First Marathons: Personal Encounters with the 26.2-Mile Monster

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9781558216730: First Marathons: Personal Encounters with the 26.2-Mile Monster

Introduction by Gail Waesche Kislevitz

"If you have the passion, you have the power."

I had already been pounding pavement for twenty-four years when I made the decision to run my first marathon. Growing up in the late sixties when women's sports was called cheerleading, I had no formal training in running techniques. I just ran, pure and simple. I ran for the joy of it, the thrill of it, the escape of it. During college, I played lacrosse because there wasn't a women's track team and it seemed like the next best thing to do. But I still remained faithful to my daily run. I ran through the bitter-cold winters of Michigan during graduate school, through two pregnancies and countless other miles that seem to blend into one long life's run.

I don't know when I made the transformation from running as a sport to running as part of my life. I can't separate the two. When I run, my mind and body fuse together, creating an energy source that empowers me. It is my private time, my therapy, my religion.
Ultimately I had to test myself, to see just how far I could go. I wanted to train correctly, so I bought running books filled with important information: training routines, nutrition guides, stretching techniques, injury prevention, speed work, pace and performance guidelines. Everything I needed to know about the technical aspects of running a marathon, except the most important thing to me-its soul. No book took on the task of describing the feeling, the heart, the core of a marathon. What would it be like? What would I feel out there? Would I hit the mythical wall? Could the last six miles be so difficult? This was the information I craved.

I spoke with friends (and strangers) who had run marathons. They answered my questions with such passion, such fever and excitement for the event that I was mesmerized. I inhaled their stories as they captured every moment of the race: the lows of utter despair and pain, the highs of inner strength. They became my role models.
That was the beginning of this book. I am going to let runners speak for themselves-famous runners, unknowns, fast and slow, old and young. Through their experiences, you will feel the pain and the glory of running the marathon. Their lives h

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Review:

There's probably no more democratic image in sports than the sight of thousands of athletes and dreamers lined up in places like New York or Boston or Los Angeles or wherever they're about to test themselves against, in the end, themselves over 26 miles of running hell. The only thing the marathon discriminates against is the unprepared: age, sex, nationality, race, even physical disability all peel away when the mix of athletes, from the elite Olympian to the neighbor next door, responds to the report of the starter's pistol. This smart, agreeable compilation of oral histories recalls the first encounters of 37 marathoners, and the stories they tell are marvelous, inspiring, despairing, filled with hope, and wracked with aches and pain. The great Bill Rogers remembers not finishing his first attack of the Boston, and the equally great Greta Weitz recounts what it was like to smash the record in New York her first time out. But it is the voice of the common runner--some nationally famous, like writer Erich Segal, others only known to their loved ones--that consistently gives First Marathons its second wind as it details the drives and dreams that link all dedicated runners. Kislevitz, a marathoner herself, displays endurance by completing the book with a final section offering useful advice from top coaches, a comprehensive glossary of terms, and, to help maintain a steady rhythm, the favorite songs marathoners sing to themselves. Some of the more fitting: "Born to Run," "Groovin'" and, particularly appropriate for getting through the wall, "Running on Empty." --Jeff Silverman

From Booklist:

Contrary to the subtitle, the marathon experiences shared in these pages represent anything but a monster. Rather, this life-changing journey becomes a path toward self-discovery for 37 men and women of all ages, sizes, and backgrounds. Famous runners, such as Bill Rogers and Kenyan elite racer Paul Mbugua, share their experiences, but it's the coverage of such everyday, average, and back-of-the-pack runners as the painter, the Episcopal minister, and the teacher (who was fired because she wanted the day off to run the 100th Boston Marathon!) that makes this book so memorable. Thomas King, who at one time weighed more than 300 pounds, run-walked the second half of his first marathon with tears streaming down his face. Funny stories include a runner so hungry that at mile 20 he cut to the front of a Dairy Queen line to beg a lady to buy him a cone. The book concludes with sage advise from noted coaches, such as Jeff Galloway and Don Kardong. Brenda Barrera

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