Anyone who has read my blogs knows I am a fan of the Marine Corps Marathon. So when I saw The Marine Corps Marathon: A Running Tradition by George Banker, I jumped right on it. Written in 2007 I knew it would have all the most up to date info and hopefully be a good read. To be quite honest I was a little disappointed.
Let me list the cons of this book just to state why I was a little let down. Until the book gets into a year by year recap of each race, it seems quite disjointed. Paragraphs do not flow well into each other and sometimes facts and quotes just seem to appear as if there was a collection of information the author had which he wanted to get on paper but did not know how to tie together. The beginning few chapters made for some hard reading and if I was not such a fan of the race I would be tempted to turn the book away right there. But I continued.
Once the book got into the yearly recaps, it became a plethora of knowledge about the top placers for both the male and female race. You really felt you got to know some of the runners who consistently placed near the top and struggled year after year to gain overall victories. Some succeeded, some did not.
In an interesting twist, I learned even more about my friend Holly Koester. You may recall me mentioning Holly a few times in previous blogs. she is humble, inspiring and a wonderful lady who was recently featured on a Cheerios box (of which I am a proud owner!). Well, I learned in the reading of this book that Holly took the first 3 female overall wheelchair victories for females. In all our emails and talks, she never once mentioned this. You can imagine my surprise learning it this way. Way to go Holly.
So, the book is good for factoids and learning brief histories but not for much more than that. Most of the information could be found on the internet but at least this puts it in one handy place. I can only hope to find a more focused and lucid history of this great race soon.
Recently, I purchased a slew of books on running at a store that was having a great sale. Some of the purchases probably would not have been made if not for the price. I had nothing against the books per se but they all seemed to be along the lines of "How to get started" and "Channeling your Energy", neither are things I really need to know at this point. But then I realized it is always good to learn as much as you can about what you want to do with your life, so I snatched them up.
The book that caught my attention first was entitled Running Within: A Guide to Mastering the Body-Mind-Spirit Connection for Ultimate Training and Racing.
When it comes to the "zen" of running, or tying the mind and spirit to the body, I can say that I am all for it, but too much thought going into all of it is a little bit of a waste of time. At nearly 200 pages, I felt Running within could have said exactly what it said in about 1/3 of the pages. I certainly agreed with some of its philosophies. There were several passages, in fact, that I found to be not only truthful but helpful. However, the book often seemed to be repeating the same message in an attempt to flesh out ideas that really did no need to be fleshed out.
I can definitely see the book as a useful guide for the beginner; the person looking for a little extra oomph to get out of the door. The affirmations and life-affirming statements seemed a little hokey to me but might just be the cup of tea for others.
One thing I found odd was that there was a plethora of pictures of runners in the book but none had any captions. Perhaps this is just me but when I see a picture, I want to know the particulars. Even if it is Betty Smith age 53 from Missoula, Montana running in the local snowflake 3k, I want to know that. Who knows, I might meet Betty on a plane and have something to talk about!
All told, both of these books added a little to my knowledge and love of running but left a little to be desired. I am sure many will find them both to be adequate or exactly what they were looking for. I unfortunately did not.