Sunday, June 14, 2009

Reviews of 3 Running Books

I've decided to take a break from reading about medieval history. I'll be doing it again soon enough, so I thought I could actually do some fun summer reading. Here are the 3 books I've read lately - all running related, but could certainly be appreciated by all, I think...

I am the Central Park Jogger by Trisha Meili. I first read this book when it came out in 2003, but reread it again, and it definitely carried a different meaning this time around. In 1989, Trisha was running through Central Park and was beaten, raped, and left for dead. Her story is about her recovery. She endured so much trauma, on a number of levels, so to come out of it so strong is inspiring. Not only did she survive, walk, and return to a fairly normal life (given the circumstances), she even ran the NYC marathon! The hope and sheer will that she conveys throughout the book and throughout her journey should cause us to go the extra mile. She didn't complain during everything she went through; I don't think I can really complain about some stiffness after a long run. Really moving read.

50/50: Secrets I learned Running 50 Marathons in 50 Days-and How You Too Can Achieve Super Endurance by Dean Karnazes with Matt Fitzgerald. Dean, who is a well-known ultramarathoner, decided to push the limits even further, and sought to run a marathon a day (in all 50 states) in 50 days straight. 8 of the races were "live" meaning that they happened like a regular marathon on the weekend. The other 42 were specially created for Dean's Endurance Challenge. These races did not have as many participants, but Dean tells many touching stories of the people who participated. For a lot of the runners, this was their first marathon, which is always a cool experience to hear about. Not only did Dean describe all of the races (which was exciting, because he included the Marine Corps Marathon), but gave lots of fantastic tips along the way. A quick read (prologue, then a day by day description of each race) and a fun one!

Marathon Woman: Running the Race to Revolutionize Women's Sports by Kathrine Switzer. This was definitely my favorite. Kathrine was the first woman to enter the Boston Marathon in 1967. An official tried to tackle her and get her out of the race, but a friend of hers pushed the official out of the way. I'm including the pictures that the press photographer took when it happened (how fortunate he was there). Now, the shoving incident happened at mile 2 - could you imagine having to run 24 more miles after that? She continued on, and finished the race in 4:20. Her description of the marathon was quite moving, I think because I could relate to a lot of the feelings she experienced in her first marathon (but no one tried to push me out of the race). Kathrine fought to have women allowed in the Boston Marathon, a category in the Olympic marathon, and to run in other marathons and races (she was the one who created the NYC Mini 10k for women only). She kept training and running other marathons, and eventually knocked her time down to 2:51! That gives me a lot of hope that I can really knock my time down over the years. Her book was definitely well-written - she was a sports journalist too, so she really knew how to tell her stories in such a captivating manner.

All 3 books were top-notch, and even if you're not really into running, they are still good reads. Plus, I feel as if everyone reading this blog is more likely to read these books that I recommend versus a bunch of medieval ones!

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