Thursday, July 19, 2012

Running on Empty: An Ultramarathoner's Story of Love, Loss, and a Record-Setting Run Across America by Marshall Ulrich

Overview from Barnes and Noble:

A fascinating glimpse into the mind of an ultramarathon runner and the inspirational saga of his run across America.
The ultimate endurance athlete, Marshall Ulrich has run more than one hundred foot races averaging over one hundred miles each, completed twelve expedition-length adventure races, and ascended the seven summits— including Mount Everest. Yet his run from California to New York—the equivalent of running two marathons and a 10k every day for nearly two months straight—proved to be his most challenging effort yet. In Running on Empty he shares the gritty backstory of his run and the excruciating punishments he endured on the road. Ulrich also reaches back nearly thirty years to when the death of his first wife drove him to run from his pain.
Ulrich’s memoir imbues an incredible read with a universal message for athletes and nonathletes alike: face the toughest challenges, overcome debilitating setbacks, and find deep fulfillment in something greater than achievement.

My thoughts:
I cannot see myself ever becoming someone who runs ultramarthons, I am a still feeling intimidated by the marathon I have coming up in October.  My longest run to date is 18 miles, but it is so interesting to find out what runners are thinking about and what drives them to go such long distances.  After reading about this cross country journey I am unsure how he managed to stick with it through it with injury and pain and the stress of running 40 to 70 miles a day!

Marshall started running when his first wife and first love was diagnosed with cancer as a way to bring down his blood pressure since the doctor thought the rise in levels was stress related.  He discovered he enjoyed it and was good at it, so he kept going for longer distances until he ended up doing ultramarathons.  His running and the time he spent training and racing affected his relationships with subsequent wives and his three children.  Marriage two and three ended in divorce.  His current wife Heather came along to support him in his run across the country.  His children came out a different points of the route to lend their support as well, but for the most part he was alone running  for the majority of each day.

Once Marshall started his journey there was an illustration of a runner on the bottom of each page and 53 dots representing each of the days.  The chapter headings told you what days he was on at that point and the runner moved in correspondence to which days were on the page, making its way from left to right as the book progressed.  I loved that idea!  Elevation was also noted and the line for the journey went up and down according to his general elevation for that day.

Marshall did something very few of us would even consider, and even less actually complete, and decided to share in his own words what the journey was like and what it meant to him.  There were highs and lows and a friendship that disintegrated, but it also sounds like he had a lot of time to work through issues from his life and was able to come out at a better place mentally than where he started.

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781583334904
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 4/3/2012
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 320

Meet the Author

Marshall Ulrich
Marshall Ulrich is an extreme-endurance athlete, ultrarunner, mountaineer, and adventure racer. His career has earned him wins, records, and firsts on some of the toughest courses in the world and has taken him to the top of the highest mountains. He lives in Idaho Springs, Colorado.

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