Category Archives: Book review

Eat Sleep Ride: a book review

I read Eat, Sleep, Ride: How I Braved Bears, Badlands, and Big Breakfasts in My Quest to Cycle the Tour Divide by Paul Howard in California.

Click for image credit: Amazon

Click for image credit: Amazon

It wasn’t my typical beach read (meaning it wasn’t chick literature that I could read in one sitting) yet I really loved it.

The story is Howard’s personal account of a mountain bike race, the Tour Divide, running from Banff, Alberta, Canada to the Mexican border. It’s 2,700 miles long and includes more than 200,000 feet of climbing.

Howard had never owned a mountain bike and could only recall two off-road cycling misadventures. That didn’t stop him from buying a plane ticket from the UK to Canada, signing up for the race, and leaving his wife and toddlers for four weeks to attempt the adventure.

The book goes into detail of some bitterly cold days, rides that seem insurmountable, stops in forgotten towns, food in countless diners, and the spirit of riders who are in it for the long haul and all that comes with it.

I just can’t imagine sitting in the saddle each and every day for hours. I also can’t imagine riding up to 135 miles a day on a mountain bike, and then getting up the next day to do it all again.

The journey through Howard’s eyes is a tale of friendship, challenges, and adventure- all with that dry British wit!

The style of writing had me cheering along the riders; it felt like I knew them and I wanted them all to succeed.

I’m not a mountain biker (more of a wannabe!), but this story made me want to take on the 2,700 mile bike tour!

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I wonder if I could talk Kelly into doing it alongside me (instead of hundreds of miles ahead)?!

Do you mountain bike? Would you consider a multi-day race?

Other book reviews:

A book review – two race books

I have two race books on our coffee table: The World’s Toughest Endurance Challenges and World’s Ultimate Running Races.

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They are a constant reminder of all the cool adventures there are in the world. I find myself perusing them frequently, dreaming of races to run in faraway lands and wondering if I’d ever be bold enough to try some.

The World’s Toughest Endurance Challenges by Richard Hoad and Paul Moore

This book profiles 50 of the world’s toughest challenges that push athletes to their limits. It includes gorgeous photos, information about the races, and first-hand accounts from past participants.

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It’s broken into races by continent and features everything from ultramarathons to multidiscipline events to freediving.

I think the coolest race is the jungle marathon: an ultramarathon in the Amazon jungle where you have to support yourself over 220 km while worrying about poisonous trees, extreme humidity, and lurking dangers in the river and swamp crossings.

Another fascinating race is the Crocodile Trophy in Australia that challenges the strongest mountain bikers over 1,200km of riding through bush, creeks with crocodiles, and outback trails.

The Cadiz Freedom Swim in South Africa sounds downright dangerous! The book says the water leaves many of its competitors clinically hypothermic with unpredictable currents fuelling massive swells and the most aggressive sharks on the planet.

It’s a really great read and fun book to flip through! I’d love to try at least one of the races in here. Maybe after reading about all of them a few more times I’ll decide on a goal adventure race!

World’s Ultimate Running Races

This book is running focused featuring 500 races in 101 countries. There are 10 categories of races featured from road to stage to trail to track.

The races are in calendar chronological order, but you can also look them up based on country, category, or name.

There’s tons of information about each race including name, category, history, a bit about the race course, distance, terrain, climate, records, and the website.

Currently on my list: Gold Coast Marathon in Queensland, Australia; Lantau Mountain Marathon in Hong Kong; and the Victoria Fall Marathon in Zimbabwe and Zambia.

What adventure race would you like to do?
What international races are on your list?

Thanks for reading! I scheduled a few posts to go up while I’m cruising the California coast with my family. I don’t expect to be online much, so I won’t be commenting on blogs or writing trip updates on here. However, I hope to post to my Instagram feed (thechangeofpace) when the mood strikes!

Run or Die – a book review

I thought it would be fitting to post my review on Run or Die while I’m away in Jasper, enjoying the mountains and trails!

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As I read books about running or sport, I fold down pages I know I’ll want to look at again whether for inspiration or a good tip. After reading Run or Die by Kilian Jornet, I had over 20 pages folded down.

Kilian is the world’s greatest endurance runner, and he’s only 25. I’ve professed my awe of him a few times before, so I won’t go into it again!

The autobiography is a first-person report of Jornet’s entry into endurance sports and the races and adventures that have made him the success he is today.

Although you may have read about his successes or watched him race in Unbreakable or his Summits of My Life series, in the book you delve into his mind throughout his many competitions and challenges.

His competitive drive is like nothing I’ve read before. But it’s not just about winning. It’s about challenging his body, exploring his limits, and living life in tune with nature.

To me, Jornet seems superhuman. He has achieved incredible feats and has the most natural, beautiful running and skiing style.

Image by Suunto. Click for credit.

Image by Suunto. Click for credit.

With somebody who has accomplished so much, it’s easy to think he works hard for it but doesn’t struggle much. Through the book you realize he is human. He struggles through some of the challenges, questions why he pushes his body to such extremes, and even wonders why he’s waking up at an early hour to run further when it’s so comfortable in bed.

Run or Die isn’t full of tips and tricks to be the best in the world. It’s a story in Jornet’s voice and style that emulates his love for endurance sports and adventure.

He is one of the greatest athletes of our time, and one of the least well-known. To me, that makes his book worth reading.

When you read books by athletes, do you prefer to hear their story or do you want to know how they train, what they eat, etc?

Other book reviews:

Summits of My Life review: My version of the Hollywood crush

People are generally met with my blank stare when the ‘Hollywood crush’ conversation comes up. All I can think of are running and triathlon stars, who most people know nothing about!

Forget dreamy eyes or an Oscar win. My version of the Hollywood crush requires strong legs, high VO2 max, and a long race resume. And it’s not just men that make my list.

Triathletes Chrissie Wellington and Linsey Corbin, Canadian ultra-running star Ellie Greenwood, and of course Kara Goucher and Shalane Flanagan fit the requirements too.

Just walking and talking with Chrissie!

Just walking and talking with Chrissie!

On the men’s side I am fascinated by every long-distance track competitor and love many triathletes and marathoners.

However, I am absolutely captivated by Kilian Jornet. I’ve written about him and his beautiful trail running before. I ordered his book, Run or Die, and cannot wait to devour it. I read magazine and online articles about him, and walk away astounded every time. And I’ve wanted to check out his Kilian’s Quest episodes and Summits of My Life project for a long time.

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click for photo credit

Summits of My Life is a new way to get to know Kilian. Here’s what the website has to say:

“In addition to being an exceptional skier and mountain runner, we’ll now see Kilian Jornet as an alpinist willing to go the extra mile in an attempt to break the records set on some of the most breathtaking summits in the world.”

It’s a multi-year project where he explores the world’s largest mountains culminating in his attempt to break the ascent and descent record of Mount Everest. He also tries to do it with the least amount of equipment possible, to better feel nature and the mountains.

On Sunday, Kelly and I watched A Fine Line, the first film in the project. It revolves around the first two challenges, traversing Mont Blanc from east to west and from north to south.

We were awe-struck from the natural ease and grace of Kilian’s running and skiing to the gorgeous videography and peaks and soothing original music by Zikali. It *almost* made me excited for winter!

It’s a unique film showcasing Kilian’s history, talent and drive. It features the risks they take. My palms were sweating a few times with the daring ridges and steep declines.  It’s an emotional film, too. Watch it to find out why.

Although Kilian is still a runner and skier, this project is about a lifestyle and values to live by.

A Fine Line left me wanting more. I am now anxiously waiting for the next instalment of his journey.

Who is your favourite athlete, male or female?

What I’m reading: holiday edition

I love to read and generally read a ton while on vacation. I’m not expecting to read nearly as much this time since I want to be out exploring!

I still bought a few books to read on my iPad and brought a few real books to read on the beach.

Here’s myiBooks list:

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
On a warm summer morning in North Carthage, Missouri, it is Nick and Amy Dunne’s fifth wedding anniversary. Presents are being wrapped and reservations are being made when Nick’s clever and beautiful wife disappears from their rented McMansion on the Mississippi River. Under mounting pressure from the police and the media—as well as Amy’s fiercely doting parents—the town golden boy parades an endless series of lies, deceits, and inappropriate behavior.

Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick
Meet Pat Peoples. Pat has a theory: his life is a movie produced by God. And his God-given mission is to become physically fit and emotionally literate, whereupon God will ensure him a happy ending—the return of his estranged wife, Nikki.

Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
Clay Jensen returns home from school to find a strange package with his name on it lying on his porch. Inside he discovers several cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker – his classmate and crush – who committed suicide two weeks earlier. Hannah’s voice tells him that there are thirteen reasons why she decided to end her life. Clay is one of them. If he listens, he’ll find out why.

Your Voice in My Head by Emma Forrest
Emma Forrest was settled in Manhattan at twenty-two and on contract to the Guardian when she realized that her quirks had gone beyond eccentricity, past the warm waters of weird and into those cold, deep patches of the sea where people lose their lives.

Seating Arrangements by Maggie Shipstead
Maggie Shipstead’s irresistible social satire, set on an exclusive New England island over a wedding weekend in June, provides a deliciously biting glimpse into the lives of the well-bred and ill-behaved.

For the real books, I wanted quick beach reads and books I could leave behind.

Books

Here’s my hardcopy book list:

Yours, Faithfully by Shiela O’Flanagan
Iona’s not pregnant. It’s a blow, but she knows that when husband Frank gets home he’ll reassure her that their dream of a family together will come true. Sally, on the other hand, has just discovered that she’s very much pregnant. And Sally’s not sure how her husband’s going to feel about it, when he gets home. Except Frank’s not going to get home – to either of his wives. Everything is about to change for all of them…

The Last Letter from Your Lover by Jojo Moyes
In 1960, Jennifer Stirling wakes in the hospital and remembers nothing—not the car accident that put her there, not her wealthy husband, not even her own name. Searching for clues, she finds an impassioned letter, signed simply “B”. In 2003, journalist Ellie Haworth stumbles upon the letter and becomes obsessed with learning the unknown lovers’ fate—hoping it will inspire her own happy ending.

See Jane Run by Joy Fielding
One afternoon in late spring, Jane Whittaker went to the store for some milk and some eggs…and forgot who she was. All that remains is a handsome, unsettling stranger who claims to be her husband, whispered rumors about a dead child whom she cannot recall…and a te

Matters of the Heart by Danielle Steel
A powerful and unusual story of one woman’s journey from darkness into light, as she fights to escape a mesmerizing sociopath who holds her in his thrall.

I have a couple  other books on my list in case I finish the others:

  • 419 by Will Ferguson
  • The 100 Year Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson

Have you read any of these? What are you reading right now?

You Are an IRONMAN – a book review

New York Times author Jacques Steingberg wrote You Are an Ironman: How Six Weekend Warriors Chased Their Dream of Finishing the World’s Toughest Triathlon based on six athletes preparing for the 2009 Ironman Arizona.

The intro to the book is awesome. It really delves into what an Ironman event is all about and discusses why people go on the journey to get to the finish line.

I enjoyed the book because it was completely relatable. The book profiles six regular people through their ups and downs on their way to IMAZ.

These people aren’t professional athletes. They work. Some are parents. They battle injury. They battle health problems, family stress, and regular life stresses. They face their fears. And yet they maintain their goal: to make it to the Ironman and to cross that finish line to hear Mike Reilly announce, “you are an Ironman”.

I found I could relate better to certain athletes, and I enjoyed their segments in the book the best. I also really liked excerpts from some of the athletes’ blogs since it was their true feelings coming out.

Truthfully though, I didn’t love the book as much as I thought I would.

Although I really got into it towards the end when it was race day, I felt like the meat of the book was missing. Yes, their struggles leading up to the race were real. But I didn’t think it expanded enough on their struggles and the emotional battles that ensued.

For example, one lady tore her ACL and couldn’t get to the start of the race. The rest of the book didn’t even really touch on her again until the very end when they author realizes he lost touch with her and sees she’s competing in the 2010 race.

I would still recommend the book. It is inspiring in that everyday people work to achieve their dreams, no matter how far off they seem. (I think any non-professional athlete feels a sense of fear when they take the plunge to sign up for that one great race.)

It shows that courage is all you need sometimes to take the next step. It also shows how athletes at any caliber can become role models for others.

I think it would be a great read for anyone considering an Ironman. But, you can also check out any number of blogs and really get to know someone throughout their journey to their Ironman start line, whether it’s their first, fifth, or 15th shot at it.

Who is more inspiring to you- everyday athletes or elites?

Other book reviews: