Friday, March 18, 2016

Book Review: Find A Way by Diana Nyad

While not a running book, Diana Nyad's memoir of her attempts to swim from Cuba to Key West is full of inspiration for any endurance athlete. You know how this one ends. But that's ok, because in Nyad's words, it's about the journey, not the destination. Sound familiar? We runners say that all the time! What an epic choice for this month's Taking the Long Way Home Book Club!


"This is a swimmer's Mount Everest, the great epic ocean endeavor of our blue planet."
I'm a runner, not a swimmer. Never have been, never will be. My idea of swimming is paddling around the pool on a raft or jumping from the boat to the waterski. But for Diana Nyad, swimming was her outlet. In Find A Way, Nyad shares her journey from the pools where she trained as a young girl as well as her traumatic childhood. Reading about the sexual abuse from her father and her coach was difficult. I wondered how she could overcome such horrible experiences and become so mentally tough.

Resilient. Driven. Focused. Determined. These are the words that came to my mind while I read this book.

Throughout the book, she describes her training in great detail. There were 16 hour swims. Night swims. Throughout her multiple attempts to meet her goals, some harrowing encounters with poisonous box jellyfish. In fact, the limiting factor to her achieving her goals were those box jellyfish. She invited an expert to join her team to help find a way to swim through those hazards.

I was impressed with the large number of people Diana had devoted to her dream. Besides the jellyfish expert, there were shark divers, medical experts, handlers, kayakers, navigators, so-called independent observers to verify the swim as authentic, meteorologists, support crew...the list goes on. The Xtreme Dream Team, as she called them, were pretty much intact for all 4 attempts.

What I loved about this book was the dedication and drive Diana demonstrated throughout her quest. Even after the failed attempts, she never lost sight of the ultimate goal, the Key West beach. Even when people suggested she try swimming a different route, to a different destination, she knew that she wouldn't be satisfied with that.
"The human will is far and away stronger than fear and common sense combined."
and
"Our greatest weakness is giving up. The most certain way to success is to try one more time."
Of course, I also loved that she refused to be limited by her age.  Diana was 62 when she reached her goal. Her training was intense. I was exhausted just reading about some of the swims. The fact that she was able to do this training 3 years in a row and attempt this swim multiple times tells the reader a lot about her spirit but also that an athlete should never be discounted because of age. Certainly, endurance sports are ideal for the aging athlete. Don't tell Diana Nyad she's too old to chase her dream!
"At sixty, in every way, including as an athlete, I am at the prime of my life."
and
"Don't put your assumptions of what one is supposed to feel at my age on me. I defy those suppositions of limitations. If you feel aches and pains, say so. But I don't, and I refuse to follow you or anybody else's conrolling and denigrating parameters of mediocrity."
Amen, sister!

If I have any complaint about this book at all, it was at bit tedious at times to read about Nyad's training. She describes her training swims in great detail, and sometimes I had to put the book down to absorb everything she was sharing. In her epilogue, she shares that 80% of the story is not in the book. I can't imagine the book being any more detailed than it already was. I think her editor did a nice job paring the book down to make it very readable.

For me, this book was very inspirational. Throughout the book, I kept reflecting on her drive and determination to reach the other shore. There were so many great quotes I pulled from the narrative.
"Whatever your Other Shore is, whatever you must do, whatever inspires you, you will find a way to get there."
At the end, as she's pondering her accomplishment, she comments on how the actual beach landing and achievement was kind of fuzzy to her. As she says, "in the end, it was the journey that inspired."
"So for that journey-versus-destination debate, to my mind it's all about the journey. Yes, I remember the end and the feeling of the walk up the beach still sparks euphoria. But the journey lives somewhere deeper than memory."
Isn't that the truth? Even though I've never accomplished anything nearly as grand as swimming across the Florida Straits, my dream was to run a marathon. I say it readily to people, there is no greater feeling than crossing that finish line after all that grueling training. But we learn so much about ourselves in the process of preparing for an endurance event. Finishing an endurance event is somewhat bittersweet. Sometimes it's hard for us to not sign up for another event.
"I share that same thirst to live that drama again. I do." 
What inspired you most from her story? Do you have any life dreams you want to accomplish?

Here's the link up badge! You can find the link up at the end of the post. The link up stays live for 2 weeks--it will close April 1, but the comments stay live forever! Don't forget to link back to this post, and please read and comment on the other reviews. If you want to review a different fitness-related book, please feel free to link up with us as well! Remember, sharing is caring! I'm so grateful to all of you who participate in the book club!


Next month we are reading How Bad Do You Want it: Mastering the Psychology of Mind Over Muscle by Matt Fitzgerald. I've heard great things about this one, and with everyone training for halfs and fulls and triathlons and oh my! the timing is right! Link up will go live Friday, April 15! And remember, you can read any fitness related book and link up your review.

affiliate link


69 comments :

  1. I haven't read the book, but I wanted to see your take on it. Do you think the details of her training would have been more interesting to you if you were a swimmer? Don't we want to know Shalane's workouts? ;-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Absolutely! I had those thoughts. But swimmer or not, it's a great read.

      Delete
  2. This sounds like an interesting book and like you, my swimming consists of laps in a pool. I love that she did not limit herself my age, especially since I am a young 62! I also just purchased "How Bad DO You Want It". Matt Fitzgerald is a good author and I like the book so far.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think that she's 62 and did this was probably the biggest take away for me. She didn't let her age stop her, and you and I both feel that way!

      Delete
  3. I really need to read How bad do you want it. But on the topic of Diana Nyad, she is just an all around BAMF. Such an incredible story.

    ReplyDelete
  4. i haven't read the book. thanks for the review. she is truly an inspiration into never giving up.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Now she can say her life is complete! What a great way to live.

      Delete
  5. I was blown away by her strength and determination! I will never again say that my swim was hard. Thanks so much for suggesting the book I really enjoyed it!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm so glad you liked it. There was so much inspiration in this book. I will never (ok maybe I still will) complain about my long runs again!

      Delete
  6. I need to read this one - seeing as I was a swimmer growing up and Tara recommended it! I didn't realize she was sexually abused (by her father or her coach)....sadly there was an epidemic of sorts in the swimming world (the pool swimming world) a few years back of coaches sexually abusing swimmers. And some very well-known coaches are now in jail.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's too bad her coach didn't go to jail. Think of how many lives he ruined. So great that she was able to overcome.

      Delete
  7. Oh, I love memoirs and this sounds like such a great one. Definitely adding it to my list of books to read this year. I can't imagine swimming that far with jellyfish and sharks! Great review!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. For me, one encounter with those jellies would be one too many!

      Delete
  8. It is amazing what people can overcome! That books seems HEAVY. I am adding an old Meb for Mortals link (hope that is OK) - I loved it! More practical and less autobiographical.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, no need to wait! My book is merely a suggestion! I'd love for you to add your link! The more the merrier.

      Delete
  9. I have not read the book but I do remember following her journey on her last successful attempt. She is such an inspiration! Thank you for letting me know she has a book out! I am going to try to get it from the library. Also, going to watch her come ashore again so I can have a nice cathartic cry this morning, hahaha!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This was such an inspiring read. I need to watch that landing video too!

      Delete
  10. "Our greatest weakness is giving up. The most certain way to success is to try one more time."

    I needed to read that quote right at this moment ;)
    I can not imagine a 16 hour swim...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I cannot imagine a 16 hour anything. Except sleep!

      Delete
  11. I saw Diana Nyad speak at the IDEA Convention a couple years ago. She's amazing. I would love to read this book!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This was a great read! We "older" runners can relate...

      Delete
  12. I'm not going to read this post until I finish reading the book over spring break. Better late than never, right?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ok, but you better link up your review....:)

      Delete
  13. This was an EPIC selection! Thank you! I loved reading her memoir, but yeah, the training--her laser focus--was so intense I can't even imagine.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If only we could all have a little of that...

      Delete
  14. I saw Diana speak a few years ago, and she was so inspiring and down to earth. She told a story about her swim to Cuba when she started to hallucinate. She said she swore she saw the seven dwarfs walking along on the ocean floor! haha - I'll definitely have to give this a read!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I couldn't get past that in the book! OMG. Thank god she had such awesome peeps to reel her in!

      Delete
  15. This book sounds great. I just finished how bad do you want it and I absolutely loved it. I've made that slogan my mantra for my training.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Would you consider writing a review and linking up next month?

      Delete
  16. I haven't read the book but have always loved her story. We all have different shores to reach and she is the ultimate example of never giving up on your dreams and never giving in to other people's negativity.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. And never letting age define your goals!

      Delete
  17. I remember her! I'm not a swimmer at all, which made her attempt even more impressive to me. I'll have to check this book out!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Even if you are not a swimmer, there's so much inspiration here!

      Delete
  18. Age is just a number! I haven't read the book but still an interesting review. I probably would have struggled with the swim details. I need to check out the next one- this is the time of year where I have time to read a little :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The swimming details weren't as much about strokes and specifics as they were about her struggles and thoughts. But there was a lot of swimming in this book!

      Delete
  19. I remember reading about here. Love this quote: "Whatever your Other Shore is, whatever you must do, whatever inspires you, you will find a way to get there." I love this quote. I will be adding this book to my list!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. There were so many good quotes that I couldn't include them all in my post! I hope you like the book!

      Delete
  20. What an inspiring story. I don't think it matters what our sport is, reading another athlete's success story is always a motivation for me to push myself just a tad bit harder.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Absolutely! And that's why I picked this one.

      Delete
  21. I haven't read the book, but this story is so inspirational to me based on the media coverage I followed. I'll have to pick it up soon because I imagine it's incredibly motivating.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Since I'm struggling with some injuries, the timing was really good for me to read this one!

      Delete
  22. I've added this book to my to read list for this year. It's probably going bump others because I really need some new motivation. Thanks for sharing

    ReplyDelete
  23. Wow, she must have some life story if 80 percent wasn't mention and it is already so detailed!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think this presentation was just perfect!

      Delete
  24. i havent read this book but it sounds like a very inspirational read...

    ReplyDelete
  25. Read it and loved it. She was an awesome speaker at Blogfest last year. Amazing story to be told!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Seriously jealous that you got to hear her speak!

      Delete
  26. Your review marks the second time in as many weeks this book has come across my radar. Obviously the universe wants me to read it! I've put it in my queue, so thanks!
    I'm interested to see how she describes her swim workouts. I don't swim a lot, just enough for sprint triathlon, but maybe a novice swimmer's take will be different?
    I just started reading your blog, so I didn't know you had a book club. This is exciting, but now I feel like I'm behind because I want to read the previous one, haha.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well, you can jump in at any time! You can link up any fitness related book. I'm so glad you stopped by to check it out!

      Delete
  27. This sounds amazing! Going on my "to read" list!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It was so motivating. Today when I rode my bike, I kept thinking about her 16 hour training swims!

      Delete
  28. This sounds like a great book! That is so impressive that she didn't reach her goal until her 60s and she didn't give up that while time. This one is added to my to-read list.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I loved that part about reaching her goal at 62 probably the most. I hear from a lot of people about my age and that I need to "slow down". Says who?

      Delete
  29. I have been meaning to pick this book up for the past few weeks. She is such an amazing and ageless role model!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Did you know she's in Cuba with President Obama? He asked her to come, told her that her swim was instrumental in improving relations! How awesome is that?

      Delete
  30. I got way behind with my reading :(. Read the part about the jellyfish and how that affected her badly. Can't imagine being in the water for a very long time! She's definitely an inspiration and need to try to finish the book soon. Thanks for a great review.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I can't imagine that whole jellyfish thing! That would have stopped me at attempt #1...

      Delete
  31. The first description of those darn jellyfish was harrowing! Good choice for next month as we all get ready for spring races. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yep, that would have been enough for me to find a way out of the water for good!

      Delete
  32. I have just finished the book for the second time. I found it fascinating how Diana used song lyrics and counting sequences to get her though literally HOURS of swimming. And the sensory deprivation! She embodies not only physical toughness but also mental toughness! I wanted to pass along that the movie her nephew shot and produced, "The Other Shore" is available on Amazon streaming. You can rent it for 30 days for a nominal fee. It is excellent! Live footage of all the attempts, the struggle, Diana's daily life, and the ultimate landing on Key West. I plan to watch it before my next marathon to inspire myself to never, ever give-up!!! Thanks for hosting this book club! I love all the books you have done so far!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Heck, I can't even get through one hour of pool running without music! She's a tough cookie.

      I have Amazon Prime, so I'll see if I can watch The Other Shore. Thanks for sharing and for playing along!

      Delete
  33. Great review! I finally finished the book about a week ago. I loved her story and her passion too. I thought the book was a little too long for my take but I liked it nonetheless. (I will likely skip writing a review this time around but I will jump in soon!)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I agree with you about the length...for me, reading about her swims in such detail was a little tedious! But overall, a great read!

      Delete