Saturday, September 19, 2015

My Year of Running Dangerously: A Dad, a Daughter, and a Ridiculous Plan

Title:  My Year of Running Dangerously: A Dad, a Daughter, and a Ridiculous Plan
Author:  Tom Foreman
Publication Information:  Blue Rider Press. 2015. 288 pages.
ISBN:  0399175474 / 978-0399175473

Book Source: I received this book through the Penguin First to Read program free of cost in exchange for an honest review.

Opening Sentence:  "As I charge over the hilltop, the trail is a muddy chute flanked by scrub and snow."

Favorite Quote:  "As people get older, life becomes all about playing it safe. We protect our jobs and our money. We guard our houses, and we try to make the world as risk-free as we can for our kids, because that is important. But along the way, you can lose yourself. You start thinking that the great adventures are all gone and that you've stretched all the limits ... I didn't want us to become some pale shadow of the family we were ... never taking any risks of our own ... I stopped getting through my days, and I started getting into them."

The subtitle of this book is "a dad, a daughter, and a ridiculous plan." The only piece of personal information included on Tom Foreman's online bio is that "he is an avid ultra-marathoner, frequently competing in races of fifty miles or more." This book bridges the gap between the "ridiculous plan" and the "avid ultra-marathoner" and tells the story of how a man, at over fifty years of age, rediscovers his love of running and goes beyond what he could even have imagined.

His daughter is the trigger to start Tom Foreman running again. He ran in his youth and then stopped as other interests and obligations took over. His college-age daughter's request to run a marathon starts him training again. He then goes on to other marathons and significantly longer ultra marathons. The book is his journey of rediscovery and discovery. A rediscovery of his love of running and a discovery of the possibilities of what he can accomplish.

Tom Foreman is a long-time correspondent for CNN News. He writes and appears on TV and has traveled the world in pursuit of the news. He has won Emmy Awards for some of his stories. So, it's only natural that the journalist in Tom Foreman comes out in this book. Along with his personal journey, he includes bits of history and factual information about the sport of running, for example, the history of how a marathon came to be, a description of some of the health concerns runners encounter, and a look at the sport of ultra marathons. Since I am not involved in the sport, I learned a lot.

Tom Foreman's experience as a writer also shows clearly in this book. The book is very readable and seems to move very quickly. It is fascinating to peek behind the scenes at the mindset and dedication and focus it takes to be an ultra athlete and the toll it takes on other aspects of his life. Given the subtitle of the book, I did expect his daughter and their relationship to be a bigger part of the book. However, this is truly a book about running - the blood, sweat and tears and the exhilaration.

A significant section of the book takes the reader on the trek of the first ultra marathon Tom Foreman takes part in. I did not expect to enjoy this part as much as I did especially since by this point in the book, I am ready to move on from hearing about one more training run. Surprising, this section, in fact, is my favorite part of the book. The descriptions of the trail, the conditions, and the emotional ups and downs are very well done. They take me through a situation I (and frankly, most people!) will never experience first hand. I feel like I am there, struggling with him and, at the same time, cheering him on to keep going.

The final chapters of the book are the life lessons and the reflections. Not unexpected and not truly necessary but a satisfying punctuation mark to conclude an inspiring, entertaining story. A piece of advice for runners and for everyone with a goal in mind. "Don't worry about reaching the end of your run. Just focus on the next step."

Please share your thoughts and leave a comment. I would love to "talk" to you.

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