The Hoppy Okapi

Occasional posts about hiking and other stuff

Triathlon Training – How did this all happen? January 29, 2012

Filed under: triathlon — Amanda @ 17:43
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Triathletes storm the water in a mass swim start. Photo by Flickr user foleymo, used under Creative Common License.

Toward the end of last year, I decided that I should start participating in triathlons in 2012, with the goal of working up to a half-Ironman, or 70.3 distance in 2013. I’m not sure why the 70.3 distance is appealing – maybe because it’s a significant endurance event, but doesn’t seem too out of reach, and doesn’t require 6+ hours of biking (yes, I finally completed a century in 2011, but I’m still not sure if I ever want to do another one – that’s a long time in the saddle!). So 1.2 miles of swimming, 56 miles biking, and 13.1 miles running seemed perfectly reasonable – untilĀ  I thought about how I haven’t been swimming since my last year of college (more than 10 years ago!), and quit running 3 years ago because my knees were hurting all the time….eh, minor details, right?

So I asked one of the Spin instructors at my gym which local triathlons would be good for a beginner, and he recommended the Spring Sprint Triathlon in Mission Bay – easy (flat) course, short swim, calm water. So I signed up for that one – a 400 meter swim, 9 mile bike, and 3 mile run. And then I joined a triathlon team sponsored by our local bike shop, Moment Cycle Sport. Conveniently, Moment Cycle Sport is a sponsor of the San Diego Triathlon Classic, an Olympic distance tri that takes place in September – I have to be able to swim 1500 meters by September! And then when I was asking one about swimming at one of our tri team meetings, someone recommended the Monday-Wednesday Tri Club San Diego swim workouts…and that is the story of how I’ve managed to join two triathlon clubs, sign up for two triathlons, and commit myself to more swimming and running than I’ve ever done in my life – this should be fun!


Book Review: Becoming Odyssa January 18, 2012

Filed under: hiking,outdoors,reading — Amanda @ 6:56
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Continuing my fascination with trail memoirs, I recently read Becoming Odyssa by Jennifer Pharr Davis, her story about a solo thru-hike of the Appalachian trail.

Becoming Odyssa: Epic Adventures on the Appalachian TrailBecoming Odyssa: Epic Adventures on the Appalachian Trail by Jennifer Pharr Davis

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Becoming Odyssa is another great trail memoir that inspires me to get out and hike! Jennifer Pharr Davis does a good job of balancing the details of her daily life on the trail with the personal growth she experiences while hiking. Compared to the Barefoot Sisters books (which I also recommend), Becoming Odyssa feels grittier – it stays closer to the trail with less of a filter.

I’d suggest skipping the preface and forward until after reading the book so they can be enjoyed in better context – the author matures into their praise during the story, but some passages come across as extremely self-absorbed and even unkind, reflecting the youth of the author at the time of her journey. Like any journey, Odyssa’s thru hike had good days and bad, she presents them to us authentically while telling a great story about her life.


Book Review: Pacific Crest Trailside Reader January 6, 2012

Filed under: hiking,reading — Amanda @ 6:38
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Pacific Crest Trailside Reader: California: Adventure, History, and Legend on the Long-Distance TrailI’ve recently discovered The Mountaineers Books, a small published with a great catalog of books related to outdoor adventures. I just finished reading one of their recent releases, The Pacific Crest Trailside Reader: California, and am itching to hit the trail!

Pacific Crest Trailside Reader: California: Adventure, History, and Legend on the Long-Distance Trail by Rees Hughes

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A great compendium of historical and contemporary accounts of travel along the Pacific Crest Trail in California. The Trailside Reader offers a glimpse of the evolution of the California wilderness through US history and offers glimpses into the modern trail experience and culture. Fair warning, though: reading this book will only feed thru-hiking obsessions, and may result in the planning of extended backpacking trips!


Books I read in 2011 January 1, 2012

Filed under: reading — Amanda @ 19:40
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It seems like one good way to wrap up 2011 is to recap all the books I read during the year. My official tally is 41, although I consolidated all of the Sherlock Holmes story collections and novels into one item for simplicity because I was too lazy to add them to my spreadsheet individually.

I read 12 non-fiction books in 2011, which is fairly high for me – the numbers were boosted by my fascination with Appalachian Trail and Pacific Crest Trail memoirs in the last few months of the year; having completed a supported four day hike of the Inca Trail, it seems only natural to set my sights on a six-month backpacking journey on one of these 2000+ mile trails, right?

In a tally that should surprise no one, my most-read genre was fantasy novels at 11, with Mystery/Noir and other fiction both coming in at 7, and two SciFi books rounding out the fiction category. My non-fiction reading was 1 training book, 5 memoirs (4 of them the aforementioned trail memoirs), and seven other non-fiction books.

Since I bought a Kindle in August, well over 3/4 of my reading has been on the Kindle. This is partly because the latest books by my favorite fantasy authors were released early in the year, and partially because I was enjoying the light-weight convenience of traveling with the Kindle later in the year. It is nice to read books without having to find a physical home for them, and I have read quite a few books that I might not have otherwise just because of their availability on the Kindle – and I have a lower quality threshold for books that are available for free or low prices on the Kindle, making it easy to load up on “beach reading”-quality books that only take a few days of quick reading to finish. My non-Kindle to-read list hit an alltime low midyear but has recently swollen into double-stacked territory again, so I need to be more diligent about reading those as well.

The books that I would most highly recommend from this year are the Gail Carriger Parasol Protectorate series, Brandon Sanderson’s The Way of Kings (although you may have an excruciatingly long wait for the next book in the series!) , Los Angeles Noir 2 from Akashic Books, and the Barefoot Sisters Appalachian Trail memoirs.

Below is my full list (some finish dates are approximate), with my 1-5 star ratings.

Date Book Author Rating
01/15/11 Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi 2
01/15/11 The Summer Before (Babysitters Club) Ann M. Martin 2.5
02/04/11 Accordion Crimes Annie Proulx 3.5
02/10/11 And Another Thing… Eoin Colfer 3.5
02/18/11 Dancing on Ice Jeremy Scott 4
02/23/11 House Name Michelle West 5
03/04/11 This Is Your Brain on Music Daniel J. Levitin 4
03/07/11 Haiti Noir Edwidge Danticat (ed) 4
03/10/11 Bike Snob NYC Eben Weiss 4
03/14/11 The Gangster We Are All Looking For le thi diem thuy 4.5
03/19/11 Wesley the Owl Stacey O’Brien 5
03/29/11 The Way of Kings Brandon Sanderson 5
04/15/11 Los Angeles Noir 2: The Classics Denise Hamilton (ed) 5
04/16/11 Destiny’s Road Larry Niven 4
04/25/11 The Wonder Spot Melissa Banks 4
06/02/11 The Lost Cyclist David V Herlihy 3.5
06/19/11 Julian Comstock Robert Charles Wilson 4
06/27/11 San Diego Noir Mary Elizabeth Hart 4.5
07/01/11 Heartless Gail Carriger 5
07/06/11 Namah’s Blessing Jacqueline Carey 5
07/22/11 The Lacuna Barbar Kingsolver 5
07/28/11 Angel’s Flight Michael Connelly 4
07/31/11 State of Wonder Ann Patchett 4.5
08/04/11 Fury of the Pheonix Cindy Pon 5
08/08/11 Ender’s Game Orson Scott Card 4.5
09/01/11 Sometimes Madness is Wisdom Kendall Taylor 3.5
09/10/11 Stiltsville Susanna Daniel 3
09/15/11 Sherlock Holmes (All of them) Sir Arthur Conan Doyle 4.5
10/01/11 Cast in Chaos Michelle Sagara 4.5
10/03/11 Into the Wild John Krakauer 4.5
10/06/11 The 12-Week Triathlete Tom Holland 3.5
10/13/11 A Brisket, A Casket Delia Rosen 3
10/20/11 A Game of Thrones George RR Martin 5
10/30/11 Barefoot Sisters: Southbound Lucy & Susan Letcher 4.5
11/08/11 The Headhunter’s Daughter Tamar Myers 4
11/16/11 Boneshaker Cherie Preist 4.5
11/27/11 Wildwood Colin Meloy 4.5
12/05/11 A Clash of Kings George RR Martin 4.5
12/14/11 Skywalker–Close Encounters on the Appalachian trail Bill Walker 3.5
12/17/11 Skywalker–Highs and Lows on the Pacific Crest Trail Bill Walker 2
12/28/11 Barefoot Sisters: Walking Home Lucy & Susan Letcher 5


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