Showing posts with label Find A Way. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Find A Way. Show all posts

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."
"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."
"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.

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