Review: It’s Not About the Bike

I have to give high praises to Sally Jenkins once again for her writing skills. Like the previous book I read which was co-written by her, this one is well done. This time she teams up with Lance Armstrong in his first book It’s Not About the Bike: My Journey Back to Life.

I have not previously known much about Lance Armstrong other than he is an amazing cyclist and the winner of 7 straight Tour de France races. I also know him as a marathon runner in the last two New York City Marathons.

The first of the book outlines a bit of his childhood. It does not dwell too long on it, for which I was thankful. Lance proved himself to be a angry kid with a chip on his shoulder, a typical jerk. The quicker we moved away from that, the better. Unfortunately, I think that is a character trait that he never outgrew. He may have softened in some areas, but, by his own admission in the book, it lasted quite some time. He bares it all in the book.

The fascinating thing about the book is his journey through cancer. He had testicular cancer which was not discovered until it was in a very progressed, late stage. By the time it was found in October 1996 it had already spread into his lungs and brain. Though I knew he had cancer, until I read this book, I did not know how severe his situation was. The whole process of chemotherapy, physically and emotionally, was inspirational as well as very emotional. I had no concept of what chemo did to a body. I know that not everyone goes through the same type of treatments for cancer, but I have a new appreciation for the emotional strength it takes for someone to endure such events.

The book then covers his physical recovery from the cancer and details his emotional hardships to overcome the fact that he was a survivor. His “jerk” status that he established as a kid (for me) was confirmed in the year after his fight with cancer. He basically lived the next year totally defeated. This was taken out on everyone around him who tried to help him through the struggle. Eventually he was able to snap out of his funk and get back to what he loved doing.

The final part of the book is his account of winning his first Tour de France in 1999. He talks a great deal about his wife during this part of the book. He emphasized the fact that he was going to be the best husband and father he could be. Since the book was written 7 years ago he has royally failed in those areas. Though I said I don’t know much about him, I have heard about some of his relationships since his break up from his first wife. Not much of a model father and husband.

I found it ironic tonight as I was thinking about writing this review, I looked up his wife to see what she is currently up to. She is now living life as a committed endurance runner. She writes for Runner’s World and while Lance was running the NYC Marathon yesterday, she was running a half marathon in California.

While I may not think very highly of Lance Armstrong as a role model, I do respect him for his amazing feats of athleticism. I cannot fully put my stamp of approval on the book since the amount of cursing was way more than I was comfortable with. However, if you are curious about the toll taken on someone’s life in the process of fighting cancer, I don’t know of a better introduction to the subject. It is an inspirational read.

It’s Not About the Bike: My Journey Back to Life, Lance Armstrong and Sally Jenkins, Putnum, 2000, 275 pages.

“Running damages your body”

I was sitting at dinner with a friend this summer and we were talking about exercise. The last time I saw him was about four years before this conversation. In that time he has added 20 to 30 pounds to his already overstretched skin. In contrast, I have dropped 80+ pounds since then.

He was telling me that I should not run “because it damages your body.” He went through the normal set of excuses as to why he could not run. It is too hard on his knees, etc. He actually counseled me to stop running because of the damage I was causing to myself.

I wonder how much damage he is causing his body by not exercising? Grant it, he does not have to run, but instead he does nothing. This is a man who talks about his “glory days” when he was young, trim and very physically capable. He was in the military and joined the police force when he got out. But those days are gone, he assumes, forever. The sad thing is that he is only about 45 years old. There is plenty of time for him to get back in shape and save his body from the early grave that he is headed to.

Right along with this conversation he also took it upon himself to inform me how toxic and bad for me the Diet Coke was that I was drinking. I admit that Diet Coke is certainly not the best thing that I could be putting in my body, but it has to be better than the 2 X 32 ounces of regular Coke he was guzzling down. He drank almost 800 calories at that one meal!

I don’t want to go around criticizing all my friends for living like I used to, but I also can’t ignore how foolish his words sound to me now. Many of the same things I used to say.

Dad, what is the purpose for eyelashes?

EyelashesMy son asked me this afternoon what the purpose of eyelashes is. I did not have a solid answer at the time, but I ventured to guess it was to keep small particles out of the eyes, especially when the wind is blowing. Also I suggested that they might be super sensitive and alert the eyelids to shut tight when they are touched by something. All of this is true I found out.

I then recommended that he google it and find his answer. He was not really that interested in the question apparently. He walked right by the computer and went to watch TV.

I, on the other hand, was quite curious about the answer and therefore googled it myself. Like I don’t have enough to distract me on the web already, now I am getting distracted in real life which sends me to the web. I can’t win.

Oh, I also found out that an important secondary purpose of eyelashes is to use them for flirting.

Famous Friday: The Final Sprint

I would normally bring you a blog that I have been reading for some time and have some experience with. Today I am bringing to you a site that I have previously not read until today. While looking for the US Olympic Marathon Trials coverage, I came across The Final Sprint. I am familiar with the website since I listen to their podcast, but I have never read any of the content on the site until today.

They did a fairly good job of covering the event. I think they were severely hit hard by traffic. The site was horrifically slow to load during the coverage. They seem to have recovered slightly since then.

Along with the running news related blog, they have a podcast. It is an interview format. They tend to have some great celebrities on the podcast. However, I have considered unsubscribing a few times since I started listening about 2 months ago. The host seems to be in love with his own voice. I think the interviews are about 40% host talking and 60% guest talking. I would like to see that more in the range of 10% (or less) for the host’s part. Also, there seems to be little editing done on the show. The host stumbles over his words and could do a simple edit to correct it. Certainly some editing would help cut down on the host’s dominance in the audio. If he wants to ask leading questions (which almost all of them are) then state the basic question and edit out the “leading” parts of it.

For now, I am going to continue to listen to the podcast. I have subscribed to the RSS feed for the site and will be reading their coverage over the next few weeks to see how they do.

I make them my Famous Friday pick for this week because of their great coverage of the event this morning since NBC left us without coverage.

[Yes, I know it is not Friday, but in all my time of doing this pick, I think only 2 of them have actually been posted on a Friday.]

Olympic Trials Marathon Winners (Men)

Ryan Hall won in 2:09:02. The fact that he won was no great surprise. He was favored as the leader going into this race for good reason. He is quite on top of his game right now. This is an Olympic Trials record by 1 minute and 17 seconds (2:10:19 is the former record).

Second place went to Dathan Ritzenhein with a time of 2:11:07, a personal record by over 3 minutes.

Third is Brian Sell. He beat out a lot of big names in the last 6 miles with a time of 2:11:36.

Thanks for nothing NBC! Not only was I not able to watch it because of living outside the US, but they reportedly did not support Linux or Mac clients being able to view the site. When I did get connected through a proxy (which was rare since the site was often down with server errors) I got no video. I tried it a few times with the one Windows machine in the house, but only got server errors every time I tried there.