A Perfect Vacation

Often the greatness of a vacation can be underscored further based on how hard it is to come back to “normal life”. For many reasons, not just the post-vacation depression, our recent trip to Maui was perhaps as close to a perfect vacation as I’ve ever been on.

IMG_0047_Fotor_Collage

I had a nagging worry in the back of my mind days before we woke up at 4am and threw Charlie’s delicate but hard fought sleep schedule into complete disarray. How would he be on the plane? Would he hate the heat of Hawaii? Would it rain the whole time?

As it turns out, airplanes (at least for an infant of 4-5 months of age) are essentially just very expensive, super sized vibrating white noise generators. The end result for our and every traveling infant on the plane, they Sleep and Eat the entire time, aided with well timed feedings during liftoff and landing to help with pressure adjustments. I was dumbfounded, we weren’t “those parents” with the kid that found the energy to scream for 7 straight hours. Sure there was some awkward baby juggling in the tight bathroom as a I wrestled the change table down and made sure not to touch anything, but no harm. The flight attendants and really the whole airline experience was pretty incredible, to the point where Westjet may be now be my favorite airline (at least for family travel). Westjet, you are finally forgiven for losing my bags during reading week 12 years ago πŸ™‚

But onto Hawaii, and more specifically Maui. Everyone has a picture of their perfect place in their mind. Mine always has been this stereotypical tropical island. A lush island soaked in sun with a cloud shrouded mountain in the middle.

As we began our descent and cleared the haze of the thermocline the beauty of the Hawaiian islands was clear below. It looked like everything I’d ever dreamed of in the perfect place. Beach ringed, lush green, pure tropical paradise. As we moved through the open air airport, we basked in the warmed, sun and humidity. Again, another needless fear, Charlie seemed to enjoy the warmth with the odd cooling breeze.

Now, planning for a potentially cranky kid and the exhaustion that accompanies that, we made sure we were at a resort that was completely geared toward families. Moreover, we selected a hotel that essentially represented the “Don’t lift a finger, we’ve got this” mantra. The Fairmont Kea Lani was outstanding, not only beautiful but we were immediately swept up into the “You’re on vacation, stop worrying” island life feeling.

Another unexpected bonus, Hawaii is 4 hours ahead in time from Mountain Time; Translation, waking up at 6am feels like sleeping in until 10am. With almost no effort, I slipped into a vacation routine of waking up at 6am, quietly slipping out while everyone else slept, chatting up the pool attendants and reserving pool side loungers, then hitting the beach for an 8km slog leisurely beach run, dodging the crashing waves (I only came back to the hotel dry once).

In addition to sneaking in a daily sunrise run, my wife and I managed to take turns between playing in the ocean like a little kids and baby sitting little kids; I also managed to get some quiet time in every day to meditate, and just have some nice (baby quiet) time with my beautiful wife. While the luxury beach front of Maui may not be as imposing a setting for meditation as say, sitting cliffside within the caldera of Santorini, the rhythm of the ocean works well enough. πŸ™‚

My own biases aside, Maui itself is almost incomprehensibly beautiful with incredible places to eat, adventure and luxury to satisfy every desire and we only just barely scratched the surface. It’s really hard to put in words just how amazing this long overdue vacation for us was. Perhaps the best review I can offer is, We will definitely 100% be back.. and soon!

Waterproof Photography

IMG_1313_Fotor_CollageI’ve wanted a waterproof camera for a long time, almost as long as I can remember, pretty much ever since was old enough to understand what I was looking at in my Parent’s National Geographic Magazines.

I had debated getting a “waterproof to 3.1m” Olympus point and shoot when I was preparing for what turned out to be an Epic European backpacking trip back in 2008. Given different drivers at the time, I decided the $55 premium for waterproofing would be better put toward beer and other such end-of-collage trip variable expenses and in stead I elected to get the non-waterproof version of the camera. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that on the FIRST night in Europe we were caught in a brutal downpour. Despite best our efforts of running from the cover of awning to awning in Munich. By the time we got back to our hostel from the beer hall, we were water logged. The camera never turned on again. It didn’t take more than 30 mins the next day to cement my regret as I ended up buying the same camera at a %15 euro premium (also non waterproof).

Ever since I’ve never been able to argue the need for a waterproof camera, Especially given how my wife and I love all things water: the ocean, swimming, snorkeling, sailing, beach, water fights, etc. It turns out all the things we enjoy on vacation are also the best camera killers (i.e. sand and water).. We have a drawer full of dead/vacation killed point and shoot cameras.

So despite learning my lesson repeatedly and despite the fact that I’ve always wanted a “waterproof” camera, I really hate the idea of hauling around multiples of anything just because their single function devices such as a normal camera and a water proof camera.

In preparation for our upcoming trip to Hawaii, I again scanned all the available tech offerings. Funnily enough, the first listing I came across was the very highly rated updated model of the Olympus point and shoot that I decided against 8 years ago. I looked over the specs and after some brief thought, added it to my cart on amazon.ca. But just before checking out, I reviewed the specs again, it bothered me. The camera’s specs were more than a generation behind the camera built into my iPhone 6. I was more than a little bugged by this. I started thinking, there had to be a case that would work for my phone.

I searched endlessly, framed by the thought that it had to be a hard case like something my pro photog friends have for their DSLRs. Sure, there was, but phone cases for $150-$500? I might as well just get the olympus and treat it as a disposable.

I had just about given up and was about to go back to the checkout of the Olympus point and shoot when I saw that section at the bottom of an amazon item page that says “Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought..” and there I saw the FRiEQ universal smart phone case.

For $25, it was a waterproof phone case to (certified waterproof to 100ft), sandproof and floating! The waterproof depth certification was 3x anything I’d even seen for more than 5x the cost in a hard case. It seemed to be a little too good to be true, but for $25, a 5 star rating with solid reviews, and with amazon prime, I felt it was worth it, and well if it was crap I could return it no hassle.

Now I’ll admit, the first time we brought it to the pool, I was nervous. I had tested it in the bathroom sink without my phone in it first and it had worked brilliantly, but now I was standing on the side of the pool about to test it to 10ft with my phone in it. With my Son and wife in the pool, I jumped in; no leaks. I let it go from the bottom of the pool and it buoyed straight up to just beneath the surface. I mean, this thing is little more than an ultra durable plastic bag with some float material and a waterproof clamp to seal it all in, but it’s awesome, and the touch screen works through the case underwater!

I don’t often do reviews and even more rarely endorseΒ  products, but this little FRiEQ waterproof case is pretty awesome, cheap, floats, and fits pretty much every modern smarthone. Converts any phone into a beach proof, sand proof, water proof, kidproof, fully useable camera/tech piece of gear. Completely love it and can’t wait to use it on our next trip. Stay tuned for some photos!

reSetting a Morning Routine

My mornings, especially during the work week have been pretty set for a while. After a few false starts over the last couple of years, I’ve built a consistent routine since last spring (ignoring a small week long disruption after my bike was stolen) around bicycle commuting to work every day. I’ve been getting up, reading the Globe and Mail, checking the stock market, walking the dog and then saddling up for a quick leisurely bike ride into work.

With Charles working himself into more of a routine with sleep than not, it’s just Jake and I awake in the morning. When I get home, despite some ambitions to do otherwise, it’s essentially 100% family time until Charles is asleep.

In prep for our beach vacation, I’ve been trying to adhere to breakfast by the principles of the Slow Carb Diet. But diet isn’t nearly as effective as it is when paired with exercise, or better yet, High Intensity Training (HIT). HIT sort of fits the bill here since vacation isn’t far off and I’m already short on time during the day.

My use of our home gym lately has been sporadic at best and some of the equipment is gathering a little dust. So I’m looking to enhance my morning routine, swap the newspaper for the gym, and achieve maximum effectiveness with a minimal dose.

For the next couple of weeks I’m going to try a few new things, my ideal morning routine will be a pretty packed 2 hours:

  • wake up at 5:30am
  • Weigh myself
  • Drink a litre of water
  • 15 minute high intensity workout
  • Caffeine (tea) Dose, High Protein, High Fibre Breakfast (Slow Carb Diet), Morning Journal Entry, and Feed The Dog
  • Skim the Paper, Check my portfolio
  • 1 mile jog with the Dog
  • Get Ready for Work and Bike in, at my Desk for 7:30ish, Second Dose of Caffeine… and work

It’s a bit of a change, so I’m expecting a slight false start and I might not hit every element at first, but with a combination of tracking, posting public updates, and if warranted, posting results, I’ll get there like I did with changing my commuting habits.

With the way things have been going, the time in the morning, before I head into work has turned into a pretty highly focused period of time where I can get things done, prioritize and get things moving for a highly productive entire day.Β  Likely not coincidence, but lately my most productive days at my desk have been those days where I’ve had pretty close to the above morning routine. In my pursuit of the ideal day, it starts with first seizing the ideal morning.

 

 

Planning A First Family Trip

It’s become something of an annual tradition now, Every spring we try to set aside a solid week for a great vacation. The guidelines are pretty straight forward: We fly someplace that both of us haven’t been before that’s not just warm, but a little exotic.

It’s been a pretty solid streak of great vacations, last year it was Greece, and before that Portugal. Now with a 4-month old baby accompanying us, it’s added an extra element for consideration in planning this years trip.

We’ve settled on Hawaii, well Maui in Particular.
It’s modern, has all the facilities we may need and even more we probably haven’t thought we’d need. I haven’t been there before (nor has Charles πŸ™‚ ), it’s tropical, it’s warm, there’s surfing (which must be tackled), volcanoes, culture, history, much ocean…. and the list goes on.

Seems odd to say it now, but one of the biggest factors in destination selection of this first exploratory escape has been, can we get there on a direct flight? Maui is a direct flight from Calgary, though at ~7 hrs, near the upper end of of the flight durations we were willing to tackle.

I’ve never really valued direct flights, being an airline status pursuer, flight segments (e.g. layovers) has been something that actually pays off. But now we’re seeking to get this first flight out of the way and over with as quickly as possible. We’re hoping for baby best on that flight, but prepping [mentally] for some challenges. I’m really hoping we’re not those parents with the inconsolableΒ  screaming child that dominates the in-flight entertainment and is a fair match for all but the best noise cancelling headphones. We’ve all been there πŸ™

We’ve been lucky to have had some great trips and I don’t mean to brag, but my wife and I are pretty decent vacation planners. Now as we set about planning this trip, the tectonic shift in what we consider important on a great vacation hasn’t been lost on us. In addition to planning day trips, hikes, pool/beach days,Β  and defining our dining hit list we’re also tackling unknowns like:

  • Where can we heat up bottles?
  • Where to buy Diapers around the hotel? Where’s the costco?
  • What brand of UPF rated clothing is the best? What UPF do we need?
  • Baby swing rentals?
  • Best place to sit on the plane with a baby
  • Hotels with kitchens?
  • How much infant formula can I bring through airport security? Can it be liquid?
  • How to tackle infant jet lag?
  • Do babies like convertibles? (joking of course)

If nothing else, this will be a learning experience for all of us. But I’m pretty confident that in additional to that, Maui will be an epic trip. Now back to more pressing things, like getting my terribly Canadian winter paled body beach ready.

 

Change of Race Plans

11084700_798656600208822_519715743_n_Fotor_Collage

Despite the persistent challenge of balancing training time (or any time) with baby time, training for the Calgary marathon has been going decently. I’m a bit short on logged long runs, butΒ  I’ve been running over 50K a week fairly consistently (most weeks, well weather permitting:) ) with a focus on speed and interval training, mainly due to time constraints, it’s hard to slip out for 3 hours for a +30km-er or find the motivation on a cold wet spring Sunday morning with a broken 5-6 hours of sleep under my belt.

Unfortunately, my training success has not been paired with good event planning. My sister’s graduation from Law School is on the other side of the continent, the Friday before my target race. Now don’t get me wrong, we’re very much looking forward to being in attendance, and enjoying some long over due exposure to east cost hospitality, but I was also very much looking forward to taking a credible run at besting my Marathon PB of 3:39:21.

So I’m out… and no refunds, transfers or deferrals to another year.. you’re welcome for the donation Calgary Marathon πŸ™‚

The Calgary Marathon was to be step one in my 2-step graduated running plan for the year. I had hoped to train hard and injury free at altitude (i.e. Calgary, altitude 1300m), smash my PB here at home and then continue training through June and July to then decimate my new PB in San Francisco.

I’m still committed to running the San Francisco Marathon, but now uncomfortably I’m left without my dress rehearsal race for running across the Golden Gate Bridge.

The last time I ran San Francisco, I had laid down a good effort in Calgary, but had then gotten complacent and didn’t maintain. The result was I showed up at the start line in the Embarcadero woefully under prepared and perfectly setup for painful (I did actually bleed) disappointment was almost.

Now I’m struggling with if I should back fill my plan and enforce training disicpline, or redefine my training plan. The options for backfill aren’t really ideal, another race sooner (May 17), another race closer to SF (risk burn out and insufficient recovery?) or run a bunch of races just to keep things going?

Decisions, decisions…

 

 

 

1
12 months ago  500 Views

A Week in London