Ron Marinucci September Column: "Books"

Ron Marinucci September Column: "Books"

Over the course of the past couple of months, Karen and I have started yet another “declutter the house” project.  She sold off some old jewelry for the gold, took some items to the resale shop, and donated quite a few clothes to several charities.

Included in the project were a few more of my running race tee shirts.  Over the years, I don’t know how many I have given away.  In 2005, in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, I boxed up dozens of them and sent them down to New Orleans.  I didn’t count how many.  If I recall, Randy Step and the folks at Running Fit took several truckloads of clothes to Louisiana to help.  Since, I have continued to wean out my stock.  I can’t say how many of the tees I have kept, but I’d guess fewer than a couple dozen.  Even those that once meant something special to me, well, they didn’t seem quite as important as they did and were donated.

Also getting the ziggy were many of my books.  I went through and sorted them, keeping some and donating others to local public libraries.  All my books about Abraham Lincoln, about sixty, stayed right where they were on the shelves.  So did some others, not many, written by my favorite authors, historians or fiction writers; those by my college professors stayed, too.  And I still have a handful of books about running.

Why did I keep some and not others?  I guess I decided on which I thought were best, which I might read again and which provide some utility, such as pacing charts.

This led me to consider my favorite running books, both fiction and nonfiction.  Some I’ve read more than once and wouldn’t be surprised to read them again.  Others still serve as mementos and a few I still use for resources.

In the nonfiction category, I’ve read all of the books by the late Dr. George Sheehan.  Often called “running’s philosopher,” Sheehan had the gift of relating running to, well, life.  One of his books summarized all of them quite well, Running and Being.  I kept, very handy, his last book, Going the Distance, which he wrote knowing he had terminal cancer.

Joe Henderson and Hal Higdon also provided, in a number of their books, a great deal of information and enjoyment.  Again and again they included the quirks and quiddities of running.  Jeff Galloway provided much training advice as well as incentive, as did Jim Fixx’s The Complete Book of Running.  They were both influential in my early days of running.

It’s fun to read about races I’ve run.  Coming to mind are Boston Marathon memories by Higdon and Tom Derderian, complete with photographs.  Locally, The Flint Journal’s book, The Long Blue Line, is a good flashback of the first thirty years of the Crim Festival of Races.

I’ve read a lot of fiction, too, novels centered around running and the running world.  Some of the so-called “classics,” well, weren’t so classic to me.  They just weren’t as good as touted.  But there have been several novels I’ve read more than once, some more than twice.

I really enjoyed The Long Road to Boston by Bruce Tucker.  It’s focus isn’t hard to fathom, but includes not only the marathon itself, but the training, trials and tribulations, it took to get there.

Many running readers are familiar with John Parker.  His Once a Runner with the protagonist Quentin Cassiday is one of my favorites.  I’ve read it more than once as I have its sequel, Return to Carthage.  Parker is a good writer and exquisitely captures the essence of the running personality, especially on the elite levels.

Higdon’s foray into fiction is Marathon.  Its premise is improbable.  The first American pope decides to run the Chicago Marathon, surreptitiously of course.  But it works and the marathon’s finish is unpredictable, thrilling, and even uplifting.

I’m certain I have forgotten some other valuable and enjoyable authors and their books, including some ones with local flavor.  But perhaps I’ve provided a few suggestions of books to read over the long and soon coming Michigan winter.

Speaking of winter, can it be September already?  This means that summer is almost over.  Where did that go?  I’m not certain I’m ready to see it go quite yet.  But maybe I am.

I won’t miss what seemed like the excessive and incessant heat and humidity.  Nope.  My running buddy, Bob Drapal, said a few weeks ago, “This has to have been the worst summer.”  I don’t know about that, but I’d guess we say that almost every year.  Still, if it wasn’t the worst, it was close.

I chuckled when one morning at 6:00 I’d run with temperatures in the low 50s; a few days later, at the same time, the temperature was twenty or more degrees warmer.  All of that with humidity.  Ugh!  But I coped.

I marveled, more than once, at some runners, mostly women, who ran in our neighborhood in mid- or late-afternoons.  Maybe they have early work start times.  Maybe they aren’t morning people.

At the same time, the deer flies were mostly absent this summer.  I don’t know why.  At least a couple of days each week I try to run the trails at the nearby state park.  Two other mornings I go out on somewhat remote back roads.  Most years, the deer flies are mortal enemies to runners.  Not so this year, not even close.  At the same time, especially in August, the mosquitos and “no-see-ums,” those tiniest of flies, were prevalent.  Walk breaks became no-nos; walking or even slowing the run too much invited kamikaze attacks from them.  As long as I kept running at a decent pace, though, they were minimally bothersome.

But, as usual, I’ll miss the summer.  I don’t mind too much, though.  I enjoy running in the different environments of the four distinct Michigan seasons.