Monday, July 4, 2011

Movies, Books, Interviews, and more ...

I used to do movie and book reviews all the time on the Carrot but as training increased these review opportunities decreased accordingly.  It has now been over six weeks since Ironman Texas and the time in training has been cut drastically.  Over this period I've been able to enjoy a couple of books and a bunch of movies and figured I'd revert back to the good ol' days!

But first, I was interviewed by a site called Tri For Time about how to effectively manage training into your day-to-day life.  Take a minute and check out the interview HERE.  Leave a comment and let the author know of your quick tips for making training work!

Book #1:  I'm Here to Win  by Chris "Macca" McCormack

I received this book a couple months ago and put it to the side as I was not really that interested in reading.  I have always thought Macca was one heck of an athlete and respected his abilities as one of the best triathletes in the world.  However, I always felt he was kinda of a douchebag.  His interviews and press conferences always came across as brash and selfish and have made him the black hat wearing villain of professional triathletes.  

I finally picked up the book and after a few pages didn't want to put it down.  The writing style was much like you get on this and many other endurance blogs - more stream of consciousness writing over structured foundation.  This style made me feel like it was a couple of guys sitting around a table with a pint of beer just telling some stories.   Very engaging.

The content of the book brought us back to when Macca was just getting started in triathlon.  It told us of some tragic losses in his life and gave us some insight into why he has the work ethic that he does.   It gives us a look inside of the professional and business side of Triathlon that I found extremely interesting.  And in traditional Macca fashion, he pulls no punches when discussing some other professional Triathletes, both good and bad.   And some of the information shared on training and racing are worth their weight in gold.

After fininshing  I'm Here to Win my personal feelings towards him have changed completely.  He is sort of like Mike Tyson - completely misunderstood!  BUT I still see him as the black hat villain, the only difference is I now know that this image is by his choice.

Ranking:  8.5/10 Carrots

Book #2:  Born to Run  by Christopher McDougal

I do realize that I am the 2nd to last person in the endurance community to read this book (Kevin @Ironman by Thirty will be the last).  Here is the description by Amazon:
Full of incredible characters, amazing athletic achievements, cutting-edge science, and, most of all, pure inspiration, Born to Run is an epic adventure that began with one simple question: Why does my foot hurt? In search of an answer, Christopher McDougall sets off to find a tribe of the world’s greatest distance runners and learn their secrets, and in the process shows us that everything we thought we knew about running is wrong.
This first thing that jumped out to me is that Christopher McDougal is an excellent writer and amazing storyteller.  I had been avoiding this book because of the barefoot running "fad" that has been popping up among the running world over the last couple of years.  This book is responsible for the boom.  Sometimes I prefer to take an ignorance is bliss approach to things in the endurance community and the barefoot running debate was #1 on my list of things to remain un-knowledgeable about!  And I am completely aware I used the term "fad" to describe barefoot running.  We can have the argument on whether it was used in the correct context 2-3 years from now!

Anyway, I absolutely loved the book.  I was expecting a sermon on the minimalist approach to running and that was actually just a small undertone to what turned out to be a remarkable story with compelling and likable characters.  McDougal strings together a story of his injury history with out beloved sport  by becoming intertwined with some of the world's best ultramarathon runners.  He regal's us with tells of the Leadville 100 and ends with a race among an ancient tribe, the Tarahumara Indians, who are considered the greatest distance running tribe of all time.

McDougal asks the question of how this ancient tribe can run through the brutal terrain of the Copper Canyons of Mexico day-after-day in rubber sandals and limited nutrition and not become injured?  He takes us to scientists, professional runners, and coaches to try and answer this question.  However, what I really liked is that McDougal did not let the science overtake the story he was trying to tell.   This book could have got extremely technical but it stayed focused on the characters, which kept me reading.

FWIW, I ordered a new pair of running shoes the same day I finished this book and they were not Vibram Five Fingers!  Ha!

Ranking:  9/10 Carrots

Movie #1:  Super 8

Last Sunday Annie and I were finished with training and it was too hot to hang in the outdoors so we headed to the movie theater.  She didn't want to see an action flick and I was opposed to anything that would make chicks cry.  So Super 8 it was.  Here is the IMDB description:
After witnessing a mysterious train crash, a group of friends in the summer of 1979 begin noticing strange happenings going around in their small town, and begin to investigate into the creepy phenomenon.
 I will make this review short and to the point - Super 8 was fantastic!  Acting, directing, cinematography, production, story ... it was all just top notch.  The best way to describe it is to say it is a combination of The Goonies, Cloverfield, and ET.   It probably won't win any awards but it was a very enjoyable day at the movies and I highly recommend seeing it at the theater.

Ranking:  9.5/10

Movie #2:  Transformers 3:  Dark of the Moon

On Thursday night I went with a few friends to see the new Transformers Flick.  It was in 3D and I had high expectations that it was going to be as cool as Avatar.

The story starts out with an Autobots shuttle crashing on the moon in the early 1960's.  NASA was aware of the crash and thus the story takes off from here.  It takes us back to JFK, and him and his administration pushing for man to walk on the moon.  However, once we land Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin have a much different agenda then what the American public knows - explore the crashed spaceship!  Of course this leads to a major find and then a major cover-up and then to present day and thus our story begins ...

The 3rd Transformers brings back all the cast of character from the first two movies and recycles some of the same humor and relationship dynamics that seem to be the norm in most sequels.  The only notable missing character was  Sam Witwicky's girlfriend played by Megan Fox, who is smoking hot.  However, the actress they got to replace her, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, is even hotter!  

Okay, as seems to be the norm with Transformers movies the storyline was thin and, IMO, stupid.  As not to be a Spoiler, I will not go into more detail on the story . The acting was good and quite a few funny one liners kept the mode light.  The last hour of the movie was action-packed and once again pushed the limits in terms of special effects.  

However, with a running time of 157 minutes I found myself looking at my watch and wondering when this was going to be over on more than one occasion.  Oh, and the 3D was lazy when compared to Avatar.  A bar has been set and no other 3D move has yet been able to attain that level since.  My take on Transformers 3 is  if you have a few hours to kill and have already seen Super 8 then go see it.  If not, wait for it on Netflix.

Ranking:  6/10

I hope everyone is having a most excellent 4th of July Weekend!

Thanks for Reading,



  1. Kevin and I will have to race (or not race) to be the last to read that book Born To Run. And if you didn't have time to read during training then that means that I am not going to be reading it until after Kevin since his IM is coming up way before mine.

    Thanks for the reviews on Super 8 and Transformers 3.

  2. Thanks for the reviews. That'll help me not waste time with crappy books and movies. "I'm here to win" looks awesome!

  3. 100% agree w/ you on the Macca book. Ian wants to see Tranformers, and if you are giving it a 6 out of 10 I feel that my chances are pretty good to get through it without gouging my eyes out. This is good news.

  4. Just read a good book. "Go the F' to Sleep." Check it out :)

  5. Well I am in the minority
    I did not read born to run

  6. I really enjoyed Born to Run as well and was happy to hear it's being made into a movie.

  7. Totally agree on the Macca book. I didn't want to read it. I read it after Jason's review. Glad I did. Some good stuff in there.

    AND with BTR, same here. I devoured that book and I am still wearing the same running shoes. :)

    I want to see Super8 maybe this weekend! It is taper after all. Will save Transformers for DVD.

  8. Does the chick wear that same...ummm.. 'outfit' in the movie? My 11-year old wants to see that movie... dad may want to go too... if she is dressed like that it'll be a 'for sure'. But then I am not so sure I can, in good conscience, let my preteen son go. Inquiring moms want to know.

    Am I the only one who clicked that link? lmao

  9. I cannot understand how Born to Run brought about a barefoot running fad. I didn't get it at all from the book. I thoroughly enjoyed the book, though, and really was enthused about running (for a while at least) after reading it.

  10. Great reviews, Jeff. I will be the last to read Born To Run even though I have read the first 5 pages and the book is on the nightstand and has been for 6 months.

  11. Wow I am behind, haven't been to the movies in years (really!) and I have not read Born to Run. Yikes! I need to catch up!

  12. I will have to take the easy way out and do books on tape for my sunday morning rides.
    Two that I definitely need to read..

  13. It looks like the race is on between Jason, Jon, myself and MattyO (who has previously told me he will be the ?victor? haha

    Glad to hear Super 8 was good, I'm looking forward to that one on Netflix. Transformers, eh. I'll probably watch it because I've seen the first two, but I sure as hell am not giving it my full attention.

  14. - Why am I not surprised you gave Transformers 6 out of 10, but yet you would give Swamp Invaders from the Alligator Planet a 12 out of 10

    - I havent read Born to Run, no interest either.

    - I should be receiving Maccas book any day now.

  15. Great reviews!

    I bought Born to Run, now I just need to read it!

    I've also heard great things about Super 8, still need to see it!

    I've also heard terrible things about Transformers 3, I have no desire to see that movie.

    And don't see Green Lantern - that movie is terrible. Worst movie I've ever seen besides Batman & Robin, haha

  16. Thanks for the reviews Jeff! :)

    I just bought Tom Macca's book for our Anniversary (I'm so romantic, aren't I?) I've heard that it will change your opinion about him a little. I'm anxious to read it.

    And I haven't read Born to Run yet - maybe Kevin and I will have to fight the be the last! :)

  17. I got a lot out of Born to run, but since I just sprung for new custom orthotics, I'm not going to try the barefoot running thang.

  18. Don't understand BDD's comment on Born to Run. It's not really a running book. It's a story about some amazing people who run. Hmmmh. Jeff, get on him about that.

    I ready your interview. Good stuff. 4:00 a.m. Wow. It really helps me when I read about others like you who are completely committed to their training plan. Thank you.

    Bummer about Transformers. I was looking forward to that. Please tell me you saw X-Men. It was great. I give it 8.5 Manly's.

  19. I love your rating system. :D I'm new to your bloggie, and I love that you review movies and books. FYI: I'll probably be the last one to read "Born to Run". I know that I need to, ugh.

    "Super 8" was awesome! Your breakdown combo description is EXACTLY what I said when walking out of the theater. Loved it. :D

  20. So funny! I just wrote a today saying how I was the last person to read BTR. Funny. It was actually recommended to me after I told a friend I was running barefoot (real barefoot, as in no shoes). So I had a head start on the book. Fad? Maybe, but since my ITB doesn't hurt anymore, I'll take this fad and run with it.