When the team for Jennifer Graham's book, Honey, Do You Need a Ride - Confessions of a Fat Runner contacted me to read and review the book I eagerly accepted. Judging a book by its cover - I immediately felt connected to this person and thought this was a book that would speak to me. I wasn't wrong.
The book, like many races you may run, takes you on an emotional journey of highs, lows and everything in-between; she talks back to "the voices in her head" and she pushes herself to keep going. She made me laugh with some of her more witty experiences (think scrambling to wrangle two pet donkeys as they trot down the street with abandon) and she made my heart break as she candidly discussed the crumbling of a marriage that she desperately wanted to save.
|Jennifer Graham with Foggy and Jo-Jo|
I could relate to so much that the author has been through. She too has struggled with her weight and has been up and down. She too needs to run.
"In running, there are starting lines, and there are finish lines. Then there's another line universal among runners, whether or not they enter a race - the Never-Going-Back-To-My-Old-Life line. Once you cross it, you won't stop running until you are in jail, vegetative or dead."This rings so very true. It's actually the whole point of the From Fat To Finish Line documentary film we are working on. I personally know this truth.
During the book Graham talks about her running coaches, two running greats who 'live' in her head and pushes her along her journey. I could relate to that too. There's been one or two times Jillian Michaels has taken up a training place in my head shouting that her "Biggest Loser contestants who are still 100 pounds overweight run faster than you in their sleep! Pick it up." Or something like that.
Graham also discusses how 'sensitive' us 'fat runners' can be. I would add that many in our tribe also often compare ourselves to one another. I couldn't help but to find myself comparing and feeling a little sensitive at parts! (I think its in most 'fat runners' DNA!) For example her 'fat weight' is dangerously close to my 'goal weight.' And her slow, "gee, I wish was my pace was faster" half marathon time is right around my PR time. But then, I thought, well this is the point - isn't it? Someone will always be faster, slower, thinner or fatter than us. It doesn't take away from our own journeys and someone's "fat" is another's "goal'. It's how it goes. I'm sure that my own slow, "wish my pace was faster" is someone else's PR.
I also felt a bit sensitive when she wrote about those oval 13.1 stickers for your car, "I'd never put one of those on my Jeep. To me "13.1" means, "Can't run 26.2." She went on to say it was kind of like advertising mediocrity.
I deeply disagree. I proudly put my 13.1 right next to my 26.2. There's nothing mediocre about making the commitment to move your body 13.1 miles. Nothing. There's nothing mediocre about making the decision to move your body even 3.1 miles or 1 mile. Especially as a "fat runner." Especially when you've convinced yourself and others have convinced you that running would be impossible for you.
But again, I don't fault Jennifer Graham for her view on this and to be fair I think she said it half in jest. I also appreciate her honesty. It struck a chord with me because I've had to fight to acknowledge my accomplishments my whole life. The urge usually being, "Yeah, I only run an 11 min mile. I only ran the half (not the full), I only whatever." We all need to take pride in the things we accomplish and I wouldn't take 13.1 away from anyone. 13.1 is what started this blog and changed my life. Without 13.1 I wouldn't be the person I am today.
I also think that the author does herself a disservice too by not allowing herself to bask in her accomplishment - by somehow finding it 'mediocre' on some level. She trained hard for her halfs. I know because I read the book.
But I digress. See, it's a book that will make you self-reflect and 'discuss amongst yourself.' :)
I actually read this book during my last business trip to KY - I finished it during my first flight home and the day of the 2013 Boston Marathon. While flying, the marathon was just starting - I had no idea what was to come. I read about Graham actually living on the marathon route and how every year she'd go and cheer on the runners. I thought to myself, "how lucky!" I also thought it was such a coincidence I was reading about her going to the marathon on marathon day. I envisioned her there at that very moment. My runner's heart swelling with excitement for her and the day.
When I got off my flight and learned of the bombings, along with my friends who were running, I thought of Jennifer, spectating and rooting on our tribe. I could only imagine what she must've went through.
All in all, I loved this book. It was funny, honest and often poignant. I would recommend it. I think most will really like it but I think it's particularly for you if you've ever trudged along, thighs rubbing, wishing your turtle pace was just a little faster and know the struggles and joys of going from couch potato to running tribe member.
If you want to order the book or learn more, click here.