My descent into the madness of ultrarunning began with a Thanksgiving conversation. The dishes had long been cleared, we’d watched some TV, and I had returned to the kitchen when my eighteen-year-old daughter, Ronnie, asked that question every father dreads.
“How would you feel about running a marathon with me?”
My heart jumped. My pulse raced. A bite of leftover stuffing fell from my fork. […] I had the flexibility of a stepladder, and my weakness for cinnamon rolls had convinced me that covering any sizable number of miles would forever more involve a combustion engine or a plane ticket. […]
I sighed the way a man might when the judge asks if he understands the charges.
“Okay. When do we start?” (5-7)
Tom Foreman is an Emmy Award-winning CNN Correspondent (so proclaimed on the cover of the book). He used to run (used to being the key word there), which consisted of disappearing during high school track practice and getting lucky during meets and four ill-trained for marathons with his brother after college. Using a 4 month training schedule, Foreman works in runs during east coast winters between covering breaking news and constant travel. He finds himself in the most unlikely of places pursuing the pavement. Then, after that first marathon with his daughter, he’s hooked, and keeps going farther and farther distances, until the end of the year arrives and he’s set his sights on a fifty mile ultramarathon. The biggest question waiting for him is if he’ll finish.
More anecdotal and motivational then instructional, Foreman avoids giving any specifics regarding his training process, such as the name of the first or any subsequent schedule that gave him guidance. Foreman mentions the bad and the ugly when it comes to running, including inclement weather, injuries, fatigue, and hunger. While running is typically a solitary sport, he also relates the camaraderie he experiences when in a race, meeting people who share this strange passion and looking out for each other, taking turns cheering for the other. It’s a self-deprecating display of what happens when outlandish ideas take hold and the impossible becomes possible. You can almost hear the “Anything you can do I can do better” challenge issuing from the pages, questioning readers “What’s holding you back from accomplishing your goals?” So lace up those running shoes and take that first step towards your own goals. You may be surprised where they lead.
This review is posted in honor of Nonfiction Monday. Take a look at what everyone else is reading in nonfiction this week.