Mini Book Review of Chasing Kona by Rob Cummins

Chasing KonaThis book follows the author’s journey from non-athlete to athlete and eventually to the Ironman World Championships. I enjoyed following is story. The most remarkable aspect of this read for me was the amount of dedication and perseverance it took him to reach his goal. The workload and program he adhered to is incredible. Basically, his whole life revolved about endurance training. His story is a lesson in what separates success from failure. Most often its not natural talent, but rather a willingness to do what’s necessary.

I found this book for my kindle on Amazon … and it was free with my Amazon Prime membership.

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Mini Review of “Operation Ironman: One Man’s Four Month Journey from Hospital Bed to Ironman Triathlon” by George Mahood

operationThis book chronicles the author’s journey from hospital bed to Ironman. Having been diagnosed with a cancerous tumor intertwined with his spinal chord that left him with devastating back pain, George Mahood went through a tricky and dangerous procedure to have it removed. While still bedridden from the surgery, he made the decision to complete an Ironman triathlon in just four short months. With spotty training hampered by his recovery, Mahood set out to do just that. His experience is impressive. It should be pointed out, however, that Mahood wasn’t exactly starting from scratch. While humble about his athletic prowess, he had completed a marathon, long-distance bike rides, and swim training prior to his procedure.

With that said, I still enjoyed his journey and was greatly impressed by it. Heck, I’m impressed by anyone that has what it takes to complete an Ironman. Mahood has a humorous perspective and tells his story with ease. He is also British, which means he writes from a voice that sounded slightly quirky and endearing to me.

Reader’s should probably be forewarned that the author’s vernacular includes very occasional and, seemingly random, curse words included for humor. I found them more distracting than humorous; fortunately, they were rare.

Book Review of Heart of Iron: My Journey from Transplant Patient to Ironman Triathlete by Kyle Garlett

heartI started reading this book expecting an inspirational story wrapped in the context of training for triathlons and, if I’m being honest, I got much more than expected. Kyle Garlett is a cancer survivor. His story details his first discovery of lymphoma as a high school student and the prolonged battle that followed. In spite of his battle with reoccurring cancer, Garlett managed to get a college degree and build a career for himself in sports television. I was over a hundred pages in when I realized there had been no mention of triathlons – instead, I found myself engaged in Garlett’s battle. I found myself rooting for him and stunned by the battle he fought. This story will certainly impress upon you the battle that cancer represents and you will learn to appreciate those who have fought that battle.

Garlett’s battle eventually led to a heart transplant. The treatment he received for cancer destroyed his own heart and necessitated a new one. Not only did Garlett fight that battle, he recovered. And yes, his story does eventually lead to competing in triathlons. His spirit to not only survive, but thrive, is one we can all learn from.

I highly recommend this book.

Book Review of “The Long Run: A New York City Firefighter’s Triumphant Comeback from Crash Victim to Elite Athlete” by Matt Long

longrunI start off every year with the resolution to offer a mini review of every book I read in the upcoming year and, year after year, I fall short of that goal. Part of the problem is I read quite a bit, often juggling several books at a time, and often ditching a book as soon as I realize it’s not worth completing. If I fall behind a week or two in my reviews, it’s near impossible to catch back up. Recently, however, I finished Matt Long’s book The Long Run: A New York City Firefighter’s Triumphant Comeback from Crash Victim to Elite Athlete and felt the need to recommend it. Besides having the longest subtitle in literary history, Long’s book details one of the most heroic recoveries from severe injury imaginable.

Long is a firefighter who, among other things, responded to the tragedy that was 9/11. Though he would deny it, he is a hero. Being a hero is just part of who the guy is. The long-distance runner and triathlete has spent his career serving others. In 2005, however, it was Long who needed help. While cycling to work during a nasty transit strike, Long was literally ran over by a bus. In response to the transit strike, the bus was hired by a private company to haul employees into work. Apparently, the driver was unfamiliar with New York City streets – the end result was tragic.

I won’t detail Long’s injuries or recovery because you would be better off reading it in his own words. Suffice it to say, however, that his recovery involved dozens of surgeries and years of physical therapy. This guy’s story is incredible. Once I started the book I was unable to put it down and I have been unable to get it our of my mind since. His story is a testimony to the human spirit and is inspiring on every level.

Long didn’t just recover, rather, he once again became an endurance athlete. The man who had once qualified for the Boston Marathon and had his eyes set on a personal best in the Kona Ironman Triathlon in Hawaii had to learn how to walk again before he could run, but he did it.

I’m not an endurance athlete. Yes I run a little and yes I cycle a little, but my battle is more a fight against diabetes and excess weight than it is trying to set a personal best in a triathlon. Long routinely ran 20+ miles before his injury while my best so far is 5. But when I’m running and my legs are telling me I should quit, I can’t help by think of Matt Long. Even though no one would have blamed him, Long never quit. Despite excruciating pain, he keeps putting one foot in front of the other. His example inspires me to take one more step when I don’t feel like it. For that, I am grateful.

Disclaimer: Long describes his injuries and recovery in graphic detail. If you have a weak stomach, don’t say I didn’t warn you.