Ultramarathon Man: Confessions of an All-Night Runner is a book that I picked up on a whim a few weeks ago while browsing through a bookstore. The lady and I were waiting to meet some friends down the block and it seemed like a good place to get out of the rain.
I loved this book. It was a lot of fun to read. I was constantly pausing my reading to read a passage to my girlfriend, which usually elicited one of two responses. “That guy is crazy” was the most popular, but there was quite a few “You better not think of ever doing that, honey” sprinkled in too.
The book is funny, and it engaged me right away. The book is about Dean Karnazes, a guy who runs. A lot. He has done the Western States 100-miler in under 24 hours 9 times. He has run 28 miles down at the south pole. He has run around the world naked (granted, that was also at the south pole where the circumfrence is not that long; quite cold, I imagine), and he has run the badlands desert run.
Right at the start, he talks about a run he is doing where a pizza guy asks if he is like Carl Lewis (possibly the only runner he could name off the top of his head). Dean’s response? “Yeah, I’m like Carl Lewis, only a lot slower.”
Some of the stories are a bit fantastical and put me in mind of Big Fish, a movie about a guy who embellishes his life a little. I can picture a guy eating as he runs, but while I believe that he did it I have trouble picturing a guy running while balancing a large pizza and an entire cheesecake in his left hand while he eats with his right. And I find it very difficult to believe that after 15 years of not running a step, at the age of 30, that he was able to run over 30 miles. He may have been drunk when he started, but by the 7th or 8th mile he was probably sobered up.
The book is a fast read. I did not read it in one sitting, but given a chunk of uninterupted time I can easily see myself completing it in an afternoon. It certainly does not inspire me to go out and train for a 100 mile race (I’ll stick to running a marathon in every state, thank you), but it did make me stop second guessing my decision to start working out twice a day 3 or 4 times a week for the next month or two. Hell, if he can run 2 or 3 times a day and balance a 9 to 5 and a family, I can manage my own workouts.