Sunday, October 11, 2015

Surfing Season is Over but Snowboarding Is Just around the Corner...

The Fall is here.
The air is crisp.
The trees outside the house have changed color already.
And, surfing season is over.
That saddens me as the weekends were the most special time of the week for me. A time to take the board out, get in the zone, focus my mind on the water and the wind and surf, and surf, and surf...
What a great feeling that is!

But, there are always more things to do between now and April. There's always paddleboarding which in Vancouver I get to do basically the whole year, and obviously the biggest win of the season is snowboarding!

Have board, will travel!

Here are some photos from the end of the season. What a great year!

And the Winner Is....

I started with the Jawbone first.
Subsequently, I moved on to the FitBit and enjoyed some great fun and competition with my friends and colleagues.
The FitBit was there when I ran my first marathon, the whole of 42.2KM in May. It was there as I trained doggedly every day for months. And, as a result, the FitBit will always hold value for me.
Plus, I'm such a fan of their customer service. Whether I broke one while wind surfing, or even lost one in the deep belly of the Pacific, it didn't matter. They sent me brand-new units. Their customer experience is outstanding!

But, as with everything, we tend to move on to other things. This is the side effect of a world that's bursting at the seams with options.

And while I have moved on from the FitBit, I made sure to have family members and friends set up with it. My parents track their activity daily and they always hit their targets. And in the process, they get more conscious of their health and activity. The FitBit is helping them with it. I think it's a great solution for people that don't need to have constant access to a lot of other information while working out.

I switched to the Moto 360 as it can do more than the two devices. The watch gave me access to my emails, texts, BBM, GPS... well, basically every app I had on the Android-powered device. And while I love the watch, it's not really a great match for my other technology. And I have a thing for consistency. Hard as I try, I can't get myself out of the habit of consistency and structure. Having it in life gives me comfort and makes me really efficient.

So, I had to start using the Apple watch. I've been an Apple user my whole life and, as any Apple user would know, it's more than just content, it's pretty much a way of life.

So, the winner is the Apple watch. It basically wins solely out of ease of use: it connects with everything and it goes with all of my other technology.

And now that the surfing season is over - sadness galore - I am switching back to 10k runs 5 days a week for an average of 50k a week. The next marathon is just around the corner and I need to best my May 2015 marathon time.

And the Apple watch will be my date this time around.

If you're in the market for a health-monitoring device, any of the above-listed options are great. My advice: pick something you will use over time.

 Happy Running!

Monday, May 11, 2015

Having the Right Gear Matters: Carve Design and Level Six Definitely Pass Muster

Surfing is not an easy sport. It's a commitment. It's part of what makes it so appealing to me. You truly need to not only make time for it, you need to work on yourself and make sure you're strong enough and fit to do it. You need to make time to commit to it, and you need to have the right gear and layers to wear when on the board.

I get a lot of my surfing and paddle boarding clothing from Level Six. You can see their catalog here.
I also get a good amount of my surfing and paddle boarding clothing from Carve Design. I especially enjoy their current lineup. You can view their catalog here.

The thing is when exploring the fierce and wild ocean, you need to make sure you're sporting the right layers so that you can focus on the sport. While I don't mind falling and tasting the salty waters of the Pacific, I really want to make sure I only have time to make decisions about my time on the board itself, and staying on it as much and as long as possible. Hence, sporting the right layers is key.

I could not be a bigger fan of the brands I listed above. They make me feel protected when on the water and I have the luxury to only focus on what I'm in the water for: surfing.

And of course when this happens you don't sweat it. You're covered. The Level Six top I have on here and the Carve Design short, along with the surfing shoes, give me the peace of mind to keep getting back on the board and, sure why not, keep falling.

And after a good workout and fun time out, it's only apropos to take a minute and enjoy the beautiful surroundings. After all, you need to know when to switch off even when you're having a grand time!

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Surfing: The Kind of Love that Keeps on Giving

I continue to be in love with surfing. Absolutely, head-over-hills, can't-imagine-not-being-into-it, don't-know-what-life-before-it-was-like sort of thing!

In short, I do truly love it.

I love it so much that I could be really tired after a long day and my body tells me I really need to relax and instead I get my equipment out, put it on the great Thule rack I got last summer, and, vroom,  23 minutes later I'm frolicking in the Pacific Ocean!

I knew early on that in order to truly commit to something, I had to give my full attention and commitment to it. I knew that I had to invest in it. I had to make it important. And how do you make something important? You invest time and resources and you make it matter. Check, check, and check! Accountability to one's self is necessary when it comes to any pursuit of value. And this pursuit definitely holds much value for me.

When I truly got into it, I bought the entire equipment and had my car entirely outfitted for surfing and paddle boarding purposes. I knew that if I wanted to truly get into it, I had to make myself available. In sum, I was making myself available to this new relationship. Because, in all honesty, this is a commitment.

One of the reasons why I work out as much as I do and I run 10km every day is so that I'm fit enough for surfing and paddle boarding. In a way, running is a means to an end. This fact alone is enough to keep me centered and focused on this sport. What gives me pleasure when I'm in the Pacific is not the fact that I'm letting the wind take me places and move about.

No, what gives me pleasure is that I allowed myself to do all the work - and a lot of work it is! - to get to deserve this sport. I put this in a paragraph of its own because I reckoned it deserved to be in one.

I've been athletically inclined my whole life. And I've loved bodies of water my whole life. But nothing quite compares to surfing. And I had to live well over 3 decades to get to this realization.

So this summer, find something you've always wanted to do and make space and time for it in your life.

1. Make it important.
2. Make room for it in your life.  
3. Invest in it.

If you don't, you won't do it. Nothing gets done well unless there's some vested interest in it.

Trust me, you won't regret doing so. My life is wonderfully rich in part because of this activity. And I can't wait till the next day or dusk so I can do the same thing again and again and again.
Because that's what you do with that which you love. You feel compelled to do it repeatedly.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Why I Ran a Marathon and What Running 42.2km Teaches One

This past Sunday, May 3rd, I ran the Vancouver Marathon.
The entire 26 miles or 42.2km of it.
It's hard.
Very hard.
But also amazing.

I didn't necessarily feel relief when I crossed the Finish Line. I felt happiness. I did it. I could do it. It's just another achievement that was only possibly because of careful planning, relentless tracking, and commitment to seeing it through. Just like anything else. And if I can do this, I can do anything else. I can now focus on improving my time and going after the coveted 3 hours and 30 minutes time so that I can qualify for Boston.

The marathon was an eye-opening experience for me. I started prepping for it in January of this year and since deciding to do this, I knew I had to abide by a strict plan. So, I did what I had to do. I consulted with some smart and capable people who'd run it before, heeded their counsel, stuck by a training agenda that was strict and didn't allow anything to get in the way. No matter how long my work days were, who was visiting, what commitments I'd made to people etc., training was never compromised. Staying on-track was non-negotiable.

While I was relatively fit prior to training for the marathon as I was running 5 days a week, albeit only for 5km, I was also doing yoga, paddleboarding throughout the year, and just generally being active.

Applying intention and added focus to my training is what helped keep me on track. And this is how I can sum it up:

1. Tracking: Get an app that works for you and stick with it. I got MapmyRun after my friend turned me on to it. I tracked every work-out carefully and reviewed it after every run. Then I graduated to a system that worked for me which basically consisted of me running 10km a day while I did a long run every Sunday. On the average, I ran 80km every week. That's the main reason why I managed to have the stamina I had on race day even though I started to train relatively late.

I also used MapmyRun to track the 42.2km run on Marathon Day. Click here to view the details.

2. FitBit: Be daily aware of your physical activity. The Fitbit helped with this. Tremendously.
I used Fitbit Charge and made it a point to keep pace with my friends. Ok, I made it a point to always be ahead of my friends. Being competitive by nature helps with a venture of this sort.

3. Accountability: Surround yourself with people of similar mindset who will support you. I made it a point to confer with friends who understood what racing and marathon-training means. They checked in, made sure I was being kept on-track, and consequently I knew I had to produce stats of my training for them every week. Hence, I couldn't not train. My friends and sypport system in a way helped enforce accountability.

And it doesn't matter how much will power we have, everyone needs to be held accountable.

On the day of the race, I divided the 42.2km distance into 5 sections in my mind. 4 sections consisting of 10km and the last stretch consisting of a very hard 2.2km. The very last stretch.  Parsing out the distance this way helped me process the massive amount of work I had to do. It somehow felt chewable, hackable. After all, I'd been running 10km every day for well over 3 months. I knew I had this! And even though the last 8km felt torturous and I didn't think my lungs could get enough air to keep me vertical, I knew I was too close to that Finish Line to not finish the job I'd started. And I did just that. I went. I saw the same route I'd been training on for months, And I finished.

I couldn't recommend this strongly enough. It will do something special to you. It will fuel you with added confidence and faith in yourself. And it doesn't matter how self-confident you already are, everyone can use more confidence.

And below you can see the stats of my race. I'm already training for the next one. I intend to run it in 3 hours and 40 minutes now. I've got a plan. And I have no doubt I will do it.

Have shoes? Will run!

Ready, set, GO!

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Marathon Prep - One Day Before Race

This is how I feel just about now:

In 12 hours and 30  minutes I will be running the Vancouver Marathon. Yes. It's a done deal. I've got my bib ready. My clothes are laid out and ready to put on. My water and outfit are all on fleek! Yes, on fleek!

This is quite something for me. It's something I'm going to be proud of as it's a whole of 42.2km and I've been prepping for it since December of 2014.

Tonight I feel anxious, excited, nervous, and proud. The best way to get over this mix of powerful emotions is by seeking to get into a zen place so that I'll eventually get to rest and get some sleep. So I will soon go into the bedroom and try to get into a mode of quietude as I get ready to face the anguish of completing an amazing 42.2km run! 

And this is how the journey started. Last spring I moved back to BC after spending a year in Toronto and one of the first things I did upon moving back was competing in a triathlon. I loved it. It was thanks to that experience that I vouched to do the following:

1. Get into paddleboarding - I'd never done it before and now I'm about to compete in a race!
2. Get into wind surfing - I'd never done it and now it's my all-favorite pursuit!
3. Prep for a marathon - I'd never done it and tomorrow I'm actually doing it!!

I have some great people in my life who serve as big inspirations to me. My pal Camille has done marathons in every continent. She was definitely a point of inspiration! And one of the people that has the biggest impact on me, is a big proponent of workout pursuits and I pay close attention to what he says on anything that's outdoorsy. And while he's mostly interested in mountaineering and climbing, what he opines on the matter of running and exercise has weight.

But, in the end, it's what you do that matters. We all have access to great inspiration and great feedback from others. In the end, and especially if you're running a marathon, all that matters is:

- How much have you been running to get ready for this?
- How are you trending? 
- What's your mile per minute or km per minute?
- What's your ideal time to finish 42.2km in?

And my history of training and running can be found here! By the way, I LOVE Map my Run! LOVE IT!

 And while my stats say that I'm trending to finish the first marathon of my life in 4 hours and 35 minutes, I intend to go for 3 hours and 40 minutes. Is it an aggressive goal? Yes! Would I be true to myself if I didn't aim for something like this? NO! 

And you won't be able to answer any of the above-listed questions unless you've done the work, spilled the sweat, and made it a point to make training important.

And I did.

Training for the marathon was something I deeply respected since vouching to do it back in December of 2014. And now, a few hours away from the race, I'm confident in saying one thing:
that I will do and finish the race. I'm ready!

I've worked hard for this. Very hard!

I've done what I've done in every other pursuit in life. I've tracked my activity carefully daily. I know how I trend and how I can trend better. And I've prepared for it. Unapologetically and unequivocally.
All that's left now is a good night's sleep as tomorrow morning I start the journey of accomplishing one of the things on my bucket list.

So, here we go. It's almost go-time. Look forward to reporting after the fact....

True Friends Support Your Dreams and Push You to Be Better

One of my oldest friends and I just vacationed together. What good fun it was! I got to share my love of the Pacific Northwest with him and, boy, was that fun! Fundamentally, the test of a true friendship is how quickly you can pick up after you last left off. He and I met when in grad school and we spent oodles of time together along with other mutual friends of ours. To other people, our group appeared quite appealing and sort of hard to enter. Often they'd say, "we like to hang with you guys but whenever we try to, it's like you guys have your own language." And they were right. We did have our own language but it sort of grew organically and almost unbeknownst to us.

It even got to a point where my closest pals learned Italian so that we would have a language in common to communicate.  If learning a new language doesn't spell friendship, I don't know what does! They learned quickly and really quite naturally. I suppose another important ingredient to a functional and time-resisting friendship is commitment. And, yup, we got that too!

The thing is, true intimacy, much like a viral video, cannot be planned. It just happens. As I think back on our relationship and connection over time all I can pin it down to is every single one of us having a motor and the respective ability to focus on what each of us were pursuing. And when we'd be done doing that at the end of the day, we'd get together and truly enjoy each other. That's what made our connection so appealing. We've all achieved things in our own right. And we all know what it takes to truly work hard and with purpose. We appreciate and acknowledge each others' hustle. And we know how to push one another. And that's what I look for in a true friend. Can you push me to get better? Can I? If the answer is yes then we're destined to be in each others' lives.

Since I'm training for the marathon - which by the way is tomorrow morning!! - I have a pretty strict training schedule that needs to be on-point without exception. What I really love about my pal is that he just eases into it. And he's uber competitive and wants to not only keep up but beat me. And I cannot express how much I love that!

The very thing we did the very next morning was to hit the road and run for 10km, then pick up a double-seater fiberglass kayak, tie it to my car - one of the best purchases I have ever made! - and explore the Pacific Northwest, rain and all. We saw seals and kayaked in the middle of a rain storm. Such fun!

What we had in common was our respective motors. We all pursued different disciplines. My pal's a neuroscientist, the other pal's a mathematician and I'm the literary scholar. Time would fly as we'd spent it together because we shared a wavelength. Moreover, we discussed various topics nightly, after we were done with our respective studies which we'd often do together and in the same spot. In short, we were joined at the hip.

And with friends like that, it doesn't matter how often you get to spend time together. You will pick up exactly right where you left off.

Case in point. "Hey. How was your flight?"
He: "Great. This is such a great city!"
I: "Dude, really! It'll be so much fun."

And that's it. That's all it took to fastforward to the present moment nd we end up exploring some uninhabited islands in the heart of the Pacific Northwest, rain and all, as we strengthen our bodies with a few bites of Cliff Bars.

And, to me, that's what true friendship is. Connecting with people who share your drive and motor and with whom you can pick up right you left off. Friendship is about supporting each others' pursuits and reams. And I'm so ready for the 42.2km run tomorrow.

Thanks, pal and see you next time so that you could be doing this too.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

What Doesn't Get Scheduled, Doesn't Get Done - Running cont.

"If you're running 12k on week x as you train for the marathon, the first 6 or 7km are the easy part. The rest will feel like a race...."

Apparently the two people sitting behind me are discussing running over a hot cup of java. I can feel myself smirking just about now as I type this. The person who's monopolizing the majority of the conversation sounds like the coach. The other person is intently throwing in a 'yes' or 'makes sense.' I could have easily interjected something into that conversation. After all, what they were discussing felt familiar to me. A topic I am getting to know well experientially.

It feels good to hear things like this. People who spend much time governing their physical exercises and general wellbeing. In a way, it's motivating. And while my body feels a tad battered this morning after too much fun on the slopes the day before and a heck of a lot of falls - hey, nothing ventured, nothing gained! - I feel like I have to get right back to my routine the very next morning and reclaim my usual 10km. And today I'm aiming for something better. Today I'm aiming for a 14km mid-week achievement.

Every hour of every day is planned and the time that goes to running feels especially good. I look forward to the activity. And if this makes one sound too structured, no worries. There's time in the schedule set aside for spontaneity too. Insert pertinent emoji here....

What does't get scheduled, doesn't get done. I learned that early on. I must have been 5. It stuck. I'm grateful for that. In hindsight, I'm especially grateful for that. But back to running.

I look forward to what it will feel like when I pass the 5km mark and I can rip down a hill as I get back to my car and complete my 10km. And there's nothing like running right at dawn. I don't know why it matters so much to me now that I run 10km daily, but it does. It's not just the physical benefits of this activity that I'm drawn to. I'm especially drawn to how I feel and think. There's a general sense of 'can-do' and 'heck yeah' that's tied to it. And the sensation intensifies with more time and more kilometers in the books.

And this week I saw concretely just what one of the great side-effects of daily running is. I could schlep my board up and down all day and it felt as light as a feather. My boarding buddy wondered how come I wasn't tired after a few hours of steady activity. I asked him what he meant by that. Hadn't we just started?! Apparently, no. Yet another great side effect of running daily: not feeling tired and maximizing one's time on the board. More, please!

And a great way to keep focused and on-track when it comes to running is to find ways to supplement one's training with some other activity. Boredom's antidote? Boarding! I mean, diversity!

Monday, February 9, 2015

Why I Love Wearables - Fitbit Mania Is Well Warranted: A Review

A pal of mine pointed out to me that I tend to use the word 'motor' a lot. I suppose he's right. But it's a word that lends itself to frequent use by virtue of what it signifies: those that are mostly, usually on.
Those that always want to be doing, moving, getting things done, exploring. Or as the saying goes: Agito ergo sum i.e.: I move therefore I am.

And like goes with like. All of my closest friends and associates have this in common: they have a motor that tends to be on the majority of the time. And using things like a Fitbit or an Up24 allows one, who's in the habit of being on, to further finesse one's state of being on.

I stumbled into wearables a good while back. Being struck by the bug of neophilia and thoroughly in love with technology, I tend to get drawn to anything and everything new in its realm. Plus, in order to truly have a feel for something I have to have hands-on experience with it. My car, I'm told, is a veritable shop of gadgets. To me, it's best to always be prepared but I suppose I'm digressing.

While I'm an iOS-er through and through, I did play extensively with the LG and Samsung watches but since they don't connect to my Apple devices I had to gift them to members of my family and instead directed my attention to Jawbone and Fitbit which I could easily sync to my iPhone.

I first settled on the Jawbone Up24.  I used this model for a good half a year. In terms of accuracy this unit delivers. It tracks movement and sleep really well. Plus, the alarm feature on it comes in handy and I find it stronger and better than the one on the Fitbit. For a while, I actually was using both at the same time but that's another post.

I started using it after I completed the first races of the year in 2014. It was after I picked up wind surfing and paddleboarding. My use of the wearables was more of a byproduct of all the exercise I was doing. However, the reason why I moved away from the Up24 is because I moved past it. I grew and I needed more. The more I was doing, the bigger the needs.

I lead a very active life. In addition to running 10km a day, I am very engaged in my work which allows me to be highly mobile. Plus, after a long work day, the day doesn't end there for me. I crave more activity and I shift my attention to yoga, biking, lifting and every weekend I either paddleboard, wind surf or snowboard.

Hence, a wearable that's a. water-proof, that b. allows me to see what time it is, c. that has caller ID so that I know when I'm overdoing it and I need to get home by comes in handy. And this is why I switched to the Fitbit Charge. Which I love! But something tells me soon I will graduate to the next model, the Charge HR because that's just what's been happening and that's the natural progression of things.

Wearables fit well with my nature. The fact that I can now track every aspect of my daily activity is a huge plus in my life. I get to monitor why my pace is slower or faster in certain reliefs and how to go about gaining more speed. In short, I'm in tracking heaven!

Naturally, all of this tracking led me to one expected end point: run a marathon!

Of course. I suppose a marathon is a direct byproduct of running 10km every single day of the week. All of a sudden, 10km feels like child's play. And you want more. And more. And more. And your insatiable nature takes over and you wonder what's next.

The other great things about the fitbit is the social component of it. You can see how you stack up against the other people in your network which will then push you to do more and be better. It's a superb way to monitor your activity and that of the community. After all, regardless of how on our motors are, we all need other people to help push us further.

So, if you don't have one, I highly recommend that you get one. Not only am I enjoying mine, which by the way connects well with the Map my Run app which is what I use for my marathon training and daily running, I also got some for my family. They're all hooked as they keep counting their steps and go for the ideal 10k steps a day.

Hence, happy tracking, folks!

Sunday, September 28, 2014

What I Learn from Windsurfing

I live in a beautiful part of the world. I get to get in my car, which is fully equipped with a fantastic rack for hauling my gear, get my coffee and, vroom, in a few minutes I'm on the beach. Ready to greet the ocean and challenge myself.

I find I provide good quality of work during the week, good quality of sociality to my loved ones throughout the week, and have a generally solid existence due to the work I put into my physical pursuits such as running and all the water sports I'm pursuing. There's a lot of truth to the "work hard, play hard" adage. 

The water has been calling me since day one. There's something so centering and therapeutic about the ocean that no other thing can seem to match.

This summer I got to really get into paddleboarding and I feel I'm so much the better and the healthier as a result.

Transitioning to windsurfing came naturally. While paddleboarding, I'd come across a lot of windsurfers and would at times engage in conversation with them while out on the water and aways from the shore. I first flirted with the idea of windsurfing when I was a teenager but then life got very busy and I moved to a land-locked state to go to university and the sports of choice in that part of the US were snow-supported.

But now I'm fortunate to live in a place where I get to explore both the water and the snow and how could I not!

Windsurfing is not easy. It's not. It's hard work. It requires concentration, a strong upper body, and just basic grit and relentlessness. Plus, the gear is no joke. In addition to the right board, one needs to invest in the right sail and all the additional accoutrement that will make getting into this sport not only easier but more fun. In sum, it's not like running where all you need is a pair of good shoes. This sport requires a lot. But when you can stand up and go with the wind, there's nothing like it. Nothing!

Putting the sail together, connecting the mast, and getting the board and the sail surf-ready doesn't happen at the wink of an eye. It requires much focus. But I find the hands-on-ness of that whole process really intriguing as well.

And when you're in the ocean and you're doing tacks and jibes as your back is to the wind and let it carry you places, man, it feels so great! No, amazing!

Plus, if paddling with purpose was pretty hardcore for your core, well, windsurfing is a heck of a lot of work for the entire body. It's not just the arms that get a major workout. The upper legs and the core get put to the test as well.

Windsurfing is one of the few activities that makes me fall out of time. Completely. From the moment early on a weekend morning that I put my Level Six layers on to getting on the board and attempting to 'read wind' the best way I can, I feel one with the water, the wind and other surfers around me and I have no way of explaining what that's like. One simply needs to experience this great sport, to get it.