Sunday, August 2, 2009

UltraMarathon Man: Confessions Of An All-Night Runner

UltraMarathon Man: Confessions Of An All-Night Runner
by Dean Karnazes

I just read for the second time (a couple weeks ago) UltraMarathon Man: Confessions Of An All-Night Runner by Dean Karnazes. The first time I read it in May 2007, I thought Karnazes was a complete freak and who would ever want to do that sort of thing, but yet somehow found it intriguing and fascinating and a few month later I ran my first ultra. Anyway, two years later I re-read the book with a different perspective and found it very interesting.

Some of my favorite quotes:

With the cheesecake stacked on top of the pizza, I started running again, eating as I went. Over the years I’d perfected the craft of eating on the fly. I balanced the box of pizza and cheesecake in one hand and ate with the other…. (11)

Every devout runner has an awakening. We know the place, the time, and the reason we accepted running into our life. After half a lifetime, I’d been reborn. Most runners are able to keep a rational perspective on the devotion, and practice responsibly. I couldn’t, and became a fanatic. (65)

[Karnazes - just after hearing about 100 mile races for the first time…reading about the Western States 100 in Outside magazine…] My 5-mile jaunts around the city were sufficiently demanding in their own right. How would it be possible to extend that twenty times—through the mountains? Running thirty miles had debilitated me for weeks; attempting 100 might leave me dead. Sitting at my desk, in my tailored suit and leather loafers, thumbing through Outside with its photographs of sweating, struggling, brutalized, and barely coherent runners, I had just one thought:
Where do I sign up? (73)

To call running “fun” would be a misuse of the word. Running can be “enjoyable.” Running can be “rejuvenating.” But in a pure sense of the word, running is not fun. (83)

Plenty of people are discontent with their lives, but not many come to the conclusion that running for twenty-four hours straight will solve the problem. (87)

After running 65 miles, you begin to lose touch with your body. The normal systems that monitor and transmit critical data to the brain begin to disintegrate and malfunction. The body starts playing tricks on the mind. Important physiological information is often communicated in sporadic pulses of pain that show up unannounced. Under normal circumstances, you would have at least some hint of the mounting tension, but after running 65 miles straight, your early warning signals become useless. One minute you’re running along feeling satisfactorily; the very next you’re abruptly delivered a life-altering muscle cramp without warning. (127)

[talking about his friends who he’s invited to “go for a run” with him] Sadly, most are now excommunicated and have never forgiven me for dragging them into the sport. One ex-friend ran 60 miles with me all night. He hasn’t run a day since. That was four years ago. (211)