Tom Foreman’s new book, My Year of Running Dangerously, is a humorous and uplifting memoir of a middle-aged runner chasing adventure and pushing the envelope while he still can. Foreman is a CNN correspondent who has traveled the globe and been in many precarious situations, but nothing so dangerous as when his eighteen-year-old daughter asks him to run a marathon with her. He reluctantly agrees, thinking the shared experience of training for a marathon might be a great way to keep her close, even as she plots her own course in life without him.
“Just as Ronnie was charting her own course into the adult world and wondering where it would lead, I was feeling the anxiety of watching her go. The relationship we’d had all those years- daddy and daughter playing, talking, reading, singing, and cuddling together -was fading by the day…. …it had occurred to me that running might hold the answer.”
Foreman’s laugh-out-loud writing style is spot on. He’s authentic, honest, and any distance runner will find themselves nodding their heads in agreement. On his first training run , his legs felt rubbery and uncoordinated as his feet slapped the road. And he writes, “A bagpiper falling down stairs would have made less of a wheezing sound.”
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He and his daughter, Ronnie, soon run a half marathon in New Orleans and a full marathon in Atlanta. And then things get crazy. Despite the pressures of parenting, working, and being a good husband, Foreman throws caution to the wind and sets his sights on the Stone Mill 50-Mile ultramarathon.
“Having dug myself up from the depths of middle-aged sloth, I realized I was craving a new goal, something more ambitious than just bagging more races.”
The demands of training 80-90 miles per week steal time away from his family, and wear thin the patience of his wife and youngest daughter. Even the family dog seems disappointed when he comes home too tired to play. Foreman wrestles with his priorities like all serious runners do at some point in their lives. Ronnie reminds him that running a marathon isn’t that hard, it’s “doing it without the rest of your life falling apart” that’s the real challenge.
You’ll live vicariously through the words of Tom Foreman as he runs his first ultra. You’ll feel the energy of the race, the compassion of the other runners, and enter the pain cave more times than you care to remember. But, you’ll also discover what matters most in life as the never-ending miles strip away all pretense and expose truth.
“As people get older, life becomes about playing it safe… …but along the way you lose yourself. You start thinking that the great adventures are all gone and that you’ve reached all the limits… …So, when I started this, I don’t know, it felt like something woke up inside me. I stopped getting through my days, and I started getting into them.”
Grab a copy of My Year of Running Dangerously: A Dad, a Daughter, and a Ridiculous Plan, and treat yourself to some top-notch story telling. You don’t have to be a runner, or a father to enjoy this book. But, you’ll laugh harder and cry longer if you are.