Ok, now that I know a lot of you are interested in Rachel Toor’s book, Personal Record: A Love Affair with Running, I feel a bit of pressure, but no sweat! Here’s my suggestion, to get it at a public library. I say this in part because I’m a librarian and because I think $24.95 retail is a bit much for a book that is less than 200 pages long, and which I took to be an extremely fast read!
Kristin, from Running with the Runner Girl, commented that she has a hard time relating to someone whose physical body shape is different from hers. I found it a bit difficult to relate to someone who runs marathons regularly and can pace people running 7:30 minute miles, and is able to carry on a conversation the entire time, who just jumps into the NYC Marathon for a 20-miler run. Keep in mind, though, this doesn’t mean I didn’t like the book. In fact, I loved it. Her prose is short and keeps your attention, and so are her chapters. I found it hard to put down, even though I was tired at night and my body hurt from lifting lots of boxes of books in my mom’s house.
Rachel describes ultrarunners and trail runners as a very welcoming group, and I kept thinking back to the Trail Race from Hell that I ran this past summer, in the Finger Lakes of NY. The folks who do run long trail runs really are a different breed, and very welcoming. She did seem to hit the nail on the head with that one. (She even mentioned that she likes to run groups with that running club, which I could understand.)
As a Gear-Head, I have to mention the chapter titled “The Closet”, which, as I read it, I was wondering if she had literally opened up my “running clothes drawer” and taken a picture of it. Right down to the Camelbak, which cracked me up. Among many things, she mentions the socks drawer, with the wool running socks, the cotton socks that you know you should get rid of, and still keep anyway. Made me want to dump open my drawer and take an inventory of just how many technical race shirts I’ve received, in white.
She did include a few chapters about a few men that she’s become “close” with over the course of her running career that I found seemed to open up the door to who she is as a person, but which definitely seemed very different than the majority of her other chapters. I say “close” because it was more on the emotional side, since nothing physical really appeared to happen. Many of her chapters center around her running various races, either as a pacer, or as a training run where she helps someone keep moving along. I think she took a big risk in writing those chapters about a few of the guys, because I’m sure they can figure out who they are, and now maybe their wives can, too. In my opinion, those were some of her best written chapters, although their inclusion suprised me at first. I wasn’t expecting them at all.
Oh, and by the way, the cover art is of many of her finisher’s medals. You have to read through to the end of the book to find out what she did with them when decorating her place. Very creative, I must say, although I’ve got a long way to go to get to that point, medal-wise.
On a final note, five of her chapters were previously published in Running Times. (I admit, I only recognized two of them, but I’ve only been subscribing to that magazine for about two years.) Some of her other chapters had previously been published in a publication called Marathon and Beyond, which I’ve never read before.
So, my suggestion, definitely read it, but like I said, the price is a bit steep for something that comes in at 164 pages including her final chapter of “thank yous.” Pick it up at your local library!
Oh, and on another final note, I just checked the Accuweather forecast for tomorrow – at noontime, (my race’s scheduled start), it is supposed to be 16 degrees, with the potential for 45 mph wind gusts, making it a “real feel” of -10. Yikes!!! This may be what I call a game-time decision as to whether or not I really run it. I’m leaning toward yes, just because I think it’d be fun, if not butt-cold (Bill wonders just how cold is that, exactly?!) but Jesus, that’s FRIGID!
Happy New Year’s everyone!