Sunday, March 12, 2017

Nature Calls

You have no idea how long it has taken me to actually write this post, a post or even anything to be truthful. A lot of words and thoughts have been circling inside my head and I have been waiting for the right ones to reappear every time I recycle my drawer of notions, hoping that when the time comes I'd have the perfect sentences to put on paper. It didn't happen. I have developed this sense of quality in whatever I make that cannot be shared without proper inspection, and it seems to have failed every single time. So, let us start the way we did before, by simply writing what comes to mind. 

I have been living in the Bay area for about 6 months now and I can easily say that I have found a precise balance to my life. This did not come easily and can be off-putting sometimes when poorly planned. These different areas of my life that make up this balance, have all been extremely time consuming and tend to fight one another when one takes a bit more than usual. That's simply trial and error. But like most beautiful things, it doesn't last, and away it goes as you keep moving forward. Lingering in the past is the easiest, but also the roughest route you can take. 

Time is one dimension that science hasn't allowed us to control, which seems unfair, but I believe it allows us to turn to others that are attainable even if it takes an unsettling amount of tics from the long hand. 

For a while now, Yosemite has crept inside my head and made its appearance within my drawer even though I had never put it there to begin with. And with heart ache, comes escape or closure. And with closure, you can escape from time for a very short period. With that, I chose nature. 

For as long as I can recall, being stuck inside my head, which isn't big, but seems to contain an entire galaxy inside it, has been something I have dealt with. I used to feel so alone and not in control at a younger age because things I couldn't control would overwhelm my young self. Through the nights and years, I have tamed that beast to be able to go to sleep peacefully and understand what I was able to make of life. With long flights, nights, car rides, training sessions, I have experienced myself over and over again, going through hundreds of scenarios to find the best outcome even if it was out of my reach. That's how I deal with my emotions. I don't show them and I rarely share them, but they are there. This time, I wanted to flush out months and months of scenarios and solutions, and simply enjoy the things I truly could not contain. Yosemite. 

I set out to find myself for a short weekend. I wanted to find more solutions, but all I found was peacefulness and the last page of a chapter. 

Let me take you on that trip with with me. 

I had been planning this excursion for quite a few weeks now knowing I'd be camping and hiking alone in the middle of February. I left early on a Saturday morning with my gear for a 4 hour drive through what California had become, green. For the past month or so, California had been flooded, literally, with a unheard amount of rain which quickly resolved the drought issue and allowed the rolling hills to be vibrant green. A very pretty drive.

Inside the park, covered in snow, I found myself smiling at what seemed to my subconscious as utopia. This was my first time inside the valley and nothing pleases me more than the cold a certain extent. 

There I was, walking inside the legendary, flooded, Camp 4 site with a shattered soul hoping to find some bandaids. I set up my tent and laid there for a bit looking at Sentinel Rock out of the zipped down door while breathing in a perfectly balanced crisp air. I fell asleep; I think I was at peace. 

Once I woke up, I quickly packed my bag to start my hike up to the higher falls. Little did I know what I was getting myself into. I started slaloming up the north side of the valley, from my camp site onto the wet stones that served as a path. The more I climbed, the more tired I felt, my head was hurting and the view wasn't changing. Like any hike, we never really enjoy it the whole time. But finally, I had reached what I thought was the end of my hike by coming face to face with the mighty Yosemite falls.
My path wasn't ending though, it only led me to a narrow slanted path through ice and snow. I had nothing to lose by pushing on. This is where hiking turned to mountaineering.

As the path climbed new heights and a new face, snow was starting to appear more than ever until it became all that was. Not many were going up, but a lot were coming down. I was ecstatic being there looking up at something so unreal and massive that could, at any time, take me away. I remember stopping and looking back at the valley and telling myself "I wouldn't be upset dying here" and continued on.

I found fewer people making their way down who seemed experienced and were letting me know checkpoint times. I had set my turn around point at 4:30pm to keep it safe since rain was a usual resident here. The fog was starting to creep in, somewhat fast, up the mountains and taking away my sunlight. One of the last guys that I encountered told me to take the right path when it seemed to split.

When I found that fork, I went right, only to discover a steep snow climb which I had no crampons for. I took out my hatchet and started picking my way up while my legs drilled though the ice and my adrenaline pushed my muscles harder. That was a moment of fright. Once I got up to the regular path, I pushed my turn around time by 15mins. This allowed me to make it to the sign and start making my way back down.

I took a moment to sit and take in what I had just experienced coming up all this way. I felt accomplished in a non-glorified way. 

I started sliding my way through the path, twisting my ankle here, hyperextending my knee there, trying to make up the time before sunset. As I came down, a group of young adults were still coming up. Classic line was asked "We're close, right?" Which I rebounded with "I can't really give you a true estimate. You should come down with me though." The fog was really thick and the sun was setting. We were 3000ft up in the air. They continued on and I slipped down and away. The moment I saw the rock path starting to appear, I felt confident in my survival, which seems funny now, but true in the moment. As I ran down the rocky and river-y trail, I was competing with the light to see who would win. My last 25min on the trail were in complete darkness and enabled me to lose my way 2-3 times. I was truly concerned for the groups still far behind. But I finally made it back to my tent and was ready for some warmth. 

I threw on as many layers as possible, ate my soup and started reading while a light rain was covering the surface of the site. It was only 7pm, but I was done and cold. My boots were wet and so were my only pair of pants. That night wasn't my best sleep and I didn't care since that wasn't why I was there. I came out that morning with the residue of light coming through the clouds and fog. It was freezing cold, my clothes were wet and I was drinking dissolvable coffee, but I was smiling. I made friends with whom I believed were Canadian by their accent and exchanged a few stories. I packed my gear up and planned my next hike. If you were there camping that weekend in flooded camp sites, we all knew we were from the same planet. 

The last thing I wanted to do was stand at the feet of Half Dome and simply look up. I wanted to feel small. It is so easy to believe that we are the center of existence when everything revolves around ourselves. Remembering that you are just a simple speck of dust to something larger and stronger than you is an amazing feeling. I saw some beautiful nature on that trail as well as the effects of recent rain storms on flora and fauna.

It was a "quick and easy" hike compared to the day before. I jumped in my car and left my utopia. On my way out, I snapped a few photographs that somehow seem to be unreal and proved that this heavenly place is one that I can come to in time of need.

The shutter clicked, I smiled. 

Much love. 

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

High Risks, High Rewards (Sometimes)

Before we get started with this story, let me put this out there: pictures represent moments, not a lifestyle. I try to make an awesome and memorable time out of every of trip, whether it be going home or moving out. In this case, I had to move across the country so of course it’s going to be grand!

Moving to California didn’t feel minimal at all. Not just because they are +3000 miles of road between the two coasts, but because so many people, who we now have forgotten besides Jed, Jethro, Elly May, and Granny, have passed the same long dusty miles to a better life full of growth and gold, even if it meant losing their life. That’s exactly what I was thinking about while looking out the window at the uninhabited lifeless piece of land they call Kansas. But isn’t it crazy to think that people, just like me, have been migrating west for over a hundred years, besides the fact that I’m in the car for a few days with AC while they were on chariots getting killed by prairie Indians? I think so and that’s why this trip meant so much more.

Every stop on this trip represents a chapter in this little story and if you’re up for it, tag along on what we called The Rendez Vous.

Chapter 1: Jacksonville

Home away from home. Even though it was only a 3 hour drive North of Melbourne, we had to make a stop for a few days to revisit our old stomping grounds, indulge in some friendship time, and give the old St. Johns a good last wave before we headed out. I personally think it was a must for Emily to comeback there and put a final closure after a graduating a few months before. I was lucky to come back many times for two years after I graduated, but she had had to pack her bags and leave the day after graduation. It just felt right, and recognizing that comfort is what is so appealing to that city.

Chapter 2: Memphis

This was our first test as nomads. We were to drive around 10 hours to Tennessee and be able to enjoy what it had to offer for 36 hours at most. This stop is truly what made me take the northern route instead of the south. When our friend Erik told us he was moving there, I had a responsibility to commit to that friendship. It does get difficult with time to keep tight bonds like you did in college or in high school. I think that I have done a pretty nice job with that in the past years. That drive was neither long or short, but definitely set a standard for the rest of the trip. After arriving and getting acclimatized with the group they call “Road Warriors” for Pike, we headed out to Beale Street and consumed all of its magic. The only thing you need to know from that night is that this sentenced was pronounced: “Ladies and gentlemen, this here is Dr. Herman Green! He’s been playing on Beale Street since 1945, he played with Miles Davis, John Coltrane, and backed up for Marilyn Monroe…” And there he was, this old little black man, sitting on his stool at 86 with his feet hanging going back and forth like a little kid, holding his saxophone in one hand and toasting the crowd with a glass of vodka in the other.
The next day, we tried and explore the city by eating The Arcade Restaurant, which is famous for feeding a few well-known souls such as Elvis Presley sat in the back booth and being in over a half a dozen movies. With some food, we pressed on the day in a tiny coffee shop up the street. This is where my relaxed self became a little anxious as we realized that every stop we were about to make from now on wasn’t going to any longer than a night’s sleep. First fail, no more camping available at the Grand Canyon. Second fail, where do we camp in Colorado? Third fail, cutting out our Omaha stop from our route, which meant leaving early, very early for Colorado the next day. A migraine then set in, not only a metaphorical one, but a real one as well in Emily’s skull. The only way we could actually make good time to Denver is if we left at 4 a.m. from the apartment for one of the longest journeys of my life, a 17-hour drive through Arkansas, Mississippi, and Kansas. We slept three hours and made a quick stop on Beale Street for a quick picture, which included quiet streets, bright lights, and scavenging got-any-extra-change-hungry men.

Chapter 3: Denver

This section is what is called “Go through hell, before getting into Heaven”.  You know it’s long when both drivers switch spots 4-5 times. From the time I crossed the Mississippi River into Arkansas, the sky poured on me like it was a judgment time and the deluge was coming. 3 straight hours of hard rain, which I thought Florida could use, was part of a storm that had only destruction on its agenda, mostly for Louisiana. From then on, countless miles of what I deemed to be nothing through the mid-west passed by. No joke I think I dealt with it better than Emily did due to the fact that I’ll sit there and erg for an hour watching the same numbers over and over on a 5-inch screen. We knew that we wouldn’t find an open campsite at 10 p.m. so we got lucky and stayed with a family friend.
The next morning, we drove a simple hour and a half up the mountains to a place called Heaton Bay Campground. With barely anyone there, we searched for the best spot available. That spot wasn’t technically an “allowed” camping site, but we made it work and wow, what a view we had. With no words, this picture says it all.

That was the very first time we camped together. After days on the road, we finally got to sit down by the fire and enjoy some of the most beautiful scenery I’ve ever seen. In those moments, you feel so content that nothing else matters, that you could stay here and be happy. I believe that feeling is what fulfills you as a traveler. That day and those feelings will be engraved in my memory for the rest of my life. Funny thing is while we were finishing packing up, this older man came out of nowhere and was rowing on some of the best water I’ve seen in a while. Had me excited about getting back to practice mode. Our next drive was an easy slalom drive through the Rockies and by rivers. The size of anything and everything is unimaginable as well the brightness of some colors. Straight up creative work by the Maker.

Chapter 4: Salt Lake City

Finally a little taste of regular life. I’m not joking when I say we did not see one Mormon. The both of us hadn’t visited this city previously so it was exciting and neat to discover it together. We had planned to stay one night with our friends who had just moved there after graduating from college. It is amazing what a shower can make you feel after a few days in the wilderness. We didn’t have to plan anything, just had to follow. They took us to one of the last final summer concerts the city had been putting up during the last few months. Uber, food trucks, beer, hipsters, etc; it was a nice dose of reality. It’s nice to take a break on a trip like ours: sleeping in AC, having a shower, not sleeping in fire-embedded clothes…
After saying goodbye and thank you to them, we needed breakfast. One, to eat, and two, to plan. Where the hell were we heading next? There was no way we’d make it in time to the Grand Canyon, even for first come first serve campgrounds. So, Zion it was.

Chapter 5: Zion National Park

Utah is a beautiful place, but most of it looks the same. At the bottom the mountain, we picked up a few things to eat, a s’mores starter pack, and some gas. We paid our way in the park and took an immediate right to the campground we had planned on staying at. “Sorry guys, it’s all full! Here’s a list of other sites.” A little tired, we made a u-turn and put it in park while calling the closest site. “Yup, I got 3 left!” And we peeled out of there. This, this is what you really call “glamping”: bathrooms, showers, and wifi. The rest of our day was dedicated to lying in the river right by our tent, a few pictures, talking to Linda (a very nice lady), eating dinner with a mountain façade being blasted by a red sunset, spoiling ourselves with s’mores, and watching episode 3 of Stranger Things. Perfect night? Maybe.

With the hopes of getting to Los Angeles on time the next day, we woke up before the sun, made instant coffee with a dirty egg crusted cast iron pan, packed up and headed out on a trail. This trail consisted on climbing higher and higher to three different emerald natural pools. The fresh morning air made the hike so enjoyable with the sunrise. By the time it was 10 a.m., we were back on the road, this time toward Los Angeles. The start of our problems…

Chapter 6: Los Angeles

Happy as we could be, the drive to L.A. was exciting as we were going to finally stay in one place for 3 days straight. I was editing pictures while Emily was catching up with her sister on the phone, when all of a sudden she looked at me and pointed at the temperature gauge. The needle was completely off the Hot/Cold grid and pointing straight down; we were about to drive through Las Vegas. Now if you haven’t been out there yet, let me put it into context: it’s in the middle of the desert. We took the first exit, called people who could help us out, stopped at a repair shop only to be told by the owner that it didn’t matter and that it would cost us $65 just to diagnose it. We took our chances and left, bought some cold water and food, and headed out into the desert windows cracked and no AC. Some of the most miserable hours of my life it was. Emily kept falling asleep from the heat as I kept sweating more and more into my seat. Adding that to the unforgivable L.A. traffic, we ultimately made it to my sister’s house in Hermosa Beach where her and her fiancé welcomed us with open arms… which we begged to not give due to our repulsive bodies. There are no true words that can describe two days worth of camping scum as well as +4 house of soaking sweat, slowly peeling off your skin as the soapy water engulfs your entire body. Definitely a test, definitely passed it.
The next three days were some of the best moments I’ve had lately, constantly laughing drinking eating, and discovering what these beaches had to offer. It was such a relief and quality time spent, but we had to move on with the final leg of our trip.

Chapter 7: Yosemite

With a 5 a.m. depart time, we gave ourselves enough time to drive to Yosemite and make a few neat stops on the way. The long drive kept getting better and better as we closed in on the Sierra Nevada. Our last suggested stop before heading into the mountains was Convict Lake, right outside of Mammoth. 

That scene was unbelievable and perfect for pictures. After a few minutes of soaking in its majesty, we headed back to the car where I inserted my key into the ignition, hot and fresh out the kitchen…sorry. And twisted my wrist to no sound of the engine nor electricity. After a few attempts, someone came to give us a hand, but it was no use, the car just wouldn’t start. Luckily, there was no service. We finally had to walk down to a lodge for one or two bars to call AAA. Not in a million years would I have believed the tow truck made it in less that 30 minutes, but he did, and he looked at me and said “I’ll get that thing working” which ended up not being a lie. He escorted us to Mammoth where I had to wait to replace my $142 battery (+labor) for two hours. I was pretty bummed out at that moment because I had exceeded my funds for the trip, I was tired, and hadn’t had any problems until the last few days. But my dad, like always, made me see the positive in this situation: “Not a bad place to break down, huh? Smell the roses.” Once everything was settled, we drove into the park and dear Lord, what an amazing painting. We still didn’t know if we were going to find an open spot at the campground we had planned on staying, but we were ready to drive home if needed. With high risks came high rewards, which included a sweet tent spot calling our name.

Chapter 8: Driving home

The morning of our last day, it was cold, like 45 degrees cold, but we packed our bags, went on a walk and had a fulfilling breakfast at the main lodge before heading out. It’s funny how much energy the sun brings to your body when you’ve been freezing. Right after we left, we made a tiny stop for a picture on the road, which concluded Emily’s trip series, and allowed us to finish off the last leg of our journey. Well, we made another stop 15 minutes down the road, where high risks didn’t bring high rewards. I had left my Canon 10-18mm lens on the back of the car… Nowhere to be found, we had to press on and we said goodbye to the forest where some of my expensive equipment was spending the rest of its days.

For the most part, almost every part of this trip went according to plan, even when the plan was changed. We did have a few issues, but the experience we gained from this 12 day car voyage was worth way more than our losses. And I definitely believe that Emily was the best traveling buddy. This sort of trip puts a lot of stress on friends and even more on a couple so I consider myself extremely lucky.

I hope you enjoyed this description as much as we enjoyed the journey.

Much love.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

And The Human Of The Month Award Goes To...

"There's always room for a story that can transport people to another place."J.K. Rowling

I always try to make sure I can describe to you guys my experiences and tell you the best story possible. While sometimes that can seem challenging, other moments are simply perfect for storytelling.

A few weeks ago, Emily, her family, and myself went on vacation to Hawaii. The two of us flew to Honolulu and then Lihue on Kauai. Never in my life have I spent such a fulfilling week. Imagine an island where two hours of driving can take you from one end to the other via one single road. With a wet and green North Shore to a dry and red Canyon, Kauai to me is single-handedly one of the best places on Earth.

A photo posted by Scott Del Vecchio (@scottdelvecchio) on

A photo posted by Scott Del Vecchio (@scottdelvecchio) on

What an amazing week it was, day after, day, being able to head to the beach and swim with sea turtles and tropical fish, hike ankle-rolling hours in the heat and mud to experience one of the most intense waterfalls onto my skin, and simply watch the contrasting turquoise water hit the black volcanic rocks that outline this perfect little piece of land in the middle of the largest ocean on this planet.

A photo posted by Scott Del Vecchio (@scottdelvecchio) on

A photo posted by Scott Del Vecchio (@scottdelvecchio) on

I wake up every morning thankful for the life I’ve been living, especially those days where I’m starting a new day in a complete different part of the world. I was brought up on the idea that I should always treat others the way I’d want to be treated and when it comes to it, I believe I’ve been somewhat successful at it, but not perfect. On the 4th day, we drove down to Lihue from Princeville to surf Kalapaki beach with one of Emily’s friends. If you don’t know that beach, it’s a chill, but reefy surf spot near the airport. Being the careless human that I can be, I paddled out to the lineup with my best Gopro and a simple head strap. Now please understand that I take really good care of my equipment, but in this situation, I was so stoked on life being able to surf in Kauai that I got a little imprudent. Third wave in, while pulling back to return to the lineup, whitewash hit my head and just like that, my camera was gone… What do you do in those circumstances? Do you spend the rest of your enjoyable day looking through an unknown reef covered in sea urchins for what are technically assembled pieces of plastic? Or do you just enjoy life as it is? As a non-materialistic person, I chose to enjoy the rest of my session; and it was definitely worth it. Of course I spent about an hour after looking around with goggles for the little action camera, but instead I only could find large beautiful fish. As we were sitting there, Nik, Emily’s friend, was asking me how I wasn’t upset and why it seemed like I didn’t care, so I told him this:

“I’ve been super lucky since I got my first camera that I haven’t had any problems or losses, and that it was just a camera, nothing more. Just a tool.”

So that day ended with myself and I talking about how I would return a found camera if I were put in that situation and wouldn’t it be awesome if someone did the same for me. But I also realized that the ocean is a big place and some things just cannot be found. With hope, I still posted on the “lost &found” Kauai craigslist.

Let’s take this a week later. I’m lying in bed watching Netflix with Emily and happened to look at my emails while all of a sudden I see that I received a new anonymous comment on my last blog post. So I read it and it said the following: 

My heart sunk in the best way possible. I had given up on ever seeing that little camera again, and now I was given a new opportunity to do so. I immediately called Joe and just told him my story. He was the nicest guy and told me how he had found it with a tone that let me know it was my camera. I asked him if it was truly mine by saying it was attached to a head strap, and he answered “Yup that’s it! Wait, I was supposed to ask you to describe it at the beginning of the conversation ha-ha-ha!” We continued to talk and converse about Hawaii for a few minutes until we parted ways.

The fact that a random man, on vacation with his family, found a lost GoPro in the rocks and took it home to find who’s it was, then took a screenshot of my face, found my name on the camera’s wifi, looked up my social media, read my Twitter, Instagram, blog to make sure it was mine, and to leave a comment on my page to let me know he had found it is beyond incredible. It’s incredible because of the work he put in to find me, but it is particularly inspiring in a time where so much negativity is among us. Joe did not hesitate to help out a complete stranger and a small act of compassion such as this one goes a very long way.

So Joe, on behalf of my family and I, we present you the Human of the Month Award.

You’re a legend!

Much love.

Monday, June 20, 2016

First day of Summer and my California Life

Today is the first day of Summer Solstice, which means awesome trips, the much-needed sun, and slowing down the pace of life. It is also the first day of my American life, this time on the West Coast. Let me place into context that this is the third time I’ve moved back to the U.S. from France.

During the last two years, I’ve been living in France with my mom and going to school. Even though it wasn’t the easiest of situations given my girlfriend still lived in Florida, I cherished this time back to the place I came from. I think that having traded Paris for Melbourne (Florida) was a very good choice, but also cost me. Those 7 years spent in Florida made me more into an American, which isn’t a bad thing, but takes away from my native side. So when it came time to start my master’s in France, I was truly behind, having a hard time expressing myself verbally and not using the right syntax. Through each month being there, I’ve been able to bring my French level back to an equilibrium with my American level.

It wasn’t easy saying goodbye to my French life though. Going to school, literally having fun at work, training with some of my best friends, and getting to pop in and out one of the best cities in the World. I loved cycling everywhere I went, living on an island, being part of the French Institute of Sport, because every one of those things are special to France. While I’m moving away from that life, I’m sort of bringing it with me to California to start something new. Luckily, we are right next to the most European city in the U.S.: San Francisco!

It does seem like I haven’t stopped moving from one place to another, but isn’t that what everybody tells us to do in our 20’s? Yes I’m sort of settling down, for now, but the main reason for coming to California is to finally live with Emily. We’ve put up with a mighty distance relationship including a 6-hour time difference and not much time together. It wasn’t easy, but it’s over now. Another reason for coming out West is to search for gold. I’m just kidding, this isn’t 1850! The Bay Area is full of start-ups and other opportunities for sport science, which makes me super excited.

I can't stop thinking about how lucky am I to have such an insanely great group of people that surrounded me every day. Without them, this experience would have been dull. I got to make new friends as well as reconnect with my old ones. The opportunities with them have been stellar from spending 20hrs in London to a weekend in Vilnius as well as traveling France for rowing. 

On the rowing side, the past two seasons were completely different from one another, but allowed me to learn about how performance isn’t only about training and includes adapted approaches based on your situation. I’ve rowed and raced about every type of boat possible with some really good rowers. I think I’ve evolved into a better all around athlete and need to focus more on my power application. At least that is what has been a negative factor in my training. I am not sure about what this year has planned for me, but once I figure out which club I’ll join, it won’t go unnoticed.

One door closes and another one opens, that’s the only way I can describe this transition. I’m excited for the future and wish you all a great summer. I’ll be hitting up Hawaii for now. Enjoy.

Much love.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Manage Well & You Can Do It All

Remember how easy it was to be active in high school? What about when we were student-athletes in college and working out was just part of our daily routine? Is that still the case?

Once you graduate, you get a job, and your time doesn’t belong to you anymore, which is the main reason why people forget to focus on their body and health. Do you really think “I’ll get through this first year of work and then I’ll start” is the right way to go about it?

No! It’s not…

Your health and well-being is important on top of being completely correlated to your professional workflow and efficiency. Let's talk about what we can do to bring up our fitness, happiness, and overall health.

Schedule yourself

Let's be real, you did it in high school and college, why would adulting be any different? Yeah you have a job and you might be a little more tired than when you were 18, but remember how you would rally in the middle of the week to go out and party even though you knew you had practice at 6am and class at 8am?

First tip: decide what are your priorities.
Do you want to be active every day? Do you want to run a marathon? Do you want to make heads turn this summer? The reason doesn't matter as long as it's important to you.

Second tip: plan out your day.
If you know you have to work late, do your workout in the morning. Plus you’ll start your day on a far better note! It has been a fight for me this year to do this because my class schedule changed all the time and didn't always match my teammates’. One day I’m rowing at 6am, another I’m running during my lunch break, or just erging by myself at 8:30pm. This is where your priorities kick in, if you really want it, you’ll do it even if it’s at an unreasonable time. Why do you think they made 24/7 gyms!?

Third tip: set yourself for success.
Ok, so we are getting up super early or going to bed super late, what’s my next step? Sleep and eat accordingly. That’s all you need to do to complete the circle. When I need to get up early, I go to bed earlier. ALWAYS try to get those 8 hours! And if I know I won’t have time to cook or eat during my lunch break, pre-make it so you have it ready once you’re done. Damn, it's so simple, right?!

Commit. It’s a lifestyle.

Once you’ve started, it just becomes a lifestyle until someone or something starts being an obstacle. That’s when you have to commit!

First tip: No obstacles.
This is exactly like trying to quit smoking, don’t let people around you dictate your life. I’m not saying you should push people away, not at all! Actually, surround yourself with people who live this same lifestyle. Occasionally, a girlfriend/boyfriend/friend will try to convince you to do something else instead of working out. They need to understand how important this way of life is to you and what your goals are, but you need to communicate it to them right away. They will most likely accept how you work and might even join. This doesn't mean you shouldn't have fun, but don't cut out your workout.

Second tip: surround yourself. 
I'll be the first one to tell you it’s miserable to train by yourself. You have to do it sometimes, in the rain, in the cold, against the wind, in the dark, late at night, but if you can be part of a community or just have a training partner, do it! It’s a great way to keep your motivation up as well as having some inner squad competition.

Third tip: Find an alternative.
I guess most of us follow a training program. If you don’t, this is a good lesson to hear. For some, sticking to a precise plan is important, but it happens to find yourself in a situation where you can’t do what was planned like a lack of equipment. It is alright to switch workouts around, still respecting some rules like no heavy lifting back-to-back. I found myself a few times this year not having enough time for these long lifts we do for rowing at lunchtime, which was super frustrating and enabled me to skip it altogether. If you can fill in that gap with something similar, do it! You’ll gain something instead of just sitting around all day.

Yeah we all do a lot of stuff during the day, but every time you click “Next Episode” on Netflix or keep refreshing your Facebook feed, you are surely wasting time you could be using to treat your body like a temple. We all have to adapt to not having sports in our schedule anymore and work at including it in our daily life.

Just remember that when you are complaining about not having enough time, men and women are going to the Olympics to represent you and your country all while having kids and a job.

Much love.  

Monday, May 9, 2016

Getting Out of Town - Training Camp

Small boat season is over with and now it’s time to hop in the 8+. Back at JU, I wasn’t often worried about my spot in the top boat, but here things are a little different. Ever since I switched to starboard, I have been a lot more focused on my stroke than before, which is good and bad at the same time. I don’t trust my automatic reaction to irregularities as much as on port.

Out of 10 men, the coaches had to pick the top 8 rowers for this boat. Some spots were already assigned due to qualifying performances at small boat nationals. For the remaining four spots in boat, we had to race 4 x 750m all out sprints in different crew combinations. That weekend went well for me as I won 3 out of 4 races with the smallest losing time gap.

With the end of classes nearing and inter-team racing, I felt a lot more relieved. Since then, we’ve done a lot of rowing and a ton of heavy lifting due to the fact that we are now racing a 500m sprint. It feels so good lifting and working on my max weight. We’ve been extremely lucky to be given a new-ish Filippi 8+ and be put in the best equipment. In the past month, there has been some work in the 8+, but also in the 4- since some work late or were out of town on vacation. I was able to leave for a little over a week to head back to Jacksonville and watch Emily and my friends graduate as well as work on my papers for finals week.

Once I landed back at Charles de Gaulle airport, I had just under 24h to get situated at school, work, and practice before leaving that next morning for training camp. It gets old rowing in the same place all the time especially when the weather doesn’t agree with you. So we packed for a long weekend, thanks to a national holiday, for Brive la Gaillarde near the South West of France. 

We got to work on just rowing the 8+, put a lot of miles in, and focus on working together all while adjusting our own little issues. I am sitting 7 seat right behind the stroke, who couldn’t come and was replaced by our top rower Romain DELACHAUME. Last year, he finished 6th at the World Championships in the 2+.

We did a little bit of racing, but this upcoming weekend is our first race (Thomas will be missing from the lineup) to see where we stand amongst our region. We have about a month before Nationals. I have one week of finals starting today, training goes on, and no jetlag. I'm a happy guy!

Until then, here is a little video of our coxswain killing it at 5 seat for our first session while filling in for Thomas.

Much love.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

No One is Invincible, Wear a Helmet.

So a few weeks ago after not qualifying for small boat nationals, I was pretty bummed out. Yeah it wasn't on my list of major goals for the year, but it was still something we worked hard for. That next week, while the ones who had were taking a break to recover, Lukas and I decided not to. I wanted to challenge myself, push myself, and he was the perfect teammate to do that with. We rarely do anything out of the ordinary training wise so I thought creating a little triathlon challenge would be fun. 12km row, 20km bike, and 8km run. For the people who do traditional triathlons, don't laugh, we aren't used to it... Check out the video here!

After I posted that video, my cousin Skip, who has been training a lot on his mountain bike, called me out BIG TIME on not wearing a helmet. I sort of felt dumb, realized I should, and bought one. Now let me put this into context: I have been riding my bike since day one of being in France. I take the exact same route to go to school and back almost every day. I'm comfortable riding alongside cars, but I'm always aware of my surroundings. I've also never had an accident...don't ask me to knock on wood, it's too late!

Two days after getting my new helmet, I was riding to class, a little late but what's new, right before 8 a.m. As I was passing my old elementary school, my side of the street was clear, no cars ahead. I did see a delivery truck stop in the road on the opposite side with its warning lights on. Aware, I kept pedaling and looked out for any cars coming around. Then the driver stepped out close to his truck, took a few steps toward the back, waved thank you/sorry to the cars he was blocking and darted across the street at the last moment without looking right, which happened to be right in front me. I didn't even have enough time to touch my breaks, I tried to react by swerving a little, but I just hit him full speed. After that moment, which felt like I just got rocked by an NFL player, I remember just laying there in the middle the street on my back. I had flipped over my bike at an angle that made me land on my hip, knee, and elbow. I remember thinking "Well damn, I'm not going to be able to seat race this weekend..." But I got up, people who had watched it happen rushed to see if I was ok and the delivery guy limped over to the side walk. I told the people I was ok, which in their mind apparently meant they could leave, even though they were witnesses, since it was rush hour. Luckily, others were calling the firemen. Once I made sure that the other guy wasn't dying, I then collected myself, and thought, "Damn! I'm happy I had that helmet." I'm not going to lie, I love riding around town with no helmet, but when you are cruising around 30km/hr (18.6mi/hr) and something happens, you want to be wearing a helmet.

Yes, cars and other motor vehicles are dangerous on the road. Unless you ride yourself or you are conscious of others, there are some real idiots out there who will cut you off, break on you, or even come up and run you off the road. But to me, pedestrians are the worse. They cross the street without looking and on cycling lanes unaware of how dangerous their movements are. For example, we were riding a few weekends ago on an outdoor public cycling track and while we were waiting for our group, people were playing in the middle of the track, letting their children run around and kick the ball. I don't know if you have ever seen a Sunday peloton pass by, but it's no joke. So please wear a helmet and above all, be aware of yourself and the people around you, it could spare a life.

Much love.