Monday, May 15, 2017

Going Long: Legends, Oddballs, Combacks & Adventures - Book Review

Going Long: Legends, Oddballs, Comebacks & Adventures
(I wasn't compensated for this review)

At first I wasn't too impressed, not necessarily due to any fault of the book,  but because I had already read The Long Run: A New York City Firefighter's Triumphant Comeback from Crash Victim to Elite Athlete and the second short story was an excerpt from that book. (It's really good! You can look forward to a review since I apparently didn't do one at the time.)

Now that I'm thinking about it, I remember that I bought both books at the same time, so re-reading the short version of it right after finishing the unabridged version was a let down.

It languished on the shelf for about a year before I pulled it out again to give it another try.

I'll be honest, I didn't really get into the first section "Inspirations". Maybe I'm just too jaded to really appreciate that type of story.

I decided to push through and keep reading despite my unofficial rule of giving a book two chapters to capture my attention before moving on. That might seem harsh, but it's the writer job to make the story interesting, and I've got to get SOMETHING out of it, or why am I even reading?!

I LOVE the second section "Legends". Joan Benoit Samuelson, Dick Beardsley & Alberto Salazar and their Duel in the Sun, Zola Budd, Ryan Hall, Deana Kastor, Ryan Shay's last run and Steve Prefontaine.

Deana Kastor, me, Ryan Hall @ Boston 2017
I love reading about elite runners. I think so often we (the average runner) think that these people just roll out of bed and run like they do without any struggle or work. I like reading and learning about the work they do, both mentally and physically. It makes my running dreams seem more possible.

They might be genetically gifted but they work just as hard (harder?) for their goals as I do for mine. The numbers are just a bit different:)

It was also great timing that I was reading this book just as Boston: An American Running Story came back to theaters. So many of the runners featured in the book were also featured and interviewed for the movie.

Reading about "True Originals" and all the quirky runners like Billy Rogers AKA "Boston Billy" and Reza Baluchi (whose latest hijinks was basically to try to use a plastic ball and run across open ocean. which makes me like him less, because he doesn't seem to put much thought into the realities of his efforts and just counts on someone else to bail him out if they go wrong.) was fun and interesting. Reading about Janet Furman Bowman and how transitioning from male to female affected her running was really interesting and touching. It takes a lot of courage to make such a public change. If there is a running book then there is going to be mention of John J. Kelley somewhere in it:)

"Runners High" was a collection of short stories on how becoming a "runner" changes a persons life. There is so much personal identity that comes with running. You learn things about yourself that seems to need the catalyst of getting up early, running and being uncomfortable to really sort out. Relationships can be healed through running either together or separately. When someone is a "runner" you see them differently...and I'm not talking about speed here. I'm just talking about knowing someone puts one foot in front of the other and keeps moving. It changes things.

"Adventures & Investigations" had more stories of the inner thoughts of runners. The fears of not being "good enough" and the triumph of doing it anyway.

How running can be used for good like Terry Fox did during his Marathon of Hope to raise money for cancer when no one talked about cancer and being sick was something people were ashamed of. He ran 3,339 miles across Canada on a crappy prosthetic leg (because back then there were no sports prosthetics). A  marathon a day for 143 days until the cancer killed him. 

I tell you, running in the rain seems a lot less horrible when you think about that.

reading first hand accounts about how running helps the stress management and mental recovery for soldiers really helps build appreciation for our sport and all the support that comes from strangers we'll never see again. A solo sport that actually brings complete strangers together and helps people feel not so alone. 

No comments: