Book Review: Ultramarathon Man

Ultramarathon Man: Confessions of an all night runner is about Dean Karnazes and his attempts at running ultra distances in extreme circumstances. It is also about how running changed his life.

I read the paperback version of the book which is updated and addresses some of the criticism that the original text received. One of the problems with the hardback version was that Karnazes insinuates that you can eat anything you want and be able to accomplish amazing feats. In reality, his updated version really stresses that you cannot, in fact, mistreat your body with food and be able to perform as he does. His diet is so strict (when he is not running 200 miles at a time) that he only eats fish from certain waters of the world! This is not a man that fuels his body with large, over stuffed, pizzas on a regular basis. Though the book starts out with one of the most entertaining stories of him doing so.

The book is very readable and extremely entertaining. It basically consists of race reports. Most runners I know enjoy reading well written race reports. We seem to be able to relate to what others endure. Not that anyone has experienced quite what Karnazes has.

Passion like his has torn many families apart. But, it seems to have bonded the Karnazes family. They were devastated by the tragic loss of his sister. But Dean’s need to have a support network in his running endeavors brought his family together.

I am certain that most extreme athletes would tell you that having immediate family as your support staff is not a good option. When a wife sees her husband falling apart, she would be the first to ask him to throw in the towel. Not in the Karnazes family. No way! His wife got out of the van when he was ready to quit on one such run. She ran beside him and said (in not so many words) “Quit? Are you stupid? You can’t quit! You started this thing and I don’t care if you have to crawl over the finish line again, you are not going to quit!” Needless to say, as questionable as Dean’s mental state may be, I believe he has the family to match. His father is quoted as not being quite as subtle as his wife.

A new runner may read this book and think that he can accomplish what Dean has done, in the way that he has done it. Conventional wisdom says that most people would suffer stress fractures and other injuries.

Unfortunately, because of the language used, I cannot allow my son to read the book. There is no lack of cursing. I find that offensive and unnecessary. What could be a great inspirational book for young people is ruined by this fact.

Criticisms aside, would I recommend the book? Absolutely! If he came out with ten more books full of race reports in this style, I would never tire of reading them. Well written. Very entertaining. Highly recommended.

Road Trip!

Headed out of town for two weeks. A trip is always and adventure here in México. Sometimes more than others. This will be two weeks on the road with some stopping in between. All in all we will be driving about 8 days.

I am going to try and keep up with my running. May not post as often, depending on how the Internet access goes.

I am armed with a few books. I have my Ultramarathon Man that arrived on Tuesday night. It won’t last long. I am already 1/3 into it. Coast to Coast was not one of the books that fit into my wife’s suitcase coming back. It will come back with my son about the time we get back from our road trip. But, I also got a stack of Linux magazines that my wife brought home that should keep me somewhat entertained.

I will give a full book report on Ultramarathon Man when I get it all read, but let me just say up front, Dean Karnazes is not stable. I don’t know if he knows this, but he is obviously a textbook ADD/ADHD case. Good for him that he found a way to channel that. Too bad it took him till he was 30 to find an outlet.

Was I being hit up?

I went out to eat today. Good for me. Had a great salad and soup. Read about 1/2 of a Hardy Boys book. But, since my family is away on a trip, I was alone. This is the first time I have been to eat in this restaurant in 2 years without having my family with me. We don’t go there often, maybe once a month or so. When I walked in the hostess acted surprised that I was by myself. She wanted to know where my wife and 2 children were, why they went away and why I did not go with them. All somewhat fair questions, but should I feel obligated to answer? We have no marital problems, but what if we did? Was she digging for juicy information?

I think I have figured it out though. She thinks I’m a hunk and she is trying to off my wife. Well, I got news for her, she is not in the same league as my wife. My wife has me for the rest of her life (or mine, whichever expires first).

Dog Perfume Update

Thankfully I did not have any dogs try to have breakfast on my calves or New Balances this morning. But, I am not sure why. The last week, every day I have had problems. Until today.

Here’s my theory. First off, this is not real scientific since I ran a bit of a different route today. Also, there was one street that I don’t normally run on, but when I looked down it, there were 4 dogs in the middle of the road, so I chose another street.

Ready for this? I washed my running clothes. I know, you are thinking that sane people do that on occasion. Especially because, since the last time my clothes were laundered, my average run has been in 79 degree weather with humidity averaging 96% (not joking, I live in the tropics and it is rainy season). So there is a lot of sweating going on. But, this is how I get away with it. My wife is gone on a trip. So no one has to smell me.

No, that isn’t how. I jump in the swimming pool when I get back from my runs. Rinse out the clothes. I am sure the chlorine in the pool helps. Then hang them out to dry and ready to go the next day (assuming I get them off the line before the rains come in the afternoon).

I washed clothes yesterday. Today no dog problems. Hmm. Could there be something to this?

The lights of the email account are on, but nobody is home

I have been wanting to get permission to operate my ham radio here in México. I have been here 2 years and have finally gotten things moving the right direction. I have all the paperwork in place that I think I need except the final form that I have to fill out with the FCC equivalent office, COFETEL. One of the extra requirements that I have been working on this week is that I need a local ham to “sponsor” me. They just have to write a letter and say that they are willing to make sure that I operate within the rules.

I wrote an amateur radio operator in an adjoining state to see if he could put me in contact with someone here. I wrote him because he had a nice, current looking, web page dedicated to radio. No reply after 6 days. I finally found the ARRL equivalent in México which is FMRE. They have a listing of members at their site. There were several in my state of Yucatán. I did a QRZ lookup on them and found several in my part of town. I have now written to the Yucatán division of FMRE, the Mérida chapter of FMRE and 3 individual FMRE members. Not a single reply.

If you have an email address posted on the web somewhere, would you do the world a favor and update it? I have no idea if these are out of date email addresses, or if my emails are getting caught by spam filters, or if no one wants to touch a foreigner with a ten foot pole, but they are not answering. I am not even asking for a sponser. I am just trying to get information as to where the COFETEL office is so that I can start the official paperwork. It is necessary to contact someone individually because COFETEL’s website is broken. The main page comes up fine, but if you try and burrow in to actually get any information, their websever is serving up junk.