Sunday, November 29, 2015

Book Review: My Year of Running Dangerously

Over Thanksgiving break, I had the opportunity to read the book, My Year of Running Dangerously: A Dad, a Daughter, and a Ridiculous Plan, by Tom Foreman. I was attracted to this book because it was written by a local CNN reporter and runner about one of my favorite local races, the Stone Mill 50 Miler. 

The first section of the book captured the feeling of being a new runner and starting out, as Foreman began training with his daughter to run her first marathon, and his first in many years. He accurately described the landscape of running, from people who have run a marathon once (have a “been there, run that” sticker on their car), to crowd runners (have sweaty running photos on facebook), to running animals (“they inhale the fumes of moldy, fungus-filled shoes the same way wine connoisseurs sniff merlots”). His writing here was a funny and accurate commentary about the world of running.

As the book moved on, there was some insight into his relationship with his daughter, through their experiences training together both in person and hours away from each other. A major theme were the differences between his 18-year old daughter and himself. It was interesting for me as the reader because there were elements of both youth and aging presented in the book that I could relate to. It was hard not to get swept up in the story of her first marathon, and his first marathon in twenty years. In fact, during these pages, I forgot that the book was about more than this. 

In the second half, the book detailed his experience up to and during his 50 mile run (the Stone Mill). Foreman describes both the terrain and a runner’s interactions with it. I found myself experiencing his race with him and rooting for him. In this part of the book he formalized many things I have experienced, such as the pain cave, a place a runner winds up late in races when literally everything hurts (Foreman’s description is a lot more vivid than mine), and the cat and mouse games we play as runners during races by passing and getting passed by various runners. 

Foreman articulated the power of running and the role it can play in our lives. For him, it was his mind wandering off during a show with his wife at the Kennedy Center thinking about his next run, but I'm sure any runner can recall a time when their mind was somewhere else thinking about training or rehearsing a race in their mind. On an even deeper level, Foreman shared how running has magnified the good things in his life. This part of the book was special to read because I feel the same way. This weekend, Andrea and I were able to spend some time each morning exercising around where my sister lives in Los Angeles. We had the family together for the first time in awhile, and having that time to run each day made it even more special. More about that in another post. 

The book could serve as a guidebook for any aspiring ultramarathoner, or a runner at any level. However, I would also recommend this to anyone interested in reading an inspiring story about relationships, determination and pushing your limits. I enjoyed reading this book. It made me reflect, think, and laugh out loud (apologies to the people on my flight).

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