Yay, it's book club time!
February's book was "Running on Empty: An Ultramarathoner's Story of Love, Loss, and a Record-Setting Run Across America" by Marshall Ulrich.
Let me just say that this book solidified the fact that I WILL run an ultra someday, it might not be until 2015 but I will do it. But when I say ultra, I mean 50K, 50 miles max.
The book started out perfectly, with a Foreword by Christopher McDougall, the author of "Born to Run", and it jumped right into how Ulrich started his career as an ultramarathoner.
As the title of the book suggests, Ulrich's life was filled with love and loss. Actually, love and loss are what started his career as a runner. He began running when his first wife, Jean, was affected by cancer. The cancer eventually took her life and Ulrich delved even further into his running and adventure-seeking lifestyle.
This meant that he missed out on a lot of his children's lives (he eventually remarried and had two more kids, and remarried another time) and his eventual ex-wives' lives. He was running to get away, literally and figuratively.
Ulrich describes his endeavors in adventure racing and ultramarathons with so much detail that I felt like I was there with him running Badwater, climbing Mt. Everest and eventually running across America.
Ulrich eventually remarried for the final time (as far as I know they are still together) and his wife Heather did not want him to embark on his run across America (she herself had experienced a traumatic situation that had changed her life forever). She did not want to lose him, but eventually she knew that she had to let him fulfill his last lifelong dream.
The run across America was described perfectly. I loved the little graph at the bottom of each page once he started the run that showed the elevation and exactly where he was during his journey.
During the run, Ulrich experienced injuries, loss (he started the run with a friend, who eventually turned against him), joy, pain, triumph and frustration. He almost was killed a few times, and even told his wife during the first week of the run that he felt as if he was killing himself.
Ironically, when I started reading "Running on Empty" another runner had embarked on his own journey from Maine to Washington DC. Gary Allen, the race director of the Mount Desert Island Marathon (in my hometown), started running from the summit of Cadillac Mountain (he needed snowshoes) on January 7th and arrived in Washington D.C. on the day of the Presidential Inauguration on January 21st.
Allen and Ulrich's journeys, while different, were the same in many ways. They both experienced injuries, ran 50 mile days (Ulrich often ran more than that) and they had people join them on their journeys. I wish that Allen's route had gone through Rochester so that Mike and I could have joined him for part of his run.
One thing that stood out to me, from both Allen and Ulrich, is that the run changed them. They were no longer the same men who had started the journey weeks before.
I thoroughly enjoyed "Running on Empty" and I have added "Running America", the documentary that was filmed while Ulrich and Charlie Engle ran and attempted to run across America.
Other book club members' reviews:
Carrie at Fitness and Frozen Grapes
Emily at Life, Fitness, and Me!
Now for the discussion portion of book club:
Have you ever used running to run away from something? Did it help, or hurt, the rest of your life?
Ulrich, and Allen, both ran a huge portion of their runs with injuries, which also meant that they were in pain. Do you think that you could overcome pain so that you could achieve something that is much bigger than yourself?
Would you ever run an ultramarathon, why or why not?
And finally, if you ever attempted a run like Allen's or Ulrich's, what route would you want to take?
Just a reminder that the book for March is "A Life Without Limits" by Chrissie Wellington and I will email you the books for April and May sometime this week.