Book Report: What Makes Olga Run?

* * * * *
A must read for anyone over say, 45 years old.  A look into the science of aging, mostly with the subject, 90+ year old Olga, a Canadian Masters Track and Field athlete.  It's a easy read, not all dry and scientific.  It really makes you think about how you spend your days.
Nine Rules To Live By:
1. Keep moving.
2. Create Routines (but sometimes break them).
3. Be opportunistic.
4. Be a mensch (i.e. be kind, do good).
5. Believe in somthing.
6. Lighten up.
7. Cultivate a sense of progress.
8. Don't do it if you don't love it.
9. Begin now.
Read this book.

Other Books Read 2012-2013

2013 was a low year for reading.  Will rectify this in 2014!

Other books read in 2012 and 2013 and my rating (1 to 5):


1.  17 Hours to Glory: Extraordinary Stories from the Heart of Triathlon

by Mathias Muller  * * * * *

2.  Fit From Within: 101 Simple Secrets to Change Your Body and Your Life - Starting Today and Lasting Forever

by Victoria Moran * * * *

----- 2012 ---------

3.  Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail

by Cheryl Strayed * * * *

4. The Happiness Project: Or Why I Spent A Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun

by Gretchen Rubin * * * *

5.  Paris: A Love Story

by Kati Marton * * *

6. I Declare: Porclaiming the Promises of God Over Your Life

by Joel Osteen * * * * *

7. Yes, Chef: A Memoir

by Marcus Samuelsson  * * * *

8. Finding Your Own North Star: Claiming the Life You Were Meant to Live

by Martha N. Beck  * * * * *

9.  A Life Without Limits: A World Champion's Journey

by Chrissie Wellington * * * *

10. Get Out of Your Own Way: Overcoming Self-Defeating Behavior

by Mark Goulston * * *

11. Creating A Charmed Life: Sensible, Spirited Secrets Every Busy Woman Should Know

by Victoria Moran * * * *

12. Living A Charmed Life: Your Guide to Turning the Ordinary into the Extraordinary

by Victoria Moran * * * * *

13. Drop the fat act and live lean

by Ryan Andrews * * * * *

14. Bike Tribes: A Field Guide to North American Cyclists

by Mike Magnuson * * * * *   HYSTERICAL!

15. The Secret

by Rhonda Byrne * * * *

16. Grits (Girls Raised in the South) Guide to Life

by Deborah Ford * * * *

17. Make the Right Career Move: 28 Critical Insights and Strategies to Land Your Dream Job

by Rachelle J. Canter * * * *

18. West of Jesus: Surfing, Science and the Origins of Belief

by Steven Kotler * * * * *


Book Report: Lean In

Women, Work, and the Will to Lead

by Sheryl Sandberg

* * * * *

Unless you've been living without media, you have probably heard of this book.  For me personally, there were a few "ah-ha" moments.  I'm in the camp "liked it a lot" but can see the point of those who don't really agree with her.  I'd say, read it and make up your own mind.

Book Report: Waiter Rant

Thanks for the Tip - Confessions of a Cynical Waiter

by Steve Dublanica

* * * *

Kathy gave me this book at book swap and it was a fun read.  The author had a website where he blogged anonymously about life as a waiter and this book came out of it.  I'd never heard of or read his blog, so all the stories were new to me. 

As someone who has many friends in the restaurant business, I hope I'm one of the good customers! 

Book Report: "Poke the Box"

by Seth Godin

Back in April on the Time Management Ninja website, Craig asked, “What Do You Need to Start?  What have you have been hesitant to do?"

 That's a good question to ask yourself.  The book is slanted towards the business world, but the concept and ideas can also be used for personal growth and home.

I got a lot out of the book and it's a quick read (less than 100 pages).  The basis gist is, show up, do the work and don't let failure stop you.  Most initiatives fail, but push the envelope and keep going.

 Poking doesn't mean right. It means action.  Godin takes issue with Yoda from Star Wars ("Do or do not, there is no try.")  Instead, try and if you fail, try again.  Saying or thinking, "This might not work" is OK and actually, is expected.

 There are a few quotes that I really like: 

* Starting implies FINISHING.

* Keep starting until you finish.

 * When in doubt__look at the fear.  That's almost always the source of your doubt.

 * Don't succumb to the challenge of expectations.  Get back to the reason you set out to do whatever it is you do in the first place.

 * Failure is an event, and with rare exceptions, is not fatal. 

 * There are two mistakes one can make along the road to truth.  Not going all the way and not starting." (Siddhartha Gautama)

100 Books

INSTRUCTIONS: Have you read more than 6 of these books? The BBC believes most people will have read only 6 of the 100 books listed here. Copy this into your NOTES. Bold those books you've read in their entirety, italicize the ones you started but didn't finish or read an excerpt and * means I have it in my “waiting to read pile”.  

1 Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen 

2 The Lord of the Rings – JRR Tolkien 

3 Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte

4 Harry Potter series – JK Rowling (all) 

5 To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee 

6 The Bible 

7 Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte

8 Nineteen Eighty Four – George Orwell 

9 His Dark Materials – Philip Pullman

10 Great Expectations – Charles Dickens 

11 Little Women – Louisa M Alcott

12 Tess of the D’Urbervilles – Thomas Hardy

13 Catch 22 – Joseph Heller 

14 Complete Works of Shakespeare 

15 Rebecca – Daphne Du Maurier 

16 The Hobbit – JRR Tolkien 

 17 Birdsong – Sebastian Faulks

18 Catcher in the Rye – JD Salinger 

19 The Time Traveller’s Wife – Audrey Niffenegger

20 Middlemarch – George Eliot  

21 Gone With The Wind – Margaret Mitchell

22 The Great Gatsby – F Scott Fitzgerald 

23 Bleak House – Charles Dickens

24 War and Peace – Leo Tolstoy

25 The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams

26 Brideshead Revisited – Evelyn Waugh

27 Crime and Punishment – Fyodor Dostoyevsky 

28 Grapes of Wrath – John Steinbeck 

29 Alice in Wonderland – Lewis Carroll  *

30 The Wind in the Willows – Kenneth Grahame  

31 Anna Karenina – Leo Tolstoy

32 David Copperfield – Charles Dickens

33 Chronicles of Narnia – CS Lewis

34 Emma – Jane Austen

35 Persuasion – Jane Austen

36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe – CS Lewis - This is a Chronicles of Narnia Book

37 The Kite Runner – Khaled Hosseini

38 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin – Louis De Berniere

39 Memoirs of a Geisha – Arthur Golden

40 Winnie the Pooh – AA Milne

41 Animal Farm – George Orwell

42 The Da Vinci Code – Dan Brown 

43 One Hundred Years of Solitude – Gabriel Garcia Marquez

44 A Prayer for Owen Meaney – John Irving

45 The Woman in White – Wilkie Collins

46 Anne of Green Gables – LM Montgomery

47 Far From The Madding Crowd – Thomas Hardy

48 The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood

49 Lord of the Flies – William Golding

50 Atonement – Ian McEwan

51  Life of Pi – Yann Martel  [and I HATED this!]

52 Dune – Frank Herbert

53 Cold Comfort Farm – Stella Gibbons

54 Sense and Sensibility – Jane Austen

55 A Suitable Boy – Vikram Seth

56 The Shadow of the Wind – Carlos Ruiz Zafon

57 A Tale Of Two Cities – Charles Dickens

58 Brave New World – Aldous Huxley

59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time – Mark Haddon

 60 Love In The Time Of Cholera – Gabriel Garcia Marquez

61 Of Mice and Men – John Steinbeck

62 Lolita – Vladimir Nabokov  *

63 The Secret History – Donna Tartt

64 The Lovely Bones – Alice Sebold

65 Count of Monte Cristo – Alexandre Dumas

66 On The Road – Jack Kerouac

67 Jude the Obscure – Thomas Hardy

68 Bridget Jones’s Diary – Helen Fielding

69 Midnight’s Children – Salman Rushdie

70 Moby Dick – Herman Melville 

71 Oliver Twist – Charles Dickens

72 Dracula – Bram Stoker

73 The Secret Garden – Frances Hodgson Burnett

74 Notes From A Small Island – Bill Bryson

75 Ulysses – James Joyce 

76 The Bell Jar – Sylvia Plath

77 Swallows and Amazons – Arthur Ransome

78 Germinal – Emile Zola 

79 Vanity Fair – William Makepeace Thackeray

80 Possession – AS Byatt

81 A Christmas Carol – Charles Dickens

82 Cloud Atlas – David Mitchell 

83 The Color Purple – Alice Walker

84 The Remains of the Day – Kazuo Ishiguro

85 Madame Bovary – Gustave Flaubert

86 A Fine Balance – Rohinton Mistry

87 Charlotte’s Web – EB White

88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven – Mitch Albom

89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

90 The Faraway Tree Collection – Enid Blyton 

91 Heart of Darkness – Joseph Conrad  

92 The Little Prince – Antoine De Saint-Exupery

93 The Wasp Factory – Iain Banks

94 Watership Down – Richard Adams

95 A Confederacy of Dunces – John Kennedy Toole

96 A Town Like Alice – Nevil Shute

97 The Three Musketeers – Alexandre Dumas

98 Hamlet – William Shakespeare

99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – Roald Dahl  

100 Les Miserables – Victor Hugo

Book Report: "The Man Who Swam the Amazon"

3,274 Miles on the World's Deadliest River  by Martin Strel & Matthew Mohlke

What a great book! Written diary-style from notes that Mohlke kept on the trip, it's a fast read and keeps you turning the pages wanting to get to the end. Strel was 52 years old, 250 pounds and loved good beer, good food and a lot of red wine when he attempted this feat. Swimming with alligators, piranhas, snakes, river pirates, floating logs, ships and everything else in the river sounds just crazy mad. A really good book. As Mohlke says in the Epilogue:

"There are millions of people throughout the world gazing out of the same window. Occasionally a crazy thought comes into their head from somewhere so far away they can't even fathom its source, but they quickly discard it and return to the surface to deal with the seemingly important aspects of everyday lift that crowd their inbox. Years pass, their children have children, and every time they gaze out that window, those old dreams flood their minds again. Big dreams. Dreams they're afraid to try to reach, but yet linger. They may think they're too fat or too old or whatever their excuse is, they all have an excuse that prevents them from reaching those dreams. If a fifty-two year old, slightly fat man can swim the Amazon, what can you do? Those last two hours before sunset can often be the best swimming of the day."

Awesome! It makes me regret not visiting the Amazon on my two trips to Brasil. It also makes me want to go back to Brasil, remembering how much I loved it there.

Book Report: "Roadie....The Misunderstood World of the Bike Racer"

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by Jamie Smith

Are we really like this? Yes. Very amusing book, written for friends/family of bike racers, but there is a lot of good information in it. Especially if you are somewhat new to racing. I can see a few people (including myself) in there. He covers training, racing, the types of races and especially, the quirks surrounding the bike racer. At times, I had to laugh out loud.

Best line: There is no dabbling in bike racing.

Book Report: "One Gear, No Breaks"

Lori-Ann Muenzer's Ride to Belief, Belonging, and A Gold Medal by Lori-Ann Muenzer with Karl R. Wilberg

A memoir by the Canadian track sprinter Lori-Ann Muenzer, who spent nearly 20 years chasing her dream of being the best. She was a woman, told she was too old and had lots and lots of self-doubt and insecurities, but also a strong desire to be the best and was driven and motivated and very hard working. Determination in spades. She also had a coach who truly believed in her.

She was 38 years old when she won gold, beating women young enough to be her daughters, and had spent years and years giving up a lot--career, social life, family, a "normal" life. A very interesting glimpse into what it takes to reach the top.

"It's up to you to decide what your limits are." Damn straight!

Book Report: "Jarhead"

A Marine's Chronicle of the Gulf War and Other Battles
by Anthony Swofford

Wow. That's my first thought when I think about this book. What I know of the Marines doesn't jive with the book so the realities of war were quite eye opening. Swofford is a very good writer and the tales he tells are often spellbinding. I both enjoyed the book and was disturbed by it. A highly recommended read.

Book Report: "A Writer's Paris"

...A Guided Journey for the Creative Soul by Eric Maisel

Maisel is a creativity coach and author and in this book of short essays, he suggests that spending time in Paris can inspire you to create. Whether for a week or a year, Maisel feels that getting away (to Paris, but really, anywhere, will make you put your writing first, instead of fitting it around "real life", or more common, putting it aside altogether.

"Paris is a place of associations: It moves the mind, stirs the heart, and resonates forever." With this, I agree!

Book Report: "The Perfect Mile..

Three Athletes, One Goal, and Less Than Four Minutes to Achieve It"  by Neal Bascomb

Very captivating book about the race to be the first man to break the 4:00 mile. Englishman Roger Bannister, a medical student and doctor in training, Aussie John Landy, a scientist and student who soaked up training information from the great Emil Zatopek and trained solo, and American and Kansas farm boy, Wes Santee, who escaped the farm and an abusive father for college and a coach who was closer to him than his own family.

The book covers their collective quest to break the 4:00 barrier and also outlines their history and sporting backgrounds and helps to explain what made them the men they became.  Really good read!

Book Report: "Too Soon Old, Too Late Smart"

Thirty True Things you Need To Know Now
By Gordon Livingston, M.D.

This book was on Gordo’s recommended list, which is why I bought it. Livingston is a psychiatrist, Vietnam War veteran and lost two of his sons within a short period of time and has distilled all of his experiences and the experiences of others into 30 “truths”. Each one is the subject of an essay and they do ring true. Most of them are things that we already know, but maybe haven’t admitted to ourselves. Many of the truths deal with relationships and parenting, but they all touch everyone’s life in some way. A few of my favorites are listed below.

“If the map doesn’t agree with the ground, the map is wrong.” Bingo! But how often have we looked at a situation from the opposite way? Yeah, me too.

“We are what we do.” This section really hit me. Yeah, it’s very easy to talk about what you are going to do or changes you are going to make. Well, it doesn’t really matter until you DO. People (including me) always talk about what we want, what we intend to do, but as Livingston says, “we are not what we think, or what we say, or how we feel. We are what we do.” Boy, that one slapped me upside the head and this week I’ve been trying to DO instead of talking or planning to do.

“Feelings follow behavior.” And also, difficult does not equal impossible. That’s a good one to understand! Any change requires trying new things and trying something new has the possibility of failure (this is one I’m dealing with for sure). But Livingston asks, “What are you saving yourself for?” That’s a damned good question!

“The most secure prisons are those we construct for ourselves.” And it’s usually born out of fear and broken promises. “Keeping our expectations low protects us from disappointments.” And how do you know when you WANT to change? Again, actions over thoughts and wishes.

“Only bad things happen quickly.” Think about this. Bad (accidents, job firing, unexpected deaths, etc.) happens very quickly. Happiness-producing things usually take a long time in comparison. It’s a process—learn new things, change behaviors to good habits, build relationships—all take time.

“Not all who wander are lost.” This one line sums it up for me. Not all of us are meant to toe the line of “what you are supposed to do”.

“There is nothing more pointless, or common, than doing the same things and expecting different results.”

This is a quick read and I highly recommend it. Thanks Gordo. Lots of thought provoking moments.

Book Report: "French by Heart: An American Family's Adventures in La Belle France"

by Rebecca S. Ramsey

Memoir by a woman who moved with her husband and three kids from South Carolina to Clermont-Ferrand, France. Two of the kids were grade school aged and the other was a toddler. Her husband was transferred for work and C-F is about 4 hours south of Paris, in the heart of France. The book covers the four or so years they lived there and how they dealt with a new language, customs and everything else. It's a quick read and funny in parts. As I am someone who would love to live in France, I really enjoyed it.

Book Report: "Duel in the Sun: Alberto Salazar, Dick Beardsley, and America's Greatest Marathon"

by John Brant

Excellent read. The story of the 1982 Boston Marathon where Salazar and Beardsley ran the entire 26.2 miles step by step together. Salazar was the favorite and Beardsley, the underdog. Both were young and thought to be on the upswing of their careers, but that one race exacted a toll on both of them in different ways. The book also covers the aftermath and their meeting up in 2003 after Beardsley had come out of prescription drug addiction and felony possession and Salazar having gone through and dealt with depression. A very well told story and gripping tale. Highly recommended.

Book Report: "A Death in Brazil:A Book of Omissions"

by Peter Robb

A memoir, travelogue and political history primer all wrapped into one. The book covers the presidency of Fernando Collor and his subsequent impeachment (and murder of his main sycophant), but also contains an accounting of the history, especially of the northeast part of Brazil. Robb also describes the small towns of the northeast and the food and social life very well. A very interesting book which makes me want to read more about the recent history of Brazil.

Book Report: "The Extra Mile...

One Woman's Personal Journey to Ultrarunning Greatness" by Pam Reed

Memoir of Pam Reed, the first woman to outright win the Badwater Ultramarathon, the 123 mile race through Death Valley. She won it twice and has won many other races throughout her career. She tells of her childhood and her long battle with anorexia and of her personal life and family. It's a fairly quick read, interesting, but some times reads a little to "chatty", going off on a tangent which you think, "Why was that in there?" Overall, worth the time if you are a running fan or thinking about taking the plunge into the ultra world.

Book Report

"Riding With the Blue Moth" by Bill Hancock

My friend Alynn sent me this book after my mother died. I started to read it then, but had to set it aside. I started it again this spring and really enjoyed it. Bill Hancock's son Will was the sports information director for the Oklahoma State University basketball team and he was on the chartered airplane that crashed in 2001. As an alumni of a Big 12 (then, Big 8) school, I remember that crash. As part of his grieving and healing process, Hancock rode his bicycle 2,700 miles across the United States and the book chronicles this ride and the events leading up to it. Highly recommended.

"Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think"

by Brian Wansink, Ph.D.

I picked this up at some airport bookstore and finished it last week. Excellent book!

The author is a professor of Marketing and Nutritional Science at Cornell University and does research on food and consumer behavior. He describes much of the research they've done on people's behaviors and eating and gives a "Reengineering Strategy" for each chapter. These include:

1. Think 20%--more or less. Dish up 20% less food than you think you want; increase fruits/veggies by 20%.

2. See all you eat. See it before you eat it; see it while you are eating it. (Put everything on a plate before you eat it--don't eat chips out of the bag, ice cream out of the carton, etc.)

3. Be your own tablescaper. Use smaller bowls and plates; dump the supersize--you'll pour more from a supersized container than a small one.

4. Make overeating a hassle, not a habit. Leave serving dishes in the kitchen; "de-convenience" tempting foods (put in hard to reach places; candy in covered dish away from the desk); snack only at the table and on a clean plate.

5. Create distraction-free eating scripts. Rescript your diet danger zones (dinner, snacks, parties, restaurants, desks/dashboards); distract yourself before you snack; serve yourself before you start.

6. Create expectations that make you a better cook. (Use of brand v. non; names of dishes descriptive).

7. Make comfort food more comforting. Don't deprive yourself, but also rewire your comfort foods. Instead of a huge dessert, try a small scoop of ice cream and fruit.

8. Crown yourself as the official gatekeeper. Offer variety; use the half-plate rule (protein/starch is half, veggies other half); make serving sizes official (snacks in baggies).

9. Portion-size me. Beware of the health halo (better the food, the worse the extras--they found people overate a lot at Subway when they thought they were eating "good" as opposed to McDonalds where you know you aren't eating healthy when you have Big Mac and fries. Think small or super-share.

Mindful Eating Plan:

Make 100-200 calorie changes in daily intake. Easy to do and you won't feel deprived.
Mindless better eating. Reengineer small behaviors.
Make up your own food policies or food trade-offs. Needs to be specific to you.
The power of 3: design 3 easy, doable changes that you can make without much sacrifice.
Use a checklist to see how you are doing each day.

I highly recommend the book and could see some of the behaviors in myself or in people at work (with the snacking and candy).

Book Report

"Breakthrough Triathlon Training" by Brad Kearns

If you're looking for a "do this workout on this day" book, you'll be disappointed, but if you're looking for good info on the mental and motivational side of training and racing, it's a worthwhile read. Brad tells some good stories from the past and talks a lot about motivation and achieving a healthy, balanced approach to training.

Couple of quotes from the book:

"The greatest human freedom is the freedom to choose one's attitude."___Viktor Frankel

"To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift."___Steve Prefontaine

Book Report

"On the Road" by Jack Kerouac

I think I read this quite a long time ago, so when the book club picked this one, it was nice to re-read it. Called by some as "the novel that defined a generation", I found myself being transported to the road.
Some have said the stream-of-consciousness style of writing takes a bit to get into, but I didn't find that. There are so many great quotes in the book!

"life is holy and every moment is precious",

"their energies met head-on"

"I was halfway across America, at the dividing line between the East of my youth and the West of my future..."

A good history and overview of the book is at

Book Report

"Running With the Buffaloes: A Season Inside with Mark Wetmore, Adam Goucher, and the University of Colorado Men's Cross Country Team" by Chris Lear

Very good read. Written in diary style from August's beginning practice through the national championships in November, and covers the team's training, racing and life in the course of the cross country season. It was really interesting to read about the training and how the runners dealt with that level of training. And the last 30 pages were riviting...leading up to and then the report of the national championships. I finished it yesterday afternoon and it has me fired up for my run today!

Yes, A Little Break and A Book Report

As they say in the pro peleton, I've had no morale. [I've been in a funk since I've not been in France. July = France.] But, I've been training and working. I'll get caught up here eventually. But how about Floyd!!

I have also been reading!  Book Report:

"Hedge Hogging"

by Barton Biggs

A new book out by a guy who worked for many years for Morgan Stanley, and who started his own hedge fund in 2003. One of the partners at the law firm here received it from a client and he loaned it to me. Biggs recounts his experiences in the investment world, and the broad range of experiences of others, both successful and not so successful. He gives a glimpe into what really goes on behind the scenes. Some of the stories are laugh out loud funny, others make you shake your head. There is a little bit of technical finance talk, but the majority of the book is about his experiences. An enjoyable read.

"Chasing Lance: The 2005 Tour de France and Lance Armstrong's Ride of A Lifetime"

by Martin Dugard

Another great read! I also finished this one in a couple of days. It chronicles the Tour last year and how everyone is "chasing Lance", for many reasons, but for a large number of people, because he is a symbol of hope and perserverance. Really, really enjoyed this book, but a few times I thought Dugard was a bit mean-spirited. What was interesting were all the behind the scenes accounts of the Tour. Perfect read in the days just prior to this year's Tour.

"Ultra Marathon: Confessions of An All-Night Runner"

by Dean Karnazes

We went to see Dean last week at a tri club function and he is RIPPED! His book is a good, quick read (I read it in two days), and is pretty motivational. There are accounts of his first 50 miler, the first ever (only?) marathon run at the South Pole, his first Western States experience and running "The Relay" solo (Calistoga to Santa Cruz, a team competition). Really enjoyed the book, but even more enjoyed hearing him speak and got him to sign my book. He took the time to chat with everyone on line, not just signing and moving on.

Book Report

Gold in the Water
The True Story of Ordinary Men and Their Extraordinary Dream of Olympic Glory

by P.H. Mullen

WOW! TOTALLY AWESOME BOOK! Recommended by my friend Steve. My nephew got me this book for Christmas and had to order it so we picked it up on the way to the airport and I was over half finished when I got back to SF and finished it in just three sittings.I just couldn't put it down. Very, very highly recommended.

The book follows a group of elite swimmers in the eighteen months leading up to the 2000 Olympic Trials and the Sydney Olympics. Mullen writes really well and you care for the swimmers and coaches and can feel the emotion--the pain, the joy, the frustration, the heartbreak--coming out of the pages. I think it's the first time that I "get" that the process and the journey is the important thing. If you do the work and execute the plan, you win.