08 July 2013
Book Review: Honey, Do You Need a Ride? Confessions of a fat runner
I like memoirs. I find that I can relate to at least one aspect of the person's story, and a book about a real person keeps my interest more than that of a fictional character. When Jennifer Graham, writer and mother to four children and two donkeys, sent me an email inquiring if I'd be interested in reviewing her book, I just had a feeling after reading the description that hers would be a story worth reading.
At first glance, you might not think Graham's story is anything out of the ordinary: an overweight, divorced mother of four children wants to train for a race. Don't we all? As you'll quickly realize, though, through Graham's engaging writing, the story is about so much more. It's about finding a way to move through life's difficulties without completely falling apart and about finding a way to pick yourself up when you do.
Graham tells us the story of her first run, her first race, her first post-divorce-race, and how she found a way to get through feelings of self-doubt and insecurity without letting it consume her. In particular, I identified with her feeling that training for a race was really pointless in the grand scheme of life. A conclusion that is very defeatist. As she points out, if Ryan Hall doesn't have a good reason for running, and it's his job, what is our, the lowly hobby runners', reason? According to Graham's coach, that reason is self-satisfaction and a sense of achievement. (For me, that sense of achievement comes from finishing what I start.)
Many will identify with Graham's struggle with her weight, and how it made her feel like she didn't belong to a sport whose athletes she didn't resemble. We realize by the end of the book that what makes a runner is more what goes on in their mind than what is portrayed by their physical appearance, and Graham is as much of a runner as the "Shirtless Wonders" she speaks of throughout the book.
Honey, Do You Need a Ride? Confessions of A Fat Runner isn't all serious, however. We do get a glimpse into her barn, home to two troublesome donkeys, her mind, home to her deceased running coach, Steve Prefontaine, and how living in Boston, home of America's most iconic marathon, leads to being interviewed with "The Pants Lady".
Upon finishing the book, I felt a sense of camaraderie with Graham. It even renewed my desire to run, something I find myself struggling with often. This book is a short read, but one that will stay with you for a long time. It's available on Amazon.
Jennifer Graham can also be found on Facebook, Twitter, website, and her blog.