Book 10 of 52: My Life on the Run: The Wit, Wisdom, and Insights of a Road Racing Icon

The timing of this book is right, eh?

The galley (e.g. preview copy) of Bart Yasso’s My Life on the Run: The Wit, Wisdom, and Insights of a Road Racing Icon was handed to me by someone who knew I was a journalist at the running expo for last year’s Ocean Drive 10 Miler/Marathon (which I blogged about at length). Cool! A book about running! But I never quite found the time to fit it in. And like the last book in this series, it sat on my ‘to use’ book shelf, just waiting for the call and narrowly escaping the donation bin dozens of times.

I’m going to start training for the 2009 Ocean Drive 10 miler soon, so why not now? It was the perfect book to kick off my efforts (plus I read it quickly).

Bart Yasso is a running icon. He’s Runner’s World magazine’s “Chief Running Officer.” As such, he heads up Runner’s Worlds efforts at races and, before Lyme’s Disease limited his running ability, ran crazy races. I mean stuff I would never dream of doing.

The first races he writes about seem extreme enough — the Badwater Ultra through the desert, learning how to dodge rhinos in Asia. But it’s when he gets to the wacky races that the writing (done with co-writer Kathleen Parrish) shines. I laughed throughout his chapter on the “Bare Buns Fun Run” and then dropped to book because I was laughing too hard when the next chapter started with a picture of Yasso running with a burro (burro runs are popular in Colorado, apparently).

And through it all, his love of running is evident, as is his high tolerance for pain. It almost had me lacing up to run in the sleet today. I mean, if this guy can run with a stubborn burro, I can surely run in a little cold, right? The welt on my rear reminded me that I have a tendency to slip on ice, though, so I spent the rest of the evening finishing this book.

Need inspiration, too? Well, of course you should read the book. But here’s some great quotes:

“And when I started running, I started dreaming. It couldn’t be helped. The mind works as hard as the body does during exercise.”

“What’s the difference? Mules are the domesticated offspring of a female horse and a donkey, and a burro is a small donkey. A jackass is a wild donkey or someone who runs a race with a burro.”

“The acceptance of all abilities is what differentiates running from every other sport. In football, there are 22 people on the field and 60,000 in the stands. It’s the opposite with running. Everyone’s on the field and in the fold.”

The first quite is why I run. I still believe I’m a much better writer because I run. I picked the second quote because it’s funny, and any runner needs humor to get through long boring runs. And I picked the third quote because it’s a great statement about the sport. I remember coming home from a 5k and seeing the last people to cross the finish line. Yes, they were slow, but my God were they happy to cross the finish line, and proud. And why not? Crossing any finish line is an accomplishment. It’s not the time that matters to me, or to a lot of other people who run, or cycle, or swim. It’s all the preparation and, for me, what I learn about myself while out on the road, all the problems and issues that I work through. That’s what matters. Crossing the finish line is the icing on the cake (or whipped cream on the strawberry waffles at Dock Mike’s in Cape May).

Training starts January 19. And I can’t wait.

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Jen Miller

Jen Miller

Jen A. Miller is a an author and freelance writer. Her memoir, Running a Love Story, was a Philadelphia Inquirer best book of the year. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, SELF, Buzzfeed and the Guardian, among others.

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