[caption id="attachment_8722" align="alignright" width="183"]against the odds - john pendergrass - book review Against The Odds by John Pendergrass[/caption] Disclaimer: The book Against The Odds was sent to me by the author but no money exchanged hands and I was not asked for a positive review in exchange for the book. Book reviews are not something I do quite often but one of the benefits of writing a triathlon blog and being on social media is you get the opportunity to be contacted by people and companies looking for a review from you.  The better part of that equation for me is picking and choosing what I want to review and post to my blog.  When I was contacted by Against The Odds author John Pendergrass I was in the midst of training for Ironman Texas and I figured a book would help get me through the overload weeks.  Unfortunately life took a lot of turns and twists and I never got to crack the spine on the book until a couple of weeks ago but I did get to it and here is my review. Against The Odds is the true story of a 60-year-old age grouper (John Pendergrass) who decided to race six Ironman races on six continents.  When I first read that I thought to myself that is going to be awesome because I thought that John was going to be doing it over the course of a year or two.  As it turns out it took a bit longer than that but it is none the less an inspiration story.  I know people tell me today that they couldn't do what I do and I am not 40 yet (although according to USAT I hit that number last year.)  Now take the fact that an Ironman race is just a small portion of the triathlon lifestyle and then tack on the years you need to tack on to reach 60.  Amazing accomplishment in my mind. Mr Pendergrass races Ironman Brazil, Switzerland, South Africa, New Zealand, Arizona and China.  Those locations alone are a lifetime of experiences but throw in the Ironman race and I can only imagine what those memories are like.  Fortunately for the reader John takes us not only through the races but also the sight-seeing and experiences of those far away lands.  This turns out to be the best part of the book for me.  I am not sure if it is because I have raced the 140.6 distance or because the 'race reports' are not detailed enough for me but I found myself rushing through those portions of Against The Odds to get to the travel experiences. One item that the author leaves out, thankfully, is the mundane training that takes place.  If you are reading this post then you are more than likely a triathlon/endurance blog reader and have come across the blog posts that detail every little bit of training ad nauseam.  You know the blog entries: Swam 1450 yards in 22:12 and felt great followed by 10 mile run in 90* heat with 10000000000% humidity and almost died.  I try not to do that because we are all training and we all have our own stories and thankfully Against The Odds leaves a lot of that out.  We know that it takes hours, days, weeks and months to get to an Ironman race and Mr Pendergrass doesn't touch that in his book with such great detail that you know more than you want about him. His stories of getting to the locations via planes, trains and automobiles along with people he meets are inspiring and have me thinking about taking my triathlon lifestyle abroad.  Racing in Brazil or South Africa are extremely appealing.  Finding myself in the mountains of Switzerland or the beaches of New Zealand seem feasible after reading his accounts.  Getting to know the local culture while competing in one of the hardest endurance races in the world has a special appeal for me. If you are just getting into the sport of triathlon or preparing to race your first Ironman then Against The Odds is not a book to open up and expect to get tips on how to get faster in the water or make your transitions simpler.  If you are a veteran of the Ironman races then you can appreciate what Mr Pendergrass deals with and details in the book regarding the race.  If you love to travel and want to know more about the sights and cultures of far away lands then this book will also appeal to you. My final recommendation is that this is a good read.  The chapters are short and to  the point and you can get through it in a couple of weeks but do not expect to be told anything that will help get you to Kona.  What you can expect are stories about these 6 Ironman races and their locations and to be entertained along the way.

Have You Read Against The Odds? Thoughts?

Where Is The Farthest You Have Traveled For A Race?

Published in Product Reviews
Thursday, 30 August 2012 13:24

Restaurant Man Book Review

[caption id="attachment_6422" align="alignright" width="300"]restaurantman_joebastianich_bookreview Source: Daily News[/caption] Restaurant Man is a book I found after reading and reviewing Yes Chef by Marcus Samuellson and I came to enjoy it from the very beginning.  Why?  Well here is why:
As many of you know I am composed of the following amongst other things:
  1. New Yorker
  2. Foodie
  3. Triathlete
When I saw that Joe Bastianich (of Master Chef fame) wrote a book I quickly purchased it.  Joe is a New Yorker, a foodie/wine enthusiast, and a triathlete.  I was drawn to this boom like a moth to the light.
I didn't know what to expect, but I was pleasantly surprised and quickly brought back to New York along the way.
The title of the book "Restaurant Man" is a description of a successful restaurateur.  He is a cheap f'er, who keeps his eyes on everything.  This was a lesson that Joe's dad taught him at a young age.  He taught him that everybody was out to screw you in the restaurant business and that you had to keep an eye on everything.
I think this lesson is one that is not taught or learned by everybody because 50% of restaurants go out of business within one year of opening.  Trying to juggle all of the balls and keeping an eye on all the employees while watching the bottom line is not easy.  Joe goes into detail about how you can do this and anybody interested in opening a restaurant or even a simple catering business or food truck should read this book.
There are no punches thrown as you can tell from the curse words.  Joe wrote this book right from his mouth.  He does not sugarcoat anything and for me that was the appeal.  It was as if I were sitting down with an old friend in a Manhattan bar and we were just talking about the life and times of this Restaurant Man.
Mr. Bastianich is the partner of Mario Batalli in 25 restaurants, the 'grocery store' Eately and the son of his famous mother Lidia, who is also a world-renowned chef.  This group, but mostly Joe and Mario, have created what I call a dynasty in the restaurant business.  To own and operate 25 establishments, all different and not a franchise is astounding and a testament to their business practices.  If you can open one and be successful than congrats.  If you reach 25 then you bet your kitchen that I am listening and going to apply those lessons to my business.
Having eaten at Otto in New York and in Las Vegas I can say that their level of excellence is taught throughout their business.  With different people managing and running the restaurants you could expect to see differences, as this is not a McDonald's with the same menu in every city.  Different menus, different options and yet a commitment to keeping the highest standards is sought and kept.
If you are a budding restaurateur or just have an interest in how to run a successful business I suggest reading this book.  If you are a New Yorker living in Seattle, Los Angeles or anywhere other than New York you should read this.  This book showcases how to run a business to meet the various tastes of different clients. How to establish your business as the premiere business in that industry and how to stay there.

Have You Read A Good Book Lately?

Published in Product Reviews
Monday, 30 July 2012 15:19

Yes, Chef Book Review

    [caption id="attachment_6270" align="alignright" width="278"]yeschef_marcussamuelsson_bookreview_cooking Source: Tadias[/caption] Yes, Chef is a book written by Marcus Samuelsson that I just finished reading and couldn't wait to get my review out to you all that I pushed it to today.  You may think that from the title this is just a recipe book, but you couldn't be further from the truth.  This book is not just a story about a chef but really about any immigrant to America who works hard and pushes their way to the top of the mountain only to have that mountain crumble.  The story could end there as one of the stories of success gone wrong, but Chef Samuelsson didn't stop.  He kept pushing until he got to the top again.  During the reading of this book I found myself nodding in agreement with just about everything Chef Samuelsson wrote.  The stories were inspiring and motivating.  The pictures were emotional and found a place in my heart and my mind. I purchased this book immediately after reading Chrissie Wellington's  A Life Without Limits and the transition from triathlon to kitchen was seamless.  Obviously for me cooking and sport are my passions so it was easy to go from one to the other.  What I did not expect was to find the similarities that I found between both books.  In Ms Wellington's book we learned about the hardships she has had to deal with in jumping from one coach to another.  In dealing with body images and the pressure to repeat as an undefeated Ironman champion.  Mr Samuelsson has had to deal with his own hardships.  Being born in Ethiopia with nothing and being adopted by white parents in Sweden.  Imagine that!  Then growing up and finding his way to America to battle not only the hierarchy of the kitchen, but being black in what is a white man's sport.  There are very few black chefs in the kitchen of the biggest and best restaurants and here was an immigrant coming to America to do just that. I found that with each turn of the page that I wanted to reach out to Chef Samuelsson and high-five him for not letting his dream fade.  For not allowing everything around him to crush his spirit.  Yes he went through ups and downs, as we all do, but he kept his eye on his top goal.  His goal to get to the top and establish himself as one of the best chefs in the World and not just America.  I found it inspiring and telling that a man with nothing could grow to become a man of substance.  He is not just a great chef, but an Ambassador.  A man willing to teach those around him about the history of Harlem.....remember he was born in Ethiopia and grew up in Sweden.  Harlem?  Yes, that Harlem.  In New York.....the place people only talk about but never visit. As a New Yorker I took the Metro North through Harlem on a daily basis.  I watched as it grew from squalor to opulence, and I use that term lightly as it is still growing.  I was last in New York nearly 3 years ago and when I went back I saw Harlem from the train tracks again and smiled because I knew it was on its way.  While I did not stop and get off and could not see Chef Samuelsson's Red Rooster restaurant I knew he was making a difference and this book supported that knowledge. I have been a big fan of Marcus Samuelsson's ever since his days on Top Chef Masters and his ever presence on The Food Network just reinforces my opinion of him.  He has a keen eye towards flavors and food.  His critiques on the show Chopped are never just hammering away at the chef but has them walk away with ideas and tips.  Seeing him compete on The Next Iron Chef I rooted for him on every show until his final episode but never lost faith in him or his ability to bring about change in not just the culinary world but also in the world, period. I suggest that you get your hands on this book sooner rather than later. If you have a dream of becoming something someday then read how one person made a that dream come true for himself.  Follow the path that he laid out and that goal of becoming a chef, a triathlete, a better parent, a better employee/employer will come true.  You have to have drive and passion.  You have to have goals.  Chef Samuelsson has that and you can see it come through the pages of Yes, Chef. This is not just a culinary book, but a book about life and growing that life.
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  [caption id="attachment_6132" align="alignright" width="300"]chrissiewellington_ironman_triathlon_bookreview Karen And Chrissie Wellington At Ironman Texas 2012[/caption] A Life Without Limits by Chrissie Wellington was the first book I purchased on the new iPad.  Before I get into the book review I will say that the purchase of the iPad is so worth it just for reading books.  I love it and have already purchased my second read.....the 909 page book by Marcus Samuelsson titled Yes, Chef. OK, now that we are through with that tiny disclaimer let's get into my review of this book. Having watched Chrissie Wellington from a far during the broadcast of the Ironman World Championships I had some clue as to her story.  We all know that she is undefeated at the Ironman race distance as well as her injuries just prior to the 2011 World Championships and this book goes into that a bit, but there was a lot more that I learned about her and my respect for her has grown. In the book we learn that her passion truly is in helping others in any way she can.  She once worked for the British Government through a position that had her talking and negotiating with the political elite.  It was during her time doing that where she discovered that helping people was not going to be done while sipping cocktails at ultra-expensive hotels.  Knowing her place in the world comes through quite a bit in this book. Another fascinating tid bit I learned was that she has pushed and ridden a bike through Nepal on a 'course' that no bike was ever to be on.  Imagine this tiny woman pushing a bike that probably weighs as much as her through the toughest terrain known to man and coming out the other side doing what she does best.....smile.  A true inspiration to venture outside of your 'comfortable' world and do something uncomfortable. The last piece of information I am going to share with you from her book is that she has a lot of GI issues prior to races.  The face of the sport having major GI issues would not be a big deal, but having them before EVERY race?  I was surprised by this as well as to how in-depth she gets.  My surprise lies in the fact that she is a 4x World Champion and I would have expected her to have sorted this out.  Maybe we all get race day nerves and some just show up in different ways than others. I found this book to be an easy read.  One that tells her story of life growing up and life as a World Champion.  We learn about her personal life as well as her professional life.  Her dealing with her original coach, her 2nd coach and her current coach.  We are given a glimpse into her mindset while she it out training and racing and dealing with injuries. If you are at all interested in the sport of triathlon I would highly suggest you read this.  The book brings a person who would be considered famous and into your living room to enjoy a hot cup of tea and chat.

Have You Read A Life Without Limits?  What Were Your Thoughts?

Published in Product Reviews
Saturday, 28 January 2012 21:33

Iron War Book Review

Where do I begin with this review.  I found Iron War by Matt Fitzgerald [caption id="attachment_5184" align="alignright" width="252" caption="Dave Scott - Mark Allen in the 1989 Ironman"]dave_scott_mark_allen_ironman_triathlon[/caption] to be just incredible and not only because of the storytelling of the greatest Ironman race ever but because of the scientific information that came with it.  I have read Chris McCormack's book I'm Here To Win as well as the book  You Are An Ironman and Iron War is better than both. For those that don't know Iron War took place in 1989 between Dave Scott and Mark Allen.  The race was great because of the suspense of it all.  Scott and Allen raced nearly the entire race together from the water to the bike to the run.  Both athletes came from different backgrounds and had faced each other enough times to essentially know when the other was going to burp after drinking water.  You can get caught up in the emotion of the strategy of them and how they planned to race in 1989 but for me it came down to their personalities and what they put into their own training. In reading the book I found myself trying to figure out if I were Scott or Allen when it came to my training and racing.  Dave Scott is the consummate I will outwork you athlete.  Each training session was an opportunity to go faster or longer than the previous session.  It was an all or nothing type of work for Mr Scott. Mark Allen on the other hand was much more about the science of it all in terms of go slower to go faster.  Heart rate training as well as holistic approaches made him the athlete he was back then. When this book was released there were lawsuits brought against Matt Fitzgerald, author of the book, by both Dave Scott and Mark Allen.  I believe it was in regards to his portrayal of them by interpreting his interviews of them for this book.  At the time I recall people on Twitter saying that they would not read this book and I think they will be doing them a disservice.  Regardless of whether or not you think this book is factual the chapters regarding the science of endurance athletes is worth the purchase alone.  Read the book as if it were a fictional story about two athletes racing in Hawaii but really read the chapters on science. I had written previously about the pain community that is discussed in this book and that was the first of the chapters discussing the science behind endurance athletes and specifically Ironman triathletes.  The second chapter, titled Iron Will, or in terms we can relate to:  mental strength.  I found the chapter fascinating because both Dave Scott and Mark Allen had the mental strength but come from very different backgrounds. If you had a certain amount of money that you wanted to spend on a triathlon book then I would suggest you spend it on this book.  I could be found eating my meals with this book right above the plate as I ate.  I did not want to put it down and finished it in approximately two weeks and that is only because I had to sleep and train.  Each training session following the reading of this book had me thinking about how Dave Scott or Mark Allen would approach the training.  When I get to Puerto Rico in 2 months I'll be thinking about the mental strength it will take to hit my goals.  I'll be thinking that I amongst elite company that will push themselves through the pain to reach the finish line and then high-five them as we cross that finish line, smile and laugh about the course and the work it took to get there. For another view on this book read this take by Dan Empfield in Slowtwitch.  Click [HERE]  

Have You Read Iron War?  What Are Your Thoughts?

Published in Product Reviews
Friday, 09 December 2011 16:52

You Are An Ironman Book Review

I finished reading the book You Are An Ironman a few weeks ago but put off writing the review as I wanted to let what I just read to marinate in my mind and see if there was some profound effect on me.  For me a good book leaves me thinking even after I have started my next book.  This book did leave me thinking but I think it was a scenario that was compounded by a few other forces and not necessarily the book alone. This book, written by Jacques Steinberg, follows the story of 6 everyday age-groupers as they prepare for and race Ironman Arizona.  I picked up this book because I love the story of the Age Grouper.  The battles we fight to get to our goals are not just about getting into shape to compete but also dealing with family and friends, job pressures, the expense of training and racing.  We are constantly learning and adjusting schedules and worrying if we did enough.  When that gun goes off at the start all those worries go away and when we cross that finish line we are fist-pump knowing that we did everything we could to cover the distance. The story of each of the six people is familiar.  There is the expense and guilt of paying for a race that cost $700 versus getting something on the car/house fixed.  The story of fitting in enough training and still being a good parent.  The fear of the open water, the dealing with of death in the family and really what is nothing more than life for everybody. They are good stories but not stories you have not heard before and maybe I did not connect with the athletes in the book and that is why I found this book ho-hum.  Back to my initial paragraph about the other forces that were behind me thinking about this book for a couple of weeks after I finished it.  Here are those forces:
  • I was able to register for Ironman Arizona 2012.  I think I was focused on the fact that I was one of the people who got into a race that sold out in 10 minutes more so than what the author wrote about.
  • I finished the book right around the time that Ironman Arizona was being raced.  I watched as Aimee and Nicole crossed the finish line and because of my personal interaction with them I focused on their accomplishments more than the people in the book.
  • I read race reports and did research about Ironman Arizona so that I knew what  to expect when November 18, 2012 rolled around.  This was more profound than reading the book.
The book is not one that I would run out and buy ahead of another Ironman / Triathlon book as the connection to the athletes never manifested itself for me.  When I watch Kona this weekend I will invest my emotions into those athletes because of the way it is presented and I am afraid that Mr. Steinberg failed in this aspect.  I never felt really connected to them even though there were some from Texas that raced in this area as well as an athlete that raced 70.3 California like myself.
I purchased Iron War before I was done reading You Are An Ironman and I am partially through the book and have found it more compelling in the first few pages than the entire book by Mr Steinberg.  Hopefully I can finish Iron War before the New Year and you can start off your 2012 with a book review and a book to read.
Published in Product Reviews
A few months ago I was contacted by Bull Publishing about reviewing the book Nutrition Periodization for Athletes by Bob Seebohar and I could not turn down the opportunity to review the book.  Just the words nutrition and athletes in the title alone led me to saying yes before the question was finished being asked. Once I got the book I couldn't wait to read it and all of this excitement was based on Bob Seebohar's resume.  Read Bob's resume right here: Bob Seebohar, M.S., R.D., C.S.S.D., C.S.C.S., is one of the first Board Certified Specialists in Sports Dietetics and is a Sport Dietitian for the United States Olympic Committee where he provides nutrition expertise for Olympic athletes. He is one of the foremost experts on nutrition for endurance athletes and is a regular speaker at many national level conferences as well as triathlon and cycling coaching education clinics. Bob is also an exercise physiologist, a USA Triathlon Certified Elite Coach, a NSCA Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist and a competitive triathlete and runner. For me this book broke down into two segments which were easy to understand and difficult to understand.  The easy parts of this book focused on what to eat and how to eat with a focus on periodization plate.  The difficult segments focused on nutrients but in a much more scientific manner that required me to re-read pages just to make sure that I understood it. When all was said and done though the periodization plates really made a difference in my understanding of what Bob was speaking about.  The plates are broken down into lean protein and healthy fats, fruits and vegetables, whole grains and sports nutrition products.  It just doesn't end with a diagram of a plate but also is broken down into pre-season, in-season, taper and off-season.  By being able to follow these plates I was able to control my food intake which resulted in a loss of a few pounds and getting me down to race weight. The plates are not all there is though.  The author speaks about eating when hungry and eating to satiety.  When I first started figuring out the nutrition aspect of my training and racing I focused on eating every 3-4 hours.  I figured that if I was awake from 8am (after training) to 8pm that I had 12 hours of eating and needed 4 meals so I did the math and said I needed to eat every 3 hours.  I followed this religiously and was eating at times where I wasn't hungry but thought that I needed to eat. After reading Bob's statements about eating when hungry my habits changed and I was able to put the periodization plates to good use.  I would, and still do, eat until I was full and then stop.  I stopped looking at the clock and focused on my hunger queues.  Interestingly enough I was still eating almost every 3 to 4 hours but because I was eating according to the plates I never noticed the clock, nor paid attention to it. In addition to the Periodization Plates Bob uses FuelTarget Zones.  This is a method where you eat from the inside out, and essentially ask yourself three questions: 1) Where is my protein and healthy fat? 2) Where is my color? and 3) Where is my whole grain?  These questions are at the top of my mind each time I prepare a meal for myself or my family.  As I work from home I am allowed to examine and analyze my food to ensure that these questions are answered properly as well as making sure that my plates are lined up properly. These were the main takeaways for myself but Bob discusses nutritional supplements (which led to this post) as well as special considerations for athletes.  These special considerations discuss dehydration, heat cramps, hyponatremia, immune system depression, vegetarianism, travel nutrition, inflammation and iron deficiency anemia. I think all of these topics I have had a 'relationship' with in the past year and more than likely so have you.  With that being said I am not going to go into these discussions but will allow you the opportunity to win a copy of the book for yourself. [caption id="attachment_3742" align="alignright" width="300" caption="That is my copy on the left and what could be your copy on the right."]nutrition_periodization_for_athletes_bob_seebohar_giveaway[/caption] Bull Publishing is allowing me to host a giveaway.  So as with any giveaway there are rules so here they are (leave 1 comment for each):
  1. You must be a follower of my blog.  To sign-up go right up there on the right hand side and click the RSS feed or the Email icon and become a follower.
  2. Follow me on Twitter, Facebook or YouTube.  Again they are all up there on the top right or just click the link and you will be taken there as well. (worth 3 entries = 1 for each)
  3. Register for the Cook Train Eat Race Gazette by clicking the link.
  4. Go to Bull Publishing on Facebook or Twitter and tell them that CTER sent you (worth 2 entries = 1 for each)
  5. Post the giveaway on your blog, Facebook or Twitter with a link to CTER in each medium.  (1 entry for each)
  6. And for 2 bonus entries: Guess my goal time for 70.3 Longhorn on October 23rd.
That is an opportunity to have 12 entires into this giveaway for a book that has become a vital part of my nutrition understanding.
This giveaway ends on Sunday August 28th at 10am CST and the winner will be announced on Monday.
If you have any questions feel free to email me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..
Thank you.
Published in Product Reviews
I cannot remember the last time I wrote a book report, but here I am presenting to you my views, reviews and thoughts of the book I'm Here To Win: A World Champion's Advice for Peak Performance by Chris McCormack and Tim Vandehey. I was excited to crack the binding on this book as I am always looking for a way to get better and what's a better way to learn how to get better than to learn from a 2x World Champion.  Chris' antics have rubbed people the wrong way because of his cockiness but truth be told it never bothered me.  For me if you talk about winning then you had better win.  Throughout his career Chris has done just that and so he backed up what he said he would do.  Were there stumbles along the way?  Of course but the guy is only human just like any other pro athlete.  In the end he showed up to Kona in 2010 as a thirty-seven year old and won and not just won but he won in what is described as the best race at Kona ever, and that is saying a lot. The highlights of this book for me are his training tips.  He provides tips for triahletes on hyrdation and nutrition.  He goes into his training plan and in reality for me it is intense, but then again he is a professional and it should be intense.  There certainly are things that an age-grouper can take away from the book and apply to their program. One of the biggest things I took away from this was how to get better at any given discipline.  For me the bike is where I feel I could use the most help, which is kind of funny because just a few months ago I would have said the swim was where I needed the help.  My swim has improved rapidly with the help of Greg Larsen as well as the training plans supplied by Coach.  Now for my bike to improve I need to analyze my data more, find out who is a good cyclist and pick their brain.  I have my list of cyclists and questions that I want to email them about.  I can honestly say I would not have thought about going this route had I not read this book.  I am a person who tends to go about his business on his own, but now I know better.  My swim improved because of swimming with Greg and now my bike will improve because of the people I am going to ask questions of. The other piece that struck me was how the loss of Chris' mom had on him.  As a person who has lost a parent at a young age as well this hit me hard.  Every time  there was a point being made about how he raced for his mom I would think about my dad.  This portion truly made me connect with him and brought him down to earth as opposed to this guy I have seen on TV for years.  Did you know that Chris has the number 19,455 on his person at every race one way or the other?  What is the significance of that number?  As Chris points out it is the number of days that his mom was alive and so he honors her with that number. I have written about how important I think having a coach is for me as well as what to look for in a coach.  In this book Chris McCormack goes into discussion how important he thinks a coach is, what to look for in a coach.  He goes into discussion of what an age-grouper should consider when selecting a coach and goes so far as to say that picking a coach is the most important thing that a triathlete can do. I truly devoured this book as I read it in about one week.  From beginning to end I was into this book.  From the tips of training, to how he learned from Muhammad Ali, and finally his take on the cheating in the sport of triathlon. If you did not like Macca before reading this book I believe your opinion of him may be changed by the book.  If you enjoyed watching him before the book, then this book shall cement that feeling for you. To me the shame is that we may have seen him on the biggest stage in triathlon for the final time in Kona in 2010.
Published in Product Reviews