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.

Product Review – Saloman Park Hydro Handset

Jannine Myers

Last year I reviewed the Simply Hydration hands-free water bottle and wrote great things about it because I loved being able to run with a bottle that could sit securely on my waist (held up by just the waistband of my shorts), and have my hands completely free. This year I am pleased to write more great things about another water bottle that’s not quite hands-free, but almost!

The Saloman Park Hydro Handset is a 16oz. soft flask that wraps around your hand and wrist with a velcro strap. It can be worn on either the top or underside of the left or right hand. One of it’s unique features is that because it’s a soft flask, it “deflates” as you drink from it. It’s also unique in that it has a spill-proof lid with a bite valve that allows for a higher flow rate. All of these features make it really easy to drink while running, but without having to disrupt your run pace.

Additionally, the Hydro Handset comes attached to a mesh zip-up pocket that’s large enough to hold a set of keys and an ID card, or a gel if you are planning on running a little longer. This flask, while it may look a little bizarre to some, is in my opinion one of the best hydration systems available for short runs in hot and humid weather.

If you don’t like hand-held bottles in general (because you detest running with anything in your hands), you might be pleasantly surprised with this particular product. I sometimes run with my Amphipod hand-held bottle (usually on mid-distance runs), and although I have gotten used to running with it I still tire of having to “hold” it; the Hydro Handset solves that problem entirely. Overall it’s just a really great product and one that I highly recommend.




If you’d like to try this handset, use our WOOT discount code and order from – you’ll receive 15% off and shipping is free 🙂

Fuel 100 Electro-Bites: Review

Jannine Myers

Fuel100 Electro-Bites

I had the opportunity recently to sample a new product from Fuel 100, and I am excited to share a brief review with you. I absolutely love Hammer Nutrition’s extensive line of quality fuels and supplements, but I’ve been searching for one specific type of endurance fuel to complete my training and racing needs – and I think I’ve finally found it!

One of the issues I have with long run fueling is that my stomach is sensitive and after 90 minutes or so of running, anything sweet tasting makes me feel ill. Hammer products work wonders for me (they are carefully formulated and do not contain any added simple sugars), but even so, when I am running for longer periods of time I start to develop an extreme distaste for anything sweet.

Fuel 100’s Electro-bites seem to be the perfect addition to my choice of endurance fuels. As soon as they hit your taste buds, the sensation is a really pleasant blend of both subtle sweetness and saltiness. The sweet taste is not over-powering and the salty taste seems to be exactly what I am craving after an hour or two of running.

Equally pleasant is the initial crunch that’s experienced when you take that first bite – then they quickly dissolve, eliminating any effort required to chew them.


The nutritional information is impressive too:
Each 100 CALORIE SERVING contains –
  •  Organic Coconut Oil
  •  Organic Agave Syrup
  •  Potato Starch
  •  Sodium (190mg) , Magnesium (46mg), Potassium (55mg)
Nutrition Facts Serv. Size: 23 grams (23g), Servings: 1, Amount Per Serving: Calories 100, Fat Cal. 40, Total Fat 4.5g (7% DV), Sat. Fat 4g (20% DV), Trans Fat 0g, Sodium 190mg (8% DV), Potassium 55mg (2% DV), Magnesium 46mg (10%DV) Total Carb. 14g (5% DV), Sugars 2g, Protein 0g, Calcium (2% DV), Vitamin D (25% DV), Vitamin E (15% DV), Vitamin B6 (10% DV), Vitamin B12 (30% DV). Percent Daily Values (DV) are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Calories per gram: Fat 9 • Carbohydrate 4 • Protein 4


The brainchild behind this great product is endurance athlete Michelle Halsne, who with the help of her friend and fellow athlete Andrea Bonaccorsi, hired a team of food and nutrition experts (you can read more about the creation of Electro-bites here). These ladies have succeeded in creating a really unique and appealing product, and I highly recommend you try it.


The flavors you can choose from include: Apple Cinnamon, Pumpkin Spice, Salty Vanilla, Salty Vinegar, and Simply Salty. The cost for a box of 6 packets is $13.20, but if you’re a member of WOOT, you can use our group discount code “woot20” to receive 20% off (you can place your orders here).


Overall: I really like this product – they are easy to eat while running, they taste great, and best of all they stave off the nauseous feeling sometimes brought on by sweeter endurance fuels.