2013: Goal, Theme & Challenge – Review

At the beginning of 2013 I wrote about my goal, theme and challenge for the year. I’ve posted a few updates throughout the year but want to take some time now to review them more in depth.

2013 Goal: Create With My Hands

Self Grade: 8/10

Going into the year I believed that there was value in creating things myself and that often they also would better serve my needs and/or last longer than mass produced alternatives.

After building a number of items, I have only strengthened my hold on those beliefs. There is a joy of craftsmanship. Each time I use one of my self-made items I feel a sense of renewed accomplishment.

Here are the five projects I completed this year:

  • Surfboard
  • Cribbage board
  • Sleeping/storage platform for my truck
  • Tool storage dolly
  • Wetsuit glove drier

hoverboard-top-green

surfboard-and-wave-cribbage-board

kroleski-family-adventure-mobile

toolbox-cart-in-action-1

glove-drying-rack-with-gloves

2013 Theme: Grow As A Leader

Self Grade: 8/10

Just to be clear, I am not scoring my leadership abilities, but rather my efforts this year to grow in them.

Starting early in the year, I immersed myself in a leadership role, taking a step back from most of my individual contributor responsibilities and doubling down on leading teams as a product manager. I of course supplemented this with a few books, many philosophical conversations with mentors and a good bit of experimentation.

I’ve learned a lot about different team dynamics, personality types and one-to-many communication. Though I understood the importance of these before, in theory, I now have a few more notches in my belt and arrows in my quiver.

I suppose this is something I’ll continue to grow in throughout 2014 as I take on a new leadership role – my wife and I are expecting our first child this spring.

2013 Challenge: Surf Mavericks

Self Grade: 0/1 1/1

My rating for this challenge, unfortunately, has to be binary and as of today I have not yet surfed a big wave at Mavericks.

That said, since this was my challenge, I am using my discretion to make an adjustment.

Mavericks typically breaks during the winter season between November & February. Although I have prepared, I have not yet, in the first half of this winter’s window, had an opportunity that I felt was satisfactory to attempt to conquer the giant.

So in the last days of the year, rather than hastily rushing into a dangerous situation in non-ideal circumstances, I decided to extend my cutoff to the end of this winter season. If I surf Mavericks before the season is over, I will consider the challenge complete – though I might dock myself some points for the late delivery.

I will of course loop back and update this post.

UPDATE: On January 25, 2014 I surfed Mavericks. Shy of a month late, but a success nonetheless.

Conclusion

I did pretty well at these efforts this year which tells me I need to reach a little more next year. I’ll be reflecting for a few days at which point I’ll set my 2014 items.

Surf Mavericks: Update 6

Today was almost the day.

Over the last month I’ve gotten back in surfing shape. I’ve been surfing a few times a week so my arms are strong again. I’ve been running & doing my breath drills so my lungs are too. I even took a few poundings in OH surf just to make sure my nerves were solid.

I got the automated email last night. The report showed 10-15 ft waves at Mavericks. My exact target range. As I took my bright yellow gun down from its wall racks the excitement and nervousness of a two year goal began to set in.

surfing-gear

I  got up early and drove down early to see what the conditions were like. A solid groundswell, sunny morning and offshore wind combined to make what seemed like the perfect day.

As I drove the coast I saw hints at what to expect. I had that feeling in my gut I used to get before running races. A combination of nervousness & excitement. A sense of calm that makes you question if you have enough energy to do what you’re about to try. But that is a finely tuned body saving energy for when it is most needed.

I got to Mavericks and watched for a bit. Unfortunately the tide wasn’t quite right. I didn’t see any successful rides during the half hour I was there so I decided to surf Ocean Beach instead so I could get something in before work.

mavs_2013-12-16

Ocean Beach in the 12ft+ range is no joke. It is slightly less dangerous than Mavericks though – less rocks, more onlookers, much closer to land and something I’m familiar with.

The downside is the paddle – there is no channel. Making it to the outside on big days can be a challenge. It keeps the line up thin though.

ob_2013-12-16

I decided this would be a good chance to test out Hail Mary in some decent sized surf.

I suited up, gave her a proper wax and counted waves on the sand waiting for a lull in the sets. I figured if I timed it right & paddled fast enough I could get out without taking to many on the head.

The trade off with Hail Mary, like all gun surfboards, is that the extra foam that helps with paddling hurts when duck diving. In fact, despite my best efforts I could not even get the board even slightly underwater. After my first failed attempt, I realized that my best bet was to turtle. Thankfully the speed paddling made up for the difference and I was able to get out without any problems.

Eventually a wave came with my name on it. I paddled in and as it stood up I realized that I was about to learn how Hail Mary rode in the least low-risk situation one could wish to be in. I stood up and we dropped down the face. A gust from the offshore wind raced up the face sending spray over the back.

I could see the chop in the wave but all I could feel was butter. 10lbs of foam and fiberglass cutting through the 51 degree water making for one of the fastest and smoothest waves of my life.

Tomorrow is another day. I’ll be up early.


Arm Strength: 12ft+ OB

Breath Holding: 4:06 record – 3:06 current

Days to Go: 15

Times surfed on Hail Mary: 2

Resting Heart Rate: 64

Surf Mavericks: Update 5

A long summer of mediocre waves, strong winds and lots of slop all but removed surfing from my routine. Riding waves was relegated to a vacation activity. Limited to a few trips to Santa Cruz for south swells, a road trip to So-Cal and a camping weekend up north. Far from the daily habit it once was.

As a result, two and a half months from the end of the year, I am basically back where I started. No where close to being ready to surf Mavericks. I can hold my breath for just over two minutes, I’m not in great cardio shape and my arms don’t have the strength they need to get me in and out of giant waves.

Oct-breath-holding

This isn’t where I wanted to be at this point in the year. This is where I am.

Thankfully the fall, a glassy head high jolt of electricity, has reignited my fire for surfing. It started with a day towards the end of September that looked like this.

san-francisco-foggy-surf

The reports were coming in that we had gotten our first north swell. The forecast was calling for OH+.

I was at the beach before sunrise, though you wouldn’t have known it. There was about 50ft of visibility which meant I couldn’t see the water from the parking lot. Nor could I see the waves from the water line.

I paddled out into a dense fog, unsure if anyone else was surfing. As I duck dove the first few walls of white water, each increasing in size, I knew the reports were true. I came up from one and looked to the end of my visibility where I saw a surfing dropping in. The wave was well OH for the few seconds before it closed out on him.

There were only two of us out there and the waves were a mess. The sand bars haven’t yet prepared themselves for the winter surf. I can sympathize with that.

Without catching even a single wave I turned around, happy, knowing that I was at least on pace with the sand below. Success that day was a kick in the butt.


Arm Strength: Weak – need to do some paddling

Breath Holding: 4:06 record – 2:12 current

Days to Go: 76

Times surfed on Hail Mary: 1

Resting Heart Rate: 64