I lost a grand-ma and I lost a friend.
I hit 45, which I believe is a good crossing the middle line of a life.
Half of my life.

It all comes down which half of the bottle you are looking into.

I did long and deep thinking - and the only conclusion, really, is that I should not waste my time, because - who knows.

Call of the sea

It is time to reach for my dream.
It is time to sail south.
To cross the equator and step into the other hemisphere.

It is time to see the other half.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Going Simple

Still on Oahu, working on the boat.
Life is simple on the boat. You ride your bike. You do your morning and evening exercises in the park next door.
Walk to the store to grab food.

Nice rainbow on the marina

As more and more people post fancy food and restaurant plates on Facebook, I go backward.
Simpler and simpler on the food. Vegan, of course.
Veggies, Raw or cooked. Soup. Fruit and Green juices.
Avocados. Coconut milk. Add some brown rice and black chocolate for dessert.

Veggies and Tiger balm

Really wanted to remove a support for a spinnaker pole I am not using. Was really tricky to get access to the bolt under the deck. Had to tear off a large part of the wood shelves of the inside of the boat.
Way more complicated than it sounds, it took me 3 days to sort this mess.

Tearing off the inside of the boat

Finally got that part of the deck.

Fixing rotten supports on the way.

Has been a while I wanted to swap the reader lights to LED version.
There are 7 of them, takes some time.
And yes, I know, there is some varnish work that really needs to happen.

New little LEDs

Iridium GO on place

As well as its Antenna (On the left)
Work is not going as fast as I would like, but it is happening, and the boat is getting ready.
Ready for her next little adventure.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Respect the weather, Respect yourself

Hiding inside a Coffee Bean to escape the Waikiki afternoon heat, I took some time to reflect on the last "disastrous" passage from Maui to Honolulu.

A series of mistakes and choice ended up costing me a new Fiddle block (150$), Sail repair (800$), and damage on the pulpit ($$$) and bottom paint ($$), and more important some bruises in my pride and slaps in my captain face.

To be clear, I am not pretentious when I sail. I am actually very aware of my lack of experience and any trip is always like an adventure. Which is why I like it so much, even if I do not sail that much.
But a day sail in between islands, I thought I got it.
The ocean was there to humble  me.

I knew it was gonna be windy. Small craft advisory, a small low just went by the island few days before, clearing winds and strong trades (25+knots) on tap. Of course, 25 knots of predicted grib wind means 35+ in the channel.
Solo I would have certainly push back one week. But a friend was coming by plane, the ticket was taken... Anyway, that was a test for the boat.
Well, I guess I failed it.
In between Lanai and Molokai , we had gusts of 40+ knots. As a kitesurfer, those numbers never really scared me. You just rig smaller and tight your butt.
 As a sailor, this is more than atypical winds and require a set of skills I do not have yet.

High wind, but no waves. Pictures rarely capture the intensity of the sea.

Typical - The furler jammed with a double reef in the jib.
We could have go with it until Honolulu, after all, it was very unlikely to be worst.

Sunset. We still had a genoa at that time.

I waited for the night to fall - no moon - (why not ?) to decide to try to solve this - just in case - (of what?).
Which means unfurl the full sail (Genoa 140) and put it down, on deck.
This is doable by going upwind or heave-to. Heaving-to with a 140 Genoa in that kind of wind, I was not feeling it. There was a bit of shade behind our double reefed main, and I thought I could bring it down on deck while we were running (Really?). Obviously, some maneuvers you do in 8 knots of wind do not work in 30+.
Of course, the sail went in the water, generated an immense amount of force and drag,  teared along the furler, and went under the boat to tangle on the prop.
Dragging this huge mess under the boat, we slowed down to a mere 2 knots of boat speed and the motion became really uncomfortable.
Which made me sea sick - but not incapacitated, except while throwing up.
Losing control, we ended up jibbing involuntary a couple of time until the traveler gave up and the main slammed a last time.

In the morning, that what the sail looked like.

Fast forwarding, we eventually managed to bring most of the sail on board, jury rigging the main, disentangled the prop while drifting in front of the harbor and made it safely to the slip, 6 hours later than expected. Overall, no harm.
As they say, we kept "the people in the boat, and the water out of the boat".
Following this simple rule, nothing really critical can or should happen.

Once docked, easier to notice the bent bow pulpit.
Still few lessons I learned the hard way.

If you can't fix it and don't have to, just go with it.
(At least, wait for the morning and daylight)
140 Genoa is too big of a sail for Hawaii - if just fine from San Diego where I got the boat.
(I am gonna save some money to buy a smaller one)
Go upwind, motoring if needed,  to bring down the headsail.
(I got an idea how to disentangle the furler with the sail on, but that need to be proven)
40 knots is a lot of wind for a small sailboat
(even for a kite)
I need to up my game
(If I ever want to cross that pacific equator solo)

Actually not so bad. there is 3 or 5 tears like that one.

Repairing the traveler

Positive lessons:

We stayed calm the whole way and never endangered ourselves.
(according to the fact that working on deck by night is dangerous by definition)
If I was on a passage, I think I could have fixed all that mess on board, alone - eventually
(After the wind calmed down, as it usually does)
If I was solo, I certainly would have avoided this mess by being more cautious.
(Need to learn to always sail as I was solo)
We kept control of the boat and never were on a lee-shore.
(Even if we were not going fast)
The boat and the rigging took it without grim.
(For an old grand pa that is almost as old as me)

Safely in the harbor, enjoying the sunset

Anyway, I slowly getting back in the pace of working on the boat, which was the plan of this month on Oahu.
Adding more things that will break one day.
Fixing what I just broke,
And maintaining what did not break yet.

Chinese made Stainless vents. They look awesome.

Mostly on the program for this time, electrical and electronics.

AIS Transponder
Iridium Go
Steaming Light
Anchor Light
And half a dozen of smaller things.

Adding a deck and steaming light. Easier to work at night on deck.

Plan is to stay in Ala Wai until my time is up (6 weeks left on my transient permit for 2017), a couple of back and forth to stay with the family on Maui, and get most of that s**t done before next year.
And if that was going as planned, that would be freaking awesome.
For a change.

Friday, September 8, 2017

Greener and Smaller

Finally did it. I have been considering going electric for a while. Everytime I was filling the truck, it made me sick. 12 miles to the gallon.
Maui Electric and Nissan really help by cutting 10K$ on the price of the new Leaf.
Add the federal tax rebate of 7k$, and you get your new EV almost half price.
Hard to beat.

Green in Black, our new Leak soon to be
Obviously, on top of being economical - and a pain in the butt to plan for the range  - and the lack of truck bed to throw in all my kite or boating stuff - this is a major step in my re-alignment toward cutting our carbon footprint.

Monster Truck has to go 

And again, on Maui, the sun and wind are free, this is almost a crime to still burn fuel.

Now even getting a new car on the price of a used one is still a big leap on my always growing mantra against consumerism.

The minimalists - Deep and witty

Well, hard to reconcile buying a new car and my minimalist aspirational goals.
At the moment, we own 3 cars, one motorbike and one sailboat. Hardly minimalist.

Hence, the truck will go, obviously, pretty soon. The bike is the next one. Sure, I like to ride her time to time, but it is just impractical to put any gear on it. We cannot function on one car anymore in our family. A bike is cool, but does not carry a paddle board or a dinghy. It will go as well.
1 car in, 2 vehicles out.

What I am actually buying is free of mind. less stuff. better quality, less maintenance, less hassle.
After all, the only thing that matters is time.
Spend your time wisely on what actually really matter to you.
Spend your money on stuff that bring value to your life. Deeply.

As the minimalists say :

"Love people, use things. The opposite never works."

As for the boat ? It is not a thing. It is a Her.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Finally some progress

Finally the hard work seems to be paying off. I have been relentlessly exercising and doing my recovery exercises 6 days / week, and it usually takes me between 1 and 2 hours every day - except mandatory rest day.
Working mostly on my Achilles  and plantar issues, psoas and quads stretches, and a ton of hip and core strengthening.

Wearing the dolphins colors
I started running again, following my prescription, with a tight 1 min run - 1 min walk program, for up to 40 minutes. The ankle reacts pretty good. Still tender and a bit sore, but nothing alarming.
Hopes are up again.
Overall it has been more than 14 months that I battled this thing.

Totally in love with my new Altra Road running shoes, zero drop, but non minimalist.

If I learned one lesson, it is that one : take it slow, damn slow, and even slower.
Likely, I will increase the running part of the run-walk a bit every week, hopefully during one month.
Trick is to listen to your body and slow down at the first sign of aggravation.
Way harder than it sound.

I am back at 80% on my left shoulder.
I started to work on my other really annoying injury, my left shoulder. The muscle started to answer again, at least partially, and we do a bit of work - in the range of motion that works. I have been told 6 months to one year for the damaged nerve to heal. So far, I have been lucky, It looks I will end up more on the low end of that range.

As for the psoas, it is way better. I was able to do real kiteboarding sessions without much pain, and even started to learn to foil, which - as this point - looks more like a swimming lesson holding a board and a kite than anything else.
Really humbling to be a real beginner again, after all those years.

Definitively not me.

I had a glimpse of the speed of that damn thing, and I can understand the fad.
This is really cool.
I mean, it will be really cool.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

The Cove

Nothing really new - the documentary dates from 8 years ago, but like every year, the killing continue.

A very good documentary, indeed. Forgotten already ?

I do not see myself as an activist.
I don't think you need to be an activist to condemn those practices.
Basic ecology and humanity should be enough.

This is just meat

Coral, Cetaceans, Cows, ...
Every day the list grows ...

European people do it pretty well themselves every year

Activists are humanists, really.
They believe we can change and raise.

I don't.
I think it is fair.
As we are screwing our the planet, we will get what we deserve.
Pay back time.

To defuse the typical Japanese counter argument : "What is with that specie ? You eat cow, we eat cetaceans. Dolphins are not an endangered specie.", the documentary goes lengths on the mercury issue and how dangerous it is to eat an animal that we are poisoning in the first place.
A bit hypocritical.
And I disagree. 
The only way for us to be credible is to stop eating cows. 
That simple.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

The July Project : Conclusions

We have been extremely busy polishing the Yoga and fitness studio we have built under the house.
Not that we are done, but the last "large" paint job has just been finished today.
It is time to reflect a bit on the July project.

The yoga studio - inside

Centered around 4 axis - veganism, sobriety, cold treatment, breathing exercises - the direct goal was to try to heal my Achille tendinitis and plantar fasciitis, but it was an excuse to see if it was possible to detoxicate my body a bit more deeply.

Long story short, I had mixed results.

On the bright side, the veganism experiment was a success. To be fair, we were not too far from it, but milk by-products , butter, cheese, it was not an easy win. In any case, the whole family embraced it. obviously, at this point, this is a no-brainer. Good for your health, good for the animals, good for the environment, and easy - albeit expensive - as all "healthy" major retailers on the island propose the complete organic vegan replacements for anything comes to mind.
To complete the picture, we decided (finally) to go solar. With the sun exposure we have on Maui, the taxes deductions,  it is criminal to not embrace the trend. 

Meco still use 50% of oil to generate electricity on Maui.
It was time to save a bit and contribute (a bit) to the effort for the climate. Photo voltaic is coming as well.

Easier than I thought, Sobriety did not pause me any problems. There is one half-hour before diner that felt a little awkward at the beginning without a glass of wine, but that is more psychological than anything else, and staying busy during that time made the transition a breeze.
We have a very limited social life on the island, it was not complicated to not drink at all for a month at all. Just an habit to get rid of.

Yoga studio - outside - finally painted.

On the negative, I gave up on the cold shower treatment - I did not see the benefits really - I tend to take my shower at night and not in the morning, then the vigorous shake up it gave me was not well timed.

The Hoff breathing is an interesting beast. I have to reckon this is powerful. After two weeks I was able to hold my breath easily for more than 3 minutes and able to generate this heat wave / endorphin rush  at will. But even with the obvious benefits, relaxing effects and whole body reset, I had hard time to find the 30 to 45 minutes needed to practice. I had too much things going on, between the body workouts and the studio and the real life job. A bit disappointing, but I made peace with myself and will revisit at a later time. There is definitively something.

As for the effective results of the detoxification and alkanization, well, it did not work that well. To the point that I stopped to run altogether and reorganized my workouts around those injuries. More to come on this subject. In a nutshell, from a tendonitis perspective, it was totally ineffective.

Anyway, there is no reasons at this point to change my new habits and go back to relatively unhealthy behaviors, and I can live with a few pounds less.
Vegan it is.
Sober it is.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

The July Project : Veganism

Not really surprising - we were already **mostly** eating vegetarian  - it is a good time to see how hard to stick to a strict vegan diet.
Obviously, for me, the hard part will be dairy.
Cheese, Butter, .. We are french after all.

Vegan athletes praise that healthy diet and the proteins are really a non-issue - if you do not pay attention to the derives of the fitness world.
To be fair I am using a Vegan Shake supplement for snacks, to make sure to get a bot of everything that is not immediately available in a vegan diet and would force me to think and organize myself.

Happy french cow - Will end up as meat balls likely.
Of course, part of going vegan is highly symbolic.
Help the world, help the animals, help yourself.

Help yourself.
Easier to digest, less fat, less acidity. Better healing.

Not sure what to expect on one month time frame when we had already a pretty balanced diet.
I guess lose another pound or so... Diary is so rich...
Time will tell.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

The July Project : Breathing

It is not new that expert Yogi with Pranayama are able to achieve extraordinary feats. Slowing down their heart, holding their breath for minutes, healing themselves, ... Free divers reach incredible depths with controlled breathing techniques. Remember Jacques Mayol in the Big Blue ?

Breath taking Lisbon

On top of boosting your full body ecosystem, mostly through hyperventilation and oxygen saturation, it helps your immune system and provide meditation-like benefits - Calm, relaxation, mindfulness.

The genius of Wim Hof is to have made this available to anyone, to work with science to make it believable to our western minds, delivering it in a simple and effective package.
Sure the guy is a bit weirdo and excessive, but you can still relate. Just enough craziness to make this enticing and still comprehensible.

Wim Hof's breathing technique

If you are curious, there is ton of information on the web about Wim, always oscillating between guru, prophet and your typical dude. I recommend the book of the investigation journalist Scott Carney - first, it is well written and cover more ground than just Wim Hof's technique - second, it is really critic and objective.

Debunking the Ice Man myth

 Anyway, there seems to be enough evidence that this should not be a fluke, the breathing part takes around 30 minutes a day, I decided to give it a shot. Without hoping to be able to control my animal brain in one month, I am curious if I will be able to increase my healing, recovery and overall feel better.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

The July Project : Cold and Ice

Following a recurrent theme - cold is good for you - In doubt, listen to the Ice Man - I picked a couple of daily practices - explained.

The Ice man showing (Wim) Hoff

Without going as far as Wim Hoff, it is fairly known that cold - hot therapy helps for recovery,  boosting your immune system, and helps blood circulation.

As a bonus, a good cold shower in the morning wakes you up pretty good.

Ankle and Foot bath twice daily in a bucket of ice - helps with healing the tendinitis.
Cold shower once a day to shake things up inside.

Not yet ready for the ice bath challenge, but that's a first step.

Nazare, Portugal. Where THE wave breaks and records are beaten.
I started the challenge by swimming in the Portugal coastal waters in June, which were surprisingly icy. Not sure if the gulf stream does not go as South or if as a kid I was less sensitive, but I definitively remember playing in the ocean for hours on the West coast of France - which seems unbelievable now.

And you could think you get used to cold showers as well. But not really. It has been so far a daily struggle - more psychological than physical - it is true.

Cold shower is for yogi Guru Singh the one habit that can ease your way to happiness.
Seems appealing, doesn't it ?

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

The July Project : Sobriety

Easy one for today.
For context, my alcohol intake has been pretty low those past couple of years. One glass or two of red wine, usually at aperitif or diner time.
No big deal.

Monastic life in Portugal

We are people off habits, and a good way to change is to pick the one habit that slow you down, and eradicate it. Impossible to get rid of all your bad habits in one shot, but one, sounds reasonable. Now, you have to be honest with yourself and pick the one you know that bring you a false sense of comfort and drag you down.

Alcohol slow you down - literally and figuratively - and obviously not very good for health. If not, why should you be moderate with it. Let's try to eat and drink without moderation, even if that really limit your choice to the healthy stuff. I am not a moderate person.

On top of the wasting time and lowering energy, alcohol is free calories. no nutrients, just added sugar. Well, cutting 200 calories per day end up for a pound every month. Not that I expect to lose infinitely a pound every month from now on, but I expect my body to stabilize itself to a new low, without any effort - except cutting that habit.

Better body Ph (healing), more energy, and few pounds less, this is what I hope to get back from that cut during the July project.

Monday, July 3, 2017

The July Project : Assessment

For the experiment to be effective, I need a base line recorded, to compare with at the end of the month.

Portugal West coast. Near Nazare.
Really nice beach break with very few in the water.

Weight : 156 Lbs - 69 Kg

Energy level : 3 / 5 - vaguely positive.
( I would rate 4 my energy level during my marathon training, and 2 when I am tired and irritable.)

Apnoea : 2m15s after a 15 min breathing cycle.

Achille Tendonitis: Small bulge at the tendon. Tender at wake up and on touch. Tender after 45 min light/easy run.

Plantar Fascitiis : Pretty painful after a 45min run. tender in the morning and on finger press.

Right knee :  No pain on very easy runs

Right Hip : Pretty silent at the moment, I can feel it after a light run.

Vinged Scapula : Better than few months ago, Still pretty bad while lowering the arm.

Running : Around 60 miles /  month. Usually 4+4+8 / week. Limited by my tendinitis.
Long run of 75 min, easy peace (Zone 3), Felt my foot plantar during all the run, lightly, not forcing me to change my gait. After the run and icing it, could barely walk.

Cold : I have hard time to get rid of since the vacations.

 Alcohol intake : One medium to large red wine glass /day. My wife would say 2.

Tomorrow I will lay down my expectations, and after that, detail the plan and the rationale behind it.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

The July Project

I had quite some time to think a bit about things lately.
Vacations in Portugal helped.
It was actually a nice running playground. Even if I could not run as much as wanted.

Trail running in Portugal
Still fighting my various injuries, I am not yet able to trigger another training program for a major race, marathon or other. This is really frustrating. Roughly one year and half that I am limping.
It is time to act and reclaim my body.

Here is the project:

- Be Sober
- Eat Vegan
- Breath like the Ice Man
- Shower with cold water
- Drink Apple Cider Vinegar

Lately I heard that those practices can do miracles. Well, time to check them out.
To not bend the results, I will not change my calories intake, not my work out habits or running program (or what's left of it).

There is a rationale behind them. Mostly, you control the pH of your body and boost your immune system. Ideally, that would help to recover faster. As a bonus, I might lose some weight.

In any case, those are super healthy habits and I am curious how hard I can turn those practices into habits. As we are defined by those habits, if they are sustainable, it might be a good stepping stone for change.

And change is needed.