Book Review – The Boys In The Boat

Jannine Myers


The Boys In The Boat is an account of the US rowing team’s victory at the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin. Nothing to do with running, I know, but it’s a story nevertheless about athletic accomplishment that will inspire you from start to finish.

One of those “hard-to-put-down” reads, this book effortlessly captures the reader, provoking an instant sense of connection with both the characters and the setting. Much like Laura Hillenbrand did in her books, Seabiscuit and Unbroken, Daniel James Brown also delivers a triumphant story of hope against all odds, only this time the odds are overcome by a team of boys, who once introduced, you can’t help but root for.

Interspersed throughout the story are background snippets of a dark and grim reality going on behind the scenes, in Berlin, Germany. Brown provides just enough details to paint a clear picture of the level of grand deception orchestrated by Hitler, and his close associate, Joseph Goebells (Reich Minister of Propaganda in Nazi Germany from 1933 to 1945). While the boys (from Washington State) were busy working hard to earn the coveted privilege of representing the United States at the 1936 Berlin Olympics, Hitler and Goebbels were also hard at work – concealing the extent of Nazi persecution against Jews and other inferior groups.

At the core of the story, is Joe Rantz, one of the members of the 1936 US Olympic rowing team. His strong resolve and humble demeanor make him a true hero. But as the story evolves, it becomes clear that his teammates are equally heroic, each possessing the same positive attributes and incredible will to persevere when most would give up.

The highlight of the story is obviously towards the end of the book, as Brown recounts the dramatic events leading up to the final race and then describes in vivid detail the race itself. It really is a remarkable story, backed by extensive research that makes it well worth the read. I give it 5 stars.


Extra Observations: Some things about the boys that I believe gave them a competitive edge:

1. They trained through the harshest of weather conditions, understanding that extreme discomfort was at times necessary if there was to be any hope at all of making it to the Olympics. A missed day of training meant an extra day of training for a competing team.

“They rowed six days a week, rain or shine. It rained, and they rowed. They rowed through cutting wind, bitter sleet, and occasional snow, well into the dark of night every evening.”

2. Some of the boys came from particularly challenging backgrounds, yet they approached life – in general – with optimism and hope. That type of attitude carried over to the obstacles they faced, including all those presented during their many months of grueling workouts.

Joe Rantz, for example, had an uncanny knack for finding four-leaf clovers (it’s much easier to find the more common three-leaf clover). He told his girlfriend, “The only time you don’t find a four-leaf clover, is when you stop looking for one.” Joe spent much of his childhood just trying to survive, but he never let his circumstances cheat him of hope and optimism.

3. George Pocock, designer and builder of racing shells, played a pivotal role in leading the team to victory. He taught the boys many things, including the concept that once they stepped into their racing shell, they needed to leave everything else behind. These boys learned to be “fully in the moment” during races; able to keep their minds one hundred percent focused on the goal at hand.

“…..from the time an oarsman steps into a racing shell until the moment that the boat crosses the finish line, he must keep his mind focused on what is happening inside the boat. His whole world must shrink down to the small space within the gunwales.” George Pocock

4. The boys followed strict rules imposed upon them by their coach, Al Ulbrickson. They were tempted at times to break those rules, and on a few occasions they did, but for the most part they respected the necessary disciplines required of them.

“You will eat no fried meats, “ he began abruptly. “You will eat no pastries, but you will eat plenty of vegetables. You will eat good, substantial, wholesome food…..You will go to bed at 10 o’clock and arise punctually at seven o’clock. You will not smoke or drink or chew. And you will follow this regimen all year round, for as long as you row for me. A man cannot abuse his body for six months and then expect to row the other six months. He must be a total abstainer all year.” Coach Al Ulbrickson

5. Finally, in the days leading up to the biggest race of their careers, the boys were all nervous and all dealing with some level of fear and self-doubt. They each centered and calmed themselves in their own ways: a couple of boys took long walks along the seashore and skipped stones, a few journaled or wrote letters home, one or two simply rested and reflected, and they all quoted their mentor, George Pocock.

Whether we realize it or not, part of the tapering process for runners should include a “centering and calming” routine too – a tried and true method that is applied in the days and hours leading up to race day.

So, five things that matter: 

  • Train, train, and train – no excuses.
  • Feed your mind positive thoughts and don’t allow room for negative ones.
  • When the starter gun goes, it’s time to narrow your focus and zone in on your race goal.
  • Optimal performance requires optimal nutrition, sleep, and lifestyle habits – not just some of the time, but all of the time.
  • Tapering is a necessary part of pre-race preparation – not only does the body need to be rejuvenated, but the mind does too.

Health-ier Pumpkin Truffles

Jannine Myers

Looking for another pumpkin dessert that won’t leave you feeling too guilty? Try these small pumpkin protein truffles, made without traditional ingredients such as cookie crumbs, cream cheese, and powdered sugar.



1 cup pure pumpkin

1 cup coconut flour

2 scoops vanilla protein powder

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 tsp pumpkin pie spice

2 tbsps honey, maple syrup, or agave syrup



Ghiradelli White Chocolate Melting Wafers

Coconut oil (as needed, add to chocolate when melting)



Line a baking dish with parchment paper. Mix all the ingredients together and refrigerate until firm. Roll into balls. Melt the chocolate in a microwave dish, starting with 30 seconds and then re-heating in 15 second intervals until a runny liquid forms (add coconut oil as needed). Dip the balls into the chocolate and place on the baking dish. Freeze for approximately 30 minutes, then transfer to a container and store in the refrigerator.

Calling The Inner Spartan Within You

Jannine Myers

Some of you may have heard of the Spartan Race series, and if you have you’ll know that it’s a series of obstacle races designed for those who enjoy testing their limits in both endurance and strength. Consisting of races varied between 3+ and 12+ miles, each race involves water, mud, and signature obstacle challenges. Not quite what we’re used to, compared to our Saturday morning trail runs, but the Spartan team must think that the members of WOOT are up for the challenge, because they specifically reached out to us with an invitation to try one of their events.

Since all of the Spartan races are held in the States, this post will mostly appeal to our Stateside members (and friends), although many of us here in Okinawa travel back to the States fairly often and some of us (no need to mention names) have been known to plan their travel around races. Getting back to the Spartan series, there are several races coming up in the next few months, including:

Spartan races are not for everyone, but they are for those who have an adventurous spirit and a strong desire to push past “normal” boundaries. And for outdoor and adventure enthusiasts, they’re sure to please.

For more information on upcoming races, as well as daily Spartan workouts (and nutrition tips) to help you train for a Spartan race, visit the Spartan website. Also, as an incentive to draw out the inner spartan in you, Spartan has given us the following code to use for a free race: BOP70962971 – this code will work one time for any open heat (non-confirmed start time) in any Spartan Race in the continental US. In addition, the code SPARTANBLOGGER can be used for 10% off any race.




 – Reebok Spartan Race, voted Outside Magazine’s Best Obstacle Race in 2012

Guiltless Pumpkin “Pudding” Muffins

Jannine Myers

Last year around this time I shared a “pumpkin muffin” creation:

pumpkin muffins

and since pumpkin is a popular ingredient in many Thanksgiving desserts, I thought I’d share another pumpkin muffin recipe. I love this one for several reasons:

  1. These muffins are REALLY fast and easy to make
  2. They contain NO flour
  3. The only oil in the recipe comes from the tahini that is used
  4. The end result is a combined cake and pudding-like texture that makes them taste like a delicious pumpkin molten cake, but without all the extra sugar and fat

The only negative is that they taste so good that it’s hard to stop at just one!



  • ¼ cup tahini*
  • ¾ cup canned pumpkin
  • 1 egg
  • 4 Tbsp. agave nectar
  • ½ cup gluten-free oats (or your choice)
  • 2 Tbsp. ground flaxseed
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp. ground nutmeg
  • ½ tsp. ground cloves
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • ½ tsp. baking soda
  • ¼ cup mini chocolate chips


  1. Preheat oven to 375F and prepare grease or line a muffin pan (this recipe will only make 9 cupcakes).
  2. Add all ingredients except for chocolate chips to a blender and blend on high until the batter is smooth and creamy. Stir in chocolate chips by hand.
  3. Pour batter into prepared muffin pan, filling each cavity until it is about ¾ full.
  4. Bake for approximately 10 minutes, then cover with foil and bake for a further 3 to 5 minutes. The cupcakes will not be firm and may appear to be under-baked, but this is exactly how they should be.
  5. Allow cupcakes to cool, and then store in refrigerator.

2014 Hug-A-Runner Day

Jannine Myers


Following on with Anna’s theme of “altruism” and “paying it forward,” I thought I would highlight an upcoming annual event that some of you might enjoy participating in. It’s called GO HARD, which stands for Globally Organized Hug A Runner Day!

GO HARD was created by Olympian runner Adam Goucher, and former elite college track athlete, Tim Catalano. First launched in 2011, GO HARD has evolved quite a bit, but the essence of it, summed up below, is still the same:

  •  “From cross country and track runners to weekend joggers, all runners are kindred spirits enjoying the gift of running so let’s wrap our arms around all of them!”

Next Thursday, 20th November, is the official date for this year’s event. You’ll have the opportunity to not only celebrate your love of running, but to also make a donation to an organization that uses running as a platform to develop self-esteem and confidence in young girls. Know which organization I am talking about? GOTR (Girls on the Run), of course.

If you’ve been a member of WOOT for some time now, you’ll know that we’ve mentioned Girls on the Run in previous posts and that we value the objectives of their program. One of our State-side WOOT coaches, Amy Hester, has had a lot of experience working with GOTR, and her sentiments about this organization are as follows:

  • We’ve all heard the statistics that girls who are involved in a sport are less likely to try drugs, be promiscuous, stay in an abusive relationship and are more likely to make good grades and show leadership skills. Girls on the Run promotes all this and more with their mission – “We inspire girls to be joyful, healthy and confident using a fun, experience-based curriculum which creatively integrates running.” Girls on the Run teaches girls how to love and accept themselves, support the people around them, and be a contributing member of their community. I’ve seen this program at work and it is completely possible to change a girl’s life over the ten week season.

If you think Girls on the Run sounds like a great organization to support, you can make a small contribution when you register for the Virtual Race.

In addition to donating to GOTR, you can also participate in this year’s GO HARD event in nine other ways:

  • Send at least 3 hugs to your running friends by clicking here
  • Join their Facebook group to keep up to date on all the happenings and surprises
  • Register for the Virtual Race
  • Get the GO HARD shirt and Finisher Medal. Available at their store or when you sign up for the Virtual Race
  • Download the Race Bib and wear it on every run this month. Don’t forget to take pictures!
  • Post pictures and videos hugging runners on their Facebook page.
  • Organize a Hug A Runner Group run on or around November 20th.
  • Tell your friends! Invite as many people as possible to celebrate on November 20th.
  • Don’t forget to hug the people who support you as a runner even if they are not runners themselves. Send them “Thank you hugs” from the GO HARD website.

I encourage you to have some fun with this event, and if hugging another runner seems a little too awkward for you, don’t worry – Tim and Adam put together a “how to” video for you. Watch this, it will make you smile 🙂

Benefits of altruism: Why to pay it forward

Paying it forward and doing good for your community, or those who may be in greater need than you at the moment. It is a great feeling, altruism. And there are benefits to you, too:

  • Doing good for others can have a powerful, positive effect on the immune system.
  • By contributing towards the greater good, self-worth and self-esteem improves.
  • It can prevent you from becoming isolated, encouraging you to meet new people and step outside of your comfort zones.
  • Positive energy flows from giving to others and studies have revealed that kindness helps relieve stress.

Being part of our WOOT group, we have been able to give back through some great events:

* 100 Miles of Trail challenge: through the heat of the Okinawa summer, we held this event during 2014. The challenge was to get 100 miles of trails between June 1 and August 31. There was a $30 fee and those that completed all 100 miles received a unique WOOT, 100 miles, car sticker. Those donations went to the Yomitan kids’ sports fund, which supports kids who aren’t able to afford the required sports uniforms, and to help pay for their sporting events. The mayor of Yomitan gave WOOT an official receipt and thank you and asked that we provide GPS coordinates for a trail run, so they can use it for future planning.

from city office

from city office

*UNICEF WOOT run: we held this run back in 2013 and asked for WOOT’rs to grab a partner and raise money to give to UNICEF. Teams came up with fun names, and stopped at 8 different locations around the hills behind Camp Lester. Some teams were close friends, some had new WOOT moms pushing their babies, and there were kids out as team members too. With a minimum donation of $20, the teams received a WOOT drink cup. The top team won a prize from wootcoaching, including a month of free coaching service. All donations went directly to UNICEF and we all had a great time!

woot unicef

* Running Boston for Wilson: you may not know Jaime Patterson, as their family had to relocate to the States last summer after her 1st grader, Wilson, was diagnosed with a very aggressive form of leukemia. She was a WOOTer during her Okinawa time and had so much fun on trail with us. We set up a donation location and ran Boston for Wilson, raising money to help offset some of the incredible medical costs.

* Baby girl clothes drive for the Patterson’s: Jaime spent much of their family time getting treatment, seeking new treatment and praying for good news. When we heard the good news of the pending arrival of a bundle of joy, WOOT asked for baby girl clothes donations to help her just a little bit. And now baby Willa is here and is such a cutie and Wilson is a great big brother!

willa and wilson

That we are able to help is a blessing. Thank you all!!

Eating Too Soon Before Your Race Could Slow You Down

Jannine Myers


Photo by

One of the first things I remember having many questions about when I first started running, is how to fuel for long runs and races. Admittedly, even after several years of training and racing, I still feel as if I am learning about fueling – there’s obviously a lot of trial and error. But one nutrition principle I always follow is one that has been vetted and supported by various nutrition experts, and yet it’s surprisingly unknown to many runners.

If you’re a marathoner (or half marathoner), you’re probably well aware that a high carbohydrate meal before an endurance race will help you go the distance without hitting the wall. What you might not know, is that eating your pre-race meal a couple of hours before race-time can actually hinder your efforts. Here’s how:

  •  Studies have shown that high glycemic carbohydrates, or simple sugars, consumed at least 3 hours prior to an endurance event results in greater resistance to fatigue (versus when no meal is eaten at all). But when such a meal is consumed within two hours of commencing exercise, performance may actually decrease.

  • When food enters the body, serum insulin is released to help sugar/glucose (from the foods we eat) enter cells. Glucose is then broken down to provide energy. However, when it’s mostly high glycemic carbohydrates that enter the body, blood sugar spikes rapidly, causing excessive insulin production, and in turn causing a low blood glucose level.

  • Excessive insulin levels also inhibit the body’s ability to burn fat, and in endurance events, optimal fat utilization is desirable when glucose stores are eventually depleted.

  • Finally, high insulin levels push blood sugar into cells, forcing an increase in carbohydrate metabolism, which equals faster depletion of glycogen stores!

The best way to avoid all of the above is to eat at least 3 hours before races, allowing for insulin and blood glucose levels to return to normal. If eating 3 hours before a race seems impossible (due to an early morning start time for example), you can get away with consuming a small snack about 5 minutes before the race; one or two gel packets, or half an energy bar for example. In this case, glycogen depletion shouldn’t be a problem because you’ll already have started moving by the time blood sugar levels are elevated and insulin is released.

For a more thorough explanation, read this report by Hammer Fueling Expert, Steve Born.

Other Reference:

Kraemer, William J., Fleck, Steven J., Deschenes, Michael R. Exercise Physiology: Integrating Theory And Application, 2012. Print.