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The Looniness of the Long Distance Runner: An Unfit Londoner's Attempt to Run the New York City Marathon from Scratch

by Russell Taylor | Sports |
ISBN: 1842225685 Global Overview for this book
Registered by Watchcat of Nutley, New Jersey USA on 1/17/2003
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This book is in the wild! This Book is Currently in the Wild!
3 journalers for this copy...
Journal Entry 1 by Watchcat from Nutley, New Jersey USA on Friday, January 17, 2003
Although I haven't read this (exercise is having to get up & change the channel when you can't find the remote), I've read the PR excerpts, and it looks amusing. Excerpt: " 'Only nine miles to go,' I find myself thinking. This wrenches me out of my reverie. Since when has the prefix 'only' ever been applied to 'nine miles' unless one is in a jet aircraft?"

Journal Entry 2 by wingGoryDetailswing from Nashua, New Hampshire USA on Thursday, February 27, 2003
This book showed up in today's mail, and it looks like great fun (although, perhaps, a bad influence, as I'd rather crack the book than go for my walk).

It was also rather thrilling to open it and see the now-familiar "books. cats. life is good" - plus Munch-esque "cat-Scream" postcard and VERY gleeful "approaching cat" stamp (which I now covet; dare I pop over to goreydetails.net to look at the stamps?). Thanks much!

Journal Entry 3 by wingGoryDetailswing from Nashua, New Hampshire USA on Sunday, March 2, 2003
OK, I'm only up to chapter 3, but I'm already loving this book - it's just hilarious, a wonderful blend of social commentary, British-style quips, and some fascinating information as well. The author's tone reminds me a bit of Dave "I swear I am not making this up" Barry, with a touch of Dan "More sentences are as follows" Leone, and maybe a little Bill Bryson - not bad company.

Some of the bits I've snickered at so far: "...my Secret Shame: I had never been to America. Having Never Been To America at the age of 38 is a bit like Not Having Lost Your Virginity or Not Having Passed Your Driving Test. You feel you have missed out on a crucial rites of passage experience without which you cannot presume to call yourself an adult. You harbor paranoid fears that you will find yourself at a dinner party one evening where the conversation gets on to fellatio or three-point turns. Suddenly someone will turn to you and ask your opinion. You will say something asinine in reply and everyone will realise... As it turned out almost everyone I confessed my guilty secret to said that they, too, had Never Been To America.... I was outraged to find I had been hanging around with such a bunch of L-plated virgins."

Upon deciding to write a book about running the marathon (and subsequently fretting about the author photo for the jacket): "To be honest, I'd always fancied one of those posed author shots on the dust jacket, nicely lit like in a corporate brochure: sitting at my desk, chin resting on hand, with a mug of sharpened pencils in the foreground (incidentally, contrary to what you might think, the modern writer does still use pencils: they're handy for prodding the 'reset' switch at the back of your laptop when it crashes)."

The next chapter features a "1066 and all that"-style history of the marathon as a race, beginning with the contradictory and confusing accounts of the actual battle of Marathon: "The situation is further confused in the nineteenth century when Robert Browning tackled the subject in a rather ditsy poem entitled 'Pheidippides'. Browning amalgamates various versions of the legend and has his hero Pheidippides running to Sparta, bumping into Pan on the way back, fighting in the battle itself, then running back to Athens and finally pegging out. The poet also throws in a few touches of his own. He has a strange obsession with fennel and goats."

I'm looking forward to the rest of the book, and hope that the author wasn't so badly exhausted by his marathon attempts that he refuses to write another book someday...

Journal Entry 4 by wingGoryDetailswing from Nashua, New Hampshire USA on Saturday, March 8, 2003
Finished! With another slew of pages-that-I'd-like-to-quote marked, but I shall try to be brief and save some surprises for those who read the book themselves.

Lessee... I put the bit about his "gym journal" chapter in the forum [he basically journals his training at the gym, including how far he ran, what items he forgot, and what excuse he used to skip a session - very, very funny, especially if you've been to a gym and didn't want to be there]. He goes on to describe the races he goes out for - usually without sufficient study ahead of time, ensuring confusion on his part and hilarity on mine - leading up to the New York Marathon itself; along the way he inserts a few movie reviews for films having to do - however remotely - with running. [These included "Logan's Run," about which he says "Where the film rings true is in its accurate observation that people only take up running when they reach the age of 30. Its portrait of a society where such individuals are considered dangerous misfits and are killed on sight will probably not bring comfort to today's midlife-crisis marathoner."] In each race he contrasts the agony and despair of the beginning, the toil of the race itself, and the euphoria of sitting down afterwards ("You may think you know all about sitting down - in fact you've probably sat down several dozen times today - but, let me tell you, you haven't sat down until you've run 13 miles and *then* sat down. I've never taken heroin, but it cannot be much better than this."). The occasional fashion statement shows up, too: talking about cargo pants, he says "As a boy I like the practicality of them - one can keep one's mobile phone in the thigh pocket, thus preventing it from irradiating one's testicles."

Eventually he does get to the New York Marathon, and his description makes me feel as if I'd run it too [but without the actual pounding pain on my feet or subsequent exhaustion, but close enough]. The book's wrap-up is a little bit of a letdown, but the author's combination of gloominess (think Eeyore) and humor remains, and overall I thoroughly enjoyed the book - even learned a little bit about long-distance running. I'd recommend this book for sports fans, athletes, and couch potatoes as well...

Released on Tuesday, March 11, 2003 at Beacon Hill - Charles Street - Bella Vita Caffe in Boston, Massachusetts USA.

I'm hoping to get to the Boston meetup tonight, and plan to release this in the cafe at around 7.

Journal Entry 6 by jdavid from Somerville, Massachusetts USA on Saturday, July 26, 2003
I finally got around to reading this, and it was quite funny. I don't think it has inspired me to go out and run a marathon, but I don't think any book could do that. Still, it might inspire me to run a 5k.

Journal Entry 7 by jdavid at 83 bus towards Lechmere in Cambridge, Massachusetts USA on Saturday, July 26, 2003
Released on Saturday, July 26, 2003 at 83 bus towards Lechmere in Cambridge, Massachusetts USA.

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