Why considering a vegetarian diet?

Meat is tasty, juicy, there is nothing better than smashing pulled pork and brisket in your mouth at a barbecue joint. With a good barbecue sauce, it tastes like heaven! For a very long time, I was a meat eater and when looking for a place to get dinner, my first thought was to find a good spot for getting burgers or barbecue. Also, as an active person and a runner, there is a lot of articles recommending a meat-centered diet to help muscle recovery. And with the common belief that high-quality protein comes from meat, you can’t help thinking you have to eat meat. At that time, all my meals included a high-quality protein source, such as a piece of white meat, fish or sometimes, red meat.

However, after a while, I started to read articles, books and understand if these claims were legitimate and if we really need meat. Not only for active people (and potential runners) but for everybody. Long story short: you do not need to eat a cow per week and you might be better not to eat meat. I started to embrace the vegetarian diet (not vegan!) months ago and since then, feel better than ever. Since then, many folks ask me what motivate me to stop eating meat and what I am eating instead. So, here it goes.

Are you willing to eat shit?

I did not start being vegetarian because I did not like meat or wanted to save animals. Just because meat production is now gross, disgusting and a hazard to our health. Let’s face the facts: today, 90% of meat contains fecal matters. And a recent study from Consumer Reports reported the same issue recently. This is why you need to wash the meat before cooking it and make sure you do not contaminate your vegetables and other food items. Is also means that basically, when you eat meat, you are literally eating grilled shit. Bon Appetit!

If eating shit is still ok for you, consider the antibiotics, medication and the feeding process of animals and the impact on the meat you eat. According to the Consumer Reports study, more than 50% of beef contains more than 2 types of bacteria. Are you willing to take the risk? And about the raising process, let’s face it: keeping a cow in 23 square feet and feeding them with chicken coop waste, remains of pig or even soy is just no sane. Back in the days in the country-side of France, I remembered watching cows in farms eating grass. Why did you compromise the raising process so much and just drive it towards profits?

What is actually in your meat

What is actually in your meat – credits

Think efficiency

Not really convinced by the healthy argument? What about the impact on the environment? Animal production impacts the planet more than your car and the biggest change you can make to reduce your carbon footprint is probably to drop meat.

The following table shows the resources required to produce a Kg of meat. Let’s face it: it takes a lot of resources to just feed the animal. Now, think also about the impact of the overall production process: land pollution (having hundreds of cows/chicken/pigs at the same place increase the pollution), transportation (need to move the animals and their grain/forage), etc.

And with the current evolution of the population, this is not realistic to keep the same diets. Alternatives have to be found. This is why people invest massively in meat substitute (see Bill gates note on that – the dude is investing in meat alternatives production).


Grain and forage inputs per kilogram of animal product produced – from http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/78/3/660S.full

But dude, I need protein!

Your body needs protein for sure, especially if you exercise. But we eat way too much. And way too much protein. Look at our society: obesity, diabetes – the impact of our food on our health is obvious. And the need of a high protein diet is a myth: in fact, if you drop meat from your diet, you are more than likely to meet your daily protein needs. And if you think that meat is the best protein source, think twice: eggs are actually the best protein source (and please stop thinking about the fat content of the egg, this is probably better than the fat from the meat you will eat), even better than meat and also contains vitamins. Thinking about efficiency? A chicken will produce plenty of eggs – so, rather than killing the animals, just take the eggs!

If you want to focus on plants, there are no complete protein so, you will need to combine plants to meet your protein needs. There is no real difficulty and very easy to meet your daily needs. Take some hummus (peas) with bread, a peanut butter and jelly sandwich (between 10 and 15g), lentils with pita bread (easily 20g of protein) or greek yogurt with granola (between 10 and 20g, depending on the yogurt and granola contents). Comparing to meat? A 4 oz steak will provide around 20g of protein, which is close to the values reported below.

If you are not exercising, you likely need about 1g of protein per Kg of body weight. So, a dude like me needs about 75g per day, which is easy to meet. Exercising every day, you might need more and I usually end up by eating between 80g to 100g a day. Again, this is rather a matter of balance and some day you will eat more than others but as long as you are around your target, you are just fine!

Where can we find good meat?

Short answer: nowhere but in a farm you know.

One of my friends argued that meat in fancy dinner places served good meat. For example, in the USA, fancy steak houses are not impacted by the problems usually found in meat found in the grocery stores. Bottom line is: these places have good reputations and if the steak is expensive, it should have a good quality, right? She tried to bring me to such places when there was some good deals. But it turns out that such places serve meat that comes from animals raised with antibiotics and have often the same issues than the meat in your grocery store. As pointed out by a French Chef in “Bon Appetit”, the meat in fancy dinner place has likely the same issues as the meat you can get you your grocery shop.

Just think about the cut of costs: even with a steak at $20 in a steakhouse. Much of the money goes to the store, the wages of the employees, chef, etc. At the end, how much is dedicated to your meat (and only the meat, not the side and other sides)? Probably not much and I would assume less than $5). So, how a restaurant can have a good piece of meat at that price when organic meat costs more, about twice? There is no magic: this is not possible and the solution is just to cut on the quality.  That is by decreasing the quality of our meat that we also lowered our quality standards. By the time, the meat we considered bad several years ago appears good now.

Why not being vegan?

Seriously, vegan is the boring side of being vegetarian – there are so many constraints that this is almost impossible to follow such a diet. Also, meeting your protein need with a vegetarian diet is easy: you can eat milk, cheese, eggs – there are plenty of combinations and the probability to have deficiency is very low. On the other hand, you have to be very careful is you choose to go vegan (especially for vitamins or iron).

On the other hand, when going vegan, getting your protein is more challenging and you have to juggle with the different potential combinations. Then, cooking not only becomes a real challenge but being a full vegan is difficult to follow when going out. There are almost always vegetarian substitution in restaurant but vegan options are not so popular. From a personal perspective, I have no problem eating milk or eggs (after all, I use the products from the animals, I do not kill them) and love the different types of cheese I eat when I go back in France!

Example of a vegetarian diet

I have been following a vegetarian diet for more than 6 months now. Switching in the beginning was difficult and I had to find alternatives. Once you are used to it, this is not an issue. This is the typical things I eat through a typical day:

  • Breakfast: greek yogurt with granola, a toast with peanut butter and jelly, oatmeal
  • Lunch or dinner: lentil stew with some potato chips, hummus with pita bread, spinach dip with chips, egg-salad sandwich, spinach salad with an avocado/egg sandwich, chili with piece of bread, sandwich with egg and hummus, bean salad, veggie burger with salad, sweet potato taco, veggie stew. There are a lot of opportunities!
  • Mid-day meal: shake with chocolate milk and half banana, a toast with peanut butter and jelly, protein bar, yogurt with chestnut cream

This keeps me full for the day and provides enough fuel to run between 50 to 100 miles and 2 to 3 hours at the gym every week. Of course, when running more, I take more fuel (for example, instead of having one toast, I might go for another one) – but not too much. Many folks think you need to eat way more if you run but you do not need too much and eating more than you need will makes you heavier, slower and might impact the joy of running.

To finish

Is the vegetarian diet the bulletproof diet? No at all and there are still a lot of issue to address if you go vegetarian (e.g. chemical used in crops, impact of pesticides, safety of GMO, etc.). To mitigate these issues, I buy most of my food local, organic and try to promote responsible farming. This might be not the definitive answer but will reduce potential issues. But there is clear scientific evidence that we do not need meat, that the production process is not safe for the consumer and that meat production is not sustainable considering the evolution of the worldwide population.

Unfortunately, I still eat meat sometimes. When going out with friends, at a party or at a work meeting there are sometimes no vegetarian alternatives. As I do not want to stay hungry forever, I might consume meat sometimes if there is no alternative. I hate food-snobs and I do not want to impose my vision or choices: when being in a group, I accept what the majority wants. Unless there is a real safety issue and a potential threat, I do not want to bore other and accept from time to time that meat will not kill me right away.

But after six months, I have no regret for being now vegetarian. I feel better, I love the food I eat every day and think I avoid many potential health threats with this change. In addition to my transportation policy (run commuting), it decreases my impact on the planet. If you ever considered to switch for a vegetarian diet, I suggest you give a try for a month, you might be surprised by how easy it is to change.



Pedal PGH 2015

At the top of the South Side in the morning

At the top of the South Side in the morning

It will be a yearly tradition now and the 2016 edition of Pedal PGH was as great as the previous one. The metric century course (about 62 miles with ~5000 feet of elevation) is really nice with many good outlooks and good spots all around the city. It took about 5:30 to finish the whole things with several stops. The ride is really well organized and marked, with several aid stations along the course. If you like to bike, consider attending the event next year, there are courses for all levels, from 25 miles to 62 miles!

EMFTA available on the Eclipse Marketplace

I have been working for few hours on EMFTA recently, taking some time off from running and focusing on writing software and trying new things (well, having a hammac in my backyard helped me to work for a while at night). The initial goal when starting EMFTA was to evaluate the Sirius modeling framework but it turned out that it went beyond that initial objective and now provides advanced features.

Now, the project is available on the Eclipse Marketplace. So, you can get it easily: you just have to download Eclipse (the Mars version), install it and look for EMFTA in the marketplace. The software will be automatically installed.

You can create a new Fault-Tree using the wizards or start a new one from scratch. I have added new features as well, such as the generation of cutset, the computation of probabilities from the leaf events or the consistency checking of probability values among different events and gates. Many thanks to Bill who helped me to debug and improve the current version. Without his feedback, I would never have add all the new features.

If you have any feedback, any idea for improvement, please send me an e-mail or even fill a bug report on the github area. This software is open source, everybody is welcome to participate and be part of it!


Race Representativity in (ultra-)running events

Last week, I volunteered for Eastern States 100, at the Aid Station Barrens. While I was considering running it, it was not possible because of the recent finish at Burning River but also because I am still under medical attention for the next few weeks. Of course, considering our location (mile 91), we met all finishers and people were pretty toasted at that time. Our aid station provided all what runners need: grilled cheese sandwich, peanut-butter and jelly, candies, gels but also Rum, beers and vodka. The right fuel at the right time for the runners.

During this 18 hours stay in the woods, I had the time to discuss with fellow runners about almost everything: life, running, work, politics. One topic raised by someone that night was the lack of diversity in ultra running. Not in terms of gender: there is a lot of women that compete in ultra races and women are now the majority in short distances (60% in half marathons). But in terms of race: I do not remember having seen any black dude during an ultra. Sure, we still have the cliché that the fast guys are Kenyans, but taking apart the elite field, black people accounts for less than 2% in road races in the USA.

Yes, our Aid Station had the right fuel. And some people really enjoyed it

Yes, our Aid Station had the right fuel. And some people really enjoyed it

Something more interesting pointed out during that discussion is that this topic has never been addressed/discussed in the media. We can find some articles on the web but not in media such as Trail Runner Mag or Runner’s World. And while diversity (male vs. female representation and performance), age (running ultra at 60 years-old) or even parenting (“should I let my 10 years old kid run 100K with me?”) concerns have been discussed several times, race representativity was never discussed. Is it the taboo of ultra-running (or just running)? Is there anything people do not want to discuss about it? I hope this aspect would be investigated and discussed, it definitively seems to be a topic worth considering.


30 ans: le bilan

Il est courant de considerer que tous les dix ans, on passe par une crise. Cela m’a toujours semblé assez mystique et il semble que ca commence à 30 ans. Pourquoi? Aucune raison et il est commun de parler de la crise de la quarantaine et enfin, la cinquantaine. A croire qu’après, il ne se passe plus rien et qu’on est tellement lobotomisé qu’on s’est resigné à accepter la vie qu’on s’est formé. Du coup, je me suis dit que cela pouvait être intéressant de dresser un bilan avec les 10 règles les plus importantes retenues. Lorsque j’arriverai à la crise de la quarantaine, ce sera sûrement l’occasion d’en rajouter une autre dizaine.


  1. On apprend davantage de nos échecs que de nos réussites. L’échec est une opportunité. Lorsque nous sommes bloqués, les murs sont présents pour nous montrer combien accomplir un projet nous est cher.
  2. Accomplir un project nécessite un investissement conséquent, que ce soit temporel, psychologique, physique ou financier. Il est rare de voir le réel investissement derrière l’entreprise d’un projet.
  3. Être contrarien, penser à contre-courant. Refuser tout affirmation sans avoir pris le temps pour la juger et se forger sa propre opinion. À l’inverse, éviter de clamer ses doutes et son désaccord afin d’éviter les jugements contre vous à l’emporte pièce.
  4. Acheter peu, réfléchir avant d’investir/acquérir. Accumuler les biens sans réel n’a aucun sens et ne rend pas plus heureux.
  5. L’herbe n’est jamais plus verte dans le champs d’à côté. Elle est juste différente.
  6. Se méfier de tout a-priori et tout raccourci. Un jour ou l’autre, nous en serons la victime.
  7. On peut probablement compter ses vrais amis sur les doigts d’une (ou deux si on est chanceux) main.
  8. Se connaître soi-même, s’assumer, s’aimer soi-même avant aimer autrui et avoir le courage d’être soi. Réaliser ses rêves et faire fi du qu’en dira-t-on, peu importe les raisons.
  9. S’instruire continuellement, lire des livres et éviter la pensée pré-mâchée en provenance des médias de masse. Réfléchir, se forger une opinion prend du temps.
  10. Se fier à des faits concrets, tangibles et non sur des hypothèses invérifiables. Éviter a priori toute promesse et toujours se reposer sur les fondamentaux.
  11. (bonus) Éviter les réseaux sociaux. Hier, c’était le Bistro de la Place, aujourd’hui nous avons facebook ou twitter. Discussions similaires, le côté bobo/hipster en plus, la convivialité en mois.


Taking Residency

It is official: I am now a permanent resident of the United States of America. It has been a dream since 7 years ago, after landing in the city of Pittsburgh. Having visited and discovered more than 12 states since then, the desire of living in this country never left me and I am finally allowed to stay as a permanent resident. I never had any plan to come back in my country and this is not going to change anytime soon.

I can’t thank enough the people that trusted me since the beginning and supported my application for permanent residency. These first years were just an introduction. And now, this is the beginning of a very exciting future.

Thank you.

Two Faces 10K: race report

The Story

The two faces 10K is simple: it is two races that take place the same day. One road race and one trail race. The road race starts at 7:30am and the trail at 09:00am.

I wanted to do it because of the medal: this is a very cool medal that can be separated. One part is given once you finish the road race, the other one when you finish the trail race. If you do both, you can assemble both medals and have a big medal.

I thought this could be a very nice way to recover from Burning River 100 milers. Just having a short 12 miles run on Sunday morning, sounds like a good idea?

The Race Bling

The Race Bling

The Races

Both races start at the Boathouse in North Park. The road race is a basic loop around the lake in North Park. Clearly not exciting but it can be a nice way to gauge your fitness level. The trail race go over the basic trails of North Park but have some elevation but nothing really challenging.

The good part of it is that the road race is pretty flat so that you can really have a sense of your progress in terms of speed. The trail is mostly single track trail, which makes it challenging when you want to pass. For that reason, I would recommend to speed up in the beginning of the race if you do not want to be stuck on the single track trail. Once you are in the woods, it can be difficult (and not easy/safe) to pass other people.

The trail race is very well marked and there is no way you can get lost. There are also regular water stops on both races so that you do not have to carry any water with you. Overall, the race is well organized and there is nothing to complain about.

Let’s do it?

I finished the 10K road in 43:53 for the road (3/34 age group 30-39 – 13/208 overall) and 52:07 for the 10K trail (5/40 age group 30-39, 14/193 overall). Not a really big result or achievement but considering that I did not sleep the night before, it is still good to see I did not crashed during one or the other race.

If you are running in North Park, doing this race can be fun but will not introduce you to new trails or roads: you already ran them plenty of times. But it can be fun to hang out with your friends and have a good run. Considering that the race fees are not expensive (about $35), it might be a good plan.


Finish line of the Road Race

Finish line of the Road Race – yes, I need to sleep


Comprendre l’immigration par l’expérimentation

“La France, tu l’aimes ou tu la quittes”. Nul besoin de discours aussi percutant que des paroles d’une chanson de Lara Fabian pour decider de quitter le pays. Jusqu’à présent, la seule chose radieuse dont je me souviens sont les fuites des centrales nucléaires, c’est dire si il etait temps de déguerpir.

Après 5 années d’expatriation, je sais que je ne reviendrai pas de sitôt dans mon pays d’origine et probablement jamais. Revenir? Les avantages sont infimes. Et après quelques années, être expatrié est devenu un mode de vie que j’ai adopté. Visiter d’autres pays, découvrir d’autres cultures est enrichissant. Après tout, nous n’avons qu’une seule vie : autant ne pas se rater et en profiter au maximum. Peu importe où cela m’emportera, tant que le parcours est magnifique, je suis partant pour faire partie du voyage.

Pour autant, s’intégrer n’est pas chose facile. Une fois arrivé, l’étranger, c’est toi. Le mec parfois bizarre, parfois marrant mais au fond dont tout le monde se fout. Et pourtant, ma situation est très avantageuse: étant immigré pour mes compétences,  on me voit pas comme un boulet de la societe. Ca aide a relativiser et imaginer comment on traîte Momo lorsqu’il arrive dans notre pays: sans qualification et avec moins d’attributs socialement interessant, on imagine bien qu’il sera plus facilement mis a l’écart.

Et puis ici, être frenchy, c’est classe. Ca fait bien, propre sur soi. C’est le comble du raffinement: tout ce qui est de bon goût est “French”. Peu importe si tu portes des shorts la majorité du temps et que tu te évites la bouffe francaise. Jugez plutôt le vocabulaire ici: french press, french vanilla, french roast, french dressing , tout ce qui est classe est “french <insert-your-name>”. Et dans le pays de l’oncle Sam, on apprend le francais comme on apprend l’allemand en france: a permet de dissocier les gnards issus de la famille Le Quesnoix de la famille Groseille. Choisis ton camps camarade.

Du coup, il n’est pas rare que lorsque l’on rencontre quelqu’un, ce dernier essaye de baragouiner quelques mots en francais, histoire de derouiller le peu de vocabulaire appris durant sa tendre enfance mais aussi pour montrer qu’il fait parti de la haute. Embarassé, on compatit et fait croire que l’on comprend. Il est aussi habituel d’être réduit au rôle de singe ou perroquet et que l’on parle avec vous pour la simple envie de vous entendre répéter certains mots parce que votre accent est “trop marrant”. Se voir réduit à un animal de foire qui répète quelques mots est parfois frustrant voire insultant.

C’est assez facile d’être intronisé, de connaître des gens, se faire des amis. Mais ici, nombreux sont ceux qui considère que le lien d’amitié est aussi important que le lien qui vous uni sur facebook. Des relations purement jetables. Ca a ses avantages mais aussi ses inconvénients et l’aspect pratique est parfois fort appréciable même si il est parfois difficile d’accepter le côté rude de la chose.


Marre des États-Unis? Point du tout. Mais être expatrié, avoir la place de l’étranger aide a relativiser et comprendre pourquoi ce que les migrants ressentent lorsqu’ils entrent en france. Les clichés peuvent avoir la vie dure et s’intégrer est difficile. Cela laisse à réfléchir, particulièrement lorsqu’on est dans une situation très favorable et migre dans un pays qui est habitué à l’immigration (être immigré aux Pays-Bas, pays pourtant Européen était bien plus difficile et douloureux). Cela donne un léger apercu des quelques problèmes qui peuvent être rencontrés par ceux essayant de venir en france et donner un regard autre que les traditionnelles discussions de comptoir.

Expérimenter, essayer, se mettre dans la situation de l’autre : il n’y a pas de meilleure solution pour comprendre le malaise d’autrui. Et pour ma part, même si parfois, la vie d’expatrié a quelques côtés déplaisants, je ne regrette en rien ce choix et suis heureux chaque matin du parcours accompli. Pourvu que ca dure.

Passer Outre

Interlude. Il est habituellement plus facile de s’exprimer dans sa langue natale plutot que dans sa langue d’adoption. Et de nos jours, il est aussi difficile de s’exprimer et de reellement trouver sa place au milieu de ce monde desormais interconnecte ou la pensee est service pre-marchee et ou la reflexion est devenue l’exception et non plus la regle.

Lever de Soleil sur la riviere Monongahela

Lever de Soleil sur la riviere Monongahela

Il m’a toujours semble amusant de penser que la vie procede par etape. Nous nous donnons des objectifs, qui, une fois atteints, definissent nos nouveaux buts. Et si vous apprecions ces etapes et savourons ce que la vie nous offre, il est parfois difficile de distinguer ou le voyage nous emmenera et se finira.

C’est une des principales difficultes ou nous echouons souvent (parfois que temporairement, heureusement): savoir mener sa barque afin de definir les prochaines etapes sans trop deriver du plan de route global. Cela necessite de se connaitre: de savoir ce que l’on souhaite (volonte) mais aussi ce que l’on peut faire (capacite). Est-ce si simple? Savez-vous vous meme ce que vous souhaitez ou ayez la force d’accomplir reellement?

Pendant les semaines a venir, cet espace de pseudo-liberte va ainsi se transformer en une sorte de defouloir experimental. Histoire de parler d’une vie d’expatrie depuis maintenant plus de 5 ans. Ou encore evoquer mon gout particulier pour les Etats-Unis et pourquoi vous devriez etre vegetariens pour sauver les ours polaires. Ou tout simplement pourquoi, au fil des annees, la vie est toujours plus enrichissante et passionante. Et peut-etre tout cela a la fois.

Oui, cet espace va se transformer en joyeux bordel. L’occasion de sentir que j’ai encore quelquefois l’esprit frenchy.

Looking back at Burning River: improving your training for an ultra

I ran my first 100 miles race one week ago and it was epic. Looking back, I do not think there is anything I could have done differently during race day that would have made the race better. On the other hand, there is a few things I would slightly change in the training and preparation and would then affect race day. On the following, I am trying to list what worked very well (the good), what could be improved (the bad) and finally, what has to be avoided at all costs (the ugly). If you are preparing for a long distance race, that might help to you adjust your training strategy and your preparation


The Good

  1. Using the right pacer, do not take a random guy: finding a pacer is easy: go on facebook, and just ask for a pacer. But finding the right pacer is another story. During my preparation, I thought about many pacers. Looking back and how horrible I was at mile 50, I do not think any of them would have pushed me to the finish and would rather recommend to drop. Not because they are bad pacer but because they were not the right person at this time: they would have been terrified by how I looked at that time (and for a reason). Pacing is not just running next to somebody but is definitively a real job. That day, I had the right person on board, the one that not only pushed me to finish but also took care of everything, even if I was about to pass out at every aid station.
  2. Weekly mileage: I averaged 70 miles per week and peaked at 105 one week. It felt ugly while training but it helped be to go through the miles. On the other hands, while the weekly mileage was good, how I spread could be improved.
  3. Hills repeats: During my training, I was eating hills for breakfast and dinner. I live close to a hill (commercial street) and I ran it almost every day to train. In the beginning, it was hard but after few weeks, it sounds like any other part of my training. Running hills on a regularly basis really helped to train for a trail race.

The Bad

  1. Training runs: I logged most of my miles by going to work. I vary my workouts every day (going in the park for more elevation, staying in the streets for flat roads, etc). But it was mostly 5 to 6 miles out and 5 to 6 miles back. Very few long training runs and a couple of back to back. I would add more long runs and back to backs (e.g. 30 miles on Saturday and 20 miles on Sunday). The effect on my performance is clear on my pace: I started to slow down after mile 20. Being used to more long runs would have delay this.
  2. Be used to drink more while running: I am used to drink when I stopped (when I am at the aid station) while it is easier to take small sips while you are running (ensuring consistent and permanent hydration). It would have been better to train and drink while running – something I just started during the race, after finding out I was really dehydrated.

The Ugly

  1. Take action if something goes wrong before the race. Being sick before the race? Take immediate action and seek medical advice right away. Do not wait so that you know what to expect on race day. This would avoid to be in a very bad shape during the day. In my case, I paid the price.
  2. Look your food and nutrition intake. Even if you do not want to drink or eat, try to maintain 200 to 300 Kcal and drink a lot each hour. This is one of the reason I arrived in a bad condition at mile 53 (not enough water and food) and why I finished the race later (took food after this checkpoint). Be careful, catch up after having a calories deficit takes time, so, it is better to fuel regularly.
  3. Recover and rest after the race. I drove back three hours after the finish and did not eat for a long time as I was not hungry and clearly not in the mood of doing anything. I ride my bike the next day but was not walking straight and was feeling I was about to pass out all day long. After medical exams, it turns out that I had low red blood cells four days after the race and had many other issues related to dehydration and intense efforts. Rest a day at least after the race.


I hope these few comments/suggestions could help you to train for a long distance race, either 50k, 50 miles or 100 milers. Hope to see you during a race, you can check out the race agenda!