Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Once a Runner

"Everything's a story. Dumb stuff happens in your life and you think it's dumb stuff, and then it turns out that it was your history, your life happening." - Again to Carthage
I just finished reading John L. Parker Jr's running fiction trilogy - Racing the Rain, Once a Runner, and Again to Carthage. I've been meaning to read them for a while. Once a Runner was the first published and is somewhat of a classic in the running fiction genre. Racing the Rain is the most recently published, but it's actually the first in the story timeline. I decided to start with it, and I'd say that's a good way to go.

I really enjoyed all of them, as evidenced by my reading them back to back. I saw reviewers complaining there was other stuff in addition to running, which to me is a good thing, I'm not sure how you'd make a story with nothing but running!

This is running at a high level, not your recreational hobby. I've never been involved in competitive running at any level, but I still found it interesting, although slightly depressing. You know that top athletes run much faster than normal human beings, but I never thought about how much faster. A pace that is pushing it for me is a painfully slow training pace for these guys. And the sheer volume of training is incredible. It's amazing that the human body can handle it. This is fiction, but I suspect that this part is fairly accurate. The author was a competitive runner himself.

There are lots of funny parts in the books that made me laugh at loud. The main character admits he's somewhat of a kook. The descriptions of the races are exciting, and by the time you get to them you really care how they turn out.

The main character grows up in Florida and starts out as a basketball fanatic, and only reluctantly starts competing in running. In Once a Runner he's running the mile. In Again to Carthage he makes a come back running the marathon.

If you're at all a runner I think these books will resonate with you, and even if you're not a runner I still think you'll find them a good read. Definitely recommended.
“Running to him was real; the way he did it the realest thing he knew. It was all joy and woe, hard as a diamond; it made him weary behond comprehension. But it also made him free.” - Once a Runner

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